Friday, December 28, 2007

And face unafraid, the plans that we laid

So, okay, it's well known by most people who read this blog that I am not into messy things.

I like cleanliness.



Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind cleaning up a mess if it's for a good cause. I like to clean my house, for example. I don't mind getting messed up to get a job done, or get healthy. Working out. Riding in the mud. Running in the rain. Chopping wood. Cleaning windows. Washing a car. Renovating an apartment. Working on a farm. Hell, I've cleaned toilets for a living. But, really, I am n o t into scatological pursuits if they can be avoided.

Which, let's face it, they can be most of the time, can't they? Avoided.

Really. I mean, I'm an idealist, sure, but I know that pretty much apart from my own, and perhaps in the future that of an infirm or aged loved one, human or animal waste is just not a big part of my life. No pets. No children. No ... well ... you know ... no Number Two. At least, not someone else's.

I grew up on farms and in the country, and am no stranger to a pitchfork or dungheap. I have mucked out cows and chickens and horse stalls and even goats. In one job my fellow stooge and I cleaned out forty-eight cattle and horse stalls in two and a half days. But that's another story.

What I'm leading up to, here, as you can probably tell, is an unfortunate tale in which I play the fall guy, in a most literal sense, for my wife and another good lady friend of ours. Both of whom, while loving them dearly, I must say demonstrated less sympathy to me than perhaps I felt I deserved at the time.

On the occasion of this particular event, I was visiting my parents in Alberta, just prior to Christmas. A couple of days spent in the bracing cold of a Kananaskis Yule. With snow on the ground, kitchen counters groaning under the weight of Mum's baking, wine and spirits deftly served by my father's liberal hand. A real tree to decorate. Fragrant little mandarin oranges peeled in front of a roaring fire as Baileys is tippled generously into the hot chocolate. General merriment and Very Good Cheer. You get the picture.

And, an added bonus for me, there at the house is the absolutely beautiful dog Sandy, a sturdy and golden-fleeced Japanese Ainu with spunk to spare, a sparkle in her eye, enough attitude to dominate the said lady-friend-neighbour's enormous Newfoundlands, and large enough not to be one of those despicable little yappy canines that are so easy to hate.

Next to my parent's last wonderful labrador (sadly, no longer with us), Sandy is probably the most favourite dog I've ever known. So when I go to visit, I try to spoil her rotten. I love to walk dogs you see, run with them, throw rocks and sticks, horse about playing tug 'o war, and generally get caught up in the exuberance of all that is the carefree existence of dog.

Now, because we lived in the country when I was growing up, I never had to spend much time dealing with dog waste. The odd pile to clean off the lawn, or an occasional pick-up in the park during a walk, but most times it was au naturel for our pooches, because there was an awful lot of au naturel to absorb it, you see. My wife and I cannot have a dog due to my allergies, and so despite growing up with dogs, I don't get to spend too much time with them these days. Hence, I spend little or no time cleaning up after them. No cats. No pets at all.

And as I said before, no kids. No diapers, no unpleasant surprises in the middle of an otherwise blissful sleep. No searching for a change-table carrying a bawling, stinking bundle of reek through a restaurant. No frantic lane changes across a freeway while junior hoses down the leather 60/40 split rear like a muck-spreader.

In fact I have to say that I enjoy an almost total absence of foreign excrement in my life. Apart from one recent incident in Brockwell Park with my nephew, who left an eight-inch by four-foot smear down the park slide ("Well, he WAS sick", said his Mum) I've avoided as much of the stuff as any man can in this old world.

However my parents have, with their neighbours, taken the high road and now clean up the waste that their pets leave behind in the woodlands that back their property down to the river not far away. So now (sigh) a joyful bounding through the woods with Sandy must end with removal of any deposits she makes. Fair enough but not my idea of a Dickensian stroll through a winter wonderland, if you get my drift. But, them's the breaks, as Mother likes to say.

So on this particular walk, I was carrying not only dog treats in my pocket, but also a plastic bag with which to scoop up Sandy's recycled treats, accompanied by two otherwise delightful companions, my wife S and our parent's neighbour and good friend, N. Now N has a veritable pack of Newfoundlands as I hinted earlier. On this walk she brought her friendliest pooch, a 100-pound puppy, who gets along famously with Sandy, and, well, with most everyone really. Just like her owner, N. So off we set through the snow to the frozen river, dogs bounding ahead and humans chatting happily in their wake. The sun was shining off the blindingly white snow, and our breath rose in vapours to vanish in the tree branches above. An exquisite winter's day.

After a while tossing rocks and watching the dogs crackle dangerously along the river ice, it was time to return home. Now, well-trained as she is, Sandy has become quite regular in her pattern. As we were walking back to the house, she stepped daintily off to the side of the path to do her business. I groaned and moaned and took a little light ribbing from N and S, but prepared to do my duty.

Sandy is also apparently known for another habit, in that she will appear to be finished her task and begin to walk away from her pile, but then will suddenly squat and leave one more small deposit, almost as an afterthought. And true to form on this day, she stepped away from Point A and then stopped and began her encore at Point B. But this time something happened.

Whether it was the bitter cold, or just a change in her diet due to the scrumptious treats available at this time of year, her encore performance was, well, paused mid-execution. In fact while fully formed, it was trapped, dangling from her nether regions and swaying dangerously to and fro.

Like any good mammal, Sandy wanted no part of this errant hanger-on and the ladies cried out in sympathy for the little dog, as she began to waddle crazily across the path, still squatting and furiously wiggling her little bot, trying to loosen the load.

"Help her, Hoto!" cried the ladies. "You've got to get it off her." And almost as if she understood every word, Sandy began to scoot backwards toward me, looking over her shoulder at me beseechingly and presenting her unladylike posterior to me, offending article swaying madly. By now the ladies, human that is, had not only reached some degree of alarm at the little pooch's plight, but also the stirrings of unsympathetic mirth at the fact that it would have to be me, weak-stomached and scat-averse me, to have to wield the plastic bag and pluck the dangling doo doo from the damsel in distress, as it were. So silenced by rising gorge and gagging throat, and surrounded by shouted advice and unbridled glee at my discomfort, I approached poor Sandy to unburden her. But from behind, unbeknownst to me, the Newf decided she wanted to get past all this cafuffle on the path, and frankly, I was in her way.


