Shimoniac Jones

I didn't lose my mind – it fled in terror.

Archive for the category “Life”


At about 1500 this past Saturday, I whacked my elbow on the corner of a wall whilst lurching about ever so gracelessly at home. The impact itself didn’t register on the Richter scale, but it was harder than my usual clumsiness. I spoke a few choice four letter words, rubbed the elbow and staggered away.

Since I work the midnight shift, I was actually headed for bed, which might have contributed to my ungainliness; this time, at least. Six hours later I woke up for some food and social interaction with my family. My elbow was more than a little stiff and sore at this point, so in addition to food, I ate a painkiller. It was naproxen to be precise.

As the rest of the evening wore on, in spite of the painkiller taken, my elbow got more and more painful and was stiffening up considerably. I crowded the next dose of naproxen and iced the elbow; nothing doing, the arm kept on hurting worse and worse, while the range of motion grew more limited.

Finally at about 0630 Sunday, I was pacing the floor sweating and swearing with the pain. I made the decision to go to the local Emergency Department. Dressing to be able to leave the house without getting arrested was an exercise in interpretive dance and putting on my jacket was a teeth-gritting experience I don’t want to have again.

I arrived at the hospital about 0700. Now the local procedure at this hospital is for patients to rub their hands down with sanitizer, then click a mouse key to print out a full-sheet form asking if you have a new or worsening cough, or if you have travelled to any designated areas in the past year. If no, `x’ the box and don’t read any further. Since I didn’t have a cough, and haven’t travelled to the areas I quickly `x’ed the box and went to the triage nurse.

The first thing the triage nurse asked me for was the form and my Health Card. The Health Card is a form of I.D. that tells them I’m allowed to access their services. So, next she asks me what brought me in this morning. I manfully bite back my knee-jerk response of “Taxi”, and tell her my elbow really hurts, and what I think caused it. She asked me if the accident happened at work, this time I couldn’t resist and replied, “No, I can be clumsy at home, too.” To be fair, if this had happened at work they would have had to open a WSIB file, and double the paperwork.

Before she had a chance to ask, I pulled a piece of paper from my wallet and told her that it was a list of the medications I’m currently taking. Pro-tip, if you’re taking prescribed medication, supplements, birth control, or something like that, write down the list and carry it with you at all times. Your intake nurse will appreciate knowing this and being able to note it in your file, it can prevent unfortunate drug interactions which might lead to suboptimal patient results like a slight case of death.

Now she asked me to take off my jacket.

Ordinarily this isn’t a big deal. Today my arm hurt. Taking off the jacket only wrung one whimper and a gasp of pain from my manly machismo. Then she had me do a range of motion test with the sore wing. When she asked me to straighten it out I said, “No.” She asked me if it wouldn’t straighten, or if it was too painful to straighten. I told her it was too painful. Done with me, she sent me on to the next station of my medical adventure: Admitting.

I had to walk around to the other side of the desk which was a good ten yards away to have my Health Card returned and receive, if not a dead tree, then certainly a major load-bearing branch. I got my card back watched the Admitting Nurse affix stickers here, there, and everywhere. Including on my hospital I.D. bracelet, which was colour-coded red. When I asked for purple, she told me that was for Psychiatric patients. I said, “Well…” “No” was the firm reply. I was then directed back past the triage station, down the hall, on the left, to Ambulatory Care. That just means people who came in under their own power, not on a gurney.

So I show up in Ambulatory Care and hand my half-inch of paper to a receiving nurse, who receives it and offers me an only slightly uncomfortable seat in this waiting area. I cast an eye over my fellow sufferers. On the left is a stooped little old lady in a push chair; on the right is a twenty-something male with an ice bag on his right thigh, squirming like a little kid who has to go to the washroom. Then there’s me, a particularly lumpen and hairy member of malehood.

I considered my choices and decided to take a chair where I could watch the both of them, the nurse’ station, and the television. When I came in the TV was playing the fireplace channel, the taller of the two nurses decided to change the channel (boo) and we wound up watching what, at first, I thought was a different fireplace channel, turns out it was CNN covering the California Wildfire Season. The on-scene reporter’s barely concealed glee at the suffering and destruction was too much for me, so I tuned it out in favour of watching what was happening in the room.

