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/

 

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Breaking Bad-der

My dark side has led me to this.  I just watched the entire Breaking Bad series on Netflix, and unassuming Mr. White was on to something big!  This was a guy I could relate to.  In fact, the similarities between us are remarkable!

  • Just turned 50
  • full on mid-life crisis
  • Spending way too much time in our underwear
  • Look awesome in sunglasses and a goatee

Walter White

Heisenberg

Other than his health issues, we’re practically the same guy.  Heck, we both even have a Brother-in-law who works in law enforcement.

Naturally, Walter White’s little foray into entrepreneurship ended badly for him, but I think I figured out what his problem might have been.

He chose a product that was lucrative, but meant dealing with the most unsavory and unpredictable group you’re ever likely to run across. That was his fatal flaw…literally.

My plan is a bit more pedestrian that cooking crystal meth, but under recent municipal legislation, just as likely to get me busted by ‘The Man’.  The upside to dealing in things of an illicit nature is people who want your product will pay big bucks to get it, and are motivated to keep their yaps shut about where they got it.  “Loose lips sink ships” as they say.

The key is finding a product in high demand, no one else is making, and can be distributed quietly without raising suspicion.  The answer was right under my feet – herbicides.

Thanks to heavy political pressure from the environmentalists, our local governments banned all types of residential weed killers.  The herbicides disappeared off store shelves faster than half-priced foam fingers at a Miley Cyrus concert.

One thing the government should have learned from the early years of prohibition, is that demand will always be there, and when something is suddenly made illegal, felonious characters come out of the woodwork to fill the need and make a pant-load of cash along the way.  This is where I come in.

Homeowners are faced with few options now that the Panda-lovers outlawed lawn sprays.  They can get down on their hands and knees, pulling those nasty yellow weeds out by their roots, or they can give up and surrender to this plight to their grass.  It’s in their dirt stained, desperate fingers that I will deliver their sacred nectar.

Contraband dandelion killer will be the next crystal meth for my community.   I even have my own ‘Jessie’ to help me with distribution.  There’s a little kid who wanders around the neighbourhood all day with nothing to do.  He seems to know everybody and would never be suspected by the tree-hugging police.  He’ll give out some small samples.  Maybe even spray an entire lawn as a show of our awesome power over weeds.

Poor desperate gardeners will come begging for more.  One squirt and they’ll be hooked!  Demand will outstrip supply, which will drive up the price. Economics 101, right?  I might have to move my operations from my garage to a mobile unit to stay ahead of the green cops…a Winnebago?  Yeah, I can see it now, cooking my special blend, hidden in plain sight, maybe at an unsuspecting campsite where the transient population is used to looking the other way.

I’ll have to move my product around.  Too many perfect lawns in any one neighbourhood will create suspicion. It’ll be important to stay ahead of the nature fuzz.  I might even have to leave my own lawn a semi-dead weed haven just to throw off their scent – just like the way Walter drove that Aztec around even though he could afford a Ferrari.  It’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make to stay ahead of them.

My plan is fool-proof.  Nothing can stop me!  After this long winter, everyone will pay whatever price I set for my secret herbicide, to ensure they have the best looking lawns around.  Balancing my fame against total anonymity will be the real challenge. This whole plan should keep me busy until mid-June when the current crop goes into hibernation.

Hmm.  Let’s see – it’s almost May now.  With the new equipment and raw materials I’ll need, and with the free samples to get the word out, giving my ‘Jessie’ his share, I think I should just about break even….maybe that’s no better than breaking bad, now that I think about it.

I’m sure something else will pique my interest – I just started watching Dexter.

 

 

 

 

 

Must be spring – a bug flew in my ear.

bug

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating – I don’t like Spring.  It’s easily the worst season (winter being a close second after the one we just had) of the 4.

For many, it’s the promise of better weather and warmer, longer days.  That’s ‘a good thing‘, as Martha would say.

It’s true – Spring means that Summer is on its way, so we shrug off the Winter blah’s, stow away those heavy ugly winter clothes and bring out the lawn furniture.

But not so fast, my friends!  Spring is a false season. It’s a liar.  Spring is not about nice weather and sunny days.  That’s Summer – let’s not confuse the two.  Spring steals all of Summer’s thunder, literally, and offers nothing of value for itself.  It’s like a cheap sidekick as an opening act for the real performer.

It doesn’t help that I really suffer from springtime allergies.  In Canada, we celebrate the May ‘2-4’ weekend, which falls, not coincidentally, on the weekend closest to May 24th.  I think it was a British Queen’s birthday, so as ex-patriots, and exploiters of  the monarchy, we mug every long weekend we can out of them.  I used to think it was named after a case of beer…college days!

It’s the first long weekend of warm weather, but for me it’s a double-edged sword.  This is also the time of year that all the lovely trees are bursting forth with their pollen-spawn, clogging up my sinuses and attacking my immune system.  I usually spend it in the basement with a bottle of Benadryl and box of tissues.

