Friday, December 22, 2006

Sports pics of the year

Compliments of great photos from Sports Illustrated and thanks to my wife for finding this great gallery of pics from 2006 - The Year's Most Interesting Pictures.

The bad part of doing the Yonge street TTC loopback shuffle...

Sometimes it doesn't work.

Sometimes you overhear that typical Bay street crap...

"Our Christmas dinner was at Didier. $4500 for 10." "Not bad" he says. Then he goes on to say that it wasn't that good, and "the service was sh***y." Then he drops the J.P. Benson name as if that means anything !

He's still going on. Only these types and unknowing tourists talk across the subway car like no one else is here.

Where's he getting off ?

And what the lady's story ? They both seem to trying to impress.

He's trying to think of Tru... something...sure enough Triax, one of those bastard labour sponsored funds I sunk money into a while back. Makes sense he's buddies with the founders.

Getting off at St Clair.

* The Yonge Street TTC Loopback Shuffle is a commuting technique where you get on the subway travelling the opposite way you need to go, then get off and switch back in the intended direction. This technique drastically increases the odds you'll actually got on a train and maybe find yourself a little elbow room in the middle of the car.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I've touched on this topic a few times before, incl. Recent Observations.

To a lot of people, thoughts of charity become more frequent during this time of year. I've had a bit of a (good) habit for many years to carry a few extra loonies and twonies around to give to the street people that I walk by regularly, to the old or young that look like they need a little extra handout, or the entertainers that (selfishly) put a smile on my face. Giving a little change when the temps drop below freezing like last week, seems only human to me.

There was an reader's letter in the local paper saying it shouldn't just be the responsibility of the mayor to take care of the homeless, its our civic responsibility. I can't say I completely agree with this but I can see where they're coming from. I think our cities and world would be a much better place if we thought about other people more often, especially those less privileged than us.

However, I must say I have to turn a blind eye on occasion because there are simply way too many charities to give to. This may not come out right, but I dislike many charities because of the guilt they leave if you chose not to support them. This happens very frequently when people come knocking at my front door, asking for donations for many apparently worthy causes. Sadly, mostly of them are to do with children. One charity that I must compliment for not falling into this trap is Sick Kids. Their volunteers are out on the streets all the time, and always have a pleasant greeting and surprisingly never directly request a donation. To me it's polite, they know that people know Sick Kids and they'll gladly offer up some change if they can spare it or perhaps, if that person has chosen Sick Kids as one of their charities.

So I think it makes sense to pick a few charities that you are somehow connected to or deserve the most in your opinion. To tackle the difficulty in choosing and having to say no to many charities, I try to give to a few specific causes.

As it happens, my daughter's classmate is the brother of Jacob Schwartz. Jacob has touched many lives and his family help drive Jacob's Ladder - The Canadian Foundation for Control of Neurodegenerative Disease. This has become our family charity.

This type of charity does take us a little further away from the people who need our help now, however I think they are just as important as other more direct charities. It seems to make sense to me that the best cure for many problems that face our world today, is prevention. Giving to charities live Jacob's Ladder and the The Heart and Stroke Foundation (which I also have some direct connection to) seem great ways to help out future generations.

But it seems rather obscene to me, to extend the good intent of philanthropy to the political arena ? You could argue the above point, but that's a pretty big swerve off course if you ask me. Surely money is better spent on the search for a cure for tragic debilitating diseases rather than propping up some sorry old gent who fancies a go in office !

The types of local charities that help cloth and feed street people are also very important to me and I try to make more tangible donations to charities like The Daily Bread Food Bank.

And lastly, there are occasionally a number of global incidents and causes that get my attention. For instance, the Gap (RED) program, Make Poverty History, or the fallout from natural disasters like Katrina. I'd like to say I pay attention because of the massive number of people affected or the global significance, but I must admit that part of the attraction is that it's in (hip, cool). Do I really need to wear a white rubber band or a red bead on a safety pin to show that I care ? I'm sure this is a little shallow of me, but often, the only way I hear about these causes is via the musicians I listen or via some other "commercial" advertising. I don't think there's anything wrong in a musician using there global reach to at least bring attention to some very worthy world problems. Problems, which we can give a little help to. Maybe if it takes a little self-promotion or a step into a state of fashion to get people to give more generously, then maybe that's ok.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Heavy Metal

The movie is Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

You may not have heard about it, but it has received lots of great reviews and if you've ever been a fan, I'm sure there's something in there you'll enjoy. If heavy metal has never been in your life, the movie serves as a perfect documentary on the power of music and it's impact on, or reflection of society. How did I hear about it ? Well of course, I did used to be a bit of a headbanger in my early Windsor high school years. But more interestingly, I actually played ultimate for a few years with the guys that made the movie - Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen. Our team was called Norge which may have some connection to this movie !

Great movie, really well put together, entertaining, insightful, thought provoking. Got a bit of a headache though ! Favourite spots - heavy metal fussball; Dee Synder and Dio interviews.
Those dudes in Norway were friggin scary - I've asked Sam if he was spooked interviewing them in person ? Disappointments - no disc shots ! 8/10.

For the record, my early days in Canada gave me the opportunity to see some classic heavy metal / hard rock bands in Detroit and then I reconnected with the punk stuff in university. Blue Oyster Cult, Nugent, Van Halen, AC/DC, Rainbow to Killing Joke, Forgotten Rebels and Problem Children to name a few.

A few lines from one of my all-time favourite bands (although a stretch to be categorized as heavy metal - too much love!):

It rained flowers when the music began
Love all around when the music is loud

Heavy Metal

The movie is Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

You may not have heard about it, but it has received lots of great reviews and if you've ever been a fan, I'm sure there's something in there you'll enjoy. If heavy metal has never been in your life, the movie serves as a perfect documentary on the power of music and it's impact on, or reflection of society. How did I hear about it ? Well of course, I did used to be a bit of a headbanger in my early Windsor high school years. But more interestingly, I actually played ultimate for a few years with the guys that made the movie - Sam Dunn and Scott McFadyen. Our team was called Norge which may have some connection to this movie !

