Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Blog!

Greetings loyal readers!  Just wanted to make you aware of my new blog -  My Life As Doug.  It is intended as a place for me to pass along information and lessons I learn through my new business venture.  I hope it will be a positive influence on those who read it and maybe will help to clarify things you may be wondering about in your own life.

I will still post here from time to time.  Good, Bad and Ugly was always intended to be a place to put my more silly and amusing thoughts.  As such they may not fit into the new site and I will continue to place them here.

Please feel free to click the link on the right and subscribe to my new blog and join me on the next phase of My Life As Doug.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It’s the Simple Things

“...all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…” --John Masefield

I’ve always liked this quote from Masefield’s poem “Sea-Fever”.  It speaks to the joy found in simplicity and the comfort found in things which remind us of simpler times.  In recent weeks, the snow here has begun to finally pile up.  Not surprising considering it is February.  But there is finally enough snow on the ground for the kids to start having fun outside.  I usually spend a day or two each winter building a snow fort with my kids.   (I mean, someone has to do the heavy lifting right?  It's not like this is just a convenient excuse for playing in the snow!)  These structures have ranged in size and complexity over the years depending on the conditions and the amount of energy I have for digging through tons of snow at the direction of my kids.  This year there is no snow fort.  What we have this year is a sliding track.

It all started innocently enough with the kids sliding down the hill in our back yard.  They would trudge to the top of the hill and slide to the bottom.  It was a quick drop and a fast ride, but the whole thing lasted about 5 seconds.  Enough for a brief thrill but over too quickly.  That’s when the brain wave hit me.  I have a snow blower.  With some forethought, I cut a trail through the snow from our back step, across the back lawn to the base of the hill.  Because of the play structure that lies directly in the path of a straight shot from hill to back step, I had to curve the sliding path around the play structure.  A few hours after I had started (the kids helped too, from time to time) we ended up with a baby luge track.  

The kids now start at the top of the hill and careen down to the first curve to the right.  Their momentum carries them up the banked corner and slings them into the next corner to the left.  Here they are again carried up the side of the banked track.  As they leave turn 2 they enter a gentle curve back to the right and onto the straight away towards the back step.  This ride now lasts for upwards of 25 seconds.

From the moment I completed the track last week, the kids have been on it non-stop.  We have a video game system,  DVDs, a video streaming service and internet.  None of them have the thrill of the wind in their faces and the excitement of hurtling down the icy track in the back yard.  They play on it for hours and then come in to get warm.  Not long after that they are back out at it again.  They have even asked me to think about putting up lights so they can slide into the evening.  I haven’t tried it yet, but his afternoon looks nice.  (This would be for determining the safety of the track I assure you.)

I find it refreshing that even with all of the modern entertainment choices they have, my kids choose to use a round piece of plastic, gravity, some snow and a little hard work to have their fun.  How much simpler could it be than that?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Price of Service

I admit I have a bit of a soft spot for the men and women who serve in our country’s military.  They voluntarily choose a life of service because they believe that they can help protect our country.  They are often sent to  help people who live in countries that don’t have the same freedoms that we enjoy.  Sometimes they enter these countries in roles which put them in clear and present danger.
The men and women in my family who answered the call to service did so during the First and Second World Wars.  They left their families and loved ones and travelled across the ocean to fight on the fields of Europe.  The endured unspeakable conditions, poor food, little pay and harsh discipline because they felt it was important.  Not all of them came home.  It’s the same for today’s military.  The equipment may be better and perhaps even the food, but they still put their lives on the line when asked.

Recently in the news, there have been stories about Veterans who have been denied benefits they requested.  They weren’t asking for vacations in sunny locations or new cars.  They were looking for things like foot care.  Home workers who could help them maintain a reasonable standard of living in their homes.  Treatment for PTSD.  These men and women gave of themselves to maintain Canada’s status as one of the best places on Earth to live.  They help to represent to the world what is best in us as Canadians.  They often do this at the cost of their peace of mind, their families and their health.  When they return don’t they deserve help?

To make matters worse, when these Veterans are denied benefits, the letters they receive are often unclear as to why the decision was made to deny the claim.  If someone goes off to fight for me and my country and then returns and asks for help, I believe they should get it – few to no questions asked.  I’m not saying that there don’t need to be checks and balances to the system.  Not every claim is high priority and often we have to trade off the greatest good with what we are able to do in an economically responsible manner, but let’s have some common sense when it comes to helping these people.  Don't they deserve to at least understand why their claim may have been denied?  If we don’t give our Veterans the help they need and deserve on their return, how long will it be before we can no longer find people willing to go to place themselves in harm’s way?

I can’t help but think of a bumper sticker I saw a few years ago.  It put things into terms that were perfectly clear – If you don’t stand behind our Troops, You’re welcome to stand in front of them.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Perfect Match

There was an item on the news this morning about the preponderance of internet dating websites and the claims of finding the perfect match.  In the case of one website, you can even find the perfect person to have an affair with.  Seems like the antithesis of love to me, but what do I know?  Perspective Romeo’s (and Juliette’s) log onto a site promising true love and fill out questionnaires, answering questions like “What’s your favourite movie?” and “What is your idea of a romantic evening?”.  Then the computer algorithm sets you up with a list of potential matches.  Fine for what it’s worth, but is this really how we find love now?  Cue old man voice – “I remember back when I was your age…”

Our world has become a place where everything is done as fast as it can be.  Overnight delivery of online shopping items.  Smartphones.  Hear a song on the radio, buy it instantly.  Drive thru lanes for fast food.  Drive thru lanes for coffee.  Drive through bank machines, pharmacies, bakeries, convenience stores…  No one seems to want to take the time to do things which take time.  What are we doing with all of this saved time?  What would happen if you took the time to park and go into the store to get your coffee instead of sitting in the drive thru?  Often going in is faster and you get your coffee sooner, which means it’s hotter and better.  What if we took the time to find someone to be with as well?

Don’t get me wrong.  I realize that finding someone who you like well enough to spend time with is tough.  Finding someone who you want to potentially spend the rest of your life with is even tougher.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes not.  But is the fast food route to love really better?  I wonder if my bride and I would still be together if I had found her on the internet?  Looking back, would I have wanted to miss that ‘getting to know her’ phase of our relationship.  Learning her quirks and traits through trial and error?  Would I have chosen her from a list provided on a screen?  Would she have seemed too perfect, or not perfect enough?  I know I would certainly have used a photo that showed me to the best advantage.  Not the one of me asleep on the couch with chips and dip on my shirt and drooling onto the floor.  The internet provides a virtual reality, which is not necessarily the truth about who and what we really are.

Have you ever tried to get in shape?  Were you able to do it with a drink or magic pill?  No.  It takes work.  Sometimes hard work.  There are days when you feel like stopping.  There are days when you try harder than others.  Each step you take toward the goal gets easier and eventually you have something that is worth all of the hard work.  I think that relationships are the same.  I always tried to put everything into my relationships.  It was often hard work and they often they didn’t work out as I might have wanted.  The one thing that all of these relationships had in common is that I learned something about myself and another person.  Eventually my bride found me.  Together for almost 20 years.  Was it always easy.  Nope.  I often think that I got the better end of the deal.  I’m the first to admit that.  But we work hard at what we have.

I was once told that if something is worth having it is worth working for, if you get something too easily you often don’t appreciate it.  Call me old fashioned, but I agree.