Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ian McAdam

Last summer, our family travelled to England and Scotland and while in Scotland, we met up with a number of aunt, uncles, and cousins of mine. We spent a great evening with my cousin Ian and his wife Lesley at the racetrack in Hamilton – I wrote about it here (July 11). Last week, Ian passed away suddenly. He was only 45.

Ian was quite a character – charming and very outgoing with lots of personality, but not to the point of being obnoxious. Well, not usually, anyway. We didn't really know each other very well since we lived on different continents our whole lives, but whenever I saw him, he always treated me like we were best friends. I was unaccustomed to this. I grew up in Canada, while all my aunts, uncles, and cousins live in Scotland and England. Whenever I did travel to Scotland or they travelled here, there was always some awkwardness because we were family but didn't really know each other. Ian didn't care about that – we were cousins, and so when we were together, we were going to have a good time. The night we went to the racetrack, I think Ian felt like the host – this was his country and his town (he saw a few friends of his while we were there), and so he was going to make absolutely sure we had a great time. And he succeeded.

We were visiting my Aunt Sandra in the morning when Ian called looking for us. He suggested we go to the racetrack while Aunt Sandra babysat his girls and our boys. When we arrived at the racetrack, there were hundreds of other people there as well, and the lines for food were very long. We were hungry, but we didn't want to wait in the long lines, so we decided we'd get dinner later. We went and got our betting forms and some drinks, since the drink lines were much shorter. Ian and I got beer, Lesley got wine, and Gail just had water. Ian asked if she wanted wine or beer or something else instead but Gail said no because alcohol can affect the medication she takes for her diabetes. Gail has Type 2 diabetes and it's completely controlled by the medication – she doesn't need insulin shots, and she's pretty much free to have whatever food (sugary or not) that she wants. Once Ian heard that Gail was diabetic, he got an idea. He asked what Gail wanted to eat and Gail said that the BBQ pork sandwich sounded pretty good. Ian said "I'll be right back" and dashed off towards the food stand. He returned just a few minutes later with a couple of sandwiches and a couple of orders of fries chips. We asked how he got them so quickly with such a long lineup, and he just said "don't ask". We suspected that he had run up to the front of the line and shouted "I have a diabetic woman who needs food right now!", which was technically true, if a bit misleading – it's not like she was in danger of passing out if she didn't eat right away. Gail and I felt a little guilty eating when others were still waiting in line, but we were pretty hungry and the food was good so the guilt didn't last long.

My mother reminded me of a similar event that happened when Ian came to Canada as a teenager for a visit. We went on a day trip to Niagara Falls. While walking around Clifton Hill, Ian went into a candy shop, mainly because of the pretty girl behind the counter. He talked to her for a little while and managed to talk her into giving him free fudge, but not just a bite or two – he came out of the shop with fudge for all of us.

Ian was a big guy with a big personality and an even bigger heart. From our conversations that night, I know that Ian was very proud of his 20-year-old son Martin and adored his two little girls, Alexis (7) and Zarah (3). As I said we didn't know each other well, and he had only met Gail twice, but there was no question in my mind that Ian would have moved heaven and Earth to help us if we needed it, because we were family and that's all that mattered. I know he holds a special place in my sister's heart as well. He will be very much missed by his Canadian cousins.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And the winner for best soap box dispenser is...

While driving around town the other day, I spotted a local business sporting a new sign: "Your community's award-winning laundromat". I'm curious as to exactly what awards they won. I guess I've been remiss in my attention to the local laundromat awards.

When they "Your community", do they mean Waterdown, or is this Hamilton-wide? When and where was the ceremony? Is this a rent-the-Legion kind of event, or were they down at the Hamilton Convention Centre? Or Copps Coliseum? We get both the Hamilton and local Flamborough papers, and I don't remember mention of it, but maybe I just missed it. Must have happened while I was in hospital. Yeah, that's gotta be it.

I'm sure that Hamilton's A-list celebrities were all there – that would be star of stage and screen Martin Short, hoser Dave Thomas, Ti-Cats owner Bob Young, and sports journalist Stephen Brunt. And the bands Junkhouse and Teenage Head. Waterdown's A list might also have been there, consisting of... ummmm.... well, the guy that played Harold on the Red Green show used to live here, does that count? And I once saw the coach (at the time) of the Tiger-Cats in the local grocery store, but then he got fired and moved back to London.

Anyway, congratulations to Cedars Laundromat on their victory, and I look forward to seeing if they can make it two in a row at next year's Soapie Awards. Probably on pay-per-view.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You have won second prize in a beauty contest! Collect $1

Last week was our annual trip to Fern Resort, and this is my annual blog entry about it. Here is last year's entry. The unusual title of this article (rather than "Fern 2010") may make it harder to find, but its meaning will become clear later on. As usual, we went with our friends the Wadsworths, Wildeys, and Marshalls, and everyone had a great time. We're not exactly "set in our ways" quite yet, but there are a number of traditions that we have started to follow at Fern:

  • we always meet up with the Wadsworths for lunch at Harvey's on the 400 at the Cookstown Outlet Mall on our way to Fern, and we always eat at Arby's in Orillia on the way home.
  • Jeff and I (and usually Jerry) have a Caesar at dinner most nights.
  • We always have two tables in the dining room, and we put the kids at one table and the adults at another.
  • Gail and Kerri always get pedicures at the spa, though I think they're reconsidering that for next year.
  • Jeff and I head over to Mary Lou's at least one night during the week after the kids are in bed (my kids, anyway – his stay up later but sleep in) to play pool and enjoy a couple of Alexander Keith's.
  • We always go to see Jamie Williams when he plays. He puts on a fantastic show.
  • The boys love to play bingo so we end up playing at least once every day. This year I won twice, Gail and Ryan each won once, and Nicky was very disappointed that he didn't win at all.

