Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mental Flactulence

Last week I was in a wine store.  They had a sign by the cashier that read “Blind Tasting.”  My mental image was of a line of blind people being licked and compared.  It took me a second or two to realize that it really meant tasting wines without knowing the brand.

The other day I was lurking through Facebook, and came across the name Jane Dickeybird*. 
Jane was a girl that I lived with from 2000 until 2002.  While I never proposed to her, I once bought her a diamond ring without realizing the connotation.  I think she was actually disappointed when I told her it wasn't an engagement ring.  She was nasty though, after we broke up I was told that she was horribly rude to most of my friends.  They were too polite to tell me at the time...
When I saw Jane’s name on Facebook, my first thought was “wait a minute – I didn’t marry her too, did I?  Nope, Evil Ex and Wife are the only 2 spouses I’ve had.  She’s not crazy enough to have changed her name is she?”  No she isn’t, or at least as far as I know.  Jane Dickeybird is a friend of a friend, and just happens to have the specific name that my ex-girlfriend would have if we had stayed together.

My brain seems to be going wonky.  I’m misunderstanding things that should be fairly straightforward.  I’m catching my follies pretty quickly, but I don’t think they’re supposed to happen like this.  Or maybe they do and most people just don’t verbalize it?

*name changed to protect the innocent, aka ME.  And I have a pretty rare surname.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

City Cyclist Sights

My bike still hasn’t been built.  However, last week I received a ‘loaner’ from the guy who’s putting it together.  Like most people who do piecework, he’s either in feast or famine mode.  In famine, you take all the work you can get, it becomes feast, and it takes a while to dig out of your commitments.  I understand this, Wife goes through it too.  So I’m being more patient than usual.  Still, I'm looking forward to getting my proper bicycle.
The bike he’s loaned me has bad brakes.  It takes around ½ a block to stop!  “Plan ahead,” he told me.  “Stop long before you need to.”  Unfortunately, in a city that isn’t usually what happens.  Tourists step into traffic without looking left, cars cut in and out of the bike lanes or around corners…

It’s been an exciting week for city cycling, but I’m riding pretty defensively.  I’m surviving, and the time I’m saving by not walking is really a bonus.

Also, riding to work this morning along Shuter Street, I passed 7 or 8 hookers.  Normally at this time of day, you might see one skagged-out ghost trolling for business.  But this many?  Wow – must be the humidity.  It really gives credit to “The early bird gets the worm,” huh?

Monday, May 28, 2012

The End To A Great Staycation

One of my goals last week was to sail, smoke cigars, drink beer, and finish some work on my basement.  Three out of four ain’t bad.  I did a lot of #1, ensured that #2 was accommodated once per day, and covered #3 to the point where I had to switch to wine for the weekend as my beer-belly was full.
Unfortunately #4 was a PITA*.  No matter what I tried, nothing would work.   I am mounting things on painted cinderblock walls.  My drill wouldn’t get more than ½” into the blocks, even with the tapcon drill bit.  So I borrowed a hammer drill from a friend.  Even THAT wouldn’t go more than ½” into the blocks!
I went to Home Depot and bought some industrial double-sided tape.  That held for a couple of hours before falling down. 
I went back to Home Depot and bought some Gorilla Glue, which is listed as being able to adhere to wood, concrete, plastic, and foam (among others).  It theoretically would stick, but required 1-2 hours’ pressure.  I can’t push the strapping against the wall for one or two hours.

After screaming obscenities at the wood slatting I was trying to mount, I had a brainwave:  Use the industrial tape AND the glue.  The tape should hold it together long enough for the glue to dry.  I tried it on Friday, and the slatting is soundly mounted on the walls.  Tonight I’m going to do the rest.  I might also have time to frame the acoustical foam that I’m hanging from the glued slatting.

All in all, a good weekend.  And it’ll look perfect in the rearview mirror once I get the basement done.

*PITA:  Pain In The Ass

Friday, May 25, 2012

Road-raging Cyclepaths

I was riding Wife's bike to the sailing club the other day.  Approaching a red-lighted intersection at Front & Parliament Streets, there was a taxi about to turn right.  Having at least 1/2 a brain, I stopped my bike behind the taxi allowing him the sensible (and legally-mandated) ability to turn without running me over.  The taxi driver was confused, watching me in his rear-view mirror.  I motioned for him to go ahead and turn while neither I or pedestrians are in his way.  I guess he expected me to cut in front of his bumper, pissing him off and possibly getting me run over.
Suddenly a voice shouted from behind me:  "F**king move it, a***ole!" A cyclist was impatiently waiting behind me.
I turned around, surprised.  "What?"
"Get out of the f**king way!"
"Shut the f**k up - the taxi was turning ahead of me!" I retorted.
"C***sucker!" the other cyclist shouted as he rode past me, nearly getting hit by the taxi.
Following behind him, I yelled "I have a brain, you retarded f**k!  If you cut off a car, i'll ride right through your corpse on my bike and THEN maybe call 911!"
He turned and looked at me, then rode on ahead.

