Friday, 19 August 2011

10 Things about my life, you didn't know.

This is a list of 10 things you probably didn't know about my life. Some of them are my fears, dislikes, routine, or family.

1. Large arching bridges.

It started a couple of years ago. I have a tough time driving over these things and will avoid them if I can. I can't explain it. I can ride over as a passenger just fine, but when I'm driving it's a different story. My vision goes tunnel, my mouth cotton dry, and my hands get clammy. I shake, have trouble breathing, and tune out anything that's happening inside the vehicle. It never used to be like this. I once, driving back from Burnaby, saw the Port Mann off in the distance, took the wrong exit and ended up on Annacis Island in South Delta to avoid the bridge. Fucked up, I know. Recently, I took the ferry from Nanaimo to North Van, and had to take the 2nd Narrows to Burnaby. Slightly better than the Lions Gate, but still got the shakes. And I drive professionally for a living!

I think it has something to do with my son, because I didn't feel this way before he was born.

2. Kole's bedtime security toy(s)

Most kids have a special toy, or item they bring to bed. Not my son. Every night it's something different. In the picture he has "Legoman" "Bob" and an empty iced tea bottle. Others include, spatula, cup, pen lid, toy car, letter magnet, puzzle piece. The list goes on. Tonight, he brought with him, a hot wheels car, a penny, and an inflated balloon that I brought home from ICBC. We tried introducing a stuffed giraffe, but he doesn't care. Whatever works I guess.

3. Melissa has 2 uvulas.

Ok. So this isn't about me. But I did say some of this things were family related. They're 10 things about my life, and Melissa and Kole are part of it.

Yup, this is a real picture of the inside of Melissa's mouth. She has 2 Uvulas. That is all.

4. Escalators.

Like bridges, I have a rough time with moving stairs. It's not as bad as the bridges, but I still have to focus each time I step onto one. Again, this is a new thing. A few years ago, I would have walked blindly onto an escalator. Backwards. Now I watch each foot and time it perfectly as I step onto it. Is this normal? When you get older, do everyday things start fucking with your psyche? Good thing I use the escalators at Walmart regularly to keep me in shape.

I just realized how that last sentence must sound.

5. Stove dials.

So. If you were to ignore a few of the last things. I would consider myself to be a pretty normal dude. I. Turn my stove dials in a clockwise motion from "off" to "max" as it is a shorter distance to travel and the dial allows it to do so.

Melissa on the other hand, can only turn the dial counter clockwise, going from "off" to "low" through to "med" then to "max". She refuses to turn the dial in a manner that would require less turning and essentially less work.

6. Same breakfast.

Since I moved back to Victoria over 5 years ago, I have been eating the same breakfast. Hard boiled eggs and oatmeal. Everyday. I boil 3 eggs for 10 minutes. It makes the perfect hard boiled egg. 8 minutes will give you the perfect soft boiled egg. I had a stint where I was doing soft boiled with toast. But I have perfected the ratio of cinnamon, sugar, and raisins in my oatmeal and see no reason to change as it gives me the best energy to start the day. Weekends sometimes offer variety of bacon or sausages.

7. Spread toes.

Spread toes are just plain fucking wrong.

I have hammer toes, and cannot spread them.
Melissa and Kole on the other hand can park a friggin' bike in between their feet digits. She likes to parade her talent all up in my face, and I don't like it.

8. English muffin holes.

This has been something that has bothered me for years. The tiny little holes in pastry like english muffins. I always look at it like tiny holes in human flesh. I don't know why, but it's been this way since I was kid. I imagine what my arm would look like with these tiny circumference yet cavernous holes. This doesn't ruin eggs benny for me, I just shutter a little bit when I see them.

9. Brown Paper Towels.
For some, it's nails on a chalkboard.
For me, it's nails on brown paper towels.

I use them, all the time. But if I were to drag my nails across them, I get a huge shiver. I've mentioned to this before to people, and they all have the same response....

"That's just fucking weird, dude."

I can't be the only one!

