Saturday, December 29, 2007

One for the Ages

The plan for the trip home was 12 hours. That's almost optimal.

Stunningly, it was 26 hours, replete with weather delays, an all-nighter in the Montreal airport, and 4 layovers: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago.

Essentially, it was like 5 two-hour flights interspersed within 16 hours of waiting time.

Fun! But I'm home now.... a great trip otherwise. Pretty wiped out though.

CC

epilogue: My checked bag showed up in StL immediately, as though the travel gods were saying "see? no harm, no foul". But I'm not buying it.

ps. At least I'm not sick. Last year was worse (I was very sick). Poor Colleen had consumption all through Christmas.

Friday, December 28, 2007

She's Shutdown Solid

My flight was canceled out of Ch'town, mostly due to fear of the storm.

We did get 15 cm (~6 inches) but it fell straight down and isn't a big deal. I fly out later today (Friday) and arrive in StL on Saturday morning after an all-nighter in Montreal.

Nothing is easy, eh?

The good news is that I booked with some slack before BryGuy's and Miss C's wedding (precisely for this kind of contingency).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Index

It has been another great trip.... I'm leaving in 5 hours (gah). There was snow on the ground for Christmas and another 2 inches tonight.

In the style of Harper's Index, here is a recap of the week....

# of homesteads visited: 9
# of wakes/funerals attended: 1 (this part was not 'great'. RIP.)
# of calories ingested: 200,000
# of miles run: 0
# of laughs: oodles
# of old memories: countless
# of new memories: we'll see

It was a pleasure to see each and every one... Peace out. Have a great New Year's Eve, eh?

Stay tuned for the CC year 2007 in review. It ain't gonna be pretty for my personal goals. How about you?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hello Stars, My Old Friend

(Ed's note: It is past 1 am local time. This post may prove to be as useful as trying to explain a dream to someone. We'll see in the morning.)


As a kid, Boxing Day meant traveling to the eastern part of the Island to visit relatives. Often, on the drive back from 'down east', I would look up at the night sky, full of stars. I appreciated them but never took the time to learn the constellations.

As I have lamented in the past, I had no idea how lucky I was, from an astronomical perspective: very little light pollution and a clean atmosphere.

Tonight, I was Down East, driving from Murray Harbor to home in Cornwall. Throughout the evening, I noticed the sky but on my way home, circa 11:30 pm, I pulled over on a long, dark, and desolate road outside of Montague.

The night air was still: crisp but not freezing. It was eeriely quiet. A full moon shone down like a photo-negative sun. And the stars were still there, as though I had never left. Dozens, in every direction. Big easies like Orion and the Dippers. Formations that were surely something but more difficult -- Cassiopia? And a myriad number of little anonymous clusters. Bright, dim, crisp, blurry.

The last time I lived on The Island was 1991. These stars, this view, was now both exotic, foreign, and yet familiar. In the north, the night sky has infinite patience: it greets the prodigal sons and daughters with unconditional, timeless beauty. No questions asked.

It is the sons and daughters who ask the questions.

CC

ps. I drove through Charlottetown via University Avenue, just like old times. And partly to spite both progress and readers of this blog.

Friday, December 21, 2007

If You're Gonna Go Cheesy, Go All the Way

Christmas In Killarney

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen.
Is Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home...

It's nice, you know, to kiss your beau,
While cuddling under the mistletoe.
And Santa Claus you know, of course
Is one of the boys from home...

The door is always open:
The neighbors pay a call;
And Father John before he's gone
Will bless the house and all...

How grand it feels to click your heels,
And join in the fun of the jigs and reels!
I'm handing you no blarney:
The likes you've never known,
Is Christmas in Killarney,
With all of the folks at home.

See you soon, PEI.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and a Happy New Year to all....


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Appetite for Construction

St Louis will soon undergo a prolonged (2 year?) shutdown of a major highway: the dreaded I-40.

The town is abuzz with the prospect for chaos in early '08 and general suffering through '09.

For Islanders, imagine that University Avenue or the Stratford bridge were shutdown for 2 years. Wicked.

It will impact me only peripherally (I hope). I have been avoiding 40 for months just on principle.

I only post this because I think I coined the title before anyone else in this town. (hello, Guns n Roses fans).

peace
CC

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad



Happy Birthday to Charles!

I hope it's a great day back home....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Travel Plans and New Year's Eve

Hey Islanders!

I'll be back on The Island soon.... arriving late Friday Dec 21 and teleporting back crazy early on Dec 28. She'll be a breezy trip but I'm looking forward to seeing you all!

I'm not a big New Year's person but this year will be great. Long time readers know that BryGuy and Miss C will be 'completing the merger' (no jokes from me) of Dogtown Inc! Very cool stuff....

CC

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Like Night and Day

The Last Run

3 pm. Our hero looks ponderously through the windshield. He is at the base of Heartbreak Hill, the steep ascent at his apartment complex. It is the final run for the summer stickies on Rowdy, his black Honda.

Grimacing, he grips the wheel. And guns 'er. He knows from past experience that the ice & snow cover on this hill is treacherous. He has seen dozens of vehicles lose their momentum and merely polish their tires at the midway point.

However, Rowdy is front-wheel drive: this car requires more care. One cannot simply gun 'er, for if grip is lost, then so too is steering. And many cars are parked along the hill. A dangerous game.

Our hero zooms along the base, running a faux stop sign, hitting 12 mph. Any faster would be reckless. Any slower would be pointless. He guides the car into the curve and begins to climb.

The car loses grip immediately. Shifting into higher gears, the car gains a bit of speed and yet reduces torque. The speedo clocks in at 30 mph but the car is barely climbing the hill.

After a long 2 minutes, our hero crests the grade. Miraculously, he has done it.

He may be an absent-minded philosopher without mechanical skill or a sense of winter planning, but so too: he is a driver.

The First Run

5 pm. After a pleasant visit to the local NTB store, Rowdy and our hero sit again the base. Now, Rowdy is shoed with high performance all-season tires. Also, the alignment has been corrected. They both grin wickedly at this litmus test for the new rubber.

Without fanfare, our hero kicks Rowdy into gear. Intentionally, there are no momentum games and no exotic gear-shifts. This is is an honest test.

They come off the base at 7 mph... the tires bite into the snowpack. Slowly, and without wheelspin, the car climbs the hill with a sense of purpose and calm, almost as though being pulled by a tow-line at a ski hill.

Both runs had a sense of inevitability: however the latter is based on sound engineering principles, rather than clever skill and megalomania. It's less fun, but a lot more promising for the winter ahead.

ps. NTB = National Tire and Battery. I think I like them better than Dobbs. And certainly better than Sears re: Jennifer's experience. I miss Canadian Tire (separate post).

Silly Snowy Shutdown

Peter Jennings, the legendary ABC News anchor, was Canadian. One time, he confessed that he failed to give a particular snow storm enough coverage because winter weather is so common back in Canada: it wasn't newsworthy.

Pete is my only shred of dignity down here in St Louis.

The last years of Herbie (the Miata) were shameful in winter: many pushes, bummed rides, and general embarrassment as our hero, a Canadian, was stuck in 3-4 inches of snow while the Americans drove around freely.

Though the Miata is not a great winter car, one notes that St Louis does not have Great Winters: they are generally tame with the occasional bluster. The problem was a lack of 'Tire Awareness' on the part of the owner.

Tire Awareness

Tire awareness is roughly defined as knowing the current state of one's tires, both in terms of wear and their rating for snow & ice. It is perhaps my greatest weakness as a driver.

Alas, the story continues: a lack of tire awareness currently has the new car (Rowdy, a Honda) stuck at a gas station. Actually, it is tire negligence since I knew that the new ride had performance tires geared for dry, if not summer, conditions.

I tried to venture out to a birthday party last night. About 4 inches (10 cm) of snow had fallen... Not good. I made it about a mile away until stopped at an intersection with a slight incline. I've come to hate inclines. For a spell in 2005, I would plan entire routes based on favorable inclines.

No accidents or damage (I think) but the requisite push at an intersection and the Walk of Shame back to the apartment. Plus I nailed a couple of curbs.

A subtext here is the handling characteristics of a front-wheel drive car versus a rear-wheel drive car. I know the difference quite well, but it is astounding to see it in action. Essentially, rear-wheel drive cars are finicky but predictable. Front-wheel drive cars are stable until they ain't, and then, as Dad says "you go in a straight-line until you hit something". Fun!

And so after a blissful 6 months with no vehicular stress, we now face the prospect of buying all-season tires under duress, and the questions about what to do with the car in the mean time. After all, it is parked at a gas station, where the attendants don't really speak English and may soon believe that the car is a gift for their lackluster service.

Good times! Oh, and I'm flying home in 4 days. LOL. I may bring back some tires.

ps. That Subaru WRX STi is looking better and better. Perhaps the 15 MPG and hearing loss would have been worth it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

New Channel

I've started putting 'the tele' on BBC World in the mornings.... It's not the beloved CBC but it works for me: nice to get world news that doesn't directly involve a certain country *ahem*.

I suspect 2008 will be about keeping in touch with Canada. A recent thought: perhaps the CBC is available via satellite? Now we are talking. (I know they stream stuff online but that kinda bites, IMHO).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thermal Bliss

When in bed, I spend a lot of time thinking about how warm I am (or should be).

