August 24, 2004

OK, I know I said on my MSN name on Sunday that I would post tomorrow (i.e., Monday) and today is really quite a while into Tuesday. Plus I told Jehan earlier that I would likely blog "sometime this afternoon". Let's just say I got distracted with the attempt to compare crime rates in Toronto and Grand Rapids... really all the data I could find seemed to indicate relative parity or even higher crime rates in Grand Rapids. Which is a super-safe city by American standards (I think). Grr, stupid Canadians. Why does your city of three million have the same violent per capita crime rate as my city of two hundred thousand?

So it looks I was quite safe this weekend even though I was in Scarborough, the city which apparently provokes constant ranting and raving about the impending doom of civilization from the alarmist-television-news-watching demographic (at least in Canada; no-one in the States believes there is any actual crime in Canada aside from rumours of unrepentant French speakers).

Hmm I just realized there's at least one Francophone who reads my blog... sorry Simon, and while I'm at it I might as well apologize to any and all persons who constantly watch alarming news reports on teevee and are thus convinced that the world will end tomorrow due to either global warming, shark attacks or virulent airborne cancer.

And yes, this is less tangential than an Ixi comment (as I told him the other day, "the conversation was here and the comment you just made was way over... here."); in my defense it is 5:30 AM.

So yes, the weekend. Thursday I drove up. My drive was fairly uneventful except that I'd just had an eye appointment complete with pupil dilation, so I couldn't see very well for the first couple hours (yes I had sunglasses but it was really quite a bright day.) Also at the border I nearly got my car searched by chuckling when the border guard asked me if I had alcohol or tobacco. It was funny because a) it's sort of ridiculous for me to buy beer in a country where I can't legally do it and sneak that beer into a country where I am legal to buy it and b) tobacco is a funny sounding word. So anyway she asked me again and I said no and she looked at me funny and I played the "I'm a pre-seminary student" card and she let me through. I think she thought I was lying but figured I wasn't really a security risk or anything.

So I got to Toronto and I went to Jehan's house. Which would've been great except that they'd all assumed I would go to John's house (with whom I actually stayed) so there was no one home. In a vaguely ironic twist neither my American nor Canadian cell phone would work. Fortunately I was able to use my superherolike spatial abilities to navigate my way to Katie McBride's house and thence proceeded to pick up Jehan and Co. and John on the way to Jehan's old youth group, meeting at the youth pastor's house. Notable occurrences at the barbecue included certain members of the youth group streaking (well they were wearing boxers) across a field and random, inexplicable laughter during the singing.

I remember reading somewhere that Friday takes its name from the old Norse god[dess?] Freyda. Well since most Scandinavians are nominally Lutheran atheists and not so much up for the whole bloodthirsty pagan thing, I propose that we change the name of the day between Thursday and Saturday to "Timgetsscrewedday". Not to encourage people to screw me over further, but this way we have a weekly reminder that on this day in August 2004, Tim was screwed pretty much continuously for a good six hours.

Yeah so thanks to the constant eggings-on of my former friend Jehan, John decided it would be a great idea to make me go clothes-shopping at Scarborough Town Centre. Which is a mall.

See I have an uneasy truce with the malls in GR that goes something like this: "I, Tim van Alstyne, will agree to enter your doors a couple times a year to eat at Olga's and/or shop at bookstores; in return, you will refrain from scaring the living crap out of me with your hordes of mindlessly acquisitory mall-zombies and your impulse-buy mind rays." Scarborough Town Centre and I do not have this truce. Malls are like friggin kryptonite to me. Not only do I become randomly exhausted as I step inside their shiny double doors, I also lose all sense of direction. Within malls, I'm like Spiderman without his spidey-sense or George Bush without his cowboy hat -- completely vulnerable to the forces of evil and chaos.

