Otherwise known as the Love Shaq.

Leon’s First Cottage Weekend has accelerated beyond good times and into a borderline comically idyllic montage. It was inevitable, given the collection of hilarious and witty people filled to the brim with goodness. Good friends beget more good friends taken to the nth degree. If there was a montage (scored with Vitamin C’s “Graduation” no doubt), it would potentially include all of the following moments:

Playing catch by the beach. It’s been nigh on 20 years since I last wore a baseball glove and throwing the ball back and forth came back to me and then some. There was a muscle memory augmented by the fact that I’ve learned what hand-eye coordination is since I was a child. I can actually catch now. I know this is gonna come off as “Leon learns something that comes as base element of being human”, but there was something supremely satisfying about using that webbed part of the glove to grip the oncoming projectile before it even had a chance to hit my palm.

Playing “piggie in the middle in the sea”. Always a scourge of my childhood (the aforementioned lack of hand-eye coordination) in a large group, we had two or three people in the middle at once. Whenever someone in the centre caught the frisbee, everyone in the middle swapped out with prior from the outer ring. Everyone got a chance to make some wicked catches in a super supportive group. No bullying allowed.

Making smores around the fireplace. Loaded up with booze and insect repellant, we had everything we needed. A crystal clear night in full view of the stars. A lillypad studded lake replete with the gentle croaks of frogs punctuating silence like detuned banjos.

Watching people swap lives on Donkey Kong Country. It was strangely hypnotic as a spectator experience. Cheers erupted wherever the player passed a close shave “What is that?” I asked. “It’s a beaver running a milestone in a Mayan crocodile city, obviously.” Of course, why would I even ask?

Co-conducting the ceremony of Lokoshabbat. An arcane ritual passed down since the days where my friend and I discovered the strange palatable nature of Four Loko when added to Manischewitz. We extolled the gospel and indoctrinated new acolytes to our cultish order. This led to impromptu dance parties, and incredible hangovers. “THIS TASTES LIKE GRAPE JUICE” announced a new disciple before avidly finishing off the remainder of everyone else’s ‘Loko.

The meals. Holy fuck. Chorizo bread pudding and fruit with unicorn dip (sour cream, cream cheese and marshmallow fluff). Vegan chilli with spicy quinoa salad. Chargrilled burgers in a make-your-own burger bar. Pineapple slow cooked chicken. Rich, sweet, pulled pork. An anti-hangover breakfast feast with pancakes, bacon, hash browns, mango and Greek yogurt. Ever-evolving sangria. Given that everyone has only had one meal to take care of, they’ve put all the effort in and it’s shown. Furthermore, we’re past that early 20s thing where everyone tries to avoid responsibility. People offer to help and it makes everything run smoothly.

It’s also nice to be a part of a new social group. Knowing half the people present has given me the opportunity to meet the rest when everyone is at their most relaxed. Seeing couples together in an environment where they feel comfortable showing their love for one another is nothing short of wonderful. Many cute and lovely moments, seeing how and why these relationships/marriages work so well. It’s fucking excellent and I’m having the best time.

Speaking of which, my can needs more rum and my stomach needs pulled pork. Plus it’s my turn on the controller to play Shaq-Fu. Do I really have to leave?

Twist: This becomes an article for Cottage Life magazine.

So I don’t know if this is standard, but the cottage we ended up at is palatial. We got out of the car and looked out over the lake. “Holy shit” I exclaimed. I saw the large tiered deck with two barbecues and reiterated my earlier statement. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Proclaimed my friend who’d booked. She was right. Walking into the foyer, it was hard to ignore the imposing suit of armour. Then I realised this place had a foyer fullstop. I stepped out into the lounge/kitchen and gasped. The place was enormous and had considerably more comforts than home. An array of leather couches and Ottomans. A stone fireplace and a mantelpiece covered in model boats, Christmas baubles and a human skull. The lounge had an enormous banister and railing, along with a feature wall covered in glitter.

A flat screen television and stereo system rounded out the entertainment portion of the lounge. An ottoman opened up to reveal a stack of Disney VHS tapes, DVDs and a singular VHS copy of Abs of Steel. Oh, and they seemed to have kept up with their subscription to Cottage Life magazine. My friend had brought a Raspberry Pi loaded up with SNES roms and we were quickly lost into a world of Street Fighter Alpha 2, Turtles in Time and NBA Jam. With only one controller, we tried configuring cellphones for the role, with middling results.

