Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turn Off The Lights

I've moved! I'm writing from the new complex's office centre.

It has been a tantric experience. Saturday morning was a high point of suffering, as there seemed no end to the amount of "stuff", but the payoff has been worth it.

Thankfully the weather was very good, and miraculous for the pro movers: book-ended perfectly by rain. Pro movers are astounding, though I think anyone at a pro-level for anything is generally impressive.

My new place is full to the gills, despite some major sell-offs and the use of a storage space in the basement. The move really isn't over but definitely in the end-game.


ps. Fun fact: A married couple lives next door. During introductions, I told them straight-faced that I was a concert-level tuba player and that I practice rather loudly at night. The guy's body language got highly defensive before I told them I was joking.

pps. I lived at the old place for a long time. I feel like I should post a retrospective but to be honest, I feel unsentimental. I had some good memories there but stayed 3 years too long.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Into The Twilight Zone

I'm writing on Friday PM and will be offline for awhile... I haven't ordered Internet/cable/phone for my new place yet, but the clubhouse at the new complex has Wifi.

Things will be 'interesting' tomorrow but I think I'm good shape. A productive night last night and tonight. Alas, as everyone knows, it is the last 10% of nitty-gritty stuff that really drives you crazy.

peace out... see you on the other side!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Couldn't Stand The Weather

The good news is that since the weird WD-40 deal with the AC unit, I haven't had to run heat or AC during May. It has been lovely, and I have had the windows open for an unbelievably long stretch of time.

However, Missouri's spring is no longer quaint.

Several moons ago, I took a class in aviation weather. In the class, we learned how thunderstorms formed, and why they are especially prevalent in the spring in the midwest of the US.

All very nice, and moderately interesting from an intellectual standpoint.

But when one is TRYING TO SHUTTLE one's stuff from one apartment to another, they are NO LONGER interesting. Especially after the 5th day IN A ROW, where the weather is lovely during the day and then a CRUSHING DOWNPOUR from 5 to 7 pm.

I only gave myself a week to work with, and it's gonna get interesting. I can't afford downtime in the evenings.


ps. Many friends have offered to help me move. Unfortunately, I have chosen to 'shuttle' rather than pack-haul-unpack, and 'shuttling' doesn't scale very well. Also, I have a strong aversion to asking people for help for moves. Perhaps more in another post. However, I am sincerely grateful for all offers. It is nice to be acknowledged, as I have tried to help others move.

pps. The title of this post comes from one of the greatest songs of all time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Free Stuff ! (and some Not-Yet Free Stuff)

I'm moving soon and have been jamming since Saturday.

It has been intense and occasionally emotional: everyone knows that people purge when moving but when you are single, you may very well touch every single item that you own. That's crazy.

I have some free stuff if anyone wants it. I'm not naming names but I will stare at Eric B.
  • Some strong bathroom cleaners such as Tilex, Bleach, etc.
  • I have a couple of bottles of anti-freeze for the car. I have no idea where to get rid of it.
  • I have some potentially old bottles of hooch: vodka from 2004 and Jagermeister from 2003-4. Yikes. The good news is that there are no insects in that cupboard.
  • I have rusty deck chairs that might be salvaged with some paint. Also a table with the glass top blown out. My deck looks pretty rough. I don't think I'm up for a beautification award.
I have already posted this to Craig's List but, here is some Not-Yet Free Stuff:
  • I am selling my iconic BBQ Grill. It is in rough shape and needs the hoses checked. $50 including 2 half-full propane tanks (that's value right there)
  • I have some laptop bags for sale. They are good stuff.
  • It is unclear why this is true, but I have many Maxim and Stuff magazines from 1999-2000. Potentially a real collector's item. These are the early editions where the writing was brilliant and hadn't dipped completely into sophomoric mediocrity.
  • I also have a broken hammock frame. The wood is shot but the metal joints are prime. Plus I still have the hammock -- it has stayed inside. The latter is quality stuff. Contact me for EZ pricing.
That's it from Moving HQ.


