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…