America: 30 seconds at a time

I’ve always been fascinated with people watching.  Seeing smiles on faces energizes me like sunlight energizes Superman. I especially like seeing different cultures and how the react tio the same things, and observing different towns and communities and noticing the subtle differences.

Sometimes it’s the little things, like the change of a font on the street signs, or how some cities handle their stop lights and advanced green signals that amuses me. Sometimes it’s more cultural.

I live in Ontario, where we’re known for bagging our milk, and thinking Toronto is the center of the universe. Apparently I also say “mouth” a funny way. A woman from Seattle once told me I was free to say mouth any time, as it brought her smiles.

One of the unique properties of a Southern Ontario upbringing in the 60’s and 70s was having a much wider TV selection than most places. In many US cities, they had ABC, CBS and NBC in the early days. Living where I did, with a metal antenna up the side of our home, we received those US staples, but also Canadian networks CBC and CTC from a few different cities. Later, we expanded to include Global and CITY TV. When I was 13 or 14, I actually had almost a full section of 13 channels. Most of North America had 5 or less.

In the days before Cable TV petitioned for the rights to replace US broadcasts with Canadian simulcasts, this meant I could watch the major US TV shows on Canadian channels or US channels and see the difference in culture through their commercials. It has always fascinated me. Local culture is always best displayed through commercials. I’ve been a fan of those differences.

Today, I don’t get as many opportunities to witness American commercials. Almost all the shows I can watch on cable are streamed with Canadian commercials, even on the American channels. It’s rare to get to see a show with the US feed, either from Buffalo, Chicago or some other US city.

Today, while watching a show called Rosewood, I happened to record a later version which airs after midnight on a Fox affiliate. Usually I record the 8pm version on a secondary CTV channel from Hamilton.  At first, I didn’t notice anything different, as I fast forwarded right to the start of the episode. During the running of the opening credits, I was surprised to see a “FOX PRESENTS” banner above the title. Interesting I thought, as we don’t see that version here, and it looked like it was a poorly added graphic overlay that was done later, but a different graphics team. Perhaps the Detroit Fox affiliate likes to self promote. I can’t knock them for that. Here in Canada, the competition between networks is getting fierce, and I’ve noticed we’re doing the same. Almost every show starts out with a banner from the parent company now. Sadly there are fewer, as almost all TV in Canada is presented by only three companies. Since many people also download, adding a branding to the credits makes sense.

Where I really noticed the change however, was at the very first commercial break. I paused to write this blog almost instantly. The very first commercial was amazing to me. It was for Lyrica. A medication so bold, it even has lie in it’s name.

Fibromyalgia. It’s one of those semi mysterious conditions that is often diagnosed to people who are sore or tired without obvious explanation. For this reason, it is somewhat controversial, and is often over diagnosed to people. I know almost nothing about it, so I am aware I may offend legitimate sufferers by saying it’s not always a real thing. I accept that judgement. I am a pain wimp, and I don’t want to belittle anyone’s else’s agony.

I did however, find the wording in the commercial almost comical. It’s obvious lawyers are terrified of the litigious American market, but still want to advertise. We have very different last in Canada, and have substantially less medication marketing allowed. I have no doubt if the laws were different, Canada would be flooded with similar ads, but for now, it remains a very America thing. Commercials in the USA are shockingly fear based.

After a few shots of very depressed looking worn down women discussing their loss of energy, they proclaim their doctor has prescribed this drug. These words follow above a “DRAMATIZATION” of a purple body figure with lots of interconnected lights flying slowly around a figure; “Fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of overactive nerves. Lyrica is believed to calm these nerves.  For some, Lyrica can significantly relieve Fibromyalgia pain.”

I found this statement to be very well crafted to indicate, for most, it will do nothing. They don’t actually say anything. The product is a theory, or at the least, something that only works sometimes because nobody is really certain what Fibromyalgia is. Following this, is the nearly 15 second list of side effects the drug may have. These include trouble breathing, rash, hives, blurry vision or suicidal thoughts or actions. The most common side effects however, seem to be the exact effects described 20 seconds previously as the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

They end the long list with; Don’t drink alcohol. and the text; Lyrica is not a narcotic or antidepressant. I especially love the words; Those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse Lyrica, meaning any problems resolution in addition are your fault, not theirs.

Drugs ads are hilarious to me, as a Canadian. Sometimes the listed side effects are longer then the promotional or beneficial descriptions. Drug companies just need enough time to tell you you’re probably sick and should ask your doctor about this drug. Then blah blah blah blah blah for the rest of the ad. I understand all these side effects are listed on the package or a sheet inside the bottles, even in Canada, and I understand it’s a law, and probably even a good idea to have them clear in a commercial, booth for health and legal reasons… but it’s still funny.

