Author Archive

Our world is an imperfect place (insert “gasp” here), but I’ve identified a few small improvements that would make it much better.  Well, for me at least.  This is FAR from an exhaustive list (omitting key big ticket items like world peace, and end to poverty and vegetables that taste like candy) with a focus on the more acheivable things that would take some of the sting out of my every day life.

This has been a work in progress over the last few years, and feel free to add your own additions in the comments and I’ll be sure to update my list and make it available to candidates in our next federal election, with a copy sent to the United Nations to address at the General Assembly  (Note, I am too lazy to send this list to anyone.  It will only exist here).

  • The ability to Track Changes in PowerPoint.  This is a great feature in Microsoft Word; one that I use every day in the course of my job.  Sadly, I also create a shocking number of PowerPoint “decks” (a terrible word) and send them to a number of people to provide edits, updates and reviews.  Coordinating all those changes takes up a ridiculous amount of time and I would like to spend it on more important things, like drinking coffee, filing emails and creating even more PowerPoint presentations.
  • A plastic food storage system that can be stored effectively.  I’ll call it “Tupperware” for simplicity’s sake, but we all have a cupboard in our kitchen with awkward stacks of this stuff that crash down on you head when you open the door.  On top of that, you can never find the right lid for the bottom you’ve already filled with leftover chili and end up having to switch containers, leading to more dishes to wash.  And I hate washing dishes. I’ve been toying with the idea of having two mesh bags on the inside of lower cupboard doors (like some kitchen garbage bags); one for lids and the other for containers.  The system would have to simplified to two or three sizes with colour coded lids so you can easily find what you need.  I leave it to the fine folks at the Tupperware company to sort this out.
  • A service that will come around in the middle of the night and top up the gas tank in your car.  This is a card I’ve been holding close to my chest for a while now, because while it sounds kind of ridiculous, I’m convinced there’s a market for this and that someone could figure out how to make money doing it.  Sadly, I have realized that I will not be that person.  So in lieu of getting rich off of it, I’d rather float it out there into the ether and take advantage as a consumer when someone else figures it out.
  • No soiled diapers.  Nothing much can be done here, I’m just complaining.  Feel free to either ignore this one or nod in sympathetic agreement. We’re on the verge of potty training in our house, so this one will be passing the torch onto “soiled clothing” and “soiled furniture, floor coverings and other assorted things… ew” in due course.
  • No iron/Wrinkle-free dress shirts.  Yes, I know these exist and are widely available at just about every type of retail outlet in an equally wide variety of price points. My beef is two-fold:
    1. I don’t have nearly enough of them.  This can be rectified by family members at Christmas, my birthday and any other holiday (St. David’s Day is celebrated on March 1, hint hint).
    2. The ones I do have, still get sort of wrinkly and need “touch ups” with the iron after washing.  Boo, I say to the textile industry.  Boo.
  • A tool specifically designed to get every last bit of peanut butter out of the jar.  I hate wasting food as much as the next guy, but that’s not what this is about.  More often than not, it’s when you get to the dregs of your peanut butter jar that you discover there is no back up full jar in the cupboard to satisfy your craving for smooth, peanut buttery goodness.  You don’t want that last bit of PB as much as you NEED it.  I can’t be the only one.
  • One extra statutory holiday every year for your birthday.  If you know me well, or have casually followed this blog (back in the days when it was possible to follow it casually), you’ve heard me go off about this.  I firmly believe that every Canadian should get his or her birthday off as a statutory holiday.  If it falls on a weekend or another stat holiday, you get a floater.  Going to work on your birthday is as bad as going to work on your birthday.  That is, it’s so bad that there is no simile sufficient to capture its badness.

I hope you’ve enjoyed witnessing my not-so-gradual decline into old man curmudgeonyness that is evident in this list.  Rest assured that I’ve toned it down and those who spend a lot of time with me (Danielle, Sebastian and Mojo) hear about these topics (and more) at length (great, great length).

Now I’m off to enjoy a peanut butter sandwich that is sorely lacking in peanut butter.  Stupid jar.

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Sometime yesterday afternoon, Mother Nature officially swept the muggy heat of summer under the rug and welcomed the crisp, cool days of fall in the front door.  While many of you are no doubt heartbroken that beach weather is gone for the next few months, if you know anything about me, you can probably picture me tapdancing on the fallen leaves in my yard.

Many of us mark the change of seasons by reflecting on the season that has passed and planning for the season ahead.  For me, that included looking back at some of the things I’ve missed in my life lately, and sharing my musings and observations in here is pretty high on the list.  I’ve missed my blog, and everytime I open my browser and see the link for it on my favourites toolbar, I feel a pang of guilt coupled with the grief of not having posted in six months.

