Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year that Was...and then Wasn't...and (sort of) Was Again

Well. Here we all are again. Another New Year's Eve, another chance to say goodbye to a year that you either can't wait to be rid of or wish would last forever. For me this has been a year of wild twists and turns, ending with an unfortunate and deep bout of depression that I blogged about two months ago today. It took hold quite out of nowhere and really hasn't let go since, as the long period of silence on this very blog would suggest. It's a very tricky thing to explain or understand, depression is, because if you've experienced it you know there's not really anything anyone outside of the person affected can truly do about it. And if you haven't experienced it, you likely think that depression = sad/suicidal all the time and that simply isn't true. In my case, I don't feel sad at all. I certainly don't feel interested in causing myself harm. I think how to best explain how I feel would be to call it "ennui". I don't really feel anything at all, except tired all the freaking time. 24/7, 365. It's incredibly frustrating for me and I cannot even imagine how it must be for the people closest to me, like Sarah, Tim and Jill. And even though this is something I've been fighting against for a very long time, I feel it's been particularly nasty and stubborn the past couple of years in particular, mainly because I have a) not been working (for the most part); and b) been much more keenly aware of the political and sociological landscape around me than ever before, globally but in particular locally (Canada and US). I feel that, more and more, the world is being run by dangerous and stupid—and dangerously stupid—people and I have neither any real sense of hope nor of where my place might be in this crumbling society. It's not the root cause of my ennui but, my goodness, it sure hasn't helped a lick.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Clock

The promotional still for The Clock
Yesterday Sarah took a holiday from her work and we finally got down to the Power Plant at Harbourfront in Toronto to see Christian Marclay's incredible work of visual and sound art, The Clock. (Sarah had already tried to see it once by herself, hoping to catch what is rumoured to be a pretty spectacular set of clips at midnight a few weekends ago; alas, the lineups were too long and she gave up around 1 a.m.) I can think of several words to describe this amazing piece but the one that does it the most justice, in my mind, is "riveting". We had more than a vague idea of the wonders awaiting us as Sarah's Mom, Evlyn, had been to see it quite a few times while it was on display at the National Gallery in Ottawa. But no matter how well she or, indeed, anyone else attempted to describe the power of Marclay's masterpiece, this is something that one absolutely must experience for one's self. On the subject of those attempts at capturing the essence of The Clock, I have read quite a few of them for myself—including the rather mundane blurb in the Power Plant's own program—but the one I found the closest to accomplishing the feat was one written by Daniel Zalewski which appeared in The New Yorker in March of this year. It's a rather lengthy read but it does not simply focus on this single creation of Marclay's; I feel that the exploration of the man behind The Clock broadens and heightens the entire experience considerably. Despite my concession of the futility of attempting to understand the impact of this artwork, I am stubbornly going to proceed to describe my own experience yesterday afternoon, because this wouldn't be much of a blog piece if I just said, "We went to see The Clock yesterday" and left it at that. That's what Facebook and Twitter are for!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Zoo Volunteer Training, Week Two

Hairy-nosed wombat
credit: Jeff Green/Toronto Star
The training was a little more intensive in our second week as we are starting to get some idea of exactly what is going to be expected of us. We focused on Grade Ones and Twos this time around (more the former than the latter, truth be told) and were taken on a short tour by a veteran Volunteer who stopped us frequently en route and explained the methodology she would use if we were actually six or seven years old. The Grade One curriculum explores "Characteristics and Needs of Living Things" with a special emphasis on the five senses. Grade Two learns about "Growth and Change in Animals", including life cycles and classifications. One especially nice thing about the tour yesterday was it took us through the Australasia Pavilion where we had a chance to meet the newest Zoo additions, two young southern hairy-nosed wombats who have come to join Hamlet, the thirty-year-old wonder already living here who has outlived his life expectancy in the wild by a factor of two. It is hoped that the new pair, Millie and Arthur, will breed when they are ready (likely a full year away, still) because that is something that Zoos up until now haven't had a lot of luck with. There are nine of these creature in captivity in North America; the Toronto Zoo now sports three of them. A let me tell you: these two youngsters are some kind of cute. One was braver than the other (we are not sure who was who), venturing past the wallabies into the outdoor enclosure and watching us from the fence there quite closely. I didn't want to stop and take any pictures of my own while I was "in class" and I didn't go back before I went home. Hopefully they will be just as active the next time I am in that pavilion and I'll capture them for posterity!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rachel Maddow Gives 'em Hell

I don't have a lot to say today, nothing that isn't being said all over the internet by myriad pundits. After the angst of the early part of this week, it felt like a good day to take a step back. Tomorrow I am going to be at the Zoo for my second Volunteer Training day and I should come back refreshed and more or less content for a little while.

But I wanted to be sure I posted this amazing rant by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC here for posterity. If you haven't already seen it, please do give it a watch:

Here is the complete transcript of that video. It's pretty heady and courageous stuff, I think, and it speaks directly to the heart of the polarization issues in both of our countries:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A (Qualified) Sigh of Relief

The most "retweeeted" Tweet in history
America did the right thing last night. For now. It was touch-and-go there for a while, to listen to the pundits, but when it came right down to it everything broke pretty much as expected and Barack Obama was re-elected. Or Mitt Romney was put in his place. It's actually kind of hard to figure out which was the bigger part of the results last night. But I'll take it, no matter what the reasoning was. However, there were many things about the whole process that really don't sit all that well with me. It feels a little more like the States dodged another bullet than there was any tremendous progress made. Still, from my vantage point of having to live with the twin regimes of Rob Ford and Stephen Harper—each terrible and destructive in his own way—dodging a bullet seems pretty good to me right now. I'm a little bit jealous, to tell the truth.

USA's first openly-gay senator
Other than the results at the very top there were other encouraging signs to come out of last night's voting. Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, who becomes the first openly gay Senator in the history of the USA. Hawai'i sent Mazie Hirono to the Senate, a Buddhist woman who was born in Japan. Illinois elected disabled war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who defeated Joe Walsh (not the musician) after his ill-advised comments about rape. More on that running theme later. In total, a record twenty women will join the Senate in 2013 and at least eighty-one are heading for the House of Representatives. In New Hampshire they outdid all the other states, electing women to fill the Governor and both Senator positions, the first time that has ever happened.

Monday, November 5, 2012

You Must Not Vote For Mitt Romney If....