My apartment is about 67 F and kinda drafty. The first hour in bed is chilly but then my superhero metabolism cranks the temps way up.

Here is a quick inventory of the top layers:
  • lately, socks and shirt and/or PJs (4 CCTUs)
  • flannel sheet (1 CCTU = CC Thermal Unit)
  • a tightly knitted blanket (3 CCTUs)
  • a dark-blue afghan made by Mom (2 CCTUs but high sentimental value)
  • a down-filled comforter (5 CCTUs). This is the fire-starter. Bought over the Christmas holidays for $100 (down from $250!) circa 1997. Money well-spent.
I don't know why I'm writing this either, but that's 15 CCTUs. Comfy.

ps. I have another of Mom's afghans (tri-colour blue) on the couch. I have spent probably 5% of my life napping under an afghan. I still remember a giant one we had growing up. Green & gold... maybe some orange too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Late Summer on the Island

I'm working at the new gig with an old friend. A wonderful woman named Berlin.... she is hilarious and a patient, clever developer.

Big news from random dot com: her daughter is getting married next September, on Prince Edward Island! She visited a few years ago and loved it.

That's awesome..... Berlin forgot where I was from in Canada but the topic came up recently.

Beethoven's 5th

The comment on the last post has me in a writing mood.

In Mozart's day, the gist of a symphony was 4 movements: each one would basically have 2 musical ideas which were presented separately, then interplayed in a middle, 'development' section.

Mozart was very clever and would sometimes introduce 3 ideas. Sometimes, when 200 years of convention would dictate that an idea should be in a major key (given the previous idea), he would use a minor key. Subtle, but witty stuff.

Beethoven kicked down the door, ushering in the Romantic era. Though not the first example, the best example is the ubiquitous 5th symphony. It takes that single idea (you know it) and pursues it furiously -- almost insanely. It was terrifying for audiences of the day.

Beethoven broke all kinds of rules. The glorious 9th symphony re-uses ideas from other movements (crazy!) and of course employs a chorus in the finale, Ode to Joy (influencing a famous tech blogger some 200 years later).

ps. Their personal lives rivaled any rock star of today. Esp. Liszt and Paganinni.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jupiter

(My apologies if I owe you an email... Things have been pretty crazy lately. Up at 4 am a lot, not from worry per se, but either excited about the new gig or awakened by my Neanderthal neigbours.)

In 1994, my GF and I joined a mail-order book club. 10 books free! The last one that I chose was a lark: What to Listen for in Mozart (click here).

The book changed my life. It explained the structure of classical music (in particular, the sonata form), and described Mozart's life in riveting detail. I plunged into a period of intense devotion to Mozart. I remember watching Amadeus during this time and noting historical inaccuracies. For about 3 months, I listened to Mozart every day.

The book analyzed 3 pieces, including the 41st symphony, known as The Jupiter. This was one of three symphonies written in a 6-week span in 1788. To this day, no one knows why Wolfgang wrote these symphonies: he had no 'buyers' for a work and was seriously down on his luck (he would die 3 years later).

As a birthday gift, BryGuy took his Pa and I to see the 41st at Powell Hall on Sunday. It was wonderful. A special treat was that the conductor/musical director gave an hour lecture before the performance. Among his thoughts on the 41st:
  • Mozart had been studying Bach's fugues (playing melodies against themselves) at this time. The influence appeared in many places, but none more so than the finale of The Jupiter. Wolfgang develops 5 distinct melodies and plays them off one another. With some study, it is easy to identify each of them: they pop up like old friends.
  • In the recap of the finale, Wolfgang pulls out all the stops and juggles all 5 melodies in various sections of the orchestra. To quote the conductor: "If you have taken a formal class in music theory, you know that writing a 5-part harmony is theoretically impossible". Such is Mozart.
  • Quoting the conductor again: for all the things the human race has done of which we cannot be proud, Mozart holds up The Jupiter as a shining example of what we can accomplish.
Thanks, BryGuy. It was a wonderful performance.

Check out Mozart's 41st symphony on iTunes. The first and esp. 4th movements are where it's at. If you like it, you may want to check out the magnificent 40th, a rare work in a minor key. I could write pages on the 40th. It is much more sinister, and even more gorgeous.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Random Acts of Genius

Check out this story... For Canadian readers, Goodwill is a non-profit organization which accepts donations of clothing and other goods and sells them at reasonable prices to less affluent shoppers.

Until now: in DC, they have people sifting through the clothing, looking for vintage apparel, which is very much in vogue these days, in the eyes of affluent shoppers. These hidden gems are sold on an online auction site for big bucks, which is then invested back into Goodwill.

Check out the story here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Grab Bag Update

Wow... I stop blogging for a week and ye olde mail bag is filled with requests! The interns at CC HQ are working around the clock to ensure peeps that all is well.

I've had some semi-serious stuff to think on lately and sort of went reclusive.

Also, I've been busy: started the 2nd stint at the new client site, which is going fantastic. I'm working with some of my favourite people and we are at the very beginning of a new version of the software. The software is for a medical device, so the cause is just, and we have a domain expert (microbiologist) who is very passionate about his product. Excellente'

Turning to sports, the dreaded Jim G and I teamed up with 2 others to run a marathon relay: a big ol' marathon chopped into 8 pieces. We each ran 2 x 5 K legs. Sadly, Jim G and I ran identically for both legs, and not fast. I have hardly worked out in 2 months but have been eating like an Ironman. It catches up. But, soon, the next tri is in February.

From the "hello?" files: hello, it's December ?? When did that happen.

In weather, the lil' hot hatchback will be interesting in winter. In part because the car is new to me: e.g. it heats up pretty quickly but not as fast as the Miata, which had roughly the same cabin space as a toaster oven. It's nice to have a rear window defroster. The big issue will be tires: it has some snazzy summer stickys on it and I can tell already that that situation will need to be altered soon.

That's a wrap from CC Central. Peace out.






Sunday, November 25, 2007

EMail Eclipse

I'm starting a different gig with an old, familiar client site on Monday. This is Good News!

However, please note that I will be off of personal email during the day. Feel free to call me or text -- that's not a problem. But email will be, er, temporally decoupled (to use an academic geek term) for awhile.

Many readers on the inside may wonder if I have come to a decision (vis-a-vis ominous Micropost and other hints in the posts). I have sort of come to a decision but still need to discuss with some people.

ps. I'm sure that CC readers, being among the brightest on the web, will have an intuitive sense for temporal decoupling. Essentially, the idea is that IT systems don't have to do everything "right now". For example, on eBay, posting a bid is indeed a "right now" action but submitting a rating on a bidder is not: it can be temporally decoupled from the bidding system (i.e. it doesn't have to be processed immediately, and the effects need not be seen at the same time by everyone).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Leftover Turkey and Philosophy

T-day eve was wonderful at Fred & Hegemom's, and the food was awesome! I haven't had turkey in forever, and both it and all the fixings were fantastic. Like a Dickens novel, I pocketed food while they weren't looking. (This on top of the big takehome package.)

4 allstar desserts included a grape pie, and a chocolate cake made from a recipe that goes back 65+ years in Fred's family. Among the ingredients: old-fashioned soured milk; and boiled icing (not unlike fudge) that is notoriously tricky to prepare.

Throughout the evening, Hegemom offered this world-view, which is hard to beat:

House policy is that if anyone is too warm/cold, not comfy, or not full, then
action will be taken.

Delightful..... A call to arms!

Their 4-year-old daughter, Olivia, stole the show as always. She just smiles and she steals the show. But I enjoyed this: she asked Papa if she could blow out a candle. Fred cradled the flame somewhat with his palm about 2 inches back. After several meager, failed attempts, Livi said "your hand is too close... I don't want your hand to catch fire". Fred, unknowingly channeling Bill Cosby, says deadpan, "why thank you, that's very thoughtful of you" in such a way that still has me laughing.



Public Service Annoucement for YouTube

YouTube really offers the best and worst that people can come up with.

The Worst

There's a phenomenon on YouTube where people record others 'reacting' to videos being played on a laptop etc. Often the videos are way too much for YouTube but easily found on the web.

You might be curious but believe me, you will react negatively. They are usually shock videos. One colleague unknowingly did a Google search, viewed a site, and said he was nearly sick.

The Best

The following vids make me very grateful that I completed my education before YouTube, because if I had YT in high school, that would have been bad.

e.g. Here are 4 great guitar vids:
  • A fun spoof of Van Halen. (click here) Note the applause and the Black Sabbath /Iron Man reference circa 0:55.
  • Here is a kid in Brazil. (click here). He goes into crazy pyrotechnics but I just love the backing groove in the first 20 seconds.
  • The legendary Eric Johnson circa 1986 (click here). This guy is an angel from heaven. This tune, Cliffs of Dover, is a masterpiece (it starts in earnest circa 2:13). Possibly my favourite instrumental on guitar.
  • I have to atone for the VH spoof with Eruption from 1995 (click here). This tune is probably the best known 2 minutes in all of guitar history. The part from 0:50 to 1:02 is just gorgeous (and not in the original on the CD).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

CC in Action

Factoid 1: I'm currently 9th of 26 in the multisport league through FleetFeet (click here). That's cool, though often there is a flurry of results (from summer races) that alter the standings.

