Kittens, Justin Bieber and Walmart – from cute to annoying

cute kittenSince I’ve joined the Facebook community, I’ve noticed just how many sickeningly cute pictures and videos there are of cats.  I’m pretty sure the people who were the brain thrust of the internet didn’t have snoring kittens in mind.

If you know me, you know I’ve never been much of a cat lover, but I do admit that kittens have their charm.  Those doey eyes, fluffy fur and curious nature are hard to resist…until they’re not cute anymore.  Then they just pee on your stuff and shred the corners of your favourite furniture.

Puppies, with their over-sized paws clumsily bound around the house, knocking over kids and plants, and they constantly fall down the stairs – adorable!  Then they get big, and they become a smelly, hairy pain in the tush.  Then, when they knock stuff over, it’s ‘outdoors, Rover!’

Even Canada’s You Tube export, Justin Bieber was cute at one point.  With his wispy hair-do and sickeningly sweet tones.  Not any more!  Now there’s a petition to have him extradited back to Canada.  Somewhere along the line, his irresistible charm tarnished badly.

It’s funny how we view things – there was an ad a while ago, I think for a car company, where they compared a squirrel to a rat.  Basically, visually speaking, they look the same, except that the squirrel has a nice big bushy tail.  Everyone loves squirrels but hates rats…presumably because of the tail.  The fact that rats live in the sewers, spread plague and eat garbage doesn’t help, either.

I don’t remember the car or what they were trying to explain.

I’ve been doing a bit of ‘entrepreneurial’ work lately (that’s a secret code word for ‘a couple hours of work on the internet followed by grass cutting, chatting with neighbours, wandering the aisles of Costco, and napping through home improvement shows’).

Everyone loves to hear about small business success stories.  Little Davids out there, taking on the giant, ugly Goliath’s of the business world.  ‘”Go get em’!”  I’d hear.  “What a great idea.  I’m sure you’ll make a killing at that”, and so on.

All very rah-rah, and good for the emotional soul.  I guess what I keep wondering though, is when does the rah-rah stop, and the web-bashing begin?  I mean, it’s not likely that I’ll be an overnight success and suddenly be subject to scrutiny over my hiring or wage practices, but still…

What got me wondering about this, is that recently I heard an argument that although we all love to hate Walmart despite the ironic fact that almost all of us hand over our cash to them every week, they too were a success story.  Somewhere back in little Bentonville, Arkansas, at a 5 and Dime store known as ‘Walton’s’, and founded by that kindly-looking country bumkin ‘soon-to-be billionaire’, Sam Walton was a small business owner who had his share of ‘rah-rah’ admirers.

But, like kittens and Justin, something changed.  Once they became big, or self-realized, or smug, or whatever, we decided they resembled the rat more than the squirrel.  I guess we all like a success story until it’s, well…successful.  Huh.

I read a book…well read most of a book called ‘The Tipping Point’.  Basically, it was trying to explain that at some point, a trickle becomes a deluge based on a slight change in the fulcrum of the balance of things.  I never did get through it, but I think it applies here.

There is a tipping point where children aren’t adorable any more.  We still love them and care for them, but they tend to drive us nuts a little more.  They tipped.

Maybe that’s what happened to Justin Bieber and Walmart.  They were cute and adorable, but the invisible pendulum swung a bit too far the other way, and suddenly weren’t lovable any more.  They abused or outgrew their cuteness and suddenly became annoying and ugly.

The success story that got them where they are was also their undoing in the eyes of public opinion.  The squirrel’s tail turned into an ugly, skin coloured whip, and we turned away in disgust.

Cute keeps you alive when you’re young – heck, even I was ‘cute-ish’ when I was little, in a freckle faced Ginger sort of way, but when my legs grew longer than my body, and my voice changed, little bits of that rat tail emerged.  You can’t count on your adorableness for too long, so you have to adapt.

I guess it means always looking like the squirrel, and not letting your rat tail show.  Maybe that’s what all those spin doctors are there for – to try to convince the public that your favourite celebrity or business success story still has a bushy tail.

For me, my self-employment venture is a very long way from ever looking like a rat, but if I’m lucky, a long way down the road, someone will point out that my tail is showing.  I’m sure my loving friends and family will ensure I stay ever so humble.


Here’s my shameless plug (while I’m still cute):

magicmats video image



How strong are thought bubbles?

thought bubbleHow terrifying would it be if your thoughts leaked out, and people could hear them?

Ever really listen to your inner voice?  You know, that imaginary thought bubble no one else can see? Good thing, eh?  It’s especially good that most of us have the self control to not utter these thoughts out loud – or worse, act on them.

