Monday, July 22, 2013

Has it really been 20 years?

Late on a Thursday evening 20 years ago, during a Karaoke night at a Waterloo watering hole, I got up the courage to chat with a comely young lass who had a beautiful smile and a voice to match.

Two years later, to the day, we became husband and wife.

Twenty years later, she still has that same smile and voice.

Although, technically, we met earlier, that was the first night we actually "met" and actually got to know each other.  We think of the 22nd day of every month as our "monthiversary".

It seems like only yesterday she made my heart race:

  • After talking in the car for an hour that first night.
  • Two nights later when she fell asleep cuddled up to me with my arm around her.  I so wanted to kiss her on the head but I was too nervious.
  • With anticipation at the elevator of her apartment at the numbers made their way to the 15th floor.
  • The first time she nervously greeted me wearing a provocative red halter top.  :)
One of the nice things about being able to celebrate your wedding day and the day you met at the same time is those memories wind up never leaving.

Now, 20 years later, I still think of those early days in our relationship and cherish them.  Other relationships around us haven't fared so well.  Make no mistake, ours isn't all milk and honey either, but it's nice to know that two years from now we can still look forward to celebrating another 20th Anniversary.

This gruff old codger is lucky to have you, sweetie.

I love you,

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gerring Old -- OR -- The Numbers Game

Well, another birthday has come and gone.

I don't know why I bother.

Think this will be the last one of my own that I bother to celebrate.

After all, what's the point?

The reality is that one gets to a point in one's life when  it's time to stop making a big deal of it.  It's time to stop thinking about such childish things when the best birthday gift you get is the one you buy for yourself -- including the birthday cake.

This doesn't mean that I will no longer celebrate the birthday of my loved ones.  I guess I'm just at the point where I've come to realize that it's pointless to dream about someone actually giving a shit.

But the real point of this blog posting is to harp on something that I keep hearing.

It's been said your age is just a number.  I call bullshit on that statement.
  • It's a number that society uses to determine what you are allowed to do as a youngster.
  • It's a number that is used to draw the line that ushers you into adulthood.
  • It's a number that determines how much you pay for certain things.
  • It's a number that sets people's expectations about you.
  • It a number that determines whether or not you can find gainful employment.
  • It's a number that determines how long you remain employed.
  • It's a number that defines you.
One may feel far younger than one's physical age but one's age essentially defines one's status in life, based on their accomplishments at a given age.

Now that I'm of that age where I'm closer to finding out whether the atheists or religious are correct,  I look back to to life of bad decisions, missed opportunities, huge dissapointments from those I had faith in and situations that didn't materialize, regarless of who is at fault.

Regrets, I've had a ton, but in retrospect, too few to bother with.  One must forge ahead.  I'm not ready to give up completely on everything.

Now it's off to spend some quality time with friends Johnny Walker and someone who just likes to call himself The Beefeater.  Now there's a birthday tradition I think I'll contine.

Why I'm done with facebook!

Yesterday, I finally did it.

I finally closed my Facebook account.  Not that I've been really using for anything in the past few years, but I would sometimes lurk on the pages and waste some time seeing what others have been wasting their time on.

I've been meaning to this for quite some time but have been too lazy to do anything about it.

The straw that broke the camel's back, however, came as I saw a wall posting from my well-meaning but often, security naive better half directly referring to my upcoming birthday explicitly mentioning my age.

This is just plain unacceptable.

Especially, considering this is coming from the same person who, upon signing up for Facebook herself, told me that she made a point of putting the wrong year in her birth date, not to make her look younger, but for security reasons and to preserve her privacy and security.

I suppose mine doesn't matter.

But I digress.

And I think where this is where the biggest problems lay with Facebook.  I find it fascinating that people are willing to lay their lives out for everyone to see.  The concept of having a personal life that is, well, personal seems to have completely left the building.

What really bugs me about Facebook:

The lack of personal communication.

Now, I'm not so old fashioned as to think you need to whip out the quill and starting writing in your best cursive script on linen parchment to get my attention.  E-mail is just fine.  It is a personal connection between the writer and me.

My e-mail address is easy to discover.  I'm disappointed in the people who would contact me on facebook when they can just send me an e-mail.  A personal Facebook message just doesn't cut it.  For some reason, there is a connection with e-mail that doesn't exist in a Facebook message.  I guess I'm just old fashioned.

