Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hello from Avondale

Dear Readers,

This post is being written under strict orders from Vic Central, on his 42 inch LCD TV.

Normally, I would not endorse such an involuntary exercise, but I have just enjoyed a good meal (and nap, and entertainment) here at home base, in Avondale, PEI.

Bonus! In semi-related news, I am happy to announce that the Douses will soon be renting a cottage here on PEI. It is on a lovely 2-acre lot in the popular Poplar Point, PEI. Check out all the details over at this site.

Vic has told me that I have satisfied the requirements of my visit, and that I can continue to enjoy my evening, wearing Dad's sweat pants, part of my new Air Canada Collection of men's fashion.

under duress,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ode to Montreal

Dear Montreal Airport,

Yet again, you disappoint me by exacerbating a long trip with miserable delays and cancellation chaos. Your city gets feet upon feet of snow, handling it with an army of men and machines, and yet you shutdown as though you are Orlando, and shocked by snow.

You have caused much trouble, impacting Christmases, weddings, family, and friends.

All I ask is one more trip on Dec 30. I have sworn off winter travel through your doors in the past, but this time it is real. Trains, buses, everything is on the table. In 2009 and beyond, I will not darken your winter doormat again, so help me God.


ps. Readers, I am home on PEI ! I'm also in bed sleeping.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Day

Today is not only my father's birthday but also his last day at work; he is retiring, after 25+ years of dealing with vehicle regulations and registrations.

In 1980, he shifted from one career into another. Given retirement packages for gov't employees, this was probably a good move compared to alternatives. I was young back then, but I realize now what it must have been like to make a big shift.

Congrats, Dad! Sleep in as late as you want tomorrow (which for Dad will be 6:30 am).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Call for ideas

A friend is starting a meme (aka fad) of posting favourite holiday recipes on one's blog.

I'm going to post Mom's rhubarb dessert but I want a good name for it.

Islanders and other readers, step up and help me out! Here are some ideas:
  • Audrey's Rhubarb Dessert (my Mom's name)
  • Island Rhubarb Dessert
  • Abegweit Rhubarb Dessert (Abegweit is a native Canadian word)
  • Old Abby's Rhubarb Dessert (Abby is short for above)
  • Red Rock Rhubarb
Some of those are lame..... but you see the idea


Friday, December 05, 2008

Thinking of Jim G

I just received vmail from my arch-rival, Jim G: he has been in the hospital for several days following a serious motorbike accident.

He bought a bike this summer and (at the insistence of me and others) took a safety class. I don't know what happened.

I know he is conscious and he said he will be ok in an abbreviated conversation. But there are broken bones, a concussion, and a bunch of other stuff.

I'm in shock. We were supposed to do a team run on Sunday morning and I had been vaguely wondering why his email was so silent.

Naturally, both Jim and his family are in my prayers.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Political Fireworks

Wow, things are heating up back home with some serious politics.

I don't have time to really write a recap, but essentially the Queen's representative, the quiet, ceremonial office of the Governor General, may receive a petition from a coalition of opposition leaders to form a new gov't. This is an exotic tactic, designed to go around PM Harper and bring down his
leadership. Interestingly, the PM recommends the GG to the Queen for appointment (former PM Paul Martin recommended Michaƫlle Jean in 2005).

Get it? (Yes, it is much different than US politics)

This is all predicated on the minority status of Harper's Conservatives. Recall that this blog informed CC readers (in the comments) that this was the 3rd minority gov't in a row, and that it would ensure a new election in 1-2 years. That said, I don't think anyone saw this coming.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends down here in the USA !

In related news, the Macy Parade was just catapulted into the 21st century with a wonderful "Rick Roll" by the Cartoon Network (click here). This is brilliant.

(To be "Rick Rolled" is to be duped into visiting a web page only to find it is a video clip of a cheesy 1980s song, Never Gonna Give You Up, by Rick Astley. This may be the first in-person version and shows that both the Cartoon Network and Rick have a sense of humour.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Shop

This weekend, some people and I ran into a lovely store in the CWE in St Louis.

Simply called The Shop, the store offers a nice variety of scarves and knit hats, mittens, etc. The owners were really nice and offered us chocolates and wine even though we didn't buy anything. I told them I would tout their store on my blog as thanks.

It is at McPherson and Euclid, next to the old Balban's (which is now Herbie's). Check it out for some great holiday gift ideas.... Note that they are a transient, seasonal store so this post is time sensitive! They will be gone in Jan 09.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Draft Beer Party

With all the election hoopla this autumn, I was reminded of a situation in Grade 4.

As I told friends, my Grade 4 French/homeroom teacher started a political party, and ran in the PEI provincial election circa 1979. It was called the "Draft Beer Party". Now, I have no idea if this was a protest movement, an ironic commentary on western culture, or a way for him to meet women; as kids, we just thought it was cool.

I remember wearing a button for the DBP (probably one of the few dozens printed) on election night. I wondered to my father if he might win -- with 40% of the polls reporting, he was at 69 votes. My dad commented that he was surprised he got any votes at all.

This is a nice backstory but the real point of this blog post is that, on a whim, I looked up the short-lived, beloved Draft Beer Party on Google.

Get this: there is a Wikipedia entry for it (click here).

Wow. Perhaps it was written by Mr Campbell himself.

ps. A final thought: many CC readers try to probe the psyche and influences of someone who famously prints slogans on trite media and then poses in public, in a vain attempt to achieve noteriety. To those readers, I say: take note, and thank Mr C.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

CC Version 4.0 (beta)

This week, I took one step closer to CC Version 4.0 (i.e. a birthday). Not there yet though.

It has been a good birthday 'season' good times with special people, good food, and really enjoying a film festival that occurs each November here in StL.

There is much introspection as well. Who do I want to be? What is my moral obligation to my family (in terms of proximity)? How long will the American experiment last? (It is going very well but I am increasingly losing touch with my homeland. I have spent 25% of my life in the US.)

To quote Rush, "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice". Yikes. Thanks, Neil.

More heaviness later... For now, I'm celebrating version 3.0 which worked out pretty well. When I was 30, I had never completed a triathon or played the piano. I hadn't seen Europe or Hawaii. Despite major academic success (at a monstrous time investment), I hadn't really done much with my career.
(I'm certainly not done on that front, but there have been some wins.) And I was fairly lonely in a town without many friends. (I have since found wonderful people in StLouis.)

so.... what's next?

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I don't like e-fads. I resisted Facebook for a long time and also Twitter. Now, I'm on both.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a micro-blogging site where one just updates their status. It is like an offline IM site, where you follow friends and they follow you. It is useful for employees in remote offices, for groups attending conferences, and for anyone who wants more PR. The name comes from the analogy of birds chit-chatting to each other in the trees.

For me, the PR potential broke my resolve: so my tech blog is on there now (click here). This is my technical 'persona' so the updates will mostly be career based. My friends are more than welcome to follow me; I may or may not follow you. I'm less likely to do so if you are a frequent 'tweeter' as I find the whole thing a bit distracting at work.

Right now, I try to 'tweet' once a day. I peak at work but don't tweet.

Some CC devotees may remember the famed "micro posts" on this very blog, as started some time ago. This was somewhat inspired by an early article on Twitter. Or possibly an older, prototypical service -- I wouldn't be surprised if Twitter ripped me off! It would bother lesser bloggers but at the apex of the vanguard, it is our burden at CC to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous imitation.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

He's Gone

I have confirmation that my upstairs neighbour has moved!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If ye break faith with us who die

Lest we forget: Flanders Fields

As I point out annually on here, this poem is why Canadians wear poppies in the first days of November until Nov 11.

It is sobering to think that a war would be so intense and cause such suffering that it would be known as The Great War -- and yet it would hardly be the last of the 20th century.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Quick Update

Just a quick note to say hello.... Very busy week:
  • Attend a live PostSecret event (more later)
  • Busy at work and thankfully the gym
  • Nuptials today for Michelle and Brad (congratulations!)
  • Oh, let's see. Ah yes: the Americans had an election down here which was sort of a 'big deal'. If you consider a historic event and speech, with palpable joy and electricity to be 'big'. I had hoped to blog some reaction but it is hard to recreate the magic of that evening.
ps. My travel plans are set.... Heading home circa Dec 20 - 30. I booked ages ago and Air Canada updates my itinerary every 5 days so heaven only knows when (or where?) I'm really going now.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

New York Times Machine

For you literary types, welcome to your next addiction (click).

The New York Times has digitized articles from 1851 to 1922 and put them on the web. You can read about the end of WWI, or the sinking of the Titanic.

This is a monstrously cool example of some tech stuff called 'clustering' or 'cloud-computing'. The data and the software are hosted on a giant network of computers at Amazon. The cost of doing this was incredibly small: as software and data scale up, economics get strange indeed.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I bought a new stereo for my car recently.

Though I haven't explored all of its features, it has been great so far. It has a display that does some fairly sophisticated animation (e.g. a moving sine wave for the AM/FM tuner). If you look close in this pic, it is showing that it is hooked up to an iPod.

