Thursday, June 30, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Don't Let Them Eat Cake

It was July 2, 1994. The day started off with stormy weather—torrential rain, thunder and lightning, hail, and high winds.

Not the best weather for an outdoor wedding.

I drove to the event, through rain, wondering what we were going to do. We had 55 guests that would have nowhere to go for shelter, as the reception room, the tea house at the Mackenzie King Estate, in Kingsmere, wouldn't be open to them until 6, as it was still open to the public until 5. They were in for a soaking.

Or so it seemed, until the rain eased, then ended, just as my best man and I pulled into the parking lot. The wind was still blowing, but that was a good thing: by 4:30, it had pushed away the clouds and let the sun dry the lawn.

By the time the ceremony started, the weather couldn't have been better. Even the wind eased off, blowing only enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

The ceremony was short and sweet. The reception and dinner was perfect. The service was spectacular. The music and dancing was fun.

But that cake. Oh, that cake.



We were told that the baker in this supermarket specialized in wedding cakes: he was highly recommended and we had tasted some of his work at another wedding. His price was hard to beat, and so we ordered our cake from him.

It looked delicious. And as we had our dear friends and family gather for the official cutting, we began to drool over our pending nuptial dessert.

DW and I held hands as we sank the serving knife into the cake. We met some resistance and pressed a little harder. And harder.

And then I put my weight into it.

For all the good that wedding cake looked, it was drier than the wind and sun had made the lawn for our ceremony.



We posed for a shot of us taking a bite. What wasn't captured was us, spitting it out into a napkin and setting the rest of the slice aside. There was no serving to our guests: we loved them, after all.



The cake went back to the baker after the weekend and a refund was demanded.

Bad cake.

An early Happy 22nd Anniversary to my co-cake killer.


(Photos by Marc Dufour) 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Running on Empty

The first time it happened, it was the result of a miscalculation. A conversion of miles to kilometres: one, on the road sign; the other, on my fuel gauge.

I'm an English major: you do the math.

Lesson learned: the next time you see a Last Fuel for the Next XX Miles sign, heed it's warning, and fuel up.

So, we were getting close to the exit for Cortland, NY, and with several miles still to go, I came to the realization that my digital fuel indicator would reach zero before we could safely reach a gas station. My passenger and I became worried, wondering how far we would have to walk after the engine went silent, the car slowed to nothing.

The indicator read 0 kms to empty, and yet, the engine continued to run. About a half-mile later, a road sign read 1 mile to the next exit. It was like being in the desert and seeing an oasis in the distance, wondering if it was real or just our imagination. Even though the sign was real, there was still no way of knowing whether we'd make it off the highway, whether we'd reach a service station. We held our breaths. I drove carefully, making sure I made no sudden acceleration, ensuring I kept the cruise control at a reasonable, fuel-saving speed.

The exit came, and as we decelerated down the exit ramp, the welcome sign of a service station lay straight ahead. The engine continued to run until we came to a rest in front of a fuel pump, and I pressed the off button.

I filled the tank. When I finished, saw how many gallons of fuel I had added to the tank, I pulled out my phone and used a conversion app to change the volume to metric.

When my friend and I had come to rest, there was less than a half-litre of fuel in the tank.

"Let's never do that again, shall we?" my friend advised.

Agreed.

But I did it again: twice.

Once, in town, when I knew I was close to myriad gas sources, I waited until the gauge indicated one kilometre to "empty." 

Another time, I saw that my fuel reserves were low, with only double digits between where I was and that ominous zero. I was fine, though, I told myself. I didn't have time to stop on the way to where I was going, but I had enough fuel to get to my appointment and then search for a station on my way home. I knew where a station lay within range of where I needed to be and how far I was venturing.

I would be fine.

Only, on my way home, I forgot that I was low on fuel and passed that gas station without giving it any thought. Several kilometres down the road, my eyes fell to my dashboard and saw a lone number staring back at me.

That number was two.

