New Thing+ #2: CN Tower EdgeWalk

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I desperately wanted to try the CN Tower EdgeWalk from the moment it was announced. However, the $175 price tag was a little rich for my blood at the time.

Luckily, my mother-in-law surprised me with tickets on my birthday earlier this year. So today I finally walked around the observation deck of the CN Tower, 356 meters above Toronto. In the rain, no less.

It is one of the most fantastic things I have ever done. And for a kid who used to always think twice about jumping off the diving board, I didn’t have a single problem up there.

I was a little trepidatious about the weather, but it was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t expect that I’d be at the same height of the rain clouds themselves. Watching them roll towards us and ultimately envelop us was an amazing feeling. Leaning out over the city I love and picking out each landmark with only a rope keeping me from plunging over the side was also pretty exhilarating to say the least.

Our guide, Allister was charming, funny and quite knowledgeable. He showed us the sights, got us hanging off the edge of the rails and recorded and photographed the entire event for posterity.

What a lucky son-of-a-bitch that guy is to get to go up there eight times a day.

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New Thing #365: Surprise Renew My Wedding Vows

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After a what feels like months of planning and subterfuge I managed to surprise my wife tonight by renewing my wedding vows. 

I couldn’t have made it this year if it weren’t for the support that Shauna gave me this year, so I thought it was important to make tonight about her. I couldn’t have done it without her.

What an awesome way to end this awesome year.

Thank god she said yes.

Here are the vows as I wrote them if you had trouble hearing:

Shauna, a lot of things have come and gone in my life. I’ve had different jobs, different friends, different homes. I’ve tried anything and everything I’ve had the chance to do. But the one consistent thing I’ve always been able to count on is you. 

We’ve been a couple longer than the entire time we were in school. We’ve been married nearly a decade. We have a home that we love and we managed to make a kid who’s pretty damned wonderful. And our friends thought we wouldn’t last a month, but we knew better.

I once told you that you make me a better person and I sincerely believe that. You’ve taught me so much over the years and supported me in every crazy thing I’ve done. The days and years since our wedding haven’t slipped by; they’ve flown. We’ve had more highs than lows and we still have so much more time to soar together. 

If nothing else, my vow to you is to always find a way to make you smile each and every day. 

I love you so much.

New Thing #364: Watch Star Wars with my Daughter

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I think that every geek dad eagerly awaits the day that he’s able to watch the original Star Wars with his kid for the first time. 

For nearly the past five years I’ve been preconditioning my daughter for just such an occasion. So today (with a big bowl of popcorn as bait), Shauna, Audrey and I watched Episode IV together. And although she might not have seemed as excited on the video, she really liked it. Especially the droids.

We shielded her eyes from the screen during the scary bits: Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s burnt corpses, the interrogation droid, and worst of all the awful sequence that Lucas stuck in with Jabba in Mos Eisley.

Also, we were sure to explain that Han shot first, because if nothing else, we’re responsible parents.

SPOILER ALERT IN INVISITEXT BELOW:
Now I just can’t wait to see her reaction when we watch Empire and Vader tells Luke he’s his father. That’s going to be amazing. I know everyone already knows that, but I still detest spoilers enough to not take the chance.

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New Thing #363: Get A Professional Shoe Shine

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In retrospect, getting my shoes professionally shined on a sleet filled afternoon might not have been the wisest of decisions. But I’m still glad I did it.

I used to pass by the shoe shine chairs on my way to lunch for years, but never had the nerve to sit down in one. Also, I normally didn’t have shoes that would take a shine in the first place, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to do it.

But there’s a certain amount of intimidation that goes with those big, elevated leather chairs. And it probably doesn’t help that they’re located in the heart of the financial district and those chairs are usually filled with banker butt.

Thankfully, the shoe shiners couldn’t have been more accommodating. Both of the young ladies were delightful to talk to and my shoe shiner did a fantastic job. My shoes actually turned out looking better today than the day that I bought them.

The whole process felt like a pedicure for my footwear, instead of my feet. They were waxed, rubbed, poked, prodded, scrubbed and even massaged at one point. 

As I expected, shoe shining is a very civilized affair and like the professional shave I got earlier in the year, one that lives outside of today’s hustle and bustle world. Defintely worth the eight bucks, ten with tip.

