Sunday, 31 May 2015

Athletic Dad

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

My dad was very fit, not due to his love of fitness but more as a result of his need to be active and involved in athletic-types of recreation. Until he had to stop to have his hip replacement, to correct a birth defect, Dad played squash multiple times a week. He would set up games with his "Squash Buddies" and was also a part of an intramural league at his gym. for a couple of years I can remember him even being a part of the travel team.

He didn't like running because it was hard on his joints. Whenever he would join Mom and I he would also always be trying to add other elements to the run. "Let's run backwards, pump your arms, high kicks!" So I think running also bored him. He preferred biking. My parents did bike trips together and we used to go as a family to the trails around Niagara Falls.

Dad also sailed both dinghies and keel-boats, which is much more athletic than most people think, especially when racing. In high school he was on the basketball team, he played football casually in university intramural, and he enjoyed the occasional golf game.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Not Really Guarding

Who lives here? Walter lives here.
Photo by Anna

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A Seemingly Small Change

I have been reading The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris. As a Canadian writer, Harris' thoughts and research feel very local and relevant. The book is focused on the following point: "Soon enough, nobody will remember life before the Internet. What does this unavoidable fact mean?"

As the title suggests, Harris argues that the main thing that the Internet has taken from us is the notion and experience of solitude. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with, but at the same time I fear solitude and sense danger at being left alone with my thoughts for too long a stretch of time.

Harris says, "As we embrace a technology's gifts, we usually fail to consider what they ask from us in return - the subtle, hardly noticeable payments we make in exchange for their marvelous service. We don't notice, for example, that the gaps in our scheduled have disappeared because we're too busy delighting in the amusements that fill them. We forget the games that childhood boredom forged because boredom itself has been outlawed. Why would we bother to register the end of solitude, or ignorance, or lack? Why would we care that an absence has disappeared?" But for me these thoughts are incorrectly worded, because I DID notice, and I DO care. I don't know if I want to change it but I have been making a point to register this change for a long time. I feel the change deep in my being and I worry about what it means for the future and for my future children.

I also feel and acknowledge the unprecedented speed at which change is occurring. It has always been easy to equate the rise of digital text/information to the switch from scribes to a printing press, or from oral history to a written one. This type of technology shift is not new, but the pace is shocking. I will allow Harris to provide a succinct explanation, "The rate of penetration - the amount of time it takes for a new technology to be adopted by fifty million people. Radio took thirty-eight years to reach that mark; the telephone took twenty years; and television took thirteen. More recently the World Wide Web took four years, Facebook took 3.6, Twitter took three, and the iPad took 2. Google Plus, which nobody even finds useful, took only eighty-eight days." The book is filled with these types of lists, facts you know and are not even surprised by but they can still somehow be shocking to read.

I remember an English teacher in high school saying that computers were not revolutionary - that they didn't actually do anything new, just found a new way to store thoughts and information. I remember thinking at the time how incorrect he was, that this new type of storage solution and ease of information transfer was going to touch every part of our lives in ways that we could not yet understand in 1999. Almost 15 years later, in my Master's program, we often argued about whether the Digital Revolution was an era in its own right, or merely an extension of the Industrial Revolution. I still don't know the answer.

For me, the most powerful passage in the entire book is a brief musing about modern teenagers in the current era of smart phones, iPods, the Internet, and basically access to more digital technology and information than any generation to come before. Even though the words state that the author feels great regret at the prospect, in the grand scheme of the book it is just a couple of tiny sentences that seem thrown in merely for their cute factor - but reading them struck me to my core:

"There is a single, seemingly small change that I'll be most sorry about. It will sound meaningless, but: One doesn't see teenagers staring into space anymore."

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

We Look Like The Movies

A friend at work said that this reminded her of Jason...
The actor, Scott Eastwood, doesn't usually look like Jason, but I can totally see the resemblance in this poster.

A few months ago, right before they started watching the movie, Drew told Nic that the lead in the live-action Cinderella reminded him of me - and then that was all Nic could see. The titular character is played by Lily James, who does look a bit like me. We have the same brow line? Or maybe face shape?

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Birthday Buffets

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

I have mentioned my love of buffets before, and that my dad loved them too. This evening I went to Tuckers Marketplace, which is a buffet chain with three locations, including one in Ottawa that I used to love. Jason hates buffets but agreed to go. It is free on your birthday! (Seeing that the cost on a weekend is about $25 a person, not having to pay for one of us makes a big difference.)

I understand Jason's complaints about buffets, the food isn't usually very good and there is a drive to 'eat your money's worth.' My dad definitely felt the need to eat lots to get high value for the price - which is pretty unhealthy. I just enjoy having a little bit of a lot of different things.

