Sunday, October 25, 2015

News that makes me want to drink booze

You will remember that I recently hired an assistant for the pickiest old man on the planet.  It wasn't easy, but I found a bright, young girl who was willing to put up with his ridiculous demands and his temper tantrums in exchange for a chance to get her career started.  There were a few times that she showed up at my office door in tears after he shouted at her, but my co-workers and I gave her all the support we could to enable to her continue.  He complained often and bitterly about her lack of experience (remember - he insisted that I hire someone young and fresh out of school because he wanted to start with a clean slate), but really there's no pleasing him.  No one would have been good enough.

Shortly after this new assistant settled in, the old fellow had a falling out with the owners of the company, and departed.  For a few weeks it was up in the air as to whether or not he would return.  I assigned the assistant to a filing project to keep her busy for a while.  But it seems that he's well and truly gone.  On one hand, I'm relieved.  On the other hand, I feel badly for the assistant.  I'm looking for a way to keep her employed.  It would be a shame to lose her, now that she's trained and showing so much promise.  I have a strategy to get her on board full-time (remember - he insisted that she work strictly part-time hours because he was too cheap to pay for our employee benefit plan).  We'll see how that goes in the next few weeks.

So.  Canada has a new prime minister!  That's pretty exciting.  My feelings about Justin Trudeau are that he seems to be a nice guy who doesn't really have a clue about politics.  I didn't personally vote for him.  He said too many dumb things during his campaign, in between his (literal) juggling acts and photogenic smiles. But it did make me happy that he won; it's sweet that Canadians were willing to give an inexperienced nice guy a chance.  Optimism won out over cynicism.  Maybe he'll do okay.  Only time will tell.  We'd just all better hope that he has savvy advisors.

The Toronto Blue Jays came this close to winning the World Series for the first time since 1993.  The city was so psyched!  Toronto and GO  (Government of Ontario) buses had "Go Jays Go" signs in the windows or on their LED readouts.  I'm not much of a sports fan, but it's fun when a home team is doing well and everyone gets into it.  Too bad that the team didn't quite make it all the way this year.

There is at least one actual blue jay that I see regularly on my way to work.

(stolen photo)

It's super-pretty, and doesn't seem to mind what the baseball score is.  So that's all good.  I will enjoy its company... (*checks Wikipedia to determine its migratory patterns - apparently none*) all year round, if I'm lucky, maybe even into hockey season.

That's it for the news tonight.  Tune in next week for more.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Heat Is On

Yesterday I wore my wintriest down-filled parka, and turned on the furnace for the first time.  We even got a little snow.  This is all a bit shocking, because my mosquito bite welts from a day in September when the high was 33C (91F) have only just faded.  On the bright side, all the deciduous trees in the city are looking very pretty.  (Conifers will have to wait until December for their day in the sun).

Ken and I tried a new ramen restaurant, because there's nothing better on a cold day than piping hot fatty pork soup.  The food was decent.  The ambiance was cheerfully chaotic.  Instead of a kitchen, there was an open cooking area, complete with boiling cauldrons of broth, surrounded by bar-style seating.  Every time the door opened to let customers in or out, everyone on staff yelled a traditional Japanese greeting.  Considering that the place was jam-packed full, with constant turnover, there was a lot of yelling.  This against a background of top-volume electro swing.

I gave my soup 7.5 out of 10, with points off for excessive saltiness and slightly undercooked noodles.  Ken gave his a more generous 8.5, probably because he prefers his food saltier and his noodles more al dente.  There's no pleasing everyone.

I am studying for a new project.  In addition to my usual Saturday evening board/card game date, we are adding a role-playing game meetup on Fridays, starting in November.  I have played Dungeons and Dragons in the past, as in, nine years ago, but the details are foggy.  Therefore, I ordered the latest edition of the player's handbook, which has this handsome cover art:

Yesterday, at Game Night, my more gaming-devoted friends plunged into a highly technical discussion of the ins and outs of the latest rules and their plans for the upcoming adventure.  I tried to follow, but most of it flew over my head.  When asked how far I had worked up my character's backstory, all I could say was that I'd just read Chapter 1 and I was pretty sure I was going to play a gnome.  Clearly I have some homework to do.

Anyway, since you guys seem to like my photos, and since I haven't taken any really relevant photos lately, here are some irrelevant photos.  I snapped them a couple of weeks ago at Lawrence West subway station.  The Toronto transit system is not renowned for its beauty, but it does have its moments.

Bonus photo of wrestler figurines from a comic book store in Kensington Market:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving

It's a long weekend!  Hurray!  Even better, Toronto is enjoying warm and sunny weather at a time of year when it can't be taken for granted.

