A fate worse than death

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It drives me crazy sometimes, the degree to which we have all become slaves to technology. It’s true the technology we have now improves our efficiency and makes communication easier and adds lifestyle conveniences we could never have imagined outside of an episode of The Jetsons.

But sometimes I think that all that time spent staring at a three-inch screen is time taken away from our humanity, if I may be permitted a grand sweeping vista for this moment. I pass people walking in downtown Toronto who are staring at their phones watching Seinfeld reruns while they walk. Seriously.

Really, is your existence so bereft of stimulation that you need to watch 20-year-old sitcoms while you walk from the train to your office? Or is it that Seinfeld is just so damn compelling and socially timeless that it’s worth bumping into strangers over and over and over en route to work?

Anyway, that wasn’t even my point.

My was going to be about what happens when the technology goes away. Like it did in my house last night.

A modern day horror story, no less. A fate worse than death. Continue reading

The long weekend

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Some end of the long weekend this and that . . .

Our house is in a quiet neighbourhood. Nothing much ever happens. Occasionally the kids at a nearby pool get a little loud for an hour, or someone has a once-a-summer backyard party that goes into the night. But, pretty tame. We all smile and roll with it.

So yesterday I’m out in the yard cutting, mulching, edging, fertilizing and more. A relatively new neighbour – they’re been there about a year – calls hello over the fence.

Chit chat. Nice guy. Oh, BTW. We’re having a party for my daughter’s first birthday tonight and … it might get a little loud. I wave him off. No worries my friend. Little girls and piñatas? How rowdy can it be? Don’t give it a thought. Enjoy the party.

So, seven hours later at 10:45p, Pad – who has to get up around 6a for work – comes down wondering when the pounding south Asian disco music – and the music was really, really bad – is going to let up. It was so loud that even with the windows and doors closed, we had to turn the volume on the TV almost halfway to full to be able to hear it. Continue reading

A price worth paying

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There are benefits to social media beyond being able to show you what I had for dinner or complaining about the challenges of commuting in the largest city in the world that doesn’t understand commuting.

Social media is sort of like a never ending class reunion. You run into people you haven’t seen in a long time, you catch up, you meet their families. And sometimes you share a moment.

We have friends in Halifax who we were once quite close with – we worked together, shared dinner parties, that sort of thing. We moved away, life goes on. They have two kids – now young adults, a boy and a girl. Both were competitive paddlers, and one – the daughter – is a nationally carded athlete.

She won multiple gold medals at last summer’s Pan Am Games and is a tenacious competitor. Trains hard, competes hard, studies hard. Ever since she can remember, she chased the dream of being an Olympian.

And this week her life’s work came down to one race and she didn’t make it. Pause and think about the only goal you have had for a dozen years coming down to one race, a few seconds of your life. Continue reading

Cause and effect

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This may seem obvious but hear me out.

If you eat chicken wings every night for dinner and have four beers every night and you never exercise and have poor sleep habits, bad things are going to happen. Sure, you can get away with some of that for a while. Being young helps.

But sooner or later, the clothes stop fitting. Climbing stairs is harder. Your trim waist disappears under fat. You’re at risk for major disease – cardiovascular, type-2 diabetes, joint problems. Eventually, there’s a high probability you will die prematurely because of things that were always in your control to change.

There are wildfires burning all over Canada – especially in the north and west. The horrific scenes from Fort McMurray are the defining image of the spring weather, but there are fires in B.C., northern Ontario and across the Prairies.

And it’s just the first week of May. The trend from long-term data is bad – the US National Interagency Fire Centre says last year was the worst on record for US wildfires. And there have been fires consuming more and more acres of forest, year over year, since 2000 than in the years before that. Simply put, the problem is accelerating.

Why? Continue reading

Painting: less fun than you think

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I think painting is one of those things probably best left to professionals, but when you would rather spend your money on a new bike or clothes or just about anything, then look to save a dollar where you can.

And so it came to pass in the last couple weeks that some casual musing by me about taking on a project at home while Laura passes through a heavy schedule of travel, trade shows and whatnot, turned into me painting the main floor of the house.

It’s less fun than you think.

The project started on the weekend with the kitchen … it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it’s Tuesday and … the project is still in the kitchen.

