Category Archives: Misc

There is no reverse discrimination


A friend of mine posted a Facebook status yesterday about a man who did something, well, dickish. I am not here to defend him; in fact I don’t even know the man and I have to assume that the description of what happened is accurate, though I do trust the source. Anyway, someone else (who I don’t know) left a comment to the effect that the reason he did this thing was because he was a man and must have been “overcompensating for some deficiency”.

I did not leave a response to this comment since I don’t know the person who posted it, and it would have been off-topic for the original status, but this person’s comment really pissed me off. Why is is still OK to be sexist towards men? If something similar had happened but the offending party was female, and I had posted something like “must have been that time of the month”, people would have come down on me like a ton of bricks for being a sexist bastard, and rightly so. Even worse, what if I had made a snide comment about the size of her boobs? That would also have been way out of line, but it’s apparently OK to say that this particular man must have a small dick. I thought we as a society were trying to get rid of these kinds of “jokes” and no longer accept sexist, racist, or homophobic humour.

Just because the joke is at a man’s expense and not a woman’s doesn’t make it any less sexist.

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Oh Canada! Ribfest 2011


Waterdown held its second annual Oh Canada! Ribfest this past weekend. I wrote about last year’s ribfest and I’m very glad I did, since 5 of the 6 ribbers that were there last year were there again this year, and none of us could remember which ones we liked. Again this year, we tried ribs from each of the six ribbers. We had a half rack from two of them on Thursday, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday. This year’s ribbers were:

Boss Hog – Sauce was nice and smoky, and the ribs were excellent. My favourite, and Ryan’s too. They even had the best beans.

Fire Island – Our favourite sauce last year, but not this year. Last year, their sauce was smoky and had some bite, while this year it was much sweeter. The ribs we had were big but mostly bone, so they weren’t very meaty.

Silver Bullet – Great ribs and nice tangy sauce. Gail’s and Nicky’s favourite and me and Ryan put them at a solid #2.

Camp 31 – Ribs were good and meaty, sauce was sweeter than most of the others.

Bone Daddy – Great ribs with a nice spicy sauce. Challenged the Silver Bullet guys for #2.

Ribs Royale – New to the Waterdown ribfest this year. We weren’t that impressed with the newcomers, since most of our ribs were tough and dry. We even left one uneaten – a sacrilege. The sauce wasn’t bad. A few other people I talked to said they really liked these guys, so perhaps the half-rack we got was an anomaly.

All of the ribbers also sold BBQ chicken and pulled pork, though it never occurred to me to try anything other than the ribs. They had the same non-rib food vendors as last year – Tiny Tom’s donuts, corn on the cob and yams, hot dogs, burgers, fries, bloomin’ onions, fresh lemonade, and an ice cream van. Unfortunately, the spiral spuds that we enjoyed last year weren’t available this year.

Helping Out

Gail helped out by volunteering last year, and this year all four of us did. On Thursday from 3:00 to 7:00pm, we were stationed in one of the recycling tents, which was somewhat misnamed since all waste (garbage and recycling and everything else) was brought there and we sorted it. Unfortunately, Thursday afternoon was the least busy and so for most of our four hour shift, we just sat. Occasionally we would grab a blue box and walk around the tables picking up garbage that lazy people had left behind, and the boys played with a beach ball for a while. The worst part was that there were twelve people in this tent – the four of us, a friend of Ryan’s, and a bunch of mostly grumpy high school students trying to get some volunteer hours in – so the place was seriously overstaffed.

While sitting in the recycling tent, we got to listen to a few local bands who were performing. The first one had the odd name of Science Ninja Big Ten, and they sounded like a B-52’s cover band, except that they played (AFAIK) originals. They were OK, but not my cup of tea. The second was a trio called Trees and I really enjoyed these guys. They had a Wide Mouth Mason thing happening and did an assortment of originals and covers, though their covers were quite different from the originals – sort of funky and bluesy at the same time. Next was a duo, Ria and Bill, who played “standards” – everything from Petula Clark’s “Downtown” to Van Morrison’s “Moondance” to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made For Walkin'”. Again, not bad but not my thing.

