Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just an Unusual Day All Around

The one and only "G-Mac", owner of many cool lids
When I woke up this morning I was determined to dedicate my day to getting my website to the point where it could go "live" tonight, come hell or high water. The last I had heard, the Toronto Sun article about the Challenge Factory (with me in it) was supposed to come out tomorrow and there was still work to be done. By noon I realized that it was going to be very difficult indeed to complete my mission - and that was before I realized that Yahoo! mail was down. I mean, really down. Completely inaccessible for a very long time. It was pretty frustrating. At almost exactly that moment it also dawned on me that today was Tuesday (I was convinced it was Monday, for some reason which was likely to do with the kids being here yesterday) and that I was supposed to meet my friend Gavin for our semi-regular coffee "man-date". Since that wasn't until 2 p.m. I had about an hour before I had to start getting ready. So I decided to check my Gmail, an account that I usually reserve for more professional pursuits. The first email I read was from the Sun reporter letting me know that the article was postponed a week and will now appear in the August 8 edition. Hallelujah! But immediately after that moment of elation I noticed the next item down on the list: a reminder from Google Calendar of my "date" with Gavin....at 1 p.m.. Uh....how could that be? Surely I must have entered it into the calendar wrong? I mean, it was already 5 minutes to 1!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Striking a Fine Balance

I've been pretty lax in writing blog posts the past little while. I was afraid this might happen when I finally broke my string of consecutive posting days last weekend while we were camping. On the other hand, it's more likely that the effort of trying to get The Grumpy Penguin website off the ground has left little time for much else, creativity-wise. I still hope to have it (my website) live by August 1, the day the article for which I was interviewed comes out in the Sun. Wish me luck, because I feel like it's going to be a very long day tomorrow.

On top of that this past weekend was a whirlwind. In the first place, both of my kids were with us (a rare treat) and I spent as much time with them as possible. On Saturday, Sarah and I went to the 6th birthday party of a wonderful little girl who was adopted into our extended family from China 5 years ago. (I also forgot to bring my camera so there are no pictures from that event; I really must be getting old or something.) On Sunday we put together a "thank you" dinner for my kids as a reward for all their help in looking after Addie the couple of times we've been away this summer. We managed to squeeze in a game of "Settlers of Catan", which is a terrific board game that Tim got for his birthday. Today the kids and I kind of hung out; I probably should have been working on the website, but I'm not sure when we'll next get to do this and I hate to miss these chances. Tim and I saw the absolutely terrible Hobo with a Shotgun this morning before Jill got up; if you get the chance to watch it might I suggest you just drive a tent peg through your hand instead. You will prefer that, trust me. We spent the afternoon playing on the Wii and watching the Olympics.

Sarah's taking some time off from work starting on Wednesday and we hope to get to the Zoo, the Picasso exhibit at the AGO, maybe Canada's Wonderland: just a bunch of day trips as we think of them. She goes back on the 13th and if she's not relaxed by then I think I'm going to be in a fair bit of trouble.

Apropos of nothing - because I'll never need a reason to post these kinds of pictures - here's another really sweet shot of Addie:

Lying in a current of fresh air, waiting for mommy and dinner

That was taken last Thursday evening as Addie waited for "mommy" to come home. She has been super-cute since we got back from camping and was absolutely in her glory this weekend with a house full of people who love her. Lucky girl.

Well, that's it for now. I was going to write something about RoFo's meeting with Will and Zach today but you know...it really would have been nothing new. Maybe something cool will happen at the Olympics tomorrow because I think they've been kind of dull up to now and you know I'm an Olympic Games junkie. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics Time Again

