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Update on Brian Millar and the Tour de Lance…

November 11, 2010

It is with a heavy heart that I need to update this post with sad, sad news.

Brian passed away the other day in Montreal.

He was way too young. Yet he lived his life well while here.

My thoughts are with Iain, Margie and Erin… as well as all of his family and friends.

His life will be celebrated on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. at the Mount Royal Funeral Complex 1297 Chemin de la Foret Outremont, Quebec H2V 2P9 (514) 279-6540          Reception to follow there. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Cedars Cancer Institute or Chateauguay Valley Regional High School Educational Foundation in Ormstown, Quebec.


Brian was sure hoping to be able to ride with Lance this weekend – but the disease reared its f***ing ugly head again recently, so (because he was successful in raising the 25K+) he has nominated his cousin to ride for him.

Thanks to all of you who have donated! You really have made a difference!

Here is the link to a recent article in the Montreal Gazette about Brian and some other tough SOBs who are refusing to quit.

And here is the text…but you will have to go to the site to see the uplifting vid sent from Lance to Brain.

MONTREAL – This weekend, 50 determined souls will strap on their helmets, settle onto the narrow seats of their racing bikes and pedal their way across 100 kilometres of beautiful Quebec countryside – all in the name of improving cancer treatment in the province.

Among the cyclists (presumably somewhere near the front of the pack) will be someone who knows a lot about battling the deadly disease. Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, a testicular cancer survivor, will no doubt be the main attraction at the third annual Tour de Lance fundraiser – to be held Saturday in Mont Tremblant – but each person planning to ride alongside him has a unique story to tell. The Gazette caught up with three of the riders to find out what motivated them to sign up for the event, what they’ve done to meet their individual fundraising goals of $25,000 and how they’ve been getting ready for the gruelling physical challenge ahead.

Brian Millar‘s personal battle with cancer began less than a year ago, but the 27-year-old has already confronted major surgery, eight rounds of chemotherapy and numerous hospital stays. When he was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September 2009, Millar said, he was “shell-shocked” and felt helpless in the face of the illness – but a gift from his aunt changed his outlook dramatically.

“She brought me Lance’s book in hospital and I read it in one day,” Millar recounted. “I think reading that book helped me straighten my mind out.”

A few months later, Millar learned about the coming Tour de Lance event and decided it would be a great way to stay in shape while raising money for the Cedars Cancer Institute, a hospital-based charity that provides support to patients and health-care professionals at various hospitals in Montreal.

“I hadn’t previously been a cycling fan and didn’t know much about it, but after seeing in Lance’s book what you can do with fundraising, I thought it would be neat,” he said. “I had no idea if I’d be healthy enough to do it.”

At first, it seemed like he would be healthy enough. Millar began training regularly on a stationary bike and his regular bike, and he and his family organized several fundraising dinners and other charity events to meet his fundraising goal. Then about seven weeks ago, Millar’s condition suddenly began to deteriorate, and he was forced to acknowledge that he couldn’t complete the ride. That’s when his cousin Graham stepped in and volunteered to take his place.

“He’ll be flying in from Calgary,” Millar said. “He has raced bikes his whole life and is one of the biggest Lance Armstrong fans I know. I’ve kept going with the fundraising because it’s really something that I want to do.”

Millar now faces a stem-cell transplant and, depending on how strong he’s feeling, he may or may not make it to Mont Tremblant this weekend to cheer on his cousin and meet Armstrong in person.

“I really wish I could be there,” he said. “But my health comes first.”


Tour de Lance – help if you can

Hi all:

I have never solicited funds for any cause whatsoever on this site, but that is ending now, and I hope you can help.

Cuz this is family.

Brian Millar is my wife’s cousin whose health has been nuked by cancer. The guy was living the life – his life – as a 20-something, when this merciless disease hit him. And hit him hard.

Chemo. Radiation. He’s been down all those roads and right now Brian is on a bit of a dip in that road. But it is one that we are all sure he will rise from.