We volunteered again on Saturday afternoon, and this time there were just six (the four of us, one grumpy teenager and another teenager who was quiet but not that grumpy) in the tent, and it was much busier. We certainly had some idle times, but other times the table was piling up with stuff just as fast as we could get rid of it. We got to listen to some different bands too. The Freeltones (who are presumably from the nearby town of Freelton, get it?) played first, and they played mostly 70’s classic rock. They were pretty good, though it’s unfortunate that the singer had his feet glued to the floor. I realize that nobody in the crowd came specifically to see you, and I’m not expecting Mick Jagger kind of energy, but dude, you’re allowed to move. Next was a Dixieland jazz band with the cool name of Subourbon Street. They even had a sousaphone. I’m not a huge fan of jazz, and I have to say that Dixieland isn’t my favourite – at one point they started a new song, and Nicky asked me “didn’t they already play this?” I responded that I couldn’t tell – it sounded to me like they’d played the same song a number of times. After they were done, a band called Straight Cut came out. They played heavier rock and even though there was a half-hour or so between bands, the juxtaposition was a little jarring – from oom-pah-pah to Judas Priest. They played some classic rock (Doobie Brothers, Cream, and both these guys and the Freeltones played Takin’ Care of Business – more on that particular ditty later), but also some heavier stuff – Machinehead by Bush, Whiskey in the Jar (originally by Thin Lizzy I think but these guys did the Metallica version), and the aforementioned Priest. This is my kind of music, so I enjoyed this band.

The Record

On Sunday, the organizers put together an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Records – they asked everyone to gather in the baseball diamond to sing BTO’s Takin’ Care of Business, and the performance would be broadcast live on the radio. The world’s record for most people singing simultaneously on the radio was 622, and we packed over 650 people in the ball diamond. If this seems like an odd record to try for, consider some other records that were set and recorded recently – “Most people dressed as Smurfs within 24 hours” and “Most people applying sunscreen at once“. Those Guinness people take their records seriously – we had to close off all the entrances to the baseball diamond except one, and have a couple of people counting everyone who went in. There were a bunch of volunteers whose job it was to watch a small portion of the crowd, making sure everyone was actually singing and not just lip syncing, and count the number of people not singing. Those volunteers had to report their numbers later and sign affidavits to legally swear to the numbers.

Kudos once again to the Waterdown Rotary Club for putting this great event together and to our fellow volunteers. I saw people from my baseball team, people I know on twitter, people from Nicky’s school, people from Scouting, some neighbours and other friends of ours in the area, plus the editor of the local paper and our local MPP. We all had a great time with some great music, a world record, and of course, good eatin’.

What a drag it is getting old


Gail volunteered in the beer tent at the Waterdown Ribfest last night. One of her duties was to ask people for ID if they looked like they were under 25. Step one: figure out what year one would have to be born in order to be able to buy alcohol legally. Some quick math, and the answer is 1992.

The same year Gail and I graduated from university.

Oh, God.

Our American Cousins


We went to Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) this past weekend, and drove up through Michigan to get there. Now, it’s not like I’ve never been to the US before, in fact I’ve been countless times. I’ve visited about half of the 50 states. At my last job (1994-1997), I traveled to Boston a couple of times a month for three years. I’ve also travelled on business to San Francisco (twice), Naples Florida, Washington DC, Baltimore (3 times), and New York City. I lived in Redmond, Washington for four months back in 1991. I live less than an hour’s drive from the border at Niagara Falls, and even closer to Queenston/Lewiston. I even have a US Social Security number, though I have no idea what it is or where my card is.