The commercial ends with the tag; See our ad in HEALTH, which I assume is a magazine.  The commercial ends with photos of the worn out ladies now enjoying a camping trip with her family, and the next commercial begins.

It’s an add for a credit card, aimed at terrifying you about scam artist contractors, and how their product tells the truth. 1% Cashback. It neglects to inform you of the interest rates. I was almost surprised it didn’t have a long disclaimer with it, or at least teeny unreadable text… but I guess banks have a better lobby group against being honest in ads about the downsides. It was only a 15 second spot anyway, leaving hardly enough time for a fast talking announcer to say something like; “credit card companies may cause financial grief, loss of relationships and/or everything you own. Do not use while intoxicated or after 4am. Side effects may include suicidal thoughts or actions”.

The following ads were more national, and similar to Canadian ads, although the Glad garbage bag ad was still quite fear based. It solved the problem of your mother smelling a stink when she comes to visit. You need Glad Garbage bags to eliminate that odour. Not having glad bags may result in suicidal thoughts or actions.

It didn’t say that in the ad, but like many US commercials, that side effects of suicidal thoughts or actions if you don’t buy their product, or elect their candidate or ask your doctor about their medicine is implied. Maybe the solution to America’s suicide violence problem is just getting the right garbage bags.

End of Part 1.


Police must be pissed at TV murder shows

One of my favourite genres of Television for the past few years, is the murder show. The hour long dramas that come on at 9 or 10pm and start with a discovery of the body scene.

I’ve blogged before about those scenes, and I still wonder if they are written and sold and directed separately from the main show. It seems like an ideal way for new directors to practice, but it especially seems to be an ideal scene to write and sell separately.

For over 10 years, I’ve watched almost every show where the police detective gets help from a skilled or talented civilian. None have had the same dead body reveal.

I am blogging today about how this particular formula is used by almost every cop/murder show on TV.

It may have started with Sherlock Holmes. He took the name Consulting Detective, as pretty much any of the list I’m about to share could.psych-300x194

I watched a show where a Grand Chess Champion who was afraid to leave his Hotel room, solved murders with an assistant and the police.

I am trying to remember them all.  I can’t.

Do you remember these?
The one with the handsome fake psychic
The one with the real psychic and the other one with a psychic
The Canadian one where the guy is an ambulance psychic
The one who told the police he was a psychic who worked with the police, but he was really just a Sherlock Holmes smart guy.
The one with the handsome art thief
The one with the Devil Himself
The one with the schizophrenic university professor that seems people
The one with the immortal that renews nude in the Hudson river
The one with the Grimm
The one with Houdini
The one with a Bionic man and woman
The one with a guy with a computer/Internet link in his head
The one with the Zombie
The one that takes a pill and becomes smart
The one who is a Faye
The one who is the coroner
The other one who is the Coroner
The other one where the Coroner is best friends with the Italian Detective
The one where a team and the machine save lives with a cop.
The one where his partner is an android, and the 70s one with an android
The one where he’s a pathologist
The one where he’s a taxi driver
The one where he’s solving murders while gamblers bet if he can
The one where she is best friends with a Vampire
The one that had identic Memory, although she becomes a cop
The one where he’s a magician
The one where he’s an author
The one where he’s a fat paranoid nerd that’s good with computers
The one where he’s a car, although not helping police directly

I know I am missing lots.  How many have you seen?
Add to the list if you liked a show where a non cop helped the cops with some talent or skill

​Mandatory Political Opinion Blog

It seems natural that everyone who blogs and perhaps, who breathes, should have some form of political opinion about the 2016 Election. People who have lived through more than one in their interest years has to agree this one is unlike anything we’ve experienced in the United States, and more than any other, It has drastically educated half the people. We’ve learned that the other half, are way more ignorant that we could have every known.
I have been heard speaking previously, that I had never actually met and respected, anyone who seriously utters the words; Jesus Christ in my Lord and Saviour. If I have, they have politely, and smartly, kept that a secret from me.

I’m not sure I’m ready to accept a friend that believes in magic, and by magic I refer to miracles and supernatural things in the Bible. If you believe the Bible is true in any way, or believe it is OK to hate because of the words in the Bible, then I don’t want to be your friend. I can’t respect that you would believe religion to be true.

I will respect you even less, if you attempt to engage with me any sort of justification. You either believe that your 2000 year old fairytale is somehow an accurate history of creation or you lie.

I can respect people who lie and belong to church. I understand it comes with a lot of benefits to belong to a church.

I believe the greatest invention of all time was Church.
The worst invention of all time was religion.

Society function better with a polite, respectful community for the whole family. When church is presented as a community gathering where people share stories and lessons it is great. It’s only when you teach to hate the church next door, and that your stories contain any more power than a comic book story or an episode of Star Trek.

Everything in our universe is just the story we’re told,
and the stories we tell. Reality is presented in story form.

