I Wonder What Tom Waits' Christmas Cards Look Like?

So this is blogging, and what have you done?  Well, what I've done is made a pact with Beth that we'd both post something by January 15, 2011.  Here goes nothing, or at least, very little!

The sadness I feel over my annual Christmas card judgery coming to an end is tempered with the satisfaction of having added a couple of new categories this time around.

Being a fan of traditions I approve of, it's nice to see my brother continuing to stand at the top of the Cheapest Card category, something the cards he sends have trouble doing.  The paper stock they're on has a sturdiness that allows the card to bow to you as you help it to its feet but sadly, not to stand back up.  Sealing his win is the Costanza-grade glue that makes the near translucent envelope it comes in virtually impenetrable.  Well done brother!

One of the newly inaugurated categories is Smallest Card, created in honour of one of my sisters.  The  card she sent, while lovely, is small enough to qualify as a gift tag.  I have the feeling someone at her house this year got a present with a very large 'tag' on it!

In previous years, I discounted the worth of photo cards.  While they tend to stand up better than my brother's, most people's kids just aren't as cute as their parents think they are.  My opinion was swayed however after receiving cards from my niece and nephew.

My niece's daughter beams in her close up head shot, eyes wide and sparkling and tongue casually lolling at the side of her mouth - now that's a photo card!  My nephew's son beams adorably from each of the many shots making up a montage of the places he's visited and lived this past year.  It's simply too close to call Best Photo Card although they should be happy they're even in a category, right?  There might have been a tiebreaker if only a third photo card from a friend hadn't ended up in the Latest Received category (I got it today!).  Since it's already a winner and a loser, it's out of the running.

As for me, I'm glad my own cards were sent fairly early this year because my fingers are practically numb from playing so much Flight Control.  If this keeps up, next year I'll be designing my own foot and mouth painted cards.  Watch your mail!

Until then, Happy New Year!


Can I Get A Witness

Audio Version:  http://passiondale.podomatic.com/entry/2010-09-20T07_40_01-07_00

There's an excellent documentary about Frank Lloyd Wright by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick I'd seen on PBS, but experiencing genius up close adds dimension and wonder that film can't always capture.  Our plan for the weekend was to see Mr. Wright's Fallingwater house in Mill Run, Pennsylvania.

Our seven or so hour road trip began as every journey into America seems to, with an interrogation of the sort that tells you the border guard has a little to prove but not enough to pull you over and ask for answers to the questions on the glove test.  From there, a quick stop at Premier Liquor and the four of us were ready to drink in the landscape and a few other things, though not of course, while driving.  A near constant downpour accompanied us trying its best to thwart, but was no match for hearts (and wallets) ready to be lightened at the outlet shopping mecca of Grove City.  It stopped raining long enough for us to find a few bargains in the mist and rejoined us as we continued our drive.

The rainy overnight stay in Mt. Pleasant found us feeling smug over the foresight of earlier collecting more than enough wine.  We drank up as we dried out and after ordering food in to the hotel, we went to sleep happy.  The following morning, after making friends with the cordial breakfast room employees, we headed for Mill Run.   

In visiting Fallingwater, I more expected to remove something from my list of things to do rather than add to it but when life throws you beauty, sometimes the list gets rearranged. It was a breathtaking and emotional experience seeing the house so beautifully integrated into its surroundings in what seemed like more than three dimensions.  I can now say I'd love to visit it again in other seasons, lighting and weather conditions.  I was bowled over at getting to see such a magnificent dream brought to life.

After marveling all we could, we continued on to Lancaster and Amish country.  While I'd expected to see buggies containing Amish passengers alongside the road, I didn't expect to see the rogue Amish - girls on rollerblades, women leading their children on bicycles across busy highways or the shy smiles and hellos offered as we passed them on the sidewalks in town. 

While I'd threatened to steal the souls of the Amish with my camera, I was too busy to take many photographs being struck at how fresh faced and scrubbed clean they seemed.  As I bought ice cream and souvenirs from them, I'm sure the curiosity was reciprocal.  Among the things I did take away was the thought that I could never rock the bowl haircut as a kid the way some of these children managed. 

