Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Evening with Friends Above the Crowds

Sliders, oysters, meatballs, martinis, bourbon, and so much more.
My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. My very longest-suffering friend, Kemp Watson, was born on May 30. To celebrate the double-birthday month, Michael Wright (the third Musketeer) invited us (along with Sarah) out last week for dinner and drinks at The Roof Lounge on the very top of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Yorkville. Kemp had to back out at the last minute, so we rescheduled for tonight. It was well worth the wait. Michael arrived a few moments ahead of Sarah and me and was able to score a table on the outside deck. It was a bit breezy and cool tonight, but they turned the outside heaters on and had the wind baffles up on the west side, so we were quite cozy all in all.

The view from our table
The Park Hyatt is located on the northwest corner of Avenue Road and Bloor in Toronto and is a very popular hotel for celebrities and professional sporting teams when they come to town. The lounge itself is very cramped, I find, and the rooftop patio is very much the same way, but with far less traffic flow, which makes all the difference. The service is outstanding as well, which makes for a very pleasant experience. This was the view from our table: there is a bit of a reflection in this picture as I had to take it through the glass baffle I mentioned earlier. In the immediate foreground, just beyond the ledge, you can see the very top of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition to the Royal Ontario Museum. A little to the right of centre is the newly-renovated Varsity Stadium, the original home to the Toronto Argonauts, host of a record 29 Grey Cups and the facility where I ran track in high school. In the far background is Lake Ontario.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At Long Last, Test Drive Day

Team meeting in the mobile office


That's the title of the workbook I was using today on my much-anticipated "Test Drive" with Keka DasGupta, President of Precision Marketing Group. The workbook was provided for me by the company that set up this unique opportunity for me, Challenge Factory, who have been helping to motivate me for the past nine months or so. Today was the culmination of my activities of introspection, self-assessment and outright soul-searching under the watchful eyes of Challenge Factory's president, Lisa Taylor, and my Career Coach, Michael Ehling. Well, perhaps "culmination" is not entirely accurate: Test Drive Day has been the target of the months of work but it is by no means the end of the journey.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Lazy, Hazy, Not-So-Crazy Day of "Summer"

When I said that Victoria Day in Canada and Memorial Day in the USA were the unofficial "first days of summer" I thought I was speaking metaphorically. Right now, though, the temperature in Toronto is 28 degrees (82 south of the border) and climbing, as ridiculous as that may seem. The humidex is 30, which actually seems low to me considering how oppressive the air is out there right now. At 1PM this afternoon, the humidex dipped below 30 for the first time in well over 24 hours (that's as far back as the readings go on the Environment Canada website) including all through last night and the pre-dawn. This morning I could see the humidity in the sky; the air looked grey and thick and filmy even though the sun was shining brilliantly. All the grass in the fields below us has started to turn brown where only a couple of days ago the green was luxurious.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Harvard, 1982

The view from my friend's dorm room

It's Memorial Day today in the States (hope you're having a great day if you're celebrating it) and I've realized in thinking about Memorial Days and Victoria Days of yore that it was exactly 30 years ago this past week that I took my only trip to Boston to visit a friend who was finishing up at Harvard by the name of John Rose. 30 years ago today I was sitting in a repertory theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts watching the Bogie and Bacall classic, To Have and Have Not for the first time. My girlfriend, Jeanette, and I had just bought a brand-new Civic - my first car - and I had turned 21 only a week earlier. John was writing his finals around that time but he assured us we could crash in his dorm and it wouldn't get in his way (because he is a super-genius). New car, legal drinking age, free lodging: sign me up!

I loved this facade being kept alive
So sometime around twilight on Victoria Day, May 24, 1982, Jeanette, Stephe Yorke (whom you may remember from earlier blog posts on music and mothers) and I piled into the Civic and took off for the Mass 'Pike. J and I split the driving a little but I did the bulk of it as we drove through the night to Boston. We had allowed 10-11 hours for the trip, expecting to get there in time for an early breakfast with John; we made it in about 8 1/2 because I had quite a lead foot in my youth. If memory serves, we arrived in front of John's dorm about 4:30 in the morning and had to wake him up to let us in. I have heard the drive from Boston to Harvard across the Charles River is really quite pretty; we came and went in nearly total darkness so I really cannot offer any opinion on that. What I remember mostly is that we made it there without getting lost once; and that there was absolutely no place to park when we arrived that didn't cost about a month's salary per hour to use. Street parking overnight (which is when we arrived) was a no-go and apparently policed quite heavily, judging from the inordinate number of "Denver Boots" we saw on the cars around the dorms. (I had no idea that's what they were called until John told me, having never seen them before. They were everywhere in Boston in the spring of 1982.) I honestly have no idea where we ended up parking that night or the rest of the time we were there, but we managed to do it "boot-free" and without having to give up a kidney. We must have been pretty creative, I think.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Through a Lens, Smudgedly