I thought of turning around, but there was no easy way to do so and I had to continue straight for at least another kilometre before I could make a U-turn. That meant that I would be exactly where I was at that moment when the gauge would be down to zero. And then I would have to travel four or five kilometres to get back to that station.

I thought about what lay ahead of me, and the station that was up ahead. It was at least five kilometres away, maybe six.

I feathered the gas pedal, gingerly, as I negotiated corners, as I approached red lights and then accelerated through intersections. As the gauge fell to zero, I noted the odometer reading, certain that this time, I would not reach my destination. I wanted to know, for sure, how many kilometres past the empty reading I could get from the tank.

It was almost exactly five kilometres from the zero reading until I came to a stop. But I wasn't out of fuel: I had made it to the gas station. The engine was still running, gave no indication that it was about to quit. When I filled the tank, I had replaced all but about 800 ml. I could have travelled, maybe, another 10 kilometres.

I think.

I don't know.

I'm an English major: you do the math.

No matter. I'm going to live by the advice my friend gave me in Cortland, NY: let's never do that again, shall we?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Share the Road

Now that the one-metre cycling law in Ontario has come into effect, the vitriol in the backlash from some drivers has heated up. On news posts, on the radio, on television, and all over social media, drivers of motorized vehicles balk at the law, which states that a vehicle that is passing a cyclist must maintain a minimum of one metre of distance from the cyclist. If it is unsafe to pass, the motor vehicle must wait, behind the cyclist, until it is safe to pass.

Yesterday, as my cycle group traveled on Century Road, just south of Manotick, some asshole, passing the 12 of us on a straight road with plenty of visibility and plenty of room, decided to get as close to us as he could  as he sped by. Never mind that there was a vehicle that was ahead of him and gave us a wide berth. His car spewed black smoke from his exhaust as he hit his accelerator (not like those brain-dead, rolling-coal drivers: his car was just a piece of shit) and I could see him laughing as he came close to me.

And cyclists are the hazard?

It happens every time we go for a group ride: someone will blare his horn as he guns past; another person will scream "get off the road," fist shaking; still, another will pass us, only to drift onto the shoulder of the road to kick up dirt for us.

I'm not saying that all cyclists are law-abiding and conscientious toward drivers. Some cyclists will blow through stop signs; others will weave in and out of traffic; still, others will cycle the wrong way down a one-way street or on the wrong side of the road, or will travel on sidewalks.

As a member of the Ottawa Bicycle Club, before you participate in your first group ride, you must attend a clinic where you are reminded of the rules of the road and you are taught how to travel safely in a group. On a ride, there is a leader who has experience with group rides, who makes sure we all follow the rules, and who points out when we screw up.

We ride on the right side of the road. We stop at all signs and red lights. On county roads, when we come to a stop sign, we slow right down, and come to a full stop if other traffic is approaching. If there is no traffic, we still slow to a near stop, but we won't actually stop because it's safer for the group to keep moving. But make no mistake, we make damned sure there are no other vehicles approaching the intersection before we make that call to keep rolling.

We ride two-abreast when road conditions allow for it. In Ontario, it is legal for us to do so, but we only do it when we have ample, paved shoulders or we are travelling on roads with four or more lanes. We ride in single file when the shoulder isn't paved and we're on a busy, two-laned road.

We respect the rules of the road and other vehicles.

And yet, on every ride, there is at least one dipshit who feels he has to intimidate us or try to run us off the road.

Yes, there are bad cyclists, but they are not the norm. Just as there are bad drivers who are not the norm.

So, you have to ask yourself: if you're the type of driver who becomes enraged at the sight of a cyclist on the road, who sounds your horn as you pass them, who drives dangerously close, who purposely kicks up dirt, who screams for the cyclist to get off the road, who do you really think is the problem?

We all belong on the road. Let's share it.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Photo Friday: Summer Solstice Sunset

I have to admit that I was more than disappointed when the severe storm and tornado warnings came to nothing. I was sitting on my front porch, beer in hand—it was a saison called There's No Way of Knowing—waiting for something to happen.

