We took time earlier this month for a photoshoot with the lovely Rachel Peters.
We took time earlier this month for a photoshoot with the lovely Rachel Peters.
This is often how I find Sheryl’s devices, no matter if a phone, iPad, or in this case a laptop, they are always precariously placed on the edge of things. I don’t know exactly what this means, but miraculously none, in the many years I have noticed this phenomenon, have fallen off.
Sheryl and I took a short respite yesterday from work and the kids to spend a day outside in the sun. We haven’t spent ay significant amount of time together not working in many months, so this was long overdue, and has proven to be an antidote to my general feeling of downtroddenness.
The day started with a short walk through one of the many short trails that dot Stratford, then followed by a gentle 5k run and back home.
Sheryl and I then drove out to Greenwich a place we both have never been and spent the afternoon walking through the well maintained trails that take you through the property. The trip to and from of which required a stop in Saint Peters Bay for refreshments. Saint Peters Bay Black & White Cafe and Bakery sells receivers coffee and seems in desperate need of customers.
We ended the day with dinner in Georgetown at the Wheelhouse. Sheryl had chicken and I had fish chowder and their version of a lobster roll. The chowder was excellent, though ideally twice the size. The lobster roll was interesting; I love lobster and I love melted cheese but I think the two should never meet. Service was great.
All told I was on my feet for well over 21k yesterday which is a good way to relax I think. I guess there is some truth that fresh sea air and sun cures what ails you.
From J.B. Rainsberger’s latest newsletter titled Conversation Dojo. Would that help you?, comes a paragraph of which I love the tone of, and which I might just use in the future.
I’m not going to lie: I would like to be paid for this work. Even so, I recognize the need to give some of this away before I can reasonably expect to charge for it. Accordingly, I bring this idea to you, my faithful readers, so that you can participate before I feel justified asking for money.
I’ve been giving my time away for free for so long, to the tune of often having no days off whatsoever, that the very concept of getting paid for work seems almost novel. It’s especially difficult when I see people out enjoying the Island summer while I sit in a hot office; I’m not sure what I would do as I don’t golf and sitting on a beach is boring to me, but at least I would be away from this monitor and outside where it’s cool.
I’m sure I will come to my senses eventually.
I’ve been suffering from a bought of negativity lately, brought on by a whole range of small inconsequential issues that alone are easily overcome, but together seem to make me, as my son would say, salty.
Today was another one of those days, full of nonsense problems.
It started with me trying to do a quick voice recording, a process which intimately involves my upstairs neighbours bathroom usage. Their fan I find makes a hum that poisons ever so slightly a decent recording. This lasted a short time and was followed by the fan on our laptop kicking into high gear – we still use Audacity on this particular laptop and it unlike other options causes the fan to kick in in a big way. After a short time in which the MacBook had a chance to catch it’s breath, we started anew. I didn’t get but a few sentences in when the midi interface we use started producing noise of it’s own – first a hiss, then some weird crackling. This took 90 minutes to successfully diagnose and repair as I hunted for different cables to try.
Sheryl was in Souris so I took my life in my hands by riding my bike downtown from Stratford for a meeting at noon and a later photoshoot. I swear that drivers dislike people riding bikes here. I arrived early which gave me time to get coffee, but then found out that only 2 of us showed up, so we said our greetings and bid adieu. Meetings on PEI in summer are seemingly more and more alike in Thailand all year round.
I then headed home and tried to salvage the recordings I made earlier.
Feeling exhausted I canceled CrossFit and tried to go for a short run but failed due to general soreness and malaise, and the realization that I will never be like David Goggins.
Now, this evening with food in the oven, work to do, and 2 hours of Zoom workshops to hold starting at 9pm, the power goes out. Someone decided to crash into a power pole and the power in our neighbourhood is out for at least 7 hours as they work to replace the pole. Holding office at the StartUp Zone in Charlottetown, basking in the coolness of AC, we then realize that we left some equipment at home.