Today, when it is first turned on, it shows pumpkins and a witch, and flashes "Happy Halloween" ! Charming and ghoulish.... Now I know why it asked me for my birthday when I was configuring it. Looking forward to that....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lick of the Day, Unmasked

My bro-in-law is an excellent guitar player and runs the popular site, Lick of the Day.

In a rare glimpse, you can see him better (than usual) in this video

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I did not.

Vic's birthday is coming soon. As a gift, I thought I would relate this little tale from his visit to St Louis.

The Setup

You may not know that one can actually ascend to the top of the Arch. People go up in a 4-5 minute ride on a tram: the "cars" are tiny, bizarre pods from a B space movie (see pic). They hold 5 people each, knees touching.

Vic and I were in a long line to go up, on a Saturday afternoon. A ticketing agent comes by and asks us if we are traveling together. Cleverly, Vic says "yes but we can go as two singles if that works". We are handed two tickets: a #2 and #3. Having gone up before, I knew we would travel separately but I figured that would be fine.

The Condescension

We go through turnstiles and past security (after all, this is a National monument), and stand in adjacent lines to enter into the pods.

Inexplicably, Vic scoots over into my line. Wide-eyed, I look at him and tell him that we can't go in the same line. There are finite seats, and security will freak, and, and...

He opens his arms and floats his arms downward. In a long drawl, he says "Reeeeeellaaaaaaaaax".

Then, the pods open and newly-descended visitors crawl out of them. It becomes immediately apparent to Vic that there is no way this is going to work. He scoots back into the other line. I rub my temples and wonder if our imminent arrest will make it into the Eastern Graphic.

The Plot Thickens

The ascent is long. The pods lurch to-and-fro. It is noisy, jangly, and though one can't see outside, one can see a lot of pulleys and chains outside the little window.

At the top, a full 5 minutes later, we emerge from our respective pods. Vic looks pretty green. In my best Maritime accent, I say "how'd you like that, now?".

His response was terse and serious: I did not.

Apparently, we suffer from claustrophobia, and we weren't prepared for these little pods. On his ride up, some passengers -- kids -- talked a lot about a time when a malfunction caused people to be trapped in these things for 8+ hours. This was getting very interesting.

The Payoff

After a quick look around (which isn't nearly as cool as the ride up), Vic announces that he has seen what he needs to see and it is time to go. He notes that it is quite windy, and though the CN Tower is far taller than the Arch, the Arch has more sway to it. He doesn't look so good.

I tell him that we should stay a bit until the crowd clears. He looks at me and just shakes his head quietly.

Then, with all the irony I can muster, I outstretch my arms, floating my hands calmy downward, and with a long, drawl:



ps. Happy Birthday Vic

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thank you C-Span

Wow, will wonders never cease: I am in StL watching a live feed of election night coverage from CBC on C-Span, a gov't channel down here in the US. I just happened across it while surfing....

This is so fantastic! I have only barely heard the voice of the big players (Harper, Dion, etc) in the media. Stephane Dion is speaking now -- I'm not sure I have ever heard his voice before.

(I have read a lot about these people and the policies).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada

Quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home...

I think every year now I have written about the differences between the Canadian and US Thanksgiving. This year, I'll defer to those previous posts.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tale of Two Tallies


Things are getting hot in the US. Today, an admin assistant sent an dept-wide email saying "this is the last day to register to vote. Register today for this historic election". She later sent an apology, as some one called her on being biased. Heaven only knows which way she was called on it.

I have heard people say "if X wins, I am moving out of the country", for both values of X !


Canada goes to the polls on Oct 14. Canada is currently under a minority government, which is always tenuous at best -- though some say that is a good form of government as it innately encourages balance. I believe that the Conservatives are leading the polls; the media suggests that they will win a (slim?) majority, though this is not clear. If so, this may come as a surprise to those Americans who want to migrate North in the event that McCain/Palin win down here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

IT Incognito: episode 2

Episode 2 of IT Incognito is out! Check it out here... This is not me in garb but you may recognize the voiceover at the end:

Note that this is really geeky stuff. Don't worry if you don't understand. Essentially, it is an attempt to "go viral" with some offbeat material from our IT training department. Plus, we're having fun which IMHO is inherently attractive.

No worries if you don't like it. The whole experiment tends to receive rather polarized reactions.

I think the video editing is really well done!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cardinal Consolation

In baseball news, the main focus for this town, during the summer, was the startling success of the arch-rival Cubs and our losing the wild-card spot to the Brewers.

It was a lame season. Sweet revenge is seeing both of those teams ousted in the first round, with the Cubs being swept on the 100th anniversary of their last win.

Hey -- any team can have a bad millenium!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bye bye, Blackbird ?

The last post mentioned a new search for simplicity. This isn't a joke: I'm considering selling Blackbird and retiring from triathlon.

Dean Karnazes is a famous ultra-marathon runner. In his book, he talks about his passion for running. He mentions, dismissively, a period of doing triathlons, but went back to running. When I read this, 3 years ago, I couldn't understand: triathlon is inherently greater than running and is surely superior in every way.

Now, I think I understand.

At the risk of writing a Dear Diary post or an outright rationalization, here are some thoughts:
  • I have never had medical issues with running or swimming. All pain and medical attention has been because of that bike.
  • Most bikes bring you back to being a kid. Not a tri bike: it is a finicky racehorse that has to be 'set up' correctly, with great care and non-trivial expense.
  • Both in terms of my car decision and my geography, the bike is a constant concern. Runners can drive Corvettes :-)
  • It pains me to think that I will never do an IronMan, but that just takes so much dedication. I don't think I can train for one _and_ play piano _and_ write blogs etc etc. I need something simpler, and with balance. To me, that means marathon. Running is still ambitious, no doubt, but it seems reasonable with respect to my other goals.
  • There are many indoor triathlons. They are a cross between a joke and a parlour game but they might server as a good motivation to cross-train (e.g. for swimming).
And so, it might time to close a chapter. As you can see, neither my original endeavours nor my quitting are whimisical. But it feels right. With the possible exception that the Fall St Peter's Recplex Tri is happening very soon, and I won't be in it. Jim G 1 CC 0.


ps. My swan song may well have been the 1/3 Iron Man in August 2007. After 38 miles, I couldn't wait to get off that bike. It was hot as blazes too: rather famously, I ended up in the ER for dehydration. However, for the record I remind the universe of this side fact: I finished.

Life Update

Yikes! One of the valued 'home pagers' (those who set CC to be their home page) has threatened action: a sure sign that things have been all too quiet on here.

Generally, life is great here in St Louis. Work is a dream and my neighbour has responded to a warning letter from the apt complex (i.e. the dog and late night parties have been curtailed). I have completely slacked off on fitness (more to come), but had a lot of fun this summer and fall in my personal life.

Compared to last fall, things are fantastic. Last fall, I hated my client gig and was really depressed. I was terrified to sit at the piano and was agonizing over a decision to stay here in the US. I'm not sure that I am "at peace" with respect to life decisions, but generally things are good.

My new mantra is a return to simplicity. Stay tuned for more. Also, I am well under 2 years away from the big 4-oh. I hope to re-invent myself somewhat for "version 4" in the same way that I have for version 3, which all-in-all, was a big success.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jet Man

That Jet Man guy has done it again: crossing the English channel.... Check out the video on YouTube (click here).

Apparently this stunt really pushed the boundaries of what he could do in terms of safety and equipment. For some reason, I find this much more interesting than the attempts, in recent years past, to circle the globe in balloons etc.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sharing articles

Folks, a good way to aggregrate blogs etc is to use Google Reader. It is free with a registered account (e.g. your Gmail account).

To subscribe, simply look for the RSS/Atom feed on a site; these are usually at the bottom.

A neat feature is that users can "share" articles with others.

My shared links are here, if you are interested. They are a mix of Java stuff, Canadian stuff, and often things of general geek interest.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Patriotism and Doughnuts

Hegemom forward me this article about an academic doing research on Canadians and their beloved Tim Horton's.


Here are some tasty extracts from his work. "In Canada, the doughnut is widely believed to be the unofficial national food. Expatriate Canadians speak of associating a trip to the doughnut shop with returning home."

Keen readers will recall that I went to Detroit earlier in the month for visa stuff. As the Canadian border guard put it, I was a "turnaround": I drove into Windsor solely for the purpose of a U-turn and applying for re-entry into the US.

I did make one stop however: no joke, I went to Tim Horton's.

Friday, September 19, 2008


"They say there are no atheists in a foxhole. Well, there are no libertarians in a financial crisis, either."

-- Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard economist

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Berlin provides a full report

My friend Berlin has returned from her daughter's wedding! The whole family descended on St Peter's, PEI for the nuptials. Later, B and her husband drove around the Maritimes. Here is a quick recap:
  • The venue, Inn at Fortune Bay, was a big hit. Berlin raved about the food. Guests from NYC are quite epicurean and loved it.
  • The weather was dicey, as it was throughout the eastern seaboard. However, it was not raining for the outdoor ceremony. It was windy, but that relieved the crowd from the mosquitos. Apparently the mosquitos (or black flies) were vicious during the rehearsal. Berlin couldn't believe it.
  • New Glasgow Lobster Suppers is an iconic restaurant back home. Berlin said it was ok, but the giant buffet was closed, possibly due to being off-season?
  • Generally, she thought both The Island and the rest of the Maritimes was lovely. A major hit was Cape Breton (of course). They also enjoyed some places in New Brunswick. I can't remember where now. But they did see the famed tidal bore and also the reversing river.
  • Berlin sort of reminds me of my grandmother: she has a modesty about her and will tell these 'shocking' stories that are so quaint. She was surprised by the amount of booze at the wedding (her own reasonable consumption was a personal record), and described the number of lobsters she had (3 and 1/2) as though they were each a delicious, cardinal sin.
  • The fam went to the Atlantic SuperStore (a large grocery store) to get fresh lobster. She thought it was far superior to St Louis' Shnucks and Dierbergs: she said it was gorgeous. That's a hoot because no locals would say that.
Overall, they seemed to have a really good time. I just drank all this in over lunch today. It was surreal to sit down in St Louis and get the low-down on the Maritimes. Berlin has seen more of eastern Canada in 2 weeks than I have in years.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I like Ike ?

Ike was a shadow of his former self but slammed here on Sunday morning... Lots of rain, some downed trees, and considerable flooding.

Alas, Sunday morning was the Lewis & Clark 1/2 marathon, the latest installment in the rivalry between our hero and his arch-rival, the nefarious Jim G.

No build-up here: JimG won by default. An ex-Navy man who perhaps is happy to escape his pedestrian, suburban abode, he braved the wretched conditions, along with a surprisingly large number of runners.

Our hero was not so brave. CC was raised in such a way that it is a cardinal sin not to partake in something that is paid for. However, the rain, the lack of running mileage prior to the event, and particularly the 5:45 am arrival time was just to much. (Who starts a freaking running race at 6:30 am? I get enough of that crap in triathlons.)

And so, all is dry, fat, and happy, here at home and hearth. The big news: Berlin will soon be back from The Nuptials on PEI! Alas, I fear that the weather was rough and the mosquitos were worse. But from her initial email messages, I think they had a nice time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Particle Rap

In case you don't follow Internet crazes, here is a fun rap video by the giant Swiss/French physics lab, CERN, which is staring some banzai particle acceleration this week. This is outstanding. They are doing it to educate the media and calm the masses about impending annihilation of the earth.

I haven't written it yet but I hope to write a spoof on this (for the tech blog) involving Google.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Motor City

I went to Detroit on an annual day-trip of sorts... Some quick thoughts:
  • If I know a crowd, all bets are off, but I was raised so as to never inconvenience strangers in formal settings. It is simply unconscionable to me to recline an airline seat, if I know there is someone behind me. I did not suffer such a fate this time, but watched some ingrates anger people.
  • A couple of times, I caught a "shuttle" from the airport to a rental-car place. It seems like a nice, cute thing, a shuttle. But it was a full-blown bus that sat idling (for hours?) until lil' ol' me showed up. Then it belched diesel nastiness as it groaned and creaked into action, whisking me to my destination. I was grateful but embarrassed. My carbon foot-print on this trip was obscene.
  • I truly believe that most of humanity are kind at heart. I saw some good people working at the border.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Art Highlights

Check out some of these artists... From the Clayton Art Festival and/or the "Art Outside" festival in Maplewood. (A lot of art in St Louis lately)

Kreg Yingst (graphic art)

Bradley Bauer (photog)

Michael Gard (gorgeous wire sculptures)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Letting our hair down

My geek people are officially having fun!

Check out this video. Even if you don't have sound, let it go past the intro.

I'm not in it, but you might sense some psychic fingerprints on the theme.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Graph Jam: Vic's Visit

My pal Vic visited from PEI last weekend. Ostensibly, it was to see Bruce Springsteen (V is a huge fan) but we realized it is almost 20 years since we first met. (Yikes!) So the trip became a celebration of that as well, not to mention a detailed existential exploration of where we are, and how far we have come.

We were blessed with fantastic weather and an outstanding concert. We jammed a ton of stuff into 48 hours and yet it didn't seem rushed. It's hard to put it all into words so here is a graph.

Click on the graph for a larger view.

ps. Vic slept through 2 evenings of Pitbull Perturbation. This may affirm that I am crazy but (a) on one night, V had been up 24+ hours and (b) Vic sleeps like he was hit with a tranquilizer dart intended for a bear.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ode to Weekend

2 islanders
floating pirates
on a quiet sea: mark, twain.

forest park, world's fair, The Boss
and 2 Huck Finns wondering how far
they have come, and how far is yet to go.

20 years ago we dragged our muddy waters,
but now, we simply float onward,
as the wise turtles look on.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I generally hate trendy social networking sites but I was asked to join Facebook for work reasons.

I'm hooked. I'm looking up all kinds of people from all over. Man, it's weird. I mean, we have all Googled people but Facebook has teasingly small pictures for people not "in your network". You can almost make them out but not quite. But cybersleuths know that people expose their friend-list which implicitly provides information about them.

Long-time readers know that I was in a very close-knit class at elementary school. Essentially a core of 20 (?) kids went through 6 years together, learning French. I split off from the group and am now searching for some of them years later.

It is the weirdest feeling. I found some of them and recognize them immediately, despite not having seen them since we were 10 years old. One woman is posed in a rather prissy, arms-crossed stance that is precisely the way she used to pout as a child. So many weird areas of my brain are firing that I feel like I'm coming back from a stroke.

I've also come to realize, in a profound way, that these people had lives after we separated. They went on to have their own adolescence; their own triumphs and tragedies; and now their own careers and children. This all seems obvious but for some reason it has really hit me with respect to their own high school years.

Would they remember me? I wonder. I haven't had the guts to request "a friend" from that era yet, but maybe soon. I suppose if I remember them, they no doubt recall me.

*sigh* This is precisely the hook of Facebook. The irresistable draw of finding out about the characters from the momentous chapters of our lives.


ps. Make no mistake: one visits the past but one does not overstay. The St Louis years are a huge chapter with vibrant, wonderful characters. If you are on said wretched site, look me up. (And a hearty hello to all my friends.)

pps. As always, I cannot resist pointing out that my cousin, and Binky's wife, now teaches at my alma mater. Though charming, it ties the strange loop on a 4-dimensional knot.

Question for St Louis

hey folks,

I'm looking for a shop for herbal nutrition and/or alternative medicine. Not the big chains with vitamins but something more off the mainstream.

Any ideas?

I vaguely remember one on Big Bend in Webster Groves but I have no idea if it is still open.


ps. In a related update, my buddy Vic will soon be visiting from PEI ! Should be a great weekend...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Man on Wire

Forget the Batman movie... Go see Man on Wire.

It is a documentary on the true story of a French wirewalker who, in the mid 1970s, conspired with friends to rig a wire across the World Trade Center towers (the method used is very Batman-esque). Philippe Petit then walked across the wire, over a 1/4 mile up.

The film is a spellbinding thriller. We know how it turns out and yet one fears for this strange pixie. Just look at the photo on the website above. Mon dieu!

It can also be viewed as a tribute to the WTC: it does not mention the fate of the towers, and yet of course the 800 lb gorilla is sitting next to you the entire time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

RIP, Professor Ledwell

For most of us here
being islanders is a terminal condition.
But those who go away aren't cured.
They simply die of the same ailment on alien soil.

Frank Ledwell, 1930 - 2008

Professor Ledwell from UPEI has passed away (obit here).

He was a warm, kind-hearted man, a gifted writer, and one hell of an Islander. There are precious few who have carried the torch so high, so eloquently, from the old generations into the present day.

Heaven help us now.


ps. I first read the above poem in 1990. It haunted me when I left the Island for grad school. Leaving was not easy. I haven't looked at the book in years, and yet I found it and the poem in 5 minutes. It haunts me still.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

From Google With Love

In this post, our man in the field muses on the narcissistic voyeurism of tracking blog hits, expanding on one especially quirky visit.

Many readers here are also bloggers, so I'm sure they will relate! I check mine often (more for the tech blog). One of the weirdest was a Google search for "Captain Canuck death" where CC was actually my real name. Yow. This blog has received a strong measure of hits for a photo of a Honda Civic that I nicked from the web.


ps. Many readers should probably avoid the PBS post on the restaurant. (It is mentioned in passing.)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Graph Jam Redux

I submitted an idea to Graph Jam on a lark, and it was submitted! Click here for details.

The basic idea was to play off of different kinds of jam.


ps. Turning to sports, I'm going to not-so-lovely Wood River IL tomorrow. A very short triathlon and possibly the most family friendly (aside from waking at 5 am). My time in 2006 was 1 h 20 min. We'll see how it goes; I was more fit back then. No Jim G.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hot Enough For Ya?

As I walked out of the gym, the heat was like a wall. It is brutal.

On the ride home, a bank sign flashed 89 F (or 31 C).

Warm indeed, but one might argue (a) those signs aren't accurate and (b) it was probably directly in the sun.

I don't know about (a) but (b) is a non-starter: it was 9:30 pm.