 

New Thing #362: Attend A TV Pilot Taping

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I’m not unaccustomed to video production, but I’ve never attending a broadcast taping before, let alone one for a pilot. Then I got my hands on some tickets for The Tim Steeves Show, a new half hour comedy under consideration for CTV.

For the next two hours I found myself sitting next to my friend Tom on a rather uncomfortable folding chair in The Masonic Temple at Yonge and Church, dying of thirst. But that’s all I can complain about because the show was pretty great.

It’s a mash-up of The Mercer Report and The Daily Show with a bit of Bill Maher style panel discussion in between.

The real star of the show is Tim Steeves himself: the man is a natural on camera. He has charisma, great delivery and is genuinely funny. And I’m usually pretty tough on comedians. Taking into account that Mike Bullard shot his show in the same studio, I think Tim (who’s exponentially funnier than Bullard ever was) should have no trouble getting picked up by the network.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the set: one poorly dressed card table on a riser with some burnt out Christmas lights behind it. I’ve never felt more Canadian.

New Thing #360: Choir! Choir! Choir!

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When I was a kid I was in choir. Scratch that, I was in many choirs. The school choir. The church choir. The scout choir. Before my voice broke in 7th grade I was a pretty damned good singer. Now: not so much. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still love to sing, I just usually keep it confined to the shower, car and occasional drunken stumble home. 

But then my friend Lynne (with an E) put me on to Choir! Choir! Choir!; an ad hoc group of Torontonians who meet weekly at a downtown pub and belt out a couple of classic pop songs. 

My adult voice is all about range, or lack there of, so this was the perfect opportunity to just take a part within my capabilities.  

Sure there were notes I couldn’t hit but all I had to do was lower my voice and the group took over. Plus, I had a beer with me which makes any singing event better.

My only gripe is that I didn’t know the Crowded House lyrics by rote, so I was a little more focused on the words than the arrangement. The warm up number though was Losing My Religion, and I knew in that instant that i would be coming back. 

And best of all everyone there was super cool with no pretensions. As an added bonus I was surrounded by about a hundred cute women for an hour, so that’s something to sing about too.

 

New Thing #354: Read A Report Card As A Parent

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This seems like a small new thing at first glance, but as a parent reading their kid’s first report card from the other side of things it’s huge. And I couldn’t be prouder.

My little girl brought home a glowing review from her JK teacher with nothing bad to report. On top of that, we found out that she does a bunch of things at school with a smile that we get a tantrum for at home. Kids, whatcha gonna do?

We had a little family moment around the dining room table going over her teacher’s notes and let Audrey choose a big weeked reward for a job well done. Now let’s see if she can keep this up for another fourteen years. Lord knows I couldn’t.

New Thing #351: Use a Mandoline

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After years of denying that I needed one, I finally picked up a mandoline this afternoon. I’m just tired of slicing the required amount of potatoes for a batch of scalloped ones. Plus, it’s a total bitch getting them both thin and uniform enough to come out evenly cooked.

I grabbed a plastic OXO model which was a little more affordable than the metal varieties, but seeemd sturdy enough. Plus it has a nice dial to easily select your desired thickness.

After five minutes with a couple of pounds of spuds I don’t know how I could have ever lived without one.

I can’t wait to cook up some home made chips soon.

 

New Thing #340: Use a Fountain Pen

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My dad had a fountain pen when I was growing up but I was never allowed to use it. Now that I’m all grown up though, I realized that they really aren’t that hard to come by and picked one up.

The first thing I noticed when I got down to using it is just how free flowing it is. It’s really quite freeing in how you draw and write. The nib makes drawing into an ebb and flow sort of business. The angle of the pen really gives more control over the line weight than I’d expected as well.

When I’m trying to concentrate I often find myself making what my partner calls “Amoeba Doodles”. In all the years of filling the columns of books and papers, I’ve never had more fun drawing them out than with this pen. There’s a very satisfactory scratch that the nib makes on the page and it almost becomes painting rather than drawing as you spread the ink outwards to fill in the lines.

I flexed my terrible cursive muscle by writing out my favourite Oscar Wilde quote. Even that was fun.

I think I’ve just found my new card signing pen.

New Thing #315: Help My Daughter Bake

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Audrey got a magazine subscription to Chirp from my cousin this year and she saw a recipe for apple bars that she wanted to make. Aside from dicing the apples and dates, I was merely supervising this one. 

Although she’s help me do some things in the kitchen before, this is the first time I’ve ever let her run the show. 

It was a blast.