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Travellin’ man

I have to say I’m a little surprised at how tiring these short jaunts to Toronto have been. I never thought a one hour flight/ commute would be as tiring as they’ve been, but there you go. The last few day trips were somewhat hard but I used to think it was mainly due to the hours of the flight (ie; I would get up early -thus a short night- and go full out until it was time to head back home) which usually meant 15 hours from leaving home to getting home.

This week, as there was a lot of work to be done, I stayed for 2 days. Sure enough, the first night I was *so* wiped I ended up falling into a deep sleep at 930pm and went right through until 630am! Woah! I woke up pretty refreshed and ready to tackle another day.

Day 2 was just as busy (if not more so) and before I knew it, time to fly home.  Guess what? I landed in Montreal and was completely wiped again!  Sure, the flight was one of the not-better ones I’ve had (which is weird considering the 767-300 flights I’ve been on have generally been smooth) but that wasn’t enough to tire me out. However, sure enough, I was hit with giant fatigue and headache. Sigh.  Here I am the next day and my head still feels like it’s been used to bang a gong. :)

I guess, in the end, I’m just going to have to learn to plan my flights a little better – otherwise I’ll end up needing to swallow down more Advil than I already do! :)  All in all, though, I love what I do so much and being part of the ground floor  Agile project plans are always extremely exciting, so no way am I complaining! :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Random Thought Bubbles

Today was such an incredibly busy day that there was absolutely no time to think about anything in any “long” fashion.  So, my brain simply jumped from thought to thought as I tried to chop off as many items from my to-do list as possible.  After all, with a new employee starting today and the US being on holiday tomorrow, I had to ensure she was technically operational today.  Especially as I’m flying off to Markham tomorrow (and back on Thursday night).  I’ll be missing Charlize’s soccer game tomorrow night and Kyle’s on Thursday night but it couldn’t be helped at this point :(

Wow, another point in just how scrambled my brain is today – I had a number of thoughts and ideas I wanted to relate quickly just about an hour ago.  But now, after starting to pack and getting the kids to bed, my short term recollection has decided to take a vacation.  Which can only truly mean one thing: I need to get some sleep.  Although not an extremely early flight, I’ll still be getting up at 5am to be ready.

More tomorrow, probably from the airport lounge :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Canada Day Celebrations

In thinking back on how we celebrate Canada Day there are always 2 things that stand out for my family: Biking and BBQ.  Every year as we enjoy the holiday, we naturally seem to find ourselves outside.  Whether or not it has to do with the fact that it’s usually sunny, we’re always drawn outdoors and that always translates into biking. Afterwards, a good BBQ of either burgers or giant franks just tops it off :)

This year, along with the usual, we also took advantage of my in-laws pool to cool off before the Euro cup final (disappointing as that match was). The biggest treat, however, was that this Canada Day was the day that Kyle decided he would no longer have training wheels on his bike! Yup, we took them off and he was determined to ride :) . It was great to see him try over and over until he had the hang of it :) . Chantale got some good shots of him but I don’t have them with me to share at the moment :)

Heck, even this morning as we went back out again, he didn’t need my help at all! He took his bike and off he went :) . A nice early morning outdoor playtime.

Ps- in Casey news, she seems to be doing so much better! No more illness, a good appetite, and no real accidents overnight. In fact, this morning also had no blood in her first stool. Fingers still crossed that no real damage was done to her insides because of that medication.

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Rough night for puppy

One of the things we had been looking forward to this weekend was that outside of the Eurocup final on Sunday, there was nothing planned but lazing around and relaxing. This morning was supposed to stretch as long as possible in “lounge” mode, as a start.  Well, that’s not at all how it was.

Last night, while Chantale and I were watching Smallville season 7, Casey suddenly got up from her bed and was sick.  Chantale got her outside while I cleaned up the mess and when they came back in, we were a little concerned but hoped she would be okay. After all, she had eaten and seemed to be in good spirits.

Before long we were all asleep and then at 5am, Chantale and I jump out of bed when we hear Casey vomiting. Again, she takes her outside while I start cleaning when we find that sometime in the previous 4 hours, Casey had the runs downstairs!

Lots and lots of cleaning and disinfecting later, the pooch had been sick over and over, even with blood in her liquid stools. What a morning. Chantale investigated Casey’s medication and found tons of online postings of the large number of dogs this stuff has apparently eaten up. Metacam? Wow. Pain medication that can kill you.

We spent the morning keeping an eye on her while Chantale cooked various meals like ground beef and rice hoping the dog would stop being sick. The food has been staying in and Casey looks better (I gauge that by her tail wagging) so we’re trying to make her rest. We left a message with her Vet but haven’t heard back yet.

We’re just hoping nothing is seriously wrong internally…

 

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

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Acupuncture for Dogs

Casey had been acting extremely lethargic ever since the weekend.  Absolutely no appetite, sleeping most of the time, just no energy to do anything.  I could get her to come to me for a quick hello (which everyone else had trouble doing) but she would quickly turn around and go back to her bed.

We couldn’t figure out what it was so after going through a long period of the shakes yesterday morning, we managed to get an emergency visit with her vet in the afternoon.  Casey did get an energy boost from being at DMV and smelling all the animals there, but when we did get to meet with the vet, she could not really give a full diagnosis outside of Casey being slightly dehydrated and having a sensitive back.

Some may not remember, but Casey had a herniated disk three years ago and we managed to heal her by using Acupuncture instead of a $5,000 very-risky-and-not-guaranteed surgery.  I thought I had written about all this but the only two instances I found of this period was in these two posts:

http://savageland.com/blogs/2009/10/12/puppy-ills/

http://savageland.com/blogs/2009/10/26/family-update-2-casey/

I had ended that last post with the note that we were going to see a vet but never followed up with what happened.  Basically, after we considered all our options, we went forward with Acupuncture as a treatment plan and she responded extremely well to it!  In fact, after a couple of weeks, she was pretty much “completely” healed.  Acupuncture suddenly seemed like magic to me :)

Anyhow, we did give her another treatment yesterday and we saw an immediate change in her.  It is always funny to see how she pretty much “melts” into my arms as I keep her from doing whatever she can to remove the needles, though :)  Before we left, we also gave her a kind of re-hydration treatment (electrolytes injected just under her skin which got absorbed by her body during the evening).  Her appetite also improved so now we’re just going to keep an eye on her and check back in a week.

All this to say that considering what we went through 3 years ago, it’s wonderful (looking back now) that we were able to get all this time together and that this form of medicine has had a lot to do with it! :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Potter Musings

Kyle is a short month shy of turning 7 years old.  And guess what he’s been asking for ever since School finished last week? He wants us to read him Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as fast as possible (or at least a chapter a night) so he could be allowed to watch the first movie! :)

See, we always had this agreement with James and Melyssa as they were growing up (and as the HP books were being published) that they would be allowed to see the movies provided they would finish reading the books.  Seeing as James was the same age-ish as Harry, he got caught up quickly and able to read on his own.  Kyle is not yet there although he can read and make out sentences :)  It would just take too long.  Plus, if anyone has ever read to a child before, you know how satisfying it is to get them caught up in their imagination where they visualize what you’re speaking :)

Anyhow, we’ve been doing this every day with him and the amount of questions that keep coming out of him are hysterical. He asks questions we know the answers to, and gets a little frustrated when I tell him that “we haven’t learned that answer yet in the story” and to just wait a little longer :)  Heh.