Now, many of you may be familiar with Newfoundland dogs, but if not, let me paint a picture. As a relative pup, this specimen can put nine feet of turf between paw prints at a gentle trot. With a head the size and consistency of an anvil, and all the poise and grace of a woolly mammoth, she pretty much goes where she wants to go, and it takes large and sturdy fences to curb her wanderings. So a skinny-legged city boy presents little to no obstacle.

Suddenly, as I bent to the task at hand, my legs were taken out from underneath me, and after a brief but memorable soar through the air, I landed hard on my unpadded rear-end in the snow.

Thankfully I had not yet grasped the turd from Sandy's butt, or it too would have been soaring through the air, and indubitably would have landed on my head. As I staggered to my feet, barely realizing what had happened, I turned back to poor Sandy, still whimpering and waggling her nether regions at me, and realized that my human companions had completely abandoned all sympathy for the little dog in favour of staggering around in helpless laughter, tears streaming from their eyes. Impervious to their heartless cackling, I freed Sandy from her unwilling poop, and, gagging manfully, with my last shred of dignity disappearing like a vapour into the tree branches above, went and picked up the rest of the mess.


Walking back to the house, Sandy happily bounded along with the unrepentant Newfoundland, and I was regaled with multiple replays of my unfortunate spill by my unfeeling and outrageously exaggerative companions.

N insisted that I pose with Sandy and the bag of goodies on my parent's deck, prior to slinking away in shame.

I mustered a brave smile for the camera, then went inside and had more Baileys while N and S ensured my parents heard every sordid detail.


(sent wirelessly from my phone)


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Storm Mountain

The main lodge at Storm Mountain on Christmas Day, 2007. In the Rockies under two feet of snow, the lodge and the old log cabins where we stayed date to the 1920s.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Monday, November 26, 2007


Mac people are so, erm, advanced.

Why couldn't I find this article when I was looking six months ago?

Ms. Ochs' article has pictures, too.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Blog from your phone to Blogger with photos

OK. For any of you who have REALLY tried this, it's not easy. The hardest thing to do is to blog wirelessly from your mobile phone or PDA to your existing Blogger blog, WITH support for attached pictures. Let me tell you it is not easy. And I'm pretty wirelessly savvy.

However Blogger just made it easier by updating their Wireless Blogging service to support emails with attachments from gmail. Up until recently, the only way to submit to your blog wirelessly was either:

(1) email your blog from your phone (text only - doesn't support pictures), or:

(2) send MMS messages with text and pictures from your phone to
(many wireless networks not supported - including mine)

In the latter case would set up a special wireless blog for you, which you are then allowed to connect/link to your existing Blogger blog.

Well for those of you who want to try the new and improved (and PROVEN) method, here's how to do it.

Easy instructions (I admit these are simplified)

(1) Set up a free Blogger Blog (Let's presume you've got one already)

(2) Set up a free gmail email account and configure for IMAP

(Gmail > "Settings" > "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" > "Enable IMAP")

(3) Get wireless data working on your phone.

Well, D'uh. I'm going to have to presume you've figured that all out.

(4) Set up your phone to send/receive email to/from your gmail account from your phone.

If you're trying to blog from your phone, I'll trust that this step isn't too complex for you. If it is, you might, erm, consider another pastime.

(5) Send a test email from your phone using your Gmail account to

(6) Using your desktop PC email client or browser, check your gmail account for an email from

They send you a link to your new wireless blog that looks something like this:

"Welcome! [new-wireless-blog-name] is your blog. Claim it at with code: XYZABC"

(7) Using your desktop browser, click on the link provided in that email which will take you to a special Blogger page to link your new wireless blog to your existing Blogger blog, entering the code as you go.

Yay. Done. Since I had (1), (2) (3) and (4) done already, this took me about 15 minutes to configure steps (5), (6) and (7).

The point is, you can now send blog entries to your Blogger blog WITH pictures wirelessly from your phone. Done and done. That's what I'm using now. No need for some service like PicoBlogger (now discontinued).



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not Gay

Although right-leaning bro and hubby leant toward the aesthetically pleasing solid magenta colour scheme, old lefty-veggy-flower-child-wicca-Mumsy claims Spudling Moss here will be "teased" about a "pink trike" and that the tri-tone colour scheme of this model will avoid "embarrassment" for the little racer on the unforgiving and gritty slopes of Brockwell Park.

Me smells a Hippycrite.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Pick up the pieces

My bro-in-law beats my most optimistic projection and assembles the trike, sans instructions, in under 10 minutes,

And with Interfero-Spud lending a sticky hand.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)


Seawall Opens Again + Sunset + Wifey =
Mmmmm...Siwash Rock...


(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Ain't Goin to Kansas City, Kansas City there I ain't

There's nothing worse than finding out you've got to split for Kansas City. Except perhaps finding out you have to be at the airport at 6am to fly there. After gigging until 1am the night before. Or perhaps that your flight home to Vancouver is via Toronto (erm, look that up on a map).

And there's nothin' better'n findin' out you ain't gotta go after all.




Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ahh, Europe

...where the streets are lined with sausages.

The Once and Future Hoto

It seems that I have a busy life. Some might say a very busy life. When compared to others, I personally think my life is quite sedate. Especially when contrasted with the lives of people like sparx and the frog. My spouse and I have no children, you see, which frees up a broad swathe of time to pursue life.

When I compare my busy-ness to my colleagues who mountain bike, ski, take extra-curricular educational courses, volunteer and manage a busy work schedule with a home life that includes raising kids, again my life seems very quiet. However others around me in my circle of friends and family look at my music career and work schedule (including plenty of travel), and comment on how insane my life is, or can be.