It dawned on me today that my thoughts and outward actions are polar opposites.  No wonder my hair’s turned white!

Here’s what I mean – standing in line behind an elderly woman, fishing through her purse for change – my thoughts…

(Are you freakin’ kidding me?  You counted the same dime 3 times already!  Hurry up…not everyone is retired, you know!)

Of course, it played out pretty differently – she turns and sees the growing line of impatient customers and apologizes for being slow.  I say ‘No worries, take your time’.

You get the picture.  I’m sure hoping that my little thought bubbles are Kevlar strength, otherwise I’m pretty sure my tires would be slashed and I’d get egged all the way home.

But what if they leaked a bit?  What if every once in a while, people actually heard what you were thinking?  Yikes!!

Does anyone know for sure that our thoughts are fully protected from escape?  I mean, there isn’t any kind of written guarantee, is there?  Do they wear out over time?

Maybe that’s what happens when people get old and just say whatever they think.  It’s not that they don’t care any more, maybe they just wore out their thought bubbles, and now everything just kind of spills out of them like a leaky faucet.  Heck, it’s not just the thoughts that leak when you get old…okay, a little off topic there.

Maybe we need to test them once in a while – like you’d test your brakes before driving down the side of a mountain……’cause death will occur in either instance if something fails.

Okay, here goes:  ‘I’m thinking of a bacon cheeseburger.’  “Honey, are you hungry?”

“Maybe“, she’d answer. “How about a nice garden salad?”

“A salad?  Sure you don’t want anything else?”

“Can’t think of anything else I’d like”

All clear!  No thoughts leaked out…let’s try something a little more daring:

‘Those new pants make you look fat’“What are you wearing tonight?”

“Those new pants.  You like them on me, right?”

“Love ’em!”

Yup – super-strong bubbles!  No chance of leaks tonight!

Gotta love a sturdy thought bubble.  Tested and approved…now if I could just get my eyes to not sell me out.


Swaying the vote

voteHere in Ontario, we’re facing a Spring election.

Further reinforcing my disdain for all things Spring, like the flowers, trees, and bugs, ugly orange, blue and red political signs will pop up on lawns and boulevards like some alien vegetation that can’t be killed off by spraying.

Friendly ‘How-dee-doo’ neighbours will throw down their rakes and garden tools and wrestle each other to the ground, swearing ‘Commie’ or ‘Capitalist Pig’ as they jockey and argue the finer points of Big Labour versus Big Business.  It’ll be epic!

Elections are nothing new in our democratic society, but here in the ‘Mid-Life Crisis’ household, everything will change.  This year, both of my darling offspring have reached the age of majority and will have the civic duty of casting a ballot for the first time ever.

Exciting times, you might say.  The youth of our society can finally hold the power of the future in their fresh, idealistic hands. This is their chance to right all the selfish wrongs of past generations.

Here’s the dilemma:  How do I stress the importance of having an independent voice in our democracy and ensure their issues are being addressed without nudging these malleable minds into my scarred and biased beliefs?

How do I convince them to make up their own minds about who to vote for if I keep holding up my enormous electricity bill and telling them that it’s all because of the current administration that we can’t have nice things at home?

Maybe the question isn’t how do I not sway them, but should I sway them to my (correct) way of thinking?  It’s a tough position to be in.

I truly want my kids to create their own opinions on these things, then at least I can argue their flawed thinking with a clear conscience.  If I just tell them how to vote, I might create a bunch of drones that haven’t put any effort into forming their own belief system.

Maybe that isn’t so bad – any vote is better than no vote, right?

Election results show that almost half of us don’t even bother casting a ballot. “I don’t know enough about it”, I’m sometimes told, or “All the candidates suck”.  True and true.

It’s hard to argue those points – election campaigns are filled with mud-slinging, double talk, half-truths, and vague promises that the average person can’t unpack enough to make an intelligent deduction about.

You might even say “It won’t make any difference”.  Well, it might not.  But one thing is true;  If nothing changes, then, well nothing changes.  That’s the only sure thing in this debate – you can guarantee that if a vote is not cast, things will stay the same, and you will fulfill the prophecy that it didn’t make a difference.

The same government bureaucracies, tax dollar waste, corruption, disconnection from the public, and shrinking economy will be the status quo.  That’s about the only sure thing to happen when the voting public turns an apathetic ear to elections.

It was the band Rush that sang: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”.  That choice is either ‘I’m happy with the way things are, and I believe that others will re-elect the incumbency’, or ‘I’m not happy with with the way things are, but I’m not suffering enough to take any action to change it’.

