Friday, December 24, 2010

Little Drummer Boy

Per last post, my computer is running out of juice. But I wanted to take a moment to share this.

I remember seeing something vaguely like this when I was about 7 years old. I'm almost sure this is the same one.

I was deeply moved by the song, and remember that I had a lump in my throat. It is my earliest memory of being deeply, profoundly moved by music.

Merry Christmas.

Power Outage

I believe my power adapter for my laptop has died. The computer is at 40% power right now, so I need to conserve energy.

I might be hard to contact until I get some juice on Boxing Day (hopefully somewhere on the Island has a Mac adapter). This will be my first attempt for serious hardware acquisition on PEI.

In happier news, have a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Silent Monks

I was struck by the creativity of this video. Though not a Christmas carol, it seems to fit the season:

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shipping on PEI

Here are some details about receiving courier shipments in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in case it helps anyone. This may be especially useful if you can't be at home to receive a shipment.

This info is accurate as of December 2010, but may not be when you read this. Please do your own homework!


Call the 1-800 number on the delivery notice. They will flag the shipment as "pick-up". On the next day, you can go to the DHL depot, which is at 7 Mount Edward Rd (near Longworth Ave). There is no service counter: you have to deal with the drivers, who are available only early and late (I believe 7-8 am and 4-5 pm).


Again, call the 1-800 number on the delivery notice to arrange your pick-up. Purolator Courier handles UPS on PEI. They are located at 502 Brackley Point Rd, and have a bona fide service desk. You will need photo id with a current address. (If you have trouble reaching the 1-800 number, you can probably drop by the service office, but expect to return for your item on the next day).


Same deal: call the 1-800 number on the delivery notice to arrange your pick-up. FedEx is located at 3 (or 3-D?) McAleer Dr, and have a bona fide service desk open from approx. 3 pm to 5:30 pm. You will need photo id and your delivery notice.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ultra Man

This post talks about an Islander who does Ultraman events. He has recently traveled to Hawaii to compete in Ultraman Hawaii.

I have heard of a lot of events, but I had never heard of an Ultraman. A 2-day event, it seems to be roughly an elongated Ironman:

Day One: swim 10 km, bike 145 km
Day Two: bike 275 km, run 84 km (aka 2 marathons)

There is extreme, and then there is ultra. That is unbelievable.

I've checked the race results and it looks like Paul Dalton made it! Bravo!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gym Lightning

I've been getting back on track at the gym. A favourite workout is to swim at CARI on Saturday morning, followed by a run at another facility. It is not convenient, but it is a good start to the day.

My running has not been fast, but tonight, it bounded by a quantum leap in the right direction. A guy next to me started running at X mph, and I tried to match him. In 2007, this would be an easy pace, but right now it was above my range.

I stayed with the guy through 2 miles and sure enough, he stopped. I finished through to 3 miles. I don't think that I am a better runner. After all, he may have needed to hit the washroom. Who knows. The point is that he helped me raise my game. And for that I say: thanks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today and Felicia

'Tis another birthday. This story isn't about this year but rather last year's milestone, my 40th birthday.

The Saint Louis film festival occurs during November. As it happened in 2009, one film had a single showing, on my birthday. According to the summary on the website, it was a Romanian movie about a 40-year-old Romanian woman, Felicia, who lives in Amsterdam. She had been away for 19 years (as I had been). She returned every holiday to see her family (!), but she hated the travel and found it increasingly difficult to leave her homeland. The summary said it was about her struggles with identity, family, and aging.

Though I had considered many grand plans, throughout the year, for my birthday (London? Paris? all-night partying?), I hadn't acted on them. Now, in mid-November with no plan (and many queries from friends "how will we celebrate?"), I was obsessed. I re-read the film description dozens of times.

I decided to spend my 40th by going to see this indie film, alone. I wanted it to give me insight on my own life: secretly, I knew I would be influenced by Felicia's decisions. O Felicia, show me what to do! Our fates will be paired forever!

And so I sat in a dark theatre, almost empty save for 9 Romanian strangers. In short, the movie was awful. It had no plot and only barely matched its eloquent summary. It was 90 minutes of a daughter and mother arguing at an airport. Worst of all, it didn't tell me that I should move home.

The movie was so bad that it was a running joke for a couple of weeks (I did have several big birthday dinners that week, and it made for a good story). However, I eventually learned the lesson. If I really needed a foreign film to guide me on big Life Questions, then I already knew the answers.

Add the Vancouver Olympics, and voila, here we are, writing from Charlottetown. I had dinner with my family last night, and more dinners to come with friends. My first birthday season on PEI since 1990.

Thank you, Felicia. My dear, it has been quite a year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

I went to the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in Charlottetown today. I don't know if I had ever been before, but 20 years away gives one some perspective.

It was a cold day, but no one complained. Who would dare complain about some chill in the face of what our veterans have endured.

Later in the day, I visited V and C and the family. After a terrific meal (local organic chicken), we watched a documentary on the NFB website. It was about World War II. Both appropriate and fascinating.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

November Rain

Last week was pretty rough on multiple fronts, but it was a good weekend, despite the endless, cold rain.

Good news: I swam and ran, both for the first time in ages. I took a break from running, but I finally admitted to myself that my hair length was preventing me from swimming. The solution: buzz it. My hair is almost as short as it was in 2007, when I seriously mowed it down to make swimming easier. (Not in terms of lap times, but just ease of maintenance).

We'll see if I get faster as a runner. My alltime record for 1 mile was at the same time, in the spring of 2007. Though putting the miles is the dominant factor, I do think improved heat dissipation helps as well.


Sunday, October 31, 2010


Some news over on Pedaling PEI... 5000 km (~= 3100 miles) for the year! That is some serious pedaling.



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Election Signage

Check out some of the signs around town!

I have posted these to Facebook, where only my friends can see them. I figure since they are public, I can also post here for those not on FB.

I am avoiding overt text on here so that Google won't index the words. In this way, things stay relatively anonymous.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Pick

Alrighty, I'm back from the Big Trip and the London thing is off, so it is time to start planning some stuff. Keen readers know that I have some big plans for my return.

I've made my first pick. I saw a recent CBC news item that the PEI Association for Newcomers needed volunteers. They need people to help newcomers (to PEI, and to Canada) discover PEI. Often there are language barriers.

Count me in. I'm not exactly sure why but this flipped the right buttons for sign-up. I like the diversity aspect and also the fact that I have been from away for so long that I need to discover things as well. I meet with them early next week.

Next up: websites. I've whittled one idea down to a true sweetspot, and will start that soon. I need a web domain and a 'brand'. I have some in mind and may run them past readers via email / in person.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Saint Louis

I'm back from a great trip. This was up there with Paris and Hawaii as one of the alltime greats. This is a bit surprising, as I'm so familiar with Saint Louis, but my friends and colleagues, the energy, and the weather really won me over.

It was 70 F = 22 C and sunny for the entire trip. I wore only sandals (quite a gamble).

Though I couldn't see everyone, I caught up with a few disparate groups (including my old client site, the microbiology folks, and the Dinner Club gang). Every lunch and dinner was an event. In a way, it was a lot like my Christmas vacations of yore.

A major bonus was a partial stay with BryGuy and zee Librarian. Great to see them and everyone else!

As the week went on, I shifted into conference mode, a major reason for the trip. It was terrific. The energy was palpable. I must have chatted with 40 different people from my old employers. Even better, the speakers were great. People are raving about it on Twitter.

For those in Saint Louis, the conference was centered at The Pageant (and some other venues). I've seen Ani Difranco, Joe Satriani, and Eric Johnson there. I have now seen Guy Steele and Douglas Crockford there too (they are just as huge, within computer science). It was very neat and I'm telling you: StL's stock as a tech center is going way up due to this conference.

It is good to be back! It is a bit chilly here but I'll be happy to get back into my routine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

It is a bit of a weird dream: I have moved back home and yet am in Saint Louis for the first (Canadian) Thanksgiving. The good news is that my Christmas travels will consist of driving anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.

In the US, Thanksgiving is on par with Christmas in terms of being a major holiday. That isn't true in Canada, so I chose to travel to attend a conference.

It has only been 4 months so it feels very natural to be back! 80+ F and sunny today!


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Open Government

I find the notion of Open Government to be intriguing. The idea is not to produce more data by the government, but to shed light on existing data, to present it in modern and innovative ways. A bonus is turning governance into an efficient feedback loop where citizens produce their own data, influencing decisions.