If this is not the first time you are reading something political issued from my keyboard, then you probably know I will be approaching this piece from a position left of centre. I believe in full disclosure in these matters so let's be perfectly clear: I am not a Conservative. But then neither is Mitt Romney. The rise of the Tea Party in the States has led to a far-right Neo-Conservative movement which has so dangerously unbalanced the political arena—and not just in that country—that old-school Conservatives are virtual Centrists in the new ideology. If you live in the States and you vote Republican because all of your ancestors voted Republican back to the very top of your line, you really need to understand that the "Republican" representative on tomorrow's ballot bears almost no resemblance to those that your forebears supported. Therefore, "my family has always voted Republican" is no longer a valid defense for putting an "X" next to the name of a man who I feel may, if elected, be the worst President in the 236-year history of the United States. Bearing this in mind, today I am going to advocate something which ordinarily would go against all of my best instincts: if you absolutely cannot see your way clear to voting for Obama—and your ballot does not offer you a third-party choice—then I urge you to stay at home and not vote or, if you prefer, spoil your ballot. I have subscribed in the past to the "Anyone But X" theory of voting (which did not work particularly well in the last Federal Election up here in Canada) but this time I truly feel that an "Anyone But Obama" position could be potentially ruinous to the USA. I am not a particular fan of the incumbent, either, but he is at least an intelligent, sentient human being who is capable of making well-reasoned decisions. And Romney? Well, as I posted on Facebook over this past weekend, Romney has (or should have) alienated so many different factions of Americans that he should be running at under 10% in the polls right now. I just cannot understand how the math is working out the way it is: no woman, impoverished person or youth, to name but a few "groups", should ever vote for this man and that doesn't even begin to take into consideration non-Caucasians. Well, it begins to take them into consideration, I suppose.

But enough of the preamble. You know where I stand politically; this piece is about far more than that, though. It is about the absolute and utter inability Mitt Romney would have to run a country, completely aside from his political stance. He is one of the most profoundly unenlightened men I have ever seen reach his level of power in the States. Not all that long ago, he would have been running for a fringe party. Now he is neck-and-neck for the position of "Leader of the Free World". This cannot be allowed to happen. So I present to you:

"You Must Not Vote For Romney If......"

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Zoo Volunteer Training Has Begun!

My temporary badge
Today I was at the Toronto Zoo for the first week of my ten-week training program to become a "Weekday Zoo Volunteer". Each session (except the two weeks in the middle where we will be "shadowing" an experienced Volunteer on a walking tour) will be from 10-3 on Fridays, with a break of three weeks over Christmas and New Years. The intake group is very large this year—twenty-eight potential new Volunteers—because in their existing pool there are some members with increasing mobility issues who are unable to take on the task of a two-hour tour any longer. I believe there were a total of five new Volunteers last year (there may have been even fewer); that's quite a jump from one year to the next. It does appear that I came along at just the right time. It was pretty nice to sit in a room full of like-minded people, all eager to share their love of wildlife and conservation with young people, hoping to light that spark within each of them. I am very much looking forward to doing this for a long time.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jill!

Jill at 21, having a drink with her old man
My beautiful daughter, Gillian, turned twenty-one today, meaning both of my children are now old enough to be recognized as "adults" no matter where they travel. It's a bit of an odd feeling, let me tell you. Also, this fall marks the first time ever that both of them, Jill and Tim, have been in Post-Secondary schools at the same time. After a couple of years dabbling in Science programs at each of McGill and Waterloo (and a year off working and rethinking her future), Jill surprised all of us last winter by announcing that she wanted to do a complete about-face and return to school in a field of study almost diametrically opposed to what she had been immersed in up to that point; as a result, she applied to (and was accepted by) the Ryerson Theatre School, in the Performance Production stream. She is loving her time there, as clearly evidenced by the joy she demonstrates whenever she discusses her long hours of work which she has already put in, and it clearly was the right choice for her to make. I think she was worried about my reaction when she told me of her plans, though; however, I merely had to think back to my own transition from high school to university and how I was talked out of my first love, entering the Music program at the University of Toronto, by my Dad and my Guidance Counselor, among others. I entered the Applied Math program instead and hated it; as a result, I never finished and have been held back by that failing ever since. The best advice I could give Jill this past January was to do what made her happy, but follow it through to completion this time. This year has really been one of the very few "difficult" times in our lives together, though, and it hasn't been all that "difficult".

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mind the Gap

Today is Hallowe'en, the very last day of October, and here I am writing only my fourth blog post of the month. It's not that I have been starved for material: there have been Presidential Debates, horrific stories about bullying, the usual crap from Rob Ford and his ilk. It is National Bullying Prevention Month; I was accepted as a Zoo Volunteer; my beautiful partner had a big birthday; it's the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. But no matter how many times I have started to put together a few thoughts for a new piece, I have found myself unable to carry through on it. I could make up excuses, like I have done all my life. I could tell you I've been under the weather (true for part of the month); I could tell you I have been too busy planning Sarah's surprise party (also not a fabrication, entirely); I could say I was having computer troubles, or physical pains, or needed a new prescription for my glasses, or myriad other things and you would probably take it on good faith. But while none of these statements is completely false, they have had very little to do with my absence for weeks at a time from this blog.

The plain and honest truth of the matter is this: I am depressed.

I have been fighting depression for most of my adult life—likely much of my childhood, too—and I think it's reasonable to assume I will be doing so for the rest of my days on Earth. At times I have received counseling for it; medication has also helped in the past and, some times, caused more problems than it has solved. But the simple truth—although there is truly nothing "simple" about it—is that I am at constant risk of a wave of depression coming upon me with very little warning and virtually paralyzing me emotionally.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The 2012 American League MVP Debate

Miguel Cabrera, leaving the game with the Triple Crown
As I mentioned yesterday, I watched the Tigers-Royals game last night to see the crowning of the first Triple Crown winner in the big leagues in forty-five years. It was pretty anticlimactic, though: after Miguel Cabrera went hitless in his first two appearances—and Mike Trout had narrowed the gap by three points in the batting race and it became obvious that, no matter how truly atrocious the Red Sox' pitching is, Curtis Granderson would not be able to pass Cabrera in the home run race—manager Jim Leyland lifted the Tigers' star third-baseman from the game, timing it so that the fans in Kansas City could give him a standing ovation for his season's efforts. Still, it's a damned impressive feat; the last player to lead his league in home runs, average and runs batted in was Carl Yastrzemski of Boston back in 1967. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, when Yaz won that title the Toronto Maple Leafs were the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Yeah, it was a long, long time ago. The Triple Crown has become a lot harder to win in the past few decades, too, because of all of the "specialty" hitters in baseball: the slap hitters that hit for a high average but no power; the sluggers who pound out fifty homers but struggle to stay above the "Mendoza Line" in batting average. This is not to say it was ever easy; I'm only pointing out that there were some observers (aren't there always?) who thought we might never see another Triple Crown winner at the Major League level.

