Month: December 2012

Senior’s Christmas Dance

Well here I am again, playing my annual Freebie Christmas dance at the seniors home. I started doing this about ten years ago, and each year, I see different residents, different visitors, even different workers, but the feeling around the home is always the same. Appreciation. Most of those seniors never see anyone, never have a visitor who actually gives a damn whether they live or die; but I do. For the past ten years I have been donating my time to play them a free dance where they can choose to dance, listen or just chat with friends.

Oh the stories they have to tell. A war bride who emigrated here from scotland, a german lady who escaped the holocost, seeking safety here in Newfoundland, a dog lover who once owned 14 dogs at the same time, a world traveler, a woman who raised 13 kids on her own after losing her husband to TB; the stories go on. Sometimes they are true, sometimes not, who cares?

The patrons uncles, sisters, brothers, aunts, mothers, fathers…People who have all ended up here for one reason or another, dealing with issues like aging, dementia, mental illness, disabilities and possibly even loneliness, and somehow ended up living under the same roof like family.

Most of the residents enjoy the music, some complain it is too loud (when they are actually deaf and cannot hear anything but vibrations on the floor), but some truly enjoy and appreciate it, and they are the ones I am here for, which is 90% of the crowd gathered in this tiny room with the fine hardwood floor, tapping their canes on the floor to the beat of the music.

Some of the visitors who have dropped by today are family members of the residents, some are seniors themselves who feel plenty lonely this time of year and seek a place to go and enjoy themselves. There are plenty of children here today as well, and the seniors relish in watching the kids dance, sing, and enjoy themselves. The only pity is that once Christmas is over, things pretty much return to the way it usually is, and that is sad.

Truth is, the ‘way it usually is’ is lonely. For the most part, the daily schedule of a senior living in a retirement home is basically wake up, eat breakfast, watch the news, go back to sleep, wake up to eat lunch, sleep til supper, eat, watch the news, and then sleep again. Birthday and holidays and every day is usually spent this way, without visitation from family or friends. Pretty bleak, and we are all getting old, someday this may be us in this situation. Some are fooled by family members who only visit on social security check day, to get what they can from their parents and grandparents.This is sad really.

Back in ’05, I tried to change this, with a project I founded called Friends Visiting Friends. the main goal of the project was to attempt to bring communities into retirement homes, and bring seniors in to communities. The project was fairly successful, with the end goal being awareness about seniors and the fact that just because they live in retirement homes, they are not dead.

Thankfully today, that atmosphere is not the one that surrounds us. About 75 seniors are sitting in their comfortable chairs, surrounding the dance floor. Trays of candies and other sweets are strewn along the walls, tables are set in the middle of the room with every kind of homebaked goodie a person could think of, a large cake sits on one table, wishing merry christmas to everyone in the room. Staff members dress as mummers and act silly for the seniors, who are apparently enjoying themselves. The manager’s husband is dressed as Santa, and despite the fact that he just worked a double shift at the plant, he made it a point to come here today for the seniors. Devotion, a rare commodity these days, but one that is appreciated by everyone in attendance.

Dressed in full Santa regalia and rubber boots up to his knees, he dances around like a clown for the seniors, and they are eating it up! He is sitting down now, either from the warmth of the retirement home (seniors are always cold, so the temperature in here is way up, you can tell that from the fact that I myself am almost melted, and I am sitting by the door), or because of his cold. He stays his distance from the seniors though and promises that he had a medical examination from his wife, the manager and head nurse of the establishment.

As he calls each of the names of both seniors and children visiting, they are treated to gifts from St NIck himself (a slim down version of course), and a few of the seniors even tell Santa what they want for Christmas, and this brings a tear to his eyes. He later tells me that the most common wish from the seniors is that they are not forgotten, and that tomorrow, when this is all over, someone actually takes the time to drop by and have a chat, or maybe even a cup of tea. Not much to ask, is it? He calls out one old lady’s name, but she is too feeble to walk over, so Santa makes a trip to her. He presents her with her gift, and when he attempts to leave a small kiss on her cheek, she has other plans. At 97 years of age, she gives Santa a run for his money, and passionatly kisses him back, to his surprise. Nothing like red cheeks for Santa. This is but an example of the fact that with seniors, you never quite know what to expect!

