Archive for April 2010

What Retro TV has Taught Me

April 29, 2010

a

Bus drivers were paid shit.
Look at that dump Ralph Kramden lived in.    That musta been in pre-union days.

a

People didnt’ know how to relax back then.
Dads wore their suits and ties after work, all through dinner until bed time.    Sheesh..unbutton your collar, at least.

a

If women played their cards right, they didn’t have to do jack-squat.
Look at Carol Brady.   WTF did she DO?   Her kids were mostly grown up.   She didn’t have a job.  She didn’t volunteer.   And she had a housekeeper who did all the cooking and cleaning, for Chrissakes!

Boy, she sure won the lottery, marrying Mike Brady.  Either that, or she was really good in bed.

a

The 1970’s were a BAD decade.
Bad hair.  Bad music.   Bad clothes.  Bad furniture.  Bad politics.   And really BAD sitcoms.

I just pray to God that perms don’t come back.  That’ all I ask.

a

Dads used to be smart.
Ward Cleaver.   Mike Brady.   Ozzie Nelson.  Father Knows Best.    Respected authority figures, adored by the whole family.

Unlike today’s fat, bumbling idiots, where “Daddy” is on the bottom of the family pecking order.  Right after the dog and the living room drapes.

a

We guys missed out on a good thing.
Unlike the Carol Bradys, many TV-housewives back then cooked 5 course meals, did all chores, and never asked hubby to help out around the house.  All while keeping fit and trim and looking great.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a wife like that.   Maybe it wouldn’t be all that great.   But part of me thinks it would be awesome.

But in today’s liberated society, I’ll never get to find out, will I?

a

The Superfriends weren’t too bright, they always had to explain things to themselves.
I swear, every 5th sentence on that show was someone who said they’ve “got to” do something.

“I’ve got to stop Lex Luthor before the village explodes”.   “We’ve got to find a way out of this cave”.  “Batman, you’ve got to keep your hands off Robin…”

I suppose the narration helps you follow the story…If you’re a moron, that is.

a

People back then would have a stroke if they heard today’s music.
In early 60’s shows (like the Beverly Hillbillies or the Munsters) there would often be episodes where Hippies would show up.  They’d say “Groovy Man” and dance to cheesy Rock’n Roll Music.  And the older crowd would be utterly SHOCKED, while the canned laughted yokked it up.

I can just imagine what these same folks would say, if they  heard contemporary Gangsta Hip-Hop screaming about ho’s.  Or saw a Death-Metal Rock concert with staged human sacrifices and crucifixions.

a

It’s not safe to go South of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Because I have images of a corrupt stupid sheriff stopping me for speeding, smashing my tail-light, and saying that will get me 30 days on the “county farm”, resulting in  car chase(s) and me ending up in jail with a backwoods Southuhn Lawyer to defend me.

a

High School Students were all 25 and over.
Look at the actors in Welcome Back Cotter or Happy Days.    Hell, their kids would have been old enough to be in High School.

a

We were much stupider back then.
I don’t understand how those old shows were funny.  Good Times, One Day at a Time, Alice, Happy Days (after Ron Howard left).  Nostalgia aside…if you watch those show now…Gawd, they’re so LAME.

Is THIS what people found genuinely funny?  Were people THAT stupid?

And I don’t buy the excuse that it was a simpler time back then, and people had different values.

Because comedy from the 30’s (like the Marx Brothers) still stands the test of time today.   Unlike the Retro TV crap that makes you want to gouge your eyes out.

I dunno..maybe people WERE that stupid.

Advertisements

Friar’s Prime-Time Shows for the 2010 Summer TV Line-Up

April 26, 2010

a

PBS
– Nova:  A history of belly-button lint
– One Lump or Two?  The first of a 12-part documentary on tea-time in Victorian England.   Chapter One:  The introduction of the Crumpet.
– Agatha Christie Presents:  Hercule Poirot Waxes his Mustache

Discovery Channel
– Disemboweled Within Minutes
– Two Guys Smashing Things
– The Elvis-Nostradamus Conspiracy

The Learning Channel
–  Help!  I’m lying in my own filth!
– The boy whose skin exploded on contact.
– When Bed-Bugs Burrow Into Your Brain.

National Geographic Channel
– The Dog Euthanizer
– Egypt’s 20 Most Compelling Sand-dunes
– How the Civilization and Life as We Know it Will End within 10 Year
s.