I love the Olympics. Even after all of the tragedies, the cheating judges, the doping scandals, the ridiculous upheld or denied appeals, the politics, the billion-dollar losses by the host nations, even after all of that the Olympic Games still manage to enthrall me each and every time they are staged, winter or summer. My memories of past Olympic Games go back as far as Mexico City in 1968, although I really only saw the events that were staged on the two weekends that summer. Television coverage back then, as I recall, was pretty much restricted to prime time during the week and that was past the bedtime of my 7-year-old self. I don't recall a lot of what I watched that year, simply that I did watch some of the events and probably on American television for the most part. After the Olympics I began to watch ABC's Wide World of Sports every weekend, hoping to see some of the strange and new (to me) sports that had captivated me during the Games. Before Mexico City it is very likely that I had never seen gymnastics, diving, judo, fencing, or most track and field events; after that I was excited to try almost every new sport I saw that summer.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Awenda 2012 - Day Four and the Journey Home

Chippy bum!!
Sunday saw the end of the chippies (ha! see what I did there?) which is really an annual thing. They don't ever seem to come around on tear-down day no matter how many peanuts we have left for them. This year there was the additional matter of a thunderstorm that rolled through the area in the middle of the night (of course it would rain just before we took down our tents) which may have driven them underground for a while. In any event, the rains were long gone by the time we rolled off of our paper-thin "deflatable" mattress and got on with our day. There wasn't much direct sun on our campsite, but we took full advantage of the little we had and dried all the things that needed to be dried: fly, kitchen tent, clothes that had been on the line. By the time we left Awenda there wasn't a damp item in our collection, except every single piece of clothing we wore to take down the site. Man alive, was it hot on Monday morning. Not only did the rains not help the humidity/heat duo, they seemed to make it worse.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Awenda 2012 - Day Three - Chippy Party Time

Sarah and her "students"
Sarah and I got up fairly early on Sunday morning in order to cram as much fun as possible into the day, the last we would spend with the Ramendas on this trip. Kristen was the first of her family up and she hung out with us for a while until the rest of her family joined her. We cooked the last of our bacon and fried up some more eggs, then popped over to our friends' site to see what their plans were for the day. The kids wanted to do some soapstone carving and we knew that their time would be tight because they needed to be off their site before 2PM, so Sarah and I offered to take the three over to the amphitheatre area while their folks packed up to leave. This is not an area of expertise for me to say the least, but Sarah - being a sculptor and former art teacher - was a huge help to the kids as they worked on their shark, turtle and bear paw (which Erin later turned into a bird, from what I understand). There were a few other people there but it certainly wasn't crowded. If you didn't want to carve the soapstone you could make your own canoe paddle, but I didn't see anyone doing that while we were there. That would have been my preference had I felt compelled to do something.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Awenda 2012 - Day Two

What a delightful way to start the day!
Because we were so late getting to bed on Friday night and because our leaky air mattress interfered with our ability to sleep soundly, we had a bit of a slow start to our Saturday. Sarah and I didn't get out of our tent until 10:30AM and when we finally ventured down the road to the comfort station we were greeted with the message you see in this picture. Kristen, Erin and Matthew put this sign together at the foot of their driveway and it was a hit for every person who passed it by for the rest of the day. After we returned to our site we rustled up some coffee and fried up some bacon and eggs. When we were done and cleaned up we headed over to the Ramendas' site and hung out there for a while until the kids got too restless to sit still any longer. We knew it was time for the beach.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back Home in Body but not Spirit - Awenda Day One

Not our plates...but they should be
Sarah and I got back home from Awenda yesterday evening, relaxed but utterly exhausted. We spent a good chunk of our time away playing with some pretty energetic young folk (our friends, the Ramendas, met us up there, replete with their brood consisting of one nearly-13- and one nearly-11-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy), which will go a long way toward explaining our exhaustion. Add to that the overwhelming heat (thankfully our campsite was in the shade about 90% of the time), the overnight rain on Sunday which caused some issues with our tear down, and the leaking mattress which, in all honesty, we likely would have been better off avoiding altogether and sleeping on the ground. It reached 36 degrees in Penetang yesterday afternoon, about the time we were sitting in the "World Famous Dock Lunch" beside Discovery Harbour, trying to find an appetite to fuel up before driving home. But I'm getting ahead of myself: I have enough material here for one blog post for each day we were away so you'll have to wait until week's end for the story of the drive home.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Taking the Weekend Off

Well, not fishin' per se. Camping. Sarah and I are getting up to Georgian Bay for the weekend and I just didn't have the time this week to put any posts "in the can". Looks like my streak of daily posts will come to an end today at 108. And, you know....I'm ok with that. Ol' Grumpy P will be back on Tuesday (Monday if it's pouring and we come home early) with hilarious tales from the Ontario wilderness. Be sure to tune in for that!