The "like" button

Ok.  It's all fine and well to say you like something, but what if you think the statement made is utterly ridiculous, inane or otherwise ill thought out?  I'd prefer to see more buttons added such as:
  • I hate this
  • Have you actually thought about it?
  • Do you really believe what you just wrote?
  • Are you fucking nuts?

Bottom line is, I really don't give a flying fuck what anyone likes.


I find it scary that someone can take my picture, post it somewhere and say, "That's what he looks like."

Perhaps consideration should be given to the small children and domestic animals who might see the picture and be otherwise scarred for life.

But seriously, if you took a picture of me, I'd appreciate at least asking for permission before throwing my likeness onto the Internet for all to see.  Unlike so many people, I value my privacy.

Checking In

Aside from the fact that I don't really care, (see the "like" button) it worries me when I see people who live alone are checking in somewhere.  I'm basically an honest person but to someone else it's saying.  I'm not home, please come over and help yourself to my things.

And the worst part is, whatever you do, is all owned, lock stock and barrel, by Facebook to do with as they see fit.

Sorry.  I've had it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Sugar!

What better way to start blogging again than with a happy story.

Today is Sugar's First Birthday.

She was Born July 31, 2011, the only female in a litter of 5 kittens.  All her brothers were adopted out and she was waiting just for us to take her home

We adopted Sugar on March 3, 2012 from the North Toronto Cat Rescue

She and Gordito quickly (like within 72 hours) became the best of friends.

Happy Birthday, Sugar.

I'll provide more details in a future post.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Goodbye Quita

Quita lounging in her coconut

We unexpectedly lost the last budgie of our flock yesterday.

I took Poquita (who we call Quita for short) to the vet yesterday for a routine wellness exam.  She was somewhat streesed, which is not unusual, but during the exam, which usually isn't that big a deal, she passed out and couldn't be revived.

Needless to say, we're rather shell-shocked over the whole thing.  It could be argued that if we didn't take her to the vet, she'd still be with us.  But it would seem that there must have been some issue for her to succumb to something as  innocuous as being handled and prodded a bit.

But it is what it is.  As much as we might want to, there's really no point in over-analysing the situation.  The vet staff felt awful about it too.

Quita just after coming home for the first time in 2007
Quita was the runt of the litter.  That why we wound up naming her "Poquita."  ("poquito" is Spanish for "little")

When we first brought her home, she still couldn't perch.  But that didn't last very long since she wasn't overly fond of being pooped upon by the others.  She wound up holding her own quite well with her cage-mates.

Quita and Coquette sharing a moment together
Quita and Coquette spent a lot of time together feeding and preening each other.  There was no question (as with any good male/female relationship) that Quita called the shots, but she made sure that Coquette knew that he was appreciated.  Sometimes, she even let him have a bit of fun with Copperfield just so she get some peace and quiet in the coconut.

When Coquette passed in June, she was never the same.  She lamented her mate for the longest time but eventually she would get back to singing, chirping and playing with her "bling" in the cage.

The coconut was her favourite place to snuggle and have a little nap.  I suppose it let her give in to her nesting instincts, but there were a number of times you could catch her with her head tucked under her wing having a nice afternoon nap.

The other thing she really liked was her cuttlebone.  In fact, she loved that cuttlebone -- enough to make Coquette jealous.  We'll just leave it at that.

She had a sense of adventure that sometimes got her into a bit of trouble.  One day, she decided to fly into the kitchen and land on a sticky fly strip.  As you can imagine, that was traumatic but she survived the loss of a few feathers and a bit of dignity like a trooper.  

Then there was the time she flew into the kitchen while daddy was cooking and lit on the nearby window sill to watch.  I noticed her, said hello to her and then was startled to realize who was out of her cage watching me.  She hopped on my finger and was happy to let me take her back home.

I could have done without the time she decided to fly into my office and play hide and seek under a pile of rubble in the closet.  Fortunately, she did give me a few "peeps" to help me find her.   

And there was no head of broccoli too big for her. 

She wasn't afraid of much.

She was a sweet little bird and now she's flying with the rest of her flock.

Our house was unusually quiet this morning.  We already miss the cheerful chirping and peeping.  We honestly don't know when birds will become part of our lives again, but I honestly can't imagine not ever again enjoying the company of feathered creatures.

But for now, it's a time to think back to happier times in the aviary and thank those little critters for enriching our lives.

