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.

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Life Lessons from Street Hockey

Our municipality has banned street hockey, but the kids still play, thank God. Enjoy this ‘re-blog’ from a few years ago…

The Lighter Side of Life

street hockey
If you grew up in Canada in the ’60’s or ’70’s, it’s likely you spent a lot of time outside.  Those were the days when the big rules at home had to do with being within ‘ear-shot’, meaning your mother could yell your name from the front door and you could hear her…naturally, if you were playing hide and seek, you couldn’t give up your location, so you had to weigh the odds between being caught or being in trouble with Mom.

The other rule that got better as the summer months progressed, was the ‘street-light’ rule, which meant you could stay out until the street lights came on, then you’d better be heading home or else!  That one was a total rip off in the winter.  In Canada, the sun goes down around 4:30 in the cold months, so outdoor playtime was precious indeed.  Most of the time, though…

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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!

Twas the month before Christmas

Hi! Too busy hollying and jollying to write another pre-Christmas blog, so I’m re-gifting this from last year.

The Lighter Side of Life

tangled lightsTwas the month before Christmas, and in my garage; the decorations crashed down in a thund’rous barrage. The kids had all vanished like a Copperfield trick; and my hopes of assistance were dashed in a lick.

The weather it whistled and howled bitter cold; “Get your lights up early“, my neighbour foretold. In full winter gear, I yanked and I tried; to get at the boxes in the rafters I plied.

With my ladder in hand I began to finesse; and sort all the lights and bows, what a mess! They tangled and fought at my greatest attempt; to free them but they were so filled with contempt.

The wind it picked up as if right on cue; and tossed the decors while I watched as they flew. The darkness descended on my efforts outside; “Turn on the porch light” I yelled to my bride.

I steadied myself on…

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Mmmm…that smell!

caddyshack

Since early spring, I’ve been tormented by some sort of ground-dwelling, grass-killing, hole-digging, super-stealthy, pesky critter.  I’m starting to feel like Bill Murray in Caddyshack.

It digs a hole and I fill it with rocks.  Next day, there’s a new hole next to it that I stuff with bigger rocks…rinse and repeat all summer.  You get the picture.

Last week out of sheer frustration, I dug up the hole and packed it with a secret weapon that was sure to chase away anything from duct-cleaning salesmen to zombies. Something so putrid and horrible that no living (or un-living) creature has ever been able to tolerate it – moth balls.

moth balls

That is, except for one.  My father.

For him, moth balls were like little air fresheners.  He’d buy boxes of them and scatter them liberally in dresser drawers, storage bins, closets and unfortunately for us, our hockey bags.

Hockey bags smell bad enough on their own, but add in a dozen of those nasty little white balls, and you’re guaranteed to get lots of personal space in the locker room.  You had to put up with the teasing from the other kids too…or worse, finding one of them lodged in your ‘athletic protector’ while you’re on the ice.

I’m sure his original motivation for applying those stinky balls to everything was to discourage critters from turning our stored items into a rodent hotel, but I think he started to really like the smell and eventually started spreading them around the whole house.

But as bad as moth balls smell, because of our life-long exposure to them, they do bring back some pretty cool memories of our childhood, and of Dad.

Arriving at our summer cottage up north, we’d open our drawers to put our clothes away, and find a dozen or so moth balls rolling around in there.  We didn’t take them out either, so all summer, we were free of those pesky moths just by walking around.

I don’t even remember ever seeing any moths growing up.  I guess they must have worked!

It’s funny how we connect smells to hidden memories – even bad smells.  I still don’t really like the smell of moth balls, but when I do get a whiff, I’m flooded with long forgotten thoughts of an amazing childhood…except for the hockey bag of course.

Oh, and the moth balls in the rodent hole in my back yard?  They dug a new one…again.

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?

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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