Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Paris

R.a.n.t. for day 04/18/15
Everyone who knows me, knows I love to travel. And it's also widely known, I love to travel to England. Back in 2010 I took my first trip to London. Being so close, I also thought it would be a good idea to travel to Paris. It was right there. But there were a few problems with my trip. First of all, I only planned a day trip. I decided I go and check out a few things, then come back to London, It shouldn't take that much time, should it? So I got up early to take the Chunnel to Paris, very early in the morning. I had a few things I wanted to see, and not enough time to see it. Now comes the bit I've never told anyone about. Did you know I was denied entry into Paris? Well, initially. Well, it was my fault. I left my passport on my bed at the hotel. D'oh! So my ticket was stamped refused. But I was told I could get my passport and take a later train. So I did.

I few hours later, I finally made it into Paris. This was a different world. London seemed so clean to me and yet Paris seemed a bit tarnished. The train station I arrived in was certainly very dirty. It also didn't take long till some young lady came up to me asking what language I spoke. I'm not dumb. I just stepped off the train, not the turnip truck. Still, I answered with English. Her language was broken but she was able to open a small notebook she had and opened it to a page. I had my wallet in my front pocket and made sure to keep tabs on it. Let me assure you, I wasn't robbed. But it was interesting because the booklet was asking me for money because she was 'trapped in Pairs' with no money and looking for a way home. She must have been trapped for a long time because this notebook had the same thing written in many languages. German, Chinese, Dutch, probably even Karen Sgaw. Who knows? Next time I'll say I speak Klingon and see what happens. "naDevvo' yIghoS!"

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. One young lad was offering to sell me tickets for the train at a discount price. Wow, so many people here willing to help and in need in help. Or, just people looking to make money off of tourists. I felt right at home. I'm begged for money at home quite frequently. I guess Paris was trying to make me feel at home. My first stop was the Louvre. I had a crazy notion to run in, see the Mona Lisa and run out. Of course it was packed and took longer to get in than I thought. My run through the museum was almost that, a quick run through. I was now about two hours behind schedule. I had a return train I HAD to make or I would be stranded in Paris. I wouldn't want that to happen, I'd have to start my own little 'trapped' notebook.

After the Louvre I made my way to the Arc de Triomphe, because it was on the way. This was the sort of thing I was probably least interested in seeing. The line wasn't bad, and I actually had a good time. No one begged me for money and two locals saw me taking photos of the place and offered to take my photo for me. Don't worry, they didn't run off with it. Do I look like Chevy Chase? Is this my European Vacation? Not hardly. So I was happy with my stop here. The Eiffel Tower was near enough so I decided to walk the distance. True, it was a bit further than I realized, but the walk was nice and I was greeted by many people. I stopped in a bakery on a side street and the gentleman inside was friendly and courteous. I had always been told French people were rude and hated Americans. I never found this to be true. Not to my face anyway.

Arriving at the Eiffel Tower,  was shocked to realize how long the line was. Three Hours! I looked at my clock and I had just about five hours left in my day. I decided I could do it. So I got in line and waited for three hours. Talk about feeling isolated. Everyone spoke a different language. Two ladies behind me were speaking German, the classroom of kids in front of me seemed to all me French. I didn't think the Eiffel Tower was something French people actually did. I was also entertained by walking merchants, wanting to sell me the Eiffel Tower. Albeit, replicas. I was also approached by some lady who had this notebook of sorts and asked what language I spoke. Want to guess what was written in the book? Either I've been followed or she stole this idea. Or there is a network of people lost in Paris. I see them congregating in a cafe late at night pooling their money together to see if they can finally make it home.
Lost Soul One: "Do we have enough money to make it home?"
Lost Soul Two: "Yes, we had enough money three months ago."
LS1: "Then why are we still here?"
LS2: "Because we are making more money here than back home."

At the end of the day, I made it 'home' safely. It was late at night, but I did it. I saw Paris (at least a portion of it) in one day. I met a lot of new friends, and had many great new experiences. Would I go back? Initially, right after the trip I told myself no. But on reflection, I'd have to say I could be tempted. Because I know what I did wrong. First, I rushed myself. France isn't about rushing. If I wanted to be rushing, I should have gone to Russia. Seriously though, I need to plan another trip. Don't do the touristy things. Because I was enjoying London, especially the days I sat with the people, did non-touristy things. I also know what to expect now. And when I went, I went alone. I need to travel with someone. At the very least, I wouldn't feel like I was isolated.
Photos of my day trip to Paris can be seen HERE.