Great movie, really well put together, entertaining, insightful, thought provoking. Got a bit of a headache though ! Favourite spots - heavy metal fussball; Dee Synder and Dio interviews.
Those dudes in Norway were friggin scary - I've asked Sam if he was spooked interviewing them in person ? Disappointments - no disc shots ! 8/10.

For the record, my early days in Canada gave me the opportunity to see some classic heavy metal / hard rock bands in Detroit and then I reconnected with the punk stuff in university. Blue Oyster Cult, Nugent, Van Halen, AC/DC, Rainbow to Killing Joke, Forgotten Rebels and Problem Children to name a few.

A few lines from one of my all-time favourite bands (although a stretch to be categorized as heavy metal - too much love!):

It rained flowers when the music began
Love all around when the music is loud

Monday, December 04, 2006

A brief movie review - A History of Violence

Well I think I have to agree with Eco's positive comments about this movie. See references in Further Analysis and Dick's contrary comments on The Impact of Film.

I finally got to watch it last night and really enjoyed it.
  • Great main roles and complex characters.
  • Nice balance of emotion and violent action.
  • Eco maybe stated this with a little more accurately, but it felt like it followed classic Asian war themes.
  • Steamy sex scenes.
  • A few incomplete or flawed minor characters.

Obligatory PJMixer comment: You can't ignore your past or your inner true self, but maybe you can learn from it !

I liked it. 7/10.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Losing your sense of humour

Did I ever rant on about my thoughts about interconnectivity and coincidence that's too common to be coincidence. I think so.

It's happening again. Maybe it's because I have so many ideas on the blotter waiting to be edited and posted here that it's just a matter of time until blog thoughts and ideas criss-cross or meet with current events. When they do, the result is oftentimes a more potent message that the subject presented individually.

Comedy, humour, the lovely laff.

I've finally got my head into podcasts. What was the immediate attraction for me was the comedy content, especially from my home country. I loved watching the Secret Policeman's Ball ages ago when there were wonderful acoustic performances by the likes of Pete Townsend intertwined with laff splatters of Pythonesque. I had assumed the Ball had gone away (maybe it never did), but now it's back and can be enjoyed via a(free) podcast subscription. Some great stuff and even some American comedians getting some air time. Weird how American accents seems so "foreign" and strong when mixed with a majority of British voices !

Funnily enough, what I really found interesting was a comment made by Chevy Chase of all people. He wasn't really funny at all, but what he did say, I loved.

A sense of humour is the same thing as a sense of perspective.

I like that. I like it a lot. (Chevy went for the easy laff by saying that of course George Bush was lacking in this area !)

The other standout snippet I've heard so far was Steve Merchant (of The Office fame) taking the mick with Jimmy Fallon (of SNL fame) - funny stuff.

So working backwards a little, I've got to provide some comment on Borat. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've only heard great things. What I like about it is Cohen's utterly convincing alter-ego, which he's done previously with the brilliant Ali G character and has another one waiting to be fully introduced.

But this is where I'm going to tie-in to this blog title. The anti-semitism humour. Is it just too real for some (unknowing) observers ? I say unknowing because Cohen apparently follows his own Jewish faith quite seriously. Or should this make a difference ? They always say it's ok to laugh at your own kind ! Is he perhaps too convincing or have people lost their perspective ?

Unfortunately I have to end with the most recent news of an off-the-rails comedian. Michael Richards. What he said earlier this week on stage was just plain racist and completely inexcusable. But you've got to wonder where those hateful words come ? I think he lost his perspective somewhere along the way. I loved watching his physical comedy even from early appearances on Fridays to the brilliant Kramer on Seinfeld (which, in my opinion is the best ever American comedy TV show). Now, the idiot's gone and ruined it all.

So getting back to Chevy. Perspective and don't forget....timing - the secret of good comedy.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The music downloading wars continue

Yes, I'm still downloading music and yes, my pseudo-illegal habits are quite controversial in this house. But isn't that one goal of a blog - to spark controversy and get a healthy argument going ?

Every now and again I check on news about my vice - allofmp3. I just noticed there a number of
blog threads hosted by Some of the things recently discussed include:
  • The actual cost of producing CDs
  • The decreased value of your music collection when DRM (digital rights management) is being enforced
  • The controversial blocking of by Visa and Danish ISPs - what line does this start to cross ?
Note that the blogs do cover a broad spectrum beyond just allofmp3 and do include outspoken comments against allofmp3 !

Friday, November 17, 2006

Shall we play a game ?

Some of you may remember that famous movie line, boy have things changed in the computer gaming world.

Today was the North American launch of
Sony Playstation 3 (PS3).
Sunday is the launch of Nintendo's Wii.
I think Microsoft Xbox have something planned for January.

My son wants them all.

I'm not helping the situation, because I've got caught up in the hype.

The pictures are from the Game Fest happening today at Yonge Dundas Square. Yeah, I was there, looking over shoulders at the latest in game technology and trying to win a PS3 for my son.

PS3 HD graphics are fab and it plays Blu-Ray - more reasons to break the bank for the HD TV.

Wii interactivity is definitely worth talking about. Get those lazy kids off the couch
(although that's not a prob from my son - latest count: basketball 3 times a week; soccer once a week, swimming, house-league game-of-the-week and full live action game replay of every Raptor, Leaf and NFL game on right now). The latest marketing angle I just found is brilliant.

I'm sure previous releases have been as big, but perhaps it's the attention of my son that is focusing me a little. Although, all us guys like a cool toy ! Here's a a little
snippet on the sub-text of the line-up story this week.

But all isn't oows and aahs, I recently caught a segment on Toronto's edgy Edge 102 radio where the guys were wooping it up about the latest fight/war game -
"the new weapons are so cool; pretty graphic stuff; you can really do some damage with...". That's when this phenom starts to grind a little - how easy is it to cross the line of fiction and end up as a CNN moment ?

