Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for June, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

The anticipation of getting up the cottage was killing me, but today is the day. Now all I have to do is get there. You see, to mark a day of protest to bring attention to native issues, armed Mohawks have barricaded highways in Eastern Ontario. This forced police to shut down the 401… on the Friday of the long weekend.

The leader (for whom an arrest warrant has been issued) is threatening more highway closures as the day goes on and insists that he will turn himself in to police at midnight tonight, at the end of the day of action. Clearly he didn’t stop to ask himself “What a second… how is this day of protest going to affect Dave and his annual Canada Day Cottage Weekend plans?”. Shame on you Shawn Brant for not thinking of me. So I’m assuming it’s going to add at least two hours to my travel time, and now I’m regretting not taking today off and heading up last night.

So, how effective is this protest? I’d say it’ll pretty effective. In spite of the massive inconvenience for travelers, the protesters will get plenty of air time on news networks and will force the powers that be to listen to their demands. How sensible is it? Not very. It’s something in between kidnapping and extortion, but these are desperate people, so I find it hard to fault them.

I would classify myself as begrudgingly sympathetic, and would be even more so had they chosen not to arm themselves.

So, like everyone else headed in an easterly direction tonight, I will just prepare for the worst, grit my teeth and dive into traffic. Wish me luck.

UPDATE (10:30am): Apparently the protesters and police have reached a deal to clear the blockades, but they haven’t been removed yet. Brant is quoted as saying that he believes that they made their point and don’t want to inconvenience travelers needlessly. YEAH!

UPDATE (1:30pm) : The highway has been reopened and everything is back to normal.  Kudos to the protesters and police for handling this whole situation with poise and understanding.

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Love, is a Burning Thing

I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty sure that Hell is a place with 40+ degree heat and 99% humidity where your only computer is a Linux box that won’t boot the right kernel.  On other words, Hell was my bedroom last night.  On the plus side, instead of being an eternity, it was just one night and the cool winds of grace came blowing from the northwest close to midnight.

Alas, it seems as though the heat is breaking today so tonight might actually be tolerable.  Seriously, why do I even live here?  I should migrate north for the summer and live beyond the tree line where the permafrost can chill my burning feet.

Thirty-six hours and counting until the Eighth Annual Canada Day Cottage Weekend kicks off in fine form, and to say I’m excited is an understatement.  We have a great crew this year, a fantastic weather report, news that a planned barricade of the 401 by Native Protesters has been called off and I have a functioning propane torch for lighting fireworks (thus not burning my hand like I do every other year).

What are your plans for Canada Day weekend?

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We Gonna Rock Down to Electric Avenue…

Preliminary research indicates that it could cost me upwards of $12,000 CDN to convert my still non-functioning 1991 Volvo Turbo Wagon (she’s in a medically-induced coma) into an electric car capable of carrying significant loads over long distances. That’s a lot of green to make my car… er… uh… green.

In spite of the Province of Ontario’s recent “Look at us, we’re environmentally friendly now” stance, I’m really surprised at how my questions to the Ministry of Transportation about electric conversion vehicles are being treated. I’m getting bounced from department to department, and my question is pretty simple. If I were to convert my car, would I be able to drive it legally on the highways and byways of Ontario?

Given how infrequently I’ll be using my wagon (even once she’s up and running), I don’t consider her to be a polluter at all. She’s only a 4 cylinder, and passed her last emissions test with flying colours (shortly before she had a massive engine aneurysm). I’d only be using her for trips to the cottage and to provincial parks for camping trips and canoe trips, so she wouldn’t be a regular in city or highway traffic. Still, electric vehicles make a lot of sense to me and I’d like to be part of a change like that.

I’ll be thinking about some of the changes I can make in my life to better the environment up at the cottage this weekend. It’s just so easy to ponder these kinds of issues while sitting around a roaring tire fire, roasting bald eagle on a spit and pouring bleach into the groundwater. Man, I love the country.

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

We live in a consumer-driven society where we just assume that anything we want is sitting out there for us to buy.  We imagine something in our minds and firmly believe that it’s out there in the ether and we just have to say the word, and it’s ours.  This is not always the case.

I like music.  I like music at the cottage.  I wanted a stereo for the cottage that would be able to connect to MP3 players (like my iPod), play MP3 CDs and competently handle radio.  I want it to be cheap (since the cottage isn’t the most secure building in Quebec), and ideally it would be portable.  I assumed that electronics stores would have piles of these kinds of stereos on the shelves.

No such luck.  I found a really nice Sony shelf system, but on trying it out at Future Shop, I found that it was MASSIVELY underpowered.  At full volume, it was struggling to be heard over the din of the store.  That’s not good.

I’ve checked out all the stock at Future Shop and Best Buy, and will be headed to Canadian Tire this afternoon to take a run at their stuff.  If worse comes to worse, I might find myself in those sketchy electronics stores that line Yonge Street north of Dundas.   Actually, if worse comes to worse, I’ll be making my own stereo.  That would be bad, very bad.

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Weekends are for Rounding and Upping… in That Order

It’s been a while since we had a proper weekend round-up, so sit back, relax and let the summarizing begin!

