Monthly Archives: October 2012

My Father’s Eulogy

When I first started this blog, I vowed to write a blog entry every Monday.  I did so for 27 weeks, which is over half a year, and nothing short of remarkable by my standards (considering attention span isn’t near the top of my resume).  The day after I wrote my last post, my father passed away suddenly while riding home on a train.  It appears to have been a massive heart attack taking everybody in his world by complete surprise.  He was 76 years old, but looked much younger.  If you lined up a hundred 76 year olds and were asked to pick out the ones you thought this would happen too, he very well could have been the last man standing.

If that doesn’t seem heartbreaking enough, his first grandson (my son) was born 3 days later.  He was very excited about the prospect of this, as we all were.  My little guy came out big and healthy, but with a hefty burden.  He is blissfully unaware of this, but there is an incredible void that has been left in our lives, and we look to him to fill it.  He’s doing an admirable job already.

I don’t think anyone would blame me for not writing a blog last Monday.  It’s an emotionally complicated time to put it very mildly.  Mind you some of the best writing does get done during these times, but I’ve opted for sleep when given a spare moment.  I did actually do some writing last Monday believe it or not.  I was tasked along with my sister and a close friend of my father’s to say a few words at his funeral which was on Tuesday.  My portion of that is currently folded up on a few pieces of paper with the type of horrible penmanship only I can boast of.  I thought it might be a nice idea to type this up, and post it for anyone that might want to read it.  That will also conveniently cover my blog post for another week.  I don’t think I’ll be able to put this one in the humor section though.  My mom told me that he did read my blog the morning he passed away.  (The one about dogs not liking people).  He got a kick out of it from what I’m told.  It was nice to hear that.

Without further ado…..  This is more or less what I said at his funeral.

“I would like to thank everybody for their support this past week.  Family, friends, co-workers, classmates, teammates, and members of the church.  I’m overwhelmed, but not surprised.  As most of you know, my wife gave birth to our son….Ken’s grandson on Friday evening.  They’re unable to be here as they are recovering at home, but my wife wanted me to say something on her behalf, as even though her absence is understandable, it’s quite devastating for her not to be here as she loved my father very much, but she also wanted to thank everybody for their support during the major life events that have taken place here.

When talking to all of you this past week, the one main theme is how terrible it is that he didn’t get a chance to see his grandson.  It’s OK to feel sad about that, but my father was the type of person that would have preferred a happy celebration of his life today.  He was a happy, positive man who would always look at the bright side, and there was plenty of bright side for him to look at.  So rather than focus on what he didn’t get a chance to do, here’s what he did get a chance to do……

He got a chance to grow up in the beautiful Muskoka area where the air is cleaner, the people are friendlier, and now everyone that’s not from there wants to pay top dollar to own a cottage there.

He got a chance to play hockey, and was quite a player.  When he was a youth, his team won the Ontario championship on 2 different occasions.  Coming from a small town in those days, that was a big deal.  When he went to Ryerson University, his team went undefeated for an entire season and won the championship.  Then he ‘tried’ soccer, and that team won the championship in the same season.  Since he was the goalie for both teams, he was named Ryerson’s Athlete of the Year.  He is now a 2 time inductee into the Ryerson Sports Hall of Fame, both for his contribution to the undefeated championship team in hockey, and as an individual athlete.  I mention a lot of the sports stuff because a lot of the people I talked to yesterday saw some of the pictures and said ‘I didn’t know Ken played hockey’.  Of course not.  He was very modest, and wouldn’t have ever brought it up in conversation unless asked about it.  Or as his hockey coach said to me yesterday ‘he showed, but didn’t tell’.  To put it in perspective for non-sports fans, 4 of his amateur sporting accomplishments have been celebrated 50 years after they happen.  Anytime you remember, never mind celebrate something 50 years after it happened…… it’s kind of a big deal!  I’m nowhere near as modest as he was.  I get a lot of mileage out of these stories.

He got a chance to marry the girl of his dreams, spent 47 wonderful years together, and had 2 children, both of whom turned out alright.  He got to do a fair bit of travelling to many great places, and has friends all over the world.

He got the chance to golf which was his only real indulgence or vice.  He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, and he didn’t spend money on himself, but he golfed.  Every chance he got.  The powers that be blessed him with the ability to hit the ball 300 yards, well into his 70s.  They didn’t necessarily give him the ability to keep it on the fairway, but that always gave him the chance to go into the bush and rustle around for a few minutes so he could pull out half a dozen golf balls to replace the one he lost.  If you were ever on the golf course and having a slow round without knowing why, there’s a good chance he was out there in front of you.

He got the chance to be good to people.  He volunteered his time.  He used to help raise money for Unicef.  Lately, it’s been the church.  He worked as a greeter, helped out with the banking, and even drove an elderly gentleman around to his appointments.  If you were his friend, family member, casual acquaintance, or someone he just met randomly at the store, he was fascinated by you.  He loved hearing about you, and it wasn’t an act.  He was like that all day every day.  There was no ‘on switch’.  He had the magical ability to make whoever he was talking to feel like the most important thing in the world at that exact moment.  You could be talking about a blade of grass, and he would hang on your every word.  Imagine that was your father?  You could see how one might get to be a little obnoxious 😉

He was loyal to everything and everyone he valued.  He was a meticulous Virgo too.  Every job he did, had to be done right.  Even if he was serving us dessert.  If he had to divide up a pie or cake, there were high level mathematics going on in his head to make sure everyone received an equal slice.  God forbid someone would ask for a smaller piece.