Yikes. That's crazy. I have been here a long time but have never come to grips that July and August have oppressive heat where no one really wants to be outside. May and September rule down here, with occasional gorgeous days throughout the spring and autumn.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hug a Spaniard Today

I don't know what it is like in Spain, but my guess is that national pride is riding pretty high these days.

  • Spain won the prestigious Euro 08 soccer match. Some of my French colleagues feel this is even larger than the World Cup, because the standard is very high across the board.

  • Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the French Open, as expected, but then played an all-time classic at Wimbledon, serving notice to the world that he is ready to be #1. This may well happen at the US Open.

  • Fellow countryman Carlos Sastre won the definitive Tour de France bicycle race. No word yet if he will enter next year's Tour de Donut.
Quite a year! Enhorabuena!

A New Foreign Correspondent

The handy right margin now features a new blogger! Our anonymous man in the field is a legal eagle who has transferred from Chicago to Paris for a stint.

As shown by the iconic North of Nain, the idea of "life in a foreign land" makes for great blog fodder (blodder?), esp. with the writing chops of this chap (who also invented helium during a vacation in Las Vegas, as I recall).

Join me in looking forward to dispatches from Paris!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fitness Update

As I may have blogged, I work in a public "war room" with about 5 other people. There are probably 5 more who come into the room all the time. It has become a warehouse for, well, wares and snacks.

It's hard to stay at a "fighting weight" in such an atmosphere. But good news... I'm doing a tri in early August and have signed up for the Lewis & Clark 1/2 marathon in September. This was my first 1/2 marathon back in 2004 or 2005 (I've only done 2 or 3). As Jennifer once noted, if I have a concrete goal ahead, then I snap into "workout mode" immediately.

In other news, huge props to Jess and the Insouciant Cyclists: the team raised enough money for the fight against diabetes to place in the top 15 teams for the event!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Octo-rennial Cleaning

Two weeks ago, I made a maintenance request to the apt complex for some plumbing work. They complied, and left a note stating I was in violation of my lease. The charge? "Housekeeping"


Well, though it is probably a paper tiger (the main complaint was piles of books that I had moved from my office when I changed jobs in 2006), I went to action. One weekend was dedicated to cleaning, recycling, and trashing. I threw out computer boxes that had not moved from my bedroom since the year 2000.

I'm in very good shape now, but I've decided to push it further and put some stuff up on Craig's List, the "local, easier eBay" website.

I've come to realize that this is a "pre-move" whirlwind. The big question: where shall I move?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Week in Review

Things have been quiet on here lately, as many of the CC staffers and interns are off frolicking on vacation. Here's a brief recap of some news:
  • Karen and Dan's baby is now at home! Wonderful news. (click for more)
  • Hegemom has returned to the gym after many weeks of chemo. Mad freaking props (click for more)
  • Vic, a CC mainstay and critic, is often berating my life choices as a "Peter Pan-esque combination of stunted emotional development and delusions of grandeur". No news there, but he is coming to visit in August which is very cool. I rarely have guests down here. The Vster is a big Springsteen fan so we are going to see a concert here.
  • Note that my cousin Richard was planning to visit, but those plans feel apart along with some critical pieces of his 1997 Porsche. Thankfully, he choice wisely and decided to get the Porsche fixed. (This is a rare instance of prioritizing a vehicle above family, but consider that he is now a high-school teacher, on summer break and driving a Porsche on PEI.)

Graph Jam

Offline, some CC readers and I have been enjoying the wonderful website GraphJam. The idea is to create a pop-culture pun through charts in Excel.

I borrowed the idea for my tech blog, with some success (though I have bigger plans).

Below is a great example if you know the AC/DC song....

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

And this one is an absolute Hall-of-Famer. Again, from music:

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Musical Crack Cocaine

I don't know if I can provide a link, but I discovered a podcast series on iTunes: a CBC Radio 2 series on Beethoven's 9 symphonies. It should be easy to find via a search.

This is as good as it gets. A 20-30 minute podcast on each symphony, with a musically literate interviewer and the conductor of the Vancouver symphony with the analysis, including short blurbs on piano. It does assume that one knows the basics of classical music (e.g. the sonata form, and the sense of musical key) but it is not esoteric. Personally, it matches my music level perfectly.

I'm actually slowly rationing these as I don't want them to end.

Here's a fun factoid from the 1st symphony (though you really have to hear it on the podcast): in the 4th movement, Beethoven starts the main melody with a joke. 2 notes start, then a pause. Then the same 2 notes with 2 more, and again a pause. Then, again, the theme starts and screeches to a halt, until finally it bursts through as though the band has come in. The joke is that it gives the effect that the orchestra is practicing, or playing the piece for the first time, as the pauses are precisely the effect in those situations.

For 1800, this was clever stuff. Though Beethoven was not especially known for it (unlike Haydn, or Heaven's own court jester: Mozart).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Commodore 64s party like its 1983

Here is a page about a recent geek fest in Cincinnati where 8 Commodore 64s were networked together for a game.

Geeks occasionally break out the vintage equipment but at this event, the C64s are using newer stuff to do things they never really did in the 1980s.

There are photos, but they are large and slow to appear. The page is being "slashdotted". Slashdot is a major geek website. When a lowly website appears on Slashdot, the traffic is so much that it overwhelms the servers. Hence, the bittersweet joy of being "slashdotted".

ps. My tech blog has never been Slashdotted. One day, perhaps.... Some friends of mine have had the impact.

Island Realization

I just left a comment on Binky's blog, celebrating an evening we shared when I was home.

It was a perfect summer evening in the backyard. My sister & bro-in-law, Binky & Shan, Richard, and the 2 little ones: Action Girl and Super Girl.

All we did was hang out and play soccer. Oh and in a dash of surrealism that only Richard Spenard could provide: a drive in the Porsche. Nothing else. Really modest, and it was perfect. Perfect.

No movies, no TV, just background conversation and laughter. My realization is that these elements were at each house (and cottage!) I visited, and are there almost every time I visit anyone back home.

Maybe people hit the mass media more when we see each other often, routinely. I don't know. But for the trip it was wonderful to talk to people.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Trick

hey gang,

It has been busy since I've been back.... I'm getting back into the groove on multiple levels.

Fitness has become a key concern. Just too much food at work. Although, amazingly, I am still #2 in the standings, I am not training per se and don't really have a tri planned. Normally, this time of year, I have several in the works.

But good news: yesterday I ran to my gym, worked out, and then ran home again. I don't know why I haven't thought of this before! My gym is about 1.5 miles away. I hope this becomes a trend.


Monday, July 07, 2008

RIP Dr Eliot

In senior year at UPEI, Vic famously cajoled me into taking Latin 101. He bailed syntactic water for a semester while I quite enjoyed it. There were probably 12 in the class.

For Latin 102, there were 2 left standing: a chap named Chris and I. Our new teacher for the term was Dr Eliot, the President of the University. (He passed away in May).

Well. I didn't know him closely (Vic and Colleen knew him much better, being in the Humanities fulltime) but that class held a couple of special memories. We would meet on wintry mornings at a large oak table in a darkly-lit conference room near his office. He was very well studied in the classics: once, he probably played the role of Dickensian taskmaster, but now this was an old lion enjoying his twilight years.

Amongst the datives, the genitives, and the ablatives, there were gentle corrections and cheerful observations about language.

And sometimes observations about the office itself: he had an elderly lady as a secretary who, though kind, would give hearty approval to visitors' jests by, well, braying loudly. One time, late in the semester, the woman had startled us yet again from her office. Dr E, in the midst of a point on Latin versus Old French, leaned toward us conspiratorially and whispered, as though grateful for finally having a sympathetic ear after all these years: "isn't that a wretched laugh?". As quickly as it came, the topic returned to irregular verbs.

The other story is more poignant. Graduation ceremonies included a banquet. I don't remember the name now. I do remember that Vic and I sat at a front table; one among a dozen or more. From the podium, mere feet away, Dr Eliot gave the keynote address. His theme was the purity of education and learning, as being more than merely an means to an end.

As he concluded his speech, the final paragraph began like so, "... and so no matter if you have come here from another continent for pre-med, or...", and then he looked directly at me and smiled, " or if you have come from the farm to learn Latin...". I doubt if anyone really noticed, but that moment was more precious to me than the math and science prizes I would be awarded later that week.

As he did for so many others, he made me feel like we had a pact.

Vic and I led the standing ovation.

Back in the Lou

It is funny that the title sounds like "back in the loo" which is not especially charming from a British perspective.

I'm back! The trip was fantastic. The weather was perfect and I was able to catch up with a lot of people.

No pics, alas (sorry Hege!). I find that there is no "half way" when it comes to pictures and/or getting gifts for people: they become all-consuming. So this was just a trip home with a carry-on bag and my ubiquitous backpack.

It's hard to summarize even 3 days but here is a quick recap:

-- I saw an open-air theatrical performance (Quebec a la carte) that featured 8 players from La Belle Province and 4 from The Island. It covered 400 years in 45 minutes and was a mix of English and French. As keen readers will know, I am moved by music and was suckered-punched at the end with an unexpected "Canada is..." I hadn't heard that song in 15? years.

