Category: Rants and Roars

Thanks a lot, Gillican

As of late, I have been watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island on TV. You know what? This is the first time I watched the show. I couldn’t watch the show as a kid, that stupid Gilligan made ME feel stupid.

Bullying is a funny thing. Well, actually, it isn’t funny at all; what it is, is damaging.

When I was a kid, some idiot thought it would be funny to stick a nickname on me. Not just any nickname, but of all things, Gilligan. He was so dumb, he couldn’t even pronounce the name correctly, calling me ‘Gillican’ instead of Gilligan.

Being named after a popular television character isn’t always a bad thing, but when the character is a bumbling idiot, it hurts. I actually felt stupid.

This is not to say the bully was any different. Given he was as big as any adult by age 10, he was given the nickname ‘Moose’, which he still answers to today. He was always a big dumb ox, and sadly, nothing has changed.

A few summers back, Moose came home to the island for a family reunion. His mother, a sweet lady, hired me to play a bit of music for their party. I hoped Moose wasn’t there, but of course he was.

My DJ equipment is very heavy, and as I struggled to move the large speakers into the tiny hall where the dance was being held, I heard a voice behind me.

“Gonna strain yerself Gillican.” he said. When I turned around, there he was, Moose. He had a lot less hair than I could remember, and a gut twice or three times as big as it was back when we were kids, but it was him, I could tell from the way he pronounced that horrid nickname.

“I see you has youself a fine woman. Why she with someone like you, Gillican?” he asked.

“She should be with a real man, like me for instance” he stated.

It is funny, (well, not THAT funny), but I was almost afraid of him, but bit my tongue and whipped back “My WIFE is with me because she can appreciate intelligence. She wouldn’t be with you because you have none!”

I don’t know who was more surprised, me or Moose. Surely he didn’t think the tiny, skinny kid who reminded him of a Bob Denver character could ever talk to the biggest kid in school in this manner. I couldn’t believe what I said either. It was one of those ‘Did I think it or did I just say it out loud’ moments. I was almost ready to duck when suddenly, the room filled with laughter.

“He sure told you, Moose!” one guy harped. “He is right you know, you always lacked intelligence.” said another, both those guys former victims of his torturous bullying.

The big guy’s response? “Well, I guess you are right, I don’t have a lot of intelligence” he said.

“That’s alright Steve” I said, ” We all know what you are like.” It took me 40 years to stand up to this guy.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go. I am in the third season of Gillican’s Gilligan’s Island. This is the episode where Gilligan does something dumb and ruins yet another escape from the island.

My Opinion, For What it is Worth…

I admit it, I buy lots of stuff online. I have to; I live on an island where the stuff I want just isn’t in the stores, and if it is, the price is often outrageous.

I have been using eBay for several years, but thanks to the Canadian Government and their application of duty for anything over $20, and our worthless dollar, I am actually paying too much for the items I order, which are mainly technology items. The duty is another thing: A ‘hidden’ cost that is impossible to foresee.

As of late, I have been making several purchases on Canadian websites. Although the prices are not as good as the American sites (Thanks again to our dollar), I can still find quite a few good deals.

I ordered several Bluetooth speakers. I find those little things so handy around the house and in the shed. Instead of my old Realistic transistor radio, whose sound and reception were beginning to fail, I can enjoy music right from my iPhone, through the Bluetooth speakers. No wires, but unbelievable sound.

Anyway, getting back to my rant. After ordering and receiving an item, the seller (and Amazon) asks if you could rate your transaction, and maybe write something about your experience. Seeing how I am a blogger, and for my love of the written word, you could imagine the review I wrote. Several days after I sent in the review, I received an email from the seller.

Apparently they were pretty impressed with my review. I was asked if I wanted to review other items. I was even offered an 80% discount if I wished them to send me items to review. Of course I would have to purchase the item, but at a great savings. So I agreed.

My first thing to review was a food thermometer. I received the item very fast. When I tried the item, I was disappointed with a few of its features. When I wrote the review, I was immediately contacted by the seller.

