Category Archives: Contextless Thoughts

Contextless Thoughts

  1. We are 95% done Christmas.  The only big discussion that is tearing the family apart is which shaving system do Mark and I go to.  I am tried of paying big money for Schick Hydro 5 blades (which work great but are expensive) which Mark wants an upgrade from his Gillette Sensor 3 razor and blades.  I am not sure what I am going to do.  Some of you have expressed strong opinions against Henry’s razors but Mark is considering the M5 Magnum.  I may also consider the Costco alternative.  Of course we don’t talk about this in front of Wendy who erupts and brings up how much more money and how much lower quality women’s razors are.
  2. Some of you read my tweets about a City of Saskatoon contractor tossing a handful of grass seed down on some dirt a week ago and thought I was mad.  I am not.  By them cheaping out and not doing the job right, let’s me plant a premium blend of seed on the boulevard and then let is fill out the grass in other areas.  18 years ago when we moved in, we had a huge path that cut it’s way through one part of the side boulevard.  After a couple of years of planting and replanting, I found the right combination of grass seed and it took off through the entire boulevard.  Part of the plan of seeding in half of the driveway with the same kind of seed is to see it take off and grow back into the back section of the boulevard and take over the crappy grass there (it’s fine if it is raining but the combination of weird seed and no top soil means that it goes yellow if not seeing water almost all of the time, even after 20 years of mulch and fertilizer.
  3. Mark’s jaw is back to normal which means he can eat real food.
  4. Oliver is taking karate at Mayfair School three times a week.  After watching a Jackie Chan fight scene, he said, “I think I take that next year”.
  5. Wendy and Oliver took in the 2015 Santa Claus parade.  Wendy took photos and posted them on her website.
  6. Varsity Scripsit by Tandy for DOSFor the first time since the early 90s, I don’t have word processor on my computers.  I am now writing my columns on Google Docs and I have loved the transition.  Since no one has asked, here are the list of word processors I have loved.  GeoWorks Writer (DOS), Varsity Scripsit (DOS) by Tandy, Microsoft Word 5.5 (DOS), WordPerfect 5.1 (DOS),  Microsoft Word 2.0c (Windows), Microsoft Word 6, Microsoft Word 95, WordPerfect 7, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Word 2000, Open Office Writer, Libre Office Writer, Apple Pages and now Google Docs.  Of all of them, Varsity Scripsit, Microsoft Word 2.0c, and AbiWord (depending on the version) are my favorites.  Apple Pages and Open Office Writer were the worst.  I may purchase Corel Office for times I need more complicated page layout options.
  7. Part of still doesn’t believe Donald Trump is serious about running for President.  He isn’t spending any money on a field organization.  No advertising, no nothing.  I still wonder if it is a marketing stunt for his Trump Hotel that is opening in Washington this spring.

Contextless Thoughts

  • I am not a big fan of players holding out when they have signed a contract but Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is doing the right thing.  Careers for backs like him are very short, he is an elite player, and he is making far below what even other mediocre backs in the NFL are being paid.  Finally his running style is such that when he loses half a step, his career will be over.
  • On the other hand, the Houston Texans can not renegotiate Andre Johnson’s deal with five years left on it.  He signed a seven year deal and wants a new deal after two years?  That’s three contracts in five years and it would set a horrible precedent for the Texans and the rest of the league.  I know what he means to the franchise but to cave in could cause chaos.  I predict that Andre Johnson will be traded before they renegotiate this deal.
  • Before thee Atlanta Falcons start to demand a new stadium, they have to ask themselves what kind of market there is for NFL teams?  I can really see the Minnesota Vikings going to the Los Angeles market and while San Antonia has the Alamodome, it’s an aging stadium as well.  Can South Florida handle another team?  I don’t think it can as Jacksonville could be on the move as well.  You quickly find yourself looking at places like an additional team somewhere else in New Jersey, a second team in Los Angeles (that worked out well last time), or trying to get a stadium built in Toronto.  After that you have Portland, Vancouver, another team in Chicago (can’t see that happening although the market is big enough for it), or a market that has been vacated or soon will be.  I would love for a team to sit down with the state and try to come up with long term plans to maximize stadium revenue (think Arrowhead) and grow their market (and revenues) than go for the short term fix of a new stadium every 18 years.  You never hear about a team saying, “we are going to grow this team’s fan base by being a dominant team in the NFC South by investing heavily into scouting, player development, drafting high character players who will connect with the community, and by lowering ticket prices so our fans can attend more games.”  No, NFL owners treat their markets like crap and the can’t understand why they don’t get what they want.  If billionaire Arthur Black wants a new stadium, build it yourself.
  • If you want to figure out how to maximize out a stadium, check out what the Red Sox do at Fenway.  For a price you can actually shag flies during batting practice.  That’s awesome.  Also, look at what the Pistons do at the Palace at Auburn Hills, they had a massive storage area below the stadium that they turned into massive and expensive luxury suites (complete with courtside tickets).
  • I hate to say it but I feel a bit for Albert Haynesworth.  It’s easy to look at his MASSIVE contract and say, “do whatever Dan Snyder tells you to do” but if he signed the contract on the assumption that he would play in a 4-3 defence and now he is playing in the 3-4 and would not have signed in Washington if he knew he would have been moved to nose tackle, I can understand his point.