If you tell an origin story of the universe, and want us to believe it is true, you have to prepared to convert, convince, bribe, or kill anyone with a different story. I’m fairly certain the Bible was a storybook. It would have been an epic movie, if they’d had the technology.

I heard a rumour somewhere that Bible actually translates to “Anthology”.

The political reality show of Trump vs Clinton in 2016 is a story. It’s a story everyone and everybody is talking about, and telling different versions. In some cases, hearing totally different versions of the same story. It is fascinating to watch, especially if you live in Canada and have slightly less fear of the very possible Trump win.

I have had a theory since the very start of all this. I believe that American politics is almost always a scripted story. The whole idea of a two part democracy is placebo. Democracy is a popularity content designed to keep a nation reasonably happy, and not revolt. It is designed specifically swap places every generation. Some times it flips in 4 years, and sometimes 8 and occasionally 12 or 16.

One side has a set of policies and believes and the other side takes opposition. By flipping sides every few decades, we manage to get everything done, and not upset anyone enough to revolt. The Democrats do stuff the Republicans hate, and the Republicans pass laws the Democrats wouldn’t. They can show opposition and claim they fought for it, but in the end, almost everything gets done.

Although it seems to have been worse for our first black President to get many of his initiatives passed, I believe at least in part, it’s because he was passing things Republicans actually agreed on, and preferred to take credit under their power on the next swap. Republicans were sore losers that the first black president was the one that finally brought in a workable healthcare system, after everyone else just promised it in their speeches, and failed.

I believe that Hillary really wants to be President. She wanted it before Obama. She wanted to be President so bad, and she lost out to a black man, in a country where a lot of people are still very prejudice. They elected a black man over a woman.

During that time, Hillary was a clear loser and began a reputation of negativity. From my perspective, it seemed not to be fairly deserved. There is an obvious double standard that woman are only respected if they seem “womanly” and those with confidence are deemed bitchy or unlikable. Hillary isn’t a TV celebrity beautiful person. She is a politician. A good one it seems.

I believe people in power told her she’s lost to Obama, and would probably not get a second chance. Not enough people liked her.

Imagine for a moment, a political strategist who knows she’s make a good president. Washington has pre determined that a Democrat can have a third term because The Republicans screwed up pretty bad previously. A plan it hatched.

“How can we assure a Hillary win? We need to put her up against a sure lose candidate.” is the question in the room.

“Ted Cruze. Perfect. He is the most unliked Candidate we have. HIllary will win against him.:

“I don’t know… he policies are in line with Conservatives, although a bit over the top, but people will vote the party line, even if they hate him”

“You’re right. We need to create a monster from outside the party that will be so bad, even our own party will vote for Hillary… or not at all. But who?”

“Mel Gibson?

“Donald Trump?”

Oh… that’s Goooood. I bet he’d do it too. He likes Hillary. They’re friends. IF we let him advertise his steaks and hotels, I bet he’d do it.

“The comedians will have a field day….”

Everything he’s done, only makes sense if he’s trying to lose votes… but the American people are shocking. They’ve secretly waiting for their first representative President. For their entire lives, they’ve never paid attention to politics. They’ve never voted.

Nobody realized how many stupid people exist in the USA. It’s staggering. People who just pick and choose what they want to believe, and stick with it, against any resistance.

“Donald Trump is my Lord and Saviour”

I am reminded of the film; Life of Brian, where a man is falsely accused of being a profit, or the Messiah, and there isn’t a darn thing he can do to disweigh his followers. Donald Trump has literally said he could shoot a gun down Wall Street and not hit any of his followers. I believe he could actually hit any of them, and not change minds.

The absurdity of the street interviews of proud followers who are admittedly clkuessless on a single fact, except the fact that they love Trump, and he’s right and you’re working. Hilary is a liar.

One of the most fascinating discoveries in this social experiment gone wrong, is that perception Trump’s reality and fact. This is a secret power I’d hoped to be the first one to reveal in my book one day, but the cat is out of the bag on that one. Trump has shown one half of the nation that the other half would rather listen to a story yelled from a celebrity they trust, and facts, and even when presented with proof, they still choose the story.

EVerything in our universe is the story we’re told.
and the stories we tell.

The fact is, stories have always trumped facts. The story is whet gets spread, and it becomes the truth, replacing whatever reality might be.

Just be sure your story isn’t contradicted. You don’t want to have to kill anyone for correcting you.

The simple fact is, a good story wins. I’m fair play certain George Washington never chopped down a Cherry tree and didn’t have wooden teeth, but there are millions of people that will go to their grave believing that, and it really doesn’t matter. The best story wins.