From out of one of the treatment rooms came a tall, shinny emo-looking male(?), who asked one of the nurses if he could step out for a smoke. The nurse let him know that he wasn’t a prisoner and could go if he wanted, but that if the doctor came to see him in the mean time, he would lose his place in line and have to wait even longer to see a doctor. Emo-boy bounced, and I watched the nurse take a file from one slot, fairly high up, and put it in the bottom opening, one step above the circular file.

Little old lady asked a few times if she could have a drink of water, the nurses, not knowing why she was there were hesitant, but finally looked in her file and figured she could handle three ounces or so. Little old lady was overly grateful. Squirmy asked if he could get some more ice since his pack was water by now. The other nurse agreed, disappeared, was gone five minutes and came back with two coffees, and a tiny ice pack. The coffees were for the nurses, the three ice cubes were for Squirmy.

It’s now gone 0800, and the head nurse decides we’ve been good captives to this point, so she puts us into various treatment bays. I now can’t see or hear the TV, but I have a good view of the room across from me. The lights are low and someone in a chair is snuggled with the patient in the bed. I can barely hear that they’re murmuring to each other much less what they’re saying.  As a voyeur certified people-watcher I’m disappointed horrified by the lack of privacy these two have.

I pull out my e-book reader and try to concentrate on a story. Before too much longer, Dr. Young scurries in. First place he goes is the room across from me. Turns the lights on and starts talking to the patient, a woman who was suffering from a dog bite to the face. At this point I’m feeling not quite so bad.

She said that the fault was hers. Turns out the dog belonged to a friend, she got into the dog’s space, wouldn’t listen to the dog’s warnings, got bitten. I suspect alcohol, or stupidity, may have played a factor.  She got her wound sterilized, sutured and had gauze put on.  The sutures were the dissolving kind and would disappear on their own.  When the doctor was done, he snapped off his gloves and left the after care instruction to the nurse.

The next contestant was Emo-boy, who hadn’t returned from his nic flit. Nurse said he’s been MIA for an hour. Doc says keep the file for a couple more hours, and then return it to Admitting for disposition.  Or was that disposal?

Next was Little old lady, she turned her ankle and someone over-reacted. The doctor asked questions and probable palpated the joint. I didn’t get to see. Nothing broken or swollen, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, painkillers as necessary, if it gets worse, come back in. Listening to Little old lady I think she had a minor case of lonely too. Turn an ankle, go to the hospital, and talk to people. It happens.

Squirmy’s turn had arrived. He’s suffering, and I do mean it, from a constellation of first- and second-degree burns to his upper right thigh. Damn, compared to Dog-bite Lady and Squirmy, I feel like a fraud. Doctor Young debrides the wound, that means he takes a scour pad and scrubs Squirmy’s leg like a pot with crusted-on gunk. Having had that treatment before I can tell you it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds. He leaves the nurse to bandage the wounds and instruct about after treatment.

Now it’s my turn. Since I got here the arm got worse, then started getting better. Dr. Young palpates the joint, tests range of motion, and other stuff. Asking me about how I had done this to myself. The diagnosis: Impact Tendonitis.  The main tendon and muscle attachments to the lower arm are right where I smacked myself the previous day.  I didn’t hit the meat, I hit bone.

He asked if I wanted prescription naproxen. Prescription-level naproxen is 500 mg; over the counter (OTC) naproxen is around 375 mg. Prescription you take twice a day, he allowed that if I wanted to I could take OTC naproxen three times a day for a couple days, as needed. Ice the elbow if needed. If it doesn’t get better, if it gets worse, falls off, etc. I should see a doctor soonest. Have a wonderful day.

I only got a diagnosis. I didn’t get any treatment or medication, and I feel a whole lot better. My arm still hurts, but now I know why. Ignorance is scary. Scary makes pain worse. I was imagining bone chips, fractures, burst nerve sheaths, weird-ass stuff. Now I know and I feel better, relatively speaking.

