Sunday, December 2, 2012

Still Alive

So my office has gone and blocked blogs, facebook, and most other "social media" websites.

Adding that to my general malaise these days, and i've got nothing more to say.  I'm getting into hibernation mode, the sun sets before I leave work and by 8pm i'm ready to crawl into bed.

I'll likely keep writing, but have no idea when.

Hasta Luego Amigos.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Write Mess

How is it that I can think all day, talk all day, and constantly post around 1/5 of the amount that I’d like to?

I’m starting to get lethargic.  I get home from work around 5 or 5:30, and want to do absolutely nothing until I go to bed.  I usually just end up in front of the TV, but really I don’t even want to do that.  It’s not even that I don’t have stuff to do.  I’ve got a job interview to prep for – it’s a couple of weeks away but there’s some planning involved.  I’ve got a couple of books on leadership & management styles that I want to get through.  I’ve even got SAILING books that I’m not reading.
I think it’s partially due to the early sunset now. I’m getting into hibernation mode.

Health-wise I’m back up to nearly 100%. 
I’m not getting my drivers license back for the foreseeable future, but that’s not TOO bad.  We live downtown, don’t own a car, and we don’t have children.  We rent a car for a weekend every couple of months, but that’s about it.  I guess Wife will have to drive from now on.  I could get it back if I followed the regimen of medication, but my neurologist agrees with my not taking pills.  They double or triple suicidal tendencies (and I’m already a risky one), have other nasty side effects, and I’d have to take them for around 15 years to qualify.  Not at all worth a possible license renewal in my mid 50s.

I can still sail, I can still ride my bicycle, I can still be a chauffeur-driven passenger.  I’ll get by.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I’m back at work today.  I really don't want to be here, but I can’t afford to stay home without pay.  Plus, my neck is now at around 90%.  And I brought my neck brace to work, in case I need it.

While I don’t particularly like my walk to work, this morning was interesting.  I saw a transport truck (18-wheeler for you country types) going the wrong way down one-way Richmond St, while the driver talked into his phone.  About 3 seconds later a couple of police cars confronted him, lights flashing.  I hope they charge him with everything they can – a truck must be 10 times as dangerous as a car…

Also on the weekend, I bought more fish for my aquarium.  Now along with the 6 Dwarf Spotted Danios, I’ve got 4 Peppered Cory Cats.  They’re pretty spastic and never stop moving or playing.  It was funny to watch the Danios, who had the tank to themselves for a month, get used to the newcomers.  They went from uncharacteristically wandering around the aquarium as they were alone, to schooling – roaming the tank as a gang.  There’s no aggression, but you can see confusion as one Danio will try to play with a Cory and then realize that it’s not his kin and rush away back to the group.  And with all the extra motion in the tank, the cats have started to watch.  That appeals to my sick “coliseum” tendencies.
I'm really enjoying these fish, but it's still a surprise interest for me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weak Week

Ah, there it goes again.  Another week has flown by.

Last Tuesday I got up and walked to work.  As I sat at my desk, I nearly passed out from the neck pain.  I sent a quick email to my boss saying that I'd shown up (she's a late starter), but was leaving.
I went to a local walk-in clinic and saw a really helpful doctor.  He prodded and pressed at my back, neck, and shoulders, coming up with a diagnosis quickly.
The ER doctor at St. Mike's ignored my neck injury, focussing on my brain.  The neurologist ignored my neck injury, focussing on my brain.  The clinic doctor diagnosed whiplash.  I had been walking around in ridiculous pain for 12 days with untreated WHIPLASH!  He sent me to an Xray clinic, just to be sure that there was no spinal damage.  He also gave me a prescription for some anti-inflamatories.  As the inflamation decreased, so would the pain.  When I asked about mobility, he agreed that I should stay home for the week and move as little as possible.  Taking the strain off my head and neck would speed up the recovery.
So I took the week off and have been lying in bed (and on the couch) watching endless (and mindless) TV.

I had plans.  I meant to read the "leadership skills" ebook that I bought in preparation for an upcoming job interview.  I meant to update my resume in preparation for the interview.  I meant to study for my one remaining sailing exam.  Did I do any of these?  Nope.  Instead I became extremely lethargic and did nothing.

It might have been the right decision - i'm feeling pretty good and will be going back to work tomorrow.  I have to - getting Short Term Disability coverage for this will be nearly impossible.  According to my insurance company, I have to be off 10 days before eligibility.  When I asked the clinic doctor about filling out any necessary forms, he told me that the neurologist would be more suitable and he wouldn't.  Also, he suggested I take the week off, not two.  Why would the neurologist be involved with my neck???  Utter bs.  Besides, gambling 10 days' pay on the off chance that a ton of effort might get me covered?  That's too big of a gamble, and I wish I'd known the requirements before the injury.  I feel like my company is stealing from me.  I've been told for years that there's this safety net.  And perhaps it's there with a longer term injury that's more obvious.  However, for neck injury that heals quickly WITH ABSENCE FROM WORK, there's nothing to help.

Overall I'm pretty positive.  I'm getting better and that's what is most important. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Seizure Aftermath

Monday morning.  God I hate these.
My shoulder and neck are still messed up.  My pain breakdown seems to be 30% dull ache, 30% gone, and 40% agony.  It really hasn’t been a pleasant ten days since my seizure.  My lip has healed, the bumps and bruises on my head have disappeared, and I can eat without much pain in my jaw.  Just the neck and shoulder whenever I move my head…

Wife made me an appoint with a masseuse on Saturday morning.  We were hoping that she could ease the muscle pain, as I’m positive that’s all the problem is.  $100 and 1 hour later, I felt exactly as I did before walking in.  Shit.

