Trades.

Yes, a rare weekend post.

I wanted to get some of this out yesterday, but the day didn’t quite unfold as I was hoping it would, and you got the tale of Shityphus instead.

Worthwhile reading, I know.

Anyway, if I’d had time, I would have posted this instead.

- – -

It’s hard to take pen – or keyboard – in hand in defence of any sort of celebrity nowadays.  There’s the disgusting mess with Jian Ghomeshi, the dishnourable Lance Armstrong debacle, the emerging, ongoing Bill Cosby scandals – it’s just one disgraceful incident after another.

But when I heard about Linden MacIntyre and the CBC this week, I have to admit I felt sorry for him.

He plied his trade on The Fifth Estate for 24 years.  He’s been a public broadcaster for 38 years.  He’s published three solid novels, and he’s just released a new one I haven’t read yet.

But he gives one interview to the folks at the Globe and Mail – in which he warns against celebrity worship of any kind – and he’s barred from the CBC building by some members of Peter Mansbridge’s entourage.

Evidence in itself that celebrity can cause people to be bullied.

Okay, maybe he didn’t phrase his sentences in the interview as carefully as he could have, but you’d think that after all the years he’s worked there that somebody would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Guess not.

And who knows?  One day we could find out that MacIntyre’s a creep too.

Anything can happen these days.

If you care, you can listen to his side of the story here.

But there’s some powerful irony in all of this, isn’t there?  He was employed by the CBC as an investigative reporter for so long – paid to expose the truth as he found it – and then he’s banned from the place for doing exactly that.

Wonderful.

I saw this poster in a few places on Twitter, and I’d like to believe it’s a tongue-in-cheek joke, but maybe it isn’t.  I have no idea.

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- – -

 You may remember the story of the young man from Oakville from last winter.

There’s a new chapter in it now.

He’s been traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Edmonton Oilers.

I hope this means he’ll get some more NHL ice time.

Every Canadian has a soft spot for the Edmonton Oilers.  All those Stanley Cups in the Gretzky era, and even one after it.  Those were great days for Canadian hockey.

But the way the Oilers have been playing recently, it seems they can probably do with a few changes.

I’ll have my fingers crossed that calling him up is one of them.

He’s been playing for the Utica Comets in the AHL, and he’ll continue to patiently ply his trade for the Oklahoma City Barons.

- – -

In a strange coincidence, my wife has also been hired to ply her trade for the Edmonton Oilers.  She’s part of the team that’s been hired to build the new office for the Oilers Entertainment Group.  It’ll be in a new building attached to the new arena.

I’m hoping that somehow translates into Leafs/Oilers tickets at the Air Canada Centre.

Fingers crossed for that too.

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Shityphus.

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Those of you who have only a cursory knowledge of Greek mythology will have missed the legendary tale of Shityphus.

It’s a relatively minor one not included in most textbooks.

But many of you will have heard about his brother, Sisyphus.

Sisyphus was eternally condemned – for a number of reasons I won’t elaborate on here, but that you can read about by clicking this link if you’re interested – to push a gigantic boulder up and down a mountain, only to helplessly watch it roll it back down again.

This was his continual personal hell.

Zeus was a vengeful bastard, and he forced this infernal punishment upon poor Sisyphus.

And there was nothing Sisyphus could do about it.

Shityphus . . . well . . . Shityphus . . . his fate was pretty similar, actually.

The powers that be forced him to push a gigantic ball of shit – herein referred to as a shitball – up and down a gigantic hill – herein referred to as a shithill – and, over the years, Shityphus wore a gigantic shitpath into said shithill.

Once it started, the shiterosion just couldn’t be stopped, and the shitball was surprisingly heavy.

The shithill couldn’t take the shitpressure, and the shitball – well, it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.

It became harder and harder to push.

But Shityphus just kept pushing the shitball up the shithill.

He didn’t really have a choice.

And boy did it ever stink.

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Snowblind.

I am one of the few fortunate people in the GTA who live and work in the same area.  My morning commute consists of a three kilometer drive down relatively quiet suburban streets.

It is literally a five minute trip.

That’s why it was so perturbing that it took 35 minutes yesterday.

I realize there won’t be sympathy letters coming in, and I’m not looking for any.

But we live in Canada, and so, you know, you kinda expect that people are going to have to drive in the snow.

For seven months of the year.

And during my drive home yesterday, there wasn’t more than a dusting of snow on the ground.