ABC
– America’s Funniest Groin Injuries
– Desperate Adultresses
– Dancing with Morons

FOX TV
When Chimps Explode
– Gordon Ramsay’s “You Stupid $%&@!!, Get the #@%&* out of my Kitchen!”
– So You Want to Be an Ass-Clown
-American Douchebag

CBS
– CSI:  Lincoln, Nebraska
– How I met who I think might be your Mother
– The Not-so-Amazing-Give-it-a-Rest-Already Race

NBC
– Former 60’s Child-TV-Stars-Now-in-Rehab Apprentice
– America’s got Stupidity
Conan O’Brian Jay Leno All-Night All the Time

CBC
– Growing up Taliban
– Anne of Green Gables Part XXXVIII:  A New Sun-Bonnet
– The Nature of Things:  Why David Suzuki is right and you’re wrong.

Cartoon Network
– Douche-Bob Underpants
– Ogi-yoh Sajamé!
– Death-Ball
– Fart-Masters of the Universe
– Like, totally.  What-EV-er.

My Self-Improvement Checklist

April 25, 2010

Okay, let me go through my checklist for today:

– No sugar.

– No trans fats.

– No bottled water.

– No high-fructose corn syrup.

– No white bread.

– No caffeine.

– No chocolate (unless it’s free-trade).

– No veggies (unless they’re organic).

– No red meat (wait…better make that no meat, PERIOD).

– No salmon that’s  farmed.

– No alcohol (except one glass of red wine every 4 months).

– No fast food (especially the KFC Double Down, which is ruining Civilization as We Know It).

– No forgetting to recycle.

– No TV.

– No violent video games.

– No driving  my car (think of the carbon footprint)!

– No even HAVING a car.

– No having a dog.  (Isn’t that supposed to leave a carbon footprint the size of 100 Hummers)?

– No paper towels or toilet paper that’s bleached (in fact, try to avoid using TP altogether).

– No flushing the toilet too much.

– No long hot showers.

– No watering the lawn.

– No going to the mall to buy stuff  (materialism = BAD)!  We would be just as happy living in a one-bedroom apartment sitting on hardwood floors with just our lap-tops.

– No buying new clothes (the urine-soaked hand-me-downs at the charity store are good enough).

– No  living where I am, in a house with a back yard (thus contributing to urban sprawl).

– No excuses for not exercising (I better put in my 15-km run today)!

– No being overweight.  (I also must remember to sincerely apologize to society for being a drain on the Health Care system).

– No smoking (that would make me worse than Hitler)!

–  No thinking skinny women on magazine covers are attractive.  (Because that  just perpetuates unreasonable standards of beauty leading to low female self-esteem and eating disorders).

–  No thinking busty women are attractive either.  (Because that just perpetuates unreasonable standards of beauty, leading to women having needless plastic surgery).

– No complaining about not liking my job (because by now, I should have self-actualized and have found a career that makes me weep with unabashed joy whenever Monday morning comes around).

– No earning too much money (again, materialism = BAD).   This is the reason people are unhappy.   Too much money.

– No feeling down-in-the-dumps.  (Because if I feel this way, it’s because I CHOOSE to be.   It’s all MY fault!)

– No getting mad about anything (it just drains energy that could otherwise be used towards self-actualizing).

– No failing to be inspired by stories of others who succeed  (I should be HAPPY for them.   And it should change my life to hear about it).

– And finally, NO writing snarky blog posts, poking fun at the Good People who live by this list and brag about it.

…Because we should all try to be more like them.

My Back Yard

April 23, 2010

If you look at a typical map of Ontario, you’ll see a lot of white areas, or blank spots.

Until recently, I used to think there was nothing much there, except trees.

Little did I realize how wrong I was.

You see, there’s a reason nothing’s. there.

It’s because Ontario’s such a damned big province, they had to draw the map on a such a large scale to make it all fit on one sheet.   And lot of details can’t be shown.

But if you look at a smaller-scale map, you’ll discover these blank spots are riddled with lakes, rivers, canoe routes and fishing spots.    It’s a veritable outdoors-man’s paradise.

This is where I live.   This is my back yard.

It’s all Crown Land, consisting mainly of trees, water, logging roads, and the odd deer camp.   Where you can pretty much do what you want, and camp where you want, as long as you follow the hunting and fishing regs.

And even then, it’s unlikely that anyone’s gonna check up on you.

I love exploring this area.   My canoe stays on top of my SUV pretty much the whole summer.    Because I never know when I might feel like taking a ride and seeing what I can find.

