Monday, March 31, 2008

I was saving this for Wednesday but it's way too long for a WTF

So Friday morning in Toronto I slept in. I had 35 minutes to pack up all my stuff, make sure nothing was left behind in the hotel room, check out, and hike over to the day's training session. No problem! Oh wait, I should probably eat breakfast. Of course, the route I took was surprisingly devoid of Tim Hortons, until I realized that the PATH was hiding all the coffee underground.

For those not in the know, the PATH is a warren of tunnels beneath Toronto's downtown that will take you past hundreds of storefronts while leading you in the least direct route to your destination. I have the map on my Palm but still managed to repeatedly get turned around and lost. After plotting out my route on the PATH map from my hotel room near Commerce Court to the Eaton Centre, a journey traversing west, then north, then hooking back east, I realized I was in fact half a kilometer south of my endpoint if I just walked up the street. But back to my breakfast...

So I head down into the PATH to find a food court. By this time I was most definitely going to be late for training anyhow, but as I was the only student being trained and the people training me are pretty laid back, I wasn't worried. However, the mob curling its way around the barely-open food court leading to the Tim Hortons deterred me enough that I chose instead to go to the Mmmmuffins, boasting a whole lineup of one person.

Now, seemingly random segue to 13 years ago, before the nearby mall in which I worked even HAD a Tim Hortons (now I believe there are at least seventeen within a block) there was a Mmmmuffins. I recall distinctly being late for work and deciding to grab not one but two muffins. These things were MASSIVE. They were hydrocephalic muffins. If Dora the Explorer was a muffin...

In any case, I don't think I was able to even eat both muffins that day so long ago, so when, last Friday morn, I was presented with a cupcake-sized oatmeal-raisin dealie I was a little annoyed - if your business name is Mmmmuffins, what should your focus be? Coffee? Try-Our-Fantastic-New-Paninis? No. You are not Ppppaninis, so get back to your MUFFINS.

I'm not sure if this was just that specific franchise stiffing the public or what - maybe there's been a change in paradigm since Tim Hortons started pumping out competing Fruit Explosions. What I got was most definitely an uffin.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Locals will get this. Sorry everyone else.

Walk into any suburban Tim Hortons and look around - you can see a microcosm of the local community.

However, if this community is reached only by driving down one of a few long empty roads, it doesn't matter how many fancy housing developments you've crammed in there, your Tim Hortons still seem to be full of small-town yokels you'd normally see in Renfrew or Almonte.

Barrhaven, I'm talking about you.

While in line yesterday picking up coffees, the trucker hat wearing pair behind me had the following conversation after noticing the flatscreen TV displaying the video slideshow up alongside the menus:

"That there's a computer built right into a monitor they got going."
"Yeeup. It's a Mac."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Porter it up!

It was last month, when I was told that I had to submit an expense estimate before my first business trip to Toronto, that I was told about Porter Airlines. There I was, figuring in the $150 of cab fares from Pearson International Airport, that my officemate asked if I was going to be staying downtown. Since this was the case, she said "Porter it up!"

Porter flies to the City Centre Airport, on an island right by downtown Toronto. I was told of the many wonderful aspects of a flight on Porter, but it wasn't until experiencing them that I realize how much the little things help - especially when there are a ton of little things piled on top of each other:

Transportation: As mentioned, the plane lands in Toronto on an island. When I first got there I was thinking "Okay, great. There's apparently a free ferry that runs to the mainland, but from there I guess I'll have to cab it." Not so! After the ferry ride, a shuttle will take you to the corner of Wellington and York, right downtown. They'll also be there to pick you up and bring you back to the ferry when you're heading home. All of this for free!

Airplane Food: I've only been on a half dozen flights in my life, but the food up until Porter consisted of my choice of salty snacks plus a mini-can of pop. If you're flying on a Porter flight any time near mealtime, you're suddenly presented with a small half-shoebox neatly sealed with an actual meal inside. Not a full-course meal, for certain, but for breakfast I had a muffin, a yogurt, and a cereal bar. For lunch or dinner, there was a half-sandwich, some melba toast or crackers, a BabyBel wheel of Gouda, and a cookie or chocolate for dessert. Add to that your choice of pop, bottled water (I was bringing home the cool shaped water bottle to show off but left it at the ATM), or, you know, beer. Or wine, red or white. Complimentary. In a glass. And I'm not talking "Here's your glass of cola, sir, we'll be saving the rest of your can for the next person.", I'm saying a full 355mls all to yourself!