-- Inspired by the songs and bilingual nature of the performance, I walked around my old elementary school. Very keen readers will know that from grades 2 through 6, about 30 students were in the same class, learning French. We were family. It is heartening to know that my cousin Shannon now teaches there.

-- I confirmed that there are some very high-tech companies at the Atlantic Technology Centre in Charlottetown. High-tech as in 3D gaming for mobile phones. That's wicked stuff, and hopefully a new era for The Island in terms of becoming a hot bed for tech. It is cool to see that UPEI has reacted to it with a CS degree with a specialty in video game programming.

-- I started to write about some personal stuff but I can't include everything/everyone and yet I hate to leave anything out. Wonderful summer days and evenings with very special people. Some powerful, thoughtful and at times, heavy, conversations. It would take me 8 hours to relay it all and then this post would be insufferable.

So, to recap: A great trip! My new rule is to come home every summer.... I will send some pic links later perhaps but a great source is this site. It was postcard-perfect when I was there. No Photoshop necessary.


ps. Jesserando and others will remember a fun gag in front of the Island webcam. This time, Miss Gila phoned out of the blue, and I was walking near it. So she went online and I waved :-) It was a hoot, eh?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Quick Notes

A belated Happy Canada Day to everyone. Happy 4th o' July tomorrow to the US!

And today, both "bonne fete" to my Mom and also Happy 400th anniversary, Quebec City. This week is the culmination of a year-long festival marking 400 years since Champlain founded New France, Quebec, and arguably Canada.

In other major news, check out the blog over at My Life Geography! Congrats to Karen and Dan....


ps. Finally, I am writing this from Prince Edward Island. I am home on a very short, stealth trip. So email is spotty and blog silence for a couple of days.

pps. It is gorgeous here. Breathtaking and very familiar at the same time. Powerful stuff.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Art of the Bluff

I've blogged extensively about the Tri Rivalry between my nefarious arch-rival, Jim G.

However, there is a sub-contest to the Rivalry: the track sprints. I think I've lamented this last year when we couldn't compete together (and I was crazy fast).

2003 was our first combat: the preferred battlefield is the 400 metre run. This is one lap around a high-school track: approx. 1/4 mile.

And to be far, the nefarious Jim G has owned me on it. He was a middle-distance sprinter in high school and it shows. In 2003, I pulled out an intense 70 second result (try it). He ran 66 seconds. We all thought he would expire: he still claims it was his hardest run in his life. Absolute kudos.

I'm not sure if we ran head-to-head until this year but I have tried to break 70 seconds. In 2004, I ran 72. I think I have run once since then but the time is lost to history.

Fast-forward to this year. The track at the ritzy Clayton high school. Neither our hero nor the nefarious Jim G feel particularly stout.

In fact, we start the Lowball Sweepstakes. When warming up, Jim G claimed he ran a glacial 88 seconds a week before. I maintain that is absurd, but tell him that I'm shooting for a stumblin' 80 seconds.

The bluffs have begun. And both of us are secretly hoping the other is telling the truth. And secretly optimistic that we can do better, because, as I have discovered, it is much easier to think about running than to actually run. In my mind, somehow, some way, I might even breach the mythical 70.

And so, the nefarious Jim G joined his age group, in heat 3, way before my heat #8. He started hot out of the blocks, huffin' and puffin', and lumbered down the back stretch. I watched intently, urging the clock to speed up. I felt good as he turned for home, but as always, there is an illusion: these runners are charging down the home stretch. His time: 72 seconds.

Yes. He matched my 'quick' time from 2004. His bluff has been exposed as a fraud. A psychological tactic geared to mess me up.

In all honesty, it did mess me up. I was stunned, shocked, and saddened, and I had 4 heats to dwell on it before I could do anything.

As my heat prepared, I steeled my nerve. "Let's do this thing," said our hero.

As the horn went off, I started out strong and in the first turn I hit 4th gear. In truth, I would never hit 5th. Too much food and debauchery since February. A hero trades his passion for glory. As I came around the home stretch, wheezing, I could see the clock mock me: 68, 69, 70.

I finished at 77 seconds. Maybe, just maybe, 76. No bluff here.

It was a total rout. Kudos to my arch-rival. As always on the track, he dominates.


ps. We both finished last in our heats.

pps. Note this entire theme is distinct from the tri action. Separate events, separate streaks.

I *heart* my old PC

I love the new Mac. It is very cool and highly stable. It was a trusted companion on a recent tech talk, my first, in my new era of employment. But it is a laptop.

I'm writing this on my PC which needed some work at the shop. It is still slow, and it is still Windows, but it feels like my right arm.

This is because I am neurologically wired to my split keyboard and my big mofo speakers that date back to 1997.

I can't explain it. Perhaps it is re-connecting to my old songs on iTunes (I'm sure of it), and being able to type at 90 wpm again: I feel like my old dog just came back after days away.


ps. Buy a Mac, though. Seriously. It will be my new right-arm one day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My New Favourite Show

Lately I have been watching Top Gear on BBC America.

It is hilarious! Primarily a show for gear-heads and car enthusiasts, it has 3 guys who are very funny and incredibly warm.

They often go off on strange adventures: e.g. who can cross London, in morning traffic, the quickest: someone on a bicycle, a boat (on the Thames), or an SUV?

Bonus: there is The Stig, a talented race-car driver who never talks and never reveals the face behind his/her helmet. In the London episode, s/he takes public transit.

Check it out.... I'm compiling episodes for some people back home.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday Night's AllRight For Blogging

It has been way too long so I pulled another bar stunt over on the tech blog, with help from my wingwoman Tanya. (click here Ed's note: in a rare cameo, Tanya is in the last photo with her friend)

I gave a talk recently on Gant. As usual, it is a techie subject that is not often discussed in blues bars in St Louis.

My favourite part in doing this, aside from the (hopeful) barrage of hits, is seeing the finished post. A lot of work goes into it.

Often, I smile to myself, or even laugh. And I think:

Maybe, just maybe, everything's going to be ok.


Stealth Attack

I got home pretty late on Saturday night. My neighbour was roaring at his (new?) GF on the phone. It wasn't enough to call the cops or even complain, but it irritates me.

As I write this at 9 pm on Sunday evening, the dog is on the roof. Things are much better in that regard, but when I even hear that dog now for a moment, I brace myself for confrontation.

I have considered retaliation. I've wanted to point my guitar amp toward his apt and seriously crank some white-boy blues into his world. Unfortunately, he truly has the high ground in this war, and I am powerless to launch a counterstrike.

However, I had been playing with the idea of simply knocking on his door at 9 am in the morning. In his universe, this would be fairly disruptive. But I haven't had the guts to do it. Plus things have been better.

But today, I have a new idea that is deliciously demonic: a dog-whistle. Not one to train dogs or scare them. I bear no malice toward the dog and do not want to see it harmed. I just want something that would get the dog to bark. That could be highly entertaining.

I'm adding it to the "when needed" file in the war chest.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

War of Attrition

The Surprise

Optical scanner. Check. Infra-red radar. Check. Sonar detection. Clear.

All is well. Our hero is 8 miles into the bike leg of the RecPlex triathlon, and the nefarious Jim G is out of range. Given a 30 second offset, CC remained ahead during the swim and transition #1. Now, nothing but the sound of pedals and wind.

Then, out of nowhere: "hello Michael".

Zounds! The villainous arch-rival has slipped under the radar, and pulls up alongside our hero. A stealth attack! In no time, the nefarious Jim G is ahead by several bike lengths -- and pulls away.

Miles later, our hero is still stunned. He begins to draft blog titles in his head: Black Sabbath! Sunday Bloody Sunday!

However, there is hope: like last year, the dynamic duo will face a set of hills at the end of the bike. Last year, Blackbird famously transformed into an anti-Gravitron device and led our hero to victory in a head-to-head battle.

But this year, Jim G leads by 1/4 mile. It is a grim gamble. CC grits his teeth as his untrained leg muscles quiver with exertion. Blackbird moans, seemingly in need of servicing after last weekend's rainy ride.

The Counter Assault

With 3 miles to go, the triatheletic titans begin to ascend the hills. CC notices that, far ahead, Jim G stands up out of the saddle: fatigue! He re-doubles his effort, downshifting into an easier gear.

After 2 hills, our hero is much closer but still not even. By the last, winding hill, he finally pulls within mere lengths.

With a mile to go, he pulls along flush with the arch villain.

"Hello, James".

The Transition

The two racers glide in simultaneously to Transition #2. The plan is to devour another carb gel and re-apply sunscreen. Mutual friends cheer and yell to both of us: "you're going to lose it in transition! C'mon!".

"You know, they're right. This could be it right here.", thinks our hero. Abandoning the battle plan, he bolts from the area with nary a drink nor replenishment. It is a desperate stratagem, but he does leave T2 before Jim.

The run is exhausting. Without proper bike training, our hero's legs are jello. The heat is 80+ F and seems unbearable. At every station, 2 cups of water are used: one to drink and one to pour over the body. Memories of Mattoon are haunting. (Ed's note: Mattoon was the ER visit in Aug 2007).