10. Feel good moments in kids movies.

Since becoming a parent, I have endured a fair amount of childrens T.V programming and movies. What I noticed during the 101th time that I watched the Chipmunks, "The Squeakquel", is that I got a little emotional. Now, you would think that after even just 20 mins of this film that you wouldn't give a shit. But I was watching it with Kole one day, and when Alvin flew in with the Chipettes on a remote helicopter at the end to save the show, I got that feel good feeling inside. They might as well have cured cancer and saved Chritsmas at the same time.
And of course any movie where there is a father/son moment, I get a little emotional too.

Aging does shit to you.

So there you have it. 10 things about my life that you probably didn't know.

Monday, 11 July 2011

When my son is 20

I often wonder about what the world is going to be like in 20 odd years.

This is the future right now. It's not the flying car, and robot servant future that Hollywood had predicted. But it is the future. Think about it. Imagine telling someone in the 80's this. "We have personal phones that can fit in our pockets. They have touch screens and can surf the internet." Inter-what?! "They can also record a T.V. show at home, and email." E-mail? "Oh yeah, and they have a video camera and can take pictures." "I can also store up to 32gigs of music on it." What the fuck is a gig?!

And this is just talking about the phone. Think of all the other marvels of science. We have discovered planets outside our own solar system. Hundreds of them! In 2006, researchers developed materials that can bend light around objects and shield them from view. Such as invisibility cloaks. Genome mapping, cloning, commercial space flight, ipads, netflix,...I'm sure there's more important advances other than the one's I can find at Best Buy, but I can't think of them. Then there's 2 teeny tiny problems. Climate change, and peak oil.

Now, I'm still not sure sure where on the climate change see-saw I sit, but it's leaning more to the side of "It's happening". I pollute as little as humanly possible, and recycle whatever I can. Even if the climate doesn't completely go off the charts and fuck up the order of the world, and we all parish or drown. I would still like to have a clean planet for my son to live on. I don't idle, and I pick up garbage when I see it. There's nothing wrong with using solar panels to heat your house. Even if it didn't help reduce pollution, it's still saving you some cash. Which is pretty cool. If cash is even worth anything in 20 years.

When a country or province starts digging up sand that has oil in it, you know there isn't much left. Now I know, I drive a truck that consumes gas. I'm a horrible person. But so are you. Everything that we use in our daily life has petroleum in it. The very keyboard that I use to type this post was made from it. Your shoes, your Starbucks coffee lid, your television remote, your sunglasses, your bike tires, your kids toys. So, when the world runs so low on oil, what's going to happen? Will we have measures in place to continue on? And by "we", I mean "other people", 'cause I'm sure as hell not smart enough. Or, will we be forced to go back to simpler times. Where we grow our own food, and get our own water. That would be cool, but what about all the millions that live in metropolis'? It's kind of an eerie thought, but quite frankly it's the truth. As a driving instructor, it's my job to teach these kids about fuel economy. How to drive their cars to the best they can to be not only safe, but fuel efficient. I'm surprised by the amount of them that think we are moving to Hydrogen fuel cell cars with out thinking how it can happen.
One girl even said they were inventing a car that can run on water. Yeah, it's called "Steam", and it doesn't work very well for pushing cars. She said something along the lines of hydrogen and water being the same thing. I'm pretty sure you don't pour water in a tank, and fuel a vehicle with it. I do know that Hydrogen fueled vehicles emit drinkable water. I'm sure that's what she meant. I then ask them, other than gas, what else does petroleum make? "Uhhh, plastic?" Yes, and what do you know, that is made with plastic? "Oh, Shit. Everything."

So back to my post title, "When my son is 20"
What will the world be like?
Here's what I think.
  • The personal car will be on it's way to becoming a very rare thing. 99% of people will get around by mass transit. Probably electric train or something. Your kids friend will have a cousin who knows someone who has a car, but it doesn't run of course.
  • Food will be very expensive. You would be wise to grow your own, maybe even have a few animals.
  • Currency might just be credits, or even gold. (Do you notice a lot of "Dollars for Gold" commercials lately?)
  • What was made from plastics will be made from a plant based material.
  • Life will be simpler, yet technology will be unfathomable.

Now of course, I could be way off. 20 years isn't that far away. But we are as a planet and society growing and changing at an exponential rate. 20 years may be all we need to see these changes happen. All I can do is teach my son to think for himself, make his own decisions. To be kind to others and plan ahead.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Qualicum Falls

A new tradition has been born.

