Sunday, January 31, 2010

This Blog Is Miles Pro

Is it a sign of being old that I find the language used by teenagers today to be painful to the ear? I don't mean bad language, I mean the English language. I work as a substitute teacher. I get to hear a lot of language. The swear words I hear, although often inappropriate and unintelligently used, are the same ones that were in use when I was in school, when my parents were in school and probably when my grandparents were in school. It's the every day words that are driving me nuts.

Using slang to make your point is nothing new. I remember when I was 10 or 11 every car that I thought was cool (a slang term in itself) was 'wicked'. I didn't mean that the particular car in question was 1. Morally bad. 2. Playfully mischievous or 3. Troublesome or unpleasant. Obviously it would have made no sense to refer to a sports car as 'morally bad' or 'playfully mischievous'. Neither of these meanings really conveys the coolness of the car in question. 'Wicked' in my prepubescent slang was meant as a term of desire and admiration.

The slang today just doesn't make much sense. My daughter uses the word 'random' a lot. Not in the 'lacking any definite plan or prearranged order' sense of the word. She uses it in sentences to describe events. She might be describing something that happened at school, perhaps someone got into trouble with the teacher for not having their home work done and she will finish the story by saying 'It was so random.' No. It wasn't. The kid didn't do his homework, so logically, it directly follows that he might get into trouble. There is nothing random about the sequence of events. If the kid had been rewarded with $1000 and someone else placed in a jail cell for the same offence, then yes, I would agree that would be a random event.

Another is 'sweet'. 'I love this section of the road, it is so sweet to drive on.' So the road is covered in sugar? Sweet is a descriptor of a flavour, not of the physical of mental attributes of something or someone. This is like asking someone what their favourite flavour of Popsicle is and having them reply 'purple'. Purple is a colour not a flavour.

Probably my least favourite of the slang today is the word 'pro'. 'That guy (or girl) is so pro.' He's a professional? He's for some cause or event as opposed to being against it? When I was in school if someone was a 'pro' it was because they were out behind the ball field bleachers doing things for money at lunch time. My best guess on this one is that the person in question is good at whatever they are doing. If they are really good at doing that activity they are 'real pro´ and if they are exceptional they are 'miles pro'. Which I guess could apply to the meaning I remember for this word too.

Anyway, if getting older means that I have to become a guardian of the English language and proper usage, than I guess that's o.k. Even knowing that this trend in slang will probably disappear in a few years in favour of something else is somewhat of a panacea. Until that happens though, I guess I should go out and buy some sweet, miles pro earplugs.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Need Less Stuff… Or Fewer Hobbies

Don't get me wrong. My family is a busy one and I don't mind that. We take part in activities both as a family and as individuals. At this point, we all have things we like to do and we are fortunate enough to be able to do them. But sometimes the stuff that makes doing these activities possible gets to me. It just accumulates and I'm convinced that at some point my poor house and garage are going to just explode at the seams and vomit this stuff all over my yard.

'But it can't be that bad', I can hear you say. Really. Lets look at just a couple of our activities. My bride and children like to cross country ski. So in regards to that we have ski boots (in various sizes and styles), skis, poles, wax for the skis and little tools for spreading it and smoothing it and clothing for skiing. I, on the other hand, like to snow shoe, so I have snow shoes (and the rest of the family does too) and poles for that, as well as clothing for snow shoeing. That's not the worst of it though. At least these items get used on a fairly regular basis during the season (assuming we have more snow than we do right now on average). Oh, did I mention that we also have skates that rarely get used but unfortunately don't disappear when not in use? That's not even taking into account the guitars, fiddle, drum, piano keyboard, French horn, canoe, paddles, PFDs, exercise equipment, ball gloves, balls and the thousand other items that it takes to keep these things in working order that seem to find their way into the house and garage.

Let's move on to mountain biking. I love this sport. It combines skill, speed and a slight element of danger with the outdoors. I also got a new bike recently so that's good too. But the stuff involved with maintaining a fleet of bicycles is unreal. Spread out between my basement and garage are bicycles, various extra tires and tubes, tools, spare parts, extra pedals, seats, cables and rims. The worst thing about it is that all of it is necessary because it only takes one breakdown on a Saturday evening to put an end to your biking for the weekend if you don't happen to have an extra thingamajig, and the bike shop is closed. When I say that I have a bare bones operation in regards to out bikes, I mean bare bones. I am the first to head out to the bike shop for repairs. Usually it is much easier for them to do things than it is for me. They're also faster. I have just enough to get me out of a bind if need be. But that's still a lot of stuff.

Then there is archery. Aside from bows and arrows there is specific tool kit for this sport. There are things in this area that are used for nothing else and have no other use than to keep the arrows flying. Believe me when I say there is nothing better for putting feathers on arrows than a fletching jig. It is fantastic. Does that job incredibly well. But it has no other use. Granted, because my daughter is getting really good I use it a couple of times a month during archery season (she shoots the feathers off her arrows sometimes) but it still takes up space. Then there are the feathers, arm guards, finger slings, and strings and bow squares and…

I guess I shouldn't complain. From the stories on the news lately about the health of Canadians, I think my family is doing o.k. But the stuff. Ugh! I guess it could be worse -- my kids could play hockey.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Repetition Makes The Heart Grow Weary

Well, with a new year, and a new decade, I decided that this was the time to make some changes. I can feel it happening. I've started to get back into shape after years of sloth and indolence. I've even managed to complete almost a whole month of a new exercise regime that will enable me to finally get into that leopard print Speedo (stay calm ladies, I'm happily married!). I've even decided to go back to school and complete my education degree (assuming that I get in of course). But even with these changes and decisions, sometimes I just like to sit (by which, I really mean lay) on the couch and watch a couple of hours of mindless television every once in a while.

