Total Pageviews

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Unfortunately sir......

Unfortunately sir...... hot.

and with those two words, a red film of rage begins to cloud my vision.  My pulse quickens, my blood begins to boil, and the very synapses deep in the recesses of my twisted mind begin to rapidly fire.  Basically, I turn into The Hulk.  An overweight, out-of-shape, paying too much for car insurance Hulk.

  These words are used by faceless employees in large corporation to politely say "I couldn't give a flying fu$* about your problem sir, Jersey Shore starts in an hour and in my mind......I'm already fist pumping!!!!"

So why the anger you might ask?  What event happened to incur the written wrath of such a fine upstanding young gentlemen?  Well dear reader, allow me to elaborate.

In the spirit of the holidays, I will do my best to refrain from knocking the Company and the character of the employees that work there, and instead focus more on the use of the word 'Unfortunately'.  However, for posterity's sake, let's just say that the company in question rhymed with the word "DODGERS"
This may or may not be the company I am referring to. Perhaps it's just coincidence that their name rhymes.

 and I'm sure the people I was talking to over the phone looked a little like this.

Now one handsome looking dude.

Regardless of that fact, the story goes as follows.  This company in question screwed up my bill.  They charged me $100 more than they should have and then expected me to pay the balance.  I threatened to cancel my service and escalated.  They renewed my contract with all the bells and whistles I had come to expect (which I verbally agreed to on a recorded call) and then they assured me that although I would have to pay the exorbitantly overpriced bill this month, they would credit me the next month.

Imagine my surprise when I receive my bill today only to find out that not only have they not applied the credits they owe me, but they now charged my $105 more than the actual bill.  In addition to this, they also told me that the contract I VERBALLY AGREED TO OVER THE PHONE 'CAUSE IT WAS LIKE.....PROMISED TO ME AND STUFF.....didn't actually exist.  They admitted fault but effectively told me I could go pound sand if I wasn't happy with their response.

Today, I wasted a total of 3 hours of my life on the phone with this company.  45 minutes of that was during my lunch break....and I likes to eat......and the remainder was done at dinner as I picked over my cold chicken fingers and hash browns.  And I love me some hash browns.  Needless to say I was not pleased.

After speaking with Agents that were the intellectual equivalent of toast, I was finally transferred to the 'Client Relations' department.  Client Relations?  Makes it sound like your trying to ass-bang me in the boardroom.  Why not call it for what it really is?  The "I must have done something really fu$%ed up in a previous life to deserve to listen to some jerk-wad complain about a $1.43 charge on his bill in this life" department.

After multiple escalations and more than a few nasty notes being added to my file, I finally got through to a "Manager".  At least that what this poor schlub was called.  For those of us that work in the industry, we know that this "Manager" just happens to be the unlucky bastard who drew the short straw on the night shift.  He has as much authority as my nutsack and...while commanding as it is.....there are limits to what it can do.

SO!!!  The real purpose of my rant was to talk about the term UNFORTUNATELY.  Throughout my 3 hour ordeal; which I should clarify eventually was resolved, the one common bond that drew this rag-tag team of misfits together, was their relentless use of the word Unfortunately.  They wielded that bastard like a shield each opportunity they got. 

"Can you solve this issue for me?
"Unfortunately sir....."   WHAM!!!  Shut down.

"Can we get this thing sorted out?!"
"Unfortunately sir....." 

"Can you PLEASE just do something to fix this?"
"Unfortunately sir........."
This is the band Wham for those of you born before 1990.

Everywhere I asked the answer was always prefaced by that miserable word.  To me, it ranks up there with the following:
  • perhaps
  • possibly
  • maybe
  • might
  • sorry
  • I can't
  • We don't
  • You shouldn't
  • We're unable to
  • etc
  • etc
  • etc
All words I despise as it takes the ownership out of resolving the problem.

Yes I am getting curmudgeonly in my old age.  Yes I like to pick fights with random strangers over the phone (since I'm not allowed to do it like they did in Fight Club anymore)

but I do it for HONOUR and VALOUR and to save myself $25.00 a month on my cable/internet and phone bill.  Don't judge.

Look, I get that these minimum wage an hour employees get just as screwed as the next guy when it comes to getting dicks like me calling in to complain.  But I can assure you that I go out of my way to be courteous to these folks and assure them that I understand that it's not their fault......until it is.  Use the term with me, you have just made me your enemy sir or ma'am.  I bite my thumb at thee and slap you across thy cheek with the finger of my white cotton glove.

In short, companies need to prep their people to be able have smart business conversations.  Not just throw up the policy shield everytime they don't know the answer to something.  You're not SPARTANS for CHRIST SAKE!  Nor are you Captain America or.....uhhhhhhh......uuummmmmm......some other dude that uses a shield!  Yah!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Took the wind right outta my sails....

The last few weeks have sufficiently managed to take the wind right outta my sails.  In shorter terms....I'm beat.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  The last quarter of 2011 has been a real kick in the proverbial balls.  Having real balls, I can assure you, this is no less fun than an actual kick in the balls.  Let's start with illness and loss.  In the last 2 months I have either directly lost or know people who have lost people to an illness. 

