Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Past

Christmas has come and gone in a relatively quiet manner. Kate and I spent it at home without the company of Banana and McMonk. I don't exaggerate when I say that Christmas and Boxing Day were spent entirely inside. While I claim it was quiet, we had guests - plenty of them, in fact. We hosted eleven people (with me as the only Canadian at the table) for a big post-Christmas turkey feast. Phone calls and greetings were sent back and forth to siblings and parents. The day before Christmas Eve had us visiting with a friend fom New York who was back in town for the holidays. Christmas Eve brought my folks over for a gift exchange. The cold (-20 celcius or worse) weather and 40 cm of snow that had us socked in lifted for Christmas Day, but we never found reason to venture out. Even the lure of ultra-crowded malls, half-baked attempts at sales and quenching of consumerism weren't enough to lure us out of our comfy surroundings yesterday.

Today saw us tidying the house and making up the guest room yet again. We're very excited to see Hillary (one of Kate's friends) who is coming for visit. She'll be staying in Calgary for a few days before we all head off for a New Year's ski in BC.

Moving to this new house and neighborhood (along with meeting up with this lovely Aussie with a vast social network) has meant that we always seem to be having people over or preparing to have people over. You'd think it would exhaust me, but I am whole-heartedly enjoying the thrum of activity that the house contains.

Life couldn't be better these days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Things are quickly drawing to a close at my little company. I've cleared out my desk and hanging files; delegated all my responsibilities and now have to wait for something to happen that I can fix or take care of.

I'm starting to feel some sadness at having to go, even though I know better, more challenging times await.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008


Oh, you Internet.

Full of facts, answerer of questions, solver of arguments. How can we disagree with you.

I especially love your summaries. Where else can you find fifty years of popular songs condensed into single sentences?

We used to do it, but then you did it with someone else, and now I'm not going to do it with you, although I wish we were still doing it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Slacker Friday

Because I love you, dear reader, and because it's a slow, slow afternoon at work, and because this is likely the last Friday EVER that I'll be sitting at this desk, I'll share with you my favorite commercial of all time.

I can proudly say that my two dear little snowflakes get this commercial, too. Mind you, I have played it for them, over and over.

Canadian Traditions

Traditions are wonderful things. They create a sense of orderliness and predictability to one's life. For North Americans, it seems that holiday traditions are the most common and wide-spread.

Last night, I took Kate and a group of Aussies to see the Stuart McLean Christmas concert. The concert consists of Stuart McLean hosting musicians playing Stuart McLean's WebsiteChristmas-themed songs and Stuart reading stories he has written about a fictitious friend named Dave. Dave lives in a small town in rural Ontario, where he owns and operates a record shop called the Vinyl Cafe. The stories tell the humorous goings-on of Dave, his wife Morley, their kids, neighbors and other townsfolk that make up their lives. Ever since I first went to this event in 2002 with the pre-Veer gang, it has signified the start of the Christmas season for me, sure as playing "Welcome Christmas" first thing in the morning on December 1st.

As the lights dimmed on the sparsely furnished stage (a comfy-looking wing-backed chair, a side table, an old-fashioned table lamp, some microphones and a big screen showing 1950's style, winter-themed family photographs), two singers appeared in a spotlight and began singing a Huron Christmas carol a Capella. The show was mesmerizing right from the start. Stuart's funny, touching tales are engaging and give you a sense of familiarity with his characters right away. At the intermission, my Australian guests remarked that being there felt more like being in someone's living room than sitting in a twenty-five-hundred-person concert hall.

