Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Memories of Christmas

Here are some photos of Christmas 2011. To protect the privacy of family, they are simply photographic evidence of Christmas Day. I think they are powerful.

Plenty of people at my parents' house. Santa stands guard at the door:

So many coats! The iconic Tilley hat belongs to my uncle, though my father has one as well.

These ornaments were given to my mother in the early 1960s. They may go back into the 1950s. I remember some of them very well from my childhood.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ergonomists Unite!

I bought my MacBookPro in 2008 and generally am a big fan. However, I don't like the ergonomics of laptops.

I saw a recent tweet that mentioned a 'Rain stand'; lustfully, I bought one as part of a whole new landscape for the desktop.

It is much too early to report how well this will work, as the setup includes a new mouse and keyboard. So far, so good.

Interestingly, the keyboard is impossibly thin. It is tiny!

Monday, October 31, 2011


My car stereo is the same model as this one, and today it shows a special message on startup:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Phone

After 16 months of living in mobile ambiguity, I finally have a new phone!

I have a snazzy new iPhone 4S via Virgin Mobile. I will be emailing out digits as soon as I figure everything out.

Some tidbits on my decision:
  • I was paralyzed by indecision on writing apps for Android versus iPhone, but realized that the best way to reach users is to have a mobile website. In this way people can browse with any smartphone.
  • I was also paralyzed by choice: there are a zillion Android phones. Apple really makes things easy, offering only 1 model and a few options.
  • I can't deny that the tributes towards Steve Jobs influenced my decision. I had to admit that I really just wanted an iPhone all along.
  • I chose Virgin Mobile with some trepidation. The young lad at the store (The Source) seemed knowledgeable, bright, and honest, and he uses Virgin. We'll see how this goes...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Commencement Speech As Eulogy

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way ... to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Long Run

I ran 12 miles today, using my venerable "block" technique. (A block is a 3-miler, followed by a brief break for liquids and gel).

This is a big deal. I checked my records and found that the last time I ran that far (or farther) was in mid-2007. (I also confirmed that 2006 and 2007 formed the Golden Age for my fitness. More on that later.)

I had hoped to join my father on the Island Trails ride. My plan was to run while the pack cycled. Alas, the plan was foiled by bad weather. Plan B was to partake in the Run for the Cure, but I chose to hit the gym instead.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Khan Academy

The very first time you are trying to get your brain around a new concept, the very last thing you need is another human-being saying:
'Do you understand this?'
- Salman Khan

The website Khan Academy has many 10 minute videos on a variety of topics in math, science, and finance. It is fabulous and taking off like gangbusters for children and adults alike. Personally, I'm hooked.

Sal Khan, an MIT graduate and math whiz, was initially trying to help his young cousins with math, over the web. Eventually, he quit his job in high-finance and started a non-profit organization so that he could create videos full-time.

To hear his story, and his thoughts on education, check out this video (click here to view on YouTube):

Monday, September 05, 2011


I've had an interesting few days in terms of the social scene. This is surprisingly important, as research is finding that ones "social network" (in real life) is key to a sense of happiness.

Having spent some lonely years in the Midwest USA, I can attest to that; especially given the Glory Days, also in the Midwest.

Here's a recap:
  • Drinks with a friend, S, from the UK. S is truly cosmopolitan and yet has lived on PEI for many years. Very interesting perspective.
  • Dinner with O, with whom I famously traveled for 30 hours on a nightmare ordeal from Chicago to PEI. She is crazy bright and ambitious (chemistry prof who runs a local community theatre for fun -- last year was Anne & Gilbert, no less!). She is moving to Halifax for the fall and then teaching in Malta (!) next year.
  • Lunch with C. C has recently moved, after years in Boston, back home to PEI, and has joined my current employer. Her story is almost a replay of mine in 2010.
  • Happy hour with my brother-in-law, and my uncle-in-law, who is now retired from said employer. This started out as dinner at 7 pm and ended with a meal at a Chinese restaurant at 2:30 am. Fun and with an insanity that belied our ages and purported emotional maturity.
  • Last night was dinner and games night with my immediate family. We aim to do this every month or so. We have a Canadian trivia game, and some fashionable variant of Trivial Pursuit. These evenings are essentially the same as my old "night before leaving for St Louis".
It has been busy, and diverse. As the song says, I am 32 flavours, and then some.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Air Show

Summerside, PEI, is host to the Atlantic Canada International Air Show this weekend. My sister, father, and I went to it today.