I repeat: there was a dusting of snow on the ground.

It was fiercely blowing around, it was starting to snow, but there wasn’t much in the way of road conditions to stop anyone with common sense and good judgment – a rare commodity it seems - from driving at a relatively normal pace.

Sure, take your time, keep your eyes on the road, look several cars ahead, leave some extra room in front of you – be safe – but just keep moving.

It appears this is too much to ask.

I won’t even bother.

- – -

Sitting in the car yesterday evening – barely moving along – I used my Bluetooth device to call my good friend in Buffalo, New York.  I was hoping he was coping with the storm as well as he could – I’m not sure what that even means, thankfully, and I hope I never find out - but it turns out he was.  Luckily, he lives just outside the area that got really smacked, and he only had to contend with two feet of snow.

His friends had to deal with about two metres.

That’s a significant difference.

They couldn’t see out of their windows.  They couldn’t open their doors.

And he confirmed the bad stuff we’ve heard on the news.  But he added one other thing.

It’s the worst storm he’s seen in over 20 years of living there.

I’ll leave you to ponder that.

- – -

When we got home yesterday, we had only a relatively small misfortune to contend with.

Our snowperson – now re-named Frosty (as I predicted), but originally christened Olaf after the snowman from Frozen fame – had lost his sight.

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His baby blue sidewalk chalk eyes were completely buried.  His nose is showing early signs of frostbite, and his lips – frail victims of Canadian winter - have already fallen off – lost in the snow someplace.

- – -

After dinner, when it was already dark, and with flurries swirling all around us, Daughter Number One and I braved the elements.  We shoveled our place, and our elderly neighbour’s.  It didn’t take long, and Daughter Number One had a blast running around with her little shovel.

I wasn’t much in the mood for any of it, but her enthusiastic energy was infectious.

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- – -

After the kids were tucked in bed, I kept my celebratory promise and poured out the last wee dram of my Writers Tears Irish Whiskey.

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I plunked myself in front of the television, basked in its warm glow, and watched the Still Game Live Special I’d been looking forward to all week.

It didn’t disappoint.

If you haven’t seen the show, the Special won’t mean as much to you, but it was hilarious - as usual – and I’m a sucker for their brand of Scottish comedy.

If you don’t have anything to do tonight, you might want to check it out.

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79%

Today is the two-year anniversary of One Page (Almost) Every Day.

Thank you for the ovation.

You may now be seated.

Seeing as this is an appropriate time to pause and reflect . . . I will.

I have published 574 blog entries in 730 days.

This means I have not managed to complete my overly ambitious original goal of producing one blog entry per day, but it does mean I have written One (Or More) Page(s) On 79% Of Days.

I’m not exactly sure that it makes for as snappy a title, but it’s a fact, folks.

Here’s another.

The most-read blog I’ve written is this one.  I’m a bit surprised, to be honest, but 105 people read it.

I read this blog entry seven days before I started writing One Page (Almost) Every Day, and I fired off a response the next day.  I’m the “first writer” there.

I started thinking that I should probably try to keep up with writing something for myself every day, and then I thought my daily efforts might be worth sharing with others.

Some days they are, many days they aren’t.

My friend at work – the one who introduced me to the other blog – gave me a much-needed nudge in that direction and, with that encouragement, I sat down and wrote my “Inaugural Address” on November 19th, 2012.

I wrote one page every day until June of that year, when, quite predictably, the wheels fell off and I needed a break.

I returned a few days later and gave it a pretty good go for a long time after that.

On this day last year, I celebrated with a glass of Writers Tears Irish Whiskey.

And there’s just enough left in the bottle to keep that celebratory tradition alive.

I’ll have to follow it up with a Scotch because I plan to watch this tonight and because I want to forget the Leafs did that.

See you tomorrow.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Feel-good.

I’m not the only local blogger who woke up feeling rather displeased this morning.

I’d usually follow that up by saying “to put it mildly”, but with the wind chill the temperature outside is -16, and there’s really nothing mild about that.

In search of any kind of warmth, I’m devoting today’s blog to a series of shoddily connected feel-good stories.

Regular readers – ill-prepared for anything other than a series of somehow/maybe related rants – may not be completely comfortable with this.

I’m doing it anyway.

After I picked up Daughters One and Two from school yesterday . . .

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. . . in the relatively milder weather – a balmy -1 – we bundled ourselves up and took to the frosty outdoors of the Great White North.