I think we are due for a break and since this Monday marks our 24th wedding anniversary (Sheryl and I have been together for 31 years now), that day will be the best day to take one.
Living on a remote Island on the East coast of Canada has regularly meant that the multitude of things that can only be, or more likely, economically be, bought online, take far longer to arrive than in other areas of the country. Amazon’s 2-day delivery expands to 5+, and more pedestrian Canadian online retailers start at about a week, after they have prepared your order. A notable recent exception has been Nomad in the US which had an iPhone case delivered in much less a week after payment. An extreme example in the other direction was a book ordered through an Amazon reseller which took almost 5 months to arrive, with false shipping notices throughout that period, forever poisoning me from buying physical books through Amazon ever again.
The never ending pandemic has meant that all kinds of delays can be expected depending on the efficiency of the business ordered from. Amazon seems fine, with delay depending on the reseller. Coffee shipments from Taiwan speedy, and coffee from Vancouver just in time.
IKEA seems to be in a league of their own.
We are in the midst of changing our working environment from home office, to office home. This has necessitated the purchase of yet another desk; like the last two I’ve ordered recently, the economical choice locally is the used market. Which is fine, if space provided, I would enjoy the idea of refinishing or repurposing old tables, but when I looked at the usual places the choices were uninspiring. “Genuine’ office desks I’ve seen are expensive and ugly.
I’ve had a great deal of luck with turning IKEA kitchen tables into desks, I’ve owned 5 INGO tables which are just about the perfect depth to allow for optimal monitor placement, great for kids, and are a blank canvas on which to finish.
This time we opted for LERHAMN, primarily because all the desks were sold out, no doubt due to many now working from home, and because we no longer have the space for refinishing.
Unfortunately, at $199 the cost for shipping to your home has ballooned from the reasonable, to the ridiculous.
I selected the pickup location option for the more reasonable $39. The pickup location in Charlottetown is at Same day Worldwide on Day Avenue, near the airport, and a slight deviation from our route home from CrossFit. We selected a pick up time convenient to us and arrived there last Monday night after receiving an email notification that our package had indeed arrived.
Arriving at Sameday Monday night we were met by a sign stating that we weren’t allowed to enter due to COVID-19 (it’s not clear how we will eventually retrieve the shipment if we can’t enter). I called them. The call was answered with the usual Island friendliness and it was explained to me that it is unknown whether my items have indeed arrived or not, that the email from IKEA is causing all kinds of problems, and that all I can do is wait for an email or call from Sameday when they have had time to sort though the shipments. How long this could take is thus far unknown.
Meanwhile, checking back on the IKEA website it now states that the packages are on their way, with a delivery date of Monday past.
In the grand scheme of things this is nothing. The sense of urgency is a desire to move from the kitchen table to a proper workspace, particularly when the new computer we ordered arrives within the week.
What I do find interesting is how many of these automated systems break down in face of an unknown. We are now, in the case of IKEA, back to physically distanced human contact, phone calls and unknown arrival dates as their just in time delivery falls apart. I’m not sure I’m ready for “Sears catalogue it arrives when it arrives” kind of delivery, especially since the first step companies can take is to better manage customer expectations, which IKEA attempts only via an easily missed thin banner on their website.
Hopefully this won’t turn out to be a repeat of the book ordering experience with Amazon. Life wouldn’t be the same without cheap designed furniture.
One of the many things we missed in the 20 odd years living in Taiwan and elsewhere was the summer tradition of the smell and sounds of fresh cut grass. There is something inherently satisfying about the distant hum of the lawnmower and the sweet smell of grass. It goes hand in hand with fresh strawberries and ice cream, BBQ meat, trips to sandy beaches and wearing shorts to signify the start of the Island summer.
