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January 29, 2006

What's The Point If I'm Just Going To Say No?

I got the following mailing list sign up form with my bill from a local restaurant. I really wonder why they didn't put that last question first and save us all a lot of writing...

Name: __________
Address: __________
Email: __________
Anniversary: __________
Birthday: __________
Would you like to be included on our mailing list? __________

22:32 | Bizarre Sighting of the Day | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006

The Beard Stays, YOU Go!

For those of you who haven't seen me since before November, I've changed my appearance slightly: I decided to grow a beard. I didn't have any real reason to do so, other than a general feeling of ennui every time I looked in the mirror. What I find strange is different people's reactions to me since the addition of the facial hair:

For some reason I've always been amused by beards. Some of my favourite comedy sketches involved characters with beards (The Kids in the Hall sketch from which I stole the title of this blog post comes to mind). Some people get a kick out of fart jokes, some people crack up at monkey jokes. Me, I think beards are hilarious.

So how does my beard look? Here's an artist's rendition:

My beard may look a little something like this

And here's the real thing:

How my beard really looks

I probably won't keep it forever. In fact, I'm getting kind of excited about shaving it off. I've decided to do it in phases. The first day maybe I'll just shave the chin, connecting the sideburns via a "North-West Passage" over my mouth. Or maybe just the moustache, going for the Abe Lincoln look. Maybe I'll bring back the goatee I had in university. As a female friend of mine pointed out, a man's facial hair is the closest thing he has to expressing himself the way a woman does with her head hair. Except that a woman's hair generally gets less food stuck in it.

21:28 | Stuff | Comments (4)

January 24, 2006

Prime Minister Harper

As expected, the Conservative Party of Canada won a minority government. I'm proud that almost 65% of voters participated, up from 2004. I'll be really interested in following Canadian politics during this term, considering the Conservatives will have to make nice with the other, more leftist, parties. Also, the Conservatives didn't get a clear mandate from the people. In fact, according to this CBC poll, most Canadians who voted for the Conservatives did so for a change, not because they support a right-of-center agenda.

I was glad to hear how the NDP made big gains and glad that the Greens got over 4% of the popular vote (although no seats), although I am a little dismayed how skewed our riding system is. Le Bloc got about 10% of the popular vote and 17% of the House's seats, while the NDP got about 17% of the popular vote, and only 9% of the seats.

I am also glad to hear that Paul Martin is resigning as head of the Liberal Party. Not that I disliked him, in fact, I felt he get dealt a losing hand when he won the leadership after Chrétien's resignation. But I think the party needs to be cleansed before people (in particular, me) can trust it again.

Overall, I think it's going to be ok until the next election. I give it 2 years tops.

For those interested, full election results can be found here.

21:52 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

January 21, 2006

Get Your Vote On

So which one of these fine fine parties did I vote for? Considering I have an equal amount of confidence in each of them (none), it was a tough choice. So I took the advice of a good friend of mine, and voted for the NDP. To paraphrase her advice, although the NDP won't win enough votes to form a government, having a strong NDP presence in Parliament is important to ensure social programs get enough attention. I don't agree with their fiscal policies, but I do like their focus on social programs. Also, it's a way of registering a complaint against the Liberals and Conservatives, who stand the best chance of actually winning.

Unlike here in the US, where a vote for a third party during the presidential elections is essentially a symbolic protest (yes, some would argue that it sends a message, just not a very loud one), a vote for the NDP, knowing full well they won't win makes more of a difference since they win seats.

For those of you so disillusioned with the prospects you're considering not voting, may I recommend you consider some of the smaller parties (NDP, Green or independents). That way you're sending the message that you're unhappy with the way things are. By not voting, you're not sending any message at all.

If that didn't convince you to vote, consider this: Canadian voter participation has been dropping steadily for over a decade, hitting less than 61% in 2004. In the 2004 US presidential elections, voter turnout was 64% up from 60% in 2000. We don't want a lower voter turnout than the Americans, do we? Get out and vote!

17:05 | Canada , Politics | Comments (2)

January 17, 2006

If You Don't Mind, Please Rock The Vote

Today I dropped off my absentee ballot for the upcoming Canadian election. Living in the US, and not being able to watch CBC, I had to base my judgment on something less typical: I read the party platforms.