As planned, The 5 of us met in Qualicum Beach to take on a camping/fishing long weekend extraordinaire. Melissa and Kole, went on a week long trip to Nelson, to visit family. They go every year with her cousin from Vancouver, who also has a kid the same age as our son. During that same week was Canada Day long weekend. I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time. As in my previous post, I don't see my friends too often. But it was more than that. I work lots and I am a family man. I don't have any extracurricular activities or hobbies. I rarely play golf, which I'm not very good at. So, I guess you could say that this trip was needed. The night before I left, I was amped! I went over my list twice to make sure I had everything packed, and ready. I woke up early on Thursday morning, and had a few errands to run before I left. It seemed to take forever to get out of Victoria and hit the road. I finally did, and it didn't take more than 2 hours to get to Mike's place. The other 3 were driving out from Kelowna.

When the boys arrived at Mikes, we left for Little Qualicum Falls Campground, about 20 mins up Hwy 4. I had never been there before, it was quite beautiful. A true westcoast campground. It was more family oriented, but that didn't seem to matter. We're older now right, not so rowdy. Mike had paid for 2 spots side by side, but when we pulled up, some lady with her kid was in one of our spots. She clearly didn't read the tag on the sign that stated so. Unfortunately she had to move, but that's kinda her fault. We set up camp, and right across the road only a stone's throw away was the Qualicum river.

Buying firewood when you're surround by it seems a little crazy. I guess that's why the boys brought a chainsaw. You can just pick up shit off the ground, it's been soaked from the last rain. The best chance you have is by cutting down the dead ones. Done and done. Now it's drinkin' time. Some of the guys picked up fireworks from the local gas station were we stopped to pick up ice. Three things dominated this weekend. 1. Beer 2. Fish 3. Fireworks. Not necessarily in that order. Breakfast was made in the morning. What was so cool about the meals, was we all chipped in some way or another. Whether one cooked, or one did the dishes. Shit got done. We spent the first day on Cameron lake. Had a few bites, reeled some in, but no keepers.
we then tried out a few rivers and creeks. A few bites, but nothing solid. I think we drank harder that night due to the lack of fish. That, and it was our nation's birthday. MORE FIREWORKS! Now, before I catch a lot of shit for setting off fireworks in a forest, let me get something straight. They were small fireworks, not roman candles or some crazy rocket explosion monsters. Merely small little dancing devils or these weird little wick things that seemed to be the most fun. We were very watchful of what were were doing. Kind of.

The second day, breakfast was had, and Shane didn't have to whittle chopsticks to eat his food like he did the morning earlier. We got forks! Took the boat for a drive, after we ate to find a new lake. We tried Spider lake at first, but it prohibited motors. We then tried Horne Lake, but couldn't find a place to launch the boat. It was now 4 o'clock. Despair caused us to have a rock throwing competition at a sign in the water. Fishing was not happening today. Or was it? Kris wanted to see the ocean. As for a valley man, who sees the ocean once a year if that, it made sense. So we drove into town, to a beach. Mike showed us how to search for and dig up clams. There were clams to be dug up, clams to be steamed up, and we ate those little fuckers proudly.

This trip was about more than the fishing. It was about just chillin' with the boys. About sitting around a fire, telling stories, laughing our asses off, drinkin' beers and having a rad time.
I think moments like these are important. It's not just about getting drunk with your buddies. It's about keeping that bond strong. It's about creating memories that will last a lifetime. I may sound cheesy, but so what? I certainly treasure these times, as they are getting more and more rare as we age.

We agreed that this will have to be an annual thing. Next year the spot will be Douglas Lake.

I can hardly wait already.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Great Grocery Divider Standoff

What did my groceries ever do to your groceries?

Just about every time we're at the store to get our weekly rations, and it happens. We load our groceries onto the conveyor belt, there's no divider for the person behind us. Panic! They refuse to put their stuff on the counter because there's no divider. Holy shit! The world's ending! As our stuff moves up and the space behind our stuff gets a little bigger, they still don't put their shit down. As soon as the cashier gets to our goods, and puts the divider that was in front of us to the little divider rack below the gum and batteries, they make their move. Quickly snatching it up and putting it down as if to say "There! NOW I can put my groceries down."