Farewell, sweetheart.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Death of a True Tech Pioneer

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie
He wasn't a lefty politician who fed off the public teat, even after death.

He wasn't a greedy misanthropist who sold shiny gadgets made with sweatshop labour.

He created the most widely used programming language in the world which became the foundation of virtually every modern piece of technology.  The C programming language is incredibly powerful yet, so concise that the document (lovingly known as K&R) that completely describes it is a small soft-cover book only 274 pages long.

Yet, hardly a news outlet will mention his passing, geek and technology sites notwithstanding.  In fact, he died 5 days before the news of his death was made public

I've written millions of lines of C in my day.  Here's one more.

     printf("Goodbye, dmr/n");

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We've been adopted by a cat.

 Meet the latest member of our little clan:


It's been said that cats adopt people, but in this case, it's true.

Here's the story:

The Beginning:

In late May, as far as we can figure, a feral Momma cat gave birth to a litter of kittens under our back porch.

We didn't twig onto this until late June.  Getting near them was pretty much impossible at first.  But eventually, Momma cat very cautiously let me get some pictures.

Lefty(left) and Momma

(left to right) Topper, Rum Tum Tugger and Gordito

Yes, we eventually named them, more on that later.

So now I started doing some research on feral cats in Toronto and wasn't quite sure just what exactly I was going to do about this.  But first things first, maybe they'd like to be fed.  Not wanting to go overboard on this, I started buying Whiskas pate wet cat food.  They liked it.

We fed them for several days but Momma cat didn't seem to appreciate all the attention.

One night, she moved them away.  Some place where those pesky humans can't get at the kids!  We noticed one Friday evening, the kids were all hanging around the back of our next-door neighbour's house and a day later, they had completely vanished.

We figured that was it.  Oh well.  Such is life.

A week or two later, we spotted one of the cats cavorting around the rubble in our back-yard neighbour's yard.  It seems they moved diagonally across from us basically out of sight The cats could get to our back yard fence, if they came, but we couldn't get to them.  So, I dug a little access path for them under the fence, just in case they wanted to come by for a bite to eat.

Lefty Having Dinner

It Worked like a charm

At this point, Momma cat was a bit more easy going about us feeding them because they now had an easy escape route.  Even Momma joined in and had some vittles -- as long as we left the area.

We didn't always see all the kittens.  Some were more adventurous than others.  Some would stay behind the fence and probably didn't come out unless we weren't anywhere near the food.

The Breakthrough:

On August 11, I came out with some food as I usually do.  There were no kittens near the fence.

I placed a container of food near the opening of the fence.  The first kitten to appear was a grey tabby with a brown face I rarely saw but this time he seemed bound and determined to get to the food.  You could tell he was fighting his instincts.   He tried twice to go under the fence but backed away at the last minute.  But the lure of the food was too much for him -- either that or he was just plain starving -- he was the smallest of the bunch.

He started to devour the container of food and he wasn't prepared to share with any of the others.

I slowly and very tentatively reached out to pet him.  He was oblivious and just kept on eating.

He ate the whole container of Whiskas and then looked at me for more.  For some reason, he wasn't afraid of me.  He even let me pick him up and hold him.  Full-out petting wasn't an issue.

Since I had several containers of food, I opened another one and he went at it but this time, he was willing to share with the others.

It's at that point that, seeing how he was inhaling this food, I thought "Here's one that just love his food -- it won't be long before he's chubby.  I should call him Gord -- short for Gordito -- Spanish for chubby."

I mentioned this to Melody and somehow, the name stuck.

I think I made an impression on him since whenever I came out back to feed the kitties, Gordito would be the first one out running to me.  Once I parked a lawn chair about 10 feet from the fence and sat down.  He not only ran to me, but hopped on my lap, cuddled for a while, then I would feed him and the others.

Needless to say, I was in love.  This would go on every day with Gordito spending more and more time with me or Melody -- sometimes as much as an hour before he would go back under the fence -- probably for a nap.  When Melody would come home in the evening, she'd go back to see the kitties and Gordito would cuddle up with her too.

Decisions, Decisions.

OK.  So now we have this cat who seems to like us.  And we obviously like him.

Do we invite him in the house?

What about Quita, our budgie?

Not to mention the state of the house isn't really in any condition for a cat to roam freely.  We almost get lost in the rubble.  A kitten would almost certainly get lost in the abyss and never bee seen again.

