Tuesday, November 29, 2005


More questions, to help you whittle away the hours as exam season approaches:

1.) What do you want (ie. present, event, trip, visit, etc.) over the holidays?

2.) Do you believe in New Years resolutions? Why or why not?

3.) Do you have distant relatives that send you really weird presents each year? If so, who are they and what do they send you?

4.) What's your winter holidays-only food?

Saturday, November 26, 2005


It's been a busy couple of days. Andrea and I celebrated our one year anniversary this past Friday with a dinner at (surprise) AquaTerra. It was a very fun night, and I'm still itching to try out my anniversary present, a shiny new meerschaum pipe. Meerschaum is a special kind of clay that's mined in Turkey, and acts as a natural filter for the nicotine and assorted nastiness of lit pipe tobacco. If well cared for, it will age a distinct golden brown and last a lifetime. Very cool.

There's still no word in the job search, although I'm expecting to hear something by the end of this coming week. I'm working this weekend, which may end up being my last weekend with this particular place of employment. I'm a little sad about that but, at the same time, I'm definitely ready for a change.

I should keep this brief. We're heading out to celebrate Erin's birthday in just a few short minutes, and then I'll need to hit the sack. For a number of reasons, I've elected to not work this coming week, and will be spending a good portion of my time out at the cottage. I'm not sure if I'm going to work on any projects while I'm there. I may just use it as an excuse to do some reading and catch up on my sleep. The last vestiges of this cold are still hanging on with iron talons, and I want to shake it before we leave this coming Thursday.

Ah, yes. This coming Thursday. There are plans in the works, but it's nothing I can talk about openly at the moment. I'll explain after the time has come and gone. I know that sounds secretive, but it's the best I can do.

I'm starting to put together birthday plans for Dec 9th. I know it's a busy time of year with exams and all, so you're interested in just coming out for pre or post dinner drinks, that's totally cool. And if you can't make it altoghether, I definitely understand. That said, we're going to shoot for an 8:00 pm reservation at AquaTerra. If you're interested, let me know - though I'm probably going to do a round of e-mailing, too. We'll likely be doing the pre- and post-dinner drinking there, as well.

That's all. Duke, out.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Blogiversary

Duke Fistman, Freelance Hero is officially one year old, as of today. I had a really great post written about the impact that blogging has had on my life, but Blogger ate it. So, instead, I'm just going to wave a sparkler around and hum the first few bars of The Age of Aquarius. Seriously, though, assuming that I (eventually) move to Ottawa, I think this blog is going to be an important part of keeping in touch with all of my dear friends. It certainly has helped while I've been out in the middle of nowhere.

In any case, I've had a really good year, and I'd like to all of you for being a part of it. With luck, this will be the first of many Blogiversaries.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cottage Photos

Cottage Photos

Cottage Photos


It's a slow night, tonight. I'm catching up on reading everyone's blog, and devoting most of my energy to overcoming the cold that I've been fighting for the past couple of days. It's getting better, but spending time outside while we were trying to get the dock out of the water didn't help.

I left my XBox at a friend's house for over the weekend, so I may actually be forced to do something productive this evening. Well, once I've finished off Kill Bill Volume 2, that is. There are a couple of books on asymmetric warfare that I've been meaning to go through lately, so perhaps I'll actually get the chance to look at one of them tonight.

Some things I didn't have time to mention when I was writing the last post:

1.) Most of you probably know this already, but if you take your car in to be serviced and specifically ask that it's winterized, you should check that they do this. You know, 'cause otherwise you might find out that your windshield washer fluid has frozen when you're on the 401 and everyone's spinning out all around you because of black ice.

2.) Andrea and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie on Saturday. It's really, really good. We saw it on an IMAX screen. It was totally worth it. I think (let's be honest, it was Andrea who pointed it out) that they've drifted a bit from the books when making the movies, but I think it works - there are some things you need to simplify if you're going to turn 800+ pages into a 2.5 hour long movie.