“Thanks for the review of our fine product, but could you please edit it before publishing it? Better still, could you please send us your rough copy for our approval before you post it?”

What the hell? Do you want an honest review or do you want me to lie? If you want me to lie, you can go to hell. I agreed to give my honest opinion of your product, so others will know what they are getting. I will not lie.

“Sir, we do not want you to lie. We just want you to write about your positive experience. Please write about the pros, and leave out the cons.”

I wrote back, this time less enthusiastic as I was in the past. I told the seller how leaving out the truth and lying is the same thing. I also let them know how dissatisfied I was with their treatment of me, and how I am not for sale. Apparently most people accept their 80% discount and write what they are told, but I for one, cannot be bought. Furthermore, I explained how I will never purchase anything from this seller again. I will also tell my friends of this fiasco.

I have not been asked to write another review.

a day at the races are no more

When the armed forces left our town in the late ’60s, they left many things behind. The best thing (at least for the younger people in the town) was the airstrip. Although the town continued running an airport, there was one length of airstrip that was no longer used.

The ‘Ramp’ as it was called, was that particular length of airstrip. A quarter mile of pavement that was relatively smooth provided the young men with an excellent race track. I heard that drag racing began soon after the army left, and by the time I was old enough to drive a car, the sport had excelled immensely.

On Sundays, many residents of the town gathered to watch the races. The racers were the richer kids in town, which made perfect sense, as this was not by any means a poor man’s sport.

The best car on the track and a fan favourite was a 1970 Ford Mustang that was customized with a 429 V8 engine, beautiful blue metallic paint, and a set of side-pipes. Rob Fitzpatrick owned the car and both he and the car were instantly recognizable wherever he went.

Most of the time, racers were from our immediate area. Genie Hanlon ran a big block Chevelle, the paint was a flat black and the car wasn’t anything special to look at, but could it ever go. Wayne Delaney ran a ’67 Camaro with a supercharger that deafened everyone when he ran the track.

Of course being 17, sitting in my old six banger and dreaming I had a hot rod was torture. On one occasion, my cousin Arthur (not rich by any means, but a true car guy) managed to find an old Javelin and fix it up. With a big block V8 jammed between the fenders, the little car could really haul ass.

Some guy in a rusted out firebird challenger Art to a race. Before he began the race, he asked if I wanted to come along. Mom and dad would have killed me if they seen their 17 year old son flying down the quarter mile in that old car, but I could not have been more proud…and excited.

100 mph down the track and I soon realized that the road was anything but smooth. At one point I thought he was going to lose the car, but thankfully he managed to control the car and we got back safe. We also won the race. The guy’s firebird stalled before he even got started.

On any given Sunday, there were approximately 100 cars racing, which brought lots of tourists into our town. Add to this the money brought into service stations and garages, and the Sunday races at the ramp brought the town a ton of money.

I still remember the last race on the ramp. A blue mustang and a pickup truck were running neck and neck (nobody knew what that guy had in the truck but it was fast) when suddenly a squad car passed the crowd, and with its lights flashing, waited for the racers to make their return run to the start line. Everyone was arrested and fined, and race day on the ramp ended. Apparently someone complained about how dangerous the races were. In over 25 years of racing, nobody was ever seriously injured, and there were no accidents during the races.

For a few years afterwards, a few people tried to organize racing again, but the heyday that was enjoyed during the 70’s and 80’s was now long gone.

A few years back, a few of the town’s residents applied for a grant to start a drag racing track in the town. They obtained many safety features, including an actual starting light. (back in the good old days a blonde in short shorts waving a red flag started the races) and bleachers for the spectators. Seeing how desperate the town was for some sort of entertainment, the old hot rodders came out of retirement and began racing again, but the racing group was hit by such high insurance rates that they had to give the thing up. Right now you can drive by the track, which has been fenced off by the government, but it is impossible to gain access to the quarter mile strip.

