Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Giving in to Temptation

Sometimes I like to resist the temptation to upgrade and replace my belongings with new and better versions of the same thing. I know the satisfaction is only temporary, so, where I can tolerate it, I try to employ the philosophy of 'using what I have'. But, after six years of use (some might say, abuse), I think it's time to replace the brush I use at work.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Family Jewels

When we are kids, we naturally have an exaggerated admiration of our parents. It’s understandable - compared with our peers, they are incredibly intelligent and talented. Whether they are heroes or zeros, they tower above the world on a parental pedestal. We don’t know any better and we are proud to call them mom and dad.

When my dad went to hockey practice, I remember imagining that he was playing at the Saddledome with Lanny McDonald. When my mom and I would belt out ‘Islands in the Stream’ in the car on the way to ECS, I imagined it could be her on the stage with Kenny Rogers. My dad was like Bob Vila – with a hammer and the right amount of duct tape, no household repair or renovation was out of reach. My mom was the original iron chef – no need for a recipe or a measuring cup. Before the crocodile hunter, there was my dad, who counted a snakes, spiders and flesh eating fish among his pets. Before Martha Stewart, there was my mom, who was an expert interior designer, seamstress, fashionista. They were both so smart that they were entrusted with shaping the next generation of young minds. They had great fortunes that allowed us to travel. My parents were cool.

As we grow up and learn more about the world, our perspective changes. We see that the world is filled with a lot of smart and talented people. The parental pedestal fades and your parents are judged on their own merits.

Public school teachers, with two kids, a modest house, and modest cars, my parents were not out of the ordinary. And yet, they are the most extraordinary people. Parental pedastal gone, my mom and dad stand tall.

This has become particularly evident to me since their retirement about a decade ago. They have always had hobbies, but retirement has allowed them to pursue them without limitation. Travel, reading, golf, quilting, pottery, cycling, painting, hockey, cooking, landscaping, fixing stuff, gardening, volunteering, music. My parents are dynamic and ambitious and multi-talented and are continuing to grow. It’s so awesome. Let me tell you about just one of the ways my parents are amazing.

My family was never particularly musical, although my dad used to play a handful of songs (mostly choruses) on his banjo while he watched Hockey Night in Canada and my mom had an autoharp that spent a lot of time leaning against the basement wall. It seemed to me that music was an odd hobby for them, since they weren’t really “performers”. They were too reserved for that. They wouldn’t even sing out loud for Christmas Carols! Then, a couple of years ago, my dad got more serious about his banjo picking and my mom wiped the dust off of her autoharp. They joined a bluegrass club and, before I knew it, formed a band with two others; called Blue River. They jam at the house once a week (how cool is that, my parents JAM!). They started taking gigs at retirement homes and church parking lots. This summer, I had the incredible pleasure of watching my parents play LIVE in front of a crowd. And, they rocked!
I’m so proud I could cry.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vote for Pedro

18% of voters turned out at Calgary's last election, compared with 65% at the last federal election. Why don't people care about municipal elections? I would argue that municipal representatives have a greater ability to impact our lives on a day-to-day basis and generally have to work harder than their higher profile counterparts at the provincial and federal levels. Yet, they get less respect and less money. This high-cost, low-reward combination inevitably makes it difficult to attract high quality candidates. In my view, this means it is even more important to vote at municipal elections.

In Calgary, the key rival for the incumbent mayor has been implicated in a range of unethical activities. The positive result of this might just be that people become compelled to take some time to learn about the candidates - including me.

On the eve of our civic election, I am finally taking the time to educate myself on the alternatives. is a website developed by a non-partisan group of Calgarians dedicated to improving the city through encouraging debate and discussion on important issues. It was a helpful tool for me in this process.

If you live in Calgary and you've got the time and interest, I would encourage you to take a few minutes to learn about the candidates in your area and then get out and vote tomorrow.

p.s. The picture above is actually a campaign sign for the current election. Only in Bowness!

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I lean against the outside of the building, watching the crowd enter as I wait for Erik to arrive. The crowd is noticably younger than 'usual' (a term I use loosely, since age is all that the crowd 'usually' has in common). It's not cold outside, but I see a lot of young punks wearing toques and hoodies. There is the familiar smell of fans getting ready for a concert. I'm eager to see what kind of music it is that has brought these people here.

We've been coming to the BDP World Music Series for several years now. Each show has been an opportunity to discover a new flavour of music. Typically we have no idea what genre of music we are going to see or what region of the world the artist is coming from until the music starts. I enjoy the surprise.

After an hour and a half of waiting for the band to start, Erik decides to go home, rather than spoil his Sunday ride by staying up late. I decide to stay. Within moments, a skinny black man walks out with his posse. His outfit makes me think of Snoop Dogg and I wonder how this group ended up on the roster for the Series.

I'm not sure how to describe the music. Raggae-Poetry-Rap-Political-Afrobeats? Whatever it was, it was a very enjoyable and energetic show. The young punks were up in the aisle dancing - with toques and hoodies on. And I'd say the music was so good that I may have to buy an album.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Diminishing Time Theory

I know that today is going to be 24 hours in duration, just like yesterday, just like the day I turned 12. Still, I feel that my days are becoming increasingly short. While I don’t yet know what the number will be, I know my days are numbered - and I don’t want them to go by faster. As a starting point to address the issue, I have developed a mathematical description of it.

Using the following definitions,
OD = One Day
DESB = Days Elapsed Since Birth
N = Number of Days

I can show Today, in the context of my life, as
Today = OD / (DESB)

By this logic,
Yesterday = OD / (DESB-OD)

Assuming that OD is always a positive number, I present my Diminishing Time Theory (DTT):
OD / (DESB) < OD / (DESB-(N * OD))

Therefore, Today actually IS shorter than Yesterday, on a relative basis. For me, today will be 0.009316% shorter than yesterday, and 0.591913% shorter than my 12th birthday.

Illustrating it graphically, it's apparent that we are doomed even in our first year of existence to progressively shorter days. Unfortunately, this brings me no closer to a solution.

Theoretically, I see that I can neutralize, or even reverse, the tendancy of relative time diminishment by making the denominator smaller, but this is not practical as I don’t have a flux capacitor.

The alternative, increasing the numerator, presents a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Einstein theorized that it would be possible to cause time to pass at a different rate due to gravitational time dilation. Unfortunately, I don’t have an antigravity generator or a space shuttle. I also don’t have an ability to change the rate of the earth’s rotation about its axis in order to increase the number of hours in the day. But, I do have Daylight Savings Time and, once a year, there is an exception to the DTT. This year, on November 4, when I set my clock back one hour, I’m going to party like it’s August 30, 2006.