Thursday, December 13, 2012

And So it Has Begun,

And so it has begun. Christmas Season, 2012.

The first gunshots could be heard in the US on Black Friday as people swarmed into WalMart and other stores with elbows flying, guns a blazin’ and knives a stabbin’!

For what? The next great gadget or toy? Black Friday is a good name but , “Look at the Morons Lined Up in the Cold to buy Crap they Don’t Need”, although not as catchy as Black Friday, better describes the scene.

“It’s a tradition!” interviewees of local broadcasters proclaimed. Tradition? What the Hell is wrong with you? “Well last year I only got stabbed once and merely grazed by a .45 caliber slug. This year I’m going all in and hoping for a full exit 9mm hole on my leg or shoulder!” IF this your tradition, to slug it out in armed combat for a Penelope Pees A Lot Doll, you’re an asshole. Thanks for helping to flush the toilet of humanity.

Let me get this straight. You wait in line for days, to buy crap you don’t need at a price you think is great, with a credit card that is set to explode. I don’t get it. These are things. Gadgets. They are time wasters. Distracters.  

I am the last person on the planet who would ask you to hug, hold hands and sing folk songs around a fire in the belief that World Peace could be achieved by doing so. Unity is great thing but individuality is better.

Observing others has become a bit of a past time for me lately. Over the last few weeks when I venture into the grocery store or drug store or wherever, I have clearly noticed what the Christmas Season does to us. Refraining from tossing shopping carts out of the way from people who block the aisles, I wait. I watch. Like clockwork there is always someone who will be so put out by this older woman who is looking for baking supplies that their arms go up in disgust, their head whips back and the “Tccchhhh!” sound comes screaming out of their noise holes. Ass! She’s 80 years old! Help her put the flour in her cart and shut up. Waiting in line at the video store there is inevitably a person who needs to ask a question that never seems to end. Let it go. If only for the Christmas Season, let it go. So you get home sixty seconds later. Let it go.

This Christmas, take a few minutes to remember what Christmas is about. The spirit of the Season lies in giving and not receiving. Simple acts of kindness are great gifts. Help someone put their groceries in their car. Go visit the older couple whose kids aren’t coming to visit them for Christmas with a bottle of wine. Take the kids and donate even five dollars to the Pediatrics Ward of your local hospital or the Humane Society or whatever Charity you believe in. People will remember these gifts long after the tree is taken down and toys are broken.

Simply being nice to one another, helping where you can, is how we achieve peace. What better time to start than now.

For those of you scratching your heads and wondering what the hell is wrong with me I can say these things;
1)      I am not suffering from trauma to my brain or body
2)      I have every intention of continuing to be a Jack Ass. I am going to be a helpful Jack Ass achieving it by sarcasm, humiliation or other diabolical means.

But I heard him exclaim ... as he rode out of sight,
" Merry Christmas to All ,
  Be nice to each other or I’m coming back to see you with a baseball bat " Or something           like that.   

Merry Christmas to All, and to all, a good night. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Here We Are

Here We Are.

Tis’ the season, to tolerate crying kids, pissed off adults and horrible parking lot traffic.

I don’t ‘shop’. I don’t like crowds. If I am buying something I like to haggle. These qualities (or deficiencies) in me basically mean that if step foot in a mall, I will spontaneously combust- is it spontaneous if you know it will happen?

My brother has two kids. One boy –whom I call ‘the Boy’, and one niece, whom everyone calls ‘Bob’ for some reason.  When they were little kids Lori and I would split Christmas shopping for them. The “Boy” got Legos, or remote control cars from me. Bob got frilly fru fru dresses from Aunt Lori. It was a great system. It was fun watching the niece and nephew spaz out when they opened all of their gifts. It made Christmas fun. That and the abundance of alcohol my brother and sister in law provided freely.

Now they are hitting their teen years and they both have much more advanced vocabularies than I do. I’m now known as Uncle Caveman. Good old Uncle Caveman.