The image below captures it perfectly: the kid in each of us wants nothing more than to see a plane do a stunt.

The biggest news is that there was no hint of rain (a common problem this summer and an inevitability from Irene, but not yet), although there was a major fire at a dairy warehouse on the west part of the Island.

The show was terrific. There were many stunt planes with crazy acrobatics. There were also sky-divers, a tank, a jet-powered truck, a wing-walking woman (is this 1920?), and the Snowbirds.

Too many highlights to list here, but in addition to just being home for such an event, I think I saw a T6 Texan do some stunts. I went up in such a plane, circa 2003 in Illinois. (You pay the company to go up with a real pilot.) There is a VCR tape of my exploits. I'll have to dig it out and fervently hope that it survived the move and heat of last summer.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Phone Update

I've been running on a borrowed, pay-as-you-go phone for the last, well, year. This has not been tenable and due to a few recent incidents, I've decided to go cold turkey and return it to its owner.

In the short-term, I cannot be reached by phone.

Hopefully this will expedite my decision regarding phones. As readers know, I have been hung up on writing apps for an iPhone or an Android phone.

People think this is an easy decision, but it isn't, because the platforms are very different. Some wags joke that I should just buy one of each phone but I don't really want 2 data-plans, nor do I have the time to write apps for 2 platforms. I'm not sure I have the time to write apps for one platform.

However, what is definitely true is that if I keep waiting, the world will continue to pass me buy. I'm reasonably sure that I will be getting a new Android phone through Telus in the next 4-6 weeks. There is a snazzy new model coming out, and that will probably be the pick.

When the choice is final, I'll email/post my new phone number to the world!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stress and Personality

A cousin of mine recently went on an eloquent soliloquy about life. He said that he may not have "aimed high" but that he appreciates what he has, including a job with zero stress.

I wonder if it is the job, or if it is him. He is an unflappable kind of guy.

I had hoped to find a low-stress gig that was limited to the usual 9-to-5. It hasn't worked out that way, to say the least. Drama, pressure, and I am up at 6 am for a conference call. I don't want to admit when I came home last night.

Is it the gig, though? Or is it me? I'm not exactly unflappable. One mentor told me, "you are high-maintenance, but worth it". That was 11 years ago, I wonder if it has changed.


Monday, August 01, 2011


I am a member of the PEI Roadrunner club. They have a website that lists events around the Island for fitness. I'm happy to report there is usually 1-2 races every weekend.

This past weekend, there were 2 races. One was a killer 25 km trail run. No thanks. The other was a duathlon: 17 km bike, followed by a 7 km run.

I was bummed. I've long sold the legendary race bike, Blackbird, and do not enjoy riding on my hybrid bike. I debated on possibly taking the bike anyway, but then I was faced with logistics of transporting it in my car (unlike Blackbird, the front tire does not pop off easily).

And so, I stared at the web page. To bike or not to bike. What to do? Then I noticed a "team division". Aha! Now I just needed someone who enjoys bicycling.

But who enjoys bicycling? I don't have many fitness friends here on PEI.

Again, I was crestfallen. Until it hit me like a bolt of lightning: my father.

It is no secret that my father is a rabid bicyclist. He patrols the Confederation Trail with other senior citizens, wearing daunting yellow jerseys and licensed to write citations on yellow pieces of paper. Last year, he logged a staggering 5000 km.

How perfect! I sent an email and before long, we were in Rustico together. He bikes; I run. Sounds good to me.

It was a fun event. It threatened rain but we got away with it. As it turned out, we finished 25th out of 37 entries. To be fair, many entries were solo efforts. However, our combined age is 112. (I'm fairly certain we were the oldest team.)

