Closing Windows

closing windows

There’s an old saying about windows.  It goes something like ‘when a window closes, another opens’ or a door opens, or something – and it’s usually linked to a picture of a bunch of unicorns and rainbows or a stream with woodland creatures or something you’re supposed to like.

The idea is that there’s always good news to follow an ending of something, so we should happily embrace the ‘closed window’ because something great will happen when a new window opens.

Well, there’s one new window that keeps trying to open and I want it closed.

Windows 10

Frankly, I’d nail it shut if I could.  I’m resisting the Windows 10 ‘upgrade’ with great effort, but the unwelcome folks at Microsoft seem to be on the other side of my computer screen pushing it open every chance they get.

It started out friendly enough; ‘Hey computer guy, how’d you like to upgrade to our new operating system for free?’.  Then, after some time of ignoring them, their tactics became a bit more direct:  ‘Would you like to load your new Windows 10 now or later?’.  The ‘if’ part of the offer seemed to disappear.

It’s not that I’m against change – heck, I LOVE change!  I have a drawer full of change.

The trouble with this particular change, however, is two-fold.

First-fold, I hate the idea of something being forced on me without my consent or permission.  It just showed up one day and it won’t leave.  I want to be able to decide what operating system I work with.  Who are they to tell me that I need to change how my home screen looks and feels, and I sure don’t want to have to ask ‘Cortina’ where all my files went.

Full disclosure; I’ve been accused of being a control freak, demanding that things be done my way.  Shocking, I know!   But I don’t really need to control things…except maybe how the dishwasher is loaded, how shopping carts are driven, how groceries in those shopping carts are organized, how the grass is cut, how other people drive, grammar…really nothing at all.  But my computer, my personal computer, should absolutely be controlled by me.  If not my computer, then what?

The second problem is that I spent 2 years figuring out where the stupid ‘shutdown’ button is on my current operating system.  What contortions will I have to go through with Windows 10?  Will I have to ‘control-alt-delete’ to do anything?  What other ‘new’ things will take up hours of otherwise good web-surfing time?

Why can’t I choose to keep this window closed?  I’m not buying the bunnies and unicorn thing on this new window idea.  This is a change for them, not me.

I can picture those pasty Seattle-tanned autobots smiling fakely at me like the Borg, telling me that ‘resistance is futile’ and ‘I will be assimilated’ into this new world of Windows 10.

resistance is futile

But I will resist as long as possible.  I will force computer shutdowns instead of allowing this evil new system to invade my safe world of Windows 8.1, risking that 1 in 100 chance that I could lose everything. No, Mr. Microsoft, I will not go quietly into the night.  You can keep your new window closed, thank you very much.

Optimist Prime

WAY TO GO

You know that feeling you get when you see pictures of yourself at a party and you gasp at how old and flabby the photographer made you look?

It shakes the soft foundation of your fragile ego.  Well, this blog isn’t about that….at least not directly.

I’ve been reading back on some of my older material, and decided that I’ve been a bit bitter lately.  Not ‘Ben’s Bitter Bog‘ bitter, but at least pretty sarcastic with a touch of nasty thrown in.

But that’s not me!  Like those terrifying photos, where I try to convince myself it was bad lighting or the camera put on 10 or 40 pounds, I want people to know that this guy is actually pretty light-hearted and fun.

I can tell jokes, and smile at strangers.  I even used to whistle, until I heard on the radio that no one whistles anymore….except for old people.  That sucks, but what song would you whistle to now anyway?  ‘Wrecking Ball?’  ‘Uptown Funk?’  Not exactly whistling music. Even older stuff by my standards wouldn’t do.  ‘Black Dog?’ ‘One Scotch-One Bourbon-One Beer?’ They wouldn’t work either….maaaaybe ‘Hotel California’.

Anyway!  Back to me.

I thought about how I might be perceived based on my blogs, and after reading them, I figured it was time for a change.
grave

So, I had this epiphany about being a bit too negative, and realized that I don’t want that to be etched on my gravestone.  I mean, that’s the one thing in your life that really is written in stone, isn’t it?