Canadian and US culture is unquestionably similar, but there are a few differences (some subtle and some less so) that a seasoned traveler will notice. Here are some examples of the roadside signs and billboards we saw during our trip that you would not see in Canada:

  • Bail bonds
  • Fishing line (priced by the yard) – not that we don’t have fishermen in Canada, but I’ve never seen ads like this
  • Crossbows
  • “Guns Galore” and “Gun sights and outfitters” – though there was a gun show in the Sault (Canadian side!) while we were there
  • Bob Evans, Stuckey’s, Cracker Barrel (never had these in Canada)
  • Big Boy, Ponderosa (used to have these in Canada – why don’t we anymore?)
  • “Entering prison area. Do not pick up hitchhikers”
  • Ads for health insurance
  • One billboard was entirely in Spanish. This wouldn’t surprise me in California, New Mexico, Texas, or Arizona… OK, maybe it would in Arizona. But in central Michigan?
  • The Marines
  • poopycredit.com – containing the slogan “Does your credit stink?”  This is a real web site, though one of the worst commercial sites I’ve seen. There are only six links on the site – two of them bump you off to different sites. Contact Us gives a “page not found” error, Privacy gives a document with multiple font sizes that looks like it was cut-and-pasted with no formatting, Additional Forms gives a very badly formatted form with a zillion fields, and I don’t know about Video. I am not going to click on a link marked “Video” on any site with the word “poopy” in the title.

Please note that this is not a criticism, just an observation. In particular, I like the Marines billboards, and I’d love to see more billboards in Canada regarding the Canadian Forces – I like the “Fight with the Canadian Forces” ads that have come out recently.

Awesome-ness


One of the things we bought my sister this year for Christmas was a book called The Book of Awesome. It’s a book based on a blog listing a whole bunch of awesome things, from waiters who bring refills without asking to the smell of freshly cut grass to the last few seconds of untying a really stubborn knot. It’s a fun book, and I think everyone had at least a few minutes of looking through it. Every time I saw someone looking at it, it didn’t take long before they were smiling and nodding, having found one they agreed with. I decided to come up with a few of my own, but note that I did not read the book cover to cover so it’s possible that one of mine is actually in the book.

Turkey sandwiches the day after a turkey dinner. A couple of pieces of fresh bread, turkey (white or dark meat, doesn’t matter), some mayonnaise and a touch of salt and pepper, then nuke it for about 10 seconds. I was going to say “soft white bread” instead of just “fresh bread” but this past Christmas I had one at my parents’ place on fresh twelve grain bread that was just… well, awesome.

When your kids give you a hug in front of their friends. I remember dropping the boys off at school last year and after saying goodbye to Nicky, I saw that Ryan (age 10) was across the room talking with his friends. I didn’t want to embarrass him so I just waved, said “Have a good day, buddy”, and kept walking. He said “Daddy!” and ran across the room to say goodbye and give me a hug. It made my day.

When you get home from a long vacation and remember as you are walking in the door that you cleaned up the kitchen before leaving. We’ve had vacations where that wasn’t the case, and when you’ve been travelling all day and you’re tired and have lots of unpacking and laundry to look forward to, not to mention returning to work / school / etc., walking in to a messy kitchen just sucks.

Taking your ski boots off and putting your regular boots on after a full day of skiing. Doesn’t matter how old and ratty your boots are, they are soooooo comfortable. Also, the warm glow you feel on your face when you come inside after a full day of skiing.

The sound of a baby giggling. Extra points if it’s your baby.

That moment when your parents kiss at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance and you, your brother, and your sister re-appear in that photograph in your pocket. You know the feeling. Just makes you wanna pick up your guitar and wail on the Johnny B. Goode solo.

Working from home during a big winter storm. I’ve written about this in the past. The iPod in the dock, a cup of hot chocolate, and a fierce storm outside makes for a surprisingly happy guy working at home.

Fixing a particularly nasty software bug. You have been working on this bug for days. It seems random. There’s seemingly no predicting when it will happen, let alone why. Customers are waiting for a resolution. You have made zero progress since the last time your boss asked how it was going, and you know that he’s just about ready to ask again. Then in the debugger you see that a variable is set to 0 when it shouldn’t be. “Why the hell is it 0?” you think. “If it’s zero, then that would mean that —” and then it hits you. Suddenly you know exactly why it’s happening, and why it’s so hard to reproduce. All of the weird descriptions of the problems the customer is seeing that didn’t make sense suddenly do make sense. Even better, you know you can give the customer a workaround, fix the problem easily, and even write a simple automated test so that the problem never happens again. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Forgetting that it’s garbage day until you think it’s too late, and making the garbage truck anyway. Even better, when you get the green / blue bin to the curb just as the truck gets to your house, so you can wait for 15 seconds and bring the bin back in.