All the candidates have Facebook and twitter accounts.  They’re in the news and on the radio.  Check them out.  Maybe it’s a key issue you want to address, or maybe it’s the way they look or talk.  That’s for you to decide on.  Maybe they’re making claims that you should vet out to see if they’re valid.

If it comes down to it, and no one is a clear winner in your books, find the least awful candidate, hold your nose, and cast your ballot. Or, you might yawn and go back to watching ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’, like most of us do at election time.

Me?  I’m going to encourage my kids to form their own opinions on all of this, and do my best to get them involved with the political process that our prior generations fought for.  I can’t promise, though, that I won’t leave my electricity bill sitting out on the counter.

Ode to the pasty-legged

Pasty legs








From the depths of winter darkness arise,

A shivery silhouette of chalk-white thighs.

Boldly defying the prismatic laws of light,

The embarrassment of public exposure they’ll fight.

Little children will run for a secure and safe place,

But adults can’t hide the shock on their face.

The ‘Ginger’ appears in shorts to the sun,

Sickening folks and ruining their fun.

The ghost-like gleam seems opaque to the eye,

While the mid-day sun reflects to the sky.

Slathered in cream, SPF 60,

They wander around all footloose and free.

With no pigment or sense of self aware,

The surface of skin they should beware.

In about 5 minutes they’ll regretfully learn,

The thin epidermis will rapidly burn.

Over-exposed and turning all red,

The pasty-legged will retreat to their bed.

Coating the crimson coloured pores with aloe,

The legs I’m sure will be pink and aglow.

This is the plight of us fair-skinned folks,

As summer approaches, like a terrible hoax.

We worship the sun high and ablaze,

Why we don’t explode, I’m still amazed.

Sunglasses are needed to block all the glare,

So goes the summer of us, the fare.

Pity the Ginger and light-skinned you see,

Since this poem is all about me.



The Faceplant

facebook logoThey must be handing out parkas in Purgatory.  This week, I joined Facebook.  Yes, welcome me to 2004.

Social networking has been one of necessity rather than desire for the most part.  Joining the awesome and exposed world of Facebook was a frightening thought for a guy like me, who uses this blog site as a semi-anonymous way to share deep thoughts and feelings (okay, sometimes not-so-deep thoughts) without losing control.  This can make for a pretty lonely existence – no disrespect to my current group of followers, of course.

Baring one’s soul to the cyberworld is an intimidating venture when you can’t just take it back, so I’ve put it off with lame excuses and procrastination.

The trouble is, when you’re used to 2 soup cans with a string between them (the kids will have to look that reference up), eventually there isn’t anyone holding up the other can, and you just look foolish talking to yourself.

But hey, I’m a modern, tech-savvy kind of guy.  Just because there’s a little snow on the old roof, doesn’t mean there’s not a hip party happening in the living room, right?  I know how to set up a printer and scan for viruses on my computer. I can link multiple e-mail addresses to my iPhone.  I’m in touch with how my kids talk and act – I just don’t understand them.  Facebook should be a breeze, right?

I’m 2 days in with my new profile, and I think I’ve already broken a bunch of covenant rules – at least that’s the impression I get from my 2 teens.  Lessons on an open-forum interchange like this will probably all be learned the hard way.  I didn’t even know there were rules.  I guess etiquette is a better word than rules, really.

Like a new golfer, it’ll be others who ‘shush’ you while someone is teeing off that you’ll learn from, unfortunately.

Here’s some that I’ve already broken:

  • Don’t ever tag photos of people who don’t want to be tagged
  • Don’t ever reply to a post that’s more than a week old
  • Don’t fill out your ‘timeline’ unless you know what you’re doing – I have a highlight about leaving a job a year ago….not intentionally
  • Don’t ‘friend’ your kids’ friends – you’ll see things you just can’t take back
  • Always think through responses or comments on posts before you hit ‘enter’

I’m up to 50-something friends already – whoo hoo!  Trouble is, I don’t know what to say to anyone.  Do I start sharing ‘selfies’ and posting photos of my dog sleeping with her tongue hanging out?  Does anyone else really care about this stuff?

Do I need to ‘like’ every inspirational message?  Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

Is there an addictive component to Facebook that I should be aware of?  I find myself checking it every few minutes.  This can’t be healthy.

It’s a pretty steep learning curve I’m on, but as long as I don’t get ‘unfriended’ by everyone before I figure how to navigate this new world correctly, I’ll consider this deep dive into modern communication a successful experiment.  It can’t last that long anyway, right?

‘Like’ this post, or I’ll start sending pictures of me hitting the ‘refresh’ button over and over again…