Archive for January 2010

One more year…

January 31, 2010

 

So I’m skiing with Friar’s Mom out West again,  and that’s something special. 

Because it’s not every year I get to do this. 

In order for this to happen, I need at least three things:   the time,  the money, and the health.   And that’s not always guaranteed.

Because some years, I didn’t have the health.   

Like nine years ago, where I tore  my knee ligament on the first day.   Not only was my ski vacation finished, but so was my whole ski season.    And the next season  after that.

And there was another year where my knees were fine, but I was laid off.   I didn’t have the money, and I couldn’t afford to come here.

And for the years both me and my and my knees were working,  I needed to be lucky enough that there wasn’t some stupid job deadline preventing me from taking the time off.

And that just applies for me. 

 The time/money/health thing also applies to Friar’s Mom.   

And we’ve had a few close calls.

Like the year she had cancer and we didn’t know if  she’d be around for much longer. 

That battle was won, though, and she and my Dad came out here the following year.  And I got to ski with them. 

A few years later,  my Dad died suddenly.  And we werent’ sure if Mom would still want to come out here alone.

But she did.   Packing the van, and driving across the country herself.   For yet one more ski season doing what she loved.  

And though Dad was gone,  at least I still got to ski with Mom.

Then there was that time  we almost lost her in a car accident while she was driving here.     

The van was totalled.   But that  wouldn’t stop her:  within 10 days, Friar’s Mom had bought another car, repacked it, and was on the road again. 

And I got in one more  visit. 

The latest close call was this summer:  a horrible bicycle accident.   

Mom went over the handle bars, and got Medi-Vacced to the Trauma Ward by chopper. 

 Last June, she was lying in a bed with a fractured pelvis, and bleeding into her brain.

At the time,we didnt’ know if she’d even be  able  to  live alone, or drive her car.      

But one of the first things she asked when she woke up , was would she be able to ski this winter?

Because come Hell and High Water, she was gonna.

She spent the summer in a wheel chair, undergoing months of rehab.   Which she did, with a vengeance.  

And now, less than 8 months later, she’s back to cutting tracks in the fresh power.  

So the stars have aligned once again.    

Both me and my Mom have the time, the money, and most importantly:  our health.

And I’m skiing with her.

For at least one more year.

And for that, I’m grateful.

Original Watercolors: Going Bananas

January 28, 2010

This post is dedicated to a guy, who works in an IT department somewhere.

Because I know he really enjoys it when I post my artwork.

Viking Winter Olympic Events

January 27, 2010

Full-Contact Ski Jumping

The objective of the Defense Team is to prevent the Jumper from breaking through their lines.
The objective of the Jumper is to smash through the Defense’s lines, and try to fly to Valhalla.

Whoever wins doesn’t matter.  Either way, it’s all good entertainment.

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Warrior Figure Skating

Ten percent of the score is based on skating ability.   Ninety-percent is based on the ability to intimidate the judges.

(Nyaaargghh!)

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The Judge Toss

This event almost always follows the Warrior Figure Skating

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Viking Curling

What better way to celebrate past victories, than to slide the skulls of your defeated enemies on a frozen pond?

As an added bonus, the skulls, when hollowed out, also make great beverage containers.     The use of controlled substances (such as Viking Grög) is highly encouraged.

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The Medal Presentationa

Normally takes place during the end, if the podium isn’t pillaged and burned down.

You’ll know it’s over, when Berthùnkä sings the Viking Anthem.

Five Things Women Do to Make Their Life More Complicated

January 24, 2010

1. Thank-You Cards
Some people will insist on writing these notes  for each and every occasion in life.   For gifts received, for being invited to dinner.  Or even if someone compliments them on their new hat.    

And there’s a whole level of self-imposed stress involved:  for going to the store, selecting exactly the right card,  putting down the exact right thoughts and going back to the post office and sending it out on time.   

Good Lord.

