Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blog Envy

For the last year or so, I've been reading about The Great Siberian Sushi Run. In a nutshell, 3 couples that each own a fancy yacht decided to sail (motor) from Seattle, up to Alaska, across the Bering Strait, past Siberia, and down to Japan.
Then they cruised the Western Pacific for a season.

I haven't read much of it lately, and caught up last night. Because of the piracy concerns around Somalia, Ken was dropping out after 2 years. He had decided to have his boat shipped to the Mediterranean Sea, leaving his two counterparts to sail (motor) through Indonesia and South-East Asia.
I actually got quite disappointed! I've been living (motoring) vicariously through them for a while, and didn't want them to stop.

I haven't been paying as much attention to blogs in the last year or two (except for a few really cool sailing/circumnavigating stories), so I don't know how normal people are doing. But I've got too much vested interest in this...

For more fun "(my) fantasy reading", check out Slapdash, Indigo Moon, and "nearly-locals" Zero To Cruising...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unwrapping Christmas

We had a good plan this year.  For our first Christmas, Wife and I decided not to do anything with anybody.
We'll be seeing her family this coming weekend (after our NewYear's bash - email me if you didn't get the FB invite), and mine the weekend after that.

Christmas eve was spent reading, curled up on the sofa while Wife baked cookies.  And shooting down her repeated requests to open gifts early.
Christmas morning we woke up, put on a pot of coffee, and got to the prezzies.  Wife gave me an awesome display case for my watch collection, and the full set of Arrested Development DVDs.  Somehow I had NEVER seen this show before - it's pretty awesome and we've already watched Season 1.
Wife opened her gifts, but I'll let her describe them if she posts it on her own blog.  They were risks, but I think she likes them.

I phoned my family to wish them well, only to discover that my mother has been hospitalized for most of the last week and probably won't be coming home anytime soon.  She's deteriorating pretty quickly.  While it's bad that she's not well, I (and her doctor) wanted her hospitalized previously so at least now she's where she needs to be.  Still, it was a shock to find out this way.

After that, we did nothing.  We read, watched movies, hibernated. I haven't left the apartment in almost 4 days.  Today that will change - I have to buy Xmas gifts for my family before going for dinner with a couple of friends.  And that's the other benefit to a "new family" Christmas - it should be easier to find what we need now, as opposed to 2 weeks ago.

Then tomorrow it's back to work for 3 days before another long weekend.  If there was ever a benefit to corporate enslavement, it's the time off...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas, etc.

Well that's it. It's Christmas Eve.
I've worn myself out over the last month, as has Wife, so we're spending the next 2 days secluded at home together for our first Christmas as a married couple. Sleeping in, maybe a big greasy home-made breakfast, a swim in the pool, gifts, and a fistful of DVDs and a cozy comforter. We'll be visiting family over the following two weekends, but this one's for US. We haven't had so much time together since our honeymoon!

So that's it - Merry Christmas/Kwanza/ Hanukkah, whatever. Enjoy the time off however you see fit.

Ps. I bought the watch and it's on FedEx's truck headed to my office this very minute...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The New 'It'

I've got a thing for watches, as I've said before. And I'm trying to fight this consumerist/ greedy nature of mine.

I already have 2 super-expensive Oris watches, an Artelier Date and a BC3 Advanced. And when I bought each one, I thought "this is it."
Now there's a new "it." A Limited Edition Duke Ellington tribute model. I saw one for sale about 8 months ago, but didn't buy it. And I've regretted it ever since. So now there's another one available.
I don't have any money, just lots of credit. This would simply mean adding another month to my debt-repayment schedule. That's not a big deal. But I'm hesitant because I'm just buying another watch. I don't NEED another watch. I dislike this yuppie side of me that keeps blowing money on trinkets. I spend thousands of dollars on "things," and wonder why I'm still in the red. I wish I could go back to how I lived when I earned $240/week (but able to buy food this time). And that DID NOT include luxury watches…

I need to learn some restraint. To stop buying stuff for stuff's sake.  But just look at the etching on the back...

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Remember

Last Friday night, I went out with a few coworkers for an unofficial Christmas party.
I remember ordering a few drinks and nodding whenever the waiter asked about refils.
I remember paying my bill.
I remember getting off the subway 3 stops early, because the motion was making me ill. As soon as I left the train, I realized that it's freezing cold and wasn't about to walk ANYWHERE.
I remember waiting a few minutes for the next train to arrive.
I remember waking up at around 3:30am, naked on the bathroom floor with vomit in both the sink and toilet.
I remember waking up Wife to inform her that I'd be voluntarily sleeping on the couch.

And that's about it.

Oh, and I had a huge bruise on my left eye when I woke up. No idea how it got there.

I think I must be part homing pigeon.  No matter what happens to me, I have ALWAYS been able to find my way home... eventually.

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Unfortunate Turn Of Events

Last night, coming home from University, I got hit on.
Unfortunately for her, she looked like Rowan Atkinson with a ladywig...