Brian took this disease and said: “Look. I’m going to make this into something positive and raise a shitload of money so I can ride with Lance Armstrong in the name of cancer research.” Brave frickin’ dudes, both of them. He conquered testicular cancer a while back and has become a general leading the war against this horrific monster of a disease. And Brian is still kicking back at the sonofabitch.

So, here’s the “ask”. Please go to the site and decide if this is worth a few bucks or even just posting the link on your site. Colleen (the Resident Love Goddess) and I want to help and this is the best way I can right now.

Do what you can for Brian and his family. Because man, this is Hell for them. And if they can raise enough funds, maybe their Hell will be a little less painful.



Link to donate.


Stephen Harper is a wo-bot

An old friend recently came calling on the occasion of his son’s arrival at Carleton U. He – let’s call him “Wags” – always was a bit a right-wing nutbar so he was aghast when I asked my 2 year old:

“Who is Stephen Harper?”

And the little ‘un says:

“A wo-bot…”

Having known me for so long, Wags was not too surprised.

Of course Steve’s robotic tendencies have not been lost on those of us who have followed the “shake my kids’ hands cuz they’ll grow up faster” animatron over the years.

160_harper_ben_060125And no, of COURSE I haven’t coached my boy to say that! No way!

Other things.

My middle spawn was in one of her bipolar moods today… alternating between “I’m gonna fight you, Mom, little bro’, and anyone else in my way – suckahs!” and “I love you so much Daddy! You’re the best Daddy in the Universe. I hope you don’t die!”

OK – the last part was a little creepy…. but the really self-satifying part of the day was when we bought a new kitchen garbage can at RONA this afternoon. A nice black and shiny model that the little one promptly named – Trashy!


She sat with Trashy in the van, carried it in and even talked to it as Trashy was evidently a bit shy to head to her new home under the sink….

Awwwww….. a chip of the ol’ block, she is!

The eldest DNA recipient didn’t make an appearance today. She too is being a bit bipolar cuz she is (again) grounded.

Though I have to admit that she is moving, however incrementally, a bit closer to adulthood and she seems to realise it.

Saturday nights – a time to socialise for some and a time to reflect on one’s kids for others… and marvel at their inate political acumen to boot!


Well, so much for procreating…

Just dismantled my last crib and replaced it with a bed.

Yet, in 1979 if you would have told me that by the time I hit my mid-40’s, I woulda spawned 3 mini-me’s… well, I woulda told ya you were on a sweet herb.

It’s a bit sad. That’s it. No more babies. No more cribs. No more.

Great in a big way, but very much a reminder of my own mortality in another.

But he had a big, big smile on face when he lay down in his “big boy’s bed” tonight. And that, my friends, makes parenthood, however finite, worth every moment.


On a day like this, I can’t diss anyone – even Harper!

Ah. ‘Tis one of those o-too-rare Ottawa days where the sun is shining, the temps are comfortable, there’s a little breeze in the air and even the kids cooperated by not making my early morning too onerous!


I want to bottle up days like these and open them a little during the dark and depression inducing days of January…


What kind of negative or critical scribblings can I come up with? Hmmm… well, went golfing this morning… and, as usual, I was reminded of just how bad a golfer I really am.

But even THAT didn’t matter. It was a fun day in the sun with friends, muskrats and gophers.  I only lost a few balls and didn’t re-injure my latissimus muscle.

I just scoured the news for something to rant on about re: Our Glorious Leader.  But even the robotman is behaving himself these days. Yeah, there was that whole Catholic faux-pas thing, but who really cares, eh? It is an outdated ritual that belongs in the Dark Ages anyways. Big freakin’ deal.  C’mon Grits – let it go.. if I’m not getting my knickers in a twist about this, then surely your target market ain’t taking it too seriously either.

The subunits are amusing me more than usual lately. The teenmonster has her face “bolt” removed yesterday – her body was rejecting the fact that there was a steel rod embedded just above her cheekbone – go figger.  Addy has been really cuddly lately and was very exciting to start “Treehouse” at her daycare – one level older plus all of her friends had ben transferred there… made her week!