Music: They've got awesome covers of 1960's bossanova and - music piped into the planes before takeoff, not that you get to hear it for long since there's never any delays waiting on the tarmac (on the Toronto side, anyhow, since they're the only airline using the airstrip) but in any case the music matches nicely with the style of...

The Flight Attendants: You know when you see a flight attendant in a movie, all pretty and neat, in their little uniforms with their pillbox hats, then you get on a real plane and you've got the over-made-up middle aged ladies in their puffy blouses and lopsided kerchiefs, who look kinda dejected when they don't think anyone is looking? They're that way because they're not up to par with the hotness of the Porter attendants. (Since this blog was initially started in the lounge at the airport, then was interrupted when my flight arrived, it should be noted that my flight home tonight was staffed by two ladies who decided they didn't want the sexy new Porter outfits, and instead slumped sadly in lame outfits as described formerly. Of course, they were probably on this particular flight to average out the age of the flight crew, as our pilot looked about sixteen.)

Their Mascot: The raccoon, it is everywhere - and I just like it from a branding point of view. I smuggled out the outer packaging of my boxed dinner because I love it. The raccoon's head, Kilroy Was Here style, with a noodle-laden knife and fork. Below its snout is the word "orte". The first time I saw it I tilted the packaging, wondering whether the p and r that were supposed to frame it was printed in a way I could only see at a certain angle, but no... then it hit me. The noodles were not noodles - the p hangs off the knife on the left, and the r is speared by the fork - pure genius in design.

Mr Porter's Lounge: Man. The picture on this page doesn't do it justice. The lounge at the City Centre airport has free wireless Internet, computers for those who don't have laptops with them, comfy chairs, coffee maker, espresso maker, and a fully stocked drink fridge (no beer in that one, unfortunately).

Now, Porter is a small airline, so of course if there's plane troubles it's not as quickly resolved. If I left the above review as is you know Lara will bring up how Porter "screwed me over" last month. But I don't see it as being screwed over -- Basically I had a 7pm flight, but got off training early. I called them and asked about moving my flight up, and they bumped me up to the 5:30 flight, a more expensive flight, but at no extra charge! Unfortunately, it was snowy and slushy in Toronto, and that shuts the whole city down in a gridlocked panic. So the 10 minute shuttle was half an hour late. Calling ahead once again to tell them I wouldn't be able to make it to the 5:30 flight, they pushed me back onto the 6:15 flight. When I got there, it turned out that the plane that was leaving at 6:15 had been delayed -- in fact, they wouldn't let it leave Montreal -- so everyone on the 6:15 flight had to be bumped to the 7:00 flight.

You know, the one that I was originally booked on.

And the one that I was now 13th in line on standby to get onto.

So I hung out in the lounge, and they brought me dinner, and I used their wireless, but ended up rebooking to Saturday morning and receiving a $50 voucher for a future flight... they were all very nice about it, so I don't hold it against them as much as Lara does...

So if you're looking for an airline that will make you feel civilized, fly Porter. They don't fly everywhere - Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal (through Toronto, so really, it's faster to drive from Ottawa to Montreal), Halifax, Quebec City, and New York. But do as I did today - don't reschedule your flight home. Just go and shop, or spend the day in the lounge, even if they give you funny looks for checking in at 10am for a 7pm flight.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Weekly Wednesday #2

(because Weekly WTF would imply I was aghast at everything below)

Weekly Link:
The Expanding Earth Theory. Now, I'm not a science student by far, so I can't argue for or against this, nor do I have the time to research this further right now - I just think the video and idea is pretty cool. The guy who came up with this is Neal Adams, a famous comic book artist, not a scientist, and you know about those crazy comic book artists...

Weekly Image:

Weekly Workplace
It should be noted that my job is awesome so far, so this space isn't for venting. Last week wasn't frustration, I just realized how little red tape I've had to deal with in the past and I'll just have to get used to it. So don't come looking here for gossip about my coworkers with fake names and funny descriptions. Even though nothing could possibly go wrong doing that.

Weekly Meme: Album cover

(source 1/source 2/source 3)

Weekly WTF:
"Did you punch me in the face last night in your sleep?"
"Not to my knowledge, no."
Because, really, for the past two days my nose has feels like it's been bopped one. Not in a painful way, more an annoying numbness across the bridge, sort of like the initial stages of nitrous oxide in the dentist's chair. It's probably a cold that will blow up into a full-on flu as I board the plan to Toronto tomorrow morning. Either that or nose cancer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blogger versus IKEA cabinet: DAY 1

We have much that is IKEA in this house.