I loved being able to share the traditions that I've created. As Kate and I build out a life together, I realize that there will be some traditions that I will need to let go in order to create new ones - ones that we have built together. Times will change as the girls grow older and (soon) strike out on their own and not be present for day-to-day life, leaving further changes to be made to traditions. I'm glad that Kate has embraced and shared this experience and wants to make an annual night out at this show as part of our Canadian Christmas routine.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where I'm At

There's a certain calmness to me these days as I go about my business. I have (roughly) three weeks of work left, and I am definitely looking forward to the time off. Most of my duties have been transitioned to my Facility Coordinator and the guy in Seattle who will be looking after things when I'm gone. There's no sign of my replacement, although the HR team is planning interviews next week. Giving that the holiday season will be a week away when they finish up the selection process, I doubt I will even shake hands with the new person.

My post-Veer time is filling up by itself, too. Odd jobs around the house, plans to doing some volunteer work, landlord-ing, training for triathlon season ... all are bounding around in my head, eventually to land in a spot in my schedule. I've started cycling on a stationary bike in the garage and I've (sorry - Kate has) started a project list to tackle in the New Year.

Life is very good right now.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Letter

Well, the Christmas letter is done. With apologies for the lack of brevity, you can wait for your copy to arrive in the mail or you can download it now.

Ho ho ho.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


My van was broken into this morning.

Actually, it wasn't 'broken into', it was entered without my permission.

As I opened the door to use the van this morning, I noticed that the driver's seat had a pair of ski pants that had been on the back seat. "That's odd," I thought, "I don't remember rifling through the van for anything last night." Then, I saw the the glove box and the coin change bin in the center console had both been left open. I could then see that everything open-able (bags, too) had been opened.

I vaguely remembered bringing in groceries last night, 'bumming' the door closed (with full hands) and thinking that I should come back out and lock the car. The thought then skittered off in my brain to hide behind some more immediate thoughts, and had just poked its head around the corner now.

I began to panic. Banana's ski bag had been in the back seat. Our discount ski cards were in the glove box. Had I left my wallet in the door, as I sometimes (out of forgetfulness) do? A quick pat of my pocket eased my mind - there was the familiar lump of ID, cards and perhaps some cash. With that important part of my life still in my possession, my fright lessened but was still in the back of my throat. "What else was gone?" I wondered.

A quick inspection of the car revealed that aside from the parking meter change, all the other things (skis, boots, sunglasses, ski passes, tools, gloves, etc.) were all in place, although slightly disheveled. Rather than well up with feelings of anger or violation, I felt a bit of sadness and respect for the person who had done this. Whomever it was, they needed money and for some reason decided to take just the cash they could find and not the convert-to-cash things. I was grateful for this. I also paused to think that perhaps something might be missing and I just have so much 'stuff' that I hadn't even noticed it was gone. On that note, I decided that if something has gone missing that I didn't miss yet, I shouldn't be sorry that it had gone on to hands that did need it.

Tonight, I just might leave a Christmas card on the driver's doorhandle with $20 in the envelope. If I do, I'll write this as a sentiment:

Thanks for not damaging the interior of the car in your search for cash last night. I'm sorry that you are having a hard time with money. Here's a little bit extra to help with the journey.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I'm working away on the Christmas newsletter and am looking for some kind of jazzy template to show off my writing. When I google 'holiday newletter', it comes up with all kinds of advice and tips on how to create a readable one. Deciding I need a pat on the back (after all, I'm an excellent writer - just ask me if you don't think it's true), I click on the link to one advice page, then another, then another. A common thread that runs through them is, "don't try to fit every event and accomplishment in." They warn that your newsletter can lose a reader's interest if it stretches to two or (god forbid) three pages.

Without pictures, our newsletter weighs in at EIGHT.

Whoops. It would seem that I have some editing to do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Animal Cruelty

Don't ask how I found this out, but I've discovered my cat likes salt and vinegar potato chips.

Nuckin Futs

It's only a matter of time before Black Friday hits Canada.

Oh, wait. It's already here - it's just that we call it Boxing Day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Joys of Youth

One of my co-workers, a happy-go-lucky 20-something blondie, gave me her home e-mail address - She was totally unashamed of this e-mail address and she was definitely not hitting on me.