In the meantime, let's all sing:

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Just Trying to Make it to Friday

Another shooting today in Toronto. At least this shooter had the "decency" to only hit the one person. I guess that's an improvement.

And then there was the small matter of the machete attack about 100 yards from our car dealership. So, what: it's gotta be the heat, right? Right?


Our beautiful, annual site at Awenda
Well, if we make it to our car safely on Friday morning we're off to Awenda this weekend. We've camped there the last three years in a row, but usually in a large group that goes mid-month. This year that gang went to Presqu'ile and we just didn't want to go there, so we booked a week later on the same site we've had every year (pictured at right). Our friends the Ramendas will be joining us for most of the time we're up there and that will be a really nice treat for us. We're getting out of Toronto early Friday morning to beat the weekend traffic (which, in Toronto, starts around 11AM these past couple of years) and we're not coming back until Monday afternoon or evening, depending on the weather, for exactly the same reason. My kids are splitting the weekend cat-sitting duties for us, which we really appreciate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stop the Madness

One of the two people killed in the Danzig shootings on Monday
credit: Liam Casey/Toronto Star

There was another public barrage of bullets yesterday in Toronto. Two people died and twenty-four others were injured.

Twenty-four others were injured. I'll let that sink in for a moment. Now I'll continue: one of the victims is twenty-two months old. Good luck letting that sink in.

Originally we were told that many of the victims were injured as people rushed to vacate the area of the gunfire. But that wasn't the case as all but one of the twenty-six people who were either killed or injured in the melee last night were hit by a bullet (or several bullets).

In Toronto, we are told that "violence is down" from past years and our mayor insists that this was an "isolated incident". Later that same mayor declared a "war on gangs" (a month too late), which is a poor choice of words at the best of times, quite aside from everything always being a "war" with RoFo. In Ottawa, predictably, the amoral Harper Government seized the spotlight to make it all about them, as usual.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Summer of Extremes

I've been concentrating quite a bit on getting The Grumpy Penguin going as a business concern over the past few days and this is a trend that will continue over the next little while. The result has been that when it's come time to create my daily blog post I am not feeling quite as creative as I might otherwise be. On top of that, Sarah and I are going to be camping this weekend and I think the unbroken streak of daily posts which dates back to April 3 may have to come to an end, because I simply don't see myself putting four days' worth of blog pieces "in the can" before we take off on Friday. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, but for today I'm just going to put a couple of recent photos up here, talk about them a bit and then get back to the other work at hand. Sorry if you're disappointed; however, I'm afraid there will be no refunds.

Grumpy P and the missus
If you're a regular follower of this blog, or if you just know the area I live in, you're familiar with the Kiwanis pool that is located not far from our building, on the edge of Stan Wadlow Park. This past Saturday, Sarah and I dropped by for a swim in the very early afternoon before it got too crowded and we met our friend Sophia there. (I "cat-sat" for her while she was away on holiday this past winter, looking after her beautiful Gus.) Sophia took this picture of us while we hung out in the deep end and chatted with her. As you can see - and as has already been pointed out on Facebook - Sarah is the "DEEP" one in our relationship. You can't argue with City of Toronto signage. We've been only in this pool twice so far this summer, the other time being the Canada Day weekend with our friends the Lofthouses, the day before Jordan was born. Considering it's free of charge to get in and we could almost leap into the pool from our balcony, it seems a bit odd that we haven't been more often; on the other hand, that's already twice as many times as I went all of last summer. I just don't frequent public pools, much to Sarah's disappointment. We'll definitely be swimming quite a bit this upcoming weekend, though, while we're camping at Awenda.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Missing Kenora