While racing was legal on the ramp, young drivers had an outlet for their energy. You never seen any kids speeding on the streets, and there were next to no accidents in town. Once the track was taken away, the kids searched for any straight, smooth quarter mile of pavement and raced there. A kid that I knew quite well lost his life when he was racing and he hit an oncoming car. This would have never happened if he were racing on the track. Kids will drive fast, why not give them a safe place to do so? Thats my rant for today

Sports day! Ugh!

My kid was excited to go to school today…(First time for everything I guess) Today is Sports Day. Some kids LOVE Sports Day..When I was a kid, I HATED Sports Day…a showcase of how much I sucked at various (if not all) sports. In fact, I hated Sports Day so much that even the mere mention of this horrendous day sent chills across my now not so skinny self.

My frustration began when most of my classmates received medals, each consisting of Bronze, Silver and Gold variants. I would have been so proud to have earned even a Silver medal, but  no such luck. Every year, I received a Participaction pin. This was given to all kids, regardless of their level of sports suckiness. I had a collection of those damn pins for each of my middle school and even high school years. Lots of pins, but not one medal.

I remember my first year of high school. Throughout the summer, my legs actually grew. No longer was I the short skinny kid. Now I was the tall even skinnier kid. Despite this, I figured that this year would be different. I would be competing against shorter kids, who never had the fortune of possessing those long legs.

Trouble was, I was as shaky on those skinny legs as a one legged ostrich. Throughout the day, I managed to retain my record as the worst athlete in the school…and then finally, towards the end of the day, the one event where my long legs might actually prove beneficial arrived. The 100 meter dash.

All the kids lined up at the starting line. I was definitely the tallest kid. I looked around and sure enough, a crowd of shrimps, all envious of my long legs. The teacher shot off the pistol and we were off.

I ran like the wind, passing everyone. I had a lead throughout most of the race, and with the finish line in my sights, and NOBODY even close, I tripped over a dog.

That’s right, a dog. Some stray dog had crossed the playground just as I was about to cross the finish line and win not only my first medal, but a GOLD medal.  I ran into the furry beast and my legs came out from under me. I landed on my head, the damn dog licking my face as if I was a long lost friend…and EVERYONE passed me. I just lay there, staring up into the heavens, cursing the damn dog who had now abandoned me, and left me to deal with yet another year of Sports Day defeat.

The Gym Teacher asked if I wanted to run the race again, but I declined. It just wasn’t in the stars for me to win a race; and then, to add to my disgrace, the teacher presented me with a Participaction pin.

Damn I hate Sports Day! I sure hope the dog catcher is on hand for my son’s Sports Day. Wouldn’t want him tripping over a dog…who does that anyway?

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People are dumb

People are dumb. I have proof.

I was walking my dogs in the park the other day and this genius walks up to me and asks “That your dog?”

I wanted to reply several things…such as:

“No, I stole all three of them.”

“No, my cat was bored, so I picked him up this little doggie costume and…”

“No, these are actually tiny horses”

To follow the ‘That your dog’ question, some even ask:

“Does he bite?”

The polite thing to say would be “Never know, I wouldn’t trust him.”

But I would say “Pull his tail and find out”

That’s like whenever I am at the hospital (Not often with the health care we have here…)

There is always a genius who tries to spark up a conversation with the line

“How you doing?”

Politely, I usually reply “Not bad”, but if I wasn’t doing badly, why would I be at the hospital?

What I should have replied was:

“Well, I was home feeling great and decided to visit the hospital to see what I could catch.”

Speaking of hospitals, this is a clue to just how long it takes to see a doctor on call:

A lady sat next to me with a packsack on her back. At 9 a.m., she takes out an egg sandwich, at 12, she takes out a salad she made. In other words, she planned on waiting the entire day to see a doctor, and as a precaution, she packed food. Smart Lady, dumb health care system.

The Wave

What is it with the wave? You drive down the street, someone waves at you. If you wave back, you get a smile, a sign of approval. If you fail to wave, you could very well get the finger.

I overheard two women chatting at the supermarket the other day. They were talking about some guy who drove past them and didn’t wave. They didn’t say who he was, but apparently he thought he was better than at least one of them.

