Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Best Use of Technology

I'm thinking of a word and that word is "Inane".

So I'm on a TV show and I record that show on the DVR and watch it later, I spot myself in the crowd, scan backwards to see it again, freeze it ... and then take a picture of the screen. To complete this masterpiece of modern technology, I post this picture to my Facebook page. Look Ma! I'm on TV! Except my Mom isn't on Facebook.

Is this the really best use of all this technology?

(Well, no it isn't since next I took a video of the same scene with the same camera which I will use to show off to a former coworker who was looking for me in the show but doesn't have a DVR....)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Ian's Diary

Ian's Diary

9:56 pm 3 August 2001 

Wow. How to describe today. Frantic at the start and frantic at the end, but very enjoyable in the middle. If you want to describe a five-hour drive enjoyable. Here we are at the Clansman Inn in North Sydney. It's about a five-minute drive to the ferryboat which we will be going on tomorrow morning to Newfoundland. You're flopped in the bed on your back, fast asleep. Mommy is lying next to you just having opened a bag of "sugary junt". It was difficult getting you to sleep. It took between a half an hour and an hour. You were full of the dickens again tonight, a bedtime routine that's becoming despairingly familiar. Lots of biting and slapping and pinching. I don't think you're trying to be bad; it's just what you do when you’re wound up. So Mimmy and I wear the welts and the bruises and try to tell you no, it's bad and sometimes I slap your hand to tell you no (which Mimmy doesn’t entirely approve of). But still you persist. We take our sole comfort in knowing this is a phase. Everything is a phase. That was tonight. This morning was related chaos as we tried to get on the go but since a Boy doesn't know what we're up to, a Boy can't help with the flow of getting ready, and consequently works against it. And then Kiki runs out the door, and everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

But in between....

We listened to Fantasia 2000 in the car on the way up. The first leg. The phase of the trip between the start and the stop for lunch. There was a little bit of crankiness coming from the back seat (that would have been YOU, by the way), but all that disappears when Fantasia goes on. I'm starting to think that there isn't anything that the Fantasia 2000 CD can't cure. We kept watching you to see when you were going to go to sleep because that was going to determine where we stopped for lunch. Truro went by at almost noontime and you were still awake. So we were shooting for New Glasgow, but ten minutes out you were really heavy-eyed and drifting off, your little head turned to nestle back in the corner of the car seat, a sure sign you're ready for sleep. So I launched my campaign to keep you awake, asking you to find me some cows, can you see the cows, and gamely you lifted your tired little head up to peer out the window to search for cows (there were none, only woods on both sides of the highway) and I'd tickle your feet from the driver's seat and you'd laugh and giggle (sleepily) and then I'd ask you to look for cows or planes and then we were in New Glasgow and heading for McDonalds. 

The first new first of the day. 

You had a Happy Meal for the first time. Nuggets and fries and a milk. You dipped the nuggets in the ketchup (you'll eat the ketchup straight out of the dipping cup sometimes). You tried the sweet and sour sauce and scrinched your face up against it, yuck! I got you an ice cream cone afterward and a Smarties "McFlurry". You keened for a mouthful of McFlurry and it was no sooner in your mouth than you were spitting it out. *g* Still not a fan of chocolate. You were very helpful when Da was cleaning you up, pointing out the bits that had fallen on your leg for Daddy to wipe up. 

You slept all the way from New Glasgow to Little Harbour, about an hour and a half. You woke up just when the road ended and we had to take an unplanned ferry ride, a small little boat that crossed a narrow little harbour, ferrying only a handful of cars at a time. A Happy-Meal sized ferry crossing to preview the adult portion that's on tap for tomorrow. The music that was on the CD at that time was the soundtrack for the City Of Angels. We were listening to "Further On Up The Road" as we went across on the boat. And much to my surprise and delight, you started dancing in the back, "cherry-picking", trying to snap your fingers, grinning and swaying and bobbing your head. When it was over you prompted for it again ("Guin!"). And then again. And again, and again and again. We drove a long way up the road listening to the same song over and over. I loved it. Mimmy, not as much. So that was the second "first" of the day. The first rock song you've liked. You picked a good one.

We got to the hotel at just before quarter after four and were soon in the pool. You were your usual splash in your Ozone suit, playing to a new crowd. The water in the pool was heated. Not hot, but not cold like Poppa's pool or even the ocean in PEI. So it was no problem getting in the water, and once in you started swimming. Not floating and bobbing around like last time, but moving yourself through the water, orienting yourself to look toward me or Mimmy or the stairs to the pool. At then end of our time in the pool, you were playing a game with the rope that was strung across the width of the pool, marking the beginning of the slope of the pool bottom to the deeper end. You would raise the rope and go under it, turn around, raise the rope, go under it and turn around again. Then when you all done with that, you propelled yourself from the rope back to the steps, a full one-third the length of the pool. All by yourself. I swam beside you and only watched, proud and very impressed with you. That was the third first of the day. Real swimming. 

And the last one was riding on one of those super market rides. A mechanical horse, drop your quarter in and it bobs and rocks until your quarter's spent. You pined for each of these rides when you past them; Mimmy said there were several you wanted to ride before she finally put you on a purple horse. I spotted you from the pharmacy (you and Mimmy had left the restaurant and crossed the road while daddy paid for supper and drove the car to the parking lot ... We needed Gravol and Ihle's paste). So I was at the counter and paying for the stuff when I saw you and Mimmy and went over, excited for you, to see how you were doing.

