Thursday, December 17, 2009

I told you he's everywhere!

So I'm walking through the mall this afternoon, and who to my wondering eyes does appear? Here's photographic proof. That's me on the left.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

He's everywhere these days

Everywhere you look these days, he's there, complete in red suit, with his white beard well groomed and his sleigh bells in one mittened hand.
Part of the magic of Santa Claus is how he can accomplish being everywhere, sitting kids on his lap to hear what they want for Christmas, and responding with a resounding "Ho ho ho". He does all this while also supervising the elves as they make toys in their North Pole workshop, trying to fill all those orders all over the world.

My earliest recollection of Santa is from television, on CFCL in Timmins, and his daily visit during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
The search light would scan the snow-covered hill behind the TV station, waiting for Santa to come running in, after parking his sleigh somewhere beyond camera range. As he arrived at the back door of the studio, he would be greeted by Mr. Announcer Man, and sweep the snow off his boots, reminding all the boys and girls to do the same when they came indoors.
Then, for the next magical half hour, he would read letters from those boys and girls. And he would bring his magical telescope at least once a year, and look around CFCL's broadcast area, commenting on the good boys and girls he could see through the scope. One time, he even spotted my sister, and commended her on helping my Mom with household chores, at the ripe old age of three.
Sure, it's magic, but the Jolly Old Elf needs just a wee bit of help to accomplish it all. It seems that he has a volunteer in every community, taking care of the logistics of all of his local activities.
In the case of Timmins when I was a kid, it was a firefighter named Art Eby. I know this, because Mr. Eby and his wife were friends of my parents. He and my Dad served on a regional body for their credit unions, and the two couples travelled together once or twice, to provincial conventions in Toronto.
I met Mr. Eby a few times. The most vivid time that I can recall was at our house early one winter. As he and Mrs. Eby visited with my Mom and Dad, the three of us kids just did regular kid things. My sister, being a little busybody, was even trying her hand at washing dishes. In fact, now that I think of it, it was specifically dish washing that Santa mentioned, when he spotted Dale through his telescope.
Some 25 or more years later, when I was six o'clock news anchor at that same Timmins TV station, I actually got the opportunity to fill in for Mr. Announcer Man on the Santa Claus Show a few times. During a break, I spoke to Santa about Mr. Eby, who had died by that time, and how another firefighter, Sonny Farrell, took over his duties to make sure Santa's visits went off without a hitch. Santa spoke very highly of Mr. Eby, and how he passed along his organizational skills to Mr. Farrell.
While we all too often forget what Christmas really is all about, there's room for fond memories such as these, and the magic of the season.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back to life, back to reality...

Just back from an amazing week in the Mayan Riviera, where I attended the wedding of my all-time best friend, Bill and his love, Lise Anne.
We lost a day at the beginning of the week, thanks to Hurricane Ida and Air Canada's reluctance to fly to Cancun. But I think we made up for it. We had a great group of 25 people who toured and partied all week long.
On our last night there, we attended the show at Xcaret Park, right next to our resort, Grand Occidental Xcaret. It was a marvellous, colourful depiction of the history of the Mayan people. Here's a video of a very small part of the performance: video
Another favourite part for most of us was the hockey game, with a flaming coconut substituting for the puck, thusly:
I wouldn't have been anywhere else in the world last week, especially on Thursday, when my buddy got married, and I was one of four official witnesses. We have been best buddies since we were about 15. We're almost polar opposites of each other in so many ways, which might be the basis of our friendship. We just "get" each other.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Among things for which I'm thankful

...and the list is endless.
But here's one for which I'll be immensely thankful for the rest of my life.
This is the first photograph of my soon-to-be Little Niece or Little Nephew (I have a bet with her Grandma that she'll be a girl -- Isabelle). Yes, you are looking at the first sonogram of Little Bro Dan and Pretty Christine's baby, who is due to arrive on or about March 6, 2010. It was taken during the 12th week of gestation.
See her little head and priceless little hand, to the centre right of the pic? Isn't she beautiful?
Happy Thanksgiving, Isabelle -- and everyone else, too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Misha Garcia, 1990-2009 R.I.P.