But now another, quite heated debate has begun: should Miguel Cabrera be the American League's Most Valuable Player for 2012?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Boys of Bummer

The moment the Blue Jays threw in the towel
Another lost season for the Toronto Blue Jays is coming to an end tonight. It would be very easy to blame the myriad injuries for the current state of affairs—and, really, they became almost comical as even the pitching coach was injured in a freak play during a game—but that would be missing the bigger picture, in my opinion. Sure, Jose Bautista—the two-time reigning major league home run champ who was leading the majors again when he was injured—missed all but two of the Jays' final seventy-two games, ripping the lineup apart despite the heroics of Edwin Encarnacion, currently two homers off the American League lead himself. And the pitching staff was destroyed by injuries, putting all the weight on Ricky Romero, who probably wishes now he had been injured himself as he had a brutal season. But it's not as if the Jays were tearing up the league before all the injuries, despite all the expectations of the spring. There was even one extra playoff spot up for grabs this year, giving the club its best chance in nearly twenty years of returning to the playoffs; however, the veterans on this team, such as Adam Lind and Kelly Johnson (who will likely set a new team single-season strikeout record tonight if he plays) were not up to the challenge and the next level of players, notably Yunel Escobar and Brett Lawrie, almost unanimously took a huge step backward. The two left fielders that fought for the job in Spring Training were both traded away for long relief help, which doesn't say much for their perceived value. There were, of course, bright spots such as the emergence of Encarnacion as a top-flight power threat and Casey Janssen as a premier closer. But the inner workings of the team was an absolute mess, resulting in embarrassing situations like Lawrie throwing a helmet at an umpire and Escobar wearing the offensive eye-paint, which went somehow unnoticed by every other person on the team that day and yet Escobar alone was left hanging out to dry at the press conference in New York. It is obvious to me that John Farrell has absolutely no clue how to handle a major-league ball club; the clubhouse has completely gotten away from him (at times, it seems the hot-headed Bautista has full control of the players) and his coaching staff seems woefully inadequate in their own jobs. The staggering number of injuries to the Jays' pitchers this year would seem to be an indictment of the training and coaching staff and, to make matters worse, Farrell used to be a pitching coach. Clearly, to my mind, he is not up to the challenge and ought to be replaced, the sooner the better.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Quiet Souls with Deep Feelings

I had a very "Stand By Me" moment last week. If you are not familiar with the movie, it came out in 1986, directed by Rob Reiner and based on a Stephen King novella. The film's narrator is a writer around the age of forty, taken back jarringly to a summer when he was twelve by reading a newspaper account of the death of an old friend from that time. In my case, I'm at least ten years older than the protagonist of Stand By Me and the age I was yanked back to was sixteen.

I received in the mail last week the Fall 2012 copy of The Root, the alumni magazine of my high school, University of Toronto Schools (UTS). I was absentmindedly leafing through it when I came to the "In Memoriam" section near the back of the periodical. It was there that I learned of the passing (by way of cancer) of a woman who had been in the level behind mine, someone I hadn't seen nor spoken to in well over thirty years but who holds a very special place in my heart nonetheless. She was my date to the UTS Formal in my graduating year and, in point of fact, my first date period. If you saw any pictures of me back then, you'd know why.

I knew I was going to have to create a post about her passing and I wrestled with whether to list her whole name in this piece. Because this won't really be about her life (a life I did not share so it would be presumptuous of me to think I had any right to speak to it here) but the brief part of it that we spent together, I decided to just use her first name, which was Leslie. If you know me (or her) well enough, you'll be able to fill in the rest; if not, I wish to respect the privacy of those who have survived her.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Haliburton in the Fall

Looking east from the Dorset Tower

View from the "Scenic Lookout" in Minden
Sarah's birthday is fast approaching—the middle of next month, actually—and she asked that an early "present" be a drive up north to see the fall colours, something we hadn't done—not really—in nearly seven years, since shortly after we moved into our current apartment. We set our sights on this weekend a while back; as it drew closer, though, the weather forecast began to look more and more contrary and we worried that we would not really get that far out of town after all. When this morning dawned bright and fresh, however, we decided to throw caution to the wind, 70% P.O.P. be damned, and let Babar whisk us away to the spectacular autumn carpet of the Haliburton Highlands. We made arrangements with our wonderful neighbour, Sophia, to come in and give Addie her dinner so we didn't need to rush back; then it was time for the obligatory fuel-ups—us at Tim Horton's, Babar at the Esso near the Parkway—and away we went. Every heartless directional aide we consulted—Google Maps, Nokia Maps, even our car's GPS—wanted us to travel west, up the 400, and come into Dorset (our main destination) from that direction; however, we were not to be swayed. We knew the purpose of our drive wasn't simply to get to the colours but rather to pass through them. We decided that the best way to do this was to drive east first and then head up Highway 35, which would take us through Minden and the Kawarthas before tiptoeing along the border of Muskoka and Haliburton counties. This is a beautiful drive on any day of the year; once the colours have begun to change it is positively breathtaking. We were not disappointed in our decision; in fact, had we gone the other way we would have missed the "Scenic Lookout" in Minden altogether. As you can see from these pictures, the colours were pretty impressive in this region, although we knew they were only going to get more spectacular as we approached Algonquin Park.

Sarah and Grumpy P take turns...
...posing in front of the fence by the bluffs
And then we completely ignored the fence...
...and took much better photos!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Where were you in '72?

Cournoyer has it on that's a shot! Henderson made a wild stab for it and's another shot, right in front - they score!! Henderson...has scored for Canada! Henderson, right in front of the net. And the players on the team are going wild! Henderson, right in front, has scored the goal with 34 seconds left in the game....

Forty years ago today, Paul Henderson scored the biggest goal in the history of our nation. Do you remember where you were?

The "enemy" - in cartoon form, no less
It started nearly four weeks earlier. On the Saturday night of Labour Day weekend in Canada, the puck was dropped at the incomparable Montreal Forum to open a series of eight games between a team of professional hockey players from Canada (as long as they played for the NHL and not that upstart WHA) and the national team from the Soviet Union. The Cold War was in full bloom and much of our country billed this as the ultimate "Us against Them" showdown; capitalism vs. communism; our way of life vs. theirs; the good guys with the freedom to play the game bare-headed vs. the indoctrinated "robots" who all wore the same helmets. We had stopped sending a team to the Winter Olympics because we felt the ice was "tilted" there: the USSR showed up in 1956 with a roster full of players who were paid to play hockey in a backhanded way because they did it for the Red Army; meanwhile, the Olympics refused to let "professional" players compete for the medals, which meant that the Soviets were sending their very best players while the greatest Canadian hockey men were toiling away in the NHL and, therefore, disqualified from the Olympics. Fed up with losing to the Soviets at "Our Game" every four years, we took our pucks and went home. This led, more or less, to the creation of the 1972 Summit Series, whereby the best players from Canada would compete against the best players from the International Hockey powerhouse, the Soviet Union, in an eight-game series to decide, once and for all, which truly was the greatest hockey nation on earth. It was such a big deal that even the legendary Foster Hewitt was lured out of retirement to call all eight games (on both the CBC and CTV). It was assumed, I imagine, that he would lend some substance to what many people thought might be a very one-sided series. It turned out to be a decision with mixed results: the aged broadcasting pioneer struggled mightily and, often, comically, with the names of the Soviet players. He even had trouble with some of the Canadian players, most memorably Yvan Cournoyer, but he diligently kept at it and, at the end, we were all the richer for it. The proceeds of this series were supposed to benefit the NHL Pension Fund, but that didn't quite work out the way they expected it to.