I purposely don't put it down to see the reaction of the folks behind me. About 80% of the time, this happens. Now, I realize that it's there more for the cashiers. I guess they have a hard time keeping track of who's food is who's. But, due to my stubbornness, I will continue to do what I do in pissing off my fellow shopper. It's kinda fun watching them squirm.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

7 Days

1 week from now, I'll be sittin' in a boat with a line in the water and a beer in my hand under the July sun. I'm going Fishin'!!

When I moved out to Victoria almost 10 years ago, My best buds did the same. We rocked it out here! Had awesome adventures, killer parties, and tons of stories to go along with it. We've been close ever since high school. Now we're older. Some of us have kids, families, own homes. I'm the last one to remain in Vic. Some moved back to the Okanagan, another up island. Well, we all agreed that we should meet for a camping/fishing trip this summer. Mike in Qualicum Beach is the one setting us up at a camp spot at Cameron Lake. I'm not much of a fisherman. I own crab traps, and have gone, but I don't own rods, or tackle. Last year was when Shane got married, we had a Camping trip 40 mins out of Kelowna for his Stag. It was very suitable over peelers and bars. It was at a small spot at Windy Lake north of Westbank. Shane's brother had secured the spot a day earlier, so we had the entire lake to ourselves. I hadn't fished since I was 18 and even then I didn't catch a thing. But there's something to be said for just chillin' in the boat with your pals, cold beers, and the water calmly slapping against the side of the boat. Loons make up the background noise, and the sun glistens off the water in way that can make you religious.

I don't see my friends too often, and to have us ALL together is something that only happens once every year or two. I know how lucky I am to have such great friends, and even luckier to have remained close over the many years. Whenever I talk to other people about high school, it seems that not many still keep in contact with their old posse. Facebook help with that, sure. But Facebook wasn't really in play until '06. Our friendships have remained solid since they started. Even earlier for those who went to elementary school together. We have grown up together. And I see no reason why we won't be close friends when we're old farts. That's what is going to make this trip so rad. Good times, laughs and the Great Outdoors.

The countdown begins.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Vancouver Riot 2011

It's been almost a week since the city of Vancouver was raped.

Now I'm a Calgary Flames fan, and I was quite pleased to see our rival, The Vancouver Canucks fall in game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. I was not however pleased to see it's citizens take part in the worst riot of that city's history. I was working the night of the game, but was keeping tabs on it. When it was over, I saw Facebook posts about people flipping a car. Now, I had heard hype from many people that a riot may ensue. I believed that this was a different time than the '94 riot after Vancouver lost to New York in the finals. I believed that we as a "society" had matured. After the Olympics, and the jubilant celebrations that took place night after night, how could they turn?

Well they did, and boy, did they ever.

By now, everyone has heard of the destruction, the looting, the fires and fights that took place so I'm not going to bother explaining it. What I want to talk about is 3 particular points. 1. Who it was that took part in it. 2. The accused and the backlash. 3. The city's blind sense of identity.

First off. When the initial reports came out that it was a handful of anarchists that came from Surrey and surrounding areas that brought weapons and destruction tools. With a plan to start trouble regardless of the outcome of the game. While yes, there were those people around starting shit, there were non-anarchists that joined them. There were more average Joe's and Jane's causing a ruckus than those wielding hammers, and wearing face masks. They were your co-workers, your classmates, the person that serves you coffee, and the people you walk past on your way to work. A lot of them were teenagers too. And if it wasn't bad enough that they were reeking havoc on the streets, thousands more stood by to watch and take pictures only making those causing the shit to make it worse. Oddly enough those pictures are why most of them will be caught and prosecuted. Which brings me to my next point.

You got caught, and now your upset because people are mad at you. In this social media day and age, news travels very fast. Nathan Kotylak is the 17 year old from Maple Ridge who is the dipshit trying to set a police car on fire. He has since apologized. But the backlash he is receiving from this may even put his family at risk of being ostracized. Are some of the comments directed at him and his fellow rioters like Dustin Anderson or Camille Cacnio harsh? Yeah, they are. Are the actions that these drunken idiots did harsh. Absolutely. Now I'm not condoning death threats directed at them or their families, but I see nothing wrong with thousands of angry people letting these crooks know how they feel. What they did was atrocious, and appalling. Don't come whining that people are being mean and not accepting your apology. Now I'm not saying my shit don't stink, I did some dumb things in my youth, but never to this magnitude. What these people did to the city, the shop owners, the people watching disgusted, will stick with them for a very long time. I don't think that it's fair that after a week they want people to feel sorry for them. You made your bed, now lay in it.