Contextless Thoughts

  • Some friends are adopting out of Haiti right now.  Their kids survived but unlike almost every other western government, the Canadian government is not allowing adopted kids to come home to their adopted parents.  Of course the orphanage where the kids are is overwhelmed by new cases, running low on supplies, and the resources that could be used to help new kids are being used up on kids that should be allowed to come to Canada.  WestJet has offered to pick up the kids while Jason Kenney talks about process and puts down what other countries have done.  Since when is process more important than getting starving at risk kids to parents who have already been approved for adoption by the provincial and Canadian governments.
  • I managed to jab myself with a dirty needle.  Three words for you.  Post-exposure prophylaxis.  I am a really low risk and no fluids seemed to interact but it is frustrating.  The side affect has been a splitting headache which is tolerable.
  • I my dental regimen of only going to a dentist when the pain becomes unbearable isn’t paying off that well.  I was at Wal-Mart on Saturday when I felt like I had been hit in the face by Elin Woods.  I bought some extra strength Advil, took four, came home, took two more, feel asleep and woke up to a swollen face.  The pain is gone but the swollen face still exists. 
  • There has been a lot of cool stuff being posted over at Jordon Cooper Outfitters.   There are several fun products being looked at this week.  I have posts set up until the middle of March which means there isn’t much pressure to do anything on nights I would rather nap than look for cool stuff.  Of course in looking for cool stuff, I find even more cool stuff to post which is kind of fun.  One I have enough stuff posted, I plan to start putting together some feature articles about them which is the next step in creating the site.  If you like the site and want to contribute, submit your product and I’ll get it online.

Contextless Football Thoughts

Denver Broncos logo Well the Denver Broncos are 5-0 after beating the New England Patriots in OT on Sunday.  You have no idea how much this messes with me.  Emotionally I was prepared for a 5-11 record and now they are 5-0.  I am not sure how to handle this.  Do I start to believe that Denver could contend for a for a playoff spot or do I stand firm with my 7-9 best case scenario.  Say whatever you want about Josh McDaniels but he ability to bring disgruntled receiver, Brandon Marshall back into the fold has had a big impact on this season.  Could you see Eric Mangini patching up a relationship like this? 

While we have seen the Patriots replace coordinator after coordinator and not miss a beat, has the loss of Josh McDaniels hurt Tom Brady?

Cleveland Browns logoHow much fun can it be to be a Cleveland Browns fan.  First they hired the most socially dysfunctional coach this side of Mike Keenan because he was an offensive genius and then they start 0-4, change their QB’s and then still stink.  Finally they win a game but they win the game 6-3.  Their QB, Derek Anderson was 2-17 or 23 yards which is slightly worse than what Napoleon Dynamite’s, Uncle Rico could do if given the chance.  For the record, this is far worse than what Brady Quinn ever did.

San_Francisco_49ers_helmet_rightfaceThis is painful for me to stay as I really like Mike Singletary as a player and as a coach but until he gets his temper and intensity under control he will continue to hurt his team.  Of course Dre’ Bly hurt the team in his own way when celebrating while making an interception.  Of course his team was down 25 points at the time.  In his defence, Bry decide to speak in third person.  “Dre’s going to be Dre’,” Bly said. “When I make plays, and I’ve made a lot, I express myself.”  He made so many places in Denver they cut him.  What an idiot.

University of Saskatchewan Huskies A little closer to home, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies walked all over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.  If I am UBC, I may put off my move to the NCAA until I can be competitive consistently in the CIS.  The University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ offence woke up scoring five touchdowns en route to a 44-7 victory over the UBC Thunderbirds.  Questioned for their lack of offence in first few weeks of the season, the Huskies entered the game with just three touchdowns and 55 points in their first four games of the season.

Other quick hits… I can’t believe that the Tennessee Titans are 0-5…I am glad to see that the Cinncinnati Bengals are doing well.  Part of me wonders if they are more stable because of Chad Ochocinco finding a community on Twitter…

Contextless Football Thoughts

I was up at the lake this weekend and the little bit of football news I got was through Twitter.  It’s always nerve wracking to come home and wonder if your team or teams won.