Not to mention, there’s a bit of smugness that comes along with it. 

 “It’s the considerate thing to do.” you’ll hear the card-writers say.  

Yes…but for WHO?  

Because I think it’s safe to say that more than half the population (namely, all males, plus reluctant children) don’t  give a flying-fox-fart about Thank-You cards.   

I mean, it’s nice to get one, but if we don’t, we’re not going to get our knickers in a knot.  

I didn’t cry, for example, when my buddy Brett didn’t send me a card for the X-mas gift I gave him. 

*Sniff*  (Damn you, Brett!)

Meh.   If would make things so much easier, if we all just agreed to DROP the whole damned Thank-You card thing.     

Just say “Thank You” once, in person, and be done with it.

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2. Refusing to Acknowledge that White Plastic Thingy  on the Toilet
Anyone who’s been married, has had a girlfriend, or has shared a bathroom with a sister,  is familiar with this age-old complaint: 

Namely, the man is supposed to keep the seat down, to accomodate the woman who has to sit, because they sometimes fall in. 

So…howcum we guys sit down, at least once a day? …And we never fall in?

(Um…because we LOOK first?)

But that’s besides the point.

And if women want to be equals,  wouldn’t it be just as valid for men to ask for the seat to be left up? 

(Yes, I know that sounds logical.)  

But believe me,  guys…just let it go.  Because we’ll NEVER win this argument!
 

3. Fashion Magazines
Feminists complain that magazines like Cosmo and Vogue are harmful.   Because they portray unrealistic, idealized images of beauty that the average woman can’t obtain, leading to low self-esteem  and even eating disorders.

Fair enough.   There’s a good point to be made for all of this.

But…let’s ask ourselves:  WHO perpetuates these fashions?   WHO creates these myths?     WHO creates a demand for all this literature?   

I don’t think you can blame this one on men. 

Because I don’t know too many guys who find rail-thin 90-lb. women with sunken eyes all that hot.   Especially if these so-called “models” are wearing what looks like some stupid burlap sack wrapped around their jutting collar bones.  

Ladies,  if you dont’ like  these stupid magazines, just STOP buying them.   And the problem will go away.

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4.  Bringing Something Over
When guys get together at someone’s house,  it’s to drink beer and watch TV.    Somebody might bring over a bag of Zesty-Mordant Nachos.  

(Might.)

If there’s an actual meal involved, it will invariably be a BBQ with  BYOM (Bring your own meat).     In which case, the host might provide paper plates and napkins.

(Might.)

When women get together, it’s a whole other story.   Everyone is  expected to BRING something.  

And it can’t be something store-bought, either, from the local bakery.   (No, that get you off too easy!)   

No, it has to be something you made by hand, that took you hours, from the sweat of your own brow.  

Date squares, for example, where the date tree was grown from seedlings, and the fruit harvested weeks ahead of time.  Where the wheat was hand-milled to make the flour, and the sugar was extracted from canes imported from Cuba.  

And everything was baked in a 17th-Century wood stove that was bought specially just for the occasion.  

That way, you can be a martyr, and tell yourself:   “It’s the considerate thing to do.”

Hmm.     Maybe so.   But I’ll just stick to my Zesty-Mordants, thank you.

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5. Trying to be Equal to Men in Everything
Because face it…we guys do some really stupid things.   

Like sports where the object is to hit the opponent in the head, until they receive enough brain trauma and lose conciousness.   

Or racing high-speed vehicles down a drag-strip,  that threaten to explode at any minute.   

 Or moutain-climbing to extreme altitudes,  where your brain swells inside your skull, your body starts to die, and there’s a good chance you’ll  lose some fingers and toes.

(Need I go on?)

Sure…there’s nothing saying a woman can’t do these same exact things.

But just because they can…doesn’t necessarly mean they should.

We have enough Darwin Awards, as it is.

