Sunday, January 29, 2012

What...Another birthday?

It's Sunday afternoon and we can now call the boy's birthday weekend officially over.

Sean is now 16. The years have sped by faster than an unleashed greyhound chasing a fleeing poodle. It seems like only a few days ago that it was Day 1 at the hospital: my arms were outstretched and my hands clasped that alien-like person---his tiny fists were clenched, his bottom lip pouted and he was wailing at the top of his lungs. 'V' was recovering from the 23 hour delivery. She managed a pained smile and whispered, "He's lovely, now take him back to the nursery."

His actual birthday was during the week (mid-term exams here) so we deferred celebration until the weekend. A late January birthday here limits the possible activities. They tend to be indoor celebrations. For instance, last year we took him and three of his friends to dinner and a movie at the mall (they got to sit at their own table to avoid the embarrassment of being seen with us in public---I suppose it may have been the fez...). A couple of his friends have opted for 'Sweet 16' parties in the basements of their homes. Sean wouldn't have that as he knows perfectly well that he lost most of his sweetness by the age of 10.

Christmas dinner this past year was held at my parent's house, so we did not get a chance to cook a turkey at home. And the last time we DID host a large meal, the numbers were too big to break out the china and silverware (a setting for 8 people).

As I have mentioned before at this blog, my son seems to walk to the beat of a different drummer. He decided this year that he would like to celebrate his birthday by having some of the b'ys over for a turkey dinner served up on the Royal Albert China with silverware and, if I may be allowed a cliche, "the whole nine yards." The photo below shows the Saturday night setting before the boys moved in for the kill. For those keeping score at home, the pattern on the china is 'Brigadoon'.

We were going to put out one extra setting in case the Queen dropped by...
  As it turns out, only two of Sean's guy-friends managed to attend the fancy dinner. I told the boy that perhaps the other boy's tuxedos were not clean from their previous dining experiences and they were too embarrassed to 'dress down' for this occasion. We hosted a few more boys on the Friday night with a couple of take out pizzas and a movie in the family room that is normally out of bounds to the teenage species (they have their own recreational area in the basement). Pizza was by Boston Pizza (I mention this only in case someone from that fine organization reads this and throws a freebie our way).

The more casual Friday soiree was also a bit of an odd occasion as there were firearms (pellet rifles) being used downstairs. They have a 'firing range' set up  in the crawlspace that can be accessed from the basement and amused themselves with a bit of target practice prior to dining. For the record--we are not negligent people. The only reason we let the boys get into this at all is the fact that most of them are sea cadets and have training in the use of the pellet rifles at the base.

'V' was given a bit of instruction in cake decorating a while back and did her own cake and cupcakes (see photos  below). I must say, that was the highlight of the weekend for me. Sean had a four hour drill practice with the cadets today so we rushed together some bacon and eggs for brunch. This is one of those rare occasions that I'm allowed to pollute my arteries with cholesterol (I only hope that my physician does not stumble across this blog).

Only 16 candles. I can't remember back that far

They all tasted like mint (umm...I didn't eat ALL of them...)

And in closing I must shout out the praises of 'V' who did an excellent job with the sacrifice of the bird, the baking of the tasties and for showing bravery above and beyond the call of duty by taking the boy out in search of a suitable birthday gift. His early attempts at getting a car or a recreational boat were denied. We may be stupid, but we're not crazy. We settled on a technical gadget thingy to aid with his computer fun. It looks like it should fly. And at THAT price it should serve me single malts and whisk me away somewhere warmer for a vacation...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Count on Me

The holidays are officially done. The last of the peanut brittle has been scoffed up, the tree is down, the lights removed from that sad little bush outside the front door and the hundreds of other festive things have been stowed away for the year. And that's not counting the hundreds of ornaments on the tree or the fact the tree has about a thousand of those tiny little lights...

courtesy of
 I guess that I should mention that I have always had an interest in numbers. As a yute, when I could first count, I would repeatedly count all 21 of my digits. This has not changed as an adult (the counting thing, not the number of digits) as I still make mental calculations in my head. Not obsessive like, but definately a good user-upper of my time.

While driving on the highway I will see a sign indicating the number of kilometers (miles to my US cousins) and calculate at present speed how long until my arrival. I will do that at every road sign. Perhaps the timer on the stove is counting down the seconds until the moose stew is ready. I will catch myself closing my eyes and counting down in an attempt to reach '1' as the timer sounds. Crazy, no?

This reaches to the world of statistics as well. I am notorious for following the stats of hockey teams. Points for players, goals against averages of goalies and wins vs. loses can be found taking up precious space in my head. Up until last year I competed in a yearly hockey pool with the folks back at corporate HQ at an undisclosed location in SW Ontario.  The winner would often get hundreds of dollars milk and cookies and the admiration of the guys. I think that my penchant for numbers helped me win more than my share of the goodies over the years and they recently decided to have an 'in office' draft of players that would obviously exclude me (unless, of course, I footed the bill for the plane flight to get there).

I content myself these days by watching the stats and monitoring the progress of the players on our local team--the St. John's IceCaps, the newest club in the American Hockey League. My lack of posting blogs the past few weeks has obviously taken its toll on the number of visitors. Though who could blame them? Why drop by daily to see the same post slapped up on the screen, gathering dust and being circled by vultures.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time may recall the spinning globe I had in the margin. Each time a person dropped by there location was represented by a mark on the globe. It was very cool. Unfortunately it made me dizzy and I fell from my office chair way too much. My wife, however, blames it on the single malt. Whatever.

I HAD to have a (free) counter thingy to keep track of those kind folks who visited my humble blog. I noticed that quite a few people were using Flagcounter and I made the switch. It keeps count of the countries who attend the blog and also the states and provinces of those in America and Canada. For a fee you can open other provincial and state counters for a number of foreign countries.

I have had the feature on my blog for about a year and see that I have had visitors from 112 countries. I quick peek into Wikipedia reveals that there are 192 sovereign states and an additional 13 states whose sovereignity is disputed giving a total of 205 countries in the world. I have therefore had visits from 54.6% of the countries (no, I did not figure that out in my head). This year I have had over 3100 US visitors, 2000 from Canada (thanks mum), 1000 from the UK and 300 from Australia.  Since the first of January I have had visitors from four new countries. Hello! to that person from Saint Kitts and Nevis who dropped by on the first of January. On a side note...Saint Kitts and Nevis is only 104 square miles in area with a population of about 51,300.

Are you sick of me throwing out numbers yet? Har! I could go on all day. Anyway, whether you are a new visitor or have tolerated me since my beginnings in 2009 I'd like to wish you all a Happy 2012! Health and happiness to my writing and non-writing friends. Incidentaly, if you add 13 to 2012 and then take the square root, the answer is 45...