Wait, why am I still talking about the SNES? I haven’t finished the cottage tour. Fuck. Also, I’m changing to present tense, cause I’m still here. The kitchen is well stocked with spices, cutlery, utensils, pots, freezer, fridge and beer fridge space. It’s functional as shit and everyone is throwing down with amazing meals. We were all sorted onto two person meal teams, so in a group of 12 we only need to worry about one meal each. It’s awesome. There’s an absurd drum of sangria, boxes of wine goons and too much Four Loko to handle. It’s gonna be a messy weekend.

The bedrooms are well furnished. I may be in the kids’ room, but the couple’s rooms have huge beds with plush duvets. There’s also a sleep out a distance from the main house. Our room, however is the only one that has toys. The couple’s can have their adult bedding, we have an extendable lightsaber, plush wolf, and blue dolphin night light.

The bathroom looks like it belongs in the aforementioned Cottage Life magazine. It’s all stone flooring, with a black toilet and shower. Oh, and a MOTHERFUCKING JACUZZI. They’re not here to fuck spiders.

You know what? We’ve got burgers coming off the grill and enough alcohol to kill several elephants. I think I’ve gotta leave you folks and get back to Cottage Life.

Otherwise what am I? Pedestrian? Hell no. Give me a few beers and I’ll be in that suit of armour.

So how many dirhams for one Four Loko?

Because we’re all about pleasing our audience here at I Have My Doubts, today’s entry is gonna run as an arbitrary listicle of things that have made Leon happy today:

  1. I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm. This entirely kicked out the cobwebs of grogginess that usually accumulate when I’m unjustifiably roused from my slumber by the generic rising alarm sound.
  2. I found fifty dirhams on the TTC floor. Currency from the United Arab Emirates. Looking up the value of fifty dirhams, I discovered it was tantamount to finding $5. When is that ever not a good thing?
  3. My twiddly ID card clip thing broke while crossing the street to work. This in itself wasn’t worthy of celebration, but a guy was nice enough to point out that I’d dropped it (while I obliviously kept listening to “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”), then when I failed to notice, he walked out on the road, picked it up for me and put it back into my hands. I thanked him profusely, then went back to the music.
  4. When explaining the dilemma of my broken twiddly thing to some guy in the elevator, he invited me back to his office to get me a new one. Apparently he was some sales VP. Another nice guy.
  5. I zoomed through all my work at peak efficiency. As such, I finished basically everything I needed to do by 11am.
  6. Discovered a new band: Pinkshinyultrablast. Super fun upbeat shoegaze. I’m in for a penny and a pound. Maybe also a kilo.
  7. I added to my pokédex in a meaningful way. Disregarding the unreasonably low CP level of everything, I got a vulpix, growlithe, magneton and porygon. I also ran into some of the same people I’ve been seeing around town at other catching sites. I’m pretty sure this is how gangs start. One of the guys introduced himself and we shared our recent catching escapades. Three nice guys in one day? Is this a new record?
  8. I got to leave work early. I guess this was part and parcel of the aforementioned work zooming, but also standing my ground, deleting the “just”s from my emails and informing the necessary departments that I was leaving at 2pm. I advised them to send their requests for anything they needed much earlier.
  9. Had a productive session with my therapist that’s extending towards tackling some important personal issues. Pull quote from the session: “Please don’t turn to bulimia to lose weight. It’s a terribly inefficient method.” I assured her that my delight at finding cheap cheese sales and love of pooping would probably inoculate myself against future eating disorders.
  10. I’m heading off to my first Canadian cottage experience up in Georgian Bay. It’s gonna be outstanding. It’s a bunch of excellent people I know and other excellent people I have yet to know. With this group, I have no doubt of that. We have Four Loko and Manischewitz and actual legitimate alcohol. We have meal plans. I’m going in a car full of verified good peeps and the whole weekend is gonna be a blast. I’m hoping internet access is gonna be a thing, otherwise I’ll do an update dump on Monday when I return.
  11. I’m an uncle again. Third time. There’s gonna be another “little” underfoot in my January trip home. I don’t really know how to play with infants, so I’ll probably have to learn to juggle. How heavy are children? Can I juggle them? That’s all I care about. Oh, I guess I care about the kids too, but in truth they’re just stepping stones in my path towards circus superstardom.

