Archive for February, 2013


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
– Ernest Hemingway

 

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A sweet Valentine’s Day shop

It being Valentine’s Day, I paid a visit this morning to our local baker /confectioner / prepared food purveyor.  Sucré Salé, located in Manotick’s east in a small strip mall off the Rideau River  has been in business for about a decade and although I’ve always been very impressed when ever I shop there, I did wonder how they would survive in this rural wilderness far from the centre of the action in downtown Ottawa.  However, survive they have, and indeed they have thrived. Continue reading

I donated blood last week and it got me thinking about how much the process of blood donation has changed over the years.  My first donation was in high school, in the ’70’s, when a clinic came to our school.   The process back then was pretty simple, as I recall: the biggest barrier for most students was that you had first to want to give blood; the notion of having a large needle inserted into the arm was off-putting for many of my classmates.   Once committed, you were asked if you’d eaten breakfast and then female students were given a test to check iron levels.  If all was well, you moved over to a cot where a nurse tied a rubber band a bit like a soft rubber hose around your arm and poked you with the needle.  Some ten to twenty minutes later, you were done, and got to move over to the table where they plied you with juice, cookies and doughnuts – almost making the donation worth it.   Continue reading

Driving stick

When I learned how to drive in the 1970’s, my parents owned two vehicles, a gold-coloured first generation Honda Civic, and a rust-coloured (who buys a car the colour of rust? ) Ford Fairmont which we nicknamed the squad car since it was the model of choice of police forces across the continent at that time.  Since the Ford was the “good” car, I wasn’t allowed to learn in it, so that left the Civic, which of course was a manual transmission.    I was duly signed up for lessons, because my father ever the frugal one, knew that this would ensure he would get a discount on my car insurance – the fact that it might make me a better driver was just an added bonus.   But before the lessons started, he decided to show me the basics – we went off to a parking lot and I learned to get into gear, hippity-hopping the small car each time until I finally got the hang of it.  I think I got to second gear in that adventure.  When we returned, my father, looking somewhat drawn, said I had taken three years off the life of the car.  Well, at least I had thought it was fun.  But Dad was privately high-fiving himself about his genius decision to enroll me to learn on someone else’s car.

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“This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
– Douglas Adams

English: Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada, Janua...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Every winter, shortly after Christmas, begins the Ottawa festival known as Winterlude.  It centers around a huge rink on the Rideau Canal, itself a UNESCO world heritage site, which winds it way through downtown Ottawa, through some of Ottawa’s oldest and most venerable neighbourhoods, to its end at Dow’s Lake.  The total length is 7.8 km, with a small off-shoot at Patterson Creek, and a fine expanse of skating surface at the lake at the terminus. Continue reading

The Beer Strike

near Gander, NL

Terra Nova Tel was a Newfoundland-based telecommunications company headquartered in Gander when I got the call to fix their multiplexer. The equipment had been in place a number of years, and the faulty line in question was a 56 kbps dataport, one of my firm’s newer pieces of hardware.  The year was 1985 and I was part of the Customer Engineering department in Ottawa, where one of our responsibilities was field support.  My colleague had tried all the usual things to resolve the problem over the phone, but had determined that a site visit was in order since the problem remained.   Being the newest in the group, I won the short straw to make the trip. Continue reading