Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for August, 2009

The Duncans Have Returned

We’re back from the hinterlands of central and eastern Ontario  and western Quebec after a week of camping followed by a weekend of cottaging.  We had five days of perfect late-summer camping weather (warm and sunny days followed by cool nights) and some dismal cottage weather made tolerable by great company.

I’ll share more on our camping trip this week, but suffice it to say that it was a blast.  This weekend, we hosted Danielle’s dad and stepmom at the cottage and spent a great evening with my parents, brother and grandma at my parents’ place.  As with most of our family get togethers, it was a hilarious mix of franglais and great stories, and everyone had a good time.

I’m kind of sad to be back, and it’s a little strange not to smell woodsmoke everywhere I go, but we missed home and especially our nice, comfy bed at home.  Even Mojo, who LOVED being out in nature (and chasing chipmunks all day, every day) was wagging his tail as he checked out the house.

So, everything is back to normal, including regular posting in here.  Thanks to Jared for posting a nice rant in my absence and for Derek for making me laugh my head off with his Facebook comment about ‘obsticles’.*

Stay tuned for some great stories about nearly getting lost in the woods overnight, the sunburn to end all sunburns and our noisy campsite neighbours.

*My blog posts automatically show up in Facebook, where people can post comments that don’t show up in here.  There’s a WordPress plug-in that supposedly will copy them over, but I’ve never been able to get it to work.  It’s in my “To Do List” for the future though.

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A Plea to Cyclists

It’s been a while since Dave’s had a non-sensical rant on here, so I’d thought that I’d take this opportunity to fill that void. I’ll touch on a topic that’s become an increasingly frustrating part of my life, namely cyclists.

Now, I’m all for cycling most of the time. If I had a commute that was shorter than 35km, I’d probably be cycling to work. I understand that cyclists have tough choices. Whether you choose to ride in on the street or on the sidewalk, there’s always dangerous obsticles that present themselves. Most of these times, these obsticles are moving and don’t show you any respect. This is why there’s a push for bike lanes and bike paths to help alleviate these concerns and reduce the risk of an accident. So why don’t people use them? My place of dwelling is situated between one street with a bike lane and another without one. Would it surprise you to learn that I see more cyclists on the street without a bike lane? Are cyclists that lazy that they won’t go one block east to use a street with a bike lane? Instead, they’ll travel on a street, with high traffic density, typically used by cars to get in and out of downtown as quickly as possible. This seems like a poor choice, to willingly put yourself in a perilous situation, when, with 30 seconds of effort, you could be travelling on a street with your own lane and much less traffic. I just don’t get it.

The other thing is the number of cyclists that have blatant disregard for the laws of traffic while on the roadways. Stop signs, one way street, traffic lights or even attempting to pass a car on the right, who is in the process of turning right. Maybe the government needs to adopt an education and licensing system for people that ride bikes to make it safer for everyone. It seems like most of these things are common sense, yet they seem to be disregarded quite easily by cyclists, who apparently, have no concept of the trouble they can cause.

I know this doesn’t apply to most cyclists, people that are grateful for reserved bike lanes, use them, and continue to push for more. I’ll support your cause in the name of safety and enjoyment. Just please realize that if you want continued respect on the roadways, make you sure you respect the vehicles as well. It does work both ways.



Whatta Storm!

That was the awesomest storm last night, and it’s all anyone can talk about today.  I was driving on the Gardiner when it hit in full force, and got to watch all the lightning through the pouring rain.  The best part was when the sun came out at the end and made a huge rainbow.

I got to see more of the aftermath late last night when I took Mojo for his walk.  Old trees are down all over our neighbourhood, some of them firmly fixed in the roofs or cars of our neighbours.  Some intersections are without traffic lights, and patches of houses are still without power.

Of course, the best part about the storm is the way it lifted the heavy cloud of humidity that’s been choking me (and the city) for the last few days.  I’m just glad to have a bit of respite before it picks up again tomorrow.  That’s when I’ll be hiding out in our basement sorting through camping gear and packing up for our big trip.

