Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vengeance Is Mine, Sayeth Dickeybird

Luis Estrada-Lemmon raped Michael Struc's family member.
Michael killed Luis in response.
Michael was arrested, and was just sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 10 years.

Michael, I respect what you did. If I ever end up in your circumstances (god forbid), I hope to have the courage to stick up for your loved ones as you did.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Adventures At Sea.

Yesterday morning I headed down to the Sailing Club to write my tests.
I like how casual this place is - halfway through the second test, an instructor walked in to see how i was doing.  I told him i was doing fine, and planned to go sailing afterwards.  We chatted for a few minutes, and then he left and I finished the tests.  Aced them.
After lunch, a friend and I took one of the J24s out with the plan to sail a loop around the Toronto Islands.  We got out the Western Gap, and floated for a while under the flight paths of the landing planes at Billy Bishop Airport.  After that we headed south to get some room away from the islands and enjoy the giant waves (and cigars).  We tried to sail east past the islands, but this was exactly where the wind was coming from.  Given that we had also dillydallied too long, we gave up and just sailed back in through the Western Gap. 
The Western Gap should be renamed The Western Tinyroutetosqueezeintotheharbour.  With the wind blowing hard on our nose, we had to zig-zag (tack) every 2 minutes to make it through.  This took 20-25 minutes.  Unfortunately, there's also an Airport Ferry that races the 100ft channel every few minutes.  I was just approaching the ferry terminal, and was thinking "all we need is for it to stay docked for one more minute, and we're good."  Of course, this is when the jerk decided to blow his horn and barge (no pun intended) right into my path.  I swerved the boat quickly and de-powered it.  We floated randomly for a bit, waiting for the ferry to pass, and then restarted our impatient zig-zag.  I was getting impatient and thought about starting the engine and DRIVING in, but my friend pointed out that this would be a failure.  So we sailed the whole way in.
FINALLY we got into the inner harbour, took down the sails, started the engine, and headed into the marina.  This is when we saw the TV crew on the dock, interviewing someone.
We watched the cameraman point his camera at us, and record us coming into port.  Did i mention that this was the first time I'd sailed a J24 and was worried about the momentum it held as it slid towards the dock.  The added pressure of a TV crew was not welcome.
Of course, we were going turtle-slow and pulled in so smoothly that we looked like seasoned professionals.  Threw the lines around the cleats, closed the sailboat, and headed into the club for a handful of beers to reward ourselves.

I got home around 7:30 last night, quite drunk and over-sunned, and went straight to bed.  Apparently so did my friend.

A very good day, and i can't wait to do it again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Temporary Escape

I booked this week off work.
Friday afternoon, i headed to a friend's trailer park for the long weekend.  There, we spent our time drinking, eating, building decks, and generally having a great time.  It was tough to return on Monday.
Tuesday I worked on music, and now have my new album half mixed.  Then I went down to my sailing club for a casual race.  I spent 2 hours pulling jib sheets as hard as I could, often not able to pull as hard as the skipper wanted.  Yesterday I realized that although I had the lines wrapped around the winch for relief, I wasn't actually turning the winch!  D'oh.!  I won't make that mistake again.
Yesterday I had a quiet morning, and then walked downtown for my singing lesson.  Then, back home to study for today's test.
Today I'll be writing my Basic Cruising Standard.  It's expected to take 2 hours.  Some of it will be complicated, and some will be simple.  From the study guide:
What indicates that fog is on the way?  A fog bank closing in.
"A buoyant heaving line must be able to float...." Ummm, isn't that what makes it BUOYANT???
There were lots of intelligent stuff, but i'm generally focussed on the silly.
After writing the test, a friend and I will be taking a boat out for a sail around the Toronto Islands.  It's too foggy to ogle the nudists at Hanlan's Point, but we're hoping the rain will hold off long enough to enjoy a cigar during the slow downwind (eastward) run.  Then we'll be getting drunk in the clubhouse.
Tomorrow I'm planning on more mixing.  I really want to get a solid preliminary mix of the remaining songs before we leave the city for the weekend.
Saturday we go to Kingston for a "cousinfest" with OLK's family.  They have 7 or 8 cousins within a 5-year age gap, so they all get together with spouses a couple of times a year.
Then Sunday we'll be visiting my family for the afternoon.  I'm not sure how that will go.  Along with my mum's dementia, my aunt is over visiting from England.  This is the aunt who kicked me out of her house on New Year's Eve when I was visiting, causing me to book a costly hotel for the week after.  We didn't speak for 2 years, and have been civilly emailing each other with concerns about my parents.  OLK is curious to meet her, but i'm a little wary.
Then, Monday I'll be back slaving for a wage.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Free Time

I'm starting to have free time, and don’t know how to deal with it. I was thinking the other day, about how busy I keep myself.

When I moved to Toronto, I was getting used to a new city. I eventually got a midnight-shift job which took most of my time and energy. Any spare time I had was spent partying.
In 1999, I worked the day shift at a gas station and played in a band. Those both ended at the same time, so I took a corporate day job and spent my evenings apprenticing as a tattooist and volunteering at a youth-support phone line.
When the tattooing ended, I joined a band that took every spare minute I had. Days, evenings, weekends, whatever.
When the music ended, I was dating polyamorously. Often going out on many dates a week, I always kept Wednesday aside for laundry. That lasted for a couple of years.  Then i realized that I wanted to be monogamous and found a long-term girlfriend.  That time involved lots of drinking, arguements, and generally causing trouble.  That went on until I met my first wife, and I moved to Georgetown to live with her.
Upon my return from Georgetown a couple of years later, I immediately started night school. That just ended.