The Finish

For the last half of the 4+ mile run, our hero did not run for victory: it was classic "not to lose". Though out front, he could not concentrate on his own race, but instead looked back often, in terror, awaiting the inevitable push by his rival. It could yet be a Black Sabbath.

Finally, amazingly, CC staggers to the finish line! So Jim G cannot beat him outright, but recall that our hero was given a 30 second offset. The nefarious forces could yet win a time victory!

Indifferently, the clock ticked and tocked. 10 seconds. 20. 30 seconds! Soon enough, but all too late, Jim G stumbles across the line.

CC has won by a mere 2 minutes: approximately the length of time required to ingest a carb gel and apply sunscreen.

The streak has bent, but remains unbroken.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bad Moon Rising for Jim G

I phoned home tonight and talked to Dad. We were talking about gas prices when I mentioned that the nefarious Jim G is trying to sell his Ford F150 truck, a clear sign that gas prices are affecting behaviour down here.

Then, per tradition, I called the nefarious Jim G to wish him well in the triathlon tomorrow. He told me he had just sold his truck moments before in a fast cash deal.

Then it hit me: "hey Jim, how are you going to take your bike to the race?"

A pregnant pause on the other end of the line. Then mild profanity. Then, on my side of the line, uproarious laughter.

This is going to be excellent. Last I heard, his plan is to borrow a vehicle from the in-laws. Late on a Saturday night..... Perfect-o.

A Brief History of The Rivalry

Sunday will be the next installment of the ongoing battle between our hero and the nefarious Jim G. Here is a brief history, in part for new readers, and in part as documentation:

The Beginning

It started in 2001 with a 100 meter street race. I won. In 4 years, there have been countless running contests. The results have been lost to history but the memories are great. Let's say that we split those races 50-50.


Tri #1 RecPlex Oct 2005
Winner: JimG
Headline: CC uses a hybrid road bike, Butterscotch, and tries to will himself to victory. Jim G schools him on the importance of bike technology with an easy win.

Tri #2 RecPlex June 2006
Winner: JimG
Headline: Enter Blackbird: a pure road-racing bike. Blackbird's inaugural event, brought in under stealth with Jim G being completely unaware. Amazingly, Jim G still won. A crushing defeat which left our hero dismayed for weeks. A major turning point, CC would later vow to never lose again in head-to-head competition.

Tri #3 Lake St Louis Sept 2006
Winner: CC
Headline: Redemption. CC overcomes a 20-minute headstart (due to age offsets) to beat JimG outright. One of his greatest accomplishments in sport.

Tri #4 RecPlex Oct 2006
Winner: CC
Headline: CC ties the series 2-2 with a straight-forward victory.

Tri #5 RecPlex June 2007
Winner: CC
Headline: Domination. CC breaks the magical 2-hour limit and records his personal best for the course. Blackbird shines in a head-to-head uphill tactical battle.

In the fall of 2007, Jim G was off at the Chicago Marathon, a wretchedly hot race. And so the series is 3-2 in favour of CC. Going into tomorrow, neither Jim G nor I are particularly fit. After a frenetic February, I had a lame March and April and basically gained weight. I have run recently and have biked 75 miles in a week, but I don't feel good going into this.

We'll see. Wish me luck.... Swim time is 7:45 am which should make for a pleasant bike and run (regarding heat).


ps. As always, I'm grateful for The Rivalry and for Jim G's friendship. We have both elevated our fitness to great heights. That said, he is going down tomorrow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hockey Night in Canada Theme

There is a major controversy up North about the theme music to Hockey Night in Canada. Here's a cool article (click here).

I didn't know that it was written in 1968. I thought it went back further. This is kind of like finding out the Maple Leaf wasn't our flag until 1965. (Believe me, that was a mind-bender).

I don't think there is any parallel to the HNiC in the US. Monday Night Football is a tradition and has a great theme, but I don't think Amercians would freak out if NBC bought the rights from ABC and used it.

The article profiles the woman who composed the tune and described the opening notes: dunt-da-DUNT-da-dunt. That's it right there. Just reading those words popped the song into my head.

Very cool....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The CBC is my homepage on the new Mac.

Here is a great collection of iconic Canadian photos on the CBC site.

I could blog paragraphs about most of them, particularly the hockey ones, but the real eye catcher for me is #7.

I think I've blogged on this one before. Trudeau was walking in a procession with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace. Then he drops back, and unbeknownst to her, does a pirouette as a ham for the cameras.

This is crazy for a world leader in the Queen's presence.

And massively influential for me. Like Kennedy in the US, Trudeau's policies and performance as PM are overshadowed by his personality and vision for Canada (particularly bilingualism, which helped shape me as a person, and federalism which has been our Big Debate forever, but particularly since 1980).

I'm delighted to have found this picture!

Monday, June 09, 2008

O Canada and Your Efficient Passport Office

Woo-hoo! My passport has arrived... I'm good for another 5 years.

It took about 3 weeks. My application was executed meticulously.

Here are some things I learned, as a recap for the Canucks:
  • Your guarantor may be a family member. My father was mine. The only restriction is that they must have a valid 5-year passport.
  • Passport Canada's website and/or phone service has good information, including processing times. They said 4 weeks for me. I called them upon receipt and one woman said "call us near 6/13 to see how it's going". It arrived today on 6/9.
  • Resident Canadians should definitely look into the express service which is even faster.
  • Obviously, triple-check the list they give you to make sure everything is in order. That said, I think my eye colour was different on my app versus my driver's license (hazel versus green). Ah well... what's a hue among compatriots!
Happy day... In other news, I called Geico, the insurance for the guy that hit my car. They were very courteous and are getting me hooked up with a repair shop and rental: the works. The timing is not ideal (June is crazy busy) but not much we can do.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blackbird's Meanstreak

Our hero glides across the parking lot like an eagle in the sky, stalled in flight, circling effortlessly. Despite only having a mere 30 miles this season on his trusted steed, Blackbird, the two have recombined into the inorganic union of man and machine.

It is the warm-up for the venerable Tour de Cure: a large bike ride to raise funds for diabetes. Children stop our hero and ask to ride Blackbird. With a kind-hearted shrug, CC explains that he is clipped in at the pedals and has no rides to offer. Other kids simply marvel and applaud.

Then, suddenly, the heavens open: zounds! Torrents of rain. Blackbird has never seen rain before; it is unclear how the beast will fare in the elements. Is he a prima donna? A warrior?

Our hero, already drenched, heads for the meager shelter of a tree, hoping that its vast canopy of leaves will somehow provide cover. In the chaos, our hero comes to a full stop: while still clipped in.

Time stands still. This is a decisive moment. In 2 years and 1000 miles, Blackbird has never dumped his rider. And yet now, frozen in time, they are truly stalled. What will happen? Can our hero mash the pedals and propel them forward? Can he miracuously flick out of the constraints in time? Will Blackbird, as he has so often before, simply will his way out of another jam?

The answer is an emphatic editorial from the earnest equine: be gone. With a stern throw of his graceful neck, Blackbird offers no quarter. Our hero plummets to the left, crashing against the asphalt in a full body slam. Children hide behind their mothers' skirt and point. Many yards away, an owl hoots an ominous warning.

A hero has fallen. The dynamic duo are divided.

It is an inauspicious beginning to the season.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fender Bender Redux

There is nothing quite like coming home on a Friday night and having one's car rear-ended at a traffic light. *sigh*

This time was more serious to the car and less serious to me. The guy winged my driver side bumper. I _did_ lift my foot off the brake, out of gear, but he admitted that he picked up his cell and simultaneously hit the gas. Great.

This time, I listened to counsel from the previous comments: called the cops, took his info, etc. Interestingly, he had a Michigan driver's license, a car from Washington state, and no insurance card. He swore that he was insured, but the cop had no choice but to write him a citation.

Anyway, this one will get fixed. The funny thing is that the nick from the first accident will probably be fixed as well, since they'll probably replace the back bumper entirely.

A pain in the watoot though. I have stuff to do. Ah well, no injuries.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tour de Crue

If I had time, I would try to find a pic of Jess and her mates with the heads of the hair band Motley Crue super-imposed. The Tour de Crue coming to a bike trail near you!

For reader donors, a million thank yous for your kind generosity. I am kicking butt towards my goal. In fact, I am schooling many of the others on the team (click here), thanks to your support.

In other news, Blackbird has finally been set up for the season. It has been a long time coming due to (a) unprecedented, daily deluges of rain and (b) a precipitous decline in service from my former bike shop.

CC has now re-doubled his endorsement for the original bikeshop: Maplewood Bicycle.

The irony is that it may well rain on Saturday, and I'm not riding Blackbird for 16 miles in the rain. This means that my hybrid bike, Butterscotch, may yet ride again! That will be interesting since I haven't been on it in 2 years.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hockey Overdose

Wow, well that was a dandy. I just watched Game 5 go into 3 OTs... (Mercifully, the time zone worked to my advantage)

If Detroit scored, they would win the Stanley Cup. But they did not.

