Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2004

Things your kids really, really want

The cover article in Macleans this week: "A Survival Guide to Gadget World".
I'm so glad I still live in the real world.
It's subtitled "what's good, what's better, and what's a waste of money: a shopping manual for those who don't speak geek".
Tell you what, friends and neighbours: some of it's good...some of it is arguably better than what you might have now...but most of it is a waste of money. In my view, anyway.
What your kids really, really want, it says, and then goes on to list a whole bunch of things our kids are really, really, REALLY unlikely to get. Here's the list, with my thoughts:
GAME CONSOLE. For what it's worth, Macleans recommends the Game Boy Advance SP, for $140, and says it's 'ubiquitous on school buses'. Wow. I imagine school bus drivers must love these things. Remember how, as kids, we used to antagonize school bus drivers to no socializing with the other kids around us? Yeah. Me too. …

Wedding Daze

Oh, what a weekend I've just had...
Left work two hours early on Friday to make the trek to Parry Sound. This town of 6500 people on Georgian Bay was my second home for a time as a child and would be an ideal place to retire to...if it weren't for the price of real estate. Muskoka is moving northward at a rapid clip.
The occasion drawing me northward this time: my step-brother's wedding.
Eva and I wanted a weekend romantic getaway, because the house has otherwise sapped our vacation budget for the year. The wedding was held at Crane Lake Resort (, an absolutely stunning place about 45 minutes south and west of town. After 'beautiful', the first word I'd use to describe the place is 'isolated'. The road in there is full of twists and turns and forks, some of which were helpfully marked 'Jennie and Rob'...and others of which were not.
A word of caution before you book your honeymoon here: Crane Lake is a housekeeping resort,…

Pithy Questions, Pithy Answers

And now for something only slightly different:

If at first you don't succeed, shouldn't you try doing it like your wife told you to?

Naw. Just let her do it.

Does a clean house indicate that there is a broken computer in it?

Not necessarily. A totally broken man, broken by the command to clean the house before he uses the computer, yes.

Why is it that no matter what colour of bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

...and why do they turn brown whenever I step into the tub?

Is there ever a day when mattresses are NOT on sale?

Never. But the regular price does tend to fluctuate up and down. Does Christine Magee fluctuate up and down too? I leave that as an exercise for the student.

On electric toasters, why do they engrave the message 'one slice'? How many pieces of bread do they think people are really going to try to stuff in that slot?

Can we stuff the poseur of this question into a toaster for not knowing that if you're going to toast just one slice, you sh…

Turning 50

I go to school, I write exams,
if I pass, if I fail, if I drop out does anyone give a damn?
And if they do, they'll soon forget,
'cause it won't take much for me to show my life ain't over yet...

---The Barenaked Ladies, "What A Good Boy"

This is my fiftieth entry. In terms of human years, the Breadbin's deep into middle age.
I observe I've barely gotten started. In that respect, this blog echoes my life.
Remember that question...'what do you want to be when you grow up?' Kids typically answer that with a profession. Although most people will answer the question 'what are you' with their occupation, they're kidding themselves. An occupation is something you do, not something you are. It took many years for me to take this message to heart.

I never could answer questions pertaining to my future, when I was a kid. "What do you want to be when you grow up" yielded, like as not, a blank stare and a muttered 'I dunno'. …


Today, we stopped by Sportsworld at the south end of town. I hadn't been there in a decade or more. There was supposed to be some mini-golf played, but the arcade kind of waylaid us.
Arcades have sure changed since my freshman 'let's go waste a roll of quarters' days. The pinball games are all a buck a play now. That's a bit rich for wizard nostalgia, so I didn't indulge.
The console games, though! They're all VR, all the time. You feel like you're watching TV.
The first thing to catch the eye in that arcade--and oddly enough, it caught Eva's eye, not mine--was something called 'Coaster Express'..."featuring the coasters of Cedar Point". Ka-SPROING! I'm excited. Cedar Point has my vote for heaven on earth.
Although I had conquered kiddie coasters (and the Wild Mouse at the Canadian National Exhibition) long before, my first experience with genuine rollercoasting came in 1981, the year Canada's Wonderland opened. My dad, who…