Of course, he being such a sensitive little soul, the biggest trouble he had with the beginning of the book was why the Dursley’s were SO mean to Harry.  He got so sad hearing about another little boy (who’s supposed to be a hero!) being so mistreated by his “family” !

Another interesting part (for me, personally) is remembering just how much was changed (or rather shortened) from the book to the movie. That’s the part I’m also getting a kick out of.  But, there’s nothing that beats sitting on my chair in my bedroom, small light open by the nightstand, Kyle sitting on my lap intently listening, as we delve back into a world of magic :)

What a wonderful adventure :)

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

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Out of darkness…

Years ago, I could never have imagined myself not being online on a regular basis.  And the definition of “regular basis” for me really meant blogging, interacting with friends, reading, etc.  When Facebook came around and blogging (at least the reading of blogs) took a hit, I understood but at least kept up my own writing.  With Twitter, nothing really changed.  Slowly, though, I did find myself staying away for longer periods of time and yet although I was still online, I was more in an observer mode.

I’d read Twitter feeds, or some Facebook feeds and outside of sharing photos on FB, I had no time for anything else.  Every couple of weeks I’d log into my blog and read what others were up to, but, again, not being able to put any thoughts down. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until I went looking through my blog this week, looking for posts on the asthma-trauma we’ve had to deal with as a family. As I had become an Asthma Ambassador for the Asthma Society of Canada, I was asked to share some stories and I knew I’d find them here.  I had to go back two years to find something!  What?  How could that be, I asked myself?

Sure enough, the true realization that all those pretty little conversations I’ve had in my head for the last couple of years have only BEEN in my head.  Wow.  Sure, I’ve lived through periods in my life when I felt I had no time to keep up and managed to tweak some form of anything on a semi-regular basis.  At one point, I even tried blocking time on a daily basis just so I could take a moment and “escape” the daily routine.  Eventually, it cleared up and things went back to normal.  But this drought?  Not acceptable to me.  So many magical moments gone unrecorded – even if in private.  I have to fix this, and I shall.  No more waiting for tomorrow, no more waiting for a specific point in time “when things will happen”.  Yes, yes, Yoda, I know.  Do or Do Not.  Sometimes, it’s still a lesson to be (re) learned :)

Now, let me post this so I can start to draft out some future posts as well.  After all, I’ve got some catching up to do!

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

It’s been a month??

A month since my last post?  Really?  Wow.  I know I was struggling with finding/ making/ bribing time to write something here, but to not even be able to complete the 3 drafts still waiting to go out… phew.

Take-away from all this? I’m a heck of a lot busier than I thought I was going to be! Full-on mad rush of a month was March but now that it’s finally over, I’m hoping to be able to breathe a little easier. We’ll see how that works out.

Maybe if I ever manage to actually take time out for lunch I could use it to throw down some digital thoughts…

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Hiding in the Wild

Greetings Earthlings!

Okay, not really :) I just feel like I’ve been offline for so long that I may as well have been on another planet :)

I’m still in the process of re-integrating myself into everyday life here in NDIP and I must say it’s been really, really busy.  It’s taken me over 2 weeks to get a semblance of order restored in my workday -to a point where I don’t feel I’m constantly running- and I think we’re getting there in the home life, too.

See, one of the first things that we’ve been working on at home is an early Spring Cleaning, starting with new furniture! So, a few new commodes, plus some shifting around of the other ones, the throwing out of a lot of old clothes (or rather, bringing it to goodwill), and just getting our home cozy again.

All of which pretty much guarantees a shortened online presence.  Heck, even my social media time has been greatly limited. Oh yes, and speaking of Social sites, I just recently joined a new community that a good friend of mine (Paul) brought to my attention: Cowbird.

I’ve only just started using it, trying to find my voice, but you can see my pages here: http://cowbird.com/author/mike-aragona/#

Gotta run, back later!

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

T minus 1

Wow.

I think that sums it all up for me.  Just wow.

From the 2.5 months of hanging on, waiting for this job that was given to me to finally be unblocked after being put on hold at the last minute, to flying to San Francisco on a day’s notice (after finally and formally signing the contracts) to being blown away by what I saw at Emeryville (and even jumping right into the discussions and giving examples on the boards during my first meetings) to getting to fly back home that same week and arriving at midnight as the clock struck and announced my birthday…

…through the week of prep and the angst at leaving my family, followed by meeting my team and us all flying back to San Francisco together, getting our TN Visas, and getting settled into the hotel that changed its name 3 times while we were here, to the many months, weeks, days, and hours of working, living, laughing, and growing together…

To going back home. For good.

So many moments, so many experiences, so much of everything… and we kept on going through it all because we believed in the project so much, and because my family was strong enough to survive this very difficult separation, and that thankfully my wife was able to ensure our children were never lacking.

And now it all comes down to this. 4 suitcases, stuffed as stuffed can be without breaking open, 9 months of “living” packed away and ready to be tossed into a plane’s cargo hold… my hotel room, so much a part of my daily life already packed away in my mind, and me sitting at my desk, on this laptop, watching the clock tick away as it counts the minutes and hours before it’s time to get up tomorrow morning, for the last time, and head out to the airport.

to. go. home.  HOME.

wow.

I’m going to miss being here, but I’ll be back every now and again. But my heart will finally be whole again as I’ll be physically reunited with my family. We survived.  Wow.

It probably won’t feel “real” until Monday morning when I get up to get ready to head out… only to realize I won’t be flying back! Phew.

Home… just a few short hours away…

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

#canadawrites … and I giggle…

So, CBC Books was holding a “Break-up” contest on Twitter and they had Tabatha Southey (@TabathaSouthey) a Writer and Globe and Mail columnist as a judge.  For 12 hours (10am-10pm EST) folks were invited to basically tweet “dear john” letters.  The prize? an iPad. But, as cool as that could be, the fact is… just like the “day without wikipedia” it became something I started on a lark and then couldn’t stop :) And now, just like that day, I wanted to capture my tweets here in my blog. So, without further ‘adieu’…

#canadawrites

  • This is the end, beautiful friend…
  • Remember when I said I loved you? You can forget it now.
  • You had the key to my heart. Now it unlocks the cellar.
  • How can I miss you if you won’t go away?
  • You will find your things next to my heart. On the sidewalk.
  • If you’re still reading this, then I have to adjust my security settings.  (* I actually got an RT on this one from the judge ;) )
  • You are a treasure. I want to bury you in my back yard.
  • I’d say you are my Valentine, but that is *SO* last year.
  • I got the message and the message is clear. Now, it’s your turn. Get. Out. Clear?
  • Started my new diet. Lost 150lbs of ugly. You.
  • See you at the airport! If I`m not there, make sure you get on the plane!
  • Let me get to the point: it’s over.
  • What do these words have in common? Finished. Over. You. End. Done. Give up?
  • I will always cherish you. From afar. Far, far, afar.
  • I keep thinking of where I found you, and if I can lose you the same way.
  • I finally understand why a Preying Mantis eats its mate.
  • Once Upon a Time, there was us… Now there is ME.
  • Hershey’s gave me Kisses, you gave me Herpes.
  • Ding Dong the Witch is Dead! Yeah, that would be you…
  • I wrote your name… on this Restraining Order…
  • The tree with our initials carved on it was struck by lightning.
  • Couldn’t tell you to your face, so I’m Tweeting it instead… Buh-Bye!
  • I’m not a Quitter, so consider yourself Fired.
  • I hope you get this note. It’s the last I’ll ever send you.
  • I’m right. You’re wrong. I’m here. You’re gone.
  • Love is on the Menu tonight. I’m ordering out. What about you?
  • Even the Superbowl takes a commercial break for entertainment. And you’re no Superbowl.
  • Remember when I said I’d love you forever? I exaggerated. #canadawrites
  • When I tell you I’m in the mood for love, your reaction should not be to ask why.
  • Letting you go was like winning the Lottery. Suddenly, life was beautiful!
  • In the PrimeTime of our relationship, I regret to inform you that notice of Cancellation has officially been given.
  • Wait, you didn’t really think I was serious, right? Weren’t you joking, too?
  • I loved you like a hurricane… but now you’re just a blowhard.
  • It’s not that I don’t love you, I just love ME more.
  • Let me lie to you… I want to stay with you forever.
  • If the door doesn’t hit you on the way out, I’d be glad to do it.
  • Don’t you want somebody to love? Ditto. Know where I can find them?
  • Did I forget to tell you I was leaving the country? Today?
  • Wedding? I thought you said ‘Bedding’. Oops, my bad.
  • Without further Ado, I bid you Adieu…
  • This is the first tweet of the rest of my life… without you.
  • Thanks for playing along! There’s a nice parting gift waiting for you!

