Sunday, March 30, 2014

Did I Stutter?

R.a.n.t. for week of 03/30/14
In my younger days, I used to talk on the phone all the time. Depending on the friend, I could be talking for an hour or more. But recently I've begun to dread talking on the phone. For some reason, the older I get, the harder it is to talk on the phone. Typically it only flairs up when I first pick up. So there are times when a person calls me and all they hear is silence on my end as I try to begin speaking. If I don't hesitate, I start stuttering my words. The problem with hesitating is it can take more than five seconds. I literally lock up and can't say a word. It doesn't happen all the time, and some times I can say 'hello' fairly quickly. Or if I'm 'locked' and then the other person begins to speak, suddenly I unfreeze and can talk freely. Or I'll be fine answering, then suddenly start stuttering during the conversation. So I have a hard time using the telephone and get so frustrated I want to smash the phone. Even with my closest friends I dread calling and would rather opt to send a text message. Then there are the times I don't hesitate and just start talking, thinking I'll be okay. Then suddenly I'm saying, "H.h.h. hell, hello." This has given quite a number of people a good chuckle and when it happens at work I usually get the response, "Forget where you are?" They are joking around of course because they don't know better, and I get irritated. Don't believe me? Feel free to call and find out any time you want. Though I may just let the answering machine get it. Mostly because the answering machine won't when it picks up.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Madness in March

R.a.n.t. for week of 03/23/14
Lately, everyone seems to be talking basketball. Radio morning DJ's, friends, sports reporters, bartenders. That's everyone, right? However I have to make a confession, and if anyone out there knows me at all, will not be surprised by the following revelation. I'm not much into basketball. To be honest, all I know about our local team is they are called the Bucks and don't win very often. As for who plays on the team, not sure I could name a single player. And that's professional basketball. This March Madness is all about college basketball. With so many colleges, and so many people who apparently love basketball, I have no idea how they devise standings for 64 slots. The question continually being asked is, 'how are your brackets'? I've never taken the time to fill out a bracket. I have no idea how to rate teams of ball players from colleges in my own state, let alone from other states. But if you really want to see a bracket filled out by me, okay. But how I decide who wins will be completely different from how most other people will rate the teams. But at the end of the championship, will I have done any worse than anyone else?

Sweet 16
Florida vs UCLA - Winner, Florida because the alligator mascot looks cool.
Dayton vs Stanford - Winner, Stanford because the S reminds me of Superman.
Virginia vs Michigan St. - Winner, Virginia because I used to have a friend named Virginia.
Iowa St. vs Connecticut - Winner, Connecticut because huskies are cool.
Arizona vs SDSU - Loser, Sdsu. Mostly 'cause it sounds like a sneeze. What is a sdsu anyway?
Baylor vs Wisconsin - Loser, Baylor. Sounds like a bear needing aspirin.
Kentucky vs Louisville - Loser, Louisville. It sounds like a bat, and aren't Cardinals baseball?
Tennessee vs Michigan - Loser, Michigan. Pick 'M' to lose since it'll irritate one of my friends.

Elite 8
Florida vs Stanford - Alligator or Superman? Easy, Stanford wins.
Virginia vs Connecticut - Old friend or a dog? Always friend, Virginia wins.
Arizona vs Wisconsin - As much as I love Wisconsin, I love friends more, Arizona wins.
Kentucky vs Tennessee - Just had a shot of Jack Daniels, so Tennessee wins.

Final 4
Stanford vs Virginia - Virginia will win. She knows how to use Kryptonite.
Arizona vs Tennessee - Tennessee will win. They don't drink and Arizona will get hooched up.

Championship Game
The same tactic Virginia used last time (Kryptonite) won't work against Tennessee. But Virginia won't fall for the same trick Tennessee last used either (Jack Daniels). It'll come down to the wire, but I think Virginia will be victorious. At least they won the coin toss I just performed.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Vagrancy At It's Finest

R.a.n.t. of week 03/16/14
Years ago, I used to work in an office close to the down-town area. One of my closest workmates was named Olga. She would always come in complaining about homeless people she met. But she never called them homeless, she always used the word transient. It was an expression I had never heard before. She was always interesting to talk to, even though she swore her name was pronounced 'Elka', a pronunciation I had never heard before either. She passed away while I still worked there, but any time someone mentions the word transient, I think of her.

When I hear the word bum, I think of  Frank Ferguson. He was an actor who appeared on the show 'Leave It To Beaver'. His character was a bum who tricked Beaver into letting him come into the house for a sandwich, then a quick bath and then to helping himself to one of the Beev's fathers suits. Even as a child I realized how dangerous the Beaver's thought process was. Like Olga above, I believe that actor is dead now.

Long before the word tramp meant a trashy women, it was applied more to a happy go-lucky sort of out-of-their luck character. Remember Disney's 'Lady and the Tramp'? The tramp in this film was not a cigarette smoking, tattooed, female dog (innocently whistling). Rather, it was the adorable, scampering mutt.

Passing a rail-road yard, I think of the word hobo - a person travelling the country via boxcar. Some might know who Boxcar Willie is. Personally, I have no idea but in name alone. One day in my youth I was perusing the local Mainstream Record store and bending down I laughed to myself as I read this artists name out-loud, a name I had never heard before. Suddenly from behind, an older lady says, "You found Boxcar Willie?" "Yes," I said as I pointed to where the artist cassette was. I walked away from this quite older couple thinking how ironic it was I found exactly what they were looking for. They are probably dead too now.

The word vagrant has always held a negative connotation for me. I think of someone dark and sinister. In a way, the word reminds me of those clown/vagrant 'art' pictures I used to see all the time in children's waiting rooms at hospitals and clinics as I was growing up. Clowns automatically creep me out, but to be a vagrant variation as well? No thank you! Sometimes, sitting in a room with those works of 'art' made me wish I were dead.  