At the next intersection, there was a TTC bus turning right, and the cyclist was patiently waiting behind it.  Doing exactly what he started shouting at me for.
I couldn't resist.  In a whiny voice I yelled "F**king move it a***ole!  What - can't you ride through a f***ing bus?"  By this point, to be honest I was possibly looking for a fight.
He turned and rode away quietly.

I am determined to be a safe cyclist.  Aside from the sheer stupidity of not recognizing the "might is right" rules of the road, I don't want to be one of those jerks that complains of a taxi cutting them off, who then ride along the sidewalk bumping into pedestrians coming out of shops.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I spent the long weekend on a 27' Newport sailboat and had an absolutely fantastic weekend. 
The days were spent sailing from one destination to the next, drinks once reaching port, delicious dinner for all 12 of us, and more drinks to follow.
Up the next morning for a big breakfast, and heading back out on the water.

I got back yesterday evening, and even this morning I'm still landsick.  The world still feels like it's slowly rocking.  I'm probably walking like Cpt. Jack Sparrow!  And quite happy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dickey's Out Of Office Message

Today is my last workday until May 28.
Since February, my life has been a whirlwind.  I had 2 fantastic weeks sailing in the Virgin Islands.  3 days after returning, my mother passed away.  The day after her funeral I had to start rehearsing for a handful of St. Patrick’s Day shows.  The day after St. Patrick’s Day I had to start moving to our new house.  Things have been steamrolling and steamrolling, and next week was the first block of time available for vacation.
I’m going sailing for the weekend, and after that plan on finishing our basement while drinking lots of beer and smoking lots of cigars.  Basically just enjoying myself.

And today, I’m so burned out that enduring the next 6 hours is all I can think about.

I don’t know if I’ll be blogging next week, we’ll just have to see how it goes.  Have a great long weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Street-Side Entertainment, Shuter-style

The other day I was biking home from work.  It was around 5pm, and I was on Shuter St near Sherbourne.

There was a brunette leaning against the road-side of a parked car.  She had short black hair, and an even shorter glittery silver dress.  4-inch high heels, and what (at a glance) looked like track-marks and bruises all up her legs.  She was shouting at the drivers passing her by.  As I got closer, I could hear what she was saying:

“F**K YOU!  I’m not that expensive!  I still haven’t gotten any work today!  F**K YOU!”

Sometimes I love this city.  Where else would you get to enjoy this street-side entertainment?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Death And Cancer

Last night I dreamt that I was at a party full of old friends that I haven’t seen in 10-20 years.
While jamming out Buddy Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’, my friend Earle walked up to the group.
“Holy shit, Earle, I thought you died!  I must have got you mixed up with another Earle ******* on Facebook.”  I was quite happy that I’d been wrong, thinking that he had died in a car crash a few years ago.
Then I woke up and remembered that Earle was dead.

I spent last evening at my friend’s house.  He’s having a tumour biopsied this afternoon, and is really scared.  He’s been through too much cancer treatment over the last couple of years, and a few months being “cancer free” were just getting him back on track.  It was great to see him, there were a few friends there.  He was laughing and smiling, but the occasional morbid half-joke showed us that it was weighing very heavily on his mind. 

I know simply being a friend will help his mindset, I just wish there was more I could do.

ps.  Did you know that in Ontario, having a tumour biopsied is considered ELECTIVE SURGERY and is scheduled 2-4 weeks in advance??? What a load of BS!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick Update

Last night I went to some friends’ house for dinner and drinks, while Wife was working.
It was only a 4-minute walk from our house, which was nice.  Still, I got a lot of funny looks when walking with a bottle of wine – I forgot to put it in a bag.  It was a good time, 2 bottles of wine, lots of gossip, and I chose my bike and worked out the features.  Hopefully I’ll have it early next week.

They also found a couple of tumors in my friend’s brain.  He’s having a biopsy tomorrow, but the oncologist is pretty optimistic.  I’m heading over there tonight, to keep them company.