You were hating it.

The movement of it frightened you. It was something too new and you decided that it wasn't for you. You weren't ready for it. So instead of leaning forward and holding on the metal handle posts, you leaned back, frightened of the horse head while Mimmy held you and steadied you and tried to reassure. You were having none of it. But when you past first a mechanical elephant and farther up the mall a mechanical duck, you wanted to ride them.

Just as long as nobody dropped a quarter in.

9:58 Newfoundland Daylight Time, 4 August 2001

We had another fairly good day. It was a long day, a long ferry ride and a long drive off the ferry to Corner Brook. The ferryboat ride lasted 6 hours and the car ride afterward was another 2 hours to Corner Brook. You were running all over the boat. Wanting to go up and down the steel steps by yourself, blithe to any peril. Mommy and Daddy weren't blithe so we were scampering around after you for most of the time, trying to keep up and keep you safe.

You napped for only about an hour, maybe not even for that long. 

There was a play area in the lounge, a padded room with large, padded blocks in the shapes of cylinders, pyramids and cubes, about a foot and a half high. There were any number of other kids inside this little cave, older than you and more aggressive, throwing these things at each other and falling on each other. You went in and the battle was joined, without so much any introductions or by your leave, running around and falling on top of the other kids (strangers all), throwing the blocks around which at your age and ability was akin to letting them drop at your feet. You had a great time.

The trip to Corner Brook got a bit squirrelly when you wanted to get out and you were tired of being strapped in the car listening to the same old stuff on the CD. "Further on Up The Road" got you to dance for a bit, but not for long. We did get you sufficiently distracted for a fairly calm arrival to Nanny Michael's and Gidi's. They took to you immediately and after some initial shyness you warmed up to them very quickly. Nanny let you play with your golf set all through the house. Gidi was overjoyed that you came over to him four times to "give him a love" before you went to bed. You were a very tired boy and dropped off quickly tonight.

Sweetest boy.

8:30pm 5 August 2001

At the moment you’re in the living room, playing with your golf clubs as Mimmy and Nanny talk amongst themselves. You're dressed in your Superman sleeper and your hair is still wet from the bath but combed in a very neat part. You look exceptionally sweet. 

We had a walk around the park today. It was part walk part chores. You had a great time pitching rocks into the river and pumping the little legs, running headlong along the rocky path. We ended up in the Sobey’s where we bought diapers. Size FIVE for the first time, the last few weeks having a few to many leaky moments around the legs.

You bit Daddy on his face today which made Daddy very upset, almost crying. Mostly because he got so upset with a boy and slapped his hand. You were cranky and disinterested in lunch, so I took you upstairs to bed for a nap. You protested strongly, but before long you snuggled into me and dropped off. I took two pictures of you in your green-striped Blue's Clues shirt, lying on your stomach, hands tucked in beside you, little bum raised up in the air.

Mimmy took you back to the park in the afternoon and you had a great time in the river, not swimming because you didn't have your lifejacket. But you had a great time. The water was cool, wonderful relief from a very hot day.

I just blew you a kiss. Here you come over to talk to me and pat my arm, chatting, cuddling into my arm, eating your cookies.

9:35 6 Aug 2001

Today was another driving day. We left Nanny’s and Gidi's house at noon time after lunch and drove to Uncle Gerry's father's house on Norris Point (see the web page for the trip to Gros Morne that Mommy and I took, all those years ago). You slept for most of the way. Just the way we planned it. You were a good little boy today. We went to the Mall before we left Corner Brook to get you some party supplies for the pre-birthday party your cousins wanted to have later on the week. When we got to Norris Point we settled in, played some golf in the side yard and then went out to the pool, where you continued impress Mimmy and me with your improving prowess in the water. At supper time, you were tapping the waitress’s hip with a fork as she was taking our order. I told her it meant that you wanted her phone number and she laughed and said maybe in a couple of years. So go look her up, a cute blonde girl, I think her name was Nicole. 

When I got home from fishing with Uncle Gerry, Mimmy had just lain down with you to help you go to sleep. I took over for her and you snuggled into my arm. "Da," you whispered. 

"Boy," I whispered back.

10:44, 7 August 2001

Full dickens mode and a bit cranky, maybe because you weren't feeling quite up to par. You had a bit of a runny nose and were sneezing a fair bit today. This followed a rough night of high winds that screamed through the house by the cracks in the windows. The house shook and the wind blew, the rain poured in heavy, noisy sheets and the thunder boomed and the lightning flashed. You kept searching out Mimmy for comfort. 

We went to the pool again and the happy little face broke through like sun from behind a rain cloud. You had a wonderful time, swimming all over the place all by yourself. A constant smile on your face showing off all your sharp, little white teeth. 

For supper, Uncle Gerry made some scallops for appetizers and you made the most of your main course. Delicious! Auntie Stephanie brought out some marshmallows later on and Daddy made a trick of having them disappear and you knew where they had gone, pointing to your ear and I'd pull it out from your ear and you'd take the marshmallow and eat it all at once, making Auntie Stephanie laugh.