“I held out my hand and waved! He didn’t wave back. What does he think he is better than me? Can’t even wave?”

Hey, the guy was driving. Maybe he only had one hand, or maybe the other hand was busy doing something else…Who knows why he didn’t wave?

What is the significance of ‘The Wave’? I know that in smaller communities, it is customary to wave at every person who drives by. Maybe it is acknowledgement. I see you, I wave. You see me, you wave back. Everything is equal. What if traffic is particulary busy on that day? How do you get anything done if all you do is wave at passersby? Imagine how tiring that must be.

“What have you been doing all day?”

“Well boss, at least thirty cars drove past me today. I had to wave at them. Couldn’t get anything done.”

A while ago, my wife and I were driving through a small community on the province’s west coast. As we passed people’s yards, people came out, running towards the road waving their hands. My wife got scared. “What did we do? Are they coming for us?” she asked.

When they made it to the roadside, they just stood and waved. “Do you know these people?” she asked.

“No. Just wave back. It’s their way out here. They don’t see many cars, and when they do, they want to seem friendly, so they wave at everyone.”

Does that mean that while we drive we should be constantly scanning the roadside in the event that someone waves? We certainly don’t want to be unfriendly. What if we are staring in the ditch, waving just in case someone is there waving at us….and we slam into oncoming traffic? Can we use the wave as our defense?

“Were you drinking? You were driving in the middle of the road!”

“No Officer, I was waving at some guy in the ditch.”

“Well Okay then. As long as you waved back”

Ya, that will work.

Just saying…

 

Listen to the deaf guy: My life with hearing loss

I have been dealing with hearing problems for the past twenty years, perhaps even longer. Surprisingly, I have taken advantage of hearing aids only over the past three years. The problem with hearing aids is that they are EXPENSIVE! Try $2500 per hearing aid; and most people require two. Depending on what you need, the price goes up even more.

I have been living with hearing loss for so long that I forgot I even had a disability. Rather than admit I had a problem, I would pretend that I had no problem at all. A coping skill that people with hearing impairments sometimes use is Word Association.  When people speak to a person with hearing loss, there is always that one word that we don’t understand. Nobody wants to keep asking people to repeat themselves, so we try to guess what is being said, usually by replacing the word in question with something that rhymes with the word. We do it unintentionally. This practice, although annoying for the person talking to us, allows us to feel as if we are taking part in the conversation; even if we might sound like morons by doing so.

On one occasion, a friend of mine, who also suffers from hearing loss, was helping me renovate my home. He asked me for a tape, to measure a piece of siding that he was installing. I returned with a puzzled look on my face….with a piece of cake. When he finished eating the cake, again he asked for the measuring tape. We both laughed, but really it wasn’t all that funny.

God knows how many people I have been introduced to in my lifetime; some of them influential people who could have helped me along the way. It wasn’t as if I couldn’t remember their names, I just never heard them when we were introduced, and again, I didn’t want to ask the person to keep repeating himself. It was embarrassing to be deaf.

And Crowds! Talk about a nightmare. If any more than one person is speaking, I could not differentiate who was saying what. Throw me into a room where there are ten or more people and I am lost. Noisy night clubs and rock concerts are also a challenge for me. I usually nod and pretend that I hear what the person is saying, just to be polite.

Trying to watch television was also torture. I used to strain to hear so hard that I ended up getting headaches. I can’t tell you how many times I watched my favorite TV shows with subtitles scrolling across the screen. I could have continued doing this, but I wanted to hear what was going on. This led  to depression and confusion.

Little things that people with normal hearing take for granted are very confusing for a person with a hearing loss. Things like trying to find the cordless phone when it rings. When I was lucky enough to actually hear the phone, I could not determine where it was located. I can’t say how many calls I missed because of this. Even now with hearing aids, this remains a problem.

You remember that commercial on television for the Whisper 2000? The one where the guy sat and laughed as he overheard everyone talking? I knew a guy who actually ordered the thing. He explained how it was not near as effective as it appeared on the commercial. He said the thing hung from your neck, and when people seen it, they simply stopped talking in front of you. Not that it actually worked, but given the ad on TV, people believed he could hear their innermost secrets and desires.