I told my boss that I’d had a seizure and wasn’t sleeping due to the neck pain.  She told me that she’d take it easy on me, understanding that I just can’t work properly when I’m exhausted and in pain.  It’s been a week now, and I think the sympathy is gone.  Impatience is all that’s left.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I have no sick days left for 2012.  I get 8 days per calendar year, and they don’t carry over to the next.  In the decade I’ve worked here, I’ve never used more than 3 or 4.  This time I’ve used them all.  I don’t get any leeway for past performance.  This means that I’m coming into work every day and doing a lackluster job, simply because I have to be here or I don’t get paid.

Later this afternoon, I have an appointment with a neurologist.  I assume we’ll be talking about meds I won’t take, and what will happen with my drivers license.  In the late 90s, it was suspended for a year because of these seizures.   My family doctor went to the MTO tribunal and recommended that I get it back.  He had known me for 20 years, and vouched for me, saying I’d get warning of the fits, pull the car over and yank out the keys.  He has now retired and I haven’t seen him in a decade.  He won’t be helping me this time.  It may not get suspended, as I only drive 5 or 6 times a year.  Chances of me having a rare seizure during the rare time I’m behind the wheel are extremely unlikely.  But he might not want to take the risk, and I can understand that.  Then, I might lose it for a year.  Or I might lose it permanently because of my 20-year history of idiopathic seizures and reluctance to medicate.  I tried meds before, and nearly committed suicide.  Apparently most anti-convulsants either double or triple the likelihood of this, and I don’t need the help!

I have no idea what happened to the last few days.  On Friday night I went to see the “Designing Bond” exhibit at the TIFF building.  Saturday was the massage, watching Seven Psychopaths with Wife, and going out to the pub with a friend.  Sunday I cleaned the squalor from the house in preparation for company last night.  The weekend flew by, and I feel like it’s Friday and I’m ready for a weekend.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Restart Again

It seems that whenever I plan to do things that I’ve been neglecting, other roadblocks arise.

Blogging, for example.  I have time to write, I have things to write about, but life keeps stopping me.  The same with going to the gym.  A few months ago I damaged my hand.  So I didn’t work out for a few weeks, it hurt too much.  The next time I went, I hit my head and got a mild concussion.  There was another month lost.  I had decided to try again this week.

Last Friday I had the mother(f**ker) of all seizures.  I’ve been having them for about 20 years, and the doctors can’t find the cause.  It’s not epilepsy, but that’s about all they can tell me.  There are certain triggers, like marijuana or strobe lights, so I avoid those.  But sometimes they happen for no apparent reason.  Either from age or better health, they’ve been rare in the last decade.  After enduring a few annually, I’ve probably had 2 or 3 in the last 10 years.  The last seizure was in December of 2008.

I had a really bad one during the night last Thursday.  I felt ill at around 2am so I went to the bathroom.  I remember being really dizzy and flushed, and wondering how I could possibly be drunk.  I’d had a couple of pints, but was definitely sober hours before going to bed.  I remember one of my cats frantically pawing at my head, apparently they can sense these things coming on.  I’d brush him away, but he kept climbing or jumping to touch my head.
The next memory I have is of Wife screaming.  I opened my eyes to see blood splattering from my face.  I was laying on the floor and I hurt.
Wife called 911, and the paramedics took me to the hospital for the night.  I had bruised a good portion of my head and face, some places were missing skin, and I had bitten into my upper lip pretty badly.  Also, the blood vessels in my eyelids had burst, and they were covered in tiny red spots.  I also put my head through the bathroom wall almost at floor-level.

At the hospital they took blood and gave me a CT scan.  All results were normal, so they sent me home after a few hours.

Right now there are only a couple of remaining issues.  My neck really hurts, I pulled the muscles there pretty badly.  Whenever I move my head, I’m in pain.  I’m having trouble sleeping because every time I move I scream and wake myself (and Wife) up.  My moustache hides the only skinned places that haven’t healed yet.

So I’m not going to the gym again for a couple of weeks, until I’m re-healed.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


AAAAAAnd another week goes by.  It feels like time is flying, but not much is actually happening.

Yesterday one of the cats peed on the dining room carpet again.  This is infuriating.  She was peeing there pretty often a few months ago, which is something she never, ever did before moving to this townhouse.  I took her to the vet and spent nearly $600 to be told that “she’s fine, it’s a behavioural issue.”
I covered ½ the floor in tinfoil and she stopped.  Last week we cautiously removed a few feet of foil, hoping to get our room back.   Nope, she peed again.
I’ve spent around $100 on various cleaners that guarantee cats won’t urinate there again, and they have all failed.  We added a 2nd litterbox nearby hoping that it might be a territorial- toilet thing.  It doesn’t get used.
Considering how bad the smell got when she was doing it before (I had to eat dinner in Wife’s studio or go to a restaurant), and we couldn’t invite guests over, the cat will be enjoying her new home at the pound if things don’t improve.  I can’t live like that, and the pound won’t take ME.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Last night I went to the pet store to buy the first batch of fish for the aquarium.  I had planned on getting 6 Zebra Danios to start with.  They’re fish that I want there longterm (as opposed to sacrifice for cycling* the tank), and are tough enough to endure the low-grade ammonia spiking that will occur while the tank cycles.
Unfortunately they were quarantined, so the fish guy suggested Dwarf Spotted Danios instead.  Pretty similar, but with a line of spots below the stripe.  And just as suitable for cycling the tank.  So I picked up a half-dozen of those.
While the bag of fish was floating in the aquarium to get the temperatures to match, I re-tested the water.  In fact, I read the instructions on how to test the water.  It turns out that I’ve been doing it wrong, which explains why I wasn’t able to cycle the aquarium without fish.  It turns out that I put the fish in after the ammonia had started to cycle the tank.  OOPS.   Oh well, it really just means that I’ll swap out a little more water than expected, a little more often than expected, for the next few days.
After researching online today, it seems that the Dwarf Spotted Danio likes to jump occasionally.  I’m a little nervous.  Maybe 5% of the tank is uncovered, where the filters hang into the aquarium.  I don’t THINK they’ll unconsciously aim for that spot, but you never know.  I made a point this morning of counting to ensure all 6 were still there.   Maybe that will have to become a habit.