I know we've all been there, those evenings when you finally get to plant your bottom in a comfortable chair or on the couch and you think, "If I never move from this spot again I could be perfectly happy." About a week or so ago, I was enjoying a moment of blissful, mindless, television viewing. Just sitting there. Absorbing. Amoeba like (I think there was even a little drool involved, but I'm not sure). The latest greatest episode of whatever show was on, was winding it's way to the predictable foregone conclusion, when I noticed something strange. Usually during this time of sloth, I have the remote for the TV firmly planted on my chest and all I have to do is move one teeny tiny finger to either change the channel or mute the sound. I do this to avoid commercials, especially those loud annoying ones. This particular evening however, the remote was on the coffee table three feet away (it might as well have been on the other side of the Solar System) and so I had no way to protect myself from the onslaught. It was then that I noticed that there was one particular commercial that kept repeating over and over during every break. Sometimes it would even play two times, back to back, during the same commercial block.

Now, I know that commercials are a necessary part of commercial television, but why the same commercial over and over again? Is there not enough advertising to fill the spaces available? I can see the same commercial running several times over the course of an evening, maybe even a couple of times in an hour, but five or six times an hour? I remember when I saw the ad in question for the very first time. It had a neat hook and was well produced. It was very simple, but I watched because it was different. After that evening, I now hate that commercial. I now also make sure that the remote is close at hand before I sit down. I guess at least one good thing came of the whole repetitive commercial evening. My reaction time with the remote has become lightening fast. Wonder if there is a way to work that into my exercise log?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Worst. Job. Ever.

You know, there are a lot of jobs that could be in the running for the title Worst Job Ever. Some might think garbage man or sewage and septic sucking, or even customer service rep at Air Canada. There is even a show on the Discovery Channel called Dirty Jobs. Basically the host takes on jobs that seem bad or dirty in some way (strictly PG of course!), and we get to watch his antics as he tries to do the job as well as the professionals he is working with. All of us, without exception, have a list of what we would consider the worst job. I now have a new one that tops my list.

That new job to take over the top spot on my worst job ever list is the person who now has to sit and watch the images from the new full body scanners at the airport. In case you haven't heard, because of the threat of terrorism, almost every major airport will now be installing a new type of full body scanner which actually 'sees' through clothing in an attempt to detect explosives or other dangerous items that people might try to sneak onboard an airplane. Results from these scanners are mixed at best. Yes they 'see' through clothing. Yes, they can detect some hidden objects and materials. But they do not work every time. Some test have shown that depending on where the items are hidden, the scanners will not detect said item. I leave it up to you to determine where these places might be.

There have been many comments about these scanners. About how they intrude on our privacy and infringe on our ability to be private. My concern is over the people who have to sit for hours on end and watch these scanner images flash on a screen. Take a minute and think about all of the different body types you see on the street every day. Now take a minute and think about being able to see through all of these people's clothes and what that might do to your mental health. Ugh! I will be the first to admit that the list of people who might like to see through my clothing would be pretty small. I know that the list of people whose clothing I might like to see through is even smaller. These poor people looking at these images! Worst. Job. Ever.

Oh, the second worst job ever? Anything that ends up with my being labelled with the moniker 'Underwear Bomber".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Enter A New Year

Well here we are, the start of a new year! If you listen to the media it is also apparently the start of a new decade. So what is in store for us in this first year of the second decade of the 21st century? It would probably be easier to determine what is not likely to happen than to predict all kinds of new things. I know that may sound pessimistic but let's look at what we were supposed to have by now and don't.

Way back when I was in elementary school, I can remember the first computer lab we got. It was full of giant, clunky computers that basically had an operating system and not much else. You had to actually type in the code for the program you wanted and then we all sat amazed while a few tiny pixels on the screen flashed on and off in sequence. WOW! I remember the guy who was the computer tec genius back then saying that these machines would change the way we worked and that they would make offices paperless. Well computers certainly changed the way we work… but paperless offices? Nope. Not even close. I don't know about you but there is more paper around my house and home office, and every other office I've been in or seen or heard about, than ever before. So much for that prediction.

I also wonder where my flying car is. Weren't we supposed to be travelling around in hover cars by now? I can remember seeing an ad in a magazine when I was about 10 years old, showing a dramatic representation of a person flying to work in his hover car. Can't say I've seen many of those about. I had visions in my ten year old brain of flying to school in my cool hover car and being the envy of the guys and the sought after companion of all the girls. You can guess how that turned out. While I'm on the subject, I also want to know where my bubble house under the ocean is. Why do I not look out the window every morning and see tropical fish everywhere?

And what about those Space movies? 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Where is my HAL 9000 super computer? O.k. Maybe things didn't turn out well with the whole HAL thing, ('Just what do you think you are doing Dave?') but why aren't we travelling to other planets and exploring new worlds? In 2010 we were supposed to be exploring Jupiter. We barely still have the technology to get to the moon anymore. And what about the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman? Why can't I jump over buildings and run as fast as a car?

I can tell you one thing – the next ten years better show me some of these fantastic leaps of technology or I'm going to ask for a refund of my television and movie ticket costs!