After a lot of discussion, we decided we'd do it.  But first, we had to de-clutter the house and clean things up.

But there was still the question as to whether or not Gordito really wanted to spend the rest of his life with us.

On Monday, August 29, I was out all afternoon and wasn't sure if any of the Kitties were awake from their afternoon naps to have something to eat.  Well, guess who came out first to greet me?

So I told Gordito I'd run into the house and grab some food.  When I got to the back door, here's what I saw:

Gordito followed me all the way (well over 50 feet) to our back door to wait for me.

A lovely cuddle and dining session for Gordito followed.

So, we decided that we'd try keeping him in the bedroom with us at night and, until we were ready, let him out during the day.  Overall, it worked out well.  We had a litterbox and food in the bedroom and we kept the door closed to he couldn't get into any trouble with Quita in the birdcage.

During a session the folowwing Thursday, I heard voices from one of the houses behind us.  There was some conversation relating to the cats but I wasn't able to follow it.  I just had a feeling that we needed to get on this sooner rather than later.

The Clincher

On Friday, Melody and I had a late dinner out as we usually do.  We got back after 9:00 and weren't sure if we'd be able to get Gordito to come in for the night.

What happened next blew us away.

He was waiting for us at the back door.


If there was ever any doubt as to where he wanted to be, this definitely erased it.

We often get a pet, develop a bond and have a wonderful relationship with it but the thing is, how often do you have an animal tell you they want to be with you?  He had complete freedom to be anywhere he wanted but chose of his own free will to be with us.  I found it pretty awe inspiring and really gave us a feeling that we were doing the right thing.

With it being the Holiday weekend, we figured we'd blitz things and at least get things somewhat into shape.

Gordito stayed in the house that weekend.

The first thing we decided to do after a major de-cluttering was to build him a "Kitty Condo" based on plans in this website:

Marva Marrow is a Cat Behaviourist and breeder in California and has this wonderful idea for building enclosures made out of wire shelving.  I would up building a lovely enclosure measuring 6 feet wide by 6 feet tall by three feed deep.

The Kitty Condo
It's uses nothing but wire shelving and is help together entirely by nylon zap straps.  It's amazingly sturdy and very inexpensive.  It even has doors that close so we can safely leave him in there when we leave the house or overnight.  Because of the birdcage, we need to be mindful to keep him away from Quita and not let his instincts get the best of him.

He absolutely loves it.  You can see him having dinner at right side of the enclosure.

In any case, I had the chance to write Marva thanking her for such a wonderful idea and she really seemed to be touched by it.  Check out her website at

Things Happen For A Reason.

Earlier, I had mentioned that I had a feeling the previous Thursday that something was up and we needed to move fast.

On the Labour day Monday, we left some food out in the backyard for the other cats but didn't see any of them.  We didn't think much of it since it was cool and rather early.  However, we did see them all weekend and they were doing fine.  I wasn't quite sure how we would handle the rest of the cats but for the time being we think we would continue to at least feed them.

On Monday afternoon, we found the food untouched.  Monday night, same thing.

The food was gone Tuesday morning but I figure it was the raccoons that got to it.  I left something out for them on Tuesday and it remained untouched throughout the day.  I saw no sign anywhere of any of the cats.

I'm hoping that they were taken in by our backyard neighbours or by one of the cat rescue organizations, hopefully to be socialized and given happy comfortable homes.  I suppose there are other things that could have happened to them but I'd rather not consider that option.  I'd prefer to think on the positive side of this.  If anyone has any information, I'd love to find out what happened to them.  I don't claim any ownership or anything, I'd just like to know that they're in the hands of someone who cares.

I guess that makes me all the more thankful that we took Gordito in when we did.

One Big Happy Family.

So, thanks to a little kitten, the house is getting to the the point where we can invite friends over and not feel embarrassed.

And, we have a creature we affectionately call "The Little Bugger" who we just can't enough of.

One of Gordito's favourite spots to sleep.
But only when we're around to supervise.
He now owns my desk

Such a pitty he hates his kitty condo

He has already had his first vet visit.  Dr. Thomas at The Cat Hospital in Willowdale is a gem.

He cuddles, eats sleeps and loves running around the house.  So far, he's won every heat of the Gorditoplis 500.  :)

And, strangely enough, Quita has been happily singing a lot more lately.