The surprise of the evening:  The cats don't seem to care about the fish.  They've both sat at the aquarium and watched them swim, but after a couple of minutes they get bored and walk away.  No pawing, tank-climbing, meowing, or anything.  Just a 'huh, weird, don't care'.

*cycling the tank:  fish excrete ammonia, which is poisonous.  Bacteria is automatically created that erases the ammonia.  This bacteria creates nitrites.  Bacteria is automatically created that erases the nitrites.  This bacteria creates nitrates, which are okay in small doses.  Once the nitrates appear, there should never be ammonia or nitrites.  This tank is now cycled and stable.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday AGAIN?

Yup, another week just FLEW by.

I’ve been looking up on options for my aquarium.  I’m a geek like that.  I’m heading to the pet store tonight to buy a half-dozen Zebra Danios.  These are the first of 4 types I plan to include (3 have already been chosen), and the most appropriate for cycling a fish tank.

This weekend Wife and I went to London for my niece’s 3rd birthday.  We headed over on Saturday afternoon, did a bit of shopping, then spent the evening with a couple of friends that moved there from Toronto.  Great dinner, great wine, great conversation.  Sunday morning we headed over to the in-laws’ house for the party.  Again, it was another fun day.  I got to see my niece for a while, and hold my brand-new nephew. 

Wife and I had an interesting conversation on the way home, about “relationship status.”  Specifically that these 2 kids will NEVER remember a life without me.  Wife’s cousin’s children might remember me not being there, they were very young when I joined the picture.  And obviously my grownup in-laws remember Life Before Dickeybird, but for these kids I’m a fully qualified member of the clan.

While shopping in London, I also picked up a “Teach Yourself French” CD course.  I’ll need a bit of fluency when I head to the Caribbean in February, and it certainly can’t hurt my resume to re-learn that language forced on me in grade school and ignored/forgotten for 20 years.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fishy Family

It was an interesting weekend.
Wife and I drove to my Dad’s house for a day and a half.  I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about not seeing him since my mum died last February. 
I was worried about him getting lonely, so went for a visit last August, but he misunderstood my reasons for coming and as soon as I arrived he went out with his church group.  I was really annoyed – he’s the reason I went.
So we went again on Saturday.  The family all seems to be doing well.  After asking how well life is in Toronto, and confirming that marriage is going well, he asked about grandchildren.  My mum used to ask often, but I assumed that would stop.  Now he’s started.  After my saying ‘no’, and him saying “oh, come on” a few times, I pulled out the trump card:  I told him about the vasectomy I had a couple of years ago.  That shut him up, unfortunately disappointed.
The good side of the conversation was that it also included him asking what we have planned regarding care for my 2 sisters.  They’re adopted and have Downs Syndrome.  We’ve got a good plan already set up, but it was encouraging to hear him ask about it.

A new addition to the family is an aquarium with a bunch of fish in it.  After looking at it for about 10 minutes, I turned to Wife saying “I want one.”  I posted about my unexpected desire on Facebook (I’ve never wanted fish before), and a few minutes later a friend offered me his 20 gallon aquarium for free.
It’s now in our living room and I’m researching what fish to get.  The plan so far is for two half-dozen little school fish (Neon Tetras and Zebra Danios), four Peppered Corydoras, and a Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish).  From what I’ve read, they’ll make a compatible and peaceful aquarium that will look good and be relatively low-maintenance.  The Siamese Fighting Fish really only fight when you have multiple males, and just to be safe I hope to get a female.

Wife is a little worried about getting attached to them just in case they die.  To accommodate this, we’ve come up with a unique naming convention.  They will ALL be named Eric, except for the one you’re focussing on.  That one will be called Larry.  So while you’re having a chat with Larry the Betta while she eats the fish food, she’s Larry.  But as soon as your attention moves to one of the Corydora catfish, it will become Larry and the Betta will be Eric.

Friday, October 5, 2012

New York City

Well, it’s been a while hasn’t it?
Wife and I had a fantastic time in New York.  No Rox, we didn’t get to see Fallon, but we were pretty occupied.  Here’s a quick rundown:

Seton Hotel – Nice, cheap, clean.  Shared bathroom, but otherwise perfect.
The Moth: “Grudge story-slam”  - Competitive storytelling?  AWESOME.
Breakfast at Bloom’s Diner – adequate breakfast
Escorted bike-ride through Central Park – Beautiful park, lots of history, a great time.
Museum of Arts & Design – Crappy art and no design.  Waste of time.
Lunch in Central Park - Relaxing
Guggenheim Museum – A letdown.  The rotunda was closed, and the rest of the exhibits were artists we didn’t particularly like.
FAO Schwartz/ FAO Schweetz – Giant toy store and candy shop?  Cool.
Broadway: “The Book Of Mormon”  - Hilarious
Connolly’s Pub – Pub dinner.  Beer and meat. What else would you expect?
Observation Deck of The Rockefeller Center after dark. - No lineups at 11pm, beautiful views of Manhattan and Central Park.
Breakfast at Cipriani’s – cheap diner breakfast, okay.
Museum of Modern Art – Not bad, but I really expected more from the MoMA, I’m just not sure what.
OldCastle Irish Pub – crap food, but the beer was good.
Museum of Sex – Boring.  I don’t care about the American “shock value.” I live in urban Toronto, Canada, where most of this stuff is pretty commonplace.  The political and historical significance of sex would have made for a much more interesting afternoon.
Show: “Sleep No More,” McKittrick Hotel – Not bad.  Not as creepy as I’d expected, but a great endeavor nonetheless.
Metropolitan Museum of Art – My favourite.  Next time we go to NYC, we’re spending a full day here.
The American Museum of Natural History.  - Not bad.  The gallery of musical instruments was really entertaining.
Walk the "High Line" elevated park.  – Nice.  It’s a park.
Tortilla Flats – Crap food.  I’ve never had BAKED beans and no cheese with a burrito.  Beer was good.
Shearwater Cruise through New York Harbour – Fun, we got great views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.  Big waves too.  My sailor geekness kicked in when they started the motor instead of trimming the sails properly…
Observation Deck at the Empire State Building – was foggy, we didn’t get to see anything.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge – Beautiful day, beautiful views.
Lunch at reBar in DUMBO – Great pub, and the neighbourhood has really gentrified since I worked there 11 years ago.
Walk across the Manhattan Bridge – Nice views, but not as nice as the Brooklyn Bridge – the subway trains raced by a couple of feet from our heads so it was really loud.
New Museum of Contemporary Art – had a great exhibit on Bowery artists from 1969-1989, when the artists were really synched with the punk bands from the scene. LOVED it.
Broadway: “Grace” – Hilarous:  Ed Asner, Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon, and Kate Arrington
Broadway Joe’s Steakhouse – was okay.  We were surprised that so many of the restaurants around Times Square shut down at 11 on a Friday night.
Breakfast at Smitty’s Diner – greasy diner breakfast.  Yum.

All that in 5 days!  And here’s a pic of the Upper East Side, from across the Reservoir in Central Park.  So peaceful…

Monday, September 24, 2012

Out Of Office Message

That's it.  I'm off for a 6-day vacation with Wife, to celebrate our 2nd anniversary.  The Moth taping, Rockefeller Center, FAO Schwartz, MoMA, Guggenheim, cycling in Central Park, the Hudson River, the list goes on...

See you when I get back!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Tonight I’m writing my CYA exam for the Costal Navigation course.
I took the course last November and December, but days after the last class the instructor went to the Caribbean for the winter.  Christmas followed, then New Years, then I was planning my own vacation in the Virgin Islands.  When I returned, I was hit with my mothers death, preparations for an artistic project that I’d committed to 6 months before, and moving to our new townhouse.  By the time we’d moved and I had rested for a couple of weeks, the sailing season was upon us and I spent every possible moment on the water.  218 hours, in fact.
Earlier this summer I also realized that I’d forgotten most of what I learned last fall, and redid the course on my own from the textbooks and charts.  A couple of weeks ago I looked at the “practice test” and blanked.  I couldn’t remember a good chunk of what I needed to know, so I went and redid some of the work.
On Sunday I rewrote the practice test and aced it.  I quickly picked up the phone and booked my exam for this evening.  No more procrastinating!
I think I’m ready.

And once I’ve passed and got my certificate, having it will likely mean absolutely nothing.  Perhaps a sidebar on my resume, but nothing more.  Just the satisfaction that I’m still learning new things as I near my 40th birthday.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Suspicions Confirmed

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a feeling that Jayesh Prajapati would have been expected to pay for the stolen fuel.  He died intervening when the thief drove away with fuel that would have cost him roughly 2 days pay.
The Toronto Star confirms that friends and family agreed that Mr. Prajapati was on the hook for stolen fuel.

It's the same policy as when I worked for Esso and Petro Canada:  If you can't get the license plate and file a police report, it's the attendant's responsibility.  Of course that's not an official policy, but that's the way it is for now.  With a minimum-wage job, you're never more than a paycheque away from being broke.  You have a hard time finding other "unskilled labour," and essentially have to take it on the chin.  And that's why I, like Mr. Prajapati, tried to stop the thief.  Or perhaps he was trying to get a good view of the license plate number.  Either way, he died protecting a much-needed paycheque that he had earned.  Money that was needed to support his family.

My sympathies go out to his family, and I hope this piece of shit thief/ murderer gets what's coming to him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Thefts And A Death

Last Saturday, Jayesh Prajapati was working at a Toronto gas station.
Someone put $112 of fuel into their car and tried to rush off without paying.  Jayesh tried to stop him, got hit by the car, and died.  The driver has been identified and the police are looking for him.
I saw an article this morning saying that Mr. Prajapati was “standing up for what is right.” 
While I’m not disputing that, there may be another aspect he was concerned about:  Unless things have changed in the decade since I worked as a gas attendant (and I don’t see why they would have), that $112 would have been deducted from Mr. Prajapatis paycheque.
The math based on the minimum-wage salary that most attendants make :  $10.25/hr x 8 hours = $82.  Deduct 30% for taxes and fees, and he would have made almost $55.  He would have lost more than 2 days’ pay to cover what this jerk stole.
I don’t know anyone, at any salary range, who would stand by silently while 20% of his weekly pay was stolen.  I certainly wouldn’t.  It’s awful that he lost his life, and I hope the thief’s charges are upgraded to murder (he killed someone while committing another crime) and that he pays appropriately.

