Thursday, July 31, 2008

People are Strange

People are strange. A story in the Globe and Mail today would certainly prove it. In fact, with this story, strange is the understatement of the century.

Scariest Story Ever

This is a news story about how a guy on a Greyhound bus to Winnepeg from Edmonton randomly attacked a total stranger sleeping beside him. He stabbed him repeatedly in the neck with a butcher knife and then... get this: sawed off his head! Horrified passengers fled off the bus and formed a defense line so police could come take him away. No one else was injured. Injured, no. But scarred and terrified, definitley. I can't even imagine.

I can really fool myself into thinking the world is a pretty reasonable place for the most part... but it's stories like this that just confirm to me that the world is insane. It also confirms that you should never trust anyone who wears sunglasses at night. Especially Corey Hart.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Buyer Beware

So for the first time since I was a kid, I sold items at a yardsale on the weekend. Graham's parents had a lot of furniture, electronics and a million odds and ends to sell so I joined in the fun to offload some of those random items taking up space in my tiny storage closet.

To my amazement, I didn't have that much to sell! I must have done a great job purging all my junk in my two moves in 2007.

Nevertheless, I did find some things to sell: an old desk chair, some computer speakers, a DVD system, and mountains and mountains of clothes.

Interestingly, the clothes sold extremely well. I wasn't even going to bring them, saying just a day before the sale: "No one buys clothes at a yardsale!" But apparently, at a $1 a peice, no one could resist that bargain. Graham's dad informed me that people look for yardsales in the Lawrence Park area assuming that quality is dictacted by location. However, I assure you, not a damn thing I was selling in that heap was quality!

Seeing the onslaught of bizarre bargain seekers buying up our stuff made me giggle with happiness. Nothing like the feeling of free money I thought! But Claire couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with some intense feeling of guilt. She seemed to think the whole process was sad somehow - like these people lack enough money to buy real things at stores or something. I had to disagree. I don't think people go to yardsales because they can't afford something better. It's the old cliche: one person's trash is another person's treasure.

I also couldn't help but laugh at the barrage of folks buying up all the electronics before 9 am. "Does this work?" a guy asked me about my old DVD system with 6 speaker surround sound. "Yes," I said. Now if he had of asked me, "Does this work well?" My answer probably would have been, "No, it's a peice of shit." If it worked well would I be selling it for $10 at a yardsale? Do I feel guilty? Not at all. Buyer beware I say.

All in all, I made $80. Better than the $0 I was going to make having brought it all to Value Village which was the initial plan. And rather than guilt, I feel some amount of pleasure knowing my things have gone to people who want them, rather than in the trash, contributing to a landfill which is likely where a lot of it would have ended up.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Things I don't need to see at 8:00 am

So I haven't been compelled to write anything for a long time but today, I saw something on my way to work that has been irking me all morning.

Driving south down Jarvis around 8:00 this morning, there was an anti-abortion protest. People of all ages were lining the sidewalk with massive posters that said "Abortion is Wrong!" with GIANT pictures on each poster of mutilated dead babies. These awful, bloody little things, some with various body parts detached from their torsos. At the bottom of the poster it said, "At 10 weeks."

Okay, I understand that the point of the posters is to be shocking and grab attention but for god sakes, do I need to see dead babies on my way to work at 8:00 in the morning. Do I need to see giant posters of dead babies EVER? Not to mention some of the people holding the signs were children! This just seems sick to me. And to be honest, I really don't think this is a very effective way to protest! How many people's minds do you think they actually changed this morning? If I thought abortion was okay this morning, seeing that protest likely isn't going to change my mind. I think the only thing they were probably effective in doing is causing nausea and general disgust in hundreds of commuters this morning.

And while I'm on the topic of things I don't need to see on my way to work, here's another one. While driving on the Gardiner last week in extremely slow traffic, the car beside me honked at me - one of those little "beep-beep" sorts of honks people do to get someone's attention. When I looked over at the driver, he made a disgusting and inappropriate gesture with his tongue. I really can't be more specific, nor can I demonstrate in print, but I assure you, it was disgusting. I made the most repulsed face I could muster and immediatley changed lanes. Seriously, what the hell did he think that was going to accomplish? I was going to quickly grab a pen, scrawl my number on a peice of paper and hold it up to the window? Why are some guys such pigs?!

As if getting up and commuting to work isn't bad enough as it is, I have to get up, commute to work and see giant billboards with mutilated dead babies on them and have disgusting men make horrible gestures at me on the highway.

I think I may start working from home more often.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Am I a Wino?

