Sunday, July 31, 2011

in with the old

Well, I’ve been playing with my new Dunlop Maxply McEnroe tennis racquets now for three years.

So, for a hoot, I decided to play with my old Dunlop Max 200G, the racquet I used from about 1980 up until three years ago when I switched to the Maxply.

Yesterday I hit with the 200G again and hell, it felt good.

Strange thing though. My forehand had less power to it than the Maxply gives me, but the backhand I found was comparable in power but with way more control. My serves and overheads likewise suffered in power but otherwise I had no difficulty whatsoever.

You see, the Maxply is stiffer than the 200G and with a larger head which theoretically produces more power. And it does, for every stroke for me, except the backhand. Strange, but then again, strange is the normal for me.

So today I’m going to use my 200G during my doubles match and see how I do with it. Another factor with the stiffer Maxply is the fact that my wrist, which I hurt about six weeks ago, is still not completely healed. The 200G, being more flexible and slightly heavier, transfers less shock to my arm during strokes and so is better for now while my wrist recovers.

And since all those not interested in tennis have now fled, I’ll change the subject to - auctions.

I took a huge load out to an auction barn to be sold off yesterday and the house feels just a little bit less crowed with this “stuff” gone.

Funny how much stuff a house can hold. And no, my garage still fits a car and has not turned into a suburban storage unit. I collect a lot of stuff, but not that much.

I’m actually thinking of posting twice a week here instead of just once as well. Now, don’t get too excited about that news. The second post with only be a backlog of book reviews I’ve written the past few years which used to reside on Reader’s Den which is now long defunct.

On the home front our front steps are now installed and solid as a rock. Funny how we lived with that crumbling, teetering deathtrap of a step system we had before.

Well, seems like the day is already slipping away, so I best get at some necessary tasks before I hit the courts and then head off to game day where I’m running a casual D&D campaign to save the world from, what else, evil.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 24, 2011

solitary refinement

I’ve had the entire week to myself, to reflect, stir the muse, and BBQ hot Italian sausages.

You see, my wife and daughter went of with my sister-in-law and her kids to a cottage for a week’s vacation.

It’s been a while since it was just me and the four walls.

The walls haven’t changed much.

Being the planner that I am, I’ve had a long while to sit back and decide what I want to get done before old age claims me.

And by old age, I mean sitting infirm in a chair mostly blind and deaf wearing Depends and drooling on myself. Not a pretty picture, but pretty close to the inevitable reality unless I just up and expire from heart failure or cancer. Both of which I’m trying to avoid by exercising and eating good things as much as possible.

So, what has this week of solitary confinement done for me?

Well, for one I finished watching Heroes. I saw many flaws in the show’s logic, but overall I was okay with it. It didn’t speak to me on too many levels and the fourth season, which I was really hoping was going to rock my socks, only managed to create a slight static cling effect. In other words - Meh.

I think it was because Hiro had a relatively small part in the fourth season and he was my favourite character as I’m sure he was with many other fans. But getting time travel stories to work out awesomely is a tough task at best.

I also managed to go to an auction and gather more goods for my wife. She teaches and needs baubles to hand out to kids for appropriate classroom behaviour. I managed to scoop a huge box of colourful butterfly erasers. Huge being around five hundred or so - no I am not going to count them.

Also had my good friends over during the hottest day of the week to play Arkham Horror. And we were up against Cthulhu himself - but we smoked him by closing all the gates before he could come pay us an unpleasant visit.

I’ve played tennis five times during this week as well. And it’s really taking a toll on my aging body. I have back aches, ankle aches and a pain in my neck muscles and my wrist is hurting me again just when I thought it might be getting better. This getting close to 50 thing is really starting to bother me. Still, others at the tennis club are 70 plus and they are still playing so I should not grumble about my ailments too much.

Our steps were professionally replaced this week too, so nobody needs to break a bone falling down them now. Or if they do break a bone falling down them it’s going to be their own fault and not the fault of the steps.

Can you see I’ve been avoiding telling you what I’ve managed to come up with during my down time?

And no, it’s not finding a job. That chapter is closed.

What I've realized, and not for the first time, is that it’s all about doing what you like every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I know, not exactly earth-shattering and not exactly anything I haven’t figured out before. But it really is the key to staying mentally and physically alive.

The strange thing about this not-new revelation? Actually making yourself do it. Really enjoying the moments that make up the activities and celebrating those times as they happen takes planning and energy. So, I'm getting my sleep and making my plans.

You only get one life and I find a lot of people like to live either in the past, or harp on the injustices of the present, or cling to their belief that the future will be so much better. I don't want to be one of those people.

Bottom line for me?

Enjoy the moment. Do what I like to do. Have compassion. Love my family.

I know what you are thinking with one finger down your throat - dear god, don’t ever let him be alone for another whole week!

Don’t worry, my family returns from vacation today so next week you will be spared my too-much-time-alone ravings.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2011

snake oil salespeople

Buyer beware . . . etcetera . . .

This blog may contain some words of wisdom, a dollop of griping and explain the alarming stain on my driveway.

Just so you know.

Don’t you just hate dishonest people? You know the ones - the ones that would sell you their grandmother for a fast buck, tell you a whole load of made-up-shit and grin the whole time while they hope you will eat it up.

I hate those kind of people with a burning passion.

This past week had me caught in a web of snake oil salespeople, but it ends well, so bear with me.

