Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dinner with a Friend

One of my friends from Carter Manor hasn't been feeling well lately. Over our past few visits to the boarding home he hasn't been there. It was a bit concerning for me because I considered him one of the more well adjusted guys there. Now he's receiving treatment at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Queen Street.

When he was staying at the boarding home I would sometimes communicate with him by e-mail. But I heard he wrecked his computer and I didn't know if he had access to one where he was staying. Still I dropped him a line saying to call me if he received my message and hoped for the best. A week or two later I got a reply.

He mentioned that he's been hearing voices in his head for many years and that they've made his life a constant struggle. He's hurting and is scared and is worried it will never end. This concerned me, so I thought I'd see if he wanted to meet up for dinner.

We arranged to meet up on Saturday. He picked a small burger joint across the street from the hospital. When I met him at 5:00 he mentioned the staff told him he only had half an hour. He told me that when he asked them before, they said he could have an hour. We took an hour.

It was good seeing him again. Our topic of conversation varied from what was bothering him and what he had been up to to what I'd been up to recently. To tell you the truth even having an hour to eat felt rushed. We couldn't really relax and chill out very easily. It was a struggle to stuff my burger and poutine down before he had to go back.

Anyway, next time I'd like to try and spend a little more time out. I know he enjoyed the time we spent together. So that was good to see.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Seaton Hiking Trail

My  friend Justin and I went for a short hike on Friday. As usual I had the day off and was perusing Facebook when he PM'd me. So I drove over to his place and we hopped into his convertible and headed to the Seaton Hiking Trail in Pickering.

The Seaton Hiking Trail runs 13 kilometres from Rossland Road in the south to Highway 7 in the north. Justin discovered it while driving out there one day.

It was 1:20 in the afternoon when we got there. Instead of starting at one end of the trail or the other, we started at Whitevale Park a bit north of the middle. There's a small parking lot there off Whitevale Road, east of the Scarborough-Pickering Townline.

From the parking lot we crossed the bridge over the West Duffins Creek and headed north. The trail is quite well marked making it hard to get lost. There were a number of side trails you could take. But, as long as you made your way back to the main trail, you'd be fine.

In total we were out for two hours. We didn't actually go that far turning around at Highway 407, about 2.5 kilometres from our starting point. Of course we brought our cameras, so that slowed our pace somewhat.

Even though the trees were bare of leaves it still was good to get out for one last walk before the weather turned blustery. That day we were blessed with blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures of 15C+. So nice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Remembrance Day, 2016

Remembrance Day fell on a Friday this year. Since I have Fridays off I decided to go downtown to see the Remembrance Day ceremony.

In the past I had attended both the one at Queen's Park and the one at Old City Hall. This year I thought I'd go back there. But, due to time constraints (the fact that I left home late), I  ended up back at Queen's Park (which is a little closer).

It was pretty busy when I arrived. There was a sizeable crowd gathered on the front lawn where the ceremony is normally held. As you can see from the photo, it was a sunny day with white clouds dotting the bright, blue sky.

The emcee was a Francophone military woman. There were a number of dignitaries there including Premier Wynne who had just come from an earlier engagement at Sunnybrook Hospital speaking to the veterans there.

They had some musical performances and speeches were given by indigenous leaders and military personnel. They gave the audience insight into the sacrifices that were made both in the past and in current times.

It was a good time to reflect on what they've done to protect our freedoms as well as show our appreciation.

Afterwards I stopped by the Manulife Building on Bloor across from St. Paul's church to see their display of over 11,800 flags on their front lawn. The employees there put them up in honour of the military personnel killed in both wartime and peacekeeping missions. Each flag represents 10 fallen soldiers.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Gee... thanks, America.

Thanks, America. You're absolutely wonderful. In your great wisdom you just elected a racist, misogynist, xenophobe as your next leader. This con man hasn't paid taxes in years, lost nearly a billion dollars in business dealings in the past and refuses to pay people who've done an honest day's work for him.

The Great Orange One makes up his own words, doesn't believe in climate change (even though the vast majority of scientists say so) and mocks the parents of dead American soldiers, the disabled and anyone else who doesn't share his point of view.

This reflects poorly on you not only because of your total lack of better judgement, but also because this man most likely mirrors your own belief systems. And that, sadly, is even worse (if anything could be worse).