While we’re gone, you should go check out the Ex.  It opens today, which is a pretty sure sign that summer is winding down.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

You’re never going to believe what happened last night!  Absolutely nothing.  I went to bed at a reasonable time and woke up when my alarm went off this morning.  I know, I’m surprised too.  I was half-expecting a rhino to charge through our living room at 3am or a flock of Canadian Geese to show up and put on a broadway show in our bathtub.

Now that I actually feel like I have energy, I can start planning for our week-long camping trip that kicks off this Monday.  We’re heading for a walk-in site at Silent Lake Provincial Park, which means that even if I can’t pack light, I have to pack everything so that it can be easily hiked into our site.  I’m not really sure on the terrain in that area of the park, but the walk-ins tend to be in more rugged areas.

We’re trying to keep our menu simple, but varied as we don’t want to spend most of our time getting meals ready when we could be hiking, swimming or just plain ‘ol relaxing.  Especially after the last few days, I think I’ll be taking quite a few naps in the hammock.

On a related note, since I won’t be around for five days, would anyone out there be interested in writing a guest post while I’m gone?  You can write it beforehand and get it to me before I leave on Monday, or pick a day and just have it ready for then.  It’s super easy.

If you’re interested, leave a note in the comments or fire me an email.

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Sleepless Nights Part II; The Break-In

I’m now in my second day of sleepless nights, but last night’s “escapade” (suitably in quotes) more than eclipses some simple construction traffic.  It was epic, terrifying and hilarious all at once.

I went to bed around 11 and Mojo was asleep on the floor in our room (Danielle is away at a conference this week).  I was out cold when he suddenly woke up barking, which has never happened in the middle of the night before.  Our bedroom is in the basement and he went flying up the stairs barking his fool head off with me hot on his heels.

When I got to the kitchen, he was losing it in the corner by the door to our back deck, which is right next to a small window.  That’s when I could see what he was barking at; something was moving.  My first thought was that he’d cornered a burglar.

I flicked on the kitchen light with one hand and grabbed the nearest weapon I could get my other hand on at the same time, which was sadly a broom.  In the split second between realizing that at best I could sweep someone to death and the actual light coming on, I realized the humour in the situation, said a quick prayer and turned to see what was going on.

There, in the corner in front of our kitchen window (which is now missing a screen) WAS A BIG FAT RACCOON!!  He was eating from our green bin SITTING IN OUR KITCHEN.  In case you missed that, he didn’t have his head in our window, and he wasn’t hanging half in the window and half out.  The raccoon was well inside our kitchen and face to face with our now wildly insane dog.

I didn’t want Mojo to get into a biting contest, so I held him back with one hand and hit the raccoon as hard as I could with the other (using the broom).  I felt like some sort of bizzaro tennis star and neither animal was all that happy with how I chose to resolve the situation, which was admittedly tense for all parties involved.  One spectacular backhand sent the raccoon back out through the screen, but not before he managed to evacuate his bowels and bladder.  I assume it was a parting gift, but one given out of sheer terror and not kindness.

After all the excitement, neither me or Mojo were calm enough to settle back down to sleep, what with my heart racing like a racehorse in a horse race against other racehorses who race (cut me some slack on my similes after a sleepless night) and him pacing the entire house checking every open window and whining.  Instead, I turned on the TV and sweat in the humidity while I waited for the whole situation to calm down.  Oh, and I closed all the windows.

So, this begs the question… what’s in store for tonight?


Cranes, Pains and Automotrucks

If you’re going to deliver a large crane for a condo development on a series of huge flatbed trucks on a quiet, one-way residential street, what would be the best time to do so?  Keep in mind that these trucks will be driving down and backing up the entire length of the street, sometimes idling their powerful diesel engines while bedroom windows are open during a heatwave.

If you’re one of the fine folks at Total Crane, you’re going to do it in the wee hours of the morning, of course.  It started around 4am and was still going when I finally decided to get out of bed and walk the dog at 7am.  My neighbours were standing around in disbelief, some shouting at the drivers to shut off their engines and wait until a godly hour.