I think that I have a reasonable balance between work and personal life considering my career, but frequently it can become a lot to manage, and so it's at these times which I find myself playing a little mental game. Sometimes this game can get me through weeks of days in which I get up at 6:00 to go to work, and don't get home to bed until around midnight, often because I leave from work to go to a practise, gig or the studio. Other weekends I've packed up from a gig at 1:00am, taken my drums home, slept for two hours and then got up at 4:00am to catch a morning flight to Korea, landing in country for a dinner meeting after having had two hours sleep in 48 (I don't sleep on planes). Or I'll land in Vancouver at 10pm on a weekday after three weeks away in Europe, get up the next morning for an early conference call, and head straight from work to a band practise. This can leave me a little ragged, I admit, and kudos to my wife for suffering me through these periods.

So to get my tired brain through all the days and nights, I play this game which involves projecting into the future to the point in time when I know a particular set of obstacles will have been hurdled. I try to imagine what I might feel like then, at that future point, and picture myself looking back upon the intervening events. I create a vision of my future self peering back in time to the current moment, with true hindsight, and wonder what that will be like.

For example, when I started writing this post on my phone's keypad, I was in a cab tearing up Granville street in Vancouver, headed for the airport, knowing that in five days time I would be driving back in the opposite direction, having completed a somewhat arduous business trip to Sweden and having arrived back in Vancouver to be met by my lovely wife at the airport. I did some more writing of this post in the Vancouver airport, in the security line at the infamous Heathrow arrivals hall, again in my brother-in-laws house in London, more in the long Piccadilly tube trip to Heathrow from Green Park, all showing that even writing about mental time travelling causes me to travel through time.

Allows me to look back on that which I have predicted.

While trying to envision my return to Vancouver on this particular trip, I know that I may or may not have had a successful set of meetings with my customer in Kista outside Stockholm. I know that I will have likely spent a day shopping with sparx and co, that I will have probably eaten out at some nice restaurants in Stockholm, that I will have probably spent a night in a grim Ibis hotel room at Heathrow, and know that moment will eventually come when I will pass the same houses on Granville street, coming in the opposite direction. The small and seemingly insignificant cycle will have been completed, another mini chapter in the somewhat foreseeable sequence of events that is my life. Likewise, if I have a long set of gigs, or rehearsals, as I leave the apartment on the way out, hauling a pile of drums on my handcart, I will picture myself returning to the door having completed the musical date. When the moment arrives that I am hauling my drums back to the door, I will consciously look back to my past self, and remember the previous moment with some relish.

It appears I have created a life in which I can consciously live in the moment, the future and in the past.

It is only idly (and with detachment) that I find myself pondering my forthcoming fate, and considering the recent past. I must mention that it is neither an anxious nor a regretful experience, just an interesting one.

To me.
(sent wirelessly from my phone - written in a cab in Vancouver, at YVR airport, at Heathrow arrivals hall, in Brixton, UK, on the tube back to Heathrow, and at Heathrow Terminal 3 departures lounge.)


Friday, November 02, 2007

Ammonia Stars Records

Brandon Cherrington mixes Matt's bass at Greenhouse.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007


A nice stroll with sis and Lord Spud through Covent Garden. Having a nice chat. You know. Sunny day. All that. Suddenly brother and child are forgotten...Cue: Neglectamummy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


In all of this, they only lost my bags once. And I got them back. Miracle, when you come to think of it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

European Weight Loss Program

The Bad News: 24 hours of puking and other evacuations thanks to gastrointestinal plague caught from nephew.

The Good News: 7 kilos down since I arrived in London on Friday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wireless Blogging

Ok so blogging is pretty much the most self-centred and egotistical form of communication. The blogger can carefully choose his or her words, can choose whether or not to post comments and replies from readers, and can blather on about pretty much anything that he or she believes is interesting to his or herself, notwithstanding the opinions of others.

This blog was intended as a personal test of my comittment to wireless handheld devices as the ultimate means of communication. In reality it has been extraordinarily taxing to make these posts from a keyboard that is not much larger than my two thumbprints held side-by-side. Even more taxing because there is no reasonable way for me to get phone pictures posted to Blogger. There are few readers, really, other than my immediate family members. Even they will find little value here, other than the abbreviated diaries of my sporadic business and road trips. In perusing sparx' blog, it's clear that her content is more interesting to an almost infinitely larger audience, better executed, more frequently and consistently delivered and incorporates feedback religiously, no matter how lame. In fact sparx has marketed her product as effectively as any
good Product Manager would even though she would modestly claim otherwise. She chose a large target market that is consistently growing and refreshing itself (pregnant women and new mothers), kept her product quality high (executed effectively using her innate and considerable writing skills), delivered frequent product updates (writing almost daily), and listened to her market (interacts frequently with her readers, posted feedback and responded to it). So hats off to her for all of this.

I still haven't found a consistent voice, or topic, or energy to post frequently from my phone, and may soon abandon this effort, but until that time, I will endeavour to hone my product, seek an interested target market, and increase production, with sparx as my inspiration.
(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Drei Linden Hangover

My colleague ordered the schnitzel, and two came, and I ordered the ribs, as did the rest of the party. He managed half the plate of ribs and one and a half schnitzel. And he's not a big guy. And yes, it's covered in cheese.

It's Thursday: Must be Nurnburg.

Europe by the numbers

This trip is getting a bit old. Since I was a child, I have always tried to break tedious experiences down into ordered lists. Things I've done, things I need to do, that sort of thing. Like riding a motorcycle 600km in one day: After the joy and pleasure wears off, and you're just riding along, I would count cars, play the alphabet game, that sort of thing.

So this trip, while full of variety and interesting people, has hit the Alphabet Game , or rather, the Numerology Game. On the way back from yet another customer meeting today, this time in northern Bavaria, I started a small and meaningless catalogue in my brain.

So for my own edification, here's the tally:

It's been 13 nights away from home with 7 to go.

It's been 9 cities with 2 to go.

It's been 7 flights with 5 to go.

It's been 8 hotels with 2 to go (counting my lovely sister's accommodations)

It's been 5 trains with 9 to go.

It's been 7 meetings with 4 to go.

It's been 4 currencies with 1 to go.

It's been 7 shuttle buses with [unknown] to go.

It's been 13 taxis with [unknown] to go.