Cleaning walls. Cleaning the ceiling. Cleaning the cabinets. Applying yards and yards of green masking tape before even opening a paint can. And then finally, painting. Continue reading

Is it just me …

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It could be a result of my creeping old age, which some days is less of a creeping like an afternoon shadow across a patio and more like a wild galloping horse from which I have fallen, attached only by a single foot stuck in a stirrup as I get dragged along to an inevitable conclusion.

But my question is this: is it just me, or is it cold?

This spring seems to be slower in arriving than a tax refund. Slower than just about any spring I can recall in the last few years.

It is absolutely true our winter was relatively simply – maybe two or three mornings when shovelling was required and perhaps two or three weeks of true, raw chilling cold. So are we paying the price for that now?

Where are the scientists and their data on global warming, alarming us about the coming tropical reckoning? Even on Saturday and Sunday, days filled with glorious sun and blue skies, it was too cold for my old bones to cycle. The windchill created on a bike moving 25 or 30 km per hour is outside of my comfort zone.

So no biking for me yet – and no, I have not yet replaced the Bianchi. These things take time. Continue reading

Two in the win column

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I will bore you with a short entry today that is large on bragging rights and short on substance. Your humble scribe begs your forgiveness on both those counts.

The humble brags involve two significant “dubs” as the kids say – a dub being a “W” which is a win. So, follow along, I had two big wins.

The first win was Saturday morning when I was part of a small but loud crew from our gym which climbed all 144 flights of stairs in the CN Tower. We were not fastest and I was certainly not fastest among the five of us. But I started last in our crew, and we all finished within two minutes of each other.

My time was 22:14, which I thought was okay for an old guy and well below the 40 minutes or so that we were told was the generic benchmark for average. I am nothing if not average. No pauses or breaks en route to the top, I just climbed. Continue reading

My caffeine crisis

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I almost never drink coffee. I get my caffeine from Diet Pepsi. There are worse vices in life – drugs, gambling, liking Donald Trump, being a Habs fan. Mine is DP.

And lately there’s a crisis.

For most of this week, 500ml bottles of DP have been sold out across downtown Toronto. I have no idea why. Two large Shoppers Drug Marts have been sold out since Monday. Rexall in Commerce Court? Sold out. I’m stuck with Coke Zero.

I’m not happy about drinking Coke Zero. Not happy at all. And the body of the Shoppers clerk who shrugged when I asked today when the country’s largest pharmaceutical chain might deign to restock its Diet Pepsi cooler will stand as cold testament to my patience.

I need DP. And when I need DP, I REALLY need DP. Don’t test me on this one. Continue reading

Springtime in Canada & other lies

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Some weeks ago – three? Maybe four? – I put away my long wool winter top coat and draped the scarf over it and moved on to my light, three-season trench coat.

Temperatures were warmer and climbing. Snow had given way to rain. The rhythm of the season began pounding the unmistakable beat of spring. Bring it on.

It is alleged Mark Twain once said the coldest winter of his life was the summer he spent in San Francisco. Mark should have tried on springtime in southern Ontario for winter weather.

Monday’s morning snow was a kick in the teeth, followed by the curb-stomping of today’s cold (-9 when I left the house today after taking out the garbage) to be followed tomorrow by the continued indignity of more rain, sleet, snow and cold.

And what’s strange is where my head goes in weather like this, at this time of year.

Lacrosse tryouts. Continue reading

11

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I was all ready to go this morning, just like I always am. An almond-milk-and-fruit concoction in the fridge and my day’s clothes hanging in the mudroom to minimize disruption to those I love most as I exit home at 530a.

Which is a bit of a canard. In the universe that is our home I am the most disruptive force, a belt of careening asteroids at the best of times, colliding gracelessly with objects both inanimate and organic regardless of proximity to my path. And at 520a, brace for impact.

Anyway, to get to the point, they had to get by without me this morning at the gym and I am confident they did just fine.

Today is my first down day in the last 27 – the sprint run to the end of the challenge motivated me to forego a couple of dates that normally would have been rest days, but the nasty weather and a couple creaky joints made it an easy call this morning. Me and the asteroid belt called an inaudible audible and I slept (sort of) for an extra hour. Continue reading

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