Originally intended to document my experience of DeLorean ownership, focus is often radical and strange, boring and obtuse.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Party 2006

Our creepy dining room.

Fifteen years ago, during high school, I decided I wanted to start having Halloween parties. Back then they were simple. Chips, pop, one creepy candle, and 6 or 7 friends in our unfinished basement watching a scary movie.

Things are different now.

The amount and quality of the food has multiplied, and the drinks have mostly changed to that sort which have inebriating effects on the non-preg people who consume it. And luckily, all of my friends are happy drunks.

I started planning my costume 3 years earlier, but never got around to actually making it. Last year's phenomenal Zombie thing pushed it back yet again, and this year, as a contrast to last year's evilness, I decided that I absolutely had to finish it. After a lot of hard work (and some not-so-hard work thanks to Arr, the Kraken's beer-belt instructions) I was Duffman! OH yeah!

By 9:00 p.m. there were quite a lot of costumed people squeezing past each other in the foyer, and half an hour later the party was in 5th gear.

Gargamel would be pleased with a bleeding smurf.Inspired by the house drink of the evening, Suz's cousin made a stunning blue, white & red entrance as a Bleeding Smurf. I don't know how well Smurfs can handle their alcohol, because it wasn't even midnight yet when this particular Smurfette tumbled her three apples down the stairs.

Meanwhile, Doctor Est, the breast doctor, was offering free examinations all night, while a demon-eyed, Angel-esque vampire spent the night looking for new victims and influencing his wife to help Dr. Est with the 'hands on' portion of his examinations. Upstairs, animatronic freddy Kreuger scared anyone on a journey to the bathroom. The toilet didn't get flushed much, but the floor needed constant mopping.

We served bean burritos all night long.When the judging for best costume started, Jedi Kevin, weilding a 'real' lightsabre, attempted to influence the judges while others, like the fully decorated and lit-up Christmas Tree, tried to sneak closer for some eavesdropping. Even Rainypete, yes, THAT Rainypete, got in on the action.

Down in the Dungeon, drinks were flying thanks to the main bartender, Suz, and a number of guest-bartenders including Pirate Brett who made me a tasty concoction which I lost, and 80s White Snake-ish dude, >Ryan.

When everyone's bellies were full of beverages and chocolate, we held the Best Costume contest. The judges were myself, Suz, Penny, Chris and Robin. We agreed upon five favourite costumes: Austin Powers, the Vampire, the Christmas Tree, the Bleeding Smurf and Pirate Brett. In order to convince the other party-goers that they deserved the coveted Best Costume trophy, they had to act. In less than a minute they worked out a most hilarious, tears-rolling-down-your-face skit, which I video taped for years of future enjoyment, and maybe a little blackmail.

Everyone voted via almost-secret ballot, and the best costume trophy (an Oscar-like gold skeleton holding his own head) went to Vicki, the Bleeding Smurf. I assume she'll have some pics posted on her blog, but Duffman offers no promises. OH no!

For more pics of party wackiness, click here.
And here.
And even here.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Childhood Halloween

Heads: if they're not good for anything, chop 'em off.

When I was a kid, Halloween was very different. There were no body parts or severed heads. Nobody had even heard of latex or spirit gum, unless they were in the film or TV industry. I'd have to get my Halloween jollies at Big V, with $14.00 cardboard skeletons, like "Dem Bones", who can now be purchased at the local Dollar store for a buck.

For years nobody produced Halloween products, so my pathetic cardboard cutouts became like gold. But I lost that $14.00 skeleton during one of our many moves. That's when I started making my own decorations.

My dad bought me an outstanding rubber skull mask when I was 10. Using my Robotix kit, I assembled a sort of scaffolding that would support the newspaper-stuffed mask. I draped a black cloak over to hide the scaffolding, and stuck some sort of LED lights into the skull's eyeholes. It looked like a small, slow-moving, annorexic child with a massive head. Which is scary enough in its own right.