And finally, Vancouver is not the latte sipping, hippie drumming, peaceful place that it thinks it is. It has a dark side. Don't get me wrong, I like Vancouver (the city, NOT the hockey team). I do. But it has is it's fair share of problems. Drug addicts, crooks, gangs, douchbags and lowlifes. It seems that when there is a celebration in that city, there is always people there to stir shit. For no reason other than to take away a good time from someone else. A problem that comes with being a port city I guess. Of course every city has it's problems. But after Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa lost their Stanley Cup finals in the last 10 years. There were no riots. Mayor Robertson did shit all in preparing for this game. "Hey everyone, lets have a street party of over 100,00 people and have a only handful of cops nearby". "Nothing will go wrong, we're Vancouver after all." If I have one message of Gregor, it would be this. The next time you have an extremely large crowd, with emotions and booze running rampant, and a scar from the last time it happened, you might want to spend more money on police presence than on giant screens. Can't really point the finger in one direction on this one, too many variables, but I think they city should apologize too. For being ill prepared and foolish. It's kinda like the woman that gets beaten from her man, but she keeps saying "oh, he loves me though, you don't know him."

I would like to finish this post with a shout out to the brave men and women who took upon themselves to face an unruly crowd of thousands to defend their city. You guys deserve medals. Seriously.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Peacocks and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

This is a complete 180 of my last blog.

So, it was Sunday today and Melissa was working until 1:30. The overpaid liars at weather headquarters actually came through for us. Clear skies and a perfect 22 degrees Celsius.

The boy woke me up at 7:30, we went downstairs and started the day. I had a sweet plan of taking him to Beacon Hill Park today. I was packing a picnic lunch to bring. Peanut butter sandwiches, blueberries, and watermelon. They have a rockin' playground, a petting zoo, mini putt, and a water park. There's also resident peacocks that live at the zoo, but roam the park. If you've never heard of Beacon Hill Park, here ya go: I brought my video camera to capture the day, and anything that might happen. So we venture through the park around 10am. it has windy paths that wrap around ponds filled with multiple species of birds. My son LOVES birds. Usual crows and the occasional shithawk, ducks, geese, a blue heron, and peacocks. He runs around the paths saying hi to all the birds. After a close and intimate encounter with a squirrel, and beating a tree with a stick, he sees the playground through the brush. Bolts for it. I've never seen a playground so busy before in my life. I almost thought for a second that if I so much as closed my eyes if I sneezed, I could lose sight of my kid.

He climbed, scaled, ran, swung, jumped, laughed, and played. It was so great to see him behaving well around other kids. That twatty grandmother wasn't there. There was a scary moment when the little one ran into the path of some bigger kids on the swing. He ran right through the first one's swing, narrowly missing. At this point I'm diving and reaching for him in what seemed like slow motion. I managed to get a hand on his shoulder just enough to clear him of the second swinger. He fell into the woodchips, but that's far better that being smoked in the back by someone on a swing. A fellow dad there saw my actions and said "Nice reflexes." We left the playground to go have lunch, but Dad needed to take a wizz. For some bizarre reason, my son wanted to go and grab the rim of the urinal. Looking down at the wall toilet next to me that looked more like a beard, and him walking out with hands extended, I screamed DON'T TOUCH!!!! Luckily he didn't. I was not prepared to deal with pube hands. We found a nice shady spot under a gary oak and unpacked our lunch. We sat there peacefully eating and taking in the scenery. There were a couple peacocks in the trees behind us making their oddly human-like sounds. We completed a secondary round of the playground after lunch. The boy had no interest in the water park, and was showing signs of fatigue. I carried him home and put him down for a nap.

This is what I captured.

It was a perfect day. It was one of those days that make the rough ones go away. I often gripe about the perils of parenthood, but you can't have your ying without your yang.