The other day when I was getting ready for work, I found myself wondering, how much wine have I consumed in my life? I'm not sure why I was thinking this - perhaps because I was dreading another long, frustrating day at the office and would much rather be happily sipping white wine on my balcony or maybe it was because I was recently told I'm the group wino amongst our friends. Anyways, I was thinking in terms of quantity. Litres perhaps. Maybe the quantity is as vast as a keg! Several kegs even! I do drink a lot of wine.

So I thought, well, lets try to calculate this logically (because I'm such a mathematician!). I, on average, consume approximatley, 2 litres of wine a week. This is a very reasonable estimate. At times, it's much higher than this and probably at times, it is lower. However, as an average, I think 2 litres is reasonable (usually a half litre on Tuesdays at trivia, a glass here and there through the week and usually a bottle or small box on the weekend). So 2 litres a week x 52 weeks in a year = 104 litres.

One litre = 33.8 ounces. A usual glass of wine is around 6 ounces or so. So that means that in a year, I drink approx. 585 glasses of wine. With that calculation that means I drink 1.6 glasses of wine a day. :) That really doesn't seem like THAT much.

I've only really been drinking wine since late 2005 so that means, in my lifetime, I've drank around 260 litres of wine. A quick Google search tells me that a keg is 58 litres so that means I've drank almost 4.5 kegs of wine in my lifetime! Imagine the number when I'm 60?!

Maybe I really am a wino!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

In honour of Earth Day - or Earth Week as we're calling it - a committee I'm on in my company is posting an earth-related article every day on an internal blog. Today, we had a great post from an employee and passionate environmentalist about Community Right to Know legislation. I wanted to link to her post but unfortunatley, it's internal-only so I stole the content and have posted it here for your reading pleasure. She tells a real personal and moving story about how toxins have affected her life..... definitely worth reading. So in honour of Earth Day, I bring you... someone elses' writing.


Last year I turned forty-eight. That birthday is more significant than forty was, or fifty will be. Why? My Mom died of cancer at forty-eight years of age. Four years later, my Dad died of cancer. Two years later the dog died of cancer. I said to the vet, “I didn’t know dogs could get cancer.” He replied – “We’re seeing more and more of it.”

Eight years later I found out that the industrial land behind my home was being cleaned because it was contaminated. There is a chain link fence separating my backyard from the industrial property. We always had a small vegetable garden. I stopped eating the vegetables and I never planted another one.

My grandparents on both sides of the family lived to their 80’s and 90’s. My Dad’s siblings lived into their 80’s, my Mom’s are in their 70’s and going strong. Both sets of grandparents smoked, as did my aunts and uncles. The most obvious difference – my parents lived in the Town of New Toronto. It is in South Etobicoke, a neighbourhood located along the shores of Lake Ontario between Kipling Avenue and Royal York Road.

In New Toronto, our near neighbours were CIL, Gilbey’s Gin, Goodyear, Continental Can, Anaconda Steel, Dominion Colour, Pittsburgh Paints, National Silicates, Cognis/Henkel, CN Rail and Campbell Soup. We lived three doors down from the rail line and just south of the Gardiner highway. To this day, I have no idea what they emit. Community Right to Know legislation would change that.

I once said to my Dad, “You’re a smart man – why did you start smoking?” He said, “It was a healthful pursuit, the pass time of gentlemen. The Duke of Windsor smoked, so did Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. We didn’t know any better.”

Now we know better, and we have the right to know. We have the right to know what is in the air we breathe, the water we drink, bathe and play in, and in the soil we grow our food in, build our homes on and use for recreation. We have the right to know when we are exposed to toxic substances that harm our health.

Currently, that right is not protected by industry or government in our cities, provincially or federally. Toronto Public Health is considering a Community Right to Know Bylaw, also called the Environmental Reporting and Disclosure Program.

Toronto Public Health has identified twenty-five toxic chemicals that are released into Toronto’s air at levels that are a risk to health.

Nine high-risk carcinogens (cancer –causing substances) are in our air at unhealthy levels. Annually, approximately 7,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals are released into Toronto’s air land and water.

Under current legislation less than 3% of companies are required report the substances they emit to the National Pollution Registry, information the public has access to.

There are approximately 11,000 businesses in the City of Toronto that release toxins. Across Ontario and Canada polluters are not required to tell their neighbours who live and work beside them what harmful substances they are exposing them to. Over 80% of emissions into Toronto’s air are not reported to the National Pollution Registry.

