Sunday, September 18, 2016

Night Court was a good time.

There's a channel I can pull in from Buffalo called Laff which shows reruns of Night Court.

I loved this show when I was 10. Loved it. And when our grade 6 class went on a field trip (through this program that taught us about drugs and whatnot) to the local courthouse, I was expecting a whole lotta similar wackiness!

(Turns out it was boring as hell. And, my mom, who was a chaperone on the trip, saw a person she grew up with appear before the judge. Turns out it was a "wrong place at the wrong time" kind of situation and she was ultimately cleared.)

And, watching it now... sure, it's a fairly one-dimensional 1980s sitcom. You know that Dan Fielding is going to make a licentious remark. You know that Christine Sullivan is going to be the morally-upstanding girl next door. You know that Roz is going to be sassy, Bull is going to be dumb, and Harry is going to be wacky.

But, shoot, not everything has to be at the level of sophistication of, say, Arrested Development. You don't have to have callbacks and hidden meanings and hip references. Comedy can be straightforward, unapologetically so. Just relax, turn your brain off, and watch Dan's briefcase open up as his blow-up doll accidentally inflates herself.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Aeroplan and Pearson Airport can lick my nutsack.

School's been back for two weeks so, naturally, what am I doing on a Friday night?

Planning my March Break vacation, naturally!

Namely, I'm trying to figure out the added twist of buying a flight using my Aeroplan miles, which I've been accumulating for the past year and a half or so.

This would be my tenth annual trip, having started this little tradition in 2007. Every year I do the research and try to figure out where it'd be best to fly from, and to. My basic options are this:

From: Toronto, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Flint, Detroit
To: Tampa, Orlando, St. Pete

Niagara Falls and St. Pete have small airports, and the only noteworthy airline that flies into or out of both is, coincidentally, Allegiant Air. I'll check to make sure I'm not missing anything, but it's never worked out (and their prices aren't that great anyway). Similarly, Buffalo has never really worked out; they don't really have direct flights anywhere, and while there are flights every day, the timing just hasn't been that good.

I don't mind a drive to southwest Ontario and a bit beyond, which puts Flint and Detroit in play. It's been a while since I've flown into or out of Detroit, but they do have a decent selection of flights. Flint has been very good to me: it's small, so security takes very little time; parking is cheap and there's a shuttle van that takes you right to the terminal; and whatever airline is flying (first AirTran, then it was bought by Southwest) has managed to even occasionally have direct flights to Florida.

Not to mention, of course, the HUGE price difference in flying out of a US airport, in comparison with Toronto. Holy shit is Pearson expensive. Absolutely bonkers.

About Pearson... it's gigantic, you go through customs before even getting on the plane (which means you have to get there extra-extra early), and I mentioned the price. The pros, of course: it's close, I can take public transit there, and the flights to/from Florida are at juuuuuust the right time for me. I mean, it's really, really tempting to just to say "fuck it, YYZ it is."

Now, the added twist of Aeroplan. I switched to an Aeroplan-miles credit card -- complete with a $125 annual fee -- because TD's Drivers Rewards Visa card was an increasingly shitty deal. This card comes with TD travel insurance, which is better than what I get through work (where you pay out-of-pocket then get reimbursed; TD's takes care of it all up-front, and you don't pay a dime). Plus, you get these nifty Aeroplan miles, and look at all the fun flights you can take!

...except that there are two levels of flights you can spend your miles on: the cheap seats (which are very, very few on each flight) and the expensive seats (which are on any flight, but cost about twice as many miles). You can also use your miles to pay for the extra shitty fees on a flight, but it's steep. I did the math on a one-way flight from Toronto to Tampa:

Flight cost, from $177
Cost of this flight, in miles: 12,500
Number of miles it costs to buy $1.00 worth of a flight: 70.6

Total of fees, from $122
Cost of these fees, in miles: 14,375
Number of miles it costs to buy $1.00 worth of the fees: 117.8

I'm still undecided on whether to just spend the miles on the fees (as it's a shittier deal), or save my miles for something else in the future. By my math, at the same mi/$ cost of the flight, the fees should only be 8613 miles, a difference of 5762 miles (or 46% of a one-way flight). Then again, fees make up 40% of this flight's total cost -- you can't get around the fees, after all -- so, maybe I should just suck it up.

Add to this, of course, that the flight from Tampa back up to Toronto -- the one I can't get a cheap-points flight for -- costs $367. I can't help but notice...

Total cost of flights from/to Pearson: $489 + 12,500 mi / $367 + 26,875 mi
Total cost of flights from/to Detroit: approx. $350 (US$268), 0 mi used

But, I mean, why not use the miles? That's what they're there for. Plus, Pearson is, like, right over there [points northwesterly from his couch]. From/to Detroit, I have to use about 1.5 tanks of gas, plus pay for parking. But if I take the UP Express in addition to TTC from/to Pearson (which I'll probably do, given the timing of the flights in the early morning and late evening), that'd offset the charge of the parking at Detroit or Flint a bit.

And, if I go to Michigan, I'll stay the nights before and after at my parents' place. So that's a couple of free meals. And, I can pick up some cheap beer at a store on the drive back to the border.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Sometimes it all comes together.

I grew up in a little town in rural southwestern Ontario. And, I spent a lot of time at the baseball diamond in said town; I played for years, then in high school one of my summer jobs was cutting the grass at the park. My dad helped to build the 30-foot-high backstop in the late '80s with a bunch of other local guys; there's a picture in our family photo album, on one of those days they were building the backstop, of my brother and I helping to paint the wooden stands (which are still there).

