“What doesn’t kill ya…”

fighting

Remember when you’d get sick and some old codger would say ‘What doesn’t kill ya makes ya stronger.”?

That might be true with viruses and other annoying illnesses like the flu, but not so much with bear attacks and power tool accidents.

I always hated that saying because like most men (and my loving family will confirm), what I’m usually looking for is sympathy…and room service…and the TV remote.  Not life advice.

But it does get you thinking about what MIGHT kill you.

Statistics will tell you that men die younger than women, not because women have a stronger internal system, but because men are more likely to do something stupid enough to kill themselves, thus skewing the numbers in women’s favour.

Darwin’s theory of evolution was probably right.darwin  It’s not the fittest but the most adaptable to change that survive.  And men have a distinct disadvantage to women on that front.  It’s called testosterone.

Testosterone is what drives men to prove they don’t need to adapt, or be safe, or make good judgement decisions.

This is particularly true of younger men….and oh, boy! Do they prove it!

When I was a kid, I really didn’t think about dying at all – that’s what old people did.  When I was a bit older though, death-defying stunts became all too common, and I started to wonder what I’d do that would kill me.

I don’t think I ever deliberately pushed the boundaries of life and death, but I sure made the grim reaper sit up a few times.

grim

It’s funny how your perception of how you’ll die changes as you age.  When I was younger, I figured I’d go out in a blaze of glory strapped to a nuclear warhead and shot into a tanker full of fuel and the explosion would cause an earthquake and everyone would say ‘Wow, what an epic death!’.

Pretty stupid, eh?  I mean, how would I get a hold of a nuclear warhead?  Amazon wasn’t even invented yet.

After you’ve had a few close calls though, you figure that it’ll be something a lot less glamorous than nuclear warheads.  Probably a chainsaw accident or alcohol poisoning would be more likely.  Or an alcohol and chainsaw combination.

Now I’m beginning to understand that it’s not stupid testosterone-induced stunts,  but what’s gonna go wrong with my internal system that’ll finally take me out.

I seem to be spending more time at doctor’s appointments than seeing if I can beat that freight train to the level crossing with my car.

car

I find myself comparing notes with my brothers about colonoscopies and cardiologist results, and discussing the benefits of eating kale and drinking 4 liters of water a day.  I never thought we’d sit around comparing who had the most polyps.

I think my wife likes this change in me. She made this pact with me while I was asleep one night, that she had to ‘go’ first, so that she didn’t have to face old age alone.  I don’t recall agreeing to any such pact, and I don’t think there’s much retribution if I renege on it.

It does mean that I’m spending more time being careful than being carefree, but I’ve managed to put off joining a yoga class so far.

It could be that all those stupid human tricks I did when I was younger really did make me stronger, since they didn’t kill me.  I guess the old codger was right – what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.  Except for bears.  Bears will kill you.

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Of Course I’m Right! Just Ask Me.

smart

I carry a burden.

Sometimes, people ask for my opinion on stuff.  I can only assume that they intend to heed my advice, otherwise why would they ask?

That’s the burden.  My advice, answers, perspectives, thoughts, and even emotions can be a pretty serious contemplation – especially knowing that future generations will in some small way follow my lead.  That’s a lot for one man to carry.

On the upside, I always know I’m right, so there’s comfort in that.

Now, you might be saying ‘Wow – what an ego on that guy!‘, but that’s not true. In fact, I pride myself on my humility.

The thing is, if I thought I was wrong, I wouldn’t offer advice.  None of us would, unless you were some sort of psychopath and deliberately gave people bad advice just to mess with them.

Your opinion is the currency of how others appreciate your wisdom and intelligence.

There are times of course, that I may have no opinion at all.  If I was asked if I preferred knitting or crocheting, I would have no clue, since I neither knit nor crochet. In this case, I would be confident in saying ‘I have no opinion on that topic.  You should ask someone else’.

Even in saying that, I’m showing that I’m correct in my advice…to not take my advice.

See how that works?  But it’s not always that simple.  Sometimes, I will be asked for my advice then have it questioned.  I don’t know why.  If someone wanted my opinion, why then would they choose not to take it?

Let me give you a hypothetical example that in no way reflects any actual events.  Let’s pretend that my lovely wife is picking out a dress for a party.  She holds up 2 outfits and says; “The red dress, or the blue one?”  She’s asking my opinion, presumably because she understands that I have some fashion credibility and she clearly wants to look her best standing next to me.  I need all the help I can get.

I tell her “The blue one”.  That should be it, right?  Asked and answered.  Conversation over, decision made, I’ll be waiting in the car.  You’re welcome.