A tile wall mosaic at the Kenora Skate Park
A friend of mine is currently on a solo bike trip from Toronto to Vancouver (and blogging about it); sort of a One Week without the health issues. She's in Saskatchewan right now, but the first part of her trip took her along the same route that Sarah and I follow when we drive to Kenora, a place I like to get to as often as possible. I didn't make it there last year for mainly financial reasons; those reasons persist and I won't be there this summer, either. I was dealing with this pretty well until I started following my friend's blog and seeing the pictures that she took between Toronto and Winnipeg. Now I'm sitting in the stinking heat of a Toronto summer that is suffocating in every possible meaning of the word, wishing with all my heart that I could instead be perched on a dock in Northern Ontario on the incomparable Lake of the Woods, watching the float planes take off and land, feeling the cool, clear air off the water and listening to the loons.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Advertising's "Culture of Meanness"

I saw an older ad for Rogers Communications today. I didn't like this particular ad when it originally ran and now they are recycling it. Two couples are having a barbecue and the women are sitting at a backyard table chatting amiably when all of a sudden the guys yell out in glee, because they are surreptitiously watching "The Big Game" on some sort of mobile device. The women look at them and one of the men sheepishly says, "The burgers are done!" I don't remember what comes next, something about "men and their barbecues" I think (having, apparently, not enough brain power to figure out what's going on), but it's pretty much just crap. The point of this ad is the guys are "getting away with something" because they are watching the game on the sly while they are together cooking the burgers on the grill. But why does there have to be this subterfuge? Why can't they be watching the game while the women have their own mobile device, watching whatever they want to watch? (Actually, it would be better if they were also watching the same damn game, but that's a blog post for another day.) I don't know why this particular Rogers ad got to me today because people generally act reprehensibly in virtually all of their tv spots and most of them are far worse than this one. But it got me thinking about how much meanness and unnecessary anguish is being used these days to sell things that really shouldn't need that kind of a campaign. I understand the value of tugging at your heartstrings or playing with your emotions to give to a "noble cause" (as I spoke of in my post about aggressive solicitation this week), but to sell a phone? Really?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Another Scorcher in The Big Smoke

Hot again here today, hot and muggy and oppressive. But at least I have been too busy the past couple of days to really notice the weather. I've started playing around with a trial website through a company called "Your Web Department". They were suggested to me by Lisa from the Challenge Factory when we met on Wednesday; they offer a "no-code" website service which makes it very easy to use one of their many templates and add all your own content. As my business will be selling content to other people, this shapes up quite well for me. The company is run by Paul Chato, whose name sounded very familiar to me when Lisa told me about this company the other day. There's a good reason for that: Paul Chato is a former member of The Frantics, a comedy troupe from Toronto. I actually spoke to him today on the phone because he saw that I had signed up for the trial and Lisa had told him about me and my start-up; he actually said he was "excited" to see me sign up for the trial today after Lisa bent his ear this week. If things work out he may be able to send business my way from his site or just take me on for some contract work as a content writer, which would be completely awesome. The momentum of this new venture is really quite something right now: today I registered The Grumpy Penguin as a business in Ontario and signed up for a Facebook page under that name. As I've said numerous times before, things are actually happening almost on their own. It's really exciting.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Grumpy Penguin: Almost Ready for Prime Time

My business card with the "old" logo
Many of you already know that I am starting to put together a business as a "content writer for small businesses". As I've mentioned many times on this blog, I have been working with The Challenge Factory and, in particular, Lisa Taylor to identify my "sweet spot" for future career work and it sure feels like we have found it. I did my "Test Drive Day" in May and learned a lot about myself and how I need to progress; the blog piece I wrote about it appeared in the Challenge Factory newsletter. In mid-June I attended a Social Marketing Summit which was presented by Enterprise Toronto; that blog piece was retweeted by some of the presenters of the day. The first piece I wrote about the Jays Care Foundation was retweeted by the Jays Organization and it has nearly 1,000 views at this point. Pretty heady stuff; the feedback I have received for this blog has been remarkable and very encouraging. I have a website close to being ready to go live, I will be starting a Facebook Page for my business and Sarah created some terrific cards for me, which I have started to hand out all over the place. But today something really cool happened which I hope will kick this start-up business into overdrive. (This is the "exciting news" I spoke of yesterday.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Play Me, I'm Yours"

