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Friday, June 29, 2007

Da Count - Dad

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday. He would have been 70 years old. Unfortunately, he died in 2003. He bled to death in the recovery room after having a kidney removed when the clips on his renal artery came off.

I've often been sad when I think about Dad and Alexander. I know the two of them would have hit it off tremendously. I know Alexander would have had a blast with my Dad, and I know my Dad would have cherished every moment spent with my son.


But instead of focusing on what's not there, I will continue to tell Alexander fun stories about his Grandfather. I'll share the tales of all the fun that my Dad and I had. And one of the things that has rubbed off on me, something I learned from my father, is a love an enthusiasm for finding fun in everything I do and a desire to try to make other people smile.


One of the special and unique things I learned from my father was how to be a man and take responsibility for my actions, yet maintain a childish approach and youthful enthusiasm for each day. My Dad was always a big kid at heart. (I'll never forget how excited he was that one Christmas when he turned 60 and Francine and I bought him a train set. He'd always wanted one from when he was a kid and was so delighted with his gift that he got on the phone and called his mother to tell her he finally got the train set he always wanted. When I watch Alexander play with his train set I think about how excited my Dad would have been to play trains with him.)

Dad and I had lots of fun together over the years -- whether it was playing games, enjoying the outdoors or just relaxing and enjoying each other's company over a beer. I'll cherish those memories, particularly while building similar fun memories with Alexander. And I will always remember the distinct lilt of his laughter, the unique beam of his proud smile.

I love you Dad. And though it has been years since we've enjoyed each other's company, since we've played or laughed together, you continue to count each and every day.


dacount

Thursday, June 28, 2007

HNT - May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose

On Monday I had surgery. Septioplasty and Bilateral Inferior Turbinectomy to be specific. (Gee, I can't believe how many times I've said and typed those long bizarre words this week). The surgery was to correct my deviated septum.

Due to my obsessive commitment to a weekly HNT post, the minute I got home from my surgery (it was day surgery - I went under the knife at about 11:30 AM and was home by 3:00 PM) I grabbed the camera and snapped this picture.

This was the first of many many bloody bandages (And unlike our good friend Osbasso, I didn't also take a shot of the bloody gauze when I took it off - you can thank me later)

The next day, a beautiful flower arrangement arrived from my colleagues at work. I was amused and delighted to see they had sent me a "Bird of Paradise" flower arrangement. You know, like the old Little Jimmy Dickens song "May The Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose"

You don't need to click on the picture to see that my schnoz is still quite swollen. Most of the bleeding has stopped and I'm almost now able to breathe through it. As for the pain -- well there's Tylenol with codeine.

And for your lyrical pleasure, here are the lyrics to the song performed by Little Jimmy Dickens and written by Neal Merritt.

May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
(Words & Music by Neal Merritt)

One fine day as I was a-walkin' down the street
Spied a beggar man with rags upon his feet
Took a penny from my pocket
In his tin cup I did drop it
I heard him say as I made my retreat

CHORUS
"May the bird of paradise fly up your nose"
"May an elephant caress you with his toes"
"May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose"
"May the bird of paradise fly up your nose"

The laundry man is really on his toes
Found a hundred-dollar bill among my clothes
When he called me I came a-runnin'
Gave him back his dime for phonin'
I heard him sayin' as I turned to go

CHORUS

I was way behind one day to catch the train
Taxi driver said "We'll make it just the same"
The speed cop made it with us
And as he wrote out the ticket
I stood by politely a-waitin' for my change

CHORUS



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Another Mystery Solved

My buddy Steve sent this to me and I was quite delighted to finally learn the secret.

How does the small arrow on your computer monitor work when we move the Mouse? Haven't you ever wondered how it works? Now, through the miracle of high technology, we can see how it is done. With the aid of a screen magnifying lens, the mechanism becomes apparent.