Factoid 2: Here is an action shot at the last tri. This is entering T2 from the bike to the run. Dismounting.... be sure to note the tri bars at the front of the bike. Those are cool status symbols and distinguishes us from the typical biker.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thankgiving

A hearty Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

May your travels be safe, your homes filled with laughter, and the table full with feast, eh?

As a street urchin from the Great White North, I have celebrated with a few friends over the years (and sometimes alone, which is not weird for me but is disturbing for these kind people).

This year, I will be dining with my dear friends Fred and Diamond-Tier CC Commentator, Chairman Mom. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Grrrrrrr

Grr #1: It is 2 am. I have been wakened, yet again, by the Pitbull of Tyranny running around on the patio deck above me (i.e. my roof). For the first time, I have heard the canine urinate. As I write this, I am just begging for that dog to be let out one more time tonight so I can go upstairs and get angry.

Grr #2: While lying awake in bed, I contemplated the fact that my sister didn't reply to a request to call me tonight. Then I realized that I have the phone ringers off in the apt because, 2 days ago, I was receiving perpetual calls from a fax machine at 5:30 am.

Colleen, my apologies.

I am ready for war.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scorpio



I'm not big on astrology, but I do love being Scorpio.

We are the dark, brooding sign, the Batman of the Zodiac. Even the postive attributes have an edge to them (the oft-used intense).


Once, at a Grateful Dead camp-out, I had my palm read. Or some zodiac mojo analysis or something. The woman looked up my birth year/etc in the charts and said, "wow, you are pure Scorpio".

Damn straight. I have too many commitment issues for a tattoo but these signs are way up there on the list.

The symbol certainly fits, given my real name, n'est-ce-pas?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stand Strong

I'm in some negotiations right now. I can't really go into details.

But I can offer some great advice, received from the Hegemom:

Stand Strong.

Amen, sistah!

Though Vic would qualify with "but don't be an idiot" (which is implicit in the original advice).

Speaking of standing, there is much use of the phrase "stand down" in the American media, particularly with respect to Iraq. e.g. "When the Iraqi troops stand up, we will stand down".

I remember peaceful times when people only stood up and sat down. Perhaps the verb "to sit" isn't strong enough for a military scenario. One doesn't really see Bruce Willis in some gritty war movie called "Victory or Sit Down".

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Remote Control on MTV

We didn't get MTV back home in Canada. Many of us didn't have anything (if we didn't have cable TV) but even if we did, we had MuchMusic, pioneered by the legendary Moses Znaimer.

I just found out that MTV had a show in the 1980s called Remote Control. Apparently a common segment was called "Dead or Canadian", in which contestants had to guess the status of someone based on their name.

That's pretty funny.... I looked on YouTube but no luck

CC

ps. Moses Znaimer created CityTV which is essentially a Toronto-based TV network. He pioneered the now-commonplace setting for news in which the "backstage" is fully displayed as the foreground.

pps. Much like MTV, MuchMusic was awesome in the 1980s and now pretty much sucks. Although I haven't seen it in over a decade.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Vegas Is My Kind of Town

A great time in Vegas! Too many inside jokes and insanity to mention at this point.... A Hall of Fame trip, as anticipated. Over 48 hours inside an old-school casino/hotel with very little oxygen. We'll call it cardio training.

However, there was an excursion to The Strip! Check out the latest sticker campaign on the tech blog (click here).

The gag is that Apple recently released a version of its operating system, nicknamed Leopard. To the surprise of (some) Java developers, the release did not feature the latest version of Java, known as Java 6. So the "protesters" hit the streets on The Strip in LV.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What Happens In Vegas Gets Blogged

I'm off to Vegas for the weekend!

Poker, stickers, Capt Jack outfits, and fun with BryGuy's entourage....

Stay tuned. If you don't hear from me by Tuesday, then tell the world my story. You may not know my story, but just make up something nice.

CC

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lick of the Day

Here's a great new blog ! Lick of the Day.

No, it's not by KK but rather a very talented guitar player in the fam.... My bro-in-law. (We just go by "bro" which is cool).

Check it out.... Throw it on your blogrolls! I'm going to do so soon, once I actually get a blogroll.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Christina's Great Idea

My friend Christina has a fantastic Halloween idea....

Instead of the usual candy, she hands out books to the children.

How awesome! She and Traci have done this for a couple of years now and the kids are beginning to remember the idea. I think they hit used bookstores in the weeks leading up to the Big Night.

Perfecto!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Social Scene in St Louie

hey, local readers! Be sure to check out these upcoming events:

  • The St Louis International Film Festival will soon be upon us! Mid-November. Check out all the action at this site.
  • The symphony is offering Mozart's 41st symphony (aka The Jupiter) in December. Though my alltime favourite is the miraculous 40th, The Jupiter is stellar... or planetary. I can never remember. Factoid: the 4th movement takes a simple theme and plays it against itself (in fugato). Mozart had been studying the dusty works of an esoteric, relatively unknown composer named J.S. Bach. Bach had died decades earlier and would not receive his resurgence in popularity until long after Mozart.

Weekend in Review

Here's some tidbits from the weekend:
  • My upstairs neighbour had a party on Friday night. The Pitbull of Pain was out and about on the deck (my roof), chasing toys at 2 am. Great.... I nearly stormed upstairs in whatever I was wearing, but decided otherwise. Many dog-lovers are among the legion of fans of CC dot com so one will be delicate about generalizations. I was not delicate on Friday night.
  • I checked out a small RV/camper for Vic's dad, who was browsing eBay from back home, PEI. That was fun. To avoid getting roped into driving the damn thing (a 1988 Toyota) to the border, I reported that it was up on blocks and that there were crackheads free-basing in the back of it.
  • I ran 10 miles on Sunday afternoon! 'Twas glorious....
and you?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Blogger's Lament

(Another weird, moody post inspired by music playing on the computer at CC dot com)

you are a china shop
and I am a bull.
you are really good food
and I am full.
I guess everything is timing
I guess everything's been said
so I am coming home with an empty head.

you'll say did they love you or what
I'll say they love what I do.
the only one who really loves me is you.
and you'll say boy did you kick some butt?
and I'll say I don't really remember
but my fingers are sore
and my blog is too.

Ani Difranco, You Had Time

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Prince and Tech Blogs

One doesn't often see a Prince song quoted in the title of a tech blog.

Check it out here.

ps. The next post will be #365 ! That's one a day for a year, for those with math anxiety. CC hits a new milestone!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Another Day at the Job Site

*shweeeeeeeeet*

The lunch whistle blows sharply through the air. Break time!

The man, a hard-working crane operator, pulls out his thermos and sets it down on the picnic table. With elbows pressed rudely together, he opens his lunch box and pulls out a tube of PowerGel. Hmmmm.... chocolate. The searing wind blows across his visage and rustles his hair. A hot one, today.

And fast.... Zounds! The picnic table is going 17 miles per hour! This is no standard blue-collar lunch: our hero speeds through the empty corn fields of eastern Missouri, aboard his standard issue Velocitizer, Blackbird. Together they form a dust-devil that twists the short, amputated cornstalks in the barren fields.

He continues to savour his chocolate treat. Awkwardly, he holds the plastic bottle to his lips, squirting Gatorade into his mouth and nose. Mmmmmm. Tasty.

It is warm: 80+ F in October, long after everyone has acclimated to 70 F for weeks. Sweat drips across his face. Worse yet, there is the fever from his sickness which could be anything from a mere cold to low-grade rabies. But he pushes on....

An hour later, he scampers in and out of the shade along a park trail. It is the final leg of the St Peter's RecPlex, and the final leg of the season. There is no rivalry, no heroism, no passion. It is the 6th triathlon of a long, grueling summer. Now, he is truly overheating. The dreaded chills have returned, echoing the ghosts of the Visit to the ER. His fever has escalated to full-blown malaria. In a scant 2 hours, he has gone from the gravel quarries of Missouri to the diamond mines of South Africa. Just a man trying to make his way in a hostile world.

With teeth gritted, he crosses the finish line. 2 hours, 9 minutes. In the 5 outings at this place, it is a middling result -- startlingly good, considering his sickness, and the heat. But there is no cheer from the crowd, no celebration.

Our hero gathers his lunch box and thermos, punches his timecard at the clock, and slowly walks off to the parking lot, with Blackbird in tow. It's quittin' time.

Until next year.

Jim G update

More people have contacted CC HQ about Jim G than about yours truly! (Thank you Vic for keeping the faith)

Here's your report, you ingrates!

Jim G is alive and well. The Chicago marathon of '07 was the hottest on record, and eventually shut down. One guy died and many were hospitalized. Jim G was at mile 18 or so (at a glacial, but wise, pace) when they shut down his part of the race.

Afterwards, exhausted, he was ill and received an IV from a zealous nurse. He was ill again and stayed the night.

Poetry for a New Year

Someone from back home wrote and said that he bought new hockey equipment for his boys, including those giant bags they use to haul their stuff around.

He said, of the younger lad, "the little one wants to sleep in his (gear bag)".