This article in MacLean's describes a modest project in Vancouver regarding trash pickup days. It may seem like a humble thing, but the technology and the idea is not. Note the dozen of other projects that are starting up.

In related news, I am going to Saint Louis in a week to visit friends and attend a conference. One of the sessions at the conference is on Open Government.

In even more related news, my father recently announced his candidacy for mayor in our town. I was hoping to link to something online, but despite the press, I can't find anything online. My sister and I did post to Facebook, with enthusiastic responses from friends and family.

I just realized today. If Dad were to win, could I help with technical solutions to Open Government, starting in the small town? A new mayor and a tech visionary awaiting a mission: that might be interesting.


Thursday, September 23, 2010


Just a quick update...
  • I thought I was going to Europe on a trip for work, at the end of September, but that has been postponed.
  • After the 13 km run for Terry Fox, I feel fairly fit for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately, I also feel exhausted. It has been a long week.
  • I only have 2 TV channels and have not yet unpacked my remote control. For those on PEI, I am rocking channel 8 and 13. Surprisingly, I love it. I'm watching much less TV, and yet I still get The National and Compass. I find that I'm watching more stuff online now (which I used to hate).
  • It has been 3 months on PEI. I have some big ideas about contributing to the community, but I've been slack on all of them. I have another trip (personal) coming up in October, but after that I hope to really get started on some ideas.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Terry Fox

This morning was the Terry Fox Run across the Confederation Bridge.

It was a gorgeous day and a fun run. On the NB side of the Bridge, there were several thousand people. It was one of the biggest events I've been in, larger than anything in Saint Louis, except possibly the marathon. Here is a pic in the Globe and Mail.

I'm pretty wiped now. I was up at 4:30 am and stood around for 2.5 hours after the school-bus ride to NB.

Consequently, it is hard to describe the atmosphere. Suffice it to say that people were in a good spirit, and there were all kinds of participants: wheelchairs, baby strollers, etc.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Running the Bridge

I'm running the Confederation Bridge on Sunday, as part of the Terry Fox run. It will be 9 miles = 13 km, and highly symbolic of my return home, as I'll be starting on the NB side and running back to the Island.

Here is my page if you would like to donate towards cancer research. My thanks to my parents for helping out with the first donation.

For those who may not know Terry Fox's story, check out the Wikipedia article. He is a modern-day hero among Canadians.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


There are a lot of memories being shared on Twitter. I feel as though I have nothing left to say. But this is not to imply a callousness, or that I have forgotten that day.

Here is a link to my 2006 post about a moving quote, one which defines the era, in my opinion.

Binky commented on that post, 4 years ago. A lot has changed since then, and a lot has stayed the same.

Billy Bishop

Late yesterday afternoon, Vic and Colleen invited me along to see a one-man play, Billy Bishop Goes To War, up in North Rustico at the Montgomery Theatre. They were surprised at my ready acceptance (I have to be in a rare frame of mind to do things at the last minute, in part due to the burden of being an aspiring athlete and musician).

When we showed up at the place, things looked bleak. The theater is a renovated barn, and no one was there but us and 5 crew members. Yikes.

However, the place filled up over time and it was a delightful evening.

As background, note that Billy Bishop was the leading ace of World War I for Canada, and arguably for the British empire.

The play is his reminiscences from a retirement home in Florida in the 1950s. It was great! The show was a contrast: the stage had little more than a chair, relying on the actor to create a world in our imaginations; yet, on the backing wall, various film footage was occasionally shown.

Despite our shaky start, it was a terrific outing.... A big thumbs-up.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


It seems that September has always been my new year. As I've probably blogged before, I remember the nervous excitement of the first day of school, replete with new sneakers, clothes, and supplies.

I even like the word: September. It is 2nd only to my birth month as an aesthetically pleasing collection of letters and sounds.

So, it is fitting that September is the first month where I'm really 'at home' here on PEI. I'm in my own place and not surrounded by boxes. I'm starting to find my rhythm again. e.g. I ran 10 km on Saturday and then went to a 5 km event this morning.

Even more interesting is that if I were still in Saint Louis, I would be making a trip to Detroit this week, for visa reasons. So long, Detroit! I'm grateful for the chance to work in the USA, but I won't miss that stress and hassle.

Happy New Year, everyone.....

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

a link through history

Two unique articles came across the transom in the last few days. I thought there was an interesting "link" between them.

Quote 1

This little town (Charlottetown) is cut off from the world in an aggravating way.

The coast of Nova Scotia is in plain view along most of the southern coast of Prince Edward Island, but the transfer by boat from Pictou takes three hours...

from this article, in 1896

Quote 2

During MacLachlin's decade as CEO [sic], UPEI has also seen its international enrolment quadruple to 500 students, about 12 per cent of its registration.

Would those world-class researchers, and all those foreign students, be on the island without the Confederation Bridge? These are not people who wait for the ferry.

from this article in the Montreal Gazette

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This is a late wrap-up for a weekend, but here goes:


My cousin R and I drove to Halifax, to see R's brother K. K has a wife and baby daughter (who I hadn't met).

With a quick equipment pick-up from Binky (which was a fun mini-visit), we were a cargo-carrying convoy to NS. Just a day trip but well worth it. I had burned some "Onion radio" snippets for the ride, which R found to be absurd and humorous. (In another post, I might test the waters with an idea that merges satire and PEI.)

Lots of thoughts on the day... K is the youngest of our generation, so it is pretty neat to see K as a father. They have a lovely spot and cooked mussels and burgers for lunch. Since R and I are both feral dogs, we were grateful.

I was blown away by how much water there is in the Halifax area. Not just the big harbour but all the inlets, channels, and lakes. I later read on Wikipedia that the coast is very jagged. Neat stuff.

The infant is a cutie. A happy baby, she hardly made a fuss and just watched us. A fun game was slapping a hand on the coffee table, always near by as we are still getting our sea legs. Really great trip.

York Point

On Sunday, I caught up with two old friends. P, K, and I go way back to the playpen. I often mention that I was MC at P and T's wedding in 2001. (He and K are cousins, and K's house is next-door to ours, though about 3/4 mile of fields in between).

I don't remember the last time we were all together. I've seen P often, but I think it was at Christmas near 2002 or 2003 for three of us. Anyway, plenty of catching up...

P has two girls now (adorable in their own right). I haven't met K's daughter yet but thanks to Facebook, I can see the family pics.


As mentioned, I later used to Skype to video-chat with Miss G in Boston and Vic here on PEI. Video-chat is simply astonishing, though as Vic points out, I waited until I was just 25 miles away from him before I got on the bandwagon, missing out on 10+ years in Saint Louis.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Skype: I've reached 2004

I had a very full, fantastic weekend with dear family and friends, but the main update for now is that I just installed Skype.

Many readers will have already gone through the amazement, but I'm just getting onboard now. I just finished a video chat with a friend in Boston.

It is unbelievable! Free for Skype-to-Skype and $0.02 per minute to a phone! I knew all this, of course, but sometimes you just don't understand the neat-o factor until you go through it yourself.

EDIT: I've also Skyped with Vic, just tonight. He pointed out the irony of us using Skype now that I am back on PEI, about 30 miles away from his house. Point taken, mate, point taken.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So Long Cell

My 314 cell account is officially terminated. That phone (shown here) is 7 years old, and served me well. It has been to 4-5 different countries.

I don't have a new phone yet. There is no harm in calling my parents, though email is probably fastest. I do have a temporary cell so just write if you would like that number.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Big City

Here is a fun fact: I've never actually lived in Charlottetown, the capital city, before.

I was extremely serious about school and lived with my parents right through undergraduate, then left for Waterloo (with some brief interludes in an apartment).

Now, living "in town" is very interesting, as the moving chaos is subsiding. Having things within walking distance is a big plus. I enjoy looking at the houses and the various buildings. All the street names are familiar, but not as my neighbourhood: in the old days, they were always merely means to a destination.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Here are some events since I've returned:

My farewell post on the tech blog quoted Frank Ledwell. My farewell post on this blog quoted Sarah MacLaughlin. On PEI, I went to a storytelling night in honour of Frank. His grand-nephew read from the same book I quoted, and on the drive the Sarah M song came on the radio.

Before leaving, I purchased a tech book in Saint Louis. It had a bird on the cover. On PEI, I discovered that cormorants had taken over an abandoned bridge. I then checked my book: the bird was a cormorant.