Does get kind of hard to stop after a while… but I’m going to leave it at that – even with 20 minutes left to go. Let’s see if I can resist the temptation ;)

…aaand had to sneak in that one last “Thanks for playing along!” gag… :)  Ok, now I’m done.

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

It’s starting to feel real…

For the last few weeks now, pretty much since the holidays, the end-date of this first phase of my current project was set in that the return date was one of two days: the third or fourth week of February.  Even when it was confirmed last month that it would be Feb 16th, the reality of it hadn’t really sunk in.

After all, when you’re working what feels like round-the-clock, days all kind of blur together (let’s not even talk about hours). But that has always been okay since the whole reason we kicked off this Small-Canadian-Team-in-the-US phase was to get us all to live and breathe not only the lifestyle of our environments, but the company, processes, and project itself. On that count, it has been extremely successful as we have all been fully integrated into the daily goings-on and not just as participants, but as collaborators and “influencers”.

And now, this phase is coming to an end as we prep for The Voyage Home and setting up shop as an East-Coast and Northern expansion. Again, with all the work we’ve been doing, I haven’t had that feeling of “I’ll be home for good”. Until last night.

Finally, as I walked to the local Target in Emeryville and passed by the Bay Street Shopping Area on my way back, the streets and buildings I’ve been looking upon for the last 9 months suddenly looked… “different”. Always familiar, but with a tinge of “dusk” that hinted at an “unspoken” countdown clock. In that slow red haze, during an extremely comfortable 12 or so degrees, my vision of my surroundings started to gather some of that “nostalgia dust” which (I know) will cloud my future viewings with a sigh of “comfortable” feelings. Remembrances of so many walks and actions throughout this city, as well as all the good friends I made here.

It is nice to know that this “end” is really just another change and that there will still be a number of opportunities (and needs) to come back here from time to time, but the best part is that I know those future “visits” will be akin to visiting a childhood home.  Emeryville will never be just another “place” to me now.  It will be a fond reminder of Professional, Personal, and Family Growth.

I do look forward to future visits, and as much as they will be fun and enjoyable, there is still nothing that compares to the feeling that it WILL be a visit and that I will quickly turn around and go back HOME to my FAMILY :)  9 months away from my wife and children still feels like an eternity and it’s about time we all stop hurting at the pain of the separation :)

Why did we do it, you may ask? For the same reason I told one of the nurses who helped take care of my daughter during the open-heart surgery that saved her life over 4 years ago.  My wife and I wanted to do our part and give back to Canada, to HealthCare, and to the Montreal Children’s Hospital for everything they made possible in ensuring our baby girl would live.  Watching her medical folder grow and grow and grow and thinking about how easy that information could be lost, or how her Pediatrician was not always in the know of what happened to her (or what happened to my son during his asthma attacks)… it was and still is a little frustrating.

So, when the chance came to be part of a team that would help bring an Electronic Health Records solution to Canada, the sacrifice of 9 months seemed very minor in comparison to the years of my daughter’s life given back to us.  Americans have had access to the RelayHealth solution for almost 10 years now (http://www.relayhealth.com/) and very soon (for those who haven’t read all our press releases) it will be ready for Canada as well (http://www.relayhealth.ca/relayhealth-overview.html)

And that is a good thing :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Home, Sweet Home…

I’m sitting here feeling a little dumbfounded, or perhaps more in a state of shock.

For months now, I’ve been sitting in my room here in Emeryville, trying to put to words all the gamut of emotions that I’ve been struggling with for over 8 months now.  I’ve been wanting, and failing, to share what it’s meant to be over 2000 miles away from my wife, my kids, my home, and work at one of the best (if not THE best) companies I’ve ever worked for in my life.

What a mixed blessing! To be constantly wishing to be with my family, and yet to be so engaged, motivated, and immersed in my work that no day EVER felt like I was going to “work”… on a professional front, who could wish for anything better?  On the personal front… ouch.

My wife put together a great summary yesterday about it all, broken down into how much has gone “on” while I’ve been away, and how much I’ve missed out physically if not virtually (thanks to the absolute joy and wonders of Skype). As difficult as this distance has been, we have been truly blessed by a number of things. When those really important moments came, I was there, in person. Kyle’s 6th birthday, Charlize’s 4th birthday, seeing Chantale’s grand father one last time prior to his passing, and then being able to make it to the funeral. Such important life moments and I never once felt like I was a burden on anyone at either company or department I was involved with.

I used to joke back in June 2011 about how great it was working here and that I could easily see myself taking over a role here but for the fact that: (a) my family, my home, were back in Canada and I would not move them out here, (b) what we’re trying to do for Canada is the reason I came down and I want to see it through to full completion/ implementation, and (c) my job/position/career back in Canada is going to keep me more than busy enough! :)

But it’s definitely a great feeling to be wanted :)  And I realized I deviated somewhat from the original intention of this post, so let me adjust.

I first came down to Emeryville the week of my birthday, back in 2011, for a few days. I actually made it back home ON my birthday that first trip which was an amazing gift on its own.  Afterwards, I flew back down with my team on May 23rd.  And from then on began an adventure I will never forget – even if I didn’t manage to capture it fully here in my journals. The point is, though, that at the forefront of my mind was how I was missing my wife, and missing watching my kids grow up. During my first few months, Kyle started Grade One and Charlize started PreSchool, while Melyssa started Secondary 3 and James his first year of college. Again, with good fortune, I was able to be there for Kyle’s first days, too. Unbelievable.

We got into a virtual routine with me spending a lot of time on Skype “living through” whatever events was going on back home – from the “mundane” mealtimes to just lounging on the couch watching tv together. That virtual presence at least kept me connected and kept me sane. But as the vacations came, and such wonderful times were spent back home, it became harder and harder to fly back to San Francisco. We always knew that, soon, but not always soon enough, that final flight home would come.

Well, tonight, for me, that time is finally scheduled. I booked my flight home and the flood of emotions that tore through me brought tears of joy and relief at knowing that I *will* be home for my Wife’s Leap Year Birthday, and that I will once again be physically part of my children’s everyday life. Call it sappy, call it what you will, but as much as I will miss the amazing friends and colleagues I have made here, nothing can replace the people I’ve devoted and committed my life to. That’s just truth of the facts :)

One Adventure is winding down, but another Adventure will begin the week after it as we continue with our plans for world (or at least Canadian) domination! :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Wandering through the Past

I spent most if not all of tonight re-living about 7 years worth of memories. It was basically a high-level reading of over 1000 blog entries and I found the experience quite fascinating.  Why fascinating? Is my life that unbelievable that what I’ve lived through is so captivating? Well… yes, actually :) But it’s not just that.