I just learned that Misha died this afternoon at 2:35, surrounded by family.
It will take a while to gather my thoughts. What I do know is that I'm a stronger person for having witnessed the strength of the young guy who lived less than half as long as I have.
Thanks for being part of my life, Mish. I admire you and will never forget you.

Bob

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

To Misha:

I've been hoping for some me-and-you time, but I am so impressed with the large group of family and friends you have surrounding you.
There's something I've been wanting to tell you, but if I don't get a chance to do it in person, here it is:
Religion hasn't been a big part of my life, but I am a firm believer in fate, and how it decides whose paths you cross in your life.
In our case, fate set up hockey as the means for our paths to cross the first time, and for that, I am so grateful.
When I first heard of your illness and you accepted my offer to buy you a hamburger, I was so impressed with your maturity, your outlook, your determination and your overall attitude. You told me that you were volunteering with other kids at CHEO, trying to instill the same things in them. You'll also remember telling me that you couldn't understand how some of those kids would receive a diagnosis something like yours, and immediately give up.
Mish, I'm more than twice your age, but your determination taught me so much.
Ultimately, that determination wasn't enough, and your disease returned. But I take comfort in knowing that you squeezed two-and-a-half years out of life, when your doctors wouldn't commit past six months. Come to think of it, you said you weren't sure how long you would live, that it wouldn't be as long as if you had never had cancer, but you wouldn't accept any more prognoses from the doctors.
Now, my young friend, as hard as it is to accept, I think it's time to concede a bit, and let your determination down just a tiny bit.
That's what I meant tonight, when I whispered something similar in your ear. Let the doctors and nurses make you comfortable with morphine or whatever else it takes. You deserve it, and it doesn't mean you're not tough or strong. You are both, and will continue to be.
Again, I am so glad to have met you and to call you my friend. And that's a designation that is forever.

Bob

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sometimes, not even determination can beat The Big C

Just over a year ago (June 25, 2008) I posted here about my young friend Misha, who had had brain cancer, and refused to let anything get him down. I was amazed and inspired by his spirit and determination.
He told me then that he didn't know what his long-term prognosis was, and his doctors quit telling him such things, because he refused to accept anything negative. He had already proven them wrong by surviving surgery and chemo, and walking, when they had told him that was all doubtful.
Misha did say that time that he knew he wouldn't live as long as if he hadn't had cancer, but he didn't know how long that might be.
He told me all of that when we went for lunch together. We stayed in touch via facebook and he came over to my place for supper one night this past spring.
I hadn't heard from him in a while, but have now learned why. Misha is now at Roger's Place, a palliative care centre for young people here in Ottawa. Simply put, he's dying, at the ripe old age of 19.
I've been in touch with Misha's father, Angelo. I met both of them the first year I lived in Ottawa, when I signed on to be trainer of the hockey team that Misha was a goaltender for, and Angelo was one of the coaches.
Angelo tells me that Misha has been spending a lot of time with family and friends, and that me visiting would be just fine. In his email to me, Angelo says that Misha "keeps on smiling which is always amazing to see" and that he's "facing this final challenge with a lot of courage".
I'm going to go for my first visit on Wednesday. Sure, I'm a bit apprehensive, but a lot less than I would be, if I hadn't had lunch and supper with him those times, and chatted online other times. I'll approach it the same way we've dealt with each other as trainer to goaltender and friend to friend: Head on and very frankly. In fact, Misha might not know it, but he taught me how to do that.
Am I upset that he's dying? Of course. He's only 19, for crying out loud. Things aren't supposed to be this way.
Am I still inspired by him, and expect to be inspired some more? You bet.
I've been a trainer and/or manager with almost two dozen hockey teams over the past 30 years or so. The goaltenders have always been my "pets" because while they're not really different from the other kids, they each march to their very own drummer and to their very own tune in their heads. I think that's another foundation of the friendship I have with Misha.
Angelo's going to tell Misha that I'm coming Wednesday afternoon. I told him that Mish and I will take it from there, and I'll visit more often.
I'm going to ride this out with my buddy, with a very selfish motive. I'm already a better person for having known Misha and sharing a bit of his journey with him. Riding it out with him to the end will make me that much better a person.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Something to chew on