Being complimented by a stranger on your parenting. When we’re out with the boys at a restaurant or store, I’m proud to say that sometimes they will be particularly polite or helpful. Sometimes, not so much. But when they are, the server will occasionally turn to us and tell us how impressed they are with our kids. When a complete stranger tells you that your kid is very polite, that feeling (“I’m not a complete failure as a parent!”) more than makes up for the bowl of cereal that he (the kid, not the stranger) took 45 minutes to eat that morning despite the fact that you were already late for work.

Email scam


Gail received an email the other day from a friend of hers. The email said that she had gone to London, England for an impromptu vacation and gotten mugged, and now they needed money to get home, and asked if we could help them out. The email was fairly convincing:

Hey There,

    How you doing? This has had to come in a hurry as it left me in a devastating state…  Myself, and the Kids made a trip to London (United Kingdom) unannounced some days back on vacay, Unfortunately we got mugged at gun point last night! All cash, Credit card and phone got stolen, we are stranded in London, fortunately passport and travel docs was back in my hotel room.  It was a bitter experience and I was hurt on my right hand, but would be fine. I’m sending you this message cos I don’t want anyone to panic; I want you to keep it that way for now!

Our return flight leaves tomorrow, but we’re having troubles sorting out the hotel bills.. This is embarrassing enough, wondering if you could loan us some dollars to sort out the hotel bills and also take a cab to the airport about ($2000). We have been in contact with the police  and the Embassy here, but they aren’t helping issues, We got limited means of getting out of here, Already canceled our cards and made a police report.. We don’t get new card numbers till we get back home! So we really need your help.

You could wire whatever you can spare to my name and hotel address via Western union:

56 Kentish Town Road
London, NW5 2AA
United Kingdom

Please get back to me with the details once you have made the transfer; would def refund it to you once I arrive! Hopefully in 2 days,  Sorry for any inconvenience this might cause you.

I await your prompt response.

Thank you,

Gail forwarded it on to me asking if we could help them. I was immediately suspicious (turns out Gail was too, but she didn’t say that in her email) and I responded to Gail warning her that this had a bad smell to it. I told her that if she was going to respond, tell her friend to call us collect and send no money until we’d talked to her in person. I asked if her friend ever used the word “vacay” (I don’t know anyone who does) or if she’d be likely to say “I await your prompt response”. More importantly, is she the kind of person who would take off for England on short notice? Even if she was, would she bring the kids during the first month of school? Gail decided that this was not likely and called her at home. Sure enough, she was there, her email account had been hacked, and she had already had over 40 phone calls from other people. Hopefully nobody got suckered in.

I’ve seen lots of different email scams and most of them are obviously fake. This one looked relatively legitimate – so much so that while I was immediately suspicious, I didn’t dismiss it out of hand like I usually do. Be careful out there.

And the winner for best soap box dispenser is…


While driving around town the other day, I spotted a local business sporting a new sign: “Your community’s award-winning laundromat”. I’m curious as to exactly what awards they won. I guess I’ve been remiss in my attention to the local laundromat awards.

When they “Your community”, do they mean Waterdown, or is this Hamilton-wide? When and where was the ceremony? Is this a rent-the-Legion kind of event, or were they down at the Hamilton Convention Centre? Or Copps Coliseum? We get both the Hamilton and local Flamborough papers, and I don’t remember mention of it, but maybe I just missed it. Must have happened while I was in hospital. Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

I’m sure that Hamilton’s A-list celebrities were all there – that would be star of stage and screen Martin Short, hoser Dave Thomas, Ti-Cats owner Bob Young, and sports journalist Stephen Brunt. And the bands Junkhouse and Teenage Head. Waterdown’s A list might also have been there, consisting of… ummmm…. well, the guy that played Harold on the Red Green show used to live here, does that count? And I once saw the coach (at the time) of the Tiger-Cats in the local grocery store, but then he got fired and moved back to London.

Anyway, congratulations to Cedars Laundromat on their victory, and I look forward to seeing if they can make it two in a row at next year’s Soapie Awards. Probably on pay-per-view.