Okay, let’s just admit that Notre Dame will probably be 10-2 heading into a BCS bowl game and we still won’t know very much about them.  Their schedule is really, really soft and they still can barely beat teams.  Yeah they beat Purdue but we know Purdue isn’t that great.  They beat Michigan State which is nice but Michigan State lost to a directional Michigan team and won’t be contending for the Big-Ten title this year.  We really don’t know much more about Notre Dame than we did before. 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders won ugly but it’s a win and they move to the top of the Western Conference standings with a win over the Edmonton Eskimos.  What was amazing about this game was the attendance in Edmonton, over 62,000 people in Commonwealth Stadium.

The University of Alberta Golden Bears stunned a ranked team for the second week in a row with a 27-7 victory Friday night over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night in Edmonton’s Foote Field.  I can’t say the loss was unexpected.  The Huskies were 2-0 heading in to the game but hadn’t played well at all.

The University of Miami Hurricanes Growing up, I hated the University of Miami Hurricanes, they represented everything that was bad about college football and on top of that, they gave the world Vinny Testaverde and no college should ever be forgiven for that.  Over the last couple of years I have warmed to the Hurricane’s and this year I had switched my allegiance from the Florida State Seminoles to the Hurricanes.  In that context, I was saddened to see them get blown out by Virginia Tech today.

Of course the good news today is that Denver is now 3-0 with Mr. Neckbeard having a QB rating of 92.1 while JaMarcus Russell’s problems continued with a QB rating of 22.6.  I have heard the stories for a couple of years about his work ethic and if they are true, this is just a case of defenses learning more about him than he knows about them which is not a recipe for success in the NFL.  While there is no doubt in my mind that Denver will not make the playoffs this year and will finish somewhere around 7-9, it’s nice to get the season started and stop hearing about Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall everyday.  It’s also nice to see that this Josh McDaniel kid can really coach. 

medium_Brady-quinn While I don’t really like Mangenius as a coach, I am fan of Brady Quinn but he looked horrible against the Baltimore Ravens defense today.  Then again, Derek Anderson didn’t look that great either.  That being said, I have a feeling that Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers in their prime would have struggled against this defense.  Quinn went 6 for 8 for 34 yards and an interception. Anderson, who lost his starting job to Quinn last year, was 11 for 19 for 92 yards and three interceptions.

Contextless Football Thoughts

University of Saskatchewan Huskies Well the University of Saskatchewan Huskies beat our illiterate arch rivals from the University of Regina Rams in a close game at Griffiths Stadium.  Congratulations to the University of Regina for making it close.  Someone just needs to help them understand the score.  While the U of S is 2-0 this year, they don’t look that great.  I hate to jump off the bandwagon already but I can’t see this year’s team going to the Vanier Cup. 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish helmet It wasn’t good news at the Big House as Notre Dame squandered a late lead against the University of Michigan Wolverines.  What was Mr. Decided Schematic Advantage thinking in calling for long passes when all they needed was some first downs.   The defense melted down by yielding 431 yards to a Wolverines offense led by a true freshman quarterback.  While there doesn’t look like much heavy lifting is left on the schedule, how will this loss impact the Irish’s psyche?  It wasn’t just the defense,  Weis play calling was absolutely horrible during that game and now he finds himself on the hot seat in South Bend.  I really can’t see Charlie Weis surviving the season in Notre Dame unless he finishes 11-2 or better and I could seriously seeing Michigan State beating Notre Dame in South Bend next week.  It gets worse for Notre Dame.  The bad news continues for Notre Dame is that they get play USC late in the season and by that time, Matt Barkley should be even better.  If Charlie Weis is still Notre Dame’s coach at that time, he can’t be looking forward to that. 

Ohio State Buckeyes If you are a Ohio State University, you need to accept that if you could not beat USC this year, it’s never ever going to happen as long as Pete Carroll is coach at the University of Southern California.  I don’t buy the idea that the Big Ten is an inferior conference (although Michigan State’s loss to directional Michigan looks bad) but the issue is that USC may be superior year in and year out to almost every other school in the nation and is one of the three or four elite programs in the country (Florida and Oklahoma being the other two with Alabama and LSU getting close)

Denver Broncos Well it took Josh McDaniels seven months to get a break and he finally did.  When all seemed lost for the Denver Broncos, Brandon Stokley caught a tipped pass from Kyle Orton and ran 87 yards with 11 seconds left in the game Sunday.  Not only was it a great catch and run, it was a smart play.  As he raced down the left sideline, he saw that his pursuers had given up, so he started running across the field, parallel to the goal line, just before the end zone. Then, as Cincinnati defenders realized what he was doing, he strolled in for the score. He was able to kill seconds off the clock in the Broncos’ 12-7 victory.