I've never bought organic products, mostly because of the cost factor. Now I don't have to feel like I'm getting less nutritional benefit for less money. Here's an excerpt from today's Globe and Mail:
Consumers who choose organic food are often willing to pay a premium, but it turns out added nutritional benefits may not be included in the hefty price tag.

A new analysis has found organic food has the same nutritional quality as crops grown under conventional methods.

“There's no evidence that organically-produced food is nutritionally superior to conventionally-produced food,” said Alan Dangour, public-health nutritionist and senior lecturer in public-health nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“You can buy organic for other things, but there's no evidence you should be buying it because there's enhanced nutrient content of organic food.”


There are, of course, other reasons for buying organic. For instance, I have friends who are trying to up their family's intake of organically-produced products, because their eight-year-old daughter is already showing signs of puberty. They believe it's from the hormones and other nasty stuff in non-organic fruits and veggies.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meet my new neighbours


These are Bud and Rose. They recently took up residence in the garden just outside my front door.
The previous owner left me with several perennials. She must have known what she was doing, too, because the flowerbed takes on a new appearance and character almost weekly.
There is also a flowerbed in the backyard, which is far from as nice. I decided to let it go wild, and boy oh boy, did it ever go wild! No, I will not post photos of it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My vacation from my forced vacation

I spent last week in the Iroquois Falls/Timmins area, taking a break from the frustrating job hunt (nothing after four months on layoff). I stayed at the cottage, reminding my Dad that I don't go up there in the summer to stay at his house, which is a ten-minute drive from the cottage.
The mosquitoes are monstrous, thanks to the cool, wet summer, which held true to form for the entire week I was there.
I did, however, have some close encounters with wildlife. On the drive through the Ottawa Valley, a bear ran in front of my car, between Petawawa and Chalk River. Yeah, at shortly after ten o'clock on a Saturday morning! Then I saw a dead moose on the shoulder of Highway 11, between Marten River and Temagami.
Heading into Iroquois Falls via Monteith Road, there was a young bull moose on the side of the road. I pulled over, dug out my camera, but the damned batteries were dead.
Then one morning, while I was still asleep and my Dad was in town, Stepmama saw a moose walk up from the lake, alongside the cottage, and out to the road. This is a photograph of a footprint I took later.
I also saw a couple of foxes near the cottage. It might even have been the same fox twice. They all look alike to me.
It was nice to spend some time up North for the first time since last summer. I relaxed a lot and got to visit some friends and family, but one week isn't enough to do it all. But I have to keep job hunting, because severance pay isn't gonna last forever, and a man's gotta eat, pay the bills, feed the cat, etc. If things get bad enough, I might have to eat the cat. Anyone got any recipes?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Dr. Freud:

Here's a dream I wish you could interpret for me.
I'm appearing as a guest performer with the Rolling Stones, playing guitar and singing. But as in real life, I can't play guitar and my singing has been terrible since puberty robbed me of vocal control (when I was young, I was a pretty decent singer, singing solos in the church choir and even being cast as a principal actor in Bye Bye Birdie in Grade 9).
Back to the performance with the Stones: I fake it, mostly by strumming on the guitar and either lip-synching or singing low enough that my secret is safe.
I do, however, enjoy the backstage area, and all the free beer and food -- mostly egg salad sandwiches.

Thanks for any interpretation you might provide,
Bob

P.S. Okay, okay, I'll indulge you: "Am I crazy? I am? I want a second opinion. You say I'm ugly, too?"

