Goodbye Rick Mercer and thanks for the memories

Like millions of other Canadians this week, I watched the final episode of the Rick Mercer Report Tuesday night.

For the past 15 years, Rick Mercer has been a staple in our household most Tuesday nights.

What struck me the most when I watched his final episode was how much his show personified what it means to be Canadian and the best about our country.

I’ve been lucky to see Rick in action twice over the years—once in Kingston when he did a segment on a national tree climbing competition in Lake Ontario Park, and last November at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Both times he was engaging, funny, genuinely happy to meet and learn about people, and clearly proud to showcase the best about our country.

On Tuesday’s show, Rick did a special tribute to all the para-athletes he’s interviewed over the years. While we still have a long way to go in making Canada accessible, I believe thanks to legislation and guys like Rick, who have illuminated the wit, grace, and determination of people with disabilities, we are more aware and understanding of the needs and unique talents of this segment of our population.

Another segment was dedicated to politicians. There were some clips I hadn’t seen before (how did I miss the show where he and Bob Rae jumped into a lake buck naked?) I couldn’t help but contrast the relationship between Canadian media and our politicians with the United States.

While there is still an appropriate level of adversarial criticism and oversight, necessary for the media to do their jobs, the Rick Mercer Report personified how accessible our politicians are to the media, and the deep-rooted respect Canadians have for those who devote their lives to public office.

Through the Rick Mercer Report, we were able to explore the best of our country. From showcasing schools raising funds for Spread the Net to end malaria in third world countries, to the weird, wacky and wonderful events and people from coast to coast, Rick was our own personal Sherpa each week, taking us to new places and adventures across the land.

In his “Go See Canada” rant, Rick urged us to explore Canada, saying “I know in my heart of hearts, we would be better, stronger, and more unified if more Canadians could make it their business to see more of Canada.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to go see Canada. Thanks for the memories Rick. All the best in your next adventure.

And in case you missed it, I almost fell off my chair laughing this week watching Rick’s Seven-Day Forecast, especially since we’re frozen in this never-ending winter. Here it is again for your viewing pleasure.

Ed. note: A political note, thank you CBC for bringing Rick into our homes each week. Shows like the Rick Mercer Report would never exist if we didn’t have a publicly funded broadcaster. Keep them coming, and for all of you who fear going into withdrawal each Tuesday night, there’s still This Hour Has 22 Minutes, one of the best on television.

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Wage war on summer’s tormentors

deer flies on hatI am Canadian. I live in the woods. But I have never, and will never make peace with bugs.

You’ve heard me say before it’s a cruel joke that when the weather gets nice, the bugs get brutal. First it’s blackflies, then mosquitoes, and then the scumbugs of the insect world, the dreaded deer fly.

When it comes to bugs, I choose to go on the offensive. Bug zappers are an effective weapon for mosquitoes, but not for deer and horse flies. No siree, when it comes deer flies, you have to unleash summer’s secret weapon: the deer fly patch.

If you’ve never used a deer fly patch before, let me educate you. It’s a sticky strip of tape that you attach to the back of your hat. When the deer fly lands on your hat, bam, you got him! He sticks to the strip like glue. You can even watch him trying to lift his spindly legs and see the look of panic in his beady little eyes when he knows his buzzing days are over.

On our nightly walks, we make it a contest—who can capture the most deer flies with one strip. I beat Clare this week with lucky thirteen, but there was one time when I came back with 23 deer flies on my hat after a long canoe trip. That’s my all-time record.

This week’s #HappyAct is to get a deer fly patch, or share your favourite weapon of bug destruction. I’m curious whether anyone has tried those high end bug zappers at Canadian Tire. Do they work? We need to stick together and share intelligence in the war against bugs. Leave a comment.

deer fly strip package

Play in the big leagues

girl watching zamboniYesterday, we attended the Empire Life children’s Christmas party at the KROCK Centre in Kingston. It’s always a fantastic event with Santa, crafts, cupcakes and lots of good cheer.

The absolute best part of this annual party for our family is being able to skate on the KROCK Centre rink. For one day, we get to play in the big leagues.

We swish down the long straightaways past the blue lines and centre line to the sounds of Christmas music on the loud speakers. I marvel at how big the place is—the rink is cavernous. I look up at the bright lights and ads adorning the walls of the rink, the big Canadian flag and scoreboard and my co-workers eating pizza in the stands. We feel like we have the whole arena all to ourselves.

We play a serious game of tag. The kids are too fast now—I can’t catch them, but have fun trying. We watch from the visitor’s bench as the Zamboni makes its rounds, leaving the ice a slate of sheer beauty. It’s so perfect you feel like you’re skating on glass. Grace and Clare perch at the opening to the door on the bench, determined to be the first back on the ice.

Yes, it was a great day. A day when you can imagine, just for a moment playing in the big leagues.

This week’s #HappyAct is to find something you can do with your friends or family that makes you dream big. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your own rink of dreams.

Ed. Note: As a follow-up to last week’s blog, I posted the question “Does being a leader make you happy” on Quora. You can see the conversation here.

Buy a bug zapper

Lady with bug zapper
Practicing my form on the back deck

It’s a cruel joke when you live in Canada that as soon as the weather gets warm, the bugs come out. First, it’s swarms of black flies, followed by mounds of mosquitoes, then the cavalry arrives in the form of deer flies and horse flies that literally take a chunk out of your skin when they bite you.

I have found solace in this world of insects. It’s called a bug zapper.

The first bug zappers were potent. You could see the electricity coursing through the electric coils, and see and hear the spark when the bug got zapped. The latest versions have been dialed down a bit, probably because too many kids stuck their finger or tongue in them and got hurt.

To me, bug zappers are one of the pure joys of summer. They allow you to shift power and take back control in the war against bugs.

This week’s Happy Act is to buy a bug zapper. Don’t be driven indoors or let pesky pests spoil your summer. It will be the best $1.50 you’ll spend.