Dad liked really cheap buffet places, so the expense of Tuckers wouldn't have really appealed to him. He used to go to a Chinese one in Brantford that was $5 at lunch. My mom doesn't like them very much, but would agree to go because they usually have lots of shrimp that she can eat plates and plates of. It was really just Dad and I that loved them - it would have been fun to go to Las Vegas together, if only for this strange (and slightly unhealthy) shared love.

Friday, 22 May 2015

University Is A Fight

---------- from Facebook

A very accurate three-part comic about life in university, grad school, and the workplace. I like the idea that post-secondary education is a daunting battle/fight - I totally felt that, especially in Engineering and during my Masters.

CHECK OUT the "Truth About College and Getting a Job" by Oliver Coakley from Insert Life Here

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Two Ingredients Too Sweet

Today there was a Bake Sale at work, to raise money towards the Forrec Ride for Heart team. I don't really like cooking, and baking is so much worse. However, I thought I would put together something easy and help out. I made Rice Crispy Squares since they are my favorite quick treat. But I had also found an easy Oreo Dessert on Buzzfeed that I thought I would try, "Two ingredients, 20 minutes" seemed doable for me. Here is how to make it:

White Chocolate Oreo Bark

1. Put 15 Oreos in a large ziplock bag and crush/break them all up. I used a meat tenderizer and it was pretty fun. (I also bought 'fake' no name Oreos too.)

2. Put a bag of white chocolate chips in a bowl. (Don't go cheap on these, get a good bag of chips, my bark didn't turn out well because the chocolate was fake and sickly sweet.)

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave using 30 second increments and stirring between each one.

4. Once the chocolate is melted add in 3/4 of the crushed cookies and stir.

5. Pour the mixture into a parchment-lined pan and sprinkle the remaining crushed cookies on top.

6. Put the pan in the fridge until it hardens - about 15 minutes. Take it out, remove the parchment paper and break up the chocolate into 'bark pieces' - I used the meat tenderizer again for this part.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Ride For Heart

More than 66,000 Canadians die each year from heart disease and stroke; in 2013, my dad was one of them. Partly inspired by this, partly by the encouragement of my work team at Forrec, and partly from Jason's enthusiasm for the event - this year I am going to do the Ride for Heart.

Ride for Heart is Canada's largest charity cycling event in support of heart disease and stroke research, which is an amusingly specific 'largest' event. But I like big events and I am pretty excited to bike along the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, traffic-free with 14,000 other people.

The event raises money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Last year, they invested over $32 million in life-saving heart disease and stroke research, supporting more than 1,000 researchers across Canada. So by extension it also supports science.

I would appreciate your support, please visit my personal donation page HERE

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Some Parts Are The Same

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

This is my parents 
celebrating with their friends in Jamaica 
after announcing their engagement:

This is a photo from last night at The Cottage, 
having a toast with friends 
for Jason and my engagement:

These events are approximately 35 years and 2,800 km apart. My parents are dressed up in a restaurant, whereas the more recent picture features a less formal atmosphere and location. Also no one is using a ketchup bottle to cheers in their picture. I love how fun and casual this whole weekend has been. (Commonalities between the two are love, friends, food, booze, smiles, and beaches.)

Friday, 15 May 2015

5 Words

The last few places that I have worked, I have kept a post-it note taped to the bottom of my screen with words that I regularly misspell. (Since my spelling is so weak.)

At the LVBIA
The post-it note was pretty small during my time at the Liberty Village BIA. I was mainly using email and word processing, so both had very good spell check functions that corrected words I was spelling wrong. However, I did need to put two words up on the post-it: Councillor and Strachan. Both would always appear with the little red line denoting incorrect spelling, however the 'councillor' I was usually writing about was a Toronto City Councillor. Strachan is the name of a street in the area. It is not pronounced Strachan (despite Steph frequently telling taxi drivers to take her there.) It pronounced is 'strawn' but spelt crazy.

I am posting today because my list taped to the bottom of one of my computer screens (yes, I have two monitors here, it is awesome) reached 5 words today. I was sad when I needed to upgrade to the normal size square post-it. away from the tiny rectangle one that I used when there were only 2 words I needed to reference. For the most part, I need these words written out because I am in spreadsheets that don't have the little red line style of spelling correction so I never know for sure if I have things spelt right until I run a full spell check; which I do before presenting the data, but not while I am working with it. In the case of 'colleague,' my spelling was always so far off that it wouldn't give me a correct option anyway. So, here is my 5 word list:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

TB - February 2007

Throwback Thursday - Scroll to the bottom of the month and read up. Or click on the earliest post in the month (to view the post and the comments) then keep clicking Newer Post until you finish the month.