Really?”, she’ll then say.  What?  Why is she questioning my decision?  Even if I was’t paying attention or watching TV when she asked, I’d have at least a 50/50 shot at getting it right – pretty good odds.

Why the blue one?, she would go on to ask.  Uh, oh.  Not only has my input been brought into question, now I’m being asked to back up my decision with facts.

“Because I like the blue one on you”…I may leave out the fact that we’re already late and the blue one looks like it doesn’t need ironing.  This is how I balance promptness and self-preservation.

“But the red one goes better with my shoes”.  Now we’re treading into deep waters.  If I rescind my original decision about the blue dress, I soil my reputation as being decisive and correct, and my currency begins to devalue.  On the other hand, if I hold fast, we may miss the hors d’oeuvres altogether.

“Okay, the red dress does look better with those shoes.  Wear the red dress.”  I reply.  This doesn’t negate my previous position on the dress.  New information was brought to my attention after the fact, which changed my position.  Good judgement still intact, and my currency stays afloat.  My reputation for promptness however, will be pocked, but sometimes you just gotta go with it, right?

“But you liked the blue one better.”  Sheesh!

“Not with those shoes.”  I should play more chess – I’m a genius!

“Maybe I should wear the blue dress and pick out another pair of shoes”.  Touche! This is no longer an opportunity to offer input, but a battle of the minds.  I wished I had grabbed a snack when I had the chance.

This hypothetical tarry could go on for hours…hypothetically.  But that’s the point of my dilemma.  If I’m asked my opinion, I offer it and expect that to be taken with the utmost consideration. That’s not always the case.  Sometimes, my opinion is nothing more than an opportunity to be an external ‘internal voice’ to be questioned, rebutted, and occasionally outright rejected.

That’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re always right.  You put real thought into offering your input.  When it’s questioned or rejected, it makes you just a bit less sure of yourself.  And that’s dangerous.  The acceptance of your opinion bolsters your currency.  If it’s discarded, it makes you less valuable, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, if you know you’re always right – like I do – maybe it’s more of a reflection on those who reject your input that on your wisdom (previous hypothetical scenario notwithstanding). But that’s just my opinion.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, my wife wore a black dress, looked beautiful in it, and we missed the hors d’oeuvres.  Hypothetically.

Realistic New Year’s Resolution Planning

lazy

Before you all rush around making ridiculous and unachievable resolutions to live better, lose weight, stop smoking, reduce smuggling plutonium, or tackling whatever other demon plagued you last year, you should heed my realistic advice.

These simple tips will make achieving your New Years goals a lot simpler:

1.   Make your win easy

There’s nothing worse than gearing up all through the Christmas season with weight loss, reduced vices, treating others nicely, then finding out you’ve over extended your self-motivation and can’t do any better on January 1st.  You should start around Halloween with over-eating, smoking 3 packs a day, drinking on the job, etc.  That way, if you even go back to more normal self-destructive patterns, you’re way ahead of the game!

2.     Aim low

“Reach for the moon!  You may not get there, but you’ll be among the stars”…what a bunch of fertilizer!

starsHow can you reach for the moon?  Most arms are no more than 3′ long…the moon is over 200,000 miles away.  Not gonna happen.  And the ‘stars’ are WAY farther away than that.  How can you be among the stars if you couldn’t even get close to the moon?  It just doesn’t make any sense. Guaranteed failure.

Reach for the fridge – it’s right there in your house…even has a handle on it, made just for your tiny little arms.  I bet you can achieve that goal without looking like a lunatic.

 

3.    Don’t tell anyone your real resolutions

Sure, the so-called experts will tell you that getting your friends and family to help you with your goals will help with networking and support.  How has that worked for you so far, my friend?  By telling everyone, you just set yourself up for public humiliation when you do fail. Not a great motivator, is it?

Tell them something that you know you can achieve without even trying…like ‘I resolve to enjoy my leisure time more in 2016’.  See?  That’s something you can get your friends to cheer about when you spend an entire weekend on the couch, binge-watching Supernatural on Netflix!

If your real goal is to double your income, lose 40lbs, and feed the children on the streets of Calcutta, you’re not only going to fail, you’ll disappoint your friends.  Don’t disappoint your friends.

In the end, we all want to find a way to improve our lot in life….let’s not set ourselves up for utter failure.  Make small, ‘fall-off-a-rock’ simple wins that may help us just feel a tiny bit better about ourselves.  Doing that may just help us to stretch our tiny little arms a bit closer to that stupid moon.

Happy New Year!

The ‘Spork’ – Making Good Things Worse

spork

What is it about us humans that drives us to take a great invention and make it worse?

Take the ‘spork’ – half fork, half spoon.  Did mankind really need to streamline the eating utensil process to the point where we couldn’t handle using different implements to stuff our face?