The wind was strong, a couple of rain drops fell, but nothing that made me feel I should move indoors. Thunder rumbled in the distance as the sky grew dark from thickening clouds.

But nothing.

Disappointed, I grabbed my camera and hopped in the car. I drove north, where the storm seemed to be raging. I hit the Ottawa River Parkway and drove on wet roads, but the rain had already swept through this area. Looking north, into the Gatineau Hills, I could see that that was where the action was.

I was not going to drive that far.

With only 10 minutes to sunset, I realized that it was the summer solstice. The sun was fading on the longest day of the year. While the storm clouds had already promised to swallow the glowing ball of fire, its rays were reaching through.

I turned into the parking lot at Westboro Beach, carried my camera and tripod, and made my way to the shores of the Ottawa River.

The beach was nearly deserted, save for a few people with their smartphones and pocket cameras. A photographer with two swimsuit-clad models used a softbox to light up the beauties while the background outshone them all.

I missed the storm, would miss the full moon rising behind me: it, too, was obliterated by clouds. But the summer-solstice sunset still blazed away.



I didn't know what I'd find when I decided to head out with my camera, but that's the beauty of just getting out there.

There's no way of knowing. 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Poolside

It was the summer of '89.

Almost every weekend, I partied with my buddy, Andy, at his folks' house on March Road, north of Kanata, just before the turn in the road and the intersection of Dunrobin Road.

There were always people in the house, always guests staying over. I spent more weekends, drinking beer and singing along with Andy's brother-in-law, who strummed his acoustic guitar 'til the wee hours of the morning, than I spent at my own home. I shared a spare bed more weekends with my girlfriend's best friend than I did with my girlfriend, who was planting trees in Northern Ontario and then travelling throughout Europe.

The friend and I slept. That was all.

Behind the house was a large, above-ground pool, with a spacious cedar deck built around it. More beer, soaking in the sun or taking a dip. When the sun was out, that's where you could always find us.

Poolside.

It was a great summer.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sleep

I laughed aloud as she wired me up.

She was a petite woman of East Asian descent. Standing toward each other, she came below my chin. As I stood, arms stretched wide so that she could attach the monitors on straps around my chest, her arms seemed to hug me.

"Did I tickle you?" she asked.

"No," I said, "I just see the absurdity of it all. There's just no way that I'm going to sleep, tonight."

How could anybody with sleep problems get a good night's rest with electrodes glued to the scalp, with straps tightened around them, with wires up the pant legs? At home, a little bit of light seeping through the window and under the door, the glow of the electronic devices charging on night stands, distract me, make it hard to fall asleep. The tiniest of sounds stir me from light slumber.

I turn a lot in my sleep. It's like I'm on a rotisserie, laying first on my back, then on my right side, on to my stomach, over to my left side, and returning to my back. Over and over I turn, through the night, like I'm a hot dog, cooking on a heated, fast-food roller system.

The wires, I told the technician, are going to become wrapped around me until I find myself in an electric cocoon.

"It's okay," she assured me, "if it becomes a problem, I'll come in and fix you."

I feel pretty... oh so pretty...
Wired up, the technician helped me climb into the single bed. It was softer that my own. I turned down the top sheet, knowing that I would become overheated quickly. I'm a furnace. I lay on my back—my typical starting position. "This isn't going to work," I said.

"It's okay," repeated the technician.

She pointed out a lamp on the wall, asked me to turn it on. She turned off the overhead light and pointed out an intercom button. "If you need anything, press the button and I will come. If you want, you can read: when you feel tired and want to sleep, press the button and I will start the test."

She left me alone. I picked up the novel that I packed and began to read. All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. It's a great read, given to me for Christmas by one of my daughters because it's partially set in St. Malo, France, where we stayed one night on our vacation in 2014. The chapters are short, so I could easily read one and then gauge whether to continue through the next one or put the book down and turn in.

The technicians voice came through the intercom. "Hello, can you hear me?"

"Yes," I answered. She wanted to test the system.