Another crime, which probably played a part in this tragedy, is that the fuel companies force these losses onto the employees.  I hope things have changed since 2000, but it’s doubtful.  It's not right.  It's not legal.  But it's the way things (don't) work.

On a similar note, customers at Wife’s restaurant did a dine-and-dash a week ago.  Similar to the fuel companies, restaurants usually force these thefts onto the wait staff. 
Wife lost a lot of money that Saturday night because these assholes didn’t pay for their meal.  They rushed off before she could catch on to what was happening.  I don’t know how much money they stole from my wife, but it was crushing to see her work so hard for absolutely nothing.  And if she ever recognizes the thief I will personally catch him, beat the crap out of him, and empty his wallet to reimburse her.  Call me aggressive, but I’m standing up for my family.  NOBODY steals from my family if I can do anything about it.

And people sometimes wonder why I have such a low opinion of society…

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lost Week

Wow, where did that week go?  I kept meaning to post a blog, but kept getting distracted.

Last week I finally got a chance to do the on-the-water test for my CYA Intermediate Standard.  It had been part of my course in the Caribbean last winter, but we weren’t able to do some of it and didn’t bother with the rest.  We accepted the lack of instruction on Day 3, when the Instructor noted “We haven’t opened our textbooks yet.  Should we start studying an hour each morning, or just do it all in Toronto when we get home?”  The lack of a single coherent word in our responses suggested that we should wait and enjoy the cruise.
And that is how I found myself on the lake Monday night.  Two friends agreed to crew for me, and I spent hours performing Crew Overboard maneuvers and docking/undocking the 35’ yacht.  Lots of fun, and I was good at it.  The 2 friends that crewed for me are also on my Caribbean charter this coming winter, so we had a few pints afterwards and talked about what we want to do down there.  We’re all pretty excited.
The rest of my evenings were spent either sailing or spending much-missed time with Wife.

Yesterday I did the practice exam for my Coastal Navigation course, and did pretty well.  My mistakes were mostly due to my skimming the question and missing key points that caused me to misinterpret.  I’m pretty confident that I’ll pass, so I booked that exam for Thursday evening.  I’ll just have to remember to read the question fully and highlight the key variables.

Life is full, but good, these days.

And in a week Wife and I are going away for five days to celebrate our anniversary.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Cop Hair Gave It Away

As I rode along the street, I saw a grey car parked on the north side of the street.  It was the generic sedan notable for being police cars.  I could see two heads above the tops of the seats:  short, neat cuts.  Cop hair.  Out of place in this sketchy drug addled neighbourhood, where every morning I’m reminded of “The Walking Dead” as I pass through.

Suddenly the grey car jerked into motion, cutting off vehicles approaching the intersection.  It completed its U-turn in front of a “beauty spa” as another similar car approached from the opposite direction.  The screetched to a stop nose-to-nose maybe a foot apart.  At the same time, I saw a handful of people rushing towards the spa, all with Kevlar vests bulging at their collars.
A large black woman was watching from the bus stop across the street, and I rode right past her as she was speaking into something on her wrist describing what was happening.

I kept riding through the intersection and on my route to work.  I kinda wanted to stay and watch the action, but have learned to just keeeeeep on going.  I’m curious to see what the news sites say.

These are the things that I love about city life.  You don't usually get this random excitement in the 'burbs.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Last night was a muddy, sweaty night.

Toronto had a record level of rainfall yesterday (at the airport, anyway).  I rode my bike home from work just as the rain was stopping.  I arrived at the house splashed with mud.  I grabbed my sailing kit, ate a frozen burrito (after heating it), got changed into shorts and a tshirt, and rushed out the door.
Twenty minutes later I arrived at my sailing club, splashed with mud that now had a solid foundation of sweat.  I checked my Blackberry just as an email arrived from the sailing club:  Events were cancelled due to the threat of lightning along with the complete and utter lack of wind.
I got back on my bike and headed home.  ½ way there, I remembered that I’d offered to investigate some things for my friend Rox, so I made a detour.  I made my way back through downtown, splashing and weaving my way through the gridlock.  I do love the flexibility and efficiency of a bicycle. As I locked up my bike and entered the office building, I realized that when I scratched my face I flicked mud off.  Gross.
I went inside and got what I needed, and headed back out into the humid evening.
Another 20-minute ride got me home.  I walked inside, peeled off a disgusting layer of sodden brown-camouflage, and showered for the 3rd time that day.  I was specked with mud from head to toe.

I live in a large city.  I DON'T get that dirty.  EVER.  This was weird, and not particularly good.

This morning when I was ready to have a nice dry ride to work, I got a good look at my bike.  It as filthy, looking as if I’d just finished an off-road adventure.  A quick wipedown fixed it, but I don’t think I’ve seen a bike that muddy since I was a kid.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Damned Hands

It’s been a week, and my hand still hurts.
I had a great weekend, went to a campground with a bunch of friends.  Lots of food, drink and laughs.  The annoying part occurred whenever I tried to get out of the pool to pour another drink:  I’d plant both hands on the deck to pull myself out, and suddenly my left wrist would hurt and I’d stop.  Then I’d have to do this weird one-handed-while-you-twist thingy to get out of the pool only using my right hand.  And this often led to my bathing suit slipping ½-way down my butt.

I know the hand isn’t broken.  I’ve squeezed and prodded both hands for comparison, and they almost feel the same.  Not exactly, but pretty close.  I can touch-type.  I can’t comfortably play my guitar without it hurting.  I’m getting impatient with this…

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Last night was a very weird sail.

