Hey, it’s WTF Friday!


It’s finally Friday!  Yay.  A long week which saw me pick up a nasty bug from either one of my kids or from a client then a 4:15am bedtime followed by a 2:30am bedtime the following night.  I was, of course, in the kitchen by 6:45am both mornings – as always if I’m not running (or I’d be up at 5:30am) to get the kids breakfasts and lunches ready.

I feel like today my brain turned back on, and I had a little jump back in my step (and was keeping all my food down!)

But enough about me…

It’s WTF Friday!  That means I get to talk to about shit on my mind in this NSFW post, like;

1) If NASA can put a fucking camera on a comet, and the damn thing Tweets, why do I spend so much time and get so frustrated having to unwind my headset each and every time I try to use it!  Maybe Apple should task NASA with finding a solution.

2) Is it considered “getting help” if I take the advice of the fortune in a fortune cookie?  I want to write those!  It would be fun.  Instead of cryptic texts with random “lucky” numbers, mine would be encouraging, positive and shaming at the same time.

“If you clean your room you might get screen time.”

“Your parents really do know what’s best for you.”

“Stop annoying your brother / sister.  One day they’ll be bigger than you and kick your ass.”

“If you see brown on the floor.  Pick it up, but smell it first.  That chocolate chip might be poo.”

3) Anyone else notice that the idiot drivers who are regularly driving 20km/h under the speed limit never stop at stop signs.  Why break only one traffic violation when you can break them all.

4) Is it too much to expect the elected officials in this city to turn on their brains – think outside the box and see that the city needs more dedicated left-turn and right-turn / bus lanes.  So when a new development wants to build 10 stories on a corner and the official plan allows for 6 stories instead of giving in the planners need to start conceding height but making the developer cut back the size of the property to allow for the road to be made wider, and then they get to go higher.  City wins, developer wins, residents win.

5) Speaking of developments… Anyone here in Toronto try driving on Eglinton Avenue anywhere where the LRT / subway is being “constructed”?  If so, I feel bad for you.  It’s been an absolute nightmare getting out to Eglinton near Allen Road because the exits to Eglinton are blocked / closed / one way, and with all the cars getting off of Eglinton and using the side streets, it makes for an interesting 5 or 6 more years.  GAG.

6) Did I mention that my coffee maker died?  The lights were on but nobody was home.  Turns out the heating fuse burned out.  Not bad after 10-years and for $19.99 from Canadian Tire.  But this crushed me!  I really wanted a Keurig or a Tassimo but I promised my wife I would win one, or be given one because she knows that the second I get one it’ll be all coffee, all the time!  In the interim, I’ve been using my French press and borrowed one from my sister.

7)  The day after my coffee maker died, my all-in-one desktop computer started smoking and died.  I’ve been a little gun-shy since.

So there is my bitching for the end of a Friday.

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere


It’s Sunday morning and I have 2 of my 3 kids at home.  My middle child was taken to the SkyZone Indoor Trampoline Park for an hour of jumping and bouncing excitement, and since he’s the one who plays school with our youngest, it means I have to find a way to convince my 9-year-old to do his homework and my 4-year-old to let him do his homework.

After some “discussions” or really “negotiations” my 9-year-old has finished his math homework for Spirit of Math and my 4-year-old has gone from playing with her toys, to sitting on me, to practicing piano and now to wandering the house looking lost.

At one point she sat beside me while I was typing and she was staring at the side of my head.

“Hi, what can I do for you?” I asked.

“You’re so Cool!” she replied.  “You’re so cool, I can’t stop staring at you!”.

With that I have taken her to the basement to free her toys from the fort under the stairs, and set her off to set up her own area where she can play and have fun by herself while her brother and I dig into his social studies homework.

Anyone remember the dog from the TV show Frasier?

We’re Rooting For Pluto To Be Elevated Back To Planet Status!


It was just eight years ago (2006) when the planet Pluto – discovered in 1930 –  was unceremoniously relegated to dwarf planet status by the International Astronomical Union.

News comes today, that the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysicists is lobbying hard for Pluto to become a planet again based on the fact that by placing the word “dwarf” in front of the “planet” does not mean that Pluto is not a planet.  It is a planet, just a smaller one.

Yes, if Pluto is relegated back to planet status, there are other, newly discovered masses which would qualify for potential planet status, such as Triton or Eris or 50000 Quaoar or 90377 Sedna.

