Friday, December 30, 2005

In Which I Buy Coffee for Sick Kids

I made a promise to the Magazine Man. He sent me some crap, (although I don't think it is crap,) due to my winning bid in his Giveaway of Crap. My winning bid was not to buy coffee for sick kids as he said in one sleep deprived entry, but to start saving my coffee money and buy books for the kids at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. I told him I wanted to do this closer to Christmas as a gift to the kids that have to stay in the hospital over the Holiday. It is closer to Christmas than when I said that, but if we were playing by Price Is Right rules, I have gone over, (for the post that is, as the task itself was completed before Sunday.)

The week leading up to Christmas is usually a busy week for me. Like a lot of men, I don't believe that any Christmas shopping needs to be done before December 20. Mix that with the fact that the week was pretty much full to begin with and I was quickly running out of time. Monday there was a dinner outing with Team 188, (that is the podmates plus Harrison and the co-op,) Tuesday was my regular curling night, Wednesday was rehearsal, Thursday was the board meeting that was pushed to this week from the week before... You see? I had two days to shop for family and friends and complete my mission. (I don't know when it became a mission. Probably the tight timelines.) My delaying actually worked to my benefit however as my Sis and BiL were now in town. My Sis works with kids so she knows all about what is out there in the way of books and she also knows how to get the biggest bang for the buck at the bookstore.

The bucks I had were from several sources. As I had originally planned, I started saving part of my coffee money each week. I couldn't save it all or I wouldn't be in any state to do...well just about anything. I also received some help from some people at work. Finally, I collected my change. See, I am one of those people that collects all his change at the end of every day and after every two months or so, I can buy something. This is how I usually finance the new PlayStation games (nerd.) This time I held out and rolled my change for books.

With money in hand and my Sis at my side, I made a trip to the local Chapters. With her help, I was able to get nearly FORTY books for all ages of kid and many different interests. Stupid me didn't have the camera with me when I did all this but my Sis will vouch for me and I have the receipts.

I then dropped my Sis off and made the trip to downtown TO where the hospital is located. At first I thought that I would go in and visit one of the nursing stations and let them hand out books or ask someone where I should take them and go there myself. As I pulled into the underground parking however, I saw something that choked me up. There was a family, Mum, Dad, and two little ones, walking along, Dad carrying the youngest, all wearing Santa hats, but all looking a little sad. I don't like hospitals at the best of times, but when I saw this family and thought of all the little ones upstairs that wouldn't get to run downstairs and see that Santa had filled their stocking, eaten their cookies, and packed more presents under the tree than should possibly fit, I nearly broke down. I parked my car and took the elevator up to the main floor. I saw an information booth with some security guys behind it and made my way there. All I could squeak out was, "I have some books," as I lifted the bags up to the counter. The one guard smiled and said, "we can take those for you," and then he placed my bags with countless other toys, stuffed animals, and books that had already been donated. This made me feel a little better that these kids wouldn't be forgotten this Christmas, but still sad that there were so many here that needed to be remembered.

Hopefully this year we'll remember to say a prayer for those that can't celebrate the Holiday like the rest of us. Thanks for the inspiration MM.

All for now,

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas?

I don't know about this one. It has been an interesting Christmas to say the least. I am not in the best of spirits. Definitely not the usual Holiday spirit anyway.

I am at my Dad's right now and he is on *crackle buzzzzzzzzz whistle* dial up so I am going to keep this pretty short until I get back to the big smoke. What's coming up?

Stay tuned for:

Coffee for Sick Kids
How I pay it forward for the Magazine Man.

My Little Green Book
I got a book from J.Sto. I'll tell you about it when I finish reading it.

Moving in Kingston
My Sis and BIL are moving to a new place in Kingston. I am going to help them. (woohoo)

Hopefully tomorrow is more fun...

All for now,

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Crazy


This past weekend was crazy busy! Saturday was dress rehearsal for the Sunday Choir Thing, (I think there may have actually been a name for the production but I was just doing the audio so I don't know what it was.) That was most of the day. Then Sunday morning. Then a pot luck with Synergy for lunch. Then back an hour or so later to help Giggles with a school project, (not complaining about was actually kinda fun. Got to pretend I was a recording engineer for an afternoon.) Then the carol sing. Then editing Giggles' project. And, at that point I still had only bought one Christmas present. My Dad wrote me a not so subtle email basically telling me what to buy and when it was on sale.

Yesterday was mostly cool. (Colic upset me a little bit with her entry to the Bake Off, but I'll explain that later.) The team, (pod-team that Harrison,) went for dinner at Summit House Grill for a little away from work socializing and merrymaking.