It was great fun and I hope that we can try it again next year. The duathlon is rare even in St. Louis but especially so here.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Local News and Petitioners

I have been considering a new online persona via a new blog for some time. The new venture would be personal, local, and probably political. Not necessarily in a partisan sense, but in a "common sense" fashion.

There is no blog yet (I'm waiting on a name) but a recent turn of events in local news might be a catalyst to get me started. However, one has to be careful as my province is like the Deep South: it is best to keep your mouth/pixels shut when it comes to politics.

For now, here's the scoop: 200 doctors signed a petition to the premier about climate change. That strikes me as being absurdly outside their expertise, but let's set that aside for now.

I'm curious if they will weigh in on (a) an 1880s-style sewage problem in the capital city or especially (b) serious fish kills in local rivers (possibly due to pesticide run-off).

I don't expect the physicians to have answers (these are thorny problems), nor do I endorse their wading into political waters. But the more I think about the hypocrisy of their silence on these issues, the more it drives me crazy.


Thursday, July 14, 2011


Over the vacation, some family and my guest went deep-sea fishing. These birds, gannets, were diving around the boat, pretty much just as in this video. I had never even heard of them before.

It was crazy! They hit the water like missiles, at about 40-60 mph. They are very aggressive as well, trying to take fish off the hook when someone is reeling in. Other birds, like seagulls, have no chance when these birds are around: gannets are twice their size both in body and beak.

NOTE: the last 10 seconds of this video may be disturbing to true animal lovers

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mid-July Visit

With barely a day in between, another dear, inner-circle friend came to visit from the USA. This was a longer trip. Though again, it may not read well, this will serve as a diary. The past 8-9 days have been a whirlwind tour of PEI that left no stone unturned.

The weather was pretty much perfect, with the key exception of a music festival, when we needed it most. It seems as though Mother Nature cut a deal with me: great weather for 90% of my guests' stay, except for a key afternoon/evening, which was one for the ages (see below).

Day 1
  • brunch at Cora's (one of the few overlaps)
  • visit to Anne of Green Gables, including a ponderous drive through Cavendish, whereupon we discovered a lovely Gelato stand
  • beach tour at Cavendish beach (where I nearly broke a toe)
  • harness racing at Red Shores (aka the CDP), with buffet
Day 2
  • deep-sea fishing in North Rustico (with family). Gorgeous weather. Crazy birds (another post).
  • lobster dinner at Water Prince Corner Shop
  • Cows ice cream (of course)
Day 3
  • Tim Horton's
  • stop at the Cheese Lady in Winsloe
  • visit at my parents (with happy run-in with my sister)
  • MerchantMan Pub for lunch
  • a 6-hour, soaking-wet adventure at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. This will be another post, one day.
Day 4
  • Rufus and Rory's for breakfast
  • Harbour Hippo with immediate family (gorgeous day)
  • Poffertjes, a Dutch treat on Victoria Row
  • dinner at Peakes Quay with my sister and bro-in-law
Day 5
  • guest went horseback riding near Morell
  • lunch at Fishbones, then shopping
  • Cows ice cream (again!)
  • dinner at Claddagh House (my guest's first oysters)
  • Cows ice cream (is this possible?)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Early July Visit

My first visitor from the USA, a dear friend, was here over the past few days! It was a wonderful time that coincided with the Royal Tour of William and Kate.

We had mostly gorgeous weather with the unfortunate exception of the day where Will & Kate were here. That said, I couldn't really ask for better.

This is a summary of events. This may not read well for others but serves as a bit of a diary for me:

Day One
  • brunch at Cora's
  • visit with my parents
  • Harbour Hippo tour!
  • Cows ice cream
  • dinner at Fishbones (with my sister and bro-in-law). Oysters, mussels, lobster. Cramming for finals regarding the Anne & Gilbert musical.
Day Two
  • fantastic live-stream of Will & Kate thanks to CityTV
  • lunch at Maple Grille
  • dinner at V and C's (where dinner reviews surpassed many of the other fine-dining establishments)
Day Three
  • lunch at Landmark Cafe in Victoria
  • Toy Factory near Hunter River
  • beaches at Cavendish (water was way too cold for some)
  • dinner at the Shipwright Inn
  • Anne & Gilbert at the Harbourfront Theatre
All visits with friends and family were really great. Most restaurants were outstanding, with a couple of lessons learned.