But that's a story for another day.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dumb and Dumbererer

When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. - Mitt Romney, Republican nominee for President, speaking at a Beverly Hills fundraiser which nevertheless brought in $6 million.

Left: "regular" Mitt. Right: Mitt speaking in "bronzeface"
at a Univision Town Hall meeting on Hispanic issues
So it's come to this. I knew that Mitt Romney was not the kind of man I would ever want to meet. I knew his distorted views of the world were pretty much anathema to my own. I knew he was the "best" of a hilariously bad crop of candidates who were vying for the Republican Presidential nomination this year. But I had no idea that he was so pathologically, nearly debilitatingly stupid. I know our own mayor, Rob Ford, is that stupid, but he has no real power and never will get the chance to have a profound impact on the lives of millions. But this is a far more serious situation: Mitt Romney has a chance -- albeit one that is, fortunately, slipping away almost by the hour -- of being President of the United States. And he is every bit as stupid as Rob Ford. If you don't believe me, go back and read that quote again while imagining it was RoFo who issued that staggeringly ignorant comment. It's not a very difficult thing to imagine, is it? It's not enough that Mittens cannot seem to grasp why being able to open a window on a vehicle moving at near sonic speeds is not a very good thing; he's not even capable of understanding how fire itself works. Here's a hint: it thrives on oxygen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spacing's Map Contest

The current cover of Spacing
A few months ago, Sarah discovered that there was a contest being run by Spacing Magazine, a publication out of Toronto that focuses on urban design and public space usage; a contest which was right up her alley. They were soliciting entries to their "Creative Mapping Contest" and, even though it was very close to the deadline, Sarah bore down and worked furiously to be sure she submitted a design for their consideration. It was fantastic and she did get it in on time, but I didn't hear any more about it whatsoever.

Until last week, that is.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Ford Follies: International Edition

Good grief. The guy just will not go away.

Even when he actually does "go away"....he still won't go away. Not really.

Rob Ford, part-time mayor, part-time football coach, full-time buffoon, is in Chicago right now on a "Trade Mission". He has boasted, on the record, that this trip is not costing the taxpayers of Toronto "one dime". But, of course, he is lying because there are two senior staffers with him whose costs are being covered by the city. There will almost certainly be more costs, but there's already enough information to rebut his ridiculous claim.

RoFo and the Bean: A Modern Ballet
credit: Don Peat/Toronto Sun
Yesterday, while Ford was in the Windy City dancing under the "Cloud Gate" sculpture (nicknamed the "Mirror Bean" by locals and which Ford thinks should be replicated in Toronto, only in the form of a giant football, of course), one of his special assistants, Chris Fickel, attended the Don Bosco football practice, arriving at the facility in a car registered to the City of Toronto. When Dave Rider, a Star reporter covering the Chicago shenanigans, asked Ford about it he was told, "Do your homework. I paid for it last year." Paid for what, exactly, nobody is too clear on and since RoFo wouldn't comment further, choosing instead to tell Rider to, "go home, go where you came from," there's a chance we may never find out. And the exchange got a lot weirder and creepier than that. At one point, Ford asked Rider, "are you going to be sleeping with me tonight?" I can't do the incident justice here; have a look for yourself at the transcript in the Toronto Star.

But the hilarity doesn't stop there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lost in Translation

Escobar and the offending stickers
Yunel Escobar, the Cuban-born shortstop of the Toronto Blue Jays, played a Major League game last Saturday with a phrase written under his eyes in Spanish. In case you can't make it out in the picture at right, it says "TU ERE MARICON" which, when literally translated into English, is a slur against gay people -- specifically gay men. Quite predictably -- and somewhat understandably -- this has led to a firestorm of anger on Twitter and other social media outlets over the past couple of days. "Get rid of him!" is a common tweet. "Suspend him for a year!" and "Throw him out of baseball!" also popped up pretty regularly. Because nothing really better illustrates how Twitter operates than a bunch of overreactions from unaffected people.

This afternoon, the Blue Jays held a press conference in New York (where the team is preparing to take on the Yankees) before which they announced that Escobar had been suspended for three games (which I think is about four games too light), with the approval of Major League Baseball. Furthermore, the salary he is forfeiting will be split between the You Can Play Project and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Escobar will also "participate in an outreach program on sexual orientation and a sensitivity training program in accordance with the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball". Attending the press conference were Escobar, GM Alex Anthopolous, manager John Farrell, coach Luis Rivera (to translate questions to Escobar, who speaks little to no English) and another man who went unidentified, who translated Escobar's words to the rest of us. During this conference, Escobar repeatedly stated that he meant "no offense" by the words and that he has "many gay friends" including, somewhat hilariously, his hairdresser and the "man who decorated my house". The young shortstop tried his best to show that he was embarrassed, but mainly -- to my eyes -- he just looked confused as to why this had caused such a big storm of outrage.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What the Hockey Lockout Means to Me


Thanks for dropping by.

All right, all right. Since you went to the trouble of coming here, I guess I can muster up some reasoning.

I'm sick of the NHL. I have loved the sport of hockey since I was a very small boy. I've played it since I was six years old. I've coached kids in the game for ten of the past twelve years. My dad used to put a rink in our backyard and some of my fondest childhood memories are of the myriad Sunday afternoons he and I spent at Maple Leaf Gardens, watching the Toronto Marlies (Junior A team) from the Greens, because they were "high enough up in the stands so you can really get a feel for the game".

But the NHL doesn't share my enthusiasm for the sport. The NHL doesn't care about the fans, the players or even the integrity of the game itself and it hasn't for many, many years.

Friday, September 7, 2012

RoFo: The Trial Concludes

Keep laughing, Chuckles

Today's blog post will be a lot shorter than yesterday's because, while Rob Ford's Conflict of Interest trial concluded yesterday, Ford himself didn't say anything inordinately stupid in the courtroom. But there's a good reason for that: Ford did not take the stand yesterday.