Dr. Young left the booth; I gathered my stuff together and followed. I told them that I hoped not to see them any time soon and walked out. The whole visit only cost me a couple hours, and the price of a hot chocolate and donut from the hospital coffee shop.

In Canada we have socialized medical care, something which seems to terrify many Americans for no reason that I can determine. In actuality socialized medicine is like fire insurance, you pay a premium at set intervals and if your place burns down you get a settlement to help you pick up the pieces. Only in this case your premiums let you get to see a doctor, get a diagnosis, and get treatment, all without having to put a second mortgage on your first-born.

People complain about long wait times and what treatments are disallowed, or allowed. I guess I’ve been lucky; I’ve never really had anything to complain about regarding hospitals aside from the incredibly nasty food when I was an in-patient years ago.

I Got Soaked in Niagara Falls, I Also Got Wet.

It’s been 15 or so years since I last went to see the natural wonder and spectacle that is Niagara Falls; both the cataract and the city that makes its living from it. Since I’m on vacation, I decided to do a day trip and see the Falls again. I didn’t really have a plan aside from travelling there and seeing what I could see and do in eight or ten hours.

That’s how I roll.

I know people who obsess over every little detail of their itinerary, endlessly researching options until every spare minute has something scheduled for it. That’s a short road to insanity, because life generally gets in the way. Oh, I wanted to go behind the Falls, since I’ve never done that before, for some reason that escapes me now. I wanted to try the new MistRider Zipline® that they opened this year, since that looks sort of cool. I thought about going on a Maid of the Mist® trip, before I found out that they’ve been rebranded Hornblower® cruises. I hoped to meet a fellow blogger stationed in Insanity Central Niagara Falls. Finally, I wanted to go to the casino, because I’ve never been there either.

I wanted to do these things, but I was relaxed about whether or not I actually did them. I invited my father, Archon’s Den, along.

What I didn’t realize before I got there was how much money the two of us would go through.

The day started when the alarm went off at the very late hour of ten o’clock. I got up and with Archon’s Den, set out for the Falls. Alas, before the journey even started, I was down one of my hoped-for activities; The Hook couldn’t meet us on such short notice, the press of domestic duties taking precedence. I quite understand. I wouldn’t want to meet me on short notice either; I’d want at least a few weeks warning, what with obtaining background checks and restraining orders.

So, in spite of construction, traffic, and detours, we made it to our destination somewhat before noon. We found a parking lot and there I got my first lesson in how Niagara Falls rolls. Parking was flat-rate, park for an hour or for the day, doesn’t matter $22. In spite of that outrageous amount, I didn’t think it was all that bad a deal. We may have been shuffled to an overflow back lot, but there were some trees to park under and the parking lot had a little eight-person golf cart they used to shuttle people from the very back of the lot to the front.

On we forged, to the Table Rock Welcome Centre, where I got my next lesson. Reading signs and asking questions led me to the ticket counter where we could purchase vouchers for a trip behind the Falls; for two people, $38.30, for 4:20p.m., it was now just past noon. Alas. I asked the ticket-vendor about the zipline, and was informed that it was a separate attraction, but that I could find it a five-minute walk downhill on the right.

I don’t know whose walk the informant was judging, but it wasn’t mine, or my father’s. So, fifteen minutes later we got to the attraction, and with a little confusion found the ticket booth. In the fifteen minutes we had been walking, only seven riders had gone down the line. Oddly enough, I thought that meant that there weren’t all that many people on a sunny, hot and humid Wednesday willing to risk vertigo. I found out that what it meant was that the ride was sold out for the day and they were only putting passengers through about every two minutes. Well, at least learning this didn’t cost me anything but time.

Onward and stuff.

We were now near the base of Clifton Hill; also known as ‘The Strip’, where locals strip tourists of their cash, and occasionally dignity, as quickly and painlessly as possible. There Archon’s Den and I gawped at the freaks, geeks, and weirdos, some of them inside the sideshows, but mostly the other tourists. Twice we were almost run over by Japanese tour buses right there on the sidewalk; they went dashing past afoot, four abreast and thirty long following their leader.