I have assembled three BILLY bookcases and three MARKOR bookcases (We read. A lot. And we only wish we had room for more). Big wicker BASTANT baskets store toys and other baby stuff on the bottom shelves of the latter three.

Two POÄNGs, both with footstools, plus two mini-POÄNGS for Kiernan to sit on, stand on yelling "GET DOWWWN!" or pee on. Dammit. But I digress.

Both the crib and change table upstairs are DIKTAD, and in the living room there's a TROFAST toy sorter in the corner, just calling out to Kiernan, "Psst! Hey, kid! Look at me, I'm a big stairway to Funville (population: BOOM!) - too bad I'm not turned around so you can reach the mantle! But hey, that's only one well-timed jump away!"

I organized our kitchen pantry with IKEA boxes, baskets, and sliding basket drawers of which were a quarter of an inch narrower than said pantry - yet I managed to make it work despite my lack of mad carpentry skillz.

As well: Various lamps, cutlery, tweezer-like cooking tongs, TV stands, hanging closet sorters, magnetic knife racks (for the magnetic spice jars - it is truly a thing of beauty), and baby clothes hangers which I won't be searching the IKEA names of because really, it doesn't impress you that much, y'know?

All this to say we have lots of IKEA, 75% of which I have assembled. I've also been called in to assemble the IKEA of friends, so I'm pretty damn good with an Allen key - so good in fact that the first thing I do is throw the keys away so I can tighten the screws with my bare hand (held cordless drill).

And so. Enter the KULLEN.

This thing is going in the basement to help us stuff even more storage space into our packrat lifestyle. Because really, if our house was like my childhood hamster, and our stuff was carrot sticks... well, let me just show you (note: not my hamster):

Only without the jazz music.

Anyway, the KULLEN came to us in the form of two long brown packages which have sat in our living room for the past 24 hours.

Staring at me. Calling out to me to be assembled. Assembled before they tip over from where they are leaning.

Eagerly, I ripped at the cardboard with my bare hands, attempting to get past the evil flesh cutting cardboard coating to reveal the birch beneath.

Sifting through the contents, I realize - THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE IN THE OTHER BOX! You know, the one marked "Box 1"

Again I tear in, pulling out one... two.. three bags of fixtures... and... glue? IKEA has glue!

At last the paper booklet was in my grasp. I turned past the iconic first page (blah blah do not assemble alone blah blah) to find... um... two pages listing all the hardware. Wow. This thing really is big. And I'm the type of person to inventory the hardware first thing, so...



So I carried everything to the basement, to get a move on all that tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Treehouse... EXPLAIN!

Okay Treehouse TV. Every Sunday one can watch 6 back to back episodes of Max and Ruby, episodes of which have been voted as favourites online, should they choose to, or should they have a brain dysfunction.

Why. Why do you do this?

First off, the show sucks. I know it sucks. My sister knows it sucks. We've got good judgement (except she likes Miss Spider, wtf?) so others must know it sucks.

Rogers television knows it sucks. Know how I know this? Max and Ruby is available on Rogers on Demand.


So explain to me what genius came up with this idea: "I know - people are sick of navigating to the episodes on their TV whenever they want to, so let's have them to use the internet to click which episodes they want to see, only -- get this -- at a time of OUR choosing!"

"Eric!" you say, "Max and Ruby are bunnies! It's an Easter Thing!"
to which I say "Miffy is too. Where's the Miffathon? I haven't even seen an episode of My Friend Rabbit, but I'd prefer watch its commercial over and over, bust my buttons and stop my heart!"

"Eric!" you exclaim, "It's only an hour of short Max and Ruby episodes!"
to which I scoff "An hour on Sunday. Between 11 and noon. That's a black hole of television programming that studios have never been able to escape. Just try and find something in that time slot... other than Max and freakin' Ruby."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weekly Wednesday

(as opposed to those other Wednesdays)

Weekly Link:
For those (including my wife and the writers of last Saturday morning's space episode of Dora the Explorer) who didn't realize we're IN the Milky Way Galaxy: Ten things you don't know about the Milky Way Galaxy

Weekly Image: (from

Weekly Workplace:
I have been bringing a new flavoured coffee to work. Every day this week I've heard someone different say "Mm, something smells like maple!" "Uh, yes, it's Vanilla Biscotti Coffee." "Smells great! MMm maple!" "..."

Weekly Meme:
* Band name from the title of a random Wikipedia page.
* Album name from the last four or five words of the last quote on this page.
* Album cover from the third picture on the last seven days on Flickr.