Banjo Bowl It’s the Banjo Bowl today.  Despite what you have heard, the Labour Day Classic is not the Banjo Bowl, the rematch is.  The weird thing was that I reading all sorts of media reports calling last week’s game the Banjo Bowl… great job of fact checking there.  Saskatchewan won pretty easily 52-10 and the game wasn’t really in doubt.  In the end Saskatchewan got excellent quarterback play from Darian Durant while Michael Bishop played his usual mistake filled game and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers turned the ball over eight times and the offense looked like it had given up all hope.  While I really like seeing Saskatchewan beat Winnipeg on back to back weeks, I hate seeing a team give up like that and I wonder if the Blue Bombers are going to have trouble selling tickets going forward.

Contextless Thoughts

  • I am working the night shift tonight after a couple of staff called in.  I worked all Wednesday during the day and of course couldn’t get any sleep between five o’clock and midnight.  Now I work from midnight to eight a.m. and then I can walk home, get showered and walk back to work where I have meetings until four p.m.  After walking home again, I get to change and then walk to another meeting.  My day ends Thursday at around 9:00 p.m.  My body is upset with me already.  Sadly none of the meetings are ones that I can ditch.  All are really important and ones that I need to be at.  Tomorrow I am so sleeping in.  Oh wait, I can’t.  Another couple of meetings.
  • The good news is that while I get paid overtime, I can also take the OT as flex which means that I will get some more time off later this summer.  Plus, it keeps my department’s costs down.
  • The best part of working nights as a supervisor?  When a couple of different guys come down and let you know how great the rest of the staff is to them.  I often only hear negative stuff but it’s nice to hear some good stuff as well and even nicer when I can pass that on.
  • I was asked how the staff keeps their senses of humor at work and I didn’t really have an answer except we all like to joke around.  The follow up question was were you like that before you started working here?  I would answer, partially… A lot of people who use our services are pretty funny and quick witted.  I think that’s contagious.   We do our best to keep it going.
  • We are planning to leave Friday for the lake.  The weather is supposed to be cool which I will take.  A good fire in the firepit is the great equalizer.  We plan to do some more painting with our low V.O.C. paint that really isn’t that low in V.O.C. department (so much for honest marketing and labeling).  I also bought an old cupboard thing for the cabin this week.  It is real wood but has a 70s finish on it and it is the perfect size for a microwave stand and kitchen storage underneath.  The wood isn’t that nice to strip down and refinish so we are going to paint it a cool color.  When I say we, I actually mean I will be doing that.  Wendy does better painting walls.  As you can see, we have two walls done in the main room but we need to finish up and I need to sand down and fix up the holes in the door.  After that we tackle the bedroom, hang some blinds, and then call it a summer.
  • Speaking of Wendy, apparently she returned to work this week.  I have been sleeping or working when she is at home so for right now it is just a rumor but she seems to be out of the house a lot if she isn’t.  It does mean that Mark and I have to take care of Oliver.  The secret is to feed and change him and then put him by my feet until the dog walks by and Oliver thinks that the dog wandering through the living room is a game of peek-a-boo.  Parenting is easy.

Contextless Thoughts

  • Well I am in the middle of working 24 of 30 hours at the Centre.  If all works well I will be out of here around 2:00 p.m. tomorrow and off for some sleep.   I did manage to get 30 minutes of sleep today.  I am usually okay as long as I can get home for a shower and a change of clothes after the graveyard shift.
  • If I survive today, I am off to the cabin at noon on Friday.  We are going to do some more painting and replace a 3/4 bed with a single daybed.   If I get around to it, I will install some outdoor lighting and get an outdoor clothes dryer installed.  Of course the important tasks involve walking the dog and playing basketball with Mark.
  • Mark has a bunch of chocolate bars and chocolate covered almonds he needs to sell for his karate club.  If he sells enough, it pays for a couple of tournaments and I think he gets to learn the Vulcan death grip.  If you are local and want some, email me at   They are $3 a piece.  Normally I would be good for a lot of chocolate covered almonds but I am allergic to almonds.
  • I know this will offend many European politicians but I can’t get that upset over Canada’s annual seal hunt.
  • I know this will offend the entire city of Hamilton but I can’t get that excited over Jim Balsillie.  If he can’t figure it out by now that he can’t bully the NHL, his quest is hopeless.  Of course the Coyotes leaving Phoenix would be good for the league.
  • Normally the Salvation Army posts all of their videos to YouTube but One Day of Hope is found on the front page of the Salvation Army‘s site and is worth the 5 minutes it takes to watch it.  It is quite good and despite being shot with different cameras (I assume), it keeps the same look and feel.  Oddly enough there is a guy in there that looks an awfully lot like me and I am not the only one that sees it.  Apparently I have a long lost twin who works at the Salvation Army in Calgary.  Bizarre.