Where I go depends on the mood I’m in.

It might be a quick exploration trip after work, to re-con future fishing spots.

Or I might go to an established fishing lake and just plop the canoe in the water.

Or it might be a day-long adventure, where I pick a spot on the map and see if I can get there.

Despite the detailed maps, though, you never know what condition the back-roads will be in.

Sometimes, the road’s a main logging route, and could be easily drivable with a Honda Civic.

In other cases, the road aint’ so good.

The all-wheel drive starts slipping.  I start bottoming out on rocks, and the branches start scraping against my fenders.  Combine this with the fact that I haven’t seen a soul for miles, I start to get nervous.   I usually head back at this point.

Other times I’ll follow a semi-maintained road for 15 kilometers, dodging boulders and rain-filled potholes .

I’ll be almost within spitting distance of my destination, only to find one of the large puddles has turned into an established pond with cattails and frogs and minnows literally swimming around my tires.  Which means of course, turning back and doing the same boring route in reverse.

Of course, these are just for the lakes that are accessible by vehicle.

To get even further into the bush, I park my SUV, take off the canoe, and start paddling and portaging.   My rule of thumb is that each portage eliminates 90% of anyone who’d otherwise want to come there.

Some of the canoe routes are well-established and maintained.

Other times, I’ll play Lewis and Clark, and drag my canoe across beaver dam after beaver dam,  through trail-less dense brush, till I’ve reached the point of exhaustion and need to turn back, defeated.

And I’ll swear that I was probably the first person to see this area in months.  Maybe years.

And why do I do all this, you ask?

Well, a lot of it has to do with the fish.

If you’re a fisherman, you’ll understand.

And if you’re not a fisherman, believe me…it’s SO worth it.

If you put in the time and effort to find a good fishing spot, it will eventually pay off.     And it has, for me.

So far, I have a repertoire of 4-5 “secret” lakes that are guaranteed to produce some decent bass and northern pike.  Friar’s Mom knows of at least a few of these spots.

If I’m lucky, I’ll occasionally find the Holy Grail, and land a pickerel.   Or even better yet, some nice speckled trout.

But it’s not just about the fishing.  It’s about getting out there in the fresh air, where I can just turn off my brain, paddle, and take in the water, the sun, the loons, and the Canadian Shield.

Not to mention,  the thrill of finding those “Secret Spots”, that so very few people know about.

Beautiful river banks. Unspoiled stands of old-growth forest. Natural amphitheaters of granite cliffs with cascading waterfalls.    Swimming holes so refreshing you shiver with delight.   Or the mother-lode of all blueberries.

Yes, my back yard.

Which I’ve been exploring for the past 5 years, and haven’t’ even begun to cover even a fraction of, yet.

But I can’t wait to go out again, and see what else is out there.

Riding the Busy Bus

April 23, 2010

Ask any 25-year-old “How’s it going?” and they’ll probably say “All right!” .    And they’ll tell you about the weekend at their friends’ cottage, or recent party, or their boy friend or girl friend.

But ask anyone over 35, and you’re almost guaranteed to hear “Busy!“, invariably followed by a litany of how they just don’t have time, the next three weekends are booked at the cottage and Justin has his karate championship next month and they’re getting their new roof put in and things are just SO “busy!”

And they seem proud of this.

But as you hear them talk, as your eyes glaze over and you resist the urge of throwing yourself into oncoming traffic, you feel sorry for these people.

Because you know they’ve crossed that middle-aged threshold:    they’ve embarked on the Busy-Bus.

a

Yes, that famous mythical Busy-Bus, the mandatory mode of transport for double-income middle-class breeding-couples who  have chosen to follow the path of get-married-have-kids-work-your-ass-off-till-you-die.

There’s never a dull moment, on the Busy Bus.

The one-way journey begins with overtime work that interfere with evenings and weekends and family time.   But this is expected.   Because the riders believe “If you want to make the Big Bucks, you have to put in the Long Hours”.

(At least, that’s what all the other passengers tell them).

And they need the Big Bucks.  Otherwise, how could they pay for their SUVs,  2nd vehicles,  the McMansion homes,  European vacations, mid-life-crisis toys,  Gigantor-Screen TV’s and $8000 bathroom fixtures?

In fact, a 2nd income is required to sustain all this, so their spouse must also work.

Hurray!  Now the BOTH of them can ride the Busy Bus together.

But not before they wake up extra early every day,  and rush through breakfast and transfer the  kids to daycare.   (Which, by the way, consumes most of their 2nd income, but that’s besides the point).