3.) Remember all of those times that I've said, "I really think I could get a job any day now"? Well, now I really think I could get a job any day now. So there.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

John Orr

I just got back from Toronto. Andrea and I were there this weekend for the John Orr dinner and the Santa Claus parade. It was the first time that I'd been to either, and I have to say that I had a really good time.

I ended up running into some old friends at John Orr, which was a very pleasant surprise. It was also a chance for me to get some more mileage out of my recently acquired tuxedo. Every time I wear it, it dramatically brings down my cost-per-use. The problem is that, unless I dramatically increase the number of black tie events that I attend, it's going to take forever for me to get my money's worth out of it.

So, yeah. If you want to host a black tie formal in support of some charity or another, please let me know. I'm pretty damned likely to attend.

It was held at the King Edward, which is a really nice hotel. They really milked us when it came time to get drink tickets, though. $8 for a drink that used "premium liquor." If you ever catch me referring to Bell's Scotch as premium liquor, you can safely assume that I've been possessed or replaced by an evil duplicate.

The other thing worth noting was that the concierge was friendly but incompetent. He gave Andrea bad directions for the subway, and she ended up barely making it to where she had to be. Then, when we were trying to leave, he steered us into the middle of a bunch of closed streets. We were stuck in gridlock for about an extra half-hour as a result.

I think the problem with hotels like the King Edward is that they no longer have anything to prove. They're already ranked among the best in the world, and they can get off by coasting on that reputation. It's kind of a shame. But, there's still a lot of other hotels (the Loew's chain, most notably) that are hungry for business, and willing to go the extra mile.

Anyways, enough of my snooty complaining. It was a great party, and we had a really good time.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Still Got It

I went out last night for the first time in ages. Okay, the first time in a couple of weeks. It's not as though I've declared a moratorium on fun, it's just that I tend to do most of my drinking at home. It's cheaper there, and the view is much better. Also, I get to barbeque and smoke cigars at the same time.

In any case, Andrea and I went out to celebrate her friend's birthday last night, and it was a really good time. We did, perhaps, leave a little early (we were home by around 1:00 am) but the point is this - I drank, partied, and then proceeded to wake up at 6:45 am for work, absolutely no worse for wear.

This kind of surprises me, considering that there were times when I wasn't able to do this when I was substantially younger, let alone when I'm less than a month from turning 25. I was a little confused at first, but then I realized what the substantial difference was: I'm actually looking after myself these days.

That may surprise you. Indeed, it's likely that the the last time you saw me, I was eating 3/4 a pound of near-raw red meat and smoking a cigar the size of a regulation football.

The big difference is that I'm not pushing myself as hard as I used to. I'm not running around like an idiot, sacrificing sleep and exercise to get stuff done that doesn't really need to be done in the first place. I had a really productive day out at the cottage not long ago, and I think it's just taken my body this long to recover from all the stresses of school, work, and travel.

The question is going to be whether or not I'm going to be able to maintain these habits, once I move to a new city and start a new job. I hope I can - I feel great these days, and don't want to gradually wear myself down to nothing again.

To all of those harried students out there, I have but one piece of advice: don't be afraid to set aside a little bit of "Me Time". Sleep late, make a big breakfast, read a good book, watch a good movie, call someone you haven't talked to in ages, and turn in early... as much as you may think you can't possibly afford that kind of time right now, it's so much easier than burning out well before your degree comes to an end.

Monday, November 14, 2005

There's nothing quite so sad as a homeless doctor

My good friend Cameron is coming to Kingston for Dec 12 - 23. He's going to be doing an elective at either Kingston General or Hotel Dieu, and will need a place to stay during that time. He doesn't need much - use of a room would be ideal, but a comfy couch and kitchen/bathroom priviledges would be sufficient.