It's been 8 restaurants with [unknown] to go.

It's been 2 lost bags and 2 found bags.

It's been one funeral wake, one 1st birthday party, one disappointment, one triumph, many unknowns and...well...not so far to go.

I can say please, thank-you, black-tea-with-sugar, goodbye, and hello in Swedish, German and Finnish except you can't say please in Finnish because the word doesn't exist.

So you raise your eyebrows and smile. {8o)

[Picture: Nurnburg Spital in the alt stadt, dating from 1486, apparently]

Taxi Heads-up Display

Your fare appears in the rearview mirror. Looked slick.


A most bizarre dining experience was had in Helsinki. We couldn't get into a couple of restaurants we wanted to try so stumbled upon a giant barn of a place in downtown Helsinki right near the bus station. Older gentlemen in varying stages of drunkenness swayed dangerously on the front steps. At first appearance we thought it was a country and western bar, with tractors sitting in various locations around which tables were formed. Lots of old farm implements, wagon wheels and plows, and a dance floor large enough for a group of enthusiastic line dancers to scoot a boot. The staff were surly and non committal but we finally found a table and read through the menu. It was written up with a lot of apparently tongue-in-cheek-humour, and appeared to be based on old Finnish farmhouse recipes: lots of meat, potatoes, sausage and swedes. We ordered and received two hugely-mounded plates of food, mostly potato. The rest of the clientele looked like rejects from a Billy Ray Cyrus video, with lots of mullets and cheesy clothing: The Finnish equivalent of the Nascar set. Anyway, the men's bathroom walls were completely covered in pictures of half nude pinup girls from 1960-1970 girly magazines, interspersed with advertisements for tractors.

Turns out the Zetor is a revered old Czech brand of tractor that just ran and ran. Finnish farmers could get low-powered versions of them very cheaply in the impoverished days of Finland's independence from Russia (Finland as a country was only formed in 1917 and was previously part of Sweden, followed by a stint as a Grand Duchy within Russia).

Anyway, we were glad to get out of there as the clientele and staff were equally unfriendly, and the former were mostly blind drunk.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Land of the Moomins

I forgot that Finland was the home of Tove Jansson and the tale of the Moomins.

Stumbled across this in the Helsinki airport. Unfortunately Finland has failed to capitalize on this delightful series of children's books that I grew up on, since the souvenirs are absolutely shite.

Who can buy a china Moominmamma dish in the departure lounge and get it home in one fucking piece?

Loads of people browsing, not so many buying.

Birthday cake #1

Blow, Charlie, Blow.

No nephew of mine

Since when does a Parker infant reject a pint of perfectly good ale?

Evidently he is of true French descent and prefers a fine vintage over the humble hop.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Don't ask for a receipt

The bakery was well named. Asked for a receipt and the lively staff member leapt into action. Ten minutes later... However the chocolate covered meringue blobs were Finn-tastic. Try it out in the inner harbour of Helsinki, close to the open air market at
Gamla Kauppatori

A fine recent show in Helsinki

Profanity is universal. Last night in Stockholm, some kids were chatting in Swedish, (think: teenaged Muppet Swedish Chef) when the universal language of English shone through:

"Hurr de fleur de doom bi diski doo what the fu-u-uck de blurr shi donski fu-cking shoop be doop".

Uhh, ye-eah. I need to find....

Linkoping, Sweden.

A Vancouver Girl's wet dream

West Kensington, London vs. Vancouver, BC.


Laundry Bag with attitude

Clarion Hotel, Stockholm.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It's Monday: Must be Linkoping


Meeting in Swindon as blah as I expected it to be. Customer's site office was like a gunmetal Red Dwarf had crashlanded on a windswept and abandoned Teletubby set. Customer was lukewarm and indifferent, coy and self absorbed. So thus I expect to get a deal there, since I didn't want one and never want to visit them again. Black batwing logo atop the entrance was a suitable tipoff that a dark and troubled master resided within.

Was driven back to Heathrow where we took up in the Ibis hotel nearby, pending our morning flight to Stockholm. Had missed my Great Aunt's funeral held that day at Mortlake, but managed to tube-bus-walk to the reception held in her old house in Kensington. The one and a half hour journey brought me to the door of her home, now filled with a subdued but loving crowd. Her two sons, their wives and children were there, along with her niece, friends and various cousins and other loved ones. Sparx was there and we hugged and commiserated quietly together. Great Aunt was wonderful to Sparx when she moved back to the UK, and the two had a very special and personal relationship as a result. We stood in the high ceiling'd rooms and reminisced ruefully. Met, chatted, and laughed with some cousins I didn't know I had. Nice but hard.

A lonely and cold walk-tube-bus back to my grim and charmless hotel made it more poignant. Hard to know that I'll never see her again, given that I'd seen her on every previous visit to London in the past 25 years.

The next morning, my colleague and I caught the 9am flight to Stockholm Aranda, and express-trained to Stockholm Central Station where we fumbled about trying to find the right station to Linkoping (Lin-SHO-ping). Finally found the office for the SJ station (SK is intracity; SJ is intercity). 1244Krona later (about $90 Canadian) and we were on our way. 20 minutes into the 1:20 journey however, the train (which had been travelling along at about 150km/h) stopped abruptly and the acrid smell of burning asbestos brakes filled the cabin. Some announcements were made over the PA system in Swedish. The other passengers didn't seem too concerned, so we assumed that the delay was temporary. So we waited.

And waited.

And bought a beer and sandwich.

And waited.

And bought a tea and sandwich.

And waited.

And slept.

And waited.

And watched the sky darken outside.

And waited.

After two and a half hours the conductor finally made an announcement (thankfully in both Swedish and English this time) that the train had broken down irreparably and we would be transferring to a different train. Given that we were in the middle of the Swedish countryside, now in the pitch dark, and trains were blasting past us at 200+km/h, this was interesting news.

True to their word, a duplicate train pulled alongside and stopped. Two rickety gangplanks were stretched across the gap between the two trains, and 400 people made their way to the one exit, and transferred to the other train, each to the same seat as on the original. To our surprise, this was conducted with minimal fuss or complaint, car by car, seat by seat.