Using the Robotix remote, I could turn the head about 180 degrees, and have the scaffolding bend forward and back a little. The downside was that I had to sit so close to operate it that it would have been more effective if I wore the mask myself, and jumped out to scare people.

Each year my dad carved the pumpkin, with some input from me and my sister. When I begged him to make a scary face, the triangle eyes were replaced with upside down triangle eyes.

Trick-or-Treating was always exciting, but I used to have just as much fun standing on a street corner just watching everyone else running up and down the streets in the funny silence created by the absence of vehicular traffic.

The first time I thought "Wow!" was during a night of trick-or-treating. As we approached a house, my and my friend's costumes changed colours. Standing at the front door of a house, we marvelled at the blacklight casting its eerie purple glow down upon us. Now you can pick one up for as little as $19.

That goes for fog machines too. Just after college I dreamed about the $1,000 fog machine at Party City. It was more than I needed, so I decided I'd save up $549 for the cheapest, smallest one. But common sense told me not to waste my money. I waited. The next year it dropped to $399. The year after that, $299. It finally went on sale for $249.

But a trip to Wal-mart saved me a boatload of green. I picked up my Skull Fogger for a quarter of that. (Now they can be purchased for as little as $24.)

And now is the dawn of the severed heads. I bought my first one 10 or 12 years ago, on November 1st, for 50%. This year severed heads have made a huge leap forward. Local drugstores are stocking mass-produced severed heads for reasonable prices, which is awesome.

The fact that they don't look very real blows spinal cords, but for 10-year-old kids, they couldn't be better. I don't want Halloween-loving kids to go through a disheartening productless childhood like I did - so thank Heaven for mass-produced severed heads.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


With ice cream, the Caramilk secret is a bit easier to figure out.

I know what you're thinking. "A summer-y ice cream post just before Halloween? Oh, no you di-int!"

I agree. This week should be filled with Halloween posts, but I promise I there is a connection between Halloween and this ice cream. Preparing for our Halloween party this weekend, Suz and I had to make some room in the fridge, and the freezer, for all kinds of num-nums.

The treats will be people num-nums, not birdie num-nums. And I certainly hope there won't be as many diasters at our party as experienced by poor Peter Sellers in one of my favourite movies, The Party.

Anyhoo, "making room" consisted of the consumption of the last of the Caramilk ice cream, thus creating some valuable freezer-real estate for bags of ice. I had no problem with this task, as eating ice cream is one of my favourite pasttimes.

This ice cream, like the others I've tested, is part of the Breyers family of special ice creams. As you can see from the pic above, the actual ice cream doesn't even come close to looking like the photo on the 1.89 litre carton. Still, looks aren't as important as taste.

And the taste is superb. If you like Caramel, you'll like this ice cream. "Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream with Soft Caramel and Cadbury Milk Chocolate Swirls" is their claim, and I'll have to agree with them. The swirls may not be well-defined visually, but the caramel flavour reigns supreme.

It's a little more difficult to detect a chocolate flavour, but you'll never really notice, what with the super-sweet caramel flavour covering your taste buds. However, you will notice the mass quantities of tiny crunchy bits of Cadbury chocolate swimming throughout the yummy vanilla ice cream.

This is one of those rare times that an ice cream lives up to its name almost 100%. Two Martini-thumbs up to Breyers for their delicious accord with Cadbury. This ice cream is so good, it shouldn't have sat in our freezer until Halloween.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Halloween Candy Oscars 2006

Kids - don't eat just anything you find in a coffin.It's that time of year again. Time for the almost-prestigious Halloween Candy Oscars. So roll out the bloody red carpet and put on your best fangs, because yes, there is a trick to chowing down on the best "Halloween" treats: they must be Halloween-themed.

This year there are all new nominees. Not because last year's candy blows cauldrons, but because last year's candy is, sadly, no longer available (in my area at least).