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I seem to have hit the wall the other day.
After weeks of high-stress work, stroke-inducing workloads of profession and university, not sleeping, and trying to decipher the family situation, my body gave up.  Tuesday night I slept like a rock, almost comatose.
I woke up yesterday fully functional, and had my first painkiller-free day in about a week.
As I got closer to completing everything, my stress level dropped.  I got the USACE project completed, and only have studying to do now.  And because my office gives us monthly "learning days," I've taken the day off work to cram 15 pages of lists into my brain.  The final exam is tonight, and then i'm off for 4 weeks.  Well, I still have to work, but 4 weeks without school as well...

So for now, i'm feeling good.  14 hours from now I may not, but at least I'll be done.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The doctor, who has known the family for 30 years, says she's in horrible shape, living in a very detrimental environment, and needs to be hospitalized for treatment.
The family says that's the most ridiculous thing they've ever heard - she's fine.

What the hell are you supposed to do????

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Don't Like Mondays Either

Coffee and a handful of Advil, that's a good Monday breakfast right?
That's the point I'm at. Every muscle in my body aches. When I try to sleep, I can't. When I have something to do, I fall asleep. On subway trains, I hold on for dear life. At each stop I nearly fall.

This morning, I was surprised to see that little reserve that we all keep hidden away. At the (outdoor, above-ground) subway station, I was in the crowd of people coming down the icy steps as the train pulled into the station. Suddenly, the guy ahead of me slipped. He shot towards the train and ended up hanging over the tracks from the waist down! Another commuter and I grabbed his coat and yanked as hard as we could. His feet crossed back over the yellow boundary about a half a second before the train would have taken them. The young man stood up, shook the snow off himself, grinned and thanked us, and walked on down the platform.

This quick reaction actually shocked me. Normally I would have stopped and stared for a second to see if he actually needed help, and THEN done something if necessary. Not to mention, I'm tired. A minute later, after NOT getting on the packed train, I briefly dozed standing up, with -24C wind blasting my face.

On the family front, my brother can't seem to answer the questions I'm asking about my mum. My dad takes her to the doctor, and (after his stroke) he can't tell us the details. My brother seems to be happy that she's in good spirits and her mobility has improved. It doesn't seem to matter that she thinks she's travelling the world looking for dead relatives… I've asked him specific questions, and he hasn't bothered to answer them. He's just that laid-back "roll with the flow" guy that I am NOT.
So this morning I'm calling my parents' GP. He's known my family for thirty years and hopefully will be able to give me the information I need. If he can't disclose, I'm sure he'll tell me how to arrange it.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I planned to go home last night and put together study notes for next week's exam. As I was about to open the textbook, I looked wistfully at my "studio" PC.
A handfull of button-pushes, 2 minutes of setup, and I was recording. I got the vocal tracks to five songs recorded last night. FIVE!!! Everything just seemed to align, and I accomplished in 5 hours more than I had been attempting in the previous 20. I guess that's the art: persevering through the 20 hours of failure to grasp the 5 hours of success.

Tonight I really DO have to get to the study notes….
Tomorrow Wife and I are headed to Mississauga for a Christmas party, and then Sunday is another party with the extended inlaws. Sunday's will also require bringing my guitar, bongos, and simple percussion for the carols. Ugh. I don't even know the words to Xmas music, let alone the melodies and chord structures…

Still, the week is starting to look up. It IS Friday, isn't it?

Thursday, December 9, 2010


The overtime at work has calmed down, thankfully. And after writing a 2000-word 'risk analysis', I took a few days away from school to get myself vertical again.
It helped, but only for a time. Now I'm scrambling again - either re-editing the analysis because my classmate doesn't understand the concept, or studying for the most impractical exam I'll (hopefully) ever take.
The mid-term exam showed me what this prof is like… Instead of focussing on practical utilizations of the taught theories, he wants us to memorize lists.
Really, if I'm working on a construction site and am approached by a man saying "We have a problem with CCDC Concept 3" and nothing else, I will likely fire him on the spot for not saying "We have a problem with the masonry - the bricks are crumbling."
However, the prof thinks it's more important that I remember what all 16 CCDC concepts are.
And don't forget that it's apparently more important that I know the NAMES of the 3 bond types than what they're used for. Because if I try to buy a bond saying "I want a bond to protect against possible liens from unpaid sub-contractors" they won't know what I mean. But if I say "I want a Time&Materials Bond" without knowing what it's for, that's okay…. Nonsense.

Anyway, I've got that exam next week. Then 3 weeks off to hide from the world and recuperate before hitting the books for another 4-month marathon.

I think at this point the last 3 years of 10-months-per-year nightschool is taking it's toll. I should be able to cover the amount of homework I've got right now, with my professional workload on top, but after this long a run I'm exhausted mentally and physically. My body aches day and night, and my brain grumbles to itself (hopefully nobody else hears it).