I had been worried that the coming Throwback months were going to be upsetting. In fact I avoided doing this feature last week because I didn't want to read about that time in my life. It looks like the February was a calm before the storm. I really loved the classes I was taking, it was one of my better semesters, in terms of enjoyment of the material.

Noted Post: Birth Order - I remember pieces of the night I am describing in this post. I definitely remember Anna talking about videos of her and her sister as kids. A councilor Jason and I have been seeing mentioned birth order a couple of weeks ago, as it relates to relationships. It is an interesting concept to consider, but it really is only one factor in the context of a million others. (The fact that I am an oldest and Jason is a youngest is supposedly good.)

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Just Like Tea

I don't understand the confusion around sex and consent. The desire to have sex does not have any 'blurred lines.' It is pretty straight forward and getting consent is key to ensure both partners feel safe.

This movie explains it well:

I also like campaigns that switch the language of 'victim blaming' over to suggestions that help Prevent Rape, the list can get quite long - but they are all good tips, worth a read.

Why Not?

A sign on my way to work today at a Mitsubishi dealership:

10 Year/160,000km
Powertrain Limited Warranty
Why not a Mitsubishi?

I feel like the casual question at the end there isn't the best way to advertise a car. Also, the warranty is pretty much the best in the industry but 160,000 kilometers is pretty easy to put on a car. Jason's Yaris almost has that and it is about 5 years old. Ten years seems impressive until you realize few owners would make it that far, only putting 16,000km on their car each year. Still, why not a Mitsubishi?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Avery Is Not Impressed

I called Mom (who is out in Edmonton at the moment) and Aimee on Sunday to share the exciting news. (Mike was sleeping but he called later to complain about having to hear about Jason and my engagement second hand, through his wife and mother.) Aimee turned to Avery to let him know the news:

"Avery, your Aunty Chris just got engaged! Your getting another uncle. Aunty Chris and Jason are going to get married! Oh man, he has the weirdest face right now, if you could see this. He looks so confused. Avery, be happy. Be happy for Aunty Chris."

Luckily my mom took a photo at Avery's moment of confusion and sent it to me. He does not look impressed with Jason and my proposal weekend. It isn't really a look of confusion, more of disgust. This is not a baby that cares about weddings.

"Aunty Chris is getting married? Whatever Mom, who cares."
Avery Reacts To Aimee Telling Him My Good News
Photo by Mom, Edits by Me

On Top Of The World

As I mentioned briefly in the previous post....


We proposed to each other over the weekend, each taking a day to ask the other and plan something special. We both kept the actual asking part pretty low key - no rings (since I didn't want one), no big speeches (such a blur, I wouldn't have remembered what was said anyway), and no getting on one knee (though I was planning to do this, since Jason didn't Friday night, I decided not to on Saturday.)

Friday Night - Jason Asks

After picking me up at work, looking casual and carrying a backpack, Jason walked me over to the park beside Lamport Stadium. he stopped, stood in front of me, held me close, and asked, "Will you marry me?" to which I said, "Yes." It was happy, short, simple, and sweet. We then walked towards the King Streetcar with him asking if I had figured out what we were doing that night. I had no idea.

It wasn't until he mentioned that he was more scared of what was happening next than he was of proposing that I figured it out - we were going to go and do The Edge Walk at the CN Tower! (The backpack had my socks since I wasn't in the proper footwear.) It was a long process, with lots of safety checks, but an hour or so later we were over Toronto - walking outside, 1168 feet above the city. It was incredible. 
It was not an easy activity for Jason, who doesn't like heights, so afterwards he took us to The Fifth to have a fancy steak dinner and unwind. We ordered too much food, had amazing filet mignon, and enjoyed a quiet meal together.

Saturday - Christine Asks

Instead of 'asking,' I decided to plan a day of 'accepting' Jason's proposal (though I had said "Yes" right away the night before.) The alarm went off at 6:30am and once Jason was no longer squinting from the light, I asked him in the same simple way - if he would marry me, to which he also said yes. I then presented him with an envelope from the 'CSA' which instead of standing for Canadian Space Agency, meant Christine Sweeton Accepts.  

Along with a note was a cryptic itinerary for a day of astronaut-style training. It included activities like Fitness Test, Medical Exam, Orientation Video, etc. After I ran over to Tim Horton's to get Jason some Basic Nourishment, we set out on our day around Toronto. 

There was a lot of walking and use of the TTC, but we ended up giving blood together, seeing the Hubble IMAX at the Ontario Science Centre, trying out freeze-dried ice cream, visiting the Donald Dunlap Observatory for their open house evening, along with other outer space type activities. 

I also presented him with a watch during the Equipment Issuing. I had 'borrowed' the one I gave him for Christmas a couple of years ago that he never wears. I switched out the metal links that he didn't like since they pinched him, for a black leather band. I also had the back engraved with "From here to infinity."