CC

ps. Factoid from the past... Guy Lafleur, star of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s, would sleep in his hockey gear (not bag) as a youth, so that the prep to get to the rink (at 5 am) was shorter.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

2 Years Of Triathlon

What a difference 2 years makes.

In 2005, the autumn RecPlex tri was my 2nd ever, and first against the nefarious Jim G.

I had a hybrid bicycle (akin to a Toyota Camry), trained and packed as though I was going to Mars.

This year, I have about 14 under my belt, and am packing like it's a day trip to KC. I haven't run since the last tri 2 weeks ago. And I'm kinda sick. Jim G won't be there, and I'm like "ah, what the heck, we'll see how she goes".

No new records tomorrow. I just want to have fun and experiment with some new transition strategies. The weather will be so nice that it is a moral imperative (since I've already paid the entry fee). Also, I want to break the top ten in the FleetFeet standings.

CC

ps. In other news, Jim G will be doing the Chicago Marathon tomorrow -- with minimal training and during some serious heat (90 F?). I wish him well.... He's gonna need it! His motivation is that he has been collecting $ for children in Africa.

Being fairly evil, I have donated $2 for every mile he completes. The rub is that if he quits and gets a DNF, it is effectively taking rice from the bowls of infants. That's pressure.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Warm Snap

At 9:30 pm, on this evening in early October, it is 83 F = 28 C (according to TV weatherman).

That's crazy.

This is very good news for the triathlon on Sunday. I'm not sure that I'm up for it (exhaustion, stress, head cold), but at least it will be nice. Unlike 2005 when it was 45 F. (This one is an indoor pool but then a brisk run into a parking lot and onto the bike).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Git R Done

As some of you know, I made a quick shot to Detroit recently to renew my Visa.

All is well... Here are some factoids:
  • I had to leave the US and re-enter, so I was in Canada for the time it takes to do a U-turn around a small city block. I saw a ScotiaBank, a Tim Hortons, and newstands with the Toronto Sun. Neither Windsor nor Detroit have a lot going for it in the aesthetics department, so it was fairly uninspiring.
  • It was great to hear really sharp Canadian accents (I don't have one). There is a ton of travel & commerce across the border and yet the accents are like night & day.
  • However, I did catch the CBC on TV at the hotel. It was 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes'. It seemed so familiar (a studio audience just sounds different between the US and Canada, possibly because the latter are smaller) and yet I didn't get many jokes. I was more stunned by seeing people that I've read about: e.g. I've only heard Stephane Dion speak about 3 times.
  • It is highly strange and humbling to see that your country has carried on just fine without you all these years, and is having a good time to boot.
  • Hyper-light is the way to travel: a giant packing envelope and my ubiquitous backpack. I wore my suit the whole time.
  • It was like an indy movie (re: coddling a giant yellow bubble envelope for 24 hours). I looked like a reject, probably, but it contained my actual university degrees so that thing didn't stray from my side. Those degrees have had a wild life (many airport XRay machines, travel, etc).
  • I thought about asking a border guard to pose with some stickers for the tech blog, but sanity kicked in.
  • It turns out that they do process my Visa 24 x 7 in Detroit, but one guard told me I was wise to come when I did. It is crazy busy on the weekends with hours long waits. I showed up there at 8:45 this morning and was out in an hour.
  • I felt good in my suit (aside from the glaring yellow envelope). Big airports are like bars for business travellers (i.e. meeting places). Alas, I caught a cold and didn't feel very social. Pity.
That's a rap.... True experts on CC will note that I have rarely gone to the border in the past. That's because a previous employer paid for mail-in renewals. That was (sort of) an option this time, until I found out it would preclude my traveling over the holidays. That won't work, so it was off to Detroit.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Wolfgang's Big Night Out


The First Cd I Will Buy In a Long Time

Brian Setzer is awesome. He tackled rockabilly way back in the 1980s (with some alltime favourite songs) and then swing in the 1990s.

Now he's rocked out classical music. If you know me, then you know that the classical composers lived wild, passionate lives that would match any rockstar today. Setzer echoed this sentiment in a recent interview; the thought was the concept behind the album and the title.

I haven't heard much yet but I'm looking forward to it.... lyrics, as well!

Check it out...

I wouldn't be surprised if Hegemom and Fred already have it!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fun Weekend

Check out the tech blog for some fun pics from a recent Java conference.

I have no shame.

The 'models' include the conference organizer and 2 major speakers on the tour.

For geeks, this is awesome. And freaking funny.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perspective, Yet Again

Several nights lately, I'll be driving home and miss my people back in Canada. (Since it is getting late in the year... I'm lucky enough to celebrate my StL people as I'm here.)

Then I'll drive into the parking lot at the apartment and see 2 or 3 dudes walking around, very late at night, talking on the phone.

I'm reasonably confident they are speaking Hindi or one of the languages of India. I believe they are leveraging either cheap long distance windows, or the time zones to call home.

Since grad school, I've met several people from India and China who haven't seen their families in years.

Christmas doesn't seem so far away.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kinkos 1 Frustration 0

Big, big props to Kinko's, the "get office stuff done" company.

My first intro to Kinko's was at the University of Waterloo. There was one right next to campus, where they received a lot of business from the university.

They were a lean, efficient organization then, but now they are unbelievable.

I am having a problem with my USB ports on my computer, so I need to bum an upload link from people to get pics off my phone. Tonight, I tried Kinko's. It cost $2.80 and took 5 minutes. Fantastic....

CC

ps. I scored some pics of big tech geeks with stickers (at the geek conference).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Window of Vulnerability

I normally love September for a variety of reasons:
  • I was in school for 18 years and September was my New Year.
  • The weather.
  • The wonderful mix of hockey, baseball, and football.
Lately, Sept/Oct have been tough:
  • I am faced with fairly major decisions about staying in StL for another year and my career.
  • I haven't seen my family in 9+ months.
In many ways, January is easier, because I've seen everyone and I know The Island for what it is: the ups and downs. As time goes by into the year, it becomes easier to romanticize the good ol' days. By September, there are no bad days on The Island. It's all rosy.

Rose-coloured glasses about home. And new contracts/obligations in St Louis. A good life with great friends in StL. Small decisions that ultimately add up to The Big Picture. Not a fun combination.

One gets emotional.

Best of StL

The local rag, The Riverfront Times has announced the best of StL, 2007.

This is very cool for the locals! It does the following:
  • Gives props to the old classics which win year after year
  • Really provides hints/tips for new places (e.g. Best Sushi Bar)
  • Acts as a year in review of sorts
For one example of the latter, who knew that Mississippi Nights closed? When? Why?! That's pretty crazy.

Non Update on the Website

No, the new venture (website) isn't up yet.... Gah! I have not lost my spirit for it (any more than I've lost spirit in general). I'm still excited...

Thanks (yet again) to those who helped me sow the seeds of the domain name.

It shall be soon... This weekend will be a Java festival though (geek conference).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Triathlete Magazine

Tonight is the StL Tri Club meeting, and it's a biggie... The club is getting its photo taken for Triathlete magazine. That's doubly cool since I have a subscription (as a gift from BryGuy and Miss C).

I don't think I'm going to make it, for a variety of reasons (one of which is a sense of punishment for the blow-up at the 1/3 Iron), but I'm excited for the club. They had a very successful year this year (including hosting their own tri in Kirkwood).

The other news on my end is a Java conference this weekend.... Woo-hoo! That's going to be fun. I'll be loaded with stickers but not sure if I'll use 'em.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Poker Post

I want to post this on my tech blog but it doesn't really belong.

Here's a fascinating tip from poker (Texas Hold Em):

Person A has less chips than Person B, and decides to go "all in" and bet all of his/her chips. This is win or lose bundled into one hand.

Person B asks Person A "how much do you have?". Ostensibly, this is to determine the match of the bet. But note that because Person B has more chips, s/he can actually afford to lose the bet and still continue the game.

So the question is: why would Person B ask about the amount of the bet?

Here's the delicious answer:

Person B asks because s/he wants to hear the voice inflection of Person A in his/her answer. The voice might tip off if it is a real threat or a big bluff.

Awesome.

Save 2nd Base

This is a brilliant marketing campaign by a charity for breast cancer.

Save 2nd Base (click here)

'Tis based on ye olde baseball analogy, and given some recent press by Newsweek.

CC

ps. It is great to have a sense of humour like the above (because it leads to $ and ultimately, a cure). Yet we remember that my extended family has been struck by breast cancer. With a sober heart, I mourn and remember.

pps. As always, I have to note that I learned in a bioethics class that more women die each year from lung cancer than breast cancer. For whatever reason (probably the residual strength of the cigarette lobby), most people just don't care to do anything about it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Smooth as Silk

I have frequented a unisex hair salon for years. They know me pretty well. One woman, in particular, broke up with her BF some months ago. In the back of my mind, I have thought about asking her out sometime.

Tonight, I dropped in just before closing after a long day and a long commute from The Middle of Nowhere, MO. The woman was minding the store, sweeping up. I asked her if there was time for a quick beard trim. She said yes, if I could pay first.

The trim is $5. I usually tip $2 so I handed her a ten-spot and said that $3 back is fine.

Surprised, she said, "Are you sure? It's just a beard trim."

I smiled and said, "Sure.... consider it a 'pre-tip'. I know that the trim will be good."