The "bunker" at Stan Wadlow skateboard park
Once again this weekend our guest photographer is my far, far better half, Sarah. She took another solo stroll around Taylor Creek and Stan Wadlow Parks today while I hung out with my son. Sometimes we go with her but this is really the only chance Sarah gets to recharge on weekends where our apartment is full, so more often she heads out alone. Today, again, she took some pictures along the way with her phone's camera; however, there was a small smudge on the lens which she didn't notice until she had returned home and uploaded all of the photos. I kind of like it - it gives a sort of "otherworldly" aspect to a few of the shots. This is a picture of what can only be described as a concrete "bunker" at the skateboard park across the field from our building. The park is a fairly recent addition; this building was not. We have no idea whether it contains washrooms, storage facilities or a bomb shelter because we seldom venture too close. The vivid colours are wonderful, though, and blend together beautifully when seen from a distance, such as from our balcony.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

NHL Round 4 - Stanley Cup Finals

What it's all about

And then there were two.

The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Wednesday, May 30 - which I think is ridiculous; do the two teams really need another four days off at this time of year? When the summer weather arrives the NHL should do whatever it can to keep their captive audience because unless you are a fan of one of the two teams remaining your thoughts quite likely aren't turning toward hockey when it's 30 degrees (86 in American) outside. Game 2 isn't scheduled until the following Saturday. If this series were to somehow go 7 games it wouldn't end until nearly Father's Day. The draft is barely a week from the potential end of the season. That's far too long, especially when you consider there wasn't even an Olympic break to play havoc with the schedule. But that's the schedule; it remains to the fans to deal with it as best they can. As usual.

All right, first things first: it's time to dissect the ugly predictions I made for Round 3. Looking back I see....hey! Would you look at that? Just a whisker away from being absolutely perfect! About time, really.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Scotch Night

The Balvenie Signature, a 50th birthday gift
Last fall, when the most recent NHL regular season was still young, my friend Alex Lofthouse and his buddy Iain Stewart got into a discussion about their respective favourite hockey teams, the Senators (boo!!) for Alex and the Leafs (yay!!) for Iain. This was a public conversation (and by conversation, I mean the "your team sucks!" "oh yeah? says you!" kind) on a thread on Alex' Facebook timeline and it ended up in a bet. If the Leafs finished ahead of the Sens, Alex would buy Iain a scotch. If the unthinkable alternative situation occurred (the Sens were picked by many to finish last in the East this year), then Iain would buy Alex a scotch. Not one to miss a chance to have a free scotch, I asked to be included in this bet and was readily accepted. Of course, as we all know, the Leafs went on to the Cup finals and the Sens finished with the worst record ever.

And today is Opposite Day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Life-Long Love Affair With Penguins

I don't know exactly when it started.

Screen shot of the original Pengo arcade game
I can't pinpoint any kind of epiphany when I realized that the penguin is my favourite creature in the animal kingdom. It's possible that the catalyst was a bizzare arcade game called Pengo which I fell in love with and played incessantly when it made its first appearance at the Innis pub at U of T while I was a student there. I do know that this game is what gave me my first safe-to-print nickname, "Bi3F", courtesy of my buddy Brett MacMillan. "Biff" is the sound I used to make when I kicked the blocks of ice at the "Snow Bees" (the antagonists of the game) and Brett decided it would be better with a "silent 3". Yes, we were that dorky. He and I would play that table-top game for hours, sitting across from each other with a pint or six. It's also the reason I've used "Pengo" in most of my online handles for much of my life.

"Penguin Crossing" magnet from South Africa
Whatever the reason, I started receiving penguins in various forms as gifts from all of my friends and family. If they went away on a trip and came across a penguin souvenir, it invariably found its way back to me. It continues to happen to this day: my friends Kemp Watson and Nancy Brockelbank were in South Africa a couple of months ago and brought back the magnet you see in this picture. Extra information: the magnet is stuck on a CD rack in the shape of...a penguin. Double your pleasure, double your fun!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Supine Feline Indeed!