We set out, 10 boats, in reasonable wind. Slowly through the first half of the race, the wind diminished.

As we set into the fourth and final leg, the wind finally gave up and died. For around 15-20 minutes we bobbed, unable to move. There were five of us that still hadn’t finished, and we were all bobbing helplessly about 100m from the finish line. We were sitting frustrated, dreaming of the cold beer and barbecued hamburgers that waited for our return.

Suddenly a plane flew overhead, coming in to land at Billy Bishop Airport. Through our entirely-by-luck position near the back/port of the 5 sailboats, we felt the gust of the airplane’s backwash. And nobody else did, since our sails were in the way of theirs.

Slowly, our boat started moving forward. The shocked look on the crews face froze in place, as we were afraid to move or speak in case we countered the motion. Slowly, ever so slowly, we passed the other racers, enjoying the frustrated looks on their faces. The momentum of the one lucky gust slowly pushed us all the way to the finish line!

Aside from the joy of beating the other teams, the really impressive aspect for me was how a simple little gust of wind, barely enough to feel, had pushed a 4000lb sailboat. We went from a dead stop to a slow magical coast as if by magic.

And THAT’s why I’m so hooked on this sport.

[edit:]   Reading this, and remembering how we felt, I can really understand why sailors were such a religious and superstitious bunch.  It did feel like someone/something had just put a giant hand behind our transom and nudged us along.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Last night was weird.  I skipped sailing as the wind was too powerful for me to manipulate with a damaged hand.
Instead I stayed home and watched a movie in the bedroom while Wife had a friend visiting.  I fell asleep at around 8pm, woke briefly for Wife to undress me and chastise me for putting my feet on her pillow, and then didn’t wake again until 7am.
I must have needed the sleep!

Tonight:  Sailing, wind or no wind, hand or no hand.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Smashing Hands and Mystery Helicopters

Yesterday I decided to open a bottle of wine when I got home. 
The Pelee Island Pinot Grigio in the fridge had a screw top, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t open it.  I could spin the cap through 360 degrees, but it wouldn’t detach from the label below the ridges, so it just went round and round.  I tried cutting the breakaway bit, but that didn’t help.  I decided to get a couple of wrenches from the basement, to pry them apart.  I was getting desperate…
Running up the 2 flights of stairs from the basement to the kitchen, I slipped.  My left hand slid quickly into the 3” gap between the bannister and the wall, and bent.  Painfully.  I yelled, I swore, I picked up the wrenches and returned to the wine bottle.  Unable to use my left hand, I gripped the bottle under my arm and pried the cap off.  Without using the wrench.  Then I picked out a cigar, poured the first of 4 glasses of wine, and headed outside to relax.  Poking and squeezing at my hand, I don’t think it’s broken.  Just badly, badly, bruised.

At around 2:30 this morning, I awoke to the thunderous sound of a low-flying helicopter.  To my surprise, it wasn’t getting louder or quieter.  It must have been hovering very close to my house.  After a couple of minutes, I climbed around Wife and looked out the window, assuming that it must be the police searching for someone.  I didn’t see anything moving, but the deafening noise and wind were getting tiresome.  I grabbed a pair of shorts, and in a moment of paranoia made sure that all our doors were locked.  After ten minutes or so, the helicopter flew away.  I haven’t seen anything in the news about this, but that’s not abnormal for police issues in my neighbourhood.

Then I realized that I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I sat in the living room for an hour reading.  Wife slept through the entire thing, she questions whether it was an elaborate dream or not.  But really she just sleeps the sleep of the dead.  Except for the snoring.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Return to the Good Habit

I went to the gym today for the first time in two weeks.
I’ve been really lazy and worn out, so I’ve been skipping the usually-tedious routine.  Also, a friend died a week ago, and friends, coworkers, and I have had a tough time with it.

So I got off my fattening butt and went for a 30 minute run.  And DAMN I feel good.  I’m energized, re-showered, and back at my desk pretending to work.  And smiling.  I should probably stop that before the boss gets suspicious.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Feeling nostalgic today.

Here's the first place I lived when I moved to Toronto, February 9, 1996.
1027 Bathurst Street.

This rooming house was where I shared my kitchen and bathroom with:
a) friendly drug dealer who became my friend and beat up the racist, homophobic homeless guy that stole my girlfriend at my 22nd birthday party.
b) the sketchy "refugee" that used to tell me stories about fighting the war in his home...
land as a teenager.
c) the junkie that dated "One-Eyed June." He used to leave 1/2-eaten hamburgers behind the toilet, and ... didn't wipe.
There was no insulation in the outside wall, and the house was overrun with rodents and cockroaches.  The infestation was so bad that I'd go to sleep every morning hearing the mouse claws scratching at my (thankfully) metal futon frame, unable to climb up.

It was a terrible place to have to live, but i survived it for 7 months until I could afford something cleaner/ nicer/ private.  It was a hell of a learning experience, acclimatizing me to city life very quickly.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Behaving Alone

Last night was good, and relatively well-behaved.

Sailing ended early as there was no wind.  We were all tired of bobbing in the middle of Toronto Harbour.  That meant that dinner and drinks started early. There were also a bunch of us together that have booked a Caribbean sailboat charter in the winter.  We went over broad details and suggestions.  None of us like to cook, so that might be an issue.  We’ll have to see if we can pay locals to run McDonalds take-aways out to us in their dingys.