Oh, and I'm nearly finished my new album. All the music has been recorded, I just have the vocals left to do. Unfortunately, in this state, I can't put a good performance together to record. I've been trying, but it's just not coming out the way I need it to, I don't have the time or energy to give what is needed. And THAT's probably the most frustrating of all of this.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's A Cat's World

Last night Wife put up our little Christmas tree. on a table  As we have a small apartment, the 2-foot model will more than suffice.

As soon as it was set up, Lou (cat) crept over to inspect it.  He tapped a couple of balls, lightly bit a plastic branch, and sniffed around.  While he did this, he kept a cautious eye on me thinking he was probably misbehaving and expecting to get into trouble for his actions.  After a few minutes, he curled up beside the tree on the white faux-fur base.
At that point, Andy (other cat) decided to investigate.  She niffed a branch, and Lou jumped up to swat her away.  The tree had quickly become HIS turf.
A few minutes later, Lou seemed to be asleep.  Andy snuck up to the other side of the tree to check it out again.  She spent a few seconds poking and sniffing, before Lou noticed.  He leapt around the tree again, but this time I raised my voice at him.  He stopped, looked at me, looked at Andy, and then at the tree.  He left the table and ran to the other side of the room.  Once there, he quickly found Andy's favourite toy, started playing with it and squealed with delight.  Andy got upset and ran over to take her toy back. 
This left the tree vacant, so Lou could run back to his guardpost.  Ruse completed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sick Family

On Saturday morning, my mum phoned me. I was busy finishing some homework, so I let it go to voicemail. Ten minutes later, I listened to the voicemail and the hollow voice was really upsetting. You could tell by the sound of her voice that she was struggling both physically and mentally.
I phoned right back and my dad answered the phone. I chatted with him for a bit, but he said my mum wasn't lucid enough to talk to me.

Also, a good friend told me that his partner just got diagnosed with cancer. Hopefully it's still at a good stage. In a sense, if this stuff MUST happen, the timing could have been worse. At least we're both going through similar bouts of family drama, and should be able to support each other better with this similarity.

There were good times this weekend too, but this was the dominant memory come Monday morning.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Watch That Man

I have a thing for watches and clocks, I always have. Over the last year, I have become a fan of Oris watches in particular.

Luckily I have a "Watch Guy." A friend who buys these pricey pieces at roughly 50% of their Canadian cost, tacks on another 25% for himself, and sells them at a "25% discount" to the local over-priviledged.
As a fairly smart guy, he gets a non-refundable deposit before ordering the watches. And every once in a while, the buyer changes his mind after paying the deposit. This is where the 'friend' aspect comes into play. He'll turn around and offer us the discount (and not add his fee).

I've bought 2 so far, paying around 35% of the final cost. I sold one, and actually made a profit! Then I used that profit to upgrade to an even BETTER one!

I like my watches, it reinforces my general impatience.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS day.

While I've had a few poz friends over the years, one pains me more than the rest.

In 1998 I briefly dated a guy who had just moved to Toronto from rural Canada. When we didn't "click," we decided to remain friends. This friend went out almost every night, drank A LOT, slept around A LOT, and basically enjoyed himself heartily. This is not meant as a negative critique - he was one of the most loyal, honest friends I've ever had. Anytime I needed support, he was there ready to lend a hand or an ear. Or a… nevermind.

We slowly drifted apart, as I stopped partying as often as he did. When I started dating girls again, he got a little uncomfortable. He didn't want to confuse or worry my girlfriends, no matter how loudly I said 'THEY KNOW'! By 2005, our friendship turned into a semi-annual catch-up over a few beers, and a phone call every month or so.

When I was living in Georgetown in 2006, we were talking on the phone one night. I was whining about my unhappy marriage and life in the middle of nowhere. Realizing I'd been monopolizing the conversation, I asked how he was. "I'm on stress leave" he said. "Two months ago I got diagnosed with stomach cancer."
"Oh shit," I blurted.
"Yeah." He laughed. "And I just found out I'm HIV positive!"
He didn't really want to talk about his issues, but was more concerned with mine. I really didn't care about my own, and felt like a little whiny bitch at that point. We left his dilemma with my offering my help in any way needed, at any time.

We had a couple more conversations, and a couple more nights at the bar sucking back beer and cigarettes. Last Christmas Day, I phoned him to wish him well. I got his voicemail, so I left a message. Very unusual for him, I didn't get reply. A few weeks later I phoned again, with the same result.
In March, it was his Birthday. I phoned him, but his line was now disconnected. So I went on Facebook to add to the long list of B'day comments. That's where I saw the RIP wishes from his internet friends around the world. He had died a couple of weeks before his birthday, but had been too sick to get in touch. He hadn't been able to medically address either the HIV or the cancer, as treating one would exacerbate the other. I'm not sure which finally took him, but it was the combination that was too strong.
Last June I went to Toronto's AIDS Vigil, and finally said goodbye to him.

I really need this to NOT happen again.

So to my other poz friends, and those of you that I've never met, today we're all thinking of you and hoping that a cure comes quickly.