Am I promising that I’ll get back to posting regularly?  Daily even?  Not likely.  I’ve made promises in the past and then beat myself up when I didn’t live up to those expectations.  I just wanted to share that I’ve missed writing in here, and that contributing more often is going to be a higher priority.

You can look forward to some stories (and possibly photos) from a couple of fall trips (one to the cottage and another to Chudleigh’s Apple Farm) and at least one rant about the ongoing transit saga here in Toronto.  No doubt our mayor will do something worth noting in here (Drug use allegations? Ethics breaches?  Both?  Only time will tell!), so there’s plenty of fodder.

In the meantime, I urge those of you who are saddened that summer has passed to throw on a fleece sweater, pour some hot cider in a travel mug and get out into the woods to enjoy the wonders of fall.  Or, if you’re pressed for time like me, enjoy it in small doses while you rake leaves and get your house ready for winter.

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I just got back from my tux fitting for Kenneth’s wedding in May, and the whole experience brought back some fond memories of mine and Danielle’s wedding.  Kenneth went with the same store (Moore’s has great service and can accommodate for groomsmen across Canada and even the States), so I was back at the same location on Yonge Street where I was fitted all those years ago.

There’s something magical about the wedding tuxedo, regardless of whether you’re the groom or one of the guys chosen to act as bookends at the ceremony.  It gives every man an air of class and sophistication, even if it’s a rental, and that’s something that every guy can use a bit more of in his life.  As soon as you put it on, you feel like you should be sipping martinis and have a small handgun strapped to your ribs in case one of Ernst Bloefeld’s henchmen show up to throw a spanner in the works.

So between now and late May, I’ll be sorting out how best to groom my facial hair and working on my Sean Connery imperSHonation so I can be sure to demonstrate how debonair I can be in my fitted duds.

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We interrupt this long hiatus from posting (3 months!) with a late-breaking news bulletin:

It snows in Canada.  All winter, in fact.  I don’t mean continually for the duration of the entire season, but on and off throughout it.  Sometimes it snows a little and sometimes it snows a lot.  Maybe it melts or turns to ice, but before April, you can be pretty sure that if it’s snowing, it will probably snow again.

So why on earth is everyone acting like yet another snowfall at the end of February is a sign of the end times?  This hasn’t even been a particularly snowy winter and you’d think that we were collectively buried under eight feet of the stuff.

Phew.  There. I got that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.  I’ll see you again in another three months. Or sooner.  Or later.  Maybe when it snows next.

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Good Burgersday to you all,

I’ve begun hearing from many of you, wondering where the email and blog post about the annual burger-binge at Dangerous Dan’s is.  Well, here it is, quite a bit later than usual.  Between not having any personal email access at work (I know. Crazy, right?) and keeping up with a toddler, this has pretty much slipped my mind.

Some of you are stalwarts at this annual event, while others are hearing about it for the first time.  Rest assured, you are all being cordially invited because you are human and eating food is a requirement for life, and if you’re anything like me, (and you are) you might just be disgusting enough to get a kick out of this food in particular.Of course, I’m referring to the annual pilgrimage to Dangerous Dan’s Diner on Queen Street East (at Broadview) where we will try our best to take down Coronary Combos in the battle to show those uppity vegans who’s boss.

The NINTH annual trip will take place on Sunday, November 25 at 4:00pm.  In a break with tradition, this year’s trip will NOT be on the same day as the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.  It’s actually the week after since I’ll be at the parade this year instead.  In case you’re wondering why, we’re holding it in the afternoon to avoid both the lunch and dinner rushes, and so that everyone taking part really only has to have one meal that day.

For the uninitiated, these burgers are ridiculously huge, but not altogether untasty.  To get an idea of what you might be in for, check out 2009’s public invite and the photos that followed, after we rode the burger bus.  Then, tell me that you wouldn’t love a photo like that for your Facebook or Twitter profile pic.

As always, spectators, friends and significant others are more than welcome (this event is open to all genders), but we encourage anyone not taking part to be supportive rather than judgmental.  After all, consuming these combos is a feat of arms, as it were.

Feel free to forward this along to anyone who might want to take part, watch or even document this event for future posterity.  If you know anyone with first aid skills, or who is particularly handy with a defibrillator, they would be welcome too.

Mark the event in your calendar, share it with your friends, make sure your camera (and stomach pump) are charged and ready to go and for goodness sake, start training now.  I hope to see you all in the land of beef in a few short days.