One fun tale: my guest wanted to buy some Island-made toys at the Toy Factory (sidebar: the original operation was close to my grandparents' home).

My guest liked some wooden, animal-shaped crayon holders but was surprised to see they weren't marked as PEI in any way. At the cash register, she asked about this and the staff offered to sear the wood not only with the location but also the names of the children. They do this regularly, for free. Perfect.


ps. No sleep for me... another dear friend arrives soon! It is hectic to have visitors so close, but on PEI there are only 8-10 weeks of prime visiting time, so things get busy.

Friday, June 17, 2011


A year ago tomorrow, I crossed the Confederation Bridge, my car loaded to the gunnels with my belongings.

It is fitting that this weekend, I'm going to a conference in Frederiction, NB. Tomorrow night, I'll be crossing the same bridge, returning to PEI.

Year 1 of the new experiment has been an adventure, for sure.

Some thoughts....
  • The biggest headline is that I no longer have an inner voice saying "You are a guest in the US", "When are you going home?". As much as I love St Louis, I was going crazy, as old blog posts illustrate.
  • It is deeply comforting be trivially close to old friends and family. Though I do miss my St Louis people, and the diversity.
  • The tech scene has been a disappointment. I was hoping to join, or start, a local user group. Based on an internal one at my workplace, I don't think anyone would attend. There are few people who are passionate about their work. I'm surprised at how many people are semi-pro athletes who treat their career as a hobby. However, perhaps the upcoming conference will impress!
  • I had big hopes and dreams last year. I've made some important gains with the satirical website, but I feel like I've slacked this year. More on those in future posts.
  • Music and fitness are key to my happiness. The past year gets a grade of B on both scores. I'm not in top form on either the guitar, piano, or treadmill, but they are all active and going well, considering the disruption of the move.
  • Winter was tough and spring was a chilly joke. I realize now that my first summer back was absolutely charmed in terms of weather. It was perfect all the time!
  • I moved locally in 2009 and massively in 2010. I am SO FREAKING grateful not to be packing boxes in 2011!
The bottom-line is: no regrets. I am still dealing with US taxes and Canada Post (don't get me started), but my move is almost complete. It was the right decision.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Here are some quick news items:
  • I want to be vague here but some friends had a big day today. I'm so excited for them!
  • I'm meeting a newcomer to PEI/Canada this week, probably tomorrow. I'll be showing him around the Island through a charitable organization that matches newbies with Islanders. That should be interesting. I don't actually know much about PEI.
  • I thought I was done with the Tax Nightmare but having checked tracking numbers through Canada Post, I can only verify that 1 out of 3 Important Documents were received in the US. The other 2 arrived in the USA but I don't know anything else. Fabulous.
  • In case anyone was wondering, I am still a cat person. I like dogs but "dog people" live in a world that I will never, ever understand.

ps. Check out some new links over on the right-hand side!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Pro-Tip: Hire Professionals

After a long, frustrating search, I found a cross-border accountant this tax season (in Washington state). Within 3 minutes of our initial phone call, I could tell she was bright and professional.

And how. Several weeks after uploading a zillion scanned docs to her website, I received a giant FedEx package with multiple returns. 1 for Canada and 3 for the US.

The presentation was simply beautiful: each return was fixed to an envelope and with instructions. The instructions were essentially: (a) mail by the given date and (b) find the big green stickies that say "Sign and Date here" and, well, sign-and-date there, stoopid!

A chimpanzee could have followed the directions and that is exactly how I want to be treated. Seriously. I share a deep connection with the spirit here, because that's how I think software should be written: a chimp should be able to use it. I say that often a work, but I don't mean to denigrate the user, because sometimes I am the chimp.

This is one of those cases. This was an expensive service but it was absolutely worth it. I could not be happier. My only hope is that Canada Post delivers the returns correctly, as I am due for some refunds (bonus!).


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Civic Duty

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-- John McCrae, In Flanders Fields

I voted today! It was easy and a touching experience. Though I probably could have voted in Canada from the US, I haven't voted in a federal election since 1993.