But, what's more fun the gyrating your pathetic excuse for a bod trying to beat some malformed head of an animated character hitting a phosphorous tennis ball trailer at you - in the comfort of your own home with a beer in your free hand ?

What ever happened to
pong or a good board or parlour game - charades anyone ?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Great Waste of Time


WARNING - massively addictive - like channel surfing through time and across the world !

I've probably lost your attention already (oy, back over 'ere).

There is just so much great stuff on YouTube. Yes, there's lots and lots or crap too, but there is really good stuff too. For instance, can't remember where that mime of Torn is -
here it is.

A few of my fave's (but I keep finding new stuff):

Music Video - gotta be
Ok-Go. This one was so big, this single is now playing on top 40 radio !
Comedy - A Warm Welcome. I'd only heard this one on CD previously.
Made-up - Male Restroom Etiquette.
Get this sidenote - I actually heard these snippets of CONVERSATION between two chaps in their stalls in the office loo this morning - the cost of flying, Kyoto and LG televisions. Forget the etiquette from the vid, that surely has to break some basic low level rule of decency.

And a few big categories to browse through at your leisure:

Anything by
Dane Cook - gotta be one of the funniest, visual American comedies today (even my wife thinks he's funny). He's hosted SNL at least twice with great monologues. He made a weird reference to in the last one - "you'll find anything on YouTube, just randomly bang on the keyboard, get A:F6 and search for that in YouTube and you'll get...".

Anything from
The Secret Policeman's Ball. For those not familiar with this event, it's a great charity benefit that has some top notch musical performances and the best of Brit comedy - all for a good cause. The podcasts are available here too, but more on that later.

Anything by
Jon Stewart. Arguably American's funniest. Smart, topical, observational.
Anything with
Ricky Gervais. Arguably Britain's funniest. Smart, irrelevant, awkward.

Plus lots of great TV commercials, car stuff and sports.

This posting took a little while longer to write because I got caught watching a lot of videos while doing the "research".



The Soup Man is back and my belly has never been happier.

Schumi didn't win the F1 world championship. Spaniard Fernando Alonso won his 2nd. Get a load of this tidbit I just saw !

I got to play a few final games of golf over the last week. Saturday's game for my buddy's 40th was the worst weather I have ever played in - about 3c , windy, rainy (wet hands by the end), swamp-like conditions (wet feet after the third hole) and we almost lost daylight ! Lots of laffs though and a few decent shots here and there. Next up some golf with Micky in Disney in January.

Latest great movie -
The Departed.
Latest great TV -
Life on Mars (BBC link, just premiered on Showcase in Canada).
Latest great music - John Mayer - Waiting on the world to change.

A belated happy anniversary - celebrating one year of blogging

To me, well my blog.

I posted the first entry on October 3rd, 2005 and 84 posts later I'm here.

I'd like to thank....

Well, thank the world for being such a crazy place and giving me lots to comment on. Special thanks your comments, always welcome and it gives me an audience to write for.

The pace of posting has slowed a little, but I'm still committed to sharing my thoughts on subjects near and dear to my heart and hopefully causing a laff, a moan or a yeah (he's right you know) !

A reminder that this blog is not indexed on the web, so if you think another friend may find this blog of interest, please feel free to forward the link

I'm going to take this opportunity and recent surge of topics to extend an invite to some newer friends and remind others that the creative musing of their old friend is just a click away.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Remembering war veterans

I attended a Remembrance Day Ceremony with my son's class at the university of Toronto earlier today.

It was a moving and beautiful ceremony.

I believe Remembrance Day is a day for remembering the sacrifices of so many people during wartime in the last 100 years, incl. the Great War, WW II and the Korean War.

But somehow, it's harder to think of today's wars in the same sense. The great world wars that serve to tell stories of valour, national pride and steadfastness are ones I am proud to tell my children about and make sure we remember those that protected our families and friends for all time. Can we say the same about the Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan and dare I say Iraq ?

I was in
Halifax, Nova Scotia this summer for a business trip and during one of the mid-morning breaks I went outside to the harbour (famous for the massive explosion in 1917) for some fresh sea air. At that moment, HMCS Athabaskan was returning home from the Persian Gulf (a colleague of mine who's father had built the ship helped identify her and a few locals I talked with told me where her mission had been). The local lady emotionally said "it's good to have the boys home (her son had served in Kosovo in years past)". Her simple words and seeing the sailors proudly standing rail side onboard was a moment I don't want to ever forget - a proud moment to be a Canadian.

Now, a few months have passed and debate is heating up on the mission in Afghanistan. Canada's troops are supposed to be there until 2009 and casualties and fatalities are becoming weekly occurrences. The battles and dangers seem to be ever increasing. The latest comments centre on whether the war can actually be won ! Shouldn't this have been part of the decision process to engage in Afghanistan ? What made the military leaders think they could win ? What has changed ? Personally, I am not a fan of the military, but It think it is an important investment for world security. So if we're doing a good job and making a difference we should be there to help with the fight against terrorism. Are we afraid to show the Taliban they may have won this time ? Have we made it worse by challenging them in the first place ? Canada has always been known and respected as a conscientious ally in world concerns, and I don't think we should back down from that commitment.

Sitting hear in my comfy office, about to head home to my wonderful family in my safe and secure world, I wonder about the men and women out there putting their life on the line for us.

So today is a time for me to remember those who have served their country in the past and also recognize the dedication our troops have today to securing our world.

Some interesting historic links -
British military conflicts; List of wars; and the Military History of Canada.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nice cuppa

Yes, the car is resting on teacups !

SEH found this beauty on a great photo blog site called Daily Dose of Imagery.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Middle East - simplified

I've had enough horror movies for a while, so I got around to watching Kingdom of Heaven tonight. I really enjoyed it and I think I actually got a little more understanding of the Middle East and the everchanging face of the religious war. I am sure I'm grabbing too much from this, but here goes...

What "should be" important is what is in the minds and hearts of people, not what a piece of land means (or once meant). Jerusalem is worth nothing...and everything.