Trump has realized, whether on purpose or by accident, that you can even say people perceive this to be true, so the truth isn’t important. He’s used it is his campaign when talking about crime. People believe what he says, and even to the absurdity of getting his followers to hate Hillary for being a liar with 3 examples. Trump lies repeatedly about absolutely everything, but tells the stories in a way you want to believe.

The best story wins. You can’t sway his followers. In much the same way they may never have p[aged attention tio an election before, they don’t want to hear the fact checkers. They tune to Fox for the after debate praise.

I’m a little sad to see the hate slinging. It’s nearing danger. The purpose of the two parties is to get things done, but as we create more and more hate and social mistrust of the opposition, the closer we come to that history lesson we repeat. We could see war in the United States again.

We could see violence if God-like dictator Trump doesn’t win.

We may not believe the system, much like when the Bush people had to make up stories when the Democrats almost took that win. Whoops. Somebody went off script. We may never know which side was supposed to win.

We may never know this time. I believe in my heart the votes don’t really matter except to appose the public. It doesn’t seem logical every single election in the USA is 48% 52% or similar. Even with the structure of how voting works, it just doesn’t make sense.

I’d hate to see a close election this time around, but it’s certainly possible.

Christianity survives. People are not only content to remain ignorantm, they have pride in it. They wear their Jesus necklaces, and their Trump MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGIN hats, and even wave their Confederate flags.

It’s not me, it’s you.

I often wonder if they wouldn’t;’t be better as two countries… but they need each other.

Special needs.

Whatever the outcome, America will survive.
It’s the greatest show on earth.
I hope they paid Aaron Sorkin well. I’m fairly certain he wrote all of 2016

In North Korea, that statement would be illegal.

The scripted election of 2016

I’m a Canadian with a television, which means I have to pay attention to the politics of the USA. It’s always a crazy show, but the year of 2016 is the craziest in my lifetime, if not in history.  There are so many conspiracy theories floating around, mostly because the campaigns are so crazy, we really can’t believe it wasn’t planned… or even scripted.

As an outsider to the country, it’s been quite eye opening. Previous elections have shown me the way America is split. It’s scared me in the past how one side uses fear to scare people away from the other side. During the last election, and the one before that, and the 5 before that, I’ve been shocked at how the one side overplays how electing the other side will mean the end of times. As a Canadian, I’ve laughed at how Republicans use crazy words like Armageddon and End of Times when they talk about the Democrats winning. People claim they’ll move to Canada if their side loses.

In fact, much of American pride is based on two “chants they treat as facts. Americans are always claiming to be the greatest country on earth, and they’ll only stay the greatest if their side is in power.

I see this as a major problem in the USA, because one side is always going to win, and if they’ve scared you enough – you might become terrified… or worse… an activist to destroy the other side. The fears are usually crazy. I see more of it from the Republican side, scaring the shit out of their followers with devil commercials and abortion talk and all sorts of fear mongering… I could easily see a war start if they lose.

However this year in general, they have a clown running as leader, and he’s upped the anti on fear. He’s actually inditing riots and fear more than anyone previous. He has convinced everyone that his opposition is a crooked liar that will destroy the country, and people obviously believe it and bow to his greatness… but in reality, Donald Trump is a horrible candidate and people SHOULD be terrified of his power.

I’ve always thought that politics, particularly in the USA has been scripted, or at least plotted in advance. Elections are placebo processes to further the belief that America is a democracy, but in truth, it’s just a story. They have two sides, merely so we can always be unhappy about some decisions and happy about others, but in time- everything gets done. some by our side and some by their side. Every 4 or 8 years we flip sides.

Hillary Clinton wanted to be president… badly. The country didn’t want Hillary. In her first attempt, American elected a black man as the first President. An amazing feat for a country still very racist. Hillary came back in 2016 and the democrats gave her a second chance, but it was still clear that many Americans hated her. Nobody is quite sure why, but the Republicans sure liked to use that, and it seemed clear that Hillary was not going to win… ever.

Unless…. her competition is bat shit crazy scary.  Unless they make her competition unelectable. Perhaps that was the idea last time.  Surly they expected Americans would chose a woman over a black man… but they didn’t, so they found something worse to go against her. Donald Trump. The guy From TV’s Apprentice.  I suspect the democrats hatch a plan with their friend Donald Trump. Let this crazy guy run against her and she’s sure to win. It’s a can’t lose plan.

In this scenario, it’s likely Trump was even asked to overplay his crazy.  He had to be insane enough to sway both Republican and democratic voters towards Hilary. He is trying really hard, but wow. Hillary was hated so much, Trump had to go really really crazy, and even then….

The race has just started this week. Hillary and Donald are the candidates. Now each will try to win back 51% but it might be a lot harder than they expected, and if they don’t play it right, the crazy orange ego may get the power. It’s looking more and more possible each week.

They didn’t perceive how much the democrats hate Hillary too. If people don’t vote, or vote against, Trump could win with a good majority.