Sorry for the short update – I’m trying to get back to doing this daily, 5 times a week, but things are a bit hectic at the moment.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Again, I thought I was doing well dealing with the first Mother’s Day without one.
I slept in, and headed down to the waterfront for a 6-hour sail.

Unfortunately, I received a text from one of my closest friends.  His partner went through cancer treatment last year, and all seemed successful.  On Saturday, he was complaining of pain on one side of his body.  He went to the hospital, where they found “a mass” on the left side of his brain.  He’s meeting with a neurosurgeon as I write this.

I’m really scared, for both of them.  I saw (what they showed of) the troubles  they went through last year, and replaying that will be unbearable.

Without that, the last 3 days would have been one of the best weekends of the year.  As it was, it was one of the shittiest.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Preparing for Mother's Day

This weekend is Mother’s Day.

I was thinking this morning, wondering how my family in Hometown, Ontario would be coping this weekend. I might give them a phone call, just to say ‘hello’. Analyzing myself, I think I’m doing fairly well.

I got to work, turned on my iTunes, clicked ‘Random’ and ‘Play’. The first song to come on was David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” This was a song that my mum and I used to play as a duet when I was learning the guitar. She’d plink along on the piano, with her rudimentary skills. It was the only song we could ever play together, but we both had a great time doing it. I have to admit - my heart dropped and I got a little emotional.

I think my parents had an unusually-strong influence on my musical tastes, growing up hearing records by Simon & Garfunkel, Elton John, Blondie, Roxy Music, Buddy Holly, and ABBA. And the occasional Bowie.

I miss you Mum. Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gay Marriage

Good for you, President Obama.

I've long believed that gay marriage should be legal.  And in Ontario, it is.

Maybe it's because I'm bisexual, but I don't understand how the government (or anyone else) can tell me that a relationship I'm having with a man is any more or less valid than a relationship I'm having with a woman.  Only I know that.  And I only sometimes know that.
Marriage between consenting adults shouldn't be an issue for anybody.  Period.  The only marriages that affect my life are those of my friends and family.  The guy in the office next to me might be married, or might not.  I don't know, and whether he is or isn't does not affect me.  Because of that, I have absolutely no moral right to tell him who he should and shouldn't marry.
If my friends or family are about to marry someone I don't approve of, that's a different story.  Their lives impact mine.  In this case, I think I have the right to express my feelings about their impending nuptuals.  But even here, I don't have the right to stop them - they are consenting adults who have made a decision.  And that concern could be related to gender (not likely), hygeine, personality, or any number of things.

Regardless of the fact that I have married a woman, I have loved men.  One who I thought I may have married, but our relationship ended before that question appeared.  I also married another woman before Wife.  That also ended.  Nobody can tell me that my love (or relationship) was more valid than the other, especially based only on their gender.

The issue of same-sex marriage nearly became an issue with marriage #1.  Long ago, I refused to get married to anyone unless gay marriage was legalized, for the reasons noted above.  I was not about to be told who I could and couldn't marry.  And until that was fixed, I was not about to partake in such a bigotted institution.  When it was legalized, marriage as an institution attained a morality I could approve of.  So I joined in.  After becoming engaged, the Ontario Government debated whether to repeal the legalization.  Ex-wife and I had a serious chat about what we would do.  I told her in no uncertain terms that un-legalizing same-sex marriage would lower the institution back down to an unacceptable level and, in good conscience, I could not partake.  She was extremely upset and offended, not understanding my moral view.  Luckily (or unluckily depending on your viewpoint), it ended up being a non-issue.

Back to the United States - I think that it is important for this concern to get Presidential Approval.  It's a huge step towards recognition and validation.  However, I don't think it was a dangerous move for Obama to make.  He has an election coming up, and as a foreigner I haven't noticed many strong moves in his term.  He has spent a lot of time helping his country recover from their previous government, but hasn't been able to make many steps to further improve his nation.  This shows a dividing stance, a decision, a dominant move.  Those who approve of gay marriage will want him reelected.  Those who don't approve of gay marriage would likely have voted Republican anyway, so he hasn't really lost possible votes. 

So even though it doesn't directly affect me, thank you Mr. President.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Yesterday might have been the worst sail I've had in 12 months.

The evening was set up as an opportunity for members to shake off the dust, remember how to tie knots properly, and how to maneuver without making embarassing mistakes.  Or to just make them in the company of equals.