And we were off again.

Moments later, another announcement was made that the NEW train had mechanical problems, and would be speed-limited for the rest of the journey. Since we still had over 1 hour to travel at the old train's original pace, this was not welcome news.

Finally, 6 hours later, we arrived at Linkoping and cabbed to our hotel.

It is cool, brisk and gray here. The hotel is comfortable and clean. Swedish is utterly incomprehensible, but everyone is very nice and most are thoughtful enough to speak English very well.

Off to bed. Conference tomorrow.

Eyelids drooping.

Goodbye, Liz, I say to the cold and dark night.

Please let me age the way you did, with grace, dignity, delight, and elegance. Please let me hold on to my wit and sense of self. And let me be as funny and giving.


(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Planes Trains Automobiles Buses and Tubes

I landed in London Saturday morning after flying through Toronto for a total of 13 hours. Managed 0 hours sleep but watched Spiderman 3 (mediocre), Hot Fuzz (fun), and read two books: Ondaatje's In The Skin Of a Lion (stunning) and Haddon's The Mysterious Case of The dog in The Garden at Night (excrutiatingly good) (can't remember the title but it was something like that). Took the Heathrow Express to Paddington, dropped one of my unneeded bags at Paddington' left-luggage, bought my train ticket for Reading on Monday, and then tubed to Covent Garden to meet sparx and the spud. She had to divert to the bus, since the Victoria tube line was out of service for the weekend. She made it right as I arrived, but had had to cancel her original plans to meet me at Paddington.

At Covent Garden, the cufflink store I wanted to see was closed despite saying they would be open. Looks like someone else was diverted that morning too.

We had a tea and breakfast roll sitting at an empty cafe and chitchatted while we entertained Charlie. I walked him totteringly around the tables. I estimate he will be walking in two months, at least that's my inexperienced, uneducated, uninformed and yet hopeful opinion. The worst thing is that he still doesn't talk, which I always find frustrating in the children of someone that I love. Despite my fervent attempts, he never mastered "Hoto" or even "Uncle" which I felt was very insulting and thoughtless of him, although since he's not yet really mastered "Mama" or "Dada" I shall have to wait for him to trot out those two tired old epithets first before I can hope for anything more (sigh).

After sitting and listening to a lively string quartet+flute in the Garden, followed by an odd couple singing decent opera, we gave up on waiting for the cufflink store and bussed/cabbed to Brixton where we met sparx' better half D at the house and dropped my bags off. We then just pottered about, had an exceptional Thai dinner at D's hand before my eyelids finally were too heavy to lift and I staggered to bed. Slept late on Sunday (9-ish) and had a good breakfast followed by the much anticipated Japanese F1 race, where we watched Lewis Hamilton rise above all the conflict and hype and take the win in the pouring rain.

Then we all bussed back to Covent Garden, obtained my cuflinks, had lunch at Neal's Yard (where Monty Python's offices used to be when they were starting out), took some pics in Trafalgar Square with the Spud on my shoulders, and finally arrived back for a pasta dinner in Brixton.

Now I am barrelling west on the train to Reading for a meeting; am being picked up by colleagues to head to a customer site in Swindon.

The sky is yellow and gray, but as always, the England tearing past my window seems surprisingly green and verdant. Like a very old house, England is always somewhere that I will belong, comfortable and grimy in the corners, friendly and full of welcoming life.

More later.
(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Last night I stayed in my Grandmother's house on the lake by myself, for the first and perhaps last time. She, at 99, is moved in with my Uncle and Aunt now, either forever, or until either one of two obvious eventualities plays out. The house and its overgrown grounds were silent and calm, dark and moist. My wife called to speak with me and she, remembering cold nights spent trying to evade spider-webbed nightmares of ghosts, sleeping in the dark and creaky basement room where my Grandfather slept, asked me if it felt spooky being there by myself.

It is where my father grew up for most of his childhood, and where my grandmother lived for over 60 years. Most, but not all of my Gran's treasures are moved out now, and the main floor has been cleaned and tidied for renters or possible sale. Memories, for me all good, lay silently in each corner. Christmases, winters, spring, but mostly summers. There exist pictures of my sister and I at every possible age at that house, or at least, every possible era: greying and paunch-comfortable adults, slim and handsome 30-somethings, long-haired (or perhaps multihued-short-haired) idealistic 20-somethings, burgeoning and insufferable teens, children, toddlers, newborns at our Christenings and even as twinkles in our newlywed-parent's eyes; all pictures taken within the 1.3 acres of wooded, sun-dappled rainforest on a high lakefront perch. Virtually every member of our extended family has been to the house at one point; my mother's family; my father's many cousins; my many cousins with their spouses and children; All of them captured on print or slide: laughing in a cape-cod chair; drinking a homebrew beer out of a pewter stein on the wharf; lying under a card table with my Grandfather, surrounded by an abandoned card game, drunk on sunshine and Scrumpy; a cousin scrabbling with my 8 year old father among the goats and chickens that clucked around the yard in the 40s; my infant sister in her pixie-snowsuit, propped on the hood of a giant Chevy with a foot of snow blanketing the
world around her; Grandmother in outrageous cat-eye shades and audacious bathing suit, hoisting a glass of elderberry wine, the bare legs of her Grandkids visible in the corner of the frame as they lie in the sun, drying off;

So yes the house - old, dark, spiderwebbed and silent - contains a thousand ghosts for me - all my own ghosts though, none strange or frightening. All familiar ghosts, literally. Each one of us who has had a long relationship with the house and its inhabitants has ghosts there. My father and his remaining brother perhaps have the most. But those are their ghosts, not mine. Mine are memories.

And when I feel the ghost tickle the back of my neck as I sit out on the deck looking at the moonlit lake, or hear a ghost creaking up the basement stair as I lay in bed, or perhaps shuffling in the underbrush as I stroll the pine-scented driveway, I turn quickly with a smile, hoping to see someone I love.
(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August 14

Like magic.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Monday, August 13, 2007

August 13

No really. There is nothing wrong with the scales.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

No no NO

Wrong way. Wrong f*cking WAY.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Aug 2: Down, DOWN...