Friday: Since Danielle was gone all week for work, we decided to have a proper date.  We drove to Roncesvalles  for a really nice Polish meal at Chopin Restaurant.  The food was great even though we were sitting awkardly close to the live music.  Also a plus, their beers are GIGANTIC.

We wanted to see a movie, so we headed west into the suburbs and stopped at a Cineplex Odeon.  We stood in line for 10 minutes at the express ticket thingy, only to find that it didn’t work.  Then we stood in line to buy from a real person, only to find that everything was sold but the front row.  It was a terrible experience, and their customer service was absolutely abysmal.   I spoke to TWO staff members about being dissatisfied with the advanced ticket purchase system and then having to stand in line, and neither offered any resolution.  For shame.

In disgust, we raced back downtown (where everything is better) to the Varsity Cinemas (which is also a Cineplex Odeon cinema) and had a great experience.  So I don’t blame the chain, just don’t go to the Queensway Cineplex… ever.

We saw Knocked Up and laughed ourselves stupid.  If you liked The 40 Year-Old Virgin, you’ll love this.  It’s basically the same cast and the same humour.

Saturday: We headed to a wedding shower for Ryan and Shizuka down off the Lakeshore, and then zipped off to High Park for an engagement photo shoot to try out a potential wedding photographer.  The park was packed with wedding parties, so we had to fight to get some of the locations we wanted to shoot.  I’m glad we’re getting married off-season and out of the city.   Phew.

Saturday night, we headed to the Tranzac to see “Grey’s Entourage”, a karaoke musical of epic proportions (put on by Queen’s Players, and directed by our friend Felicity Alexander, who gave up blogging a long time ago… as did her boyfriend Marty).  The show was amazing, hilarious, original, sing-a-longable and hilarious (again).  I’m seriously considering trying out for their next show.  Live music + hilarious writing + alcohol + lively and interactive crowd = hilarity.

Sunday: Getting up to be the sound guy at church was tricky, but I made it. Afterwards, Danielle and I waded into the Pride festivities (by accident, mostly) while trying to find some tasty shwarma for lunch.  We found it, and she headed to work and I headed home.

Coming up this week?  Canada Day planning and preparation, getting my Linux box back up and running so I can access my old photos and maybe a jam with the other members of Right-Click Properties (formerly known as Slow Like Big Hams).

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A Toasty Summer Needs Jam

Well, despite my frustrating (and, I believe, justified) rant a few weeks ago, our weekly soccer night has taken off!  Maybe changing the day from Tuesday to Thursday helped, but we’ve been pulling at least 10 people each game, and we’re starting to get some regulars from the park who just keep showing up week after week.  That being said, there’s always room for more.  Come on out.

This morning I was thinking about my guitars.  I don’t know why.  I think I noticed my acoustic sitting in the corner of our front hall, and she looked lonely.  That makes sense seeing as I haven’t played her since shortly after Danielle and I got engaged, which was over two months ago.   Maybe it’s time to get the band back together for another marathon jam.

Speaking of the band and marathon jams, did anyone out there ever get around to listening the MP3s we posted?


If I Were a Druid, I’d be Partying Right Now

For many of you, today is a joyous day to which you have been looking forward for months now. Not for me. Today is a day of quiet resignation to the circumstances in which I find myself. You see, this afternoon at 2:06pm EDT (that’s 6:06 GMT), the earth will experience the summer solstice, bringing on the most loved of seasons… well, loved by everyone but me.

The summer solstice is the moment when, due to the tilt of the earth, the sun is furthest north from the equator. That makes today the longest day of the year for the northern hemisphere. What on earth could we do with a whole evening of clear daylight? Hmmmm…

Shameless plugs and gripes aside, I haven’t been minding the warm weather as much this year, but I should probably stay prepared. Something tells me that the worst is yet to come.

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Musical Chairs

Liberal MP Bill Graham officially announced his retirement from politics yesterday.  This long-time MP and one time caretaker interim leader of the Liberal party has a long history of fine public service, and as one of his constituents, I couldn’t be happier with how he’s represented me and carried himself.  As the leader of the Liberals after Paul Martin stepped down, Graham was handed the reins of a party struggling with ethical problems, PR nightmares and waning support and maintained a front of poise and grace in the face of fire, and helped improve the face of the party for Stéphane Dion.

In his tenure as Foreign Affairs Minister, Graham was the one who explained to the world that Canada would not support the war in Iraq (a wildly popular move here that clearly represented the wishes of the majority of Canadians), and following that as Minister of Defence, building financial support for ongoing peacekeeping missions and military action in Afghanistan.

Graham has vocally boosted a successor for his seat in our riding, one that shouldn’t have too much trouble winning, even in Toronto.  Bob Rae’s name brings up mixed feelings in Ontario, but he should have no trouble winning the Toronto Centre riding in the next election (or by-election, depending on how things work out).

If we’re REALLY lucky, we’ll have a Federal Election well-timed with the fall Provincial Election so we can get sick of it all at once.  I don’t see that happening though.  Drat.

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