Back from the dead

This morning my boss one-upped my story about Maggi.  A relative’s dog ran out onto a highway in Newfoundland and was hit by both a car and a dog and was killed by the double blow.  He picked his dog up and put him in the back of the truck to be buried later.  His daughter was understandably devastated.  While driving home, he looked in the rear view window and what did he see but his “dead” dog standing up and wagging away.  The dog must have been knocked cold but it survived the collision and was fine except for one thing.  It’s tail no longer wagged from side to side but rather wagged in a circle.  That dog is even tougher than Maggi.

Contextless Thoughts

  • The good news is that I no longer have Type II Diabetes.  The bad news… it’s now Type I.   The hope is that is that this is a temporary thing and it is connected to me burning the candle at both ends.  Now where did I put that syringe…
  • My recent blog post on underage prostitution was based on an internal rant/memo that I wrote.   Like some of you I sometimes write things out as a process of working through the issue and the solutions.  One of the things about working at a place like the Centre is that I work with like minded people.  After several hours of ranting, thinking, phoning around, and sending e-mails, we made some progress on what needed to be done and how we can be a part of the matrix of other agencies working on the same issue.  Helping curb prostitution is already part of what we do at the Centre, hopefully we can help curb it in some other ways as well.
  • For those of you who have made fun of my Saskatchewan Roughrider Barbecue Cover at the lake, check out this house that pays homage to the Edmonton Eskimos.  Now that’s a diehard fan.
  • If Calgary wins today, they win the series in five games.  If they lose, Chicago wins in six games.
  • It doesn’t matter to me but Edmonton should not have fired Craig MacTavish, they should have fired the management that put together a team that just wasn’t very tough and who did nothing about it.  The reason they went to the Stanley Cup finals was Chris Pronger, Mike Peca, and Jason Smyth.  Do they have anyone that resembles those players today?  If you say Dustin Penner, pick up your Kevin Lowe autographed photo at the door.
  • When I saw all of the tributes to John Madden, I was afraid he had died.  I am sad that he is retiring from broadcasting but he seems to be doing it for all of the right reasons… more time with the grandkids, preparation for his 50th wedding anniversary.  I wish him all the best in retirement.  If you have never seen it, this video documenting John Madden’s career and drive across the country to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is simply amazing.  Not only did I enjoy it but so did Wendy and Mark. 

Contextless Thoughts

  • I was listening to John Madden say that someone was “super, super, super” at something during the Super Bowl.  That’s why he is such a big star.  I would have just said that he was “super” or maybe “Super duper”.  When will I learn?
  • The Super Bowl was exciting but I was shocked at the ending of it.  The Steelers deserved to win but the Cardinals deserved to have a game that was better officiated.  I know there are not a lot of diehard Arizona Cardinals fans out there (even in Phoenix) but I implore you, don’t let this game make you into bitter and hateful Seattle Seahawks fans. Concentrate on the good things.
  • Wendy is making homemade pizza’s lately that are better than the pizza we can get from takeout.  She is almost making cheese bread that is incredible too.  So incredible (or should I say, “super, super, super) that it has been ruining Mark’s and mine appetite before we get a chance to eat the wonderful pizza.  I keep pestering her to put her pizza recipe online but she is still “perfecting it”.
  • We had the Reimer’s and Kristi over for the game.  It was good up until Santonio Holmes ruined it for all of us other than Wendy.  Wendy and Barack Obama were the only ones out of the Rooney family cheering for the Steelers.
  • It is just me or do the Republicans look really, really hypocritical attacking Barack Obama running massive deficits when they themselves ran massive deficits under George W. Bush?  If I was them, I would cede the stimulus package to the President and fight another battle another day and not care what Rush Limbaugh thinks.  Rush by the way sounds hypocritical himself by justifying the Bush deficit while lamenting the Obama one.
  • Mark has challenged my brother Lee and I to several snowball fights.  In each the result is the same.  We pick him up and heave him into a big snowbank while he giggles himself until he is incapacitated.  After having this done to him several times by myself he finally goes, “I need a better strategist”. 
  • While driving home down a side street the other day, I managed to break my car’s exhaust system.  $517 later, it is running better.  The city isn’t even making an effort down most residential streets anymore unless you live on a bus route.  This kind of makes sense except when you think that most of us have to drive down a residential street to get to our homes and then drive down one again to get to work, go to the mall, or really generate any kind of economic activity.  The best part of it is that if I don’t shovel the walk in front of my house (which is also city property, I can be fined).   The good news is that I found a reliable mechanic I can trust after Diamond Auto Service closed down (they got bought out).  We are using Shirley’s on 19th Street which works well as it is just a block away from work.
  • Has any movie ever aged as poorly as Top Gun?
  • I lost a lot of respect for NDP leader Jack Layton over the recent election.  He decision to vote against a budget that he had never seen told me he valued politics over the economic crisis that the country is in.  Considering the budget was very similar to ones that the coalition would have brought down if they had power, it was disheartening to see him act in such a partisan way.
  • The recession is now affecting me personally.  My beloved Golden Dragon Restaurant is closed down.  There was nothing better than their Deluxe Won Ton Soup while at work.  I used to be able to phone over and then walk across the street to pick up my order.  There isn’t a soup in the city that was better.
  • I remember listening to some leadership guru talking about the importance of only spending your time on “visionary ideas”.  Today I spent time thinking about what kind of industrial toilet paper holders to install.  I wonder if that qualifies as “visionary”?

