As in years past, I submitted a bracket in Jared’s annual NCAA March Madness pool and have been doing just “okay”.  Miraculously, this weekend I moved into a three way tie for first place, just as my ridiculous pick for overall champion (Wichita St.) was predictably knocked out.  I’m still sitting on top of the pool, but my visit there will likely be short.  Sigh.

Life in general is good though.  Our new baby is set to arrive on or around Labour Day, which is ironic enough that I’m worried he or she might be born a hipster.  We also took some time this weekend to upgrade our out-of-date phones (Danielle was on a jailbroken iPhone 3G and I was on a 4 and she got a 5C and I got a 5S), watch some basketball and finally got around to watching the second Hunger Games movie.

In addition, I’m posting here for the first time in 6 months.  So life is pretty good.  Now if only this unending winter would admit its time is up and give in to the budding spring.  If only.

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Good Burgersday to you all,

It’s hard to believe that it was only 10 years ago that Jared and I made our first fateful trip to a greasy little hole in the wall in the east end and started what would become an annual tradition.

Some of you are stalwarts at this annual event, while others are hearing about it for the first time.  Rest assured, you are all being cordially invited because you are human and eating food is a requirement for life, and if you’re anything like me, (and you are) you might just be disgusting enough to get a kick out of this food in particular.

Of course, I’m referring to the annual pilgrimage to Dangerous Dan’s Diner on Queen Street East (at Broadview) where we will try our best to take down Coronary Combos in the battle to show those uppity vegans who’s boss.

The tenth annual trip will take place on Sunday, November 24 at 4:00pm. In case you’re wondering why, we’re holding it in the afternoon to avoid both the lunch and dinner rushes, and so that everyone taking part really only has to have one meal that day.

For the uninitiated, these burgers are ridiculously huge, but not altogether untasty.  To get an idea of what you might be in for, check out 2009’s public invite and the photos that followed, after we rode the burger bus.  Then, tell me that you wouldn’t love a photo like that for your Facebook or Twitter profile pic.

As always, spectators, friends and significant others are more than welcome (this event is open to all genders), but we encourage anyone not taking part to be supportive rather than judgmental.  After all, consuming these combos is a feat of arms, as it were.

Feel free to forward this along to anyone who might want to take part, watch or even document this event for future posterity.  If you know anyone with first aid skills, or who is particularly handy with a defibrillator, they would be welcome too.

Mark the event in your calendar, share it with your friends, make sure your camera (and stomach pump) are charged and ready to go and for goodness sake, start training now.  I hope to see you all in the land of beef in a few short days.

If you’re coming, just flip me a quick email to let me know.  The folks at the diner have asked we provide numbers so they can have enough cows killed ahead of time.

Thanks, and see you there!

PS: I learned last year that small children are very welcome, but the staff have warned that any living thing that wanders behind the counter is likely to served up.  Consider yourselves warned.

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Probably the only thing worse than being sick yourself is looking after a sick tw0-year-old.  Sebby is down and out with a chest-rattling cough, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down much.  He’s super eager to get outside and play with this new hockey stick and ball.  Attaboy.

Without any family who can help out within 600 kilometers, juggling sick days away from daycare can be a challenge at the best of times.  Right now, both Danielle and I are in the midst of some serious stuff at work, so fortunately our employers are being very understanding while we sort out a solution.  In the meantime, Treehouse On Demand has kept Sebby entertained while I work from home.  I can’t help but listen with one ear open, so my Spanish is getting some brushing up thanks to episode after episode of Dora the Explorer.  Frankly, if I have to hear the Backpack song much more, I will promptly go “loco”.

If only Sebby had an abuela or abuelo (grandparents, in Spanish.  Thanks Dora!) who lived nearby.  Oh well.  Wish us luck!

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The other day, in the midst of a hectic work week (which is pretty standard) and probably after fighting to put Sebby sleep (also pretty standard), Danielle once again reminded me that I need to find time to get out of the house and do something on my own.