I want to write a moment to talk about the loss of my dear Aunt Judy.  If there was one woman that I thought could grab Cancer (must remember to capitalize the 'C' as it is a Title referring to something of importance after all) by the throat and give it a dose of it's own would've been her.  Growing up, I always knew that Judy had her finger on the pulse.  She was the "what's happening" Aunt.  The one that fought for social justice when she saw the lack of it.  The one who would be happy to sit quietly by while others' said their peace; but not out of apathy.  Rather, she was just biding her time.  Listening to all sides of the story before unleashing the 'fury' known as Her Opinion (again....capitalizing, but this time out of respect.)  Judy was never one to back down and she was also never one to put the cigarette down either.  Eventually, it caught up to her.  I'd rather not talk about her last few months on this mortal coil as many of us are still grieving and would rather remember her for her....and not for an illness.

As recent as yesterday, I friend of mine lost her husband of so many years.  The news as you can imagine, was met with heavy hearts.  Time and tide wait for no man.  Still, to see someone snatched away so quickly and watch the ripple effects it has on people around you, one might feel that it is truly the deceased that get off easy; no disrespect intended at all.  I only mean that the living are left to cope/manage/scrape by/move on.  A feat as big as a mountain and as vast as an ocean at times.  A task that one day I will undertake with the loss of my Parents, perhaps even my wife should fate choose take her before me.

"Took the wind right outta my sails"; such an interesting statement when one stops to think about its meaning.  It would imply that movement or progress has slowed or stopped.  That plans must now change and that courses must be corrected.  I suppose the comment is as relevant now to me as it was to the Sailors that first coined it.  I really have no idea if Sailors actually made that comment or not, but it sounds nautical, so let's go with it.  Note to the reader, I chose the word 'NAUTICAL' as 'SEAMAN-Y' just sounded so horribly wrong.

I suppose my momentum or forward movement has been slowing on the home front for a while now.  The Boy (my son) is not getting any better.  We're still waiting on word from CHEO as to when we can talk to a professional and find out what might be wrong.  In the interim, it is a daily uphill battle.  Emotional roller coaster sounds cliched, but it fits the bill.  I can't fairly describe the challenges my wife and I go through daily when dealing with the quirks and hiccups.  While we believe that it is Asperger's Syndrome, neither of us are Doctors (though we play that sometimes when frisky), so it's hard to peg just what's going on.  Until that time that luck happens to favour us and we're called up for assessment, we just have to keep our heads down, our patience in check and our glasses full of booze.  "We love you....but you drive Mommy and Daddy to drink.  Just thought we'd let you know." .....and the Parent of the Year award goes to......??!?!?!?!?

As for work......well.....I won't talk about work.  End of story.

Needless to say, I haven't been writing for a while.  I haven't been motivated to do so.  I've been seasonally apathetic.  My hopes, Loyal Reader...if you're still following along, is that when I do write, I add some form of entertainment to your day.  I write as a form of therapy.  It's cheaper than seeing a psychologist, has less side effects than taking medication and allows me to pretend for a few fleeting moments that I'm the next Stephen King.  That ain't happening...I know.  But seeing as how the Cops keep telling me that dressing up in a cape and tights and trying to rescue cats from trees does not make me Superman, Stephen King is a fair more manageable hero to emulate.

These last few weeks took the wind right outta my sails.  Maybe it's time to stop sailing and take the train.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

laura kelly photography: trash the dress marathon

laura kelly photography: trash the dress marathon: Remember how it was practically Winter this past weekend? Perfect, just keep that in mind. There's something very special about being a br...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How the Hell am I still alive?

How the Hell am I still alive?

Seriously.  I look back at all the things I did as a kid (rope-tow on a BMX bike behind a high-speed moving vehicle, 30 foot death drops into huge sand pits, drinking water from the River,) and wonder how I ever grew up to be a reasonably decent looking guy (minus the beer keg gut) with all my fingers and toes.  I did some crazy shiz-nit as a boy.  More specifically, I'm surprised I didn't kill someone else around me.

Just one of my many stunts as a kid
Diving back into my brain-damaged archives (I took a few blows to the head as a kid), I thought I'd share a story from my youth that goes to prove the point that death will come for me one day seeing as I how I constantly and narrowly avoided it as a boy.  This is the second part of the letter for my Dad on his 64th birthday.