If they start bleeding, will I become a jazz prodigy?

My gums hurt and I don’t know why. I’ve been flossing, brushing and using that tongue scraper tool on a daily basis (or twice daily when it comes to the brushing). I’ve been following my dentist’s recommended flossing technique. I’m using one of those nifty oscillating toothbrushes. All things considered, I should be fine. Somehow though, I’m not. My gums aren’t really bleeding when I floss, but there’s this mild hurt when I chew. If I firmly press my teeth together, it comes back. I know what you’re all saying, learn to photosynthesise, right? Only eat things that travel up a straw? Make best friends with your mouli? Those things all make varying amounts of sense. Why then, do I keep chomping down? Because of that weird pain/pleasure threshold. You know how licking a battery is kind of intriguing? It hurts, but walking the razor’s edge is sort of intriguing. As a kid I’d do it again and again.

In Pokémon Go related news, I’ve been having bad luck with catches lately. It’s tough, because I would very much like to be the very best, but luck is doing its best to shit on that. I hatched a jynx the other day from a 10km egg. It was a bummer. They’re super common. The rewards for 10km eggs are so rich, but I guess this is why I don’t gamble. I was lucky enough to get a lapras today, but its cp ended up at 150. A guy who caught one a minute later found his at 1500. My game crashed while trying to catch a pidgeot and by the time I reloaded it had gone. I was super stoked to find a victreebell, but it doesn’t have a basic grass type move and checking out its stats, they’re rather shit. A game crash lost me a dragonair, which would’ve been a great addition to the pokédex. Lastly, when searching for a gengar in the area, I overshot the mark while running and found it literally two seconds before it disappeared. My game didn’t catch up. Poops all around. I think it’s time to level up. I think tonight I’ll need to pull some lucky egg shenanigans and get myself to that magical lvl 20 mark. Surely that’s the sweet spot for finding decent cp pokémon?

Last night I caught up with a girl I’d been seeing a few months back. I broke things off not because I didn’t like her company, but because I was getting way too busy for another relationship. With the Pawdcast taking a few nights each week, wanting to spend a few nights with my girlfriend and also see friends, I found myself with zero nights to chill out on my own. I was getting so stressed and anxious about being able to accommodate everyone that I wasn’t taking enough time for myself. Even having broken that off, I’m still not doing so well on the solo time front. We’d been meaning to meet back up after having taken time apart and honestly, it was really nice. No awkward pauses, we launched straight back in to where we’d left off, how the last few months has treated our lives. It’s not like any reasonable person can just drop a person they care about without wanting to know how they’re going. I’m occasionally reasonable (when I’m not licking batteries, chomping aggravated gums or blaming luck for my poor Pokémon playing), and as such it was fantastic to reconnect with her. She’s still super sweet, clever and has excellent music recommendations. Plus we had sushi, so what could’ve really gone wrong? After the meal we walked home and discussed potential party plans for her birthday. I think she’s opting for my miracle fruit party idea, so fingers crossed it’s a blast for her.

I don’t even have that many errands tonight and tomorrow I’m off to the cottage. Could it finally happen? Am I about to relax here? Or will I discover an amazing cache of pokémon in Georgian Bay?

Gordon, for the record, not Morgan.

I’m exhausted. The cat went bonkers at the wee hours of the morning and the lack of sleep has sapped my mental faculties enough that I’m using words like “bonkers” and acting like that’s NBD.

So let’s keep things simple and bullet point everywhere up in this bitch. What were some things that happened today?

