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What’s So Bad About the Number Four, and Other Oddities

My apologies for the continued lengthy absences between posts, but I’ve been busy doing nothing and waiting for it to flippin’ warm up in Toronto.  Also, I like to keep you guys waiting with bated breath.  Seriously, though — how can I have any Canadian adventures when it’s already June 9 and only 18C/63F outside?!  I trust that all of you “pahtay people” have bePlain 012en busy either a) trying to warm up like me or b) searing your brains in the heat and humidity, and therefore *also* do not have any adventures to report. 😉  Of course, if you do, do me a favour and just keep them to yourself, k?  It makes me feel heaps better thinking I’m not the only one sitting at home watching 30 Rock reruns and watching the sailboats go by.  A-hem.

As some of you know, I recently moved house in Toronto  — literally around the corner and 11 stories up. Because I have so much more time in the elevator now that I’m on a higher floor — you know, like seven more seconds —  I have been able to really soak in the juicy details of my building’s elevator cars.  And I noticed a really odd thing about them: there are no floors with the number “four”.  No four, no fourteen, no twenty- four, no thirty-four. 

We all know the taboo sacred power associated with the number 13.  The reason I know about this number goodness is because I was born on the 13th and turned 13 on Friday the 13th, so it just happens to be my lucky number.  It can’t be all bad, though — it’s a lucky number in tattoo culture and a lucky number for the Mexican Mafia.  So, of course, it must mean something.  😉

But I digress.  When I noticed that my building had floors with three’s (without a 13th floor, naturally), but no four’s, I became Summer Weekend in the City 001concerned.  Had I somehow missed this number’s superstition?  Should I have been avoiding floors with fours all this time?  I mean, isn’t a “four-leafed clover” supposed to be a lucky thing?    I just don’t get it.  I ride the elevators every day, of course, and every day I just shake my head in utter confusion. 

Last weekend, I was tooling around town in the Zipcar I’d rented with my gobs of disposable income (!) and because I really, really, really wanted to become an advertiser for Goodlife Fitness and the Toronto Marathon for the weekend (!), and passed this billboard on Lawrence near Victoria Park.  I did a double take and zipped myself around (heh) so I could take its photo. 

Who in their right mind would vote “NO” to excitement?!!  And even if you wanted to, why would you pay to advertise it?!  Once again, colour me confused.  I wondered if it was one of those coy little advertising campaigns that tease you mercilessly until they finally reveal all of their marketing genius.  (Bonus points if you can figure out the brand without looking at the brand name at the top – heh!)  Considering the paper was peeling off of this particular billboard, though, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the coy little advertising ploy is not in play here.  Weird.Summer Weekend in the City 019

The last odd thing I saw this weekend was also automobile related.  I pulled into a parking garage in Liberty Village and saw these most bizarre vehicles with license plates that said “S Cargo7”, as in “escargot”.  (I know…I didn’t need to say it).  There were about seven of them in different colours lined up in a row.  Was it a truck?  Was it a car?  Was it a plane?!  I’d never seen anything like them and they instantly made me think of the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi — sort of oddly spaced, stretched and distorted into places where the human brain doesn’t normally go!

Happy Summer, everyone!

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Something Akin to Writer’s Block

Sadly, it’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything to my blog.  Let’s just chalk up my absence to serious suffering from something related to writer’s block.  You know, like when you stare at your blinking cursor for two hours, fiddling with fonts and suchlike, and rewriting the same paragraph over and over again ten times in a row?  Regardless of how I try to arrange and rearrange the predicates, I still find myself giving my paragraphs the same disapproving look I typically reserve for people who have cars hoisted up on cement blocks in their front yard.

Sigh.

I’ll be back soon, but in the meantime, a present before I go.  Even when I’m not writing here, my musings on my Twitter stream are a direct reflection of whatever “interesting drivel” happens to be ruminating around in my noggin.   Today, it happens to be the lasting effect of Conjunction Junction , and other School House Rocks shorts, in the “is Twitter (or the world in fewer than 140-characters) making us stupid” universe and why I have yet to incorporate the German word “Backpfeifengesicht” (and other cool foreign words) into my vocabulary. 

Just some food for thought.  Well, my own food for thought, anyway.

You can thank me later. 🙂

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Thus Endeth My Life as a Poutine Virgin. And Not So Happily, I Might Add.