I remember when I had my hearing test. I sat behind a soundproof glass and the audiologist would say various words and ask me to repeat them. I got them all right. Confused, he put a piece of paper in front of his face and did the exercise again. I got them all wrong. I was reading lips. I didn’t even know I was doing this. he said that lip reading is a coping mechanism that hearing impaired people use to function in society. He explained that often, the person doesn’t even know they are doing it.When I think about it, I do tend to stare at people’s lips when I talk to them.

The audiologist was amazed that I functioned this long without any kind of hearing aid. The test showed that my right ear 20% hearing loss, my left ear 80%. That is enough to throw anyone off balance. Maybe this explains why I am so clumsy sometimes.

When I received my hearing aids, I doubted they would be affective. I put them in and right away I was deafened by the screeching of song birds outside. This is a sound I had all but forgotten. I had to ask my son to tone his voice down, as he was deafening me as well. He was confused by this, because ever since I have known him, I have been asking him to speak up so that I could hear him. In fact, everyone I came in contact with on that day yelled at me. I felt as if I had done something wrong.

To celebrate not having to yell at me or repeat everything she was talking about, my wife (my fiancée at the time) asked if I wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate. I agreed; I should have stayed home.

When we got to the restaurant, I was in torture. Forks scraping on glass plates, glasses clinking, babies crying loudly, and gossip everywhere. Since this was my first day with hearing aids, I wasn’t able to tune out various sounds, so I heard everything, all at once! God, I don’t think that guy should be out to dinner with that young woman who obviously wasn’t his wife. And the things they spoke about made me red in the face! One would think that being able to hear things not meant for you is a laugh. I tend to disagree.

Afterwards we went for a walk along the beach. What a racket the waves made! I never heard waves crashing in so long, I forgot how intense and powerful the sound was. I forgot how many things sounded. Hearing aids allowed me to enjoy sounds that most people take for granted.

Let me tell you this. Hearing aids are not the answer for hearing loss. They are an aid, but not a cure. The sound that you ‘hear’ is not the sound you expect to hear. They certainly take some getting used to. At first, everything seemed to have a squeaky sound, like a cheap transistor radio. Eventually you do get used to this, but it took me at least a year to do so.

That being said, my hearing aids did improve my quality of life. They also improved the quality of my wife’s life. Only now did she reveal her frustrations. She said that on countless occasions, she spoke to me, only to have me stare into empty space, unaware that she said anything. God love her for her patience. Actually I have her to thank for even having hearing aids. She said that if we were to get married, I would have to do something about my hearing problem. I am glad I did!

Hearing aids have evolved since they first came on the market. My grandmother had a set over twenty years ago. Two hard plastic things that sat in her bedroom cabinet for years. “I am not wearing that!” she would argue. “They hurt my ears and everything is too loud” she would say. She kept them in the drawer next to her teeth. Go figure.

My hearing aids are very small. Most people have no idea that I am wearing them. I could have gone even smaller, a unit so small that the entire hearing aid fit into the ear canal. I chose the ones I have because I have a fear of a battery in my ear canal.

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The unit I have also came with a remote control. I joke with my wife that I can now put her on ‘mute’. She says that she has been on mute since she met me. If anyone has benefited from my new hearing, she is the one. It must have been torture for her.

According to the doctor, my hearing loss could have been caused by one or more factors. Since my father also uses hearing aids, it could have been caused by genetics. I have also been subjecting my ears to loud noise all my life. From the time I was 16 until the age of 37, I worked in the logging industry, using chainsaws and being around loud machinery without the use of ear plugs or any other hearing protection. Add to that my 25 plus years as a mobile disk jockey, with anywhere between 400 and 800 watts of sound banging in my ears at any given time. When I think about it, I really abused my ears. It’s no wonder I can hear at all.

Battery life isn’t all that great with hearing aids. Even though I remove the batteries at night, I still only get about three days out of a pair. This can prove quite costly for some. Anyone without a good health insurance would pay dearly for the ability to hear, something most simply take for granted.