A Community Right to Know bylaw would ensure public access to environmental information that is user-friendly, relevant, reliable and available in layman’s terms. The public would be able to access and understand information on the use, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous substances, quantities being released into the environment (air, water and soil), and the potential adverse effects of each substance on health and the environment.

You may ask yourself, “ How will it help my family and me if the City of Toronto passes a Community Right to Know bylaw, when I don’t live in Toronto?” Good question. Remember a little program that started in Etobicoke in 1977 called “Reduced Impaired Driving in Etobicoke”? Today it’s called R.I.D.E. – Reduced Impaired Driving Everywhere, and it operates province-wide, all year long. Eugene, Oregon and New York City, Massachusetts and New Jersey have Community Right to Know legislation in place, and that started with one community.

In May 2006 the provincial Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibited smoking in enclosed workplaces and public places to protect workers and the public from the “pollution” of second-hand smoke. The laws for companies who pollute the air we breathe, water we drink and the soil we live on do not ensure we know about emissions like lead, mercury and formaldehyde. Why aren’t industries that emit harmful toxins, which pollute our environment, held to the same standards and laws that a neighbour, friend or family member lighting a cigarette is governed by?

Industries are concerned Community Right to Know legislation is an attack on them. That is not true. They are worried it will cost them money and profit. If your workers and consumers are getting sick – that will not increase your profits. Industries that are leaving North America, are not leaving because of the threat of a Community Right to Know bylaw. Everyone understands we need industry – we all need and want jobs.

No one wants to shut industry down or force them to move. My Dad worked at Goodyear, they put food on our table for forty-two years, and I try to buy Goodyear products whenever I can.

Did working at Goodyear contribute to my Dad’s cancer and death? I’ll never know. Government, industry and the public have adversarial relationships. We need to change the way we interact. The Community Right to Know bylaw is the future. A future where government, industry and communities partner and work together to make changes for the better of everyone.

It won’t be easy but it is necessary. The future needs to begin now. Please support Toronto Public Health’s Community Right to Know – it is a small step to make the world a healthier place for all of us. If you want to take action by reducing toxins and chemicals in your home, find guides to safe alternatives or learn how to support Community Right to Know. Check out this link:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

'Tis the Season...

... the patio season that is! Ahhh, yes. The sweet smell of Spring and patio season is upon us and I couldn't be happier. The pub across the street recently set up their outdoor patio set and it was like I'd just received a birthday present....only this present will last until September... maybe even October if we're lucky. The weather is hovering around the 10 degree mark these days but I could still be convinced to go for a pint on a patio - even if I have to wear my winter coat. :)

Too Much of a Good Thing

The meaning of my name is, "to be admired" so I suppose it's somehow in my nature to draw people to me. This is not to say that I have throngs of desperate admirers, chasing me around like the paparazzi but I do certainly seem to have a knack for easily attracting people. This of course, is not a problem. The problem, I think, is when this attraction - or admiration as the case may be - stops being flattering and becomes totally creepy. Of course, it's wonderful when people appreciate you and admire the things you do but I think this is one case where too much of a good thing can produce the total opposite of the intended effect.

It's kind of like that saying: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I disagree. I think imitation is kind of creepy. There are better ways of showing someone you like them than copying them. I would also say there are better ways of showing admiration for someone than drowning them with over-the-top compliments. Yes, it's true. You can actually love too much. The Beatles may say, "all you need is love," but I say you need to spread it around, not lay it on so thick - otherwise, you may come off as obsessive and weird and although not intended, you may actually drive people away.

This was perhaps a little too deep for a Saturday afternoon post. Perhaps I've been dipping a little too heavily into the cold and flu drugs today.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I've said it a million times: "Remind me again WHY I live in Canada?!" I'm especially vocal about this when I've just come back from some idyllic tropical vacation or I catch a glimpse of some southern weather forecast. It's a balmy -15 today here in Toronto with a windchill of up to -30 and as I walked through the windtunnel that is the parking lot of my building, I cursed Canada for being so bitter and ugly outside in the winter time.

Recently though, I had this real moment of patriotism. This moment where I thought, yes, THIS is why I live in Canada.

It was Family Day weekend, the first of a wonderful new winter long weekend in Ontario. We were at a friend's cottage in Muskoka. We were with a big group of friends decked out in winter gear, wearing snowshoes and trodding along a frozen Bass Lake. We had beer. We had a fire pit. We made an igloo and it was one of those perfect winter days - no wind, a quite tolerable -8 and so sunny you need sunglasses to see through the glare on the mountains of white snow. As I stood there in my snoeshoes on the frozen lake, beer in hand, I looked around and thought, wow, we really couldn't be more Canadian, could we? And funny as it was to me at the time, I also realized that nowhere else in the world, could we play on top of the lake and in it all in the same year.