Twenty minutes after, I figured it was about 10:00. I closed the book and pressed the intercom button, let the technician know that I was going to try to sleep. "Good night," she bid me. "Sweet dreams."

Yeah, right, I thought. I'm not going to sleep, let alone dream.

Typically, it takes about an hour for me to fall completely asleep. My head is full of thoughts. I hear things. The headlights from a car that has rolled past our house pans the room. The nerves in my feet and legs twitch as the weight of the sheets press on them.

With the lights off in the room, there was only a dim light that indicated the intercom button. A video camera, high up in the corner of the room, was ringed with several red-glowing dots. Apart from some initial murmuring somewhere down the hall, the room was silent. I sank into the mattress and closed my eyes.

Within minutes, I was asleep.

I had faint memories of moving onto my right side. Attempting to roll onto my stomach, the wires provided some resistance, and so I moved the other way, back onto my back. Later, I moved onto my left side, and onto my back.

I remember no dreams. I rarely remember dreams, and at that, only the bad ones.

Typically, I wake up several times at night. This time, when I awoke and checked the time (my smartphone was face-down, next to the book), it was 5:30. The technician had told me that she would wake me at 6. I closed my eyes and drifted again.

The awakening was cold. The overhead lights went on and the technician moved quickly to help me sit up. She wasted no time in removing all of the wires, in freeing me of my restraints. She steadied me as I stood up and directed me to the washroom, where I could freshen up and comb out the glue from my hair.

It was the best sleep I had in a long, long time. I felt rested, truly rested, despite being limited in movement. Having avoided sleeping on my stomach, having kept my arms below my head, my shoulders didn't ache, my fingers weren't numb.

I learned a few things from the sleep study: I need a dark, quiet room. I need to find a way to limit my movement. I need to sleep alone.

Perhaps, I should finally build that guest room in the basement, and reserve it for nights when I need a good night sleep. Because, since I've had the test, I haven't slept like that night.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Best Day of the Year

I made Mother's Day happen for DW. My kids didn't, though I gave them many chances.

"Let me take you shopping," I said to them. That's a big deal, because I hate to shop, especially with my family. I feel like I'm being dragged from store to store, comparing many things, walking out with nothing.

When I shop alone, I already know what I want and know where to get it. I have an idea of how much I'm willing to spend, and if the item happens to be on sale, all the better. I'm in and out in minutes.

One of my daughters went away for that weekend. My other kid didn't know what to get her mother and wasn't willing to shop.

I knew what she wanted. She had been talking about adding a rack to the back of her bike, upon which she could attach panniers. I made a trip to The Cyclery, in Old Ottawa South, talked to the owner about the bike DW has and asked for his best recommendation. One rack: sold. He showed me three panniers, of varying quality and cost. I chose the middle one.

Sold.

In less than 10 minutes, I was out of the store.

On the way home, I picked up a Mother's Day card: not one that was from the kids, but from a husband to the mother of his kids. I picked up flowers, too.

On Mother's Day, the kids had nothing for their mother. The one who went away was dropped off from her weekend out at the restaurant where we dined with my mom. The other one didn't even wish her mother well until I asked her about it.

It didn't bode well for them.

More to the point, it didn't bode well for the coming Father's Day.

I didn't expect much. When I awoke, my foot was still bothering me and I skipped a planned group bicycle ride. DW packed up and went without me, and I decided to sleep in.

When I awoke, I heard the girls in the family room, watching TV. I came down with a book that I've been wanting to read and I said that it would be nice if someone made me a cappuccino and brought it to me on our front steps, where I would be reading.

My youngest brought it. It was delicious.


My eldest daughter asked me what I'd like for breakfast. I told her and then she disappeared back into the house. DW returned from her ride and after talking to the girls, headed out again to get some groceries.

It seems that my request didn't match what we had in the pantry.

When it was ready, it was worth the wait: my breakfast bagel had a perfectly fried egg and crispy bacon, with old cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and a dash of hot sauce. A side of pineapple complemented the dish.


