Chapter One
New Year's, no Resolutions.

Chapters - Click on the numbers ===>

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

The intro was on my website in January 2006.

Like I said in the intro*, I am considering 2006 as the midpoint in my life. The big 50 will hopefully arrive in May as Queen Victoria celebrates another long weekend. This is my second attempt at writing this first chapter. The first attempt was written last Friday on my way home on the train. A few months ago, I bought a laptop and I thought I could use the time on the way home to add to these pages. The only problem is at the end of the trip (at the Ste-Dorothee station)  I tried to save my work, but somehow the save didn't work. So now I am starting over and I can't even remember what I wrote for those 45 minutes. The other option for the train ride is to nap which I am sure I will do also.

I don't nap on the way in to work on the train because I read the Gazette but that could be short-lived. The reason is I believe I have developed an allergy to the newspaper print. Either my age has done it or in the new printing facilities on Upper Lachine road, they have changed the inks used in the paper. Whichever one it is, I sometimes find myself using a full little pack of Kleenex and I get more and more congested as I open the pages more. As soon as I get off the train I am fine and rarely have to blow my nose for the rest of the day. It does happen on the way home, so it's not the people of the train I am allergic to. It doesn't seem to happen everyday either so it could be a colour issue with the paper. I will be experimenting in the new few weeks, to see if the newspaper is really the culprit. The very first person I talked to about this has an allergy to newsprint so it's very possible that I have it too.

As you will notice if you keep reading these chapters, I do have a tendency to go off on tangents, as you experienced in the prior paragraph. Trouble is; I sometimes don't seem to come back to the original subject. If you see any of these endless side tracks, please be patient, I will try to eventually come back to the subject. I will do this by inserting a detour sign at the beginning of a tangents eventually it will be followed by an End Detour sign. This will stop me from going on and on about nothing. In my first draft that I lost on the train, I already had two detours that I now forget but eventually they will come back to me.

 
I am writing this chronicle for myself but making it public though my website. It is not a diary but just ramblings. One of the driving forces behind writing this comes from the old adage you learn something new everyday. The problem is that, at our age, we may learn something new everyday but we only remember a small percentage of them. A case in point is that last year I should have learned 365 new things, yet I come only seem to recall one thing. That one thing is that there is only one ear of corn on the corn stalk. As my friend Mike McK would say; Trust me on this one. I was a big sceptic on this fact but after visiting a few corn fields last summer I realized it was true. I didn't find any stalks with more than one ear. You would think that using today's genetic manipulation, someone could have come up with a plant that holds at least a dozen corn. Maybe somewhere in the world, this is being done but not in Quebec fields around here.

So in the realm of you learn something new everyday, I will attempt to document the Learn Onething New Everyday (LONE for short), this way I will not have to rely on my memory to store these things I learn. Since it is already January 8th, I will settle for 357 things learned in 2006. Of course, I won't document every single thing I learn as many of them would be boring but I will try to pick out the ones that are interesting to most people (I hope). When you see the following sign it means I learned one new thing.

I have one last warning. As with many of my other unfinished projects, this particular one could come to an end before the end of the year or maybe not even beyond chapter one. I will definitely try to make it until May, at least I travel by train until April 30th so it should be easier. I don't remember learning anything new this weekend except the supposed 6th toe of Marilyn Monroe but that kind of stuff doesn't count.

This is the second time I am attempting to write this on the train. This time I am using notepad instead of trying to write an offline e-mail. I should not lose all my text today. I didn't.

Ok. Someone has already read my first instalment and reminded me that 50 is just a number. He's right, a big number, nevertheless just a number. Unlike the Billy Crystal character who used to say it's not how you feel, it's how you look. Since I don't ever recall looking Mahvelous, I will have to settle on how I feel. Today's is a Monday and you can only feel so good on a Monday.