I was given a surprisingly inexperienced rating (by someone who I haven't sailed with) before getting boat assignment: with 1 very experienced sailor and 3 goggle-eyed gimps that couldn't aim the rudder.
I spent most of the evening bored out of my mind, sitting in the bow watching the horizon while the skipper taught the inexperienced members how to "turn to port, turn to starboard, no - other starboard..."  I really had to keep quiet - I didn't want to offend the inexperienced, and also didn't want to come across as a know-it-all.  I found it somewhat annoying that 3 of the 4 other people on board had been members longer than me - why didn't they actually try sailing?  Why ignore the membership you're paying for, only to arrive and impede me?  I understand that it's their right to attend as they see fit, but perhaps they should be assigned to their own crews.  That way my evening wouldn't be wasted.

I think the skipper noticed my boredom and started slipping the occasional racing tip into the "basic-level" instruction.  It would have been completely useless for them, and they wouldn't have noticed it, but it was good for me - this year my racing team's plan is to beat his team.  And we'll need all the help we can get!

I don't think I'll be going to the next one of these, or I'll get frustrated and end up like this guy:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Yesterday kept the mail services running.

Wife bought me a Kindle for my birthday, and it arrived at my office yesterday. Very cool gift. Unfortunately she told me that I couldn’t open it until we were together. Since she was working last night, and I’m sailing tonight and tomorrow, this meant that I’d have to wait until Thursday to open my birthday prezzie. Like a good little boy, I held off until she got home unexpectedly early last night. Then I tore into the package and set it up. Awesome. And I’ve already got my next dozen books set up to read.

I also ordered some stuff for my home recording studio. My KRK ERGO arrived at my office, USPS’d from New Jersey. This will fix most of the sound issues in my basement. I was disappointed to discover that I now need a Firewire interface for my studio PC. I didn’t notice this anywhere on their website, I just assumed it would be a USB connection. Never fear, a friend had an extra and there’s now a Firewire card on my desk. Still, I can’t really use it until I have set up my acoustical foam, Auralex Wedgies.

I ordered the foam from in the States, and it also arrived yesterday. I need to hang 48 12”x12” panels of foam in strategic places in my basement studio, to calm the reflections from cinderblock walls and bass resonance being trapped in the corners. I can’t hang this until I also find a concrete drill, tapcon screws, 100’ of strapping or 1”x1” wooden slats, 100 picture-hanging clamps, and a ton of picture wire.

Once I complete #3, I can set up #2. Maybe I’ll use #1 to read up on how to get it all together.

I also just got back from buying a biking helmet and backpack for my sailing gear.  I'll be getting the bike in the next week or two, and Wife has offered to lend me hers to make sure I change my mind BEFORE buying (if i'm going to change my mind, that is).

Oh, and i've actually decided to try not to be such a consumer.  But it really doesn't look that way, does it?

Monday, May 7, 2012


Last night I had a change of heart.
For years, friends have been telling me to buy a bicycle. Toronto seems to be a fairly bike-friendly city (as long as we can get rid of our mayor soon), but I either walk or take public transit everywhere. To be honest, I’ve been too scared to get a bike. Toronto drivers are awfully negligent. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been bumped or nearly hit by drivers that aren’t paying attention. The possibility of having someone open their door and decapitate me is too real. Being on something as unstable as a bicycle just adds too much danger. At the same time, most of my friends are doing it and they haven’t gotten hurt. I also can’t decide whether to look like an idiot and wear a helmet, or go without as I did when I was young:  look like an idiot without a helmet.

I think it might have been the two long, midnight walks home from the sailing club this week. It takes me an hour to get home – it’s not a bad walk, but it’s a little tedious at the end of the night. And there isn’t a convenient transit route – the easiest involves going a block the wrong way before getting on one streetcar, and transferring to a second that’ll get me a few minutes from home. The most “directionally-correct” route would involve at least 2 transfers.   Buying a bike would turn a 60-minute walk into a 15-minute ride.  A huge difference, especially when I have to get up for work the next morning.

I haven’t ridden a bike in nearly 25 years, except for one afternoon in Cancun. As a teenager, I was in a car accident that tore the cartilage in my knees. The cartilage grew back together incorrectly, causing years of knee and leg problems that have since been resolved. But still, that’s more than ½ my life without cycling. I know I’ll remember how to do it pretty quickly, after all there’s a saying about that…

I mentioned it to Wife last night, and she was quite excited. After demanding that I will ALWAYS wear a helmet (that answers one decision), she was happy that we can go on bike rides together through the more picturesque areas of Toronto.

