Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for September, 2010

Sleep Tight!

When I first started reading about the spread of bedbugs in major cities across North America (including right here in Toronto), I took issue with the rampant use of the word “epidemic”, but I’ve been won over.  These creepy little bloodsuckers are out of control, and it’s just a matter of time before every inhabitant of a city larger than a few hundred thousand people is walking around with visible bites.  Eww.

The problem, as I see it, is two-fold; we live, travel and work in close proximity with a wide variety of people every single day and any chemical that can effectively kill bedbugs has been outlawed because they are insanely toxic to humans.  So, we can’t kill them without hurting ourselves and our lifestyles are ideal for migrating them quickly and letting them establish new colonies without regard for race, socio-economic status or geography.  It’s the perfect storm.

Thankfully, my only first-hand experience with bedbugs thus far is through stories my grandmother tells about growing up waaaaay back when “on the farm” where bedbugs would slowly multiply in the hay used to fill mattresses over the winter.  Just when there were enough that it became nearly unbearable to sleep, it would be spring and all the hay would be taken outside and burnt, with new, fresh hay put back in the mattress.  For me, bedbugs have been something quaint and anecdotal from the past.

If I find a bedbug in our house, you can bet that I’ll be buying some DDT over the internet (or from some farmer who has a stash of it from the 60’s hidden in his barn) and bombing our house over a weekend.  The thought of a bug drinking my blood while I sleep is just about too much for me to bear.  I can’t even imagine how the dog would react.

Makes you think twice when you hear “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

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The Spam You Never See

Anyone out there with a blog of their own is already familiar with the annoyance that is comment spam, but I don’t know if all of you even have a clue what I’m talking about, so I’ll explain.  Blogs like mine that allow comments tend to have hoops you have to jump through to get your comment posted.   For mine, you have to type in some words that appear (sometimes badly) in a field to prove that you’re a real person.  That’s because jerks out there set up computers to automatically post comments on blogs with links to prescriptions, gambling site and all sorts of nefarious crap.

Aside from that annoying text input thing, I also have some server-side stuff running in WordPress (my blogging software) that flags suspicious comments and holds them back for review, or declares them spam outright.  With all that, it’s pretty rare that a bogus comment makes it live onto a post.  You’re welcome.  🙂

I periodically go through the comments that are flagged just in case a legitimate one was erroneously tagged, and that means that I’m witness to the seedy underbelly of the internet.  However, every once in a while, I get a comment from a spammer that I actually think about letting through because it’s funny.  Today, there was one with a link to a gambling site that said “What’s another word for ‘Thesaurus’?”, which is all kinds of awesome.

Feel free to leave a benign comment to try out my Fort Knox-like security for yourself, or just sit back and enjoy the spamless comments like I do.

P.S. As a writer, I find any joke about the Thesaurus to be tasteless, insipid, boring, tacky, stupid, unrefined…

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Breaking out of Jail

I started playing around with customization on my jailbroken iPhone 3GS last night, and I found some really cool stuff.  For example, I’m no longer forced to have the same lockscreen with the time and date as most other iPhone users.  Now, if you check my phone, you’ll see something like this, thanks to TypoPhone4.  And that was just my first foray into customization.

I also want to have a quick access button for turning wifi off and on and figure out how to customize ringtones (since I’m having trouble syncing with iTunes after jailbreaking for everything but music).

Aside from all that, I’m still learning how to use the keyboard and find everything I need to find, but it’s going well.  I’m quickly becoming an addict and I’m not surprised to see that I’ve embraced a smartphone.  I always knew I would, it was just a matter of getting one in my hot little hands.

Now if only I could figure out how to hack it to protect Mojo from dog bites and to keep it from raining when I’m waiting for TTC buses that never seem to come.  Patience, Dave.  Patience.

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Bloody Weekend

My parents were visiting for the latter half of last week, so with a lazy Saturday to spare, we headed down to the St. Lawrence Market to let our stomachs guide us on a tour of some of the best food the city has to offer.  And yes, we bought steaks.

On Saturday afternoon I mowed my lawn (which badly needed cutting) with some help from Danielle and Mojo and Saturday night was a quiet night at home, complete with a trip to get some propane for the aforementioned steaks.

Sunday was a bit more tumultuous.  I took Mojo for a walk in the park where a less friendly dog nipped him on the nose when they first met.  He has a bad scratch on the top of his nose, a gouge on the very tip and another gouge on the side where his whiskers are.  He didn’t cry or whine at all, but there was quite a bit of blood and it’s clearly sensitive as he didn’t like us cleaning the wounds at all.   We’re hoping that they don’t infected and that he doesn’t scar too badly, but rest assured we won’t be going near that other dog again.

Such are the trials of dog ownership.  No matter how friendly another dog can seem, not all dogs are well socialized, so you have to keep your eyes open in the park.  The signs can be very subtle.  Our dog is pretty naive and he’s super friendly, so can get beaten up pretty badly if another dog becomes aggressive.  Yes, our dog is a bit of a wuss, but the best kind.  Like the best people, he assumes the best in everyone (or thing) he meets, and sometimes he gets burned by that.