I had an appointment with the cable guy the other day. As it turned out, he was in French Immersion with me from grades 1 through 6. This is not a typical schoolmate run-in: we were all in the same classroom for years.

I went to an acoustic music festival in Kansas, in 2003. I have a t-shirt from the weekend. Last night, I went to see Don Ross, a Canadian guitarist. Upon checking out his Wikipedia article beforehand, I discovered that he is the only person to have won top prize twice (in 1988 and 1996) at the same festival. I wore the shirt to the show, though it was impossibly wrinkled from being in a box for 7 weeks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

First Night

This is my first night at the new place! About 7 weeks since I landed back on the Island.

I'm very grateful for my family for letting me stay with them. It went better than I could have imagined, esp. considering it went longer than expected.

Interestingly, I happen to know that it is Miss G's first night at the new place in Boston. She and I have been sharing stories about our respective places.

I've let the grind of the past couple of weeks distract me from my original goals when I returned. The next post (in coming days) will remind me of my dreams for the return, and serve to get me going again.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Life Update

Though a lot of this is on Twitter and Facebook, here is a quick update from the CC newsdesk:
  • I'm 90% moved and about 20% unpacked. There were some delays with respect to the apartment maintenance, but yesterday was a good day. I haven't stayed there yet but probably early this week.
  • I'm giving Allied a grade of 'B-'. The delays were crazy but at least my stuff made it, seemingly unharmed.
  • I've booked a trip to Saint Louis! I'm attending a conference in mid-October. I really wanted to go back for my birthday or Halloween, but the conference is too good to pass up.
  • Next weekend is an annual family gathering on my Dad's side. Looking forward to seeing everyone....

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Pint is Popular in Poplar Point

"Save Bear! Save Bear!", the children yell from inside the cottage. Quick to act, our hero sprints toward a black dog laying on the grass. A rare funnel cloud of mosquitoes swarm down on her. She whines softly, only able to raise her head as the mini vampires feed.

"Gnaaaaaah," our hero grunts, as he lifts the weakened dog into his arms. Ignoring the probing bites of the insects, he shuffles towards the safety of the screen door, bursting into the cottage to the cheers of his happy hosts... The evening is saved! They can return to the quiet beauty of a serene sunset.

I recently spent an evening with V and C, at their cottage at Poplar Point. What a beautiful setting! Though I joked about donating a pint of blood (see title) to the local insect population, the bugs weren't too bad. Certainly worth the spectacular view of watching the sunset, with the shadows looming across the hay bales on the rolling hills, and the lapping water at the wharf. The jagged coastline of The Island has many 'points'. Poplar Point juts into a large inlet from the Northumberland Strait: the Boughton River. The local wharf is on this water. Oyster and mussel fishermen quietly ply their trade a few hundred metres out.

V and C had already eaten, but having arrived from work, I dined on a salad made from homegrown vegetables. Outstanding stuff. I was reminded that lettuce actually has flavour.

We hung out and told stories as the light faded into night. It was just another summer evening on The Island. That is to say: perfect.

By the way, the cottage is for available for rent: check out the website here.



My stuff did arrive on Thursday! Everything went smoothly. I haven't opened any boxes yet (pending the local move) but so far, it seems like everything is in good condition.

It is unclear when I will truly be into the new place. Possibly Monday but more likely, there will be several runs throughout the week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moving Update

They are arriving Thursday afternoon!

This is good news.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cell Service?

Can any Islanders weigh in on their cell provider? They all want 3-year contracts so I want to do my homework.

I already know the following, as these are the common answers:
  • All data plans are very expensive
  • All cell providers suck
  • Telus is from out west
However, this doesn't help much. I am somewhat interested in reception but more interested in customer service.

I am probably deciding between Telus and Rogers, as they have great deals on the iPhone 3Gs. No one has really answered my 'cell phone poll' either, so I'll have to go with my gut on that one.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I've been everywhere, man

On Monday, I was at Poplar Point (more to come). Saturday night, I was in St Peter's. Both of these are on the eastern part of the Island.

Today, a cousin and I drove to the extreme northern tip of the western end: North Cape. It was great! I've only barely been through parts of Prince County (the west) before. We had a meal at the restaurant and gazed out over the water, which stretched as far as the eye could see, at a radius of about 200 degrees.


Saturday, July 24, 2010


I was going to write about giving blood earlier this week, on a completely separate theme, but this breaking news just came across the transom: Pedaling PEI has reached the 300 mark for donating blood / plasma.

That is a tremendous achievement! And it's not just the stuff of life, it is also a big time commitment: he estimates about 2 hours per visit.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

One Month

Today marks one month since the return to the Island. It is interesting that it was on the 18th, as that is a popular birthday digit in our family. It also means that I reached PEI exactly 8 months after turning 40. That is cause-and-effect, right there.

Things are generally going well. I'm sure that I have mentioned that moving back in the summer was a masterstroke. Aside from dinners, I've been out to a few cultural events: e.g. an international film festival and some local comics. I haven't visited everyone yet in terms of family and friends, but I'm past the complete exhaustion that followed the drive, and starting to get out.

I'm sure most know that Regis and Kelly were on PEI. It was pretty cool stuff, and I'm glad I wasn't watching it from Saint Louis. That would have been difficult. Especially because (a) most of it was accurate and gorgeous (b) some of it was airbrushed. I think the mix would have been painful to see from away. But, never mind that, as those days are over.

Fitness is going ok. I'm running, and though not 'fit', the trend is in the right direction. Same is true with my modest musical aspirations.

There have been some unexpected challenges. One is the movers. My stuff should arrive near July 26th. There are others as well but we'll see how they work out. My main goal is to strive towards my sense of routine, get settled in, and enjoy the rest of the summer.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hulk Smash!

My stuff has not yet left St Louis. It is July 8. They picked it up on June 15.

The local agent in St Louis explained the dispatcher hasn't found a truck yet. Mercifully for him, he was suitably apologetic.

So now the interesting thing is that if I ask them to wait for a couple of weeks, I will have my apartment. I was assuming that they would bring my stuff to my family's house, but more delay could bypass the intermediary move, which will be yet more expense and generally unpleasant.

I haven't asked them to wait yet, and am not sure if I can do that. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Window

Tomorrow is the last day of the "delivery window" for my stuff. No word yet. Vic reminded me that there must be a tracking number, and sure enough there is one. Alas, the online news is rather ominous. We'll see what the St Louis agent has to say tomorrow. I won't go into "Hulk Smash" mode until then, but it won't be far off.

In happier news, I've selected an abode! It is near Ken's Corner (approx. Euston and Weymouth) in Charlottetown. The name apparently has stuck, even though Ken's is long gone. It is a 1-bedroom with a parking spot, and within walking distance of "the action", whatever that may entail. I'm enthusiastic about it being very close to the Confederation trail (St Louisans, that is our Katy trail).

Finally, my sincere apologies to Island readers with whom I have not yet visited. Sadly, this group is virtually all Island readers. I've been exhausted from the stress of the move and a new employer. All I do is sleep, it seems. On the weekends, all I do is run (as exercise) or run errands (for the move). I hope to see everyone soon!


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

It is a lovely day here on PEI. Though I have been getting my car inspected / acclimatized, lots of people are going out to community pancake breakfast and parades today. Various communities will have fireworks tonight.

Thanks to my American friends who have send e-notes, and special thanks to JAK for a hilarious Hoops & Yoyo e-card to celebrate. She sends one every year...


Tuesday, June 29, 2010


There have been a few miscalculations on this journey, but possibly none greater than housing.

I always presume too much. I just figured that there would be a lovely 1-bedroom apartment in downtown Charlottetown, within walking distance of the famous Victoria Row. Moreover, it would be available precisely at the right time, for the right $, and there would be a parade for my arrival. Streets lined with 27-year-old cheerleaders throwing flowers, Mardi Gras beads, and bras in the air.


Negative. Though the fight is not yet over, it seems that the usual problems of city life (namely, finding a place that isn't a studio, and one with a parking space) is a universal constant, whether it be in Boston or Charlottetown. This is painful.

I can always cop out and move to Stratford (near work) or in the outer perimeter of the downtown core. That would be easy, and as my innate need to find a routine intensifies, it is likely. I'm torn between holding out for my ideal spot and for just settling somewhere.

(Note that so far, my current situation, with family, is going splendidly. However, the prospect of 1-2 more months inevitably wears on everyone involved.)


ps. Still no stuff. Who knows when. However, a victory on importing the car today. I think I will have all my paperwork on Canada Day, no less!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Blog Name?