Now we (the rest world) have to deal with the fallout. Because whenever your big ass moves it causes ripples that can be felt continents away. Not only are you setting yourselves back decades, the rest of us are caught in your wake.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Shooting Range

My  friend sent out a message on WhatsApp on Saturday afternoon asking if anyone was interested in going to the gun range to shoot handguns. His club had an open house and members were allowed to bring guests.

Now I have to say, I'm quite the anti-gun person, but I'm also kind of curious about new things. So, even though I was a bit hesitant, I thought I'd go see what it was all about.

When I went over to his house he gave me a some pointers, few of which I remember. All I know is when you're holding the gun don't put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot; and when you're not using your gun set it on the table with the magazine out, and point it down range. Always point the gun down range.

The shooting range was outdoors. When he messaged about it I had assumed it was indoors. So that was kind of different. It's located way up in East Gwillimbury, off the 404, north of Green Lane on Kennedy Road.

It's pretty basic, there are no facilities there. If you have to go pee there's either a porta-potty or an outhouse. Not sure which since I didn't have to go.

There's a shed for storage and a covered area where you shoot from. As well there are some picnic tables for people to chill out on in between shooting sessions. On this day, the open house, they were adorned with doughnuts and coffee for the guests. Mmm.

The place was busy since it was open house. The grassy area they used for parking was pretty much full. There were quite a few young people there too. I was a little surprised at that, but they were well supervised.

It was a little surreal walking up and hearing gunfire and seeing people shooting (this being Canada where there are relatively few guns). I wasn't used to that.

People had a variety of guns. The younger people (teenage and younger) were using smaller calibre guns (I'm assuming). So they weren't as loud as the other ones.

My friend had his own ear protection and safety glasses. I borrowed a pair from the club out of the shed. Even though the ear muffs squeezed my head like a vice, they worked well dampening the sound.

When our turn came up we were assigned a lane (number 6 out of 10 or so) by the range officer. He oversees all the people shooting to make sure they do things safely.

Upon his command everyone went down the range (25 metres away) and stapled up their targets. Then they returned to the shooting area and prepared to shoot.

Since it was my first time holding a gun and shooting my friend borrowed a .22 calibre pistol from the club. His .22 was at the gunsmith's and his other handgun, a .45, was too powerful.

He gave me a short tutorial about the gun and how to put the magazine into the gun and pull the slide back to get it ready to fire. I let him load the magazine with bullets though. We were supposed to put only 5 bullets each into two magazines.

I shot two sessions. The gun had been used the whole day and was a bit dirty, so it jammed a number of times. No big deal. I had to manually push the slide closed a few times so it would fire.

It was harder to hold my hands steady when firing than I imagined. Still, I did quite well according to my friend, hitting the target close to the centre many times.

The gun wasn't too hard to use since it was small calibre. The recoil was quite manageable and it wasn't too loud. So that was nice.

When my friend took his turn his .45 really kicked. And it was loud! Loud! Too loud as far as I was concerned. I don't think I would have liked using it. I did shoot one bullet just to see what it was like, but I can't say I was a big fan.

Overall, I enjoyed myself. The people were nice and the doughnuts were tasty. It was interesting giving shooting a try. I don't know if I'd go regularly. Once in awhile might be okay though.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Badminton and Dinner

On  Saturday Daphne, Gabe and I played badminton together. Daphne rented a court at the club she's with for an hour. It was mostly Gabe and I who played though. Daphne only joined us for 15-20 minutes. The rest of the time Gabe and I punished each other by making one another run back and forth endlessly across the court chasing birds.

Afterwards we grabbed dinner at the nearby Kung-fu Chop Chop. We ordered from their Chef's Special Dishes menu - 3 dishes for $26.95 with steamed rice and soup. The dishes we had were the Eggplant with garlic sauce and minced pork, Cantonese-style pork chop and Spicy pepper Chicken. My favourites were the eggplant and pork chop.

And, as if that wasn't enough, we headed down to Times Square afterwards for dessert. I don't remember what the others had, but I had a sweet Walnut soup. It's something I've had before in the past. It's tasty.

After all that exercise we packed the calories back in with dinner and dessert. Oh well.