Suz and I spent a lot of time shopping for Halloween candy this year. And when I say Halloween candy, I mean creepy-themed candy forged in the dungeons of candy factories which otherwise produce standard sugar treats the rest of the year.

This year I became a little depressed as yet another amazing Halloween candy disappeared from our shelves, perhaps forever. Last year's winner, Concord Confections' Halloween gumballs, could not be found anywhere. Only the ghosts of gumballs past exist now. They join Charm's Dead Heads, 2004's official winner, in the candy cemetery.

A gathering of candy.But hope is not lost. There are still a few good Halloween-themed treats out there, and these are some of the best. Nominees include Oak Leaf's Bubble Brew, a bubble gum mixture containing orange and black "Pumpkin Faces" gumballs, Frankford Candy & Chocolate Company's Gummy Body Parts, and Oak Leaf's Skull-shaped Boneheads.

I'm very confused by the delicious Boneheads candy. Up until 2005, these awesome crunchy candies could only be found in the U.S., despite the fact they're manufactured in Toronto, by a Canadian company. I first found them in Canada in November 2005, in a local Wal-mart and I was very happy to see them again this year.

Oak Leaf's Pumpkin Faces gum is a nice addition to the Halloween candy world, but doesn't hold a candle to last year's winner. That's why I award 2006's Halloween Candy Oscar to Frankford's Gummy Body Parts. Not only are these gruesome eyeballs, bloody fingers, monster fangs, eerie ears and creepy noses perfect for Halloween, but the packaging is a huge "Creepy Coffin" which can, get this, be reused as a candy bowl!

I was unable to invite back any of last year's nominees, but I am happy to say there is still true Halloween candy creeping around out there, as proven by these great companies.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

So Many Awesome Acronyms

Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Neat-o.

I like Japan. I like Sony products. I like the Playstation 2. I like "Need For Speed" (NFS). I like losing my BMW M3 in a race. I like starting at the bottom with $30,000 cash. I like buying a new, cheap car to race with. I like working my way up the Black List to win back my M3.

I should be able to find some sweet PS2 games at awesome prices with the Playstation 3 making its debut in mid November.

Race car games are the neatest. I like the kind where I can race a car and win money. Then use that money to buy parts and modify my race car. I've played a few of the Gran Turismo and other similar games on my friend ST3's PS2. I enjoy them. They make me go 'Wheeee!'

I'm really excited to see which Castlevania games are available for the PS2. I've been a Castlevania freak since the first one came out for the NES. Simon's Quest followed and to this day I still think it's the best. The music, unlike the horrible rap in so many modern games, is original and phenomenal - especially when entering the castle ruins to burn Dracula's body parts.

Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse featured ground-breaking visuals with an extra graphic chip built right into the game. No wonder it cost me a whopping $85 back in 1990. Didn't matter to me though. If anybody knows how to make a jaw-dropping game, it is Konami.

I'm such a Castlevania nerd that I had the C-III castle layout map pinned up in my closet years after the SNES and even the PS1 came out. My desktop theme at work even features a sombre Belmont holding his trusty whip and looking upward. Is he looking up to the heavens for good luck? Perhaps. I imagine he's staring up at Dracula's tower from a village far below.

Me thinks some shopping is in order tonight. The Halloween decorating will have to wait. I have some SAW-ing (Skeleton Ass-Whipping) to do.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


What is Squirt?I like to save things. Especially if they're odd. Sometimes I save good things, and sometimes not.

When I went to New York for my MRI, I bought some Squirt. The empty bottle had been hanging around our kitchen for over two weeks now and Suz didn't like that. She wanted me to get rid of it. I had to agree with her, as the empty bottle of Squirt wasn't odd or special enough to save despite a number of totally wacky and unusual things.

I don't know what Squirt is. It has to be one of the most bizarre drinks I've ever drank. It's an unusual citrus flavour, and it's only half-carbonated, if that's even possible. I suppose I could've purchased a bad bottle, because it tasted like it was half-flat.