What really amazes me is that when the past is looked upon through the veil of time, age, and experience, what really bubbles to the surface is just how *much* stuff we’ve lived through! In everyday conversations it’s quite easy to lose the details of a lot of events. But when you’re reading through your personal history, and those specific memories are triggered, it’s like… wow.  How did we do it?! :)

The best/ quickest example is just taking the events of children. Charlize and her open-heart surgery; Kyle and his asthma and allergy attacks. Two “general” examples which summarize soooo many events.  Re-reading those events brings home the fact that if it weren’t for the need to see everything through to (and believing in) a healthy end, it would be extremely easy to fall apart and cease to function (as a parent, as a person).

All this, of course, doesn’t even bring up the memories/ stories/ events of the whole 9 months of going through the Pregnancy, Delivery, and bringing Baby Home phases! Those, as well, can sometimes feel like a lifetime on their own! :)

So I say, again, how grateful I am that my wife and I have kept a journal for so many years, simply because these memories might not matter much to those outside of ourselves, but they’ll matter to our children and our eventual grandchildren. After all, the same way I wish I knew my own Parents and Grandparents better than I do, it’s only natural that those “to come” will want to know about our lives, our trials and tribulations, and ultimately, our incredible joys.

And you know what? That’s just something you’ll never be able to get through Facebook or Twitter.

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

The Day The Lights Went Out…

Not much more I can add to today’s blackout from so many online sources as a protest towards SOPA and PIPA but feel free to read Wikipedia’s thank you message: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:CongressLookup?new=yes

For my part, I knew of today and understood the concern and could see how even Canada would eventually feel the impact. However, I had no thoughts towards doing anything about the day… until I read one of Dayton Ward’s (http://daytonward.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/without-wikipedia-were-left-to-our-own-devices/) first tweet on that special hashtag #factswithoutwikipedia.

I was quite amused and thus wrote up a couple. And then, slowly, became addicted, and the couple multiplied. Like the bunnies that china built the Great Wall to keep out. Even when I declared a self-imposed “stop” to my tweeting after bringing in some Canadian content,  I found that I could just…not…let…it…go! That time finally happened when Wikipedia came back online and I figured I’d spend the last few hours of my evening doing something else (like maybe reading comics or watching The Sarah Conner Chronicles :) )

However, before I drop the subject completely, I did want to keep the tweets for posterity, here, in my blog. These are just the ones I wrote and none of the re-tweets I did (because there were quite a few jewels in those, too! :) ). Without further a-do, and with the hashtag removed, I bring you my pearls of wisdom (although some will only be understood by those living in The Great White North):

  • BC was initially created as a unit of weight meaning “Before Calories”
  • Tumbleweed are sticky ashes brought together by the breath of medicinal weed users
  • The elbow is the funny bone because it is used to poke others in the ribs (aka ribbing)
  • The Grapefruit is neither a grape, nor a fruit
  • Luke was originally Vader’s daughter Lucille
  • The Secret Service James Bond used to provide Her Majesty was in the bedroom
  • The Moon is not made of cheese, it is made of Yogurt
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, Barney was the King of Dinosaurs
  • Badminton was initially created by a group of men trying to kill a bee
  • George Stroumboulopoulos (@strombo) is secretly the President of Canada
  • Rick Mercer (@rickmercer) wrote the Canadian Nationial Anthem
  • More Canadians take dog sleds to work than Snowmobiles
  • Every book Stephen King has written is based on a true story
  • Clark Kent is Batman
  • Peter Parker is Superman
  • Ringo Starr is the only Beatle to survive living Under the Sea. All the others drowned.
  • Canadians have no running water, but plenty of Tim Horton’s coffee
  • Petting a cat from tail to head builds enough static to stick them on a wall
  • In an emergency, coffee can be used for blood transfusions.
  • Gone with the Wind is about one woman’s struggle with flatulence.
  • Canada has 13 timezones, one for each of the 10 provinces and 3 territories.
  • Canadians are legally obliged to keep Moose or Beavers as pets.
  • Harry Houdini never died, he was just misplaced.
  • The Godfather is a book/movie about a man finding out that God is his father.
  • Dog is actually spelled C-A-T.
  • PONG was originally created as a counter-measure to LSD.
  • Orville and Wilbur Redenbacher flew the first airplane.
  • Betsy Ross starred on The Golden Girls.
  • Ice Cream is made with ice mined from Icebergs.
  • Smeagol was Frodo Baggins’ uncle, Bilbo, known to friends as Gollum.
  • Old McDonald had a Farm. He grew Pot.
  • Yoda was created when a Muppeteer accidentally dropped Grover in a pickle jar.
  • Natural Spring Water is collected by means of plastic pipes, not metal.
  • You can use Scott Towels to pick up Gas Leaks.
  • The Planet of the Apes is a documentary.

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Comic Dreams

This weekend, as I was folding the laundry, I was struck by the number of Superhero t-shirts my little boy has. I smiled at the fact that (a) he loves superheroes as much as I did when I was growing up (and to a large extent still do), and (b) he’s lucky enough to actually be able to HAVE such great t-shirts! :)

Superman, Lego Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Iron Man, Spider-Man… I folded and folded and just got a kick out of all the designs, thinking back to how simple/ sterile the ones I grew up with looked in comparison.

Everyone knows there’s lots of money in marketing, and such products as these (along with toys, of course) are cash cows for the comic companies. But, I wonder if anyone also knows (or cares, really) that these products also give little boys and girls (and their parents in some cases!) a lot of joy :)  Probably not, but that’s okay, too :)

I’m just glad I can get to share in this love of superheroes with my kids (or, that they can share in my love of superheroes :) ). It is a lot of fun and sure makes for some great memories :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Starting over…

So this morning, in an effort to try to make commenting on this site (at least on the portal site) easier I tried to install a few authentication plug-ins. I tested the google, yahoo, and WordPress ones but couldn’t get the other protocols (like Facebook, twitter, and OpenId to work). As I went about trying out a few others, I suddenly hit a memory error I could not recover from. Repairing the site wasn’t working so I fell back to the immortal words of a friend of mine (Tommy, you know who you are) and took the Scrap-and-ReWrite route.

Luckily it was easy enough to do with me just losing some tag management. No biggie. Doubly-lucky that it didn’t take that long although I will spend some time tweaking again – later.

In the meantime, I activated the remote protocols which allows me to use an iPad app to post here :) . This comes at a good time when -like now- I’m flying home and hanging about the lounge waiting to board. I know there’s a storm back home but it’s clear in Vancouver. Boarding should begin soon so I guess it’s time I make my way over :)

But I couldn’t leave without mentioning that the Maple Leaf Lounge here in YVR is as great as I expected it to be :)

 

-updated manually as the Remote protocol did not cross post this entry to LiveJournal

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

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A New Year

Indeed, it’s a new year, and I still haven’t manage to figure out a way to make time to put my thoughts down :)

I wanted to speak of the holidays, and how wonderful it was to be home this year – how being so far from home for so long already just made BEING home for Xmas that much more special. How packed the time was and how much food was consumed! :)  Everything was just so special but busy! In fact the only downtime was after Jan 1st when we were able to just “veg” and unwind. By the time I got to that state of peaceful bliss, however, it was time to jump back on the plane and get back to the “real world”.