If you’re coming, just leave a comment here to let me know.  The folks at the diner have asked we provide numbers so they can have enough cows killed ahead of time.

Thanks, and see you there!

PS: I have every intention of bringing my son to witness this annual feat, and also to compare how big he is compared to the burger.

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It’s been a while without an update, so here’s why.  My pneumonia is still hanging around in my chest, although it gets a little better each day.  I think it got lonely so it invited a serious sinus infection a couple of weeks ago, so I’m treating that now too.  Sebby has a serious head cold (which is probably what caused my sinus infection), so no one in the house is sleeping all that well, which means getting better is just a far off dream at this point.

Aside from his cold, he’s doing great.  He’s walking around like crazy and talking up  a storm (both in French and English).  I’m impatiently waiting for the first snow of the season so we can play in the yard and make snowmen and snowballs, but I know that’s a while off yet.

While I’m recovering, my household projects are on hold as it takes most of our energy just to take care of every day chores, but I’ve got plenty of work in the house for later this fall and winter, including finally finishing the basement (baseboard and a drop ceiling).  Now that we have our new shed up in the yard, I’ll have to take apart the old one and hire a junk company to come pick it up and some random odds and ends of wood and metal that were lying around in the yard.

Once all that is done, I’ve got a short list of electrical work (some new outlets upstairs, light switches for some fixtures that have pull cords and an exhaust fan in our steamy bathroom), and then I’ll feel like we have a fully functional home.  Well, at least until I find some more projects to keep me busy.

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This is my first week back to work after being hammered by pneumonia, and I may have actually started back a little too early.  I still tire very easily, am constantly dehydrated no matter how much I drink and I have random sweats, but no fever.  However, I was suffering pretty badly from cabin fever, so at least I feel a bit like a normally functional human being by returning to the ‘real world’.

Awaiting me in that real world are two lawns badly in need of cutting and and a short list of household chores that slowly grew in my convalescence.   Being sick is the worst.

Still, there are things to look forward to in my near future.  For example, our tickets to this weekend’s TFC match also admit us to the CNE for no extra charge, so assuming we can find a babysitter, it’s a relatively cheap afternoon/evening out for us.  I assume I’ll feel well enough to brave the Zipper with a bellyful of deep-fried delights.  Of particular interest is the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger, which is exactly what it sounds like; a cheeseburger served between two donuts.

Rumour has it that The Arkells will be playing a free show later on in the CNE’s run, so if anyone is interested in heading down there to check them out, let me know.  Since the CNE marks the unofficial end of summer here in Toronto, why not celebrate it with a great outdoor rock concert and some food that will help fatten you up for the long winter to come.

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So after having had a bad headache for over a week, I came down with flu-like symptoms a week ago today.  After work last Thursday, the body ache and fever showed up and I ended up having to take Friday off, but I figured it was just a matter of time until I felt better.  Since we had plans for the weekend up in Ottawa that couldn’t be rescheduled, figured I would feel better shortly and had built-in babysitters in the form of my parents for Sebby, we headed up on Saturday morning.

By Saturday afternoon, my symptoms had taken a turn for the worse.  With Danielle in Ottawa helping her sister pick out a wedding dress, I left Sebby with my parents and headed off to the hospital with trouble breathing and an astronomic fever.

Those of you familiar with our cottage and Shawville, Quebec might be surprised to hear that it even has an emergency ward, let alone a good one.  My expectations weren’t very high going in, but from now on, I’m tempted to drive the 5 hours for every medical emergency. In the three hours I was there, I was quickly seen, given x-rays and blood tests and diagnosed before being drugged up and sent packing back home.

I was kind of concerned when I first spoke with my doctor as my symptoms seemed indicative of a particularly bad seasonal flu, but it wasn’t flu season.  She couldn’t rule out West Nile, which was my greatest fear.

I was shocked by the diagnosis; pneumonia!  Apparently it stood out like a sore thumb on my chest x-rays and fully explained everything.

Since the diagnosis, I’ve been on antibiotics and just suffering through the end-phase symptoms of fever, fatigue, body ache and more fever.  I swear I’ve never sweat so much at night in my entire life, and I feel like I’m constantly drinking to keep my fluids up.  I’ll probably be off work all week, but I’m finally able to start helping out at home after WAY too long without being able to hold my baby boy.

The only big plus of this whole mess is that my plan to start eating and living better got a bit of a boost with some high-fever weight loss.  In a little less than a week, I’ve managed to drop nearly half of my extra body weight, but someone will probably tell me that’s not the best weight to lose.

So, sorry for the rambly post… I’m still a little woozy in the ol’ noggin, but I hope to be right as rain in a few more days.

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