On top of everything, I go blood on my favourite jeans.  Bah.

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Night of the Long Guns

Frankly, I don’t get all the hulabaloo about the Long Gun Registry.  For gun owners, there is no cost involved (unlike registering your car) and if anything, it makes it easier to recover your guns should they be stolen or lost.  If anything, gun owners should be upset about the cost and hassle involved in licensing their firearms.

That police organizations (and Crowns) all agree that the registry is a key tool in combating offences involving firearms should be reason enough for everyone to calm down, have a long sip of Kool-Aid and for the House of Commons to start focussing on things that don’t divide Canadians, like the shabby state of employment in Canada, or the long-form Census.

I guess that’s the whole point of this though.  The Conservatives are seeking to rally their long-term supporters behind a cause that turns urban (read Liberal, NDP and PQ) voters on rural (read Conservative) voters in preparation for what could be a fall election.  The House has spoken, and despite the slim margin (think Quebec Referendum), we should all just accept that the registry is here to stay, and will continue to do good for all Canadians.

I have to admit that I was a little worried yesterday before the vote, but when I got the news that the private member bill to abolish the registry lost, I was relieved.  Now, I don’t own any guns, but I’d like to think that if I did, I’d have no problem registering them with the government.  I had no problem registering and licensing my dog, my car, my house and having them know all of my ID information, so what’s the problem with tacking on a few hunting rifles?

Are there any gun owners out there who’d like to share their two cents?

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Ford; Fix Or Repair Daily

I’m not sure if you’re following Toronto politics at all, but the craziest thing is happening; the worst possible candidate is leading the polls and it seems nothing can stop him.  Not a scandal of a past drunk-driving conviction, not a scandal of misusing charity funds and not a scandal of having no real policy or platform and running on the promise of dreams that he couldn’t possibly fulfill.  I won’t even mention the homophobic and racist remarks, mostly because I might write something libelous.

If (or when, at this point) Rob Ford becomes Mayor of Toronto, you can bet that city council will not have anything to do with him and the progress of our city will fall from a mediocre crawl into a long, one-term nap.

His opponents, while capable, well-spoken and, for the most part, scandal-free have solid platforms and policies, it seems they lack the “charm” of Rob Ford, as some media put it.  As a result, they are splitting the vote of all the intelligent Torontonians who actually want to see our city become something.

If you’re reading this and you’re planning on voting for Rob Ford, please take a second and think about what he’s saying and offering Toronto.  Cutting city council in half?  That would require a vote by city council who would NEVER vote that half of them lose their elected jobs.  His crazy TTC plans?  MetroLinx has already committed millions to our 10 year transit plan, and backing out of that would cost us millions more.

His plans to cut costs in council are similar to those of many of the other candidates, they just don’t brag about how much they pay out of their pockets because they aren’t rich themselves.

With Adam Giambrone out of the picture, it seems that Ford might just take the vote, so please, consider your vote carefully and be sure you vote for what’s best for this city, which isn’t Rob Ford.


Mmm, Mustardy

Everyone (and I mean everyone) I have been around for the last few days has a brutal end-of-summer cold.  That includes yours truly.  This brutal bug started in my sinuses and throat and has set up camp in my skull and chest.  From the look of things, it plans on spending most of the fall there unless I can get an eviction order sorted out.

Fortunately, I have a secret weapon headed my way from the far-flung reaches of the Ottawa Valley.  My parents will be in town for a few days starting tomorrow, and my mom will be bringing me all the ingredients I need for a good ‘ol fashioned mustard plaster.  It’s kind of folksy remedy for chest colds and coughs, and it hurts like the dickens but it works wonders.

It actually feels like it’s burning through your chest and setting fire to all the bad stuff that’s living in there (and maybe even some good stuff too), but when you take it off and take your first deep breath of un-mustardy air, you can breathe like you thought you’d never breathe before.  My chest and throat feel a little bit better just thinking about it.

I’ll post our not-so-top-secret family recipe when I get it from my mom, as well as full instructions on how to use it properly and safely (which is a concern).  That way, when you get this crazy cold (and you will), you can fight it with the best tools you can find lying around your kitchen.  You’re welcome.

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There’s an App for That

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a friend who got an iPhone 4 on launch day, I got my hands on his old iPhone 3GS on Friday.  Woo hoo!  After a weekend of tinkering, I can’t believe I didn’t have one of these earlier.

I’m still sorting out apps, but I have  natural gift for Angry Birds.  I’m also sorting out how to take a decent photo and video, which came in handy yesterday.

Mojo and I escorted Danielle to Toronto Island for the 30th Annual Longboat Toronto Island 10km run.  It was a gorgeous day to spend time on the island, and Danielle came in an astounding 290th overall and 18th in her gender/age group.  Not too shabby.  Even Mojo was impressed.

That’s all the good news.  The bad news is that a pox fell upon our house this weekend.  We both fell ill with various degrees of sinus infection, and are still recovering.   Maybe I need to catapult some angry birds up my nose to clear my sinuses out.

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