It’s hilarious from here, but scary shit if you’re American, because if you’re smart- you understand a Trump victory could actually be quite bad for the country. It’s hard to see how it would not be a disaster, even if Trump takes a teeny role and gets somebody educated and smart to do the actual work, which is appears is his new plan. His VP could end up running the country for him. He remains a loud and loved fear monger and somebody does all the work behind him.

But still… scary stuff with regards to the world and other countries, and VERY scary if he doesn’t appease those nutcase fans of his that believe he’ll build a wall and send all Muslims packing. His crazy talk has so many fans, there could be riots and deaths if he loses, or even if he wins and turns into a politician and everything he said was a lie.

I can see no good outcome, but I leave it to the experts that write the script for this play. Maybe they have a plan.

It’s sad Hillary got so much hate. From here, she seems like a perfectly qualified first women president. she has experience both socially and professionally, and her husband was one of the most loved presidents by both parties of all time.

I’m just glad The Daily Show is still on the air, making me laugh each night at this show. Politics is the best comedy on TV this year. It’s better than the fictional political shows on TV. I swear Aaron Sorkin couldn’t have written it better.

Micro Disappointment 

​I learned the term Micro Expressions from TV a few years back when Tim Roth starred in Lie to Me. A crime drama where his team used facial expressions to figure out if people meant what they were saying. 

I believe that I have been using that concept, without knowing the name, for many years to detect emotions and reactions in the faces and body language of the people in front of me. 

Sometimes people’s reactions are sincere, and sometimes less so. If you tell a person that there is a surprise party behind that door, some will be able to fool the majority of people with a staged reaction, but micro expressions may give them away if you know what to look for. 

I seem to know what to look for, at least some of the time. 

Today is a Tuesday and the burger combo is on sale at the local Hooters restaurant.  This is a chain that uses pretty waits taffeta to appeal to people who like that sort of thing. 

When I enter the place, my eyes quickly scan the room to catch a view of these pretty women, and choose a favourite. At an establishment like this, there is usually a variety of looks and styles in the staff, although all are women and most have nice hooters. Still, it’s always easy to pick one as my favourite, even on a slower Tuesday afternoon. 

My eyes catch a beautiful woman by the bar, but her eyes do not see me. 

I take my seat and patiently wait and see who serves me, hoping it’s her. I don’t really chant over and over; please be her, please be her, please be her, but my desire is clear.

With such predetermined hope inside, it is understandable that my face may reveal disappointment when a less attractive waitress two tables away indicates to me; I’ll be right with you. 

It is important to note that nobody is really unattractive at Hooters, but certainly it’s ok to admit men like different things, and I had really had my hopes set on another. 

My waitress happed to be a dark black woman with a very shiny face and narrow features. Not really my personal preference. 

As she approaches me, I do best to maintain my happy smile. I do not find her attractive at all, and although my visit here today is based more on their burger and curly fries on sale, I won’t deny it’s always a mini thrill to be served by a beautiful fun and friendly face. 

I wonder if pretty girls have mastered the skill of micro expression detection, or if they care. Does my waitress know I secretly wished for anyone but her to serve me? 

Sigh.  Another useless worry I have created within my own mind. Tanika was as polite and friendly as any other would have been and our interaction together was pleasant as always.  I order my burger, and distract myself by writing this. 

Now our time together is over. I’ll be back again some Tuesday in the future and try my luck again. 

Blipverts for 2016. Fast Forward Marketing

In the 1987 TV series Max Headroom, which apparently took place 20 minutes into the future, a lot of technology was displayed. One of the neat idea that stucjk with me over the years was the “Blipverts”.  These were a new format TV commercial on Network 23 that lasted 3 seconds.

Over the years, I’ve seen broadcast commercials try shorter formats and radio has done so as well.  60 second commercials are almost gone from our view, and a lot more 15 second spots are common. Producers are aware that a vast majority of television watchers no longer watch shows live, and commercial breaks are often ignored or fast forwarded by.

Today I noticed an interesting concept that caught my eye while fast forwarding past the middle commercial break on a show I was watching. The middle break is often the longest, containing more commercials than the others. I noticed two commercials employing something new. The entire commercial spot had a banner, much like me may see on a computer command bar. A sold black line across the top of the screen that contained the commercial name and some vitals. The regular TV spot played below it.

This had the outstanding effect of showing up clearly while fast forwarding by. In the first case it was the name of a movie. The commercial content itself was the traditional COMING SOON trailer, but while watching on an increased speed, I might very well have missed the movie name. This way, I saw the name for the whole duration of the forwarding.  It occurred to me that I was watching, in effect, a 3 second commercial. A Blipverts for today’s generation.