Forks are great.  They hold the food down while you cut it, or stab the food so you can pick it up and eat it.  Spoons have that nice concave shape that cradles your favourite soup or pudding.  Beautiful and simple.  Then someone ‘Frankensteined’ them together.

Now fast-food restaurants have made the messy, guilty pleasure of eating crappy food and turned it into a horrible sport.  To save a couple of cents per thousand  on spoons, they came up with a blasphemous cross-breed utensil that doesn’t fork OR spoon well.

What they maybe didn’t calculate is the huge increase in paper towel costs because of this bastardization of two perfectly working eating utensils.

gullAbout the only winners in this failed experiment are the seagulls hovering around outside as your ‘spork’ tries in vain to spear your french fries.

Seagulls probably LOVE sporks!

Don’t even get me started on trying to eat soup with a spork…maybe dry cleaners like sporks as much as the seagulls.

This planet was just not made for ‘multi’ tools.  There’s an order to nature that we just need to stop trying to mess with.  Everything has a purpose and when we combine more than one together, we end up with less than the sum of their parts.

How about sofa beds?  Same thing – they took two perfectly working pieces of household furniture and turned them into something awful.

They’re uncomfortable as hell as a couch, and is there ANYONE on this planet who thinks they’re a great idea for a bed after spending the night on one?

back

I guess if you don’t have a spare bedroom, you might consider one, but I can guarantee that you won’t have any long-term guests with that torture tool sitting in your living room.

It’s like multi-tasking.  Anyone who tells you they can multi task is a liar!  All they do is more than one thing really badly.

I know – my wife calls while I’m typing.  I can’t do both even though I think I can.  She knows when I’m doing something else while talking to her on the phone, too. She’ll ask about what we’re going to have for dinner and I say “Sure – sounds good“.  Huhh?

So, next time someone tells you they can multi task, stab them with a spork!

Mauve…And Other Things That Scare Me About Women’s Fashion

fashion

I’ve spent a lot of years living with the opposite sex, so you’d think that just through osmosis I’d learn a bit of their language.  My wife once asked me to pick up a pair of ‘taupe’ pantyhose for her – with the reinforced toe.  Right…taupe…reinforced toe.

For me, a reinforced toe meant a work boot with the green ‘steel toe’ tag on it.

Eventually I leaned that ‘taupe’ was light brown or beige…but not beige, just more of a creamy beige…but not really beige.

Then, just when I figured I knew the entire colour chart; red, blue, green, yellow, brown, black…and beige, they throw a new one at me – mauve.

I can honestly say that I can’t tell you with any certainty what colour mauve is supposed to be.  Maybe something in the green or purple spectrum?  I don’t know.  It’s all very confusing.

The other day a free fashion magazine showed up in the mail, presumably for my wife, but I’m always excited to have new reading material while I take care of business. Last year’s Ikea catalogue just doesn’t hold my attention like it used to.

After flipping through 90 pages of glossy ads and articles about ‘what’s hot this fall’, I put it down totally confused and bewildered. Barely 10 words made any sense to me. I had no idea that there were ‘25+ fall make-up ideas‘.  25!

I might not be the desired demographic for a women’s fashion magazine, but I’m not completely void of any fashion sense…am I?

I’m at least as fashion forward as the next suburban, middle-aged, beer drinking, barbecuing guy.  I know that you never wear socks with sandals, or wear a shirt that ‘peek-a-boo’s’ your big hairy gut.  At least, not to a sit-down restaurant.

Let me unpack some of what I find confusing.  In 2 different advice columns, the writers completely contradict each other.  One is telling me that overdoing style layers is akin to genocide.  Later on in a Fall Fashion spread, the author says to pile on the layers to make a bold statement.  Huh?

The whole magazine is full of these contradictions, but the advertisements are the worst! Here’s the actual tag line for a beauty cream ad:

“Conceal and treat your imperfections.  Reveal your true self.”

Did I miss something here?  How do you reveal your true self by concealing your imperfections? Isn’t your ‘true self’ all about the real you, imperfections and all?

In one page, there were tag lines that promote ‘clean and fresh’ and then go right into ‘conceal and hide’.  Why are we concealing and hiding if we’re clean and fresh?  Shouldn’t we be revealing if we’re clean and fresh?

This code language is totally beyond me.  I get that. Like I said, I’m not the target demographic, but I suspect there are more than a few women out there who are as confused as I am.

No wonder young girls are so perplexed with the whole mess that they run out and spend hundreds of college tuition dollars on cosmetics, take them home and end up looking like this…

eyebrow

This strange and foreign magazine is as difficult to understand as a 1985 VCR owners manual. But even with that, I figured out how to make the clock stop flashing 12:00:00 all the time.