July 30: Purge purge purge


July 29 - Holy f*cking shit


Saturday, July 28, 2007


Ok, so since there is basically no reasonable way to post pictures from my phone wirelessly in Canada to blogger, I've reluctantly come to realize that I will have to post the pictures from a computer instead. Therefore any blogging wirelessly will be maily textual for now. Sucks but there you go. Up in Pender Harbour for another weekend at the Garden Bay Pub. This time the better half is with me and so we are staying ay the Fisherman's Resort and Marina (www. which is very pretty. Our cabin is basically over the water and has a great deck, from which I am posting now with the sound of rigging gently pinging against the masts of yachts in the marina here.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paternal Grandparents

Spent a great weekend with my 99 year old Gran a couple of weeks ago. My wife and I trolled through their ancient photo albums with her and came up with this one. This is their wedding day, clowning around to contrast their more formal and demure wedding picture.

September 16, 1932. Maple Bay, BC

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vancouver artist

I met Tiko in my rowing club. Extremely nice guy. Then I find out he's an amazing and prolific visual artist and HIV survivor with a long history as a national advocate of new drug therapies (as I am sure one is wont to be, in such a conditon). His work is absolutely stunning. Vancouver in all its glory, seen through the eyes of a man with (really) acute astigmatism.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

PCs suck

So I made plans to skype with JVM on Friday night from my home PC. He's Lonely in Boston, you see. So I get home around 10pm on Friday, fire up my trusty logitech web cam (circa 1998) and ping him. Get on the call and he can't hear me barely at all, let alone see me. So i try him from my other PC, a screaming 3GHz Pentium IV with 2GB ram, and the fucking Skype client won't connect through McAfee, (which I only installed because Norton was such a catastrophically hopeless tool). No matter what I did, I could't get McAfee rules configured in a way that it would let skype work.

So with two entire PCs at my disposal, I left them idle and skyped with JVM for almost 2 hours on my lowly little s620 mobile phone, which I also used to send a picture of myself to him via email from the phone during the call.

Worked well over 802.11g although there are a couple of limitations:

1. The phone can only be used in speakerphone or wired headset mode. Skype hasn't sorted the bluetooth or regular audio paths yet.

2. His inbound audio stream would sometimes repeat certain words and phrases repeat words and phrases (just like that). It didn't jitter or stutter, just repeated whole 2 or 3 second chunks. JVM didn't hear anything like that on his end.

3. Sucked my battery dry in 1 hour. The phone had 2 bars of juice when I started but it ran down quite rapidly when I had the speakerphone on.

However kudos to Rogers wireless, for although they are the Great Evil, they are one of the few North American operators to ship a GSM/EDGE phone direct from their retail stores with wifi enabled.

Thumbs up for the little s620.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Favourite Windows Mobile apps

One of a string of posts about my favourite phone apps:

Fizz traveller.
Love this one. Although its not optimized for the landscape QVGA screen yet, it is incredibly useful. It features a multicity weather forecast display, with high/low temperatures, precipitation, great graphics and an easy way to display todays weather in 6 or 8 cities with the local times displayed, country dialling code, time zone difference, and a sun/cloud icon. In fact the icons show rain, snow, lightning and can be displayed on the homescreen of the phone too but I don't do this because it removes some homescreen features that I need, like the communications manager shortcut for flipping wifi and bluetooth on or off.

The forecast comes down wirelessly in tiny chunks or when you cable synch to your PC. I set up the Fizz "home" screen so that at a glance I can use it to monitor the weather here at home, in Calgary, where I have family and friends snowed in, Boston where the aforementioned JVM is lonely, London where sparx et famille are expanding, Munich where my lead customer seethes, and Seoul where my distributor lies silently awaiting product. I bought the app for the multiple time zone feature and currency converter, but really like the weather feature and wish that it had tide charts and sunset times for rowing and other outdoorsy purposes.

The currency converter is priceless (fnarr) especially when I'm submitting a three-currency expense report which I have to do every month or so (airline tickets, cab fare and breakfast in Canadian, lunch in US, and then a weeks worth of accommodations and meals in Euros or Korean Won) thanks to flight paths that force me to connect through the US, etc.

Like the weather forecast, the currency rates may be set to autodownload, or on demand from the IMF. They appear to agree with generally and are available for a bewildering array of currencies from Venezuelan Bolivars to Polish Zloty and Slovenian Tolars (what's the plural for zloty?). The converter also handily does length, area, weight, speed, temperature, volume, power, mens and womens shoe sizes and even shirt and dress sizes for the Uk, US and Europe. Truly brilliant for travelling. Even does torque for those moments when you desperately need newton metres converted to pound feet.

I have to say that I use this tool in some way every day. Today I checked my German customer's loc weather forecast so that on our weekly call this morning, I could distract him from the grim reality of more slippages by waxing lyrically about the coming thunderstorms and wild temperature swings expected for Munich this weekend (low of 4C and high of 23C today, for those readers itching to know). Then later in the morning I booked a trade show in Sweden for October, and converted the equipment rental charges from Swedish Krona into Canadian to cut the PO. Marvellously practical. It does need a built in calculator though.

Great app and the 5 day forecast is 100% reliable so far, beating even the local news

Love the well-rendered alarm clock manager, which easily allows multiple configurations for repeats and weekday/weekend behaviour, and easy audio capture (I have a WAV of my better half whispering gently:
"Hoto..Ho-To. It's time to get u-u-p.") and nice graphics. Much easier to get to than the default alarm clock.

I could go on but you get the picture (well, at least the words - more on my ongoing picture blogging fiasco later).

Fizz is a steal at about $20 from
(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This is for JVM who scoffed incredulously when I first claimed I'd got down to 188 and then stepped on his girlfriend's scale and weighed 196. Just wait, buddy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Downloaded the skype client for Windows mobile today, installed with no issues and had a successful call over our home Wifi network with Shell at her office. This means that I can use the phone when travelling to Korea where there's no GSM. Anywhere there's WiFi of course. Brilliant. Free. Huge bonus.

