Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for July, 2007

Pencils; Not Just for Mini-Golf Anymore

It appears that for any number of reasons, readers can’t post comments here.  I’m looking into it, so have no fear, you can spam me all you want in a few days.  In the meantime, feel free to email me with your clever barbs and witty comebacks and I’ll manually post them… or ignore them completely (whichever suits my mood at the time).

My entire life, a question has plagued me.  I first remember asking myself this question early in Elementary School (possibly even as far back as Kindergarten or First Grade).  Who buys pencils without erasers on the end, and why?  You’ll just have to carry another eraser around with you.  Pencils with built-in erasers are very much the climax of pencil technology (not including the development of the mechanical pencil, which is a derivation of the original pencil), so aside from some sort of specialized drafting pencil, every pencil should come with an eraser firmly attached to the top.

Perhaps people who neurotically chew the ends of their pencils prefer not to have an eraser and a brass fitting on there so they can more easily gnaw the end of the pencil into a fine pulp.  Those people have an excuse, a vile and disgusting excuse.

If my comments worked, I’m sure that some smartass (probably Steve) would post a comment asking who even uses pencils anymore.  Pens are better, but BlackBerries, iPhones and PDAs are taking over.  I disagree.  There will always be a role for the simple pencil and paper.   A pencil never runs out of ink, works in all weather and conditions, can’t freeze and doesn’t bleed when wet.

If you would like more information on the pencil, you can consult your local library.

This message has been brought to you by the Ontario Pencil Advisory Board. 


Who Died and Made Her Queen Anyway?

Disappointment can take many forms, and have many causes.  There is the classic example from literature of a son taking a different life path than that wished for by his father, or the more modern example of signing-in to Facebook to find there are no new messages on your wall.  Either way, your heart sinks and you lose all faith in mankind until you just wish Flanders was dead.  On Saturday night, disappointment wore the crown of a Queen.

Danielle and I cooked up a little BBQ for her, me and the other Lords of Pembroke Castle.  It was an awesome meal of organic steak, fried potatoes with garlic and green onion and a tasty green salad.  Wunderbar.  After such a fine meal on such a humid evening, it was decided that we should visit a purveyor of fine frozen treats.  So we piled in Jared’s new Jetta and headed to the Northern Hinterlands known locally as “Yonge and Eglinton” after working up an appetite for Dairy Queen.

After our long and dangerous journey into the outlands, we paid for parking and walked to the darkened doors of Dairy Queen.  At first glance, she appeared to be closed.  Her windows were dark and her sign was unlit.  On second glance, her interior was torn to shreds.  This Dairy Queen was definitely closed for business.  Our hearts sank.  There would be no soft ice cream dipped in hardened chocolate or Blizzards of confection and vanilla.

Our hopes dashed, we ambled a few stores down to Licks where our evening worsened.  A minimal choice in ice cream flavours was only the start.

“I’ll have two scoops of Mint Chocolate Chip in a waffle cone.”
“No waffle cones.  Sorry.”

Rather than making too much of a scene, we conceded defeat, ate our ice cream and retreated back to the Castle to console ourselves while washing the dishes.  It was a sullen and quietly emotional drive back to the centre of the universe (downtown Toronto), and rather than waste our energy trying to salvage the evening, we spent the rest of the night sitting together in a dark room not saying a word.

As a final note to the Dairy Queen, you owe me one, your highness.

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Lock and Load!

To be honest, I wasn’t planning on even showing up for soccer last night. Due to recent lackluster turnout, it’s been hard to get excited about it. Then Justin sent me a message in Facebook to say he was coming and I figured that if he went to the trouble of messaging me, I should make it too.

I don’t regret it. We had a great turnout and really fun and sweaty game. One of our regular players (a guy we met in the park back in the spring and who’s come out every game since) brought a bunch of his friends and co-workers and most of our regulars showed up.

Next week, we’re going for drinks after the game. Another regular player who came to Canada from the UK for a med school practicum, is heading to California for a vacation and then back home to Britain, so we’re going to have a ‘Going Away Party’ at a nearby Public House.

Hmm, for the sake of hilarity, we should have arranged to go out drinking <i>before</i> soccer. It would have made for a more interesting game. Speaking of interesting games, how cool would it be to play snowshoe soccer in deep powder? I can’t imagine that anyone would have ball control in dribbling or shots, but it would look awesome.

Speaking of things that look awesome, The Simpsons movie opens today and from what I’ve heard (mostly from reviews and rankings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes) I might have been right about keeping Simpsons fans expectations low. It’s being really well received, although I’m going to remain skeptical just in case. I’m hoping to get out and see it next week sometime.

Before that, I have some serious excitement in store. Tonight, Danielle and I are doing our registry at The Bay. That means we get to walk around the store with a light gun shooting bar codes of all the fancy stuff we want for wedding gifts. From what other couples have told me, this is definitely a highlight of the whole wedding planning process. So go ahead steak knives, and make my day!

You're probably asking yourself

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Beef, Duck, Rabbit and Castle

Last night was a perfect evening.  Jared, Kenneth and I sat out on the patio and ate our grilled organic steaks with a side salad and a tasty wine.  We felt like important people… big shots.  It was a very relaxing way to shift from the workday to the personal evening.

After dinner, Kenneth and I skipped out the west end to pick up the wedding invites from our designer.  They turned out great, and now comes the fun of finalizing our website, sending out the invitations and keeping track of RSVPs.  After that, we skipped out to a potential apartment to drop off some paperwork and then headed to Tim Hortons for some java.  It was a perfect evening to just hang out.

Later in the evening at home, I watched The Hunter Trilogy of Bugs Bunny cartoons with Jared and Ethan.  Those are the tree shorts where Bugs and Daffy argue the classic “Duck season” “Rabbit season” bit while Elmer Fudd stands with his rifle at the ready.  It’s pure hilarity.

