Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I didn't pay much attention to Memorial Day in 1998, my first in the United States. I'd just been staffed on a US $600.0 million junk bond financing and was working like an animal. As November 11, 1998 approached, I expected to see veterans selling poppies, just like they did in Toronto. To my surprise there were no poppies. When I asked one of my friends about it, she shot me a blank stare. She'd never heard of people selling or wearing poppies to commemorate the November 11 Veterans Day holiday.

The lesson that I learned is that, in the United States, Memorial Day is the holiday reserved for honoring those who died in wars. Veterans Day, the November 11 holiday, honors all veterans, both dead and living. Memorial Day is the much more significant of the two holidays. In fact, in many workplaces, Veterans Day isn't even a "real" holiday. Everyone just reports to work as normal.

Until I did a little research for this post, it wasn't clear why the United States honored its war dead in May while Canada, the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth countries did so in November. The answer is that the United States started commemorating those who lost their lives in battle shortly after the Civil War. The Commonwealth countries only started to do so after World War I. For brief histories of Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, visit, and

Be it in May or in November, those who died in the service of their country deserve to be honored. That's why this post has a serious tone to it. Back to inane stuff next time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"I Love The Smell Of Herbicide In The Morning"

This morning, while my wife and son were at church, I tended to some yard work. First on my "to do" list was spraying the grass and weeds that had sprouted up between the cracks in our driveway. As I squirted the herbicide on, I detected a faint, slightly pungent odor. That got me thinking about Ontario's recent ban on pesticides and herbicides. I have to admit, when I read about that, I just rolled my eyes and laughed at the left-wing lunacy of it all.

This was the first time that I had ever used herbicide and I was more than a little sceptical of the claim that I'd see results in less than three hours. Well, we just got back from lunch and guess what? The weeds are already starting to shrivel and die! I don't know what sort of eco-green freak remedies Ontarians are supposed to use now. All I know is, "I love the smell of herbicide in the morning. It smells like...victory."

(p.s. For those of you wondering where the "punchline" is in this post, check out the clip from Apocalypse Now posted here

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ryan Reynolds: Canada's Super Stud

While channel-surfing last Saturday evening, I came across National Lampoon's Van Wilder--one of my all-time favorite movies. Starring in the lead role as "Van" was Vancouver-born Ryan Reynolds. Here's a picture of Ryan from his most recent movie, some chick-flic that I've already forgotten the name of:

Well, I'm secure enough in my masculinity that I can say that Ryan is one helluva good looking dude! The ladies clearly agree. As you all probably know, he was engaged to Alanis Morissette until their relationship ended in February 2007. And now, one year later, he's engaged to Scarlett Johansson! Wow! Talk about an impressive record with the babes! Here are photos of Alanis and Scarlett:
I've always found Alanis incredibly sexy, especially when she first burst onto the scene in the early 1990s. That having been said, Scarlett Johansson is off-the-charts smokin' hot!

I found myself wondering what Ryan saw in Scarlett that he didn't see in Alanis. I thought it might be their age. Scarlett is only twenty-four while Alanis is thirty-four. But then Ryan is thirty-two himself. He clearly doesn't seem hung up on the age thing, having dated "older-woman" Alanis for four years.

I found myself surfing the Internet looking for the answer.

I searched and I searched.

"What could it be?" I wondered.

I then searched and searched some more.

And then I stumbled on the answer:

ALL HAIL RYAN REYNOLDS: CANADA'S SUPER STUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"Would You Like Some Cleaning Solvent With Your Fries, Sir?"

My wife is a Director of Development at one of the most prestigious public universities in the United States. In essence, her job is to be nice to people and to ask them for money. Part of my wife's job is attending receptions and dinners. Every so often, I get dragged along to some hellacious "spouses mandatory" event. I do not exaggerate when I say that I usually hate these events with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

The dinner that I attended this past Saturday was an exception. I wound up sitting at a table with a couple of history professors visiting from Canada. It didn't take long before we started swapping tales about the cultural distinctions between Canada and the United States.

The best story of the evening was recounted by a history professor from UBC. Last summer, he and his family were driving through western Pennsylvania and pulled into a roadside diner for lunch. The professor asked the server for some vinegar for his fries. She responded with a confused look. When the professor assured her that, yes, he really wanted vinegar for his fries, she nodded and disappeared. A few moments later, the server appeared at the table with an industrial-sized jar of vinegar. As she struggled to pour a small amount into a saucer, the server explained that she was surprised that the professor actually wanted vinegar on his fries. She'd never heard of that before and found it odd--the only reason that the restaurant had vinegar on hand was to use it as an "environmentally friendly" cleaning solvent!

I long, long, long ago gave up trying to get vinegar for my fries down here. The few times that I was told that I could get vinegar, it always turned out to be that nasty, urine-colored malt stuff. My advice to Canadians visiting the United States? Don't even bother asking for vinegar with your fries. Just appreciate it as one of the good things about living north of the border!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hortons Hears A "Boooooo"

My wife is as patriotic an American as there is. With her, it's pretty much "my country right or wrong," with one exception--donut holes. My wife absolutely LOVES Timbits. I remember well the first time that she ever tried them. It was July 2004 at a Tim Hortons not too far from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. As soon as she took her first bite of a succulent, sugar powder-dusted Timbit she was hooked. For the remaining ten days of our vacation in Canada, frequenting the nearest Tim Hortons became a daily obsession.

My wife thought I was kidding a few years ago when I reported that I had read that Tim Hortons was expanding to the U.S. "This is great!" she cried. "How soon 'til they get here? Those 'Munchkin' things at Dunkin' Donuts are a lame rip off."

I seem to remember Tim Hortons setting some ambitious timeline to "take the United States by storm." Of course, it never happened--yet one more Canadian business getting its ass handed to it in the U.S. market. Yep, just another statistic. Move along, nothing to see here.... Over time, my wife gave up all hope of ever having a local Tim Hortons to call her own.

It seems, though, that my wife's despair may have been premature. According to an article by The Financial Post's Hollie Shaw, Tim Hortons has undergone a "management shake up" (you can check out the article here: Let's hope that the new management team can get things back on track. They've got a killer product to work with. All they need to do is get the execution right!