Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for May, 2006

Under Pressure

Sorry to talk about the weather again, but aside from TTC woes, it’s all anyone can talk about here in TO. Finally the temperature is dropping (presently 31 degrees with the humidex, so it feels 10 degrees cooler than yesterday), and we’ve got a nice breeze going, but the air so heavy that everyone is snappy and surly. We’re under a severe thunderstorm watch, and I don’t think it can come soon enough.

After suffering through a massive pre-season heatwave, poor air quality, and a wildcat transit strike, we can look forward to a gorgeous temperate weekend without transit interruptions. Do you hear that Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, etc? God doesn’t hate us (specifically).

Last night as I laid in bed trying to sleep in my not-so-cool room (but not so hot), I remembered fondly my trip to NYC last August (in the midst of one of 2005’s worst heatwaves) and trying to sleep in a crappy little room in a hostel in the Village. No A/C, no air movement, not even a hint of anything cool. I just laid perfectly still and sweat myself to sleep… and I slept quite well. Sleeping in the new house is AWESOME compared to that experience, and even a huge leap from my old apartment.

In a different type of pressure, I leave for my first canoe trip of 2006 in just over a week, and my physical conditioning training has taken a bit of a hit with the heat. I’ve got to step up my weight training for my arms and legs so that first 1.8km portage doesn’t snap me in half like the twig that I am. To say that I’m giddy with anticipation over trying out all the new gear I got over the winter would be the understatement of the year. You heard me. ‘Giddy’. Tee hee.

No more weather talk for the rest of the week (unless TO gets hit by a Tornado, or our basement gets flooded… again. That’s a story for another day).

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The First Hot Summer Night

Last night I met up with Shari, Galen and a dozen or so of our friends from Squads (other leaders) for a year-end party of sorts. We hung out at Wellesley Park (a gorgeous park at the east end of Wellesley by the Don Valley) eating Indian food and playing laid-back park sports. What a great night. I hadn’t met most of the people there before, and I can’t remember the last time I threw a frisbee around, or kicked around a soccer ball.

By the time I wandered home around 9:30, my feet were nearly black with dirt (I like going barefoot in parks… except Moss Park where you’re likely to get stuck with a used needle… no joke) and my clothes REEKED of sweat, but I was happy as a clam. Summer… embraced.

What made me even happier was the state of our living room. In favour of NOT going broke on utility bills, we opted to hold off on turning on the A/C as long as possible. Despite the 42 degrees outside, our living room was as cool as spring… well, not THIS spring. Our second storey was pretty warm, but manageable, and Jared’s room was an oven. We’ll have to figure out how to block off his stairwell so all the cool air from his A/C doesn’t just roll down to the main floor.

Rumours of a regular pick-up game of soccer here in the city have started to float around. Who’s interested? After playing some solo ‘keep up’ in the park last night, I’m stoked. If I’m going to get all hot and sweaty this summer, I might as well be playing soccer barefoot in a park somewhere, eh?


When in Rome…

Today is the first day that the mercury has risen (with the Humidex) to over 40 degrees here in Toronto, and since it’s still May, I can only assume that it’s going to be a long, hot summer.

For long-time readers, you may recall that last summer was a bit of a bear for me (check the archive for just about any post June-August 2005) as I’m built for cold weather, not hot. Well, with a cooler place to sleep, I’ve decided that this summer I’m going to embrace the scorching heat and stifling humidity. I’m going to love it to death… after all, if you can’t beat it… you might as well join it, right?

My plan is to spend this summer drinking hydrating liquids, cutting down on both caffeine and alcohol (fewer ice-cold beers to beat the heat) and spending more time doing casual activities out in the heat to get my body used to it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to swing my hammock up in either the front yard or over our side patio, so I can enjoy the great outdoors in style… and in shade. After last summer’s hibernation, I’m going to make a serious effort to get out and do things, while getting lots of rest and fluids so my body can deal with the heat.

Does anyone out there have a good suggestion for being active in heat and humidity?