It’s not just the contradictions, but the price of the stuff in these fashion magazines that really kills me!  While a model sits in a cow field on a bail of hay, looking all serious and sullen, the text below her talks about her clever way of layering a ‘SNOOD’ over her $595 dress.

First of all, what the heck is a ‘snood’? Is it a new colour? Like mauve?  No, based on the picture, it looks like some sort of….blanket, coat, poncho? And why would anyone put one over a dress that cost more than a month’s worth of groceries?

She’s also wearing ‘fun’ wedge shoes – only $750!  If a pair of those landed in my house, well…there’d probably be one less car in the driveway to pay for them.  Try walking to work in those ‘fun’ $750 shoes,and see how much ‘fun’ they still are.

I’m pretty sure a lot of the stuff in these magazines is just made up by the fashion and cosmetics industry to keep men in the dark about what women need or want in their closets and makeup bags.

I just saw a neck cream ad that boasts the active ingredient, ‘Gravitite-CF’ to lift and tighten skin.  Graveitite? It’s been years since high school chemistry class, but I don’t recall learning about the element ‘Gravitite’.

Men would never fall for such thinly veiled attempts at making us think a catchy name will make us buy something.

We’ll stick to our tried and true power tools – the cordless ones with the 20V XR MAX Lithium Ion compact quick trigger battery packs…only $243!drill

I Cook, Therefore I Am

Capture

One of the keys to staying alive, I’ve found, is that you have to eat occasionally.  I read somewhere that food is an important part of a healthy diet, and because someone bothered to write it down, it must be true.

I’m living proof that eating is very good for you – in fact my health is so good, it’s busting right through my waist-line!

Because I eat almost every day, I have to cook almost every day.

I’m not a natural at it – I’ve ruined a lot of what should have been great meals.  As a result, I figured out the hard way of what not to do when it comes to cooking.

Because I’m a ‘giver’, I thought that there’s probably a few other people out there who want to learn or share more about cooking, so I’ve started a new blog page, ‘Man, You Can Cook!’.

MAN 2

 https://helpmencook.wordpress.com/about/

It’s not just for men, but because I’m a man and I like to play with fire, you can probably expect to see a lot of content on meat and fire.

I also want your input – tell me horror stories about cooking, or cool ideas, or problems you keep having.  I don’t have all the answers, but you, my loyal followers do!  Let’s share, have some fun, and maybe – just maybe, we’ll learn together to make this eating thing more enjoyable.

Strap on the feedbag!

Do they call it ‘Chinese Food’ in China?

DSCF1557If you ever find yourself standing on a street corner in Shanghai, you might find these handy tips helpful – I wish I had them before I went there…

  • It’s really, really far away…like on the other side of the world far away.  You should pack some snacks for the trip….and definitely go to the washroom before you leave.
  • You will stand out.  Especially if you’re ‘Caucasian’ with white hair.  It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo’, but the total opposite.
  • Crosswalks are for dare-devils…unless your host insists that it’s okay for you to step out into traffic, ‘because the locals are terrified of killing a foreigner’.
  • If you have a language barrier, giving them the ‘thumbs up’ sign of approval doesn’t translate.  They probably think you’re asking to hitchhike.
  • Massages are very popular there – everyone goes to get massages…but if a lady approaches you on the street and asks if you want a massage, say no.  In fact, just walk away and pretend you didn’t see them.
  • People will try to sell you Rolex watches that only cost $50 here….see above.
  • $1 = 5 RMB (Chinese Dollars) and you should haggle down to less than half of any price for merchandise.  Make a ridiculous offer, and when they say ‘no‘, just walk away – they’ll come and find you.
  • You won’t find Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls on any menu, but you will find jellyfish, duck tongues, eel, snake, and other things you didn’t know you could eat.
  • When your host offers you an exotic dish that you really aren’t interested in trying, it’ll get put on your plate anyway….and you better eat it.
  • Forks and knives look like 2 sticks…it’s okay to stab your food with them.
  • Don’t drink the water unless it comes in a bottle or has been boiled….just trust me on this one.
  • Tea comes in 2 flavors; black or green. Both are safe to drink.
  • There’s a lot of people there…like more than you can count.  Even if you could, double it.
  • The roads seem the same as here, but 4 lanes means between 3 and 6 lanes of traffic there, and the lines are only vague recommendations.
  • The concept of personal space on the subway in Shanghai doesn’t exist.  Have a mint before commuting.
  • The police drive around with their emergency lights flashing, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere in particular, and no one gets out of their way.  I don’t know what would happen in a real emergency….for example, if a foreigner gets run over at a crosswalk.

For more travel tips, check out my blog; ‘No Gravy for Old Men’.

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