Half-way up the hill, Archon’s Den and I felt in need of sustenance to make it the rest of the way, so we stopped off at a well-known burger chain known for treating you like a king; lunch for two, $28.19. We’ve been here for about two hours and already we’re down almost $90. We made it the rest of the way to the top, explored some of Victoria Ave, turned around and started back down the other side of Clifton Hill. Half-way down we stopped into a souvenir shop to purchase something for Grandma Ladybug, who didn’t feel up to all the walking in the heat and humidity; I got her an attractive little $15.81 dust collector.

Near the souvenir shop is an Arcade. Arcades exist to flash coloured lights, ring bells, sound buzzers, and generally make you think you’re having a good time while at the same time sneaking a vacuum hose into your pocket to siphon off as much money as it can. Archon’s Den and I manfully resisted its blandishments in favour of watching the show; boys and girls of all ages throwing money at machines in return for tickets that can be exchanged for cheap merchandise. We also used the customer washroom in spite of the ‘for patrons only’ sign.

Now, back at the foot of the hill Archon’s Den and I went back up hill on Niagara Parkway to the crest of the Falls to watch the water go over the brink. That didn’t cost me anything but a little time and the willingness to be jostled by dozens of others just like me from around the world. It was now past 4 o’clock, so we descended to the entrance for the trip behind the Falls. Alas, we were informed by an earnest young Parks employee that they were still dealing with the 4 o’clock show and would we please come back in fifteen minutes.

Both Archon’s Den and I are experts in being inert. If being inert were an Olympic event, both of us would be on the couch watching it at home, training, travelling, and completing sounds like way too much work. So, fifteen minutes of inert later, we presented our ducat to enter the attraction. It was like lining up at the bank, or the DMV. Back and forth, back and forth, wait while we count out so many people to send though.

We were sent down a flight of stairs, we were told to stand in a green square in front of a green wall and smile at the count of three. More back and forth, patrons were issued a yellow trash bag disposable poncho and told not to open it or don it until we reached a flight of stairs going back up. The attendant issuing these glamorous couture accessories might just as well have saved her voice; easily 90% of the half-wits had theirs on once they’d left the counter.

Although, to be fair, it took most of them several minutes to figure out top from bottom and back from front. One brain donor candidate couldn’t find the opening for her right arm, so she poked her hand out through the back, whereupon her more observant friend said, “There’s the armhole.” several inches away from the impromptu opening; you had to be there. I had to turn away or laugh right in their faces. The pre-show is getting to be worth the price of admission. Still more back and forth to the stairs heading up.

At the top of the stairs they had an elevator going down to the tunnel behind the Falls. The elevator attendant, yes they had one, tried to make her spiel bounce, but having to yammer it out 17 000 times a day kind of flattened it out a bit.

Now it’s time for the main attraction. In the tunnels, which were a claustrophobe’s nightmare, you could feel the power of the water falling. There are three lookout points, one near the edge of the Falls, and two separate ones right behind the cataract itself. I dutifully walked to each portal and looked, oohing and aahing the whole while, taking pictures of water falling from behind. An hour of this was sufficient, so we returned to drier land.

At the end of the attraction, you get to go back up the elevator to where the Parks Service has a recycle-your-poncho station, whereupon I sadly parted company with my very own shower curtain fashionable protective garment. The pictures they took near the start of the tour have been processed and are now ready to be picked up. I thought that having charged us almost $40 for the privilege of walking through the damp, humid tunnels, they could have thrown in the photos. Shake your head, boy, they want $33.90 for two cheesy touristy portraits, plus two digital downloads; I paid.

At this point, with all the walking we’d done, Archon’s Den was feeling his bad hip, and I wasn’t all that much better, so we prevailed upon the better nature of one of the elevator operators to take us all the way to the top. They can and will do this, but you have to know about it and ask nicely.

Now out on the surface again, I wanted to go to the Casino to look around. Just outside the Visitor Centre there is a funicular up the side of a steep hill that gives out onto Portage Road, two-way ticket $5.50; from there it’s a short walk, more walking, to the Niagara Fallsview Resort and Casino. A high-end mall with a twist, there’s a casino and hotel inside. Finally finding the casino entrance, we were stopped and looked over by a security guard before they allowed us to wander in.