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Three months in

It will be three months tomorrow since I was laid off.
I'm doing well, just really, really bored. Financial pressures are still in the future, thanks to the 54-week severance package I received. I'm proud of the foresight I had when CTV bought A-Channel, asking about the 15 years of service I had with CTV before coming to what was then The New RO, owned by CHUM. My severance was based on 18 years, instead of three.
I've been actively looking for work, which hasn't been easy, due to the mess the economy is in, among other factors. I came really close to what would have been a great job, but crapped out when it came time for French-language testing. My French skills are not as good as I thought they were.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally decided it was time to take advantage of the services of a career counselling and management company that CTV set us up with. So far, I have revamped and modernized my resumé, and taken testing to see what I should probably be pursuing. It turns out that my career thus far has been exactly what my best fit is. That's no big surprise, because I've always loved the type of work I have done.
So that at least confirms that I should try to stay in broadcasting, journalism or a related field. Now if I can just get the stars to align properly, so that I can find a job, preferably in Ottawa.
No one said it would be easy. And I was born on a Saturday, and as the old poem goes, "Saturday's child works hard for a living".
Life goes on...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Here's something cool for a warm day

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/639459

It's a New York Times article about Zamboni
"skating through the recession". Interesting to note how it's written for an American readership, necessitating mention of Lord Stanley, "whose trophy goes to the NHL champion". It's also interesting to note that Zamboni HQ is in a residential neighbourhood of Los Angeles, with a Brantford branch plant.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

From Big Brother to Best Man...


This is an article I wrote, that appears in the May edition of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Canada's Alumni e-bulletin

"The steady breeze off the Caribbean Sea and the late afternoon sun were making picture-taking a bit tricky, but absolutely nothing will convince me that the conditions on that Jamaican beach were anything less than perfect.

Who would have thought, almost 16 years ago, that I would be on that beach in Ocho Rios, standing as Best Man for my Little Brother, as he married the love of his life. When Dan asked me to be his Best Man just over a year earlier, I quickly accepted, but told him that if he would rather have one of his buddies or cousins standing for him, it was fine with me, because I would be at the wedding anyway. "I asked you," he replied, "because I want you." Case closed.

Dan and I were matched on July 14, 1993 by Porcupine Big Brothers Big Sisters in Timmins, Ontario. We quickly hit it off, effortlessly fitting into each others lives, routines and families. Very early in the match, we knew that it was much more, and that we would be a big part of each others lives forever.

Solid proof of that comes from that beach wedding on April 15, 2009, when 26-year-old Dan took Christine (I call her "The Pretty One") to be his wife. I had the honour of being Best Man, while Dan's only sister, Chantal, was Maid of Honour.

Our match is legendary at Porcupine Big Brothers Big Sisters, but when I hear that, I feel that it's only fair to point out that you can't compare any two matches. Each one is special in its own way.

Back to the wedding: The ceremony took less than ten minutes, and the emotions of the 21 people there - including the bride, the groom, their families, friends, and the minister - added to the atmosphere that will live on as special memories for as long as the Big Brother-Little Brother match will. Dan and I have often discussed how we're both strong believers in fate. It was fate that brought us together. I was actually his third Big Brother. The first two had to leave Timmins for employment reasons, and Dan's Mom had to coax him into trying it one more time.

As a lifelong bachelor with no kids of my own, being Dan's Big has filled a void that I didn't even realize existed. I wouldn't change a second of the past 16 years, as I look forward to the future, and being "Big Uncle" to the children that my Little Brother Dan and Little Sister-in-Law Christine are anxious to start having."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Me no blog long time

Me forget and no want write.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Customer service, my ass