Backyard Ninja Wars

On a sunny afternoon, somewhere in the deep of a long forgotten summer a group of boys decided to pass the time by coming up with a new twist on the typical game of Cowboys and Indians.  Never content to simply run around the yard making Bang Bang noises while pointing our fingers at each other, we decided to take it to the next level.  Backyard Ninja Wars!
Grant and Graham Knight had the privilege of having a Dad who knew his way around a woodshop.  As such, they were prepared for this fight long before the rest of us.  Wooden Katana blades in hand, they rallied the troops (The Cornell Brothers-Travis, Aaron, Ryan and finally me) to take 15 minutes to prepare for battle.  This meant going home and getting our ‘weapons’ together.  Now, as mentioned, the Knight Brothers were ready to knock some skulls in.  The Cornells were also well armed having an arsenal of toys to choose from ranging from swords and shields to riot gear and sling shots.  And then there was me.
I was always more of an action-figure kind of guy myself.  He-Man, Thundercats, Star Wars.  The usual fare.  As such, access to weapons was a little scarce.  I remember clearly that you guys had a no guns policy.  In fact, at one point the policy was so strict, that I wasn’t allowed to even watch G.I. Joe on TV.  I had to sneak over to the Cornell’s house to watch it!  That plan worked really well…..until I got caught.
My Pets have Mad Skills
Back at the ‘ol Helmer Homestead’ I was desperately trying to piece something together before my time was up?  “Spatula? No.  2X4? Naaahhh. Dad?  What can I make for Ninja wars?”  I’ll give you credit.  You came up with a quick idea.  You drafted it up on a piece of paper, drew the specs right down and then sent me on my way to make it. My goal:  A Morning Star.  Death on a stick.  A solid metal spiked ball attached to a wooden handle by a foot long  metal chain.  Like I said.  Death on a stick.
Now, being a kid, I was curious and creative.  A dangerous combination in some cases…like this one.  I built that Morning Star.  Built it real good.  Using a spare piece of wood from the scary basement (the one with the furnace that would randomly go off and scare the Hell out of me when I was down there), some string, some tape (to hold it down) and a tinfoil ball with multiple nails driven through it.  Yep!  I was ready to go to war.
If it wasn’t for the fact that on my way out of the house I started that thing swinging and easily snapped it off the string; partially lodging it into the wall, I probably would’ve gotten out into the backyard and, plainly put….murdered someone.  But you were on your game that day and you stopped me cold in my tracks!  After explaining the potential repercussions of my actions, you said “Let’s see if we can make this a little safer.”
So with a pinch of ingenuity, a dash of madness and a liberal dose of “I’m not really sure what I’m doing but I’m not going to let the kid know that” you made me the eco-friendly version.  One stick?  Check.  One length of string?  Yes.  One potato and some tooth picks?  WHaaaaatttt?? “Now go play and try not to kill anyone!”
So off I marched into the heat of battle; spiked potato held high knowing that I was a Ninja Warrior.  Sure the other kids beat my ass (seriously, I got my ass handed to me) but I certainly had the most original, if not the most ridiculous weapon in the group.  All thanks to my Dad.

Paul Bunyan was a pushover

Recent, my Father celebrated his 64th birthday.  I've never been good for giving gifts; macaroni and glitter picture here, hand print ashtray there.  You get the point.  So to avoid another "Let's throw the gift in a closet and forget about it moment", I thought I'd write a letter to my Dad to share some of my favourite memories from my childhood that involved him.  Here now is the first tale:

Not Jeremy Landry but still bloody scary
'One day, while playing in our yard on Beavis Terrace, I had a run-in with the local bully; Jeremy Landry.  I‘ll always remember that kid!  Red Hair, freckles and an attitude similar to that of a Rhino with a toothache.  He was bad news!  On this particular day, the bullying was really bad.  I tried to get away, but Jeremy and his cronies followed me into our backyard.  I remember saying something to the effect of “You better leave me alone or I’ll go get my Dad and then you’ll be sorry!”
 Those buggers laughed!  Jeremy; through a mouthful of crooked teeth (man he was ugly as sin!) sneered at me and said “Oh Ya?!  Well, we’ll just climb up the tree here.  There’s no way your old man will be able to get us then!”
So I went inside….tears streaming down my chubby cheeks, my nose running.  I probably looked like a real mess.  I remember telling you what had happened and I remember you looking out the window and thinking quietly for a moment before leaving the room.   Well!  That’s when all Hell broke loose!  

The next thing I remember was you flying out the back screen door, down the porch steps and out into the yard.  The shock of seeing you come sprinting out was one thing.  Those kids weren’t totally prepared for that.  But the look of sheer terror on their face when you brought out THE AXE was an image I will gleefully cherish for the rest of my life!
WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! “Ready to come down now boys?” WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!  “How about now?!”
Gravity is a wonderful thing.  In most cases, you rarely have to do any work besides sit back and watch things come tumbling down.  Case in point; the Boys in the Tree!  I’m not sure what happened to Jeremy Landry and his gang, but I often wonder about that old tree.  Whether it still bears the wounds of a neighbourhood war from long ago. 
Thor has his hammer.  Captain America has his shield.  My Dad, had The Axe."
Tights don't work for everyone

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Has it really been that long?

Has it really been that long?  Can it be that my wife and I have been married for 11 years?  It seems like only yesterday I was proposing to her in our tiny 1 room basement apartment in Toronto.  I can still hear the clicking of high heels and the stomping of little feet on the ceiling above us.  We had a Jewish Orthodox family (complete with a Rabbi) living upstairs.

Two kids fell in love one sunny afternoon
I had been planning the proposal for a while.  I had gone ring shopping after classes when possible.  I was still attending University at the time and was living off of a starving student's budget.  This meant working ridiculous hours at a Second Cup coffee shop, drinking limitless cups of the stuff and scarfing down day old baked goods that were destined for the trash, just so I didn't have to buy groceries.  Every dollar went towards the ring.  Eventually I settled on Birks.  The ring was perfect.  The sales person was awesome and I was approved for financing.  Yep.  I was growing up.