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for Men | 2008 Edition

One of the secrets of the house is that I do all of the Christmas shopping.  Wendy sees it as a task to endure, I see it as a work of art.  We know who gets the better Christmas gifts around here.  At the same time I keep hearing for people that they don’t know what to get for their husbands, sons, and fathers.  I have been giving out tips lately and I thought that I would post them here.  As you will see, some are more serious than others.

In case you are wondering, Wendy and I have spend under $100 on each of us at Christmas.  We have a pretty simple Christmas but I enjoy looking for the perfect gift.  A decade ago Gloria told me that if she likes the gift she is giving and if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for the person she is giving it too.  Wendy and I think the same way.

  1. Ohio Fine Fountain Pen | Give a nice pen this Christmas.  Those 25 packs of pens for $2 are fine if you are a homeless shelter and everyone takes yours but eventually you or someone you love is going to want to write a memo, a letter, or need to fill out a bunch of pointless paper work for a certain government department that you may have to deal with.  For that, you need a good pen for a reasonable price.  This is a fine fountain pen and you can get it for only $20.  Make sure you order some refills as well.
  2. What’s the point of having a kick butt library if those ingrates that call you a friend come over and take a book home every time they visit.  Since tasers are still illegal for personal use in Canada, why not pick up a personal library set instead ($19.95).  Of course you can’t buy them integrity but you will be able to get your books back.  In case the person you are you buying for is vain, you can get them a year long ($10) or a life time ($25) subscription to LibraryThing as well.  They may be vain but they are in good company.
  3. Leica M8 | Is there a better gift for a loved one that a Leica camera?  At only $5995.00, you can get one for your favorite blogger as well.  I know almost $6000 seems a little pricey for a camera but look at the camera you are giving out and just think of how much better the photos will be that they will be posting to Flickr.  Of course you can’t help them if they take photos of their thumbs and feet all of the time but at least they will be clear photos of their thumb and feet.
  4. Movie Pix HD ($100) | I bought one of these this fall for $100 at Wal-Mart and it has been a great little camera that one can carry everywhere.  It shoots in 16:9 and with a 2 gb memory card, you never have to worry about running out of space. (I review it here).  The one thing that you will want to pick up for it is some extra batteries.  We have some nickel cadmium batteries but for the holidays, we also picked up 40 Maxell alkaline batteries to make sure we had some batteries ready to go if needed.  If you have kids this is the way to go.  Within minutes of shooting, these videos can be uploaded to YouTube which go a long way in making his mother-in-law forget what a schlep her daughter married.  While you are at it, pick up a video editing suite that is better than Microsoft Movie Maker.  Check out Movie Magix ($45) (download free trial here) for an affordable but functional movie editing software for Windows.  If he has a Mac, he has iMovie and he is taking care of.
  5. McFarlane Toys ($15) | As boys we loved our Star Wars and GI Joe action figures.  Our tastes have matured a bit but so have our action figures.  Now McFarlane Toys is making Derek Jeter, John Elway, or LeBron James action figures but in a way where they look cool sitting on our desk.  When I mention this to women they look at me like I am idiot but at the same time their husbands come into my office every day to talk sports and check them out.  I got some of mine at Wal-Mart for $5.  Just make sure you don’t get the Grant Fuhr in a Calgary Flames uniform or something stupid that could get him beat up by Calgary and Edmonton fans.
  6. America at War Megaset ($60) | 25 DVDs of American history by the History Channel.  This is a great gift for the history buff that gets on your nerves.  Not only do you make him happy but he won’t leave his den until September 2009.  You can thank me later as you will have all sorts of time.
  7. Neumann Gloves ($35)| If he played football in high school, he had a pair of Neumann gloves and I bet he misses them.  When wet, they actually get tacky which is helpful should a random stranger fire a football at him while it is raining.  The leather palms almost make for a durable glove which are good for playing slo-pitch or mountain biking.  It is also guaranteed to get the ball tossed to him during touch football games even if he does move slower than Shaquille O’Neal playing defense.  If he lives in Canada or is just a CFL fan, get him the winter receiver gloves.
  8. Interactive R2D2 Astromech Droid ($104) | There is nothing more irritating to be driving along and find out that your rear shields have been shot off.  While you are concentrating on shooting the ears off a Gundark or sending a protron torpedo down an exhaust chute, R2 can take care of your car or X-Wing fighter.
  9. Personal Sountrack Shirt ($39.95) | If you are like me, you dream of a personal mariachi band to follow you to play a soundtrack for your life.  Well it’s time to give the band some pink slips and replace them with a shirt that can play MP3s, sound effects, and look good doing it.  It even has a remote.
  10. Find me the Matrix ($19.95) | If you are shopping for a guy or girl who is always wondering where the nearest wifi connection is, this shirt lights up when you are near one.  The brighter your shirt, the better the connection.
  11. Sony PSP 2000 ($169) | I know it’s been out for a couple of years but after having one for a year I can’t recommend it enough.  Games like SOCOM kill time during a rainy day at the lake and at the same time keep Mark quiet on the drive up in the back seat.  I have a 2 gig memory stick that I load up with YouTube videos and documentaries from Google Video.  Spluge a bit and get the 8 gig card and you have a great travelling machine.  For another $20 you can get the headphone and mic which combined with Skype make for a really cheap long distance option for the road warrior.
  12. University of Saskatchewan basketball tickets ($8) | This is pretty localized but if you are in Saskatoon and you haven’t been to a Huskies basketball game, you are missing out.  The PAC is a great place to watch a game and the Huskies play an entertaining style of basketball.  Courtside tickets are only $15 and you have your own waiter/waitress.
  13. “ Roughriders Drive” Sign ($20) | This metal sign will be perfect for your cabin or den and if you aren’t a Roughrider fan, you can a variation of the classic street sign with your own teams name on it.  Of course all of you are Rider fans so this won’t be an issue.
  14. Noise Cancelling Headphones ($35) | If your loved on travels a lot and doesn’t have a pair, this should be at the top of your list.  Until you have flown with a pair of these on, you have no idea how much easier they make flying.
  15. Bellagio Classico 2 Vintage Series Men’s Mechanical Skeleton Watch ($200) | There is nothing like opening a great looking watch on Christmas day and this is one great looking watch.  I am not sure if you have to pay $200 for a watch, I am wearing a good looking Timex that I bought for $10 that generates a lot of compliments.  Another watch I have was purchased for less than $30 that has provoked even a decade later that it is the nicest watch people have seen.  I just linked to this one because it looked cool and  I hope it is some inspiration.
  16. Swiss Army Knife | It’s the knife that MacGuyver used.  Do I need to say anything more?