Today was a vendor visit so I was only in the office a short time. I was supposed to have the last curling game of the year as well, but the other team called me just as I was getting ready to leave the office to say they couldn't field a team. What a bummer. We had even planned to wear Santa hats and everything. But, this actually worked to my advantage:

As I am sitting, now bummed out about no curling, Truman declares she is going to the Eaton Centre and half jokingly asked if anyone wants to come with her. Well, seeing as I now have nowhere else to be, I tag along. I had no idea what I was going to buy, but this is usually how I do it. Each year, I wait until it is at least December twenty-something before I hit the malls. Call me crazy, but I LOVE the Christmas crowds, (as long as I am not working the retail floor, which I did for two years.) Anyway, it turns out that the Truman is some kind of Shopping Muse. She went with a list, or a mission if you will. "I need to go to these stores for these items then out." A very "man" way to shop if experience serves me. However, simply being in her presence (presents?) it seems, inspired me to leave the mall with a rather large, heavy bag full of gifts from various stores. I must refrain from elaborating lest any of the recipients are readers.

I have decided that in the future Truman must accompany me on shopping trips for the Holidays. It would get things done a lot faster and maybe sooner in the year if I plan one of these outings for Juneish of next year.

At least this means I didn't buy all the gifts at the Tire this year!

All for now,

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Well...there's the snow

Yaaay! Snow! They say a whole whack is to fall overnight here in the T Dot and that means one thing:

If I wait at the bus stop for more that one hour tomorrow morning, I go back to bed.

All for now,

Monday, December 12, 2005

Vancouver 2010, Here We Come!

Yesterday Brad Gushue won the Canadian Men's Olympic Curling trials in Halifax. It was exciting to watch as any team that comes out of the Canadian Olympic trials for this sport is a definite favourite for the gold in Torino.

My friends Ang and Kev, (that's Kevin E Martin, more hair than the one on TV,) were there as spectators. They are the Skip and Vice on my mixed team so I am hoping they come back with lots of strategy ideas to bring to our games.

Also, Ken who is one of the other guys on my Men's team, knows Brad Gushue pretty well as he curled Juniors with him in Newfoundland. This is the calibre of player that I am playing with on a weekly basis.

So, the point of all this? Four years from now you can expect to see me on TSN for the round robin and CBC for the weekend playoffs of the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials for Vancouver 2010. Granted we have a LITTLE work to do as my Men's team is currently in the "F" division of the Tuesday Men's league at Leaside Curling Club. Unfortunately "F" is not for Fantastic. They label the divisions by letter with "A" being the elite curlers in the league.

They label them "A" through "F".

But four years is plenty of time to turn that around and make a run for gold...right?

All for now,

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Singing Mice?

Dress rehearsal was today. Yes, I am in a musical. It is a Christmas themed musical of course at this time of year. We are doing the traditional Christmas, Birth of the Savior story in a kind of non-traditional way. The story is told from the point of view of a family of mice that traveled to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph. Yes, it is a little surreal but did I mention it was a children's musical? A Mouse Christmas has four adult parts, Mama and Papa Mouse, Mary, and Joseph, (played by me,) then a whole whack of kids! It is so fun.

A couple of funny stories about telling people I know about the production:

After curling one Sunday, Mo asked what I was doing in the evening and I mentioned I had rehearsal for a children's musical. Her response: "Um, I hate to tell you this, but you aren't a child anymore."

The other one was when I was telling Colic about it. I had already told Truman about it and she was there, too:
Kef: I have rehearsal Sunday night
Colic: Oh yeah, tell me about this thing
Kef: It's the Christmas story told by mice, but I play a human
Truman: He's playing Jesus!
[short pause]
Truman: Oh wait, that's not right...
Kef: No, because then I would be in diapers, and nobody needs to see that.
[much laughter]

Anyway, Boomer and Kaibob have been working really hard with all the kids for them to learn their lines and the songs and everything, and this morning went really well for the most part, so I think it will be a great show. I just hope the bronchitis holds off as I have a solo piece in the show.

And now, in case the mental image didn't stick the first time you read it:

"No, because then I would be in diapers."


All for now,

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Better Way?

We had a bit of snow last night. It was 10cm or so, not enough to shut down a city. It did wreak havoc on my usual means of transportation into work however, so the following is a vent.

Toronto has a pretty good transit system. Their slogan is, "Take the Better Way." For the most part you can catch a bus or a train at any major street corner and get where you need to be in a reasonable amount of time. For the most part.

Today I left my apartment at 7:45 am. Granted that is a little later than I should have left on a snowy day, but we have had worse in past winters and I didn't think there would be too much of a problem. I sat down at my desk at the office at...


Yes 10:30am, two hours and forty-five minutes after I left my apartment. This is NOT a reasonable amount of time for a trip that usually takes forty minutes. I spent two of those hours with the other twenty people at my bus stop waiting for a bus to come by that was not packed to the doors. Bah!

Anyway, enough complaining. Round two of the bake off was today and the entries were as follows:

Di Pede - Easy Apple Crisp

This was an apple and pear dessert with a sweet crispy topping that consisted of margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, and shredded wheat. Despite the shredded wheat it was really good. In fact, he put green and red sprinkles on the top as well to add to the Christmas theme.

Stewie the Co-op - White Chocolate Almond Truffle good. Don't know what else to say. Most people could only eat half a piece.

Sats - Oreo Cake

He bought this from Dominion. He gets a ZERO for the second consecutive year.