Friday, May 22, 2009

A Moment of Silence

My community back home lost someone very special recently.

I have been quiet. It feels wrong not to mention it, yet writing my thoughts seems inappropriate. She was not family, and yet is family to some readers of this blog. She was a mother and aunt to several kids on our road. She and her husband are among my parents' dearest, closest friends, and have been for 40+ years.

My condolences to anyone who knew her, for it is a sad time. Jean will be truly be missed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Oak Tree and the Cypress

As alluded to in the previous post, my sister and Dave asked me to read this poem at their wedding: On Marriage by Khalil Gibran.

Though it is popular, I hadn't really heard of it, and as I practiced it over and over again, I grew to appreciate it deeply. I loved its jazzy dissonance against the traditional parts of the ceremony: here is a poem from the 1920s, written by a Lebanese-American, that has both elements of celebration and warning within it. When reading it, I tried to accent the text in such a way that balanced that tension in the poem.

Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.

I remember being being stunned at how the author had nailed an idea that I had barely considered. Though I have a few different aesthetics that I admire as a lifelong union, this one is close to a personal manifesto. There were several readings at the nuptials: I wondered if my sister paired me with this particular one as some kind of Buddhist message. ("See? There is a middle way.") Or perhaps because it fit rather well: my own personal narrative and experience, as the scarred embodiment of caution. (Of course, any rationale was probably more personal to the couple's style than 'me', as it should be.)

10 years later, I have some new perspectives on it, naturally. But, for now, that stays with me. Maybe more on my birthday.

ps. Binky, am I correct that this was a reading at your wedding?

(Readers, 'Supermom' is a dear cousin to my sister and I, and especially close to my sister growing up. She and Binky married 12 years ago. We're very lucky to have him as well.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Party Like It's 1999: Happy 10th

It's not for a couple of days yet, but I want to wish my sister and bro-in-law a

Happy Tenth Anniversary!

Wow, 10 years. That is hard to believe. I'm truly happy for them, and our family is blessed to have such a cool guy join the family. (Dave and I would have been friends in high school... very similar interests)

I will probably blog more thoughts, but here are some things I remember:
  • It was really special to see my sister get married in our church. We have been going to the same one since we were little.
  • I vaguely remember that my father and I didn't quite set up the reception hall correctly with respect to balloons. Let's just say that we thought we did a fine, if utilitarian, job. When the work was surveyed by the supervisor, there was much disagreement. Yikes.
  • I was asked to read at the wedding. I thought the poem was a nice touch, as it was used by others in the fam, but upon reading it closely, I was stunned. It was gorgeous and articulated a thought that had barely surfaced in my own mind. I practiced it so loudly and so long (in different voices) that my sister nearly laughed at the actual reading in the church. More on this one later. Massively influential.
  • Everyone looked great (my sister was radiant, my bro-in-law: dashing), and it was a lovely day.
  • I'm pretty sure that they were married by a female minister who was really fantastic. Alas, she joined our church just after I went "away" to Ontario and then the US. She was really cool and I regret not getting to know her better.
  • At the reception, our Dad constructed a mini-putt golf course. To get the couple to kiss, one had to sink a putt. The course wasn't groomed to PGA standards and it quickly became a par-3.
  • My bro-in-law mentioned guitar during his thank-yous but I didn't realize at the time that he was a huge fan of Randy Rhoads and Steve Vai, and could play a lot of RR stuff. (This is like winning the in-law lottery).
  • I spoke at the reception. As a public speaking performance, it is the only time where I have no self-criticism: A+. This is fortunate because it was one of the few times it was truly, profoundly important. As Mom would say, "you only have one sister". I have told the story to several people, in person. The gist is that it was, by turns, heavy and funny; but the main thing was reciting a poetry verse to my sister. I didn't write it, but it was highly personal. It seems crass and a betrayal to write it here. Though sad, it remains the most beautiful (and haunting) thing I've ever read, and I can still recite it effortlessly.
  • The 2nd part of the reception moved to the very same fire hall as mentioned in the post about Uncle R and C. I remember that the couple danced to "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain. It was cool to meet Dave's family. I vaguely remember his Mom trying to set me up with someone... ha! I had forgotten.
I'm comfortable with my lifestyle, and am at peace with the Beethoven-esque golden years that probably await me, but as I've written many times, I'm a sucker for a good wedding. This one was great.