Now we come to more modern times. In the area I live, there are many, many pan-handlers. People standing on street corners, holding signs and begging for money. Though I would never condone being selfish and unhelpful, I often wonder if these people are just a co-ordinated network and make a living doing this, actually living very well off, perhaps even better than me. I've seen a few reports on news programs which suggest this. So I'm always hesitant to help these people out. It seems if one person is out, I see half a dozen more, each on various streets on my drive home. Even if I did not live on a tight budget already, helping everyone looking for a handout would certainly put me on the street begging for money or food. I've even seen one guy take a few step away from the corner to make a cell-phone call. That always confuses me too. So, as I said, I don't offer help monetarily. Am I being smart and cautious? Or just greedy and selfish? Sometimes I wonder.

So just how these transients come about. What decisions have they made in their life that has led them in this direction? Are they truly the victims of unfortunately circumstance? Or have they been given opportunities to improve themselves over and over again but still find some way to mess things up. Problems with drugs / alcohol or just lazy, selfish and make poor choices over and over again?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Ahead

R.a.n.t. of week 03/09/14
Daylight Savings Time has begun and I couldn't be happier. It's the time of the year we set our clocks ahead one hour and in return receive an extra hour of light in the evening. But I'm not here to rant about how I hate when DST ends as I've already done so HERE. And, as I love DST, I'm not going to rant about that this week. Instead, I've decided to go on and on about the comments a few people who actually hate this time of year have made to me. For the record, I'm not ranting ABOUT my friends who hate this time of year. We all have our differences of opinions and my friends are welcome to theirs. I'm talking about the reasons these people hate this time of year, the comments. Who hates this time of year? And why? Polling a few of my friends who claim to hate Spring and love Winter, these are the responses I received to that question.

"I'll lose an hour of sleep." - Seriously, if this is your complaint, go to bed an hour early. You'll lose no sleep that way. If you ask me, losing one hour of sleep is a fabulous exchange for more evening sunlight the rest of the year.

"It signals the end of Winter." - Believe it or not, there are some people who actually enjoy cold, slippery, overcast days. I accept my depression as much as the next guy, that doesn't mean I want to enjoy or prolong it. And how can anyone enjoy the cold? I don't get it, I like to be warm. Maybe I'm crazy, or maybe that's just my newly infused KAYIN-SGAW blood in me.

"Spring is to dirty and mucky." - I picture in my mind the entrance to my apartment this entire Winter. Shoes, boots and what have you, drenched with snow and slush. Most of this disgusting mess has found it's way onto my kitchen floor, and so has salt from the roads. When you live in the North, the roads need to be salted to keep them from getting slick and slippery. As one drives around on the streets, this salt also builds up on the cars. It doesn't matter what colour your car is, by the end of Winter all are the hazy shade of grey.

"Bugs." - Granted, this is one thing about Spring I do not like. I once lived in a house infested with cockroaches. Not a favourite time in my life. Even now I have to battle with ants, I've already complained about that HERE. So on this one grievance, I'll give a pass. Still, it's ironic that just a month ago when we were experiencing zero degree weather, I spied a lone ladybug crawling on my kitchen window. It seems even among bugs, there are a few odd ones that actually like Winter.

"I'm allergic to Spring." - I could give this one a pass too since I also suffer from allergies. But there is medication if you find allergies unbearable. Personally, I just endure it. Again, I find it's a small price to pay for the sunlight, the warmth, the beauty and the fragrance of Spring.

Spring, It's a time of renewal and reinvigoration. It's a clean slate. New goals, new ambitions, new projects. It's time to put a song in my heart and a spring in my step.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Eternal Winter

R.a.n.t. of week 03/02/14
I always endeavour to take each season in stride. Spring is lovely because the snow melts, it begins to warm up, the days start to get longer, and mud can be found everywhere, what's not to love about Spring? As a Midwesterner, I longingly look forward to Spring. From there we go to Summer. Hot days, cool nights, broken A/C's, then suddenly hot nights and sweat. Blink and suddenly it's gone. By the time Autumn arrives, most plans for the year have already been taken care of. It's a good time to finally rest and relax. Enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, hot cider and just about any sort of treat you can possibly make from a pumpkin, because you'll find it. Finally, Winter arrives. So does the cold, the snow, the slush, the dreariness, the depression, the accidents, the shovelling, the..... I could go on. And like the last guest at a party that should have ended hours ago, doesn't want to leave. But certainly there must be some good to come from Winter, yes? (You need not reply all you crazy people who love this lingering weather). I've thought about this for a few days and I have to admit, the best part about Winter are the Winter themed movies. The films I can enjoy and watch from the comfort of my warm, cozy, living room. Reflecting as I watch these, I realize they've taught me many things. For example, never stick your tongue to a metal pole, even if someone triple dog dares you. 

Home Alone
Macaulay Culkin: Don't leave home without him.

It's a Wonderful Life
Never wish you had never been born, you might get your wish.

Cool Runnings
When life hands you..... no snow. Ignore life and go bobsledding anyway.

Kids need to keep their hands to themselves.

Groundhog Day
Never annoy Bill Murray when he's reliving the same day over and over.


Charles Winthrop here. Let's not forget
all the spectacular and wonderful Winter
themed songs available. For example:
'Winter Wonderland' is sung by over
150 different people. Bond plays their
rendition of 'Wintersun'. Simon and
Garfunkle did 'Hazy Shade of Winter' and what's the
other one they sing? Oh yea, I remember...

♫ Slip sliding away, slip sliding away ♪
♫ You know the nearer your destination,
the more you slip sliding away. ♪