Friday, March 31, 2006

a free ride when you've already paid

So there I was....naked as the day I was born....taking a shower in the men's locker room after a session in the gym at work. I gaze up and am struck by an image which conjures thoughts of irony....

Why is there a sprinkler system in the shower?


Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Return of Dark Helmet

A little bit of good news for me today on the work front. Two pieces, in fact. The first is that I've finally been given a date to attend the National VIP Course in Ottawa this June. Once I have that under my belt, I'll start to get duties that are a little more interesting, as opposed to driving the spare vehicle, or watching elevators.

Secondly, after some political wrangling and creative email writing, I've finally got the green light to join the Ontario RCMP Public Order Troop. As some of you may know, I served on the team in Saskatchewan for about 3-4 years, and enjoyed it immensely. My only deployment was to the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, AB, but as things remained peaceful, we weren't called to duty. First practice with the new team is at the end of April.

Colour me happy.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

It's Everywhere You Don't Want To Be

Two tickets to The Inside Man: $19.00
Large pop and Resse's Pieces: $8.00
Gas for return trip to theatre: $5.00

Staying at home with a rental: Priceless.

Yep....last night was date night. Tam and I went out to the show for the first time in a long time. It reminded me about why people are buying big screen televisions and staying away.
I really wanted to see V for Vendetta, but The Inside Man was my second choice. So putting the decision in the pregnant lady's hands, that's the show we ended up going to see. We got there about 1/2 hour before the show, and there were lineups for the ticket counter and the automated ticket terminals. Having no cash, I got into one of the terminal lineups. Let me just say, that if in this day and age you don't know how to use an ATM, please don't leave your house. Stay inside and stop messing with the lives of the rest of us. I don't feel like standing behind you while you scratch your head and wonder, "Now how does this work again?"

After an agonizing wait, I finally was able to purchase the tickets. Enter the concession line.

Dave's Law #8: No matter what line you pick, that line will be the slowest.

We get behind some dude buying popcorn and drinks for a family of 30. After stepping to the side so the forklift could get in, we were able to make our order. A large Diet Pepsi, and a box of Reese's Pieces. $8.14!! That's an hours wage for some people. Controversial!

There were no Tribute magazines available, which is one of the things I look forward to when I go to the show.
So it was a direct walk to Cinema 12. Do not pass Go. Do not pick up your magazine.

Oh. My. God.

I don't remember the last time I went to a movie that was so packed. There were no seats for 2 available in all the upper section (which is where I always sit) and the lower section was filling fast. We grabbed a couple chairs on the far left. So for the duration of the film, we would have to have our heads "back and to the left". Gazing up....straining to focus...I was pretty stoked. We left the two aisle seats beside us vacant, which were soon occupied. Some "princess" in the row behind didn't even bother to take her foot off the seat when someone sat in it. The youth of today are so considerate.

There were a couple good previews like The Sentinel (Michael Douglas, Keifer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Kim Basinger), The Break Up (Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn), The Da Vinci Code (Tom Hanks) and MI: 3 (Tom Cruise). Then the movie started. About 5 minutes into the show my bladder called. It was urgent. I hung up. He kept calling, over and over and over again, which made it hard to enjoy the movie, but I managed to ignore it as best I could.

As for the movie itself, I was a bit dissappointed. It's not uncommon these days. I don't think the movies aren't as good, I think I'm just pickier as to what I like. The plot was okay, but there wasn't much character development, so it was hard to really care. It was all about the bank robbery and trying to figure out what's really going on. I'd give it about a 6 out of a possible 10.

Final verdict: We probably should have stayed home with a rental and watched it on the 40" LCD. Next time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Honeymoon in Scotland: Day 8 to 14

Okay. So I've been putting this off. But tonight I find myself motivated to finish the tale, for these three reasons (in no particular order):

1. To get Steve to stop bugging me.
2. To help Laura plan her trip to Scotland.
3. To give myself an excuse not to watch American Idol.