Some questions for discussion:
Have you ever taken a trip that was disappointing?
What's the longest you've waited in a queue line? What was the queue for?
If you could travel to just one place, all expenses paid. Where would you go?

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Onions

R.a.n.t. for day 04/17/15
Onions make me cry. Not because I'm cutting into them. I wouldn't be cutting into them. Because I hate them! They always say 'never cry over spilt onions', well I wouldn't cry. I'd laugh gleefully. Onions belong on the floor and I'd step on them and kick them out the door. It's not only the taste that makes me mad. It's that EVERYONE cooks with them. It doesn't matter what they are cooking, they chuck them in. Stew? Add onions, Tacos? Add onions, Sandwich? Add onions. Soup? Add onions. Breakfast cereal? Add onions.

Then, I'm called a 'picky' eater. Really? Since the taste of an onion makes me gag, I'm picky? I can eat almost anything in the world and usually enjoy it. And I've had some weird things, (pigs heart, sheep uterus, fish paste - okay, these are just the exotic things I've had, not that I really like them.) Meats, breads, fruits, vegetables. Yes, I DO like vegetables. I'll eat any side veggie you offer me. Corn, potatoes, beans, spinach, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts. I've eaten and enjoyed them all. So I'm not picky, I just don't like the taste of onions.

Then there are the people who can't believe I don't like onions. They will try and trick me into eating them. As if I have never had them before or know what they taste (or feel) like.
Karen: "So how was dinner?"
Jeffrey Scott: "It was good."
K: "You know there were onions in it."
JS: "Yes, I know, I spit them out. See?"

Or try and serve them to me in a new and unique way, thinking I will suddenly enjoy them.
Pemu: "Jeff, I made fried onions. I know you don't like onions, but try it."
JS: "Wow, this is good." I'm of course, trying to be nice. I always try to be gracious when someone makes me food.
P: "Want another one?"
JS: "No thank you. I don't know if I can finish this one."
P: "But I made these for you."

Yes, I'll try and be nice if I'm at someone's house and they serve me food with onions in it. I won't even mention I don't like onions. I'll just swallow them without chewing. I may not like onions, but I don't want to be rude about it. Oh sure, I've had an onion ring or two in my life. But as I've gotten older, I've found it hard to eat even these. Anyway, let's be honest. An onion ring is no more an onion than a french fry is a potato. It's all breading and grease. There is nothing left, it's been fried away. Like making Guinness brownies and worried you'll make people drunk. (Yes, I have a friend who believed that). Why even this morning I made some Kahlúa coffee. Says right on the package 'non-alcoholic'. Really? There was a chance of alcohol being in a vacuum sealed packet of coffee? But it was goo......

I'm sorry, getting off topic again. Why? Because I hate onions so much, I even hate talking about them. They taste nasty, they are in everything, and they make me cry. If I wanted to cry, I'd listen to the song below. As I believe Telly Savalas once said, "Onions. Don't leave the store with them." Good advice.

Some questions for discussion:
Do you put onions in your cereal?
Should Cadbury come out with chocolate covered onions?
Would you try onion flavoured coffee?
What food(s) do you hate?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Naysayers

R.a.n.t. of day 04/16/15
I don't know about other writers, but I'm passionate about my writing. When I'm working on a story, it's all I think about. Writing is something I would, and have, taken a day off of my day job to do. Still, there have been other times I've wanted to give up. Last year, I did that. But then I kept feeling this burning inside me. I had things to write, and it was killing me. I had to write! So I did. Why do I bring this up? Because I was doubting myself. I was being my own naysayer.

Honestly, I think every writer has at some point, done this. Good thing it seems to be self correcting. If you are a serious writer like myself, a brief hiatus won't stop you from writing. It may be a struggle, but don't give up. Don't be your own naysayer. There will be plenty more out there. You can excuse yourself, but when other people are the naysayers, it's a whole different ball game.

I have a brother-in-law who has always implied my writing is a waste of time and pointless. Any talk of writing and he rolls his eyes, as if I'm doing the dumbest thing in the world with my time. That hurts. I put a lot of time and effort into my writing. Either for others to enjoy or just myself. I have enough self doubt. I fear I'll never be appreciated as a writer. That feeling is intensified when others are negative. So no, I'm not hiding out from people, or being a hermit I'm simply doing what I love and enjoy.