Our van needed an oil change and we brought it to the place we bought it because they gave us a coupon to have it done for free the first time.

Hey, free is good . . . right?

Um, that all depends. You see we took the van in, waited an entire hour even after having an appointment. C’mon guys, I was thinking, a frik’n hour? I could do this job in my driveway in ten minutes if I had the tools!

Anyhow, it was done, I brought said van home, and thought all was good to go.

Until the evening of the trip when I moved the van to install the third row of seats.

What did I find on my driveway? An oil patch. WTF!

Being mechanically inclined (I do have a degree in Mechanical Engineering after all) I slithered under the van to have a look. Sure enough oil was dripping, slowly, from the oil pan plug. The van was scheduled to make a long trip beginning at dawn the next day.

I may have mumbled a few choice words under my breath so as not to alarm my family unduly.

I’m not sure I fooled them though. Seems the Dealership either didn’t tighten the plug, or stripped the threads on it. Either way, this was not a good situation.

I angrily took up the no charge bill and gave it a read. Bad move as this only stoked the fires of rage within. The written up part of the bill said our intake gaskets and intake plenum gaskets needed to be replaced as they were leaking - and the throttle body needed cleaning. WTF!

I decided then and there that this Dealership’s service department sucked, was dishonest, and I wouldn’t be bringing it back to them even for a mountain of free service coupons.

The good news - we took it to our local highly-recommended in-town mechanic and he fit us in as soon as he opened in the morning. He took my wife under the van on the hoist, showed her the loose oil plug which he then proceeded to tighten. Problem solved.

The mechanic also read the report on the no charge bill and popped the hood to inspect the engine for the indicated problems. After about ten minutes of doing mechanic type things, he pulled his head out from under the hood and said nothing at all looks amiss to him and the gaskets are definitely not leaking.

Sum total of this local mechanic’s time and efforts - he said don’t worry about it. No charge.

Chalk one up for the good guys. Seems the snake oil salespeople at the Dealership were looking to suck us in to a costly, and unnecessary, repair. All they did was ensure that we would never again use them for anything related to vehicle service.

End of tale. See, only a wee bit of griping, and a much better outlook for vehicle service in the future with our local, honest mechanic.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

retired stay at home dad

Well, I may as well admit it - I’m a stay at home dad, and I’m retired.

When I first left GM there was ample talk, rumours, and desperate hopes, on the part of many people we know, that I would spring right back into the work force and do my part as a middle-aged male to keep the economy rolling and join the heart attack statistics like a good tax-paying citizen.

Sorry to disappoint, but I tend to follow my own lead and not what society dictates for me.

You see, I view success as not how big your bank account is, or how much crap you can accumulate, but on how your offspring turn out. Being a parent is a full-time job.

As my daughter grows older it seems she needs a parent at home just as much as when she was a wee one. Kids need love attention and guidance, not more electronic gadgets. They need your presence, not your presents.

My staying at home, and being retired (which is a joke since I do a ton of work around here) is only a roll reversal between my wife and myself. Funny though how so many people still have their heads stuck in dark places and can’t understand why anybody of my age, especially a man, would not want to be out there earning dollars.

I find this general attitude sad. And as I see it the result of this “money is the only thing” society leaves a lot of kids babysat by their Wii’s and X-Boxes and Ipads with both parents too tired at the end of their oh-so-important money-making workday to spend any useful time with their kids.

Then, to make matters worse, because the double income parents have lots of cash to burn from their all important careers they compensate their kids for not being around with copious undeserved gifts turning them into spoiled gotta-have brats.

Sadder and sadder.

But hey, to each his own. And with our society set up for double incomes (look at the cost of everything) it’s virtually impossible for a modest one-person-working family to get by on. Gone forever are the days when one parent could work and one could stay home and bring up the kids.

Well, enough of me sitting on the soapbox and griping about how things are - it’s time to spend some more time with my child.

Until next Sunday . . .

Sunday, July 03, 2011

back on the band wagon

Remember I was going on about Guitar Hero a while ago . . . well I’m still playing the games, just not going on so much about them until now, again.

And to that end I’m picking up the new versions of the drums, microphone, another guitar plus the Beatles game and Band Hero itself - all for way less than half the original price.

I love pre-owned stuff that people sell at super-discounted price.

Retail is for those with all kinds of money to burn. My money can only handle the occasional singe, so I need to watch it pretty closely.

On the tennis front it would appear my wrist issue is pretty much sorted out. It only irritates me now instead of causing pain. The week off from hitting the fuzzy yellow balls did indeed help. Like I posted before though, middle age is the suck!

This past long weekend, which I guess is still ongoing, I was/am very busy. I officially got a year older, fixed my old BBQ, played tennis three times, watched the local fireworks with my family, and ate a huge cherry Sunday from DQ.

Don’t you just wish your life was filled with such excitement?

Um . . . yeah.

I make it sound dull when in fact is was pretty darn fun. Couple that with the fact that today I’ll be playing tennis again and later on picking up all that Band Hero stuff and it’s all good. Tonight I’ll be rocking the drums to Rebel Yell . . . or Yellow Submarine.

And speaking of rocking, boy do I like Delirium. It’s just the type of music that speaks to me like Alan Parsons does.

Well, I have to get ready to hit the courts again soon so I’ll leave off.

Happy Canada Day long weekend for us Canadians, and Happy Independence Day long weekend for those of you in the USA.

Until next Sunday . . .