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.