But not only is the juice weird, the label is way messed up too. There are warnings about not pointing the bottle towards people's faces, and a bold declaration that it contains less than 1% fruit juice.

The list of ingredients is also surprising. It contains much of the tasty stuff that other bottled beverages have, like the ever-popular preservative Sodium Benzoate, as well as some non-tasty stuff like Brominated Vegetable Oil.

It also contains something I have never heard of: Ester of Wood Rosin. I learned from Answerbag.com that it is used as a natural stabilizer for flavouring oils in fruit-flavoured beverages. Since my Squirt was citrus flavoured, it seemed appropriate that wood rosin was an ingredient. I don't know what's so unstable about it, but I assume it's the flavouring oils even though no "flavouring oils" are listed in the ingredients. Unless you count the super-gross Brominated Vegetable Oil.

Anyway, I told Suz I had no objections to recycling the empty bottle of Squirt. Now our kitchen is less cluttered - and less weird.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bag Juice

Mmm, that is one good-lookin' bag. Of juice you perv!

I had an accident at work yesterday. Not the kind of accident that leaves you fingerless, but the kind that leaves you humiliated. This accident was four days in the making.

It all started on the weekend, when our favourite grocery store didn't have any juice boxes in stock. Orange juice? Sold out. Apple juice? Gone. Five Alive? Yeah, right. All forms of juice box drinks were completely sold out.

So we bought bags. Yep, stupid Del Monte juice bags. I hate them.

At lunch I tried to push my straw into the bag of juice. It was nearly impossible in comparison with Tetra paks. With Tetra paks (the grown-up term for juice boxes), you simply use your murderous Freddy Krueger instincts to stab the hole at the top of the box. Your reward is delicious juice.

Bags are different. Even the straws are different. They're thin and weak and bend easily. I hate them.

After struggling for a ridiculous amount of time with the sack of juice and anorexically fragile straw made from inferior plastic, Suz suggested I squeeze the bag a little bit, then pop the straw in. I thought this was a brilliant idea. Except I squeezed a little too hard. The straw went in with no problem, straight down into the juice.

The juice, aided by my squeezing of the bag, shot straight up through the straw like a fountain. It squirted all over my shirt and my pants for like, 10 minutes. And, with my awesome luck, it landed in a most appropriate spot for jokes.

It was surprisingly easy to convince One Useless Man, Jodster, to snap a photo of my groinal region for my blog. He's just that good of a friend. At least, I hope that's the reason.

Anyway, I can't wait to go grocery shopping again. I want my juice boxes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

8 Legs of Doom

A plump, juicy, ripe Garden spider.Hallowe'en is drawing near and it seems like a good opportunity to talk about spiders. I hate when people kill spiders. I hate when people kill anything. But especially creatures that don't have any idea they're about to be squashed. And even more especially when the creature is trying to run for its life.

I'd much rather have spiders in the house than all the things they're eating. But I still understand people's fear of spiders. I understand because I also get a little freaked when I pick one up, it escapes my clutches, runs up my wrist and makes a break for my sleeve. I understand the fear, because when I think the spider is too big, I'll capture the spider in an old juice jug instead, then dump ol' spidey in the garden.

Working in the garden this weekend, preparing the plants for the cold, I discovered this giant garden spider. It has been a long time since I had the courage to pick one up. About 22 years or so.

I watched the garden spider scrambling on the smooth iris leaves and decided she couldn't hurt me. I tried to grab her big ass, but I didn't know how much pressure I could use. I tried a few times to pick her up, but she was eight legs deep in her mighty web. I decided to leave her alone and instead just take a few pictures.

A deadly Brown Widow spider in a web of deadliness.I harbour a hope that somewhere in my garden this other spectacular spider lives. I grabbed her from somewhere in my house and tossed her outside to save her from a gruesome Nike death. Suz is absolutely terrified of spiders and if it weren't for me, there'd be a lot of spider guts to clean off our walls.