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

The season we call Christmas

I have been in Christmas mode for a while.  At work we tend to start it on the day that the Christmas Kettles go out as we start accepting Christmas Hamper applications around the same day.  Wendy was in decorating the Residential Unit at the Centre (we decorate a couple of days later than everyone else because I think the second week in November is too early).  Once the Christmas season starts, it is full speed ahead until the 25th.

Today I got a Christmas wish answered in that a youth I have been working really closely with and his mom found an apartment and are moving in.  A considerable amount of time and resources have been spent keeping them from having to live on the streets and finding safe, affordable, and stable housing.  I have tracked down some nice furniture, household goods, and food for them.  Now all I have to do is move them over there which isn’t going to be a problem.  It takes a lot of emotional stress off of me.  I told Wendy that I wasn’t going to allow them to be in a shelter or on the street for Christmas and we had even talked of letting them stay at our place but in the end it worked out better for them and through the decency of a landlord, they found a good place to stay.

Tonight we feed 1000 people in one massive sitting as our annual Christmas dinner for the community.  We went through 1000 free tickets in no time this year and it will be interesting to see how many people are there.  I am taking some photos and providing security if anyone is too heavily intoxicated.  After that I am breaking out of there to pick up Christmas kettles with Mark.

Tomorrow is the annual Santa Shuffle.  I am coming in early to help with that and will be taking some photos and video as well.  I was asked by one Salvation Army officer if I was running in it and I joked, “Major Len, does it look like I run in a lot of Santa Shuffles?!” 

After I shuffle around the Centre in the morning, I am going to head over to the Reimer’s for our Christmas meal together.  Mark’s first words were said while over at the Reimer’s at Christmas.  He didn’t say “Mom” or “Dad” but rather his first word was “Tamara” yelled through a roll of wrapping paper.  I doubt Ollie will be saying much but you never know what will happen once the rolls of wrapping paper come out.

Sunday night, Wendy and I are taking over coffee house at the Centre.  We are bringing in a decent CD player and belting out the Christmas music.  Some Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra.  No Bony M but there is always next year.