Speaking of hilarity and apartments, since I’m moving out this fall, the guys at the castle are looking for a new roommate to enjoy good times, a great house and to share the bills.  Is anyone out there looking for a gigantic house to live in this fall?  I can supply pictures, costs and a brief bio on both Jared and Ethan, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed living at the house and will miss both the company and the environment.

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My Taxes PAID for this BBQ!!!

A few months ago, there was a terrible accident involving our propane BBQ and a spiderweb (allegedly) that resulted in the untimely death of a good little meat-searing device.  And so, after her death and in memoriam to her life, Pembroke Castle was without a BBQ for a while.

A few weeks ago, Ethan buckled and bought us a fancy new BBQ that apparently does the job much better than our old (and free) one, and hopefully this one won’t spontaneously burst into flame.

Thanks to this weekend’s trip to the Valley, our freezer is chock full of organic beef, so tonight I’m going to grill up a few steaks to celebrate 90 years of income tax in Canada.  You heard me right.  On this date in 1917, Canada instituted income tax as a temporary measure to help offset the costs of The Great War.  You’ve got to love the word ‘temporary’.

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Use Caution, Your Home Could be Trying to Kill You

The kitchen can be a dangerous place. Arguably, it can be the most dangerous room in your house (assuming you don’t have an abatoir with rotating knives in your basement) what with all the knives, the stove and the mix of food in some cupboards and cleaning products in others. In our case, we also have vermin to contend with in there. It’s a real gauntlet.

Still, with some training and planning, you can easily survive a trip into the kitchen and even get some real work done in there. If you’re unfamiliar with the kitchen (aside from microwaving TV dinners and Pizza Pops), let me suggest a few things that everyone should know how to do so they can at least look like an awesome cook.

  • Make a pot of coffee. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, at some point you’ll have a guest (dinner or stayover) who would kill for one. Making coffee for a coffee addict is one of the nicest things one human can do for another.
  • Bake a dessert. Anyone can scoop ice cream or toss some cookies on a plate, but a simple baked dessert is like handing someone a plate loaded with dollar bills. It’s easy too. Trust me.
  • Broil a roast (beef or chicken). When I was a kid, I thought this was the hardest thing in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are as many steps as making Kraft Dinner, it just takes WAY longer and tastes WAY better.
  • Frying stuff. Most novice kitchen folk like to boil things like pasta. It’s easy, but there’s more to a stove than boiling water. Learn to use a pan. Oil is your friend.
  • Set a table. Even if it’s just for a quick breakfast, set the table. The knife and spoon are on the right, fork on the left.
  • Clean up. Yeah, so cleaning a kitchen is pretty easy. Wipe down every surface, clean every dish and put away all the food. It sounds self-explanatory, but we live in a day and age where people need warnings that coffee is hot.
  • BBQ a piece of meat. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s fun and easy.

So, did I forget anything?

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God Bless the Holy Engine

Our cottage weekend was a resounding success.  First, we had the meeting of the moms, which was awesome.  My parents had Danielle’s mom and stepdad over for a few meals and everyone hit it off, which will surely make the wedding (and future family get-togethers) a lot of fun.  Second, we got to chill out and so some wedding planning.  Third, we signed all our documentation for the publication of the banns, so there’s no turning back now.  Fourth, I visited an old and dear friend… Gertrude.

Her engine bay has been stripped a bit to get make getting the engine out a little easier, and it also afford a great view of her motor.


Let me draw your attention to the red circle in picture below.  That’s a twoonie sized hole where the connecting rod shot through the side of the cast engine.

It's red because it's angry

Here’s a close-up of the hole that’s caused so many headaches over the last year or so.

Peering into the eye of death

In case you can’t really get in your head how impressive that hole is, here’s a pencil to give it some perspective.

The pencil is not a standard Volvo part

Volvo mechanics and representatives from the local dealership I’ve spoken to are all dumbfounded that this could happen to a Volvo.  It’s unheard of.  That’s comforting, in a way, but infuriating more than anything.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t recommend adding the ‘hole in the engine’ feature to your own car.  It doesn’t really improve fuel efficiency nor does it give your car more ‘pep’.  Estimated time for full repair?  Sometime in August or September… knock on wood.

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“Press ‘Power’… the Button Marked ‘Power’… No, Not Like on Clothes”

Looking for a new place to live is one of the most exciting and defeating experiences in life.  You can find the perfect place and start imagining where all your furniture will go, only to find that someone else beat you to the punch with a deposit cheque.  In that vein, Danielle and I probably found the perfect apartment last night but the decision isn’t ours to make.  We’re trying to stay cool about it, rather than get our hopes up only to have them dashed on the rocks like some poor, ill-fated ship caught in a storm which is dashed up on the rocks… like our hopes (this is getting cyclical).

I may have discovered what caused my computer to go kaput back in May, and it turns out the solution may have been more simple than anyone had planned.  When I figured this out, I almost kicked myself… but the experience of trouble-shooting and reinstalling everything actually turned out to be quite educational, and I’m much happier with how everything is set up now.

The power went out at our place last night so my computer had a forced shutdown.  I noticed my iPod was docked and on, and with the computer powered off, I didn’t want my battery to drain before heading up to the cottage tonight, so I pulled the iPod out of the dock.

After my shower, I decided to boot up my computer to check the weather.  ERROR!  I got the same terrible error I had when my computer pooched itself last time.  I freaked out.  Then I figured that I should re-dock my iPod and reboot to see if that would fix it.  Thankfully, it booted fine with the iPod docked.  Phew.

I’ve now learned the first lesson of IT; if it doesn’t work, try turning it off and on again.


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