A 30 second commercial, fast forwarded, perhaps a little longer than 3 seconds, but I have 3 speeds I could use to move on. Even at the fastest speed, which traditionally cuts huge chunks out if the video as it displays only clips as it moves forward digitally, I would still have seen at least 3 seconds of a 30 second spot.  All of them containing the vital commercial message.  

I paused and blogged.  This is a very smart move. A creative way to make commercials that function for the regular watchers and the impatient ones. Many commercials try to get me to watch by creating mini stories, or mystery or blizzard imagery that should slow me down and make me watch, but all too often the brand or slogan or logo of a commercial is only displayed or spoken at the very end. WIth this new technology, it wouldn’t matter. I’d always see the web address our brand or message, even when speeding by at the maximum ignore speed.

I applaud the marketing genius. I hope they were paid well, not just for a single commercial, but for a whole new idea that could insure more eyes on the message.

I have to wonder if he or she  was a Max Headroom fan.

I’m obsessive about not being OCD

When I talk about being obsessive, people tend to jump to the conclusion I mean Obsessive-compulsive (OCD) and quickly correct them. Recently, I started to reevaluate whether I am OCD or not, because the more I obsess over it, the more the lines become blurred. 

The photograph above shows my obsessive collection of the center cardboard from every toilet paper roll I’ve used since I moved here almost 3 years ago. It is an OCD style ritual, but I don’t need them to be in any straight order. I think its possible my brain is rebelling against OCD in an ironic way.

Like all mental illness, every brain is different and the diagnosis comes from somebody who just counts enough symptoms to say yes. 

I am more obsessed over things in my brain than the TV style that needs me to touch the doorknob 4 times before I leave, but I do suffer the internal agitation when I am forced to skip one if my rituals in much the same way.

As a simple example, if the fabric chain Fabricland is seen or mentioned, I must sing its jingle. It’s a simple enough routine a lot if people share, but inside my brain, I’ll actually be bothered fir quite some time if I don’t. Even as I write this, I am almost obligated to sing it. 

FAAA BRICK LAND, Fabricland! 

There are many other little rituals I follow in my daily life that I did not even notice until a friend told me I was OCD. 

I’m not OCD I barked. I’m just obsessive! 

Then again, I remember when my very first therapist told me;  A.D.D isn’t your problem Jeff , you’re obsessive.

It sure surprised me, until I had some time to obsess over how obsessive I actually am. 

The Emergency Room

There are a few places in life people need to wait. Some lines you can avoid, or do without. Some lines you can schedule and return at less busy times.

It’s hard to avoid the waiting room at a hospital. I suppose the rich can pay for better treatment in some cases, but I like to believe we’re all fairly equal in the emergency room.

That’s nor to say people are treated in priority, giving aid to the bleeding or unconscious first, but in the room I find myself in today, we’re all just sitting here watching the time pass by, each dealing with the hours in our own way.

The family with an impatient child is to my right. He either cries, runs around, or screams in joy but he never stays quiet. His parents react as if this is clearly the norm for him. They’ve gotten over the embarrassing stage and the need to apologize. It’s just the way it is.

Another man to my left is asleep. He hasn’t moved much for a while, but I’m confident he’s still alive. Up until recently I thought he was just resting with closed eyes trying to block out everything else. I myself have trued that technique for as long as I could. Recently however he’s transitioned to the new phase of sleep where his chair sprawl has gone more wide. I hope he doesn’t miss his name when they finally call.

Two separate people are playing games with the sound on, although low. The older boy beeps with a schedule that makes me think it’s a match game, but not Candy Crush. I know those tones and tines well. The younger boy is playing some farm game. His phone makes oink oink, cluck cluck barn sounds with irregular frequency.

The mother, daughter duo to my immediate left are discussing how theur life will change if she’s told she can’t eat junk food anymore. She asks her. Mother if she’s ever even tried Kale. Apparently everyone is talking about kale now.

For an emergency room, nobody seems to have any visible emergencies. We all sit together and wait our turn. The names are called out slowly. In the two or more hours I’ve been here, only a few have moved.

I suspect there are different areas for different levels of emergency. I’m in the O Zone waiting area, sponsored by John Vince bulk foods. Clearly a lower priority emergency room waiting area.

Finally, after just over 2 hours, I get to go sit and wait in my own room. I don’t know if it’ll be another hour, or a shirt wait, but it’s certainly less fun to be alone. This place is new… But not like my diction office. There are no gruesome pictures of lungs or intestinal tracts on the walls. It’s just me, a chair and a bed… And a basket of soiled linen next to the chair which might have a slight odour.

I wait.

My visit today is one of the irritating ones both for me and the staff. I’ve got one of these mystery ailments that wasn’t in the text books. That means more tests and guesses. I made the mistake earlier of comparing the doctors diagnosis with my own work with computers.