This morning, I couldn't really test out my newsprint allergy theory because I got a cold on the  weekend so I couldn't blame the congestion on the Gazette. It's the first time, I get a cold and then a sore throat. My Sunday evening trip to Jean Coutu was well worth it as I already feel 100% better. It's not enough to stop me from playing my Monday hockey game. The good thing about Mondays for me, is knowing there's a hockey game waiting for me at 5pm. It makes up for having to get to work early in order to leave the office early. There should be a detour here but I will wait to write about the stigma of leaving work early, even if you are on flex-time.

I did learn one thing today about the medical situation in Quebec. Actually, I knew it but this confirmed it. Remember the colonoscopy I was talking about earlier. I phoned to make an appointment with a referral back at the end of September. I was told to call back in November because they had too big of a backlog. As the self appointed King of Procrastination, I called back last week and left a message. I finally got a hold of the secretary today. My appointment, get this, is at 9:30am on September 21st, 2006 (nine months away). That is just a bit ridiculous. This is just a routine examination as prescribed by my new doctor. Last year, I finally was able to find a doctor (a GP) who would take on new patients. So I got my first complete physical exam back in March 2005 since 1992. The only ones before that were for prospective employers. I guess I was due and apparently it's something we should all do at our age.

The only medical problem I had before this, other than minor sports injuries, was acid reflux. I think this was caused by a weak the Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LES) that would allow some leakage of acid up into the oesophagus . A year and half ago, another doctor prescribed a little pill called Pantaloc and that problem is now history, unless I skip a couple of days of pills. That doctor, an E.N.T. (Ear, Nose and Throat) physician, also told me to change my diet to try to reduce the level of acid. Here is the list of things to stay away from:  Fried foods, fatty foods, spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomato products, coffee, alcoholic beverages, citrus fruit drinks, chocolate, peppermint and pepper. I sort of gave up coffee because I don't really like it but since the pills work so well, I haven't paid attention to the doctor's advice much. Imagine giving up everything on that list. I hope my ENT doctor doesn't read this.

I will try to refrain from using people's name in these chronicles because there are very powerful search engines out there that could draw attention to certain people. I don't want my doctors to find out that I may be fibbing to them when they give me advice. I will, however, tell you the name of the doctor who is supposed to do my colonoscopy because it is too funny. His name is Blum but the way my referral is written, it could be Doctor Bum, so from now when I refer to Dr. Bum you will know that this is the guy. My old friend Marge and I had a good laugh over this nickname. But wait! There is more. Today I got a fax from his receptionist confirming my September appointment and his first name is Seymour. I can't make this up. Kramer had the Assman and I have Seymour Bum who will perform the intrusive act of examining my insides via what is supposed to be an exit.

I don't think I will actually wait nine months for this examination. I will probably go through a private clinic and pay for it myself because it only partially covered by my medical plan. I would rather get it over with than having to think about it for 9 months. I read the information and consent form they sent me. It looks a bit like this. It actually says that Many people sleep during the examination and others are very relaxed, comfortable, and generally not very aware of the examination. Many who know me know that I can fall asleep almost anywhere in any position. I often fall asleep in the dentist chair while he is working in my mouth. Somehow, I don't think I'll be sleeping through this unless they give me very powerful medication. Of course, you have to be on an empty stomach, so who knows.

I have told a couple of people about this, but at my regular doctor, I will call him Jeepy (GP) for short, I was sitting waiting in the examination room (he toggles between two rooms). I am looking around as Jeepy seems to be taking his time in the other room. As I look in one corner of the room, I see 3 things. First, a box full of the dreaded rubber gloves. Second, An open tube of KY-Jelly. Finally on the window sill, an already opened bottle of Metaxa with about a third gone. Why Metaxa? It seems like the obvious choice of liquor for a prostate exam except I am not sure it is appropriate.  The second item reminds me of a funny story how a elderly woman who had recently entered into an old folks home. When asked how the food was she said everything was great except that she couldn't get used to the taste of the Kentucky Jelly on her toast in the morning. Then she showed the orderly the half empty pack of KY-Jelly.