I was carrying a messenger bag with a couple of travel mugs inside, Grandma Ladybug’s present, receipts from the places I’d spent money, a notebook for jotting things down, etc.; no weapons, no booze, no illicit drugs. The guard asked me to open it, asked a few questions as to the contents of the containers, my age, slipped a coloured band through it to show that it had been checked, and waved us past.

Trepidatiously, we entered the sanctum. Flashing coloured lights, ringing bells, and buzzing buzzers. It was like being at the Arcade except that, since they serve alcohol, no one was under nineteen. People were throwing money away just as quickly, but without getting tickets to redeem for cheap plastic merchandise; although there was a patrolling server with a drink cart dispensing caffeine to the patrons glued to stools in front of slot machines so that they didn’t have to interrupt their losing money playing. After a wander through this terrifying parallel universe, Archon’s Den and I escaped without losing any money, internal organs, or self-respect.

Archon’s Den and I decided to look for a nice sit-down meal before heading back home. We chose an unpretentious sit-down family-type restaurant and were seated quickly. A thorough perusal of the menu later and we ordered, according to our individual taste. Archon’s Den ordered a beer to sustain him, I stuck with a soft drink, and we both drank copiously of the glasses of water; dinner for two, with tip, $71.41.

Refueled and ready to go home, we retraced our steps to the funicular and then to the parking lot. We sat at the shuttle stop waiting for the jitney to take us back to the overflow lot, when we fell into conversation with the elevator operator who had returned us to ground level. It’s always interesting to talk to people in the service industry about their particular slice of life.  Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, it’s often interesting.

Archon’s Den and I had noticed that there were several dollars worth of coins cast beyond the barricades behind the Falls, our informant told us that individual employees occasionally used a broom to rescue as many as they could. The Park Service doesn’t consider the money as belonging to the park, so it’s fair game to whoever retrieves it; like a gratuity. The number of cell phones at the bottom of the Falls is unknown but likely at least a few dozen, including one lost by a tourist that very day; along with the lady’s newly purchased selfie stick and car keys.

It was then that someone deigned to inform us that the parking lot shuttle had stopped for the day, so we were on our own getting back to the car. Limp to the car we did and shortly we were on our way back home. We had to retrace the detours, in reverse order, and in the dark, but with the judicious application of Zen driving, we managed. As defined by me, Zen driving is finding a car that looks like it knows where you’re going and following it. We pulled into the driveway not quite twelve hours after we left in the morning. The tally for the day, not including the Timmie’s we bought just outside Hamilton was $218.11.

Final conclusion, the visit was worth it, but if you go take more money.

Heroes, not just sandwiches anymore!

A blogger I follow, recently published a post about an event that woke the demons that gnaw on his psyche. He was agitated and sorrowful, so I recycled some wisdom that I’d read somewhere else and clicked “reply”.

That was it.

A few hours later I found that he’d replied to my comment, as he replies to so many others, so I opened the dialogue box to see what he’d said. Usually, it’s a simple acknowledgement, sometimes it’s witty, occasionally it’s profound-ish.

Without any apparent irony or derision, he said that I was his hero. Now, it’s incredibly difficult to sense sarcasm in the written word, but I don’t think that there was any there. So I began thinking about this concept of “hero”.

A hero is a person known for courageous acts or nobility of character. A hero is also someone who has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.

I recently read about a man, who rescued a three year-old girl from being trampled by a runaway team of horses. He ran into harm’s way, knowing that he could get hurt, possibly killed; but unable to just stand there and watch an innocent child get mowed down. He refused the label “hero”, because, in his mind, he only did what was necessary. The fact that he was then run down by that team of horses, collecting bruises, stitches, and broken facial bones was, to him, nothing big.

So, for this blogger to call me his hero took me aback. Then I read the second definition of hero again. I didn’t do anything particularly courageous when I typed my reply to that blogger’s post, but perhaps he thought that I’d demonstrated a personal quality that he admired.