Here's toasting the next 10....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dance The Night Away

A friend is appearing in a bellydance concert on Saturday night.

Here are some details (look for Nisaa presents A Thousand and One Nights-An Evening of Middle Eastern Dance, at the StCharles Community College)

I'll be there, as will some of 'the gang'. Come on out! It is really neat and truly a show put on by women, for women.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

A note to wish a Happy Mom's Day to my Mom, and all Moms who stop by here.

I wanted to post a YouTube video of a mother defending her young, but everything is either too graphic or just weird.

Let's just say that I pity the fool that messes with Mom!

Saturday, May 09, 2009


It has been a fairly rough week. The icing was that I inadvertently offended the wife of a very dear colleague at work. Our team had heard a lot about her, and finally got to meet her as she picked up her man to go to an afternoon Cards game.

As they left, I called out "nice to finally meet you: you are our 5th Beatle!".

Apparently she heard "5th wheel" and interrogated her husband (our main biologist) for 7 innings.


But life beats you up and then gives back. Two items you should see...

YouTube Phenom

First, check out this vid. It is truly joyous and the music really makes it:

It makes me happy that this video has been watched 21 million times. Someone's music, someone's voice, has been heard just as often.

The Timeless Original

Second, and infinitely longer lasting, is that the StL Symphony orchestra is playing Beethoven's 9th this weekend. The finale is known as the Ode to Joy -- the inspiration for my tech blog.

I'm no musicologist but among the amazing things of the piece are:
  • Beethoven was pretty much deaf. At the end of the piece, people had to turn him around to face the audience so that he could see the wild adulation.
  • The libreto (words) come from a poem by Schiller. It celebrates the unity of humankind.
  • Symphonies rarely (if ever) used a choir. Beethoven regularly took traditions that stood for 100+ years and kicked them over.
  • The main melody is taken from a simple major scale that any 7-year-old piano student could play. You and I could noodle with a major scale continually for a decade and not write a better melody.
This is the best audio I could find. The graphic is very weird but the music is good.

Today, we are joyous. Life goes on....

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I am 32 flavours and then some

[post edited]

Here's a recent doozie... I just realized, one day too late, that my frequent-flyer 'air miles' with American Airlines are seriously about to expire. I don't have a lot compared to business travellers, but I had been cultivating them half-heartedly with some major trips.

Yesterday, they expired. I think all I had to do was buy some via the website.

I'm fairly unhappy about this development, as it could have been avoided.

Ah well. Chalk it up to being eccentric.

ps. I guess I should login to Air Canada and see what they have to say.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


This is long overdue, but I'm trying to catch up.

While I was home last year, I saw a news item on the CBC that was outstanding.

It was about the origins of CHES, the Canadian Harambee Education Society.

Back in the 1970s, a young teacher left BC to go to Africa and teach at a girls school. The village was impoverished, and many students could barely afford to go to school.

After a few months, one girl came to the Director and confessed that her family could no longer afford the small tuition. The teacher was distraught, saying that this must be prevented, as the girl was the best student in the school. The Director replied, "well, then you pay for her.".

And so she did.

Years later, CHES is dedicated to funding many such girls, giving them an opportunity against a backdrop that is quite daunting.

In the news piece, the same girl, now a nurse, was re-united with her former teacher. It was a special moment. The African woman often talks to the young girls, acting as a stellar role model for their dreams. (As an aside, she jokes that they think she is a doctor, because anyone involved with medicine is elevated to that status.)

My sister and bro-in-law often give me Christmas gifts that are charitable donations (e.g. solar panels for a village in Africa, or a goat for a needy family). I was happy to reciprocate this Christmas with a similar gift to CHES.

ps. Harambee is Swahili for "pull together".