I have finally got some time to type up this next small instalment. I have been either too busy on the train do other stuff or worst still, one night this week I didn't get a seat on train. Trying to use a laptop standing up could be a challenge unless of course you get the proverbial perfect woman standing next to you. I will let you use your imagination on this as to not insult anyone. Anyway, the train is obviously too much of a success. If you don't board in the first 3 minutes of the gates opening (20 minutes before the train leaves) your chances of getting seat are like your chances of finding a woman to watch your new Three Stooges DVD collection with you.

One night I got on the train and I really wanted to sit down because I had a hard day and I wasn't feeling 100%. So I looked up and thought "Lord, take some pity on me. If you find me a seat, I'll go to Mass every Sunday for the rest my life and give up drinking. Miraculously, the next seat was empty. I looked up and said 'Never mind, I found one.'

Anyway, I got another taste of my age tonight on my walk to the Metro station as I turned onto St Jacques street, two streets west of Greene. These guys in their early twenties were getting ready to push a red Chevrolet Cavalier into traffic. One guy at the back and the other with the door opened trying to push and steer. I told the kid get in the car that I would help push it. Then I asked where they were trying to go. The kid said the gas station down the road on the corner of Atwater. That's a good four blocks for those unfamiliar with the area. Within seconds we had the car going at quite a clip and and thankfully we burned the red light at Greene, so we kept the momentum. After 2 1/2 blocks I realized that I was having a hard time keeping up with the car so I told the pusher 'you should be able to take it the rest of the way' and I veered across the street to get to the Metro station. Although I play hockey twice a week, I have a hard time running 2 1/2 blocks, let alone pushing a 3073 pound car. (Obviously, I Googled the weight of a Cavalier and found a curb weight and a gross vehicular weight of 3887lbs.). Anyway, when I finished my daily good deed, that flashed me back to the many times in my youth when I or my friends were in the same situation. I realized that I am not in that great a shape. I know round is a shape, but not one you should have when pushing cars down the street.

So I huffed and puffed my way to the Metro station and caught an earlier Metro than usual (just made it) because of my run, which means I got a seat on the train without having to sell my soul or make foolish promises to the Lord. (does He have internet access?). So the moral of the story, is do your good deed for the day, pray that it doesn't give you a heart attack, and somehow you will get paid back.

The last time I unexpectedly brought my heart rate up like was also a Friday afternoon two years ago. A little background info: on Fridays (and Mondays), I play hockey at 5pm in Two Mountains. I have to catch the 3:45 train at Central Station to make it to hockey. The 4:30 train just doesn't cut it. When I get tied up at work I end up leaving later and when I get to the Metro station, I know that I am too late to take the Metro to Bonaventure, so I hop in a cab. The fateful Friday I boarded what is probably the only cab in Montreal driven by a woman. 'Not that there is anything wrong with that.' When I paid her in the 'tunnel' where the taxi's let off their passengers at the station, I put my wallet in my coat pocket. As soon as I got out of the cab, I knew my wallet was not in my coat pocket and had fallen into the back seat of the cab. By the way, I rarely sit in the back seat of a cab but when a cabbie loads up his front seat with piles of 'trash'  to prevent passengers from using it, I sit in the back. Immediately, I start chasing frantically chasing the cab but she does not see or hear me. She then turns left on la Gauchetiere (an illegal turn) and with me chasing the cab into traffic she continues on her way. The many people on the street must be wondering what kind of a lunatic I am chasing down a cab when there are many others available. This is not New York city during a transit strike. Finally, almost at University street, she probably sees me or maybe someone waves her down, I don't remember as my mind was only focused on one thing. She stops, I opened the back door and casually said, 'J'ai oublié ça'. Then I grabbed my wallet and rushed back to the train. I can guarantee you that was the fastest I have ever run in my life and it was probably one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I have ever had because my heart rate seems to have quickly recovered.