"Play Me, I'm Yours" piano at the Royal Conservatory
I was downtown this morning for a group information session put together by The Challenge Factory and spent a little one-on-one time afterwards with my "Career Mentor", Lisa Taylor discussing my next moves. (I'll expand on that in a blog post tomorrow with some exciting news.) After we left the L'espresso Bar Mercurio we walked back toward Avenue Rd. along Bloor St. On our way we came upon a piano, sitting outside in the sunshine, next to the steps of the Royal Conservatory building, with the words "Play Me I'm Yours" displayed prominently on its face. A young lad had just finished playing this piano and had stepped away as we approached, his position on the bench being immediately taken up by the woman you see in this picture. I assumed it had something to do with the Conservatory itself, but when I spoke to Sarah about it later she told me that it was part of a much, much larger art project and that there were pianos all over the city of Toronto.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Ethics of Aggressive Solicitation

I need to put one of these on a t-shirt
I have never been a fan of solicitors, whether they represent charities, businesses or simple scams. I don't think I know anyone who is, really. Yet this method of asking for your hard-earned money to be just handed over to complete strangers refuses to die, so one must infer that it works on some level. I find it annoying enough when it happens while I am out and about in the world; however, my annoyance increases exponentially when I am accosted in the privacy of my own home. Ordinarily, as with most of you, I am sure, this occurs via the telephone where I can at least refuse to answer a call from a number I do not recognize. There is a National Call List in Canada but it is virtually toothless; the list of people who are allowed to ignore your request not to be disturbed includes newspaper circulation people; how they got to be above this particular law absolutely befuddles me. Also on the list of "exemptions" are people from whom you've bought a service or product in the past eighteen months, people you've asked about a product or service in the past six months, and people to whom you have given "verbal permission" to be called. Seriously. I have no idea how you could ever fight that last one; what is required of the offending telemarketer to "prove" that you have said it's ok to call you at home?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hammerin' Jose Almost Pulled it Off

Jose Bautista at 2012 Home Run Derby
credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
I got quite a late jump on my blog tonight because I was watching Jose Bautista of the Jays in the Home Run Derby in Kansas City. After kind of a rough first-time showing last year (he hit four in the first round and didn't advance) the 2-time reigning Major League home run champ blasted eleven on his first go around this year. He still needed a "swing-off" against Mark Trumbo after only hitting two in the second round, but he won that handily and advanced to the finals against Prince Fielder, ultimately losing 12-7 but putting on a great show in the process. All Jose does it hit homers. Many other guys hit them farther, many hit them higher, many spray them all over the field. Jose just hits more of them than anyone else and is again leading the majors this year, becoming the first man ever to lead the major leagues in home runs at three consecutive All-Star breaks. He will start for the American League for the second year in a row, so at least he's starting to get the respect he deserves around baseball.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pool Party!

I wish I was still in this pool now...
It was a great weekend for seeing friends; luckily for us, we did a lot of just exactly that. Yesterday we dropped in on the Lofthouses and their brand-new baby; today we dropped in on the Fullers for a barbecue and a dip in their pool. They're moving in a week, so this was our last chance to take advantage of the pool and we missed out on the last invite in May because we just couldn't get out there. There was no way we were missing it this time, especially with the ridiculous temperatures around town the past little while. So we navigated through the various road closures around town this Molson Indy weekend, fended off the threatening clouds and spent an idyllic few hours in the ultra-relaxed company of some pretty fine people.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Welcome to the World, Jordan Lofthouse

Sarah, Tim and I just got back from a wonderful visit with a family that are among the best people we know. They had a daughter, Zoe, two and a half years ago after quite a few years of trying and were convinced that was going to be it for them. But, of course, Mother Nature had something entirely different in mind for them (as she often does) and they were blessed with a son this past week, whom they named Jordan. He is a real "Yankee Doodle Dandy", born on the fourth of July in the wee small hours of the morning and boy oh boy is he a cutie. We were very lucky to get to see and hold him so early in his life, only a little over ninety hours after he made his appearance. He's a very calm and collected little guy and we could not be happier for our friends, Alex and Julie Lofthouse. They were kind enough to let me use their names on my blog, but - understandably - preferred not to have any photos put up for public consumption, so here is my rendering of the happy family:

The Lofthouses welcome their newest member!