A few minutes later I left, all trimmed up. 1/2 hour later, I went to pay for something at a gas station and opened my wallet.

To my dismay, I quickly did an audit of the bills within.

Yikes. It wasn't a ten-spot. I had used a $20 bill and just tipped a woman $12 for a beard trim saying "consider it a pre-tip" and probably looked like some arrogant ass trying to buy a date.

Perfect. Perfect!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thanks Traci

It wouldn't be a tri weekend without a run to the hospital!

I was feeling very unwell this morning. After Mattoon and the grace of BryGuy, I will now bolt to the ER on a moment's notice. In fact, I may drop by later tonight just to say hello.

The divine Traci dropped everything to come pick me up. She was great about the whole thing, especially my revelation, at the door of the ER, that, hey, I was feeling better. The OTC meds had kicked in.

I had been in pretty intense pain but I knew at this point that it was no longer an emergency. I'm fine now.

Merci, Traci!

I don't ask for help often: when I do, I need help. I just wrote a brief list of people who have helped me with medical situations or with "stranded with Herbie" situations. The list kept getting longer and longer. I fear that I'll forget someone or a given episode. My thanks to you all.

ps. Recall the ER visit in Mattoon, IL. The insurance paid for most of it but the bill was $1600. A grocery list of blood tests and other charges.

Fight Back

(My apologies for the un-inspired writing. This entry has straight prose and reads like an online diary, which is not acceptable. The CC Nation has come to expect better from this blog -- fear not, loyal readers! We'll be back to the A-game soon.)

My major in undergrad was math. I pursued the degree rather intensely. Once, I was writing a 4 hour Calculus exam, and halfway through, I assessed the situation: I had skipped over some problems and lazily attempted some others. I told myself:

You have a 65% right now, bud. 2 hours to go.... let's fight back

I pored over the exam and got back into the game. I don't remember the exact result but I received a mark for the class that was probably mid-90s %.

That's the tale of the tri, though on a less successful note.

The Pre-Race

The 1/4 Ironman was out at Innsbrook, MO. I haven't mentioned it but it's the same site where a guy died (IMHO from heart attack, and drowned) back in June. They had a word from the race director and the man's father. Standing there, mostly naked, with 600 other competitors in the morning fog, listening to the dedication was pretty powerful stuff.

A congregation of people on a beautiful lake on a clear Sunday morning, bowing their heads.

The Swim

The worst was just before the swim, standing in 70 F water and 60 F air temps. Most people had wetsuits. I did not.

12 minutes later, I'm at the half way mark. And then this surge of pink swim caps: the elite ladies from the next wave had caught me. I had a 5 minute headstart. Admittedly, they were excellent swimmers but it was still demoralizing to get caught so soon.

At some point, I think I took in some water with a bit of fuel from a jetski. Yum! They had oodles of them, and canoes, and kayaks. The most dangerous part of the tri was that if you did have trouble in the water, you'd be run over by a dozen nervous lifeguards on jetskis, as they sped to your rescue.

The Bike

Coming out of the swim was tough.... It was pretty chilly. I was nauseous and there were some pretty weird things going on (let's just end that thread there).

On the bike, for some reason, it felt sluggish. I might have had "lead legs" or perhaps there was a problem with Blackbird. Dunno. It felt like the brakes were touching slightly. Gah!

About 4 miles in, I was ready to quit. This was seriously not fun. Ironically, in a mere 4 weeks after Mattoon, I was freezing on the bike and was in a massive spat with Blackbird.

Fight Back

I remembered the Calc exam and decided I'd fight back..... Not for a great time, as that would be impossible with an irritated steed. I decided to just enjoy the race. The rest of the bike was pleasant, if not fun. Thankfully I warmed up ok after a couple more miles.

The Run

Keen members of the CC Nation know that the Prime Directive is: Thou Shalt Not Walk. In that regard, the tri was a success! I hammered out 6.5 miles at a decent pace.

The Sprint

This was a major tri that serves as the primary race for many of the triathlon clubs in the midwest. So there was a lot of people there, and the MC had a microphone to track the action.

One part of the excitement was announcing the people (by name, via the bib #) as they ran onto the final chute -- a sprint of about 200 metres/yards.

My legs were burning and I was pretty much done with this event, but I decided to have some fun. I knew I could light the afterburners, and I found it pretty ironic given my horrendous time.

So I lit 'em. Bingo, the MC yelled out that "these people from the StL Tri Club have a major kick at the end". With a lift of my arms into the air, I egged the crowd on to cheering a mediocre finish. Ah, the simple pleasures in life.

The Result

3 hours 20 minutes. Missed the arbitrary goal. The bike average was 15 mph, which is from the Butterscotch era (Ed's note: A rare reference to the 1st bike. see CC April 06.), and certainly strange for Blackbird. The run, which seemed good, was a glacial 9 minute pace.

But at least I didn't quit, as utterly seductive as that thought was....

I fought back.



Saturday, September 15, 2007

T Minus 10 Hours

This is the hardest part: the waiting. And packing. And waiting.

There is always apprehension that I'll forgot something for the triathlon, but there is a definite lack of intensity: my arch-rival won't be in this one. In fact, he may be done for the year as he is somewhat injured and yet focusing on the Chicago marathon.

Humanity thrives on competition:

The astronauts needed the cosmonauts.
The Montreal Canadians need the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Yankees need the Red Sox.
Batman needs the Joker.
And I need the dreaded Jim G.

Ah well.... onward. Onward! I would have merely crushed him anyway, the big lug.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Für Laura M

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything.
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...

All the love gone bad, turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be.

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
I know you'll be a sun -- in somebody else's sky, but why
Why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine?
-- Black, Pearl Jam

Here's to 6 years of wondering what went wrong and a tribute to a wonderfully dark song.

The Target: 3 hours 15 minutes

The 1/4 Ironman is Sunday. It is a strange comparison to the Olympic distance that I did last year: the swim is shorter, but the bike and run are slightly longer.

I did the Olympic in about 3:15. All 3 legs were very good, but the transitions were weak.

So, I guess I'll shoot for that this year, for a lack of anything better. I am nowhere as fit this year though, I fear. The 1/3 DehydrationMan just wiped me out.

The thing is, up until the 1/3, I _was_ more fit. Generally, it has been a good year.

Hard to say.... A nice bonus is that a lot of people from the StL Tri Club will be out there. We are forming mini teams for a competition.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Black Panther

I awoke the other night to unholy moans and wails. It was like a work by Dante at 3 am.

Some cats were out on my patio deck. I think one of them was in heat or something. I've heard (and blogged) that caterwauling is quite a racket but good grief. It was crazy.

Bleary-eyed, I arose to check things out and turned on the outside light for the deck. One cat was up on the roofing and another was just sitting there, oblivious to the light.

Slowly, it stood up and stalked off. It crossed the deck slowly as though on the hunt, its massive shoulders swaying from side to side with each feline step.

One tidbit: it was black.

Chicago! The attack-cat has returned, and possibly after a trans-gender operation of some kind. (Editor's note: ultra keen members of the CC Nation will recall that we suspected Chicago as being female last year, with no confirmation).

Good to know the bugger is still alive. Though s/he never writes or calls and could have picked a better time to start wailing on my deck.

Quagmire

I'm as enthusiastic as ever about some new website ventures.... It has been slow going lately though.

I don't know what is happening but I'm in a rut where I come home and nap until 8 pm and then do a little project until about 10 pm.... Then off to bed. Have a relatively frustrating day at work and repeat.

No workouts, no piano, no socializing. Hopefully the tri on Sunday will jolt me out of this rut.

I can't believe last year, where I was doing a tri every other weekend and dating someone. Crazy! Though last year I was very comfortable with my work situation and was excelling at it. That's probably the key right there.

We do not like average performance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wild Man Part One

I have a cousin known as "the wild man" (Jeff). He deserves a much longer post but for now let's just say he lives life to the fullest and hates to lose even more than me.

For any endeavour, there is a mode of competition known as "I'll see you in hell": essentially, that one will sacrifice anything to win. I have it in good measure but Jeff has it in spades.

Within weeks of my attaining the Miracle Mile of 6 minutes, he matched me.

Today he wrote to me with these little tidbits:

(a) He ran a mile in 5:50 (which is exponentially more difficult than 6 minutes).
(b) He plans to quit smoking really soon now.

*sigh*. I've been outrun by a wheezing chimney. That's Jeff in a nutshell.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Quotable

(American humour ahead -- it's hard to please everyone with one quote)

Today, Fred Thompson, of Law and Order fame, began his long-awaited candidacy for president in Iowa aboard his campaign bus. After spending a day in Iowa on a bus, he said "Screw this" and returned to television. -- Conan O'Brien

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Suddenly I'm Not Half the Man I Used To Be

Editor's Note: Legions of the CC Nation have been wondering why things are quiet on here. To be honest, I have been exhausted and bummed out about picking a name for a new venture. However, things are underway on that front! Stay tuned.

The big news coming out of the weekend is that I tried to bike 40+ miles. No good. I don't know what is wrong but my knee gets sore at about 25 miles. Even after having another "bike fit" to make sure that things are ok.