  • I forgot my scan pass at home. This meant I couldn’t scan myself onto the elevators. I’d instead have to loiter in the lobby until someone came along and scanned themselves up. I’d then casually press my floor number. It felt like I was grounded and wasn’t allowed to go anywhere fun without a parental chaperone. Did I want to go upstairs to fill up my water bottle or grab coffee? Not on my own, so help me. Going out to grab lunch? Well I’d need to borrow a co-worker’s scan pass. It meant I had to be intentional about something I never even think about. Usually this pass is attached to my hip by one of those twiddly extension things. I still have the twitch response. Every time I walked onto an elevator I’d automatically reach down to grab/twiddle it. Instead I grabbed air. Cruel, empty air.
  • I woke up with the arch of my foot throbbing. Apparently all the grumbling my physio did about my lack of stretching had basis in consequence. It’s not entirely fair, I’ve been making sure to do active mobility pre-run and static stretching post-run (occasionally).While I thought the issue was karma, it turned out one of my physios saw it as mild planar fasciitis. We took a passive session to work through this ball of pain. White hot pain. Then he pulled out the ultrasound gun. The safe range was from about 2.0 to 3.0. We started at 2.0 and got to around 2.5 without issue. The gun hammered away with this “chugga chugga” sound, causing pain whenever it got too close to a bone. Apparently that sensation is a sort of feedback, when the waves hitting the bone rebound back into the oncoming waves. Or at least that’s my non-scientific take on the polysyllabic words he used. So I’ve got one or two days in which he says I should take the running easy. So I’ll try not to dash for too many pokémon.
  • Speaking of which, two snorlaxes ran away from me today. I had them chewing on delicious razz berries, threw my great balls (item, not scrotum), they took one look at captivity and bolted. I don’t know how a snorlax, ripped as it is, managed to bolt so fast. Still, I am a pillar of sadness. Yes, I have two snorlax already, which I’m grateful for (one of which may be the reason for my planar fasciitis. I ran over a kilometre for that one). I however seek a team of six snorlax for gym dominance purposes. I need a team that goes along with my kigurumi.
  • Today at our weekly 2pm meeting.

    Coworker: Did I hear correctly that they’re making Supergirl play baseball this season?
    Me: I just watched Air Bud Seventh Inning Fetch. Are you sure that’s not what you’re thinking of?
    Coworker: No, I swear I overheard she’s doing baseball.
    Strategy: You’re thinking of Pitch, our new drama about the first female MLB pitcher.
    Coworker: I thought she was doing baseball. Like one of those kitschy 60s super hero shows.
    Me: I think the show you’re looking for is “A Justice League of Their Own.”
    Meeting Room: *Applause*

Okay, time to go out for friend and sushi time. Best thing? I don’t need no scan card or parental chaperones. I’M A FREE MAN.

Have I convinced myself to invest in cloning yet?

Well this is goddamn confusing. I’m trying to take care of business with peak efficiency. Not only am I writing this entry as my usual daily exercise, but I’m working on the pawdcast simultaneously. “Working” might be a stretch, but I’m mixing it down. So I’ve gotta listen and make sure nothing goes wayward. Also I have to try make what I’m writing here somewhat readable. Is it possible? I have no idea. I know I’m getting repeatedly distracted and the outcome will likely be that both items come out poorly. Pray for Mojo.

Why don’t I just take my time and do each separately? Because a) I’m irredeemably lazy and b) I wanna get more spare time tonight. I’m loving the pawdcast, but I also have approximately a billion minus five things I’m craving right now. I’ve got SO much to do that I can’t be bothered working out how much a billion minus five is. Isn’t that deplorable? I’m bringing my own character into disrepute by cheapening the quality of my writing, my pawdcast and my mathematical prowess. You know, instead of bitching about having too much to do, I could bitch about what I’d want to do instead. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Obviously I wanna be playing Pokémon Go. I’ve had less time to play this week. I’m not about to say it’s putting me on edge, but I’ll put it this way: I think life is getting in the way of my Pokémon playing. I’ve been catching some nifty stuff lately (finally got a snorlax in Koreatown on Sunday), but delving more into the data, I’ve discovered that I have a talent for catching lacklustre pokémon. How do I know this? I’ve been using the IV calculator. It crunches the CP, HP and power up cost to work out the potential of your pokémon. You’ll get a percentage out of 100, which tells you how high on the scale compared with other pokémon of the same type. Mine are typically coming in at 40%-60%, which is kind of a bummer. My snorlax is apparently pretty average, but he’s still slaying it out there. I’ve got an eevee that’s a 97.5%, so now I’ve gotta decide whether I’ll power it up to be a vaporeon (when I’ve already got one) or get a lame flareon. Vaporeon towers above the other eeveelutions, so it should be a non-brainer. Shouldn’t it? LIFE IS TOUGH, PEEPS.