After the guy in the suit makes his exit, I play many more tunes and after two hours, the seniors are tuckered out and hungry. Their lives are based on schedule, and 4 p.m. is supper time. Nothing is more important than supper, especially today, where the community got together and donated enough turkeys for everyone to enjoy. I sit with the residents and partake in the meal with them, just as I have been doing for the past ten years. I do this not only because the food smells delicious, but because those people have been family to me ever since I began volunteering at the home. Others should do the same. When it is time to leave, a few of them shed tears, and so do I, but they know I will be back soon. Hopefully I can coax a few others to join me.

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Trifextra #46: Laughter

ha ha hee hee haw haw hee hee he chuckle hee haa tee hee

ahaa ahh haa haa hee hee ha

hee hee hhe tee hee hee tee

haw hee

laughter is contagious

 

this is my entry into this week’s Trifextra Challenge, which is, in 33 words, to bring a smile to someone’s face. Everyone knows that laughter is contagious, so hopefully my little giggle will bring a smile

Trifecta Week 55: Things Go Boom

He sat crouched in the corner, ears plugged with both hands, in anticipation that the bomb would go off. He ensured that everything was done correctly; the fuse ran just right, just enough explosives to send his message…

He glanced over at the setup. “OMG, that fuse isn’t straight….” he uttered…

David dealt with OCD all his life. Everything always had to be perfect, or he blew up. Because of this, he never got along with others.

Not exactly the favorite child in the family, David’s OCD caused him to lose many jobs. Without a friend in the world, David was alone. But he could sell; God could he sell!

They say that David could sell Popsicles to Eskimos in a snowstorm. In his lifetime, David sold everything from cars to chairs, and never looked back once. Not really caring whose toes he stepped on, promotions came quick, and in no time at all, he went from salesman to store manager.

One day the owner came by. He had a young man with him and asked if David would mind showing him the ropes. David reluctantly agreed. He proceeded to make the young man’s life a living hell. What David didn’t realize was that this man was the owner’s son. The axe came quickly afterward.

Fed up with yet another pink slip, David flipped. He gathered a few things from his shed and went straight to his boss’ home. After setting the bomb and actually lighting the fuse he noticed something.

Still crouched, David noticed that the fuse didn’t run quite straight. With that, he stepped out of the corner, and straightened the fuse. Seeing how the twist was but an inch from the charge, he didn’t have time to run for cover. the flame hit the charge and BOOM!

His OCD caused him to blow up again, this time literally!

Moral of the story anyone?

This is my entry into this week’s Trifecta Challenge. The word is Anticipation

Trifextra: Week Forty-Five: Childhood travels

Childhood family vacations

riding in the old car

Parents up front, kids in the back

My brother and my sister

with me sandwiched in between

Ouch!

their favorite game was ‘Buggy Free Punch’

…………………………………………………………………………………….

This is my entry into this weekend’s Trifextra Word Challenge. Two of those words must be either “cheap flights,” “sandwiched in” or “spectacularly clean.”

talking to the barber

What is it about barbers? Like bartenders, they tend to talk a lot. I used to have one particular barber (or hairstylist as she preferred to be referred to) who was ‘Da Bomb!

A tall brunette with a beautiful face, I made sure to visit her on a monthly basis. She used to give great haircuts. One evening I was at the local bar, and it happened to be my birthday. She obviously heard the DJ announce my birthday, and came over to congratulate me. She said that she had a ‘special gift for me’. I was hoping that it was a gift certificate for a free haircut (I always dreamed little), but instead, she grabbed me and gave me a long deep romantic kiss. I felt my knees weaken, that’s what this kiss was like.

“Happy Birthday Honey” she said, leaving me wanting more. I was so wrapped up in the kiss that I totally forgot about my then girlfriend who was standing there in complete awe at what she just witnessed. “Who was that girl?” she asked, to which I replied “Oh, that’s just my barber, it’s nothing, really!”. Not only did she knock my socks off with the kiss, but my beautiful tease of a barber also kissed my girlfriend off as well. She left me in the bar, telling me to take it up with my ‘barber’. Obviously she didn’t believe I was just a customer.

I continued to¬† get haircuts at her shop until I seen her kiss another ‘customer’ . I felt cheated.

I have always preferred female barbers. Maybe it is something about if I have to pay big bucks to have someone run their fingers through my hair, it had better be a woman. Maybe it is just me and my homophobic tendencies. Oh well.

I just came back from getting a haircut. My usual barber wasn’t in at the time, so I had to settle for a girl who had just recently graduated from barber school (I think that’s what it is called). Keisha was her name (no relation to submissive Keisha in my story entitled ‘Keisha’, but definitely the source for the name of the character.)