Oh, boy – now you probably think I’m being morbid and obsessed with death.  Not true!  In fact, I typically take stupid risks believing that I won’t get hurt.

Alright – off topic again.  This self-realizations stuff is harder than I thought.

Back to the blog.  I think I need to start being more positive.  More glass-half-full, as they say.  I need to share the silver lining in life more often, and leave people smiling and happy.  And, dammit!  That’s what I’m gonna do, even if I hate it, and have to drag my family along kicking and screaming on this impossible mission!

For starters, I’m going to stop commenting on all those political attack ads.  They are poison to the soul, and I for one, will not be a party to such negativity.  Of course, if it’s against someone I support, it would be wrong to just allow malicious comments go unchecked.

Springtime has not been my favourite season.  You may have even read an earlier blog from me, attacking this very important part of the year.  In fact, it’s my second favourite season – right behind the other 3.  But, I’m a new man, and I will embrace the spastic weather, the frozen then thawed dog poop stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and those annoying little bugs that show up and get into everything.  Yup – I am Mr. Spring Sunshine and Rain!  I’m almost even looking forward to allergy season.  Bring on the pollen!

Traffic is another area where I will transcend road rage and frustration, and will endeavor to find peace and harmony even if that dingbat in the left lane won’t move over. People who cut me off are simply poor heathens who aren’t as developed as I am.  So, I will wave a finger at them in show of support of their growth opportunities.  And I can’t forget to smile while doing it…it’s important to repeat actions until they become habits.

Telemarketers are brothers, sisters, children, parents and friends, just like real people.  Why should I add to the misery of their scum-sucking jobs by yelling at them for interrupting my supper, or TV, or staring at the wall?  No, from now on, I’m going to engage them in a fully detailed account about my colonoscopy.  If they give me their email address, I can even send them some high-res pictures.   Who else but a complete optimist would be happy to share a bit of their personal lives with a total stranger?  Now, that’s sharing with my fellow man!

I’m already feeling very in tune with nature, just by opening up and sharing with you, my faithful blog-groupies.  The sun is shining a little bit brighter as the glare blinds my path.  Birds that nest in my dryer vent sound all the sweeter as I try to dig them out with a broom stick.  I even feel healthier and lighter, particularly since I switched to stretch-waist pants.

Wow!  Being a positive, optimistic blogger has been a life-changing process.  No more crabby weather complainer, or disgruntled customer service guy.  From now on, it’s all good!

Even today, while watching the hockey game, I was overheard saying,  ‘Good call, ref!’. Ahhh…peace and harmony.

By the way, there really is a ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’ – it’s really depressing!!

http://bensbitterblog.com/

 

Things that bug me (but probably shouldn’t)

Bugs meDon’t know if it’s just that I’m getting old and crusty, or I’ve been reading too much of ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’, but there’s a bunch of stuff that drives me nuts.  Stuff that really shouldn’t:

  • People who call water heaters ‘hot water heaters’….you don’t need to heat hot water!
  • Running out of soap in the soap dispenser and pumping the thing like crazy and finally giving up but not going and refilling it and doing it again later
  • Opening the door to let the dog out and having a swarm of flies come buzzing into the house like they’ve been waiting there all along
  • Cars blocking the right turn lane at an intersection because they’re going straight even though it’s a right turn lane and the 6 cars turning right behind it have to wait until the light turns green…
  • People who don’t have any spacial awareness with their shopping carts and block the aisles in the stores while reading the ingredients on a soup can and no one can go around them and they don’t even notice or don’t care 
  • That smudge on my glasses that I can’t get rid of and it’s dead center in my line of sight
  • Having the coffee maker shut off half way through making a pot
  • Filling the car with gas an hour before the price drops
  • People who mis-dial you and leave a message for someone else even though you clearly identify yourself on the outgoing message
  • People who leave an outgoing message on their answering machine by only providing their phone number – the one you just dialed!
  • Putting your garbage out on a really windy day and by the time the garbage truck comes, the recycling box has blown down the street then you have to go on a search mission to get your recycling boxes back
  • Nose hair….on anyone
  • Dog owners who let their pets ‘go’ on my lawn
  • E-bikes, mopeds or scooters that go too slow to follow, but are on streets that don’t allow you to pass
  • Cars parked directly across from each other on narrow streets, making it nearly impossible to navigate
  • ‘Continental Breakfasts’….bring me bacon!
  • Button-fly jeans.  I’m over 50…buttons are for shirts, not pants
  • 3 ring binders – I’m left-handed.

