Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for June, 2007

An Ode to TO

Being raised in Toronto, and having lived in the heart of the city for over five years now, I’ve lost my ability to look at the city as an outsider–the way I look at a city when I visit it for the first time.  When I look at Toronto, I see faults and problems.

I see a lackluster, overpriced and under-serviced public transportation system.  I see poor urban planning on the lake shore, over-development by condominium builders, and continuing and ever-worsening tourism campaigns for Canada’s biggest city. I’m not even a negative or critical person, but living in Toronto makes it easy to focus on everything that’s wrong with her.

As part of my morning walk to work, I usually stop at a Tim Hortons that’s built-in to a Best Western on Toronto’s Hotel Row (on Jarvis Street).  The lines are often held-up by non-Canadian tourists who aren’t sure how everything works at Tim Hortons  (“How big is a large?”, “What kind of tea do you have?”, “Does this ‘Tim Horton’ fellow actually work here?”, etc), and that means I get to stand in line and listen to them talk about the city I call home.

They say wonderful things… things I haven’t thought for a long time.  They talk about the mix of architecture, the fact that our downtown is actual vibrant and people live here (unlike many downtown areas in North America) and our diversity.  They talk excitedly about downtown events and festivals (the same ones I’m usually railing against for closing streets and screwing up traffic), our museums, galleries and theatres.

I still get frustrated by the TTC, and think the Gardiner is a problem that will never go away.  I still get nauseous when I see a condo development sign that says “700 sq.ft. units starting as low as $699,000” or whatever ridiculous prices they’re asking now. I still wish that this city didn’t sprawl for kilometre after kilometre, but at least I can take advantage of all this city has to offer.  After all, if I’m forced to live with its limitations, I might as well enjoy its bounties.

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Speed Quills!

I love spotting animals.  Either from the porch at the cottage, sitting in a park or driving along a highway, I try to scan tree-lines as much as possible in the hopes of spotting any type of critter.  On the tree-lined highways outside of the city, this has more to do with safety (for my car and my passengers) and less to do with beauty.

It’s not hard to see where other drivers haven’t been so lucky, and this weekend we saw more than our share of roadkill.  There were the usual deer, groundhog and raccoon, but for the first time ever, there was an animal that outnumbered the raccoons — porcupine.

Raccoons often get hit by cars after scrambling out to scavenge earlier roadkill.  Some poor animal (even as small as a frog) will get nailed and once it gets nice and ripe, a raccoon will wander out onto the asphalt to get a taste.  Wham.  Front grill.  But what’s with the porcupine?  I didn’t think they were scavengers.

It was a busy weekend in the Valley.  I did a lot of running around to clean up the cottage for Canada Day Weekend and to tie up some loose ends for our wedding.  I managed to kill our lawnmower while trying to mow waist-deep ‘grass’ (it’s more like hay), did some heavy-lifting at my mom and dad’s and drove a seemingly unending circle between Shawville, Norway Bay, my parents’ house and the cottage.

I even managed to drag my brother and my dad out yesterday to play nine holes of golf at the golf club where our reception is going to be, and we weren’t that pathetic (and there’s no surviving evidence to the contrary).  After playing our round of Father’s Day Golf and eating dinner, we had a late departure, but didn’t hit a single bit of traffic on the way home.  Leaving late might be the way to go!

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To Do List

Today is a crazy day.  Due to an unfortunate series of long line-ups, I have yet to taste the sweet reviving nectar of the coffee plant, and I need it badly.  Mid-morning, I’m taking a work-related road trip down to Toronto’s new Soccer stadium (it’s complicated, but very cool) and returning in the early afternoon.  Later in the afternoon, Danielle and I are meeting with a potential wedding photographer and then I rush off to catch a GO Train to the suburbs.  In the ‘burbs, I’ll meet my brother, and hop in his car for the drive up to the Ottawa Valley.

Is there anything else I should try and cram into my day today?

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Unfurl the Banners!

Here’s your gentle weekly reminder that Thursday is Soccer Night in Toronto.

Sadly, I won’t be able to make it this week. My mad beach volleyball skillz are required for Danielle’s team tonight, as a bunch of their regular players couldn’t make it and they need a ringer to guarantee a win. In all seriousness, I’m a terrible volleyball player (as I am a soccer player), but I have a lot of fun diving in the sand.

Just in case you didn’t feel like there was already too much stuff scheduled, Karim and I are both considering jumping back into everyone’s favourite game of urban regressive hide-and-seek, MANHUNT! Games are played somewhere in the Downtown-ish core every Wednesday night, and it’s a lot of fun. We played last fall and winter until they switched nights and it conflicted with stuff we already had on. All those conflicts are long gone, so let the good times roll!

I’ll post this banner (which long time readers will fondly remember Karim making for me) whenever the site is updated, but I likely won’t pester people in here to come out. I’ll do that in person. I’ll probably start doing the same for soccer. I’ll just write my normal daily post and include a note at the bottom with the banner.

In case you can’t tell, I have a deep love for fancy banners that drive readers to outside content. I think they’re eye-grabbing and helpful. They also break up the monotony of text in here. Maybe someday we’ll see the SilentTalkie banner back up in here, but I don’t think that will be any day soon.