The best line I read on this topic (I will find the source and cite it!) read: “And what does Pluto make of all this? Pluto is a massive clump of rock and ice trapped in a lonely silent orbit through the dark recesses of space several billion miles away from Earth. As such, it could not be reached for comment.”

Welcome back to the solar system, Pluto. We’ve missed you and some of us under the age of 8 have never met you!.

Unfortunately, my daughter will no longer be able to sing The Planet Song;

“Planets, planets, they’re so great.

Did you know that there are 8.

Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

Lots of planets. Lots of stars.

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus too.

Then comes Neptune and we’re through.”

A Better Way To Teach Children The Alphabet: The Gamers Alphabet. Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!…


A better way to teach your children the alphabet!

The name of this book is “Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer’s Alphabet”, yet I preferred to reverse part of it in the title so that it read “A Gamer’s Alphabet: Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!…”  I felt the parent who knows a thing or two about video games would catch on much quicker that this book is a great new way to teach your child(ren) the alphabet while also teaching them a thing or two about the $75 billion dollar industry that is video games (Worldwide figure – only $24 billion in North America).

As well, how many times can we tell our kids that A is for Apple and B is for Banana and C is for Capitulate (meaning to surrender under agreed conditions, AND a SAT word, no less), etc.  We’ve got to expand our children’s knowledge beyond the traditional ABC’s, and here is how!

The author, Chris Barton and artist Joey Spiotto put together a vividly illustrated guide-book packed with lucid definitions that even the most video game challenged reader can understand. Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!: A Gamer’s Alphabet is the ultimate guide for players, non-players, and aficionados.  It is colourful, informative and an “entertaining visual history and a glossary of gaming”.

The book provides a solid understanding of terms that have made their way into everyday language, from “RPG” (Role Playing Game) to “mod” (Where a modification is made to the hardware or software of a game that the developer of the game had not intended).  Kids learn, and parents learn.

With lessons in modern vernacular and allusions to games every parent remembers, this book intermingles education with nostalgia for a compelling read at any age.

I have a copy and I think you should get one as well.  Pretty pictures.  Great information, and my kids love it (actually I think one of them has it right now…)
 AttackBoss2
Here is some information on the author and on the illustrator;

Chris Barton is the author of the New York Times bestseller Shark Vs. Train and the Sibert Honor-winning book, The Day-Glo Brothers. In addition to those picture books, he is the author of Can I see Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities, a young adult nonfiction thriller. His upcoming books for young readers include The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, Pioneers & Pirouettes: The Story of the First American Nutcracker, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Stream of Ideas. Chris lives in Austin, Texas. For more information, check out: www.chrisbarton.info.

Joey “Joe-bot” Spiotto has worked as a concept artist on video games such as “Dead Space” and “The Sims.” He frequently creates for Warner Brothers, Electronic Arts, Telltale Games, Gazillion, and many more. His tee shirts sell on Teefury.com, and his work is shown in the high-profile Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. “Joe-bot” has been featured in The A.V. Club, Paste, Kotaku, and many other prestigious magazines. He lives in Southern California. To read more about Joey, visit: http://jo3bot.com.

What’s Up With The Random Posts? A Family Vacation, Of Course!


I’ll tell you what’s up with the random posts that came infrequently to The Urban Daddy during the month of August.

VACATION!

I had a bunch of posts in my draft folder, and I scheduled them to come out while we were away on vacation.  Unfortunately, I still have about 77 more of them to get through…

As for the vacation, all 5 of us filled our backpacks up and headed out for a 19-day adventure which saw us leave Toronto and arrive in Iceland, then on to The Netherlands, Belgium and Paris, France before heading back to Toronto via Iceland. The trip was fantastic, the kids were amazing and my wife is the world’s best travel planner. Seriously.  She did not miss a single detail and I learned how to plan a vacation right down to places to eat, foods to buy, where to buy them and what souvenirs to seek out.  She’s amazing at this.

Without getting into too much detail about the trip, I can say that we loved Iceland a lot!  We rented a car, drove the Golden Circle and embraced the culture as much as we could. Icelandic people are beautiful and friendly and food is expensive, unique and tasty!

We saw waterfalls – especially the incredible Gulfoss waterfall – geysirs, hot springs and every now and then the sun would set so the kids could fall asleep.  Instead of going to the Blue Lagoon, we went to a small hot spring at the base of a mountain, just past a church and peeled off our clothes, changed into bathing suits and hopped in with a couple from Denmark.  It was very hot and very bubbly, like nothing we had ever seen before, and getting out of the water into the very cool air, we barely noticed the cold as we changed back into our clothes and walked back to the car.