I'm glad this spider is no longer living inside our house, as it is a very deadly, tropical, Brown Widow spider. Yes, the Brown Widow, cousin of the Black Widow. I've learned from a University of Florida website, and confirmed by Wikipedida, that the venom of the Brown Widow is twice as potent as the Black Widow spider. However, the good news is that the chances of being bitten are very slim since she doesn't defend her web as vigorously as the Black Widow. Still, if bitten by the Brown Widow, there is a chance of death although I suspect that's only with the very young, or the elderly.

But as scary as this sounds, I am really excited to say I've had one of the deadliest spiders in all the land living in my house. Had I known the 411 (do people still use this cool daddy-o term?) on this arachnid before I scooped her up, I would have been much more careful.

Still, it's October! It's Halloween time! And what would Halloween be without spiders? I'll tell you what it would be. Lame.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Autumn Is Better

A tractor giving birth in its natural environment.

I think we're lucky to live in Canada. In Canada we have four seasons. When everyone has had enough of snowboarding and depressing skies, there's spring to look forward to.

But when muddy, soggy ground and jacket-weather starts getting on our nerves, we've got the sizzling summer sun to look forward to. And just when we start to get bored of the never-changing green summer landscape, autum arrives in full colour, and Dolby Surround where available.

Think it would be nicer to live near the equator? Compared to some tropical island, we are very lucky to live in four-seasons-Canada. Sure they've got sandy beaches and lover-ly palm trees on those gorgeous islands. Sure they've got hot heat and cool breezes and fancy drinks. Yes, summer's nice, but once it's over I don't think they're looking forward to monsoon season.

Four seasons are definitely nice. And Autumn is my favourite of all of them. Partially because the trees slap your eyeballs with colour, partially because of Hallowe'en, and partially because autumn is the opposite of prison.

In prison everything is colourless, even in the fall. In prison you must endure the smell of B.O. and piss instead of the crisp country air. In prison you can pick a fight, but you can't pick fresh apples. In prison you can carve up Jimmy Cardoni, but you can't carve a pumpkin.

Or maybe you can. Jail has changed a lot since I saw it portrayed incorrectly in movies. However, I still like autumn better.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blogode To My Bike

Bikes are a non-polluting form of getting to work at the coal-plant.

Thanksgiving weekend weather was so warm, Suz and I hopped on our bikes for possibly our last ride together this year. In a few short minutes we were down by the water, snapping pictures and enjoying the spectrum of brilliant fall colours.

Thanks to mmat's recent biking stories over at Welfare Bum, I decided a sort of blog-ode to my bike was in order.

Before the drudgery of work sapped my energy, I used to ride my trusty Rocky Mountain Equipe every single day, and the cold never stopped me. I guard my 13-year-old Rocky Mountain carefully. This kind of bike may seem outdated by today's wild new mountain bike standards, but it can't be replaced.

Briefly, back in 1993 when I bought this bike from the shop where I worked, Rocky Mountain frames were completely hand-welded with great skill. Each wheel, once trued, was signed by employees who took responsibility and pride in their work. And I was proud to spend every penny I had on a Canadian-built bike.

Back in '93 a suspension fork was practically unheard of, and a forged T6061 handle bar drew gasps of amazement from my mountain-biking coworkers. At 27 lbs., my Rocky Mountain was lightweight, cutting edge, too-cool-for-school downhill racing technology.

But not now.

Now the Rock Shox Quadra 10 suspension is taunted. Despite its incredible reliability vs. the primitive oil shocks of the day, the elastomer suspension was considered a lesser technology because it was too "bouncy." I still take hard hits with it, but with less than 2 inches of travel, it seems to be more of a novelty now.

Still, I love my bike, and couldn't imagine having to replace it with something new.

Dear Rocky Mountain,
You are so grand,
You helped me travel
All over the land.

We hit some bumps
and a couple of trees,
Jumped some stumps
and evaded some bees.