Yup, Spring is a total poser – a cheap veneer, looking like a real season, but it’s just a mirage – a delusion, tricking us into liking it.  Don’t believe me?

Let’s look at the differences:

SUMMER:

  • Long days of sun
  • Warmest weather we’ll see all year
  • Vacations
  • Bikinis
  • Beer gardens & patios
  • Swimming pools
  • Days at the beach
  • Pina Colada scented suntan lotion

SPRING:

  • Rain and/or snow and/or sleet and/or freezing rain
  • Allergies
  • Weather that makes you think it’s summer until you go outside and are freezing in 10 minutes
  • All the dirt, garbage, dog bombs, brown grass, and other nasties that were hidden in the snow
  • Flooding
  • Mud
  • The smells…yuck!
  • Mosquito spray
  • Dead skunks, racoons, or anything else trying to procreate by crossing a busy road
  • Allergies (it’s worth mentioning twice)
  • Birds nesting in my dryer vent

I used to think birds nesting was kind of cute.  In our first house, they nested in the vent for the bathroom fan.  At first is was sweet, being sung to by those melodic, hungry little chicks in the morning while taking care of business, but like all animals, they grew up and trashed the house.  The mess down the outside of my home was a toxic, sticky sludge that had baked into the siding.

See?  Spring is a lousy season.  It’s only positive is that it’s followed by Summer, so it gets the polite applause it doesn’t really deserve.  It rides on the coat-tails of our greatest season, taking all the credit: “Spring showers bring May flowers” – like it’s supposed to make us all warm and fuzzy about dreary, wet days.

Walking the dog this morning, I noticed that the receding glaciers from this past Winter are exposing a lovely collection of pop cans, wrappers, and poop – literally some was on top of one of those green utility boxes.  ON TOP!  That was some dog, I tell you.

The weather was too cold for Spring attire, but because it was above freezing, everything was a muddy mess.  Just to cap it off, a bug – probably the only one alive this time of year – flew directly into my ear.

Oh, yeah.  Let’s welcome Spring, but only because it means that the main attraction is somewhere in the wings, waiting to make it’s appearance.

I can only hope that this Spring is a one-act show….

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!

The humility of being humbled

There’s few things more gratifying than watching some loudmouth get put in his place.  You know the guy – usually drunk and obnoxious, bullying everyone else until he gets clocked by someone half his size, or his pants fall down, showing off his Buzz Lightyear underwear…or no underwear at all!

Mortified, he runs for cover while everyone laughs at him.  At least, that’s what you hope for.

There’s gotta be a million You Tube videos out there of karmic revenge on the annoying or stupid.  We love the modern telling of David and Goliath.  Rooting for the underdog against a jerk-faced foe is something we can all relate to.

In Hollywood movies, it’s the villain who is the most annoying, hated person and ends up with the most spectacular death scene, not only getting shot 100 times in slow motion, but falling into a pit of molten metal, while being eaten by zombies or something.

But, have you ever been that guy (or girl) who is the unwelcome star of these little vignettes?  C’mon, sure you have.

I was retelling a story the other day about something that happened to me a long time ago that kind of fits this scenario.

For the record, I wasn’t drunk, and I was just doing my job.  I’m sure, though, that the other characters in this little scene were just as pleased as those watching the bully run away with his pants down.

I had a job once where part of my duties included making sure that my customers followed some expected level of quality, since they represented our products to the world.  This could make things a bit tricky at times, seeing as I needed these customers to buy stuff from me, but I also had to act like a Mom telling her kid to clean his room….without the folded hands and tapping of the foot….you know the look.

I used to wear a suit.  Not because I had to, but because I thought it was important to look professional….what a jerk!

Anyway, I had to meet a customer who’s business was in desperate need of the ‘angry Mom’ look.  The owner was very casual and would always tease me about wearing a suit all the time, ‘Geez!  Even the Mayor doesn’t dress like that’.

Fully suited up, just to make a point, I parked a block away from the store, again making a point about giving the best parking to the paying customers, and walked into the rear entrance of the store.  Very smug and probably abusing my power, I’m quite sure they were not happy about this visit.

As I walked the store with the owner’s wife, pointing out how bad the business was, I started to notice a foul smell.

I said, ‘Another thing.  Do not smell that?  It smells like dung in here.’

She acknowledged that she too smelt it, then motioned at my shiny dress shoes.  I looked down at the same time, and saw where the smell was coming from. I guess somewhere on my pretentious strut to the store, I stepped in a steaming pile of doo-doo.

I glanced back to see the owner on his hands and knees, scrubbing the disgusting footsteps I had taken all through the place.

I turned as red as the goal light at a Leafs game!

Mortified, I carefully took off my shoe, and hopped out the back door to find a stick.  I think I just went home after that.  Any sense of superiority or authority was left on the stained carpet behind me.

Of course, I had no way of making an elegant exit from that train wreck.  I think I mumbled something about why there would be horse poop on the sidewalk outside the store in the first place, then quickly got in my car, and drove home with one shoe on.

I stopped wearing a suit after that.