I went for a haircut today at Joe's Barber Shop at Place d'Orléans mall, getting ready for the Jamaica trip and the wedding that will take place there next week.
When I went to leave, my jacket was gone. I knew that someone else had taken it by mistake, complete with my house and car keys in the pocket.
So I went to the "Guest Services" desk in the mall, to ask for an announcement to be made that whoever took the wrong jacket from Joe's Barber Shop, please return with it. But they won't do that. I even went over the head of the kid at the desk, asking him to call a supervisor, who refused to bend the policy. The only way they'll make an announcement like that is if they have the customer's name: "Jane Doe, please return to Kinky 'r' Us". Sorry, Shit for Brains, but I obviously don't know the name of the guy who accidentally took my jacket.
There is a happy ending. Shortly after I went back to Joe's, a very embarrassed man showed up with my jacket, which is very similar to his. He said he realized he had the wrong one when he took his keys out of his pants pocket, but still had some in his jacket pocket. I totally understand that, and wouldn't put it past myself to do that.
I did file a written complaint with Guest Services. It won't do any good, but at least I vented.
Customer service, my ass.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Today, I'm especially proud to be Canadian

I drove to Eganville today, to attend a wake for the father of a friend/former co-worker. The World War II veteran's coffin is partially draped in a Canadian flag, and he is dressed in his Legion uniform, with his service medals proudly displayed on his chest, over his heart.
I did not know Mr. McMaster, but I think he would be as proud as I am, with something that I witnessed on the way to Eganville.
Along the last five or six overpasses headed west on Highway 417 were fire trucks, all flying Canadian flags. I also saw several clusters of police cars parked along the shoulder of the eastbound side of the highway. Then I noticed two military buses headed towards Ottawa, and finally, a short convoy of maybe eight vehicles, obviously carrying the body of a Canadian soldier to his burial at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.
All of that prompted my Canadian pride. While the U.S. is still grappling with whether to announce military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, Canada is characteristically low key and classy in acknowleding those deaths, and honouring the 115 servicemen and one servicewoman who have died in Afghanistan since 2002.
I didn't know what to do. I wanted to pull over and wait for the convoy that I anticipated would be coming, but didn't want to create a hazard. So I simply saluted the convoy as we passed each other, remembering how I was taught to salute as an Air Cadet, about 38 years ago.
On my way home, I saw those two buses again, this time headed in the opposite direction, confirming my suspicion that they are from CFB Petawawa, headed home after the ceremony at the cemetery.
The fire trucks and police vehicles were the Highway 417 version of the tribute paid on Highway 401's Highway of Heroes, as the bodies of those who sacrificed their lives are brought from Trenton to Toronto.
Indeed, today, I'm especially proud to be Canadian.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Indulge me for a minute here, will ya?

I've been out of broadcasting for three weeks now, and haven't had the opportunity to bitch about things I hear on-air. So just let me get this out of my system, please. Thanks ever so much.

The words POLICE and COLLAPSE each have two syllables, not one. DETROIT has two, not three (It's dee-TROYT, not dee-TROY-IT). CANADA has three syllables, not two (stop omitting the DA at the end of that word).

I could go on, but I won't. I feel much better already. Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Prettiest picture ever of Coffee, the Prettiest Cat Ever


This beautiful creature never fails to keep me amused, and throws in the odd surprise once in a while, too.
One thing she has never done -- until now -- is to bring me any of her toys. I will throw a ball or a mouse around and she'll beat it up and leave it for me to throw again, but she has never brought a toy to me.
I had human company this week that included a three-month-old baby. On Monday night, Teigen was in his little chair on the living room floor, and I was sitting on the floor having a great discussion with him, about what a great gig being a baby is. Coffee had checked him out a few times, just looking at him in his chair and then walking away, very arrogant cat-style. Then as Teigen and I were in the middle of our conversation, Coffee walked up to me, bumped me with her head, and dropped a mouse on the floor beside me.
I got the message loud and clear: "He's okay, Daddy, but enough about him. It's time to pay attention to moi."
I also brought Coffee to the vet for her annual check-up and needle today. She's in top health. But it was traumatic for her. She wouldn't let me put her in her pet carrier, so I carried her. She meowed all the way to the vet's (less than a five-minute drive), and was on needles and pins until I brought her back into our house.
This is my first experience with cat ownership, and after 15 months, I'm still amazed by this beautiful creature.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I'm getting by with a little help from my friends