Unfortunately picoblogger appears to be toast and there's no other smartphone blogging tool that I can find to post pictures. Also, picture messaging isn't working and some troll at Rogers told me "it's never worked for Windows Mobile" and proceeded to tell me that I was mistaken in thinking that it ever worked. The blogs and forums confirm that others are having the same problem. Boo.

190.5 tonight. Lost my Bavarian bulge.

The software works like a dream and my mum could have installed it.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Talked Rogers into selling me the HTC s621 for $125. Blogging on it now. Will test picoblogger on it tonight to see if I can get pics again. Rogers sucks. But i did get $1150 off my service charges over 3 years and $250 in up front discounts. We'll see if my bill reflects all the discounts properly.

This phone rocks. 97kbps over EDGE as tested today at Quad band phone, nice camera optics, WIFI b/g and tons of storage. Tiny too. Windows mobile 5.0. Excuse me while I wipe my ejaculate from it.

It's OK. Don't worry gentle readers. I know the female members of my audience won't have been offended by that remark since they stopped reading at "this phone rocks".

(sent wirelessly from my phone)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tunisian spiced meat dish was...

...Kibbeh Nayeh

Seasoned minced lamb with chopped onion, mint and oil.


(sent from my Voq)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ausfahrt Row


(sent from my Voq)


Blogging in der S-bahn

On the S8 heading for München Flughafen. Grey und köld. Missed früstuck zo am vaiting führ ze tee und bröt.

(sent from my Voq)


Wiener und fleischpflanzer

Mmmm, meat and bread. Nay, eine höt-dög for früstuck.

(sent from my Voq)


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vielen danke

Ok. All done here in Munich.
10-12 hours per day at the customer site means we have eaten in the hotel three out of five nights. The food is apalling and carb laden. I have manfully moved from the tightest mark in my new 'skinny' belt to the third tightest. I guess I'm up about 10lbs since I left. Had a good day at the customer site today and finished the week off with a relatively succesful
customer demo for Siemens Nokia. our hosts here are great but likely glad to see the back of us.

Managed to get into the centre of München two times. Actualy it is a 5 minute walk across the Isar river, past the Deutches museum, through Isartorplatz and into Marienplatz. Quite pretty. Went for dinner at Spatenhaus for a reasonable deer steak, across from the King's Palace. They gave us English menus which was a little lame, since its half the fun figuring out options like Ochsenfilet and Spargel. They had translated the harder German words, but they also translated non German words...badly. Thanks to a vaguely tantalizing description for one appetizer ("spicy meat with malt bread") I ended up with another plate of fucking raw meat. Germans should be aware that Steak Tartare is in fact an internationally known dish.

tonight however the sun came out and we hosted our hosts at the (apparently) famous Knockerberg in Hochstrasse, sitting outside in the biergarten. Nice enough but newish and soulless. Apparently the old building was torched and the new one is like Vegas does Brau-haus. Food was OK and we enjoyed the hefeweissen. However, I actually can't remember what I ate which gives you an idea of the lasting impression the place made.

Wasted one morning trying to find a replacement travel charger for my ipaq and learned that one is not to be found in downtown München. Kaufhof, Conrad and many other stores are useless. I was repeatedly referred to MediaMarkt but it proved too elusive in the 30 minutes I had available. Note: stores open at 9 or 10am and close at 8pm. Most are closed by 5pm on weekends.

Anyway back at my hotel room last night I carefully applied all my advanced electrical engineering skills to my broken charger. By employing a systematic and scientific method, (aimlessly wiggling the cable) I fixed it. Now I can watch movies on the plane tomorrow and stave off utter insanity on the 11 hours between me and Calgary.

My summary of München? The city is neat, pretty, clean and easy to navigate, befitting the capital city of such an orderly place as Bavaria. However this is based entirely upon my hopelessly inadequate forays to and from Siemens along Rosenheimstrasse, and into Marienplatz and back. A total of about 8km of streets. My magnificent photo essay of this 800 year old gem will be posted soon (an eyecatching array of stunningly wrought images snapped from my hotel room window: same view, different weather. What a twat.)

Nice bike paths, like The Hague with their own traffic lights.

Too tired to be glib. <i>Sheisse</i> I can't wait to be outta here.

As they say in Bavaria,


(probably ciäö, actually)

(sent from my Vöq)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Die Holiday Inn München

Dropped off by the Hornungs in time for my dinner meeting. Munich is gray and chilly but the hotel is comfortable. Another fabulous day with hikes up hills to stunning views over the Danube this time, a pastoral walk through a forest to yet another ancient brauerei with fat hunks of pig washed down by the brau der mönsch with the mighty river flowing lazily by. Back to reality tomorrow with an upset customer a 2km walk away. Sleep now. hopefully no bier for a few days as the abs are receding further behind an encoaching layer of schweinfleisch. Thanks to the Hornungs for a literally spectacular 2 days.

(sent from my Voq)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ich bin müde

Arrived in munich after a frenzied race to Aerogare P. E. Trudeau in Montreal. I was still sitting at a lunch table in suburban Montreal 90 minutes before an international flight time at PET, which was 35 mins away in good traffic. finally arriving 45 mins prior to departure meant I was bolting through the terminal in enough time to just make the flight
but not in enough time to get anything but a middle seat, back of the bus, no recline. Luckily my seat mates were small, forgiving and ENL (English as a Non Language) so no distracting chatter and plenty of shoulder room. Unfortunately for them I had been dining with a colleague and prospect at La Poissonaire in Ste. Laurent which meant my clothes and I stank of fish and Tunisian cuisine (heavy on the garlic homous, onions and spiced meat). Apart from the fish, which I had declined to pick from a pile of slimy, unappetizing flesh, lunch was delish; but due in part to a particularly awesome menu feature (which I believe was named Kebbe Nayeh: raw minced beef, mint leaves, raw onion and oil) I was burping Tunisian air bombs like no tomorrow. I managed to grab two Dentyne Ice packs on my mad dash through the airport, put a whole 12-pack in my mouth, chewed it for 60 secs and swallowed it whole, adding a minty fresh overtone to my malaise d' gut, slicing the top edge off the foul stench rumbling from me every 5 minutes.