His hellos and goodbyes were legendary.  If you came to the house, he was like a friendly dog (only he smelled better), but he couldn’t wait to get you into the house.  After you left, he stood on the porch and talked to you until you almost had to cut him off, and then summer or winter, he would stay out there and wave at you until your car was no longer in his sight lines.  EVERY TIME!

I can’t begin to describe what kind of a son, husband, father he was, and what kind of grandfather he would have been.  Based on some of the clues I’ve given here, I’m sure you can put the pieces together.  We’ve had a great life together!

My final thought is…… If there were such a thing as human cloning (and it weren’t soooooo frowned upon), I think he would have made an excellent prototype.  I would love to live in a world full of Ken Austins!”

Thank you.


Dogs Don’t Like You

I see lots of people with dogs.  Most people who own dogs are very passionate about it.  I’m sure they’re passionate enough in some cases that I may make enemies here, but it’s time somebody said it.  Your dog doesn’t like you!

Your dog doesn’t like a noose being tied around his neck and being dragged around the neighborhood, and pressured into taking a shit so you can go back inside.

Your dog doesn’t like the crazy smelling food you feed him that are ‘good for his bones and teeth’.

Your dog doesn’t like the roller coaster of emotions involving only throwing a tennis ball around when YOU’re in the mood.

Your dog doesn’t like being under house arrest, and having to make nice with you, the prison guard.  He might make the best of it.  After all, it’s a low security prison compared to the pet store where he was in solitary confinement.

Your dog thinks learning ‘pet tricks’ is demeaning.  He does it because you give him snacks.  Snacks are awesome.  Everybody knows this!  There isn’t, however, a dog in the world that wouldn’t prefer the killer combo of snacks AND dignity.

Your dog doesn’t like living in a neighborhood where people are always passing by the front of the house.  He has to be on high friggin alert at all times!  Do you have any idea how stressful that is?  To not really know imminent danger from just some ordinary dude walking past the front of the house?  Can’t you move to the country or something?

Your dog wants ice cream.  He doesn’t like it when you take him out for ice cream, and don’t give him any.  He wants some.

Finally, your dog probably doesn’t like you.  He may occasionally show you a bit of affection, but it’s what’s commonly known as Stockholm Syndrome.  You see, he has been kidnapped in a way.  Owning a dog is not unlike owning a slave, which is soooooooo frowned upon, but other than the dog not being human, it can be pretty similar.  I would say the experience is not unlike the movie Misery.  The dog being James Caan, you being Kathy Bates.  Don’t you think he’d rather be frolicking around in a forest or a jungle somewhere?  Living by his wits?  Hunting for food?  Instead he’s letting us know when there’s someone at the door, and we feed him Alpo, and maybe give him the odd treat. Then we make him pee outside when the cat gets to do it inside.  Then he just wants to sit on the couch for 5 minutes to rest his little doggy feet, we tell him to get the hell off and sit on the floor, so they don’t get their hair all over our precious furniture.  If you don’t want dog hair in your house, then DON’T HAVE A DOG, STUPID!

The whole thing is hypocritical if you ask me.  I’ll bet there’d be an outrage if I had a Panda holed up at my place eating bamboo shoots out of a can.  Dogs got a raw deal man.  Humans are oppressive creatures.  Not to be trusted.  They’ve set up a whole ‘Dog Industry’.  There’s too much money in pet toys and grooming, and knitted doggie sweaters to set the dogs free.  Even if we knew we were wrong (which I don’t think we do), it’s become too much of a tradition to make little Jimmy think that a furry non-human is the only thing that understands him.  It’s gotta stop.  It’s weird and wrong on like 723 levels.

FREE THE DOGS!!  Stop chopping their balls off so they behave better (On what planet is that something you do to another living organism??)  Let them run wild and free.  I’m gonna get T-Shirts printed!  ‘Puppy Liberation’ will be the first one.  Another one could be ‘Who Let The Dogs………. Never mind, I’m sure that’s taken.

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog.

Presidential Debates – The CliffsNotes Version of Actually Knowing About Politics

Everybody loves a good debate.  Especially a political debate.  While I think most people pose as somewhat knowledgable, or at least able to understand and maybe even speak to most issues, I think we all know approximately one-third of what we think we know.  The math works like this…….If someone thinks they know 40% of what’s going on, then I divide that number by 3 (or 3.3333333 til infinity if you really want to be accurate), and I come up with really only knowing about 13% of what’s going on.  Just for fun, divide that number by 3 again and it gives you a number just over 4%, and that’s what I think the average amount of people really know about politics.  I fall into that category as well.