Sarah helped with the hair. Otherwise, she is completely off the hook for this "sketch".

Julie is taking a few months off with Jordan but after New Year's it will be Alex' turn and I hope he has even 10% as much fun being a stay-at-home Dad as I did. We were lucky enough to meet up with them at the Kiwanis pool last Monday and then have them over for a barbecue and a relaxing evening. Just over twenty-four hours after they left us their son was born. Hopefully Alex, Zoe and I will get back to the pool once or twice while he's off work for the next couple of weeks, too. Zoe, by the way, is completely smitten with her new brother; when we went to visit them tonight she couldn't wait to show us her "baby". She is going to be a terrific big sister.

We've only been home an hour or so and already we miss little Jordan. We're thrilled for our friends and are ready for our next round of babysitting duties, whenever they want to take us up on the offer. In the meantime, I plan on sneaking as much Toronto Maple Leaf paraphernalia into Jordan's room as I can, because his Dad is a die-hard Ottawa Senators fan. I guess it really is true that nobody's perfect!

Congratulations to Julie, Alex and Zoe, and thanks for letting us come and see Jordan so quickly!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hot Enough for Ya?

The sun was angry that day, my friends...
It's stupid hot in Toronto today. It was over 30C before 10AM and eventually reached 35C in the early afternoon, refusing to budge from that mark for several hours. If you didn't go outside, you likely still had a pretty good idea of how hot it was if you checked Twitter, Faceboook or any news sites, listened to the radio, watched local news, or just tried to look out of your window. I had to go out: we were out of beer. Had we been out of, say, food there's no way I would have gone outside. And when I did go out - brief as it was - I felt like I was asphyxiating, slowly. Sarah said it felt like she was "standing behind the hot exhaust of a car". Yes, it was that hot here. So I've decided to do something a little different with my blog today, because you know the old saying: "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it."

Well, I'm doing something about it. I'm going to tell you all about a trip to Minden, Ontario that Sarah and I took in February of 2007. In the winter. With snow and everything. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Is Empathy Becoming a Lost Art?

There is one particular journalist in Toronto who consistently writes excellent copy on a variety of subjects and I am a big fan of his work. I even took a course under his tutelage back in the early spring and thoroughly enjoyed it. He is an erudite and intelligent man whose wife is also a journalist; I follow both of them on Twitter but have only met the husband. I know they have a young family and I know they love living in Toronto (they have settled down in an emerging, dare I say "hip" part of town). This family is the very definition of "urbanite", in my opinion, and - judging from their writings, because I don't truly know them "in real life" - they wear it exceedingly well.

Baby Red-Winged Blackbird
Yesterday I read a piece on his wife's blog describing an "incident" that happened to their family this past Monday. If you want the in-depth story, please check it out there; if not, here is a brief summary: the wife and kids met the husband for dinner downtown by the lake and sat at a picnic table under a tree. After dinner they noticed a little bird, apparently a baby, perched on the arm of their stroller and not yet old enough to think of the humans as any kind of a threat. After they moved closer to see if it was hurt (which is where their empathy was most evident, right before it disappeared completely) the tiny bird suddenly jumped onto the shirt of their daughter. At this point the story goes horribly awry as both mom and daughter start to panic and scream and the dad has to come over and knock the bird to the ground. The story degenerates from there as a bigger bird - which one can only presume to be the dad of the injured baby bird, judging from the description - comes down from the tree and starts to dive-bomb the hapless family as they continue to scream and panic.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Jays Were Back Today!