That led me to realize that we can all be heroes to someone else. It doesn’t necessarily mean getting run over by a team of horses, or a huge expenditure of time or money. It can, in fact, be nothing more than offering a kind word to someone having a bad day, or offering an ear to someone who needs someone to talk to.

Of course, if you do want to dash in front of a team of runaway horses to save my flabby ass, feel free.  😀

Auntie Vax

The genesis of this post occurred a few months ago, when I wanted very badly to drive over 900 kilometers to find a woman I’d never met and slap her sillier than she already was. I read an article about this woman who refused to get her newborn vaccinated.  Her pediatrician, family doctor, head of the medical association, the director of the CDC, and the Surgeon-General of the United States of America, have all advised, urged, entreated, recommended, and implored her to protect her baby against the possibility of getting mumps, measles, rubella, polio, etc.; while she was not deaf to their pleas, she just couldn’t comply with their entreaties.

Why did she refuse? Was it religious grounds?  No, it was basically stupidity.

Millions, perhaps even billions, of people have been inoculated against diseases ever since Edward Jenner made the connection between cowpox and smallpox. Arguably one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century was the final eradication of smallpox by the WHO.  Who, by the way, recommend vaccination as a safe, effective, and low-cost method of disease prevention.

The primary reason this woman refused to have her baby vaccinated, was because Jenny McCarthy thinks it’s a bad idea. The same Jenny McCarthy who is best known for taking her clothes off for Hugh Hefner and posing nude in his magazine.

On the one hand we have multiple medical professionals, with decades of medical education, research, and experience urging her to get the baby protected from potentially fatal diseases. On the other we have, a celebrity(?).  If Ms. McCarthy has a degree in medicine, virology, epidemiology, immunology, or any other related field it doesn’t show up on her Wikipedia page.

So many children in Canada and the U.S., have gone unvaccinated in recent years that our collective “herd immunity” is breaking down.  We’re seeing outbreaks of diseases like measles at rates unseen since, well, vaccination became common.  The side effects of these childhood diseases can be lethal.

This, I have to call her deranged, woman even admits that she thinks vaccinating her baby might be a good idea, but there are all those websites out there that claim vaccinations are responsible for everything from autism to demonic possession. So she can’t make up her mind what to do.

What I’d like her to do is: give the baby up to someone who can make an informed choice, go to a gynecologist and say `I want my tubes tied’, and stop being a bother. If she wants fact-based evidence that vaccinations work, all she has to do is look in a mirror.  She, and I, are of a generation that was all immunised against MMR, polio, etc., and we turned out okay.  Although I have to wonder if there is something to their fears after all; apparently after being vaccinated, she turned into an idiot.

Barbeque, Too

I barbeque’d on a new grill this weekend. No, I didn’t get it as a Father’s Day gift, nor did I buy it for Father’s Day. I had actually bought it early last December at an end of the year sale at a local appliance store. It has sat in the garage partially assembled for the last six months.

Yes. I am that lazy.

It had been a floor display model and it had been put together when I bought it, but it wouldn’t fit into the car in one piece. So, a salesperson and I broke it down into its bigger components so that it would fit. The day I bought it, my area experienced a sudden temperature drop, nifty snowstorm, and then a subsequent hard freeze winter. I found I didn’t want to go out in the cold, crowded, and dimly lit garage and reassemble it not knowing how long it would take me. So I decided I would wait until Spring and warmer weather came along to move the pieces to the back deck and sunlight for the jigsaw game.

I hear you saying that it’s the middle of June, surely the weather’s been warm enough to put Humpty back together again for at least a month. I refer you to my second paragraph, I am that lazy; and actually it’s been warm enough for closer to two months, so there. Besides, there was nothing wrong with Ole (T)rusty, he’s just a little wobbly on his pins is all. As long as you don’t move him around, he’s a great grill.