Instead, we were treated to closing arguements from the two lawyers, Alan Lenczner, who represents Ford, and Clayton Ruby, who represents the private citizen who brought this case to court, Paul Magder. This still took an entire day in court, but I'd wager it felt a lot shorter than the previous day to everyone in attendance.

Again today I followed as much as I could through the live blogs such as the one by the Torontoist, and Twitter feeds such as by the indefatigable Don Peat, filling in the gaps by following the discussion hash tag #FordCourt, also on Twitter. Ruby went first because Lenczner needed time to review some "new case law and facta" given to him by Ruby that morning. The next few hours, until 3 p.m. with a break for lunch and a couple of recesses, Ruby and Nader Hasan, a partner in his firm, held the floor and spent much of that time reiterating just how muddled and confusing Ford's testimony from the day before truly was. Some of the more "on-point" quotes from the prosecutors:
“He has never explained the basis for his peculiar view of the law. My submission is that it is not a believable assertion because it is made by someone who has a 12 year tenure on city council.”

“That is not someone who has made an error. That is someone who is doing deliberately what he believes is right. It is not an error of judgment to be reckless identifying conflicts… it is not a good faith error. He is deliberately not doing what any reasonable person would do.”

“It is reckless to proceed in ignorance all of his 12 years on council. If you swear to uphold an Act and you don’t even read it, you are simply ensuring that you will breach it.”

“Ignorance of the law is not an error in judgment.”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rob Ford: Super Genius

The Ford Bros. "running" from the courtroom
credit: Dave Abel, Toronto Sun

[Rob] Ford was elected as councillor three times before being elected mayor. He received council handbook each time but says "I don't remember ever getting a handbook." [Clayton Ruby asks:]"You have no memory of ever getting it, studying it or reading it?" "No" - David Rider, Toronto Star Live Blog
Unless you've been living under a rock the past year and a half you probably know that the mayor of the City of Toronto is a world-class buffoon. News of his embarrassing "exploits" has traveled around the globe, so you don't have to actually live in or near Toronto to be aware of just how poorly qualified this man is to be in his current position. Hell, he's probably poorly qualified to get himself dressed in the morning. He's driven at high speeds while reading a speech, because he's a "busy" man. He's repeatedly demonstrated his homophobia by refusing to attend even the most innocuous of Pride events in the city he "leads". He mugged a journalist and stole his cell phone, he may or may not have driven past the open doors of a streetcar, he swore at a 911 operator after calling about a comedy sketch gone awry, he gave a mom and her six-year-old daughter the finger after they admonished him for texting while driving. And don't even get me started on his hilarious antics while he was a city councillor. Good times, good times. Well, RoFo has taken his act to a whole other level this week. He is either perjuring himself on the stand under cross-examination or he is the single dumbest person ever to hold the office of mayor in Toronto -- and that list includes Mel Lastman and June Rowlands.
Also notable: a few minutes ago, Ford said that he didn’t attend council orientation sessions when he was first elected in 2000, because his dad was an MPP and he felt he knew how government worked. - Steve Kupferman, The Torontoist Live Blog

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Day at the Ex

The Penguins at the Ex
Sarah had a real bee in her bonnet to go to the Ex this year, for whatever reason. We tried to find a time last week to get to the fair, because the admission was only $5 after five p.m. on weeknights, but the only day we could have gone was Monday and it poured that night. So we put it off until the long weekend and when we saw how amazing the weather was going to be yesterday the decision became rather easy. At that point it just became a matter of working out how best to get there. A couple of years ago we drove down to an inexpensive garage we found near Union Station and took the Harbourfront streetcar. That was a truly awful experience, though, as the lineup to get anywhere near the streetcar at Union was very, very long. We rejected that idea this time. We thought about going down early and parking close to the grounds, but two things worked against that idea: 1) in the past when I have parked "at" the CNE, invariably I have decided I am tired enough to go home when I am about as far a walk from the car as is possible; and 2) we got up a lot later than we had hoped to. Ok, I got up a lot later than Sarah had hoped. Same thing. Well, close enough. Moving on...

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Blue Moon to End the Summer

The first drinks: Blue Moon martinis.
It was a Blue Moon tonight, the first since New Year's Eve, 2009, and the last until July of 2015. Neil Armstrong, who died last Saturday, was memorialized today in Ohio, his home state. There is no way it was a coincidence that this happened on a Blue Moon, let alone a full moon. Sarah and I did what we always do for this infrequent occasion (the Blue Moon, not the memorial service): we prepared some blue food and blue drinks, put on a quartet of CDs I made many years ago for a Blue Moon party we held together shortly after our relationship began, and settled in for the evening. We had blue pasta and chicken and I mixed us some Blue Moon martinis at first, then we switched to Blue Lagoon cocktails for the rest of the evening. The CDs are a wonderful collection of songs with either the word "Blue" or the word "Moon" in the title, heavily leaning toward the latter. There's "Harvest Moon", "Blue Moon of Kentucky", "Moondance", "Claire de Lune". The Waterboys are represented, as are Echo and the Bunnymen, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and King Harvest. I have, on one of the disks, something like 17 different versions of "Blue Moon" alone. I only get these CDs out on the occasion of a Blue Moon which keeps the compilation "fresh" for the most part.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ah Sey One

Part of a fantastic mural outside of the Harlem Restaurant
Last night Sarah and I went to a fantastic event, "Ah Sey One", organized by Sceneopolis and inTO, and held at the Harlem Restaurant on Richmond Street East. I won a "plus one" entry through a contest that The Grid ran on their Twitter feed last week, by answering the simple question: "What is your favourite song by The Sattalites?" I knew nothing about the event at that time, only that I really love The Sattalites (a long-standing Toronto Reggae band; only Rush is an older Canadian band right now) and that Sarah and I really needed an evening out. But it wasn't just a show by The Sattalites (whom I had seen several times in the past): it was an event which was all about the mood and the mingling. Food was included, as well as two drinks each, and the people at the Harlem Restaurant -- to which we'd never been but will definitely return -- were absolutely fantastic.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Must-See TV" is now Sunday Nights

Tinkerbell and Cinderella's castle
When I was a young lad, Sunday nights were "family nights" on television. Wholesome, uplifting or educational fare was to be found for the most part, with shows such as The Wonderful World of Disney, assorted National Geographic specials, The Ed Sullivan Show and other family-oriented programs airing on the Sundays of my youth. As a result, it seemed to me that Sunday night was where a television series -- whether it was drama, comedy or any other kind of "serial" show -- went to die. If I had a favourite show in the '70s or '80s and it was moved to Sunday night, I began to prepare myself for its inevitable cancellation. You may have had a different experience but that is how it was for me: the sight of a show I was fond of suddenly appearing on Sundays was an "oh no" moment every time.