As mentioned in a previous post, it is time for a new personal blog.

I want a motif and a brand, but first I need a name. I differ with Shakespeare on the triviality of names. A rose named 'sweating stinkweed' would not smell as sweet. It just wouldn't. Sorry, William.

At a farewell party, revelers were invited to submit their own choices, which included PEImp (a pun on pimp, though it requires a visual of me in costume), and OMG_Coyotes (a tribute to the recent menace in the Maritimes).

I quite like "Prodigal Son", though perhaps that is a bit much.

I want something to be Maritime oriented, or PEI oriented. Or more generally, about a return to one's roots, with all of the complexities within.

What do you think?

Friday, June 25, 2010

First Week

It's been a week since I landed back on the Island...

So far, so good, but some things never change, such as a Friday night nap after work. Though this one was extraordinarily long. I think the drive and a full work week has caught up with me.

No news on the movers yet. No news on an apartment, though I hope to start looking tomorrow.

Some quick notes:
  • The locals say it is hot, e.g. mid 70s F at 6 pm. I laugh heartily at this! I need to parlay my relatively superior heat endurance into some cash or athletic success.
  • I'm so glad that I moved back before Peter Mansbridge retired. I don't know how much longer we'll have him on The National.
  • It occurred to me last night that I should try to go for a week (a month?) watching only TV in French. News, entertainment, the works.
  • There are internet connection issues at my parents. Their computer works fine, but my Mac is stymied. This means my podcasts are stymied. This has to be fixed, soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day

Just a quick update... Today was my first day at the new gig!

It went fairly well. Definitely a cultural shift from a medical company that is based in France, but it seems like a good crowd of people. Everyone has been very friendly.

No time for stories just yet.... Still lots of TODOs to take care of as part of the move.


ps. No news on my belongings yet.....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Safe and Sound

I'm back on PEI! It was a long 3-day drive, but I made it.

Interestingly, as I cruised towards the Confederation Bridge, I heard the following songs, randomly in a 10 minute span, on the radio:
  • Life is Highway (Tom Cochrane)
  • Carry On My Wayward Son (Kansas)
  • Highway to Hell (AC/DC)
All of them seemed appropriate.

I forgot how late the sunsets are in the north. 9:30 pm! The summer evenings last forever, and I was treated to a gorgeous sunset (the disc was down, and the sky was streaked with yellows and pinks against the clouds, with only the ocean as the horizon) as I crossed the bridge. Unfortunately, PEI was traversed in darkness, but I will have the rest of the summer to explore.

Next up: start the job, start the apartment search, find a gym, and wait for my stuff to arrive.


ps. If you are on PEI, and have read this far: do you have a smart phone? If so, which one? iPhone, Droid style, or Blackberry? What about your friends? I need to make a choice soon

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bud the Spud

Bud the Spud from the bright red mud
Goin' down the highway smilin'
The spuds are big on the back of Bud's rig
They're from Prince Edward Island

(posted from the road, Columbus, Ohio)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Off the Grid

Much like a year ago, I'm at the apartment clubhouse, hammering out a blog post with no Internet access at home.

And yet things are quite different.

The movers come on Wednesday. Things are not quite ready but very close.

I have really felt the love from all corners in the last 2 weeks. I've had dinners, lunches, parties, etc. It has been a terrific send-off; far more than I ever imagined.

The people here in St Louis are really wonderful. I think I knew that beforehand, but the outpouring lately has been profound.

I was happy to see the core Dinner Club gang at a recent party. That was fun, and the ending was surprisingly overwhelming. It was the inevitable Big Moment where I realized this was all really, truly happening, and combined with moving vagueness and stress, it was intense. I could write 5 different blog posts about that evening and the people there.

Today was better. I had a final lunch with the nefarious Jim G today. Saying goodbye, the grizzled ex-Navy man was pretty choked-up until we joked that we'll race a 1/2 marathon together at a vacation event, which naturally led to me saying that "I'll be fit again by then, and you'll still be eating Moonpies and Twinkies".

It is to laugh (lest we cry).


Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Factoids

Here are some more musings....

My StL employer asked me to go onto Facebook to help our presence on social media. It was through Facebook that I noticed the job fair on PEI. I would never have seen it otherwise. (FB is much maligned in the media, and by most people, but it really does have some benefits).

My move will be a bit easier because (a) I moved last year from my apartment and (b) we moved buildings last year. So I don't have a great attachment to the buildings. Naturally, people matter far more and it isn't easy to leave them. But I hope to be back soon, maybe even this year.

The timing is pretty good. It is a good time to leave my client and June is both a decent month in St Louis (a bit warm and thunderstorm-y) and a great month on PEI. I'll be back at the height of the tourist season!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Last Day

Today was my last day at the client site. It was terrific.

In the morning, people brought in tons of food. Stuff from a French bakery, donuts, and more. Our war room was party central. There were many goodbyes. I had written out some notes the night before (for a select few people), and distributed the cards during the day.

One of my favourites, the famous Berlin, read her card, and then asked me, tentatively: "is a hug OK?". I laughed out loud, and very nearly shed a tear. Of course it was OK.

For lunch, they took me out to a favourite Indian cuisine restaurant. About 20 people went out, which was quite a testament to my departure (or their love of Indian food).

Finally, at the end of the day, about 18 people surprised me by singing 'O Canada'. They printed the sheet music at a Canadian gov't website, no less! It was surreal, weird, and really funny.

What a great spot. I loved that gig. It was the best place I've ever worked.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fun Facts

Here are some facts that have popped into my head on the move:

I came to the US based on a job fair that I attended (and took substantial effort and time off work) in Ottawa.

I am leaving the US based on a job fair that I attended (and took substantial effort and time off work) on PEI.

I believe the 2 oldest things that I own are a Good News Bible (received in 1983, as part of confirmation into the United Church) and a chess set that I received for Christmas when I was about 12.

My work visa expires in September, but I will not have to renew it (for the first time in years).

People ask me if PEI has various stores (e.g. Trader Joe's). I have no idea. I haven't lived there in a long time. Ditto for social services.

I find myself thinking about PEI in the era when I left. I wonder what it will be like, as though it is 1991, forgetting that I have been there 5 times in the last 2.5 years. I was just home in March!


Monday, June 07, 2010


I made my announcement over on the tech blog. I quoted a poem by Frank Ledwell (the late, famed Island writer and poet). Readers may want to check it out (click here).


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weekend Celebrations

On Friday night, some friends got together for a bash to celebrate my departure. I could write a 10-page essay on the evening. It was just great. There were about 3 core groups (the Dinner Club gang, work people, poker friends) and others who defy categorization -- all them special and dear to me. Some extremely key people (including my best man Bryan) printed out many photos of escapades over the years.

There were pics of costumes (pirates, horse jockeys), trips (Hawaii, Paris, Amsterdam), and every hair style imaginable. I have them now with me in my apartment.

It was really touching, and of course seeing the people was even better. Everyone was very kind and wished me a warm farewell. There really aren't enough words to describe the emotions, and the bittersweet sense of finally going home and yet leaving St Louis and my friends.

I may have denied roots and commitment at every opportunity, but I absolutely do have roots here. There is no denying it.

As I've learned from Traci, I'll be back to visit. I may even book a trip this summer, just to have something ahead on the calendar. Plus, many people suggested coming to PEI. That would be fantastic!

On Saturday, I attended Jess' wedding (JLC is a dear, long-time friend and occasional commenter on this blog). It was really splendid. I loved that it fused a variety of traditions with wonderful choices from pop music (e.g. John Lennon, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder), all tastefully rendered on piano.

There were so many nice touches, but one that stood out for me was an Irish prayer (if I recall correctly). I can't find it online, but it wished the groom and bride many blessings (e.g. shelter from the rain and cold, prospersity, etc). One of them hit me pretty hard, personally: being near to loved ones. Proximity as a blessing. Amen to that. Congrats, Jess! What a lovely ceremony....


Thursday, June 03, 2010


Things are extremely busy but plans are falling into place, slow but steady.

The new motto is: just get through June. I think most of my triathlon training was intended for this month in terms of maintaining reasonable blood pressure.

A fun fact: I will start a new blog when I get to PEI. I don't know the name yet. I've always hated the URL for this one, and as my bro-in-law says "there are too many C's". It will be under this Blogger account so it won't be hard to find.


