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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VIA Wi-Fi = No-Fi

So I’m taking VIA from London to Oakville, saving Alex from another four hours of driving on Ontario’s highways. I’m sitting here with my trusty laptop trying to do some work, using the “Wi-Fi” service on-board.

Except it doesn’t work.

I can connect to the onboard gateway, no problem. It recognizes me and that I’ve been desperately trying to send and/or receive something. Anything in fact. It has my byte counts. What it doesn’t do is actually let me receive any data. So far, I’ve not even been able to pull up a Google search.

I call false advertising! It doesn’t work, VIA — don’t tell me that it’s there if it doesn’t work. And it isn’t my laptop, as I know I can connect to virtually any wireless network I’ve ever seen. I can see yours but you won’t let me see anything else!

Mind you, could be someone else on this train using up all the bandwidth for porn…

(And if you’re wondering how on Earth I posted this despite not having any connectivity, I offer the simplistic Notepad + Copy & Paste method.)

[Ed. Note: When we got past Brantford, it actually seemed to work, albeit not very well. I wouldn't rely on VIA's WiFi service for anything mission-critical, though it was still better than the next-to-nothing access I had with the CBC.]

In Merry Old London (Ontario)

We arrived last night, around 20:00 local time. A quick run through the airport, and we were tracking through the back country out to Janice’s place in Kintore.

The house was cool (old farm houses tend to lack a lot of insulation or it mostly needs to be replaced) so Alex was a little chilly most of the time. We watched Bon Cop Bad Cop until around midnight or so (22:00 our time) before we were tired enough to go to sleep. I’d picked it up during what will be my last bout of Boxing Day sales. They’re hardly sales, since most of the prices (for the things I wanted) were still steep.

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Meeting my niece for the first time

I spent most of last week in Critical Mass’ Toronto office. I was there primarily to support our technical team, which hasn’t had the level of support from me that it’s been needing. So I went out to try and reestablish my presence other than “that guy in Calgary”.

The trip was successful, though I have yet to type up all my findings. That’s going to take a bit longer, as I’m sure to be put on the spot for a variety of must-do activities for this week. C’est la vie, though.

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Christmas in Oakville with Chris and Kaz, New Years with Alex

I had hoped to go some place warm for the Christmas holidays this year. I wanted to put Christmas lights on a palm tree. I wanted to make sandmen. I wanted nothing more to worry about than getting a sunburn on Boxing day.

So naturally, I ended up arriving at Pearson International Airport at 6:30 on the morning of 23 December, catching the end of a nasty two-day snowstorm. There’s poetic justice in this, somewhere.

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Flying home to Calgary

I woke earlier than usual — about 8:45 or so. Craig was still up, but not nearly as tired as when he’d scared the bejezesus out of me.

Turning down his offer of a beer (for Craig, this was still the end of the day), I got a glass of orange juice. Craig and I took the opportunity to have a chat about his career. I guess I forced the issue. I’m worried about him. I don’t know Craig as well as perhaps I could — he’d family, but aside from a few visits, I don’t know him even remotely as well as I should for a brother-in-law. For what I do know, though, Craig works too hard. I know the desire, though. I know what drives him, what pushes him forward. I had that drive once. It’s died off in recent months, mostly due to recognition of my own faults.

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Friends from university

Pretty much keep with the trend, I woke late again. When I walked out of the bedroom, though, I found the door to Craig and Cathy’s bedroom open. Given the time of the morning, I assumed Craig would be asleep. I peered in to see if perhaps he had simply not closed the door.

“Good morning, Geoff…” a voice from behind said. I damn near had a heart attack.

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Computer repairs and financial advisors

I woke late again. I could get used to this.

Mom came to pick me up after getting myself all cleaned up. We went down to her place, where I took the time to try and bring her computer up to snuff again. It seems that every time I’m out, I need to do something to her computer. Sometimes it’s something simple. Other times, I spend a couple of days trying to get it to cooperate with me. Such was the case this day.

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VIA Train from Montreal to Toronto

Morning came early. (When your hosts have to get up early to go to work, you get up early, too.)

The plan was simple: on their way to work, Therese and Stuart would drop me off at Central Station where, like when I arrived in Montreal, I would proceed to kill a couple of hours before my train boarded (around 11:00).

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I want to go home

I’ve been on the road far too long.

Last night was Thanksgiving dinner up at the cottage. Good food, family, friend (there was only one), and good times. Even better sleep, in my old bed (since co-opted for use in the loft).

Mom and Cathy drove me down to the airport. We made a side trip to see a rather uninteresting antique dealer in Gravenhurst. Aside from that and a couple of bathroom breaks, we made Pearson in a fairly good time.

We grabbed a late lunch at Swiss Chalet. I checked my luggage after eating, and we switched to the bar.

Even though I was at the airport, boarding pass to Calgary in hand, I didn’t really feel like I was going anywhere. I was in a bar with my family, as I’ve been (a few too) many times this year.

Mom and Cathy were soon off for Oakville, leaving me to wait for my flight. (We left early to beat the returning weekend traffic. We left perhaps a little too early.)

I waited at gate B20 for about an hour, reading Wired. Nothing out of the ordinary (at least for me, lately). Even when WestJet staff started yelling for passengers (the microphone to the PA system wasn’t working), there was no rush. For me, it’s all routine.

I think I’ve actually travelled too much this year.

But as I boarded the plane and took my seat, a feeling of reserved relief crept upon me. I’m going home. My month and a half abroad is ending in a few short hours. Tonight I will sleep in my own bed in my own home. I will see my cats. (Tomorrow, I’ll have to go back to my job — hey, it can’t all be roses.)

I’m tired. Take me home. Please.