Click on the link below and you will find out. The image may take a minute or two to download and when it appears, slowly move your mouse over the light grey circle and you will see how the magic works.
http://www.1-click.jp/


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mom's Book Club

A few days before Father's Day I was talking with my Mom on the phone -- she was quite excited about something that she bought me for Father's Day and couldn't contain her excitement any longer. She just had to tell me.

She'd bought me a book.

This was the first time my Mom had bought me a book in a long, long time. Funny, because it's likely my Mom's fault that I'm such a book lover today. When I was really young and she worked at the Mini Mart in Levack, each week when the new comic books came in she'd buy a few and bring them home for me. From there, I grew to love Archie, Richie Rich and Spider-Man comic books. That love of comic books evolved into a love of books and another book fanatic was born.

I remember when I was a teenager and started taking writing seriously. One Christmas I told my Mom that want I wanted most was a reference book. When she asked what specific book I told her that it didn't matter. A writer could always use any sort of reference book -- it didn't matter what topic, as, sooner or later almost any topic would likely come in handy when doing research for my writing. I had been thinking she might buy me an Almanac of some sorts, perhaps an encyclopedia dictionary, a thesaurus, or a generic how-to book on whatever topic caught her eye. (For example, while I'm not interested in gardening, as a writer owning a good reference book on gardening might help me when writing about a character who is a passionate gardener)

I never did get my wish. Unfortunately, my Mother took it literally -- the poor woman went to all of the bookstores in Sudbury and asked them for "A Reference Book" -- she, of course, insisted this was the name of the book and repeated "A Reference Book" over and over and was met with blank stares and much head shaking. (Having worked in the book industry for the past 14 years, I'm quite familiar with adamant customers coming in and looking for a book with little or no actual factual information about it and fully expecting you to read their mind and know what book they're looking for -- I can't believe that I ended up sending my Mom into bookstores on such a similar quest) It was that particular quest that completely put my Mom off buying books for me. For two decades.

But she boldly gave it another try.

"You bought me a book?" I asked incredulously over the phone. I had to sit down. I was desperately excited. I wanted to jump up and down. I wanted to start giggling madly. My Mom had bought me a book.

"Yes," she said. "I saw the author on Oprah a few weeks ago and . . ." I didn't hear the rest of the sentence as disappointment filled my heart.

Now don't get me wrong, I have oodles of respect for Oprah and she does have extremely good taste in literature. I just approach her book club selections the way I approach most mass hyped items -- with extreme caution. I hate jumping the bandwagon on things just because they are popular. I mean, I avoided watching The Simpson's for the first several seasons because of all the hype (although Homer eventually won over my heart - how couldn't that big dumb ape not win me over?) and I still haven't read The Davinci Code. Not that I'm a snob, I just want to appreciate something for what it is rather than for the hype surrounding it. Thus I haven't picked up a book just because of its popularity.

But when my Mom handed me my Father's Day book, I was delighted. She bought me: Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Yet again I was stunned. I had been wanting to read this book -- not because Oprah selected it, nor because McCarthy is a well respected author. But simply because it's the story of a father and son struggling together to survive in a post-apocalyptic America. I, of course, have always enjoyed post apocalyptic fiction and lately have grown quite the soft spot for father/son stories. But apparently this book contains a post-apocalyptic America filled with Zombies! (Lately I've been on a bit of a zombie kick having just finished Brian Keene's City of the Dead, the sequel to The Rising, his ground-breaking first zombie novel)

Of course the dust jacket and publisher marketing for McCarthy's The Road describe them as marauding bands of cannibals roaming around with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. But let's be honest with what they really are: zombies.

It's a horror novel. Yes, it's dressed up and masquerading as literature. But it's horror. And my Mom, the woman who wonders why I can't just write a nice story, a fun romance novel, bought it for me. Gotta love her!

Thanks Mom!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Blow To The Face

Tonight will be my last night living with a deviated nasal septum. That's because tomorrow morning I'm going to have a Septoplasty and Bilateral Inferior Turbinectomy. I know, I know, it rolls off the tongue so easily it's amazing that nobody has written a killer Top 40 song of that name.