10:15pm 8 August 2001

What an exciting day! We woke up and you and I went down after breakfast to the rocky beach and pitched stones into the water. Wah! (rock) you said, another new word. We went in the car and drove around to the other side of Bonne Bay (it was into one side we pitched the stones and to the other that we drove). We traveled along the base of the Table Lands, high mountains with flat tops and brown coloured stone. There were two dimples in the sides of one hill that still had snow showing. We visited the Discovery Center in Trout River and you whooped it up in the good acoustics. We lunched at the Seaside Inn and it came too late for you; Mimmy ate your meal of wonderful cod fillets and vegetables, you had filled upon bread, milk and some fish from Da's chowder. The waitress was so taken with you (even though you felt up her hip, or maybe because of it) that she gave you a brown bag full of red jellies which you ate very contentedly in the back seat. Before we left though, you and I walked along the boardwalk and pitched stones in the surf. "What does a crashing wave say:" I asked. “Psssssssht!" you'd answer. 

All you wanted today was Mimmy. You would say it over and over again, forsaking me when I went to pick you up or hold you or hug you. It was very disheartening. I would say to Mimmy with a sad face, mostly feigned, "A Boy doesn't love Daddy anymore."

You napped as we drove to Lomand, a place where Uncle Gerry used to live as a kid before the government forced them out and off their land and made it all into a National Park. On the rocky beach you waded and pitched more rocks. We walked over around the point to Muddy Cove where Mimmy and I waded out to our waists in the warm water. We invited you out but you decided to stay by the shore investigating all the rocks (never met one you didn't like) until Da looked up some time later and there you were up to your knees, on the way out with no lifejacket on and you walked all the way to your Mimmy and Da, the water right up to your chin before you started to look nervous and took Da's hand.

When we got home you played with your cousins outside and around the house, jumping on chairs and beds. Sometime later you had a little fall down the stairs, but were very quickly okay, a scare and nothing more. You and I played Eensy Weensy Spider for a while before having your bath and after that you went out in your sleeper and your sweat suit to the fire Uncle Gerry had built on the beach and had some roasted marshmallows. Quite a full day for our little Boy!

12:05am 10 August 2001

It looks like I skipped a day, but I didn't really. One of my favourite authors, Ed McBain, goes on about that a lot in his stories, how people would still think it's the 9th of August even though the clock had pushed through midnight and it was really the 10th, but people would still figure the day hadn't changed yet because they didn't go to sleep.

So it's the 9th really, because I haven't gone to sleep yet. I'm writing in the little downstairs bathroom and it feels like the room is moving on waves because I was out in the boat today twice with Uncle Gerry and my middle ear or whatever it is trying to convince me I'm still on the water and it's doing a pretty good job because I feel like I'm rocking all over the place and I feel dizzy.....

Mimmy took you to a beach by the river today and you got your bum all full of sand, a fine family tradition. Ask us about Parga bum sometime if we haven't told you already.

When you got home from the river I saw you outside and shouted, There's my boy! And we ran at each other across the lawn, like some hokey, romance movie, arms out to each other, running into each other's arms and I picked you up and whirled you around and you laughed and said "Ghin!" Over and over we did our little scene.

We also went to the pool and you had a grand time there as always. You still are showing a preference that's almost a compulsion for Mimmy, and it makes me a little sad. Especially today when you bit me hard on the chin and later clawed at my neck. But at nap time you settled so comfortably in my arm and we had a snooze together, and you cuddled into me so nice, and the same when I put you to bed tonight, you raising your little hand above your head and saying something like "Twik, twik,' until the dawn finally broke for Daddy and he realized you were holding up a twinkle star and sang you the song a few time. After songs and whispers and cuddles you finally went to sleep. It was very nice, feeling loved by a Boy.

When you woke up an hour later, you cried bitterly, wanting Mimmy and no one else. Oh well. Easy come, easy go.

9:05 pm 10 Aug 2001

Last night for the second time during our stay at Norris Point the thunder crashed and the lightning flashed. A Boy slept through most of it but Mimmy and Da were kept awake. The rain poured down hard and the morning dawned gray and angry. Throughout breakfast the sky cleared and cleared some more and the water got calmed to the point where we almost went out, you and I, in the boat. All the arrangements were made, until quick as a flash the wind came back up, the water got very choppy and the rain threatened. So we didn't go. We packed up our things and headed out for a walk at Berry Hill, well a little father up the line than that, Mimmy knows the name of the place. We walked all around a pond. "Paw," you said. 

We had another drive back to Corner Brook and you slept all of the way, right into Nanny's driveway. Everyone was glad to see you again. Later in the day with your cousins Elizabeth and Sarah, you ran out to play in the sprinkler (it was hot enough to kill you in Corner Brook, go figure). Sarah and Elizabeth were in their swimsuits; you were in your clothes. I got some nice pictures of you, soaking wet.

Mimmy and Nanny Michael and Aunt Stephanie went out to the mall and you and I had a nice evening together, dancing, playing golf, watching TV, playing on the bed and having our bath. Your last diaper of the day had a lion on it and you were able to make the new sound ("What does a lion say?" / "Rowr!")