Well, that was then. Things are radically different now.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong, Modern Pioneer

Neil Armstrong: First human on the moon

"Neil Armstrong was the spiritual repository of spacefaring dreams & ambitions. In death, a little bit of us all dies with him." *

My first hero died today at the age of 82.

As a little boy, all I ever wanted to be was an astronaut. I ravenously devoured every detail of every Apollo mission from Apollo 7 (the first manned mission) onward. When Apollo 8 orbited the moon at Christmastime, 1968, it was then -- and still is now -- one of the greatest thrills of my life and an uplifting end to an awful, awful year. I followed the docking mission of Apollo 9 and the oh-so-close orbit of Apollo 10, running home from school on many of those days to absorb as much of the dazzling story unfolding on my television as I could manage. And then came the summer of 1969.

"'Men Walk On Moon' - The only positive event in the last 50 yrs for which everyone remembers where they were when it happened."

Apollo 11 Mission Patch
As luck would have it, we were to be in the States that July, renting a cottage in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, for a couple of weeks beginning on the 19th. There was no television in that cottage, but fortunately my aunt and uncle and their daughters had rented another place not far from us with a tiny black and white t.v. in the living room. We were still in Toronto for the liftoff, on July 16, and I was glued to the television for much of that morning. The launch itself took place at 9:32 a.m. EDT, but I was watching hours earlier as Walter Cronkite described the mission particulars at great length. I simply could not get enough of that sort of thing back then. I followed the mission as best I could over the next day or so and then I was in a kind of "radio silence" as my family made the long trip to Maine by car. I picked up reports in dribs and drabs via whatever source was nearby until the afternoon of the 20th when we dropped in on my cousins to watch the actual landing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pardon my Absence

It feels like I can finally sit at a computer long enough to put out a blog piece again, after a very frustrating week and a half, as my neck issues seem to be easing off a bit. I had no idea how attached I was to this device until it was impossible to interact with it properly. Well, that's not really true: I had a pretty good idea how attached I am to it. Didn't make it any easier, though.

So, did I miss much? Let's see, there was our buffoon of a mayor ignoring all the signs that clearly were not meant for him and walking into the Calgary Stampeders' dressing room while he was at a football game. Nothing really new there. Also this week came the news that Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger are engaged. The only possible good that could ever come out of such an unholy union as this one is the chance that Lavigne might "pull a Yoko" and break up Nickelback. If that were to happen, she has my vote to appear on the next $100 bill. Unless she's too "ethnic". Hey, you never know.

Then there is the story of the high school valedictorian in Oklahoma, about to enter college on a full scholarship except for one small issue: her school refuses to give her her high school diploma (which she obtained with straight-As, I might add) because she used the word "hell" in her speech. Never mind that she was actually quoting a movie that is very popular among her demographic; never mind that she didn't intend to quote it directly, but I guess it just happened that way; never mind that a valedictory address isn't supposed to be for anyone else but her classmates who gave her that honour. No, her school won't give her the diploma unless she apologizes. Here's hoping she doesn't. Oklahoma, seriously, I think you have other, more pressing things to worry about. But let's look at the bright side here: at least Oklahoma isn't Missouri, located right next door. Because Missouri, at the moment, is home to one of the dumbest, most despicable men to hold any power in the States right now. Missouri is home to Todd Akin.

Friday, August 17, 2012

An "Angry News" Week

Sea lions Sandy and Baker
It's too bad my neck's been so sore the past few days that I've barely been at my keyboard, because it's been one hell of a week for awful news and I feel like I've missed the chance to have some pretty important discussions. I've already posted about Toronto's ignoramus of a mayor thinking it's ok to drive while reading a speech (although we may have found him a new driver, if he'll be crazy enough to move here from Edmonton). I made a short, passing mention of the horrific goings-on at Marineland (former trainer Phil Demers has put together a short video which also was featured on the Star's website; now comes news that the Niagara Falls Humane Society will be inspecting Marineland and even singer Suzie McNeil wants her jingle pulled from their ads). I know I need to write a much larger piece on this story, but I haven't had the stamina to pull everything together this week. It's coming, trust me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No Post Again Tonight....

...that pinched nerve or whatever it is seems to be affecting the blood flow to my head and I've had vertigo all day long. I haven't been able to sit at the keyboard for more than 5 or 10 minutes at a stretch. Hopefully it will pass soon and I can get this blog back on the rails. My favourite masseuse in the world tried to alleviate my discomfort after she got home from work and it seemed to help a little bit, but I clearly wasn't the one who got the most out of the activity tonight:

Even after the battery eventually ran down Addie still wouldn't let Sarah put the wand away without a fight:

Huh. Would you look at that. There seems to be a small post tonight after all, thanks once again to my magical cat. What would I do without her?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pinched Neck = Low Productivity

For some strange reason my neck has been bugging me for the past couple of weeks. It has done this before, but usually it has something to do with straining it playing sports. Since that's not even a thing for me this summer, I don't know what's going on... but I do know I hate it. This morning I woke up and could barely move my head and arms, so I decided to take a bit of a sabbatical from the keyboard. I'm just going to be at my desk long enough to post a short blog piece then I think I am going to have to get a heating pad on it. If it keeps up, I could have a real problem. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Happy kitty outside her fort
Because my buddy has kept me company all day while I've been suffering, I've decided to dedicate yet another blog to her - although some of these pictures were from yesterday. Last week Sarah made Addie a "kitty fort" out of her two tunnels (one large and one small) and a fleecy blanket. Addie loves her tunnels and the addition of the blanket has sent her over the moon, because she loves being covered up. Yesterday she spent some time on the floor outside of the fort, though, at first rolling around just clear of the blanket as you can see and then settling down on the carpet right in front of where I was sitting on the couch. This put her directly in the air flow of the window a/c, however, and eventually she got too cold to stay there. I thought this would have made her get back under the blanket, but Addie took a different tack toward solving the problem.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ford's At It Again

Did you commute to work or anywhere else today? Did you take the car? If so, did you at any point resemble the clod in this picture?

Rob Ford on the Gardiner Expressway
credit: @ryanhaughton/Twitter

No, of course you didn't. That's because, unlike the mayor of Toronto, you are not a selfish, insensitive jackass with the social acumen of a turnip. Yes, the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, was photographed this morning reading a speech while on his commute into work on the Gardiner Expressway.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Canada's Closing Ceremonies Flag Bearer

Christine Sinclair, Canadian women's soccer team captain
credit:Getty Images
The headlines are screaming at us from all corners of the internet. Well, all Canadian corners, that is. "Christine Sinclair for flag bearer," says coach John Herdman. "#SinclairForFlagBearer" is the hashtag of a Twitter campaign that has a lot of supporters. A lot of them. "Christine Sinclair selected as Sun Media's flag bearer," declares Québecor Média, who then pronounce the matter closed. Well, I guess that's settled it then, right? Who am I to argue with the Toronto Sun?