It gives me an idea, though. If I live through the surgery perhaps I'll take up the guitar again and form a band. We'll call ourselves The Deviated Septums.

Oh crap, after the surgery it'll be too late. If the operation goes successfully I WON'T have a deviated septum any longer I'll just have a septum. Damn, there goes another great career switch idea down the drain.

In all seriousness, I first found out about my deviated septum when I was about 16 or 17 years old. I had been getting a lot of sinus infections and problems with my throat. The family doctor sent me to a specialist who said I had a deviated septum and that it was likely the result of having my nose broken when I was really young. He speculated that I likely didn't even know about it; that sometimes when really young children are playing and having lots of fun they don't acknowledge some serious injuries -- he said I likely kept playing with the broken nose and then it ended up healing in the crooked fashion. I'll admit, I had a bit of trouble believing that scenario until my son Alexander came along -- watching him crash through his day barely aware of the gigantic bruises and scrapes he suffers along the way, it makes sense. If that cavalier attitude toward pain and injury is in his blood, it could be in mine too.

I chickened out of the surgery when I was 17. Not sure if it had anything to do with my Dad joking with me that when they put me out they were going to break my nose and re-set it and then I'd be walking around for a month with two raccoon-like black eyes and a giant cast on my nose (my Dad was quite the joker -- unlike me. I'm absolutely deadly serious about everything I do). I seem to remember that life was tough enough walking around with giant zits on my face -- I didn't need to also be sporting black eyes and a nose cast to get that special ostracized feeling.

But in any case, I've lived with the reduced ability to breath properly through my nose for several decades now. I'm not sure what changed my mind, but the idea of reducing my snoring and potentially reducing getting sinus and throat infections and even getting more oxygen to my often oxygen-starved brain all seem like good ideas. My doctor tells me that after the surgery I'll likely feel a burst of energy like never before. I'm looking forward to that. (And God help those people who know me who think I exude enough energy already)

So I'm going under the knife tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

HNT - Zombie

I was delighted to commission my old bloggy pal Bsoholic, who is a brilliantly talented artist/image manipulator (what do you call that cool Photoshopping-type skill anyway?) to create a few zombie pictures of me.

Here's the original photo I sent him. (I've been using a cropped version as a head-shot profile pic for a long time now)


Here are two of the touch-ups he gave to me.




Muchly improved look for me, don't you think? (I mean, I've always wanted to know what it would be like to have blue eyes)

Thanks Brandon! You're a very gifted man!



Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pookalookaville Tag

Charlie tagged me. Check out her eight random facts here. Rules are below.
  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog
Okay, so here are eight random facts about me in no particular order (and completely off the top of my head)

1) For a while, I considered majoring in Psychology and becoming a Psychiatrist.
But eight more years of University was too much for my tiny little brain. Instead, I decided to major in English, act a little crazy and give Psychologists a real challenge.

2) I can never remember my age and always have to ask my wife how old I am.
No, this is not a sign that I'm getting senile. What? Oh, french toast please!

3) Speaking of age, despite the fact that I'm 38 (I just asked and Francine told me my age), I still feel like a 17 year old.
Yes, a 17 year old in a 40 year old body.

4) I still haven't reconciled myself to the fact that I'm going bald.
But I'm NOT VAIN, dammit.

5) When I rub my eyes I particular way, I can make my eyeballs squeak.
And I get a real kick out of making the squeaky eyeball noises in the dark while Francine is trying to fall asleep.

6) I love to read and I'm ashamed to admit this, but I'm a really really slow reader.
Yes, it's one of the reasons I'm still only halfway through Harry Potter 5.

7) When I was young I watched "The Sound of Music" every year on television. And for the longest time, I thought the movie ended when Maria married Captain Von Trapp.
What can I say? My mom enforced a very strict bed-time. I made the best of a tough situation by assuming the story ended there.