Sometimes we get a little weird
I was not uber-creative with my proposal.  I didn't have a choir sing to her nor did I have a plane sky write my undying affection for her either.  I was a traditionalist.  So I stuck with a traditional method.  Leaving my classes for the day, I stopped at a small florist on Bloor Street and purchased two dozen long stem red roses.  I then hopped on the TTC (subway for all the non-Torontonians out there) and took the longest ride of my life.  45 minutes of heart pounding, palm sweating, stomach churning terror.  "What if she says No?  Holy Shit!  What if she says no?  I can't take the ring back can I? What'll I tell that nice sales guy?  What'll I tell my friends that I've been bragging to?  What'll I do with all these flowers?  Give 'em to the homeless guy on the way home?"  I kinda didn't have a plan 'B'.  Crap.  I'm sure people riding the subway thought I was clearly nuts.    I mean, here's this dude riding by himself; flowers in hand, talking passionately to himself (rocking back and forth) and occasionally looking around wildly for someone...anyone to offer some advice. Mind you, that's not that uncommon to see in a city like Toronto.  Hooray for mental illness?

I got off the bus and walked the remaining few blocks to our tiny closet apartment and just stood staring at the door.  I knew she was in there.  All  I needed to do was turn the handle.  But my hands wouldn't move.  I just stood there....breathing.  The window was open in the basement and the soft light was glowing from inside.  I could smell dinner cooking and hear the radio playing quietly as she sung along.  I thought to myself "This is where I want to be.  Right here...with her."  I turned the handle and walked in to her warm smile.

She asked me what the flowers were for.  I rambled off some inconsequential line or two hoping that my shaking hands didn't give away my intentions.  I told her to look how gorgeous the bunch was (having hidden the ring box inside the bushel).  I remember her opening the paper packaging to look inside and her eyes becoming wild with alarm.  "What is that?" she asked.  "" 

I got down on one knee and looked up into her smiling/crying eyes and asked her to be my wife.

Has it really been that long?  We have had tremendous challenges and tremendous successes in our 11 years of marriage.  We have been blessed with 2 beautiful, if not fiercely independent children, a strong sense of family and a grounded outlook on life and love.  I am a better man today then I was 11 years ago because I have a wonderful woman in my life.  I'm so very lucky to have her as my wife.....and she likes to remind me of that fact every time she gets the chance!
Pretty lucky dude I am
Happy Anniversary Darling.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today I wore an orange shirt

Today I wore and orange shirt and didn't give it a second thought.  It was hanging there in my closet beside all my other shirts.  Cleaned, pressed and ready to wear, I slipped it off the hanger, onto me and headed off to work.  When I arrived at work, I signed in to my computer to check the news before my day started.  I like to read the news with my coffee before the madness begins.  I was settling into some mundane article about who know what when my wife 'pinged me' on Messenger. Three words flashed across my screen without prejudice:
"Jack Layton died."

I sat stunned for a second before I numbly replied.  I had known that he had been ill.  Hell, every person that watched a Canadian News channel had known that Jack had been ill.  He had been fighting an extremely difficult and very public battle with Cancer for months.  His campaign, in its initial stages, had been overshadowed by this serious health scare.  But with determination, vigour and an unapologetic moustache, Jack soldiered on and went to lead the NDP to a political victory, the likes of which this country had rarely seen....
...until the summer.

With Jack largely out of the public eye since the last election, it came as a crushing shock to his supporters when, at a press conference he called, a gaunt, frail-looking Jack Layton announced that the Cancer was back and he would be temporarily leaving the NDP to seek medical treatment.  And although he was positive that he would be back on Parliament Hill come September, deep down, most of us knew this might be the last we saw of Smiling Jack.

A Man of the People
I never had the privilege of meeting the man or the moustache.  When I was younger, I didn't even find him that appealing as a political candidate.  Used Car Salesman.  I think that's what I referred to him as at some point.  But it wasn't until I had been out of the country for several years that my view of the country started to shift.  I saw, what I considered to be, social inequities and injustices happening at the highest levels of our government.  I saw a right wing government being lead by a Man with his own Agenda and a long term vision that included increased military spending, reductions in the health care industry and a drive to separate the classes as far apart as possible.  I wanted/needed a better political solution.  And in marched Jack and the 'Orange Crush'.

Call his political views leftist, socialist, wispy even but he was the counter-weight to Harper's Evil Empire.  He kept the see-saw balanced.  Canadians had been constantly pushed into the corner and told "You have 1 choice or suffer the consequences in the next Federal Election".  If there's on thing that we Canadian are it is certainly NOT PUSH OVERS.  Push us, and we will push back.  While we are a peaceful people, our hands were armed with pens as we made our marks on the ballet boxes, helping push the NDP and Jack Layton into the official role of Opposition.  The Orange Crush swept across the country and left it's mark.  The future of the Party now lays in question with Jack's unfortunate passing.  I can only hope that those who voted Orange in the last election recognize that the man made the speeches, but the party makes the changes. "Hope ... is what drives New Democrats," Jack said, adding that his party "will always be the party of hope."