Saturday, May 29, 2010


Birds in winter have their fling,
But always make it home by spring.
It's just another ordinary miracle today.
-- Sarah McLachlan

I heard Sarah McLachlan sing Ordinary Miracle at the opening of the Vancouver Olympics, and I knew then that my trip home this spring / summer would be a bit different:

I'm bringing all my stuff with me.

This is it. I've accepted a job back on Prince Edward Island, and am moving back! I start in mid June...

I will write more about how I found the courage to (finally) overcome my inertia, how much I'll miss my friends in St Louis, and so on, but for now I want to get out the news. I'm very excited!


ps. I will post on my other blog but not just yet.

pps. Almost everyone in St Louis has said "you've been talking about this since I've known you". True, true. I did just live year-to-year, and though my 'St Louis Experiment' was really wonderful, that is a hard way to live. The 'PEI Experiment' is the next chapter.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jim G Returns

Jim G and I raced a 3k tonight, on the same Clayton High School track that saw some of our greatest, fastest battles back in 2003-2005.

This was his first real event since the serious motorbike wreck in November 2008. He won, though we were both at a glacial pace. I hate losing but I was happy for Jim. It was good to see him back.

However, the evidence is in: I've really slacked off at the gym, and it has taken a toll. Hopefully, I can get back on track now that the damn talk is over. Alas, there are other balls in the air that may have a far greater impact.

I'm stunned at how fit I was in the past. Both in terms of body image and just sheer metrics. I barely ran this race in 16 minutes. I'm sure that I have broken 13 min in the past. That may not sound like much, but remember that running times are exponential.


ps. It was probably 80+ F when we raced at 7 pm. It was crazy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Sometime in early December, I wrote an abstract for a talk on a topic that I barely understood.

As long-time readers know, I have been cramming for it over the last couple of months. It was today, and went pretty well. Though in a small room, the place was packed, and of the group that submitted evaluations, most were impressed.

Going in, I wanted a mark of 80% from 80% of the crowd. Though there are no "marks" like that, I think I met that goal.

It has been a long, stressful spring, but this milestone is a major relief and a nice bullet item in the resume. Moreover, having attended these conferences annually since 2001, it was just time to get up there. Despite my moaning, I am a decent public speaker.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Google Logo

This is a time-sensitive post but today's Google logo is a working Pacman game. If you click on the logo and let the game start, then you can use the arrow keys to play the game.

Very cool... more on Google's Doodles here


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Some people know that I am anticipating some news to post on this blog. Alas, as yet, there is no news. This is a bit surprising but there we have it. I don't know how the gears of destiny really work.

Some other, real news: my tech talk is this Sunday! As things draw closer, I'm getting excited. The long hours of preparation will (hopefully) pay off, and I'm quite distracted with other stuff to be too worried.

In the phrase of the last 2-3 years, "it is what it is". i.e. The first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Cross Canada 2010

Pedaling PEI told me about this neat blog (click here)... 2 Islanders are biking across Canada, and blogging their adventures. Check it out...


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

It is a time of celebration in St Louis: Cinco de Mayo, a crossover pseudo-cultural recognition of a Mexican victory in 1862.

This particular one is gorgeous: 80 F and sunny, even at 7 pm.

You might ask if I am celebrating. Dinner? Drinks? Perhaps a long run?


I am consumed by The Talk and The (career) Exploration. I have been to Kinko's for 4 straight nights to photocopy documents and/or proofread presentation slides. I haven't been to the gym in about 3 weeks. Soon, I will return to work to make up time this evening. I am constantly on the phone at lunch, and tomorrow AM, I am taking the morning off to consult with cross-border accountants.

It is pretty busy. I have virtually withdrawn from social circles in St Louis (sorry about that). I am usually sleeping well and not really keyed up, but things are intense, and I haven't even made any decisions on The Exploration.

My main solace are some guilty-pleasure TV and, wonderfully, a strong routine on the piano.

I hope all is well you, dear readers. Have a margarita for me!


Tuesday, May 04, 2010


A lot going on at CC HQ, but no updates...

Instead, just read this (click here). It is worth it. Quoteth:

Erik, who is living with liver cancer, has always wanted to be a superhero. On Thursday, the regional chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted him that wish with an elaborate event that involved hundreds of volunteers in Bellevue and Seattle.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Vancouver trip

Long-time readers will know that we recommend Pedaling PEI on a variety of levels.

Be sure to check out recent photos from a trip to Vancouver. I happen to know the author cycled about 200 km in a week trip there.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Interesting Link

Some techie wrote a comment called "Dear Canada, I miss you" and people are responding. My guess is that many are ex-pats who are working in science and technology.

You can't make this stuff up!


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sweet Music

I don't like it when people stay on the same theme in social media. Their voice becomes noise, and the message is lost. I follow one person on Facebook (not a reader of this blog, and a former instructor) who has a single social issue and that's it. It gets old.

In a similar vein, my bemoanings are probably getting old on here.

So here is some music! This is the angelic Eric Johnson, and one of my favourite songs of all time. There is a long intro but just let it go.... or skip to about 5:20

This song came from God, seriously.

The Inner Circle

This is not news, but I have great friends both in the US and Canada. Several people have contacted me in the last couple of days to understand the back story behind recent themes on this blog.

A special shout-out to my sister who really brought the goods in a recent conversation. (People ask if I am "close to my sister" and I say yes, but we don't talk often on the phone. Generally Islanders are not phone people, due to insane long distance rates back in the day.)


Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Questions

There are many big questions, and most show the following question to be rather trite and greedy. Yet, one has to be careful.

This is rhetorical but the question is if there is ever "the right time" to cash out of investments. Normally, one should never do this, especially if there are penalties involved, but what if it is for a life-changing event?

If one stays in the market until it gets better, this is effectively "timing the market" which is notoriously error-prone.

On the other hand, if one waits for too long, one never makes a decision.

This is tricky stuff.

Without throwing rocks at either side, all I can say is that cross-border living is rough, man.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


The water is getting hotter at CC HQ.

Everyone has stressors and mine are not necessarily bad things, but the next few weeks could get seriously crazy. That said, there is no news per se.

One example: I am giving a dry-run of a tech talk tomorrow but have a lot of other stuff going on. I need to compartmentalize like we all did back in school. (I'm amazed at the amount of juggling we did in school. It was CRAZY.)


Can anyone recommend an accountant (or financial planner) that specializes in cross-border taxes between Canada and the USA?

I'm done some research on the web but I thought I would ask here. The few that I have found have some scary websites (e.g. dated copyright notice, typos, etc). I'll take any reference, no matter how indirect.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ancient Phone

I am still using my absurd Nokia 3560 from 2003. In May, it will be 7 years.

I paid $150 for it, ostensibly to write apps for it, so I could learn 'mobile computing'. That didn't happen, and it might be just as well, since the mobile computing revolution didn't occur until a few 'device generations' later (it sure has exploded now).

My phone was one of the first to have a camera, and to allow access to the Web. Before the hugely popular uVerse, AT&T had an unpopular mobile program called mMode. (They are similar in name only: same marketing VP?)

Slowly, but surely, though AT&T is hacking the legs out from underneath me. I've received at least 2 letters saying that they won't support the phone anymore, and that I should upgrade and get a new contract. Yet the phone still makes calls and still does text-messaging (both are vital).

However, I could once email pics from the phone. I could browse the web (sort of). Both are now gone. The fat lady is warming up for this thing... It's almost over, but at least I got my money's worth.

Plus, I have some treasured pics and videos on there, seemingly with no way to move them. In some sense, my phone has become a curiosity in its own right. Imagine owning a tiny 'moving picture viewer' back in 1910. At parties, I am often showing photos or videos in that manner: people enjoy the pic, but are also enchanted/disturbed by the medium itself: "is that a phone?"

I can't say I love it, but I do love its quirkiness. I hope to keep it for a long time, if only to look wistfully at some of the pics and memories.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Flex the Golden Pipes

Tonight, PBS is featuring a concert by Michael Bublé at Madison Square Garden. This is big treat for me: I've heard of him, but am not really familiar.

He's an international star, and a legend in Canada. Several friends and family have trekked to Halifax to see him, and I can see why.

This guy knows how to flex the golden pipes (see below for reference). The backup band and overall vibe is just fantastic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Today is the birthday of one of my best friends (Happy Birthday, G! though she doesn't read blogs) and also the 2nd anniversary of my Mac laptop.