Fresh air, full tummy and just bathed: contentment!
This is just about Addie's favourite position to relax in - and sometimes fall asleep. She loves spending time on her back. In fact, she likes being on her back of her own volition more than any cat I have ever had. Luckily she also likes - or at least tolerates - having her belly rubbed, especially when she is very sleepy. Good thing, because we'd be rubbing that belly either way. I mean, look at that furry tummy. There is no way to resist it. Addie's belly fur is like cotton candy without the stickiness, or a favourite woolen sweater that you keep long after you can wear it out in public.

I took this picture this evening after Addie had polished off her dinner and given herself a bath by the screen door to the balcony. The air conditioners were on all weekend but today the air in Toronto is cool and fresh so I shut off the noisy machines and threw all the windows open. Addie loved it; she's an indoor cat but a fresh air fiend. When the balcony door is open the air circulates around our dining room table just right and Addie, lover of all locations high in the air, is usually to be found right where she is in this photo. We tried to keep her off the table completely, but fell victim to her feline charms and have reached a compromise wherein she is allowed on the table as long as there is neither food nor tablecloth already on it. She seems to understand this arrangement and it's worked out very well so far.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Own "Field of Dreams"

"Field of Dreams" from our balcony

Sarah and I have lived in our current apartment for nearly 7 years, having moved here in October of 2005. There are days when it has its challenges from noise and other bad behaviour but the one thing we will never grow tired of is the view from here. We are 20 storeys up over Stan Wadlow Park and the only tall building around for a couple of kilometres, so we can see Lake Ontario and all the way across to Niagara Falls - on a clear day we can see the Skylon from our balcony.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Victoria Day!

Another "May Two-Four" weekend has come and gone and what an incredible spell of weather we had here in Toronto. Sunny and warm (although not as hot as in the Ottawa Valley, I've heard) each and every day of the first long weekend of the Canadian summer. For those of you reading this who don't understand the significance of this weekend, it's a Canadian statutory holiday that falls on the next-to-last Monday of May every year in celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday. The ol' gal was born on May 24, 1819, which is one of the reasons we call it the May Two-Four weekend; the other reason is because in Canada a case of beer (or 24 bottles or cans) is what we call a "two-four" and this is the first party weekend of the summer at cottages, campgrounds or just the backyards around town where the beers are pretty free-flowing. In any event, it's always the weekend before Memorial Day in the States and it's a pretty big deal to those of us who have survived another bitter winter in the Great White North.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Community Blues

The flag of "Greendale Community College"

Years ago I used to watch a lot of shows on NBC. St. Elsewhere, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, the entire "Must See TV" Thursday night lineup of the '80s including The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court and Hill Street Blues. I find these days that the series Sarah and I follow are not on "regular cable" but the extended channels. Our favourites are Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead on AMC, and Dexter, Boardwalk Empire and Treme on HBO Canada. (Breaking Bad is easily our favourite among these; it's one of the finest things I've ever seen on television.) There are still a couple of shows we watch on NBC, such as The Office (although I think we might be done now because this past season was pretty horrible) and the occasional SNL. However, there has been one show on NBC the past three seasons that is so original, so deeply warped and so flat-out hysterical that it has become one of my favourite comedies of all time: Community.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Addie!

Pooped kitty
First day in her "forever home"

Addie turned two years old today. Our little bundle of joy, the light of our lives, the beautiful soul that shares our home with us: it feels like she has always been here, but she's only two years old.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Pretty Good Birthday, All in All

The rainbow flag against the clock of "Old City Hall"

Yesterday was another gorgeous day in a May that has been full of them. First thing in the morning, I opened my card and a couple of prezzies from Sarah (a Wii game and a great movie trivia book from TCM) and saw her off to work. I spent most of the rest of the morning hanging out with Addie, doing some writing, reading and answering a flood of birthday wishes (I have some amazing friends) and catching up on news. Just before noon I headed down to Nathan Phillips Square for the 12:30 raising of the rainbow flag in honour of the International Day Against Homophobia (and Transphobia), or IDAHO. I was disappointed to learn earlier in the day that Brian Burke had decided to skip this event so that he could fly to Oklahoma City for a game last night involving the Marlies, the Maple Leafs' minor-league team. It seemed to me he could have done both quite easily; he completely missed the NHL draft last summer because he decided that would be a good time for a visit to the troops in Afghanistan so there's certainly precedent for him choosing personal commitment over his "job". But Burke will likely be in the Pride parade again this year, so I guess some slack should be cut. I mean, it's not like he's the mayor of the city who won't attend any events involving Toronto's LGBT community.