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Countdown: 3-2-1

I used to have a job where I compiled data for quarterly reports.  This meant that my professional life moved in quarterly cycles (that’s ‘three month cycles’ for those of you who are fractionally impaired).  It was slightly more interesting and varied than a ‘daily grind’ sort of job where you see the same thing every day until you’re so bored/frustrated that you bash your head in with a stapler.  That being said, it still wasn’t that exciting.

I got that job shortly after leaving university, where I lived my life in 4 month cycles.  Since I was a co-op student, I didn’t have the usual 8 months of school with a 4 month summer.  I would have four months of school, then four months of work, then four months of school, then four months of work, etc.  It was a pretty awesome cycle (except for the frequent moving).  You can get a lot done in four months, but time doesn’t drag on.   I still find myself wanting to do something different come early January, early May and early September.

Four months from today I’ll be graduating from single life into married life (although some may look at it the opposite way), and given how much planning we’ve done already and how much we have left, that time frame sits well with me.  I know how much work I can get done in four months, so I feel pretty good about this (although moving us both into our new place will be a bear).

On a totally unrelated note, I’m headed up to the cottage this weekend to mow the lawn, clean out the house and to relax.  I know, you’re jealous.  Hopefully I can rock out to some Nickelback while I’m up there.

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Signs of the Coming Apocalypse

Although it’s been said that all my taste is in my mouth, I’m still going to speak publicly and vocally about something that I consider an embarrassment to Canada, and worse, that I find personally offensive.

On June 9, the CANCON-blessed band Nickelback was was ‘honoured’ with star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.  I had to read the news story twice… the second time was to allow my eyes some time to clear after they started bleeding.

Now, I’ve been accused by some (my fiancee for one) of being a music elitist and drawing very distinct lines between what I consider good and bad music, but I like to think that in times of serious critical analysis I can withhold my personal tastes to think of the greater good.  To think of Nickelback being in that ‘greater good’ or even to think of using the word ‘good’ about Nickelback is something that I cannot do.

So, how did these guys get so big?  That’s an honest question.  In my life, I’ve only met one fan, and she’s from Sasketchewan (now living in BC), so as a Westerner, I already hold all her beliefs in absolute suspicion.  Are there any Nickelback fans out there that can explain or justify this?

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The Soon-to-be Famous ‘Cold Toilet Seat’ Metaphor

As I stood in my shower this morning, I had two thoughts:

  1. I have a million things to do in the next few weeks.  I should probably sit down and start doing some of them so that my head doesn’t explode.
  2. This shower would be a lot more enjoyable if the water wasn’t intermittently switching from scalding hot to freezing cold every 15 seconds, or so.

And so this is how I started the cognitive part of my day.

I don’t really wake up before 10am, so to begin thinking rationally in the shower is quite a feat for me.  Frankly, I place the blame squarely on whatever was going on with our hot water tank (or whichever roommate was flushing pennies down the toilet) during my shower.

Being forced into that state completely changed my morning.  Rather than just plodding to work with my head down, I took the time to look around on my daily walk, I thought about my day, I planned my week.  When I got into my office, I said hello to people and had brief conversations before starting right into my work day… it was terrible and I hope to never do it again.

I like to ease into my day.  It’s like when you sit down on a freezing cold toilet seat; it’s best to just move a tiny bit at a time until it’s just right, and then you can get down to business.  That’s actually a pretty good metaphor, and I’m going to stick with it.  If you move in too quickly, your focus will be shot and you’ll be terribly uncomfortable.  (Did I mention that I love this metaphor?)

To make an already long story short, it’s 11:30 and I already feel more tired and stressed than I do at the end of any normal day.  This leads me to believe that people who get up early and begin their day immediately must be some of the most miserable people on the planet.  I pity you, more so if you’ve convinced yourself it feels good.  So disillusioned.

Speaking of pity, if my shower gets ruined tomorrow morning, a certain hot water heater, roommate and his penny collection will be soundly beaten to death… with an ice-cold toilet seat.  It might not be an ironic death, but that metaphor just speaks to me.

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Hodge Podge

Given the fact that both Danielle and I are anxious overplanners, we’re surprisingly collected about our wedding plans, and thanks to that, we’ve got everything well under control.  Granted, it doesn’t always feel that way with a million little details to be taken care of, but that’s the fact.

This weekend we chose our invites, which are pretty awesome, and that only leaves a couple of the big things to get done before it all becomes little tiny details.

In non-wedding news, we went for an awesome hike yesterday in the heart of the city.  It started at Summerhill Subway Station and ran through a ravine to Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  Then it turned back south to join up with the Don Valley near the Brickworks and looped back up to Summerhill again.  It took about 2.5 hours and wasn’t the easiest hike I’ve done, but it wasn’t the hardest either.  It was a perfect day for a stroll too.

I’d like to thank Woofstock (some fancy festival for dogs… or more appropriately, for rich people who spoil their dogs) for screwing up downtown traffic this weekend.  It’s important that every dog has his or her ‘red carpet moment’ to help with their self-esteem.  Sigh.

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