Democracy is fragile. I'm in a Toastmasters public-speaking club, and discovered the following while researching a talk:

(a) Canadian aboriginals were only able to vote, freely, in federal elections in 1960 (before that they had to give up "First Nations" status)

(b) Women won the vote in Switzerland in 1971

That is a surprisingly short time ago. (Not as poignant as the current struggles in Africa and the Middle East, but those issues are too obvious re: giving a talk).

In other political news, this rant by Rick Mercer laid down a challenge to the disillusioned youth of Canada (the 18-24 demographic turned out at 37% in 2008). Happily, the youth have responded with energetic, positive "vote mobs" as illustrated here.


ps. For American readers, the vote is May 2. I was at an advance poll.

pps. Kudos to the Elections Canada website. I found it useful and user-friendly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Electric Week

I'm currently enthralled by the leaders' debate for the federal election, occasionally looking at the chirps from the riffraff on Twitter (which is hilarious and sometimes enlightening).

Later this week, the hockey playoffs start, with wall-to-wall TV coverage, as God intended.

Locally, the ECMA music festival will begin, with bands playing in 20+ venues late into the wee hours.

Heady stuff. These are great times.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The last post was a minor meltdown, predicated by the search for documents and the lack of a decent office-service shop.

Little has changed (e.g. I have not yet received confirmation that I have filed for an extension in the US), but I have found a office centre. That's a relief. I uploaded megabytes of PDFs to My Accounting People in Washington State.

In other news, tonight, I drove up to Brackley Beach to watch the sunset. I hadn't thought of going up there in a long time. To my surprise, there were a few people there, even though the wind was chilly and the main walkway to the beach is closed for repair. I didn't stay long, but it was very tranquil and pretty.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Just Get Through This

The last major hurdle for The Big Move is taxes. Unfortunately, it is going to be pretty crazy.

I thought I found an accountant I could trust, and so I sailed through February and most of March, blissfully assuming I could pay for his expertise with a sense of comfort. Alas, I was dismayed when told that he is not licensed this year for US tax returns. Information that might have been useful in freaking February.

I spent 2-3 weeks trying to find another accountant, looking like an idiot who leaves things to the last minute. I finally found one who specializes in cross-border stuff, in Washington state (!). Now, it is so hectic that I am making basic mistakes.

I just ransacked two abodes whilst looking for a tax return from last year, thinking last year was 2010. Of course "last year's" documents are marked 2009. Heaven help me.

I remember thinking last summer, "if I can just get through June". Then, due to the writing assignment, "if I can just get through February".

Now, it's getting through April.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kisses For Later

Many Islanders know this story better than I do, but I saw part of it last night on the news and was deeply moved by it.

As I understand it, Jenn Zahavich, young wife and mother, was diagnosed with cancer. She started a blog, and wrote about her battle and her new appreciation for life.

As her condition worsened, she wrote a children's story for her young son, and planned to publish it. The story is called Kisses For Later, and is about a mother who gives her son many, many kisses, which he can store in reserve. When he has "a hurt", he can take one and use it. She has read the story aloud many times to her son.

Jenn passed away 2 weeks ago.

I will be sure to provide a link to the book, once it becomes available.


Saturday, March 12, 2011


Here is a quick life update for interested readers:
  • I'm not out of the woods just yet, but my editor had high praise for the first draft of my article. I poured a lot into it, and the bar is high, so this is a relief. For those that will have me, my social calendar is open!
  • This might not be obvious for a software developer, but from blogging, to articles, writing is one of the pillars of my career. Even silly satire opens a lot of doors.
  • The plan for summer visitors is in continual flux. There were 4 separate probable visits; sadly, it's now down to a definite, a probable, and a maybe. I don't mind flexibility, but it is tricky to keep up! Esp. since I will be planning vacation around this.
  • A big win for one friend is that she planned to come for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, as she is a big country music fan. However, the artists were not yet announced. Bonus: the gamble paid off, as the headliner is Brad Paisley, who we both love. He is an unbelievable guitarist. A double-bonus was running into my sister whilst buying the tickets at the box office.
  • A heavy day tomorrow for some dear relatives. I won't go into details here but it is a time for our family to come together.