Luckily I decided to leave the club early, there’s always the danger of looking at my watch and realizing that “it’s only 11pm – I can stick around for a few more!”  Then I stagger home in the middle of the night stinking drunk.

So I left early, came home, and went straight to bed.  As a good boy should.  What about tonight?  I’ll tell ya later.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Weird Week

I’m back!  I’ve figured out how I can still blog even though these are now blocked from my office.  They may be a little late, but they’re hopefully just as (ir)relevant as they were when originally written hours before.

Wife has been away for a few days, visiting family and getting a much-needed break from the city.  This has left me to my own devices, and so far it’s been an interesting week.

Monday night I was home watching TV.  I decided to go outside for a cigar and a beer.  As I reached for to the humidor, I realized that there was a couple outside having an argument.  After choosing my cigar, and getting 2 bottles of beer from the fridge (40-minute cigar, 20-minute beers, works well), I headed to my front door.  As I opened the door, I realized that my neighbours were on our shared stoop having their “domestic.”
Having no shame, I walked out and lit my cigar while mumbling “hope I’m not intruding…”  They didn’t seem to care.  They stopped momentarily in surprise when a cute 20-ish girl in minishorts and a bikini top walked up our lane and climbed the stairs.  She turned to the 3rd door and knocked.  “Hi, I’m Vanessa” she said.  The prostitute was quickly ushered inside, and the door closed behind her.

Apparently there is NO privacy in this townhouse complex.

A few minutes later, the police arrived.  They had been called by another neighbour who was upset by the argument, and had accused the husband of making threats (that I don’t recall him actually saying).  By this time there were a couple other neighbours sitting on the front steps chatting, drinking, and basically enjoying the show.  This went on quite late, and I only got a few hours’ sleep before having to get up for work the following morning.

Then, last night I went sailing.  That 2-beer plan went out the window at the 4th or 5th bottle, and I got home shortly before 2am.  I had a great time, but felt like crap this morning.

The plan tonight is to head home relatively early, but we’ll see if that sticks.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Signing Off

My office sent out a memo a few days ago, banning the access of social media on business equipment.  It specifies blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
Since I really only have time to blog while at work, the likelihood of this site being updated isn't hopeful.  I sometimes get the feeling that they're just looking for a reason to let me go, and don't want to give them the ammo.

For anyone that knows my real identity, look me up on Facebook - i'll at least be checking that AFTER work...

For the rest of you, this is probably Adios.

And as a goodbye, here's a song i'm currently fascinated with:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Last Night I Killed A Man

Last night I dreamt that I killed a friend from my past.

Tyrone (in reality) was a good friend until I came out, then literally turned his back on me.  No loss, I haven’t missed him for a moment in the last 15 years.

Tyrone (in dreamland) was at a party I was throwing.  I’m not sure how I killed him, but he was in the kitchen making a drink when I realized there were no witnesses around.  So I did whatever I did, and stuffed his corpse into the pantry.
Trying to dispose of the body was complicated.  I tried shoving him out the window into the compost bin, but he was too bulky and heavy.  I tried chopping him into bits and walking him out in shopping bags, but I buy crap kitchen knives – they were too dull.
After that, escape seemed to occupy the time.  How could I get away?  When was the last time anyone saw him?  My answer was going to be that he’d wandered away from the party plastered, after I wouldn’t let him drive home drunk.  What, he didn’t turn up at home?  “Gosh officer, I have no idea what could have happened.”  There was a lot of time spent in the dream performing risk assessments.  If I do this, how can I explain it?  If I say this, how can it be countered?  The more I investigated, the clearer my answers and alibis would be.

Funny, morality never entered my mind.

At one point, I woke up to get a blanket.  I told Wife that I’d dreamt of killing someone.  She casually mumbled something like “don’t do that honey.”  Gotta love a woman that doesn’t judge!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday Memories

Monday nights are unusual.  I never know what will come.

I’m home (aka “not sailing”), Wife is working.  It’s my “me night.”  I texted a friend that lives nearby, to see if her and her boyfriend wanted to meet up for dinner, but they were having some time alone.

I got home, and made an early dinner.  I finished watching Season 3 of Breaking Bad.  I tried watching ‘Super 8’, but had to shut it off 30 minutes before it ended.  The script and acting were insufferable.
Then I went downstairs, took the doors off our washer and dryer, realigning the hinges to the other sides.  Wife asked me to do this months ago, and I only just remembered.

Then I spent over an hour learning Tim Buckley’s “Song To The Siren” and working out my own arrangement of it. 

I went up to bed, turned on “Mighty Ships” on the Discovery Channel, and fell asleep waiting for Wife to get home.

Today I feel great, and I think it’s partly because Monday night was so good.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Night

Yesterday afternoon, my band played a fun show.  Afterwards, I went to a nearby bar with a friend.  I forgot to eat, so I was running on the can of soup that I had for lunch.

I don’t remember a lot of last night.  Apparently I was a jerk to Wife and insulted her family, and I smoked a couple of cigarettes.  I was a nasty drunk, and it worries me.  Mostly because I really like Wife's family, so I really didn't mean what I said (unlike the usual "drunk blabs the truth" syndrome).

Today I feel like crap, both physically and emotionally.

[edit]:  More memories are coming back.  One of those cigarettes was actually a joint, but I didn't realize it until I inhaled.  That might explain my unpleasant state.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Friday blog.

Do I comment on how much damage Mitt Romney can do outside the United States?  That by insulting England (a major US partner overseas), the Brits don't think 'what a fool' nearly as often as 'bloody yanks'!  Right or wrong, US politicians are usually how the rest of us see America.  And it is not a good image.