When the debates come on, people come out of the woodwork to watch.  This is a way to sum up the last 4 years into a 2 hour TV program, which is right up the alley of people who don’t like to pay close attention to politics throughout the year.  All registered voters have a decision to make, and at some point I think we all feel guilty about the fact that we live in a free country and should really make use of that freedom by using our vote.  If you weren’t paying attention to politics, watching the televised debate is equivalent to cramming for a final exam in a class that you didn’t really pay attention to all semester.  If we had a book to read in high school, we were all searching for the CliffsNotes version, so we could zip through it and just get the important parts.

As a Canadian, I like to watch the Canadian party leaders debate, because I  have to vote for one of these guys.  As a Canadian, I like to watch the American party leaders debate, because who doesn’t love the drama?

Is the Presidential Debate really important or not?  I think most Americans are either Democrats or Republicans regardless of who the leader is.  I don’t think they watch the debate to decide who to vote for, but cheer for the guy that they are going to vote for.  For those Americans that are undecided, what can you really learn from watching the debate anyways??  To me, a debate is no reflection on whether or not someone can do a job, as much as it’s a reflection on whether or not one guy can prove the other guy is an asshole.  I could spend hours telling people why they suck (and do so every morning on….. PLUG!!!), but that doesn’t mean I’m any better than them.  It just means I’m a more proactive hater!  I think it’s also a contest to see who can come up with more positive soundbites, while also limiting soundbites that can be used against them in future television commercials.

I think the advantage always goes to the challenger.  You can easily prove that a President is terrible at his job in 2 hours by listing off every mistake he’s made for the last 4 years.  How do you prove that a guy with no track record in that position sucks?  You can’t.  You almost just have to let him have a crack at it, and then in 4 years some other guy can come along and talk about how bad he was.  If you said he sucked right now, you’d just be speculating.

When I say 4 years I also use that term very loosely, because I think they only do their jobs for 3 years, and then spend the last year trying to convince people to give them another 4 years.  When you consider that it probably takes a good 6 months to a year to actually get good at their jobs (any tough job has a learning curve), I would say that these leaders really only do their jobs about half the time.

Just so it doesn’t seem as if I’m ganging up on American politics.  I will poke fun at the Canadian debates too.  We have at least 3 political parties who have enough support that they are able to participate in the debates.  Sometimes 4.  The 4th is from Quebec, and their main political platform, is to take care of Quebec, and have them separate from the rest of Canada.  WE ALLOW THEM TO DO THIS!  The debates are chaos.  3 leaders is too many to begin with, but then when you add another who doesn’t care about 75% of the country, it’s madness.  Americans will probably find this hilarious, and I don’t blame them.

To summarize, we have a couple of countries here in North America that rely heavily on televised leader debates.  The people who know about politics get to learn more.  The people who don’t know about politics get to make a quick judgement, so they can utilize their vote.  The people who think they know about politics, but actually know very little (which is most of us), get the opportunity to learn a little information, and make it seem like a lot of information while having our own informal debates with friends, family, and co-workers.  It’s a win for everyone!



Escalator Issues are Escalating

Another public transit post??  Of course!  My commute is where I do my best thinking.   Here’s what I was thinking as I went up the stairs at Spadina Station in Toronto.  ‘Man I wish that escalator worked’.

It’s not the first time I lamented about the escalator not working at this particular station.  I’d say this thought crosses my mind at least 40% of the time, because that’s how often the escalator doesn’t work.  I’m not suggesting that there’s any lack of willingness on the part of the Toronto Transit Commission to have this fixed.  They have repair men there a lot of the time.  Therein lies the problem……but I’ll get that in a minute.

I heard recently that the TTC is going to increase the fares next year, and that they want to outsource ‘bus cleaning’ to save money.  This is all going to result in a pissing contest of some sort, and a possible labour dispute.  While I agree that they can probably get people to clean these busses for less than the $25/hr that I heard they’re paying them, I know for a fact that there are better ways to save money.


Listen, I’m not just here to rant.  I’m here to help!  As a frequent passenger of the TTC, I just want what’s best for everyone.  I’m sure they have hired consultants who haven’t been able to uncover this money-saving opportunity.  Let me break it down (not the escalator, the situation).

Repair guys cost a lot of money.  These guys are fixing the same escalator at least 3 to 4 times a month.  I doubt it’s ‘just maintainance’, because they have to be smart enough not to do that during rush hour (well maybe).  They are fixing it, but rigging it to break down again in a week, so they can come back and fix it again.  I know that may seem unfair.  We’ve all known mechanics who we’ve probably wrongly accused of this, but this isn’t unfair at all.  I’m no mechanic, but I know one thing for sure.  ESCALATORS ONLY DO ONE THING!!!  How complicated could the machinery possibly be??  These guys are taking advantage of the TTC!  As they should, because the TTC is too dumb to put a stop to it.  I’ll bet these guys don’t have any other clients.  They don’t need them, they’re raking it in.  The cleaners and the passengers will be paying the price.

This advice is free, TTC!!!  Sorry, escalator repairmen!!!  Somebody had to blow the cover off this conspiracy.

Thoughts and Rants in Jogging Pants…….Saving Toronto commuters, 5 cents at a time!!!