Monthly Archives: March 2016


A friend’s only modern technology is a landline, with voice mail, from Bell Canada, a television set that uses an antenna, a DVD and VHS player, and some AM/FM radios.  That’s it!  No computer.  No Internet.  No cell phone.  No cable or satellite television.  Also, he does not have an e-mail address.

Every several months he gets calls from Bell Canada.  “We’d like to upgrade your package and save you money!” the caller says.  It’s always the same line, but from different callers.  He does not mind the calls because he is waiting for someone from Bell to answer his final question.

He said that he explains how he does not have a computer, cell phone, and no e-mail address.  He also says that his tv is free because he has an antenna on his roof and gets twenty to thirty channels.  “Still,” he said, “the person will go on and on about Bell’s various packages and how they will save me money with Internet, cell phone and satellite tv.”

He said that a phone call from Bell will go like this near the end:

“Your packages range from $200.00 to $300.00?”

“Yes,” says the Bell person, “but our three-month introductory prices are cheaper.”

“But the regular price, after the three-months is over, is between $200.00 to $300.00.”


(Here is his final question.)

“My regular telephone bill is between $40.00 to $60.00 per month depending upon long distance calls.  How am I going to save money by paying $200.00 to $300.00, per month, for one of your packages?”


He told me, “No one has ever answered my final question.  And after the brief uneasy silence, they thank me for my time and hang up.”




I take my smart phone outside to plant it in the garden because the phone was getting too big for the flower pot inside my home.  I dig away.

A car buzzes from flower to flower having a pollinating good time.  The car does not sense the spider’s web stretching from the rosebush to the Spanish galleon.  Caught!  The car struggles to get free and vibrates the web.  Out comes an octopus and strangles the car.

“Damn!” says the octopus.  “It’s a Ford Focus.  I was hoping for a foreign model.  Domestic food is okay, but I love exotic meals.”

With my smart phone planted, with room to grow, I return to my life and pretend that it’s real.



My poor daughters!  They have the Johnston propensity to ramble on and not get to the point.

Think of the point as being the first sentence of Chapter 49.  The first sentence is all you need to know and ask about.  If you ask a Johnston, then you’re going to get all the details from Chapters 1 to 48 before hearing the first sentence of Chapter 49.  It’s not necessary to hear all the details, but you’ll hear them anyway.

My brother went to the doctor to get test results.  I asked him, “What did the doctor say?”

“I woke up before the alarm went off,” he said, “and thought I would get up early to give myself lots of time to get to the ten o’clock doctor’s appointment.  So I—”

“What did the doctor say?” I asked again interrupting his rambling.

“If you’d shut up and listen, then I’ll tell you.”  He continued, “So I got up and took my time having a shower and making breakfast.  I don’t like rushing. I—”

“I just want to know what the doctor said.”

“If you’d shut up and stop interrupting, then I’ll tell you!”

“But you’re telling me about what you did in the morning.  I just want to know what the doctor told you.”

“So let me finish.  Keep your mouth shut and let me finish!  Stop interrupting.  He continued, “So I made . . . ”

Sigh!  I gave up.  I listened to what my brother made for breakfast; how he left at 8:30 to give himself lots of time;  how he saw his neighbor when leaving and what they talked about; the traffic conditions on his way to the doctor’s office; where he parked his car at the doctor’s office; how he had arrived way before ten, but still had to wait well after ten to see the doctor.  Finally — FINALLY! — he told me what the doctor said which, symbolically, was the first sentence of Chapter 49.  Being a Johnston, he was unable to tell me the first sentence of Chapter 49 without giving me every single detail from Chapters 1 to 48.

Years ago a friend asked me, “Johnston, why is it that when I ask you about your car, you start telling me how your dog is doing?”

I did not know the answer then.  Now I know it’s all part of being a Johnston.



What if I could get everything I wanted?  Would I be any happier?  I like to think yes, but the Wisdom of the Ages indicates no.  Still, being a human, and susceptible to stupidity, I would like to give it a try.  Perhaps I would be the first human in history to find lasting happiness with material objects.

What do I want?  I want a magic lamp that has a genie who would grant me three wishes.  My first wish would be to have unlimited wishes.   I could never understand why the person in the story, who was given three wishes, never wished for more wishes.  My second wish would be for lots of money and a house.  I would save the other wishes for situations as they arise.

I would not wish for world peace.  That would put the military-industrial complex and members of the media out of work.  How would the defense contractors make any money if we weren’t buying weapons and bombs so we can kill each other?  And then there’s the media.  Who would watch the news if it wasn’t filled with killing and violence?  What would people talk about if there were no wars and terrorism in the news?  How much mileage can you get out of a good-news story such as Granny Smith’s Apple Pie Contest?  That type of news story and the weather would be the only stories in the news if there was world peace.   How boring!

Lots of money and a house . . . I can’t think of anything else.  Of course I would also use the other wishes for family and friends as their situations required.

I can see how having unlimited wishes would cause problems.  Do I dare disturb the Universe?  That is what I would be doing — disturbing the Universe.  The Universe has it all planned out, and then along I come with my unlimited wishes and mess up the plans.  What kind of karma would I be creating by messing up the Universe’s plans?

Forget it.  I don’t want a magic lamp with unlimited wishes.  I’ll take my chances with my life as it is, and leave the Universe’s plans alone.



Using the self-checkout machine at Loblaws grocery store this morning made me realize that I need to improve my communication skills.  I was supposed to receive $7.50 change, from a ten-dollar bill, but the machine only gave me $5.50.  I approached the self-checkout attendant whom I have spoken to many times before to give me extra rewards points because I had my own cloth grocery bag.