I didn't want to ask how she chose that one.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm starting to wonder if my Facebook account will replace or just supplement my 'blog.

Facebook is much more of an electronic billboard for your presence. Others can easily drive by and see if you are still there, noting how to reach you if the need arises. A 'blog is more in-depth and has a much more easily accessible (albeit chronologically backwards) history.

I think they each have their own merits. The 'blog has less up-to-the-moment information at a glance, but Facebook is very trendy and very dependent on the owners for maintenance and upkeep of the gears and wheels behind it. I can also foresee Facebook getting old in a hurry in our 'Microwave Generation.' I'm worried about dedicating a lot of time and effort to a technology platform (hello? Flickr?) and then the business deciding to close it's doors and/or fall out of favor with the Internet crowd and take my work and information with it.

I'm going to install a link to my Facebook homepage for quick reference and try (for as long as patience and practicality allow) to maintain both.

Wish me perseverance.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Better Smoke Alarm

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love the humour of The Onion. Now, they have merchandise, including gift boxes (that you fill with your own bric-a-brac) that looks like the latest didn't-know-I-needed-it-until-I-saw-it-on-TV crap. One of my favorites is the Peaceful Progression Smoke Alarm. It promises that you'll "wake up to your next fire calm and refreshed" offering a remote control with silence/snooze/off/test buttons.

I bow to your greatness, Onion Creative Team. If it weren't for my aversion to boxes, I'd order some of these.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Lessons

After years of getting thumped by this lesson, I'm finally learning that most people only remember your most recent deed, not an average of all your past deeds.


Monday, November 10, 2008

No Surprise

I just found out that the guy who used to be the CEO of our little company (before it was acquired) is giving a gift to all the employees at the Christmas Party. I know that he is a generous guy, but this move caught me off guard.

What an incredibly nice fella he is. I'd jump off a cliff for this guy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

me and kijiji

Kijiji is my new source of income, as I slowly sell off all the unnecessary bits cluttering up my garage. I am trying to make room for the car before the snow flies, so everything has been priced to sell.

I've had good luck getting rid of a few old pieces that I thought were going to need a ride to the dump. This goes to show that if you write a good ad, you can sell almost anything.

Except that silly aquarium.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Busy Weekend

I asked Kate to marry me this weekend and she said yes.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween ... without the costume

This year was a big step for me. I didn't dress up and try to scare kids.

We're in a new neighborhood, so I thought I'd introduce myself gently. Besides, Kate is new to the whole Halloween thing (Aussies don't celebrate it I found out - it is a North American oddity). I decided to let the house be the centerpiece.

Kate got right into the spirit (sorry) and decorated the front porch with cobwebs, bats, spiders, lanterns and such. The front lawn had three tombstones and lots of dead grass and plants (the latter being courtesy of the frost a week prior). The interior of the house got a gentle sprinkling of accessories, too. She even carved a pumpkin into a jack o' lantern to sit on the front steps. All in all, it was quite subtle and subdued, but effective.

I added one thing to the display - a technical touch called a Hallowindow. One of my workmates is friends with the creator and brought copies into work to sell. I *had* to have one. I knew that projecting the images on the living room window would mean lots of noise and would require the lights to be out in the living room, so I commandeered McMonk's room for the Big Show. The house looked great as you couldn't help but see the Hallowindow as you approached the house. Topping off the effect was the spooky illumination from the other windows on that level, as the projected images' light spilled out through the projection room. I couldn't have been more pleased.

The house was a big hit. It is a great display and we had over 200 kids. we also had a raft of Aussies (Kate's ex-pat buddies) who came by to experience a real North American Halloween.

I think they got what they came for!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shows to Watch

Day after day, I hear about many new TV shows that are supposedly quite entertaining and/or funny. At the risk of sounding haughty, I've almost always had more pressing and important uses for my time than watching TV. Evenings are times to shuttle kids around, do odd jobs, repair and replace broken and worn-out house items or just take care of seasonal/holiday tasks like lawn mowing or general tidying.