Wow, that's big. But I'll leave it at that.

Yes, lots more ideas (and big topics) scratched down and waiting for an impulse.

I hope I have a few readers left, please stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Further analysis

The last post got some good honest feelings out there and added lots of fuel to the discussion so I might as well continue the discussion of violence in our society.

A couple of letters in the post today echo Suze's comments from the last blog -
letter#1; letter #2.

Suze also got a chance to pose a question on this subject to good old
Sheila Copps on her online chat today.

Is this blog (even with very modest readership) falling into the same trap. As Sheila comments, do we need to see and hear about this violence so we may understand it and begin to address the problem ? Closing our eyes to this horror may be the worst thing we can do.

CBC are covering a related topic on The Fifth Estate in a hour that I think I'll watch. Saving this draft for now...

Report was pretty interesting, surprisingly open, but seemed to be tainted by TV melodrama. Story kept coming back to the problem of troubled kids keeping it on the straight and narrow, being unable to shed troubles of their upbringing and economic plight. Quite a lot of frightening gun show. In an interesting situation, one of the troubled kids (men) was being considered as a community centre worker with his street experience being the primary skill he brought to the job. His buddy was also shown doing some community service work in a school, wearing a Violence Shatters Lives tshirt and a later scene shows him beating up a so-called friend to teach him a lesson. When pushed to explain, he said violence was the only way to show his friend that what he was doing was serious and could get him hurt/killed. It appeared to get thru to the criminal wannabe !

The full story is at:

Other thoughts on J&F -
Troubled community has heart, soul;

[Side note,
Jane and Finch even has a entry in Wikipedia. Actually, every part of Toronto has an entry. Probably, any of anything now has an entry.]

p.s. Bro - was any of this "violence in the 21st century" part of that movie "
A History of Violence" ? If I recall you hated the movie, but maybe it did try to say something ?

Deep thinking wiki-links -
Aestheticization of violence; Media Influence(not verified)

Header artwork found at

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Difficult problems and interconnectivity

Apologies in advance for more questions than answers.

What can you say about the horrible
shooting at Dawson College in Montreal or the hostage taking in Colorado yesterday ?

Should we focus our attention on protecting our children from the madness of the modern world or should it be with the root cause ?

It appears that the authoritative majority claim that adding extra security measures to our schools is the best solution. Rarely do we hear from those that are brave enough to suggest that something is wrong deeper in our society. And that is definitely a major intersection point with many of today's big problems: global terrorism; the religious and oil wars in the Middle-East; global warming; 3rd world poverty and AIDS.

You may be in the opinion that most of the frightening incidents in our schools today are isolated with no real connection, however I've believed for a long time in the interconnectivity of all things. Although I'm not suggesting coincidence is in play in this case, I also believe that coincidence occurs too often to be just coincidental chance. There are reasons things happen.

Do we have smart enough thinkers and people with enough influence trying to solve these problems ?

How about the problem of money, never enough and everyone wants more. Back to schools, not enough money to properly pay teachers or for adding metal detectors in our schools (if that would help). Do the school unions add too much cost to the equation (on-ramp to the troubles of GM and Ford) ? Charity ? Who needs our charity the most and who are we, and our governments the most responsible for - the homeless of our own cities, starving children of a foreign land, or the victims of the latest natural disaster ?

As you can see, this could go on and on and probably connect with 80% of the posts on this blog. My point exactly, everything's interconnected, except...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dual Citizenship

Ok, it's been a while since I blogged, but I'm coming back with a big topic - dual citizenship.

Dual citizenship is something near and dear to my heart and family and now, it's being debated on a daily basis in the
news here in Canada (and abroad - see Economist article).

I've already read a few comments that match my original thoughts on the topic - perhaps the problem isn't with allowing dual citizenship, but with how applications for Citizenship are provisioned. The closing comment of the Economist article is something new, and has quite interesting possibilities -
Canada is far from the only country to grapple with the complexities of dual citizenship. Around 90 countries, including the United States, allow it. Unlike Canada, though, the United States requires its citizens to pay American taxes no matter where they live. If Canadians did the same, they might grumble less about the cost of rescuing their embattled brethren from Lebanon.
In case you don't know me very well, I am a dual citizen. Born in England, and since 1996, a dual citizen of Canada and the UK/EU.

The questions my (Canadian) wife and I contemplate quite often these days are:

Which country do you expect to provide you safety in a crisis ? Is this different on whether you're at home or abroad ? Traveling or residing abroad ?

To which country are you most responsible ? If I was a younger man, who would have rights to enlist me in their armed forces ?

For more reading on this complex, political and emotional topic, have a look at the comments and examples in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Time to get back on the F1 bandvagon ?

I haven't watched a lot of F1 over the last x years, but it appears we may have a decent race to the finish of this year's championship.

In case you're not a fan or you've been out the loop, Michael Schumacher has announced his retirement, but there's lot of speculation, rumours and controversy around the decision which should make the last few races pretty interesting.

Dad found this good article on Schumacher's career which does a good job of telling a few different sides of the story.

I've never been a big fan of Schumacher, but I've got to say he's bloody good at his job.

What does this mean ?

Warning - unedited late night comments and movie spoiler.

Just watched Fight Club. I hadn't seen it in a long time.

Always remembered that it was a great movie. Now, I'm not sure if I like it.

What the character becomes is something that he eventually hates.

Is that what the movies are doing to me ? Am I getting to a point where I need to stop watching ?

What's the point ? The value ?

Or are they teaching me something about myself ?

(no I'm not drunk)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cool stuff (for race fans anyway)

I Just popped downstairs to see some lunch time jazz at Dundas Square...but I think I got the day wrong...but I timed it just right to see a pit contest and promotional session for the American Le Mans Series race happening this weekend at Mosport.

We have plans this weekend, otherwise the event would have jumped to the top of my list of todos (
Speed channel are showing the race). I think I'll try and mark it in the calendar for 2007 though.