And the O-ster has been speaking SO MUCH lately. Coll stuff that I have NO idea from where he could have picked such phrases as “Cool, man” “OK daddy-O” and, his latest, “bee-zarre dude…”

I love warping molding young minds and personalities.

All in all, Trashy is a happy dude today and is looking forward to a weekend with the family. Yeah, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but then clear up again on Sunday…

Summer in Canada – gotta love it.



Almost time for our vacation

I love my job. I really do. And my Director doesn’t know I have a blog, so I ain’t just sucking up.

My work is intellectually stimulating, pays very well, varies from day to day, and I am fortunate to work with some real kick-ass righteous folks.


I work to live and don’t live to work. Holidays – time away from work – are what I’m about. Spending time outdoors with my family and mellowing out is what propels me forward in life. I mean, look at my subunits, aren’t they amazing?

IMG_3912 Yeah – I’m a proud Papa who likes to spend the bulk of my time with those who matter most to me – The Resident Love Goddess and my kids.

So I am mega looking forward to the next week. Starting Saturday, I will be away from work for a grand total of a week and a bit.  The weather isn’t looking the greatest at this point, but that will (hopefully) change.

I blogged a while back about where we are travelling to so I won’t go into great detail about that.

My biggest challenge will be to keep all of the kids occupied and happy for the week. If the weather holds, it will be a piece of cake. If it rains, we’ll think of something. I figger that ants and other crawly critters will amuse Owen for at least a few days. Addy will be a bit more of a challenge as she needs semi-constant stimulation else the whining kicks in. But she’ll like being around “real” nature.

Torii is bringing a friend along for the trip – yeah, not crazy about a friend coming along on a family vacation but it was either that or having to deal with a moping teen for 7 days and two 5 1/2 hour car trips. I’m a little worried about how exactly Torii will amuse herself for the week.

Here is what I wrote back in March about what Trashy used to do when a teen on this very same lake:

When I became a teen, I was much more preoccupied with “cruisin” in the search of females rather than baiting hooks. And we did find quite a few – females that is. I, along with a childhood friend, Bill – and of course little bro’ Jim – motored around in our 12 foot aluminum boats with the 7.5 hp Mercury outboards clamped to the transoms. We’d see a boat full of bikinis and quite shamelessly pull up alongside to start a conversation and share a smoke or a beer. We met lots of other kids that way who were on the lakes for the same reasons as we were. To meet other teens and to have fun.

Yeah. Speaking of beer. We did lots of stupid things too. Things that would merit my eldest groundings of unequalled proportions. Like, returning from parties at 2am. In the pitch black. With no running lights aside from a Bic lighter. No lifejackets. And we were never drinking, uh, Diet Coke at these parties.

You see why I’m worried?

That aside, I’m pumped.  And if I find the time – and an internet port – I’ll blog a few scribblings while chillin’ in Parry Sound.


Look what those good ol’ boyz are up to in Alberta!

Alberta parents will soon be able to cherry-pick what their kids can and cannot be taught in the province’s schools.

Think that gays and lesbians are hell-bound monstrosities sent to earth by Satan?

No worries!  You can pull your kid out of the class that teaches about sexual orientation (and I guess tolerance and human rights might be taught in these classes too!)

Think that humans were created by a big bearded guy who lives in the sky?

Piece of cake! That Grade 9 biology class where they teach that pesky little “theory” called evolution is NO place for little Johnny!

School boards will have to give parents written advance notice any time classes deal “primarily or explicitly” with religion, human sexuality and sexual orientation, or risk facing a human rights complaint as punishment..

This is obviously a move designed to keep the christian wackos happy and the back wood rednecks from reachin’ for their guns.

I have no problem at all with parents choosing how they want little Johnny or Jane taught. That’s what private schools are for.  But if you want to suck at the teat of publicly-funded education, then accept the curriculum as designed by the educators!

Next thing you know, they’ll have separate but publicly-funded school baords and schools based on religion or language!

Wait a minute, that’s Ontario!



What is middle age?

Middle age – I have never quite understood where that begins and ends. The term is often used to denote the years between, say, 45 and 60. Or 40 and 55.