8) I don't mind being tagged in blog posts, in fact, I enjoy it. But I'm not all that comfortable tagging others.
So while I like participating in tags, I tend to leave an open "if you want to join in, go ahead and tag yourself. Go ahead, don't be shy. Tag yourself. And it's okay, the rumors aren't true, you won't go blind if you tag yourself too often.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When Daddy Became Dad

I'm not sure how it happened, but a few weeks ago, Alexander started to call me "Dad" -- this came out of nowhere, as I still call myself "Daddy" to him, as does Francine. Yet there he was, determining, all on his own, that he was going to start calling me "Dad" -- he has also started to refer to Francine as "Mom" rather than "Mommy."

The cutest was about a week ago when I was getting up early to do some writing before getting ready to go in to work. I went into his bedroom to tuck him back under his blankets and he woke up, looked at me and said in a really soft voice: "Going to work, Dad?"

I said yes and told him to go back to sleep and within a second he was out. I was left with the wonder of how the little guy developed his own unique language use, seemingly independent of the language we were using.

Quite amazing -- while it's adorable and interesting, it's also a sign that my little baby is growing up. I mean, in the past couple of weeks, he has joined me on a Ferris Wheel without being the slightest bit afraid, rode on an elephant in order to ensure Mommy (whoops, sorry "Mom") felt safe, and rode on a junior roller coaster all by himself.

I think I'll go listen to Cat Stevens' "Cats in the Cradle" and have myself a good cry.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Keen To Keep Reading!

Damn, I'm a hypocrite. As a writer who often writes horror, I often shake my head whenever I'm in a discussion or overhear someone dismiss horror fiction as not real writing or not real literature. Often this comes from folks who might never have actually read a horror novel or short story, or perhaps whose only experience with horror comes from pop culture horror films or even terribly written and produced schlocky movies.

Was it Douglas Winter who stated that horror is an emotion, not a genre?

Yes, books get given special covers geared to "attract" horror fans, and get placed in particular locations on bookstore shelves in a category known as horror. But there are countless "literary" novels I've read over the years that, to me, are really horror novels. They just got branded as fiction or literary and placed elsewhere on the bookstore and library shelves. This isn't to say that I look down on them. On the contrary. When I find any writer able to employ words in such a way that I am frightened or am made to think or even better, to feel, I look up to them all the more.

What I'm getting at here is that I recently made the mistake of thinking myself above "Zombie" novels? Why? Because I've seen a dozen or so "Zombie" movies, and while some of them have been good, I've got this particular stereotype in my mind that they're all the same and that there can't be anything new or interesting in them. (Yes, even despite the fact that Oprah picked a "zombie" novel for her book club recently - in Cormac McCarthy's The Road)

I can't believe I did this, because always had a real soft spot for apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic tales. My enjoyment of these tales are one of the elements that drew me into reading science fiction and horror in the first place. And what are zombie novels other than apocalyptic tales of a horrific extreme. (I mean, not only are the dead rising and gnawing at me and my friends, but they're the bodies of the people I know and love. What's worse, that my dead wife's body has crawled out of the grave and is coming after me, or the fact that I have to shoot her in the head to save my own life? Some fascinating moral challenges to consider when reading a zombie novel)

So, yes, I've kept a closed mind on the zombie. My eyes were opened while I was at World Horror Con in Toronto in March. I was attending a panel themed something along the lines of "Zombies Verses Vampires" -- Horror author Brian Keene was on the panel and said something that stuck with me. He said that his first novel The Rising, was not a zombie novel, that it was a novel about a father's love for his son. He then explained that it was inspired by this one time he was on his way to pick up his son for a weekend together and he was stopped by a State Trooper who said the Interstate Highway he was on was closed and he'd have to turn back. When he ignored the Trooper, thinking that NOTHING was going to stop him from getting to his son, he then wondered what WOULD stop him. As he went through the list of various things that WOULD NOT stop him, he came across Zombies, and the genesis for his novel was born.