Friday, March 04, 2011

And now we wait

I have been wrapped up in a writing assignment for about a month. I've been pretty anti-social, with exceptions for the Scotties (curling) and church. I've lived and breathed this article for several weekends in a row... the gym and the piano are vague memories.

This has been nerve-wracking because it is my first time writing for this outfit (it is the same as the Java conference series that I've mentioned in the past), and the peer pressure is high. The other authors are brilliant and monstrously prolific.

The good news: draft #1 has been submitted! Though I am not done, I can enjoy this weekend. At some point next week, I will receive the dreaded Editor's Feedback, which will be a renewed call to action.

Tonight, I celebrate by attacking a major pile of laundry with the resources only a Friday night can guarantee.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Neighbour #3: Denied

It is 6 pm. Home from work and having just eaten, I am napping on my couch, wrapped in an afghan blanket, with the iconic local news show, Compass, on TV. This is a ritual.

There is a faint knock at the door. Guess who.

Of course, it is my neighbour. First thing he says is, "hey buddy, I know I owe you $10". Then he launches into a request to use my computer to download an MP3 off his iPod.

Bad move. First, it is generally unwise to disturb Nap Time, especially with something overt like knocking on the door. Second, now you want to escalate this budding friendship by entering my space and using my computer.

Negative. Thankfully, I was sufficiently irked that I didn't give in to country, folksy civility. Screw you, buddy. You aren't getting in my apartment and you aren't using my computer. I told him something about being concerned about viruses (not exactly plausible) and held my ground.

To his credit, my neighbour, a lumbering giant of a man, is kind-hearted. He backed off immediately and disappeared down the hall.

As I returned to my couch, I thought I heard him talking to someone else (did he knock on another door?). Heaven help us.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Missed Opportunities

This is mostly a self-directed vent.

For a venture that remains shrouded in secrecy, I had a personal goal of being recognized by a local radio/TV station within 6 months.

This past week, at the 3 month mark, I scored an interview. I still can't believe it. It is really great news.

It has not aired yet but, alas, I didn't nail it. My voice will be ok, and I didn't say anything too crazy, but I missed a huge opportunity.

I wasn't funny or colourful in any way. I just answered questions earnestly, as though I was 8 years old. I didn't give myself the liberty to (a) take a chance and go "out there" or (b) ask permission beforehand if I could ham it up. Given the subject matter, the interviewer was probably mystified, since the topic involves humour. What's worse, is that I didn't give credit to some key happenings involving social media.

I was a smiling zombie.

As is well-documented on here, when I don't do well in public speaking, I brood for a very long time (months, years). It is vaguely similar to suffering a defeat by the nefarious Jim G.

In my defense, I have a lot going on. I am trying to finish a tech article, and on that day, I was supposed to be interviewed by a local magazine for some tech stuff. That interview evaporated but on that day it seems like I had to be in 4 places at once.

Small consolation, now. The interviewer even said (beforehand) that we could do multiple takes! I guess I clammed up when the microphone was on: 'tis a pity because that's when it counts.

Oh well. We'll see what happens.


ps. More to come after the news comes out...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Neighbour Redux

My neighbour dropped by today, interrupting my train of thought while sequestered, writing an article.

The good news:
  • He mentioned the $10 he owes me, even though said he would have it tomorrow. This shows a cognitive cohesion that spans conversations. I am impressed.
The bad news:
  • He asked for a lift downtown. He was very friendly and polite, but essentially was asking "can you drop everything and give me a lift?". For some incredible reason, I complied.
The weird news:
  • This guy claims to be a major Nascar fan, and has been down to a race in the USA (with his mother). However, he didn't seem to realize that he was visiting while the Daytona 500 was on TV. (It is the start of the season, and a big deal for fans.) I even asked him about it. His answer made no sense.
  • In his defence, Nascar races last 4 hours. I've heard jokes that even rabid fans can go out and do errands/chores and come back for the ending. (Contrast this with F1's efficient 90 minute races)
I do not want this to be my latest Apartment Saga. I don't want a new friend, or at least not this guy. No more taxi rides. Just keep the $10.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Neighbours and Nutjobs

The new apartment is working out pretty well in the winter:
  • the blast-furnace thermals of this building, pure torture in the summer, are now comforting, given a -25 C windchill
  • someone else worries about the snow in the parking lot
Interestingly, a recent turn of events involves my next-door neighbour. I ran into him in the laundry room the other night. He rambled on many subjects, including a trivia night that he ran recently at a club. He asked me the final question:

Two goalies have won the Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP in the playoffs). Name them.