Where we live now, a former farmers field turned soulless neighbourhood, in otherwise beautiful Stratford, people don’t seem to enjoy this summer tradition. This is likely in part due to the number of apartment buildings, multiple family housing, and the general transience of the people who choose to move here. Instead of the weekend morning or afterwork yard work that you see elsewhere, what you see here is leagues of workers descending on the neighbourhood with large noisy machines zipping around trying their best to work as quickly and as noisily as possible. If there is a pattern in terms of when they might arrive I have yet to see it. It could be early Saturday morning or during dinner through the week. Or like today, as we were about to record some voice over, they descended like monsterous sounding bees reverberating sound through our building.
It’s not nearly as romantic as the memory we had held while we lived elsewhere.
iA Writer has a new style check function which looking through my old blog posts shows how poor, at least in its eyes, my writing has become, or has always been.
Unfortunately it offers no suggestions for improvement, nor unlike the built in spell checker, suggests any replacements.
Despite adding all kinds of new functions over the course of their app development, iA Writer manages to keep true to it’s minimalist routes.
I wonder if we all started using the many AI powered writing tools that are available (Gmail auto-complete, Grammarly et al), will we all start sounding the same?
Picking up groceries at Sobeys this afternoon, an environment that clearly qualifies as one where “physical distancing cannot always be maintained,” only about a quarter of shoppers were wearing masks (and, additionally, any pretence of social distancing was abandoned by many).
I think one answer to that question could be risk perception, whereby others don’t see the same risk as I.
The degree of risk associated with a given behavior is generally considered to represent the likelihood and consequences of harmful effects that result from that behavior. To perceive risk includes evaluations of the probability as well as the consequences of an uncertain outcome. There are three dimensions of perceived risk – perceived likelihood (the probability that one will be harmed by the hazard), perceived susceptibility (an individual’s constitutional vulnerability to a hazard), and perceived severity (the extent of harm a hazard would cause). Risk perceptions are central to many health behavior theories.
Add to that perhaps a little bit of group think, we are more willing to do something when those in our tribe are also doing the same. When beliefs become shared by social groups they are very difficult to change, even in the face of scientific evidence. There are a great deal of people who think the pandemic is largely fiction, even here on this beautiful Isle.
Wearing a mask is only one of the many things you should do to mitigate the risk of virus transmission, but it’s possibly the easiest. How many people are religiously washing and disinfecting their hands?
The streets downtown were only moderately more busy today at early afternoon than the last time I walked through this street. I wish there were more streets like this, pedestrian and bike friendly, and devoid of cars. Unfortunately, city gov. moves in slow motion and at times seems resistance to change that might bring life to the downtown.
The market was anemic. This should be viewed as an opportunity, as the best markets I have been to have all been for the pleasure of locals, not tourists, which has the unintended consequence of giving visitors the kind of authentic experience many are looking for.
This is a welcome sign. I hope we will see more businesses putting up these hand sanitizing stations to not only fight covid, but the myriad of other viruses that make our lives less full of joy.
I guess this is what it means to be in government.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island has released their so labeled Return to School Framework yesterday which if you remove all the excess verbiage is nothing but a simple list of questions that most of us might have been asking around the dinner table. No deep insights, plans, or ideas from what are a highly educated and well paid group of people.
And I would argue that their priorities are wrong. The mental health and social well-being of all students, teachers, and parents is not the priority. Returning kids to school, whereby they can enjoy rigorous academic learning and physical activity, with minimized risk, is the priority. The main source of stress in families is the simple fact that kids are not in school. The Green Party should be aware of this.
These people are paid to come up with solutions, but between them and the nebulous plans of the department of education, I fear we will be left waiting.
Can there be any better day, than a day when you get 11 bags of fresh roasted coffee beans?
Friends from Taiwan sent coffee from a variety of local roasters, while our order of single origin beans from 49th Parallel arrived as well. I’ve had a cup of Ethiopia Worka Sakaro and it was superb.