There has been VERY LITTLE spare time in my life. And I think I'm scared of it.
I grew up in a very small town, quite isolated. I was bored and became very self-destructive because of that. I was suicidally depressed, with no visible opportunities in my life. My hand, arms, and shoulders still bear the scars of growing up lonely. 
When I moved to Georgetown, the same feeling set in. Isolated, alone, bored, with no visible opportunity. To (quite literally) save my life, I left my wife and moved home to the city.
Now I have a 9-5 job, and no formal responsibilities for my evenings. My singing lessons vary, happening on random evenings once a week. I've got my second weekend of sailing, and then hopefully crewing once or twice a week.

God only knows what will happen with downtime, and I'm apprehensive to find out...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ahoy Mateys!

This weekend I started my Basic Cruising sailing course. And I LOVED it!
Saturday and Sunday were around 9 hours each, with a very quick lunch (nobody wanted to wait, and hurried back to the yachts). The classes were supposed to finish at 5pm, but went until around 6. It was nice, it showed that the instructors were enjoying themselves and not just watching the clock tick away. Also funny was the sea-legs that came quickly. We all swaggered for a few minutes after getting back to land, as we were used to the rocking of the sailboats!

There were a couple of downsides, notably 2 of the 4 people assigned to my yacht. This couple talked on their phones throughout the in-class sections, or mumbled with each other instead of paying attention. When we got into the boats, the wife kept looking in the opposite direction to where she was steering, nearly ran into both the dock and a huge ferry (both at around 3mph), and would move to the sunny-side of the cockpit and ignore her duties! I'm actually a bit worried about next Sunday's test, when we have to be in the boat together but without the instructor. At least if she crashes the yacht we won't be in the lake for long.

I'm enjoying it enough that I'm looking into a membership at this club. For less than the monthly fee for my gym, I can rent their 20'-24' boats for free, race a couple of nights a week (learning more than this 4-day course), and drink cheap beer in their quay-side clubhouse.

B.O.A.T. = Bring Out Another Thousand
And I believe it. $500 for a 4-day course, and I'm ready to funnel my savings and future earnings into a sailboat. Sell the house, sell the children, sell the watches. Buy the boat.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Last Friday I tried to buy a Mother's Day card for my mum.
There were 'joke cards', about my letting her still do my laundry. There were sentimental cards. There were bland cards. There were no cards that seemed right.

I didn't buy her one. I doubt she noticed, and if she did she probably doesn't remember.  But I DO feel a bit guilty for not sending anything.

On a similar note, when I phoned on Easter Sunday, my dad handed her the phone. She aske "Who's this?" She didn't believe it was me. She kept asking how I was doing, but I had to answer in the third person. It was sweet, she was really interested to know how I was doing.  Weird...

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Luxury of Wealth

I'm a member of a very expensive gym in Toronto's financial district.
I like it because there is a lot of equipment. I like it because it is clean. I like it because it is the only gym close enough that I can go and have a solid workout during my lunch hour.

And yesterday, I discovered another reason I like my expensive gym: I did my workout, and returned to find that I'd left my locker wide open. I had a wallet with around $100 in it, a $1000 watch, a Blackberry, and my wedding ring all sitting in full view at the front of my locker. And for the full 40 minutes I was in the gym, nobody stole anything.

I don't believe it's because wealthier people (the kind that usually use this facility) are more honest. Far from it! But I think it would be less enticing, not worth their time. I'm likely one of the poorest members. Scum. Filth. The tattooed freak with Ministry and The Jesus & Mary Chain blasting from his (outdated) iPod. Not worth stealing his worthless possessions.
And hooray for that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Last night I bought underwear. I HATE buying underwear.   This is an item that you can't try on in the store, and can't return it due to the hygienic concerns. So once I find a brand/style that I like, I am religiously loyal.

Unfortunately, after spending $75 for 4 pairs last night, I got home to find that they'd changed the design. These are unwearable, and wouldn't fit a 10-year-old boy.

I've emailed the company to try to rectify this, so let's see what happens. Ideally they'll give me a refund. If they brush me off, there'll just be one more business on my boycott list (along with Bell Canada and Joe Bidali's Restaurants).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wet Wet Weekend

This weekend I start my sailing course at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre.
For the next 2 weekends, I'll learn an incredible amount of stuff (complete list here). I'm quite prepared. I already understand the mechanics of the sport, which sail does what, etc… I have bought and read Sailing For Dummies, The Complete Sailor, and The Sailing Bible (apparently it's good to keep a bible in the house, and this is my preferred version).  I have also decided on the $250,000 yacht I want.

I got a bit of a shock this morning, though. Along with the 3-degree (Celcius) temparature this morning, the weekend is now expected to be cold and rainy. GREEEAAAATTT. That sounds like the perfect environment to be out on Lake Ontario!

Then again, if I enjoy myself this weekend, getting out on the lake in iffy weather shouldn't be a concern later this summer.