I'm a bit emotional right now. You see, I was laid off yesterday, along with 34 other employees of 'A' Ottawa & The Valley. Our jobs were terminated effective immediately.
I'll be fine. I have a very generous severance package that eases the urgency to find another job, so I have time to make contacts, investigate leads and hopefully find something sooner rather than later. I also hope it's something in broadcasting and/or journalism, because that's all that I've done for the last 30 years, and can't imagine doing anything else.
I am truly overwhelmed by all the messages I've received on facebook over the past 36 hours, all expressing sympathy and hope. And even though it's not out there in black and white, they each express friendship. That is probably what is most important right now. There are no words to explain how deeply that touches me. So "thank you" will have to suffice.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

For the sake of the animals

A couple of my blog friends have posts dealing with animals they've encountered this weekend, from yet another puppy mill in Quebec being shut down. Check them out at natlauzon.blogspot.com and misster-kitty.blogspot.com . Nat and Shawn (a.k.a. Misster Kitty) are among those with kind souls who really care for these animals, and volunteer their time just to give them the unconditional love that dogs are supposed to be giving to humans.
At work today, we had a story about a five-legged boxer mix named Logan, who needs amputation surgery, because legs #4 and 5 are fused together and useless. Check it out at http://www.atv.ca/ottawa/news_67245.aspx . It also has a link to Hopeful Hearts, the group that specializes in rescuing and finding homes for senior and special needs dogs. God bless Roz Phelps and her group, too.
Every time I see stories like Logan's or the dogs that Nat and Kitty work with, I want to adopt them all.
I just hope that adopting my Coffee, The Prettiest Cat Ever is enough. And as much as I would like to have a playmate for her, I don't think that's a good idea.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some people!

So I went to pick up a few things at the grocery store before coming in to work today. I was running a tad late but figured no problem, I only needed three items so I could cruise through the express checkout. WRONG!
First, there was only one other checkout open. Second, the cashier was checking through an old broad who obviously couldn't count, and was way past the 12-item limit. Third, this other woman was standing about ten feet behind old broad's cart. I asked her if she was in line, and she just looked through me as if I wasn't even there, not even acknowledging my existence. "Well, are you?" I repeated. Again, it was as if I was The Invisible Man.

Kitty, where are you when I need you? That biatch was lookin' for some Kittyfication all over her black ass (her colour really is irrelevant). Man, I wish I had your chutzpah.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A few photos to share

I thought I would share a few photos I took tonight.


This is Jim, who I mentioned in my last post.
This is the National War Memorial.
These are some neat windows on Elgin St. in Ottawa.
This is Coffee The Prettiest Cat Ever, on her favourite perch, the stairs. She cracks me up on a regular basis. She's a four-legged clown.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Let me tell you about how much I like and appreciate facebook

Sure, I probably spend too much time on facebook. But through the so-called "social networking site", I've reconnected -- at least in cyberspace -- with a lot of old friends and classmates. It has been great to catch up. I've even been able to get together with some of them.
One of thoe meetings will happen this Wednesday. I will have drinks and dinner with Jim. He's an Air Canada pilot who will be in Ottawa on an overnight layover. But 28years ago, he was a defenceman on a Juvenile hockey team that I managed. That team made it to the national championship tournament, and lost the bronze medal game, 8-7 in overtime.
I have also reconnected via facebook with Jim's older sister, Pam. She and I are the same age and went to school together in Kindergarten, part of Grade 1 (until my family moved "across the tracks"), then again in Grade 8 and all through high school.
So yeah, I spend too much time on facebook. Has it been worth it? You bet.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hypocrisy