In the afternoon, we headed to Lansdowne, where we enjoyed some pints and appetizers with my folks before wandering the grounds (my parents hadn't been to Lansdowne since the redevelopment).

My girls, though engaged in the occasional sibling spat, snuggled up to me for what seems like an annual photo.


The day followed with a trip to my father-in-law's place, where DW and the girls played games with him while I mowed his lawn. A small gift for his day, but he appreciated it.

At home, I had gifts waiting for me, chosen by my daughters and paid for by DW. Because a minor can't even touch alcohol bottles in the LCBO, my youngest, who likes beer and knows her father's taste, pointed out three bottles for her mom to pick up.

She really knows her dad: the beer was spot-on. Two, I hadn't tried before but wanted; a third, much enjoyed.


A final gift was a pair of Bluetooth headphones.


Steak for dinner.

Game of Thrones.

And then the girls were off to bed, showing me that they put a lot of thought into the day and made their dad feel special.

I win, Mom.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pride and Privilege

I'm privileged.

I'm a straight, white man, born and bred in North America. I'm well-educated, well-travelled, well-read. I have no religious affiliations. A have a well-paying job, a house, two cars, a spouse, and healthy children.

I am truly fortunate.

I have never known fear, intimidation, and hate over the colour of my skin, my sexual orientation, my culture, my religious belief, my gender.

As news about the shooter in the Orlando nightclub massacre is gathered and evolves, we are seeing a picture of a troubled individual, Omar Mateen, who may or may not have committed this heinous offence because he was conflicted over his sexual orientation. If this is the case, there are more reasons to be outraged over what happened.

It's bad enough that he may have gone on a murderous rampage over his homophobia. There's enough hate in the world, already, over trivial matters and differences of opinion. But love is love is love. If too people love and care for one another, what does it matter what gender is involved? I would much rather see two people displaying compassion and affection for one another than two people fighting.

Love will always be stronger than hate.

If Mateen was, indeed, coming to terms with his homosexuality, I feel that what he did was far worse. He attacked the very community that would be understanding of his situation. Many in his shoes have worried about coming out, have fretted over how it would affect their family, their friendships, their jobs. I have friends who have grappled with coming out, were unsure whether the declaration would alienate them.

Mateen went into a place where he would have been welcomed, would have been able to feel safe, and in that place he mercilessly slaughtered scores of innocent people.

Was he afraid of how his father would have acted to the discovery that his son was gay? If you've heard about his father's reaction to his son's actions, you already know his thoughts on homosexuality: "God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality."

I'm not going to get into discussing Trump's mindless responses to this tragedy nor to America's stupidity over lax gun laws. I don't think that this attack was a terrorist act—Mateen's pledge to ISIS was a deflective statement, I think.

No, I want to say that as a privileged person, I will never know what it's like to be singled out by racism or homophobia. All I can do is speak out against it.

Actually, I want to do more than simply speak out: I want to take action.

I'm a person who believes in peace, goodwill to others, and accepting people, no matter their background and no matter whether it differs from mine.

I want to show my solidarity with the community that was targeted in this senseless attack. And so, this August 21, I plan to march in the Capital Pride Parade. It's a small gesture, but if enough people make small gestures, the net change can be huge.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Staying Down

Just one day after the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour, my knee is just a little sore but my left foot is in a bad way. The top of the foot often clicks when I walk, as bone grinds upon bone, but now the sound is steady and louder. I'm on a steady diet of Tylenol and Advil, to dull the pain and ease the swelling.

This is my new reality, until I have surgery to correct the condition.

But just one day after my return ride from Kingston ended in Elgin, a couple of friends have offered their sympathy, congratulated me on what I managed to complete, and said that they'd see me next year.

No, you won't, was my response, unless I chose to volunteer.

I know that every year, after I finished riding the RLCT, whether I've completed the journey or not, I've said I'm not doing it again. And then I'd do it again.

But this time, I mean it. I'm staying down.