(source 1/source 2/source 3)

Weekly WTF:
The amount of red tape one must go through to get a single web page updated at my new job is amazing... three people left a month ago, so I updated the contact page for review ('vetted' is #1 most used word around here... everyone needs to vet everything... vet vet vet)... two weeks ago it was decided that the page needs to be restructured, and an interim page needs to be put up, stat! Now I need to wait until content of the interim page is decided upon... then it will have to be v-worded... don't get me started on the e-bulletin that needs to be sent out yesterday tomorrow first thing Tuesday morning.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My goal: the funny

So I finish typing the blog post into my laptop last night, publish it, and immediately say "Okay, I think it sucks but it's online - go read it."

So Lara navigates over to the site on her laptop and -

What's that you say? Two laptops? Yes, two laptops. We're the ultimate modern family, we are - I've got my slick black HP over here on the love seat, she's set up on the couch six feet away typing away on her silvery Epson. In between us on the floor sits our lovely 18 month old staring blankly at his Go Diego Go DVD looping on TV as he chews idly on an empty chocolate bar wrapper.

I joke.

I mean, really, I can't even see what he's got there. I send a nudge on MSN to Lara and type "Is that a piece of garbage?" and she's glances over and types back "*shrug*". I tap in "Edamame pod maybe?" and she sends back that dancing pig animation and then goes into "Busy" mode as she starts playing Luxor.

Anyway, the blog post passes the test in my mind, as a few seconds into it she's laughing so hard she's having trouble getting to the next line. This is also because I'm continually asking which part she's currently laughing at, but anyhow. Really, if she doesn't laugh, I'm obviously not up to my full potential.

That's what I love about her - our sense of humour is similar (except when it comes to Vinyl Cafe, but honestly I think she laughed maybe twice on the drive this weekend - so there's hope) . One time we were at a restaurant with a group of friends, and one girl says "Lately it seems all the movies we've been renting have been INCREDIBLY dark."

So I lean over and say matter-of-factly "Oh, there's this little knob -" I mime a slow, clockwise twist. "- labeled CONTRAST. You just need to craaaank that sucker up."

I swear, there was an audible little wet shlucking noise as a half dozen pair of eyes rolled back in our friends' skulls. That, to me, deserved a little pat on the back - go me! I have amused myself and thus I am satisfied!

I notice motion to my right, and there's Lara sitting across from me, halfway to falling off her chair, tears rolling down her face, silently apoplectic in mirth.

She gets me. That is why she is amazing.

So no dear, you don't have to worry that all my blog posts are going to be making fun of you.

plinkyplink plinkplink dooDoo doodoo...

"Okay, I bought some songs - how do you burn a CD in iTunes?"
"How many songs?" I ask.
"Okay, really? Because if you're burning this CD simply because you wanted to burn a CD for the drive to Montreal, I don't think it's going fill the two and a half hours very well with -- how long is it?"
"12.8 minutes."
"Yeah. No. That - on repeat - will KILL me."
"I'll fill the rest with podcasts - you were going to sleep on the way anyhow."

Fine, she got me there. So I showed her how to burn five songs of music followed by seventeen hours of "Vinyl Cafe" squeezed into the 68 minutes and 12 seconds of space left on the CD. No, really, Stuart McLean's voice resonates at a frequency which warps the space-time continuum of digital media recording. And, for the record, keeps me awake.

So, in the car we get, and as the CD slides in I inquire "What's the first song?"
"Ducks in a Row" for Kiernan.
Alright, that's fine, the song is already permanently stuck in my head from watching the Flash Video with Kiernan so it's no big deal.
The familiar plinking tune begins...
"I bought the Sing-along Remix, so I'm wondering what that is."
... and continues ...
"Um." I interject, "karaoke, perhaps?"
"Uh, yeah, the singing usually has started by now."
... plinky plink plinka, plink plink ploo..
"No!" the realization dawns in her voice.
"QUACK QUACK!" the backup singers belt out. "QUACK QUACK!"
"You didn't preview the song before buying?"

She hits fast forward, which will become a common theme. That means there is two minutes and 31 seconds less music to fill the drive.

The second song was They Might Be Giants "Never go to work", also for Kiernan, and the third was "Mr. Pitiful" by Matt Costa for both Kiernan and Lara. Both are tolerable. The next two songs were also Matt Costa, which were unbelievably far from my taste in music. Oh, and the TMBG and Mr. Pitiful songs - CATCHY. AS. HELL. So guess what's still looping in my mind RIGHT NOW?