But… Enough is enough even for a lazy dog like myself. This weekend I was out of excuses, so, on Saturday, my father and I lugged the various bits and pieces around the house to the back deck. I laid them out around me and opened the assembly manual. I didn’t know I would need a degree in hieroglyphics to put this profane propane grill together. There was not one word in any of the three most commonly spoken languages in this country in that booklet; those being: English, French, or Newfie.

I have, however, bought stuff from Ikea, so I can follow pictures and arrows sufficiently well to figure out what they actually want. It actually wasn’t that hard to reassemble, it’s not like I was trying to put a car back together or something.

My father and I only snapped and snarled at each other twice each, so win.

All told, from the time my father and I started shifting the pieces from the garage to the time the gas cylinder was hooked up was thirty-five minutes. After burning off the factory oil, I grilled marinated pork chops for six people. Then, on Sunday, I did some steaks for just me and my parents. Next, I’m thinking about trying to grill pizzas.

The new grill is wonderful; it heats up quicker, has more grilling room, and is cleaner than the other one.

Yeah, I know I can clean the old grill up, but I am still that lazy.

Heat Break

Here in this part of Canada we’ve been experiencing high heat and humidity.  To the point where the local radio stations have been issuing humidex advisories in the morning.  To put it in perspective, on Wednesday morning on the seven o’clock newscast the base temperature was 23 C (about 73 F), but with the humidex it felt like 34 C (around 94 F), and that’s in the morning, it’s only going to get hotter from there.  I don’t care where you’re from or what you’re used to, but around here that’s a little thick.  It’s like walking around breathing through a warm, damp washcloth.

Now try working in it.

I work the night shift, and it’s been so bad at night that our supervisor has had to issue five minute heat breaks every hour both Monday and Tuesday.  Our straw boss has even been going around like a flight attendant with a cart of refrigerated bottled water looking for signs of heat stress.  A notice went up stating that heat breaks must be taken in the lunch room, because that’s the only room that’s air conditioned.

Now, I live in a house with central air conditioning, for which I regularly thank Willis Carrier, the inventor of modern electrical air conditioning.  So, Wednesday morning, I stagger into a blessedly cool, dim, not humid house, drink a couple of litres of water, juice, soda, basically whatever’s cool and liquid, then collapse into bed, enervated from the heat and humidity.  I’d barely settled into my nice cool sheets when the phone rang.  It was work; given the heat and humidity, Wednesday’s shift has been cancelled.

The last time work was cancelled, I actually bounced out of bed and goofed off.  This time… I actually had to think about it, but did a little goofing off.


This morning as I was about to go to bed, since I was trying to maintain my usual sleep pattern, I received  a phone call from the impossibly perky woman in the front office.

Guess what?

Work has been cancelled for the rest of the week, see you on Monday. 😉


A New Pope, Same Old Story

So Pope Benedict the Whatever decided that he’d had enough of trying to save the Catholic Church, and pulled the pin on his career. He announced his resignation when declared his retirement. I note that he gave about two weeks notice, which is generally standard for professionals who resign, or quit, their jobs. As regards Pope Benny the Dick, I’m still waiting for the other red shoe to drop. What happened? Was it a financial fiasco, sexual impropriety, paternity suit, dealing in fake relics, did he exorcise the Holy Ghost? The possibilities are endless, and worrisome.

The conclave happened so quickly, that I barely got a chance to tell my favourite conclave joke. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a favourite conclave joke. If there’s black smoke, boo hoo, no new pope. If there’s white smoke, hooray, there’s a new pope. If there’s grey, greasy smoke, the cardinals are having steak. There it is, take it or leave it, I grant permission to use it next conclave. As a side note, my mother observed that the conclave occured during Lent, so steak probably wasn’t on the menu. Grilled salmon, on the other hand… 😀

The former Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, styled the first, got one hell of a promotion to Christ’s Vicar in Rome. Going into the first round of voting he was on the board, but as a 33 to 1 against long shot. Perhaps his papal motto should be Equus Tenebris Sanctis; that’s approximately Latin for Holy Dark Horse.