Also from Taiwan came 100 surgical masks, Taiwan published books and a fan that wraps around your neck. 😂
朱婧 music was on just about every playlist I was listening to a few years ago but during the mess that occurred when I transferred my Apple account from Taiwan to Canada I lost all of her music until she resurfaced under the weird pinyan name of June Zhu or Zhu Jing. Much of her early music found on Chinese Youku or elsewhere were beautiful Yunnanese folk songs sung to throngs of adoring fans. Her music in this collection was perfect for learning Mandarin, I discovered her from an episode of Popup Chinese, and sitting back and day dreaming.
For twenty-five centuries the Western culture has tried to look at the world. But it hasn’t understood yet that the world is not to see, it’s to hear. It is not to read, it’s to listen to. Our science always wanted to control, count, abstract and limit the senses, forgetting that life is noise and only death is silence.
Pivato, Il secolo del rumore, Il Mulino, Bologna 2011, p. 8. via The Dialectic Of Noise. An Aesthetic Perspective
5 years ago as part of her grade 6 graduation project Catriona produced a podcast where she introduced and reviewed over 100 books that she was required to read that year. Luckily she likes to read. There were 25 episodes in total and the above audio is of the 9th episode.
I got a new iPhone on Monday and decided to finally take it out of the box today. My kids were curious why I seemed so disinterested in what must be the next great thing, and even Sheryl was asking why it had been sitting on the nightstand so long.
The truth is it’s pretty much the same device as I had before. It fits in the same case, is the same color, and iOS is full of the same problems. The only immediate difference is that I opted for more memory.
There was a time when I was fascinated by the latest gadgets or objects du jour, but for age, different priorities or the lack of anything really interestingly new, I find this as about as exciting as buying a pair of socks. Unless they are new running socks, which I would find more interesting.
What is exciting is the 4 lbs of coffee coming from Taiwan, and the 3 bags coming from the 49th Parallel in Vancouver.
DayOne has reminded me via their “On this Day” function that it has now been just over 2 years since I moved back to PEI, a place that I have always referred to as home, despite spending much of my life elsewhere.
With a pandemic, being a single parent for a year, trying to find my way, and adjusting to what at times seems like a foreign culture, it’s been a dramatic couple years, to say the least.
It was a risk for us to move here, particularly due to the lack of employment for us both, but a life with risk is a life worth living and I think there have been many positive experiences since I/we have arrived. It doesn’t feel like I come home yet, but that may come if we put down more permanent roots. Also, despite being born here I feel a little like an outsider, it’s like you can only belong on the Island if you were born here and never leave. There is no place where who you know, and being a part of the system is more important than PEI.
A friend recently asked if I planned on staying. In retrospect it was a bit of an odd question, but perhaps he knows my nomadic nature. My answer was and is, I don’t know. Last year, I would have unequivocally said we are staying, but that we would be returning to my children’s home for extended stays. A somewhat reversal of my long held plan of spending time on PEI, while living elsewhere.
These days its teetering towards leaving, due primarily to the afore mentioned lack of employment. I’m fine with my almost lifelong quest of avoiding stifling work environments, unless they are of my own making, and some days I like the personal challenges that working independently bring. This has meant our lives have been primarily about rich experiences vs. equity and ever more stuff. But Sheryl wants to teach children until the day they lock her out of the building, and our way of life has often depended upon the stability that her life’s work brings. Risk is easier to accept when you know there will still be a roof over your head and something to eat. We knew it would be challenging to find our way here; patronage and arcane union rules are frustrating to navigate (imagine running a business whereby you are not allowed to interview a talented recent graduate, or highly experienced professional, or someone from abroad because they haven’t worked as a temp and paid union dues the requisite number of days) and PEI is not near as diverse and inclusive as it might wish to be.
When I get aggravated by situations like this invariably something will happen to stem the tide of negativity. Like running into an old classmate, or yesterday when a young child said hello and wished me a happy day. Or the fantastic blue skies, clean air, and serene countryside. Or the idealistic talk of a 4 day work week.