Today I wore an orange shirt and didn't give it a second thought; until I heard the news that a strong Political Leader, a Husband, a Father and an all around Man of the People succumbed to an illness that knows no colour, creed or political allegiance.  Cancer is a Bastard.  Jack Layton was another statistic, but by no means was he Cancer's Hostage.

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
All my very best,
Jack Layton"

Read the full letter here: Jack Layton's Letter to Canadians
Rest in Peace Jack. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm good right? Please validate me......please?

I'm good right?  Please validate me......please?  What makes us 'good' at something?  What makes us rise above the rest and exemplify the best behaviours and best actions?  What makes me a person to look up to; a role model if you will?  I hardly think that I'm qualified enough to be considered a role model, yet here I am.  Helping to raise two children who, through sheer luck, divine intervention or just some really shitty cosmic lottery, have landed on having me as their Dad.  Poor kids.

In the last few weeks I've had people tell me that I'm really good or great at something.  I've been told I'm one of the best Trainers so and so has ever had.  I've been told that I'm a great listener.  I've been told I'm a good Dad.  All flattering really...but I still feel that these claims are unfounded; baseless even.  What grounds are these compliments being measured against?  I would assume in some cases past personal experiences. But how is that 'quality of character' measured? 

Al Bundy.  The Poster Child of Greatness

I always tell people that I don't consider myself a Great Trainer (even though I have the awards and recognition to validate that I am).  Rather, I tell them that I am a Good Trainer because the minute I believe I am great, I stop growing in my profession; I peak. I'm too damned young to peak.  I often wonder if I should apply that same philosophy to my Parenting and my Husbanding (is that a word?  Husbanding? I don't know.  Fuck it. It is now). 

Not to undersell myself but if I think that I'm a Great Parent or Husband, will I become sloth-like?  Complacent even and stop working towards always getting better?  I've worked too long and too hard in this life to simply accept that I can't be better than this.  Besides, my wife would murder me if I just settled for a working in a new butt grove on the couch while breaking the world record for seeing how many cheesies I could stuff in my mouth at once.  No no.  I'm bound and determined to always work towards the stature of being "great" in my personal and professional life with the full knowledge that I may never reach that goal.

My Parenting Skills are Awesome!
I'd like to think that I'm doing a good job so far when it comes to raising the monsters children and entertaining the wife.  I mean, the kids aren't out lighting fires and robbing banks....yet.  And my wife still seems relatively happy with my antics. I mean, I cook, I clean, I worship the ground she walks on.  I really don't expect much except for the occasional slap and tickle, so I'm pretty low maintenance.  But there's always that nagging little voice in my head that keeps say "I'm good right?  Please validate me......please?"

My greatest fear is that one day someone will call me out as a fake; an unqualified, you have no clue what you're doing F-A-K-E and I'll not be able to prove them otherwise.  Anyone with kids knows what I'm talking about.  There will come a day when your child realizes that a large portion of what you said to them was pure and simple bullshit.  And you will stand there with a made-up grin and simply say "I'm sorry".  A Great Dad would have his apology speech all planned out.  Screw you Ward Cleaver!  Screw you.  But for the rest of us schlubs...errrr....I mean Good Dads, we can only hope that our kids will accept ice cream as a form of apology.  Or at least be smaller than us so we can still beat their asses for being disrespectful!  Kidding....Children's Aid....kidding.
Thanks Ward for making the rest of us Dads look like jerks.

I'm not really sure I can answer what exactly makes a person great at what they do or who they are.  I suppose if you're not in jail, driving a big ol' van with Free Candy written on the sides or using your children as monkeys in an organ grinder show, then you're well on your way to being a "Good" person.  If you said "Well...there was that one time...." seek professional help and then reassess your life.  For those of us that question our worth day in and day out, don't listen to the voices in your head.  Realize that the difference between good and great is marginal and subjective.  If the people in your life love you for you and what you do, then congratulations....keep up the good/great work!

What's the worst that could happen?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good wholesome family t.v.

So Shark Week is back on!  Yeaaahhhh!!!  A whole week of Good wholesome family t.v. Right?  Right?  Well, define "wholesome"?  Why is it that it's acceptable to show the bloody gaping wounds  of shark attack victims?  I mean, I know it's educational.  And the the "bleh" factor certainly brings the ratings in.  But a gratuitous close-up of a bloody stump that used to be some surfer's limb is just a little over the top.

Dah-duh.  Dah-duh.  Da-da-da-da-da-dad-duh-duh (think cello music)
Now to be fair, I have learned something in watching these shows this week.  For example, Atlantic Sharks can travel thousands of miles down the coastline to maximize their hunting season.  Also, Great Whites have recently been seen off the Santa Monica Pier.  Wait....what the hell did they just say?  Santa Monica?  As in California Santa Monica?  Uh-uh.  Ain't no shark better be all up in my bizniz down in Santa Monica!!  The Pier is where you go to get crappy food, less than safe carnival rides and dirty beach sand.  You DO NOT go to Santa Monica Pier to get your face eaten!!  So.Cal residents be aware.  Hide the good China, the Sharks are moving in!

Welcome to Santa Monica.  Ready to be fish chum?