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Here’s a monday morning riddle for you. How do you completely jam up a city for hours and anger millions of people? You convince the public transit service to call a last-minute wildcat strike that shuts down all public transportation. Great joke, eh?

Well, it’s no joke for the fine people of this fair city. We all woke up to the unsettling news on our radios this morning… or not. Apparently bus and streetcar stops are loaded with folks waiting for the ride that will never come. Downtown streets are gridlocked, parking lots are bursting, and sidewalks are packed with overheated people walking long distances.

Now, I’m not personally all that put out by this strike. I walk to work now, so it’s just kind of anecdotal for me. I am, however, really upset that some of the workers of the TTC union would hold the city hostage like this. I’m not going to go on one of my rants about how the TTC union has too much power and that’s one of many reasons why our transit system is crappy and expensive, nor am I going to rant about the entire idea of unions is outdated and archaic (actually serving very few people). No, instead I’m going to appreciate the nice weather and pity people who have to walk two hours to work because they can’t catch a cab.


How do you say ‘Free Beer’ in Japanese?

Shari-Anne has a couple of friends from BC visiting, so we met up at the Reservoir Lounge on Wellington for a quick drink and some live jazz. The four of us met up around 9:45pm and I only intended to have a cocktail or two and make my way home by 11pm. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men…

Reservoir Lounge is a really cool basement jazz club around Church and Front streets in Toronto. It’s not a particularly cheap place, but you get what you pay for and RL is pretty classy. Also, the people-watching is well above par. We watched four cougars pick up a slightly younger buck and tear him apart (I was later groped on my way to the washroom by members of this pack) and the two separate sets of couples sitting beside us were certainly worth watching.

So I was on my second Manhattan (double cherries… it sounds girly, yes… but can YOU stomach one?) and looking for my wallet to drop some bills on the table when Logan and Amanda showed up. “Very well, ” I thought to myself “what’s a few more minutes?”. Silly me. A few minutes later, two reps from Sapporo beer showed up offering ‘free samples’. “Free beer?” I thought to myself “Do I stay and consume free beer, or do I play the role of responsible adult and head home for a good night’s sleep that will leave me refreshed for another work day.”

Really, I’d love to sit here and tell you that actually happened, but the reality is that I told all the girls who don’t drink beer to ask for a ‘sample’ so I could drink theirs. Shameless. BAM! An hour shoots by and I finally wander home.

So, thank you Sapporo for reminding me that when it comes to free beer I can still make a poorly informed but not easily regrettable decision. C’mon… free beer!!! 😉

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Mow, Mow, Rake

Last night was yardwork night at Pembroke Castle. It seems that the gardener had been stealing from the treasury, so we had him drawn and quartered in the public square (as a warning to the other servants and peasants). The lawn required mowing (its first trim of the season) and although I would have preferred to pick the heads off the hundreds of dandelions about to seed on our tiny stretch of front lawn, I was pressed for time. That makes it doubly unfortunate that our landlord’s lawnmower doesn’t have a catcher-bag. I guess we’ll have a nice bright yellow lawn in the near future.

I also started to pull weeds from between our interlocking brick, but only made it up the front walk (again, time constraints). Since I want to test out my propane torch (like plumbers use to solder copper piping) in preparation for Canada Day fireworks, I might use it to burn off the remaining weeds. Can someone verify if that’s a good idea or bad idea? I don’t imagine they’d need much heat to burn, so just a quick shot with the torch shouldn’t scorch the brick, should it?

Our maples have finally quit dropping seed bits on our side patio, so I hope last night was the final sweep-up. Given the leaf cover we’ve got in between the houses, that little patio will be quite cool even on the hottest of days. I can just imagine myself sitting out there sipping a mint julep in a kiddie pool. Oh yeah. That’s the life.

On another castle-related note, I found out why 10.5 foot ceilings can be an inconvenience last night. Sure, they may look pretty, but when you have to stand upright on top of a wobbly fridge so you can change a bulb in your track lighting… it’s either time to buy a step-ladder, or to learn how to walk on stilts. Some of the bulbs in the living room chandelier are starting to go too. Granted, it’s much lower-hanging.