I followed all these desserts up with a trip to Starbucks with Fennell to get a Grande Americano, so I am a little buzzy right now. I'd better go before I come down off the sugar/caffeine high.

All for now,

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chronic Bronchitis

A condition of the bronchial tree characterised by cough, hypersecretion of mucus, and expectoration of sputum over a long period of time, associated with frequent bronchial infection; usually due to inhalation, over a prolonged period, of air contaminated by dust or by noxious gases of combustion.

Not fun. I don't recommend it. Nobody wants expectorated sputum.

All for now,

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Spirit

The office gang is starting to get into the Christmas spirit, and by that I mean that we have started the Annual Team 188 Bake-Off!

Last year there were some logistical errors, and a bit of controversy over this "friendly" little contest that we run:

1. Seeing as we had to judge every dessert but our own, we were faced with tasting 8-10 desserts in one afternoon. This may SOUND like a good idea to some but trust me, the ones you taste last lose simply because you are sick.

2. Someone entered store bought butter tarts into the contest. They might have got away with it except that they left it in the plastic tart tray.

3. I won't say whose entry it was, but the winner who entered a Tiramisu Trifle, had a LOT of help from Colic's sister.

This year Di Pede is in charge so he decided to mix it up a bit. To prevent the disaster of number one above, the participants were divided into several rounds. This was done by blind draw to prevent complaints about being entered on the same day as the Boss or as Colic and her Sister.

Today was round one. The entrants were as follows:

Truman - Krispie Mars Squares

This entry was basically somewhere in the range of 8-10 Mars bars melted down and blended with Rice Krispies with a layer of chocolate on top. It was very tasty if not a little sweet but an extremely good showing. It will be tough to beat. To make it better I might actually add more Krispies

Harrison (Mr. 188 himself) - Shortbread Caramel Bars

This is a repeat entry from last year, but is actually a team-wide favourite so it was made by request. Shortbread base, homemade chewy caramel middle layer, and chocolate topping. Another great dessert. Apparently there was some concern about a new pan that is larger than the old one, so it threw off the presentation a bit this year, but it still tasted amazing.

And finally, Moi - Caramel Chocolate Brownies

These were my favourite. Of course it is my Nana's recipe and my Mum makes them every year, so I may be a LITTLE biased. Actually, if I look back at the copy of the recipe card I have, the title of this dessert says "Choc Brownie - Caramels." It doesn't really roll off the tongue and I have it memorized anyway so I rarely look at the card. I tried to bring up the hype a bit by giving tastes to other people on the floor not involved in the contest but it is hard to say if that had any effect.

Anyway, there are three more rounds to go so we are far from crowning a winner, but I can honestly say we were three for three today. It's going to come down to a matter of opinion as the skill of all of today's competitors was clearly of the highest calibre.

Highest calibre of office bake-offs that is.

All for now,

p.s. stay tuned for pics of cubicle decorations!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

My Step-Mother is not an alien

Hey...It's been a while. Stupid computer. Well, enough about that.

Last week I was down in Belleville and Kingston for a very special event. My Step-Mother Cheri was sworn in as a Canadian citizen! Cheri is from and still has most of her family in Iowa, but has living up here in Canada since I was in grade six, which is about eighteen years. She met my Dad in Florida when we were down there visiting my Grandparents who live in London and she was visiting an Uncle and Aunt from Ohio... Huh, this story is pretty complicated. I think I'll go back to the original one I was telling.

Thursday of last week I drove down to Belleville after work. When I got there, Cheri was a little surprised that I was there, but I said I had a few days off and I thought I would come visit for Thanksgiving. We all chatted for a bit then she tells me that we have to leave the house at 7am to drive to Kingston. I asked why, feigning ignorance, and she tells me about the ceremony. I couldn't keep the secret that Dad had already told me any longer so I told her that is why I was there. Cheri immediately yells at Dad then asks who else he told. Just my Sis and her Husband. So the next day we drive to Kingston and go to the city hall for her to register. Now the one thing about Cheri waiting as long as she did to decide to become a Canadian citizen, is that she didn't have to write a test. A lot of the other people there had to write a test about Canada to qualify for citizenship, but since Cheri is over...a certain age, she didn't have to write the test. (Incidentally, the test has questions like, "What are the capitals of the three Territories?" to which a lot of my friends that were born here responded, "There are three Territories?" Keep in mind that Nunavut is relatively new, (and the capital of that is Iqaluit.))

The ceremony itself was very official. There was a court clerk there to keep everything on track, an RCMP officer announced the start and marched everyone in, and it was presided over by a judge and attended by the Member of Parliament, Member of Provincial Parliament, and the Mayor of Kingston. Cheri was one of 47 people from 19 different countries that was sworn in that day. Over all it was really special and kind of exciting to see the people and hear all the countries from which they had come.

After, we went for lunch at Pan Chancho, (I've mentioned this place before as my Sis had her wedding dinner there,) then let my Sis and her Husband get to work and Dad, Cheri and I went back to Belleville.

So now I have the honour of having a Step-Mum that is both a citizen of Canada and the United States of America. I don't think a lot of people can say that.

Congrats Cheri!

All for now,