Archive for May, 2009

The lazy, dog-days of summer are nearly upon us, and many of you are eagerly awaiting heat, humidity and sunshine.  Things are a little more short-sighted in the Duncan household, where our dog-days will hopefully begin tomorrow.  We have our interview with the OSPCA in Newmarket in the early afternoon, which we hope is more of a formality than anything, and if it goes well,  we’ll be bringing our newly adopted dog home.

Over the last week, we’ve basically convinced ourselves that we’re getting the little guy and we’ve been prepping our home to make it his own with a bed, food bowls and, of course, toys.  Cabinets that contain cleaning products are sealed up tight and anything at tail-level that could be smashed or knocked over has been carefully secured.  We’ve read websites and books about introducing a dog to a new home and the basics of training.  We’re as ready as we can be, and all that’s left to make the whole thing complete is to have a dog in the house to enjoy it all.

Hopefully, when you come back here next week, there’ll be some good news and lots of photos.  If not, you can probably expect a rant against the OSPCA.  🙂  Either way, you win, so stay tuned.

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Tomorrow I have to do one of the things I dread most in life.   It’s not a trip to the dentist (which I enjoy) or yard or housework, I have to carry something large and unweildy on public transit.  Due to some scheduling conflicts, I have to bring my acoustic guitar (case and all) into work with me, which means a bus ride, a streetcar ride and two subway rides with the beast.

Traveling on public transit can be trying at the best of times, with people shoving, smelling and doing generally anti-social activities, so being ‘that guy’ with the giant, awkward item is not something I like to do.  Alas, it can’t be helped.

Probably the most trying experience of this sort for me was travelling the Metro in Madrid last fall with both my huge camping backpack and a large shoulder bag.  We managed to get some empty cars, but a few trips were insanely packed and I was far from comfortable.

Maybe tomorrow, to gain myself a little extra elbow room, I’ll use the guitar case as a club to bang anyone who gets near me.  If I act just crazy enough, maybe people would rather leave me alone than crowd me and they’ll certainly get out of my way when I try to get out the door.

So, if you see me on the TTC tomorrow, stand clear!

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Let’s all take a trip in the Wayback machine to the winter of the year 2000.  New Years Y2K had come and gone without civilization crumbling to bits and the future was looking bright.  The tech boom was in full swing and I was working as a bright-eyed and eager University co-op student in a major Canadian software company.  Times were good.

This was when I first learned how craft basic HTML and created my first (now defunct) web pages on one of the free webhosts that were so popular back in the day.  I struggled with brackets off and on, but quickly got the hang of things and created garish looking sites for fun.

That was also when I first came across a great little tagline that has followed me through my years of writing, online learning and general attitude.  No matter how mature or well-balanced I become, I will always love the simplicity in message and humour of “Eat well, stay fit, die anyway“.

I can’t remember where I found it, and I have no idea to whom it should be attritbuted, but it quickly became my standard email signature and finally the tagline for my early websites and my now well-aged blog.  It’s so sarcastic, but the message that regardless of how we live our lives, it all ends the same way really resonates with me.  I’ve always been a fan of the equally meaningful saying (claimed to be a tombstone epitaph) of “Let them say I died for having lived”.

However, after years of eating and doing what I want, I’m starting to realize that there are limits; most notably to how often I can let my pants out.  While I’m starting to look out for myself, I think my mantra still holds true.  I’m never going to be one of those preachy people talking about how you should only eat bean sprouts and hit the gym three times a week, but in order to do all the things I love for the rest of my life, I’m going to have to start living some changes.

All that being said, I’m still going to die, which is reassuring.

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As the evenings grow longer and the afternoons get warmer, I’m also noticing that a pile has started to grow in our house.  This pile is an annual tradition and it’s a well-known phenomenon to many families in North America.  It’s the “This stuff is going to the cottage” pile.

For cottage-owners, there are only three classes of ‘thing’ in your home.  There is a thing that is in good condition and still worthy of being in your house, a thing that is completely broken/soiled/destroyed and is only destined for the garbage (or perhaps Goodwill) and then everything in between, which is considered good enough for the cottage.  In some cases, this middle group is just a way of holding off on throwing out something useless that still has emotional value.

This class of object can include things like ugly lamps, slightly frayed towels, toasters that either over or undercook and pots and pans with loose handles or years of scouring marks.  Board games with missing pieces and tools that don’t quite work as well as the ‘good’ tools get the same treatment.

The outcome of all this is that you have a slightly older and less functional replica of your own home at the cottage, and you’re surrounded by things that might not work as well as they should, but you’re familiar with them.  Also, at the cottage, you have A LOT more patience for a finicky toaster or a circular saw where you have to hold the cable ‘just so’.