So, now we have Pope Frank. Wow. Of course, as an iconoclastic Militant Agnostic, I view all organized religions with a large helping of dubiousness. The more, and gaudier, trappings a religion has, the less I feel they have the welfare of anyone at heart; anyone but those at the top of the heap, that is. I tend to agree with Robert A. Heinlein in my view that religion is for the benefit of the priest-class rather than the congregation. The new supreme pontiff will have to put the church’s money, and a lot of it, where his mouth is, before I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t necessarily doubt Pope Frank’s honesty, honour, conviction, or anything else; but I do know about a phenomenon called bureaucratic inertia. It’s also called captured by the system. A reformer goes into a department to clean it up and make it efficient, but winds up embracing the established culture.

The Catholic Church is two thousand years old; they’ve had twenty centuries to become set in their ways. Assume an average human generation at twenty years. Boys and girls can sire and birth young sooner than that, but it’s a convenient rule of thumb to use. That means one hundred generations have passed since the founding of the Catholic Church. Another way to look at it is that the organization is more than twenty-five times the age of the guy leading it.

That sheer weight of numbers and the resultant ossification of procedure practically requires high explosives to shift.

My mother, who describes herself as a recovering Catholic, rather cynically opined that the reason the conclave elected such an obscure candidate was so that they (the bureaucracy) could pull the wool over his eyes and continue business as usual. Her version of business as usual was money-laundering in the Vatican bank, influence peddling, covering up for sexually deviant priests, and other similarly distasteful activities. Mom has what you might call a dim view of Mother Church.

If true, I think the PTB (Powers That Be) are in for an unpleasant surprise. Frank is a Jesuit, the Society of Jesus have a formidable reputation for scholarship, perseverance, and loyalty to the Pope.

So, as with so many other things, I wait and watch.

Snow Day

Here in this part of South-Western Ontario they declared Friday February 8th 2013 to be a snow day.  The radio broadcasters talked about Snowmageddon and other such hyperboles.  The flat truth is that it’s been a pretty energetic storm.  We got twenty-five to thirty centimetres of snow in less than twenty-four hours, which for this area in the past four or so years is an impressive total.  If you’ve gotten more than that, I don’t want to hear it, what I got is more than enough as far as I’m concerned.

Local residents with snow-blowers and entrepreneurial spirit have been able to augment their income by servicing neighbours driveways and sidewalks.  Local malls and other businesses, usually open later on a Friday, closed early and sent people home at about 18:00.  The region I live in declared a snow event, which bans parking on the street and encourages residents to curtail all unnecessary travel for the next twenty-four hours.

That’s not the best part though.  After work Friday morning, I came home, shovelled four inches off the driveway, ate anything that didn’t move too quickly, and went to bed.  As a reminder, I work the night shift so my days and nights are reversed to most people.  I got up about 13:30 to get a drink of water, but it was still way too early to get up.  While shuffling back to bed, my mother called my name from the other room.  I was dimly confused by this call; she knows my schedule and knows that, although I was vertical, I was still sleeping.

I mentally shrugged and shuffled over to answer her hail.

“Grmpph?” I asked.  Translated, this means, “Yes mother, you called?”

“Work’s been cancelled tonight.” She replied, “We got a call about 11:00, saying they’ve cancelled the afternoon and night shifts today on account of the weather.”

“Cool.” I replied.  Meaning, “I’ve heard your report and will begin processing it as soon as system resources come on-line.”

I then reversed direction and returned to my bedroom, flopped back into bed, pulled the covers back over me, wiggled to find the warm spot, and relaxed.  It was at about this time that the three or four neurons previously responsible for navigation and motion, released from their previous duties, began to process the recently supplied announcement.


My eyes opened, ‘Snow Day’; instant three-day weekend.  Thursday night some of us had entertained ourselves by counting the days until the next one and now we have an unexpected free one.


I bounced up out of bed, short of sleep or not, I’m not going to waste a free day off by sleeping for pity’s sake.  I’ve read some books, petted some cats and a dog, drunk some hot chocolate, surfed some internet, and generally goofed off.  In short gentle readers, I’ve had a wonderful mini-vacation.

So, assuming continued electricity here, I’ve got nothing to do and an extra day to do it in.  If you’re in the same boat, here’s a salute and pass the popcorn.

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