But if it is a term that is supposed to denote the “middle” of one’s life, then, given modern life expectancies, anything older than 40 or so is a little unrealistic. I seriously doubt that most of us envision seeing our 90th or 100 birthday cake – unless it is served by ol’ Mr. Death.


So, if not a temporal term, what does “middle aged” mean?

  • It has a physical connotation.

Many of us note that, upon reaching our 40’s, the girth of our “middles” becomes much harder to predict or control. One’s belt size increases by leaps and bounds if left unchecked. And even those who are saintly about their diets and have an exercise regime that would make a UFC fighter blush still struggle to keep the inches off their torso.

In the past month, I have made a real effort to watch what I eat. Yeah, right – I watch that bagel go from the platter to my gaping yaw. But I have been hitting the gym for an hour FOUR TIMES A WEEK! True, I have seen a bit of progress and my biceps are tighter than they’ve been in years. But I’m still in my size 38 jeans and feel that I’m about 25 pounds over what I should be. Sigh.

And I find that my travails are not dissimilar from others of my vintage.

Unless you’re one of those freaks with the metabolism of the Tasmanian Devil who can eat all you want and do zero exercise and STILL fit into your size 32’s. Yeah. I hate you all! You suck.

  • You are in the middle of your career. Or the upper middle if you’ve kept your nose clean.

By the time we hit 45 or so, many of us have a pretty good idea about where we want to spend the next 15 or 20 working years. No harm in staying at the position and the level that you currently occupy – but some see the brass ring and throw their considerable weight into grasping that damned thing and riding it off to the world of executive washrooms and really boring meetings about stuff like “strategizing” and “enriching competencies”.

In the public service, you can move from one of the working level classifications to be an “EX”… standing for Executive. Or Exhausting. I’m not sure which is true.

And in the PS, there are no perqs associated with being an EX. MUCH more work with marginally better pay. Yet, if ou have passed those middle years and have not jumped to that exalted state, well – ya probably won’t get there in this lifetime.

  • Your opinions become more “middle of the road”.

I know a lot of middle-agers like this. They have mellowed. More grey than black or white. More white bread than multigrain. More Julia Roberts than that chick from L.A. Ink.


More – well, you get the picture.

Happily – I’m not like this and seriously doubt I will ever be.

This middle-aged guy is gonna stay on the upslope as long as he can. I don’t like the notion of becoming something I despised as a teen. Though that is likely already too late.

Well, I don’t think any of the above is what I would consider to be “middle-aged”. For me, it is a state of mind rather than a set of years, the size of your waistline, the state of your career or your tendency to sell out to “the man”. I despise the thought of getting old. I don’t even really like old folks. They can’t drive worth a crap and they often stink to high heaven as they run around in those motorised scooters.


Me, I’m staying generic – no age applicable. And until my kids put me on an ice floe, that’s where I’ll stay, thank-you very much!

Hmm, maybe it’s time for another tattoo?


Parent versus non-parents, deuxième partie

I scribbled a post a while back that talked a bit about the differences between those of us who have propagated and those who have chosen not to. I received a bit of flack for calling non-parents “ignorant” and upon reflection, this was likely not the best word to use. But I stand by what I said in the text.

And I’m adding to it.

Unless they are mentally unbalanced or an addict of some ilk, a parent will do whatever it takes to care for the health of their child. They will lose sleep, work extra hours, sacrifice their own clothes so that the child can be adequately dressed. They will give them their last scrap of food when food is scarce.

They will take a bullet for them, jump in front of a train to save them, dive into icy waters to rescue them.

They will die for them.

And so it is for my kids. All of the above applies to me for any of the three of my kids.

Oddly, I didn’t want kids when I was in my 20’s and still more oddly, I feel that having them is a lifelong commitment. It won’t end when they are grown and on their own.

So when the well-being of one of them is threatened, I jump into rescue hero mode and do whatever it takes to pull them back from whatever poses the threat.