Do I talk about how fun it was to learn Prince's "Kiss" on the ukelele last night while watching Breaking Bad?  It really was.

Do I address the weird dream I had last night?  One of my sailboat-racing team got into an argument with me, so I whipped it out and peed on the back of his head.  I don't have any issues with this guy, and urination isn't really one of my standard techniques.

Do I discuss my plans for the weekend?  Spending Saturday morning with Wife, then staying home and studying all afternoon and evening.  Then playing an afternoon show on Sunday.

Do I just keep it quick and head to the pub for an early lunch today?

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Morning Drunk

I stayed late at the club last night, trying to wait out the rainstorm before biking home.

I drank beer while I waited.

I don't know what time I got home, but I'm still a little bit drunk.

This will be a looooooong day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All Thumbs

My hand’s a bit sore.
I nearly had my thumb ripped off at the base last night.  I was undoing a line that was attached to one of the sails.  I’ve been taught that this is a dangerous move, but didn’t think of it at the time.  I stuck my hand into the mess of rope to untangle the mess, and as soon as I thought “oh, this is a bad idea” I felt the line tension around my thumb.  I instinctively yanked my hand away, and with milliseconds to spare.  A huge gust of wind came along (winds were 20km/h gusting to 50km/hr) and jerked the sail and ropes with tremendous pressure.

I wouldn’t have had time to consciously think of removing my hand from the danger zone.  I was just VERY lucky that I realized the danger right before it happened.

Complacency on a sailboat can be a very dangerous thing.  Wind and waves have much more power behind them than human beings can withstand, and we often forget that.  I got a hell of a wake-up call.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Coulda Been A Drifter

As you know, last year I started sailing.  This has become a time-intensive obsession, covering at least 3 nights per week, from April to October.  That’s not counting the courses, studying, reading, that happens outside of that 7-month sailing season.  Really, it’s all I ever want to do.  Every day, every weekend: sail, sail, sail.

The other day, I was wondering how my life would be different if I’d discovered this sport 20 years ago.
20 years ago I was living in Hometown and anxious to get out.  I was living with an awful woman who I was trying to break up with (every time I tried, she threatened to kill herself.  I had to finally tell her “do what you’re going to do.”).  I had a crappy full-time job making minimum wage on the midnight shift at a gas station.  I had no money, 3 or 4 close loyal friends, and a family that loved me but we couldn’t live together.

20 years later I’m nearly 40.  I live in a great city and love it here 6 months of the year.  Non-sailing season sucks, it’s too cold.  I’m living with an amazing wife who I am trying to retain for the rest of our lives.  I have a crappy full-time job making good wage during the sunlight.  I have almost no money, 6 or 7 close loyal friends, and a family that loves me but we can’t live together.

I have built my life for me.  I love Wife and couldn’t bear to work away from her for extended periods, the type of thing you’d need to do with a maritime career. 

But if I’d discovered sailing in 1992, things could have been very different.  I lived in a town that actually has a decent yachting community where I could have learned the basics.  I could have gotten a formal education after that, obtaining all the Yacht-master and Captain’s licensing (etc etc etc) probably by the time I was 30.  I could have then taken a low-paying job delivering and sailing yachts around the world.  Avoiding cold winters, living on the sea.  Literally a Drifter I suppose, but an employed one.  I could have made a life around this surprise fascination.

I do feel like there’s too much of a cost to do it now.  I’d have to spend far too much time away from Wife, I’d have to really dig into professional-grade sailing courses for any chance at a low-paying-but-pleasant job, I’d have to give up the “treats” in my life – the holidays, the expensive clothes, the guitars…  And I’d probably be pushing 50 years old before I could actually be qualified for a proper position.

I don’t regret my life - in any other path I’d have not met Wife.  And any life with her is better than any life without her.  But one never knows what one misses out on – I’d probably not have known what life would be like with her, so I’d probably not feel anything lacking.

I wonder…

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Recap

Wow, what a weekend.

Friday night had huge waves and just enough wind to plow through them.  LOADS of fun.  I had 2 “beginner” sailors on board.  They were a bit hesitant at first, but seemed to really enjoy themselves once they acclimated.

Saturday and Sunday were spent on an ‘overnight race’.  We didn’t actually sail all night though; we raced to another marina all day, opened our beer as we hit the dock, BBQ’d dinner, and hit a local pub until closing.  The end of the night involved my climbing on the sailboat’s boom to get to the hammock I’d rigged up the mast.  Woke up Sunday morning after a relaxing fresh-air sleep.  I didn’t want to climb down, but bathroom and food were the notifications being sent from my torso.  Breakfast was prepared by the hosting marina, so we relaxed and gorged on dead pig, potatoes and eggs, showered, and then headed out back on the water for another day on board.

We spent so much time sailing that I was “land sick” last night.  That’s when a sailor walks like he’s drunk because he’s used to anticipating the rolling swells underfoot.

The only casualty for the weekend was my sleeping bag.  Unloading on the dock last night, it rolled off the pier and into the sludgey marina water.  If it had been out in the clean lake, I’d have simply hung it up to dry.  Unfortunately the marina water has a sheen of oil over it, and is smelly and disgusting.  I dropped the cheap sleeping bag into a nearby garbage bin.
I was surprised to see a homeless man pull it from the bin a few minutes later.  It made me feel better though – it’s not toxic, it’s just not clean enough for my pampered ass.  I’d rather spend another $40 on a cheap replacement. But for him, it’s an integral part of his home(lessness).

Then I headed home and tried to stay awake long enough to cook my pizza.  What a weekend, I want to do that ALL the time.