The coming months will be key, but with the pandemic and all, staying put might be the only choice.
There must be some story behind why this large unkept field in the middle of the city hasn’t been developed into affordable housing for families.
Update: It wasn’t always so Charlottetown Prince Street fire leads to one fatality
Sleep Tight Science, our latest podcast venture was launched yesterday. We describe it simply:
Sleep Tight Science is an exciting science facts and stories podcast for the whole family. In each episode we investigate the questions that kids have about anything science related.
It’s a slight departure from our efforts to date, it should be far more collaborative, and I see it as a good next step in our growth before we start trying interviews. I have years of experience doing design interviews but I find the work that journalists do to be the stuff of magic.
Most shows in this genre feature people with peppy high pitched voices and are really exciting. Some are just really great. It will be fun to see how our approach resonates with listeners as we improve over time.
The podcast is currently waiting for the podcast/app world’s Saint Peter before it will start propagating through your favorite podcast app.
In his latest
blood blog post Peter writes:
Early in the pandemic times, I noticed a small growth on my temple that, given the general sense of entropy in the air, was cause for concern. I made an appointment at my family doctor last week, and while he was pretty sure it was nothing to worry about, he offered to refer me to a dermatologist, cautioning that it might take some time to get an appointment, as we have only one dermatologist serving the entire Island. As it turned out, it took less than a week: my appointment was for this morning
Thankfully as it turns out it wasn’t a cause for concern, he was “simply a victim of age”. Which from my talks with my 87yr old uncle seems to be a common prognosis for those of us over 40 whenever you see a doctor. I think I’ve heard you aren’t 25 anymore at least 3x this year.
Far be it for me to say something nice about the PEI medical system, but sometimes the delay in seeing a professional can have a positive effect. I had a mole near my temple for seemingly forever, but a number of years ago it felt ‘alive’ and seemed to be getting larger (I did write about this but for the life of me I can’t find the post). Taiwan being the cancer Petri dish that it is, I thought the worst and scheduled an appointment with one of the best hospitals to seek this kind of treatment in Taiwan. Upon arrival the doctor looked at it and said that the mole was likely benign, but let’s ‘operate’, slice it off and send the biopsy off for tests. Ok, I said. And then I asked, when? She said, I’ll send you next door and we will do it immediately. Umm, could I have 5 minutes to chill and then make a decision?
Luckily it did indeed turn out to be nothing, but the speed from which we went from me thinking I had cancer, to being told it was likely benign, to getting my mole frozen and sliced off was disorienting. Sometimes we need time to process.
Though it’s still early in the season, Charlottetown seems so devoid of life without tourists. No families walking the streets, no kids, no one outside eating, none of the usual cacophony that comes with people on holiday. Sadly we have far too many restaurants and small business that such a small place can support, and many may fail or find their fortunes greatly diminished.
Perhaps, the government could take this as an opportunity to get Islanders to come downtown again. To be able to ride their bikes safely and walk the streets without worry of collision. I love dense cities, I lived in them for over 20 years, and it would be great to see the downtown become a place for people to congregate other than avoid due to lack of parking or whatever grievance people have.
It will be hard, as Islanders love of soulless big box stores seems to have no bounds (and pining for whatever Moncton has), but I would love the opportunity to make the downtown my one stop and to leave the car at home.
With yesterday possibly being the best beach day of the year, I decided to try to finish up my days work and speed out to the North shore for sand and sun.
Unfortunately our car had other plans, and once we reached the QEH we pulled over to see what was banging on the inside of the car engine. I was thinking perhaps fox, cat or some large metal object left on the road. Luckily we saw nothing on the inside but the sound remained.
My understanding of the inner workings of a car is limited to the knowledge that when you press on the gas pedal it goes forward and you have to put fuel in it far too often. Something I’ll likely never get around to rectifying.
After a quick call to Daves Service Centre we slowly limped to their shop where they agreed to identify the problem so that I could go elsewhere to get a fix. They were already booked for the day but I trust them more than some other shop.