I love writing and my writing. Be it my usual humorous stories or when I write serious pieces such as this. Sorry for there not being many jokes today, but this is a r.a.n.t. I feel strongly about. You can tell me I'm not funny, you can say I'm not attractive, complain about my shyness, but don't tell me writing is stupid and I'm wasting my time. I don't care what you think. Because I love writing, and I'm going to do it. Go be a naysayer somewhere else.

Some questions for discussion:
Have you had to battle naysayers?
How do you keep yourself encouraged?
Have you ever taken a break from your writing or other hobby you enjoy only to return to it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Music

R.a.n.t. of day 04/15/15
Why would I r.a.n.t. about music? Maybe because there is not enough time in the day to listen to everything I enjoy. I'm a music chameleon, if there is such a thing. I listen to a lot and there is a vast diversity I listen to and love.

Another reason to r.a.n.t. is because listening to my favourite tunes in the store makes me want to dance. I don't want to dance in the store. People will see me dancing and I'll end up on youtube for sure.

The final reason to dislike music is because I've suddenly become a collector of CD's and I'm quickly running out of room. What's a guy to do? I have so much music in fact, I've created a cheat list of all the albums and artists I own and keep that list on my phone. (Actually I keep it everywhere via dropbox). This has become a necessity when I check out a second hand store and browse their CD's because I'm always forgetting what I already own. There have been a few time I've picked something up, only to realize later I already own it.

So today, in honour of the months A-Z theme. I've decided to list (as many as I can) a selection of the CD's I own in alphabetical order. (One small shelf is seen above in the r.a.n.t. photo). And because it's ABC themed, I've included a song from the Barenaked Ladies at the end of this r.a.n.t. Hope you enjoy.

Adele and Art of Noise
Soundtrack - Armageddon
Favourite Album name - A Users Guide (They Might Be Giants)

Blondie and Billie Piper
Soundtrack - Breakfast Club
Favourite Album Name - Breakfast in America (Supertramp)

Cranberries and Captain & Tennille
Soundtrack - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Favourite Album Name - Call me Irresponsible (Michael Bublé)

David Bowie and Diana Krall
Soundtrack - Doctor Who - 50th Anniversary Collection
Favourite Album Name - Drunken Lullabies (Flogging Molly)

Eagles and Escala
Favourite Album Name - Explosive (Bond)

Fleetwood Mac and Fuse
Soundtrack - Footloose
Favourite Album Name - Fools Fantasy (Martha Berner)

Genesis and Gaelic Storm
Soundtrack - Groundhog Day
Favourite Album Name - Genius Loves Company (Ray Charles)

Huey Lewis and the News and Holly Cole
Soundtrack -Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Favourite Album Name - Harpers Bazaar (Sarah Marie Mullen)

Ingrid Michaelson and Information Society
Favourite Album Name - In Hi-Fi Stereo (Mindi Abair)

Journey and Jessy J
Soundtrack - Jurrasic Park
Favourite Album Name - Just Push Play (Aerosmith)

Kenny Rogers and Kylie Minogue
Favourite Album Name - Kick (INXS)

Lady Antebellum and Leo Sayer
Soundtrack - Lost Boys
Favourite Album Name - Licensed to Ill (Beastie Boys)

Moody Blues and Marina & the Diamonds
Soundtrack - Men In Black
Favourite Album Name - Money For Nothing (Dire Straits)

No Doubt and Natalie Macmaster
Favourite Album Name - Naked and True (Randy Crawford)

One Republic and Oingo Boingo
Favourite Album Name - Out of the Blue (Debbie Gibson)

P!nk and Pet Shop Boys
Soundtrack - Parenthood (TV Series)
Favourite Album Name - Pocket Full of Kryptonite (Spin Doctors)

Queen and Quiet Riot
Soundtrack - Quantum Leap
Favourite Album Name - Quiet Nights (Diana Krall)

Red Hot Chili Peppers and Run DMC
Soundtrack - Run Lola Run
Favourite Album Name - Return of Bruno (Bruce Willis)

Styx and Spice Girls
Soundtrack - Star Trek: DS9
Favourite Album Name - Saxuality (Candy Dulfer)

Tom Petty and 'Til Tuesday
Soundtrack - Tomb Raider
Favourite Album Name - Two For the Road (Dave Grusin)

U2 and UB40
Soundtrack - UHF
Favourite Album Name - Up Your Alley (Joan Jett)

Van Halen and Vitamin C
Favourite Album Name - Violator (Depeche Mode)

Weezer and Weird Al Yankovic
Soundtrack - Wedding Singer
Favourite Album Name - What Up Dog? (Was Not Was)

Soundtrack - None, but if I found one it would be X-Files
Favourite Album Name - None
(We need more artists starting with X)

Favourite Album Name - You're the One (Paul Simon)

ZZ Top and Zoë Keating

Some questions for discussion:
Do you own any of the above?
What's your favourite album?
Who can name the knick-knacks on my shelf?
Ever been caught dancing or singing to your favourite song?