Let me start by saying that I have only ever had two tokes off a marijuana joint, and do not condone smoking it.
And now, Olympic swimming hero Michael Phelps is embroiled in controversy over a photo of him apparently taking a drag off a bong. The photo was taken at a party and sold to the British tabloid News of the World.
Kellogg's has decided not to renew the contract to have Phelps on its cereal boxes, because he now doesn't match the image it wishes to portray. Fair enough, I guess.
The hypocrisy comes from USA Swimming, which has just suspended him for three months, and from anyone who criticizes Phelps.
Come on, people! He's 23 years old. How many guys his age DON'T take the occasional toke? He's human. For all we know, it's the first time he's ever taken a drag off a bong. Either way, why does this make him a bad role model for younger people? Why should he even be a role model for them? Don't his accomplishments and the sacrifices he made on the way to Olympic history speak loudly enough forthemselves in role model terms? Does USA Swimming really think he's the only athlete to ever get into a competitive pool who has smoked pot? Hypocrisy and naivete, if that's the case.
What do you think?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Touchstones of the past

Memories of good times and times gone by are great, but if you're as tactile as I am, you appreciate something concrete as a reminder.
I have what I call an unofficial collection of coffee mugs as souvenirs of places I've been and things I've seen.
Drinking glasses have also served that purpose. When I was a little guy, we lived in a duplex. In the other side was an elderly couple who adopted me as an unofficial grandson. My father moved our family into our half of the duplex on the day I was born, so the neighbour lady, Mrs. Turner -- I called her "Nurny" -- was a great help to my Mom, taking possession of me occasionally so that my Mom could pay attention to my brother and/or get some rest. Anyway, Nurny and her husband Johnny were like grandparents to me, with Johnny even coming to get me at HIS nap time, saying "Come on, Bobby, it's time to head for the tall timbers" and we would snooze together.
When Johnny died, Nurny gave my Mom a set of metal glasses that he always used, because they kept whatever liquid in them cold. I wish I knew where those four glasses (one blue, one red, one green and one gold) are now. When Nurny died, her daughter-in-law gave me a ceramic figure of a mare and her colt beside a well, and one of a little diver, complete with diving helmet. I still have them. They're very special to me.
I also had a glass that my Grade 5 teacher gave me for perfect attendance. I must have really loved school to have perfect attendance that year, because the teacher was a Class 'A' Bitch ("Bitch" capitalized intentionally). The glass broke a long time ago.

Several years ago, when my parents were considering downsizing (which they never evenutally did), they were de-junking the house, and my siblings and I had to salvage whatever we wanted, lest it go in the garbage. One of the things that I saved was a tall glass that came with either cheese spread or peanut butter in it. Featured on the glass was the character John from Disney's animated Peter Pan. Well, just this morning, I broke it. There goes another concrete attachment to my childhood
BUT I still have my A&W root beer mug! I'll now take extra care of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kinda sums up public opinion on the OC Transpo strike...


An -- ahem -- adult store on Bank St., downtown Ottawa

Sunday, January 18, 2009

After 40 days...

...Noah had found a way out of his predicament.

OCTranspo... not so much.
I'm starting to think that all that will solve the mess is Divine Intervention -- this coming from a man who's not really religious and isn't even sure there's a God.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's SO cold out...

I just saw a brass monkey with a very panicked look on his face!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Coffee's New Nemesis


This is Louie. He is a Bernese Mountain Dog, and you wouldn't know it by his size, but he's only eight months old. He and his humans lived with Coffee and me for 12 days, while the humans were in Ottawa for the World Junior Hockey Championship. His Human Dad is my all-time best friend.
It's hard to remember that Louie is only a pup, again because of his size. Coffee didn't let him get too close. If he got in her face, a sharp hiss made him back off.

This is a common position for Coffee for the 12 days, making sure Louie didn't get out of line, but keeping a safe distance. She was, however, much more accepting of him than she was of Sandy, the four-legged spawn of the devil who visited at the end of November. Coffee even let Louie take possession of a squeaky toy she has never played with. But he also tried to steal a multi-coloured ping pong ball that she often plays with. She let him take it to his big cushion that was always at the back door, so that he could get into and out of the back yard without dirtying up the whole house. But the minute he moved away from that ball, Coffee calmly walked over onto Louie's cushion, and took the ball back. You can only push a girl so far, after all.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Words and phrases that should be banned

Every year, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, publishes a list of words or phrases that should be banned from the English language.
Anyone can nominate a word or phrase. I nominated "these tough economic times" but alas, in these tough economic times, it didn't make the list.