Did not have much time for writing this week but here is a short passage from a train ride home:

Those who know me, have certainly been subject to at least one of my endless theories. Most of these are based on observations from day to day life experiences. Many of those theories are meaningless and I only use as conversation pieces or to get a laugh. They are always my own otherwise I usually start the sentence with; You know what THEY say. That is the sign that I am only repeating someone else's findings. Unfortunately for my female readers, a large percentage of these hypotheses are centered around the passing of wind or other bodily functions. This is really a great subject and can only be appreciated by a mere 14% of the female population while being enjoyed by 100% of their male counterparts. I will save my flatulence theories for later in these chronicles although I will whet your appetite with just one for now.

In my middle managerial role, I have being working in a closed office (rather than a Dilbert cubicle) for a better part of 20 years now and this theory revolves around this isolation. Theory #1 (of these chronicles). If you want somebody to burst into your office uninvited, simply pass wind with or without sound. The time is takes for someone to enter your office is proportional to vileness of the smell. If it does not smell, don't expect anyone. If, in the extreme unlikelihood that no one shows up, I recommend that your leave your office. Close the door behind you. You don't want somebody to walk in and know why you escaped. Then return to make sure the 'a-bomb' has dissipated. Do not attempt to judge this without leaving the room for a least one minute. No matter how bad the smell is, your own body's internal protection mechanism is programmed to stop smelling your own air within 20 seconds of release (Theory #2). Without this advanced mechanism, YOU couldn't even live with yourself.

Almost a month has passed since the first entry in these pages. Sure, I should have learned a few new things. I did find out that if you want to remove the caffeine out of tea, you dump the water out of the cup right away and re-pour the water. This takes 90% of the caffeine out of the tea. I am not sure why you would do that since tea doesn't have half of the caffeine that coffee has.

I may have learned more until now except that my memory banks seem to have hit some kind of limit. (Theory # 3) I believe that the human brain can only contain a certain number of things. This is actually a pretty good design feature because if you remembered everything, life would eventually get pretty boring. That means that you would only have to hear a joke once and after that you would have to interrupt everybody by saying I have already heard that. Imagine remembering every movie you ever saw. Not just the fact you saw it, but every detail about it. You would never re-watch anything. Surprise or twists are what mostly what makes jokes funny. If you remembered everything, most jokes would fall flat because you would remember some alternate version of it. Personally I have a system to save using up memory for useless things. That's why I don't remember too many details of things I see.

Here is an example of how to minimize memory usage in your brain. When you see a movie or a show, take note of the title (shorten it if you can as to not use too many brain cells). Then, using the binary system (as is yes/no) ask yourself a few questions. Did you see it? What it good? Would I watch it again? Was there a nude scene? Try to remember one (or two max) actors in the movie. This info is all you will need in a few years when someone asks you about it. All this info can be stored in about eight brain cells that, if you are lucky, will not get destroyed on your next alcohol binge. So in twenty years, when someone asks you about The Terminal for example, you can say; Yah, I saw it, it was OK but there were no boobs and Tom Hanks has been in better movies. Any more details than that and you will eventually run out of memory. So use your memory cells wisely. A good method, is write things like this and then forget about it. You can always refer back to things you have written. I know when I look back at some of the things I wrote long ago, I sometimes ask myself; 'I wrote that?'.

On to another subject. I saw this on Ste-Catherine street tonight and I need your opinion. This couple (early 30's I would guess) is walking on the sidewalk going along their merry way. A young rubby (bet you've never heard that) is sort of following them begging for money. (This is good for me as I can now squeeze by without him turning to me.) Anyway, the guy finally reaches into his pocket and gives the guy a 10 dollar bill. Yes, not a typo. It almost looked like he was trying to impress his date with his generosity because he made sure she saw it. My question is this. Has this guy impressed the girl or has he just signed his life away. At least his life with this girl. Can you imagine her in a couple of weeks asking her boyfriend for something and he says no. I can just see the next line: 'You mean you won't do this for me, but you would give a complete stranger $10. So what do you think? Cool guy or Fool Guy?

By the way, I had a Dr.'s appointment yesterday. The bottle of Metaxa, now has two new friends, a bottle of Manischewitz and a half empty bottle of Taylor's Porto. Later, I will write you my (conspiracy) theory about Doctors and the medical profession.