Thus, now, almost 2 weeks later, going on about those holidays is just not the same.

The ‘real world’ consists of spending 9-10hr days at work followed by anywhere from 1 to 3 hours of being on Skype to catch up on what’s been going on back home. Strangely enough my body is still (and seems to always be) on whacked-out time zones so there are quite a number of nights where I end up falling asleep between 8-9pm (usually while reading!). But, it won’t be long now when I can once again work in the same city where I actually live :)

In the meantime, I should try to take advantage of this new blog format to put some thoughts down. After all, even my status and tweets seem to mainly revolve around my flight plans (and the Travels of Bulbasaur ;) ). And although it feels like a lot of my time is definitely spent on air travel, there is more to what’s going on than that and I’d like to record it for posterity :)

So, not a New Year’s resolution, but more a Desire.

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

I’ll be home… for Christmas…

I leave work and start walking to my hotel.  It’s a cool but very nice and sunny day so my jacket is open and I’m strolling along, my eyes squinting from the sun, and I look at the people around me as I walk past palm trees… and it hits me (again).

I’m starting my Christmas Holidays! But… but… where’s the snow? How am I not wearing any boots? It *can’t* be Christmas!!

For a Canadian like me, where Christmas usually equals snow, ice, cold, heavy layers, and fireplaces, I suddenly feel like I’m on another planet!

So I take the time and try to think about it. What is it that I’m missing? It doesn’t take long for an answer to pop up: the ambiance! I can do without the ice (except in an outdoor ice rink at the local park!) and I can do without the massive snow (although I really do enjoy a light powder that helps make things “glow”) and the cold… well, the cold is really where it’s at, it seems. The need to get bundled up, the family huddled together on the couch with a nice fire going in the fireplace, the lights on the tree winking and giving off a warm glow as well, while sharing in some holiday movie…. moments like that are what I look for at Christmas time.

Not the mad dashing, not the nonstop shoveling, but the slow, leisurely pace of life in a much more relaxed state. Spending the day in pjs, or playing in the snow in the backyard and coming into the house for a hot cup of cocoa… mmm… I’m feeling happy and relaxed already just thinking about it! :)

And so, as I spend my last couple of hours looking outside my hotel room in Emeryville (balcony open so as to let in some cool air), I feel my body begin to relax and unwind as it starts the internal shift to being at home, with my family, snuggled away from the cold, enjoying our time together during these Festive days… and wishing Good Cheer and Happy Memories to one and all! :)

Be Excellent to each Other!  And… Party on, Dudes! :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Sir Spam-a-lot

As my Paid LiveJournal account deadline looms, I’ve been taking a longer look at just sticking with the basic account for reading my friends posts while sticking to the site now resting on my own domain. I still have a few weeks to decide but I’ll probably just ride it out and see how painful that will be vs just going full-RSS.

In the meantime, what’s been bothering me the most about the new WP site is… the amount of spam it gets! Daily spambots telling me how much they love the blog and sticking links everywhere. Good thing the moderation is on so their comments don’t get published, but still. What a pain.

So it’s Saturday night in Emeryville and I just lost the entire afternoon due to having fallen asleep after lunch… to only be woken at suppertime by a constantly ringing phone! I still don’t get what’s going on over here. This entire past week has had me falling asleep anywhere between 8pm-9pm with my alarm waking me up just before 6am. That’s like almost 10 hours of sleeping which could easily be more. What the heck is up with my body that it needs that much sleep and knocking me out so often?!

S’funny. It’s almost like my body “knows” that it’s supposed to be winter time and wants to go into hibernation. Except, that’s not exactly the case here – although it will be when I fly back home in a couple of days. Yes, I’m hoping for a White Christmas – I do every year. Kind of hard to think about the Holidays without any snow around! :)  Just doesn’t feel right, you know?

Well, as I’m looking forward, here’s to the fact that I’ve just passed 7 months on this project, living away from home. Wow. Still partly unbelievable. 2 more months and I’m home for good. And THAT is something worth celebrating, too! :)

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

Hockey Night in San Jose

So, here's the thing about me and Hockey.

Back when I was a kid, I was a big Hockey fan. Watched the Montreal Canadians play on television whenever it was broadcast and when I wasn't doing that, I was playing hockey in the streets with my friends.

Yes, the frequent calls of "Caaaaar!" whenever we had to stop game play to move our nets out of the way of incoming cars, and "Gaaaame on!" when play resumed is as funny and true as it was in a similar scene in Wayne's World.

But, at one point in time, basically when Ken Dryden retired and I entered High School, I stopped watching. Why? Because of (what I saw as) the stupidity of my friends. Some of these guys would literally get into fist fights the day AFTER a game because of some stupid call or play or defeat. Wtf? Yeah, totally ridiculous and completely took me out of it.

In the years since, I've watched a couple of games but never as religiously as I used to. I attended only a handful of games but never paid for one since I had either won the tickets or gotten them as gifts. Plus, since I always worked downtown, I easily and quickly got fed up of all the scalpers making a fortune on selling tickets at ridiculous prices - shutting out so many fans who would love to see a game but can't afford to.

One thing, however, that I always knew, saw, and experienced, was the fan participation. Not the idiotic riots which we are, unfortunately, infamous for, but the energetic, joyous, rambunctious cheering, jumping, dancing, etc, that brings a fun level to audience participation at games.

This year, seeing as I'm stationed in Emeryville, California, a bunch of us decided to go catch the Habs when they came to town to play against the San Jose Sharks. Why not? The tickets were extremely affordable (in comparison to similar seating back in Montreal, I believe the cost would easily be three times as much!) and it would have made for a fun outing.

What a difference.

Yes, the arena was very well lit, and there was a lot of activity outside of the rink and lots of things to see, BUT... audience participation... is a misnomer. You are not allowed to stand during the game. You are not allowed to jump around. You are not even allowed to LEAN FORWARD in your seat! Wtf?!

That's right. Watching a sports event like hockey is like watching a MOVIE. Sit in your seat, prim and proper, with your backs straight and no talking. How do you get INTO a game if you are so far removed emotionally? And, of course, if you're not allowed to move, then the Ushers do not allow anyone to come in OR out of the rink area during game play. So as not to disturb anyone, you see. Again, wtf?

If you want to just sit there, comfy and cozy in your chair, with a blanket over you to keep you warm... why don't you just stay home? Srsly. Think of the money you'll save. At least they allow us to jump up and cheer when a goal is scored, but still....

After the game, instead of feeling pumped because of the action, I felt like "okay, well, that was nice, may as well go home to bed now." Heck, maybe that's the real reason. Just another form of crowd control. But definitely NOT a hockey game like we're used to back home.

Remembering…

So this week, I’ve been thinking about Remembering – specifically as it pertains to Remembrance Day.

Considering where so many of us here in North America come from, what happened in individual families during World War 2 could be quite different from what we’re remembering “today”.

Growing up as a comic book fan, and especially a fan of the Justice Society of America who spent so many of their early adventures fighting the Axis forces during WW2… that reality is no longer true. Think of the Axis back then, and now think of how those various countries work together in this day and age. We don’t still consider them evil, do we?

It’s not a clear cut case of “The Sins of the Fathers” because, in war, what soldiers must do is what they are told to do. History is written by the victors and all that.