More terrific volunteer work by the Jays' personnel
Three weeks ago I wrote about the Jays Care Foundation and their outstanding work in renovating Stan Wadlow Park. June 13 marked the official "unveiling" of the new lights, repainted bleachers and re-landscaped diamond at the south-west corner of the park and the event was attended by Ricky Romero and Drew Hutchison. Unfortunately, I found out about it too late to see the two Jay players, but it was still great fun watching the young kids attending an instructional clinic that evening. So today, when the Jays Care people returned to Stan Wadlow with even more Blue Jay players in tow, you'd think I'd have found out about it sooner.

But you'd be wrong.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Now, Back to the Lunacy

Wonder if these will still be here next July 1?
After such a fun, sunny, Pride-filled (in more ways than one) weekend in Toronto I had hoped that perhaps we could coast on the goodwill for a few days at least. After all, the midway rides haven't even completely disappeared from Stan Wadlow Park; to be fair, though, they might still be there into next week because the company that ran the pathetic midway this year - "Outdoor Amusements" of Scarborough - are perhaps the worst bunch of slacker layabouts I have ever seen at one of these fairs. (I know I keep harping on them, but I really want to be sure their business suffers because they are truly terrible.) This picture was taken between 7 and 8 PM this evening, two full working days after the midway shut down. By way of contrast, every other inch of Stan Wadlow Park was cleaned and vacated before we got out of bed yesterday morning (with the lone exception of the Port-a-Potties, which were picked up around noon). The kids trying to have a soccer practice on that pitch this evening had to deal with the intrusion of some of the ride remnants and they occasionally lost a ball under one of the trucks, requiring them to scramble under there to retrieve it. I wonder if the organizing committee has balked at paying them their money (and balk they should) and this has caused a degree of petulance from the midway company. Perhaps we'll get our field back in time for school to return in the fall.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Canada Day Hangover

The midway tonight at 8:30; these people do nothing fast
After all the sun and fun of Canada Day it was pretty hard to drag ourselves out of bed this morning, to be sure. But we had made a date with our friends Louise and Mike (the latter here on a very short visit from England) to have brunch with them at Flo's Diner in Yorkville. It was a special treat to be downtown early on a Holiday Monday because it seemed almost like a ghost town (Louise said she kept expecting to see zombies coming from around the corner). We got a great table outside under a huge umbrella and spent the better part of two hours with our wonderful friends. I'm really glad we were able to see them today, but let me tell you: it had to be a special occasion indeed to get us out of the apartment because we were absolutely zonked this morning.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Dominion Canada Day!

A patriotic house on Woodbine Ave.
It's been an absolutely gorgeous day for the Canada Day celebrations at Stan Wadlow Park in East York. Sarah and I got up this morning and grabbed a quick cup of coffee before we headed outside onto Woodbine Ave. to catch the parade as it traveled its final few metres before entering the park. There are a few clouds now, which have helped to cool things off a little, but we soaked up quite a bit of sun while we were at the parade and then at the fair (twice), and it kind of has me "zonked". Also, this should be a holiday, so today's post is going to be more of a "photo journal" than anything. I look forward to your angry emails.

Sarah and the (non-functioning) Ferris wheel at noon
So let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. As I mentioned yesterday on my blog and lamented more than once today on Facebook and Twitter, the midway this year has been a tremendous disappointment. This picture was taken at 11:30 this morning, after the parade and at the exact moment the rides and games were all supposed to be open for business. As you can see, they were a long way from being ready to go; in fact, the Ferris wheel behind Sarah wasn't running until 3:30 PM, four hours after it was supposed to. On our second trip to the park we stood near someone from the organizing committee who was very politely but firmly chastising a representative from the midway providers, asking why the Ferris wheel didn't even arrive until 11PM last night, why there were so few activities, why the booths weren't open until well after noon, and on and on and on. The company rep spent all of his time lamenting how little sleep he, personally, had had this past week and deflecting the blame in any way he could. At one point he promised the organizer that there would be "twice as many rides next year and much better, too". But since this is at least the fourth year this particular company has had the contract to provide the midway for East York (which has been smaller, crummier and later in opening each and every one of those years), I would have to say that if they are given the contract again next year then the entire organizing committee for the East York Canada Day celebrations should be replaced.

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