Every August, the town's volunteer fire department holds a men's two-pitch softball tournament at that park. As a kid, I used to watch some of the games; when my brother and I were a little older, we kept score and did the announcing thing on a little microphone/PA thing (we said the score, who was up, and who was on deck). I even played in it briefly a few years ago, because a guy my dad knows who had a team needed a player, and I was free, so why not?

Tonight, my dad and I went over to the tournament, which is on this weekend. We went to the beer tent and had a beer, then went over and watched one of the games, leaning up against the fence along the first-base line. I can remember, playing there as a kid, some of the local older guys (perhaps a generation older than my dad's), standing along the same fence, watching us kids play. And there I was, with my dad, at the fence.

As we were watching the game and shooting the bull, the sun had just set in the west (the direction we were facing); a sliver of a crescent moon was partway up the western sky, tinted a faint orange. There's not a tall building in sight, of course, so the sky goes all the way down to the distant trees, ensuring maximum sunset enjoyment for all. A change in the breeze had signified the coming of the promised cold front, and it did feel quite a bit cooler.

The kids announcing the batter and on-deck guy tonight... well, that was me and my brother, twenty years ago. I was tempted to go over to them and say, "I did that when I was a teenager, too." But, reflecting on it now, I'm glad I held off. I hope they get the same silent satisfaction I had tonight, twenty years from now, when I'm one of the older generation, standing along the fence, taking in the action. Who knows, maybe I'll have my kid beside me.*

* Relax, I didn't knock anyone up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Wow, just wow.

Part 1: The buildup.

Messages are exchanged. Plans are made to meet for the first time. Cell phone numbers are traded, to let the other know that you're there, and what table you're at, and what you're wearing so they can pick you out of the crowd.

Part 2: The encounter.

Drinks are ordered, and consumed. Conversation flows freely, progresses snappily, opinions are shared, ideas are coloured-in. "Hey, this is going pretty great. I think she's into me." Two hours pass, then three. "Whoa, it's getting late, it's a work night, we'd better get going, eh?"

Part 3: The parting.

"You're going this way? Well, I'm going that way."
"That was really fun, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, it was! Would you like to do this again?"
"Definitely! Hey, have yourself a good night."
"You too!"

"That was it, man. Couldn't have gone better. Ah, I feel good about that one."

Part 4: The fade.

A couple of messages are traded back and forth. Plans are perhaps even made for a second date. Eventually, reply times get longer, then... nothing. Just fade-to-black. No explanation given, no rationale outlined, not even the standard, "Sorry, I just wasn't feeling it" -- which, true or not, you can't argue with. Who is anyone to tell anyone else what they're feeling?

Humans are pattern-seekers. We try to connect dots -- sometimes when there isn't even any connection to be made -- to try to explain the mysteries of life, to make order out of apparent disorder. But when there's literally no information to go on, and disorder is everywhere, that drives me up the fucking wall.

We socialize girls to be demure and quiet and not to voice their opinions -- and, when they do, they're too assertive, they're bossy, they're a bitch. But, by avoiding confrontation (and, telling a guy you're actually not interested in him, that's a confrontation), well, this is the sort of shit you get in return, boys.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Romance is fucking gay.

I hope you know that I'm not the kind of person who would use that word as a put-down. But on the drive home tonight, this was the phrase that kept rolling around my head, and I think it fits, and who cares if it's not politically correct?

You see, there's this girl.

(Woman, not girl. Jeez. Let me make that very clear. Not into the 'girls.' I keep it legal.)

I've carried a torch for her for a long, long time, hoping that maybe she'd come to her senses and see that we'd be great together. In the meantime, we hang out, enjoy each other's company, have a lot in common, have a lot not-in-common (which I like; who wants a carbon-copy of themselves?), and have eaten, by our rough estimate, north of 200 meals together over the years.

Naturally, this absolutely kills a little piece of me. I can't help but picture what it'd be like, being with her, and let's just say it looks pretty damn good. We joke a lot about what our future kids would look like. And occasionally I bring it up that, jeez, y'know, wouldn't it work? She deflects, says she doesn't want to ruin the friendship.

But recently she added that she's of the opinion if, if romance doesn't fly immediately, then it probably never will, and she shouldn't pursue it. I mean, I guess I can see where that's coming from... but, well, how far has that gotten her to this point, if she's still single? Isn't it worth taking a chance, just to see?


Well, on said drive home, this whole scenario was bouncing around my brain -- which is weird, I thought I'd already essentially dealt with this -- and I just got really, really bummed. (It didn't help that Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue" was playing, too; how wondeful and insightful those lyrics are, in an apparently helpless situation.)

And so, here I am. Romance sucks. All I want is to be done with this fucking merry-go-round. Honestly, I can totally see why people settle. People have settled for thousands of years, and somehow society has managed to carry on just fine. How bad can it be?

Jesus fucking christ.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Summer is close. So close.

And yet, so far.

May is always a month where my patience, skills and, frankly, sanity is always tested. Things seem to all come to a climax at work in this month, and this year was no exception: I was out of the building four straight afternoons, coaching baseball, while my grade 9's did everything except set the classroom on fire.

But, alas, it's the long weekend. Baseball season is over. The field trip I tried for two years to get back on the rails is officially dead. Life is good again.

...or it would be, if I didn't have this fucking cold. I go all winter not getting one, and yet I get dick-punched in May with the sore throat, the coughing, the mucus, oh the mucus?! Hell.

It's really put a cramp in my dating life, this thing. (I'm not kidding; had to postpone two get-togethers because of it. Yeah, I'm pretty much the man.)

So, this weekend will be full of lounging-around, drinking lots of orange juice, tissues, and maybe even getting on top of some marking, who knows? Supposed to be nice outside, but I'm not sure I'll be going for any walks in the woods.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016