After another day of exploring, shopping, having the Plain and Fancy restaurant experience and getting ferhoodled, we started our journey back.  Being the time of year it is, we passed many pockets of beauty as the leaves on the trees boldly flashed their best come hither before I fall looks.  

We were waved through customs even with our declarations of being over our spending allowances and liquor allotments and ended a lovely long weekend in a traffic jam which I took as a sign we should slow down and reflect back on the wonderful weekend it was.  Not everyone felt like this judging by the swearing in the car but soon subsided as the jam cleared and we arrived safely home with fresh souls, our own.


Freakz n the Hood

I haven't done an audio blog post in a while and on checking, while GCast still hosts already recorded posts, they no longer allow new recordings. Gee GCast, I'm sorry I wasn't there for you at the end.

After researching for several minutes, I decided to give PodOmatic a try and while the process seemed easy, figuring out how to post to Facebook or my blog's sidebar is still a bit of a mystery.

This link should help you follow the sound of my voice:  Freakz n the Hood

Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Podomatic for the people baby!


Dale Shrugged

Exploring a new neighbourhood satisfies me that there's poetry everywhere.

There's a store around the corner called Knitter's Attic, open 7 days a week no less!  Despite the name, it is of course, a single storey dwelling.  One of their window displays does show they're progressive enough to have solved the noisy child problem quite well and possibly permanently.

Although I haven't thought much about him lately, I'm glad to know someone in the area is providing updates on Atlas' doings in the back window of their van.

Seeing this assured my journey around the building to see if there were more clues about Atlas.  The storefront sign was obscured by too many trees to take a decent photograph but I can honestly report that the signpost up ahead reads:  Atlas Pood Drapery.  Talk about a fibre-filled colon blowing statement!

Welcome to the jungle people.


Some Guy Turns Out To Not Just Be Some Guy!

There was a time when my world fairly revolved around blogging. There was a great camaraderie in writing and visiting with everyone to start, end or middle the day with.  Then the great recession of blogging hit and I wondered if I'd ever find my way back.

Having recently made the plunge into the terrifying world of Facebook, those halycon blogging days came rushing back when I started bumping into walls and great people I hadn't seen in a while.  When I saw that over at Some Guy's Blog, Chris had been busy putting on a world class retrospective of the folks on his blogroll, it warmed my cockles.

Well, you can't just plunk down a whole bunch of words that make sense like that without inspiring a bit of return to sender love can you?

I first recall Chris springing into my consciousness around the time of the Little Miss Sunshine Online Pageant which made us all laugh, cringe and laugh some more.  His excellent school days photo instantly made me jealous,  I hate cute kids!
Thereafter, I was wowed by his wry and self deprecating humour and realized his blog was a bit like a playground you never want to leave.  He had scheme hatching proposals, commentary on a variety of topics, videos, and his love of a good laugh all on display.

Any time I wonder if a documentary is worthwhile,  I can have a look around his place and chances are, he's seen it and reviewed it.  Chris' blog is a great example of how funny, irreverent, creative some guys can be and occasionally, there are posts involving farts!

Need I say more?  Only a little.  Some Guy?  You should really think about renaming your blog Quite A Guy!  From me and all your pals at HeeHaw - Sah-lute!


Twist and Shout

Since moving house, I've adjusted to most of the morning sounds that compete for my wandering attention as I sit in the backyard.

Birds chirp on their way past while squirrels rustle through walnut trees. Traffic hum and a tucked away air conditioning unit barely register. It's quiet here with me.

As quickly as peace sets in, war breaks out. Rat-a-tat-tat shrieking bursts from the windows next door as an Indian lady ensures the future hearing loss of her children and husband.

My only release is in the sound of the cap as it twists from a bottle of beer. By the four arms of Vishnu, it must be noon somewhere.


Come On Get Appy

I keep getting anonymous comments like this:


I'm hoping these aren't the suicide notes of the people who made my iPhone because I don't know if there's an app for that.


Better Living Through Chemistry

Each time I stir sugar into my coffee*, the words suspended particulate sound in my brain. All thanks go to my Grade 10 chemistry teacher who clearly had an impact.

He also gave me the questions to several Jeopardy answers featuring the Periodic Table of Elements. I believe Merv Griffin created both the show and the Table.