8:40pm, 11 August 2001

Another very big day for a little Boy. Today was the prelude party, a birthday celebration for you a full 20 days before the real date. It wasn't so much for you as for your cousins Sarah and Elizabeth. The exciting part happened after you had your nap. Actually, you were asleep when the gang arrived, but they weren't in the door for long before your little voice was heard upstairs, and then there you were at the top of the steps. We had balloons out and hung up here and there, there were streamers in the dining room hung from the light in the center, radiating out in four directions all at 90 degrees. Streamers were hung in alternating colours, blue and white, hanging straight down to form a sort of curtain in the living room door. Run through it, Heeeere's Johnny, that kind of thing. The girls showed up and you played musical chairs with the couch cushions. You were the first one out of course, what the heck did you know from playing musical chairs? But you had a great time running around the cushions, bumping into your cousins, pushing them along. 

You would drape yourself all over the twins, Elizabeth especially, in great, long prostrate hugs. She looked a little intimidated by it all and laid there, a funny look on her face, afraid to move.

We had pizza and Dairy Queen ice cream cake and we sang Happy Birthday and clapped and you looked a little overwhelmed by it all. I wonder when it all happens again for real on the 31st if you'll remember this and figure it's old hat by then. 

You were tuckered out by the end of it all, and you went up for an early bath which turned out to be a shower. Dressed in your Superman sleeper you were just in time to say bye-bye to the twins and your Aunt and Uncle. A tired little boy, I took you up early to bed, and you cried from being over-tired before cuddling into me tight, me lying on my back, you on my chest, your arms wrapped around my neck, your face buried into my neck and before long you were asleep. A wonderful way to end the day, cuddled up with your Da.

11:30pm, 12 August 2001

A quiet day. Mimmy was sick and Da was hobbled. Not much happened in the forenoon. We went for a walk and returned the video Mimmy and I watched last night. You ran, I hobbled, trying to keep up. You saw the moon in the sky and pointed it out to me over and over. "Moo! Moo!" you would say. Then we'd walk a little farther and pass under some trees that would block the view of the moon and you'd shrug your little shoulders and put your palms up and say, "Aw Gaw...!" (All gone!)

You played with some leftover birthday balloons and that was lots of fun, bouncing them around with Mimmy who set them to you like volleyballs, and then later you would chase one around, batting it in the air with one of your plastic golf clubs. I let that go on probably longer than I should have.

In the afternoon we went to the Corner Brook Stream, Somebody Bowater Park. You went with the twins and Nanny Michael and me and Mimmy. You didn't really go into the water, just down a few steps. It was pretty cold, the water. You slipped and fell from the steps in the water once, so I guess you were swimming a little. 

10:30pm, 13 August 2001

It's Grandmother Shipley's 60th birthday today. You spoke to her briefly on the phone but only to do your "What does a --- say?" She tried to get you to sing Happy Birthday, but that was a bit beyond your ken.

Cousins left today to go back to Clarenville. Before they left you helped draw on the front walk with giant pieces of coloured chalk. You gave them all a love and waved to them as they left. 

Mimmy and Nanny took you for a walk along the path by Corner Brook Stream. You ran from one end of the park to the other. Mimmy and Nanny were properly worn out at the end of it. After all that running around, you think you'd be tired, but when you came back out of the park, apparently you wanted to go play on the playground. It was a bit much for the grownups, though.

We played with the balloons again today for a bit and sometimes when they were batted up into the air, you twirled under them and down they'd come, floating gently and you'd clap your hands together around the balloon --- and catch it! It's the first time we've successfully done throw and catch.

On a related note, when Sportsdesk was on this evening, they had a baseball highlight. Crack! The ball was hit. I said, "It's a deep fly ball to center field, waaaaaa back! To the wall! It's ..."

And I looked at you.

And you looked at me. 

A beat.

"Gaw!" you said.

We all laughed and cheered.

10:25pm 14 August 2001

A fairly quiet day for us all today. Mimmy and Da went out by themselves for a while to do some shopping. You stayed home with Nanny and had a good time reading books and running around out back and drawing with chalk. 

After your nap we drove out to Marble Mountain and took a walk up to Steady Brook Falls. We got up high enough to see the water (which wasn't very far) and you decided to go back. We went to George's Dairy Bar and had an ice cream. Some of us ate it, some of us wore it (point, point). Then we went over and sat in a really big chair. A really big chair. Did you get that? It was a chair that was REALLY BIG. The three of us all sat together and watched the big trucks go by.

We got home and had supper where you went around the table introducing everybody to everybody else (Mimmy, Nanny, Didi (Jidi), Da, Ah-een (Ian). Gidi has been saying for the last number of days, "Ips me cocker!" (who the hell knows what THAT means...) and during supper between introductions and playing with Gidi's moustache, you said very clearly "Cocker." So that will make for interesting conversation when we get home....

We watched Blue's Clues (yes, all of us) and when the first clue came on you said, "A Cloo!" 

You went to bed very well tonight. Only took 15 minutes. The vacation is taking a toll on a boy if one can gauge by how ready you are for your naps and bedtime. Which lately has been very ready.

11:50pm 15 August 2001

Today was our last full day at Nanny and Gidi’s. Gidi is very pleased, by the way, that you call him Gidi.