When I fell off
And skinned my head,
You consoled me
with a piece of bread.

Together we conquered
Every terrain,
I'm sorry about
That nasty blood stain.

Maybe one day
I'll ride you again,
However this winter
I'll park my butt in the den.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's Pumpkin Time!

Three cheers for October!

I always expect a lot from Thanksgiving weekend. When I was a kid I read Highlights For Kids, and my favourite issues were the Autumn ones. The cover was typically idealistic, with a pie-toting family arriving at the grandparents for a tasty turkey din-din. The trees had left a coating of orange all over the lawn and the kids were running around with the doggy. Everyone had a smile on their face.

I wish real life was like Highlights For Kids. And it almost can be with a little effort.

Suz and I did the traditional pumpkin hunt, which always brings a smile to my face. We always try and patronize the smaller farms or independent businesses.

This year we stopped at a nearby farm for three dollar pumpkins. This is a stupendous deal considering other nearby farms charge a whopping $10 for similarly sized pumpkins. But size isn't everything, as I've learned over the years. There's a lot less work carving smaller pumpkins!

So, instead of spending $40 on a quartet of gourds that would eventually rot anyway, we only spent $12. We also took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of the pumpkin patch and the happy red tractor it surrounded.

Afterwards we picked apples and loaded them into the Insight along with the four pumpkins. We even crammed a few bags of groceries in the car before we headed home.

Back at home Suz baked a pie. At my parents we at that pie. It all felt like a "Hightlights For Kids" moment. Then, we got a dose of real life as our traditional Thanksgiving dinner became complete, with hyperactive grandkids and all the shouting that is so typical.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Billboard Blunder

This 'split' idea would've worked better for a divorce attorney.

Uh oh.

Somebody's going to get fired.

Taken a few minutes after crossing the Queenston-Lewiston bridge, I believe on the 190 South, as I headed into Amherst, New York, for my MRI.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Cupcakes = Mmmmmm to the max.

'Cupcakes' is a little shop that opened last year near our local University and which only sells cupcakes. During a recent special event, Suz and I indulged in the sweet, sweet cakes for 20% below their regular selling price.

The woman who owns it operates it by herself. Despite the lack of employees, Suz and I both pondered how a business such as this could make enough profit to survive. When it first opened, we were convinced it was a front for drugs.

At first the shop was only open for a few hours 3 or 4 days a week. It seemed to be closed during popular times as every time we tried to buy cupcakes on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday afternoon, it was locked tight. This further raised our suspicions about it being a drug-house.

Consider this: The owner must pay rent, electricity, heat, insurance, and natural gas bills. Since it's a food-type business she must also pay for monthly pest control. She has to pay Interac and phone services, not to mention her share of maintenance on the commercial strip she's in.

She must then purchase ingredients like sugar, flour, butter, eggs and whatever else goes into cupcakes. Finally, she needs those little paper cups the cakes go into. And she needs to make enough money to live off.

I spoke with a co-worker who owns a large food-type store and, using nice round numbers, we pieced together a rough outline of what the Cupcakes lady might, but probably doesn't, pay to operate her business.

• Rent in a popular, trendy area @ $2.00 per sq. ft.: $1,000/mo.
• Electricity: $100/mo.
• Water: $100/mo.
• Heat: Averaging $100/mo.
• Insurance: $250/mo.
• Phone: $100/mo.
• Pest Control: $25/mo.
= Total hypothetical monthly costs of $1,675

She's a beaut.She bakes only with natural ingredients so as to ensure the tastiest cupcake ever created. At $4.00/lb., butter would be her most expensive ingredient. It would probably take one pound of butter and a dollar's worth of all the other ingredients to make a dozen of her amazing cupcakes. That's $5.00 a dozen.

At $2.50 per cupcake and $13.00 per half dozen, she's actually doing pretty well. If she were to sell only single cupcakes at 25 per day, she would pull in $62.50 per day and $1,875 per month. Minus her ingredients costs of $312, she's making $1,563. That's $112 short of her hypothetic monthly bills.