Except that hasn't settled it. Not by a long shot. Not for me and hopefully not for the people who are actually in charge of such decisions.

I am not saying that Christine Sinclair should not be part of the discussion. She was the leading scorer in a soccer tournament that resulted in Canada's first medal in a "traditional" team sport at the Summer Olympics since 1936. She was captain of our women's soccer team, an inspirational leader and a role model, especially now, for many little girls all over this country. But if she hadn't been a soccer player and had performed many of the same feats, would she be such an overwhelming choice for everyone? If Christine Sinclair had chosen to play, say, volleyball and been the leading point-getter on a bronze-medal winning team, would there be a similar Twitter campaign with so many followers? I sincerely doubt it. Many of you who know me are aware of my intense dislike of the sport of soccer and I will admit it may be colouring my judgment here; but then that is exactly what I am accusing it of doing to millions of Canadians who are so convinced that Sinclair should be the flag-bearer on Sunday night that they refuse to even discuss it. This is one of the reasons I really dislike soccer: its unfathomable hold on so many otherwise rational people the world over. But I don't wish this post to devolve into another of my rants about soccer; rather, I wish to discuss the many other excellent athletes who should be mentioned in equal measures as flag-bearer hopefuls.

Friday, August 10, 2012

An Open Letter to the Soccer Mom We Encountered on King Edward Ave. Today

Sarah and I couldn't put it off any longer: we had to do laundry today. So we took our heavy load down to a great little place on Danforth near Main that I have had a really good experience with in the past. While our clothes were in the wash, we sauntered over to Popeye's Chicken for lunch; while they were in the dryer we browsed through the nearby Canadian Tire and then grabbed a coffee and doughnut at the Timmy's just down the street. We loaded up the clean clothes, dropped by Sobey's to pick up a great dinner deal they offered today (the kids are with us later on), then headed home relaxed and happy with the afternoon. The light changed against us at Danforth and Gledhill so we turned north to drive through the back streets to our apartment. There are speed bumps on Gledhill; I decided to swing over to King Edward to avoid them. And that's where it all began.

Here is my open letter to the Mom who, with kids in tow, stepped briefly (I hope) out of her right mind today in the middle of King Edward Ave.


Artistic recreation of our experience
Hi, Mom. How are you doing now? Is your blood pressure back to normal? Should we be worried about your health or that of your kids? The display you put on for our benefit today left us more than a little rattled and concerned that you might get worse before you get better. I get that your road is under construction and likely has been for a long while. I get that the new garbage services - privatized under the gloating countenance of our idiot mayor - leave quite a bit to be desired. I get that you might be tired of having your two school-aged kids underfoot all summer long, especially a summer that's been this hot. I can relate to all of that. I've had bad days, too, many more than I could ever count. But you know what? You having a bad day is never, ever a good catalyst for losing all concept of reason and civility in front of your kids.

Inconsiderate drivers are everywhere
Because I think it's entirely possible that you had a blackout and cannot remember the events, here's what happened: we turned onto King Edward -- the street you live on, at number 75 -- at the very south end and slowly proceeded north. You stopped your car in the dead centre of the street, nearly a full block ahead of us, facing south and fully able to see and comprehend that we were approaching your car. This didn't faze you in the slightest as you stepped out of your van and left the driver's door wide open so that no vehicles would be able to pass you from either direction, with no indicators of any kind flashing as a warning. You then walked (and not quickly) a short distance away, stepping over the curb, and proceeded to perform some kind of task that we could not really see from where we were. As we came upon your car, still in the middle of the street, still impassable, we saw that you were shuffling some garbage bins around. We drew to a halt - we had no choice - and waited while you finished your machinations and returned to your car, finally closing your door as you did so. Why you were handling those garbage bins was anyone's guess; my thought was that they could have been in the middle of the road and in your way so you had stepped out to clear the path for everyone. Apparently, though, I gave you too much credit. After you closed your door I proceeded to continue up the street and go around you, having been stopped for several seconds already. As we drew even with your car, you suddenly put your left-turn indicator on and only at that point - and certainly no sooner - did it become clear that you were trying to pull into your driveway, which I can only imagine had been blocked by the empty bins a few moments earlier. By then we were already past the point of no return and had to continue to pass you; however, as we did so I heard you screaming at your closed window (mine was open) and gesticulating wildly. For a moment I thought you were warning us about imminent danger ahead, but I could not make out what you were saying to me. So when I saw you leap out of your car in your driveway and wave your arms at me I pulled over a little further up the street and stepped out of the car to give you a chance to pass along whatever information you thought was so important that you had to scream it at me in front of your kids. (Despite your apparent rage I couldn't be 100% sure there wasn't some sort of emergency, so I thought I should stop and find out.) When you repeated your muffled words for me, it turned out to be the rather mundane and rhetorical question, "You couldn't have waited for me?" At that point, wishing I had simply kept going and not stopped to check on your well-being, I calmly informed you that I had already waited for you for several seconds and had you given any indication - such as your turn signal - before I had drawn even with your car that you were trying to go into that driveway then there was a very good chance we would have let you pass before continuing on our way, well-mannered citizens that we are. I have no idea whether you heard any of this, though, as you shouted over top of my words the entire time I was speaking. Then you dismissively made some rather rude gestures with your hands and turned your attention to your children, who had witnessed the whole exchange. At some point you gave my partner and me the finger in front of them. I know you swore more than once and your arms virtually never stopped moving maniacally as you shouted. Your meltdown would have been appalling enough had you been standing there alone; to act the way you did in front of your children is far beyond egregious. I'm not particularly proud of my own role in this incident; however, you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself for yours.

Speaks for itself, no?
Now, because you clearly need some help with this concept, here is what should have happened. Perhaps you can read this section to your children so that they don't perpetuate your rudeness and ignorance into their own adulthoods. In the first place, even if you were frustrated with the garbage bins blocking your path and even though you own a home on a certain street, you do not have the right to completely block said street just because you feel like it. This may be the hardest concept for you of all, because unfortunately this city in which we live has come down with a wicked case of "Sense of Entitlement" over the past many years and it seems to be a tough thing to fix. But let me be clear about this point, again: you do not have the right to block an entire roadway simply because you yourself are being inconvenienced in some way. Your car should have been all the way over to the right-hand side of the road and your door should not have been left open, forcing us to come to a halt. If you had done these things properly in the first place, then we would have been long past you by the time you returned to your car and there would have been no need for your little fit that followed. However, you did jump out of your car in the middle of the road and forgot to close your door behind you, but there was still time to recover from that oversight. At that point, the moment you saw us coming toward you you should have either gone back to the car and moved it out of our way or worked at double-time to perform the tasks at hand: namely, moving the bins out of your path. You also should have given us some sort of indication of what was happening: leaving your left-turn indicator on or, better still, some sort of sheepish and apologetic wave to us in acknowledgment of the fact that you were now inconveniencing us for absolutely no reason whatsoever other than your own abject selfishness.