You and I went for an outing by ourselves before lunch. We went to Bowater Park and I followed you wherever you wanted to go, giving you free reign. You had a moment on the slides, then a moment on the swings, then you walked up to the top of the park and to the tunnel that goes under the road, toddling off to the adjoining part of the park where the swimming hole is in the Corner Brook Stream. I took off your sandals, and my own socks and shoes and you splashed a bit. Then you splashed a bit more and started crouching down, so I stripped you naked so you could play in the water, and all you really did after that was get dirty sitting on the steps and pick at old cigarette butts to throw in the water. We got dressed again and went back through the tunnel and had a good time on the slides. You weren't all that interested in playing on them, too slow, till I started coming down after you and then it was, "Ghen, ghen!"

We had lunch and no nap for you. The plan was for you to sleep while we drove to Bottle Cove, about an hour away (we could see the Table Lands that we had visited last week across the water from where we went). You finally went to sleep about five minutes before we got to Bottle Cove (and never slept at all on the way back). Nanny and Gidi came with us. We got to the beach (little stones more than sand, awful stuff to walk in) and we went for a little hike up to the end of the Captain Cook Trail where there were cliffs and a monument and a great view. On the way back you and I were walking in the water. You ducked yourself all the way in where the little waves were washing the shore and propped yourself up on your arms, your little bum and sneakered feet sticking up, surfing the little waves in place. We had to get back and I was enjoying the water, so you and I went in the hip-deep-on-me water, and I carried you, then I put you in the water and held you up around your waist and you kicked your feet and moved your arms, shouting happily. I suspect there weren’t many things at the moment that you enjoy more than swimming.

That night when it was time for bed, you lay next to me giving a whispered roll call: Nanny. Mimmy. Da. Beh. 

4:24, NS Time, 16 August 2001

It wouldn't be a trip to Nanny's and Gidi's without getting your face bashed in.

On your last visit you were just learning to walk and tripped coming in through a door, landing on the little piece of flesh between your lip and your nose and cutting it open. Today there was a crash from the hallway and a thump and then you were crying. I picked you up and held you for a moment before inspecting for damage. You had a cut about an inch long that followed the curve on top of your right eye, apparently having fallen in the hallway and striking your face against the edge of the table. An angry looking little gash. You cried and cried, pressing your face into Da's white and now bloody t-shirt. 

We went for a drive and visited CIBC and Esso and you were as right as rain after that. Every now and then you'd cautiously touch the tip of your finger against the swelling around your eye. "Boo-boo," you'd say.

We said our sad goodbye's to Nanny and Gidi, holidays almost all over. You slept most of the way to Port Aux Basques, waking with a sore eye and a somewhat forlorn little face. We had a bit of a wait to get on the ferry and again you were pre-occupied with the cut on your head (do you have a scar now? We wondered if it would leave a scar).

Anyway, here we are on the ferry now, about a half an hour out of Newfoundland, on our way home. Mimmy has you someplace now to run around the ship and I thought I'd write your entry a little early today. We're going to get into North Sydney around 8:30 tonight, so I would expect that most of the action is done for today. I'll add more if something else arises.

Poor little boy with his angry, red cut.

(You just reappeared with Mimmy. "Da!" you exclaimed. "Boy!" I answered back.) 


Many times during the holiday I've played a little game which both you and the twins both enjoyed. I'd hold a golf ball or small toy or piece of Leggo in my left hand transfer it to my right hand and ... Lo and behold it had disappeared! "Gaw!" (gone!) you'd say. Knowing the game you would point to your right ear, and that's where I would make it reappear, or in your shirt or your mouth or somewhere.

Today at dinner after I did this trick a few times with a grape. Then you took one, switched it to your right hand, covered it with your left, looked up, shrugged your shoulders and exclaimed, "Gaw!" You had learned the trick. Da laughed, delighted.


Boy, this feels like a long ferry ride....

The music coming out of the Killick Lounge was too much to pass by, and your legs started to pump and your arms started to wave. Jigging and reeling was a boy to the live music and you created a stir, an absolute sensation! People all turned to watch you and laugh and clap. You got everyone's attention, including the performer. An older lady from Ontario joined you in the dancing, referring to you as "boyfriend" the next few times she ran into you (on one of your many excursions to run around the ship...)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Pancakes Then Running Is The Wrong Way Round

The title has nothing to do with the post except this happened on the run I just finished and, having finished, I'm feeling somewhat glurky in my stomach.

I was on the second, homeward half of my 6km run this morning. When I run my six, I really only have two choices: north to the Sunnyside Mall or South just past Fisherman's Market. On Tuesday I went south so today (just not for the halibut) I ran north.

On the way back, a car made a left-hand turn coming out of the mall where the Cora's is. There's two entrances/exits to that place: the safer one where you can use the left-hand turning lane and this one, the one farther south where this guy came out in his p.o.s. Neon and almost got creamed by a "Vans on the Go" Van which is, you should know, a really big truck.

The guy driving the van hit the brakes and blew his horn.

The passenger in the Neon raised his arm out the window and gave him the finger.


I thought I'd like to have a word with this guy.

