Thursday, 28 February 2013

Kindness vs. Lateness

I do my best to be a good citizen.  I am jaded and cynical and intolerant of the idiots in the world but I still try and be "a good guy".  If I see an elderly woman struggling to load a case of bottled water into her trunk, I'll help out.  If the neighbour is away over Christmas, I'll shovel their driveway so they don't have to come home to that chore after a long drive.  And I've helped countless people get unstuck from snow drifts.

But all bets are off if I'm running late.

Like this morning.  Look at the end of the driveway and the plow has left an early morning gift for me and the neighbour.  No time to shovel that mess out.  Backed right over it and away I went.  Couldn't do much anyways as I broke our only shovel yesterday.

Making my way out of the neighbourhood, I see a minivan stuck in their driveway and the son is trying to push it out.  Sorry bud.  I'm sure I could have pushed it out or dragged it out with the truck but I had to go.

And the one I really feel bad about is the car in the ditch.  The expressway between Kitchener and New Hamburg is apparently lined with extremely strong electromagnets that are randomly turned on whenever snow is on the ground.  If it's snowing, guaranteed to have at least one car in the ditch on that 20km stretch of road.  And, sure enough, another car somehow made its way into the ditch this morning.  The tracks looked fresh.  I didn't see anybody in the car or in the ditch or on the shoulder.  But I wasn't looking too hard.  I told myself if I'd seen somebody I would have stopped to help.  But I'm 60% sure that was a lie.  Because I was late.  And there was no time to help anybody.

But what was I late for?  I had to get into work early.  Why?  Because I needed to leave work early.  Why?  Because Jen needs the truck to get to her pedicure appointment.

So, to all those people I could have helped today and didn't, I apologize.  For m'lady needs fancy toes.  


Toilet Talk

The men's washroom at work is gross.  Disgusting.  Filthy.  I physically cringe whenever I walk in.  We've had more than a couple overflow situations.  There's at least one artist in the building that uses snot as his medium and any surface in the bathroom as his canvas.  We've heard disturbing reports that this artist has turned saboteur and is now placing his favourite medium under the toilet paper dispenser.  Yah, I don't use the toilets at work.

With a rigid poop schedule and abstaining from mexican food and hot wings through the work week, this hasn't been an issue.  The urinals are unavoidable however.  Man's got to pee. I usually hold my breath, avoid looking at any open stall doors, and do what needs to be done.  The other day I'm doing what needs to be done and I let my one unoccupied hand rest on the flush valve of the urinal.  And my fingers came away wet.

Now this was more than likely some weeping from a leaky valve.  But the imagination wanders.  And given the surrounding environment it didn't have to wander far for me to conjure some rather disturbing sources for that wetness.  I finished my business, zipped up with my dry hand, and spent 10 minutes scrubbing the other hand with disinfectant and scalding hot water.  When I finished, I bid adieu to the washroom.  I am now peeing exclusively at the McDonald's across the parking lot.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Bungalow

Headed out to London for dinner with some friends last night.  The original goal was to visit a restaurant that was featured on the show "You Gotta Eat Here".  Some online reviews indicated the place wasn't as awesome as reviewed on the show.  These same reviews suggested a place called The Bungalow as a good alternative.

When have internet commenters ever steered somebody wrong?

But they were spot on in this case.  A charming little building in the middle of a downtown London neighbourhood.  Parking is a bit challenging for a full sized truck but it is worth the struggle.

The draw here is the burgers.  If you've ever been to The Works, it is a similar approach but about 10 times classier.  You can build your own, but there are some mouth watering menu selections.  Jen and I were both raving about our burgers.  We need to go back and try more.

The beer selection is varied and there are some interesting picks but I'm kind of disappointed now when I don't see a Sawdust City beer on tap.  But there's still something for everyone and there will be a beer to go with whatever burger you've picked.

Every once in a while you find a place like this.  Unfortunately they are rarely close to where you live.  I am really hoping them success because I want a franchise in Kitchener as soon as possible.

Bad Gas

Update on the snowmobile situation!  Went out yesterday to the farm to take another crack at it in some warmer weather.  Started out great!  Then I got stranded on the far end of a field.  Managed to limp it back to the barn under choke.  Buddy suggested swapping out the fuel.  Done.  Sled works awesome again.