LH actually fed me reasonable fare, the service was unreal, and the first movie (Freedom Writers) bearable (except when Swank was virtually alone on screen at which points her equine grimace and one-dimensional fluster abraded like a belt sander).

Some woman went unconscious mid flight again, and this time every crew member in Econ responded, literally dragging her limp form back to the rear galley directly behind me. The call went out for docs and there was a polite skirmish beside me and my bemused row-mates as several SimuDocs who had wormed their way aft to us engaged in a lively game of EscalatingCredentials(tm):

"Are you a doc?"
"I'm a radiologist. You?"
"Endocrinologist. How about you, there?"
"Gynecologist. You?"
"Resident. You?"
"Yah, I'M a surgeon."

So AlphaDoc goes into action. AEDs, O2 tanks and various other kits are summoned and dutifully delivered. 30 mins later, relieved-looking cabin crew start emerging from behind the gray curtains and, leaving them pulled aside, expose those of us in the back row to an ebullient and honking doc's post-trauma bedside manner, consisting primarily of shouting at the vic and her bewildered spouse-unit to ask how they feel now, and about how insignificant their world travels must seem in compared to his.

I manage to pack the Shure ear buds in deep enough to block out most of his '97-98 world tour and interminable waxing on about St. Petersburg, and enjoy 90% of The Good Shepherd on my iPaq, and 95% of Timothy Taylor's Story House before touchdown.

Misty and cold in Munich. Alex was there to get me at 0630. A 1.25hr rainy drive to Erlangen put us in time for a large Euro breakfast with Hannes, Bea and Ben.

Its now 10:30pm by the bedside clock. By my reckoning I've been up for
32 hrs and have a delightfully bloodshot tale to tell of cool misty hikes to the top of Franconia's highest hill that (thanks to an indefatigueable Hannes) start, are bisected by, and end with a litre of beer. I have added a layer of smoked meat, cheese and whitebread breakfast, double bratwürst sausage lunch and killer asparagus/cheese casserole dinner from Bea over the simmering cauldron of La Poissonaire.

I can only say how utterly grateful I am to be nausea-free at this point given the civil unrest below the equator. More tomorrow.
(sent from my Voq)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ride, Hoto, Ride

Managed to do a 50km bicycle ride last weekend (on the flat seawalls) so Sunday I rode from our place out to our friend's (Mez and Cathy) for dinner. Only 30.1km but lots of hills with the last 4km being a 9% hill. Took me 1.1hrs to do the first 26km, with speeds up to 48km/h on the Barnet Highway, but then it took me 30 mins to do the last gruelling (for me) 4km. It was a great ride across Vancouver, Burnaby and into Port Moody, and I saw many of the cities' neighbourhoods that I've never seen before. My thighs are only slightly burning today which is likely bad news since tomorrow I will likely be in agony. Reward was a great steak dinner and the company of good friends.

(sent from my Voq)


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Abs: "Before"


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Abs

OK. it has been a long time again. The sad loss of my beloved sp5m left me too bereft to even think of seriously blogging again.

But time marches on and I realize that I must persevere. Furthermore, those of you who gamely followed me through to my 21lb weight loss will remember that I failed to meet my goal of seeing my abs by my 40th birthday. Miserably failed, actually. And although I managed to drop two inches from my waist, my middle remains ringed with an unsatisfactory and definitely middle-aged bump of flab. So, I've decided to "re-up": I'm signing myself up to meet another goal. Instead of teaching myself conversational German by June, to coincide with our friends visiting from Germany (and to be able to converse with my German boss and our CEO in their Mutter tongue), I've resigned myself to the fact that it is
too unrealistic a goal without someone to practise with around the house (S has signed us up for signing classes [sign language, that is] so that we can converse with our niece).

So I come back to my abs. My drab flab un-fab abs.
Since I need to be bathing suit trim by July...time's ticking.

Standby for the first embarrassing 'before' picture.

If only my abs were improved as a result of thumbtyping...

(sent from my Voq)


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cold and colder

B-r-r-r. It snows and blows here. I saw the Windspeed on the JerichoWind web site jump from 30 to 50 knots in under 30 minutes today.

My weight blows up to 197 and our best friends are in Maui watching a spectacular sunset as I write. Bastards.

Just finished M.Palin's Python Diaries which were a good light read and gave great insight into the early days of the troupe.

Desperately wishing that I had a photoblogging tool for PPC or my crap Sony T616. So many good shots are sitting on my camera and crap-phone.


The new I-phone may be the way to go if it synchs with Outlook and Exchange. Problem is that pure touch-screen phones are a challenge when you are in a hurry. My 2 weeks on business travel with the I-mate jam taught me that. But I expect Apple to have absolutely nailed the interface.

Dreaming of Kauai and Maui.

Those fuckers.

(via email from my PocketPC)


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


OK. Long Break. Turned 40 at 192. Phone is d-e-a-d and now in hands of mobile phone voodoo priest who is attempting resurrection via some evil and dark magic.

Had Christmas at Bragg Creek plus cool visit with Sis, Bro-in-Law and nephew at home. Survived but back up to 196. Mainly booze and chocolates and a fierce lack-of will to blame.

Shell bought me a trip to the Aerie resort (complete with a helicopter ride over) for my birthday, which then got snowed out. Killer storms in BC delayed us until 12/30. Came over today via ferry with D&D and are spa-ing tomorrow prior to a huge New Years eve dinner & dance.



Tonight: Drank lots of martinis, prosecco, champagne, La Frenz Montage and amazing Barbaresco Ovello wine (the latter courtesy of our friends James & Janet) and ate the best bread and cheeses that Granville Island's choucouterie (Oyama Sausage Co) could offer.

Now lying in our palatial Hummingbird suite #34 in the Aerie Residences with my iPaq camped on the Spa's wireless network staring out across Juan De Fuca strait at the distant lights of Port Angeles and drinking in the midnight mountain air.

It's all good. So incredibly good.

(via email from my PocketPC)