Given that I've waited so long to complete the last installment, the details in my brain are a bit fuzzy. Luckily for me, though, I kept a journal. Hah! Screw you, memory!

Shall we begin?

Our fearsome foursome woke up early to catch the 630 am shuttle from the hostel to the downtown core. The revellers whose revelling we were forced to endure all evening were still in the hostel bar. I shook my head in disgust. Then I felt old. While shuttling our way through Edinburgh, we started chatting with a fellow passenger. His name was Yoed. He was from Israel. Oddly enough, he was heading to the same tour we were, so this was the beginning of our 6 day adventure together. Hopping off downtown, we trekked across the North Bridge to the Royal Mile and decided to sample some local coffee. At Starbucks. Where we spent half our remaining funds for a hot chocolate and a muffin. But, it made the Bear's happy, so whatever.

When I was done recalculating our budget, we headed down the road to the Haggis Tour office. It had started to rain. This became a theme during our tour. was the griping was held to a minimum. We had actually been pretty fortunate up until then. We signed in, shuffled around outside and found our bus. We met our bus driver/tour guide, Laura, who proceeded to load the trunk with 20-some-odd backpacks (each the relative size and weight of a sixth grader) and attempt to shut it without being buried alive. With the help of some burly Canadians, the trunk was closed without any fatalities. Shortly thereafter, our merry band of Canadians, Australians, Asians, 2 Americans, an Israeli, a New Zealander, and a South African set off.

Our 6 day tour began with an introduction to our tour guide, the self-proclaimed "Lucious Laura", a freckled blonde from Inverness with a great sense of humour, a passion for all things Scottish, and conspiratorial glance and smile she would flash through the big bus mirror as she drove. We got some interesting facts, including an elaborate tale about how the Scottish invented the term "sh!tfaced", as well as the rules on Laura's Flaming Bus of Burning Love. We also learned about her love for all things Bon Jovi, and she played her personal theme song, Laura by the Scissor Sisters.

Leaving Edinburgh, we first made our way to Stirling where we visited the Wallace Monument. It was a difficult foot trek to the top. Tam turned back halfway up as her blisters were bothering her. There was a significant fee to enter the actual monument, so we just stayed outside and took in the view of Stirling, and listened as Laura passed on the tale of the Battle of Stirling Bridge (made famous in Braveheart). Leaving there, we travelled through the Trossachs (Rob Roy country) and Glen Coe. In Glen Coe we were told the tragic story of the massacre of the Macdonald's at the hand of the Campbells (who don't appear to be a popular
clan in the annals of Scottish history...). At one of the pit stops, we also were afforded the delight of seeing Hamish, the Highland Cow (or "Heilan Coo"). We stopped in Oban for the night, and checked into the hostel. We went for dinner at a little pub called Mackie Dan's. Sometime during our stay, it started to rain. Hard. Really hard. Tam and I sprinted back to the hostel with another Canuck couple, David and Arryn. We got hosed. It was like Beer Hunter. "Towel off!" On an interesting sidenote, David is the nephew of Jim Gordon, who was mayor of Sudbury. Small world. I said goodnight to Tam and headed to my 6-man dorm. Sleep was elusive. The bunk bed didn't help.

In the morning we departed for Fort William. We stopped at the Glenfinnan Viaduct where a part of the Harry Potter movie was filmed. At lunch we marvelled at the mists, behind which we're told was Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. Pressing up the coast, we made a few more stops at "points of interest" and did a little whiskey tasting as well. Along the way, Laura commented that the weather had turned from "atmospheric" to "dramatic". She wasn't lying. We crossed the bridge to the Isle of Skye and proceeded to our second stop for a two night stay. Our foursome
decided to depart from the hostel experience, which we'd had enough of after that last 3 nights (plus the lousy McLay's from the night before that), and opted for a bed and breakfast. Both couples booked in for both nights, and it was a welcome change. We booked in, then met the group back at the hostel bar for a meal and some live music (blues/jazz). Arryn had some fresh prawns. Wow. I think I'll pass.