There were some sketchy penalties in Pittsburgh's favour (it is pretty clear that the NHL wants more games, eh?) but the refs seemed to try to even it up. Certainly the last penalty against Detroit was blatant.

Down here, NBC seemed to do it up right with almost no commercials except at the intermissions.


ps. Here is some hockey trivia for you. In the mid 1980s, Edmonton was dominant in the NHL. In general politics in the late 80s, Newfoundland, on the far east coast, went to a different timezone from the Atlantic timezone. From what I remember, there was debate as to whether or not the Newfies should be an hour later, or, strangely, a 1/2 hour later from the Atlantic. The main argument against an hour later was that the playoff games from Edmonton would be on unbearably late.

Today, Newfoundland is 1/2 hour later than the Atlantic timezone.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Neighbours Part 3

Our hero lives Apt C (apartment CC was not available). Above him, the new nefarious nemesis of neighbouring negativity lives in Apt B. I probably have not mentioned that his buddy lives above him in Apt A. This has not been noteworthy as I have no quarrel with Apt A. It has been only an indirect problem as they have thrown mutual parties and generally just spur each other on.

Well. The dude in Apt A has left. The "chaos bloc" has been neutralized.

I met the new tenants in Apt A last night. A young woman and her beau. Within minutes, they asked me, unsolicited, if I could hear our man in Apt B. I felt vindicated. Though undoubtedly we suffer different experiences (due to the setup of the building), we are both suffering.

And so, though said umbrage, we have forged solidarity. In hushed tones, I encouraged my new compadre to fully voice any concerns to the office HQ. Later, I wrote out a manifesto on some paper. We agreed that upon greeting one another in the parking lot, we would make a gesture that basically shows our united front and also interrogates the other on how things are going.

Basically, we are in a gang.

And it is a hoot. Our own secret symbols and everything!

I don't know how much longer we'll have our friend in Apt B, but he is going down.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Give Early, Give Often

hey folks,

I've joined the Miss Jess and the Insouciant Cyclists in their annual ride to help cure diabetes.

I'm asking for your help. See my irreverent page (click here). I just can't write the usual upbeat, exclamation-point-laden call to arms.

My only pitch is that I don't ask for much, especially now that I have a reliable car. I will never ask you to help me move. I will never ask for a ride to the airport. But I am asking for this.

Partly because I've joined the party really late. And partly for my Uncle Nick, RIP.


ps. If you are in Canada, you can probably donate. But if you are nervous to do so online, just tell me how much to put in and we can work it out offline. No worries.

pps. All irreverence aside, thank you. (And no worries if you choose not to.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

TV Alert

For those in St Louis (and/or the US):

On Sunday morning at 10 am, on the Speed channel, a show called My Classic Car will feature a "British Car Show" from a lil' province called Prince Edward Island.

Woo-hoo! My guess is that it will be down east near Montague. It was most certainly taped during the summer months: probably August.

Neighbours Part 2

Last weekend there was a new issue with the neighbours: a puppy. My guess is that the guy wanted to move on from his relationship, and if you already have a dog, then what better way to distract oneself than to get a new addition to the family. Plus the chick magnet thing and all that.

A week ago, the big dog and the puppy were out on the deck at 2 am. I went out and complained. I was tempted to yell and use profanity but I was on _my_ neighbours roof and so it is hard to get riled up. 2 dudes were sitting out there, eating dinner (I think). They barely paid any attention. Perhaps they were stoned: hard to say.

I came off my deck, went up the outside stairs, and repositioned myself near their fence. Making sure my voice stayed in that deep, sleepy baritone I growled at them about the dogs. Barely any response. 5 minues later, they were all inside but it seemed like it was on their terms.

By 10 am the next morning, I had 2 copies of a letter describing the last few months: one for the apartment office and one for their door. The one on the door had some choice words as a post-script. The apartment manager was adamant that "this wouldn't happen again". We'll see.

In the week since, things have been better but only barely. If I remember correctly (from a conversation several months ago), if I complain enough times, the apartment will level fines against the resident. That's when things will get interesting.

Hopefully it won't come to that.

I haven't been on my bike this year. It really bothers me but I have to remind myself (a) it has been raining cats and, yes, dogs almost all the time and (b) I have been exhausted from all this crap. Friends say that I "nap a lot". LOL... So would they, in my slippers. Plus I have a highly tuned metabolism and massive cranial capacity which requires constant maintenance.

Happy Memorial Day, USA

'Tis the big weekend down here... A major holiday where one needs to have plans for Sunday or Monday or else one looks like a total loser. One thing about the USA: people make sure that we wayward waifs are "taken care of" in the sense of "do you have somewhere to go?". This is extremely true for Thanksgiving but also the other big holidays.

I have been grousing a lot lately, debating about my future. I hope no one takes it as an indictment of St Louis. This is a great town and I am blessed to have a fantastic social circle here.

Plus, I think the USA generally kicks butt. It is a big, complex country, and a lot of the good things go unrecognized.

peace out from the CC newsdesk

Monday, May 19, 2008

Track Tasks Online

A friend of mine has a web site as a semi-pro hobby: the Online Task List (click here).

Check it out if you like: it's free. I use it for my weekend task list but also in general. He hasn't really advertised it anywhere: it is has been just been spreading virally to a level of several hundred users.

You can assign priorities, get email reminders, etc. It's pretty slick. The user interface is outstanding (e.g. changing colours on rollovers).

Happy Victoria Day

Happy Victoria Day, to everyone back home!

Victoria Day is the big May holiday in Canada: it is one of the major differences from the US in terms of holidays. In the US, Memorial Day is a giant weekend (this coming weekend). In the US, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer; I wouldn't say that about Victoria Day.

My family on my Dad's side has a major gathering every year, on the Sunday before. When I was back home, it was a day to play soccer in someone's yard.

Here are some quick facts about England's longest reigning monarch:
  • She reigned 63+ years from 1837 to 1901. Amazing. Queen Elizabeth II may give her a run for the money though. You go girls!
  • Her husband died in 1861. In mourning, she wore black for the next forty years.
  • I can't find it online but as a youth there was a great, quirky book called The Book of Lists which featured a very rare photo of Queen V smiling. She was on morphine.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Singing Songs

There is great news over on the Hegemom Blog...


On My Current Power Rotation

Climbed a mountain and I turned around
I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky: What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changing
cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older too

Landslide -- Fleetwood Mac

Check out the audio and a sumptuously gorgeous guitar solo here.....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, all of the Mom readers, and all of the Mom-to-be readers!

I love being male and all that goes with it but I do respect motherhood: I've often said that the strongest force in nature is a mother defending her young.

I watch a _lot_ of nature shows and motherhood is truly universal. In the nature, the fathers can be rather shaky.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Joy of Physics

My car, Rowdy, was rear-ended yesterday at a red light. No injuries and the car is just barely scratched, which is amazing.

I was turning left and a guy behind me gunned his Mustang into me, from a stop. So there wasn't much momentum but I could not believe how hard he hit me. Headache and a sore neck yesterday aft but fine now.

As it happened, I was due for a 30,000 mile tune-up on the ride, so I took Rowdy into the shop today. They saw no structural damage.

I've seen someone push hard on a fender and dent it worse than the damage left by the Mustang. I just don't understand, but I guess the back bumper may have one of those 5 MPH zones that "folds" in and then back out.

I was quite ready to be confrontational but the guy was sincerely contrite, so I was civilized. No cops, no insurance claim.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lord Stanley's Mug

Bah, well there is no joy in Mudville again this year.

In Vegas in November, I bought 3 long-bet tickets for the Stanley Cup winner:
  • Toronto didn't make the playoffs.
  • Ottawa was ousted in the first round.
  • Montreal was my last hope. This is somewhat ironic since I have historically not supported Les Habs. No matter: they are out as well.
Drat. Keen readers will remember that I seriously kicked butt on the first trip to Vegas (picked World Series winner, picked Superbowl winner, and the hockey pick went to the Cup finals).

There is only one conclusion: back to LV !

New Era on PEI

Quoteth (from this article):

A new era begins on Prince Edward Island Saturday as retailers can once again legally sell canned carbonated beverages for the first time in almost a quarter-century.

The lifting of P.E.I.'s so-called "can ban" is being viewed by Islanders as either a cause for celebration or a day to lament. Prince Edward Island was the only place in North America where pop could only be sold in refillable bottles.

The ban was put in place in 1984 to protect jobs at the local Pepsi bottling plant and to protect the environment.


I thought the ban was way before 1984 ? I remember a can of pop being a 'status symbol' in the mid 1970s!?


Monday, April 28, 2008

Reason #71 why I love Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani is a favourite guitar player of mine. Top 3 for me (and possibly Jess ;-)

Reason #71 is the name of his new album:

Professor Satchafunkilus and The Musterion Of Rock


For reason #70, check out this video where he explains music theory. Modes are scales. He uses sophisticated terms such as lydian, aoelian, raised 4th, etc, but don't worry about that: just listen to the moods that he evokes. And his style of exposition which is pretty much what I strive for (in general, when explaining computer science, guitar, award-winning blog writing, etc).

