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Women are not Ornaments

February 6, 2018 Leave a comment

pri_68161917      Many fans of Formula One auto racing are upset that the iconic ‘grid girls’ are to be discontinued. I am pleased that the girls will be gone, because they should not stand in rows, dressed in identical, sexy outfits. I raced sports cars when I was younger, and I always felt that it was not a good idea to have women in the pit areas unless they were part of a team, working with the crew in a real job.

The grid girls are just a distraction for fans of the sport. Race time is a time of intense focus and concentration, and women in the pits for the sake of ornamentation are clearly out of place. When watching a Formula One event, I have always wondered why the pretty ladies demeaned themselves in that way. They are doing nothing other than perhaps holding a sign with a number on it, or some such thing. They are superfluous.

The smiles are pretty, the legs are lovely, but neither has anything to do with the very serious and expensive event that is a Formula One race. The women are obviously instructed to smile prettily and applaud vigorously as the sweating drivers hurry past them to the cool down rooms. I have never seen any driver even notice the girls. They know that the smiles and applause are just set up for the viewing audience, and have no real meaning to the participants in the event.

I am pleased that I will no longer feel sorry for the girls that were positioned on the grid and in the entrance hall to the cool down room. I am sorry that they are losing whatever small pay they received for that humble occupation. The truth is that only women who are either driving the car or working as part of the crew should be in the pits of any motor race. Just the same as men are not a good fit in a crocheting group. Men should be there if they are fans of crocheting and participating in the craft, but not to be stand-by ornaments.

In this modern age, no job need be gender-specific, but being good looking and standing holding a number sign is not a worthy career goal. Ladies are welders and builders and lawyers and doctors as good as any man can be. They are well-advised to build careers rather than be pretty and hold signs. Any job that can be replaced by a post on a base is not a job for an intelligent person, male or female.

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You Don’t Know Their Burdens

January 26, 2018 Leave a comment

It’s rare to see a person on the street or on public transportation with a pleased or contented expression on his or her face. While observing people personally, we might wonder what our own facial expression is as we look around ourselves. It seems that people in public often do not look at each other.

We move among each other, but we do not encounter each other. I expect that our primitive primate senses govern our behavior. Perhaps eye to eye contact invites conflict, as it might among chimpanzees. Smiling at a person might be seen as a threat if one’s teeth are displayed. Sometimes, a smile at a person in a library or a restaurant can lead to verbal communication. That could lead to almost anything.

The hundreds of faces one might see in a single week are most likely to be sad or blank. We overlook the unwelcoming atmosphere because we know that each individual is carrying the facts of their lives with them. One might be planning what to make for dinner. Another might be concerned about a meeting coming up at their office. Others worry about sick friends, lost dogs, rent increases and anything else.

We move through our days, our faces showing our feelings. When it’s a lovely day and all is well in our own little world, there is peacefulness in our expression. When our own relationship with the significant other is in jeopardy, stress or concern is shown.

If we could master the art of compartmentalizing the matters in our lives, we might be able to always wear a peaceful expression by dwelling on the sweet parts of life.

The Planet Rebels

January 21, 2018 Leave a comment

A religious person might see God’s will in the wave of natural disasters that have swamped society. Hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes befall societies throughout our planet. An atheist, on the other hand, might see it as natural sequences of events, not completely free of human contributions.

The planet Earth is a living, evolving entity. I see the Earth’s crust as its skin, like the skin on my face. We have all seen pimples emerge on our faces. First it shows as a small, reddish mound. Later it becomes less red, and begins to peak. Finally, it is a pimple, filled with material your body rejects. It is also this way with our planet.

I used to own a hobby farm where we kept horses. My favourite chore was to go out into the forest and cut riding trails throughout the many acres. The forest is healthy, so each summer I’d travel the trails again, to trim off the bits that intruded into the riding space.

There was a patch where two trails intersected. As the years passed, I noticed a small area, about twenty inches square in the cleared part of the two trails, where the grass was dying off. The following year, the grass had been replaced by moss. A year later, the moss was turning from green to brown, and looking ragged. Following years showed a granite boulder pushing up through the earth. Eventually, it was a large rock on the trail.

As with Icebergs where we see just ten percent of the lump of ice and below hangs ninety percent so it could be with that rock. It might be just the tip of a boulder that’s the size of a house. That’s why I see the planet as a living thing. As our skin ejects wax, fat or whatever, the earth ejects rocks and whatever as it evolves into eternity.

The life of the Earth is obvious in its seething center, boiling granite that sometimes bursts through the planet’s skin and runs down in rivulets until, at some time in infinity, it becomes more rocks to later be expelled.

Meanwhile, we enjoy the luxury of Earth’s life; trees of fruit, trees of shade, rain, snow, fields of green, fields of gold and seasons.

We need to take better care of The Earth, and greed gets in the way. The oligarchs are our enemies.

