Memories of Grandma

I still remember the day. December 6, 1995. I had been working at my part-time job at a computer store just off-campus, suffering through a wicked head cold. I’d begged my manager to let me leave early, but he’d needed me to stay. (I remember feeling not only put out, but tortured — I hadn’t done much all day.) I had trudged the two-odd kilometres back home just itching to crawl into bed and not emerge for a day or so. But when I placed my foot on the driveway of the house I was living in, I had a feeling that something wasn’t right.

I rushed inside, quickly descending to the room in the basement I’d rented (I was one of seven students in the house; four up, three down), and immediately went over to my phone, not removing my jacket. There was the familiar pulsing tone that said I had voicemail. It was my father. Dad never called me.  Mom would always call, then hand over to Dad. He was quiet, saying only to call home when I got in. The news was short.

Grandma had died.

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Happy 97th Birthday, Nana!

There’s nothing like a birthday to make people feel young. Yes, young. You think birthdays make you feel old, don’t you? C’mon, admit it, most people think of birthdays as another notch in the Age Belt, and suddenly grey hairs appear where you didn’t think they should, and you swear you feel your bones creaking.

I’m of the opinion: You’re only as old as you act. Namely, if act your age, you’ll feel old. Oh, sure, there’s a need for maturity and responsibility in our society. But, like all things, there’s a time and a place for all of that. And I think more people should just lighten up and be more immature. ‘Cuz frankly, it’s more fun.

This is something that, to some degree, I learned from my Nana.

Nana is my grandmother — my Mom’s mom. She’s my last living grandparent, and is one of those living embodiments of the Energizer Bunny. She might have slowed down more in recent years — she is 97, after all — but she gets around really well, still remembers quite a lot (even if she sometimes has trouble following a conversation), and has the same wit she’s had most of her life. Frankly, I hope I look as good and think as well as she does when I’m her age.

Equally important tonight was the fact that it brought her family together. It’s been a while since we packed into a room, and I hadn’t seen some of then since we went to Costa Rica — and my Uncle Dave and Aunt Alaine even longer than that. We even had a new addition — my cousin Pam’s newborn daughter, Sarah. The Monkey, of course, was utterly fascinated by the baby.

So happy birthday, Nana! This time next year, you’ll have two more great-grandchildren to faun over.

Greed kills innovation

I was sitting at my kitchen table, poring over recommendations I’m writing for my client (partially communicative, partially CYA), when I had one of those sudden thoughts: I need tea.  While I was drinking my tea — a pomegranate green tea, if you must know — I had one of those epiphanal moments when something becomes radically clear.

Greed kills innovation.

It’s short, it’s simple, it’s sure to raise the ire of a lot of people, but it’s also a major problem we’re seeing lately, especially in internet technologies. It’s a problem that’s dogged humanity for generations. And it’s getting worse.

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Torches and waterslides

Well, Monkey, it’d been over a month since the last time you swam in a pool, and I thought it high time we went for a swim. In fact, it was so overdue that I felt it was also a good time to go for a Surprise Weekend. And that’s a big deal, because it’s been almost a year and a half since our last one.

Why so long? It’s been a number of things. First, I worked a lot, and too hard. It wore me down and I was almost always too tired to do things that we should have done. It’s a poor excuse, Monkey, and I’m sorry that it’s all I have to offer. Second, doing things in Costa Rica was always just that much harder than it really needed to be, at least when planning for us. You can only go to Arenal so many times, and getting to the coast never seemed to be as easy for us as it was for others. After a while, we planned all of our weekends, rather than letting one of us surprise the rest.

Needless to say, I wanted to change things up a bit.

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Copyrights are the new Colonialism

The late 16th Century was the dawn of the British Empire. England had triumphed on the seas, and had set its eyes on colonising the New World (before its enemies did). Patents were issued, companies were founded, and flotillas of ships dispatched to every corner — known and unknown — of the planet in the name of Queen/King and country. Colonies were born out of determination, slavery, and blood extracted from those too weak to defend themselves from British will.

In time, a phrase was born: The sun never sets on the British Empire. Great Britain’s influence extended far beyond its native shores, its power unquestionable. A few thrived under the colonial system, but the majority — the people living under colonial rule — were marginalised as being little more than the ignorant masses; significant numbers suffered horribly.

It’s really no wonder that the Empire collapsed under its own weight.

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There and back again, a Monkey’s tail

This is a joke you might not understand until you’re older, Monkey. For now, it’s one many of my friends will have a good chuckle at…

You’re asleep right now, in your own room, on the mattress from one of our sofa beds. A month ago right now, you and we were standing in the immigration line, waiting to enter your country of origin, and go to your new home. I can’t say “home” the way Mommy and I say “home”, because for you, this isn’t your home. Costa Rica is more your home than here.

You still look at video of our condo in Santa Ana, and you ask when are we going home. Because that’s what you know more of. We left Canada when you weren’t even a year old. You learned to walk in Costa Rica, to swim, to talk. Almost all of your friends are in Costa Rica, you went to school there. You ask for “schoolday”, and talk about your teachers.

But you came a long way to be able to say these things, and have these memories.

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Goodbye, Critical Mass

Hey Critical Mass! I’m sorry I didn’t say “goodbye” properly. You know, the traditional email that goes around to cmassother, usually followed with the “we’ll be in the Ship starting at 5 o’clock”. I never got a chance to fire one out, such as things are, so really my best avenue to say hasta la vista is here. Hopefully a few of you get to see it.

Truth be told, I had been planning my “goodbye” message for years. (As my dad used to say, if you’re going to do something, do it right.) If nothing else, it would have been fun to make: a video that would cover my time at CM, complete with a snazzy soundtrack, and some bogus story about going to teach at an all-girls school. But planning means nothing without execution, and I never got around to it. I’m sure I will come to regret that.

Some of you won’t have a clue about who the fark I am. Some of you know me all-too-well. No matter where you sit in the spectrum, do yourself a favour and look around at all the people sitting near you. They, and you, are the people who make up Critical Mass.

As many have said before me, it’s the people I will miss most.

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2009, A Year in Review

The year past was one of the toughest ones I can remember. It’s been a year of extreme highs, some pretty darks depths; my share of awesome joys, mixed with an unhealthy dose of stress. And that’s not when you consider the economy, I might add — things are even worse when you roll all that in.

The year closed out on a more sombre note for me, in many ways. Much quieter, and I got to spend a lot of time with my family (which I cherish now, and cannot regret in anyway), but the future is a little less certain. I’m less concerned about that fact than I thought I would be, however.

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New Year’s Tea

The New Year is always a reason for change. It’s always a reason to do something differently than you’ve done before. It’s a time when people hold to ages-old traditions, and make efforts to start new ones. It’s a time to look back on the past, and look towards the future.

And frankly, it’s a darn good reason to make a little trip out to Banff to see old friends.

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