Lastly, I’m looking for some household advice. I have venetian blinds in my room and bathroom and when I moved in, they had permadust on them… the kind that you have to rub quite hard with your finger to get off. Is there an easy way to get that kind of dust off blinds?


Keep Reading for a Hot Tip

In preparation for a canoe trip in a few weeks, I had to pick up a few things at MECca… I mean ‘MEC’. Now, a trip to MEC is less of an errand for me, and more of a feast of the senses and the imagination. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Mountain Equipment Co-op is an outdoor store with camping, cycle, paddling and climbing gear and equipment. It’s a little trendier than most camping stores, but it’s known for high quality and a decent selection.

Anyways, I needed some white gas (aka Coleman fuel) for one of my camping stoves and when I went to mec.ca to price it out, I noticed that my Apogee 3/4 length self-inflatable sleeping pad (thermarest) is being discontinued so it’s no longer $50… but is now $20. They weren’t selling them online, and they had no in-store information on the site. That warranted the trip on it’s own, but I also wanted to get a waterproof map case, some smoked salmon jerky I’d seen before, and a thermos.

When I got there, I was VERY pleased to see that not only was there an Apogee mat left… but there were dozens… so I knew that I could pass this deal onto YOU, my loyal readers and friends… or I could pick up two more for a set of four. 🙂 Since they’re still there AFTER the long weekend, I’d say you have a bit of time to pick one up, but don’t hold out too long.

I also found my 4L can of fuel, but the map case I wanted was nowhere to be found. Ditto for the salmon jerky. I would have been very disappointed but for a VERY pleasant surprise…

Back in the winter, after reading about it for a long time, I picked up an Orikaso plate. Orikaso is camping dishware that you fold together like Origami, so it folds flat for easy packing. MEC only had the plate at the time, so I figured I’d give it a try and see if I like it. Oh man, it’s cool stuff. I tried it with hot food, cold food, wet food and dry food and it’s awesome. It’s easy to clean and works like a charm. So I asked around at MEC about getting the bowl and cup as well. No dice. They claimed they wouldn’t see any more until fall 2006 or winter 2007. They couldn’t keep it in the store. Well, there I was… standing in the dishes aisle yesterday looking face-to-face at the cup and bowl. Schweet. I bought them both, and although I haven’t actually tried them out yet, they fold together like a charm.

On the way home, I hit up Active Surplus for a funnel (to get my camping fuel into my fuel bottles). There are few things funnier than the looks you get walking down trendy Queen St. West carrying a can of camping fuel and funnel in one hand, and a rolled-up thermarest in the other. I think people were expecting me to roll out my mat, start doing Yoga and then pour fuel on myself and light up in protest of something.

So… long story short, you can get a great sleeping mat for cheap at MEC, flat camping dishes are the bomb, and if there was an arson on Queen West last night, the police are going to want to have words with yours truly.

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Home Again

So much beef, so much rain, so much cool weather… but what a relaxing weekend!!! I haven’t gotten that much sleep in a long time and I’m sure it was thanks to fresh air, chirpy frogs, and near-silence. We ate ‘organic’ beef and chips, drank ‘organic’ coffee (fair trade too, I guess), and fired off ‘organic’ fireworks… well, I don’t think that would stand up in a court of law.

Ericka enjoyed some fine Quebecois boutique shopping at Le Tigre Geant, finding a pair of shoes that were “… to die for”. I think Andrew got a very gentlemanly chapeau there as well. I just bought fireworks, lightbulbs and steak sauce. (It’s quite the boutique)

All in all, I think the weekend was a rousing success or relaxitude and mellowiciousness and I got some great photos. Despite all the jokes, my tripod fared quite well (at many unrelated uses) in its premiere, and will help with the tradition of the porch photo at the end of each weekend.

Photos to come within a few days!

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