Obviously the Discovery Channel is doing something right.  According to a press release posted to TV by the Numbers, more than 11 Million Viewers Tuned in to the 24th Annual SHARK WEEK Premiere. Shark Week also took a bite out of social media, generating over 300,000 related tweets on Sunday.

Still, I think the Discovery Channel needs to step it up a notch when it comes to the quality of the program they choose to broadcast.  I mean, the SyFy channel has it right.  They know how to get top-notch actors and best-in-class special effects and make an amazing movie!  Don't believe me?  Check it out!

See!!!  See!!!!  Now that's entertainment!  It's got marketing potential written all over it!  But it doesn't have to end there!  No way.  These guys don't need to kill each other off.  I mean, there's so many things we could do here.  Sequels people!  Sequels.  What if we made it a love story?   Two headstrong creatures of the deep.  Fate made them mortal enemies.  Love made them eternal!

And then to complete the trilogy.....9 months later, we have.....SHARKTOPUS!

All right, all right.  Maybe I should just leave the programming decisions to the Company Execs.

Write something creative!

Ummmm......not tonight.  I've got nothing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Legacy of the Laundry Ninja

I am a Laundry Ninja.  I really am.  I've developed my Laundry Ninja skills through years of practice.  Being a Laundry Ninja takes time and effort.  There are rigorous tests one must go through to become qualified enough to be one with the Order of the Folded Shirt.

The trials begin at an early age with a test of strength.  Long before the convenience of technology, a.k.a the dryer, there was "THE LINE".  At roughly 6 feet in height and 25+ feet in length, this deadly piece of wire (or rope) taught young Ninjas the art of jumping and dodging.  The goal was easy enough; to successfully hang the clothes on the line.  The premise, while simple at first glance, offered numerous dangers for the inexperienced student. To begin with there were the "clothes pins of a thousand pinched fingers".  Small wooden daggers with a spring loaded clip.  Not only could these weapons splinter, but the snap back effect could take off a finger nail in a heartbeat.
They also made for cool earrings and elastic-fired projectiles

  Along with the daggers, young ninjas in training had to be extra vigilant to avoid "The Wheel".  This metal monstrosity had the ability to snag clothing, pinch flesh and crack skulls (if one should choose to not pay close enough attention to their surroundings). 

I still quiver in fear

The last danger they had to face was the "1000 Ton Laundry Basket Haul".  Never truly satisfied until the deed was complete, many Ninja Masters (my Mom) would make the young student carry completed loads miles and miles (across the backyard) up mountainous terrain ("Take the clothes to your room and put them away") while avoiding deadly trips and perils ("Don't step on the cat or trip on your toys").  Stronger of body, the young Ninja would become.
If the young Ninja survives these early trials, they would eventually move on to the trials of the mind.  While Ninja Masters would initially teach the students the proper method, eventually they would be tasked with solving the most complex puzzles on their own.  Why do fitted sheets need to get folded if they're just going back on the bed?  Where did the missing sock disappear to? How exactly do you fold a Bra?  Many a Ninja has yielded to these tasks after days of aimless folding and refolding.

Finally, the Ninja moves on to their last test.  The Trial of multi-tasking.  In this last challenge, students would be forced to figure out how to sort white clothes from colours while measuring the proper amount of soap, cleaning out pockets for loose change, lipstick, gum and figuring out just what the hell each setting on the infernal machine known as "The Washer" actually meant.  Too much soap would lead to catastrophic consequences.  Not enough, and the stink of eternal skid marked undies would shame the Ninja for life.

I look back on my trials fondly, as they are what shaped me into the Laundry Ninja I am today.  In a heartbeat, I can sort clothes into piles before the family even knows the clothes are missing.  I can throw folded socks over 1000 feet with the accuracy of a Shuriken.  I can wield shirt hangers like the blade of a Ninjato; slicing through the piles of laundry like the bodies of my enemies.

Now, it is my time to train my Young Ninjas in the art of Laundry; so the Legacy of the Laundry Ninja may live on!
Not Really an Ninja but still likes to pretend

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Horror! THE HORROR! The Green Bin!!!!!!!

I have watched my wife give birth to our son through C-Section.  I have watched my wife give birth to our daughter through "that other area".  I have changed diapers that I firmly believe were worn by Horses rather than children.  I have cleaned urine, feces and vomit from every conceivable nook and cranny known to man, but I have never witnessed anything as terrifying as......THE GREEN BIN.....

The Horror!  THE HORROR!  The Green Bin!!!!!!!

I have seen the face of evil...and it is green.

I had the dubious pleasure of adding the last batch of food/waste to the bin the night before garbage day.  It had been unbelievably hot that week.  A heat dome as they called it (dumbest name ever) was covering like a billion square miles over North America.  So, crazy heat and humidity plus rotting food equals perfect breeding ground for....wait for it......MAGGOTS.  Thousands of them!  On the lid, in the bin, crawling on the handle....The Horror!  THE HORROR!  The Green Bin!!!!!!!

As a grown man, I've thrown up only a handful of times.  Luckily, my iron-clad stomach held it's ground.  Retching averted.  Score one for the Can-eh-dian Kid!