Might be buying this from Zazzle
But let's assume you had a momentary lapse of judgment because you were angry with the garbage collectors. Let's assume you had already held us up with your inconsiderate actions and had returned to your car and closed your door. There was still time to salvage a little bit of civility from the moment: you could have motioned for us to pass and waved your thanks for us having waited for you in the first place. At the very least, you could have just kept your mouth shut while we drove past and perhaps at that point your poor kids would not even have known anything was wrong in the first place. (And speaking of your kids, you left them in the middle of the street in a car with the engine running and no indicators going while you stepped out of that car and moved away from it. I think you had already relinquished any claim to "Mom of the Year" at that very moment.) But you did not keep your mouth shut, choosing instead to draw attention to your selfish lack of respect for anyone else on the planet and, worse still, indicating to your children that this was the right thing to do and somehow we were in the wrong here. Let me assure you, unequivocally: there wasn't a thing you did during the whole time we were on your street that can be considered as "the right thing to do". Not one thing.

Manners: not just for children
So congratulations, Mom: you are today's poster child for why I despair for the future of the human race. You are competent enough to own a driver's license and a car; you have produced a minimum of two offspring and are raising them in your image; you apparently own property in the most expensive city in Canada; and yet not only is your gut instinct to be uncivil and selfish and ill-mannered but you appear to be incapable of recognizing this as a fault when the opportunity arises to make amends. Instead of yelling at us that we "could have waited" for you - which we most certainly did do - you should have first of all not made us wait for you at all unless it was our choice to do so; failing that, you should have been sincerely and manifestly grateful that we did wait for you after you inconvenienced us so unnecessarily. Let me make this part perfectly clear: it was not the wait that we minded, not at all; rather, it was the assumption that your needs superseded ours and that we should wait for you, and do so without question and with no need of acknowledgment.

It is that assumption that I cannot let pass without comment. For it is that assumption that is at the root of myriad other problems that plague our city and make me want to scream most days I travel about within it. We are all in this together and if you can't innately understand that then perhaps you might at least figure out a way to teach it to your kids. That is the very least you should do, because your kids looked terribly embarrassed by your actions today and, therefore, I think there might still be hope for them.

It's sure worth a try and, more than that, you owe it to them to do so. Best of luck.


That's it for the letter. You know, I thought I would feel better at this point, but I really don't. Sigh. Well, thanks for reading, at least.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sarah's Vacation is Winding Down

We've been very busy while Sarah's been off work, at least by my own recent standards. Her vacation has been quite relaxing for her, but I am going to have to rest up once she returns to work next week. In the meantime, we spent a day just decompressing around the apartment today, which was fine because it was kind of miserable outside and really not worthy of getting out into the world.

The bronze-medal-winning women's soccer team
credit: Paul Hackett/Reuters
I watched quite a bit of the Olympics today for the first time in several days and it was at times quite invigorating but was frustrating, mainly due to the erratic (to put it kindly) coverage of the CTV-headed consortium this year. I did manage to suck it up and watch the last half hour or so of the the bronze medal game in Women's Soccer, so I got to enjoy the amazing finish when Diana Matheson scored the match's only goal with a few seconds left in extra time. I also watched Tonya Verbeek come away with a silver in Freestyle Wrestling in the early afternoon; the odd thing about this is that the bronze medal, even though I really hate soccer, felt so much better than the silver because Canada had to win their last game to get the bronze whereas Verbeek had to lose in the finals to gain the silver. Sometimes sports can be extraordinarily cruel in this way.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You'll Never Guess Where We Went Today*

*...actually, yes, you will.

The Eurasia section is closed until next May when the pandas arrive!
We went to the Zoo! See? I knew you'd guess where we went today. I was being ironic in the title. Sarah is nearing the end of her, her holidays in which we don't leave the city, and I promised that we would go to the Zoo together before she returned to work. When we got up this morning we checked the weather for the rest of the week and realized that the window was rapidly closing for me to keep my promise, so late this morning we headed up to the Rouge Valley...with the obligatory stop at Timmy's first, of course. It was a sweltering day and I wondered if it might cause some of the animals to be having a "siesta" once we got there. I needn't have worried, apparently. I wonder if they've just had time to get used to the extreme heat because it has been omnipresent since about May this year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Big Day for The Grumpy Penguin

Not an optical illusion: the sign Sarah made for my "office"
This won't be a long post tonight because I have spent pretty much this entire day creating content (and much of it about myself) and I really am just about out of energy. But I didn't want to miss the chance to mark this very auspicious occasion in my life and the life of the new company known as The Grumpy Penguin. At about 4:30 p.m. today my business website went "live" and I'm pretty jazzed about it, let me tell you. I am expecting an article to come out in the Career section of the Toronto Sun tomorrow and I really wanted to have a visible presence on the web (other than this blog) before that happened. With the help of Paul Chato and his crack staff at Your Web Department, the past few weeks of tinkering and creating and tweaking and worrying became a really fine website within mere minutes of telling them "let's do it". They even set up the web domain for me in that time; it was really very, very impressive indeed. (Even having Paul call the site "The Rusty Ookpik" was a nice touch: it gave me a chance to take a breath and remember that this is supposed to be fun, this "legacy career".)

Sarah at our celebratory dinner tonight
I owe a great deal of thanks to Lisa Taylor at the Challenge Factory (and Karen Siwak for some of the content currently on the site and more still to come). There are a great many friends and family members that have been yelling encouragement all along this path, too many to name here but I hope they know I greatly appreciate their support and good thoughts. But there is one person without whom this endeavour would never have been more than a gleam in my eye: my partner, my love, the incredible Sarah Gledhill. Her beautiful graphics are what brings life to the website; she spent hours lovingly creating my logo and background images, as well as helping to make The Grumpy Penguin to be visually appealing (at least from the early accounts of the first visitors). However things turn out from here for my business it has to be said that it never would have stood a chance without her unconditional love and support. Tonight after the site went online for the first time we took off for a celebratory dinner and actually relaxed over our food for the first time in weeks.

I will wind this post up here as we still have vacation-type things to do with the rest of this week and I don't want to be lagging behind Sarah at the Zoo. But I just want to say, without further ado: Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Grumpy Penguin. Please check it out and let me know what you think; I will greatly appreciate any comments whether positive, negative, constructive or just plain "meh". Everything helps at this point.

And thanks for being along for this ride so far. If it wasn't for this blog, there would be no website.
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