Sunday, November 29, 2009

It’s the ‘80s Fault

Let me start off by saying that I love almost all things '80s. Movies, music, games, and even fashion for the most part. Like most of my friends, I grew into my teens during the '80s and so my life was influenced by the culture of the times.

Do you remember playing Trivial Pursuit till the wee hours? What about listening to the radio for hours in the hopes of hearing your favourite song play without the announcer's voice or a commercial, so that you could tape the song (without having to buy the whole album)? Remember the days before the internet and Cell phones? Did you have a Tandy computer? Intellivision, Atari 2600, Frogger, Pac-Man, Rubix Cube… Ah, the good old days right? For those of us who grew up during those ten years, it seems so.

The other day I was playing some music while we cleaned up the house. My kids love Genesis and a lot of the older music that I grew up with so I was playing some of the hits of the '80s for them. As they asked me what each song title was, I got thinking about mixed tapes. Do you remember the excitement you felt when that special someone made you a mixed tape? They would put songs on it that reminded them of you or had a message in that particular song that they wanted you to pick up on. Or when you made one for someone else? The effort that you put into picking just the right song? Hours spent fast forwarding and rewinding those tapes, in order to get the exact timing between songs. Then carefully printing out the song titles on the label. I get exhausted just thinking about it.

Looking back twenty years on (yes, we are getting old!), this was kind of a strange thing to do. Especially when you look at the titles of some of the songs. Can you imagine if someone from the '80s, time travelled forward to today and had a crush on someone and made a mixed tape (or mixed mp3, or whatever), how strange and disturbing it would be. So in the interests of making my point here is my creepy retrospective mixed tape playlist (and yes, I know 'playlist' is not an '80s term!).

  1. Always On My Mind – Pet Shop Boys
  2. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner
  3. Why Can't This Be Love – Van Halen
  4. Every Breath You Take – The Police
  5. Eye In The Sky – Alan Parson's Project
  6. Lay Your Hands On Me – Thompson Twins
  7. Can't Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
  8. Missing You – John Waite
  9. Hard Habit To Break – Chicago
  10. Follow You, Follow Me – Genesis
  11. Better Be Home Soon – Crowded House
  12. I Just Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew

Let the stalking begin!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Time After Time

"At the sound of the tone after ten seconds silence, the time will be…" If this rings a bell for you, you are obviously a listener of the longest running show on CBC radio – The National Time Signal. For those of you who have not, or do not listen to the CBC on a regular basis, a little explanation. Every day at 2:00pm, the national broadcaster here in Canada runs this public service so that you can set your clock to the official national time in your time zone. I find this to be one of the funniest things on the radio. Every time I hear that official government voice announce the "At the sound…" intro, I look at whatever clock is near and see how far off I am. From time to time I do change the time on the clock if I see it's more than a few seconds off, but then I wonder why.

As I go through my house I have a clock or time piece of some kind in almost every room. Alarm clocks in the bedrooms, the computer clock, the coffee machine and the stove all have clocks. Most days I have on a wrist watch. Not one of them shows the same time. Why is it so hard to have all of the clocks in the house on the same time? It's like living in some kind of broken time machine. I leave the living room at 1:00pm and enter the kitchen at 12:58pm. Then I go into the bedroom and it's 1:03pm. In the course of the day I must time travel a couple of dozen times. I wonder if I was to set each clock a couple of minutes slower than the previous one and ran through the rooms from the fastest running clock to the slowest, would I age in reverse? Could I travel back in time to change history?

I have long given up trying to set my clocks all to the same time. It's like trying to stay ahead of the laundry or setting the time on a 1980's vintage VCR – impossible. I guess it's good to know that the nice people at the National Research Council here in Canada know what time it really is, because I sure don't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All You Need Is… A Little Perspective

I usually try to keep my blog entries on the lighter side of things. Those of you who have been reading for a while know this to be the case. But this morning while I was listening to the radio all I kept thinking about was the whole H1N1 pandemic panic. Why are so many people making a big deal out of this? It got me to thinking about what is really going on here. Is it really as bad as everyone thinks or is it being blown out of proportion like so many other things in the media and in the public rumour mill. So before you head out to the hardware store to get boards and nails for barricading yourself in your house for protection from the flu ridden hoards, lets have a look.

Since the H1N1 virus showed up about a year ago, there have been approximately 3000 deaths worldwide from that particular virus (WHO numbers). In a normal year, the regular flu virus kills approximately 40,000 people. I don't know how you do your math, but in any math book I've seen, 40,000 is WAY more than 3000. Most of the deaths from both H1N1 and the regular flu viruses are caused by complications arising from the virus and previously present underlying health issues.

Reports in the news have focused on the whole 'shortage of vaccine' and the long line ups at the various clinics set up to hand out the shots. Why? In our community, every year, we have a mass sign up for various activities for kids. Gymnastics, hockey, baseball, soccer etc. Every year people head out at 6am and wait for hours in line to be the first to sign their kid up. Every year my bride and I wait for a couple of hours and head out and get through the line in 30 minutes to an hour. Same thing with the H1N1 vaccine line ups. Those who rushed out at the crack of dawn waited, while others I know waited for a couple of hours and got through the whole thing in much shorter time. There is no shortage. People just have to be patient. You will still get your kid signed up, and a few hours sooner or later is not going to make a difference. Oh, and if you are not in a high risk category for this virus – wait your turn and let those who truly need this vaccine get it first! With less queue jumping there would be less problems with supply.

'But this H1N1 thing is more dangerous than the regular flu.' Nope. It is just as dangerous as the regular flu. Again if you are a healthy person with no underlying health issues then you will probably be fine. A few days of discomfort and laying in bed and then you recover. For the vast majority of people this is how things play out. If you have not already been sick, wash your hands with hot soapy water, and make sure your kids do the same. An ounce of prevention…

Will I be getting my kids vaccinated? Yep. Will I be getting vaccinated? Eventually, yes. Am I concerned about the whole thing? Absolutely. Will I be lining up at the crack of dawn to get a shot? Absolutely not. I know some of you will be thinking "What does he know?" Well, if you still have questions and want better answers than I can give you then follow this link for the November 1, 2009 call in with Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, . There is also an audio file from a few weeks back on the same topic.

Finally, lets not give the poor nurses who are administering the vaccines a hard time. They are working very hard to keep up with the demand. They have no control over how long it takes, it takes as long as it takes. They have to put in long hours dealing with worried people. When it comes your turn to sit in the chair and roll up your sleeve, why not shake things up for these nurses? Patiently wait your turn, sit down in the chair, smile at the person giving you the shot and thank them for their diligence and time. They deserve it.