Viking Training: Wii are the Warriors

January 21, 2010

One bright winter day in the village SmelBaäd, there was a knock on Clöst Aerfrök’s door.

“Why, it’s the Traveling Kilted One!”, he cheerfully exclaimed.   “To what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?”

.

“I come bringing a gift:  a new way to train your warriors to fight.”, said the Kilted One.  “It’s called “Wii.”

“We?”, asked Clöst.

“Wii.”, replied the Kilted One.

“Wee?”

“No…Wii.”

“Whee?”

“No! No! ….Wii!   Wait an minute and you’ll Sii…er, I mean see.”

“Behold!  Imaginary enemies, on the magic viewing screen!   You can fight them over and over, and keep honing your battle skills.”

Before anyone could say anything, the Berserker rushed forward and cried “Enemies!!!  NYARRRRGH!!!!”, and smashed the screen with his mace.

“I win!!!”,  he  exclaimed, as he gleefully continued to pound the pieces into the ground.

“You…you FOOLS!!!”,  screamed the Kilted One.   “Those enemies weren’t REAL!  It was a simulation!   You were supposed to have fought them with imaginary swords, using these special Wii controls!”


“Sword fight, eh?”, asked Lars.   “Well, why didn’t you say so.  That we DO understand!”      Then he and Hagörf grabbed the controllers, and proceeded to duel with them.

“Though I don’t see the point of this…there is no cutting edge, and these strange devices break when we smash them together!”

Meanwhile, the Kilted One stood there, at a loss for words.

“Hey!”, cried the Berserker.    “There are more of these Wee things in the bag.”

“And look…instead of using them as swords, it’s just as much fun to smash them on your head!”

Hyargen!  Hyargen! Hyargen!“, laughed Lars and Hagörf.

“Give us some!  Let us ALL smash them on our heads!”.

Which they proceeded to do, until there was nothing left intact in the Kilted One’s bag.

“O Kilted One,  that was a strange game, but FUN!”, said the Berserker.   “What will you bring us next visit?”

“Groan.”,  replied the Kilted One.

“Come”, Clöst said sympathetically.  “I think you need a draft of ale.  Or three.   Believe me, that’s the only thing that helps in these situations.”

“It was a worthy idea.   But perhaps this new technology is a bit too delicate and too sophisticated for the average Viking.”

Foods You’re Supposed to Feel Guilty About Eating

January 20, 2010

McDonalds (or any Fast-Food, basically)
Okay…putting the fact aside that you’re killing one of God’s creatures by eating animal flesh…

OMG…did you see Supersize Me?    The dude ate nothing but McDonalds for 2 days, and his liver self-combusted!   Seriously!

That junk is just grease and fat.  You shouldn’t eat it…ever, ever,  EVER.

Not to mention they’re cutting down rain forests to raise the beef for these large corporations.

For every Big Mac you buy, 10 more species become extinct.

Enjoy.   I hope you can live with yourself.   Tree-killer.

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Cold Cuts
Full of sodium and nitrates and chemicals.   Forget what Jared says.  Deli meats are BAD for you.

Hang your head in shame, if you were going to eat a Sub.
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Store-Bought Soup
So you think maybe you can avoid greasy burgers or sub sammitches, and eat more healthy by having some soup, instead?

Guess again.  It’s full of enough sodium to kill a horse.

All soup is bad, bad BAD.  (Unless you spend 12 hours cooking it yourself, over a hot stove…so long as it’s salt-free).

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Eggs
Cholesterol.   Bad.   Duh.
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Yogurt
Ooh.  You have to be careful.    A lot of it has FAT.   Make sure you avoid those like the plague.

Try to be like those 80-lb ladies on the TV commercials.   If they get the munchies, they’re perfectly happy with the fat-free, flavour-free yogurt, served in thimble-sized containers.
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Chocolate
Well, not all of it is Free-Trade.    So every time you buy that Hershey Bar, you’re probably exploiting a child laborer in Guatemala.