I'm reminded in that skit on The Kids In The Hall: the young tough kid, trying to pick a fight in a bar with someone who is way out of his league, getting the shit kicked out of him, but never giving up.

For four years, I've been that kid (Bruce McCulloch). Rideau Lakes has been the big guy. For three years, I tried to tackle it and have been knocked down or have not completed what I set out to do. In year for, after being pummeled yet again, I get it.

I'm staying down.

Don't know the skit? Here you go:


Monday, June 13, 2016

Done and Done

I'm cursed.

And Mother Nature is a bloody bitch.

Four attempts at completing the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour and four failures. Sure, last year I actually completed the full Century Tour, riding the 200 kilometres from Perth to Kingston, and back, but I had actually registered for the Classic Tour, the 350-km route from Ottawa to Kingston.

A fall and fractured wrist forced me to shorten my ride.

Year one, I made it from Ottawa to Kingston but didn't ride on the second day.

Year two, I made it from Ottawa to Kingston, but after 60 kilometres on the return trip, a problem with my left calf forced me to stop.

Last year, I succeeded in completing a route but it wasn't my chosen route.

This weekend's ride looked promising. I started training early: first, in spin classes at the gym, and as soon as the snow was gone and the roads were clear, I re-registered with the Ottawa Bicycle Club and joined as many group rides as I could make. I figure that because I started riding with the club earlier than last year and attended more events, I cycled about twice as many kilometres as I had done before last year's ride. (I even went to the gym when I couldn't make a group ride.)

Mother Nature had different plans for this weekend. And given the fabulous weather we had in the previous two years, we were due for a turn. But she hit us with headwinds on both Saturday and Sunday, and threw in rain for good measure.

I would rather cycle in the rain than in wind, and she gave us both.

Despite the foul weather on Saturday, we fought through the wind and survived the one hour of downpour. DW and I rode with some of the riders from a group ride with the OBC, and we took on Mother Nature's challenge with only one person choosing to fall behind, and she met up with us later in the evening.

We had good spirits, and I think that pissed off Mother Nature, because on Sunday, she kicked up the wind a good notch, dropped the temperature, and sprayed us every once and a while with rain.

To fight crosswind, we had to lean to the left, for fear of being blown onto the gravel shoulders. Were the wind to suddenly drop, we would have fallen into the road. The headwind forced us to ride in a tight pack, which helped, but after a while we all started losing energy and our group became broken.

Climbing steep hills with a strong headwind is most unpleasant, to say the least. And, to power through the climbs, I started to feel some strain on my right knee. Over the past couple of months, on some of our longer group rides and in some challenging spin classes, I would feel a bit of compression on my knee, but I would ease off and it would feel better.

That was harder to do when the wind was pushing against me.

To compensate, I would try to favour my left leg on climbs. Big mistake. My left foot, which has been diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease, which clicks and causes pain when I walk, could not handle the stress of fierce pedalling. About 40 kms into the ride, I could feel bone grinding on bone, and the pain increased.

I pressed on, to make it to Elgin, where I ended my ride. I caught a ride to Perth with one of the support vehicles while the rest of my group continued.

A second member dropped out a little later, at The Narrows locks, just 25K from Perth.

I love to cycle, but the moment it stops being fun, I'm done. I've learned that I can ride for 100K, but I can't really do it two days in a row.

So, I'm done. This was my last ride in the RLCT. I may volunteer to be support next year, but this was the last time that I'm riding it.

It's also my last time doing a really long ride. A couple of weeks ago, my OBC group and I rode an 80-km route, and I did well. But I don't think I'm going to go beyond that distance, and 100K is my maximum limit.         

I'm done with this long rides. But I'm not done with cycling.

Friday, June 10, 2016

An Open Letter to Dan Turner

Brock Turner and his father, Dan.
Mr. Turner,

I'm writing to you as one father to another, as a dad who knows what it's like to want to do anything to protect his kids.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but you are a failure as a father.