I tried poutine for the first time on Friday. Total and utter letdown. Granted, I had it at Swiss Chalet, the Boston Market equivalent in Canada, but still. This giant failure is analogous to someone ordering a taco at Taco Bell that doesn’t taste remotely like an actual taco.  And, as you know, I’m usually into food porn, but the dish was so foul tasting that I couldn’t even bring myself to take its photo. Also, because I was with my new boss.

What is poutine, you ask? Poutine is a French Canadian snack that, at its basic, is made with french fries (nom!), gravy and cheese curds. It’s sort of like chili-cheese fries in the States, but not so much. The word means “mushy mess” in Acadian slang and was created in 1957 in Warwick, Québec. According to the people in the know, the french fries should be hand-cut and fried in pure lard, the gravy (also known as “BBQ chicken gravy”) should be dark and thick like molasses, and the cheese curds (apparently the most important part of the dish) should be only fresh, white, cheddar cheese curds. A veritable heart attack waiting to happen, nón?

I’ve been to both Montréal and Québec City — the epicenters of French Canadian cuisine — but failed to try poutine in either city. I’m usually the über-tourist, trying every local thing I can get my hands (and mouth) on, but for whatever reason, I didn’t try the gooey dish in either place.  I’ll just have to go back.

I have heard so much about poutine in my almost two years in Canada that my expectations may have been impossibly high. So far, though, I’m disappointed. Swiss Chalet poutine = Fail!

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I love that people still use pay phones

Especially underground.

Old skool.

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Happy Demisemiseptcentennial, Toronto!

Photo courtesy of peo pea on Flickr

Why, Toronto, you don’t look a day over 174…

On March 6, 2009, the fair city of Toronto marks its 175th birthday! I realize that in the grand scheme of things, that’s not very old; some cities have been around for millenia. For North Amercia, though, 175 is pretty old!

When Toronto was incorporated as a city in 1834, there were fewer than 10,000 people living in the town of York– mostly white and British — and Queen Street was considered the city’s northern boundary. Apparently, singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” was a hangable offense in those days, too (my, how things haven’t changed – grin). Today, there are 2.7 million citizens in Toronto proper and over six million people living in the Greater Toronto Area.

A quick reflection on this feat includes 175 years of growth and change: from the nickname “Muddy York”, so named because of its unpaved, swampy streets; to “Toronto the Good” (my personal fave) named for the city’s reputation as a stern Protestant outpost in a young country; to “Hogtown”, “Hollywood North” (no, Vancouver, that isn’t you), “T.O.”, “T.dot” and after amalgamation, the “Megacity”.

Toronto is now Canada’s largest and most diverse city. Over 100 languages are spoken on the city streets. It is the economic engine of the country and one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the world. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, i.e. a subway that actually goes somewhere, real automated banking machines, and more 24 hour restaurants, thank you very much. But overall, Toronto has a true grit and an undying spirit that makes it, I think, one of the best places on the planet.

And now, I give you 175 reasons to love Toronto, courtesy of the Toronto Star. I could likely come up with 175 more. Scratch that. I could likely come up with 1,075 more.

Happy Birthday, Toronto! I love you.

Also, please warm up.

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For Once, A Proper *Rant* About Canada

As you all know, I have a major crush on Canada. I just couldn’t love it any darn more. I am seriously considering chaining myself to the Canadian flag pole at the border on March 31, 2010. The RCMP‘s are going to have to push me across, I swear.

However. Because I am not a citizen or permanent resident of this fair country, I can’t seem to get a credit card. I have been a homeowner for six years. I have had credit cards in my name since I was 16 years old (so, like, five years ago). Granted, in the States. The Canadian banks, however, consider me to have zero credit history and therefore, will not lend me any money. The banker I was dealing with actually told me that they don’t lend to people who only have work permit status, because they “might just pick up and leave the country without paying their debts”. Right. Because everyone can just pick up and LEAVE THEIR JOBS!

Look, I totally grok what they’re saying, but at least check my US credit history. I have an income after all. Give me some kind of benefit of the doubt. Something.

Don’t worry, Canada. We’re just on a small break — it’s not permanent. And, I hope you know that despite this small setback, I still love you. It’ll all get better…once you give me some damn credit!

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Lucky for you guys, My Canadian Adventures will live on for another year. I officially leased out my condo in Houston today, so I (very happily) get to stay in T.O. – yahoo!

Canada, get ready for another 13 months of adventures with a Texas girl who has a giant crush on you (swoon)!

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