For SHAME! You oughta be wearing a hair shirt, for what you’ve just done.

Not to mention, it has fat and sugar, which is BAD for you.

If you absolutely MUST….permit yourself one square of dark, unsweetened chocolate, once a month, whether you deserve it or not.

(I know that’s decadent, but hey, what’s the point of life if you can’t enjoy the finer things?)

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White Bread
Yes, I know you loved Wonder Bread as a kid.  But that stuff is basically poison, what with it being full of bleached flour and formaldehyde.

Plus it will send your glycemic index through the roof.  I’m surprised our parents weren’t charged with child abuse for feeding it to us.

The only bread you should eat is whole-wheat.  Preferably 24-grain.   Even better, if there are pieces of wheat chaff and prairie dirt stuck in the dough.

Yum.

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Salmon
Well, now you have to be careful about that too.

If it’s the farmed kind, they’ve been shown to be harmful to the wild stocks.     And if it’s wild, they’re being overfished and you shouldn’t be eating them.

Best to stay away from salmon altogether, to be safe.

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Fish in General
The worlds oceans are being depleted.   So stay away from endangered fish, like red tuna, sea bass, orange roughy, monkfish, two-fish, red-fish, blue-fish…

And crustaceans and shellfish…well, they’re full of toxins too.

If you MUST have seafood, go the beach, and skim some algae off the rocks.

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Iceberg Lettuce
I know it’s crunchy, but it’s mostly water and has almost no nutritional value.   C’mon.  You KNOW you can do better.

Next time you weed your garden,  make a salad of it.   It’s surprisingly bitter.

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Soda Pop
The old kind made with sucrose was bad enough.  But now almost everything is made of high-fructose corn-syrup.   Which messes with your body’s insulin levels, and contributes to obesity.

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Diet Soda Pop
Can you trust man-made chemicals?   Too much aspartame is probably bad for you.

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Club Soda

Guess again.  Too much sodium.

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Bottled Water
WRONG!!!!  Because you’re killing the planet, and Baby Jesus cries, every time you buy a plastic bottle.
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Tap Water
As long as it’s properly filtered, to remove the trace amounts of heavy-metals.  (You can never trust municipal water!)

(Oh, and make sure you dispose of your filter properly…used filters are considered hazardous waste.)

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Fresh Fruit
The store-bought kind is full of pesticides and toxins.  It’ll kill you.

The only fruit you should eat, is organically grown, and local.   Because you should be sticking to the 100-mile-diet.

So for most of North America (especially Canada), this means only apples, pears, plums, peaches, strawberries, blueberries.  But ONLY for the 5-6 days a year they’re actually in season.

Forget citrus fruit (unless you live in Florida or California).

And tropical fruit (papayas, bananas, kiwis, etc..) are a definite No-No.     Think of the carbon footprint involved in shipping these to your grocery store.

For every non-local fruit you buy, it’s like an ice-floe melts and a baby polar bear drowns.
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The Cardiac Breakfast Special (3 eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes, smothered in lard)
Okay…WHAT are you THINKING?

Have you even been reading this post?

Go to your room.  Right now.   And give yourself a Time-Out!!!

Do I have to come down there?


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So what’s left to eat?

Perhaps we can forage for nuts and berries.    Like chimps and other primates do.

(But wait…our urban sprawl has depleted the forests and grasslands.  The best nut-land has already been exploited!)

Oh well.

There’s always grass, I guess.

Tell us why you’re such a loser

January 18, 2010

I remember the interview like it was last week.

I had applied for an internal  job within the company I was working for at the time.   I figured I had a good chance.

After all, I was on good terms with the Friendly Manager, who liked me and basically encouraged me to apply for the position.

Plus, it wasn’t like I was a newbie.  I had 12-years of successful experience,  including five at the company itself.   This job was more like a horizontal transfer, for a change of scene.