Next Friday night is going to be the staff Christmas party.  We are going bowling this year and somehow I was talked into not only bowling ten pin (which I have never done) but also joining a bowling team with some co-workers in the New Year.  I am not sure how either one of those things happened but they did.  Mark is really looking forward to it.  As he said, “it’s almost as good as Christmas Day!”

Next Saturday is Wendy’s birthday.  I think we are planning to stay in and just enjoy the quiet evening.

On the 17th of December is a major funding announcement for the money we are getting for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy to purchase a women and family shelter in the city.  This date is just penciled in as it has changed 10 times already.  Apparently the Government of Canada has some sort of parliamentary crisis going on.

On the 22nd is Christmas hamper handout day which means that a couple thousand Christmas hampers get handed out to the people of Saskatoon.  This is an really nice day.  Last year I was asked to drive people home as it is too much food to take home on the bus or by walking.  It was insanely cold but people were crying as I was bringing in the boxes to their homes.  I heard some heartbreaking stories and heartwarming thanks that day.  Wendy is coming down this year to volunteer and so do a bunch of staff which makes it a fun day as well.

By that time one would think it was over but after the 22nd, about 100 people call in because they didn’t realize that Christmas was the 25th (that is what they say to us) and need hampers.  We plan for that and give them out.  For the 23rd and part of the 24th, I carry a lot of turkeys and hams to the front of the building.

The morning of the 24th, I am planning our coffee time.  I would normally get Starbucks coffee for this type of situation but everyone at work prefers (no demands) that we get Tim Horton’s coffee.  Even I am starting to prefer Tim Horton’s some days.  The plan is that we will all just relax and unwind and already we are looking forward to it.

The night of the 24th, Lee is coming over and we are having our Christmas that night.  It will be the first time we have ever had Christmas on the 24th.  The Cooper side of the family has historically done it that way but we always waited until Christmas morning.  The reason we are opening is that I am working from 8-4 on the 25th at the Centre. 

I generally only work the desk is someone is sick but the regular day person wanted the day off and so I agreed to work it.  There is non-stop food, movies, and some nice presents for the guys.  Mark is looking forward to working as well and since we are not open to the public, I agreed he could come in for a while.  Since I am only working until 4:00 p.m., we are having some friends over and chilling out that evening.  The next week is what I am looking forward to.  I am on vacation until the new year and you can’t believe how nice that sounds.

I hope your Christmas season is a good one as well.

Saturday night thoughts

Some of you have noticed that I am using to collect and automatically post the contextless links around here.  There have been those that don’t like it and those that enjoy the extra tagging options that it gives you as a reader to discover other cool stuff.  You can let me know what you think in the comments.

Personally I don’t actually enjoy doing it, I prefer to collect and post the links as I find them during the day but I no longer have the time to do this any longer.  Especially over the last week.  In the last seven days I have had two different variations of the stomach flu and had to sleep through my one day off because of a high fever and I was just sick.  That had the secondary effect of really messing up the diabetes medication which means higher blood sugar levels which means I am absolutely drained.  By the time I get home, eat, spend time with Mark and Oliver, I am ready to go to bed.  I hoping I feel better next week and my energy comes back.  The plan is do a lot more walking next week which often regulates my body and gives me more energy.

Work has been okay.  We just wrapped a week of being audited which was a surprisingly positive experience.  I walked away with the knowledge that my department is pretty tight and I got some good tips from the auditors of stuff that is being done at other Centre’s that will actually make life easier for us.  We had a couple of discussions that could be summed up as a “philosophy of accounting” which helped me understand the kinds of checks and balances that I will need in any organization.  One of them even helped us decide what kind of television to buy for the guys.  The bad part of the week was that because they were there, I needed to be there in case they had questions.  I made it through the week but just barely.

On top of surviving the auditors, I have been helping a family stay off the street.  I don’t think one realizes how hard it is for people when they have no home, to even find an apartment, pay a $25 fee just to see the apartment (yes I know that is designed to discourage those on social assistance to move in), convince landlords who are biased towards certain socio-economic classes to rent to them, and then make it livable.  The good news is that we do have a partial solution to this problem that should be a reality in early 2009.

On a positive not, we did manage to do some Christmas shopping.  The advantage of living in Canada is that we don’t have any Black Friday type events so it is relatively quiet.   We are done shopping for Mark and Oliver and I am pretty much done shopping for Wendy.  Since I coordinate all of the Christmas shopping, Wendy just has to shop for me but really struggles with it.  She is in denial over it but I will get a copy of Larry Lessig’s book that I don’t think I want and a book on the emerging church that I won’t read (she just read this sentence and just grunted in reply).  I have been trying to explain that good gifts don’t require money, they require insight and thought.  We’ll see how she does.