We swam at night in the public pool near our rented house with the locals and warmed up in the hot pools where temperatures ranged from 37 degrees to 44 degrees.  On the food side, we all tried the famous Icelandic hot dog (only I liked them) and Boo and myself were the only brave ones to try eating whale (which I thought was delicious and a bit gamey) but she did not like at all (insert face here).  Stewie and I walked down to the bottom of the Kerið volcanic crater lake to touch the very cold blue-green water and to see there was a park bench in the water for people to sit on.  I guess volcanos, lava and waterfalls are common for the locals.  :)

From Iceland we flew to The Netherlands and spent 5 days in and around Amsterdam taking in the sites and sounds of this beautiful country packed with tourists.  We toured the Jordaan district, the Jewish district (my wife and eldest son visited Anne Frank’s house) while me and the other 2 explored our neighbourhood.  We took a day trip to beautiful Zaanse Schans to see and tour the windmills and we visited the medieval town of Bruges.

From our apartment backing onto the Vondelpark, we were close enough to pretty much everything we wanted to see, and in those 5 days, we mastered pretty much every possible method of transportation there except cycling – and we managed to not get run over or step in front of a bike on the dedicated bike paths. We took an all you can eat (Dutch) pancake boat ride plus a canal cruise, and we lucked into being there for the Pride parade on the water, which was packed and a lot of fun.

From the Netherlands, we took the train to Brussels for 5 fun days spent eating Belgium waffles, frites, chocolates and drinking the wonderful fruity beers (less than 3% alcohol).

Our apartment was close to the incredible Grand Place and we walked by the Manneqin Pis a couple of times to see what he little guy was wearing.   We visited the comic book museum, saw the Smurfs, Tin Tin and Asterix and Oblix and had a nice meal out with the kids where I had, mussels, of course (I kept thinking about the Muscles from Brussels – Jean Clause Van Dam’s line from some movie where he said “How does it feel to be hunted!!”

I was disappointed with Brussels, but once I got past the site and smells of urine, vomit and litter, an insane non-functional transit system and a ton of graffiti on buildings and statues from the 1600′s, I realized how much Brussels had to offer if it could get it’s act in gear.

We took days trips to Bruges, the medieval town of Ghent and we found these areas to be beautiful and awesome for the kids.

From Brussels we took the high-speed train to Paris where we stayed in the Marais quarter for just under a week.  Having spent 5-weeks in France for our honeymoon, we had high hopes for our time in Paris, hoping to show the kids the must-see sites.  We saw, but did not go up the Eiffel Tower, we did walk up the Arc De Triomphe, walked the Champs-Elysées in the rain, visited the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and stood in the middle of Paris.  We ate crepes, the kids played with boats in the Jardin du Luxembourg a we took a boat tour on the Seine.

We searched high and low for Berthillon ice cream (luxury ice cream and sorbet) only to find it closed in the month of August?!?  Actually a lot of things were closed in August, and on August 15th the Assumption long weekend, there was very little open outside of the major tourist areas.

The weather in Paris was average and fluctuated between cold and rainy and hot and sunny which meant my backpack carried sweaters and umbrellas every day, plus snacks and water to keep the kids moving.  We made the most of the weather, jumping into the Pompidou Centre and the Orsay Gallery when it rained, and walking around the streets when it was nice outside.

My wife managed to get a babysitter for one night in Paris so her and I went out for a lovely dinner and a stroll towards the Eiffel Tower until it started to rain and we realized that after 11pm we were getting tired, so we headed back on the Metro to our rented apartment.  Getting away from the children was a much-needed break – if even for 4 hours – and the adult conversation was much appreciated.

On our last day we took the Metro to the airport, flew back to Reykjavik, then after a 2 hour layover, headed back home to TO.

The trip was awesome, the kids were fantastic, and neither my wife nor myself thought there was a chance that our 4-year-old daughter was going to be able to walk as much as we walked over 19 days, up and down stairs, in and out of museums, and without needing to be carried, but she surprised us all.  She was awesome!  She even learned words in Icelandic, Dutch and French.

We all came out of this vacation closer as a family, with a greater appreciation of what we have and thinner from all the exercise.

With school around the corner, I hope my kids will be able to recall some of what they saw and share with their teachers and their classmates.  I can say that one week after our trip, my oldest son is watching the volcanic activity in Iceland, while my middle child has been working on a Powerpoint presentation with his pictures in it.

The break from work and school was great but it’s back to the grind come September.