It’s not as much fun at Christmas now. I can’t buy the boy a pellet gun. The boy wants Airsoft or Paintball gear. That stuff is more expensive and causes less permanent damage than a pellet gun.  Remember the neighbourhood kid with the stutter? He didn’t used to stutter until I got my first pellet gun.  When it comes to Niece Bob I am at a complete loss. I don’t have kids and if I did have kids I am not the type of guy who should raise a daughter.  I’m a little rough around the edges for that adventure. God give her a good sense of humour if she looked like me too, and a lot if razors.

Now the kids want Gift Cards for iTunes, or simple bank transfers to their accounts. I have never transferred funds ‘electronically’ and I am hopeful that I never do. Smug little pishers!

Funny how time changes us. I’m pretty sure we all ‘see’ the same things. We all react differently – or don’t react at all to Christmas circumstances. I see men in varying states of pain during the season to be festive. I  see women getting obsessive about having the perfect Christmas party- I haven’t been invited to any of these parties but I  see it through their windows.  Relax.  Nothing on this planet is ever perfect. Imperfection is the sauce of life.
As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.
Ernst Fischer

Put the turkey in the oven late-more time to drink and talk. Let the kids peel off their ridiculous sweaters and run rampant. It’s one day. Only one day. So what if all your wine glasses don’t match.  I’d drink wine from a dog’s bowl if I were having fun with friends and family. Triviality. We focus too much on things that are ‘fluff’, They look good. They taste good. There’s uneasiness about the situation though. I better use the right fork and gods forbid I break wind or I will destroy the effort she put into this day. Women! Relax. Have fun. Let all of the foibles of the day guide us. Imperfection is perfection. Glasses will break. Tablecloths will be ruined. Grandma will spill the beans on Mary Sue’s 5-month pregnancy and chaos may occur. Breathe it in. These are the best of times.

We are who we are. We don’t have to know each other. We don’t need to like each other for whatever misconceived notion we hold. One day. One day is all we need. Drink. Laugh. Eat. Joke. Tell Stories. Sit back and think.  Watch the kids run pandemonium gauntlets. Watch cousin Ray’s elbow slide of the mantle midway through his drunken epistle. Smell the burnt whatever erupting from the kitchen. Is it perfect? No. Would you change it for the world? I hope not.

This Christmas I ask that you realize- Christmas will never be perfect. It can’t be. There is no fun if it is. Let it go. Ride the whirlwind. Take it all in and enjoy.

Had not been for the sweetest woman I have ever known I would not know these things to be true. Merry Christmas to all and thank you,  Mrs. Anderson for being and showing me the true meaning.

God Bless.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tool Chest

I understand mechanical things-to a degree. I understand hydraulics, line speed and pull and how to utilize mechanical forces. I understand foot-pounds and torque- real foot-pounds and torque-not the pissy little stuff motor heads dream about. Applying theoretical outcomes to situations involving smacking object A with large steel object B and timing the moment of panic and running away are part of my repertoire. These are the tools in my tool chest.

If I was a period in time I would have to place myself between the first air breathing slug and the last dinosaur to say, “Ooh! Look at the pretty meteorite!” Extinction for people like me is imminent but we’re a stupid type of person and we will continue our hunch backed, club dragging march to the top of the active volcano.

Understanding technology is not easy for me. I can use a computer and I am thankful for Excel and online porn and all but other than just making the computer make whirring sounds and typing I am at a loss. I don’t ‘install’ things and I pee my pants when an error message pops up. IT was created for people like me. My incompetence with computers supports the employment of people I used to make fun of.

To assure you of how computer ignorant I am, the other day I walked into a video store to return a movie that would not work in our Blu-ray contraption. Video stores are places that rent DVD’s and Blu-ray to people who don’t ‘stream’, ‘pirate’ or ‘download’. Prior to DVD’s and Blu-ray these physical location stores used to rent videotapes of movies on VHS tapes and for a while on Betamax tapes. It was necessary to actually travel to these places and physically take the movie from the store, return home, start the family VHS player by lighting a small fire underneath the hamster powered ‘electricity generator doohickey’, place the tape in the player, hit the play button by walking up to the machine and physically touching and engaging a ‘Play’ button that was usually the size of a Winnebago, sitting down and watching the movie.
So there I stand mumbling through why I was returning the disc to a kid not even half my age. He was a very nice guy. He explained to me that I may need to blah blah blah recognize the device yadda yadda yadda download and upgrade I like blueberry jam so our BluRay player would perform properly at the Copacabana and it is very simple. I have not, in a very long time, wanted to smash a guy’s face in. I really did want to at that moment. “Can I trade the BluRay for a DVD?” I mumbled. ‘Sure but the quality of the DVD compared to I’m a little teapot short and I know you will enjoy this much more on BluRay!’ Remember the scene from Fight Club where Edward Norton pummels the handsome blond dude’s face to the point where he looked like Sloth from Goonies? That was what I wanted to happen to this poor, nice, helpful soul. The look of desperation in my eyes must have finally caught the kid’s attention. He apologized profusely as he handed me the DVD version of the movie and offered me a lollipop and a hug.