At work  they attend seminars on their own time, called “Lunch and Learns”.    They become soup-martyrs,  working at their desk during meal-times while slurping their penance-bowl of broth.   They attend long meetings without bathroom breaks.  And they do this without complaining, because sustenance and bodily functions come second to putting in the Long Hours so you can make the Big Bucks.

And even THAT’s not enough.  Because they can (and are expected) to use their Crackberry to multi-task and check their emails while listening to the budget meeting approving next fiscal years’ deliverables.

And when the workday is finally done, they’ll pick up some groceries,  pick up the kids from daycare, cook supper, wash dishes, make sure the kids do their 4 hours of homework..and then, only THEN do they allow themselves to “relax”.

For about 15 minutes, before they collapse with exhaustion

Only to wake up the next day, get on the Busy Bus, and do it all over again.

For the next 30 years.

Until they retire or die.

(Whichever comes first).

a

a

And the sad thing is,  the Busy-Bus riders can get off anytime they want.

Only they don’t want to.

Is it the weekend?   Should we take time to sleep in?  Go the beach?  Go for a Sunday drive?  Or visit gramma?

Heck, no.   Let’s bring extra work home.   Because it will show the managers we want to get ahead.   So we can get promoted, so we can make more Big Bucks, so we can buy more stuff.

But if we DO have time for something fun, like going for a hike or fishing,  let’s bring the CrackBerry along, so we can stay in touch with the office in case they call.

And it’s about time we got the kids involved in competitive sports.    They’re almost five now, and it’s our duty to teach them to ride the Busy-Bus just like Mommy and Daddy.

Hey, kids!   Now “Family Time” consists of your parents driving you back and forth to hockey games,  softball tournaments, competitive horse-shoe league, and organic Tai-chi meets.

And don’t forget the piano lessons, Black-smithing lessons, and Organic yogurt-making.

If a Busy-Bus parent has done their job right, every moment of their childrens’ leisure time is filled, scheduled, structured and organized.   (That is, when the poor youngsters aren’t stuck doing their 150 math problems and writing 800 page book reports)

Dont’ worry, though.   If little Krystin is lonely,  a “play-date” with a classmate can always be arranged.

We’ll try to pencil something in three weeks from now.


a

Let’s say the Bus-Bus riders have managed to survive the first part of the trip without having a coronary.

Their kids are now teenagers, beyond the age where they need to be driven around and supervised.

Is everyone done with the Busy-Bus yet?

Heck, no.

Because that’s when the Busy-Bus riders decide that their perfectly acceptable house just isn’t good enough anymore.

So they rip it up and renovate, installing granite counters and stainless-steel appliances and Direct-Buy pretentious crap that cost more than their first home.

That’ll keep them occupied for the next few years or so:   living on a construction site, dealing with contractors and mis-matched floor tiles and selecting the right color imported patio stones.

Not to mention, having to work extra hours to pay for it all.

And if that’s still too easy, well, then there’s always the option of buying a summer cottage on the lake.

Nothing like a second home 200 miles away that needs constant repairs and maintenance to consume the next couple of decades worth of summer weekends and vacation-time.

****************

a

Eventually, though, the Busy-Bus riders will reach the point on the itinerary where the cottage is complete, the house is paid off and renovated,  and the kids have finished college.

Their career’s ending…they can now retire on a full pension.

Surely, NOW, they’ll slow down and finally start enjoying the fruits of your labor?

Nope.

Some riders STILL wont’ get off.

They’ll go back to the same lousy company they worked for, hire themselves out as a “Consultant”, and do the same lousy job they were so happy to have retired from.

Because they don’t know what to do with themselves, otherwise.

Not to mention that they’ll need the extra double-dipping money for that new fishing boat.  And the condo in Florida.  And that European trip they’ve been planning.

a

And even when they finally stop officially working, they’ll continue to ride the Busy-Bus.

Because there will always be something more important than just sitting down and enjoying life.

Never mind that these sad folks have forgotten what it’s like to just wake up on a summer weekend and let the day go where it takes you.

Or what it’s like to enjoy spontaneous, unscheduled visits from friends.

Or to let oneself be unconnected, off the grid, and just listen to the sounds of  ones’ own thoughts.

That doesn’t matter to them.

Because if you ask them “How’s it going?”,  they’ll beam proudly and tell you:

“Busy!”

a

a

Is this what we have to look forward to?

Is this what riding the Busy-Bus is all about?