I’d also love to tuck into the next few episodes of Harmonquest. An animated show taken from Dan Harmon and his friends playing (what’s ostensibly) Dungeons and Dragons. Recorded in front of a live studio audience, episodes were improvised, cut into a tight 20 or so minutes and fittingly animated. I’m a few episodes in and it’s fucking hilarious. The plot moves (sometimes with a little Deus ex Machina) and the animation is adorable, with immaculate attention to the little details. Dan, Erin McGathy (his clever and eerily creative ex-wife) and friend Jeff Davis have a palpable chemistry that allows for riffs stacked upon riffs. Spencer, the Dungeon Master runs with whatever comes his way without flinching. Guest stars I’ve seen so far include Paul F. Tompkins, Ron Funches, Aubrey Plaza and John Hodgman. That’s a stack of talent. The show’s a blast and it’s ripe for bingeing. Which is what I’d be doing if I weren’t writing/mixing. Unless I was out catching pokémon.

Okay, that’s it. In T minus 20 minutes I’ll be out and about catching pokémon, then I’ll come home and finish the series. I’ll then sleep next Tuesday or something, when I finally get some spare time.

I might be confused, but at least I’m not bored.

Will I ooze carisma? Do you get tired of these puns? Exhausted?

It’s been three years since I last drove a car. That feels weird to me. Driving used to be a regular part of everyday life. I got a Toyota Corolla FX when I was 16 or 17 and drove the shit out of it. I stayed in the Toyota family and took a passed down Camry once my grandmother could no longer drive. I’d drive to and from work, to school (if I was lazy and couldn’t be bothered doing the 40 or so minute walk. How things have changed) and down country when I eventually moved to Rotorua. I liked driving and I’d be remiss if I didn’t note how much I enjoyed it. I was never a petrol head, but having the freedom of movement was excellent. Feeling that kind of control over a device with so much potential was empowering. I loved giving rides, finding out new and exciting routes to places, making music playlists perfectly tailored to the trip (after factoring in route times).

Yet in Toronto, I’ve been subject to the whims of public transport. I run on the TTC’s time and mercy. I have all the freedom of movement a grid pattern can provide. I’m not complaining about the quality of public transport (in comparison to services back in Auckland), but it requires a lot more planning and spare time. It also means that I don’t have to consider the danger of drunk driving, but that’s a slim advantage. Why am I mentioning any of this? Because in a few short months, I’ll be back in front of the wheel.

For the longest time (woah oh oh), New Zealand and Ontario were without a reciprocal driving licence scheme. I could’ve swapped my NZ licence for a Canadian one back in Vancouver, but not so in TO. It caused me no end of griping, given the aforementioned freedom of four wheels and a chassis (plus all that other stuff on top). I had no intention of buying a car, but the ability to rent a car certainly would’ve made things more flexible. Cottage country wouldn’t have been so far away or dependent upon the wheels of others. As recently as February of 2015, a reciprocal scheme was put into place. It took me over a year to catch wind of it, then several more months to realise my licence was out of date, find the application forms for an overseas extension and get everything done.

What do I mean by everything? Well it turns out you can extend an expired licence from overseas once in your life. Every other time you need to do it in person back in New Zealand. I figure I’m going back in January, so once I have my Canadian licence here, I can get a new NZ licence when I visit. There was no snazzy online application, so I had to go the manual route. I called home and spoke to a nice lady named Joy who helped me pay via credit card. I filled out the necessary forms then realised I needed notarisation on my driver licence photocopies. I’d never gotten anything notarised here in Toronto. Back home I’d always just talk to a friend of my parents. Some Justice of the Peace or other qualified person. Here in Toronto though, it’s not quite so simple.

Looking up notarising services, it’s not cheap. There are either outfits created exactly for that purpose, or Kijiji/Craigslist style individuals who’ll meet you in a specific Starbucks for $15 (plus $10 for each page after the first). I went to a notarisation place across the road from my work and they quoted $40 for the first page, $10 for each page after that. There was no fucking way I was spending $50 for someone to stamp two pieces of paper.

I put on my thinking cap, then had a light bulb moment. I work for a large corporation. Large corporations have legal departments. Some legal professionals have the ability to notarise documents. I made a few email inquiries and within an hour I was talking to a nice lady down in legal. She got out her big stamp and wrote a couple of remarks on each page. Service with a smile and without cost. Sometimes it pays to be a corporate sellout. I mailed it off so now all I have to do is wait. Then get my licence. Then exchange it at the College Park Service Ontario (specifically. No idea why).

The wheels are turning, folks. Soon I’ll be the one making it happen.