Imagine how crazy it can make me to think that I am an extremely proud Canadian, yet my great grandfather may have fought on the “wrong side” – at least when viewed from the Allies perspective. Am I evil? Are my ancestors?

No. War is evil. And the men in power who cause those wars are evil.

And so, today, we remember those who fought and suffered and lived and died – be they men, women, children, soldiers, or civilians. After all, the MAIN thing we should NEVER forget is this: in War, everybody loses, some more than others.

I remember the fallen, and pray for the day war becomes an obsolete notion never to be repeated…

 

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. You can comment here or there.

NaNoWriMo2011

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. Please leave any comments there.

Took about a week for me to really accept that, yeah, okay, I actually was writing towards this deadline.  Heh.  I guess it happens.

I haven’t done NaNo since 2006, after having done it from 2003. There was a number of reasons for this. I didn’t need to prove anything since, well, I never really had a problem making the word count. Also, there was more than enough going on that I could use the energy elsewhere – so I did :)

But this year, being in the East Bay (where NaNo sprung up in 1999) and being so far from home, it just seemed like the right time. Heck, one of the things I thought I’d be able to do when I moved here for my project was that I would have time in the evenings to actually DO some writing. But, five plus months in, outside of the stuff for Comicopia, I hadn’t made any dent in that list of things to write.

So, NaNo. What the heck. Why not? It’ll get stuff out of my system :) And this time? I’m not rushing against a deadline – I’m leisurely taking the time and trying to put out as close to 2000 words a day as I could. It allows me the opportunity to reach the goal while still having time to just relax and hang out in the evenings :)

That lounging time? Well, it’s spent on little experiments like this blog, or playing iPad/ iPod word games with my wife… who usually kicks my ass on a regular basis :)

And how’s the NaNo going? Pretty well, I would have to say :) In case the image below doesn’t appear, the count is currently at 15,399

 

The Experiment Continues…

Originally published at The New Floodgates of the Mind. Please leave any comments there.

So, every day this week I’ve spent about an hour taking a look at my blog. By that, I don’t mean that I’ve been sitting here reading it :)  What I have been doing is wondering where to go with it.

See, I’ve often wanted to do more with my hosted site, since I knew it was possible to do more. After the last big upgrade, I tried to explore options but not to the level I’ve done this week. So, what have I found? Well, it’s now much easier to install and configure software on the site :) So, no more having to get real “techie” like in the old days. Don’t get me wrong, I love being techie especially as I’ve been doing it for most of my life. But, some days, you just don’t want to have to figure stuff out and just want things to work.

Which brings me here.

With the click of a switch, I was able to import all my LJ posts (since 2002, 1553 posts!) in one go-round! No exporting, no monthly uploading, just click and go.  Very cool. Yes, I couldn’t get all the comments, but that’s what LJBook is for ;)

And now, with another click of a few links, an LJ cross poster is in place. If it works the way it’s supposed to (and right now I don’t see why it wouldn’t), then this post will show up on the blog, and in Livejournal (with my techie icon). Yeah, me likes :)

What does this mean? I don’t lose out on the LJ portions I enjoy so much, I don’t have to use their crappy posting interface, and I get to keep all my posts in my own database. And then, when my account expires in a few months, I won’t necessarily have to spend money on it. But that’s thought for another time.

There’s obviously still some tweaking for me to do, but, for now, it’s the best of both worlds…

Halloween 2011

Well, there you go. It's my first Halloween without my kids. The first time I couldn't go door-to-door with them.

At least through the "magic" of Skype, I'm sitting here watching them sort their Loot :)

It's not the same as being there, but it's also not like missing everything :)

Remember, the joy in life is not to focus on what you're missing, but to be grateful for what you have :)

My family looks happy on the other end of this camera, and I get to share in the squeals of delight as they explore what's in their bags :)

So, I'm content for now :)

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Smiling Saturday

I'm in a good mood right now :)

Having fallen asleep early last night, I woke up at 8am PST with the sun shining into my hotel room. After a quick breakfast, I headed out onto Bay Street for some window shopping. Unfortunately, I headed into Barnes & Noble and got hooked with their discount books... LOL. I can't say no to a book, especially one on sale :) Truthfully, I picked up a small book for Charlize, an early-reader (ie; 4-8) chapter book for Kyle (based on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman :) ) and a book on pin-up artist Gil Elvgren).

I then headed over to AMC to catch an early showing of Puss in Boots. Although I loved (loved!) all the music and dancing scenes, including learning of Puss' early years, and cracked up at Kitty Soft Paws "Batman" inspired costume... it didn't reach the FULL level of enjoyment I was expecting. On a joy/ giggle/ fun factor level of 8 (my expectations), it was a 6.75. So, I'm glad I got to see it for $6 and not more :)

After a quick stop to pick up some groceries, and making myself a killer omelet for lunch, I've been doing some editing/ reviewing/ and writing with music playing in the background. I still don't have a proper "writing" area in my hotel, but have found that sitting at the dining "island" is a lot more comfortable than the desk they have here. Add to that the fact that I have a variety of novels, DVDs, and action figures in front of me watching my every click allows me to find ways to distract myself to help the words slip out of my fingertips :)

Add this to the sun still shining into my room and the smell of espresso still in the air... and I can count this as a good day :) Of course, the extra fact that I'm contributing to a friend's book when I wasn't sure I would be able to, definitely helps :)

Yup.

Yes, it's true.

I've taken to snacking on a small bowl of Fruit Loops cereals at night because I miss my kids and it reminds me of when they came down to San Francisco for a visit a few months back.

sigh.

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Waiting...

Okay, I'll admit it. A lot of my energy and thoughts have been on the upcoming Air Canada strike. And, yes, the main reason is because I'm scheduled to fly back home on Thursday night - the first flight that's not direct but going through Toronto.

Strangely enough, I'm not worried about what's going on. What I mean is that if the strike goes forward and my flight gets cancelled, I can simply rebook with another carrier. What would be bad is if the first leg of my flight goes through, but then the second leg gets cancelled!

Yes, there are always ways around things and it'll all work out in the end. But it's nice when things go easy, ya know? :) The whole stress of waiting/ watching/ wondering is a pain in the @ss and expends energy that could be better used elsewhere.

Ah well. At any rate, less than a day left for the news. In the meantime, I'm taking my team out this afternoon for lunch followed by a few games of pool. What better way to have a sprint retrospective? :) A true Team-Building event! :)

Anniversary in Pictures

2011 marks 8 Years that I have been happily/ecstatically Married :)


For our Anniversary, we spent the weekend in a log cabin, away from the world :)


Alone? Nope. Why? Because it also marks 4 Years since Charlize's life was saved when her heart was repaired at The Montreal Children's Hospital

As part of our celebration, Chantale and I are taking the kids to see The Smurfs at the movies. There is great irony in the fact that we're celebrating a "Blue Baby" by going to see a movie about little Blue creatures ;) But then again, that's just the kind of people we are! :)

So, back to the Wedding Anniversary. How do you celebrate 8 Years? Well, according to the sites I read, the traditional gifts are linen and bronze. Okay, not exactly something to party about, but we do what we can. Since I had already purchased some new linens just a few short weeks ago, I didn't want to go there. As for bronze, again, I didn't want to get any other statues. I've been wanting to get Chantale some earrings but bronze? Not sure how that would be. Luckily for me, I found the National Geographic's Novica website and came across these beautiful bronze dangle earrings handmade (to order) by Milagros Johanson in the Andes.