Frig.  I ripped up the trails in Ottawa with a tank of two year old gas with some stabilizer in it.  Put in a "fresh" tank of gas and it kills my sled.  Bastids!  Ah well, it's a relief to have it working again and knowing it will be ready for the one ride I take next year.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Asshole

I have no patience for assholes.  And there are no bigger assholes than the ones that stop up the orderly progression at the self-serve checkout at the grocery store.  I don't like to brag but I'm like a self-serve checkout savant.  I know where all the upc codes are, I know just how to present the codes to the scanner, I've memorized all the produce product codes, and I can bag with one hand, blindfolded.

And I was on fire today.  I was moving through that cart of groceries like a pro.  The guy behind me was practically applauding my speed and efficiency.  He knew his wait would not be long.  The others, waiting behind the elderly and technologically challenged, looked over in awe and soulful regret at their poor choice in lanes.

I had one item left.  As I scanned and bagged, in one fluid motion, I reached for my wallet to execute a flawless debit transaction.  I'm pretty sure the guy behind me giggled in anticipation.  The giggling stopped as I patted my pants pocket, then my jacket, then my pants again.

I had forgotten my friggin wallet in the truck.

I couldn't even look at buddy behind me as I sheepishly made my way to the self-serve uber-warden to explain my predicament.  I begged her to let me move my groceries to the side so I wouldn't hold anybody up.  She waved me away and said "Just go get your wallet, leave your stuff where it is".

I gulped back a sob and headed out to get my wallet.  I felt shame.

When I returned, buddy had found his way to another checkout and there wasn't anybody else waiting for me to clear out my crap.  It was small comfort, for I knew.  As I avoided eye contact with buddy and inserted my debit card, I knew.  I was an asshole.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Curses

Well, I guess it wouldn't be a snowmobiling weekend if there weren't some kind of mechanical issues.


Took the sled back to the farm today and pulled it off the truck.  Started fine but couldn't get it over 4,000 rpm.  Just bogged down and died.  Sometimes it would backfire but mostly it would just sputter out and die.

I let it warm up for 10 minutes but nothing changed.  It idled fine but it wouldn't rev enough to engage the clutch.  I had planned to boot around the farm a bit before tucking it away in the barn but now I was just stuck in the middle of buddy's yard.  I wasn't going to get it back in the truck and the barn wasn't exactly an achievable goal either.

Luckily, buddy eventually came back home and got me safely towed into the barn.  He's pretty sure it's frozen water in the fuel line somewhere.  We'll give it a week and see.  I guess I should be thankful it happened here and not in the middle of nowhere up in Ottawa.

Anyways, I promised to post a picture of buddy's ski-doo towing my Polaris.  Ugh.  Friggin snowmobiles.

Books vs. Movies

Back when I used to read books, there was always some disdain for movie adaptations.  The best a movie could do was at least match the vision I conjured in my mind while reading.  At worst, you have "I, Robot".  A podcast, we were listening to on our trip this weekend, posed the question whether any film had exceeded its literary basis in execution and enjoyment.  I've thought about this before and I've come up with three movies that, in my opinion, are superior works of entertainment compared to the books they are based on.

  1. Forrest Gump - The movie is a work of art.  Funny and still quotable after almost 20 years.  The book is a meandering mess.  This stands above all other adaptations in improving the work it is based on.
  2. Silence of the Lambs - Another memorable movie that surpasses the book.  Amazing performances all around improve on some dullish writing.
  3. Misery - This one is a lot closer than the first two as I enjoyed both forms of media immensely.  I give the edge to the movie for crafting such a threatening environment and for Kathy Bates' performance.  But I can see myself changing my mind depending on what I've watched or read last.
If anybody has some other suggestions, I'd be interested in hearing them.


TBone Rides Again!


Big trip up to Ottawa this Family Day Weekend.  The OFSC had designated this weekend as free access to their trails so I had no excuses left not to break out the old sled and light it up.  After two years of inactivity, I did take the precaution of heading out to the farm and making sure it started before leaving.  And the beast started like a champ.  Coughed out a bunch of oil but wasn't a challenge to get going at all.