The next day was for touring Skye. True to theme, it was raining. We set off up the east coast of the island. The scenery was spectacular. Laura had a wealth of knowledge of local history and legend (as well as a few personal anecdotes, which she was always generous to share) from time spent on the Isle in her youth. We heard the legend of Duncan and Morag, the tale of the Faerie Flag of Clan Macleod, and the history of the brutal Macleod/Macdonald feud. When we stopped for lunch, most of us opted to try some traditional Scottish fare. Haggis!
Some enjoyed it, while others didn't care for it at all. I thought it was alright, though I don't know that I'd add it to my weekly menu. I'd have it again, though. After that, we visited the grave of Flora Macdonald, the woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the government forces during the Jacobite Uprising. We also visited a ruined castle of the Macleod Clan, which was apparently haunted. We suffered through the rain for another day and finished back at the hostel bar for another meal. We also sat down and got to know some of the Australian contingent a bit better.

Thankfully, the following day the weather started to clear. We headed back to the mainland and up the coast to Ullapool for lunch. We also had to do some groceries as the hostel that night was self service. The highlight of the day was the stop at the Bone Caves. If there was much history attached to them, I missed it, but the views were spectacular. We hiked up into the highlands where there were some caves nestled high on the mountainside. There were some inner caves that many crawled into (under Laura's guidance) for a little spelunking. It was a little claustrophobic for my taste, so I
stayed out and enjoyed the view. From there, it was onward to our hostel, Carbisdale Castle, which is the flagship of the Youth Hostel Association and is said to be haunted. After preparing our own dinner, the group headed down a road, over a fence, through a field, along a path, over a bridge and across a street to the Invershin bar. A number of the tour were provided with some kilts and other traditional dress for an evening of drinking and live music. A family group consisting of a bagpiper and father and son who played the Baran (bone drum) entertained us with some traditional Scottish music. All the Haggis bus driver's also have their own drink at the bar, so I tried Lucious Laura's Lethal Liqour which was a mix of Irn Bru and 7 shots of liqour (at least 2 of which were tequila). After a few beer and that, I was pretty good for the rest of the evening. One of the American's got really drunk, and disappeared, heading back to the hostel on his own. We were concerned, as it was a difficult walk from someone who was sober. So we kept an eye out for him on our walk back in the dark, across the street, over the bridge, along the path, through the field, over the fence and up the road. We almost got lost ourselves, until one of the folks on the tour showed up with a flashlight. Ultimately, we found the Yank passed out in his bunk, so all was well.

I woke up with a bit of a headache (thanks Laura). We drove back south, stopping for a nature hike by a waterfall, as well as at the Glen Ord distillery. Inverness was the next destination, where we stayed for lunch. Tam and I had some traditional Pizza Hut at the mall. We hit the Battlefield of Culloden Moor, where in 1746 Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites were defeated by the Government forces. It was cold. And raining. Nearby, we stopped at one of Laura's favourite spots, which she only takes "special" tour groups to. (I bet she says that to all the tours....) It was a site of a number of stone cairns which are said to be about 5000 years old. Pretty cool. It's said that they are arranged in the patter of Orion's Belt, which has also been said of the Pyramids. We continued south along the western bank of Loch Ness, stopping for a few photo ops. We pitted in at St. Augustus for the night, at the southern tip of Loch Ness. We stayed at Morag's Hostel, in which the dorms had movie themes. We were in the Trainspotting dorm. After supper and a few hands of cards, I called it a night on account of my headache.

On the last day of the tour, we headed to the southern tip of Loch Ness to do some "Nessie" calling, led by Laura, which consisted of a chant and various body gyrations that at a distance may resemble the Macarena. We made a couple stops on this last day, but nothing that really stands out. We stopped at one town and took a group photo (of which I've never received a copy) and presented Laura with an autographed rain poncho. Then it was onward to Edinburgh, over the Forth Bridge, and back to the Haggis tour office. Tour complete.