I'se Phyzicly Unedumacated

I think phys. ed. fizzled for me...permanently...the first time we played a team sport. Remember how the team captains, those gods and goddesses, would issue decrees from on high concerning who was invited to join their team and who was not? Thus would the pecking order be re-established and proclaimed publically. Oh, it might vary at the top from time to time: the more strategic of the captains would immediately choose Hercules Adonis instead of his best friend Bob. And the middle ground was a mishmash of uninspired picks who would contribute little to the team but at least wouldn't actively court defeat.
But then we'd inevitably get down to rock bottom. Two kids left, both of them paralyzed with embarrassment and fear, each fervently praying that he wouldn't be last one out.
I wasn't always the last kid chosen. I won't lie and say I was. In fact, one phys. ed. period in grade eleven I was the kid chosen first. By my best friend and team captain Craig, that was...…

The News Gives Me Acid Reflux!

And I'm about to burp some hot acidic bile out on to your screen.

1) The Governor-General should just govern herself right the hell out of town. So say I. All in favour, raise thy right foot and give her a boot to her pampered ass.

Why do we even have a Governor-General in Canada, anyway? I know, I know, she's supposedly the Queen's representative. But if that's true, why is she appointed by the Prime Minister and not the Queen?
And just what is it she does, anyway? From here, it looks like her only duty is to find new ways to waste money.. Today's news reveals she's taken the Challenger jet to New York ten times in the past two years. The cost, for transportation alone, exceeds $50,000. What did she do while she was there? Her office won't tell us, except to say that one of the trips was for 'a cultural event' and another was to meet with consul Pamela Wallin. That leaves eight trips unaccounted for, and no way to uncover details. The office of th…

This has got to be said.

If this blog had a wider audience, I could guarantee a heated response to the forthcoming entry. Because every time a newspaper columnist tackles this topic, he or she is beseiged with email, most of it full of misspellings, grammatical errors, and, of course, hatred.
I'm talking about anti-Semitism.
What triggered this was the news today that an Irenian athlete withdrew from the Olympics rather than face an Israeli. For refusing to engage a Jew, this man's government will pay him a lifetime fortune and he will be treated as a national hero.
And incomprehensible.
I mean, listen, if you truly believe that Jews are the scum of the earth, and you have the opportunity to completely humiliate a Jew front of a huge international audience...wouldn't you just be chomping at the bit?
Or are you afraid the Jew might beat you?
Small chance of that, right? You are, after all, favoured to win a gold medal, the first for your country in Olympic history, and…

Calling in sick with olympicitis

Well, we're off. Any predictions on a medal count for Canada? In Sydney we got 14. I can only hope we'll better that this time around.
I'm more of a Winter Games fan, myself...watching cycling and synchronized swimming only serves to remind me I have zits to pick. But the gymnastics can be cool, and so can the diving...and hell, I'll watch men's coxless fours paint drying if there could be a medal in it for Canada.
Maxim magazine, in its April edition, ran an Olympic preview. Of course, being Maxim and being April, about half the articles were elaborately staged practical jokes. But you didn't know *which* half, and since ballroom dancing and synchronized swimming are legitimate Olympic events these days, it didn't faze me in the slightest when I found myself reading about the American tag team's prospects in Athens. That's 'tag', as in "you're it!"
Now part of me was wondering if this was real. But only part. Consider: tag rai…