Sunday - Jason and Christine Celebrate

The Edge Walk ticket included a second trip up the CN Tower anytime during the following three days. We took the opportunity to go up and see it from a more normal perspective yesterday evening. We grabbed dinner at the cafe on the observation level and visited the SkyPod which is another 33 stories in the air from where we had walked Friday night. It was a nice ending to an amazing weekend. 

I don't have the words to describe how incredible Jason is, but I couldn't imagine spending my life with anyone else. He makes me so happy. The future with him by my side looks exciting and fun.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

I Think He Knew

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

My grandfather, on my dad's side, died before I was born. In fact, Dad was in his 20s when his father died and at that point my parents were dating, but not married. The got engaged a couple of years later, but growing up everyone (my grandmother, parents, Aunty Laura, etc.) always said this about my parents getting married : Alex wasn't alive for it, but he knew that it was probably going to happen.

This weekend, Jason and I got engaged. I too think that Dad knew it was coming at some point. My relationship with Jason is very special and quite different from others in my past - I hope that Dad took note of that. Mom mentioned that it was a big deal for them to help Jason move into Rrunuv Bayit in the Fall of 2013 (just a few months before my dad died.) I had never lived with a boyfriend before, so it had been obvious to them that this was a guy I was very seriously committed to.

Jason and I both spoke privately with the other's family a few months ago to discuss the pending engagement. My dad would have really enjoyed that conversation - it would have found it exciting and been flattered to be included. He also loved weddings (food, dancing, lots of people - it was totally his scene.) It will be difficult to have mine without him.

Friday, 8 May 2015

I Can Hear The Writing

I went to see a movie last night, Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was written (and directed) by Joss Whedon, who is a very prolific screenwriter. He is one of the two screenwriters that I absolutely love watching - the other is Aaron Sorkin. I like them both because their characters and dialogue remind me of the best version of my friends. My friends at their funniest and my friends at their smartest.

Sorkin wrote The West Wing, A Few Good Men, and many more exciting TV and movie dramas. His style is fast and idealistic. When his characters speak (often in long monologues) they are intelligent to an almost academic level. It is flattering to not be pandered too, though some people claim that the speeches turn to lectures spouting Sorkin's ideals. I am idealistic, and my friends are smart. I hope that our serious talks and debates sound close to one of Sorkin's movies or shows, but that is a high standard to achieve.

Whedon also writes intelligent characters with quick wit and banter. The onscreen interactions seem natural and are often hilarious. I really love his style of writing. He brings humour and emotion to action movies and television. He wrote Buffy and Firefly, as well as the recent Avengers movies. The jokes last night had the whole audience laughing out loud in the theatre. The characters seem to be friends and Whedon shows real bonds and interactions that are instantly relatable. It reminds me of great times with my friends.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


After celebrating
the next day feels more like
Sicko De Mayo

I am sure I am not the first person to come up with the concept above, nor am I the first person to be feeling these effects.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Real Love

I never liked the dichotomy that seemed to exist between 'passionate love' and 'companion love' and am happy to have found a concept that moves passed that and pushes the concept further - Triangular Theory of Love. The psychologist who developed it suggests that love progresses and develops in predictable ways. I can see Jason and my relationship history having the patterns he suggests. I can also see Jason and I in these pictures from the series Love is by Puuung. (Originally found on Facebook.)

Monday, 4 May 2015

More Adulting

This reminded me of a previous post about adulting.

-------------- from Facebook

The horrifying moment when you're looking for an adult but then you realize that you're an adult. So you look for an older adult, someone successfully adulting. An adultier adult.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Salad On A Hot Dog

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

Rob and Andrea showed us a cool little pizza place near their apartment downtown. One Pizza is a counter style restaurant, with seating or take-out. What I was most impressed with (besides the great crust or interesting and vast selection of toppings) was the single price point for a pizza. They offer individual pizzas, which if eating in their entirety at dinner leave you very very full. Splitting worked at lunch the next day to satisfy both Jason and I (yes, we visited the place twice.) Whether you pick one of their signature pizzas or create your own it is the same price, any combination of toppings.

I really enjoy that there isn't this counting of the number of toppings, or prices for premium choices. I am sure that it works out financially that few people would take advantage and create an insanely expensive pizza covered in an unreasonable amount and number of toppings. Then I remembered my dad...

In Port Dover there is a huge hot dog stand and they have lots of condiments on the counter for you to dress your footlong yourself. You may have noted that I said condiments but there were some odd options like onions, shredded cabbage, corn, cucumbers, etc. My dad would load it up like his hot dog was a plate at a salad bar - had to get his money's worth.