Keisha seemed to be a nice gal, but none too bright. She cut my hair just as I had asked (#3 brush on the sides, fingers on top), which is my winter cut. In summer I get #2 on sides and fingers on top. When she finished, everything looked crooked. I asked if she could try and fix things a little, because I didn’t like looking as if my head was tilted all the time. She obliged by spending another hour on my hair.

She was also quite the conversationalist. She reminded me that I knew her older sister quite well, she attended a training session with me once. She began telling me about her sister’s kids and how cute they were. She said “My sister has two kids, a four year and a six year old. The four year old is the youngest…”. (Well Duh!) “And I bet the six year old is the oldest” I continued. “What? You do know her then, did she introduce you to her family the last time she was home?” she asked. I just laughed.

Anyway, I did end up with a haircut, not the best though. The next time I shall wait for my regular hairstylist. For now, I shall wear a hat.

I once dated this girl who claimed to be a barber. She said that although she never went to barber school, she used to cut hair for everyone in the community. I took that chance that she was being honest with me. You ever have those times where you wish you could reverse a decision right afterwards? This was one of those times. Everything was going well until I heard her say “OOPS” while using the clippers on my hair. She left a deep gap on the top of my head, and spent the rest of the time trying to even up things around the protruding hole in my hair. What a mess, I had to buy a hat for the next few months. Why is it that a bad haircut takes forever to grow out? That relationship was out the door soon afterwards. Why? She didn’t like my haircut! Go figure.

MicroSoft tries to make an Apple, but they end up making a Lemon

A long time ago computers were complex machines capable only of running text based programs. Someone with a view of the future came up with DOS (Disk Operating System), which was a way to get away from text and allowed the user to view actual images. The system was fed by large floppy disks that held the information, and included programs such as Word-perfect and accounting programs, as well as a few games.

An up and coming computer company came up with an operating system that would make computers usable to the masses. They called this method ‘Windows’. The first few versions of the program (Windows 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0) were miles ahead of the old DOS system, but still lacked user friendly components.

The next OS (Operating System) was known as Windows 3.1, which came out in 1990. This system was easier to use than it’s predecessors, but was still difficult to use for the most part. Loading programs on Windows 3.1 (and it’s predecessors) was done via a floppy disk but still depended mostly on DOS. This made the OS slow and difficult to use.

Then came a technological marvel called Windows 95. This operating system changed everything that we knew about computers. With a start menu that allowed the user to choose which program they wanted to use, a multitude of software that could be installed via a CD. People everywhere were running out and buying computers.

Windows 95 put computers in people’s homes. With the popularity of the OS, other manufacturers were jumping on the bandwagon and creating software that could be run on the new OS. Windows 95 was (and still is) without a doubt the greatest achievement Microsoft ever produced.

How and why would the ever expanding company ever top this magnificent technological marvel you ask? Well, at first they didn’t. A brand new OS was created in the fall of 1997. The new system was called Windows 98, and it featured advancements to the already great Windows 95, but with a few ticks. In fact, Win98 was not all that great at first, and a ton of people who were comfortable with Windows 95 refused the upgrade.

A few tweaks and upgrades to the system actually made 98 a better OS, and by the time the first three upgrades were made available for download, Microsoft had a winner on their hands. At this time Microsoft held a monopoly on every computer manufacturer in the land. you would believe that this would be enough for the multimillion dollar conglomerate, but alas, in the search for more gold, the geniuses at Microsoft tried their hand with yet another OS, Windows ME.

Windows ME (Millennium Edition) came out in the fall of 1999, and promised consumers an Operating system for the new century. What they promised and what they delivered were two very different things. I remembering working at the local Radio Shack store, and having customers pre-order computers with the new OS, hoping that it would be even better than it’s predecessors, even selling their Windows 98 computers and investing in ‘the future’ of computers. I also remember these same people coming back a few weeks afterwards looking for refunds.

The Operating System was the first major failure in Microsoft history. Programs failed to run on the system, others ran for awhile and then crashed. The system was slow and unpredictable, and acted as if it were actually made prior to Windows 3.1. Of course Microsoft was quick to come up with a solution, and a great solution it was. Windows XP was born out of the ashes of Windows 98, ignoring ME completely.

Trouble with this was that anyone who had purchased a computer with ME on it were not offered the new OS for free. If they wanted their computers to work properly, they would have to purchase the new system at their own expense. There is a saying that once a man achieves power, he soon forgets about all the people who helped him get there, and this is especially true for Microsoft. But people did buy the new Operating System.