“I put ten dollars in the machine and was supposed to get $7.50 change, but the machine only gave me $5.50.  It’s two dollars short,” I said.

“What?” she said.

“The machine only gave me $5.50 change, from ten dollars, when it should have been $7.50.”


“The machine.  I put in ten dollars and was supposed to get $7.50 back, but it only gave me $5.50.”

“You want points for your cloth bag?” she asked.

“No.  The machine shortchanged me by two dollars.  I was supposed to get $7.50 and it only gave me $5.50.”


“The machine did not give me the proper change.  It owes me two dollars.”

“You want points for your cloth bag?”

No, I don’t want points.  I want the two dollars.  The machine shortchanged me.”


By this time we were both in front of the machine.  I pointed to the change I had left in the machine because  I saw it was wrong, and she took my receipt.  Finally she understood and gave me my proper change.

Yup!  I need to improve my communication skills.



A friend and I recently discussed how schools and society in general destroy a child’s creativity.  I used to be as concerned as my friend was, but not any more.  Nothing can destroy creativity.  Schools and society can discourage it, but they cannot destroy it.  Any adult can reawaken his or her sleeping creativity long after a school put it to sleep.  I agree with psychologist Anna Freud about creative minds surviving any kind of bad training.

“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.”

– Anna Freud

Creative minds will always survive.  They always have.  Look at the art and literature that creative minds created throughout the ages no matter what the political or social conditions.  There has never been a shortage of creativity.  When suppressed, it goes underground.

So let the schools and society do what they think they have to do to encourage conformity and nice, safe behavior.  Creative minds will always prevail.




Other than looking in the mirror, I did not meet any nutbars today.  I accept that I may be as crazy, or crazier, than the people I meet and write about.

What about me is crazy?

I am right-handed, but I pick my nose with my left hand.  How awkward I feel trying to pick my nose with my right hand.  I go off into an altered state of consciousness when I have my left forefinger buried in my nose and digging.  No altered state when I pick my nose with any finger on my right hand.

I will wear the same clothes everyday until they smell like cheese.  If my clothes do not get dirty otherwise, then I change them when they start to get that cheese smell.  The same applies to my bath towels.

I believe in a reality beyond our senses; a reality that may take me many lifetimes to know.

How arrogant of scientific types who say that the Wisdom of the Universe is not true because they can’t prove it with science and logic.  How silly!  Science and logic compared to the Wisdom of the Universe is like comparing a pinpoint of water to the ocean.  The Universe is.  It does not care whether we can prove or verify any part of it.  It does not need our belief or approval to carry on.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
William Shakespeare,  Hamlet

I hear voices in my head.  A voice recently told me, “The Creator created Earth, the Solar System, the Galaxy and the entire Universe as a gift for you.  It’s all about you.  Never forget to share your gift.”



Fiction is stranger than truth.  Consider the following:

Mary had a little lamb,
His fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

Really?  The lamb went everywhere Mary went?  Grocery stores?  Shopping malls? Restaurants?  The Women’s Washroom?  No zealous security guards, or anyone else, tried to stop her?


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

So the king’s horses and the king’s men worked together trying to restore Humpty Dumpty.  How did they communicate?  Did the horses speak English?  Were they telepathic?  Were the king’s men telepathic?  Did the king’s men speak Horsesh?  

By the way, how long did they work at trying to put Humpty Dumpty together?  Five minutes?  Five hours?  Five days?  In fiction and in truth, union rules would allow only a certain time to restore a broken giant egg.   There’s no mention of a union in the rhyme, but I’m sure it existed.

“Sorry Humpty,” says a horse,  “we’d like to keep working on you, but the Union says our restoring-giant-egg time is up.”



Regarding Superman, they want us to believe that black-frame glasses are good enough as a disguise to prevent people from seeing that Clark Kent is Superman.

I got a pair of black glasses when I was a kid, and put them on as a disguise.  But everyone, including my parents, always knew it was me.


Once upon a time . . .

I know my past three blogs said that truth was stranger than fiction.  Now I am saying that fiction is stranger than truth.  I am consistently inconsistent, and that’s the truth.



Teddy Bear Man has many stuffed teddy bears and other animals that he brings to the North York Central Library to watch movies on the computer.  Teddy Bear Man would never notice Dolly Lady, Wimpy, or anyone else because he focuses only on his teddy bears.  He whispers to them,  kisses them, caresses them, and puts his ear to their mouths to hear what they have to say.  He is oblivious to anything going on around him.




Sometimes he has earphones plugged into the computer during the movies, and sometimes he doesn’t.  I have mentioned before that anyone who talks to stuffed animals does not need sound to watch movies.




Other times Teddy Bear Man has part of a steering wheel.  He pretends he’s driving a vehicle while he and his Teddy Bear watch movies.




I would love to know what Teddy Bear Man is thinking.  I would love to know what he says to his teddy bears, and what they say to him.  But people like Teddy Bear Man are not in the same solar system as I am.  I keep my mouth shut to avoid any misunderstandings that could lead to violence.  But even keeping my mouth shut does not guarantee that people won’t attack me.  Some people have said that I have a “striking” face.  Sometimes, without me saying a word, some nutbars wanted to strike it.

I understand people not believing me when I tell them about the things I see.  I have trouble believing it myself.   Truth stranger than fiction.






And then there’s Wimpy.  He looks like Wimpy from Popeye in body shape and clothing.    Unlike Wimpy, he always wears a red hard hat and construction boots.  He also pushes a cart containing newspapers and bags.

“Wimpy” comes to the North York Central Library to read newspapers.  He will grab a pile of newspapers, sit down at a table and read them.  That is all he does all day.

Why does Wimpy need  a hard hat and construction shoes to read newspapers?  Is he worried that he will be injured by Breaking News?