I’ve got a friend that builds bicycles, and I think he has at least a dozen in his basement right now. I’m going to ask to borrow one of his for a couple of weeks to see how I like it. I’ll have to buy a helmet and lock, but that’s a small deposit – if I don’t like biking I can give them to my friend. If I do like biking, I’ve got most of what I need.

It sounds like nothing, but buying a bike is a surprisingly big deal for me. Especially after decades of saying “no way.” But I never said never. Not that I remember, anyway.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Returning to my Natural Habitat

Not much is happening in my life other than boating.

Last night I went sailing – our crew was a little rusty, we forgot to reef the mainsail before going out in 17-knot winds (that's a lot - Small Craft Warnings are sent at 20-knots). We were seriously overpowered, and had to play the mainsheet to keep any sort of control over the boat. We had a lot of waves breaking over the bow, a splashy day. But we worked off most of our rust, and by the end of the sail we had our sheets trimmed properly and were tacking pretty fast. Unfortunately my sunglasses went overboard before we even left the dock – I’ll have to get another pair. Another disappointment was my new sailing shoes. I bought a pair of Teva Omniums over the winter, planning to use them for boating. I discovered in the Caribbean that they take a couple of days to dry out. This won’t work well, as feet get wet nearly every time we sail. Also, and more importantly, they have no traction on deck! Even when the deck was bone dry, I was still sliding of the slightly-graded cabin. What a waste of money, I’ll have to go back to the ones I had last year. They were $20 no-name ones from Canadian Tire that are a size too big. But they’re grippy.

I’m heading back to the club tonight, as Wife is working. I’ll be helping to do something to the deck/ patio, and may get a beer or two as payment. I’d committed to helping before being told that a lot of members were heading out on the water. I’ll have to give that one a miss, I shouldn’t back out on my promises. Then tomorrow we’re going out on the water again. As long as the wind looks good, Wife will come too. I won’t be out Sunday with everyone else, as I have land-based commitments that day.

Monday is a ‘maybe’, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday are sailing days. And Thursday – who knows yet? Haha, that looks like my summer schedule. After 6 months with nearly no sailing, everyone in the club is heading out as often as we can – like fish out of water, we’re desperate to get back to our preferred habitat!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Miss Representation

Last night I walked past a franchised sandwich shop in the concourse under my office building.

There was a beautiful woman behind the counter, a pale complexion, in her early 20s with flowing black hair and impeccable makeup. This surprised me, as the usual staff was NEVER Caucasian, always haggard, and never pretty (to me). Of course there was a plastic sandwich in her hand that looked much better than the real thing, the pedestrian path was full of cameras, tripods, a makeup table, and those umbrellas that deflect and reflect light.

Seriously – no runway-model-looking woman is going to be slaving away making a McSub for minimum wage, in an outfit that costs more than 2 weeks of her salary.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of beautiful women (I married one after all), but really – can we stretch the truth a little farther? How about some reality please? I’d be just as likely to buy my lunch there if the Cashier Troll was in the photograph– we see her everyday anyway…

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I woke up this morning, showered, shaved, kissed my sleeping wife goodbye, grabbed my take-away coffee, and left for work.

The sun was starting to break through the clouds, the air was mild and promising to get warmer.

I put on my MP3 player and started on another Spanish lession.  Lesson 14 of the second 30-lesson section.  As of tomorrow, i'll be exactly 1/2 way through the 90-lesson course.

It was a great morning, a relaxing walk to a job that I hate.  The day started well. 

I am a happy man.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


The other night I was walking home around Queen & Sherbourne streets.  This is not a great neighbourhood.  While I've never had a problem there, there are a lot of drug addicts, dealers, and hookers of questionable hygiene.

As I strolled along, suddenly a man leapt out of the doorway right beside me. In the blink of an eye I turned, aiming my fist towards his face. At the last second, I realized that he wasn't looking at me.  He was focussed on a car around 15’ away from me. There was a parking cop giving him a ticket, and he was rushing to save himself some trouble.  I quickly pulled back my arm and leaned out of his way

I don’t know if he realized that he nearly got decked HARD. Between my throwing the punch, and the speed at which he was moving toward me, it would have been a painful collision for both of us!

I don't know if I would have been in the wrong for assuming that someone jumping from the shadows is suspicious (in a druggy neighbourhood), or if he'd be in the wrong for just leaping out without looking to see what's coming.