There *have* been a very few shows that I've made time to watch, but even those ones have required a concerted effort to get in front of the television at the appointed time (usually just before bed on a Sunday night). When I sit down to take in Seinfeld, Sex in the City or one of the many other series that I overhear an office conversation about, I usually find them entertaining and I'm glad I found an hour to watch. In the past, I used to set aside Sunday night at 10 pm to watch a catty-but-fun serial called Desperate Housewives. Getting into the storylines and getting to know the characters doubled the enjoyment of certain scenes. For some reason, I fell off the Housewives bandwagon.

I'm quite pleased to see the production of season-in-a-set of DVDs, giving you a chance to watch a whole year of one show on your own time. I know that some people are getting Personal Video Recorders (or PVRs) to record satellite or cable broadcasts. These PVRs have a limited capacity and (I'm told) fill up rather quickly. That just puts pressure on you, as the queue of recorded shows quickly backs up into an hourglass-like funnel, waiting for you to un-stopper it. Having a DVD or two sitting on the shelf, waiting patiently suits my pace of TV watching much more closely.

The shows that I have planned to sit down and watch (someday), include Pushing Daisies; Nip and Tuck; Kath and Kim (the original series from Australia) and all the seasons of The Office that I haven't got around to. All I need is some free time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Catching On

After forty-three years, five months, one ex-wife, many ex-bosses and two daughters, I am finally learning that that you can expend your effort pleasing and impressing people, or you can expend your effort being consistent, honest about your feelings, straight-forward and respectful. They both take the same amount of effort - just a different mindset.

The best part about the second way is that you get to keep your sanity.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Speaking English

I just sat through an interesting course on Project Management, taught by man who was a very eloquent gentleman and an excellent instructor.

Part of the enjoyment that came from hearing him lecture was his use of language. He was tossing out common English colloquialisms like 'bumf' and 'Wellies' (after which he would stop and explain the meaning of the word) . I was a bit surprised when he paused after using the expression 'Red Herring' and after drawing mostly blank looks, then he did a perception check and asked, "Does anyone know what 'red herring' means?"

Some very blank looks were exchanged around the room, and I was the sole hand that went up. Rather than refer to me, he explained its meaning. I thought that was pretty common.

Am I starting to be from a different generation?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Good Use

It is truly strange how much joy I extract from finishing off leftovers from my 'fridge.

It's not the act of eating them that gives me pleasure - it is the thought that I'm not generating much waste. I've always been a fan of living economically. Even though I haven't been aware of it, I've been doing so for years. I camp, hostel and hike and try to leave no trace of my visit. I like to make my bed every morning. I like to do any dishes in the kitchen before I toddle off to bed. I recycle when possible. I won't leave the toilet paper roll empty - I'll replace it with a fresh one and leave the old roll (with the few last sheets) on top of the new one. I encourage my daughters (much to their displeasure) to emulate these ideals. All of these little quirks are tied together by the concept of not taking more than what is needed and leaving the rest for others.

Economical with time, effort, money. Economical is different from being a cheapskate, of which my daughters jokingly accuse me. I have no problem spending money, as evidenced by my lifestyle and general lack of much extra cash lying around. I have a problem with the money being squandered. There has to be some lasting value or impact to having spent it.

I also don't want to take more than I need. This seems to be a big problem with Western society in general. When I see or deal with a person who feels entitled to something and insists on taking an amount conspicuously beyond their needs, they usually don't get a favorable review in my books.

So, when I finished off the last little bit of the butter chicken and the last bit of pork chops and mashed potatoes, I had a satisfied smile that didn't come from having a full tummy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Out East

My brother has found a great place for himself in the 'outback' of Nova Scotia. He has always wanted to own some wide open space. Kate and I went for a visit (actually, it was a 'meet' for Kate) this weekend and had a restful and enjoyable time.