It has been outstanding. Apple has a rabid fan base and I've learned why. Yes, they are more expensive. They are arguably more 'closed' than 'open'. And there are some scary censorship issues looming for the iPad (and iPhone).

I don't care. Stuff just works. Many apps (e.g. Keynote, the analog to PowerPoint) are outstanding. If I had to do my current tasks in Powerpoint right now, I would seriously consider a new line of work. In Keynote, things are so much easier: it's like staying at The Ritz.


Speaking at Conferences

I really hate preparing for tech talks, when they are formal and far in advance. I have too much time to think about it, tweak it, etc, and I slowly go crazy.

I have one coming up in 5 weeks, and I'm starting to dread the 'end game' where I wind myself up for it. It's pretty much all I think about, and I have a lot of other stuff to think about.

I'm much better in a spontaneous setting. Multiple people have called me a professor because I can summarize a topic in 10-15 minutes fairly well: just give me a whiteboard and let me go.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Non Update

I am slowly, cautiously unveiling some uncharacteristically personal stuff on here. Specifically, that I am seeking new locales of 'endeavour', so to speak.

Alas, no news to share. I thought I things would be happening by now (as I took some action awhile back) but apparently the world does not work on my schedule (can you imagine!?). That said, I feel like news could burst forth fairly quickly. The uncertainty was freaking me out a bit, but now I'm just used to it.


Sunday, April 11, 2010


Today, St Louis hosted the annual St Louis marathon. What a lovely day for it. Perhaps a bit hot, even, for a run. As I write this at 9 pm, it is still 72 F.

I am not in shape to do a 1/2 marathon, much less a marathon. However, I did swim 1 km and run 4 miles today, which feels pretty good.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Inertia of Bleak Desolation

It is another Saturday night, alone, facing some serious decisions and work deadlines.

And so, dear reader, I'm sure you are thinking that here comes another post, full of despair, bemoaning the fate of someone who must suffer the slings and arrows of having a successful career and great friends/family in 2 different locations. The misery is palpable.

Not tonight, friends: it is 75 F as I write this at 6:30 pm. The sun is about an hour before sunset, and I have the screen door open in the apartment. The weather has been spectacular over the last couple of weeks; tonight it is perfect.

I've caught up with some of my favourite people over the last week or so. Work is going well. I'm healthy, if not especially fit. I've started playing the piano again, being very careful to not injure my wrists by coming back too soon (I'm almost out of that phase, in fact).

Life is good here, and I sincerely hope it is with you as well.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Fog

Sometimes, when I'm alone, I look back on the years I've been in St Louis. I know that time flies, but I try to account for the specific years.

I've come to realize that I am often in a fog. By that, I mean that I am so focused on something that I really tune out from others and the Big Picture that I've mentioned earlier.

Often, the goals are activities, and many are noble such as the piano and especially athletics. I used to exercise like a banshee, man. I'm starting to really see that now.

Sometimes, the fog lifts, and I feel like I can see things for what they really are. It is in these times that one gets lonely.

Things were rather lonely tonight, but I chatted with 2 major, dear friends and I'm very grateful. The coming weeks might get stressful, and it is really great to be as blessed as I am with such a great group of friends.

I know that sometimes, in the fog, I may not have been there for them (and others) as much as I could have been.

I worry my life will ultimately turn out to be a Willie Nelson song. No one has really said it better (though Willie didn't write it).


ps. In case it isn't obvious, there are some big decisions ahead at CC HQ, and they are manifesting themselves in some top-shelf angst (if not very top-shelf writing), as predicted by my sister.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Big Picture

Please note that I plan to live until I'm 90, and am feeling fine. This post may seem morbid but in fact, it is merely introspective.

Three thoughts seem to unite into a theme for me lately:
  • My friend Traci gave a touching eulogy to her grandfather, in the fall of 2007. That was the beginning of a Big Shift in my life.
  • I once read (possibly by Dale Carnegie) that you could measure a life by the number of people who come to your funeral. The idea is that no one fakes that. They must have been moved by something: they aren't trying to impress you.
  • MacLean's magazine dedicates the last page of every weekly edition to an obituary for a regular, non-famous citizen. 90% of the column is about their loved ones and their impact on their community, and then whammo, the last paragraph explains how they passed away. Week after week, its impact really adds up and makes you think.
Now at 40, I find myself considering my own legacy. What will they say at my funeral, many years from now? If I don't like what I imagine, can I change that? I certainly have lots of time.

The truth is that I want to do something much bigger. Possibly out of vanity (a LOT of things stem from vanity), but ostensibly out of goodwill and altruism. I want a project that is bigger than me, and something that will really contribute to a community. Both my Mom and Dad are stellar examples of this in their own lives.

Aha, but which community? Alas, I have decided that it will not be St Louis, as great as it is, and as wonderful as the people are here. It is just too far from home. I have missed a lot of funerals for major people (in my life) on PEI. That really bothers me.

I don't know when, exactly, and I don't know where, but I want to move on. I want people lined around the block at my funeral, because I've done something that moved them to pay respects.



This is random but an interesting tribute to the character of Jean Beliveau, the legendary Montreal Canadien hockey player who defined 'classy'.

I once saw a biography of Jacques Plante. Also a legend, he was an eccentric goalie who played for the Habs and famously pioneered the goalie mask. Much later, he lived in poverty in Switzerland, estranged from his glory days and from his team.

When Plante died, only one Canadien traveled to his funeral in Switzerland: Jean Beliveau.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Random Facts

It has been 80+ F here in St Louis this week! It is almost like summer!

No news on any big decisions / crossroads. Stay tuned.

I've decided to cease doing my Twitter-feed for fake news. I made the announcement today, on April Fool's Day, as that seemed humorous. Alas, it was too cerebral and I think it will take a couple of weeks before people realize it is no joke. I hope to write longer pieces as I'm fond of satire, but the Twitter gig just wasn't fun anymore.


ps. Note that JAK reports that the Twin Cities in Minnesota went without snow in March for the first time since 1878.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I'll probably be facing a crossroads in the coming weeks. In some ways, we face crossroads every day of our lives. The choices we make (or vainly attempt to avoid) ultimately pave a path through our lives.

I'm excited and yet nervous at the same time. As I've written before, I don't like big decisions and I don't feel very well prepared to handle them. I have always, always been trained to do as well as possible at the immediate task at hand, without much thought for the big picture.

The goal has been to keep as many doors open as possible. But eventually, we have to choose a door.

Which one? On what basis?

In truth, I do know how to make a decision. One can list the pros and cons. One can make a matrix. One can listen to one's inner voice. Or flip a coin: what is your reaction to the result? If it is relief, that's a sign; if it is concern, that is also a sign.

The unvarnished truth is the following question: do I have the courage to make a decision based on priorities that (a) are against the mainstream or (b) that may well result in regret?


Friday, March 26, 2010

Bramwell Tovey

I've blogged this before, but I listen to a series of podcasts done by the CBC: conductor Bramwell Tovey talks about Beethoven's 9 symphonies. Each is about 20 minutes long, and I listen to them all the time.

If you aren't interested, then at least check out this video (click here).

Check out the story from 0:30 to 1:20. Deeply moving and indicative of Tovey's ability to convey the universal meaning of music.


ps. I've had a long week, and one that may prove to be rather big. More to come....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thought for the day

I have a small walk-in closet that is crammed with stuff. It reminds me, vaguely, of the upstairs of my grandparents' house.

Maybe one day I'll write about that house. I could easily write a good 10 pages about the sights, scents, and homey-ness of that place.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Deleting Extra Page, At End Of Doc, in Word

Much effort was exerted in finding out how to do this, so I thought I would share.

Quoteth (from here):

Here's how to get rid of the extra page: Select the paragraph mark after the
table and format it with 1 pt of font size, zero spacing before/after (and
as hidden text, too, if necessary).

NOTE: this assumes you have enabled 'show page / paragraph breaks', which is easy to discover. Disable after the above instructions.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy 50th

I don't think he checks this blog, but an uncle and dear friend is 50 today! Happy Birthday, R!

As mentioned several times on here, he is one of 2 'cousins' that were massively influential on my life. (One from each side of the family, as it turns out).


Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Some of my gang were in Vermont for a destination wedding!

It was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous, the surroundings lovely, and a good time was had by all. I couldn't ask for a better weekend for the happy couple. A small group stayed at the same inn where the reception was held: it was terrific! A super trip....