When we enter into parenthood, it is our duty to see that our children are healthy and well cared for, ensuring that they have adequate shelter and food, and are placed out of harm's reach. As they grow, we teach them the basic life skills that they need to thrive in our society: how to talk and communicate with others. How to take care of themselves, from simple hygiene to feeding themselves.

If we're a good parent, we'll pass on the golden rule: to treat other people the way we would want people to treat us. That includes not raping people.

I don't have any sons. I can't teach my kid that, when he goes out for a social evening, to treat people with kindness and courtesy. That, if he meets a woman, he is to treat her with dignity. "Go out and have a good night, Johnny. Have fun, meet people, make friends.

"Oh, and Johnny, if you meet a woman, don't rape her."

I have two daughters. I have to teach them that when they socialize, to watch their drinks, to look out for their girlfriends, to not be afraid to call me, at all hours, if they need to be picked up. To be careful with whoever they meet.

I can't protect them from everything, and for that, I'll worry whenever they're out late.

The facts in your sons case are clear: he was found sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster on Stanford College campus. And for that, he's been convicted.

You failed to teach your son that it's not okay to rape.

But that's not the only place where you failed.

We all make mistakes. We all fuck up. Not as badly as your son fucked up, but we all do something that isn't cool. I've always tried to teach my kids that no matter how badly we screw up, we have to take ownership for it, we have to try to make amends. If my kids ever mess up, I have told them that coming forward, that owning that mistake, and accepting responsibility is the most grown-up thing that they can ever do. And I will support them as they try to rectify any wrong that they make.

It's hard.

It's humiliating.

It's humbling.

But more than anything, it's the right thing to do.

Your son, Brock, won't even admit he's done something wrong. He admits to promiscuity under the influence of alcohol, which isn't even what he's being convicted of. Having sex while drunk isn't against the law. Rape is. And he's been found guilty on three counts.

But he's not taking ownership for it, not admitting fault, not trying to make amends.

You have failed to teach him the importance of responsibility.

On top of these failures, you yourself have proven to be a bad father in making a public statement, in which you say that his meager six months of imprisonment is unfair, that he has suffered enough already for his "20 minutes of action."

"A steep price to pay," you say.

You fucking asshole.

He raped a woman. He took advantage of an unconscious person. And you're worried that he has lost his appetite over this? That he no longer enjoys a steak or doesn't sneak your chips?

You fucking asshole.

You're a failure as a father for not teaching your son to not rape women.

You're a failure as a father for not teaching your son to accept responsibility for his actions.

You're a failure as a father for thinking that an inadequate sentence term is harsh.

Your son's story is a lesson for my daughters. They can see how a person who seems respectable and trustworthy on the outside—an athlete with Olympic aspirations—can be a loathsome monster who can't be trusted with his actions or trusted to own up to them.

And you're a model for what is bad in parenthood.

I can only hope that my daughters will never encounter a person such as your son. But, if they do, I hope that son wasn't raised by a father like you.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Reconciliation

I met Tracey Braun about four or five years ago, at a craft-beer festival, and I have always appreciated her love of good-quality beer. This weekend, when she correctly figured out the correct location of this month's Where In Ottawa, I knew that she and I also shared a love of our city.

The location of this month's photo challenge is  monument to our peacekeeping forces, called Reconciliation.

Congratulations, my friend.


Here are the clues, explained:
  1. Three On Watch—the monument, at the crossroads of Sussex Drive, St. Patrick Street, Murray Street, and Mackenzie Avenue, where the National Gallery, the American embassy, Major's Hill Park, and the Byward Market surround it, is a block structure upon which three peacekeepers stand or crouch, as though they are looking out onto their surroundings. Keeping watch, as it were.
  2. All we are saying...—is give peace a chance, as the song goes. As Lester B. Pearson said, in his 1956 speech about Canadian peacekeepers, "We need action not only to end the fighting but to make the peace."
  3. A place of Reconciliation—need I say more?
Nice work, Tracey. You claim bragging rights for this month.

The next Where In Ottawa will be... ?

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