A few weeks earlier my nine year old nephew was over and wanted to play PS3. I had trouble switching the thing that makes the PS3 work thru the DVD player. Noticeably frustrated by my lack of knowledge he asked me, “Are you routing an HDMI input from the PS3 to the receiver?” You’re NINE! A) How do you know this? B) I think I’m glad that you are a smart kid.  C) Shut up!  Roughly five seconds after my fifteen minute attempt to get the thing running he got it to work and started a conversation about pixels and picture quality. I ate my breakfast in the garage surrounded by wrenches and power tools. My happy place just wasn’t cutting it that morning so I started a list in my head – Them vs. Me. The results to date although not surprising- have not made me feel very good.

      THEM                                                                               ME
     Young                                                                                 Not
   Clean Cut                                                      Haggard and frightening to small children
   Good Hand-Eye Coordination                       Thankful my hands and eyes still function
   Like School and Learning                  Made teachers very happy when I finally graduated
   Social and friendly                                                        Alcohol required
   Computer literate                                           I can make little rocks out of big rocks

You’d be correct in assuming that list is longer and not in my favour. As I sat in my cave rhythmically tapping to two stones together and scratching myself at undisclosed locations due to bearskin chafing my bare skin, I pondered the future for myself and the kids. Then I had a sandwich.

One major thing divides my generation from the up and comers, patience. I had patience, the lesson of learning and being patient, rammed into my skull as a kid. I am impatient about a lot of things but I know under the right circumstances, patience will pay off most of the time. Especially when the worm turns and you can cram a valuable lesson and invoice up someone or some company’s keester.

In my business you used to start in the trenches making crappy pay, acquire skills and work your way up to less crappy pay and some job security. It was common knowledge that until you had skills and moved up the company ladder you were a cost to the company. The company took you on to train you-at the company’s cost- with the hope that you MIGHT be a productive profitable asset in the future.

Now I get kids who went to Training School to operate heavy equipment who think they just hit the lottery and now just have to sit in the shovel for the rest of their lives. They aren’t taught maintenance, most of them don’t know what a grease gun looks like and some of them get down right indignant when you ask them to clean the tracks of a machine they just buried in the mud. Add to this the fact that most of them do not have field experience. My industry has decided that if I accept a person like this, just out of school, he or she is worth full union rate for that position even though he or she is going to destroy my equipment and not be productive enough. It isn’t right, or maybe I’m just mad that I didn’t grow up at this time. I spent years with a hand shovel throwing gravel fill in behind sheet pile walls. I had thick callouses on my hands to the point that I never wore gloves when I was cutting steel with a torch. It wasn’t about being ‘tough’ it was just the way it was. The only callouses I see now on the next generation is on their disjointed thumbs. Off in their dream world playing video games. They seem to want it all-now-without earning it by learning it. Simple truth- a company will invest time and money into inexperienced person IF that person does not cost the same as an experienced person. They need to apprentice at a lower rate. Companies don’t want to and won’t hire people who can’t produce if they can hire an experienced person who will produce.