It was a “belt” that apparently seldom needs replacing, except in my case. They managed to fit it in and though it cost a bit, we were able to continue on our way a couple hours later with just enough time for my first visit to Richards for fish n chips.
Incidentally, I posted the above photo on Twitter and a friend DM’d aghast at all the people so close together without masks. My experience of late has been wherever I go most businesses have been following CPHO guidelines, but people have not changed. Most people do not use hand disinfecting stations, wear masks when in enclosed spaces, nor practice social distancing. There is little risk at preset but despite having all this time, I worry that we are still unprepared for when COVID-19 arrives on our shores in earnest.
Helped along by Covid-19 isolation and an aging brain, I can’t remember exactly when we last invested in our podcasting pod. But months past we created a sound isolation booth comprised of Rockwool boards, wrapped in black sheets to keep the fibres out of our lungs. We use our storage room for this purpose but the rules of bootstrapping suggested we first start small, and so the first implementation was simply a covering around a cheap IKEA desk. This worked remarkably well and helped to create as dead an environment as possible, without going to the other extreme which would be investing in a whisper room. Not capturing the sound of the room is important to us, and if you listened to any podcasts of late, those that due to Covid are now recording remote, suffer from the sounds of kitchen tiles. With the exception of Ira Glass who I believe records in his clothes closet.
We still live in an apartment building (thanks COVID) and so it’s difficult to be completely noiseless. We are at the mercy of our upstairs neighbours and various electrical feedback loops, but thanks to or current set-up our biggest problem has been eliminating annoying mouth noises that most commonly occur due to various hydration issues.
We could have stayed with this set-up for the foreseeable future but for the fact that the ideal mic placement on the desk made recording uncomfortable. Proper vocal technique requires the free flow of air from the bottom of your abdomen through your vocal chords and out your mouth. I was always hunched over and Sheryl found our set-up limiting.
This weekend we decided to sound proof the whole room and despite a lack of planning it looks like it might work out.
Freddy Lim, vocalist of the metal band Chthonic and a member of parliament in Taiwan, discusses with Emily Y. Wu amongst many things, the success of Taiwan’s Covid-19 response and some of the challenges it poses to personal freedom. Metalhead Politics (政治重金屬), is a joint production of Ghost Island Media (鬼島之音) and the Taiwanese heavy metal band CHTHONIC (閃靈).
Though I tried in the beginning I just couldn’t summon the motivation to participate in CrossFit workouts, or workouts of any kind, in our living room during the time when everything was shut down and we stayed home. I preferred to simply work and by the end of the day I had little energy for much else. It’s a tad disappointing.
When the temperature made it possible to run without freezing to death I did manage to slowly add weekly mileage to the point that this week I was due to run 50km. It continues to increase until basically I run out of time. As the heart specialist at the QEH reminded me at least 12 times during a recent visit, I’m not 25 anymore, and though at that age I was so plump I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs, my preparation and recovery needs have changed greatly. So while I have been running, I haven’t been stretching, or warming up, or much of anything. I have been just dragging myself out the door in hope of gaining some mental clarity.
I have noticed my achilles complaining and I’ve been getting all kinds of cramps and other warnings.
So then I went to the first socially distanced CrossFit class on Monday. The owner worked hard to create as safe an environment as possible; quite laudable. I laughed at my new found inability to do push-ups and my loss of grip strength. The air squats felt fine and it was nice to stretch my hip abductors. I took it easy and just tried to appreciate the ability to get out the house to move my body.
Except, as the day went on yesterday I got progressively sore (DOMS) to the point that this morning I asked Camren to bend over and pick up a wrapper on the floor that I dropped.
I’ll recover but there is nothing worse than sitting down after using your body in new or demanding ways. Which is what I have been doing and am now suffering from.
Something worthwhile came from looking at Facebook today. Unfortunately you have to accept a cookie from the devil to listen.