Ken and I are celebrating our liberation from work and illness (we shared a cold for more than a week) by joyfully puttering around the city with no schedule and no goals.  We have been wandering inside, outside, and to meetings with friends, singing in the car along the way.  (Current car-aoke favourites are Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" and Joe Jackson's "Steppin Out", which I love for many reasons, not least of which is the glockenspiel solo [starts at 3:07 in the linked video, if you're interested].)

We went to the Bazaar of the Bizarre, an artsy-craftsy show with a Halloween theme.  There were a lot of zombie-themed wares, such as miniature blood-spattered cleaver earrings.  There was even a gentleman there selling hand-crafted BDSM leather gear.

When Ken and I stopped at the leather table to verify that yes, those things that looked like ball gag harnesses were, in fact, ball gag harnesses, the salesman was quick to jump in with his pitch.  All ball gags are not created equal, FYI, and his are made of special silicone that can withstand heating to blah blah blah degrees whatever.  We aren't in the market for any of this stuff, but we're always game to learn some new fun facts, so we stayed and listened.

I allowed the salesman to demonstrate the sturdiness of his leather wrist cuffs (sold in pairs, complete with hardware so that, with a couple of sturdy o-rings screwed into a door frame, one can be securely dangled like a drying ham).  However, I drew the line when he offered to let me try on the "scold's bridle".  (His didn't look exactly like this, but this is close enough.)

Wikipedia  states that this is an instrument of punishment used primarily on women.  It locks onto the head so that the tongue depressor bit makes speaking impossible.  Often the "curb-plate" (tongue depressor) was studded with spikes.  (The model available for sale today had interchangeable plates, so you could go for spikes or no spikes, depending on your whim.)

Ugh.  No thank you to devices designed for torture and public humiliation.  Moving right along...

Not everything at the sale was a total horror show.  There was a lady there who makes handmade dolls.  She did have one zombie doll, but the rest were normal, and adorable.  Since my 99-year-old grandmother gave me some birthday money with her usual instructions ("Get yourself something you don't need!"), I decided to treat myself.  

Here is my new friend.

Isn't she sweet?  Yes, that is a bunny on her dress.  She is 6" tall, and when I got her home I realized that she matches my bedspread with uncanny accuracy.

I have not named her.  If you want to make any suggestions, the comments section awaits.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Everything Could Have Been Worse

I had a pretty amazing weekend planned.  I was going to take Friday afternoon off work, hop on an eastbound train, and spend the weekend with my father and step-mom at their lakeside home.  We were going to celebrate my birthday with a fancy dinner; I was bringing a board game to play with them; and most exciting of all we were going to go on the annual tour/open house of the local cement factory!  Including a quarry, and machines that grind up big rocks into smaller rocks!  I really wanted to see that.

Unfortunately, I got sneak-attacked by a virus on Thursday.  Around 4 pm my throat started to feel a little funny.  Immediately I plunged into that denial phase we all know too well:  "I'm not getting sick!  It's just a little irritation from the air pollution/thing I ate/lady's stinky perfume."  By 7 pm I could barely keep my eyes open.  I was just. so. tired.  And my nose was running.  I had to admit that considering Ken had been sick with a cold since Monday (oh yeah, that!  which I had so conveniently been ignoring) it was impossible to deny the fact that I was now indisputably SICK too.

Bah.  Not fair!  I had already looked at the website for my fancy birthday dinner location and chosen  what I liked from the online menu.  (Rabbit ragout, for the record.  I know, bunnies are cute, but YOLO, right?)

However, it could have been worse.  I could have not gotten sick until I was already on my way there, which would have been a lot less convenient for everyone.  I don't want to lie around sneezing at someone else's house, and they probably don't want me there sneezing on them.

Also, I could have gotten sicker.  Ken has been down for the count with this bug for a week, and it's been way hard on him.  He's been battling brutal sinus headaches and a runny nose that just won't stop.  I have been walloped much more gently.  I don't have a lot of nasty symptoms; it's mostly just wanting to sleep 13 hours every night and then nap most of the day.

I was able to get 75% of the cost of my train tickets refunded.  Heck yeah.  My imaginary didn't-actually-happen train trip only cost me around $40 at the end of the day.

Finally, I'm already starting to feel a little better.  I left the house today!  Ken and I went to the mall and walked around for like, a couple of whole hours before I started to feel like I needed another 13 hours of sleep!

It has just occurred to me.  Consider the symptoms: sleeping 18 hours per day, wanting only to lie on the sofa, getting up only to eat and bathe...  This may not be a virus after all.  I may be turning into a cat.  Wow.  Well.  If you don't hear from me again after this, send tuna and catnip.  Meow.