Lyrics for the Barenaked Ladies - ABC's

Hey Steve, hey Ed, that sounds nice, what is it?
Thank you, it's a, it's an alphabet song I'm working on.
Oh great, a whole new alphabet, I just learned the old one.

A is for aisle, B is for bdellium, C is for czar.
And if you see him would you mind telling him?

Okay, hang on a second, yeah aisle, bdellium?
Yeah, aisle like a, like a theatre, alright, okay and bdellium?
Bdellium, it's a gum like tree resin, it starts with a silent B.
And then czar? Yeah, it's uh like a Russian czar.

You know everybody knows apple, ball and cat.
I wanted to get into some, you know some stranger words.
Right, I see what you're doing.

D is for djinn, E for Euphrates.
F is for fohn, but not like when I call the ladies.

I thought phone started with a P like a P.H.
No, it's F O H N, it's a, it's a kind of wind.
Yeah, I know what you mean by wind.

G for gnarly, I for irk, H is for hour.
J for jalapeños, good in either corn or flour...
tortillas. Let us rhyme.

K is for knick knack, L is for llama.
Pramma, llama, ding, what's so strange about llama?
Llama, it starts with two L's, what's the second one for?
No idea. I know loser.

M for mnemonic, N is for ndomo, O is for ouiga board.
P for pneumonia, pterodactyl and psychosis, Q is for qat.

Okay, Q qat? What? Yeah, it's uh Q A T, it's an evergreen shrub.
It's a perfect scrabble word because it's a Q with no U.
There's not many of those, you have too much time on your hands.

R is for argyle. No it isn't.
Okay, you're right, I couldn't find a good R word.
S is for Saar, a lovely German river.
T for tsunami, a wave that makes me quiver.

U is for urn, but not like earning money.
V for vraisemblance from French and therefore kind of funny.

W for wren, wrinkly and who.
X is for Xian, an ancient Chinese city, true.
Ancient Chinese city, huh? My guitar player, some hotshot.

Y is for yiperite, a very nasty gas.
And zed's the final letter and by final I mean last.

Okay, when you say zed for the benefit of our American friends,
you really mean Z, right?
No, I mean zed, like, like Zed Zed Top, Zed Zed Top?

Yeah, you know the guys with the big long beards.
Well, except the guy whose name is Beard, he has a mustache.
I always thought that was interesting.

You done with the alphabet?
No, extra letters I haven't heard of? I think so.
This was a great help, I think.
With the contribution you made to world literacy.

Well, I'm just saying, kids I'm just saying.
Think outside the box a little bit, box with an R.
Yeah, well, no box with a B A L K S like a pitcher.
Ah, as opposed to B A C H S.

Right, think outside the box, get into some Rochmaninov.
That's Rochmaninov with a W.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for London

R.a.n.t. of day 04/14/15
As most of my friends and family know, I absolutely 'LOVE' London. (There's the word everyone on Facebook thought I was going to use today). If I could, I'd visit London every year. If I could, I'd visit London every week. But unfortunately, I can't. And that's part of my r.a.n.t. for the day. Though I've been to London twice before, I had plans on going again this year. I was developing a plan to do a two day Thames walking tour among other things. Visiting some burbs and checking out a few more places tourists seldom travelled too. Honestly? I'd like to see more of England than just London, but since the word for the day is London, I'll just use that word to imply all of England.

The few times I did do things that you are 'required' to do as a tourist, (See changing of the guards). I didn't have a good time. Everyone back home insisted I see the changing of the guards and I did not want to. But one morning I found myself there walking around and the place was empty. So I thought, as long as I was there, I'd see it. Less than an hour later the place was packed. But having been there so early, I was right up to the gates and took some excellent photos. So that at least made me happy.

It's true, I do touristy stuff from time to time, but I like to get out with the actual people. Go where most visitors don't go. When I visited the BBC studio, the tour guide was delighted and kept me close, asking all sorts of questions about America. You'd think he never met an American before. Same thing when I toured Lords Cricket Ground. The chap there told me he didn't see many Americans and was glad to see someone else taking an interest. Of course he was more dignified than the guy from the beeb.