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We had one goal in mind.

To assemble a snowperson.

Daughter Number One was tremendously excited by this festive feel-good mission, but Daughter Number Two - not yet a fan of keeping her mitts on for more than a minute or two at a time – was not.  So, she was treated to several laps of the front yard in a wooden sled – pulled in rotating shifts – by her father and older sister.

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Whoever wasn’t assigned to sled-pulling was assigned to snowperson-making.  And in this way, we collectively laboured to produce our final product – a yet-to-be-named snowperson with sidewalk chalk eyes, a sidewalk chalk nose, and a mouth and arms made out of sticks.

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I’m not sure what the girls will christen him/her, but my money’s on Frosty.  I’ll report back soon.

- – -

Since we’re on the topic of feel-good reports about collective labour, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention that I organized a 50/50 draw at work to benefit Operation Christmas Cheer.

Yay me!

Red tickets were collected in a festive green bin.

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Between the draw and an anonymous collection envelope, $340.00 was raised for this organization.

It’s not a lot of money, but I’d like to think that if I was freezing my ass off on a picket line in the middle of winter someplace, that somebody out there would try to do whatever they could to help me out, so I had to do something.

I’m glad I did.

Some unfortunate folks have been out of work for quite a while.

It’ll be a little nicer for them when the Operation Christmas Cheer elves do a little Christmas shopping on their behalf.

- – -

Also on the topic of organized labour – and Christmas shopping (sort of) – is the following feel-good story.

One of my friends from work spends a lot of his weekends working for a Junior “A” hockey team in the GTA.  He’s in charge of assembling a horde of volunteers and getting them to do all of the things they need to do to make hosting a hockey game possible.

It’s a lot of work, but he loves it.

Many Junior “A” hockey games in the GTA aren’t well-attended.  There are so many things for people to choose from, there’s hockey everywhere, and people are generally pretty busy.

Leafs games on the weekend don’t help.

But if you were to take a two-hour drive up North to Wellington, Ontario, you’d find a team called the Dukes – no doubt named after the British war hero/politician.  This team – likely being the only game in a farming town of 1700 people - often packs their rink.  They’re routinely first or second in league attendance.

And their fans follow the show when it goes on the road.

The Dukes recently made their way to the GTA, and they brought a busload of fans with them.

Some of the fans were parents of the players on the team, and others were simply seniors interested in watching a Dukes game and doing a little early Christmas shopping at a new, nearby outlet mall.

When the bus pulled up to the arena and the group disembarked down the stairs, they were already dressed in team clothes, wearing team scarves, waving noisemakers, and loudly banging on cowbells.

That’s Canada – and Canadian hockey – at its best, isn’t it?

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(Monday) Mixed Bag, Volume 15.

Hot on the trail of Friday’s mixed bag installment comes today’s.

Why?

Well, I’m just not feeling up to thematically stringing something together today.

So . . . good ol’ mixed bag it is.

On with the show!

- – -

On Friday, I foolishly proclaimed that although we were in windshield scraping mode, I didn’t think we’d be needing our snowbrushes anytime soon.  I should have immediately known that I’d curse us all by making a prediction that bold.

And, of course, when I woke up this morning . . .

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. . . it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but a month and eight days a little too early for my liking.

Hubris?

Bad luck?

Snow.

- – -

I also should have known that reporting optimistic thoughts about the Toronto Maple Leafs would immediately cause them to let me down, and boy did they ever.

They lost back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.

The loss to Pittsburgh on Friday could have been worse than it was, but we’ll leave that one alone – the Penguins don’t lose a lot of games.

But on Saturday, they tanked one worse than I’ve seen in a long time – and that’s a pretty strong statement for a Leafs fan.

They lost 6-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the NHL.  They’d lost by six goals in each of their last three games.  They hadn’t scored more than three goals in a game all year, and, somehow, they doubled that in one game against Toronto.

The second goal – where James Reimer confused curling with hockey and attempted to smoothly slide across several feet of ice, face-first, in order to execute some sort of unorthodox poke check – was one of the strangest I’ve seen in ages.  According to one source (me), Leafs captain (and sometime defenceman) Dion Phaneuf could be heard yelling “hurry hard!” at his teammate – desperate for him to make his way back to the vacant crease – but it was the puck instead that heeded his advice and whizzed quickly past two defencemen and into the empty net.

What else can you say?