Ahh!  Now that feels better….

Anything bugging you?

It’s all my fault

cropsI have a confession to make – I’m to blame for everything.

You see, when I shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, I want only the best, ripest, and freshest produce for my family.  Because I only pick the best, freshest and ripest, the rest of the fruit gets left behind and is eventually thrown out by the store.  I don’t want it, and I won’t pay for it, so they have to get rid of it.

Because this is how I shop, the store owners tell their suppliers not to give them any old, bruised, marked, or otherwise ‘unattractive’ product.  The suppliers comply.  It’s about me.  I’m paying, so they have to do what I want.

Now, the supplier is going to go back to the farmer.  He’s going to tell the farmer not to pick anything that has a mark on it, is bruised, or has signs of insects or other natural diseases.  The farmer has to comply, since the supplier won’t buy it from him otherwise.

The farmer, faced with fields of growing crops, needs to yield as much perfect produce as he can, or he’ll go broke.  I won’t buy anything sub-par for my family, so the grocery store won’t buy anything sub-par from the supplier, who won’t buy anything sub-par from the farmer….you get the idea.

Standing out in an open field, exposed to the elements, the farmer has few choices, since his crops are what feeds his family.  He needs to ensure that everything he grows can be sold, otherwise he’s growing nothing but debt.

With few options, the farmer employs the help of chemical sprays to ensure his crops look perfect.  It’s my fault.  I’m the guy standing at the road-side stands, checking each cob of corn for worms.  I’m not bringing those nasty bugs home to my family, so I guess I’m willing to have the corn sprayed, even if that’s not a conscious decision at the time.

McDonalds is my fault too.  Sorry.  Sometimes I’m in a hurry, or just too lazy to cook.  I asked for quickly prepared food – so quick in fact, that I can drive up to a window and have it handed to me, hot and salty within a minute.  I told McDonalds that this is how I want my food, so they complied.  I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I just need to scarf down some grub while I’m on the run – and if pushed I’d say that I sometimes really crave the taste of a Big Mac.

The big-box stores?  You know it – me again.  I needed variety, long hours and cheap prices for all those toaster ovens, back massagers and iPhones. Sure, there were little stores that had them, but what a pain in the butt, having to drive from store to store.  And I didn’t know when they were open or if they had good prices.

I know, I should have supported the local business owner, but heck, who has time for that?  When I need a left-handed spindle crank, I can’t risk going to a store that doesn’t have it in stock and in 3 colours.  Nope – big box is the way to go.  I don’t know why that strip mall near my house looks so deserted though.  Must be the economy.

Although I’m not a photographer, I’m also responsible for the paparazzi attacks on celebrities.  I just can’t get enough of those tabloid magazines while standing in line at the grocery store.  A 3-headed baby that sings like Elvis?  Are you kidding?  Who’s got the latest ‘baby bump’, and who looks worse in a bathing suit? I crave this stuff.  Because I do, the photographers will do almost anything to get the picture that will entice me buy their magazine.

I was probably the one responsible for Princess Diana’s tragic death.  Can’t get enough of the Royals – I sent those photographers on motorcycles to capture an image of Lady Diana stepping out with her new beau.

See, the thing is, I would love to blame the farmers, or the fast-food places or the big box stores for how they’ve poisoned and cheapened our planet – they’re an easy target.  In the end though, it was me, the consumer, who decided to exercise the greatest power I had.  I gave them my business.  My money.  I told them, through my humble purchasing decisions what I wanted, and they complied.