Traffic was a bitch and added two hours to hour travel time but it was all worth it when I hauled the sled off the truck, pulled the cord, and inhaled that sweet smell of burnt 2-stroke oil.  It was a good day to ride.  

My parents place is only a block away from an OFSC trail head, so I only had to hop on and go.  Across the street.  Where the sled coughed and died.  Oh no.  A frantic pull on the starter and she came back to life.  Huzzah!

And off we go!  20 more feet.  And she coughed and died.  Crap.  Maybe some bad gas?  It would be bad if I headed out in -15 weather and had it permanently die in the middle of nowhere.  But I consider myself unencumbered by fear or common sense and I pulled the cord again, gunned the throttle, and hit the trails!

Everything was fine.  I just went out for an hour along an old rail road.  Not too exciting but holy crap the speed.  It's an amazing feeling to twitch your thumb and find yourself doing 60 mph down a tree covered trail.  It's as close to making the jump to hyper space that I'll ever experience.

The big ride would be tomorrow and my legs were quick to inform me that snow pants would be a good idea.  And that was a great ride.  I met up with my brother-in-law at his cousin's place where he was borrowing a sled and we meandered all over the place.

The trails were great.  Could have used some more snow and some better signage would have been helpful but the OFSC is being well represented in the Ottawa area.  There was tree dodging, lake blitzing, and smooth, gp racing sections.  Everything but deep powder.  It was a great ride.

And we topped it off with lunch at The Old Mill in Ashton.  If you're in the area, it's a good idea to stop in.  It's a brew pub and I can testify that the Hop 'Stravaganza' and Vanilla Stout are exceptional.  Highly recommended.

So it was with great satisfaction and not a little exhaustion that I rumbled into my parents' driveway and loaded the sled back in the truck.  Likely to be my only real sledding for the year but I couldn't have asked for a better trip.

Besides the snowmobiling, we also had some quality family time.  My cousin was up from New York with her family and it was great to catch up with them.  And, as always, the generosity of my folks and sister and her family is much appreciated when we're up in Ottawa.  Good times.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Old

I was at work the other day and I saw two of our younger employees carrying a hood from one of our vehicles back to QC.  I pointed, laughed and said "Hey!  Boyz 'n' the hood!  Get it?"  They both turned to me and said "No."  And then one of them said "Oh, right, that music group.  You know, from the nineties".  Good god, I've never felt older.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Snowmageddon!

Hey, the weather network finally got one right!  A huge snow dump was forecast and we actually got one yesterday.  Went to bed at 11:30 Thursday night and there wasn't a hint of snow.  Wake up 6 hours later to 10 cm's of fluffy stuff.  Not the end of the world but I knew it was going to be a dicey day for driving around.

I was just getting my jacket on to head to work when i hear the plow go by.  Crap, I was minutes away from leaving and avoiding any shoveling.  I guess it was for the best because if I'd left, my pregnant wife would have been stuck clearing a path.  Then again she probably would have just phoned in and said she couldn't make it out of her drive and just avoided work like a sane person.  Anyways, the neighbour and I got a decent opening punched through the snow berm and I headed off to New Hamburg.

This was the first real test of the truck with the new snow tires.  And it did well.  Nothing was plowed between Kitchener and New Hamburg but I never felt like I couldn't make it though anything.  Driving in the truck felt like driving a tank.  It plowed through snow banks like they were gentle summer breezes.  But it was still possible to lose traction and the traction control kicked in a number of times.  A far cry from the supreme winter confidence I had with the Honda CeR-Vix.  You just can't beat all wheel drive and a set of snow tires.

But I made it into work just fine.  Yay.  I honestly felt that because of the blizzard I had triumphed to make it in, every minute I worked was pure bonus for the company.  So I spent a great deal of time watching even more snow come down and dreading the return home to another round of back wrenching and snow plow cursing.

I was just wrapping up for the day when I get a text from Jen "I'm stuck in the driveway".  That's not good.  So back home I head, wondering where exactly in the driveway Jen got stuck.  I had a picture of her teetering, midway over the 4 foot snow bank she had attempted to jump.