However, if she sells 50 cupcakes per day, which is far more likely considering how stupendous they are, she'll make a net profit of $1,451 per month.

So, I guess it isn't a front after all. That's good because her cupcakes are the absolute slamminest, sugariest cupcakes in the entire land. They'll blast you into hyperville with one lick, and could kill a diabetic with just a sniff of the icing. (Sorry Jason)

In fact, they are such a compact sugar-delivery system that after eating them for over a year, I have just recently conditioned my body to be able to handle one in a single sitting. Two Martini-thumbs up for her diabolical treats, and two Martini-thumbs up for the fact that 'Cupcakes' is a legitimate business, as proved by my infallible math skills.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Four Hours In New York

MRI scan of my lumbar spine.

My first appointment with my neurologist went well as we discussed the probability that I have some damage, in some form, to the nerves in my spine. He was astonished that in the past four years none of the nine specialists I saw thought to order me an MRI.

An MRI is Magnetic Resonance Imaging to obtain a very clear image of your internal dodads using a massive magnetic field and radio waves.

I couldn't wait nine weeks for an MRI, (and that was on an "emergency" waiting list) so my neurologist set up an appointment with a U.S. medical clinic. Yesterday I took the day off work and my dad drove me across the border to Amherst, New York.

Le building de MRI et autre choses.The building was beautifully built in a colonial style, yet inside was the epitome of moderninity and luxury. The trees all around were turning, making the local cemetery, just down the road, look picturesque. Small independent shops lining the streets were displaying their Halloween wares. It was totally my kinda town.

Inside I had to change into extra-large hospital scubs, not because I'm mega-chub, but because that's all they had. Surprisingly, everything fit. The technician then lead me into the sealed MRI room where I had to remove my glasses because metal and magnets don't mix. Or rather, they want to mix and that's not allowed.

The room had a special door that was opened by pushing a button on the wall. It made a space-vacuum-like PSSSSSSH! when it opened. Instantly I thought of installing a similar door to my garage. The technician told me that the door's purpose, as well as the walls, was to block out all radio frequencies.

The MRI machine was made by Philips, the same company that makes Plasma TVs, light bulbs and clock radios. It was only two and a half years old. The technician told me that it had the strongest magnetic field of any MRI machine in the area. I hoped that was a good thing.

I layed down in the machine for about 40 minutes while they did two scans of my spine. I had to wear earplugs, and then more padding was put next to my ears to drown out the incredible noise the machine made. First came the "WOOT, WOOT, WOOT" siren noises followed by "POREEA-POREEA-POREEA" siren noises and four solid minutes of jackhammering. This happened over and over again as many scans were done.

Afterwards they handed me two CDs full of the images and I checked out. It was a wild experience, although a bit expensive. Now I must figure out how to recoup my costs (or about 80% of them) from OHIP.

I don't think my L5 area looks normal. I don't think I'm supposed to have a centipede growing out of my vertebrae. Do you?

Update: turns out the centipede is completely normal!

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Niagara Falls = Water Fun

Suz cowering beneath the impending waterfall of... water.

Niagara Falls has changed a lot since I was a kid. The haunted houses are still there, but they've added a new one. The on-street parking is still the same, but they've added a massive parkade, and pretty much all of the deserted emtpy lots have been developed.

The big water attraction, the falls themselves, are still hanging around, but two new water features were added. The Hampton, The Sheridan, The Skyline Inn and The Brock Plaza Hotel joined forces this spring to bring one of them, a 125,000 sq. ft. water park.

Suz and I spent an entire day waterlogging ourselves on their 16 water slides. It was easy because the water park was connected to our hotel (The Brock) by a set of elevators which took us to the top of the parking garage, where it was so warm and humid, it was practically tropical.