‘It’s much more difficult for young people nowadays!’  Bullshit. Trying to pay rent for a piece of crap house, buy groceries and have enough money to take your girlfriend to a movie working for $12.00 an hour was what most of us went through in the late eighties and early nineties. We didn’t have cable or satellite television and  ‘stream’ involved water, fishing, swimming or hiding evidence and ‘download’ was a bad bathroom joke. We got yelled at during work and some of us got a swipe in the back of the head once in a while when we weren’t doing our job or we were being stupid and unsafe. Guys who worked on cars did the work themselves. They didn’t put disco lights, tv monitors and stainless steel exhaust systems worth thousands and thousands of dollars on cars worth five hundred bucks. We had one tv in the house. Two maybe three phones in the house and cell phones, you know the old bag phones that resembled and weighed as much as a cinder block were ‘high fallootin’ gadgets. We sat and had dinner as a family- every night. I believe this was done simply so we were within arms reach of dad while mom, with disgust in her eyes, told everyone that one, (possibly three) of our teachers had called her that night and told her what chaos we had caused in the classroom that day and how unacceptable our behaviour was and how it looked bad to the rest of society. Also note that this was a period in time that teachers would drag- not metaphorically- actually drag you out into the hall and knock you around if you were being a shit. I remember pleading with a few teachers not to call my dad. Anything the teacher could do to me was better than dad and the growly voice of justice.

There is no glass tower for me. I’m too busy to put myself in that position and I don’t do windows. I see and hear about kids not finding work out of university, low pay and horrible hours. Get over it. We did it. They’ll live. Cut the cord.
Kids today know about electronics and gigs and megs and how flush toilets operate. I hope that this continues and there is a market for these skills. It bothers me that advancement through academic learning seems to be the only thing we want from kids now. Some of you may have but not want to admit that your child, well, isn’t very good in school. This shouldn’t bother you. It should motivate you. Find out what your child would be good at. Maybe he or she would be a good crane operator, dozer operator or directional drill operator. These are skills that are needed in Canada. The pay is good and they will get to meet and work with some of the most interesting lunatics in the country. University isn’t for everyone and going to university doesn’t guarantee you a good job. I find it funny that if asked what type of schooling I have, most people look shocked when I tell them I graduated from Michigan State University. I’m a bum. I don’t shave everyday, I wear jeans and work boots everywhere- basically I do summon the vision of a person who was chief window licker on the very short bus. I get to play with large Tonka toys and every day the scenery changes. It’s hot in the summer and bone chilling cold in the winter and I would have it no other way.

Turn off the television! IF you watch the news and believe everything the media says, I’m sure you know that there is a pedophile, a serial killer, a meth lab and terrorist cell all within a one-block radius of your home. It has to be true. They can’t lie or skew facts on the news! Let your kids outside. Let them fall of their bikes or out of a tree. At the rate we’re going everyone is going to be Elmer’s Glue pasty white and have to wear welding goggles outside so their retinas don’t melt if we keep sheltering them so much. Let them fail. Help them back up when they do. Let teachers discipline them when it’s appropriate without fear of parents taking their kids’ side without hearing what happened. Publicly embarrass them when they are rude and pat them on the back when they are courteous without being told. Don’t do their homework for them. Teach them that they need to accomplish goals by themselves. The only good teams are sports teams. Other than that, teams, committees and panels are the tools of Tools. People who can’t accomplish anything like “teams” and “committees”. It’s a simple way to confuse an issue and avoid real work. We have to work together- BUT- we must advance. Kids need to know this. So far my method of yelling and sarcasm has not paid dividends on teaching our youth. I am not the right person for this type of job. I am a dinosaur after all.                                                    

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Is It Even a Word? The Torment of Being ‘Unfriended’

Is It Even a Word? The Torment of Being ‘Unfriended’

And so it begins. Again. Is that really a beginning or is that do-over from previous beginnings? Or do we just call it a continuation or a déjà vu of something I have possibly experienced before. Maybe?

Anywho, it is with deep sadness that I, Brooks Dean, have to announce that I have been unfriended from not one, but three people from Facebook. Let me rephrase that whole ‘sadness’ part, because in reality, I only knew one of those people. The other two were acquaintances of someone who knew me, through contact with someone they knew, who thought they knew me. They thought it would be fun to buy the ticket and take the ride. They were wrong. So very, very wrong.