I had forgotten the feel of the New England area. It has a palpable sense of quaintness and decorum that is different from the Maritimes, and yet closer than the Midwest.

I thought of my great-uncle Roland. Though I'm not sure if I met him, he was among some family who moved to Vermont many decades ago. (Others, including my two uncles, later moved to South Carolina. They would visit on rare occasion when I was young. My Dad visits them almost every year, and circa 1997, I drove down to the farm in SC as well.)


ps. I bought a new suit for the wedding. My first one in 10 years! Dark grey with pinstripes. I may get another. I love a nice suit. (Though traveling with one is a nightmare. Delta joins AC on my 'avoid if at all possible' list.)

pps. There are only 2 kinds of suits: tuxedos and 3-piece. I only buy 3-piece jobbies. They make you feel like a mob boss from the 1920s.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Grab bag

First, I have to mention that people at work have been terrific about the Canadian victory for gold in men's hockey. I was worried about a backlash, but most were happy for Canada and Vancouver.

There is one guy with whom I do not get along at all. He is overtly, spitefully anti-Canadian and generally a punk with his colleagues. Though he was not at all warm, he stayed quiet which is a blessing in itself.

On to other news... watch this video. The setup is that the guy is not happy with service at the restaurant, and has been learning Chinese for 2 weeks before facing his nemesis. Hi-jinx ensues.

At the very end, Sheldon says "aye-yeah!" which means roughly "Oy vey" or "Oh bother". When I watched it, I realized that I work with a woman who, when frustrated with her computer, says the same thing under her breath! (Hint: her daughter was married on PEI.) I told her about it and she agreed with me. Hilarious!

A request for privacy

In the past, I've leaked my identity on here to friends who know me in my professional life. I like to keep things compartmentalized and so in retrospect, I regret that decision.

Especially as I may start blogging about my dreams with respect to my career.

I ask readers: please do not overtly disclose/link/announce anything I write here. Thanks. (I realize this is a public website, and so I will be discreet, but if you already know who I am, please do not pass that along to others.)


ps. I need to do this because I don't have anywhere else to write.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sidney Crosby

I almost didn't watch OT. I nearly went for a drive.

It wasn't the shock or awe of the late goal with the goalie pulled. It was that I felt it coming, as I've seen the movie before. In 1996, the USA beat Canada in the World Cup using 6-on-5. It was the only time I've ever seen it work.

The premonition, and then the follow through here in 2010, was a dagger through the heart. I nearly left.

Even now, I'm numb. I can't believe we won. And, as Vic says, it couldn't have been scripted better for Sidney Crosby: relatively quiet all tournament, the lion came out of the cage in the span of about 2 seconds, beating the stout US netminder.


It is now, officially, an unequivocally Great Games for Canada.


ps. Congrats to the US hockey team on a great Olympics, and for taking several years off my life in 2 separate games.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NBC = Nothing But Curling

CNBC (a cable network) has shown a ton of hockey and curling. As mentioned, I'm just blown away.

Especially tonight, to see Skip Kevin Martin win gold for Canada! Curling is one heckuva game. I always knew that but, having been starved of it for awhile, I've come to rediscover it.

Quote of the night, from Don Duguid: there is a difference between a rock-thrower and a curler.

Factoid of the night: there are only 8 sheets of ice for curling in Norway. 30 people attended their national championships. And yet they have a world-class team! Whaaaaa? Why don't they support the sport?


ps. Canada has really put the burn on in terms of medals. The "Own the Podium" was a bit of a joke at first, but not now. The USA will get the most medals (and hats off to them), but we have done very well.

pps. Now there is just one game left on Sunday afternoon: hockey. As someone from Vancouver put on Twitter, "Canada will be closed from noon to 3 pm PST".

Friday, February 26, 2010


The last couple of days of the Games are going to be deliciously stressful! I'm watching women's curling right now and am pacing the floor a bit.

It's fun to know my family is definitely watching at home.


ps. I watched the ladies figure-skating with a friend last night and really enjoyed it. I'm so glad Joannie R got a medal, and Kim Yu-Na's gold medal performance was unbelievable.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bang Your Drum

In the opening ceremonies, Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado sang "Bang Your Drum".

Indeed. We just beat Russia 7-3.

A long way to go, but tonight: we are pleased.


Edit: As Colleen pointed out, it was a huge night all-around. Canada won medals in the women's bobsleigh, including Heather Moyse from PEI! (I didn't see that until after posting.)

(This undoubtedly tremendous, though I maintain the hockey is big. To paraphrase someone on the Russian team, "Back home, this is a disaster. The end of the world.")

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Olympics

I just saw Ashleigh McIvor win gold in women's ski cross. I saw the result online earlier today, but I was still shouting here tonight, and delighted for her.

This whole "Own the Podium" initiative has been very difficult on our athletes. It was intended as an ambitious goal (in part to sanction gov't funding), but I think that the additional pressure on individuals has been tough.

That said, it is hard to swallow the results of men's speed-skating, alpine skiing of any type, and of course (ahem) the men's hockey team (which can only be
mentioned now that they have throttled Germany).

Anyway, I salute McIvor and of course Virtue and Moir of ice-dancing fame! Last night, NBC stayed with the ice-dancing medal presentation and the national anthem. It was terrific. I am beginning to love NBC and its cable channels.


ps. Canada-USA set a new mark for TV ratings in Canada, but my guess is that Canada-Russia tomorrow night will be one for the ages in terms of ratings.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Over the course of the Olympics I've discovered that NBC cable channels is also carrying the Games. They are heavy into hockey and curling. This is great news!

Just as with figure skating, curling has thrown me back into another era. It is a great game. Interestingly, the colour commentators for NBC are well-known Canadians: the legends Colleen Jones and Don Duguid.


ps. A Canadian woman coaches Denmark, and a German curler grew up in Canada. We are all over this game.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I was thinking of writing a longer piece but I don't really have time. My apologies: this is choppy.

Readers will know that hockey and curling are very popular in Canada, but so too is figure skating.

My mother and sister are big fans. I'm a bit at a loss here when I watch, because they know all the skaters and all the backstories. They went to the Worlds in Halifax a couple of years ago and loved it.

I watched the skating (pairs, long program) with a friend the other night and was reminded of the great skaters of the past (e.g. Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko) and watching with my family. I have cousins in Hamilton who were also major skate fans, and rabid fans of Elvis. (Alas, one cousin is no longer with us.)

Between them all, I was thrown back to 1990-1991 when I was last really "into" the skate scene, even if through osmosis. It was surprisingly emotional: I remembered having certain fears and hopes that are with me to this day, and I wondered how I could "lose" figure skating for so long. (That last one is easy: there isn't as much coverage here, and over the years, it is only natural that I pursued my own interests).

As I write this though, I'd like to watch it with my family. I've joked that I have to call home and find out the real story behind what I just saw.


ps. Canada has 2 gold medals!

pps. NBC showed a whole profile on Alexandre Bilodeau and the presentation of his medal. I was delighted.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Double Header

Though under the radar on this blog, I returned to the JCC for my annual "combo indoor triathlon" this weekend. It had all of the grace of a late Elvis concert: sweaty and labourious. But we made it!

I finished mid-pack within my age group in the long event (Sat) and the short event (Sun). My run times (the best metric) were much slower than years past but hopefully I'll get back into shape this winter/spring.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gold Gold Gold

I just saw Alexandre Bilodeau win gold for Canada in the freestyle event.

The neighbours probably heard some shouting. WooHOO!

I'm grateful that the NBC Iron Curtain of Commercialism allowed me to enjoy the event. They are interviewing him now (alas, we won't see the medal presentation or the anthem).

This is so fantastic. Especially we beat that traitorous Aussie.

This will eventually seem very trite, but his name is trending on the worldwide feed for Twitter. i.e. Alexandre's name is among the top ten topics world-wide. No doubt every Canadian with access is singing his praises.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Though we all have a heavy heart over the crash and death of luger Nodar Kumitashvili, I'm looking forward to the opening games of the Vancouver Olympics. They are just about to begin.

From what I can tell, Vancouver won't even try to compete with Beijing, which is wise because that was incomparable. NBC just reported that the ceremonies will be much more intimate, and should make Canadians swell with pride.

There is rampant speculation on who will light the Olympic torch for Canada. Of the rumors, I think it will either be David Suzuki, or possibly an image of the late Terry Fox. Both are sentimental favourites for different reasons: Suzuki is a beloved biologist with strong ties to BC; Terry Fox is a national hero and certainly a better fit for an athletic competition.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Google Streetview

Google Streetview has hit Charlottetown!