Passport Renewal?

Does anyone have any anecdotes about how long it takes to get a Canadian passport renewed these days?

Mine expires in Dec 08 and I need to plan around some stuff.

Merci bien!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


After 2 nights of peace, things got crazy again at 2:30 am.

To their credit, the neighbours stayed off the deck. But it was still loud enough to wake me.

They were clearly on the verge of a total breakup, fighting about money etc.

I stood, blearly-eyed, in my kitchen for 20 minutes trying to decide what to do. Then the woman yelled "let go of me" and it was Game On.

Thankfully I had the phone # for the police station right at hand.

In the mean time, there was no violence. She locked him out at one point, so he was in the open-air hallway, yelling, further buttressing my decision. Things quieted down by the time the cops arrived.

From what I can tell, she may have been leaving, with him nattering at her, just as they arrived. Hard to say. They definitely did not like being greeted by a pitbull at the door. They might have asked him about a license? Not sure.

I slept until 9:45. It is now 10:45. It will be interesting to see if there is any confrontation as I go outside about my business. Hey, I gave him fair warning.

Update: My neighbour left a note. He said he is moving soon, and apologized for being "nothing but trouble" throughout this ordeal.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drama Redux: The New Deal

Tuesday night, around 2:30 am, I awoke to another racket on the roof. My neighbour and his belle were in another shouting match. They get into it in the house and then come outside to smoke, with no reduction in volume.

It was relatively tame and short, but I was angry enough that I couldn't sleep.

After hours of tossing and turning, reading boring articles on Wikipedia, and awaiting another earthquake, I eventually drafted a note. It was surprisingly civilized: I censored the profanity and threats of violence. In short, I said "Remember that deal we made where I come up and tell you if it's too loud? The deal is off: I'm calling the authorities if you don't start acting like adults".

At 6:30 am, I symbolically nailed the protestant missive to his door and trudged off to work. After a day of utter misery, I returned home circa 3 pm.

To be honest, I was nervous. I can enjoy confrontation but the apprehension isn't fun. Plus a nuanced, sensitive discussion is probably not in the cards here. This is guy who, as a display of emotion, yelled at his girlfriend that he can benchpress 200+ pounds. (I didn't get it either. I guess I should tell the ladies in the bars that I can run a mile in 6:30 or better.)

When I arrived home, his car was gone: probably went to work (2nd shift, I think). Surprisingly, there was no note of retort at the door.

I slept for 2 hours, and went off to a tri club meeting.

At 9 pm, I returned. He was home, but still no note: what? What is going on here? Was this some kind of tactic?

That evening, at 2 am, I lay awake in bed. Only the crickets chirp near the lake: all is still.

I am puzzled: what is he doing? Trying to outfox me with some silent strategem? I cocked my head to one side to pick up the slightest hint of the damn dog. Or the shrill voice of his girlfriend. Nothing.

"Dammit, man. This guy is good.", I thought to myself, rolling over to yet another side of the bed.

Here on night #2 of The New Deal, it is similarly quiet. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Toy

I have a new computer!  My first since 2000.  That is pretty crazy.

It is a laptop: the ultrachic Apple MacbookPro.  I'll attach a link or a pic soon.   It has a 17 inch display and a 2.5 GHz dual Intel CPU with 2 GB of RAM.  

In short, it is pretty wicked.

I've been up and running within minutes.  Really excited.  I've been looking for quite awhile now, and have known that I would join the autonomous collective known as the Mac community for some time.  Many blog readers use Macs and there is a strong faction in the geek community at work and elsewhere.  At those Java conferences, the saturation is about 100% among the presenters.

It's really fun to play with a new computer and OS.  It reminds me of the days in the 1980s with the Commodore 64 etc.

Don't come a knockin if the house is a rockin

Yep, we had a 5.x Richter earthquake in the midwest.  It has been the talk of the town.  In fact, during the talk at work, we had an aftershock around 4.6 R or so.

I wasn't sleeping well so came out onto the couch to watch TV circa 4 am.  I was snoozing when things got weird.  In my dozy state, I actually thought my upstairs neighbour was shaking my couch somehow.  I was ready to raise hell when I realized something was up.

For some reason, I knew it was an earthquake.  It was really weird.  I checked CNN immediately but of course it took time for the news to break.

At work, we were talking about the quake when the aftershock it. I didn't really feel it.  I thought some people were pulling my leg.  Or that they suffered from pyschoseisomatic disorder (ha ha!).

Thursday, April 17, 2008


If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

-- Freewill, Rush

I don't like writing long, introspective posts.

But I am 1.5 years away from being 40. The number and concept doesn't scare me but it certainly adds poignancy to the ongoing debate about where to live, play, etc.

I mean, if I'm lucky, life is half over. That's sobering. And somewhat liberating. I mean, even if I go on to become addicted to sniffing glue or something, people can say "well he had a good 40 years". As long as I outlive my parents (the fun just doesn't stop in this post), then who cares?

I'm truly torn between some big questions like "shouldn't I be with my family?" versus devil-may-care hedonism such as "why not live in New Zealand for a year? I don't have kids to put through university".

Heavy stuff. Especially now as things are going very well in St Louis. My life on PEI is well-documented, but I have great friends here. Work is going great and I've started to dabble a bit in the teaching/presentation side of work. That is a major draw for me. Like many of my cousins/family, I'm a natural born teacher.

My fear is that I will excel. I'll love it and wake up 10 years from now wondering why I'm still in St Louis.

See the quote at the top. From a Canadian legend, no less. Perfect.

Monday, April 14, 2008


To recap, my upstairs neighbour is a night-owl with a pitbull and a tumultuous lovelife.

Also, his deck is my roof.

We have had several run-ins and things threaten to get ugly, especially with the warmer weather coming. The most recent was 4 weeks ago where he, his girlfriend, and his dog had a heart-to-heart on the deck at 5:30 am. I had to go out on the deck and tell them to put the dog inside.

e.g. Last night he and his girlfriend are on the deck (circa midnight) in a profanity-laced shouting match. To his credit, for once, the damn dog wasn't out on the deck. However, I nearly got involved, in part because I need sleep and in part because it was pretty intense and I was getting worried about violence.

So I'm sitting up in bed for 10 minutes with the lights on, debating if I should throw on my clothes and go out on my deck. Or to call the cops.

Ultimately, I did not, and things settled down.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Places for Advertising

Check out this clever, timely marketing idea (click here)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No GHP Again This Year

In what is perhaps my most visible detachment from Canada, the Great Hockey Pool (the GHP) is defunct again this year, for perhaps the 3rd or 4th year in a row.

Since the big strike, the TV coverage in the US has been relegated to a backwater channel called Versa. I don't receive it. It is painful.

Back home, there are probably 3 games on TV in a given night right now, in the first round. The national news is pre-empted for the coverage. The (awesome) theme song to Hockey Night in Canada is like the ringing of the church bells, inviting fans to come celebrate.

(Ed's Note: I just spent 20 minutes on YouTube watching old HNiC videos looking for the perfect theme song. Wow. The memories flood back. Emotion.)

At least there is some action: like last year, I visited Vegas and have some tickets for the Cup winner. I bought 3 separate bets. 2 teams are in the running; one didn't make the playoffs. (No, not StL though they fit the description).

Stay tuned... we'll see how it goes.

ps. It is somewhat embarrassing that half the audience will know this factoid and the other half may not care much. Hockey Night in Canada is the world's oldest TV sports program that is still running, and it dates much further back to radio. Monday Night Football is a tradition down here, but it is a young whipper-snapper compared to HNiC.

pps. All is not lost down here in the south. There is baseball! It isn't playoff hockey but the start of the season is a sure sign of spring. Here is a post on the other blog that was actually referenced by a columnist for the local newspaper.

Sunday, April 06, 2008



In 1924, a noted professor at Tokyo University died after suffering a stroke. He was mourned and then, as we say in the 21st century, life moved on.

That is, it moved on for everyone but his dog, Hachi-ko, who continued to meet his master's 4 o'clock commuter train at Shibuya station every day for the next nine years. The dog's intense loyalty became the subject of newspaper articles—he was eventually honored with a bronze statue and a postage stamp.

Hachi-ko was an Akita, an ancient breed beloved by samurai warriors.

Click here a book review on saving the breed (circa 1940s)

New Cellphone Parking Lot at Lambert

Here is some local news if you are in St Louis.

A new "cellphone parking area" at Lambert.

I assume that this is complete by now (the news item is 11/07) but I have been guilty of recently circling.

Click here for the story.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Some Minor News

I've been trying to write a build-up but I need to just tell y'all...

I am moving.

Since a recent lunch with a certain "Dr M", things have been rather crazy. I have an opportunity to work, for the same employer (no Visa change), in another town. And after a heart-to-heart talk tonight, I have decided to accept it.

As proof that God has a sense of humor, you'll never guess where it is.

Here's a hint..... The same state as our favorite PhD neuropsychologist (click here)

Many details, and tears, to come in the days ahead (click here)

Sunday, March 30, 2008


The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness.

- Milan Kundera

It is to laugh.

- Daffy Duck