“I know it’s not the same”, I started, “but I know the frustration of these cases when you have to use experience to figure out what’s wrong. I have similar issues when I am diagnosing computer problems. There is always that case that doesn’t quite match your training.”

It seemed like I may have upset him comparing his years of dedicated schooling about the human body, to my experiences troubleshooting Windows 98 crash issues.

“nobody dies when I get it wrong. ”

I went to far with that one. We didn’t speak again. He sent me here, to the hospital. I don’t have that luxury I thought. If I can’t figure out why you’re getting a blue screen of death, then you keep getting it. If I send you to somebody else, they’ll reformat your machine and start over.

Lucky doctor I thought.

Not really. I would certainly have preferred he knew the answer. Now I sit and wait for hour 3, fully aware that these new eyes may be equally stumped and need to hand me off yet again to another line in another building.

At least I’m away from the screaming baby.

The new face arrived shortly after and proceeded with some of the same basic tests I’d been subjected to twice already, but that was to be expected. I was happy he agreed with me more than the first doctor. I probably didn’t have a stroke.

As a computer service guy, I made it a personal policy of mine, and those I had working for me not to badmouth those who came before. I never trash talked whatever the previous support person dud, whether it be a friend, another IT specialist, or a blue shirt at Best Buy.

It was nice to see this doctor had the same policy although his face told a slightly different story. Almost a discust for whatever doctor had come before having told me I might have a mild stroke.

First if all, he said, if this was a stroke, it would have been a full on stroke, nothing mini. If you can’t move your arm, that’s not mini – – and you certainly would have at least one symptom.

I had full strength in both arms and all my faculties. They asked of I knew my name, and the date and a few other questions. I was hoping they’d ask who the president was, like on TV. I wanted to answer; Donald Trump… Oh no. I have lost my mind.

I didn’t get the chance, especially since this is Canada, but I had to make the joke anyway. It was funny to me, so I said it anyway, but with a laugh to make it clear I wasn’t delusional.

After we established it was probably just a normal shoulder injury, most likely created by sleeping position, weather, and my old shoulder injury, I was walked to the MRI machine for the confirmation.

The nice technician helping me on this portion of my journey was surprised to hear I was looking forward to this procedure. “I don’t hear that very often” she said. I explained that it’s a new story. Lots of people see these things on TV but few get to experience it.

I made a few traditional jokes about metal and the terrors of TV episodes, and emptied my pockets like at the airport.

“Luckily my teeth are all plastic now. They used to contain a lot of metal.”

She reacted professionally with a smile, despite probably having heard most of the same jokes a hundred times before.

Following this, I walked down to the next room and got the x rays. No. Lines or waiting at either of these stations. Then, back to station one for some blood letting and then full circle back to the waiting room.

I’m not sure what comes next. I assume I’m waiting for results to be examined, and then one of the four doctors or nurses, or perhaps a new one will consult with me and send me on my way with some instructions.

Hour 4… I’m not certain why I have to wait just for them to tell me I can leave.

Maybe if I was rich.


One last unneeded test and one more sit in the waiting room, but I’m told it’s all ok. Some physiology therapy and I should heal.

Only 5 hours.


SNL Live Hillary speech

It’s Monday, and that’s a bit later than usual for me to watch this past weekend’d Saturday Night Live. It’s been a pretty consistent Sunday morning ritual, but toady I was a day late.  The first thing I noticed when they said Big Dick and it really looked like he wasn’t supposed to, but that may just be me, over analyzing the micro expressions.

Fake Hillary really hit it home. Before she started, I was worried, because Hillary needs help beating Bernie Sanders, and ridicule of her bad points may sway against her. However, her speech was exactly what she might have wanted to say, inside her head.  The true fact is, Donald is such a terrifying opponent that voters may turn out in record numbers just to pick the opposition.  Hillary could not have won against anyone reasonable… but a Dead congressman could win against Trump.  A sock puppet would probably win.

Now this is sadly, more insulting than it needs to be towards Hillary. I think she’ll make a great President actually, and off the campain trail, the first husband can be back in our faces to balance her cold image.  I honestly believe that Trump works for the Hillary Campaign.  His outrageous antics will get Hillary elected, in a year where she might not have.  The people voted a black man into office rejecting her. A white opponent conservative would have not voted for her.

As she says in her speech, you’re stuck in the middle with me.  I think the election 2 year season was probably more than free healthcare and maybe education for colleges would have cost.


Well, maybe not that much, but it sure was a long distraction.  TV comedy like Jon Stewart and SNL and all the late night standups are political because it’s just such a show. You can’t help not watch, and the parody of Trump saying he’s the greatest thing since Germany 1941 is a wonderful satire. Educational humour. I get all my American political news with a punch line… and sometimes they’re just replaying Fox news clips unedited.