This was just a great chance to see some fabulous race cars up close. They had the teams from Dyson Racing (LMP1 class) and Corvette Racing (GT1) there doing pit stop demonstrations and they had our local boy Ron Fellows driving the Corvette in for the pit stop - loud and beautiful. They had a number of other race cars on show, including that wonderful Audi TDI diesel car that I put in this blog back in March - for car lovers.

Now you don't get to see stuff like this if your office is in the burbs. Yoohoo for working downtown in the great city of Toronto.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Final World Cup thoughts

I went kind of quiet there post World Cup didn't I...well I've been hanging on to this picture to post here since the final (I couldn't find a better online version, so this is a scan from the newspaper).

I think the pic sums up the true great thing about the World Cup. I think it clearly shows how wonderful it is to make your dreams come true. You can definitely say the same for the top honours in many sports, but the sheer number of players and fans of football in every corner of the world make this one extra special. You can see it in their faces and you know it's in millions of kids dreams to someday play in the big game and win the World Cup. Who'll be the player names you hear in the school yards now, I'm Tevez, I'm Koller, I'm Cole ?

And what about some of the teams:

England. Typical mix of proud patriotism, a decent talent pool, close calls, bad boys, damaging injuries, heartbreaking disappointments and some beauty goals. Good effort boys. One day (hopefully in my lifetime) we'll get it back.

Italy. Worthy champions. Very entertaining footy and not as sleepy as usual.
France. Great final 3 games and final. Tough loss, missed Z glory.

I've still got the bug, for the first time in a quite a few years, I've signed up for some fall footy her in TO. Nothing too serious, but a chance to apply all tactics and wizardry 've been trying to teach the kids for over 3 years now.

I'll be Pele.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pastime or crime ?

We spent a few days "up North" with my in-laws a few weeks ago. It was truly a Northern Ontario experience, especially since we made the trek to my brother-in-laws remote cottage on Rufus Lake (about 120 Kms from Kapuskasing, 80 kms of which was on dirt road).

Now, I must say I'm quite a man of the world, experienced in many pastimes, sports and cultural events, from skiing in the Canadian Rockies, to playing cider-drunk darts with more drunken lads from Somerset, skateboarding in 15' deep (empty) pools, eating dim-sum, scuba diving after an hour lesson in Barbados, sea kayaking, driving around Marble Arch in London, negotiating the Tube...but I'd never fished ! Actually, I always add an asterisk to that comment, because I do have faint memory of impaling my finger with a hook (now known as a "lure") when I was a wee lad at the "spinny" in Bedworth.

So, me and my 7 year old daughter (who had already been introduced to fishing by her enthusiastic big cousin a few years ago, and so already was far more experienced than me) accepted the offer from my man-of-the-wild, brother-in-law to go fishing when we were up North. And so, a few weeks ago, I went fishing for the first time in my life.

After a few practice casts off the dock, I actually caught a small perch ! Wow, instant gratification ! Then after dinner, we were out on the boat for a long ride out to one of my brother-in-law's favourite spots. Along with the joy of fishing, I must say I felt truly cut off from the populated world, a real feeling of being remote and in the wild - what a great feeling. My daughter was of course, the "reel" star, catching her limit of four good sized (15" plus) pickerel (
walleye). A may not be running out to buy some tackle any time soon, but I definitely began to understand the attraction of fishing. Some good quiet time with family or friends, enjoying the beautiful surroundings, and the challenge of out-smarting a tasty fish (as long as someone else can handle the bait and unhooking the catch - just kidding, I'll do that job next time). Her catch made up most of the fish fry dinner the next night - great stuff !

So, now I'm back in the city with some good fishing tales and what do I see in the
paper last and my daughter may now be targets of PETA. Gimme a break, they're stupid fish for crying out loud, what next insects ? put down that fly swatter mister, easy !

And so ends my fishing story, I caught a massive pike you know, about 20", it got away, but I really did, no kiddin...

More links:

[thank you Ninja Bob for the pic of Rufus Lake on

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A funny old game


Spending a (too) quiet Sunday afternoon watching Tiger murder the field at the PGA Championship. We're praying for the jinx, hex and booga boo gods for some miracles so our boy Mike Weir can make a come back but it's not looking good.

I've played the most ever golf this year - 20 outings, but I can't say the hours (and dollars) spent are making much of a dent in my humble score. I'm still ecstatic if I can get into the 90's. Meanwhile, my 9 year old son is posting better and better numbers and has now beat me fair on 3 occasions. Yes, he's playing from the reds, but that's only fair for a little guy. He shot a 45 a few weeks back at the course up north in
Moonbeam. His CJGA scores are getting better too with a decent 12th place (of 16) this week and only a stroke out of the top ten. Added bonus was that we had Jim McKenny from CityTV caddying (interviewing and filming) one of the other kids on our group.

Time. Always looking for more of it and admittantly (sp) hoping to get more golf in, but after a poor game or seeing Tiger win yet another one, you go - well, I'm not getting those 5 hours back ! But you I am to complain, right !

Got to admit Tiger is good though - a consummate player, cool headed champion and perfectionist.

I've heard a few people say that golf is the ultimate sport - a fine balance of body control and mental concentration and a soulful attitude. Tough competition from your oponents and more importantly yourself. I'm sure there are lots of arguments waiting in the wings here, so I've leave it at that.

Golf. Great game. Looking forward to the glorious optimism of my next tee shot.

Am I still a blogger ?

Just a quick test to see if I can work myself out of a google hole. My bad - I haven't been blogging in a while and it looks like Google may have cancelled/reset my account. I'm having trouble logging in from a few other computers in the house, but seem to have a active connection here ! Weird techie situation and account password reset dilemma. Wish me luck, and I'll hopefully be blogging again shortly.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The importance of "how are you?"

Based on purely the hypothetical, I realized today the importance of asking the very common question "how are you", especially when talking with a loved one on the phone.