One of my goals for this week, given my recent health issues, was to be able to participate in the activities I wanted to without having to tell anyone about said issues. I didn't want to go to the beach volleyball or tennis court and have to leave after five minutes because I couldn't play. With one exception, I was able to do that. I played beach volleyball, water volleyball, tennis a couple of times, golf, "mushball", rode the pedal carts around the forest trails, and swam with Ryan for a little while. The one exception was the climbing wall. Before I started I told the people running it that I had had surgery a few months ago and wasn't sure how strong I was. I managed to make it about 1/3 of the way to the top before I lost confidence in my strength and decided to come back down. Nicky made it to about the same place as me, and Ryan zipped to the top. Both the boys tried (and completed) the "vertical playground", a climbing obstacle course with rope ladders and tires and stuff. I didn't try that one.

On Tuesday night, they had a new thing called Retro Night, which was quite innovative. They went through the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's and played music from each decade. There were group participation events and the winners got special Retro Night money, similar to Canadian Tire money. There were four denominations, each with pictures of a different "icon": $1 (Darth Vader), 75c (Madonna), 50c (Jimi Hendrix), and 25c (Elvis). With the money, you could play various games where you could win more money, or you could buy candy, snacks, or root beer floats (yum – I had two). They had various dance events including the twist and the macarena and all participants got $1. They had a hula hoop event, where anyone who wanted to could try a hula hoop for 30 seconds, and they'd give you $1 just for trying. There were trivia questions and the first person to shout out the answer won $1. There were games like Twister, bean bag toss, and knocking down milk bottles, and you could win money that way too. It was a very neat idea, and lots of fun for everybody.

One of the highlights of the evening, for everyone else anyway, was the a particular contest. The host said that they were looking for three dads to volunteer for a contest, without saying the name of the contest or what it was about. Gail said that it looked like a trivia contest and that I should definitely get up there so I volunteered. Bad move. He announced the name of the contest - they were looking for Mr. Fern 2010, and at that point I wished I'd had a couple more Caesars at dinner. (Jeff came up to me after it was all over and asked "Did you learn anything from all this?" I answered "Yes - don't put your hand up when they ask for volunteers".) We had three tasks to perform and audience applause at the end would decide the winner. The first was a disco dance contest. I went second, and waved over to Ryan and Nicky to join me. Nicky declined but thank god Ryan came up and danced with me or I would have... um... looked silly. Never mind.

The second event was something I'd never seen before. We had to take a mouthful of water then tip our heads back and sing the chorus of Rock 'n Roll All Nite by Kiss. The first guy mainly spit the water all over himself and made some random sounds. I got the hang of it after a few seconds but kept choking on the water. The third guy nailed it - you could understand the words and everything. The third event was an air guitar contest. The first guy did pretty well, then as I took the stage, Gail mimed smashing the guitar a la Pete Townshend, so I did some standard air guitar, played it with my teeth and behind my head, then started smashing it on the floor to great applause. At the end, the crowd voted with their applause and thanks to my friends and family yelling as loud as they could for me, I came in second. The guy that won definitely deserved it though - he did really well at all three events. But for all that public humiliation, I was awarded one Retro Night dollar. Nicky did the macarena in the middle a huge crowd of other people doing the macarena, and he also earned one Retro Night dollar. One of us got seriously ripped off.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Don't you mean "waiter"?

While watching TV the other day, the word "barista" was mentioned. Ryan asked what it meant and I told him it was the person who makes you coffee at Starbucks. His response: "They have a whole word for that?"

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Another NLL team failure

The Orlando Titans have announced that they will not be playing in the NLL in 2011. It sounds like they're trying to pull an Arizona Sting and simply sit out for a year, saying they'll be back in 2012. The Sting didn't actually return at all, and no team that has ever left the NLL has come back, so you'll excuse me if I don't hold my breath waiting for the triumphant return of the Titans. It should be noted that I predicted the demise of the Titans back in January.

The streak of not having two consecutive NLL seasons with the same teams continues, now at eighteen seasons. I've talked about this before, back in 2008 when the Chicago Shamrox folded. There's a list in that article of the team changes in the NLL since 1994, and you can add "2010: New York moved to Orlando, San Jose moved to Washington, removed Portland" and now "2011: Removed Orlando" to that list. It seems unbelievable to me that neither prospective owners nor the NLL itself seem to do the necessary market research to determine whether or not a team will be viable in a particular market. Updating the stats from my earlier article, we now have twenty-five teams that have either folded or moved since 1987, compared to eighteen teams in the NHL since 1917.

The dispersal draft was held today, and most of the Titans players were divvied out among the remaining teams. Patrick Merrill and Pat Maddalena were both named free agents by the league, thanks to a little-used NLL rule allowing players to opt out of dispersal drafts as long as they are named "Pat". The big winners, not surprisingly, were the teams that chose early – Colorado picked up goaltender Matt Vinc with the first overall pick and Jarett Park in the second round, while Boston now has the two most recent NLL MVP winners in Casey Powell and Dan Dawson. The Mammoth have been without a real #1 goalie since Gee Nash was let go and effectively retired a couple of years ago, so picking up the reigning Goaltender of the Year is huge for Colorado. Boston was a tough team last year, and grabbing Powell, John Orsen, and Greg Peyser only makes them better.

As for the Rock, they picked up Mike McLellan and Mat MacLeod, two guys I know nothing about. But the depth of my lacrosse knowledge is such that even though I don't know anything about these guys, I can still offer some pieces of brilliant insight:

  1. Their initials are both M.M.
  2. MacLeod is one of six guys named Matt (or Mat) involved in the dispersal draft.
  3. MacLeod is the second player named Mat (with only one 't') to play for the Rock, after Mat Giles.