As empty-nesters, I have noticed that they (and someday soon I, too) suddenly have many more choices available to them. Where they live, what they eat, when they eat, sleep and generally do things is now up their personal whims. Being on a farm emphasizes that freedom, as they are not tied into an urban schedule, either. As illustration, I came down for a bathroom run one night (well after 1 am) and found both Karen and Jeff up and puttering around their kitchen. Both seemed to be doing their own thing, happy to have the other for company but not specifically engaged with each other. Karen was preparing some food and Jeff was watching some recorded videos. I decided to stay up and visit a bit, then excused myself and went back to bed, leaving them to do their own thing with no hint that they might do the same soon.

I also noticed that my brother goes on regular strolls (five or six a day) around the periphery of his property. His dogs (and sometimes a cat or two) go with him. He seems relaxed, happy, at peace and full of life. I'm glad that Jeff and Karen have found a place to get into their own groove.

Kate was overwhelmed with the changing colors of the leaves. I was sure she was going to wear her digital camera out with pictures of leaves, bark, fallen leaves, leaves in the stream, leaves on the Jeff and Karen's patio deck, Karen and Jeff in the leaves, etc.. I admit that it is one thing to hear about Autumn in eastern Canada, but quite another to see it. The scale and scope of a valley full of brilliant yellows and reds has to be seen to be appreciated. Amazing as the pictures are, they just cannot do the full experience justice.

To say I'm happy for my brother is an understatement. He has a beautiful house to live in (with room for guests!), twenty-five acres of woods for he and his animals to wander in, a partner that shares and/or supports his passions, and many, many, many projects to keep him busy for the next 50 years or so that he will be tromping around out East.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Veer is almost a done deal for me. I found out a few weeks ago that I had an expiry date on my building access card, but I've spent the last little bit getting the details nailed down. Some of the other founding Veerdos have let slip with a hint of envy (most have golden handcuffs with the company for a few years yet) at my early departure.

Rather than rush into another job, I've decided to take some time to to gather myself. Aside from a hasty, two-week-break 6 years ago, I have worked continuously (leaving one job on a Friday, starting the next job on a Monday) since I graduated university. That's twenty-one years of straight slogging. The ski lift operators will be my friends for a while, as will the steady stream of Australians that are scheduled to live in our basement for the first half of the year. I'll also have a chance to tackle little 'home improvement' tasks that I have been imagining since we moved in.

I've enjoyed the challenges of starting this little company, doing all things electronic and having someone else's money to spend on cool technology. It certainly has been difficult at times, but look at the great amount of cool we've created.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

As You Like

In a complicated, quickly- and ever-changing world, it is helpful to have a clear guiding philosophy in life. This philosophy should be easy to remember, straightforward, and ideally have three parts to it (that seems to be universal - think 'Holy Trinity', tripod as the most simple-yet-stable structure, three Indiana Jones series, etc.). I've worked out a three-part mantra that I want to live my existence by and think I've just come up with the last part to complete the trifecta tonight.

The first principle I ascertained was that one needs to reduce suffering. I admit to borrowing this one from the Buhddists, as I think they have great stories and love koans. I try not to go out of my way to make life difficult for anyone, but at the same time I try not to increase my own suffering by doing a bunch of unnecessary work.

The second principle I try to follow is to let it go. By this, I mean to not fight against nature. That doesn't mean that I give up pursuing what I feel is right. It just means that you can step out of the way of much of the energy that is directed towards you, rather than stand in its path. I try to let things happen and redirect the bad energy and effort that are often sent hurling towards me into a positive result.

The third principle is one that I've struggled to put words to, as it seemed just too simple. Pursue fun. Pursuing fun needn't be about total hedonism and needs to run deeper than immediate gratification. You need to know what long-term conditions give you pleasure, then set up your life so that you can have them happen with reasonable regularity (but not to the distraction of the things that should be done in life). I know that my daughters struggle with putting a list of things that make them happy together - I've asked them. Once you have this list and know what has to be in place in order for your happy triggers to go off, you are set.