Yes, I thought, maybe next time the guy driving the van could just never mind about the braking and the blowing his horn (so annoying!) and just run over you. And maybe it might not kill your stupid ass and you'd only get so busted up you could still stick your middle finger up through all the broken safety glass and let him know that somehow HE'S still the idiot, the guy in the van, not you (asshole)or maybe you might have your back broken and you'll only be able to weakly whisper at him with harsh gasping breaths, "Fuck you, you fuck," or maybe you'd just be dead next time, that would learn him.

Fucking moron.

It amazes me and it galls me that there are so many idiots driving other people into peril and they, THEY have the nerve to react angrily to the person who's lifespan he's just been shortened by five years or so. To get the fuck-you finger from the idiot who was in the wrong in the first place.

So as soon this was done (left-hand turn, horn, finger) the Neon had to stop for the red light at the end of Union street, me running up beside him.

So you'd like to have a word with this guy?

Well, here's your chance.

I get up next to him and I can see the guy in the passenger seat. He's some Whiskey-Tango gangster type, wearing a hip-hop ball cap with the wide, flat brim, weird funky facial hair, neck tattos and at least one black inch-and-a-half diameter earring that spreads out his earlobe and makes it sag down from his ear like a pierced testicle.

So I decided not to say anything. Because I was scared to.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Thoughts For The Day

This was going to be a Facebook post, but I figured there were too many characters to fit. I thought about posting them so that they would show up with this one first: Thoughts of the Day. And then a procession of them posted individually as you scrolled down. I'd plan them all out to post in reverse order so you could scroll down and read them in the order I wanted you to. I thought that would have been very clever.

Instead I did it this way.

I had a lot of thoughts today that for a change I thought I'd write down and share. A bonus thought, even.

I'm just back from my run, all sweaty from the exertion and humidity. My shirt's off and in the washing machine. Please, in your mind, picture me fitter. Thank you.

"On Facebook," I was going to write, "sometimes I'm garrulous and sometimes over extended periods I'm very withdrawn." So today with all these thoughts, well, this little collection of thoughts, today I'm garrulous. But all in one place that I'll eventually link to a single Facebook post that no one will fucking read anyway, so.

My favourite quote of the day, made by me:

We were talking in the lunchroom at work about the U2 concert and I said, "But tell us the REAL measure of any concert, and that is how many public displays of nudity were there?" Because at the AC/DC concert girls would lift their tops whenever they saw themselves on camera (sad, really) but at the Eagles concert, there was only that one young girl as we were walking out who pressed her bare breast against the chain-link fence.

It occurred to me only then and I said out loud, "A bare breast in a chain-link fence is a breast far-removed from its preferred habitat."

I've added swimming to my fitness regime having now gone twice, count 'em TWICE! to swim in the lake to the other side and back, a total of 1km. Twice! Already I feel fitter, in my head if not in my body. I have built the unshakeable expectation that sometime around the middle of next week, my body will look exactly like Michael Phelps's.



Speaking of fitness, I was listening to Marc Maron's podcast. Lately I've completely abandoned all my music to listen exclusively to his podcasts while I run. Partly because all the runs now are long ones. He's talking to a guy who was talking about his first ever session with an analyst. I thought to myself, "I did that once, briefly" and then further wondered if I shouldn't start going again. Figure some things out. Then I thought, "No." What I need is a LIFE COACH. Not an analyst, a life coach. That's what I need!

(Gru says, "Light-bulb!")

After all, I wanted to run better and I joined the running room and got coached by my brother. I learned the most ever about curling for that brief period in high school when I had a coach. I wanted to play golf better so I took all those lessons.

So maybe I need to pay someone to be my life coach, hire a life coach. Get me out into the world and better involved in things, teach me to be social, expand my life beyond single dad and movies at home. How to get with people. How to do things not alone.

But on the other hand, I took all those golf lessons and I'm not the player I used to be. How many times have I been in the 80s lately? Not many. Before lessons? A lot.

My life coach needs to come with a guarantee.

Was there more?

No. I think that was it.

Maybe I should have posted a bare breast...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Open e-Mail to Scott Van Pelt: The Legend of Fox Harb'r

In the wake of your Open Championship coverage (that I enjoyed) I thought I’d share with you this strange (developing) story concerning one of your colleagues.

Fox Harb’r is a rich man’s golf course here in Nova Scotia, bought and built by a guy who made his fortune with a chain of donut shops. It has a berth for your yacht if you’re coming by sea and a private landing strip if you’re coming by private jet as Greg Norman and Bill Clinton are rumoured to have done and as Tiger Woods certainly did, his visit having been documented by a made-for-TV event in 2009. Once upon a time, you or I could have played this course by walking up and paying $375 for a select number of tee times. Nowadays YOU could still play, but you have to stay at the resort, no green fees allowed (so, sorry me) but back just a few years ago, when it was sort of open to the public, a guy from work and I decided that we were going to scrounge up the dough and go. One day, we said. We were going to by- God go and do it because, oh, you can just tell by the pictures it's a beautiful course.

Well, we didn’t go that year but we promised ourselves and each other that for sure NEXT year we would, ... ah, but too late. That’s when the rules changed and the chance to buy green fees disappeared. He who hesitates and all that. So sorry.