So yes, I had pretty much written off Friday as a [for reasons I have not had satisfactorily explained, necessary] loss. We went into a music store; I remembered that I wanted to buy the Big & Rich CD (yeah, it's country, sorry). OK, I said to myself. It would be one positive in an otherwise barren wasteland of a day. However the only catch was that I can't get GST back on sales of under fifty dollars. I was going to get Jehan to buy a couple DVDs to put the total over 50 bucks, but he didn't see anything he wanted so he promised we'd stop at HMV later so I could get the CD at a store with greater DVD selection. Except we never did that, did we? Yeah so I got screwed again.

I ended up buying the CD on Sunday so I could listen to it on the drive home. It's not bad at all. I'm still bitter though. Also I was able to take advantage of my being in Ontario later that (Friday) night, after we watched Donnie Darko. Steve Mah now knows that if he does sketchy courageous things whilst I'm around, I may or may not reward him with free beer.

Saturday -- the marriage of Carl and Andrea in Woodstock, ON. Unfortunately we were stuck in the hugest traffic jam ever on the 401 outside Toronto so we were half an hour (whom am I kidding, it was at least 45 minutes) late for the stupid thing. We discussed how the backup might actually have been Providential but the proof for that is a little sketchy and also relies on mondo inside jokery so I won't get into it here. The wedding (what we saw of it) was nice, held in Carl's parents' backyard on a beautiful August day. It was good to see old Redeemer friends again for the first time in months... sort of a foretaste of September 6. The reception however... um, well, it was okay but there were some iffy stories told. Interestingly there were no stories at all about Andrea, only Carl, because Andrea is so friggin normal it's disturbing. Carl is many things but normal is certainly not one of them. Also our table was mildly alcoholic. Drinking didn't help us cope the lame jokes that the bride and groom's families kept telling though. Some of the 'stories' they told about Carl were actually just jokes... except that, unlike most jokes, these jokes did not have discernable punchlines.... Shout out to Mark and his fiancee (can't remember her name, she goes to Calvin though) who sat at our table, they were super-cool and I'd like to stop and have a beer with him the next time I'm going through Sarnia. Also shout-outs to Sandra who sat at our table, and the man himself Phil Tamming, our own Poppa Phil, now sadly departed from Redeemer after half a decade there but still in the thoughts of we who lived with him.

After we got back to Toronto (really late), we went to bed. Actually, I lied; we watched the Olympics. So apparently Canada's main achievement up to that point had been taking a bronze in trampoline. Which to me is a lot like saying you failed every subject except gym, in which you got a C. On the other hand, I probably shouldn't be saying anything about gym right now... um, I don't want to talk about it. Anyway, Mark Phelps has won more medals than all of Canada. I learned that's not the most tactful thing to say when you are the only American in the room.

Sunday, went to Jehan's church. The youth pastor preached on Christian commitment, which is a good and important topic but it's pretty hard to come up with new, convicting insights on it. He did get my attention though with a piercing analogy to driving, noting that in his commute from Newmarket to Toronto, all the cars play what he called "spot-a-cop" wherein they would brake down to 110 or so at first sight of a radar gun and speed right back up when they'd passed the police car. He said that sunday morning church and Christian get-togethers act like our 'cops'. Do I play spot-a-cop with my faith? I'm pretty sure I don't like the answer.

After church we got free lunch at Licks along with an estimated five billion other people our age from Parkway who had heard Pastor Steve's siren call of free food. Apparently he'd gotten 230 bucks worth of certificates from un-named connections high in the Licks empire, but he doesn't like Licks. No problem.

Then we went to a cybercafe where everyone but me played while I surfed the Internet... gaming is just not my thing. Then I went home.

Good grief, this is the longest entry ever. I've seriously been sitting here for 2 1/2 hours writing this. I'm going to bed. ('Tis only 7 AM, after all.)

(N.B. Yeah this was posted at 2:11, but my internet connection wasn't working this morning and I was too tired to fix it.)

Posted by Tim at August 24, 2004 02:11 PM

Sounds like quite the adventure!!

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