If high speed tube slides are your cup of tea, this is the right place. One set of stairs leads you to four tube slides, all of which are tube shaped, and require the use of inflated tubes. Each have their own distinct personality.

Climb a different set of stairs and there are four more slides, two of which were body slides. Señior Yellow was a tempting slide. Straight, with one sudden drop steep enough to launch anyone under 250 lbs. airborne for about 2 seconds.

That yellow slide was an exhilerating, short ride which I've dubbed "The Nutcracker". If you're planning on having kids, this is not the slide for you. Upon reaching the bottom of the slide, approximately 75 gajillion gallons of water (give or take a gajillion) slam into your Frank N' Beans after sneaking between your crossed legs. I wanted to tell the girl monitoring the slide that she should warn guys about this hazard, but I didn't feel comfortable talking to a girl about my private parts with my wife standing beside me.

To give me a chance to heal we hung out in the wave-action pool, at least until we developed motion sickness. To ease her queasiness, Suz settled into one of the huge hot tubs, while I climbed into the brilliantly designed playhouse. Water guns, valves, and tipping buckets were everywhere. If you're afraid to get water in your eye, stay away, or you'll be screaming "My eye! My eye!" for eight straight hours, especially with me behind the valve controls.

Wanna big blast of water? When the bell starts ringing, the enormous bucket o' fun will dump its contents on hapless fools below. Suz was one of those fools, about 9 times in a row.

The best part about the park was how deserted it was. It felt like we owned the place. At any time we could ride down any slide we wanted, without ever having to wait in a line.

Riding over the falls in a barrel you wouldn't encounter any lines either, but I'd still recommend the water park. It was much more safe.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Drinking In Niagara Falls

Canoes and Curious George's paper hat boat are no match for the falls.

Suz and I spent our Anniversary visiting one of the great wonders of the natural world, Niagara Falls, not to be confused with the seven natural wonders of the world - which we could see from our "Fallsview" room on the sixth floor of The Brock Plaza hotel.

Suz was in charge of booking the trip. The reasons for this are numerous in amount, none of which I am talking about today.

The Brock is old, and totally classy. If you plan on staying in the Brock, there are 2 important things you need to know. 1. The Fallsview rooms are the only rooms with two beds. 2. The rooms that do not face the falls are way tons much cheaper - but only have 1 bed. And all beds in the hotel are doubles, so if you're used to a King, you're probably gonna want 2 beds, which forces you to take a Fallsview room. And if you've got kids, it's the same deal.

The view from our room was amazing. To the left was the bridge into the good ol' U.S.A., and to the right was Niagara Falls. Further to the right was a small table with a coffee machine and a lamp on it. Continuing looking right came a dresser with a TV on it, then our door.

Directly beneath our window (the building in the bottom left) was the Duty Free. Suz and I naively walked into the store hoping to purchase some super-cheap drunk-making juice for the Halloween party. The first question the cashier asked, "are you heading back to the States tonight?" took me by surprise.

"Uh, no." I answered.

"You have to be going to the States to purchase alcohol here. It's for export only." she said. Another employee standing behind me asked, "so, when ARE you planning on heading across the border?"

"We're not." I answered. Both employees burst into a mild laughter while Suz and I walked away, stabbed in our collective back by their unprofessional laugh-daggers. I realize the rules and operation of a "duty free" store, but am baffled as to why a Duty Free store has
open public access when walk-in traffic is not allowed. All the other Duty Free stores I've been to are fenced off with no access except to those already in mid-border cross.

We left disappointed, but in a much more dignified manner than the employees were presenting themselves.

The rancid feelings were vanquished when we ate dinner that night in the Rainbow Room Fallsview Restaurant, atop the Brock Plaza. We went all out with the dinners as our room reservation came with a two-for-one dinner coupon, something typically marketed only by fast food McRestaurants. The only small disappointment was that there was no discount on my McGin & Tonic.


This many people accidentally stumbled upon my site
...while searching for porn.