Anyway, the guy’s name is Gary. We both work for the Canadian Navy, me in the headquarters and him at the Fleet Maintenance Facility (you can call it the FMF) where they repair the warships. So Gary and I are on the phone, talking about going to Fox Harb’r (this is still when the course is open to the public) and he’s sharing a story about three other guys from the FMF who had done what WE wanted to do; they got their money together and drove the three hours up to Fox Harb’r and played, the lucky sonsabitches. Gary tells me they were on the first tee, all ready to go but the starter stops them. Wait, there's another guy that’s going to join up with you, this single who's all by himself and the FMF boys aren’t very happy about this, aren't happy about this AT ALL. Come all this way as a group and now have to join up with a stranger? Pay all this money for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and now have to put up with this other fucking guy?

The other fucking guy turned out to be Curtis Strange.

This is the point of the story where I said, “Oh my GOD!” and Gary and I gleefully cackle and speculate how white the knuckles must have been for the guys hitting those first shots from the first tee. Can you imagine! What a story! Later, I told this story to dad.

And several months after that, my dad blithely repeated the story back to me, completely unaware I had told it to him first. In his version it was three guys from his golf club, not three guys from FMF.

As of two weeks ago, my dad has now told me this same story FOUR times, each time completely believing it’s the first time he’s ever told me, and each time it’s been three guys who went from his club. For the most recent telling of the tale, I figured I’d asked him who the three guys from the club were. He honestly appeared to be searching his memory and came up with the three guys’ names. Two he was for sure. The third guy he wasn’t so sure about.

This time I’m sort of shocked by my own reaction which is, “Holy shit, maybe it’s me. Maybe I'M the one who’s misremembered.” For the sake of my own mental health I called Gary and left a voice mail. He called me back this morning.

Gary says, “I was sitting in my dentist’s chair and I got my mouth open and all that stuff the dentist uses in my mouth and the dentist is telling me about how three guys from his club went to Fox Harb’r one time and got joined up with … Curtis Strange!!!! And I wanted to say BULLSHIT!!!! But I had all this stuff in my mouth….”

So, what.

We figure that somehow we have either become the originators of this new Curtis-Strange-as-Urban-Legend, or we have become victims of its perpetration. We are both feeling emotionally fragile. We don’t know what’s real anymore. Our reality rug has been yanked out from under us. If you could share this story with Curtis and have him get back to us with who exactly he played with at Fox Harb’r, we’d really appreciate it.

Until then, the legend continues to grow.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Misattribution as Love.

While I was running today, I was listening on my iPod to Marc Maron interviewing Ken Jeong and they were talking about their dads and so I got to thinking of mine. So this is a story of fathers and sons.

My father. His sons.

But mostly me, one of the sons, if not the Number One son, at least the one with the blog. So if the focus is all on me it's because I'm fucking writing it.

(Sure. That's the reason.)

My Dad has never been demonstrative towards me in terms of affection. My brother and I talked about this a couple of years ago. It struck me that he, my younger brother, sounded more grown-up about it. We had individually and apart made a lot of the same observations but he had a sense of things that was more matured and mellow than mine.

I can only recall two clear instances when I thought my father was either proud or positively affected by something I’d done. One was when I graduated from military college and he told me he was proud of me and the other was four years earlier when I was getting on the bus that would take me away from the rest of my family for the first time – I was the first child to leave home. He put his arms around me before I boarded and he hugged me and he cried. I remember feeling ... surprised.

Apart from these two moments, for as long as I’ve known him, Dad’s wandered emotional states that range from deadpan to cranky ... but only with me and maybe the rest of our family.

When I spoke about it with my brother I noted that Dad's different when he’s with his friends. When he’s talking to his golfing buddies, he’s animated and funny, joking, happy and joyful. If I chime in, he shuts it all down. I remarked that when I play golf with him and his buddies, it feels like I’m walking the fairways alone. There aren’t many words exchanged between us, a couple of dozen or so sprinkled amidst so many other observational anecdotes he shares with whoever else is playing with us. “That’s just Dad,” my brother assures me.

Now that Dad and I are getting older, maybe there is something I can grasp on to and feel like I matter to my Dad (I mean, I know theoretically I matter, but there's a lot to be said for proof). On my run it occurred to me again how my Dad unintentionally tells my own stories back to me, thinking they're his. I decide that I should take this as a sign that what I say matters, even when it doesn't seem to. And by extension, I should take this as a sign he loves me.

For example:

I reflected to myself on the price of gas - how it goes up, and then up some more and maybe even more ... and then it slides back a bit .... and then up again. When it goes back down it never gets all the way back to where it used to be, but goddamit you feel grateful that it’s less than it used to be and it's a relief and you get this feeling just before you get smacked with another gas increase.

I said to my Dad, “It’s like fishing, when you’ve hooked one and you reel it in and reel it in … and then slack off a bit ... and then reel it in again.” I told him this and his reaction was … nothing. I can remember this. I probably thought something like, “Okay, scratch that analogy from the repertoire.”

I was a bit surprised it had acutally made an impression on him. This was when, months and months later, we went past the gas station and I remarked on how the price had gone up again he said, “Yeah. It’s like fishing,” and he proceeded to repeat to me my own metaphor.

“Yeah, Dad,” I said. “I told you that.”

“Oh,” he said.