I guessed Ken Dryden and, after some thought, Chris Osgood. He beamed, "You got it!". Great! I haven't lost my hockey mojo.

Well. I looked up the answer later. Chris Osgood did not win the Conn Smythe and there a dozen goalies who have won the Conn Smythe award.

Our new friend is a few steps short of a staircase, I'm afraid.

All the more interesting: on Valentine's Day evening, he approached me in the hallway and asked me if he could borrow $10. He had a story about his stranded girlfriend. Though weird, he struck me as honest, so I lent him the cash. He promised to pay me back by Wednesday night.

I write this on Wednesday night. We'll see what happens. I am skeptical that he will remember but I am certain that he will try and mooch something else soon. I wonder what the look on his face will be when I remind him that the juice is already running on the $10 (a gambler's term for interest).

Friday, February 11, 2011


I remember watching The National on CBC, about 3 weeks ago. Two pundits, from Egypt, were predicting the future in their country. The younger said that this would be their Berlin Wall; the older felt that things would change slowly, over years.

The younger woman was spot on, as it turns out.

Today, I think about the young street vendor in Tunisia who set himself on fire, out of rage and humiliation. Tunisia is not Egypt, but one can draw a straight line from that act to today's stunning events.

Mohamed Bouazizi
could not have had any idea of what he would start. I wonder if he does now.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Lately, I have been thinking of relatives, M and G, who are cousins but more like an aunt and uncle. They have been suffered some truly tough times recently.

I send them wishes of peace in my thoughts and prayers.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Christmas Gifts

I haven't mentioned a lot about Christmas, but it was lovely. A nice haul of stuff as well, without concerns about how to get it on an airplane.

Again this year, someone in Africa received a gift in my name, through World Vision. This year, it was a micro-loan. Perfect, sincerely.

I've also received several gift-cards to various eating establishments. I frequent these places often, but even more now that I'm covered.

Lots of books and clothes as well. I'm currently reading one: Bill Bryson's At Home. Highly recommended and I've just started.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


I have been in some interesting winter episodes with Herbie, the beloved Miata. With true winter tires, it was a good car, but definitely the pint-sized go-cart was not in the same weight class as Old Man Winter.

Today, Rowdy, the Honda Civic, was given a beat-down by winter, under comic circumstances. It was stuck in about 1 cm of snow. The Civic is no SUV or Subaru but certainly a step-up from the Miata: heavier, and front-wheel drive.

Alas, last night I parked in some divots in my local parking lot, and the poor car couldn't be extricated this morning (you would have to see the parking lot to understand -- imagine the front-wheels in an inverted speedbump).

Thankfully, a Salt Squad (assault squad?) scrambled to action tonight. The Honda greeted the team as liberators.

It is a concern, though. Winter has barely started, and this ain't Saint Louis, where it is 17 C / 65 F, once a week, by municipal law.

The first call to action is new tires, which is not going to be cheap or fun. The second call to action (though surely not this year?) is a new ride. There is a hot Subaru out there with my name on it. Old Man Winter would be in a fair fight.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy New Year

Best wishes in 2011 to everyone!

I hope the holidays were peaceful for everyone. Mine were just great. Lots of visiting with family and no air travel. The latter item cannot be overstated in terms of relaxation.

I'm looking forward to the new year. I hope to set down some goals for myself and will probably post out of a sense of accountability. 2010 was a great year in terms of career, Big Decisions, and music. Fitness was pretty rough, though I salvaged the year in November and mid-December.

Any resolutions for you, dear readers?