Or at least that's what we all thought before yesterday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another Beautiful Day at the Zoo

Twiga at "half-mast"

It's my birthday today (and what an incredibly unimportant number I've arrived at!) so I thought I would give myself a treat and not get too stressed out over a blog post. I'm going to be spending part of my day at the City Hall flag raising for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and then this evening will likely head off to The Keg for dinner with Sarah, although that last part is, as yet, undecided. After the big celebration of last year we're kind of keeping this birthday low-key.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How We Spent Mother's Day

Sarah on the Leslie Street Spit
The weather was fantastic here on Sunday - mid-20s temperature (mid-70s for my American friends!), sunny, nice breeze. Sarah and I decided to get out and stay out of the apartment for as long as we could. She talked to her mom for an hour or so on the phone then we took off for Timmy's for lunch before hitting up a couple of garden centres for some new seedlings and a hanging plant for our balcony. We put the plants in the hatch of Babar (our Escape, explanation later in this thread) and zipped down to the Leslie Street Spit hoping to see some of the huge migration of songbirds that was supposed to be stopping there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Remedial Road Safety 101

There was a particularly horrific incident on King Street in downtown Toronto on Monday night. A young man is dead and a taxi driver has been charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly drove into the victim deliberately. The picture (shown at the top of this post) of the scene is quite disturbing: a partly-broken skateboard leaning on the curb, blood staining the road and curbside next to a storm drain. If the cabbie is found to actually have used his car as a weapon, then I hope there is a very long jail sentence in store, followed by the loss of his license for the rest of his life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

NHL Round 3

So. I'm not entirely sure I should even bother making any more predictions as I did woefully poorly in that regard in Round 2. I only chose the correct winner for one of the four series. On the other hand, that means I was wrong in three of the series which is exactly the same number of incorrect predictions I made in Round 1, so...maybe I didn't do any worse at all. The problem now becomes the fact that there are only two series in Round 3, so I clearly can't get three of them wrong. Well, being a stubborn man (born a Taurus in the Year of the Ox) I am going to go ahead and keep plugging away until the last game is played.

First things first: the recap of my failures and one glowing success of Round 2.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For All My "Mothers"

This is a picture of my mother and me when I was nearly 2 1/2 years old. I have no idea where it was taken; if I had to guess I would say it was at my grandparents' (on my dad's side) cottage near St. Jovite in the Laurentians. I can just make out a figure in a black coat and fedora behind us who is probably one of my grandfathers. I don't remember this wall from my days at the cottage but I suppose it could have been demolished before my memories took hold. It's all conjecture, though; the simple truth is I'll likely never know because I am no longer in contact with my mom.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Coffee Just Tastes Better Outside

Sarah and I woke up this morning to brilliant sun and a temperature of nearly 20 degrees (which felt an awful lot hotter on our side of the building, let me tell you). This allowed us to have coffee out on the balcony for the first time since March Break. It seems that every time we've had the opportunity to do so since then it's been raining, or windy, or cold, or all three. So we put the harness and leash on Addie....

"It's coming right for us!!"

....Sarah poured a "cuppa Joe" for each of us (except Addie!)....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Feels Like Camping Season!

A quiet road in Pancake Bay Provincial Park

After 3 months of silence, the @OntarioParks Twitter account suddenly sprang to life yesterday. My feed was filled with tweets like:
Most Ontario provincial parks are open this weekend. Get out and enjoy them with family and friends.
Adventurous? Go hiking or canoeing in an Ontario provincial park this weekend.
Pack up your tent and get out to a provincial park this weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On the Evolution of Views

Yesterday was a very big day for the United States (really, for the whole world) and for anyone who really cares about civil liberties. President Obama officially proclaimed that he was supportive of "Same Sex Marriages". It doesn't mean a whole lot legally just yet; these marriages still must be sanctioned (or not) on a state-by-state basis and currently there are only 6 states that recognize them. But it's still a very important step in the never-ending crusade for equal rights for all citizens.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Music of my Life