Well, last night I finally took her advice and spent an evening with our dog Mojo.  Was it relaxing?  Not particularly.  That’s probably because we spent the evening at the Toronto Emergency Veterinary Hospital, but we only left after I’d cleaned up our house; which to a casual observer, would have resembled a particularly gruesome crime scene.  That is, if barfing and crapping in many common areas is considered a crime.  [Note to guests, barfing and crapping in our home’s common areas is a crime]

Sometime in the last few days, we suspect Mojo got into something in the park.  Being part Lab, he’s prone to eating random bits of food he finds anywhere, and he must’ve gobbled down something that REALLY didn’t agree with him.  He’s normally great about not going to the bathroom in the house, so this was pretty rare and an indication of how bad he felt.  He actually tried to dig his way out through our back door, messing up our door trim in the process.

After a few hours in the hospital, he was feeling much better and is on antacids and light antibiotics.

The lesson I’ve learned from all of this is to try and plan a night out on the day when Mojo isn’t feeling well, so that I can avoid cleaning up the mess.

For the animal owners in the East End of Toronto:
If you need after hours care for your vet, I would recommend going to these guys.  This is our second visit and their service and facilities are great.  I could’t recommend them highly enough.  Also, free coffee.

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Our world is an imperfect place (insert “gasp” here), but I’ve identified a few small improvements that would make it much better.  Well, for me at least.  This is FAR from an exhaustive list (omitting key big ticket items like world peace, and end to poverty and vegetables that taste like candy) with a focus on the more acheivable things that would take some of the sting out of my every day life.

This has been a work in progress over the last few years, and feel free to add your own additions in the comments and I’ll be sure to update my list and make it available to candidates in our next federal election, with a copy sent to the United Nations to address at the General Assembly  (Note, I am too lazy to send this list to anyone.  It will only exist here).

  • The ability to Track Changes in PowerPoint.  This is a great feature in Microsoft Word; one that I use every day in the course of my job.  Sadly, I also create a shocking number of PowerPoint “decks” (a terrible word) and send them to a number of people to provide edits, updates and reviews.  Coordinating all those changes takes up a ridiculous amount of time and I would like to spend it on more important things, like drinking coffee, filing emails and creating even more PowerPoint presentations.
  • A plastic food storage system that can be stored effectively.  I’ll call it “Tupperware” for simplicity’s sake, but we all have a cupboard in our kitchen with awkward stacks of this stuff that crash down on you head when you open the door.  On top of that, you can never find the right lid for the bottom you’ve already filled with leftover chili and end up having to switch containers, leading to more dishes to wash.  And I hate washing dishes. I’ve been toying with the idea of having two mesh bags on the inside of lower cupboard doors (like some kitchen garbage bags); one for lids and the other for containers.  The system would have to simplified to two or three sizes with colour coded lids so you can easily find what you need.  I leave it to the fine folks at the Tupperware company to sort this out.
  • A service that will come around in the middle of the night and top up the gas tank in your car.  This is a card I’ve been holding close to my chest for a while now, because while it sounds kind of ridiculous, I’m convinced there’s a market for this and that someone could figure out how to make money doing it.  Sadly, I have realized that I will not be that person.  So in lieu of getting rich off of it, I’d rather float it out there into the ether and take advantage as a consumer when someone else figures it out.
  • No soiled diapers.  Nothing much can be done here, I’m just complaining.  Feel free to either ignore this one or nod in sympathetic agreement. We’re on the verge of potty training in our house, so this one will be passing the torch onto “soiled clothing” and “soiled furniture, floor coverings and other assorted things… ew” in due course.
  • No iron/Wrinkle-free dress shirts.  Yes, I know these exist and are widely available at just about every type of retail outlet in an equally wide variety of price points. My beef is two-fold:
    1. I don’t have nearly enough of them.  This can be rectified by family members at Christmas, my birthday and any other holiday (St. David’s Day is celebrated on March 1, hint hint).
    2. The ones I do have, still get sort of wrinkly and need “touch ups” with the iron after washing.  Boo, I say to the textile industry.  Boo.
  • A tool specifically designed to get every last bit of peanut butter out of the jar.  I hate wasting food as much as the next guy, but that’s not what this is about.  More often than not, it’s when you get to the dregs of your peanut butter jar that you discover there is no back up full jar in the cupboard to satisfy your craving for smooth, peanut buttery goodness.  You don’t want that last bit of PB as much as you NEED it.  I can’t be the only one.
  • One extra statutory holiday every year for your birthday.  If you know me well, or have casually followed this blog (back in the days when it was possible to follow it casually), you’ve heard me go off about this.  I firmly believe that every Canadian should get his or her birthday off as a statutory holiday.  If it falls on a weekend or another stat holiday, you get a floater.  Going to work on your birthday is as bad as going to work on your birthday.  That is, it’s so bad that there is no simile sufficient to capture its badness.