We decided to stay at a Travelodge in downtown Edinburgh rather than deal with another hostel. It was rather expensive for a relatively crummy room, but we didn't have to walk far, and the bed wasn't bad. Tam and I went for supper, then we met up with the Bear's and some others from the tour and went to the Walkabout pub, an Australian bar. We had a good time, then said our goodbyes and headed back to our room.

We met the Bear's in the morning and went for lunch, after which we parted ways (they were staying on for a few days in Scotland, then to Belgium. We did some souvenir shopping up and down the Royal Mile. I found it hard to find anything good, as everything was very corny and tourist oriented. And every shop had the same stuff. Once finished, we hopped a train back to Glasgow, then a bus to the airport. We stayed at the Ramada at the airport and ate at the hotel restaurant. It wasn't cheap, but it was nice. Unfortunately, we didn't get much time to enjoy it, as we had an early flight.

The flight was bumpy. A lady in the next row was crying. I was even white-knuckled on a few occassions. It cleared up eventually though. The in-flight movies were Batman Begins and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, so that was alright. We also got a nice view of the snow-capped mountains of Greenland as we passed over the southern tip. The rest of the flight was uneventful.

We arrived in Toronto after about a 7 hour flight. We drove 1 hour home. Packed again. Drove 3.5 hours to Sudbury and attended my friend's wedding reception.

And then we slept.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Killingtime in the Void

Hello (Hello) there anybody out there...?

Let me start by just taking a quick poll. If you're reading this post and you are NOT related to me, be it by blood or marriage, please leave a comment. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare. I'm just curious to see if anyone is reading this stupid thing.

Now for some random thoughts:

- I get to leave for Sudbury in 2 hours. It's foggy. It's rainy. It's a 3 1/2 trek.
- My dog is depressed. He didn't get his walk today.
- Prime Minister Harper is in Afghanistan. Good for him.
- I just burned a CD with over 130 songs for my forthcoming car ride.
- I just had a frozen pizza for supper. I must be a masochist.
- I'm thirsty.
- I need music.
- That's better. Matt Good. I'm going to see him, donchaknow?
- Set up my webcam today. Spoke to my Dad and Daryn with it. Why did I wait so long?
- Should blogging be a chore?
- Have I ever written anything of consequence?
- Where is my contractor?
- Battlestar Galactica is a hawesome show. Watch it.....or die!
- you won't die....but you're missing out.
- I hope Matt Good is good live. After 10 years, I don't want to be dissappointed.
- Why don't I start writing the novel/screenplay I keep telling myself I'm going to write?
- Have you seen the Muffin Man?
- The Muffin Man?
- The Muffin Man.
- Why doesn't anyone I ever talk to like The Thin Red Line? It's one of my favourite movies.
- I'm already tired. Why did I have to get up at 730am. It's going to be a long drive.
- My driving partner from work keeps trying to "save" me. He says anyone who isn't Born Again is going to Hell.
- I wonder what's happening in Pelican Narrows right now.
- I can't believe it's not butter.
- Is there anything else?
- Nope.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Got a question?

Ask a Ninja.

Funny. Really funny.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Uhh...what's the '+' sign mean...??

Stewie (talking on Sesame Street phone): Put me through to the Pentagon!

Ernie: Do you know what sound a cow makes?

Stewie: Don't toy with me Ernie! I've already dispacted Mr. Hooper, I've got 6 armed men stationed out side Big Bird's nest, and well as for Linda, well, its rather difficult for a deaf woman to hear an assasin approach now, isn't it?!

Ernie: Can you count to three?

Stewie: Oh indeed I can! (Pulls out a raygun.) One! Two! Three! Can I count to three for God's sake?! I'm already shooting at a fifth grade level! for those of you who haven't heard....apparently I'm going to be a Dad.



Friday, March 03, 2006

One Year