Type "Charlottetown PEI" into Google maps, zoom in a bit, and then drag the yellow dude (see attached screenshot) onto the blue streets.

This is very cool for Islanders and other readers alike...

ps. This is a MAJOR post-script: it is more than just Charlottetown. It may be the entire Island. Not sure yet.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


The local news is that I picked the Colts over the Saints, who just won the Superbowl. The Saints QB won battles against Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning in the run to the championship. That is an unbelievable list of opponents.

The bigger news is that the PEI ladies curling team played in the national finals this afternoon: the Scott Tournament of Hearts. They played against the reigning champs, known as Team Canada. Prior to a Superbowl party, I was watching the game online via a score update and a webcam stream. Team PEI lost a lead going into the last end, and I was stunned to read (at the party, on my phone) that they had lost a heart-breaker in extra ends. Don't laugh: this was a huge deal for The Island. Though not as popular as hockey or the winter Olympics, curling is very popular and The Island rarely makes it to the finals.

Ah well. Maybe next year, on all fronts.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Happy Birthday

A Happy Birthday shout-out to my sister, C!

My sister has always been a better multi-tasker, and more eclectic, than me. She has lived and worked in the UK, played the flute in high school, completed boot camp in the armed forces, passed the bar exam, and now manages a bookstore, reading everything in sight. (Her book recommendations are consistently superlative).

She stresses as I do over doing something correctly, but doesn't carpet-bomb her social life as I did in university, and on occasion now when preparing a talk.

I consider myself very lucky to have her as a sister. As documented here, her wedding was the only time I have nailed a speech and I'm glad, for it was the most important time for me to do so. I'm tempted to recite it here, but that feels like betraying the moment.

Happy Birthday, sis!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Irish Rovers

Heading out to a party with friends... not much time for reminiscing on this one. You'll either know it, or you won't.

It is Saturday night and I'm thinking of the Irish Rovers. Here is the opening to their TV show:

The full song can be heard here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pedaling PEI and farm equipment

The blog Pedaling PEI has quite a number of fans for its photos. Often, it is the beauty of PEI.

However, I just realized that a major theme is old farm equipment. In some ways, the fields of PEI are a museum, containing forgotten artifacts from a bygone era. Times have changed in many ways: not the least of which is that farming is big business now, done by machines that are giant appliances. Most non-farmers can name the machines (e.g. a combine, or potato harvester), but today we are hard pressed to describe their function.

Decades ago, the equipment were tools, not appliances. They had a very specific function and were used in a day and age when people understood, at an intimate level, what they were dealing with.

I just thought of this tonight but I strongly encourage Pedaling PEI to pursue this tangent and possibly build an archive of sorts.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fake Headline

Just prior to the big Apple announcement, I tweeted this fake headline. Click through the link; I'm pleased with it. (It wasn't good enough for my official fake news feed).


ps. In a previous post, I was wrong on a few fronts. The new iPad isn't solely aimed at the Kindle. It is trying to carve out a whole new market between phones and laptops. It is certainly competition for the Kindle, and for netbooks, but in a way that is different than I predicted.

pps. I was also wrong about a major content announcement. Again, there is some surprising news (e.g. working together with Amazon?!) but not as I anticipated.

ppps. One note that you may not hear much about: the iPad runs on Apple's own chip. Interesting. Long ago, Apple shocked the industry by pairing with Intel (and ultimately allowing Windows to run on Mac hardware). They probably went with their own design (no doubt through an acquisition) because they wanted better performance in terms of size and battery life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Congrats to Mom and Dad, who celebrate their 47th anniversary today! That is quite a run.

On behalf of the readers of CC, have a terrific day and here's wishing many more years of happiness...


Monday, January 25, 2010

Genius of Steve Jobs

This week, Apple is expected to announce a new device, the iTablet.

My predictions aren't original, but my guess is:
  • the device won't just be a bigger iPod or iPhone. It will target a new segment, probably the Kindle (ebook reader)
  • the device will offer some new content package. e.g. Maybe the NY Times will be free
This last point is crucial. Steve Jobs has long been respected as a genius, the quieter nemesis of Bill Gates. Lately, he has gained complete rock-star status not only among the Apple faithful but also in the mainstream.

However, beyond technical savvy, he is a shrewd businessman. He was the one that took online music out of the courts (hello Napster) and into a bona fide business model. This was huge! Also, he wrangled AT&T into a deal to support the iPhone (though certainly AT&T has profited tremendously from that). Gates is a titan as well, but Jobs is the King of combining polished devices and outstanding content into a package that creates a rabid cult following.

With the tablet on the way, call him Moses of The Deal.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Night Redux

No Saturday night introspection tonight.

Simply a fascinating photo of Calgary in 1885. Can you imagine? The living was tough and the winter was harsh. Many residents were probably from eastern Europe: there was a massive immigration push from 1885 - 1910.

Here is a current photo.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Firefox and PEI

(Ed's note: The links in this post may be time sensitive. It has also been corrected thanks to the comment by Stephen.)

Check out the sample web page featured on this Firefox site!

On Twitter, Stephen DesRoches stated that they gave PEI some props because Mozilla (the organization behind Firefox) is a client of this site. I've discovered that his personal site has some fantastic photography.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lost in Translation

I work on a device that evaluates "cards" (credit-card shaped containers) which contain blood samples from patients.

We recently sent out a bunch of files with strings to be translated. The translation company is a giant shop where the workers have no real sense of context. When this kind of enterprise collides with science, hilarity ensues.

In one language (spoken in the Middle East), the phrase "card identification" (i.e. to which patient does this card belong) was translated into the equivalent of "driver's license".

In another (spoken in Asia), the term "well" (i.e. a small cell to store fluid) was translated as "feeling good".



Monday, January 18, 2010


I found this article on epigenetics to be very interesting... The epigenome forms a set of control switches for the expressions of genes in DNA. If DNA is the computer, the epigenome is the software.

Quoteth (on a study of men and the Y-chromosome):

In other words, you can change your epigenetics even when you make a dumb decision at 10 years old. If you start smoking then, you may have made not only a medical mistake but a catastrophic genetic mistake.

The gist of the story is that they are studying groups of people to determine if their diet/habits/etc can impact their offspring. Up until the 1990s, the dominant thinking was that children are impacted by genetics and their environment. Not so: though Darwinian theory reigns supreme for DNA, the epigenome may prove to be sensitive to Lamarckian-like changes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Parsec on the TI 99/4a

Q: What runs at 3 MHz with 256 bytes and 16 KB video RAM?

A: One pimp machine!

A recent game on Twitter is to describe one's original programming environment.

It brought back memories of the mighty Texas Instruments 99/4a (see it here): our family's first computer.

To be honest, I don't remember if I hammered in any programs into it. I know I did on the Commodore 64 (a screaming beast in its own right).

We did play games though. A favourite was Parsec, and sure enough, YouTube comes to the rescue here. Below is a video of gameplay!

(Note that the video features the voice synthesizer, which we didn't have. I bet the beeping sounds, though, are all too familiar to my parents.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Technology at Queen and Kent

I follow this guy on Twitter. He lives on PEI.

He posted the video below as a protest of a streetlight configuration in Charlottetown. He took the video with his phone, and posted it to YouTube.

And I'm watching it in St Louis. These are the times in which we live.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Some gifts are used. Some are not. And some become part of you.

This green suitcase was part of a gift set from my parents for my undergrad degree, in 1991. It has been almost everywhere I have been, and has brought home Christmas treasures for many years. It has been lost several times, probably most in Montreal.

It is in rough shape. It is dirty, dented, dinged, and requires a nylon-tie to be threaded through the zipper plug, as the actual zipper was sheared off years ago.

6 weeks ago, it was replaced. There is no sentiment for the artifact, but gratitude for its service and warm thoughts at the memories.

This bland gym-bag was given to me by my Aunt Joyce (and family) sometime in the early 1990s. For many years, it was barely used, and stored a large number of mixed cassettes.

In 2001, when I joined the YMCA in St Louis, it was pressed into service. It has been to that gym countless times. It has been to 20+ triathlons. It watched me save myself from the dangers of a sedentary career to being quite fit, and, to be honest, it probably has Staph Aureus all over it.

It has been replaced as well. I don't mourn, but I remember. Those gifts served me beyond belief.