Some of you may be aware that we have had a bit of a health scare with my little boy over the past few months. After a “minor” (yeah, right) surgery, it seems that all is OK and his affliction can be attributed to a nasty little bacteria. But, Holy Cowabunga! The Resident-Love-Goddess and I have been on pins and needles! It isn’t until the health of your child is directly threatened that you are reminded of the strength of that bond between parent and child.

Another example.

My eldest subunit decided to turn vegetarian last summer. No problem – I totally respect that. There is evidence that points to that lifestyle being a helluva lot healthier than the one adopted by we carnivores!

As long as you eat the right things and take supplements, one can be a healthy little camper.

And therein lies the rub. No matter what her 4 parents tell her, she just-won’t-eat-properly! She’s not getting enough protein nor enough iron. We think that she is becoming anaemic as she is always sick and getting as pale as a ghost. But she just won’t listen.

The kid has been turning a maturity corner lately as she is getting excited about her post-secondary life. Her grades have picked up and even her attitude – while still FAR from ideal – seems to be improving.

But she is making herself ill by NOT eating properly and her parents are at their collective wit’s end!

And there is very little that we can do about it. She has to realise that being a vegetarian has health consequences if care is not exercised and she has to either fix her diet or go back to eating meat.

My kids’ – the toddler’s and the teen’s – health issues are very different but they are both realistically out of my control. I can take the little one to doctor appointments and the follow-up. I can suffer through 2 hours of waiting while he was in surgery. But his health was in the hands of the doctors and his own young body’s ability to heal itself.

For my teen, I can talk to her, plead with her, buy her foods and vitamins BUT the final decision is her’s.

I would do anything to fix either of their problems. Anything! If I believed in the existence of a soul, I would look up the red, horned guy in the phone book and try to do a deal!

And that, my friends, is a main difference between parents and non-parents. It isn’t the late nights or the cuddly times or thrill of hearing the first word or seeing the first step.

Those without kids will and can never feel the pain of their child and the resultant agony felt by the parent in knowing that in spite of your best efforts and in spite of doing everything “right”, that it is sometimes not enough. I can’t always “rescue” my kids – whether it be from poor eating habits or a nasty little bacteria.

And that pain is unlike any other.


Aside from my son, who else was born on this day?

Today is my little boy’s 2nd birthday! The weekend is going to be rife with celebrations – though I have asked my son to keep the debauchery and late nights to a minimum!

Happy Birthday Owen! Hard to believe that two years have swept by already. Of course, I am just as incredulous when my 5 year old and 16 year old blow out the candles on yet another birthday cake.

So, Owie, I thought it would fun to see who else of import was born this day:

1924 Marlon Brando, Jr.


Brando – Très cool. I’ve always wanted to act. And while I could never measure up to someone like Brando, I think I’d be pretty good at it. I have just never gotten around to trying. Take my advice kid, don’t put stuff like this off – cuz before you now it, you’re an old coot like me!
1941 Jan Berry


Jan and Dean were a killer group – another cool birthday mate!
1942 Wayne Newton


Yikes! Is he still human? Have Wayne and Michael Jackson shared a plastic surgeon?

OK – Wayne is on the negative side of the ledger! Sorry kid – But I had to scare you awake!

1944 Tony Orlando

Sure, Tony Orlando (and Dawn) put out some cheesy songs like Tie a Yellow Ribbon amd Knock Three Times. But there were a helluva lot of tunes that were a helluva lot worse at that time! Are you gonna have zero musical talent like your Dad? Or are you going to tend toward your Uncle Jimbo’s flair for music?
1961 Eddie Murphy

One of my all-time funny men! Definitely a good guy to be sharing a birthday with! I hope you have a sense of humour that is as original as Eddie’s! Or as whacked as mine!

1972 Jennie Garth


I don’t know about you, but I have always thought that Kelly Taylor was the hottest of the hot on BH 90210.  Sure Shannon Doherty had a lot going for her but Jennie wins the hottie credits! Being a guy, Owen, I know you can appreciate this.

So there you go, kid. Maybe in another 10 or 12 years, you can look up an archived version of this post to see how your old man managed to waste away a half hour of his time in your honour!

And did I mention that it’s 4:35 am?

Happy birthday, son.