Windows XP is still my favorite OS. It did everything it needed to, ran programs quickly, and was easy to use. Why you ask is Microsoft still not making this system?

I guess society is partially to blame for this, as we always want something new and innovative. I myself still have a few systems that run Windows XP. I find the system dependable and easy to fix. Of course Microsoft no longer supports the operating system, they washed their hands clean of the program just a few years after it was introduced, only to introduce yet another ‘advancement’ to the computer world, a brand new operating system that would change everything we knew about computers. This new OS was known as Vista.

Like Windows ME, Vista flopped big time. The program required tons of space and memory, programs crashed, hell the entire OS crashed big time. People were seeking out computer techies to uninstall Vista and reinstall Windows XP on their home computers, after they experienced all the flaws that came with this new OS.

Again, a quick fix was needed, and this time, Microsoft delivered. Windows 7 was not only a fix, but it was also the OS they wanted to build when they worked at Vista. Dependable and fast, the newest generation OS gave consumers what they asked for. But with Apple Computers and tablets featuring Android Operating Systems (introduced on Cell phones) becoming more user friendly and dependable, Microsoft decided to ‘improve’ their OS one more time.

Changing everything we now know about Windows, Microsoft came up with a new OS that was radically different than anything it has ever produced. Gone was the friendly and easy to access Start Button. In its place was a large splash screen similar to what you see on various SmartPhones. Of course once you click on Desktop, everything looks almost like the old OS.

Windows 8 was this new Operating System. Gone were the delays at startup. Prior to this system, Windows took forever to load. Users were treated to a system that restarted in seconds, the splash screen popping up in seconds within pushing the power button.

I have been working on computers for the past fifteen years, and I never seen anything so difficult to use. I run a computer consulting service where I assist customers in the purchase of computers, and tutor clients on the use of the device once they get it home. On one occasion, it took me over three hours to figure out Windows 8 well enough to show it to my clients, but the system was such a memory hog that it ran slow despite the great system that they had purchased. With an Intel i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive, this system should have been as fast as a rocket, but it sank like a rock.

Most programs would not run on the system, such as the client’s printers, scanners, and even their wireless mouse. The antivirus program that was provided by the ISP would not run either, the internet service provider promised an upgrade in a few months, which did nothing for the here and now.

A week after the PC was purchased, I got a call from the customer. They said that their computer simply went from running (slowly) to shutting down and turning on. They told me that it began at 8:30 in the evening, and all night. Apparently Windows encountered an error and was trying to fix itself, but kept failing. In doing a bit of research I found that this OS was not ready to be released to the public, but in an attempt to get the new product out before Christmas, it was released early. This means that millions of people will be receiving new computers for Christmas, only to later discover what a heap they have on their hands. Or it could mean that Microsoft chose to use consumers as it’s test mule, and once all the bugs have been worked out (hopefully by Christmas morning), nobody will know that there was a problem in the first place. This wouldn’t be the first time consumers worked out the bugs in a computer program.

When I got the computer to my house, I was confident that I could easily fix the problem. I knew that the Repair program was running, but it needed a bit of help to continue. I figured if I could open Windows in a state known as ‘Safe Mode’, I could fix what ailed the program. With Windows computers in the past, hitting the F8 key during startup brought me to a mode of windows where only the basic drivers were loaded, and I could do troubleshooting on the system to determine where the problem was. Unfortunately Microsoft made another change I was not aware of, they removed any chance I would have to go into this mode.

In the past, punching the F8 key worked fine, but due to the fact that Win8 started up in seconds, the user would have to hit the key in a millisecond, basically by fluke, if they wanted to boot the system into Safe Mode. According to web documents, this is impossible. Here were my customers with an $850 computer on their hands, less than a week old, and virtually unusable. In one web document I read, a techie tried calling Microsoft about the issue and was told that at the time, they did not have anyone trained in Windows 8, so they couldn’t help them with the problem.

The first part of being a decent computer tech is knowing when to quit. I called the store where they purchased the device, and was told that if they wanted a refund, they could bring it by today. No problem, no arguments. Could it be that this was not the first issue with Windows 8 and rather than lose a customer, they opted to simply refund the money? I was amazed. The client returned to my house later that day, asking if I could fix their old computer, the one with Windows XP. It ran great, and the customers chose to run this one to the grave, and then go out and buy an Apple. Great job Microsoft!