Here's some of the things that I find fulfilling:
  • being exposed to and having opportunity to create art
  • being able to be physically active
  • having an affectionate, considerate woman in my life
  • tinkering with and making things work (computers, bicycles, wires in walls, etc.)
  • listening to and being part of interesting conversations
  • being in and around water
  • having time to reflect and doing that reflection
  • having a home that I return to after traveling
  • having harmony and order in life, like having a simple set of rules to follow (See? See how these things are recursive?)

As a young person, you can strive towards having a life full of the things that you love, but you often have to do things that you don't love (school, manners, good posture, brushing your teeth) in order to get some of these fulfilling things. Having the foresight to keep doing the unpleasant things gets you to the point where you can do the pleasant things more often is the trick. As you get older, that gets easier.

Now that I have a lovely, well-set-up home, along with a bit of financial means and someone fun to share them with, I think I'm getting close to having things the way I want them to be.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fading Away

I am becoming a less-important man in the company.

At one point, I was the single point of reference for the company's computers; servers; network setup; alarm system; phone system and entrails; building leases, insurance and contracts; heating and ventilation problems; storage locations for seldom-used items and records; shipping, mailing and contact with the outside world.

These duties and nuggets of knowledge have either been pried out of me, changed or become unimportant in the new version of Veer I mean, Corbis. I was told yesterday that I no longer need to go to a meeting where I have been reporting my progress on transitioning my duties and knowledge. The powers that be want me to finish what I'm doing, do it quietly, then unobtrusively slip into the night.

To tell the truth, I am full ready to let these things go.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pleasant Way to Wake Up

... so there I was, laying in bed, debating whether it was actually late enough to put my feet on the floor when what should I hear but the clothes washer starting up, seemingly by itself.

My youngest daughter was in the laundry room, doing her own laundry.

I was so tickled, you would have thought it was my birthday.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ask the Oracle

The Internet is the death of interesting dinner conversation.

In the past, a topic of contention would come up around the dinner table and spark a lively debate.

"Who was the fitfh Jackson Five?"

"How did kitty-corner come to mean diagonally across an intersection?"

"Is a metric shitload bigger than a regular shitload?"

Two or more differing viewpoints would arise and things would go back and forth, back and forth, keeping the chatter going for ever. Debaters would present their viewpoints, along with assumed-to-be-truthful facts supporting their position.

Now, whenever a item of contention comes up, one of the diners says, "We should look that up on Google." and everyone else nods in agreement. Then silence.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What died?

There are pigeon feathers and down everywhere in our building, and it's starting to creep me out.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Thanks to a newly-implemented allowance-and-bonus-allowance structure implemented at our house, I was able to show up at our local pub last night and truthfully say, " ... and I left the kids at home tonight, polishing the furniture."

Beat that, Barbara Coloroso.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Most Difficult Achievements

You might think it's bragging, but here are the four biggest achievements that I've managed to do (in order of difficulty/impact on my life):
  • becoming a father
  • deciding to end my marriage
  • quitting swimming as a teenager
  • making my first million dollars

Leave me a comment with yours (anonymously, please).

Way Past 25

This weekend included a trip to Edmonton to attend my high school's 50th anniversary and *my* 25th reunion. It was a disappointing turnout, as only four of us from the 1983 graduating class showed up to the banquet.

I'm not sure if people didn't make the effort to come to the reunion, or whether they actually chose NOT to go. There are many reasons to stay away from a high school reunion. Very few of us came out of high school with plans to get divorced. Very few planned to get stuck in dead-end, uninteresting or unfulfilling jobs. Very few expected to have problem children, or burdensome parents or other relatives, either. None of us planned to have debilitating accidents, or irreparably damage our knees, or have our hair thin and fall out, or get pudgy and wrinkly and grey and generally look, well, like our parents.

But almost all of us had some of these things happen.