What's more, he's willing to pony up 200 smackers to whoever agrees to host him for this time period. Being that he's almost a doctor, he'll probably also be willing to lance whatever it is that you need lancing. Interested? Post a comment, or send me an e-mail.

Late Night Musings

It's Sunday night at the cottage. It's hard to believe just how quiet it is, save the occasional swelling wind that wraps around the cottage, gently rattling the blinds on the one window I left open to let the cigar smoke escape. The weather seems to be holding for the time being - it was darker today, but still warm enough to do yard work without a jacket. If this is what we can expect the rest of November to bring, I'm happy to have it.

Andrea and I spent the bulk of the afternoon doing yard work. I had toyed with the idea of putting together a "leaf raking party" whereby I would ply my city-bound friends to spend an afternoon raking in exchange for steak and beer. I never did get around to organizing it, so we were left to ourselves to pick up a season's worth of detritus from the lawn. I suppose after making use of free rent for over a year, spending an afternoon of unemployment raking is really the least that I can do. I'm not sure how Andrea rationalized it, but I was glad to have her help.

I should be in bed by now. My eyes are heavy, and have been since dinnertime. I just feel like puttering away at things. I've paid down the credit card, tinkered with my budget, browsed the Christmas flights to Calgary, and strolled through the various sections of BBC World Online. There isn't much new in the world. At least, not much has changed since the last time I looked. This is, however, an excellent time to book an all-inclusive vacation to Cuba. They're going for about $600 per (flight/hotel/food/booze) at the moment. Not too shabby.

My mother will be coming out to the cottage in a week, so that means that I'll need to get the place in order. I've been taking reasonable care of it, so I can't think of much more that needs to be done. I'll have to find a hiding place for the bar, but I think I can probably cram it into one of the large tupperware containers that I've been living out of for the past year or so. I also need to clean out the freezer. Why on earth my mother thinks it's a good idea to freeze multiple packages of hot dog buns, I'll never know.

This week or next, I should get the word regarding my preferred job posting. Things could change pretty quickly once that happens. The change is exciting for the most part, if perhaps a little unnerving. I'm looking at buying a place once I get word, and I'm not sure what to expect with that whole process. I wonder if I'm rushing into getting a full time job, or if I'd be better off to take some time off to travel. I hope that my vocation meets with my expectations, and that I don't end up with some ogre of a boss. I've dealt with that sort of thing before, and it's never pretty.

I realized the other day that I've perfected the art of living out of a suitcase. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I think it implies that I'm fond of variety in my life. I have this mental image of what life in Ottawa is going to be like, and I hope that I'm not in for any rude awakenings. The only thing worse than that, I think, would be for everything to fall into place the way that I wanted it, only to find that I end up getting bored of what I'm doing and where I'm living.

I think that things are going to work out well. Bottom line, I know there are a lot of people - family, friends, and loved ones - that'll have my back through all of this. I know I tend to vacillate between enjoying the down time that I have, and wanting things to move forward. I suppose I don't want to seem less than grateful for the way things are unfolding. Trust me, I realize how good I have it.

It's time for bed. See you all again in the morning.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Usual rules. Respond to all, some or none and feel free to go anonymous, if you're so inclined.

1.) Now that winter is rolling in, are there any little traditions, activities or comforts that you'll be going back to for over the colder months?

2.) What was your favorite book, back when you were a child? Why?

3.) Do you have a book/magazine/webpage/movie/show/etc. that's really trashy, but you read/visit/watch regularly anyways? If so, what is it?

4.) If you were to vote based on one issue, what would that issue be? Why?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


It's been another couple of relaxing days out at the cottage. I'm now in the process of cleaning the place up, as my sister and brother-in-law will be coming down for this upcoming weekend. It's not in too rough of shape, but there are a lot of details that need to be taken care of. I'm reasonably domestic, so this shouldn't be too bad. I'll probably need to fold sheets, but I'll be damned if I'm any good at it.