Even better is the second-hand story I told him about some guys going to Fox Harb’r which is a rich man’s golf course that used to cost $375 to play. Nowadays you have to stay at the resort, no green fees allowed, but back then, just a few years ago, a guy from work and I decided that we were going to scrounge up the money and go. One day. Well, we didn’t go that year but we promised ourselves and each other that next year ... ah, but too late. The rules changed and the chance to buy green fees disappeared.

Anyway, the guy’s name is Gary. So Gary and I are on the phone and he’s sharing a story about three other guys from the Fleet Maintenance Facility that had done what we wanted to do; they got their money together and drove up to Fox Harb’r and played, the lucky sonsabitches. Gary tells me they were on the first tee ready to go but the starter stopped them. Wait, there's another guy the starter's going to join them up with, this fourth who's all by himself and the FMF boys aren’t very happy about this, aren't happy about this at all. Come all this way as their own little group and now have this intruder be forced into their group, this stranger, pay all this money for this shared experience and now have to put up with this fucking other guy?

The other guy turned out to be Curtis Strange.

If you don’t know (and didn't click the link), Curtis is the last back-to-back winner of the U.S. Open and was the commentator in the 18th tower when ABC was doing PGA golf broadcasts.

I told this story to dad.

Some months later, my dad blithely repeated the story back to me, completley unaware I had told it to him first. In his version it was three guys from his golf club, not three guys from FMF.

As of two weeks ago, my dad has now told me this same story four times, each time like it's the first time, each time like it’s his. Well, maybe after four tellings it is his (after all, I only told it once). This last time, being secretly impish, I asked him who were the three guys from the club? He honestly appeared to be searching his memory and ultimately was able to come up with the three guys. Two he was for sure. The third guy he wasn’t so sure about.

Because he tells this story sincerely thinking it's his, by now I'm shocked at my own reaction which is, Geez, maybe it’s me! Maybe I've misremembered this and it really is Dad's story.

I might have to phone Gary and make sure.

Sometime in my 30s it finally dawned on me that I was born nine months and one day after my elder brother died. He was the first born to my parents. Sometimes to people I’ll make this distinction – that I’m the eldest but not the first born. I thought of it in terms of what my mother had to be coping with in her early days of being pregnant with me inside her. I would jokingly offer this up as an excuse for however fucked up I might appear. It’s because of that, see. Nine months and one day.

As late as I was in realizing the math of my brother’s death and my birthday, it was even later when my Mom told me the impact it had on my Dad. “He didn’t even want to touch you,” she told me. “He had loved Kevin so much and given his heart completely to him and he was hurt so badly when he died, your Dad wasn’t going to let that happen again.”

Oh, I thought.


As a light goes on.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lighting the Way

There aren’t many days left. After training for months, I’m on the verge of running my first marathon. There are a lot of lessons a person learns travelling over 900 training kilometres at various speeds and in various stages of euphoria and discomfort. One of these lessons is: The lights know.

I first formed this hypothesis after successive (if not successful) routes around a 9 kilometre circle. It’s a route that I learned from my brother who learned it from a co-worker and it’s a route I run when I need to do a longer run in the middle of the week from work over the lunch hour. It’s a pleasant enough tour starting from the front door at the Dockyard gym, exiting out at the Admiral’s Gate, running in front of HMCS Scotian and then cutting left to go behind the Casino and onto the boardwalk. The boardwalk along the waterfront is usually a very nice place to run, zigging and zagging through tourists when the weather’s nice, running almost completely abandoned by the world when the weather is bad. When I’m only running six kilometres, I turn back at the gate that’s just past the NS Power building, what used to be the Electropolis studios to retrace my steps along the waterfront.

But for the longer run, I head off the boardwalk and up Marginal Road, running past the Westin and the train station and the Superstore before connecting with Barrington Street. When Barrington Street swoops to the right and becomes Inglis, that’s where the fun begins. It seems like most of the rest of the run goes up. Up Inglis. Right on Robie and up again (more gradual but still up). Somewhere around Spring Garden the road dips slightly before proceeding up again until you reach the apex by the new hospital. That’s the signal (to me at least) for the start of the end of the run. Down through the Five Corners intersection. Past the Commons, carrying on through the tree covered part of Robie to North, a slight resurrection of elevation up along North for about a block and then all that uphill, saved like goodwill, gets cashed for the dash to the centre gate at Dockyard, a long steep downhill run, go Johnny ,go.

So, one particular week, several weeks ago, I ran this route two days in a row and let me tell you, on that first day everything seemed a struggle. I was vaguely comfortable going through the waterfront, but as the hill commenced at Inglis, so did fatigue. Robie Street has many busy intersections, so thankfully, I found myself against many red lights and was able to pause and catch my breath at several crossroads, waiting for the light to turn, a minor refreshment for a run going badly.

The following day was a breeze.

I glided though the waterfront, skipped up Inglis and charged along Robie, noticing an unusual phenomenon as I hit the intersections: I was always being greeted by a green light.

Very strange! I began to intuit that there was hidden intelligence in the crossing signals, something I noted in later days to a running partner. The lights know when you’re having a bad run and will bless you with a red light when you struggle, offering you that momentary pause. And when you’re feeling great and loathe to stop, you find yourself faced with a preponderance of green lights.

I do not propose an explanation. It is a mystery of the running world.