Yes, some of us have done well and some have had great successes, but most of us (as Will Rogers so eloquently put it) have to remain on the sidelines and wave as the parade goes by. I never would have suspected that so few people would choose not to turn up for a chance to say hello to old friends.

I'm very proud that one of the groups that I was involved in at school - the Outdoor Recreation Club, or ORCs - planned our own little party, independent of the $85/plate stand-up-and-eat-finger-food school-organized banquet. The ORCs (at least a core group of them) have kept in touch over the years and have watched each other get married, raise kids, have successes and failures and gracefully and not-so-gracefully grow older in big, four-year-apart steps. For the most part, personalities have unfolded as I expected they would. The shy ones of our group have stayed close to home, fallen into mediocre jobs, go on to live their parents' lives and done predictable things. Others have traveled, tasted and experienced things no one could have predicted and had amazing adventures. Some of the amazing feats my little group of a dozen friends have accomplished are:
  • climbed the second-highest mountain in the world
  • worked on five continents
  • sailed across the Atlantic
  • gone to live above the arctic circle and other non-English-speaking places
  • had a copyrighted work published
  • taken a year off work to travel (a few of them have done this)
  • learned to ski jump
  • learned to skydive (again, a few have done this)
  • divorced and remarried - sometimes in different continents, sometimes in different languages
  • become doctors, engineers, teachers, social workers
  • ran for public office
  • had (collectively) eleven kids

... and those are just some of the things that I know of. I know that we've all had some disappointments, but I think (as a group) we have much to be proud of. We've all turned out to be nice people and we have all remained good friends. Getting back together for an afternoon, we all were able to see in each other the things that made us friends all that time ago.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


We have some new, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Customer Service Reps in the office this week. They are getting trained up as part of a re-org operation that is going on at work. Part of being around is learning about the company; but what is there to know about the company? Well, the company is Seattle-based, we have offices all over the world, we're trying hard to be number one in the industry, we've been around for twenty years, we're owned by Bill Gates and the head-honcho, inspirational guy is named Gary.

Oh yeah, the Calgary office used to be a company called Veer.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Big Hike

can YOU see the trail?
I've always wanted to climb a mountain. Today, I had a chance to do it as a day hike. Some might call it cheating, walking up a trail to a mountain peak. As long as you've done it under your own power and get to stand at a place where the earth does nothing but slope downwards all around you, I say it counts as a summit.

Ha Ling Peak is a tough 'moderate' level hike - you are essentially walking up a 1:6 grade for two hours. The view at the top is spectacular and well worth the complaining from your calves and gluteal muscles. Kate and I started off late (around 4 pm) due to some family commitments, but we arrived at the trailhead well-prepared. We had proper clothes, footwear, a first aid kit, trail food, water and all the essentials. We huffed and puffed up the trail and met many people (some with dogs) coming down.

The last 20 minutes of the climb was above the treeline, along the scree (loose pebbles) on a severe slope. We were trying to be careful not to step on any of the little bits of fragile alpine grass while we worked to keep our footing and not tumble/slide down the incline. The trail was almost impossible to discern on the bare rocks and we strayed from it more than once as we picked our way up.

Our stay at the top was brief but pleasant. We caught the last bit of warm sun (no thanks to the cloud that moved in) for a few photos, an amazing view and a visit from a fearless chipmunk (Kate's first chipmunk spotting ever). The hike down was as hard on the quads as the hike up was on the calves. The fact that it was prime prowling time for the animals had us keeping a good pace, with visions of mountain lions and bears watching us stroll past. We made it to the van just as twilight was setting in.

Life has been comically busy this past year. As the burningly-critical issues have been dealt with, it has allowed the merely critical and even some minor issues to rise to the surface. Included with those is my need to spend time being active in a natural setting - specifically in the mountains (which are less than an hour's drive from my front porch).