The Battle

I have been nowhere

I have been everywhere

Nobody knows who the hell I am

everyone knows me and fears me

I am good

I am pure evil

I kissed the girl next door

I killed the girl next door

I bought a new car

I stole your new car

I am sleepy

I am always awake

I am bored

I am excited

God will get you for this

Don’t bring him into this…again

The battle between Good and Evil continues…

 

Spelling, Math, and our kids bleak future

The other night we had to meet with our kid’s teacher. It was a time where the report card came out and the teacher asked to talk to all parents. He explained the ‘new math’ where no longer did a kid do a math test on his own, rather it was a group effort. It was like that when I was a kid for awhile, I would do my test, and others would copy. They also removed spelling and grammar from our school system. Apparently some geek with his head in his ass decided that kids who couldn’t spell weren’t confident enough to write a story because of their spelling skills, so this idiot decided that if one kid (probably his kid) couldn’t spell, no kid should have to. The school board came up with a method of teaching (I use that term lightly) where a kid spells the word the way it sounds rather than how it is spelled. Now there are no spelling tests, and none of the kids know how to spell. I have to wonder where we are going as a people. Imagine trying to read a novel one of those kids (when they finally grow up) will write.

I believe that there is something going on here. Right now the majority of work in the country is in the construction/labor area. Most of the work in the country is in Alberta, Fort Mac to be exact. There is currently a shortage of laborers, and I think that by having an entire generation of kids almost illiterate when they graduate, it would spell certainty that they would go off to work in Alberta rather than go to university. I would say that only the elite would have moved on enough to attend university, thus ending the labor shortage in the country. That or I am just a conspiracy theorist.

do butterflies dream

When I was a kid, I had the same dream over and over. I often dreamed¬† about butterflies. My mom used to say it was because I was to spread my wings and fly, but the old lady down the road said it was something more. She was a spooky old lady who the community referred to as ‘Crazy Margaret’, and we were told that she believed in witchcraft and that she worshiped the devil. Certainly we didn’t go there much.

Somehow she got wind of my dream story. I am not sure who told her. I was playing with my friends when she came out of the house yelling. “Heed my warnings, little man, a dream about butterflies means that the end is near for someone close to you!” she said, scaring the hell out of me and my friend. We both ran home crying.

When I got home, I told mom what she said. Dad was going to pay her a visit. “Someone will die if she scares my kid again, but she won’t be seeing butterflies, that’s for sure!” he said, angrily. Of course mom wouldn’t let hot headed Dad visit the old woman. “Leave the old hag alone, God knows what harm she will bring us. How did she know about your dreams anyway?” she asked. I replied that I had no idea, the only person I told was Ricky. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that since the ‘Crazy Lady’ was Ricky’s grandmother, his loose lips had a hand in this situation.

When I got down and thought about it, she may have been on to something. Whenever I had those dreams, someone in the community either died or had gotten sick. It was always one of the community elders. I hadn’t really made the connection, but at nine years of age, I wasn’t supposed to. Now it scared me. Was I a witch too? Would I have to live in a run down old shack and have my neighbors afraid to talk to me? I sure hoped not!

For the first little while, I was afraid to go to sleep, in fear that I would have a butterfly dream, but after almost holding my eyes open for hours, eventually sleep took over and I drifted off. I remember late one night I couldn’t sleep so I eavesdropped at my parent’s conversation in the next room. We were poor and our home had very thin walls, and if you listened, you could hear everything mom and dad talked about. They were talking about Old Man Stanley, and how his heart was beginning to give him trouble. Dad said that he didn’t figure the old guy had many days left. I remember falling asleep soon afterwards.

That night I sprung from my bed in sheer terror. I had another dream, this time about some old guy who lived alone, and who everyone in the community respected. I only met him once, and didn’t know him very well. In my dream he was alone in a big field, cussing at the butterflies that crowed his face, not allowing him to breathe. This was a very scary dream, and when I woke, I blamed myself for anything that might happen to him. Nothing did.

All that day I tried to figure out what had happened when I realized it. The only nights that I had the butterfly dreams were the ones where I couldn’t sleep very well and I eavesdropped on my parent’s conversations. Since many of the residents of the community were very old, of course some of them died. I guess when I heard that someone was sick and dying, I thought a lot about it when I went to sleep, and somehow butterflies and sick people got mixed up in my head and I ended up dreaming about it. At least I think that was what was going on. Either way, I never eavesdropped on mom and dad again, and I never had a butterfly dream again either.

I often wonder what butterflies dream about, if they dream at all. Do they dream of people and those people mysteriously die? Who knows?