December, 1961. My first Christmas. My parents wanted to send out a "photo card" to all their friends and relatives with their new bundle of joy figuring prominently. But there was a hitch: the best my dad could coax out of me was a sort of wry smile....until he hit upon the brilliant idea of plopping me on the carpet in front of his Heathkit (with Wharfedale speakers) and putting some tunes on. Like magic: I start grinning and babbling like a little maniac, resulting in the incredibly minimalistic picture you see here. Frozen in that moment in time, the expression of unbridled joy on my face makes it impossible to overstate the impact music was to have on my life from my very first years. It's the passion that drives me, it's my life's blood and it's never too far away at any given moment.

This week a friend asked me to take part in a survey he was doing on his blog; he wanted people to list their 10 favourite songs of all time. Now, I have owned (and, for the most part, still own) literally thousands of albums in my life on vinyl, CD or cassette. I have a few hundred 45 RPM singles in my collection, too. Add to that the many songs I have purchased on iTunes or...ahem...not purchased through other electronic methods and I think you see my dilemma. It's a lot like asking someone to name the favourite of all of his or her children, or the best 10 breaths he or she has ever drawn. But I promised I would give it a try and it took up a good chunk of my evening last night. Because I spent so much time on it - and because I honestly have nothing else to write about today that doesn't revolve around the Ford brothers (yeesh) - I figured I would make the work do "double duty" and post my choices here on my blog as well.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Test Drive Day is Almost Here!

Today I heard from Lisa Taylor of The Challenge Factory that they have confirmed a "Test Drive" for me and all that remains is to work out a specific date! They've created a brand-new test drive just for me (I linked to their "catalogue" in the previous sentence, but what I'm doing isn't in there). I will be working with Keka DasGupta, President of Precision Marketing Group, where we will be comparing, contrasting and discussing (from Lisa's email to me):
· Freelance vs company work
· Cause based writing vs product public relations
· Big campaigns vs small pieces of work
· Writing and techniques that work
· Client management and care
...all in a hands-on work environment. This is a huge step for me and I am tremendously excited about it. Of course I will write all about the day on this blog once it happens; for now all I have to go on is Keka's company's website and this information, passed on to me in the email today: "Keka is an accomplished professional in PR who came out of the large agency world (she worked for one of the world’s largest organizations and led the IKEA account) to start her own business. She will specifically be able to give you the experience you are looking for to test [your] ideas out".

Monday, May 7, 2012

Goodbye, Cumberland

Sign over the entrance to the Cumberland Four Cinemas after the final show; nice Bladerunner reference!

The Cumberland Four Cinemas in Yorkville showed their last movie yesterday (fittingly, it was a film entitled Footnote). According to a Cineplex spokesperson, the property owner has plans to "redevelop" the site. I guess they want to fill the "gap" in the multi-million-dollar condo market in Toronto. Who knows? It's quite a discomfiting feeling, though, to have attended the opening of a brand-new movie house as an adult and have that same movie house close in my lifetime. I don't care for it much at all.

(Disclaimer: the particulars of this story proved very hard to research so much of it relies on my increasingly suspect memory. If you find any glaring errors, please let me know.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First Road Trip of the Season

Rice Paper Butterfly
Today dawned sunny and warm so we hit the road mid-morning and headed west (after the obligatory fuel-up at Timmy's, of course). Sarah bought us two admissions for the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory for $10 (normally $26) from Team Buy last week because she's wanted to go there (the Conservatory, not the website) for quite some time. (We've not been to any butterfly conservatories before, not even the one in Niagara. It wasn't particularly busy today so we were able to move about rather freely on the paths inside. It was, of course, quite humid where the butterflies were living; it must take a bit of getting used to for the staff members who work there. It smelled wonderful, though: very lush and alive. There were a lot of very sunny patches where some of the creatures had set up shop to "catch a few rays". It was, in fact, very bright overall; I rarely had to use a flash for these pictures.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Relaxing Weekend

For the first time in quite a while Sarah and I have a weekend "free" so we're going to kind of "go with the flow" and "see what happens" so I can "post about it" tomorrow with even more "unnecessary quotation marks". Last night we went out with her brother, Brian, for some late-evening nosh and pints. There was a rep there from Carling who are doing a promotion in conjunction with the UEFA championships being held this year jointly in Poland and the Ukraine. The grand prize is a trip to Poland which can be entered via their Facebook page. We received PINs to enter this contest at the bar last night but you can get them sent to you from the FB site as well. But what you can't get from that site is the free beer that Sarah, Brian and I were given last night. That's my favourite flavour of beer: free.