My newfound hearing ability has allowed me to do so much more with my life. My self-confidence has increased, I am less reserved and I can get involved in most conversations, and I can better function in society.

If you suffer from hearing loss, get yourself tested. I can’t emphasize how much my life has improved since receiving hearing aids.

 

 

 

one solemn request

To all out in blog land,

if you could do yourself a tiny favour. If you smoke, could you take the time to remove the cigarette pack from your pocket or purse, and beat the damn thing up?

Could you take this day to be smoke free, even if it means a bit of personal suffering on your part? Could you do this for the sick and dying in hospitals, all due to the terrible addiction called smoking?

Do this not only for those sick and dying in our hospitals because of smoking, but for their families and friends and for those who love and care for them. Do this not only for your own health, but for your children, your families, your friends, and for those who love and care about you. Those are the ones who suffer most, feeling helpless and forced to watch and endure all the pain you have to suffer because of your nicotine habit.

One day, that’s all I ask. Do this to prove to the cigarette companies and to the governments who continue to profit from your addiction that you are strong and that you can give up smoking. Show them that you care about yourself and most of all about your families and friends who love you.

sum of the parts

On Friday, the oven of our Frigidaire Electric range stopped working. Of course it was while baking a chicken.

No problem, change the fuse on the top panel of the range and everything is fixed, right?

Wrong! No fuse panel on the damn thing.

Further research, (and a visit from a repairman) and we discover that they don’t make ranges with fuse panels anymore. Instead, all electrical connections go to a circuit board that is glued (you read that right, GLUED) to the back of the digital clock.

Well, still not discouraged, how much could this circuit board possibly cost? The entire range only cost $599 five years ago.

Try $450 for the part, and an hourly rate for the repairman. We were looking at over $600 for a $600 range that is only five years old. What about the other parts of the thing? Are they free?

We went to buy a new range, and agreed upon the model I actually wanted but couldn’t afford (still can’t) at the time of the Frigidaire purchase….a Maytag with a double oven, and has features such as self-cleaning, a convection oven, a ceramic top, power windows, power brakes (kidding on those options).

The department store offered free delivery and even offered to take our old one. When the delivery guys showed up, I told them that they would have a practically good range if anyone wanted to fix it, as the top portion of the thing worked fine. Their response? Junk. We are dumping it on the way back to the shop. Progress? I think not.

Now to cook a chicken and a ham at the same time while boiling potatoes….after I read the manual that is actually a novel thick enough to base a movie on…

Oh, and I am back. Couldn’t stay away.

News Story of the day: A Tail of two Kitty’s…(parts)

You’ll never guess what we have here in Newfoundland….give up? How about a cat with two parts? That’s right, a ‘furmaphroditic’ cat. Amazed, right?

WORLD NEWS?  Newfoundland NEVER makes world news. Most people don’t even know where Newfoundland is, for crying out loud!

Hundreds of people are losing their jobs due to the drop in oil prices and Mittens doesn’t know which bathroom to use!

As the story goes, mixed up Mittens showed up on the lady’s doorstep, and when she went to get the cat ‘done’, the vet broke the news that she/he needed to be spayed AND neutered. And then, the vet needed to do ‘special surgery’ where they flipped a coin and decided that Mittens (a rather non-gender specific name) would lose one part and keep the other. Mittens would become a male. Apparently it’s easier to plug one part than to cut off the other.

The poor lady was hit with a vet bill totaling over $1500! I bet since the news story hit the airwaves, donations will soon come ‘purring’ in. In no time at all,  the island’s latest celebrity, Mr. Mittens, will be feasting on the best cat food money can buy, sans her vagina.

Tomorrow nobody will remember the cute little kitty….except for the vet, who stands to make a bundle on the entire situation.

My answer to the problem? Have some respect for the animal. If she/he is suffering, get her put to sleep. If she isn’t suffering (the cat appears healthy), leave her alone. And leave her the way God meant her to be.

That’s my Rant for the week.