Unfortunately, the Friendly Manager was nowhere to be found at the interview.   Instead, he had put his 2nd-in-command in charge,  who interviewed me with two others.

Things were going well, until they asked the standard put-you-on-the-spot interview question:

“Tell us about a co-worker you’ve had conflict with, and tell us how you resolved it.”

Sigh.   Another one of those God-Damned Human Resource bullshit questions.

But I had been to enough interviews that I knew how to handle this one.

I gave a story about how I didn’t get along with a lab technician in a previous job.  Yadda yadda yadda.  How I approached her and asserted myself, and we ended up being very good friends.   Yadda yadda yadda. 

Always put a positive slant on things, I told myself.   Good job, Friar, you handled that well.

Then they asked:  “What’s the biggest disappointment of your life?”

I gave an honest answer, about how I was heartbroken not to have gotten an offer for a professor job I had interviewed for.    But again, I put a positive slant on it.

That was 6 years ago.   Yadda yadda yadda.  And looking back in hindsight, I think things worked out for the best, because I’m making the same money and I have normal work hours and balanced life.    Yadda yadda yadda.

Again, I thought I handled that well.

But the questions kept coming, from all three directions.

“What don’t you like about your present job?”

“Going back to that other job you mentioned:  what didn’t you like about your old boss?”

Oh, for Chrissakes.  It’s going to be one of THOSE interviews.

Again, I  tried to answer the best I could.    I talked about trying to apply “win-win” principles to bad situations.   I talked about learning from my experiences, and continuously trying to improve myself.

But they wouldn’t let up.   It’s like they were sharks circling around me, looking for a weak spot.

“Tell us what your faults are.”

WTF is with all the negative questions?

What are they going to ask me next:  “When did you stop beating your girlfriend?”

“Tell us about another conflict you had with a co-worker, at THIS company.   And how did you deal with it?”

At this point I was getting tired.   I tried to think of the least harmful example I could, but I ended up stammering.

Umm…there was this co-worker, he was difficult to deal with,  he kept distracting me,  I said.   I was being harassed and I ended up talking to my manager about it.

Then came the barrage:

“You said two things:  he was distracting you, and you were being harassed.  Which one was it?   Are these two separate issues, or just one? ”

“What did the manager do?   What did you tell him? ”

“How did you handle it?   How long did this problem last?   What was the outcome?  How was it resolved?

Wham!  Wham!  Wham! They just wouldn’t stop.

At a loss for words, I decided the only thing to do was to be perfectly honest.

I told them, the problem was resolved, when I left the department, and moved to another position.

Right then, and there, looking at the faces around the table, I knew I blew it.

Wrong answer.

At this point:   Piss.   Me.   Right.    Off.

If I didn’t’ know any better, I’d almost swear they had been trying to DISCOURAGE me from getting the job.

They obviously weren’t that interested in my qualifications as an engineer.

Or the fact that I’d been in charge of major research projects.   Or that I’d presented papers in front of hundreds of people at international conferences and had received major awards.

Or that I’d put in my time on the plant floor, supervising extremely hazardous work, responsible for the safety of others, where people could DIE if I wasn’t vigilant.

Or that I’d successfully met deadlines, satisfied clients, and always had good performance reviews.

No, obviously they didn’t want to hear about THAT.

What they were more interseted in was putting me under pressure, like I was some 21-year-old apprentice, and watching me squirm.

So that they could play their bullshit head-games with me.   Until they painted me into a corner and caught me saying something I shouldn’t have.

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Needless to say, I didn’t’ get the job.

In fact, some feedback I got afterwards was that they picked up on me leaving the other job, as a way to deal with my being harassed.  That apparently didn’t present itself very well.

Well, congratulations.

You win.

But just as well.

Because…if THAT’s they way they treated me in just the interview (when they were supposed to try to impress me)…I can only imagine what it would be like if I had started working for them.