I don't think it is serious, but it is a no-brainer regarding the 1/2 Iron. I'm out.

Thankfully, they have shorter distances so I'm in the 1/4 Ironman, which is known, I believe, as the Pewterman (not really). I have done this distance (approximately) last year and naturally the 1/3 Iron in August.

I had the knee pain prior to the 1/3 Iron but hammered out 38 miles. It might have been the adrenalin or possibly dementia from the (well-documented) dehydration. Also, I had the foresight to fill a water-bottle with gin prior to the race.

Anyway, I'm not really disappointed. If anything, the 1/4 seems so easy in comparison that I have slacked off this week -- to the point that the 1/4 is going to be tough. LOL.

But no worries... we've been there before and it will be in the 80s at worst. That's chilly around here.

(Do you know it is so hot in the summer here that the grass turns brown? It just dies.)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guitar Lessons From The Real Deal

If you're into guitar, check this out... Here are some online guitar lessons from my bro-in-law

click here

You can login as "guest" if you have cookies enabled.

This is cool stuff because it brings back memories of seeing him play every Christmas. Some of these intro lessons don't do justice, but my bro can play like a mojo mofo, man....

He plays Randy Rhoads' stuff and it sounds like Randy. I play it and it sounds like me trying to play Randy.....

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Writer's Block

I'm planning another website based on the recent successes of the tech blog.

The name is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, I am paralyzed with indecision.

When writing quickly, I have some wit and creativity. Alas, now that I'm at the plate in the big leagues, my mojo is not strong. Gah!

Well... I do have several fine ideas but I'm waiting for The One.

Some people have kindly offered "non-compete assistance" where I can confide ideas in privacy. Thank you!

Here is a general question for readers.... Do you like website names that are more exotic (and do not relate to the content, per se) or website names that are minimalist and to the point?

An example of the former is Google or Amazon. An example of the latter is YouTube or Hotmail. Though perhaps these are poor examples because they are so popular. e.g. we tend to forget, now, how strange 'Google' seemed back in 1999.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Exposure

Well, it was quite a "first night" with the new digital camera... (see previous post, Southern Exposure).

A weekly podcast called Java Posse also linked to the tech blog and even commented in their podcast.

In 10 days or so, I received enough hits to represent 40% of my previous total since Jan 07. And I had a big July.... Neat.

I was increasingly uncomfortable with having only one gender, so I added the other gender this weekend. Ha ha.... that wasn't as much fun but still funny. I used to work with the guy on the Harley. The guy in front of the pickup is well-known to some friends (a great guy).

click here

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Bottom Line

I spoke to my friend Vic back on PEI just now.... He has been really busy but wanted to weigh in on the result of the 1/3 Ironman:

I'm telling you: you're done. It's over. Enough running around in the States in the crazy heat... Just come home, get a job at Deltaware (a local IT shop), find yourself a nice girl, and buy a cottage on the beach.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Southern Exposure

Back in February, I blogged about James Gosling. He received the Order of Canada (highest honour for a civilian) for his contributions to computer science. In particular, he created Java (i.e. he is a demi-god). He works at Sun in California (and as a "research fellow", he basically does whatever he wants).

Well, get this: my sticker/photo stunt (see previous post) is featured on Gosling's blog.

Click here

That photo is one of the first ones I took with my digital camera!

Gosling is huge -- a complete rock star -- in the geek community. For a tech blogger, this is like winning the Powerball (or 6/49 in Canada). I couldn't dream of a better outcome for a fun gag.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Out of My Shell

I remember being so shy in Grade 11 that, in a chemistry class, the teacher built a molecular model and asked us what it was. I had a hunch it was methanol, but couldn't bring myself to answer. Gradually, the teacher provided hints ("you might want to drink it but it would be bad news") that only confirmed my suspicion. Finally, someone else answered. It was pure torture.

In a moment, I'll share a link on the tech blog that shows I'm not so shy anymore. But some prep is necessary:
  • The new digital camera is fun.
  • A closure is an exotic construction in computer languages. It is absent from Java, but some people are pushing for its inclusion into that language. The movement is led by a man, N.G., who works for a company in California. You may have heard of it: Google.
  • In geek speak, saying "+1" means that you are in favour of a proposal.
  • Many geeks use Google Alerts for "reputation management" to find new posts that use their name.
Whew. That's a lot. But the joke is that I had stickers made "+1 for Closures (in Java)" and hit the bars.... N.G., no less, has commented on the blog post.

This is success of the highest order. See it here.

See: I'm not so shy anymore ;-)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Atonement

After a week of re-hydrating and general gluttony, it was time to get back at it.

If I am going to do this 1/2 Ironman, I need to swim 1.2 miles.

So, tonight, I did.

80 lengths = 2 km = 1.2 miles. ~50 minutes which is a new personal best.

That's one down.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Summit Meeting

CC Newswire
St Louis, MO
August 2007

The CC Newswire reports that Captain Canuck had a summit meeting with The Weather today. The surprising development comes hot on the heels of a week of intense jabs between the two parties.

Last weekend, CC cited grievances against The Weather for "egregiously interfering with a triathlon with oppressive heat" and "generally bumming everyone out". The Weather shot back in a press release, noting CC's "sketchy" behaviour of "commuting alone" and driving cars in a manner described as "running 'er up through the gears at every opportunity". CC went on the offensive, claiming that said charges involved The Climate, and that The Weather famously changes to suit its capricious whim.

Today, CC walked with The Weather for 3 miles. Both parties emerged from the session with smiles and handshakes, but it is unclear if the tensions have subsided. The Weather told reporters "it was a positive session, and I think we can move forward". CC was not available for comment, saying he had to go home and shower.

New Wheels Confirmed




My sister wisely pointed out that if anyone could pull off a "I just bought a Porsche" hoax, it's Richard.

But here's visual proof! A roadster in the summer on PEI... My my. That is the life.

Congrats, Rich!

The Apple Of My Eye

I went to an Apple store this weekend. Wow, wow, wow.

I have been eyeing a new Macbook Pro for awhile now. BryGuy's looks fantastic.

In stores now, a new eye-catcher is the 24-inch iMac (seen here).

It is an artifact from the future: a giant screen hovering on its pedestal and nothing else. Straight out of Star Trek.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Optimizers and Satisfizers

I once saw a keynote speech about those who optimize decisions with extreme analysis versus those who form criteria, make a decision, and don't look back. Satisfizers tend to be happier, I suspect...

I am an optimizer and have been contemplating a new digital camera and camcorder (and computer LOL). Well, one down: I just bought a new digital camera. I went with the "satisfizer" approach: I had some modest criteria and just bought one this afternoon, predicated on (a) the honesty of a boutique salesperson (who seemed trust-worthy) and (b) the fact that most electronics are extremely close in terms of performance and reliability.

I am not going to go to Amazon or Consumer Reports and look up the ratings for my purchase. I'm just going to enjoy it. This is a new venture for me (the car turned out to be very similar in the end).

Anyway, look out bars.... Here I come. Ladies with geek stickers, as shown here on the tech blog (with a borrowed cam).

And when I get the video camera... well, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson as the Riddler on Batman: just wait till they get a load of me (on YouTube).

ps. StL is a small world. A friend recently saw the post on ladies with stickers and knew one of them from softball. LOL

pps. I may need help with uploading pics from my computer. My current lame computer doesn't have working USB ports.

ppps. Thanks to everyone who, on email, gave me recommendations on their cameras!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Cute Nurses and Good Friends

Out at Mattoon, IL, for the "Mattoon Man" (1/3 Iron). I had just finished the bike at about 3 hours. The heat was insufferable (at least mid-90s F) but I had hoped to summon enough energy to make the 8.5 mile run.

(Long time fans of CC know that the absolute tri goal is: don't stop running -- no walking. )

I was definitely knackered by the 38 mile bike, but generally things were looking good: I was ahead of schedule, hydrating/fueling well, and had a few CC tri fantasies in my head for the inevitable blog posts. The goal was not to run hard: just to run. I had seen Vic's comment: don't kill yourself. A good plan.

At mile 2, I noticed that the strips of black tar over the cracks in the road had sneaker prints in it. By mile 3, the tar was beginning to blister. I don't know if I have ever competed in such heat. I shuffled along at a glacial 11 minute pace. I was becoming disoriented. Many other competitors were walking.

At 3 1/4 miles, so was I. Game over. I walked several miles and tried to shuffle along for segments but it was unbearable. I remember having a gel packet that I couldn't open because of sunscreen on my hands, yet in the weird calculus of my mind, I couldn't ask anyone to open it for me.

At mile 7, I had some water. It would be the last time I could keep anything down for hours. At mile 8, I was ill. Somehow, I managed to shuffle to the ignominious finish (56th of 58). I rested in the shade and had some more water: no go. Sick again.

Incredibly, I managed to arrange my stuff and go back to the motel for a nap. 3 hours later, I spoke to BryGuy on the phone; he watches out for his friends like no other, and was calling for his patented "check in". Concerned, he recommended a hospital. Bah! I'll be fine.... We agreed to talk later in the evening.

In the evening, I still haven't had anything... I spoke to BryGuy again, who thankfully enlisted medical advice (from an extremely well trusted source) and laid out the situation. There was no arguing: I knew he was right and took a cab to the ER.