We also were given these funky hats that make you look like you have "troll hair":

I rubbed Sarah's Trolly head for good luck and it worked! I didn't get any more free beer but I did get to go home with the best-looking and smartest gal in the whole place. Oh, don't groan. You'd have said the same thing in my position. Yes, you would have. Don't even pretend.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Zoo: Always Good for What Ails You

Sarah and I are members at the Toronto Zoo and try to get there as often as we can. Last night they held a "members-only" event after closing (6:30PM) where they introduced us to their latest exhibit: the white lions. Of course there was a mascot there; of course Sarah needed to have her picture taken with...erm..."it". She never misses an opportunity to do this and there's quite a collection growing of "Sarah & Mascot" photos on our hard drive. I got the feeling this was a very awkward costume to wear because a Zoo staffer had to tap the mascot on the arm to let it know that Sarah was standing beside it for a picture. Also, unless the person inside has a broken neck, that's one awkward head position!

I was able to get a couple of pictures of the lions themselves, but they're not terrific. The pictures, I mean. The lions themselves are gorgeous. Here are a couple of the better photos:

Ford the Goon: Updates on the Saga

Before I forget: Happy Star Wars Day, everyone!

You know...May the Fourth be with you? Right?

Ahem. Sorry. Moving right along....

Hizzoner showing reporters that it's dark and there's his house
This will not be my only blog entry today because I can't bear the thought of spending two entire days on this idiotic story to the exclusion of all others. However, I had to make so many "updates" to my blog post yesterday (and there's still more "news" since then) that I thought it would be better to tie them all together in a second entry. I have also removed these updates from yesterday's post so if any of them seem like "déjà vu all over again" you may have read them late yesterday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rob Ford, "The Incredible Bulk"*

So, yesterday evening in broad daylight in a public park in Etobicoke, this happened.

If you don't want to click on that link, let me sum up: Rob Ford, the mayor of the largest city in the country, was alerted by "a neighbour" who "rapped on his door to say, 'there’s some guy looking over your fence taking pictures.'" So Ford did what any of us with young children at home would do: he went around to the back of the house to see what was going on. That part I don't think many people can quibble with.

However, it went off the rails immediately after that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Dark Anniversary for Canada

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the night that Stephen Harper stole a "majority" government in Canada. This evening at 10PM EDT (the time the last polls closed in BC and the Yukon) I will mark this occasion with a minute of silence for the country I grew up in, now in serious danger of irreparable damage by this evil man and his merry band of thugs and criminals.

Too harsh? A little melodramatic? Perhaps; but then again, perhaps you haven't been really paying attention this past year. The night Harper was "elected" to his "majority" I posted a comment on a friend's Facebook page that our country was in serious trouble by handing this evil man the keys to the kingdom. Another commenter fired back: "Sigh. Harper's not evil." He went on to accuse the "left" of too much hand-wringing and said we were all over-reacting.

I wonder how he feels now.

The list of policy changes, global embarrassments and outright criminal activities is staggering for such a short period of time, although the Neo-Cons did have a chance to lay some of the groundwork while they were in a minority situation. But once the shackles of having to even pretend to get along with the opposition parties in Parliament were taken off, the destructive machine of the Harper Government has really accelerated. (I bristle at calling it "the Harper Government" because it's what the evil man himself wants us to call it; however, it's even more grating to have to call these horrible people "the Government of Canada" so I choose the lesser of two evils.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day!

It's May 1 - or "May Day" - and that brings to mind some wildly disparate memories and reactions.

If you're a long-time hockey fan, you'll likely think of this:

The goal itself was actually scored on April 24, 1993 - exactly a week short of the actual "May Day" but this remains one of the most memorable goal calls in NHL history.

If you're a pagan or secularist, you might well celebrate the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane. In ancient pagan customs, May 1 was the first day of summer (the solstice, June 21 (June 25 at that time), was thought of as "mid-summer") and was observed as a day of "fertility, fire and abundance". Great Britain has traditionally celebrated "May Day" with Morris dancing (pictured at right), Maypoles and the choosing of a May Queen who leads that day's parade, clad in white and adorned with a crown of flowers.

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