Banana and McMonk both declined our invitation to come on the hike and I'm OK with that. Yes, I'm disappointed that they don't share my infatuation with the Rockies but I have to remember that I developed my love for hostelling/hiking/skiing independently from my parents. I won't ever drag my girls to the mountains against their will, but there will always be a seat in the van for them if they decide to come along. I know the good times we have shared on prior trips is a seed that may take time to germinate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Work Changes

Looks like Veer is all done with me. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Film at eleven.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Visitors for Tea

This morning, I got out of bed, looked out the window and noticed that there were some bikes and two tents set up in the green space behind the house. My curiosity was piqued. Obviously, some cyclists were on a long journey and gotten as far as the green space (in the middle of the city) and had set up camp and bedded down for the night. Where were they from? Where were they going? What adventures had they had so far?

When I noticed that they were stirring, I went out to talk to them. Having done some cycle touring myself, I knew that they would appreciate a hot cup of something before they set off for the next leg of their trip. I wandered out to their camp and met a 50-ish lady at her tent. Vel (as she introduced herself) seemed a bit disheveled (as you normally are after a few nights living in a tent) but quite nice and friendly. I extended an invitation to her and whoever she was with into the house (via the back gate) for some tea.

When she came in, she was accompanied by another woman of similar vintage. After introductions and as tea was poured, a different story unfolded. Mary (Vel's friend) had decided to take up residence in the tent after a rent increase (doubling from $1,200 to $2,400 a month) had forced her out of her apartment. Her employer, upon learning that she had now given up her permanent residence, had laid her off. She now had no job, very little chance of acquiring gainful employment.

Suddenly, the situation I was in just turned on its head. Instead of having some well-heeled cycle tourists in for a spot of morning tea, I now had two homeless women of unknown metal state, sitting in my very private kitchen with full access to my house and everything in it. You could have almost heard the gears madly trying to change directions in my head. How was I going to deal with these two? How could I politely tone down my obvious affluence and not offer or obligate myself, without seeming haughty or uncaring? How could I end this awkward (for me) situation and send these two polite ladies on their way?

I managed to wind down the conversation, wish them a pleasant day and not offer out more than I was willing to give. They packed up and were on their way, but they did leave something behind for me - food for thought.
  • How could I have felt so differently towards them once I knew their situation? They hadn't changed at all - just my perception.
  • how hard would it be for someone I love to end up in a similar situation? After all, having your rent double would hit most people hard, especially those without a lot of savings.
  • Mary seemed to be nice enough person. She claimed to need just a spot to pitch her tent for a few weeks. How could I consider myself a charitable person when here I was with a spare room downstairs, and a person with such an obvious need in front of me? (personal safety for myself, Kate and my girls was the answer after just a wee bit of thought)

All in all, it was a very enlightening and thought-provoking morning.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Not Busy Enough


Summer school break is finished. Two trips to Australia are complete. Old house nearly renovated, flooded, then cleaned up. New house purchased, settled, furnished, occupied. French exchange student entertained, nearly killed, summarily saved, then packed back on a plane to the Loire Valley.

You'd think that it would be time to relax and start stacking firewood in preparation for winter, wouldn't you?

Nope. I'm encouraging my parents to move to a new home, closer to our new digs. This will require packing, moving, fixing up the new place, etc.

I'm a glutton for punishment.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today's Quote

"I do not intend to tip toe through life to arrive safely at death."

- Anonymous

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Free Wheeling

Banana got her driver's license today.

She's very proud, and I'm a bit choked up by the whole event.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Not many of life's moments can be totally juicy and delicious, but treasure the those that are, because they more than make up for the bland ones.

This bit of wisdom is aimed at McMonk, who enjoyed a slice of downtown living this week.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Finding Purpose

After a very waffly holiday season, life seems be leveling out and I'm getting things accomplished.

Details to follow.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Post-New Year's Post

I have learned that middle-age manhood is all about collecting and practicing the telling of good stories at the appropriate time amongst your peers.