The (hypothetical) situation: you call your wife as you're about to head home from the office and instead of kicking off the conversation with a pleasant how are you, you're into heavy stuff, scheduling, cooking etc. At the tail end of the unhealthy exchange, she says she's not feeling very well. Well don't you feel like a git. You could say "why didn't you tell me you weren't feeling very well" - but of course the volleys of blame could have been nicely avoided if you'd opened the conversation with a "how are you". Of course, both the question and the response need to be genuine and true.

Another (hypothetical) situation: your wife calls you as you're about to head home from the office and instead of her kicking off the conversation with a pleasant how are you, you're into heavy stuff, scheduling, cooking etc. At the tail end of the unhealthy exchange, you say you've had a crappy day and really tired. Well doesn't she feel like a female version of a git. Once again, the volleys of blame could have been nicely avoided if she'd opened the conversation with a "how are you". Of course, both the question and the response need to be genuine and true.

Please let me know if this rings true with you and more importantly if how are you is making a difference in your wife (sorry life).

Recent observations

Fashion ? Ok, I think I understand why some kids leave the tag on the baseball caps, but what are people thinking leaving the tag on their suit sleeve ? You know the tag I mean, the one that says the brand, perhaps size and colour info with those little annoying four corner stitches.

Charity ?
Pulled up to a traffic light and saw a pan handler getting ready to ask for some cash with a sign that begins "so broke..."...he was messing with something in his pocket and around his neck. Sure enough as a pull closer, he's got a small MP3 player around his neck. What's wrong with this picture !

Obesity ?
Trying not to be cruel here, but the cashier at the grocery store yesterday was a structural marvel. I actually think her arms were shorter than her width (not waist), width ! When a grocery item came to a stop on the conveyor belt she couldn't reach it - I almost LOL'ed (but that would have been cruel). But isn't the ability to reach the food on the conveyor belt part of the job requirement ? Weird clumps of fat filling out her sub 5' frame, her watch was actually buried into the folds of skin on her wrist. And not even a compensating cheery demeanor either. No hello, no thank you for shopping, no you're welcome. Rather gruff (but then again you probably can't blame her).

The ozone ? Dennis Miller recently observed - you know why we're depleting the ozone layer ? Because of the all the smokers that now have to smoke outside ! What's worse, a stinky office or global warming ?


The best TV I've ever seen (ok well maybe drama).

Huff Episode 13. Just got around to seeing it tonight. Why didn't anyone tell me how good it was or even get me watching this show years ago. Oh I forget, I'm in the only guy in our universe who watches it.

What a f***ing rollercoaster of a ride. Water works flowing nicely for at least 3 scenes. The whole spectrum of emotions and feelings - both mine and the characters - wrapped up into the final episode of the season (hold on, I hope this isn't the end of the whole series) Wow !

Looking it up online (weird that showtime in the US - doesn't allow non-US readers)...
sounds like the show is cancelled. So only two series, what a absolute shame. My summary: interconnected story of group of highly dysfunctional, and primarily insane, family and friends, fall off the emotional rails in every conceivable way. Highly complex drama with magnificent acting. Amazingly, touches of humour and hope.

ps yes the expletive is called for (trust me)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

That's how you do it

Although I'm not a big fan of the Italian football team, I really enjoyed seeing them play yesterday, with lots of creative play up front, smart passing and quality finishes. You could definitely tell they didn't want to go to penalties ! Sound familiar ?

Great win Italia, well deserved. Next up Semi number 2 - can Zidane keep it going. Vive France - World Cup fever is still here !

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A valiant effort

A valiant effort by our Brit footballers, especially with a man down for most of the game. But everyone knows you can't win with just a great defense and England are notoriously crappy in penalty shoot-out situations. Credit to Portugal goalie Ricardo and some fabulous penalty kick saves.

Major disappointments by the big names, but great efforts by some newcomers and a great game from Canadian born Owen Hargreaves - happy Canada Day !

I guess I'll watch a little more of the tournament, albeit with far less enthusiasm.

Moving on.

Game day (quarter final)

Just over an hour to the England vs Portugal quarter final game...still foggy in the head after a date night last night downtown.

All English hopes are on the boys to pull through today, lots of questions, doubts and fears...

Is this the game for Rooney to break loose ? Can he keep his cool ?

How much will Portugal miss Deco and Ronaldo
How fit is Gary Neville?

Is there any chance we'll see the Walcott kid play ?

How many yellow and red cards today ?

...and will PJ's personal calendar get more complicated or fall into place ?

Which is the other (personal) melodramatic story developing here - my ever-changing business schedule and trying to: see the remaining games; focus on a critical customer project (one of about 5 at the moment); attend a technical conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and help the family prepare for my sister-in-law's wedding and entertaining out-of-town guests (staying in our "massive" house) within the next two weeks ! Two big problems - playing the odds with England's chances to advance with the fact the first (important) event of the Halifax conference happening at the exact same time as the WC final; delays with my customer suggest most of my on-site time is needed the week I'm supposed to be in Halifax and the week building up to the wedding (when I'd much rather prefer some golf time with my visiting brother-in-law).

Something's gotta give.

An hour to kickoff, gotta make breakies and a cuppa


Monday, June 26, 2006

Really Keane

Sitting here (calmly) in little Italy waiting for doors to open for the Keane concert across the street. 'Zan within shouting distance in line (what a bastard I am). Getting my pizza to go...amazing, sneaked the pizza box through...

Here now, close, real close ! But waiting, waiting...

Fab show - fast, slow, fast, lots of anthem tracks, a good 'ole singalong.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Time (or maybe not)

Unfortunately, Mick's words are not on my side...

Finding time to write some thoughts and ideas on this blog is becoming increasingly difficult. I feel guilty just typing these few words tonight when so many other things of apparent higher priority are tugging on my time. Hold on mate, you say, PJ's always talking about movies, and sports and such. Where does he find the time to watch a two hour movie ?