I kinda looked like this
Now, I get that the maggots play an important part in the ecological cycle or circle or whatever, but there's a line.  Opening the Green Bin onto a scene that's straight out of an episode of CSI is enough to turn any man's stomach.  I also understand that by using a Green Bin, I'm supposed to be helping Mother Earth by reducing waste  by approximately "I have no f'ing idea" percent (eat your heart out Al Gore), but I believe I'm being truly counter-productive every time I need to clean it out.  Between the water I use to hose it out, the bleach solution I use to disinfect it and the military air strike I call in to Napalm the surrounding area , I just might be defeating the 'purpose' of the bin.

I'm pretty sure the experts didn't intend for the mantra to be "Reduce, Reuse and Retch", but the Green Bin may be the perfect re branding opportunity.

you just gotta fight your way through

Liberally borrowed and worth the read!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Can-eh-dian Kid

I nick named my blog post "The Can-eh-dian Kid" to be tongue in cheek; an homage to my heritage.  To reference the world-renowned dialect that makes us the country of envy and the country of ridicule.  How do you spell Canada with only 3 letters?  C, eh? N, eh?  D, eh?  I wanted this blog to showcase where I've come from, where I am currently and where I hope to spend the rest of my natural life.

Too much coffee makes you see things
Last night, I re-watched a movie that really struck a nerve in me the first time I saw it.  It's called One Week with Joshua Jackson.  I first saw this movie back in 2009 when I was on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to L.A.  I was going 'home' after going Home.  It had been my first trip back to Canada in just over a year and I was beyond homesick.  Not specifically for my family (Mom, Dad, Sis) although it was awesome to see them, but for the Country itself.  That first sip of Tim Horton's coffee was like liquid crack.  The green open space of North Toronto (I know that may seem hard to believe; green space) was such a welcome change from the Urban Concrete Jungle I was flying back into.

Anyways, the film talks about a guy who is diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer.  He's given a 10% chance to live, but only if he starts radical treatment immediately.  Opting for the more 'rational option', he buys a Motorcycle and travels cross-country with no real rhyme or reason.  Just a goal to get to the coast. The defining moment?  Rolling up the rim on a Tim Horton's Cup and getting the following message (watch the clip):

 Throughout the trip, he stops at iconic locations that help makes this Country the quirky, beautiful land that it is.  The Big Nickel, The World's Biggest Dinosaur, The World's Largest Smoking Pipe, the Gardiner Expressway (this last one I would push in front of a moving bus if it were a person, I hate it that much).  But the use of these interesting yet often tacky landmarks was a great way of showcasing some of the more unique things that make up this great land.

Needless to say, the first time I watched the film, I had a hard time not blubbering a little. 
The Can-eh-dian Kid, far from home, headed west to face his destiny.  Cliched, I know.  But it rang true at the time.  And no, I don't have Stage 4 Terminal Cancer, but thanks for asking.

You see, I think that so many of us take this place for granted.  We bitch about taxes, gas prices, food costs, the Government, Immigration laws, the Stanley Cup, Winter, Summer, Construction.  But deep down, we live in one of the greatest Countries on this planet.  Trust me.  I know.  I've lived outside of Canada and travelled fairly extensively to less fortunate places.  I think that we sometimes forget how cool it is to truly be part of a great Nation.  Despite our flaws (AND EVERY COUNTRY HAS THEM), we should count our lucky stars.

So, besides plugging a movie and hoping to get some middleman fees for doing so, I really wanted to get people to open their eyes and soak in the culture.  To breath deep the air that makes this environment so pristine.  To smile a little wider today when you step outside and think, I live in a free country that so many other people would die (and have died trying) to get into.

Be proud of your heritage.  Don't wait until you're thousands of miles away before you truly appreciate what's right in your back yard.  'To strive, to seek, to find and not yield.'-Ulysses


Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm cheating on you Facebook

I'm cheating on you Facebook.

 I really don't know how else to say it but to come right out and say it.  I think we need Couples' Counselling.  You see, I'm just not that attracted to you anymore.  I've you over the years.  While some were subtle; small cosmetic changes like highlights here, the occasional nip/tuck there, it was the weight gain that really became the 'elephant in the room' so to speak.  You can't hide the weight of 750 million users.  You just can't.

One of my finer moments
  I know, I know.  I haven't been Mr. Universe exactly.  We usually see each other when I'm eating, or drinking or both.  I know you have damning evidence of me at my worst; fall down drunk and making stupid "I bet this will look so freakin' funny tomorrow' face pictures.  I get it.  But I'm trying to be classy about this.

I noticed you changed your face again.  Added this new 'chat' feature.  It looks do I say this?  Umm....  You have so much shit on your face now I imagine you need to use a paint brush to apply it.  Sorry...just being honest.  I mean, you can put lipstick on a pig but......

While we're on the topic, let's talk about you and your 'chatty nature'.  You're a regular chatty Cathy aren't you?  But GOD!  You are soooooo boring!!  You only talk about 'Farmville this' & 'The Weather is soooo blah, blah, blah that'. You're dull.  9 times out of 10, you only talk about things worth a marginal amount of my interest.  "You have a new game? Oh, that's nice dear.  You recommend this product?  Oh, that's nice dear.  How many of my friends 'like' this?  Oh ya.  That's nice dear."   ***YAWN***

I'm cheating on you Facebook.