This is why I like living in Canada.

So next time my face is burning in pain from a 4o below blast of arctic wind and my lips are so numb I can barely speak, I'm going to try really hard to remember that moment.

And besides, only 2 more months till Spring ;)

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Let me just state it for the record: I hate being alone.

I get to work from home occasionally, which I realize, sounds awesome. People who don't have this option probably think it sounds like a pretty cushy luxury. I did too and I especially hated when I "wasn't allowed" to work from home when I first started this job. Being given the freedom to stay home on days where the weather is bad or I have an appointment downtown is great, don't get me wrong. But what isn't great, is being completley and utterly alone all day. Just me and my computer. Not one human interaction all day. It's lonely and the day drags forever. I literally cannot work from home more than two days in a row or I go nuts. I have a typical case of cabin fever or something.

It's funny actually, you'd think I'd be better at being alone. I'm an only child and spent countless hours alone growing up. I lived alone for over a year as I was finishing my degree and that never seemed terribly depressing. But now it seems, more than 24 hours of nothing but my own self and my own thoughts is enough to turn me into a lunatic.

I saw this ad in a magazine about elder abuse. It showed this sad looking elderly woman sitting alone at her kitchen table drinking tea and looking thoughtfully off into the distance. The caption read something like, "She can't remember the last time she had company." How sad. I don't know why I brought that up actually. It's not like I, in any way, bear any similarities to a poor, lonely elderly woman. I guess lonliness is just really sad to me.... or something.

Bottom line: I like people.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nothing But a Good Time

I have four weeks vacation this year and I'm trying to figure out the best way to maximize this time off.

Should I take it all as a chunk and do something awesome? Like travel to Australia? OR should I take it in bits and have four mini vacations? If I take it all at once and something cool pops up later, will I regret it?


Suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We're All Human

Sometimes we get caught up in this machine-like productivity we call work. We relentlessly plough toward a goal, often treating our fellow coworkers as means to an end. But then, when something like a medical emergency or death occurs, it suddenly becomes clear: we're all human. We're all alarmingly alike. Just people. I think I forget this on a regular basis.

I've been powering through reviews and edits to put together a big announcement for next week. I was getting increasingly frustrated when my contact was not returning my email or voicemails. Late last night I received an email from him saying he was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night for immediate surgery. It was a total reality check. Really puts your priorities in order.

This guy must have sent this email via BlackBerry from his hospital bed and claimed he'd be back in the office today. A bit overly optimistic I think but his dedication was impressive.

Clearly his health is more important than our collaboration on this announcement. The world will not stop turning if this has to wait a week or two.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Delinquent Blogger...

It's funny - with so much talk in my line of work about the importance of new social media tools like blogs and podcasts, you'd think I'd realize that if I don't update this thing every now and again, the very few dedicated readers I have are going to lose interest. We have several blogs at work, some internal, some external. We're starting a new one in a couple weeks that will be maintained by the PR team and since the brainstorming stages, we talk at nauseum about the importance of regular updates to maintain reader interest. Anyways....

So, I said I'd post an update on my study. Well, hypothesis was partly correct. Although I didn't acheive any enormously noticeable results physically, I feel better overall. I have more energy, I sleep better and I generally feel healthier. I must have toned up some areas or moved weight around because even though my overall weight remained the same, my clothes fit differently. Definitley more room in the middle! And most amazingly, my mom actually commented on some muscle definition in my arms while we were lounging pool-side in Mexico last week. :) So there you have it folks, 8 weeks of exercise really does do something.

I do plan to continue this into the new year but with a new goal. I think that I may, after much procrastination, attempt to train for a triathlon with Tina this summer. Tina, are you reading this?? I'm serious here.

On an unrelated note, I'd like to pay my respects to 2007. Although I'm not sure it compares to 2006, I'd say overall, it was pretty good. Got some travelling in - Dominican Republic, NYC, Manitoulin Island and Mexico. I moved twice, finally establishing myself in the once-terrifying downtown Toronto. And probably most importantly, I think I found my niche, career-wise and that in itself is a big, giant accomplishment. Cathy and I had a nice trip down memory lane the other night checking out the Facebook pictures we've posted or been tagged in over the last 12 months and it was a great way to focus on all the great times of the past year. Thanks 2007 :) You were good to me.
And with that, I leave you with my favourite picture from New Years Eve in Ixtapa, Mexico.
Nothing says, "Happy New Year," like the YMCA!!