So maybe time isn't really the problem. I admittingly (sp) do veg if front of the boob tube
(hopefully to be a plasma one day) on a regular basis. However, for me, this is when I get to switch off, detach from the problems and pressures of the day. [Strangely enough, I seem to be drawn to the complex (and stressful) lives of fictional characters !] So I guess I scientifically do have the time to jam more into my life and write more in this blog. But in the words of Mr. Bush, it's hard. I think I have a max of say 14 hours of brain power a day. Taking an average of about 7 1/2 hours of beauty sleep, that leaves 2 1/2 hours of the day that I think I need to just shut off for a while. So watching sports, TV or movies during evenings of the work week fits very conveniently, thank you very much. BUT, what about all the other stuff that's not getting done and any additional evening work load that eats into that down time and inevitably creates some undue pressure, crankiness and drags out whatever energy I have in reserve. I make it a pretty strong rule, that I don't do work on weekends. That slips now and again, but typically I have a few evenings a week when I'm doing work work. All that other stuff, personal finances, housework...maybe that's why am I complaining ? I've got lots of time to take for myself !

There are other activities that are good for the non-brainy time of the day. E.g., doing the dishes, low stress, a resulting sense of accomplishment, getting spousal points,
and you can watch TV (mind you, really mindless TV) at the same time !! Same can be said for yard work, cleaning bathrooms (with the stereo blasting of course) and talking with your wife.

Which brings us to some trouble areas. Times of the day (or weekend) when your (or maybe just my) brain is really begging for a little R&R and you're committed to a brain intensive activity, like say, making lumber calculations for the latest outdoor project or doing your taxes, or helping your so with his creative science project. Or even the situation when really important things plague and pollute your waking thoughts ! This is when things can go wrong, tempers flair, headaches settle in, hammers hit thumbs instead of nails and you get crappy night's sleep.

Not sure what to make of this analysis, is it just me ? Maybe I need to cut back,
somewhere ? Gotta get to those 989 emails in my inbox that need sorting (btw best sorting technique I've found so far, file based on sender first, then by subject).

Getting exciting

Toronto and imported loves (and hates)

Thanks to Mom for finding this recent article in the Globe and Mail. Interesting writing on the topic of the ever-growing number of world cup inspired flags in this fine city of ours and the unfortunate nastier side of homeland baggage. Hope this link to the article "Bending over backward" works as one path I tried to the article asked me to register ( I googled "Bending over backward" and followed the link from there).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stop the world (for 8 hours at least)

First, apologies for the lapse on bloggage.

Second, what got me to finally get back to the personal keyboard ?..a decent movie of course.
Lord of War was recommended by my brother quite a while ago and I just watched it tonight. I can't really say it was a great movie, because of the feeling it left with me. Don't want to spoil it here, but maybe I can disguise my thoughts this way...the movie points to an complex part of how the world works today, one that I can understand exists and why it exists. Something I and most accept, but shouldn't. One that appears just to complex to unravel and make right.

So, I'm not in the cheeriest of moods (especially if I wander to thoughts on a global scale). There is something to be said for narrowing your focus and trying to deal with things on a more local level, worry about things that you can more directly effect or influence (like, let me think, your child's education !).

And I'll leave off there, because there's a few hundred things piling into my world at the moment and I know I could go on for hours tonight, but another jam packed day awaits in 6 hours.

Yes, there's lot's to talk about, sports, terrorism, time management and family - if only the world would stop for, say 8 hours now and again. Enough time to do a personal priority check up, look around and try and glimpse what's really happening to our world and of course, tell other people about your views, ideas and dreams.

Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Getting in the mood...

Clear out those dirty thoughts...

I'm talking about
The World Cup of course.

I'm sure there will be lots of posting and comments over the next few months about football, and if you look back to the beginning of this blog, you'll see that posting number 3 perhaps gave you a sense of how serious us Brits take footy.

With only 13 days and 21 hours to go, what better way (for England fans of course) to get in the mood than to have a peek at these Eng-Ger-Land videos at (I think they work best with Internet Explorer). Special thanks to my converted England-fan wife for tracking these down - of course, her favourite is the Embrace track (which is the official one - "a little slow, but bloody good").

I must warn those readers that aren't truly appreciative of the football world - some of these are a little dodgy, but you can't complain about the creativity and clever lyrics.

Nice new snazzy kits eh lads ! Everyone fork over another 60 quid ! Pic at the top is from the World Cup site and is from yesterday's pre-tournament friendly loss to Belarus (no worry lads, just testing out some of the newer players!).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Visitor

Is it just me ? Am I that much of a socialite ? Maybe I just prefer the company of others over my own.

You may know that I like to play the host - in my home and in my city. So I'm often puzzled/peeved with friends when I'm visiting their city and they don't seem to be keen on getting together.

I hope I don't offend a few readers here, but tonight is a good example. I think that I'd mentioned to quite a few *friends in Ottawa that I'd be in their fine city this week. But I find myself dining alone this evening. Don't get me wrong, I like the opportunity to go solo away from home on occasion. Tonight, I must say I'm a little disappointed (although it gives me an opportunity to write this blog post, and the food and service here at Empire Grill never disappoints). Can't be too hard on the Ottawa folks because I tried to connect with a few visiting Brits tonight as well - not sure if they were avoiding an ex-pat or I fell victim to transatlantic communication blues.
*work friends, that is. I sometimes feel like I'm being a real prat trying to drag them away from their families for a drink or dinner. Perhaps I'm overstepping that "work friend" line a little with people who I consider friends (having spent many hours talking about a vast array of topics and of course sharing a lotta laughs and a few drinks), but maybe I'm more of a work colleague/acquaintance to them.

But, give my US colleagues a lot of cred here, turns they returned the call almost immediately. Feel a little bit of a urban snob though, but didn't feel like hanging out in the West end !

Live updates...US colleague puts out dinner invite for tomorrow; Brit lad returns email (comm probs).
When it comes down to it, I guess I just like to be the centre on attention ! Wounded ego signing off.

Endnote: although this latest experience relates to the potential tenuous relationship one has with work friends or ex colleagues, I feel pretty bold here, so I feel I can extend this feeling to "other types of friends" !