The only problem? They would not arrive in time for me to take back to Canada (last Friday). Also... I really have been wanting to get her some fancier earrings. But where to shop? Zales? Birks? Again, the net came in handy and I found Jewels for Me. My selection? White Gold, White Topaz earrings! Beautiful!


Why Topaz? "Topaz is a soothing, empathetic stone that will direct energy to the place it is most needed. It heals and energizes. Topaz is a promoter of truth and forgiveness. Use it to find your own path." Also:

White topaz:
* Increases your awareness of thoughts and deeds and the karmic effects of these
* Purifies emotions as well as actions
* Activates cosmic awareness
* Removes stagnant energy

So, this hits on a lot of points I liked :) My final problem was how to spring them on her. Our official day is in a few hours (or, Aug 30 to be more precise) but I didn't want to wait that long - especially as we were going away for the celebration. What I did was simple. Once checked into the cabin and unpacked, the kids were out by the water playing in the sand (and chasing ducks) and I put the little package of a white plush bear with a little rose sewn in its hands hugging the box by the bedside. I called Chantale up and told her there was something in our room that she had to see. She came upstairs, saw the package and I could swear her hands trembled a little as she unwrapped the gift and opened the box :)

When she saw the earrings she was in complete awe, and when I read her the note and the meanings behind my gifts, she got a little misty-eyed :) It was a wonderful and as magical a moment as I could have hoped for :)

Happy Anniversary to us! :)

For Clotho

For Clotho

There comes a moment,
A Point in Time,
When there is no choice,
But to cut the line.

The battle's been fierce,
The struggle's been long,
But fatigue has set in,
And it's time to move on.

With a sad little snip,
And a settling on shore
Watch the water pull away
Until you see it no more.

But know deep inside
That below the visible surface
The power still moves
And lives on in that place.

Catch a glimpse if you can
But fret not if you don't
For your paths will rejoin
When it's time to go home.

-Mike Aragona, Aug 5, 2011

Life is so strange...

In 1979, when The B52's released their debut album, my 12-year old self could never have imagined, sitting in the living room listening to Rock Lobster on my turntable, that 32 years later I'd still be enjoying their songs or that I could find myself, in jeans, walking to work in the Bay Area, crossing palm-tree-lined streets, a Vanilla Latte in one hand and a laptop bag in the other, while Planet Claire and Rock Lobster rang in my ears on a device the size of a pack of gum.

I guess, to that Mike, I'd probably consider myself a "Yuppie" - which is a bizarre thought as I could never imagine myself a "Professional" *anything* !!

At least I take comfort in knowing that the music of those times still resonates with me and still has messages that can be taken to heart... even 30 years later.

Or, to quote Missing Persons, "Life is so strange... when you don't know... how can you tell... where you're going to... you can't be sure... of any destination... something could change... and then you won't know..."

More thoughts on the Digital Dilemma

It's funny how when you're doing something that's out of your "norm" you don't always fully question the details. Especially when you're just starting to explore. That's what struck me this past weekend as I tried to settle down and spend some time catching up on some comic reading - both physical and digital.

As I mentioned before, I had finally jumped onto the iPad bandwagon mainly due to wanting a better way of managing my comics collection. DC's big reboot was the impetus to get me thinking about where I want to spend my money and how I want to store all the books (or rather, IF I wanted to store all the books). Going through my pull list, I was a little surprised that the number of titles didn't really change that much (even if the actual books did). I'm only reading one Marvel book (Ka-Zar, 'natch) and that, being a mini series, will end soon. The rest were DC, Boom, and IDW titles.

Anyhow, as I finally reviewed what titles I would read physically and which I would read digitally, a realization struck me. I wasn't saving any money. Why? Because the digital comics cost what they cost. Period. The physical comics? I get a discount as a regular subscriber at my LCS. What's more, they are giving regular clients a huge 40% discount (as opposed to the regular 25%) on the new DCU until January. That means that for at least 4 months I would be able to sample (physically) all the new titles at less cost than buying them digitally - even if I didn't download on same day digital release.

So, suddenly, I'm left thinking: do I go ahead and purchase a book like Wonder Woman digitally at $1.99 (a week later - because I never go to my LCS weekly at any rate) or do I get it physically for $1.79 ? Granted, of course, there are taxes involved on the actual comic, so the costs would pretty much even out. But the point in fact is that at the end of the day I can either hold SOMETHING in my hand, or have the ABILITY to read something in my hand. This might seem like a no-brainer to most, but having been a comic collector/ reader for almost 40 years, it's still a little tough to let go of the notion of being able to strew your comics across your bedroom, or have them in piles all around you (like Uncle Scrooge and his coins).

Again, in the end, I save space by going digital. If I truly like the book I read, I can carry it around with me "forever". If I don't, the file will get deleted at one point but the issue will still belong to me and I can re-download it at any time (should I want to). Physically? It would either go up on a shelf for a while, or in a box in my basement...

Well there you go. This exercise of writing out my thoughts has helped me once again in my resolve to move towards the future. :)
It looks like the technology to pull me kicking and screaming into the future has indeed arrived.

It started last Xmas when I went ahead and purchased a Kobo eReader as a means of controlling the sheer volume of books I tend to read and keep at home. After an at-least 8 year slow purge of physical books from my life (with the biggest sprint being last year as I was finishing up my basement renovations), I came to accept (because I always realized it) that the main reason I loved having books around is to go back and reference them (at most) or enjoy the cover artwork (at least).

Out of the thousands of hard covers, paperbacks, or table books in my collection, there were only a smattering of them that truly made it beyond that level and into the "re-reading" category. So, in truth, having all this "stuff" wasn't doing much except take up space. Hence, the move to Kobo. Now, as then, the point was always two-fold of which books I would continue to purchase physically (usually either visual/graphical books or those from series I really loved and wanted around the house) versus digital (for consumption and curiosity). The point of going with Kobo was basically that all I could use it for WAS read. I didn't want something for surfing or anything else. Basically, a book equivalent of a Discman or a Walkman (remember those?). I copy or download books, I read at my leisure.

As I also noted, graphical books - or more specifically comic books - were completely out of scope for this move. As far as I was concerned, I was not ready to move to digital comics. Almost 40 years of time, energy, and memories invested into this love of the four-color medium meant the move could not be easily accepted.

And then DC decided they needed to "clean up" their entire line of books. Whether this was to get clear ownership of their flagship titles (after all the lawsuits), or whether it was to get a bigger slice of revenue by branching out and enticing new readers, it doesn't matter at the moment. What matters to me is the fact that as far as I'm concerned a big final chapter is being closed on a Universe I've loved for 40+ years. A vast majority of the characters I loved growing up (like The Justice Society, for prime example) would no longer be published. All other characters would be revamped and brought up to "today's standards". Hence, things like Superman -outside of powers- would be a different character.

DC's strategy is that this would be a great "jumping-on" point for fans. Of course, the reverse is true. It is also a great "jumping-off" point.

In thinking back to events that made me stop reading specific comics or companies, it's always been these kind of wholesale wipe-outs. The Spidey Clone Saga took me out of reading Spider-Man until JMS came to the title. Then, ret-conning his marriage to Mary Jane took me completely out of Marvel (so I didn't have to bother with things like Skrull replacements in a body-snatchers theme). Now, DC is closing off many titles/ characters I really like and offering new versions.