So, I want to confess.  It’s my fault these things are the way they are.  I was the one making decisions that landed us where we are today.  I hope you can all forgive me.

Anything you’d like to get off your chest?

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.

Sunglasses!

Put a ‘Spring’ your step – end winter now!

This weekend, we ‘Spring Forward’ into daylight savings time…and not a moment too soon.  This should mean that winter is in it’s final throes.

There’s another reason this lousy winter should be over;  I actually wore out my snow shovel and my snow blower…cropped-photo-11.jpg cropped-photo-21.jpg

no kidding!!

I’ve even changed my blog banner to a lovely summer scene, taken during a wine tour of the ‘Prince Edward County’ region in Southern Ontario last summer.

If you’re as sick as I am about this long winter, please respond to this blog by commenting with the phrase; ‘End This Winter’  in the reply box.

I’ll be sure to send it on to the appropriate parties responsible for this terrible weather we’re having.  Hopefully, the ‘Mid-Life Crisis Nation’ will get enough responses to get them to take action.

There’s no age limit on who can vote or how often – forward to you friends and family, children, neighbours, relatives, pets, strangers…you get the idea.

Remember:  If you don’t vote, you have no reason to complain about the weather.

(the author of this blog bears no responsibility for the outcome of any such petition, or any angry pushback by above mentioned ‘winter’ parties who may decide to continue with the cold days for an extended period, nor will there be any condescending commentary by this blog’s readers regarding the delivery of said ‘petition’ as coincidental, pursuant to spring actually arriving all on its own)

Too hot, too cold? Too bad!

I’m not a violent man, but the first person who complains about the heat this summer is going to get punched in the throat.

In a 36 hour period, we went from cold, blowing snow, on top of the 15 feet already piled up next to my house, then to freezing rain, and finally a nice thunderstorm last night, bringing about 40mm of rain….I don’t know how much that is, but its a lot.  Trust me.

Now we have full-on class 4 rapids down my street, and since the storm drains are clogged with snow and ice, its spilling into a murky little lake that’s formed right in the intersection.

So far this winter, I managed to dodge making any comments on the ‘Polar Vortex’ that everyone was talking about.  Truth is, I kind of enjoy the snowfall ever since I got my hands on a sweet little snow blower.  Not having to commute across the Toronto gridlock helps make it more fun….sorry Amy!

I’d rush out in the morning after a big snowfall, firing up the little machine, and start clearing as many driveways and sidewalks as I could.  The kids even gave me one of those Alaskan style fur hats so I look the part.

Now the weather is changing.  Warm wet air is turning this winter wonderland to a briny, brownish slop, exposing every piece of garbage that was blown out of recycling boxes or neglectfully tossed by uncaring citizens.  It also highlights the amount of dog-walking that goes on around here.  Yuck!

I like winter.  I hate getting stuck in traffic when it’s snowing, or soaking wet feet, but otherwise I find it very clean and renewing.

Spring sucks!  Okay, it doesn’t suck for everyone, but with my pollen allergies and all the cleanup around the yard to be done, it’s really just natures purgatory before summer.  2 months of schizophrenic weather, where it’s freezing, then raining, then warm, then snowing…all in the same day.

Summer is awesome!  If you live in a seasonal part of the world like Canada, and have 4 to 6 months of bitterly cold weather, you’ll know that no one embraces the summer  more than we do.  The warm summer heat is so fleeting, that we flock to freezing cold lakeside beaches in our shorts as soon as the first robin shows up.  Bring on the sunscreen and shorts.

In Canada, we get only a few months of heat, sun and going outside without having to spend 10 minutes layering up, so we need to fully embrace every minute of the warmth that summer brings.

I can’t wait.

This winter has been too snowy, too cold, too windy, too long.  That’s why no one who has battled through this season has the right to complain about the heat when summer finally arrives.

You’ve been warned!