Andrea and I went to Sci Formal this weekend, which I have to say was a helluva lot of fun. Andrea had to get her hair done starting early in the morning, so Jake and I elected to spend the first half of the day doing more man-oriented activities. This included having steak and eggs down at the Toucan (with one (1) pint of Guinness), followed up by scotch and chess over at the Brew Pub (Score: 1 to 1 by the end of the second game) and capped off by Cuban cigars on Jake's porch.

As for the evening itself, we started off with a three hour long dinner at AquaTerra, then made our way to Grant to participate in the festivities. The rest is pretty much a big blur. The rooms were done up really well, the booze was flowing, and I ran into a lot of people that I haven't seen in ages. Good times.

It was also my first test run for my newly purchased tuxedo. I'm now black-tie ready at a moment's notice, so if any of you are attending/crashing black tie functions, please let me know. I'm so down for that.

We did brunch on Sunday, and then we went out to the cottage. I stayed out Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, but Andrea had to go in for class. I wish I could tell you that I accomplished a lot (taught my self French, wrote another chapter of my novel, read some Shakespeare, cured cancer, etc.) but then I would by lying.

I played hours upon hours of Morrowind.

For those of you not familiar, Morrowind is a very open-ended role playing game (RPG) for XBox. Bottom line, where most video games can be vanquished in about ten hours, I've already put in about thirty, and I'm still nowhere near finishing one of the possible endings. Anyway, I've decided to put down the controller for most of today and do something other than play Morrowind. Anything other than play Morrowind.

The rest of the week looks like it's going to be busy. I'm in town by the end of today, then off to Ottawa first thing tomorrow morning. I have my language assessment on Thursday, so I'll be there overnight, then likely back in time for work on Thursday afternoon. Then I'm look at another weekend. Where does the time go?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Post-Thunderstorm Sunset at the Cottage

Post-Thunderstorm Sunset at the Cottage

Post-Thunderstorm Sunset at the Cottage

Thursday, November 03, 2005


The book review ("Your Money or Your Life") I did for the Independent Voice can be found here. The travel article on Halifax, as it appears in TravelMag is here.

Share and Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


It's been a while since I've posted any kind of comprehensive update on the blog. Surprising, considering so much has happened lately.

Both jobs are pushing forward at full steam. The first position I mentioned has finished its testing, and it should just be a matter of time before they call and make me an offer. There are (in theory) things that could get in the way of this, but I think it's pretty likely to come through at this point.

The second position is now booking me in for language diagnostic testing. The idea is to establish whether or not I'd be able to pick up French, assuming that they provide me with a year of in-depth training where I'd be doing nothing but studying my second language. From what the rumor mill has been passing on, it's not an overly difficult test. Still, I'll be glad once it's done.

As part of my language diagnostic testing, they need to first estabish where you are in terms of your knowledge of the French language. In case you need to ask, the answer is "not very far along at all."

I didn't do too badly on the reading test, but as for writing and conversation... well, let's just say that it's quite likely a pigeon pecking at a keyboard could have beat me in the multiple-choice writing test and that, during the oral communication test, I had to ask the receptionist to make sure my interview was actually over. It was supposed to last an hour, and I was there for 20 minutes, 10 of which were spent in awkward silence as I attempted to time-travel myself back to Junior High school, which was when I last studied the subject.

As for what I'm going to do when these jobs start hiring, I'm still not entirely certain. They're both excellent positions, and I could see myself making a career out of either of them. I suppose we'll see what happens when the big day arrives, assuming that one or both of them decide to make an offer.

Work is still going well. Still doing the 1/2 weeks, which works out great when I need to head to Ottawa on short notice, or when I decide I want to spend a day wearing fleece pants and playing XBox. I did that today. I'm not going to lie to you. It was pretty fantastic.

I've talked about putting more time in on my writing lately, but that's all it's been - talk. That said, I authored a short article for a local community newspaper, and managed to get my Halifax article up on TravelMag.co.uk. I'll post the links to those later in the week.