Sunday, February 14, 2016


This is one of those beautiful winter days we like to brag about – clear blue sky, fresh snow on the ground, idyllic. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves as we try to justify living in a place where you can freeze your ass off for six months of the year.

Yup, idyllic. Until you check the temperature.


For any of you who are metrically challenged, that’s –20F, or –35F with the wind chill. Good news is, tomorrow is supposed to be warmer.

Makes you want to hunker down in front of the fire with a good book and the tipple of your choice to wait it out. But the wood box is empty as are the bird feeders. The wind has blown drifts across the driveway that must be cleared. And it’s Sunday which means a dump run to clear the trash and recycle bins – both of which are overflowing because yesterday, when it was even colder, I spent the day purging some of the unneeded and unused stuff I had collected over the years. I mean, who really needs motorcycle magazines going back to 2006, 6 different large print phone books which contain no one’s number any more ‘cause everyone has a cell, and South Carolina golf brochures from 5 years ago? And that was just from the bottom couple of shelves in my office.

Now it seems like I'm rambling just to avoid the inevitable.

Time to bundle up.

Stay warm everyone and remember, this too will end. Eventually.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Call it woolgathering, lollygagging, or just plain daydreaming, it’s something we don’t do often enough. Hardly surprising when we think back on the number of times we got our knuckles rapped in grade school for sitting and staring out the window on a nice spring day. Or the times the boss found us seemingly mesmerized by the blank wall in front of our desk and asked if we didn’t have anything better to do. We have been trained to think of it as wasted time, non-productive time.

And in today’s fast-paced world  we need no knuckle rap or scowling boss – an external enviroment populated with smart phones, email, tablets, iPods, a perpetually-on television and/or radio ensures we rarely have any quiet time, time to sit back and think. It’s go, go, go all the time.

But the fact is this little guy has it right. It’s good for us to spend time with our heads above the clouds. Improved productivity, better overall health, enhanced memory, improved relationships, more creativity are but a few of the documented benefits that can arise from daydreaming. 

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to ‘the nothing box’. Mark Gungor is a marriage expert who has a hilarious take on men’s brains versus women’s brains, one of the basic tenets being that men’s brains contain a ‘nothing box’ where men’s thoughts typically go when fishing, for example. And while he plays on crass stereotypes and broad generalizations there is, in spite of what we’d like to think in a politically correct world, a nugget of truth in what he says. (Check it out here:

But my take is slightly different. I don’t see it so much as an empty box, but more of an incubator of ideas, sort of a box containing a primordial ooze where random thoughts bubble to the surface. Most will burst and disappear into the ether without leaving an impression, but every so often one of those bubbles will contain a gem, a prize to be captured, cherished, and placed in its own box for a more detailed exploration at some later time. Would that same idea have surfaced while you were listening to AC-DC’s Thunderstruck? Or while watching episode 485 of CSI Miami? Probably not.

So go forth and gather wool – it’s good for you. And the next time you’re standing in the shower thinking about nothing in particular except perhaps that irritating ear worm you heard on the radio at breakfast and you get a sudden brainwave for a new project, a brilliant insight into the human condition, or finally recall what other roles that actor in last night’s movie played, just remember it’s all because you were spending some time in your nothing box.

(No sheep were harmed in the production of this post.)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The cat man

Last Thursday Dan Smith, a 65-year-old retiree using a cane and carrying a plastic bag containing his meds turned himself in to Gatineau police to begin serving an 11-day sentence for refusing to pay a fine for having an unlicensed cat.

It turns out our hero was separated from his wife and living in Ottawa, but he frequently visits her in her home across the river in Gatineau. That’s where he got nabbed.

One day Dan answers the door and there’s a bylaw officer there who claims he has an unlicensed cat. “I don’t have a cat” he says, “There’s a stray that comes by periodically and we sometimes feed it. But it’s not our cat.”

“Too bad” says the officer. “You feed it, it’s your cat.” And Dan’s given 10 days to purchase a $30 tag for the cat. “Not my cat” he says and ignores the warning.

Ten days later the bylaw officer is back, with 2 police officers in tow, and issues a $100 ticket for not licencing the stray cat.

Dan says, “Not my cat; I’m not paying.” and goes to court to fight the ticket.

At court he presents ID that shows he lives at a different address. His ex-wife confirms that Dan doesn’t actually live at the house where the ticket was issued, and that it’s a feral cat that she occasionally feeds. Doesn’t matter, says the judge, and hands him a bill for $326 that covers the original fine plus court costs. Or jail time.

At this point our hero really digs in his heels and refuses to pay, so jail it is. His ex-wife doesn’t seem to mind the jail option. “Maybe I’ll have a rest for a few days” she says.

And that’s how Mr. Smith ended up surrendering to police last Thursday, which was when he got the first bit of good news - he was only going to have to serve 3 days instead of 11. He spent Thursday night in an overcrowded cell (3 inmates, 2 beds) where he was treated like “a rock star”, and then Friday got the second bit of good news – due to overcrowding at the jail he was being kicked out to make room for other scofflaws who were arriving to serve weekend sentences.

Apparently his ex-wife has since licensed the feral cat.

And that’s your tax dollars at work. Pathetic.