I made up a table of the issues I cared about and each of the four parties' stances. The parties are (in alphabetical order): The Conservatives, The Greens, The Liberals and The New Democrats. If Le Bloc Québécois were running outside of Québec, I would have read their platform too.

In case any of you care about my crack-pot political views, read on. For those of you whose eyes have glazed over already, maybe you'd prefer something a little less serious.

So here goes (note, I'm only highlighting the issues most relevant to me. This list is far from exhaustive):

The Conservatives
The Good
Reform our currently appointed-for-life Senate, more money for R&D, support for the Council of the Federation, increase the size of our pitiful Armed Forces, fixed federal election dates.
The Bad
Another vote on the legality of gay marriage, cutting the GST instead of income taxes, halt plans for the decriminalization of marijuana.
The Ugly
A hidden right-wing social agenda. Harper's speech praising the US's conservative administration makes me suspicious.
The Greens
The Good
Environment first, lower taxes for lowest income bracket, a focus on preventative health care, investment in public transportation and alternative renewable fuels, focus on "green collar" jobs.
The Bad
A vague commitment to "Recognize a clear result to a clear question in the event of a future Québec referendum".
The Ugly
The Greens strike me as a local chapter of a world-wide organization, and not a Canadian party for Canadians. As such, I found Canadian issues, like national unity, health care, defence all took a back seat to environmental issues.
The Liberals
The Good
Good economic and job-creation record, R&D investment, enforcement of Canada's northern sovereignty, beefing up the armed forces, ban the weaponization of space,
The Bad
A platform full of "Look how great a job we did, and we swear there won't be any more scandals. Scout's honour.", no criminal prosecution for those that embezzeled hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars, no mention of marijuana decriminalization.
The Ugly
Sorry, I just don't trust these guys anymore.
The Good
More money for social programs, tax cuts for lowest income bracket, armed border guards (duh!), more money for public transportation, stronger provincial rights, fixed election dates, laws to restrict lobby groups, refocus the Armed Forces for peacekeeping missions, "Fair-trade" not Free-trade, money for the arts, money for the environment, national prescription drug plan.
The Bad
Repeal Liberal tax cuts. So that's how we are going to pay for this platform?
The Ugly
Knowing they won't form a government allows the NDP to make pie-in-the-sky promises, without having to deliver.

So who did I vote for? Sorry, you'll have to wait for my next blog entry.

23:56 | Canada , Politics | Comments (3)

January 16, 2006

Here I Am!

Thank you for indulging me in my blogging hiatus, and thank you to everyone who called or emailed. Two weeks ago, Teresa and I broke up. I won't bother getting into details here, but suffice it to say, we're doing our best to make it as amicable as possible, and there are no ill feelings toward each other. We were together almost two and a half years, and they were my happiest days in Seattle.

Last Tuesday she moved out, and into her own apartment at the other end of the neighbourhood. I will be staying here for a while, trying to enjoy the joys and freedoms of single life like cooking for one, watching my Simpsons DVDs, and writing a computer game (don't get your hopes up for anything playable soon, but I promise you'll be the first to know when it's done).

Overall, I'm staying positive and optimistic. As much as I hate the arbitrary and unrealistic nature of New Year's resolutions, I feel like taking advantage of these beginning-of-year life changes, and spending 2006 trying to better my attitude, my outlook and myself. Or I'll put on 20 pounds by eating chips and salsa every night and never leaving the apartment. Either way, a whole new me!

20:46 | Stuff | Comments (3)

January 3, 2006

Taking A Breather

There's lots of heavy stuff going on for me right now, so I'll be taking a break from blogging. Not to worry, I'll be back. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to blog more regularly, and I wouldn't violate my own resolution, would I?

I guess that means some other people will have to pick up the slack. Go to it people.

21:38 | Blog | Comments (1)

January 1, 2006


T and I are flying back to Seattle in a few hours. Christmas this year was bittersweet. Seeing family and friends was great, and the gifts were plentiful (I got some great Canadiana, including BNL's Gordon and the movie Strange Brew).

On a sadder note, both our families lost a member. T's great uncle Pete passed away the day she arrived home. In the Lyon home, we had to put our dog Zoë down. As I had blogged earlier, Zoë had been sick but managed to hang on until after Christmas.

According to the weather report, we will be leaving the snow and sub-freezing Toronto temperatures for cool and rainy Seattle. Thus ends another holiday season. See you all States-side!

09:25 | Family | Comments (2)