Then let me off at the next stop, please.

Because I think I’d rather walk.

Perfessor Friar finds his True North

April 21, 2010

Polaris, known as the “north star”, or “pole star“, isn’t a particularly bright star in the sky.   In fact, in terms of brilliance,  you can consider it a “B-lister”.   But it’s one of the most important stars in our heavens, because it happens to be aligned the axis of the Earth’s rotation.

This means Polaris stays virtually motionless in the night sky while all the other stars appear to rotate around it.   And Polaris always points North.

(Well, not exactly, but to within 0.5 degrees, which is close enough for most of us.)

People all over the planet have recognized this for hundreds of years.    Which makes Polaris a pretty handy celestial guide to help us find our way around.

The angle Polaris makes above the horizon corresponds to your latitude.    If you were at the North Pole,  at 90 degrees north, Polaris would be directly overhead, and the stars would circle around you in a counter-clockwise manner, neither rising or setting.

The further south you went, the lower Polaris would be in the sky, until you got to the Equator at zero degrees north.   Here, Polaris would lie on the northern horizon, with the stars rising and setting from East to West.

The early explorers who first crossed the oceans knew this.  They’d measure the angle Polaris made above the horizon to figure out their latitude.    This was usually done at dawn or dusk, when both the horizon and stars would be visible a the same time.

(Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to measure longitude.   That came much later, but that’s another story…)

Constellations that are close to Polaris are always present in the night sky…they just circle around the North Celestial Pole, neither rising nor setting.   These are known as “circumpolar” constellations.   The further north you are, the higher in the sky these circumpolar constellations are.

In the Northern Hemisphere, examples of circumpolar constellations are Cassiopeia (the “W” you see in the sky) and the famous Big Dipper, which forms part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

(By the way, the Greek word for Bear is “Arktos”.   Hence the origin of the word “Arctic”,  referring to the part of the planet where the Great Bear is more prevalent in the sky.  And conversely, “Antarctic” refers to the opposite part of the globe in the southern Hemisphere).

As I mentioned earlier, at the Equator, Polaris would be located just on the horizon.   As you’d proceed further south, Polaris would disappear below the horizon, as would the northern constellations.   However, the South Celestial Pole would become visible and rise higher in the sky, as would the southern constellations.

One of the more famous southern constellations is the Southern Cross.   You can’t see it in Canada or the States, except perhaps glimpses of it in Florida.   But don’t feel bad.   Those who have seen it say the Big Dipper is more impressive.  And I tend to agree.

As for the South Pole, unfortunately, there isn’t really an equivalent “South Star” to guide us.  The closest star would be Sigma Octantis, but it’s quite dim and unremarkable.   It’s nowhere near as prominent as Polaris. is.

Getting back to Polaris: it’s aligned with the axis of the Earth’s rotation, or the Geographic North Pole.   Let’s not confuse this with the  North Magnetic Pole, which is where the Earths’ magnetic field intersects the Earths’ surface.

The Geographic North Pole is at 90 degrees latitude.   Right now the North Magnetic Pole is at about 82 degrees latitude (about 850 kilometers away), but its location is changes by tens of kilometers a year.

A compass will point to the North Magnetic Pole.  From where we are, thousand of miles away, a compass reading is close enough to help us find the true, geographic North. (It’s like San Francisco and LA being about the same direction from New York).

But at higher latitudes,  the compass readings will be off, and will no longer be practical for navigation.   At that point, we would need to refer to Polaris to find the “True North” (That is, we you don’t have a GPS.)

If you think, however, that we can always rely on good ol’ dependable Polaris, guess again.

The Earth’s axis of rotation, as measured against the stars, slowly changes directions, similar to a wobbly spinning top.    Though this it takes a while….the cycle takes 26,000 years to complete, and is known as the procession of the equinoxes.

What this means is that the North Pole will point to different parts of the sky over time, and it’s constantly changing.

Right now, we happen to be alive at a time when Polaris happens to be the Pole Star.

In 3000 BC, the Pole Star was Thuban (a star in the constellation of Draco).   In 14,000 years, the Pole Star will be near Vega, wich is one of the brightest stars in the sky.

And in 27800 AD, it will be Polaris again.

Just goes to show, what goes around, comes around.

Even with the North Celestial Pole.

Okay, how can anyone screw up a GARDEN RAKE?

April 20, 2010

Brand-new purchase from Canadian Tire.   After 30 seconds of use.

God-damned.

Made-in-China.

Crap.