Before long, that weird sensation of getting refueled by IV was underway.... I laid on the bed for 2 hours while listening to surprisingly detailed conversations at the nurses station.

And now, back home, all is well. I hate to disappoint the legion of loyal fans of CC dot com but no witty recaps. Mattoon beat me (since I walked) and the real story here is friendship and people who look out for people.

Thanks, BryGuy!

ps. Thanks to everyone for their pre-race support. JAK sent an e-card but I haven't been able to see it yet since Hallmark's site is down.

pps. Mattoon Man was very well-run. Safety was paramount and there were friendly volunteers throughout the course, and at every mile of the run. Finish time was 5 h 10 min.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pre-Race Jitters

I used to do a little,
but the little wouldn't do it:
so the little got more and more.
I just keep trying
to get a little better:
just a little better than before.
-- Mr Brownstone, Guns n Roses
Though it's about heroin, that song worked for me in university and will again this weekend (I hope) for the 1/3 Iron. Some thoughts:
  • The packing is the worst in terms of nerves. One does not want to drive 4 hours and leave something back in the apartment.
  • I bought a high-end energy drink (like Gatorade only for pro's). Get this: 1/2 liter has 1200 calories! That's crazy! It is actually supposed to be sipped every hour. It's supposed to be easy on the stomach.
  • My foot hurts for some reason and I haven't done a thing this week. Wunderbar.
  • I have worked out a reasonable goal: 4 hours 30 minutes. We'll see. That presumes an average of 15 mph on the bike which will be tough for me. Btw, that's longer than the drive to the race (3.5 hours). That's crazy.
This is probably the last post till race time. Game on!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Meet Virginia

I'd like to ask Virginia Kerr out on a date.

She is on a local news program (CBS/Channel 4) in the mornings. Her hair is way longer now and she is cute as a button -- much more so than that silly media shot in the link.

Virginia, how about it? We'll along the river in my Civic Si and have a picnic along the bluffs. Wine, cheese, crackers... I'll bring my guitar and serenade you with a Spanish flamenco thing that I ripped off my bro-in-law. Poems. Witticisms. We can lay back and contemplate the duality of being huge media successes and yet ensnared in all its concomitant trappings.

It's not easy being power people in this town..... Drop me a line!

ps. Oops... So much for that idea.... This photo on her pseudo-blog shows the glittery ring.... Not a flattering photo (by design, if you read the post)

Attention Bakers

It is amazing how many people tell me they could never have a blog, and then later tell me ideas for their non blog that they could never have. I work with a great guy who tells me a new idea for his non blog every day.

Everyone has at least one good blog in 'em. (I have 2 and possibly more on the way).

Here's a blog with a solid theme: a couple is getting married this year, and has substituted wedding cake with cupcakes, the baking of which will be done by a friend. (I may or may not know these people. I can never remember what I'm allowed to reveal. Identities are probably revealed in the text.)

The blog is all about the making of the cupcakes. Recipes, experiments, etc. For the right audience, it is a very good niche with a loyal fan base. Check it out!

ps. Sadly, there is no blog about the actual wedding! Hello?! People, what are your hopes? your dreams?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wunderbar: Confirmation

VY2 has 2nded the motion put forth by Binky: my cousin Richard bought a used Porsche Boxster (click here)?!!

We need pics! Can someone email me Rich's phone number?

I wonder how many are even on The Island.... 2? 5?

Pretty big stuff

ps. I later realized that if The Island has grown to host Aerosmith (one of Rich's favorite bands btw) then certainly The Island has more than 2 Boxsters on it. I'll up my guess to a dozen... but I bet there isn't a dealership. Surely not?

Strap Snap

Our hero, a handsome Orca whale, slices through the waters of the northern Pacific in preparation for a great voyage to come later in the week.

Strangely, the Pacific is sectioned off into lanes. And his highly tuned chemical receptors taste a high concentration of chlorine.

Throughout the water, many smaller fish frolic about. The great whale could dismember them at any moment, but he is focused on the task at hand. He glides past the junior fish and continues his strong, steady pace.

Before long, a Beluga whale drifts into his lane, seemingly oblivious to the scene. Frustrated, our hero sighs and stands up in 4 feet of Pacific seawater. The smell of kelp is in the air.

While plotting to take advantage of another lane, he takes off his goggles. And then it happens.

Snap!

Zounds! Our hero instantly realizes that this is not good: mere days before the upcoming triathlon, he suffers a goggle failure of some kind. Disaster! He looks at the equipment and sure enough: the strap has sheared off at a place that is impossible to fix.

Egad! This is not good. Goggles are not expensive but breaking them in takes weeks: it seems impossible to adjust them so that they don't leak and yet don't leave lacerations on one's visage.

Moments later, the great whale sits at the computer. Water rains down all over the chair and the floor. The Orca finds a tri-shop online and begins to click furiously. Time is of the essence.


Old Home Week

Here are some miscellaneous factoids about home:
  • Old Home Week is a festival in August on PEI. There is a parade, concerts, and a major horse race (harness racing) called the Gold Cup and Saucer.
  • Miss C's fam (and BryGuy's soon-to-be fam) have sent a missive from their vacation on The Island. They are having a fun time but find the water at the beach to be pretty nippy. Like me, they find the temps to be a bit chilly (probably 70s) whereas the locals are suffering. LOL
  • I have it from a reputable source that my cousin Richard has a new ride that is very cool indeed. And yet there are no photos to substantiate this claim! Help!
  • Both Nickelback and Aerosmith played The Island this summer. That's just crazy and is a testament to the tourism planning board. Especially Aerosmith. The population of The entire Island is 140,000. I doubt if they could cram more than 15,000 at the venue, even if it was outside. That is so much better than when I was there.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Appetite for Destruction

Of course it would be a Saturday night.

Alone. In an introspective mood. In a bookstore.

I come across an issue of Rolling Stone that shouts that Guns N Roses' first effort came out 20 years ago.

Schisse.

I knew my high school reunion was at 20 years this year, but that's fine. I'm in a reasonably good place and never lie about my age: every year that goes by means that junior high is just one more year further back in the rearview mirror.

But the aging of music stings. Depending on your age, for you maybe it was a Beatles record. Or the Eagles. Or maybe it will be Nirvana (though I hope Pearl Jam instead). Or Alanis Morrisette. It doesn't really matter. We often freak out at the age of our context rather than us. Anyone who has a younger sibling that hits 30 knows this.

For me, it was Guns. A massively influential record at the last vestigial stage of adolescence, and being highly influenced by such things. I wanted to be some of these rockstars, and only one other as much as Axl Rose. To this day I could write a 5 page character sketch of him from interviews that I've read. Fascinating, tragic character actually.

Ah well.... I guess it is time for the dreaded retrospective. Forgive me (I hate long introspective blog posts). The good, the bad, and the ugly...

If you told me at 17 that I would be/have/etc.......


Neutral:
  • Not married, no kids. Not really surprising
  • Undergraduate degree in Comp Sci. Fine
Bad:
  • I would see my family once a year, and have lil' cousins who don't know me.
  • I still can't play most of the guitar tunes I wanted to learn. I peaked at 24.
  • I have lost serious touch with the Canadian culture. I don't know the music, the jokes, or one of the official languages (though it is dormant).
Good:
  • I'm alive (don't laugh)
  • Triathlete? Are you kidding me!?!
  • I play piano with better muscianship than guitar. (WTH?)
  • I live in the United States. (whoa Nelly?)
  • Master's from the University of Waterloo. (American readers: um, this is kind of a deal) Full scholarships for both schools with no student loans.
  • Two great guy-in-laws are in the family: Bruce and Dave.
  • Babies! Lots of babies with families and friends. I get to visit, coo, and then leave.
ps. Check out Rolling Stone for a brief summary of the album. Factoid: it was one of the last ones to be produced for vinyl with "5 studio engineers furiously pushing levers and spinning knobs". It's great stuff: raw, brilliant, and on my top 3 rock CDs of all time, easy.

5 out of 4 People Have Trouble With Fractions

Well, in preparation for the 1/2 Ironman, I've signed up for a 1/3 Ironman next weekend, back out in Mattoon, IL.

This should be a good challenge: longer than the Olympic distance (which I have done) but not completely crazy.

I ran 9 miles Friday night and biked 28 miles this morning. My knee got really tight which is freaking me out but c'est la vie.

I was telling BryGuy just today that I have realized that it will be ok to not finish the 1/2 Ironman. Though I love t-shirts that say "Death before DNF", "2nd Place is the First Loser", etc, I'm not going to jeopardize my "tri career".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Here Comes That Funny Feeling Again

Well, I did it. I just registered for a Half Ironman in September. (See New Year's resolutions)

I am not where I want to be in terms of training but "le feu sous mon derriere" has just been ignited. (Fire under my butt)

This is definitely taking me outside of my comfort zone. I guess that is the point, n'est-ce-pas? But that funny feeling is so, er, uncomfortable!

The only solace is that I think I'm going to do a 1/3 Ironman in early August, back out at Mattoon IL. This year should be way better since I'll be driving a car that has AC.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pulling out of a Nose Dive

Back in black, hit the sack,
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back
Yes I'm let loose from the noose,
You've got to catch me if you want me to hang.