Immediately after WHC I special ordered his first two novels (The Rising and the sequel to it called City of the Dead). Yes, being a sappy father who loves his son more than anything, I was looking forward to following this tale of a father fighting his way through a post-apocalyptic America to get to his boy. What I wasn't suspecting was that I'd love so many of the other characters and situation that Keene set up in this novel. (It's so easy to see, after the fact, why he won the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel for The Rising) Keene was also able to approach the concept of zombies in a way I'd never read before -- he has given them a new kind of intelligence and an interesting background. I'm intrigued to learn more as the story continues to unfold.

I finished the novel just the other day, and had been planning on reading the latest Michael Connelly novel once I finished it. But dammit -- Keene ended it in such a way that I absolutely HAD to pick up the sequel which I'm now already several chapters into it and enjoying it tremendously. (That, and I found out from my sales rep at Book Expo Canada that Keens has a third book in that series coming out in a few months -- woo hoo!)

Thanks Brian! Thanks for reopening my mind.

The moral of this story: Don't close your mind -- open a book.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

HNT - TiT - Blackout


Terror in Toyland (TiT) - An HNT Adventure
by Mark Leslie



Continued from this post

Mark blacked out before he even hit the ground, and for the longest time he just laid there, unconscious and enjoying the break from the mostly stressful day he'd been having.

After all, it wasn't every day that Darth Tater and his gang of spud thugs launched an attack that shrunk Mark down to the size of a toy and started terrorizing him. Not to mention that despite the help of fellow blogger Susie, Mark still ended up flying off the dead end of a toy train that they had hopped aboard in order to escape the laser fire from the Darth gang.

No, instead, Mark just laid there unconscious and enjoyed his favourite dream -- the one where he is sitting on the couch with Homer Simpson and enjoying a box of donuts while watching the boob tube.

No scary Darth Taters, no crazy deadlines to get an HNT post up every single Thursday for the past two years and the overbearing guilt that came with not being able to visit as many of his HNT friends as he would like each week -- no, none of that. Just a blissful Homer Simpson dream. Simple and easy.

But the blissful dream came to a frightening halt when he heard the screams of his friend Susie followed by the cackling of his enemy taters.


Several things came to his mind -- first, it was good to learn that Susie was still alive and had survived the fall. Second, it was apparent that she now needed his help.

It was time to spring into action. But first, he really should find some pants, shouldn't he?


To be continued . . .



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cold Comfort

I hate it when I get a sick feeling in my stomach and then find out that my tenancy to imagine the worst is true.

When my childhood pal Jeff Mason went missing back in November 2006, the same day that his car was found abandoned and torched on a quiet street and his house was burned down, I felt ill. While I'd prayed and hoped that Jeff had made it out safely and was hiding from the people who were trying to hurt him, I didn't have a good feeling about it.

His body was found by a group of fishermen a few days ago at the Stobie Dam on the Vermillion River not far from where he lived on the highway between Dowling and Chelmsford. The cause of death was confirmed to be from blunt force trauma.

While I no longer live in the Sudbury area, I've been following news updates about Jeff for the past six months and do know that his family also suspected that Jeff was no longer alive -- that they'd been hoping just to be able to find his body so they could properly bury their son and brother. So they could have closure.

I suppose the discovery of Jeff's body will give them that. But it's a cold comfort indeed.

I'm spending a moment, thinking about a friend that I used to giggle insanely with, play endless hours of ice and street hockey with, play tag with, hurl fun and creative insults back and forth with; I'm remembering times when we practically pissed our pants laughing so hard while tobogganing or trying not to giggle in the library.

I also think about the man that Jeff grew up to become. The man I never had the pleasure of knowing. But I've heard about how, when his father died in 2003, he moved back home from Calgary to help his Mom out with the farm, with sorting through all the details and with helping to look after her. A selfless son and brother to the end.

And then I think about how cool online networks like blogging or Facebook have allowed me to re-connect with so many friends from high school and University.

And how I'll never have the chance to re-connect with Jeff.

Goodbye my friend. Though it has been such a long time, I'll always remember the laughs we shared. I'll always remember that flyaway long sandy blond hair that used to stick out from the back of your hockey helmet, that infectious grin, and of course, your unforgettable laugh.