*In this example, sugar = sugar and coffee = coffee


Sneer and Spell

Ever since being called pretty competent by my boss, I've strived to be as much as I can be without straining anything.

Today while participating in some work sponsored reprogramming training, we were herded into groups of three to play reindeer games and asked to flip chart our responses.
Our first task was to each write a word on the chart expressing how we felt about some looming changes to our work methods.

I wrote the word anxious and handed the marker to one of my compatriots. He started to write something and stopped. I want to write apprehensive but I don't know how to spell it he said. It's with two pees I told him. He stammered, but I don't know what comes after that and so I spelled the rest of it for him.

I was sure this would be the saddest thing that happened to me all day until the other gentle mental giant took marker in hand and meekly asked Do you know how to spell cautious?


Why Do The Wrong People Travel?

When I travel, I like to know what sights I’ll be seeing, how safe the place is, whether there are any unusual laws or customs I need to be aware of, what the weather’s like and so on.

While most wouldn’t factor in the likelihood of a volcanic eruption leading to “Europe’s Closed” announcements, I think I’d handle it in a 5 step process:

1. Be annoyed.
2. Be more annoyed.
3. Feel sorry for myself.
4. Wonder why 2012 used to seem so far away.
5. Arrange another way home.

Today in the newspaper, there was an article about how Canadians stranded in Europe have been chastising the government here for not doing more to rescue them. These folks may well be related to the morons who travel directly into hurricane season because it’s a bargain and then cry when they get stranded railing away at the gubmint for not doing more. You’re all wet people, wet and stupid. Or as in the current group of strandees - ashy, ashy and stupid.

While I’m at it, if you’re a hapless snowmobiler who falls through the ice and drowns, my heart goes out to your families but otherwise it’s “See you in the spring!” I’m tired of paying taxes to have massive and costly recovery efforts pull your dumb dead asses out of the water.

I understand that not everyone can immediately round up the resources to extract themselves from unexpected situations. With diplomacy I ask that you follow me in looking at the bright side: being homeless in Europe is way sexier than being homeless in Canada.


The New Adventures of Old Dale

Recently at the airport, I fell under scrutiny like never before. I'm generally a polite fellow, asking how the customs officer is and then waiting to answer the few questions they may or may not muster. This process is typically pain free and lasts a minute or less.

This time, a rather heavy lidded lummox had other plans for me. He took my passport, asked where I was going and began staring intently at my photo and then back at me. He did this several times. I felt perhaps he needed my assistance. "That photo's nearly 5 years old, I have a different haircut now" I offered with a wan smile. This had no impact.

I began to shift in place hoping I wasn't about to learn the answers to the very intimate questions on the glove test. Another minute or two went by and the officer pulled out a magnifying glass complete with a light and went back to examining my photo.

"Everything matches except in one place" he said. "There's a blemish on the left side of your lip in the photo that's not on your face. Have you had some sort of surgery?" "No" I answered. "Any kind of dermatological work done?" "No" "Well, look, here's the blemish". "Um, I don't see a blemish".

He took out a pair of glasses and went back to my photo. He then called a colleague over to discuss my face. Thankfully, the other officer was more intrigued by the magnifying glass than anything else. "That standard issue?" "Yes it is! You just have to ask for it, I need it because I'm blind as a bat!" "I'm gonna get me one then!". While they continued to marvel, my passport got stamped and I was waved on my way. The whole thing set me back about 8 minutes which isn't long in the grand scheme but far too long when a blind guy is trying to examine your face.
This brings me to another bit of horror. My passport is ready to be renewed. For the last 10 years, I've been the far too proud owner of two of the finest passport photos ever taken. Don't believe me? Hearken back for a look. The genius photographer made me look far better than I ever have in person. The problem? He's gone from his former location with no forwarding address and no listing for him in print or the real world of the internet!

I fear it shall come to pass that I will join the ranks of those with less than satisfactory passport photos. My Sarkis, my Sarkis, why have you abandoned me?

I will offer a reward should anyone locate him. The reward may or may not involve bad photocopies of good photographs.



I'm Not A Haitir

Seeing Stevie Wonder manning the phones on the Haiti telethon last night made me realize how lucky I am. I have a pen, he didn't.