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Making plans

A friend of mine said an interesting thing yesterday (he admitted today, that he heard it from someone else, and perhaps you've heard it before).

When you make plans, God laughs at you.

It goes against most modern, organized thinking, but quite likely, is the real story for the unpredictable screenplay of life. Personally, I find this thought quite difficult to absorb as I am quite a detailed person and do quite a lot of planning - what does it mean, throw it all out of the window - and "just go with the flow" ? No, you can't just leave it all up to chance, but it probably means there's a limited return on making plans any more than 3 weeks out. But, it doesn't mean you can slack off either. To survive and thrive in this world, you've gotta be on your toes and be ready for the opportunity when you see it (kind of a soccer analogy).

What happens when you're faced with an unpredictable situation, a surprise guest or a golden opportunity ? You hope that this is where your instinctive nature kicks in and you adapt to the situation and it turns out just great ! The funny thing is that you don't get to enjoy the buildup, the anticipation of it all.

Vacations are a good example, lots of planning and anticipation (actually this is sometimes the best part), but the actual vacation doesn't live up to expectations or most often, is quickly forgotten. And sometimes, things just don't go as planned. However, sometimes the way it turns out becomes a long lasting story that is retold over and over with old friends, remember the time...

Of course, not all surprises are good and it is often these unpleasant surprises that are the real tests in our lives. We definitely can't plan for these events (nor do we want to), so all we can do is be prepared (there's a difference, I think) and get on with it.

So, some advice for the day, put down the daytimer, connect with a buddy that has the spirit of spontaneity or even take a cue from your kids (they are great non-planners) and take a ride someplace new, consider an unusual recommendation, take the time to look at something new, call the person who just sent you that last email or accept the invite. I'm sure it will be memorable and you'll have a story to tell.

So I'm sitting here in a hotel bar in Ottawa, making plans for the evening...what ? Gotta go and see what happens next !

Spontaneously written by PJMixer.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

No soup for you !

Hopefully this very famous line rings a bell with the majority of you.

It's from one of the best Seinfeld episodes ever -
The Soup Nazi. Although I don't think the real Soup Man approves of the episode title, the fact is the soup is fantastic.

I'm just finishing a bowl of the Tomato Wild Rice here at my office. My office happens to be attached to the Eaton Centre here in Toronto and the debut location for
The Original SoupMan in Canada.

I had my doubts, had good could soup really be ? Well, let me tell you, it's good enough to write about ! It's not just soup, it's a meal, full of rich flavours, every bite is a joy, you don't want to get to the bottom of the bowl and you can't wait to sample the next one on the menu. I'm not kidding folks ! I had he Beef Barley last week and I'm still talking about it to my wife !

A little costly perhaps, but worth every penny, classy establishment for saying it's situated in the food court. I talked to the proprietor this afternoon, and the deal is this. The soups are made in Indianapolis, then shipped to Canada. All international food import rules taken care of. Soup Man downstairs simply reheats the soup and serves from the cauldrons on display. Delivered in a number of sizes (including a litre container I can take home for some lucky guests soon), with fresh bread, fruit and a little chocolate bar. Perfection !

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Who said Torontonians can't take a joke

Thanks to my very thoughtful brother-in-law for these funnies. Oh, did I mention he lives in Manitoba, last time I checked, I didn't think they had an NHL team !

The the lonely writer & the silent observer

I heard from a few friends recently who say they read this blog quite often. It's great to know someone is reading this stuff, but it would always be nice to get a little more feedback. It's a odd feeling you get doing a blog thing - the lonely writer ! Sometimes I think I am the only guys that thinks the stuff, or am I only one who is crazy enough to write it down. But maybe it fits my style well - the one way monologue rather than the challenged conversation ! Perhaps that's why people write books or lyrics or magazine articles - no chance for immediate rebuttal !

Perhaps this is just the latest way I can fuel my (bad) habit for quick commentary. I should just let it flow sometimes (with some warning) and resist the urge to edit and euphemize
(I think that's the verb of euphemism - good info here on that juicy word). With the personal and occasional iffy topic, I'm sure that I could get myself into a lot of trouble - but it would probably spur some potent reader comments !

Anyway, food for thought.

Monday, April 17, 2006

When universes collide

Techies only.

You know that really annoying interference noise you get from Blackberrys these days - it usually occurs when data or voice traffic is coming to or from the device, and the device is close to some kind of speaker...

well, get this...

I actually heard it this evening when an ice cream truck drove by !

I'm pretty sure of the sound being blasted by its roof mounted speakers and now must deduct that the local ice cream man has a Blackberry.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Well you definitely pick your friends. And some people are much better at it than others. I must say that I think I'm pretty good a picking friends (and I can hear my mum saying in the background, the same was said by old headmaster from my early school years). Yes, that a compliment to you !

The difference to family is that the thing that bring friends initially together is a common interest. However, if that interest changes over time, it could spell the end for a friendship. Or, the relationship that friends build becomes more important than the past common interest. You just know each other too well, you can help each other out through the tough times and share an inside story every time you get together.

It's quite amazing really, that unrelated individuals, roaming around this big old world of ours, one day bump into one another and quickly recognize a connection. Like Meg says in Sleepless in Seattle, "it's like magic" (but not the kind we think of about love, but a magical feeling you perhaps get that you're not alone with your dreams, your passions, your humour, you've just found someone specifically designed to appreciate them).

Ok, I may been over dramatizing this a little, and of course not all friends are equal and friendships grow and often change over time, but like family, that feeling of comfort and being able to be yourself around true is a always something to cherish.

Friends. Those special people in your life who share, and understand, your highs and lows.

I can't leave this topic without of course touching on a favourite line from a favourite film "
What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."

Yes, friends change over the years, but without them along the way, great memories would so easily fade and our lives would feel so empty. Isn't one of the greatest gifts we can give and receive is friendship. Friendships are
so fragile and unpredictable, but perhaps that's what makes them special.

And what could be more special, than when family become friends and friends become family.

Photo from the M.I.L.K. Collection -