And God be with your family in this tragic and incomprehensibly painful time. Here's hoping that their memories of all the things you were to them will help them through it all.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Giant Book Nerd


If I haven't made this obvious yet in previous posts, I'm a great big giant book nerd. There, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me babble a bit about the delightful time I've been having these past few days at Book Expo Canada.

This year I've not only attended the Trade show, but also the Conference that precedes it, and have to admit that I've fallen into a little piece of heaven. Friday's "Devices & Desires" sessions were really informative and fun (and, of course, getting to see Stephen King receive a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Booksellers Association was the best way I could imagine ending the day.

I spent a good part of Sunday bumping into and catching up with dozens of friends and colleagues that I haven't seen in a long time. It's always great to catch up with them and find out where they're working now (so many of us have stayed in the book industry in some capacity) and how they are doing.

It was during a panel discussion on the topic of building a bookstore community in which there were many inspirational discussions on the culture of a good bookstore, and the wonder that occurs when book lovers come together and discuss the books they love. From that discussion I made several notes of phrases that I overheard in which I really enjoyed. Among them are the following quotes which I'm going to attribute to Sarah McNally (who runs the McNally Robinson location in New York). Sarah was an inspirational speaker who just oozed of a love for the written word and sharing that love with like-minded people.

"A good bookstore is a mirror held up to the world"


"The richest man and the poorest man in the world can hold the same book."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

HNT - Trained Professionals

If you're here for the continuing Darth Tater - Terror in Toyland storyline, it will be continued next week . . . (yes, you'll have to wait another week to see if Mark and Susie survive the train crash) . . . sorry . . .


I was digging through some of my photos from University (I was chatting with an old theatre buddy that I was reacquainted with thanks to Facebook about posting some old photos on the Sock N Buskin Alumni group there) and stumbled upon this precious gem.

John Strickland and I worked together at Theatre Operations at Carleton University. It was a division of IMS (Internal Media Services) and Theatre Operations ran the Alumni Theatre on campus (also known as Theatre A in Southam Hall). The theatre was used for first year classrooms, but also used on evenings and weekends by theatre groups (such as Carleton's Sock N Buskin Theatre Company).

John was in many ways the heart and soul of the theatre. When the theatre was rented out, John, a lighting and audio technician, came with it. And because I also worked part time at the theatre while going to University, I sometimes came with it when they required a second technician on duty.

Over the years, John and I worked many 18 and 20 hour days together, and being stuck in a tech booth at the back of a theatre for such unGodly hours during long rehearsals and endless weekends did one of two things to a couple of guys -- it would either make them angry and bitter, or drive them into silly humour.

It was the silly humour that inspired our "Trained Professionals" bit -- which is pictured below. The photo was likely taken sometime near 1990 by another fellow technician Andrea Clasper.

During long shifts of working on lighting or the set or whatever it was we were required to do to keep the theatre running and the show on track, John and I spoofed a couple of goofball handymen and offered idiotic advice on how to get the job done. This was much to the chagrin of our boss who just shook his head whenever we started going on in this fashion.

John and I shared countless laughs in our time working together, we even collaborated on writing projects (one of which was published in my story collection One Hand Screaming -- John, an excellent horror writer, was a great mentor to me) and fortunately, we've maintained our friendship over the years and across the distance between Ottawa and Hamilton. We still get together at least twice a year, and it's always good to see John and his family.

This photo makes me laugh (and it's not the mullet that's making me laugh, because man, I keep thinking how good it would be to have hair again . . . any hair . . . yes, even a mullet)


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nice Vice

Today is Camp Day at Tim Hortons in Canada. Which means that the proceeds from sales of coffee is going towards the Tim Hortons Children's Foundation that send underprivileged kids to one of a series of Tim Hortons camps. This incredible program allows for thousands of children to experience the joys and wonder of the camp experience which the rest of us can take for granted.

I love Camp Day, and like McDonald's McHappy Day, I look forward to it every year. You get to do something fun and know that you're helping make a difference.