Are they interesting? Yeah, some. Are they worth investing time in? Probably not. Comic fans will cite things like "What Crisis brought in was revoked 10 years later" and other arguments along the line of everything that gets revamped goes through another revamp after a number of years anyhow. But I'm just a little tired of it at this point. To me, I wonder why I should try to care about any new characters or situations. Heck, even the movie studios aren't really interested in modern superheroes, they're always going back to the original source material of the 60's-70's anyhow! And since I've got all those books, I'm not missing anything :)

But I digress. The point I was trying to get to until I distracted myself was that this "new" DC universe is not where I'll be spending my money. Indeed, the thought of purchasing comics that won't give me the satisfaction I expect and then having it "linger" in a box in my basement is just not right. So, in evaluating the costs, I decided to get an iPad last month. After all, from what I had seen, it was the closest technological gadget for mimicking the experience of reading a comic.

I spent the month experimenting with the various apps for downloading and reading comics and tried out a bunch of free ones (either previews or specials). I discovered a few things. Notably, all the Marvel comics I read of titles I stopped buying/ reading held no appeal for me. Sure the characters were the same (ie; acted the same) but the stories had nothing new to offer. Thus, nothing to gain there. The DC titles I sampled were of titles that were considered 'classics' but again, didn't do anything for me. However, I used the time to catch up on some older material for the experience. And then, I went ahead and purchased a digital comic.

As someone who has always "needed" to hold/own/have a physical copy of anything/everything, this was a big thing for me. Suddenly, it wasn't an .mp3 or .m4a file that I could "see" - this was a file on my iPad "only". And space on my iPad is not as limitless as my basement - which means regular clean-up. However, the biggest difference in this case is that although I might have to delete this file one day, the rights to READ it still belong to me. Which means, that should I want to, I could re-download it without cost (since it was already paid for) and read it again.

So what do I gain? Pretty covers I can see in my listing of "my comics" in the app I use, the experience of reading a comic in an almost-identical size, the kind of clarity of image I could only hope to see on the printed page without glare, the ability to carry dozens of comics with me at a single time without worrying about page creases or coffee spills, and a clutter-free life.

Does this mean I'll stop buying physical comics? No, not yet. There are still titles and characters I will prefer to hold in a physical copy. But, after testing the waters with the iPad, those are much smaller than they were when I first thought of this experiment.

Of course, this discussion can go on and on and on. About my reasons for getting an iPad. About the debate of being a Comic Reader vs a Comic Collector. About the things you can do with a physical copy (like loan it to a friend, pass it on to a child, etc) that you can't do with a digital copy (at the moment). But there's no reason to go there. The material will always exist now. This was not the case at the beginning of comic book time. This means that there will always be options for seeing, reading, or owning anything that you can potentially "miss". The time of "collector mentality" is also something that doesn't necessarily apply any more. etc, etc, etc.

Instead, I'll just close with one very important point:

If a fire ever took out my comic collection (35,000 when I stopped counting 11 years ago), I would have nothing to show for it but my memories. If a disk or system crash ever takes out my iPad, I could replace everything on it by logging back into my accounts and re-downloading what I've already purchased. Kind of puts a lot of things in perspective, doesn't it?

*Blink*

The days and weeks just evaporate like raindrops in the sun...

Chantale, Melyssa, Kyle, and Charlize flew down to Emeryville on July 1st and spent the last week and a half with me. They flew back to Montreal today (their plane just landed a short while ago). Why does time always have to go so fast?

It wasn't the kind of vacation we were hoping to take this year as a family, but with the vacation blackout period I'm under on top of the timing requirements of everyone else, it was the only time they could take. So, they flew over here and got to live a little of my day-to-day life. Really not hot or sunny here, but they did bring the sun which helped make their first weekend really nice. We spent quite a lot of time shopping and driving around, even heading into the mountains. Had some nice meals in the close-by restaurants and then, finally, this past weekend we headed into San Francisco to enjoy a bit of the Golden Gate Park (or more specifically the Academy of Science). The Sunday we spent at Pier39 was also quite nice as the sun was out and the crowds were unbelievable. We had lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co which was really fun, too :)

Having them here in the hotel, although a little crowded, was so nice I can hardly express it. I would get up at 630am and out the door at 7am while everyone was still sleeping. I would get home a little after 4pm and we would hang around and chat before getting supper done. After supper, things depended. We either went for a walk, or just hung out more and watched a movie or something. Like I said, it wasn't exactly a "vacation" but it was a nice break and being able to see each other for that long was wonderful.

Of course, the sadness I felt last night was nothing compared to the pain I felt this morning after breakfast. I tried to be strong in front of the kids but it was impossible and the waterworks started - which, of course, made Kyle really sad and he broke down crying as well - which made Charlize sad and worried. It took a while to compose myself again - long enough to accompany them downstairs to the waiting taxi. I stayed strong long enough to get Charlize and Kyle to smile again but once they drove away, my tears returned. It took the walk to work to get myself under control again but the moment I walked through the doors to the suite tonight and saw the empty room... well, then everything shattered once more.

Have I mentioned how hard it is to be away from my family? :( It'll be 2 months soon which means another 7 months to go. It's a good thing there is SO much work to do because I'm kept so busy I don't have time to miss anyone during the day. The evenings, I get to Skype with them which helps. Besides which, evenings generally aren't very long. So, yeah. Hurts like hell today/ tonight, but I'll be better tomorrow. And then, there will only be 7 do-dos left before I fly back to Montreal for the weekend AND Kyle's 6th Birthday :)

Chantale and the kids should also be able to come back for another week at some point during this summer, and I'll be off the last week of August as well, so we'll have a good amount of time together. After September, a new schedule will come into effect so we'll have to see how that goes. At that point we'll be able to count the months on one hand which will also help.

For now, I've got some nice photos (like the trip to the Muir Woods Lookout) as well as nice memories (like going to dbshoes with Kyle and getting Converse runners for both of us) which will have to do to keep me going...

Tags:

Missed Milestones.

After a lifetime of saying this... sometimes I still can't believe how fast time goes!

I've been wanting to write a little blog note since my last Home Leave but it's already been 2 weeks since then and still nothing! The big reasons behind wanting to keep it going was because on June 23rd, Charlize went for her follow-up appointment at the Cardiologist after 2 years to see how her little heart was doing. The visit itself is routine, but the event is still one of great importance to us. Thus, it was with heavy heart for me that I could not be there with Chantale to see how our little baby is doing. In fact, I didn't realize how nervous I actually was until I got the "all clear" signal that morning. As Chantale told me, Charlize was a real trouper and they sent me a scan of the x-ray (which is actually hanging by my desk :) ). What was really nice is that one of the nurses who took such great care of us 4 years ago during the ordeal was able to make a surprise visit to see them. Well, surprise for them because I actually asked her to drop in :)

All this leads into June 24th, which was when we all celebrated Charlize's 4th Birthday! At her request (insistent!), we threw her a Princess Party! Chantale went out of her way to get a ton of Princess decorations including making a cake with them on top! Charlize was very much entranced by it all and the family gathering was wonderful, especially with having James over for it as well. So, we had a lot to celebrate (me being home, Charlize's strong heart, her birthday, the family) which made the Home Leave that much more special. The next day, we headed over to visit my parents (on the way to dropping James off) which was very emotional for them as well - especially seeing James which was like seeing the ghost of me back almost 30 years ago (which, for my parents, brings to the forefront just how much time has gone by, and how different their lives are today from those days).

To end off the weekend, we went to watch Cars 2 on Sunday which was a very satisfying sequel for us :) The kids especially enjoyed the Toy Story short as it was a nice unexpected surprise to kick off the movie.

Now, you see how a wonderful family weekend like that needed to be noted? :)

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