-- paraphrase of Back in Black by ACDC
The pool is the womb. The bike is my mistress. But running is my home, my 'hood, a church of sorts.

After a lousy week of non-fitness and general stress: a lil' 1/2 marathon on a Friday night, and all is well.

13.1 miles.... Including breaks (which are the trick), about 2:15 which is getting strangely close to my race pace of ~2 hours.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

2 Goals = LED Feet

Woo-hoo! My cousin, Miss L.E.D., scored 2 goals back home in her weekly soccer game.

The press has reported that she also made some important saves as a netminder.

Congrats!
Mike aka CC

ps. In other Island news, fam of Miss C and soon-to-be-fam of BryGuy should be on the Island now. Say hello if you see 'em! (population of The Island is ~140,000). Hopefully there will be decent weather (I'm nervous).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tour de Kirkwood !

Check out this article on the upcoming Tour de Kirkwood, 7/22.

Yo, Hegemom: Livi should check out the action, especially the swim! (Fred & Stacey's daughter is a natural born swimmer)

I will be out there, volunteering, in some capacity....

Quoteth:

Kathy Waldemer founded the triathlon in 2001 as a way to allow novice athletes to experience the thrill of participating in a triathlon in a non-competitive environment. "I wanted to be in a triathlon but was intimidated by the large crowds and the lake swim," she said.

She approached the City of Kirkwood about organizing a small event, and the city gave her the go-ahead. "Our first year started with only 11 participants and grew to over 150 participants last year," Waldemer said.

They anticipate more than 200 participants this year.


Proceeds from the race go to The Children’s Home Society of Missouri. This organization provides for social services and adoption services to families, as well as services for children with significant multiple developmental disabilities.

"Our goal is 100 percent of the race registration to go to charity," Conway said.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Song Appreciation

The lyrics are prosaic, but the song rocks:
I've been trying all night long
I put up with your favorite songs all night
Tempted by your tainted love
I surely like the way you come inside my crystal ball: what can I do?

Is it true what they say?
You won't give it away?
I don't know what to do to get next to you, next to you
Every night, everyday, you just push me away
Tell me what should I do to get next to you, next to you
-- Next 2 You, Buckcherry

This song has been my backdrop for most of 2007. Interestingly, it doesn't relate to dating for me: I have sung it about a technical article, a 6-minute mile, a new car, a triathlon, and a work assignment.

'Tis an all-purpose anthem for getting it done. And a blast of rock-n-roll from a bygone era. Check it out. (Note that Buckcherry's lyrics, in general, are fairly explicit).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Breakdown

"Gnuuuhhhhhhh!"

Our hero strains against the pedals of Blackbird, his iron steed. They climb slowly up the steep ascent, in slow motion -- almost stalled. The heat rises above the summit in shimmering waves. The morning fog burns off. High above, birds of prey glide effortlessly in thermal drafts.

It is the last leg of the Tour de France. Weirdly, it is being held in Ballwin, MO. Our hero wears the yellow jersey and hopes to bring victory home to his manic homeland: Canada.

He looks back. Egad! The pack is closing in, full of Americans and some Italians. His nefarious rivals lick their chops like wolves homing in on a newborn fawn.

Our hero considers the road ahead: just over the summit, there is a dip and a sharp turn to the right. If timed properly, a technical yet risky gear-shift could vault him even further ahead of the goons behind. He confers with Blackbird. They elect to go for it.

As they crest the rise, CC shifts into a harder gear to maximize the brief descent, and seconds later, slams the shifters again in anticipation for the turn....

Zounds! The pedals slam to a stop: mechanical failure! Furiously, our hero backpedals, only to have the chain come off of the front cog! Disaster! The Dynamic Duo faces ignominious defeat!

He deftly hops off of Blackbird as the others zoom by. Bravely, he grabs the greasy chain and pulls it onto a cog, spinning the pedals with his foot. The chain catches. He hops back on and is literally off to the races.

Angry now, he and Blackbird form the inorganic union known as The Velocitizer. Fueled only by adrenalin, they shift into the strongest gear and quickly make up for lost time. One by one, they weave through the pack.......

The result is a smashing success. Ballwin Triathlon: 1 hour 2 minutes, beating last year's time of 1 hour 13 min.

ps. A major kudos to BryGuy and Traci for coming out to watch, replete with signs, no less. My own fan base!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

King Louie, we barely knew ye

This is sad news for locals. King Louie's was my favorite restaurant in town, and many people had wonderful memories there.

I'm not sure if it is the city or MODOT (state agency for highways etc) is to blame, but it is a shame all around.

Quoteth:

King Louie's Restaurant, which would have been open 13 years this fall, has closed and will not reopen.

Owner Matt McGuire, son of former Post-Dispatch reporter John McGuire, blamed the loss of business on construction on the Chouteau Avenue Bridge off Vandeventer Avenue.

From this article

More reaction is here

Saturday, July 14, 2007

First Half '07: a report card

Here's a fairly self-indulgent post. At least it will be brief.... A quick look at the targets for the year and my current situation.

Fitness

The 2 goals were 1/2 Ironman and a marathon. I am way off track on both. However, I beat Jim G again, had some crazy long runs at the gym, and ran the 6 minute mile (repeatedly). Grade: B

Career Part 1

The meat and potatoes of my career is my daily work. It is not going especially well and I don't enjoy it. The people are very nice though and the commute has proven to be less tortuous than I feared. Grade: C

Career Part 2

The extracurricular part of my career is going fantastic. 2 articles now and some nice props from within the organization. And the tech blog is exceeding expectations. Grade: A+

Travel

Two great trips to Memphis and Phoenix... No Europe yet and sadly none likely. Also unlikely to see "home" until the holidays. There is always a hope that the first marathon will be back home in October. Grade: B

Piano

I am ashamed. I haven't played since March. Ugh. I get in this mode where I go off the rails and can't bear the pain of hearing how much I've degraded. It eats at me day after day. Grade: F

Vehicle

I traded in Herbie before he blew up, and got a fun, functional ride. Very happy with Rowdy. Grade: A

And so there you have it... I never had letter grades in school: do you average 'em? Never had a GPA either... so to mix metaphors, I would say '07 gets 80% so far.

Soccer Star Part 2

My cousin, Action Girl, scores another gooooooaaaall!

See pics here

Athleticism and, more generally, victory clearly run in the family.

Way to go, LED! You are making everyone proud.

Oh my, I just realized that my adorable cousin's initials are pure rock 'n' roll... wow.

A No-Info Update

At CC, we receive tons of mail each week asking about the site. Our intern staff wade through these missives to try and sort out the questions into categories.

A common theme lately is Chicago, the feral attack-cat who helped CC fight off the dreaded raccoons last summer.

Sad to say, no sign of Chicago for quite some time. I did see him in April, after the fairly cold winter, so he survived that long. But I have no idea where he is now. He may have migrated to a new part of the apt complex where food is available.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

World Wide Wackiness




Here's a map of the last 100 hits for my tech blog (not CC). From all over!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Banzai !



A bit of a splash on my tech blog... I wrote a post on "seven wonders" on Sunday night. It was picked up by an aggregation tech news site and my hit rate is through the roof. Check out this graph...

Note this is for my tech blog, not CC. It has almost doubled my total hits in the span of 2 days. On the site DZone it hit #3 in terms of popularity. That's pretty cool.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Not So Glamorous (A Day in the Life #14)

On Wednesday, July 4th, 11 am, the heat rises in a steamy shimmy above the lake. The mercury approaches 100 F. The humidity is relentless.

Our hero and Blackbird are on the Proving Grounds, cranking out lap after lap. He eases past roller-bladers, bicyclists, walkers, children, dogs.

At mile 28 of 35, there are no heroes, no velocitizers, no arch-rivals. Just heat and sweat.

He looks around, feeling lonesome. "This kinda sucks", he muses aloud.

He wipes his brow and peddles on.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day, USA !



I hope everyone has a very happy and safe 4th of July!

I'm honoured to be a guest in the land of the free. When one thinks about the genesis of the country and the principles of the time, it's pretty cool stuff. It is easy for every country to be cyncical about 'the system' but this system of the "American experiment", when viewed through the prism of history, is profound and wildly successful.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Blog tag for Mom

In honour of her birthday, why not more blog tags?

1. Mom made my sister and I go to bed pretty early. I remember being 7 years old and going to bed before it was dark in the summer. Years later, both my sister and I reaped major academic awards. I think there is a direct connection.

2. She does a cryptoquote and crossword every day.

3. Not only an award-winning baker (see previous blog tag) but also an excellent cook. I now (and for years) appreciate the good food. Every time I go home at Christmas, there are some key dishes made. Even though I eat just fine here in the USA, I think a part of me starves between visits. True for all of us, re: home, I think.

4. Mom is a very good listener. A lot of people in our family seek her council on a wide-range of stuff, from taxes to medical sanity checks. And if she doesn't know, she'll tell you straight.

5. She once drove a Pontiac Lemans back when the gas was leaded and the engines were monsters. Once, I had gotten a deep cut at school and required stitches. Rumour has it that the old "Bronze Lemans" hauled serious ass up our road as she came to get me. Smoke show and a bit of a wheelstand!

Happy Birthday, Mom