Deep down in my bowels I know it is my fault. I have done something to drive a wedge between me and these people. It could be my lack of sensitivity. A lack of Political Correctness on my part perhaps. Possibly I offend with poopy language and the constant use of the word ‘retard’. I don’t know. I just can’t wrap my fucking head around the whole steamy pile of irrelevant monkey shit.

Somewhere, deep in my soul, I feel bad. Have I scarred these people? Have I ruined the way they will forever view certain situations. Will they forever turn away from Tim Horton’s in the fear that walking in that place may turn them into obese mindless troglodytes? Maybe it’s just horrible gas pains I feel in this deep down place.

The stinky finger of judgment is pointing at me. Have I crossed over the line of ‘joshing around’ and landed with both feet in the world of grown up things? Is it within the realm of possibility that I was unfriended because I’m simply a dancing monkey on a leash and the organ grinder isn’t playing anymore because he’s either dead or in the whore house down the road playing ‘Does this look normal to you?’ with a Thai shemale who doesn’t speak English? I’m betting that’s what it is. The music stopped. The ride ended. Two of the victims got sick from the ride and the third one is holding their hair while they barf into a garbage can. I am hardly palatable to the mature set of society. Hell, most days I can hardly handle being me. Being awesome is tough work. Awesome is the word that best describes guys like me who still giggle when we hear the word ‘poop’, right?

I’m fairly certain all of us, whether we want to admit or not, really want to be liked. At the very least, we don’t want to be disliked and being ‘unfriended’ from the largest social media source in the world reeks of not being liked. I, for one, am offended by the swamp gas reek of this whole thing.

Here’s the kicker! You ‘friended’ me. Would you think that before you go stampeding for the ‘Add Friend’ button you might want to ‘get in the backseat’ with me. See if you like the suspension? Noooo! You just slammed the ‘friends’ thing into drive and headed out on the highway with your foot pinned to the floor boards. I’m the rental car and you drove me like I was stolen. Now, I’m left here with an empty tank, gum stuck to the gear selector (I was unfriended by women, so I assume they don’t know how to drive a stick- I know four women who know how to drive a manual and they are cool in my book!) and crappy club music with too much bass set on every radio preset button.

You tuned into my rants. You possibly even chuckled or saw some truth in my lack reasoning and patience, and then you got sensitive. Somewhere, while we were all enjoying the open road, you got offended by what I said. So offended that you got out of the car. Of course you did it quietly while we were at the gas station buying more beer and Whip-its. The only reason I noticed you were gone was that it was your turn to pay. You ride for free and when it’s your turn to pay you get offended or hide in the bathroom complaining of cramps. I see how it’s going to be. I get it. Non-contributor!

It’s time for another purging. IF I haven’t spoken with you for 6 months or I never read your Facebook updates, it’s time for you to go. Or for me to go. Or for both of us to go. Somebody’s going and it may as well be me. You’re probably busy washing your hair, being self- important and joining every Cause you will never get involved in.

Truthfully, I don’t have 196 friends. I likely know 196 people and I can remember things about them, but to me a friend is someone who can make me look back in time and have a definite memory of them. Someone who made me laugh, helped me out or who is just there at the right time to say the right thing or a memorable thing. Some of the people I consider friends I haven’t seen in 20 years. We’ve spoken on the phone or emailed but I remember these people for something they have done or imparted to me.

Maybe this is paralysis by analysis, but most of the people on my Friends list are friendly ‘acquaintances’. I’ve made you laugh and you have done the same for me. If we met at a party, I’m positive we would become friends-except for those uppity types and the ones I owe money too, of course. We are in the ‘dating’ stages of friendship. We’re friendly and enjoy each others company, but we aren’t going to start passing gas in front of each other just yet. I look forward to the day when we are that close.

So I’ve been ‘unfriended.’ I’ve used Facebook since 2008, I have owned and worn the same underwear longer than I have known the ‘unfrienders.’ And underwear actually serves a purpose. It supports me and keeps me from getting chafed. That’s what friends are for!

So long, riders of my coat tails! You have been reduced to a less useful thing than underwear.

We’re fueled up, we have beer and a dozen cans of Whip-Its and the top is down. It looks like rain ahead so we’ll have to drive really fast! It’s been a hell of a ride so far. Time to go for broke.