I made somebody laugh out loud the other day when I was in a meeting.  Somebody spoke up and declared Nancy Reagan had died, or so says his Facebook update.  Another guy quickly brought up CNN and says; Yup. CNN confirms it.  A third fellow says; I’ll check Fox, to which I said; She’s still dead, but on Fox it’s Obama’s fault.

Too soon?

I miss Jon Stewart, but SNL has always been tops in election years for informing us about parodied versions of the players.  Even as a Canadian I know who to hate. (grin)

Which ones terrify me, in a dramatic and absolute way.


Hillary Wins!  The first woman President of those United States of ‘Merica.  I have hope, but I’d still rather have Bill in a Mrs. Doubtfire costume. Not because he’s a man, but because he has a big red nose and he’s always laughing or smiling. He is the charming Boiler salesman named Bill.  Hillary is no Mrs. Doubtfire. She’s not Tyler Perry either.

Best Video about Trump you need to see.



Speaking your Chats

A funny thing happened to me recently when I was involved in a text conversation with a friend of mine. I was laying in bed, chatting with a friend using Google Hangouts on my cell phone. At some point it occurred to me the typing on the cell phone was a little tedious, but I didn’t have a full keyboard or computer near the bed at that moment, so instead I press the microphone button on the keyboard and activated the Google Voice keyboard. From that point on I used my voice to dictate the messages that I was sending into text.

Google Voice keyboard has a very accurate translation system and makes very few mistakes. In fact, I have to do far less corrections than when I am typing, especially on my small phone keyboard.  Google Voice keyboard knows how to spell better than I do. It isn’t always familiar with obscure words, but it actually does an amazing job guessing what I mean from the context of the sentence, and is quite aware of many technology and pop culture words. It even knows to capitalize show titles or movie names most of the time.

Talking to a voice translator is a little different than talking to a human, and you get used to the style fairly quickly. I find I talk slower than I do in person, because I am actually composing and thinking in text sentences rather than  just words I speak. It’s strange at first.

Next, I turn on another APP on my phone, that works in the opposite fashion, and it translates my friends text replies into a voice.  So now I am actually talking and listening to my friend, but still using text messages. It occurs to me how absurd this is. In any previous time, we’d simply be on the phone actually talking. In fact, even Google Hangouts has a pretty good quality voice system that would allow me to call him and talk… or even face to face video chat.  There is also Skype, or Facebook messenger or Apple FaceTime… and yet, we continue using this multiple step translation system to talk for another 20 minutes.

We’ve changed society. People prefer texts to actually conversation.  Well, to be fair… some people, not all.  Certainly phone and voice communication is still popular, but a lot of new generation people are  using text as their main communication between friends and even business associates.

It’s faster. It’s less intrusive. I can send a 140 character or less text to somebody and they can read it without actually having to interrupt their day and talk. They can read it in any mood they’re in and react in any manor they chose, and I’m not witness to that. I’ve just sent a statement and I’m done.  They can reply now, or later or never. We can text back and forth while they watch TV or reading a book. We can even have 3 or 4 of 15 conversations open at once.  We’re learning, through emoticons and emoji how to convey sarcasm or shock or happiness in text. We can convey a smile or a laugh to reward someone for humour.

I’ve also learned the etiquette that, at least between my friends, it’s not rude to just stop replies suddenly. I can be distracted or needed elsewhere.  A text conversation can take hours or days to continue.  It can pick up where you left off, because the words remain on the screen. I love this about texts. I can say HEY to a friend, and not get a reply for 20 minutes or more, and we can continue on for a few minutes, or continue the conversation later.

Texting really is a great replacement for some phone calls. In fact, many people get angry at phone calls. I can text somebody a few times a day with comments, or sweet sentiment or a great deal I just saw at the mall, and even if they’re not answering it right away, they’ll see it.  If I call them, I may have to leave a voicemail, and they probably won’t listen to ot anyway.

I don’t want to talk right now. Text me.

It’s not as much emotional effort. I don’t have to turn on a happy face or a good mood to reply.

It’s just the darn typing that gets in the way.  When I converse with a friend socially, rather than just for utility, I use full words and sentences. I don’t abbreviate things like: R U Happy? I converse in text using the same mental voice I use in words, so that means my replies are often greater than 140 characters. Phones today – or Google Hangouts handle this fine, but it also means replies are delayed a bit. The voice conversion option may seem silly at first, but it keeps everyone happy.  We’re still using the rules of texting, which means the interruptions are on my terms. No doubt my friend was with his wife at the time, and a phone call would be unwelcome, but a text every few minutes seems a lesser evil.  Your partner can still get angry at you texting in certain situations, but that’s the beauty. Just stop. Conversation end.  Pick up later, when she falls asleep.

Note: This entire blog post was written using Google Voice. I edited later, but most of this text was spoken.