Here are the words and phrases that did make it:

GREEN – The ubiquitous 'Green' and all of its variables, such as 'going green,' 'building green,' 'greening,' 'green technology,' 'green solutions' and more, drew the most attention from those who sent in nominations this year.

CARBON FOOTPRINT or CARBON OFFSETTING – "It is now considered fashionable for everyone, tree hugger or lumberjack alike, to pay money to questionable companies to 'offset' their own 'carbon footprint.' What a scam! Get rid of it immediately!" Ginger Hunt, London, England.

MAVERICK – "The constant repetition of this word for months before the US election diluted whatever meaning it previously had. Even the comic offshoot 'mavericky' was terribly overused. A minimum five-year banishment of both words is suggested so they will not be available during the next federal election." Matthew Mattila, Green Bay, Wisc.

FIRST DUDE – "Skateboard English is not an appropriate way to refer to the spouse of a high-ranking public official." Paul Ruschmann, Canton, Mich.

BAILOUT – "Use of emergency funds to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheets is not a bailout. When your cousin calls you from jail in the middle of the night, he wants a bailout." Ben Green, State College, Penn.

WALL STREET/MAIN STREET – "When this little dyad first came into use at the start of the financial crisis, I thought it was a clever use of parallelism. But it's simply over-used. No 'serious' discussion of the crisis can take place without some political figure lamenting the fact that the trouble on Wall Street is affecting 'folks' on Main Street." Charles Harrison, Aiken, SC.

Internet and texting blues -MONKEY – "Especially on the Internet, many people seem to think they can make any boring name sound more attractive just by adding the word 'monkey' to it. Do a search to find the latest. It is no longer funny." Rogier Landman, Somerville, Mass.

<3 – Supposed to resemble a heart, or stand for the word 'love.' Used when sending those important text messages to loved ones. "Just say the word instead of making me turn my head sideways and wondering what 'less than three' means." Andrea Estrada, Chicago.

ICON or ICONIC – Overused, especially among entertainers and in entertainment news, according to Robyn Yates of Dallas, who says that "every actor, actress and entertainment magazine show overuses this." One of the most-nominated words of the year. "Everyone and everything cannot be 'iconic.' Can't we switch to 'legendary' or 'famous for'? In our entertainment-driven culture, it seems everyone in show business is 'iconic' for some reason or another. "John Flood, Bray, Wicklow, Ireland

GAME CHANGER – "It's game OVER for this cliché, which gets overused in the news media, political arenas and in business." Cynthia, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

STAYCATION – "Occurrences of this word are going up with gas prices.'Vacation' does not mean 'travel,' nor does travel always involve vacation. Let's send this word on a slow boat to nowhere." Dan Muldoon, Omaha, Neb.

DESPERATE SEARCH – "Every time the news can't find something intelligent to report, they start on a 'desperate search' for someone, somewhere." Rick A. Hyatt, Saratoga, Wyo.

NOT SO MUCH – "I wish that the phrase was used not so much," says Tom Benson of Milwaukee, who notes that it is used widely in news media, especially in sports, i.e. 'The Gophers have a shot at the playoffs; the Chipmunks, not so much.'

WINNER OF FIVE NOMINATIONS – "It hasn't won an Academy Award yet. It has only been NOMINATED!" John Bohenek, Abilene, Tex.

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN – Nominated by Kathleen Brosemer of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for "general overuse and meaninglessness. When is it not 'that time of year again?' From Valentine's sales to year-end charity letters, invitations to summer picnics and Christmas parties, it's 'that time' of year again. Just get to the point of the solicitation, invitation, and newsletter and cut out six useless and annoying words."