Men are childish, women are women.

November 6, 2017 Leave a comment

There’s a big deal on television. It’s called the Super Bowl. It gathers a vast amount of attention and costs people a vast amount of money. It doesn’t mean anything. The Super Bowl is meaningless, yet a great deal of false meaning has been injected into it. Fanatics pay thousands of dollars for seats that are worth thirty bucks. They could even watch it for no charge, in their own homes, with their own snacks and get a better view to boot.

Any sort of fanaticism is not a good idea. Things like Nazism, Aryan Brotherhood, Super Bowl and so on. This obviously doesn’t include harmless fan preferences like fans of Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Harrison Ford, Dolly Parton and so on. Not all Super Bowl fans are childish and some women do as some men do for the big game.

Although some people paint their faces and even their bodies in the colours of their preferred team, it is childish. It’s fun, it’s troublesome and it’s childish. There are women who cook and serve special snacks to be consumed during the game. It is a game, remember. It’s only a game that for some reason commands great attention and much money.

Well, not for some reason – for the reason that it’s a business enterprise. The people that own the teams, the stadium and the series of games, spend much money to hype up the interest in their business. Fanatical fans should remember that it is not really a game, as in a game people play for pleasure like bowling and poker. It is somebody’s business. The painted faces and heaps of snacks are all in celebration of someone’s very successful business promotion.

We all know that men are childish. It’s true that little boys grow up to be big boys with big toys. It’s true that little girls grow up to be women, and they take care of life more properly than do men. We have to mention that while men behave childishly, women also have their oddities.

Women prepare their faces like painting on a canvas. Black lengthening material is applied to lashes. Colour is applied to upper lids, sometimes with sparkles in it. Dark lines are drawn around the eyes and beyond their corners. Skin is enhanced with skin coloured crème. Lips are enhanced with colour, sometimes two shades on one lip. Cheek bones are accentuated with highlights and shadows carefully applied. Breasts are usually prominent when the woman is proud of them.

There’s not room for all the hair and body enhancements to be described, so we’ll end here… except to say that women are odd too and should willingly forgive men for loving their trucks and painting their faces to show their fanaticism.

Why I Started Smoking

November 4, 2017 Leave a comment

In the summer, we had a little cave-like hollow in a ravine across the street. Our little hollow was deeply hidden by thick bushes. We tried to smoke cigars of dried oak leaves that we rolled. They were foul, and wouldn’t burn.

One year in shop, I made a bow and bought some arrows. Down in the ravine, in the dry summer grass, Dave and I tried to figure out how to shoot an arrow properly. On one of my shots, I pulled the string as far as I could and let go. I stumbled as I let it fly, and wasn’t sure where it went.

An old garage stood on the edge of the ravine. Some earth had crumbled and slid down from the garage and left a corner jutting out in the air. While looking for my arrow, we wandered around in the grass near the exposed corner. I glanced into the open hole at the bottom of the garage and saw a printed box. I pulled it out.

It was a carton of 20 packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes. I looked up through the opening and saw that the garage was full from wall to wall with thousands of cartons of cigarettes. Smuggled cigarettes, I realized when I noticed that the tax stamp on the top of each pack was American. They were cigarettes from the USA about which Canada customs and excise knew nothing.

We took a few cartons of Luckies and a few cartons of Camels. We hid them in a variety of places, and fetched them, a pack at a time, when we wanted them. We smoked them, and enjoyed them. Non-filtered, strong burley tobacco typical of USA brands of that era had us hooked in no time. I continued to smoke the American brands until I quit. I had been a smoker for 40 years. I haven’t touched tobacco since that day in July, 1992.

I was sitting in my car at a red light in the heart of the city. While waiting, I was enjoying looking at a tall, beautiful woman standing on the corner, waiting for the green light as was I. As I admired her, her hand that I had not seen came up and put a lit cigarette to her lips.

She sucked at it eagerly, and then frenetically flicked her fingers on the smoldering cigarette to drop the ash. She became completely unattractive at that moment. I thought perhaps that I looked like that kind of weak fool. At that moment, the car radio announcer said, “It’s quit smoking week, folks, so let’s do it!”

I had three Camels in the pack in my shirt pocket. I wrapped the pack tightly closed with an elastic band and threw it into my briefcase. I never smoked tobacco again.

The Sheeny Man

October 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Sheeny man

In the 1950s, one could still see horse-drawn carts on the city streets. Some were the bread men, some were the ice men, some were the milk men, and some were the sheeny men. My sheeny man was Mr. Mintz, and his old horse was Annie.

I say he was my sheeny man because he was the only one I ever met or spoke with. Not too much speaking, of course, because I speak English and he spoke Yiddish. I worked on the weigh scale at a large scrap yard. Mr. Mintz came with Annie and the cart full of scrap about once a week.

