2012, A Year in Review

For me, 2012 was a bad year. Between a host of medical issues (brutal chest cough that led to pulled muscles, to appendicitis, to strep throat, a couple nasty colds-cum-killer flus, and a minor outpatient surgery), ridiculous amounts of stress, the ever-present struggle of being a parent to young children, a general malaise, and an unfulfilled burning need to travel, it’s truly a wonder I got out of bed in the morning.

So it wasn’t with any reservation that 2012 walked out of my life on Monday night, yet it still managed to leave me rather depressed. Sadly, 2013 woke me up looking already a lot like 2012, so I’m not sure if I’m able to look at this new year with much hope yet. Instead, I suppose I shall have to try harder to make things work more my way.

This not to say that I “didn’t like” 2012. It’s hard not to like an entire year in one’s life, especially one that brings so many new things to learn and experience. I just wish it hadn’t been so darned painful…
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10th Anniversary of the CBC 50th Anniversary VIA Rail Train

Ten years ago today, I boarded a shuttle bus from a hotel in Vancouver, and met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure — nay, honour — to know and work with. (Believe me, I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years. This does not come lightly.)

It was a chance of a lifetime — something I knew then, and greatly appreciate now. A chance to connect with thousands of fellow Canadians, and experience our nation in a now-unique way. The memories were fond when it ended, and they’re stronger and more wonderful with every new day.

I’ve had people ask: Would I do it again? Damn right, I would!

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Can we get rid of timezones now, please?

For over 100 years, we’ve had a rough international agreement about at what point the sun is directly overhead, because this is when we assign an arbitrary time known as “noon”. We’ve divided the world into “zones”, which for some reason makes sense.

Like most international agreements, it’s not perfect, and many governments have gone well out of their way to thoroughly botch and/or screw around with the implementation — so much so that, in some cases, the concept of a time zone really makes no sense at all. Given the rise of the internet, the massive synchronisation between continents in real-time, and the presence of global companies, it’s frankly a wonder why we even think time zones are a good idea anymore.

So let’s get rid of them!

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2011, A Year In Review

I like long years. Really. Yes, I complain about when things seem to drag out far longer than they should, or if I’m busting my arse far harder than I think I should. That’s part of being human, no? In the end, though, I like long years because I get to look back and not worry about how quickly time has flown by. Time should never fly by quickly — it means I’ve missed something, and … well, darn it, I just hate missing things!

This last year was a big one for me in one major way: it was a redefinition of my professional existence. Since the end of 2009, I’ve transformed from a professional manager to a … hmm … well, my title (however formal it needs to be) is “Solutions Lead”, but that belies a lot of what I do every day, and just using “web developer” or “programmer” — even with a “Senior” prefix — completely understates the reality. This year was really about taking all the skills and knowledge I’d acquired as a leader, and merging that back into my day-to-day development practices.

And that, as the saying goes, was only the tip of the iceberg…

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The Super Secret Monkey Surprise

For at least the last couple of years, Heritage Park finds a way to bring in Thomas the Tank Engine for the kids. (It’s a fake engine, but the kids don’t care.) The big thing is to ride the train behind Thomas, and tickets for the chance on the Day Out With Thomas sell out well before the day even arrives.

This year, we’d resolved to get you on that train, Monkey. And … well, we did try. But apparently we’d waited too long (trying to coordinate with other parents) and … well, we blew it. This year, like last, probably all you’d have done is stood and watched as other kids got to ride the train.

But, thanks to a fluke chance, you got to ride something those other kids didn’t even know about…

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2010, A Year in Review

Man, it feels like a year ago since I last wrote one of these … oh, wait.  (Yes, it’s a stupid joke. You should know me by now…)

2010 was the year we made contact … wait, sorry, wrong catchline. 2010 was the year my family welcomed new members, notably my youngest, a daughter (code)named Choo Choo. It was a year I changed my career outlook (yes, again), and found that I’m not (completely) useless. This was a year of family, for me, and that’s perhaps the most important aspect.

But despite all that, I hesitate to call it “a year of change”.

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A rainy train

Every year, the City of Vancouver puts on a light show in and around the miniature train in Stanley Park. Last night, after the kids had gone to bed, Allen, Jean, and I discussed the possibility of going. The catch was tickets. Tickets for the ride are best bought in advance, and usually sell out in November. But that’s only half the rides — the other half are sold the day of, and you need to be present at the booth to get them.

Jean very kindly (extremely kindly? suicidally kindly?) went down this morning, in the cold and the rain, to line up and get tickets for the “best possible” time for us to ride, around 17:30. That is “best” as it’s early enough that we can still have dinner at a reasonable time, and it’s late enough that Nikki can join us from her job.

Tonight, I also remembered how miserable Vancouver can be in the winter.

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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 5

We were supposed to go out to a lake near the Ontario border today, but Mommy and I threw up the white flag and declared us all “done”. We need a break. Monkey, you’ve been very patient being trapped in the car seat for hours upon hours. We’ve heard “I want to go home” a few times, but we suspect it’s more about wanting to get out and run around than anything else. (It’s been proven pretty much every time we’ve let you out.)

As for you, Choo Choo … well, I’m not really sure what to make of your thoughts. Aside from the fact that you’re only 4.5 months old, there’s also the consideration that, unlike your sister, you don’t sleep a lot. So we’re never really sure if you’re generally unhappy with being in your seat, tired, or hungry. I suspect at some level you’re probably all three at the same time.

Still it was absolutely necessary that we take the day off and not really go anywhere. So we went to The Forks.

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Four fun-filled days

I sit here at my kitchen table, rubbing the weariness from my eyes. Not the things you’d normally hear from me, mind you — I haven’t been working too hard as of late (as you know, my big project is done). No, this is from something much better — spending time with my family, and notably you, Monkey.

The last four days have been a lot of fun. Maybe even too much fun. Both of us are pretty pooped. You went to bed and for the first time in a long while, there wasn’t hours of chatter from your room. I think you pretty much passed out. I won’t be too far behind you, I think, but I do wish to describe the fun that we’ve shared.

‘Cuz, frankly, I’m not sure how the heck I survived it all…

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The failure of the electric car

In our Inconvenient Truth world, popular desire is starting to change the way some companies think. We’re seeing large companies produce “green” products, such as biodegradable detergents, packaging from recycled plastic, and tables made from recovered wood. We’re asking our service providers to show us how they’re working to reduce their output, through paperless billing and electronic messaging.

A few years ago, the “hybrid” car was introduced, a shining new example of how to make vehicles more efficient, and spawned a new movement of environmentally-aware manufacturing. Today, Nissan stands ready to finally release the first mass-market all-electric vehicle, amping up the competition to become the centre of the environmentally-friendly transportation universe. I, for one, welcome the arrival of the electric car, long overdue from formal acceptance in North America. At the same time, however, I also curse its arrival because it doesn’t actually address a primary problem.

The electric car strives to perpetuate a bad idea: that we all need a car.

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