That's right - The sound of my voice screaming "When you exaggerate for humour's sake, Stuart McLean, make sure the exaggeration is actually funny in the first place!"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Finally, geez.

"(slightly) less cynical, that's just someone random who came to my blog!"


"That's -"


"That's YOU! Stop laughing at me, it's not nice to laugh at me."

Well, she dared me...

A conversation through a series of emails...

Her: write me an email telling me that you're not going to start a blog
Me : Why would I write an email about that?
Her: cuz you aren't going to write a blog I dont think
Me : So you require an email from me to confirm this?
Her: essentially i'm saying, just admit it, and i'll leave you alone ;)
Me : I admit nothing! :)
Her: sigh
Me : I wouldn't want to lie, y'know.
Her: you just want to let me get my hopes up to keep shattering them over and over again ;)
Me : I do this often, do I?
Her: only when you want to annoy me ;)
Me : Ah, can I quote you on this conversation? In my blog? ;)
Her: sure thing. do it! I dare you!
Me : Well okay then! I will! Ha! So there!

It should be noted that hours before this conversation, I'd already doubled my efforts in showing up on her stats page - performing google searches referring to mommyhoodforlara's blogging husband, as well as referring to her while signing up to a contest... the latter should have her here by the end of the day, as she was checking to see how many referrers she had just last night...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A taste of my cruel humour

So apparently I was paid for the February statutory holiday when, as a term employee in my new job, I was not supposed to be.

The question came up in an email from the Admin Coordinator asking if my letter of offer mentioned whether I was supposed to be paid. I let her know that my letter mentions getting 6% in lieu of paid holidays.

She responds soon: "I have to submit a correction to payroll for this day. I hope this is okay with you."

My reply: "That’s fine; my son will just have to eat table scraps for a while."

Half of me hopes I didn't make her feel guilty. The other half wants me to mention how "It's okay - you should hear how cute he sounds calling for 'Water! Bread! Water!'"

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A tear wells up in my eye...

He's just brought me a beer for the first time...

This is one of the reasons I wanted a kid in the first place.

Next trick to teach him: opening the bottle for me with his teeth.

The bait...

I'm all tweaked out, and as obsessed as she is about constantly checking her web stats, let's see how long it takes for her to find out I've been working on this blog for two weeks...

And then the gates will burst inward with the hordes of readers.

Or at least hordes of bloggers commenting on my posts so their own blog is linked from yet another site, thus boosting them up whatever blog rankings they follow.

Friday, March 7, 2008

"You haven't started your blog"

I couldn't tell the punctuation at the end of that sentence - was it a statement? A question? I chose silence as my response.

Silence and a smirk.

Shit, stop smirking, she'll know! no, wait - if you suddenly switch from smirk to poker face she'll know even more! Bad choice! Bad choice!

"I'm just telling you in case you haven't noticed you weren't blogging yet."

Wise choice!

"You're right, I didn't notice that I wasn't blogging. Thank you!"

A few more design tweaks, then we'll see how long it takes for her to find me.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

You've heard the story before...

Two young parents are having trouble conceiving. Years of trying pass to no avail. They finally decide to adopt.

Their new baby daughter is a joy! As she grows she has a positive outlook on life, is very chatty, and very outgoing. In no time at all, the parents are pleased to see they've raised the girl into an adventurous and intelligent seven year old.

Then it happens.

What? Pregnant? But how? Oh, no matter, this is wonderful! A gift!

Nine months fly (and often drag, you know how it is) by, but their daughter can hardly wait to be a big sister!

The big day finally arrives, and...


That's right, a little brother AND a little sister...

From the start the couple start to worry... they've raised their daughter as their own, and it was never quite the time to mention the adoption... we'll wait another year, they discussed again and again, but now looking at their two little bundles of joy they know it is imminent:

The neighbours will gossip about how different their three children look.

The kids at school will suddenly notice how their eldest doesn't quite (or truly not much at all!) look like her siblings.

She'll be shunned.


Her parents start dreading the years ahead: the revelation, the tears, the hurt screams of "NO! You're not my REAL parents!"...

She's sure to run away, likely more than once... packing her things in her backpack, trying to following her little map to some mansion or castle or fantasy world, asking strangers "Do you know where my biological parents live?".

Then she'll get all gloomy... out will come the black makeup and darke poetry.

She'll start hanging out with the wrong crowd... that harmless monkey friend will be dropped like a hot potato, soon replaced by the kleptomaniacal fox.

Dora's life is ruined!

¡Su vida está arruinada!