- – -

My wife works for a company that deals with a lot of suppliers/contractors/people.  These folks are kind enough to provide us with free swag every now and then.  Hordes of travel mugs, pens, pencils, notebooks, umbrellas, and many, many reusable shopping bags have made their way to our house.

All free of charge.

It’s always a nice gesture and one we much appreciate.

The ingenious folks at Haworth gifted us a couple of these bags . . .

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. . . and they’re made out of leftover scraps of furniture material that can’t be reused any other way.  I thought that was a pretty cool idea and one worthy of a free plug to my massive readership.

Next time you’re in the market for corporate office anything, you know where to start.

You’re welcome.

- – -

I went out to get a coffee at lunch today because I ran out of coffee beans in the morning.

This happens about once a year when I let my guard down and the coffee beans perfectly plan and execute a Shawshank Redemption inspired escape from their airtight container and run as quickly as they can to the lovely, warm South American weather from whence they came.

Morgan Freeman will follow them eventually.

They will meet on a lovely beach someplace, fix up an old boat, open a small hotel, and live in paradise together happily ever after.

Anyway . . . today was that very lucky day, but I really wanted to start my day with a coffee.

So I reluctantly made my way to the drive-thru at Tim Hortons this morning – in the snowy, cold North American weather from whence I came – placed my order, got to the window to pick it up, extended my cold hand with cold hard cash in it, only to be told that they were momentarily out of decaf.

I drink 50/50 decaf/coffee in the morning.  Long(er) story.

I asked why they simply hadn’t told me that when I placed the order and then needlessly waited several minutes behind several other cars in order to get an order I wouldn’t ever get, and the employee told me she just hadn’t thought of it.

I didn’t know what to say.

Well, actually, I knew exactly the sorts of things that I wanted to say, but I didn’t think I should actually say them.

Instead, I bit my lip, nodded, pulled my arm back in, rolled the window up, and drove to work shaking my head.

I’d shake my head a few times in the morning, a couple more times at lunch, and a number of times in the afternoon.

And, through all of that head shaking, I didn’t say any of the things I wanted to say to any of the people responsible for it.

That’s a pretty big achievement in my world.

Hence, I humbly offer you today’s mixed bag installment.

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Wee Mixed Bag, Volume 14.

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Last night, we had our very first parent/teacher interviews.

We went to Daughter Number One’s little school, sat in very little chairs – my knees ended up somewhere up around my neck, as I sat in the wee plastic thing in a near-cannonball position – and listened to her kindergarten teachers tell us what we hoped they would.

She plays well with others.

She’s enthusiastic, eager, and interested in absolutely everything – asking questions and living a life full of wonder.

What else could you really want to hear?

I remained mostly silent and let my wife do the talking.  I must admit that it was pretty weird to be on the other side of the interview table.  I bit my lip and tried not to laugh when the words “schema” and “neurons” were used to describe crayon colouring, and I did a good job of it.  I nodded politely and said “good” and “great” a few times.

I liked that the walls in the hallways were covered with little handprints with “I CAN” written on them.  The students wrote their names on them, and then listed an achievement they were proud of.

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Pretty cool.

- – -

This morning I awoke to the first thoroughly frosted over windshields of the year.  There was actually snow on the roof, and some on the trunk.  It didn’t need to be brushed off – we’re not quite there yet, I don’t think – but them there windshields sure did done need a scrapin’ this morning, I tells ya.

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When I got to work, I snapped a quick picture of the parking lot . . .

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. . . oh yes, winter’s on its way.

- – -

I wonder just how many people, grossly disappointed in their overall grocery shopping experience, complained to this Canadian apple cider manufacturer . . .

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. . . before they had to add the “NON-ALCOHOLIC, NON-SPARKLING” warning label – in large capital letters almost as big as the product description itself – to the front of the container?

I can just see it now:

Belch.  Whaddya mean theresch no booooze in thisssch?!  I paid four dollarsssch for it and I expect booooze for that price!  Belch.  I can get three canssch of beer for that!  Belch.

Ach, I cannae belie’ there’s nae a dram in here.  I cannae drink cider and nae be pisched at tha’ end a tha’, can I?  What are you playin’ at?  Gimme ma quid back ya lousy thievin’ bastard!

Non-sparkling?  Hmm.  Well, that won’t go very well with the brie now will it?  We can’t have that.  I’ll have to take it back.  What an incredible inconvenience.  Non-sparkling!

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