The drive home was even worse than the drive to work.  The plows hadn't made much progress.  Once I got to Kitchener I saw at least 3 cars stuck in intersections.  Kitchener snow preparedness is laughable.  I turn down our street and see Jen's car at the foot of the driveway.  Not exactly the comical site I had prepared myself for but she still couldn't move backwards or forwards.  I popped out and we got it dug out and safely tucked away in the garage.  I continued shoveling and eventually got a decent clearing for the truck and continued on to get our neighbour's drive cleared out too (how fucking awesome a neighbour am I?).

Then I sat down.  And I haven't moved much since.  My back's not so great but we got through it.  Snowmageddon '013!  Can't wait for the rain on Monday.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Imbibe

Found out about this new bar in downtown Kitchener while researching beers.  Imbibe Food & Drink seemed like my kind of place.  It's new!  It's hip!  It specializes in craft beer and scotch!  Boom!  Had to go.

So we made our way downtown and past several sketchy dramas playing out in and around King street.  We parked and hoped the truck would still be there when we finished dinner.  I ordered a tasty brown ale and we perused the menu.  It was sparse.  Definitely pub food.  Appetizers, salads, and sandwiches.  Nothing crazy but there were some interesting items.  Prices weren't bad either.  We had both decided on what to order and I had finished my beer and we were still waiting to actually make the order.  The place wasn't busy, what the fuck?

The hipster waitress with the edgy dyed hair finally took time out to see if we actually wanted something off the menus she had given us.  And another beer?  Yes.  They had the kegs swapped out with Sawdust City beers and I asked for a malt beer.  So good.  I still prefer their Lone Pine IPA but this was a close second.

The food came and it was okay I guess.  Nothing great.  The chicken definitely had a Tim Horton's processed vibe.  Meh.

Had another Sawdust and went with their imperial stout.  Very solid.  Not huge on stouts but at least this was interesting.  Gotta say, I love what Sawdust City brews up.  Hopefully this is just the beginning of their success.

As for Imbibe, I'm pretty sure we won't be going back.  Very disappointing.  I appreciate the beer selection but the vibe is way off there.  And the service and food aren't good enough to make up for it.  Plus, downtown Kitchener.  Meh.  Borealis still reigns supreme!

Super Bowl!

Well, the football season had to come to an end at some point.  Might as well do it in style.  Yup we were back down to the Allenses multi-media megaplex for this year's Super Bowl.  Didn't really care for either team.  The Kaepernick thing got old but quick.  And Ray Lewis, man.  I really don't need to hear him speak ever again.  But it was my overall disgust with the antics of Jim Harbaugh that had me cheering for Baltimore.  So, yah, good game!  The only other reason to stay up late on a school night was to see the much hyped but oft disappointing Super Bowl commercials.  And the streak of shitty commercials continues.  People are spending millions of dollars for this air time but they can't afford a focus group to tell them these things aren't very funny.  Ah well, we were fortunate to have an entertaining game erupt after it looked like it was going to be a rout.  It'll be a long haul until the next season starts but hopefully its enough time for the friggin Dolphins to get their shit together.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Kick it!

We were sitting on the couch watching TV the other night.  I was rubbing Jen's belly, absent mindedly, as I am wont to do.  And Peanut kicked me!  Boom!  It was kind of shocking.  Really put an exclamation point on the fact that there was a living being inside of my wife.  Of course, I couldn't let this go without retaliation. So I started poking back and was rewarded with some more kicks.  We were playing!  At least that's how I interpret it.  Peanut probably was experiencing the first of what will be many moments of exasperation with her old man.  Jen put an end to our little game as she grew inexplicably tired of being poked and kicked.  And even though Peanut was riled up and continued kicking Jen for several minutes, it was a very special moment of bonding for me.

Gadgetry!

Jen was heading out shopping for some Super Bowl supplies and asked me to double check the ingredients list from her Pinterest page.  Pulled up the post on my phone and thought to myself "Do I really want to write all this out by hand"?  Was there a way that modern technology could deliver the web site I was looking at to the wireless printer in the basement?  Of course.  Downloaded the HP app and within seconds I could hear the paper being processed from down below.  Magical.  Sweet baby jeebus I love gadgets.