The Hard Cell

A couple of years ago, we downsized our apartment. To this day, I remember the conversation my wife had with a representative from Bell, when we called to get our service transferred to our new address.
Bell flunkie: "We'll need a contact number where we can reach you on your moving day."
Eva: "Umm, that's why you're connect our service."
Bell: "Either your husband's or your cell number would be fine."
Eva: "We don't have a cell phone."
The Bell boy, who was maybe shaving every second month, was absolutely flummoxed at the thought that there were two people left in the city who did not have cell phones. He recovered quickly, though, and tried to sell us one...only to be informed that we had no interest whatsoever in obtaining a cell phone. Master Bell was at a total loss for words, and I'm sure we were the laughingstock of the call center that day. Hell, for all I know, they still tell the story of the Luddite…

The Grand River Snooze-Cruise

A couple of months ago, my wife asked me if I was interested in going on a 'Grand River Luncheon Cruise'. It sounded interesting: a three hour tour served up with history and a three-course roast beef dinner. The cruise was duly booked for Sunday, August
Now, Sundays are our usual laze-around-the-house, do-nothing days. I might tackle the lawn or a spot of housecleaning, but I'm more likely to do that kind of thing on a Saturday so as to leave my Sunday gloriously free. The car rarely leaves the driveway on a Sunday. Still, this was going to be fun, I thought. Better than vegetating at home.
We drove to a point between Brantford and Caledonia and boarded the Grand River Princess. The boat--really a big pontoon--is 60' long, 22' wide, and seats about sixty people. We shoved off from our dock in Big Creek and were soon floating down Ontario's "Rio Grande".
Our captain's name was Cynthia and Lord, did she like to ramble. She did make…


There's a place far, far away from here, perhaps in another dimension...certainly in another universe. It's called Eva-world.
Most Terrans would experience the culture-shock equivalent of repeated bitch-slappings before their interdimensional craft even landed, and that sensation would only intensify with every day until at least a few people would be reduced to gibbering idiots. Or stand revealed as gibbering idiots, more likely. But not many people care to make the trip.
See, Eva-world is invitation-only. Every so often, as we're enduring Earth, a potential candidate for migration to Eva-world surfaces. Before today, the last one was Rob Ford.
Rob Ford is a Toronto city councillor. If he were mayor, I doubt Toronto would be anything like the cesspool of crime and litter it is now.
Toronto city councillors have an annual 'office budget' of $53,100. Many of them do their absolute damnedest to spend as much of that as they can. Mr. Ford's expenses from two years…

Things that make me go "huh?"

You're in your car, and the radio's on. A song comes on that you despise. So what do you do? Well, if you're just about anybody I know, the last thing you do is turn the radio off. And you never consider changing the channel, the way you would if you were at home and a really stupid commercial came on your television. No, instead, you turn the volume down.
Still in the're driving in the city. There's a red light, say, 300 meters ahead. Somebody zooms past you in a Mazda, doing thirty km/h over the speed limit, just so they can jam on their brakes five seconds later. Ever wonder what this wiseass is thinking? Ever wonder if people like him have brains to think with?
Then there's the cool dude who likes to lay rubber when the light turns green. Are you impressed with how well he can press his oh-so-masculine foot on to the accelerator pedal? Such skill! Such talent!
Are you one of those people who uses snooze alarms? Why do you do that? Instead of …

The Torch of Scrutiny

Today's newscast spent some time dwelling on secrecy in public places.
It turns out our vaunted Freedom of Information Act doesn't apply to quite a number of governmental institutions. Places like Canada Post, the Canadian Wheat Board, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are exempt from prying eyes. Ask a question about these taxpayer-funded bastions and you'll be told the answer is none of your business.
What is Canada Post hiding? It was implicated in the Liberal sponsorship scandal, but strangely, little has been heard about its alleged role. As for the CBC, as far as I am concerned it should be sold lock stock and barrel to the highest bidder. Or scrapped entirely.
Our universities, too, exist in shadow. Tuition costs have doubled since 1990, my first year. Even then I wondered why I was paying so much to have professors read textbooks at me. (And the texts! Some of them cost $100 or more...I'd love to know who was raking it in there, because it sure as hell …