I hope you’ve enjoyed witnessing my not-so-gradual decline into old man curmudgeonyness that is evident in this list.  Rest assured that I’ve toned it down and those who spend a lot of time with me (Danielle, Sebastian and Mojo) hear about these topics (and more) at length (great, great length).

Now I’m off to enjoy a peanut butter sandwich that is sorely lacking in peanut butter.  Stupid jar.

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Sometime yesterday afternoon, Mother Nature officially swept the muggy heat of summer under the rug and welcomed the crisp, cool days of fall in the front door.  While many of you are no doubt heartbroken that beach weather is gone for the next few months, if you know anything about me, you can probably picture me tapdancing on the fallen leaves in my yard.

Many of us mark the change of seasons by reflecting on the season that has passed and planning for the season ahead.  For me, that included looking back at some of the things I’ve missed in my life lately, and sharing my musings and observations in here is pretty high on the list.  I’ve missed my blog, and everytime I open my browser and see the link for it on my favourites toolbar, I feel a pang of guilt coupled with the grief of not having posted in six months.

Am I promising that I’ll get back to posting regularly?  Daily even?  Not likely.  I’ve made promises in the past and then beat myself up when I didn’t live up to those expectations.  I just wanted to share that I’ve missed writing in here, and that contributing more often is going to be a higher priority.

You can look forward to some stories (and possibly photos) from a couple of fall trips (one to the cottage and another to Chudleigh’s Apple Farm) and at least one rant about the ongoing transit saga here in Toronto.  No doubt our mayor will do something worth noting in here (Drug use allegations? Ethics breaches?  Both?  Only time will tell!), so there’s plenty of fodder.

In the meantime, I urge those of you who are saddened that summer has passed to throw on a fleece sweater, pour some hot cider in a travel mug and get out into the woods to enjoy the wonders of fall.  Or, if you’re pressed for time like me, enjoy it in small doses while you rake leaves and get your house ready for winter.

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I just got back from my tux fitting for Kenneth’s wedding in May, and the whole experience brought back some fond memories of mine and Danielle’s wedding.  Kenneth went with the same store (Moore’s has great service and can accommodate for groomsmen across Canada and even the States), so I was back at the same location on Yonge Street where I was fitted all those years ago.

There’s something magical about the wedding tuxedo, regardless of whether you’re the groom or one of the guys chosen to act as bookends at the ceremony.  It gives every man an air of class and sophistication, even if it’s a rental, and that’s something that every guy can use a bit more of in his life.  As soon as you put it on, you feel like you should be sipping martinis and have a small handgun strapped to your ribs in case one of Ernst Bloefeld’s henchmen show up to throw a spanner in the works.

So between now and late May, I’ll be sorting out how best to groom my facial hair and working on my Sean Connery imperSHonation so I can be sure to demonstrate how debonair I can be in my fitted duds.

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We interrupt this long hiatus from posting (3 months!) with a late-breaking news bulletin:

It snows in Canada.  All winter, in fact.  I don’t mean continually for the duration of the entire season, but on and off throughout it.  Sometimes it snows a little and sometimes it snows a lot.  Maybe it melts or turns to ice, but before April, you can be pretty sure that if it’s snowing, it will probably snow again.

So why on earth is everyone acting like yet another snowfall at the end of February is a sign of the end times?  This hasn’t even been a particularly snowy winter and you’d think that we were collectively buried under eight feet of the stuff.

Phew.  There. I got that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.  I’ll see you again in another three months. Or sooner.  Or later.  Maybe when it snows next.

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