Sadly, my plans fell through this year, so I'm hoping next year to 'go back home', as I tell people. Find new sites to see, do less touristy things, catch a match at the pub. I may not be able to afford it now, but with a bit more planning this year, I'll make sure next year will be well worth it.

(Scroll through the 'London' tag below to see a selection of photos from my previous trips).

Some questions for discussion:
If you had a free pass right now, where would you travel to?
What's the most interesting place you've visited?
What are your suggestions for sites to see in London?

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Karaoke

R.a.n.t. of day 04/13/15
Karaoke is one of those things you absolutely love or ultimately hate. For awhile I was in the ultimate hate group. Mostly because I'm a bad singer and have enough problem with my self-image. Singing a horrible song in front of others would only exacerbate my predicament. I remember one night two of my siblings wanted to go out for the night and I decided to go along. They both sang karaoke but I refused. Flash forward a few years and now I have my own karaoke machine set up in my home bar. Not that I feel I sing any better, or have a better self-image, it's because I've come to a few revelations.

First, no one singing karaoke is a professional. If you are a professional singer singing in the bar, you are probably getting paid. (Well, not my bar unless you want to be paid in pretzels and beer). I've mellowed out over the years so I can see it for what it is, a bit of fun. That's my second revelation, it's fun. Though I still hate singing horribly in front of people, I do love to sing. I'm the guy you pull up next to at a red light, singing away to the tunes on the radio. And I won't care if you stare either, I won't stop. Take a photo next time, it'll last longer.

My sisters all love karaoke, so I decided it was time to put one in the bar, as I mentioned. I have many fond memories from my karaoke parties. I've had good singers and bad singers (count me in with the bad), I've had people sing who never sang karaoke before and friends who speak little English. The one time I did have a friend who absolutely refused to sing, I still gave him something to do. It was during my 'random karaoke' game. In this game, I give everyone a ticket with numbers printed on. It's double sided, so they each got half and the other half was tossed into a hat. The friend who refused to sing would draw random numbers out of the hat, he seemed to enjoy that. Everyone else had fun singing the random songs they were assigned.

How to play 'Random Karaoke'. A random karaoke CD is placed in the player. At the start of a new song, a ticket is drawn. Whoever has the corresponding number MUST sing that song. The one time my friend, (the one who didn't want to sing but was persuaded, either by his girlfriend or the beer), was selected for 'Sweet Home Alabama' and didn't have to worry about singing horribly because everyone sang along. There are just some songs, everyone will sing too. Another guy friend's random song was Miley's 'Wrecking Ball'. Craziness, craziness. Well, as I said, fond memories.

Question for discussion:
Have you ever done karaoke?
What songs do you like to sing?
What are your favourite party games?
Can you name the Karaoke song at the top of the page?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Junk Food

R.a.n.t. of day 04/11/15
As most people who know me, (and those who've been reading this A-Z series), I have weight to lose. In 'E' I explored 'Exercise' and 'H' was 'High Pressure Sales' from joining a gym. Those two r.a.n.t.s talked about the good things I do for myself, but this article shows partially why I need to lose weight. I've gotten much better with not eating junk food over the years, but back when I was married, the wife wanted to shop for groceries on her own and half of what she brought back always seemed to be junk food. Food not healthy, no matter what the package might try and suggest (packed with vitamins and minerals). What more can I say? It's bad food, and it's food I love to eat. Since I'm doing an A-Z list this month, I figured I may as well round out this r.a.n.t. with an A-Z listing of all my food temptations. Food I typically keep out of the house. Out of sight, out of mind, you know. But if it's in the house. Forget it! All bets are off.

A- Alcohol (Okay, this is one I have in my house. I have a fully stoked bar. But it's in the basement).
B- Bacon
C- Cereal
D- Doritoes
E-  Éclairs
F- French Fries
G- Ghiradeli Chocolate
H- Hot Dogs
I- Ice Cream
J- Jelly Bellies, Jelly Babies
K- Krispy Kremes (Yes, I already listed donuts)
L- Lasagne
M- Marshmallow Peeps
N- Nutella
O- Onion Rings (Okay, this is a joke. I hate onions)
P- Pizza
Q- Quisp (A cereal. Yes, another duplicate) :)
R- Raisins covered in chocolate.
S- Sweets of any kind.
T- Twinkies
U- Usually anything not healthy.
V- Vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate, sprinkles, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
W- Wedges of Potatoes
X- Xtra Helpings (Okay, this is a cheat)
Y- Yummy Food
Z- Zingers

Some questions for discussion:
What are your food temptations?
What keeps you motivated?
Is there anything I should have added to the list?