It was not good scrap, in fact we’d really rather not have it. It usually consisted of old rusty bedsprings and tin oil cans. It cost more to have two men take it off the cart and throw it onto the scrap heap than it was worth. However, Mr. Mintz was a quiet, poor, religious man, so we accepted his scrap, doubled the weight and paid double the value.

One Friday afternoon, Mr. Mintz clopped through the scrap yard gate and positioned Annie so the wagon was on the scale. I weighed the wagon with the load and Mr. Mintz guided Annie to where two of the yard workers could drag the bedsprings, tin cans and rusty pieces of metal off of the cart and onto the scrap heap.

It was the end of my day at the yard. I weighed Mr. Mintz’s empty cart and subtracted the light weight from the loaded weight and paid for the difference. As usual, we cheated in Mr. Mintz’s favour and gave him double the value of his load. I realized that Mr. Mintz would be eager to get home before sundown, in time for the evening Sabbath prayers.

I left the office in time to see Annie and Mr. Mintz clopping along Carmody Street. I had always wondered what Mr. Mintz’s life might be like. Where does he keep his cart? Where does he keep Annie? On impulse, I decided to track Mr. Mintz to his lair. It was a mild evening, I was only 18, and Annie was slow. I could follow him on foot for as far as he was going.

I was surprised that it was barely six blocks to Mr. Mintz’s destination. At first, I was surprised that he went to Bellaire Boulevard, a wide residential street with large, elegant mansions on both sides. These mansions had long since ceased to be single family dwellings with servants. They are rooming houses, divided into small flats, but still, the boulevard is elegant, with old, large maple trees overhanging the street, casting cool shadows.

Annie crossed Bellaire and clopped past the street of mansions until she turned right into a back lane that ran behind the walled, mansion properties. Most of them had old sheds, garages, or parking areas accessible through the lane.

The horse stopped at a row of sheds, taller than the others around it. Mr. Mintz climbed down from the wagon and led Annie a bit farther on before he went to an overhead door in one of the sheds and had the horse back the wagon into the shed. With the wagon in the shed, and the horse outside, Mr. Mintz took the tack off of Annie and opened a swinging garage door to lead the horse into a spacious stall.

Mr. Mintz had seen me following him all along. He looked down the lane at me and waved me over. I stood near him as he saw to Annie’s bedding, grain and hay. She had an open window that looked out on the yard of the mansion beyond it. Mr. Mintz asked if I would like to see inside. Obviously, he perceived my fascination, and I jumped at the chance. He closed Annie’s shed and led me to a pedestrian doorway in the third shed.

One large room was neatly laid out and maintained. A small bathroom contained a toilet and old-fashioned bath tub on claw legs. A small kitchen area with a 4 element stove and small refrigerator covered a wall. A Formica counter carried a sink and dish drying rack, with a large window that looks out at the garden behind the mansion.

There was a full bookcase, but there was no television. An easy chair beside a reading lamp completed the room’s furnishings. I asked where he slept. He opened a door in the wall that faced Annie’s shed. There was a bed between Mr. Mintz’s shed and Annie’s shed. He said he liked to sleep close to her. Her body heat gave him comfort, and his presence gave Annie peace.

I walked back to my car, contemplating the life of Mr. Mintz, the Sheeny man. He was as happy and satisfied as anyone I ever met.

The Burden of a Creative Spirit

October 6, 2017 Leave a comment

One who is filled with the creative spirit is always alone. When driving to work or riding public transit, the creative spirit is working within the mind. The face of the old woman in her kerchief would be nice to sketch, one’s mind thinks. The kid with the striped beard might be from the city’s wealthiest family. He might have ostracized them because they did not believe in his yet-to-be-discovered talent. The creative mind is relentlessly working, painting pictures or writing stories.

Those creative spirits among us are in inevitable conflict with the surrounding community. That’s why ‘creative communities’ develop, where the eccentricities of bohemian personalities are a comfortable norm. That’s fine for those of us who reside in cities or towns where such a community exists, but what of those who lack access to like-minded companions.

An old woman on a remote farm might be developing some wonderful paintings. A young man in the military might be writing admirable short stories. Those people, in their inappropriate environments, are likely to be regarded by the community around them as ‘peculiar’, or at least ‘different’. The constant desire to experience things of all kinds keeps the creative spirit working within the creative person.

The secret inner life of the creative person is a mystery to the surrounding community. Often, I am presented with problems that need a creative solution. Over the decades, I have learned to trust my instincts and just execute the ideas that form within. I no longer worry that I might have missed the mark.

It is always a bit of a surprise to me that clients don’t think of the same idea on their own. On the contrary, they seem blown away by the idea that is simple and quick for me. I recall a time when I created an entire newspaper campaign in my head, while driving home from the meeting. I presented it to the client the next morning. It was approved and put into production.

Creativity is a mystery to everyone, including those with the creative spirit.