I'm seeing someone behind your back. She's called Google +.  We're still in the 'exploration phase'.  I mean, things are tentative, but exciting.  We hang out with the same circle of friends.  Have similar interests, and she knows about all my local haunts like Gmail and  I have to admit, I'm not as comfortable with her as you....we have a history, but I have to admit.  She's got a tight interface and smooth curves.

There is another though.  We've been together for a bit now.  Her name is Twitter.  I know I know.  She sounds flighty but she's pretty cool.  She doesn't say much, but she knows a ton about so many topics.  And her friends are pretty hip.  Always talking politcs, entertainment, and 'what's happening' right now.  She knows people and she's going places.  She makes me feel young again.

I know this might sound a little harsh, but I think we can work something out.  I think we should be able to see other social networks/people.  I still always come back to you.  We have history.  But I'm sure, much like me, you have other people you'd like to focus on.  So, for now, let's just enjoy each other's company with no expectations of rekindling the romance.  I think we both know...the light is fading.

You'll be fine.  You have 749 Million other friends that you can draw upon in your time of need.  You're a survivor....a fighter.  You'll thrive on this and move on like nothing happened.

Take care.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Smart like a dumptruck

This is a dump truck
 I love my boy.  I truly do.  But he can be a challenge most days and the occasional royal terror on other days.  In truth, it's not his fault.  He can't control least that's what we believe.  You see, my boy has (what many would consider) a far-end spectrum case of Aspergers syndrome.  What, pray tell is Asperger's?  Well dear reader, I'm glad you asked.

  The first thing I will state is that this is not a blog about Aspergers.  There are far worthier writers out there with much more experience in this field that cover that topic.  Instead, I'll just comment on it from our little neck of the woods. So....what is it?  Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it therefore show slight to significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

While the boy hasn't been formally diagnosed (we're in the process) he does demonstrate virtually every sign and symptom on the 'Asperger's checklist'.  This includes the repetitive behaviours including eye rolling, throat clearing and my personal favourite, the jumping chicken.  It's kind of hard to explain but close your eyes and imagine a kid flapping their arms like a chicken while quickly hopping into the air one time.  Amusing the first time you see it.  A little off the 600th time though.

The biggest challenge The Boy faces is the inability to connect on a social level with kids his own age.  You see, in his world, everything is black and white.  Shades of grey do not exist.  For example, if things aren't being  done the right way, then they are wrong.  Not needing improvement; simply wrong.  Now, couple that fact with the fact that The Boy has no inner monologue.  Meaning, he says what's on his mind and asks questions that most of us would only ask behind closed doors in the privacy of our own homes i.e. "If she's so fat, why would she eat another slice of cake Daddy?"  You'd be amazed at how quickly you can inflict brain damage to yourself by simply smacking the heel of your hand against your forehead repetitively.

  This last trait is the deal killer for him making a lot of friends.  In plain speak, The Boy can come across as an asshole.  Kids don't always like being told their wrong.  Especially by another kid.  But, as I said's not his fault.

Now let's talk about the positives.  He is unbelievably social.  With anyone.  At anytime.  He will never be short on things to talk about because (much like his Dad) he can speak for hours on end about everything and nothing.  I sense the future trimmings of a politician in his near future or perhaps a Trainer? *wink, wink*  He likes to interact in every social situation available to him.  This includes asking questions during guided tours at museums (Yes...he's THAT kid!).  He volunteers for talent shows even though he's not able/willing to practice a talent until the last possible second before the show.  For the record...he's extremely talented at singing which helps him save face in the long run.

 Lastly, he eats books.  What I mean by that is that he can devour a 300+ page book in about a day.  He's 10.  It's impressive to say the least.  Thank God library books are free.  Otherwise, I'd need to start selling bodily fluids to cover the spread.  At first I thought he was simply glossing over details and getting the gist of most books until he was able to recite specific details, plot lines and character traits back to me without even batting an eyelash.  Scary...but impressive.  He's not like that with most other elements of his life, but at times, he's able to recall events/details that happened to him as young as 3 years old.

 Please understand that it is part of the natural order of things for parents to traumatize their children.  It happens.  But when you have a kid that can remember the time when he-was-3-and-you-didn't-let-him-have-chocolate-milk-and-you-were-a-mean-daddy-because-I-wanted-chocolate-milk-and.....yeah.  You get the point.  He remembers.

So, what does this have to do with the title of the post Smart like a Dump truck.  Assuming you've stuck with my rant this far, I'll tell you.  A Dump truck is a wonderfully complex piece of machinery.  It has multiple moving parts and requires a lot of care and maintenance to keep it in good working order.  It has one or two practical functions which include either carrying or dumping.  It doesn't try and do more than it can because it can't do more than it's made to do.  You wouldn't ask a dump truck to do a three point turn on a one way street...because it can't.  You wouldn't ask a dump truck to stop being a dump truck.  It's awkward and obvious and difficult to maintain.  But if utilized properly; if allowed to do the one or two things it does extremely well, it becomes an essential part of the construction crew.  They can't operate without it....try as they might. 

My Boy is like that dump truck.  Horribly awkward at times but so essential to our family.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.