This year’s batch includes a new shipment of ‘cottage clothing’ (which the mice and moths will make short work of over the next few years) and a resupply of some of the basic kitchen implements which are near non-functional up there.  Shockingly, they also include some NEWLY PURCHASED items, albeit of inferior quality and on super-cheap sale.  Be warned friends, if you help prepare a meal at our cottage and use the new kitchen knives, you just might lose an eye.

Now I just need to draw some diagrams to figure out how I can pack it all in our Hyundai to get it up there, especially if our next trip includes a 60 pound four-legged kibble-eating machine.

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Friday night was a quiet one around the house, but I did manage to restring my acoustic guitar, so now it doesn’t sound like an out of tune banjo anymore.  And just in time for patio weather!  Now I can sit out on the back deck in the evenings and serenade the neighbours until they come over and pay me to shut up.

On Satuday, we watched as our beloved Toronto FC crushed New England 3-1 under sunny skies.  That’s our first home game without any rain.  Afterwards, we headed to a friend’s birthday party for some live karaoke.  It’s like normal karaoke, but instead of being backed by a cheezy audio track, it’s a live band.  I did “Interstate Love Song” by STP and “Where is My Mind” by The Pixies.  It was awesome, and the band has a regular gig on the last Tuesday of every month in the basement of The Drake Hotel.  Check ’em out.

On Sunday, we headed up to Newmarket to check out the York Region OSPCA and look around for a dog.  A few weeks ago, we’d contacted a shelter organization about another dog, but we haven’t heard from them since, so our search moved on.  Well, yesterday we found an awesome dog and filled out all the necessary paperwork.  We should get a call early this week once our references have been checked, and we’re hoping we get the nod.

As if this is the last week in May.  Where on earth did the spring go?  Suddenly all the trees have leaves on them and you can walk around in the evening wearing pants and a light sweater.

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Thanks to a recent BBC online article, I now know what is the top-selling clothing item on Amazon.com and I’m really sad that I didn’t win the $50 million 6/49 jackpot last night because it’s going to be harder to completely replace my wardrobe with just these shirts.

The shirt itself might not seem all that remarkable, but check out the user reviews.  You can see the shirt here, and you can read the BBC article here.

That’s probably more reading than you planned to do today, and it’s all well worth it, so I’ll just leave you to it.  You’re welcome.

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Watching any of the Canadian television networks, you would guess that we’re either in the build-up to or right in the midst of a federal election thanks to new run of ads from the Progressive Conservatives.  I’m sure you’ve seen the ads that make it sound like Michael Ignatieff is just visiting Canada from either Britain or the US, where he would much rather live apparently, and that he’s just here to destroy our country with American/British values and to bolster his own international image.

The ads are hilarious really, and they smack of desperation, moreso thanks to the fact that we don’t appear to be even close to another federal election.  I can only guess that the Conservative party is taking advantage of cheap advertising costs (thanks to the recession) for the chance to take potshots at their biggest rival who, according to recent polls, is starting to gain more popularity.

Ironically, this tactic is used more often and more effectively in US politics, where Iggy is supposed to feel more at home, but there are no ads like this coming from his side of the house.  Maybe the pot is calling the kettle black.  Frankly, if the Liberals wanted to do something similar, they could easily tie Harper to Mulroney, who is probably at this very moment sitting in inquiry about cash he took from a shady German businessman for an unclear purpose that he took years to claim as income in his taxes.

From where I sit, Ignatieff took a pretty big paycut and significant stall in his academic and personal career as an intellectual to come back home and fill a leadership void within a party he cares deeply about in a country he clearly loves very much; one he often and emphatically calls ‘home’.

If you want a glimpse into the kind of guy Iggy really is, check out a clip from the Rick Mercer show where Mercer helps Iggy move into his new digs at Stornoway (the official residence of the leader of the opposition).  You can view the video here, from Mercer’s page on the CBC video archives.

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Today is Tuesday.  Today is Tuesday. Today is Tuesday. Today is Tuesday.  I figure if I repeat it enough times to myself, I might actually remember that today is Tuesday.  I doubt it, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be screwed up all week, but it’s more than worth it to get a long weekend.

We had a great time in Montreal, in spite of the freezing cold and driving rain.  Although I would have preferred better weather, I realize it’s still spring and I’m just glad that we weren’t camping (as so many Ontarians do) for May Two-Four.  There’s still plenty of time and increasingly better weather to come over the next few months to waste time griping about a few days of crap weather.

All that being said, I’m back in Toronto with poutine in my belly and good Quebecois beer in my kitchen.  We bought some awesome cheese, baguette and bagels and spent some quality time with our fantastic family.  So, all in all it was a great long weekend.

Oh, and although we were wiped after our drive home last night, we still took part in the traditional Victoria Day celebrations by lighting off some fireworks in a nearby parking lot.  To the best of our knowledge, we didn’t burn anything down, but it might be too early to tell.

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