On my way to the park with Mojo, I stopped by one of Metro’s finest who was working special duty directing traffic when the trucks backed out onto Dundas Street.  He was lounging in the shade waiting for the next truck.  When I asked him if it was legal for them to be working this early in a residential neighbourhood, he told me to take it up with the city by-law office.  Done and done.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to call the by-law office about this particular construction site (or others).  One call was about them starting work (with JACKHAMMERS) at 8am on a Saturday.  That’s a by-law infraction.  Another was about an impatient truck driver making a delivery of concrete slabs.  He was part of a convoy last summer and didn’t like how long it was taking to unload the 15 trucks ahead of him (with various supplies) so he decided to lean long and hard on his horn at 7am while everyone in the neighbourhood shouted at him.

Granted, I’m a light sleeper and I recognize that, so I don’t complain about things that only affect me.  After all, even though our bedroom is in a basement, I am woken up by snowplows in the winter grinding the ashpalt on Dundas.  I just roll over, wait for them to pass and fall back asleep.  Nothing can be done, and not many people are disturbed.

This particular construction project has been a headache for over two years.  Constant dust, parking nightmares and at least two cases of private property damage that I know of (a truck backed up onto the sidewalk and smashed someone’s fence, and a winch came off a crane and scratched a parked car).  On the plus side, the condo is nearly done, just in time for Brad Lamb to start building one further up the street… closer to our house.  Maybe it’s time to move.  Maybe it’s time to move to a soundproof house.

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1,095 Days is 26,280 Hours, Which is Also 1,576,800 Minutes

Three years is roughly 1/10th of my life.  In those terms, it doesn’t sound like much, but a lot can happen in the span of three years.

On August 17, 2006, my friend Kenneth invited me to go out for drinks with some friends of his.  Only one person showed and when it was clear that her and I were hitting it off, Kenneth played his wingman role perfectly and headed home to get some sleep before his ‘early meeting’.  And so, on the night we met, Danielle and I also had our first date.

Three years later and it’s hard to imagine what life was like before we met, which is weird as there’s another 9/10 of my life that came before that.  Needless to say, it’s been the best 3 years of my life, which means I’m looking forward to that ratio growing smaller over the decades to come.

Sadly, Danielle’s employer has fought tooth and nail to separate us today.  She’s in London for a conference all week, leaving me home alone with Mojo.  So this post is less for all of you and more for her.

I may not see you tonight, but I thank God everyday that I saw you that night three years ago and that you fell as hard for me as I did for you.  I love you and miss you, so come home soon.


Raccoons, Cats and Allergic Reactions

We had a fun and exciting evening last night out on the back deck.  We had our new(ish) neighbours from upstairs down for a ‘get to know you’ BBQ.  They moved in back in July, but with vacations and the general summer hustle and bustle, this was our first chance to sit down and actually get to know each other.  It was great.  They’re really nice people and we had a great time enjoying their company over wine, ribs, corn and edamame salad (more on this later).

As afternoon turned to dusk, the raccoons that are ever-present in our neighbourhood showed up in the trees above our deck, which whipped the dog into a frenzy.  Fortunately, our next door neighbour came to the rescue with a Super Soaker.  Fun was had by all.

After dinner, we all decided that we should introduce Mojo to the cat that lives upstairs.  They’ve heard each other plenty, and were more than curious at each other’s noises.  Mojo tried a little too hard to be friendly and spooked the poor little cat, but again, fun was had by all.

During dinner, when I sniffed at my edamame salad, Danielle asked what I was doing.  I told her that I was pretty sure I didn’t like it, but couldn’t remember why.  I ate it and it was delicious, but my memory of disliking it came flooding back at 4am when I woke to asthma attack of biblical proportions.  Oh, right.  I’m allergic to it. I took an allergy pill and watched some TV until it subsided, but I’m dead tired today.

So, if you ever want to kill me, just feed me edamame with a side of acrylic paint.  I’ll stop breathing within minutes.

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