Isn't it nice when one of your vices can help do something good?

Coffee has long been an important vice in my life. It got really bad when I first graduated from University and had been working two different jobs that mostly took place in the evenings, overnight or on weekends. At the time, I made a very concentrated effort into my writing, putting aside a good 4 to 6 hours each weekday morning to write. I treated it like my job (although I think in 1992 I made a whole $5.00 from my writing. But don't laugh. It was US money, and back in 1992, that was worth almost $8.00 Canadian).

Each morning I brewed a 12 cup pot of coffee which I had usually consumed by about 10 or 11 AM. And if I was on a real roll with the writing, I'd put on another pot and write for a couple more hours. (Gee, no wonder I'm still hyper more than 10 years later -- the coffee is still working its way through my system)

And I'd always had a soft spot in my heart for Tim Hortons; but it wasn't until I visited Hamilton with Francine for the first time that I realized I had walked into Tim Hortons central. We were at my brother-in-law's house in the evening and he asked if anyone wanted a coffee. There were five takers. So I followed him into the kitchen, thinking I would help him brew a pot, but he walked right past the coffee machine and out into the driveway and took off in his car. At first I was worried that the pressure of taking such a large coffee order had unbalanced him -- but Francine assured me he was okay, and, when he returned 15 minutes later with an order of coffees from Tim Hortons, I understood. People in Hamilton don't brew their own coffee at home. Why do that when there's a Tim Hortons around almost every single corner.

The very first Tim Hortons store started in Hamilton in 1964 and offered two single products -- coffee and donuts. (Trivia point here -- Timbits, the popular bite sized donut hole offering, were introduced in 1976) In Hamilton, the original home of Horny Tim's, there are literally intersections in the city that has a Tim Hortons on 3 of the 4 corners. There are some locations where you can stand at one Tim Hortons location and throw a Timbit and actually hit another Tim Hortons location (I've always thought it would make a fun tourist draw for our city if a sport could be made out of it - Call it the Timbit Horton Hopping Challenge. See how long it takes someone to get across the city this way. You're only allowed to move from Tim Hortons location to Tim Hortons location, and can only move to each location if you're able to hit the destination building with a Timbit)

In any case, I'm still quite delighted that I'm able to embrace a vice and know that I'm supporting a worthy cause.

So in that realm, I'd like to propose that we get a group of like-minded people together and petition Frito-Lay, Molson and La-Z-Boy to get together and create a Fat Slobs Day, whereby they make concerted donations for the documented use of their three products together to provide funding for a needy group. That way I can feel good about sitting on the couch eating potato chips and drinking beer.

Just think about the billions of dollars that would be raised.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Commuter Challenge

This week, I'm taking the Commuter Challenge -- which is a national program that aims to increase the awareness of the benefits of sustainable commuting and to encourage Canadians to take action by walking, cycling, taking transit, carpooling or tele-working instead of driving alone to get work.

And while I'm only two days into the challenge, I'm quite enjoying it -- yes, despite the massive downpour of rain that occurred during this morning's commute. I have to admit, it's really tempting to just take my 10-15 minute drive in to McMaster from home; but the two bus transfer from my home to campus isn't all that bad. I left my house at 6:45 and was at work by 7:25. Normally, I leave home at about 7:00 and am at work by 7:30. (Not that much of a difference. Of course, the reason the drive takes me so long is that I park on the farthest spot on campus, so there's a healthy walk across campus that I quite enjoy)

All in all, it's a good challenge and one that I'm enjoying. I'm certainly enjoying using the bus time to read. And the best thing about this is that it's showing me that the better way can also be better for me too.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

White & Nerdy

When I was younger and dreaming about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I often found myself wanting to grow up to be Weird Al Yankovic. I guess the only problem was that I never really grew up, I just got older . . .

Sigh. In the meantime, I can enjoy the fact that the man still has it when it comes to satire and parody. (That and the fact that he's released a rap song that finally speaks about my own lifestyle)

Please enjoy . . . White & Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic.