Ten Years At One Employer

10 years ago today I started a new job at Whitehill Technologies as a Product Consultant. That job would start me on a path that would lead me to where I am today. I survived 3 company acquisitions, 5 managers, 7 products, 5 desk moves, and countless office pranks. After working in the same place for 10 years, I thought I’d take a few moments to recollect how I got here and what has transpired in that time period.

In January of 2006, I was let go from CompuCollege. There’s a whole other story behind that fiasco but ultimately it lead me to applying for a position at Whitehill. I had an interview on a Friday on the same day that I was scheduled to take my last MCSA exam. I went into the interview confident, and came out feeling even better. I had never had a better job interview, at least from my perspective, that at that point, I didn’t even care if I didn’t pass my MCSA test. I was that happy. A few days later, I got an offer and my life changed.

The job started and I learned very quickly that it wasn’t like working at other places. This was a place filled with a lot of fun people and lot of camaraderie. It took me awhile before I found my place but before I knew it, I was already jumping onto new products and new opportunities.

The job also gave me a chance to do some travel for work. That was something I had seen very little of in the course of my work career. Things seemed to be taking off quite well and before I knew it, we were being sold to a company in Texas.

Not long after, HR went through the office and fired half the staff. People that had been there a long time were let go and it became quite clear quite quickly that this new company didn’t have the same sense of humour we had. It was a very somber time to be there. But somehow I had drawn the lucky cards and managed to get through the whole thing.

That year sucked. We worked for a company who basically couldn’t have cared less about us. They were after the software we had bought from someone else and had no idea what to do with our little business unit. But a year after we were sold to them, we got bought again. This time by a large corporation with hands all over the world. I was really excited to be able to say I was working for Oracle. That didn’t last.

Turns out during the first year, a lot of the same was happening. People were fired and things were changing. I worked there for 3 years and although I am glad to have the name on my resume, it was also not a good time to be working there. Somehow I had managed to avoid being cut but it really didn’t matter as I was working for a company that just didn’t understand (or cared) what we were doing. Then one Monday morning, we all got called into the conference room and wondered what was happening.

Turns out, in a surprise move, Oracle sold our business unit to Thomson Reuters. But that same day, a clear message was sent to everyone who was there. This is going to be different. It was. We were all treated really well and in the weeks that followed, it was a huge breath of fresh air.

Since then, it’s been all forward. I left the department that I started in less than a year after joining Thomson and I found what I truly wanted to work in: training. As more time has passed I’ve come to realize that training is what I do the best and what I enjoy the most. It just happens to work out well that I work for a company that will pay me well to do something I love.

I’ve had some bumps career wise in the last 10 years. I wanted out of Oracle more than anyone will know but when you get paid a good salary and the work is not horribly bad, it’s hard to walk away from that. The latter half of last year was rough with some of the class stuff I was dealing with. Thankfully it’s all been addressed and I’m charging on to this new year.

I am more grateful and thankful for what I have been able to accomplish and where I’ve been able to go in these 10 years. Assuming the company remains as they are, I see no reason to leave unless someone wants to pay me to retire. Here’s looking at what the next 10 years will be.

As a side note, people ask me all the time about my travels for work. Here is a list of all of the places I have traveled to specifically for work. Some of them I have been back to several times (London, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, LA) and others were one offs that I never expected. Total mileage accumulated over the 10 years of travel is around 600,000 kilometers.

Dublin (Ireland)
San Antonio
Plymouth (England)
Jersey (British Isles)
Livingston (NJ)
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Cardiff (Wales)
Little Rock
Las Vegas
Morgantown (WV)
Columbia (SC)
St. Louis
Liverpool (England)
Sydney (Australia)
Brisbane (Australia)
Birmingham (AL)
Providence (RI)
Allentown (PA)
Los Angeles
London (England)
Blue Bell (PA)
Omaha (NE)
Portland (OR)
New York
San Francisco

And if you’re even more bored, here are some maps that shows the travel for the bulk of that 600,000 kilometers.


World Map


North America Map


European Map


Africa Map


Australia Map

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Suicide Is Not About Everyone Else

There’s an article floating around Facebook right now about suicide. “10 Things You Should Know Before You Kill Yourself”. Read it here. In fact, I read it twice and both times, it made me angry. I see lots of people floating the article around and talking about how it’s such a good article because it talks about what happens to those who are left behind. And although some of the points in the article are totally true, the article itself makes me angry because of how it made me feel as someone who attempted suicide years ago.

Yes, I just said that. December 15th, 2002, I sat at my desk in my bedroom and did what many others have done before me. It was a desperate and somewhat pathetic attempt to end my life. In my 42 years of existence, that was the lowest I have ever been. Having gone through it myself, reading that article infuriates me because of what it would likely do to someone who is actually suicidal.

Now, I can’t talk about what others have felt. I only know how I felt and why I chose to do what I did. So this story is all from my point of view, but I suspect there are many others out there who have been in a similar situation.

For me, the article made me angry because it was a long list of things made to make me feel guilty about doing what I felt was the only option I had. Every one of those items in that list would make a depressed person feel even more guilty and sad about what they are about to do. Is that really what you want to do to someone who’s ready to off themselves? Hey, I’m so depressed about my life that I want to die, why don’t I read a list about things that are going to make me even more depressed. That should put me over the edge.

When I read the article, it made me feel guilty, and my issue was 14 years ago. It made me feel angry because every one of those points tells the potential victim all about what they are doing to everyone else and that the person should be thinking of how their actions will affect everyone else in their lives. So again, a person who feels like their life is so bad that they have to end it shouldn’t focus on what’s bothering them, but should focus on how it will affect everyone else? Are you kidding me? The article makes it seem like when a person is at their absolute worst, they should be thinking about what everyone else will think, and not about how to help themselves. Great job guys! Let’s continue to reinforce the idea that everyone else around you is more important than you. Make sure you don’t ever do anything that others might be upset by despite how suicidal you’re feeling right now. WTF?!?!?!?!

Again, I can’t speak for others, but here’s a bit of insight into what was my reasoning, and why maybe it’s not what you think.

For me, and I suspect for many others as well, it’s not that you want to die. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t really want to die. What I wanted was to stop feeling so awful. I wanted my pain and despair to be over with. I was in a real dark place and in that moment, I felt alone. I felt like I had no one around who could truly understand how I felt or what I was going through. I just wanted all of that pain to go away and if I was dead, I couldn’t feel it anymore.

Why didn’t I try to talk to someone? Because I’ve seen the after-school specials and I knew exactly what people would say. “It will get better.” “Time heals your wounds so you just need to push through it.” “A year from now things will be better”.

All of those things are great to hear, except they don’t solve the immediate problem. A person sitting in a room ready to kill themselves doesn’t want to hear that a year from now, things will be peachy. To them, that means they have to be miserable for another year before they can feel better. They want to feel better NOW. I wanted to feel better in the moment. I didn’t want to continue to feel that despair any longer and I knew people would all tell me the same thing: it gets better. Telling me that things will be better eventually does not actually help a person in the moment from feeling better. They want that hate and anger and despair, and hurt all gone. We all know it doesn’t just magically go away, but if you’re at the point where you want to die, you are desperate for anything that will just make it go away.

That’s the way it was for me. I couldn’t stand being where I was and just wanted it to go all away. So I did what I did and then I had to face the consequences. For me, as it turns out it was a few nights in a hospital and the realization that I truly had hit the bottom.

Now, all cards on the table, I figured swallowing a bottle of pills wasn’t going to kill me but I didn’t know for sure. I laid in bed for awhile and thought about what was happening in my body. But then for whatever reason, I got up, grabbed my keys, and drove myself to the hospital. In retrospect, I think subconsciously I knew that if I went to the hospital, I would have to explain what happened, and I would have to deal with the consequences of my actions, which would in turn force me to really deal with my life and not take a quick exit. I did have friends and family come to the hospital and I did have to deal with the aftermath of that.

That’s the only part of the article I am in agreement with. There were people who couldn’t believe I would do such a thing and why I didn’t just turn to them for help. It’s a lot harder to do than anyone will ever know unless you have actually gone through it. After my stay there, I packed up my clothes, went back home, and started to rebuild my life.

Within a month, I had literally excised the poison from my life that was the biggest source of my depression. A few months later, long time friends of mine started up their old band and wanted my help. Then a few months later, I reconnected with Tamara. The rest is history.

This isn’t a story I tell often. I am not ashamed or embarrassed by it. It is part of who I am and is something that I had to experience to get where I am today. But it does provide me a very clear and unique view into what it is like to be at the bottom of that well, looking up and not thinking you’re ever going to get out. Don’t just outright assume that someone who is at the bottom is interested in thinking about what everyone else will think or feel. What they need is your support, your help, and for you to be there.

For anyone that might be descending into that well of despair and you don’t know how to get out, here’s my advice:

Take one deep breath and think of one thing you know that you enjoy. Whether it’s walking, reading, biking, watching a funny TV show, visiting a friend or family member, whatever. Go do one of those things. Do at least one thing that does bring you joy or a smile to your face. Do that any time you start to feel like you are going down that well. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’re going to feel a bit better about talking to someone. Talking is not easy, especially at the bottom of the well. But if you can experience a bit of joy first, it can help you to want to talk.

And you do need to talk. You do need to find ways to express how you feel. If you can’t talk, then write about it, blog about it, make a video and post it online for your friends to see and you’ll be surprised how many people will flock to you to help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out when you are at your low. I did it. We all do it.

But for those who think that suicide is a “selfish” act because of how it affects everyone else. You need to stop thinking about yourself and everyone else, and think about that person. Think about how horrible that person must feel that they have sunk to that level. How much pain and anguish that person is experiencing and they can’t figure out how to get out of it except killing themselves. They are at the bottom of the bottom in their life and all you can do is call them selfish?

It’s not selfish. It’s their last resort.

Categories: Flashbacks, MOTD, Rants | Leave a comment

2016: A Year of Change?

I put a question mark at the end of that title because it really is a question for me.

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions. I also have a tendency to think the whole “new year” thing is a bit overrated. People always make ridiculous claims about how they are going to change their lives because of the new year. But for most people,  they get up the next morning, and continue on like nothing really has changed because, let’s face it. Nothing has changed. All that changed is the last digit of the year you’re living in. It’s not like a government fell, a war broke out, aliens landed, or TV has ended. It’s just another day.

So despite the fact that I usually don’t think much of the new year, today was the first day of me trying to make a change in the new year.

A few days ago, I had a bit of a bummer day. When I finally found the right way to explain how I felt to Tamara, I believe it came out something like “The collective weight of my responsibilities is crushing me”. There are times when the weight of being a dad, a husband, a provider, a teacher, a colleague, and many other things is just too much. We all need to step away and do “our own thing” to try and keep our heads sane but a lot of times it just is too hard. How do you find the time, or even the energy to just do your own thing when you put in a full day of work, come home, then need to make supper, spend time with your kids, clean up the house or do laundry or whatever. By the time the kids are in bed, I’m ready for bed myself. Just beat.

But for me, it doesn’t end there. I just spent the last two weeks on Christmas vacation. I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish while I was on vacation and barely any of them got done. I did finally get my office cleaned but beyond that, not much else. Why? Because there seems to be a part of me that is riddled with what I can only call parental guilt.

I consider myself an introvert with a few extrovert tendencies. One of the things some introverts (maybe all of them, I’m not an expert on the term) need is time alone. Not because they don’t like people but just because sometimes they just need their own time to do their own thing because that’s what and how they are. I love having people around and love having people in my life. But there are times when I just need to be off doing my own thing to keep my own head sane.

As I am sure many others can attest to, this is hard to do with all of the responsibilities of daily life as a father and a husband. In my world, a lot of this solo time is covered by the travel I have with my work. But even when I am home, there are times I need to just do my own thing in my home space. This is where the parental guilt starts to settle in a bit.

There are many times where Tamara and the kids are going out, and the last thing I want to do is go anywhere. I just want time to myself to do my own thing and not think about anyone else. But the moment they leave, I go into a deep feeling of regret and end up miserable while they are gone. I constantly think that I am being a bad father by choosing to be home by myself than spending it with my wife and kids when I have the opportunity to. This is further intensified during times when I have been traveling a lot and have already missed time with them. I get deep feelings of guilt about “being a bad father” by not taking every moment I have at home with my kids in some way.

But yet, I can go out for a day on my own with some friends and be guilt free. I can take a vacation or go on a work trip and not feel guilty. But if I am at home and choose to be at home alone versus with my family, I feel immense guilt. It is this guilt I am trying to challenge myself against today.

Tamara took the kids out for day and I’m home writing this. I am taking my steps in 2016 towards not feeling guilty about giving myself time when I need it. We all need it from time to time.

I also feel like 2016 needs to be a year for me to really think hard about where I want to go in terms of my life. I spent a lot of 2015 bitching about my work, and other aspects of my life and I need to find a way to reign that in and enjoy what I have.

So as much as I hate it when people talk about making changes for the new year, I guess this time around I’m going to do the same as them. Let’s see what 2016 brings.

Categories: Friends & Family, MOTD | Leave a comment

Scared Of My Own Blog Posts

Just a few minutes ago, I finished writing a post about my recent difficulties with some of my training classes. I posted it on Facebook and then a minute later, I deleted it. It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately which is why I wrote about it, but putting it on Facebook made me very uncomfortable. Why?

Well, there was a time in my life where I posted a LOT of things on this blog. Some of it was probably inappropriate to be on a public blog, but most of it was just my own ramblings about things going on in my own life.

However, all cards on the table, a single blog post once cost me a job. Since then, I made the conscious decision to keep pretty much anything about my work off of my blog. I didn’t want to have history repeat itself.

Since then, I have been pretty quiet about much of the specifics of what goes on where I work. Anytime I would write a post that would have anything related to work on it, I’d re-write it so that work wasn’t included. But once in awhile I’d make a reference to something but always in good taste and never breaking any rules.

So I wrote that article about my training issues because it’s something that was really bothering me. It’s something I wanted to write about and get out of my system. I read that post over and over again until I was sure that it was ok. It doesn’t talk about any of my specific clients, or even places that I was at. It doesn’t name specific individuals or companies that I was at. It doesn’t contain anything proprietary or confidential that would break any company policies. It does talk about the technologies that I teach about but none of those are proprietary and can be found easily through a quick Google search.

Everything about that post is purely my own thoughts and feelings and expresses them in a pretty clear way, without violating any confidentiality agreements.

So why is it that I am so paranoid about posting a story like that on Facebook?

I know I haven’t done anything wrong and I know I haven’t broken any rules. But I guess even things from so far back in your past still stick with you. There must still be a part of me that’s paranoid about what the wrong person would see in a post like that.

I want to be able to share some of the stuff I post on here on Facebook since many of my FB friends don’t visit my blog (and rightly so since I don’t post here a lot). But it is a place I can write about things on my mind and I know I haven’t written anything here that crosses any lines as far as my work is concerned.

Gotta find a way to get over it…

Categories: Flashbacks | Leave a comment

Training Those Who Shouldn’t Be Trained


So, I know some people ask me what it is I do and I always reply that I’m a “Technical Training Consultant”. I usually then add that I train IT or programmers technical aspects of software for law firms. I usually don’t get into much more detail than that because honestly, most people don’t care.

But, in order to set a bit of context around this post, this is what I typically teach to folks in my classes:


The code you see above is known as WordML. Those 11 lines of code actually produce this:

Hello, world!

And in all fairness, the code typically would look closer to this:


This blurb combines WordML with XSLT. The Hello line here pulls in information from a data file formatted in something called XML. That XML file typically contains information regarding an invoice from a law firm. The XSLT line also uses XPath to point to a specific field or set of fields in the XML data which needs to be rendered in WordML so that Microsoft Word can understand it.

Sufficiently confused?

Now, before I go any further, I teach other things as well. But generally speaking, when you see that I’m on the road or traveling somewhere, I’m generally teaching what I’ve put above just in a LOT more detail, and doing it over 4-5 days. The code I wrote above is very basic. We do a LOT more complicated things in those 4-5 days.

Without sounding like I’m being a bit arrogant, I’m good at what I do. In fact, I’m really good at what I do. Add to that the fact that I actually love what I do, my boss is awesome, my department is awesome, and the company I work for is amazing, I count myself extremely lucky to be where I’m at.

So all of that being said, the last few months have been kind of brutal. This week has been such a huge reward for me as it’s been an awesome group in my class but they have been the exception and not the rule lately. To give you more of an idea of what I’ve been experiencing over the last few months, let me use an English teacher analogy.

Imagine you are an English teacher. You have been teaching English all your life and know the language, and literature back and forth. You’ve read the great poets, and many other great authors and have studied them at great length.

Now, for most of your career, you’ve done part time teaching work in high schools and some university work. Generally speaking, you’ve typically been hired by educational institutions to teach Shakespeare’s poetry to students as you consider that to be your specialty. You can teach anything about English, but Shakespeare is really your specialty.

In high schools, colleges, and universities, your classes do very well and really enjoy being taught by you. You receive many accolades and truly enjoy your job.

You receive a new offer to teach a 5 day Shakespeare class to a private school in your local community. All is settled and arranged and you show up on the first day ready and eager. You meet Mary who you were hired by and she says they are very excited about class. The students roll into class with big smiles and seem quite happy and eager to learn. You then introduce yourself, give a little bit of history of what you’ve done, and then ask the students to introduce themselves.

The students turn and look at you in confusion. They mumble some words to each other but you can’t hear what they are saying. Eventually, Mary stands up. Mary tells you she’s the only one in the class that speaks or understands English. Her language skills are not bad but not great either. Everyone else in the class can only understand a handful of words in English, and can’t speak it either. No one has ever heard of Shakespeare and they thought they were taking a completely different type of class.

The students are not allowed to leave and neither are you. You must deliver the class as best as you can and try to make them understand. Frustrated, you begin the class.

During the afternoon, you get Mary to ask the class what some of their most memorable poems are. She looks confused, but asks the question in her native language to the other students and they all look as confused as her. She turns back to you and says “What’s a poem? I’ve never heard of that before.”

You realize that you’re teaching an English class about Shakespeare and his poetry to people who don’t understand English and they don’t even know what a poem is.

By the time lunchtime comes on day 2, it’s very clear that no one in the class is getting much of anything. Mary is getting some of it but not enough to really say she’s learning anything. You speak to Mary about how the class is not moving along and that you were told that it was English people in the class so why are non-English people there. She explains that after she spoke to you, she decided it would be ok to put the non-English people in the class because they really should learn Shakespeare. You explain that you will not be able to cover all of the material, and what you do cover will be done very slowly. She happily agrees and you move on.

The end of the week comes and the class thanks you for your work. Mary is very happy with what you have done and thanks you herself. You pack up, and head home and hope next week you’re teaching to people who understand English, and know what a poem is.

This has been my life for the last few months. And you can imagine that if you were the teacher in that story, how incredibly frustrating it is, and how quickly your patience would wear thin trying to deal with that. Add to that the fact that I am not teaching English. I’m teaching programming like what I showed you earlier.

I have found myself more exhausted after classes than I have ever been in my life. It is extremely draining to try and be patient and understanding while still trying to get the material across.

There’s a multitude of reasons why it seems to be happening more so lately than before. I’ve expressed my concerns with my manager and she’s been very good at doing her best to try and prevent this kind of thing from happening again. I am hoping the future is going to be better, but when you go through batches of classes where it’s so much more draining, it can get to be a bit much after awhile.

Another thing I should add is that it’s not the students themselves either. To continue with the analogy, imagine that those students in the English class are engineers. They can design the most sophisticated pieces of technology in the world, but when it comes to English, and poetry for that matter, it’s just “not their thing”. It’s not that they are not intelligent or capable, it’s just not something they are going to “get”.

It’s like me and cars. I have no clue how cars work, how to put them together, or fix them, or do anything other than drive the car, and put gas in it. I can jump start a car and put washer fluid in it, and in a pinch I might be able to change a tire. But do an oil change, or any kind of actual repair: forget it. It’s just not something I “get”. I’m not stupid or unintelligent. It’s just not me.

Also, as a teacher, it’s your job to get the students to understand a concept so they can take that concept and use it. It’s a lot harder on the head to constantly be thinking about a 100 different ways to explain something so that someone who doesn’t get it, gets it. I have my stock methods of explaining things and to the right people, they work every time. But for the wrong people, you really have to think extra hard about how to explain a complex subject in a much simpler fashion. I enjoy being challenged, but at the same time, you don’t want to be challenged on every single thing you’re trying to get across.

Thankfully, this week is my last week of full on training for awhile and I have 3 fantastic students who are blowing through the material at a regular pace. I even told them I was so happy to have them after having had some of my previous classes the last few months.

After feeling so frustrated, there was a part of me that was seriously considering leaving the training world completely. I love teaching and it’s something I am good at, but after awhile a person’s patience dries away and it gets harder and harder to keep being polite. Thankfully, my most recent client has rejuvenated me and I’m feeling much better about the future.

Let’s see what comes next.

Categories: Rants, Tech Stuff, Travel | 1 Comment

A Trip Back To 1985

I’m going to tell you a story. I won’t lie. This is not going to be a short one. This is the story of how my life took a huge change and put me where I needed to be. It happened 30 years ago in 1985 and just a a couple of weeks ago, I really had some serious flashbacks.

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta. My earliest memories are of playing in my front yard in a subdivision of Edmonton called Beverly. I have vivid memories of walking to and from school, playing in the park, playing with my cat, going to birthday parties, and even being kissed by the girl next door.

When I was 7, my parents moved us to another part of the city called Hermitage. I changed schools, friends, home, and everything but it was still in the same city I knew as home. I have even more vivid memories of that time in my life. Playing street hockey in the parking lot, eating ice cream with friends, playing tabletop hockey with my mom, Atari video games, the Edmonton Oilers, the best teacher I ever had, and so many more things that I just don’t have the space to write them all out.

These are all part of the first 11.5 years of my life. It’s a part of my life I don’t tend to think about very often mainly because in some ways, it feels like it was another life. I’m sure we all have parts of our lives that seem so far removed from where we are now that it’s like they were a dream or something. My life in Edmonton is very much like that. Seems very much like a dream that’s slowly fading over time.

In the summer of 1985, my parents had been split up for awhile and I had been living with mom. She decided to move us to Moncton, NB; her home town. I had just gone through a major trauma of my own dealing with my newly discovered Thyroid condition and all of the things that went along with that. But mom picked us up, and moved us across the country. I left my home town, my friends, my hockey team, and everything I had ever known in my life. It was all gone when we got on the plane and left. The only thing that I really had left in Edmonton other than my memories of the place, was my dad. He was still there.

I didn’t get back to Edmonton until 1994, 9 years later. By that time, my dad was unrecognizable, and Edmonton seemed like such a different place. I visited again in 1997, and then again in 2003, 2006, and 2008. My dad died in 2010.

I knew that I would be returning to Edmonton this September for work. I knew it was going to be weird, but I had no idea how weird and emotional it was going to actually be. This was the first time I would visit this place without my dad being there. Everytime I had come back there I always had my dad to go back to. It was somehow tied to my past and part of my life there, but with him gone, it seemed that connection was gone. Yes, I do have a few relatives there (uncles, aunts, even a half-sister) but my biggest connection to that place was my dad.

I landed in Edmonton, got my rental car, and the first thing I did was go visit the places I used to live and hang out in. I even went by my dad’s old place. It was kind of neat to see these places again but nothing really jumped out at me. That was until my last day there.


I decided to go to a park near where I used to live. I spent a little time in there but then decided I really wanted to go back to the neighbourhood I lived in and sort of re-trace my steps as a kid. I have no idea why I felt compelled to do this, but over the few days I was in Edmonton, it kept feeling more and more like this was likely to be my last time there and if I ever wanted to do anything, I needed to do it now.

The animation you see above starts at 389 Hooper Cres, Edmonton, Alberta. Most of my childhood memories come from this place. This was the home I lived in from grades 3-6. I parked the car in front of the houses, and went for a walk. I stood in the parking lot and stared around and just soaked it in. My mind was flooded with images of kids playing hockey, the ice cream bike going in and out of the area, and a thousand other images that would be meaningless to anyone else. I then stood about 5 feet or so from the door of the place I used to live. The black mailbox with 389 on it just stared at me. Again, more images of the past flooding to the forefront. From ghosts in my kitchen, to watching the hockey game in the dark, to memories of me hoping to see the pretty girl across the road from my kitchen window.

I then walked in between the two sets of homes, and down the path I used to take to school every day. I walked up the hill and into the middle of a big field just beside the old school I used to go to. The entire time I walked, I just had so many childhood memories coming back to me. I stood in the middle of this big field of green grass and remembered watching kids play ice hockey in a homemade rink in the middle of the field. I remembered my mom and I setting off model rockets and wondering where they were going to land. As I took a few more steps towards my old school, the tears started to come.

I stood there, with no one around to see how ridiculous I looked, and I balled uncontrollably. Not misty eyed like you get from a sappy movie or a feel good song. I’m talking uncontrollable, pure crying. I cried and cried for a few minutes and had no idea where it was all coming from. I shook my head and turned around and looked at the school. I walked over to the yellow doors and stared at the brick wall and remembered so many days of losing so many hockey cards to some stupid game where we threw them against the wall.

I walked around front, took a few pictures, smiled a bit as I peeked inside, then went back to rear of the building and just stared for a minute. In that moment, I realized that it had actually been 30 years since I left Edmonton. And in that moment, I also remembered the face of the last person I ever saw at the school; Mr. Schlotter.

To keep it short, this was a great guy. My all time favourite teacher and someone I will never, ever forget. I had a memory of him and I talking about some computer thing I wanted and then saying goodbye. Standing there behind the school, I got misty eyed this time, and with no around, I smiled at the school and said “Goodbye Mr. Schlotter”.

I walked back to my car, started it up, and drove away. I do not expect to return there.

I repeated this same kind of experience when I went to my other neighbourhood. I walked the old way to my other old school, wandered around, and had plenty of memory flashes but this time it wasn’t as emotional. I think whatever I was feeling came out in that field near Overlander’s School and I was truly ready to go.

I visited a couple of other places I knew as a kid, then headed to the airport and couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Unless something major changes in my life, or work sends me back there, I do not expect to ever return to Edmonton. I think that’s why standing in that field was so emotional.

I knew it was going to be weird not seeing my dad. But what I didn’t expect was to have so much emotion from my past bubble to the surface when seeing these places. Sitting here writing this, I’m trying in my mind to think of the best explanation as to why it was really so emotional for me. The only thing that comes to mind is the fact that there is a part of me that’s always going to be in the place because I was there for 11 years. That’s part of my history and part of what I was as a child. When you don’t think about something, it’s not that it’s forgotten. It’s just buried among all of the other things.

I’ve had so much happen to me in that 30 year time period that most of what I experienced in Edmonton never comes up any more. When I talk about the past now, it’s usually high school, college, my VAJ/Rounded Edges years, IRC days, Greco Days, IBM, Norampac, and countless other things I’ve experienced since moving away from that place.

Even though I had returned multiple times since I left, this one was very different because it really did have a sense of finality to it. In a strange way, it’s almost like saying goodbye to my dad again, but also saying goodbye to that entire part of my life. I’ll never forget that place, but it very much felt like I was really saying goodbye to everything that was there regardless of how long ago it was.

Then… I heard this song on the airplane coming back from London a few days ago. I downloaded it and have listened to it a bunch of times and it just seems to be sticking to me. I Lived by OneRepublic. It’s a really nice song and has a really great message about making life what it can be. I think it’s striking a chord with me right now as I’ve got a lot of things floating around in my head as a result of my recent travels.

Really thinking about standing in the field and how I felt, I think part of it was the fact that my dad is really gone. I think another part of it is the realization that my mom took me away from anything and everything I had known in my life and I don’t know if I ever really processed that. My first few years in NB were not easy. In fact, junior high at Queen E was pure hell. I’ve written about that before but the context is a bit different now. After leaving everything in Edmonton, Queen E was just an awful place for me to be for those three years. The only thing that made grade 8 & 9 bearable was my good friend J.C. and a beautiful, strawberry blonde girl I couldn’t stop talking about.

Sidetracked…. the point I was trying to get at was that maybe there was a part of me that was still mad at mom for taking me away from all of that. Don’t get me wrong. My life turned out exactly as it should. I am where I am supposed to be. But like all people, sometimes you just don’t let things go and then they stick in your head somewhere and you don’t even realize it. Before you know it, there’s a lot up there that you don’t even know about or understand until you’re put in a situation where it all comes out.

So now, if my kids ask about where I grew up, I can tell them all the stories they want, but I don’t really have a need to go back again.

Thanks Edmonton. It was nice knowing you.

Categories: Flashbacks, Friends & Family, Travel | 1 Comment

The Hat-Trick of Faith No More Concerts

Two nights ago I saw Faith No More play live at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. This is the third time I have seen them (Toronto in 1995, LA in 2010) and each time just keeps getting better and better.

Before I left, I posted this on Twitter:

Then I went to the show, had my mind blown, and ended the night with this:

To say the entire experience was amazing would be underselling it. But for me, there’s a whole lot more going on here than what most people may realize.

If you go back read item #6 from “Things you didn’t know about me“, you’ll learn that I’ve had a real affinity for Faith No More, and Mike Patton. As a kid, I idolized that guy. This was the guy I looked up to and emulated more than anything else in my teenage and college years. As time passed, obviously that changed but my admiration for the man, and how he helped shape me in some way has never, and will never go away.

So as an adult, the chance to meet the person whom you saw as your hero or idol as a child is kind of a big deal. Yes, when it comes to Faith No More, and Mike Patton, I am clearly in the fanboy camp and am perfectly fine with that.

When I left Moncton on Friday afternoon, I packed my 7” picture disc that I bought back in the early 90s in hopes that maybe I could get someone to sign it. I really wanted to get all 5 guys to sign it but I knew that it was a slim chance. But a slim chance is still a chance.

When I arrived at the coliseum on Friday night, I walked around to try and find the tour bus and sure enough, there they were. I knew when the show was over, I’d be coming back there to see if I could get a chance at a few signatures.

The show ended at 10:30. I picked up some merchandise I had pre-purchased then headed outside. After only about 30 minutes or so, Mike Bordin (Puffy) came out and signed a bunch of stuff and took pictures. He was a real nice guy and said he couldn’t stay out too long because he was the one BBQ’ing for the crew that night and had to go make some food. He signed my album. That was one down. Jon Hudson the guitar player followed and he signed as well. In fact, I told him that me and Gary had met him and Puffy in LA back in 2010 and he actually remembered us. I was blown away.

Not too long after, Roddy the keyboard player came out and did his round with the fans with Billy the bass player following suit shortly thereafter.

In talking to these guys, it was VERY apparent how nice and friendly they were. Taking photos, cracking jokes, and generally just being real great people. It was really awesome to see how as much as these guys are adored by their fans, it hasn’t gone to their head. It was awesome just getting a chance to talk to them.

Eventually, each of them left and the crowd that had gathered by the buses began to wait to see if Mike Patton would make an appearance.

A lot of people said he was actually really shy and didn’t like talking to fans because it made him nervous. Some said he was just a dick and didn’t like signing autographs. And others were just getting impatient waiting. The entire time I stood there, I kept a positive attitude and just kept telling me that these guys are real people too. They deserve to rest after a hell of a show.

Sometime around 1am, the crowd had thinned considerably. A bunch of people were going around the bus to the other side for something that was going on. Since there was so few people where I was at, I decided to see what the fuss was all about. I got to the other side of the tour bus and found this:

The entire band was literally just hanging out at the back of the venue, drinking beer, eating food, and just being themselves. It was truly an interesting view into the world of these guys outside of being on stage.

All five guys (Mike Patton included) were there, chatting with their friends and family, and just enjoying each other’s company. The fans were separated from the BBQ group by a small fence but for the most part, people were very considerate and just stayed quiet, leaving them alone.

Billy (bass player) came over to talk to the fans and even said he felt weird eating in front of everyone but no one said a thing. We were all just happy to be there. Despite not being on the “other” side of the fence, there was a part of me that kind of felt like I was at the party too. One of the techs even came around with a plate of steak Puffy had made and gave the fans some food. I was completely blown away at how nice and friendly these people were being. They didn’t need to tolerate a bunch of fanboys hanging outside their party, but they were fine with it and even came over and talked to us occasionally.

Sometime closer to say 1:30am or so, a bunch of us heard security say the bus drivers had arrived and shortly thereafter, the buses started up. We knew the end was near. Everyone there who had been waiting was waiting on Patton as the rest of the band had already signed stuff and taken photos. It was at this point, some people started to think he was just being a dick by not coming over. I stood at the fence, record in hand, and patiently waited to see what would happen.


After everyone but Patton and three others had left, he said his goodbyes to them and then some other guy came over to him and I’m guessing basically told him he had to leave. He then walked over to the fence and said something like “I couldn’t make you guys think I was just being a dick not coming over here”. He smiled, took photos, signed stuff, and was very chatty with everyone there. One fan told Mike that his family was Italian and that he hadn’t learned it yet, and Mike got all serious telling him about learning Italian. He wasn’t condescending but just real serious for a moment. Shook the guy’s hand then went on to take crazy selfie pictures with pretty much everyone there. I handed him my record, thanked him for a great show, and he signed it. I stood there, kind of speechless and just watched as this guy I had admired for so many years was chatting with everyone just like a normal guy.

I know that sounds kind of silly as they are just normal people like you and me, but to see him, and the other guys, in this setting, it truly put things into perspective.

I stuck around until he left and said goodbye. I waved to him as he left and he waved back. I smiled, turned around, and headed back to the hotel.

I got all five band members to sign my record, and I got to meet my childhood hero. How could it get any better than that?

When it comes to bucket list items, this was a very personal one that I had been waiting to cross off my list for a long time. Let me tell you, it’s one I won’t forget anytime soon.

As for the concert itself, AMAZING! The band was in top form playing a lot of oldies and new ones. A lot of stuff from Angel Dust, and they even kicked the show off with The Real Thing which blew my mind. I almost started crying when I heard that song because it really brought back a lot of memories.

They were talking about the fact that Van Halen was in town and asked anyone if they were Van Halen fans. This garnered a bit of a boofest from the crowd and the keyboardist started playing Jump which got a good laugh from the crowd. Shortly thereafter, they went into Midlife Crisis with a nice little Jump interlude:

They did a typical encore then came back and Patton told the audience that “We only have 5 minutes left” and broke into We Care A Lot.

Combine a great show with a great after-show experience, this tops my list of concerts and will likely never get bumped from that position. Unless I ever get to go backstage and hang out with the guys.


The Real Thing
Be Aggressive
Everything’s Ruined
Black Friday
Midlife Crisis
Cone of Shame
Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Separation Anxiety
Ashes to Ashes
— First Encore
I Started A Joke
— Second Encore
We Care A Lot


Categories: Concerts | 2 Comments

The Calm Before The Storm

It’s 9:54pm. The kids are asleep. Tamara is in Fredericton until late. And here I am sitting in my office thinking about what is about to transpire over the course of the next few days, and then Saturday.

In August of 2013, me and my friend Ken began minor discussions about hosting our own geocaching “mega” event. For those who haven’t seen my barrage of Facebook posts over the last few months, a mega event is one that has 500 or more attendees. For the one we are doing, it’s basically a geocaching trade show.

Vendors, games, kids activities, educational seminars, and a ton of other stuff are all going to go down on August 1st, 2015 at the Moncton Wesleyan. Me and Tamara will be there at 7am and the doors open at 9am for paid registrants. Once those doors open, the insanity will begin.

So right now, I’m enjoying the quiet time in the house. I bought some malleable board to pin some maps to for the event, but I am as far from crafty as can be and have no good way to put a banner on the top to indicate what it is. I printed off a bunch of words in big letters and draped them over the top of the sign. Hopefully Tamara can make it look nicer than I did cuz God only knows it looks crappy right now.

The mega is kind of a big deal. I know most of the people I know could care less about geocaching, but it has become a big part of my life. This event is the biggest thing I have ever had a major hand in putting together. Between this mega and last year’s Amazing Race stuff, there seems to be big things all around.

To put it into perspective, people from Ontario, Quebec, BC, Alberta, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, and possibly Manitoba are to be in attendance. We’ve got registrations from people in Boston, New York City, and I think I saw some from California possibly or somewhere in Texas too I think. And lastly, we’ve got folks from Germany, Finland, and I think the Netherlands coming to this event. Ya, really. That far away to come to Moncton all of all places to celebrate using multi-million dollar equipment to find Tupperware and film canisters in the woods. Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it?

But at the same time, right now, there’s a sort of inner peace I am experiencing. There are SO many things that have gone into the planning of this event. Two years in the making in some regards. 18 months of planning. But as it was mentioned today at our first “satellite event”, now it’s all about the execution. We planned it well. Now we need to execute it well.

So with this inner peace I am experiencing, I’m wondering if this is just purely my mind allowing myself to be relaxed before the big day. Or, is it that I am becoming more and more accustomed to some of these larger scale projects that I feel a bit more confident. I’d like to think it’s the former. If it’s the latter, than I wonder if I’m becoming a bit  too full of myself. I really hope that’s not the case but I would like to think that after having seen other events continue to scale up and beyond what they were intended to, and them continue to do well, I suppose it is a possibility that I’m getting used to it.

I took some medication to help with my sleep tonite and I can feel it starting to kick in. Before I start making less sense of myself, it’s time to go to bed. I’ll post a recap of the mega once it’s all done. I am pretty excited to see how it goes.

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Spend your life living, not having

“Spend your life living, not having” – Matthew Klem, 2015

A few weeks ago I read an article that said something to the effect about how people spend all of their time and money acquiring “things” when they should be spending it on acquiring experiences. This really struck a chord with me. While driving home from work, I was thinking about this and it just sort of came to me: “Spend your life living, not having”. In a moment of clarity, I realized that for me, I think this has now become my own personal mantra.

Last night me, Tamara, and the kids went down to the cottage and ended up spending quite a bit of time just hanging out on the beach, collecting little critters and enjoying the time outside. We finished the night off with the Canada Day fireworks and went home to crash. Spent very little money but had a great time.

It seems that a lot of people are obsessed with acquisition of “stuff”. The more money you make the more stuff you have. Homes, cars, computers, gadgets, boats, and countless other things that ultimately are nothing more than just a collection of crap to show off. And as the years go by, those things decrease in value. Experiences do not.

You could very easily take the money you spend on those “things” and spend it on fun and interesting experiences. Go on a trip. See the world. Go for a road trip. Explore the world around you. Take your kids to an amusement park, or take them to an ancient city. Go out and experience what there is in the world instead of sitting home, playing on your iPad or XBox, or laying down in front of the TV for night upon night.

I’m extremely lucky in that I get to travel for my work so I make sure that when I do go somewhere interesting, I try and soak up as much of it as possible because those are the memories you take with you. Those experiences are the ones that you can look back on when you’re 80 years old and remember how amazing it felt. If I buy a car today, 40 years from now it will be worthless. But if I save my money and take a trip to Thailand or Antarctica, those are experiences that never get old, and will be with you forever.

When you reach the end of your life, you’ll look back at the things you did and only have regrets about the things you didn’t do. I should have taken that trip around the world. I should have gone skydiving. I should have asked that girl out. I should have done that hike. Even if you make mistakes, it’s better to make them then have regrets later in life when it’s too late.

Enjoy it now and go for it now. If you can’t afford it, save your money, or find another way to make the experiences in your life worth remembering when you’re old.  It’s better to live your life than having a bunch of stuff that will ultimately be meaningless to you in the end.

Spend your life living, not having.

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Have I Started My Own Midlife Crisis?

It may not describe how I feel today, but the song title sure does. Within the last few weeks, I have begun to feel my age. It’s not something I ever really think about. I’m always joking with the kids that I’m not a grown-up but just a big kid. But for some reason of late, I’ve begun to feel my age.

Forgive me for babbling for a bit but for me, writing is therapeutic and right now I need some therapy.

Just under a week ago, I stayed up til 2am watching the final episode of David Letterman. Although I didn’t watch his show religiously, I was a big fan, and even went to see a taping of his show once. I got a little misty eyed watching the show that night thinking about my experience of going to see the show.

Then this morning, I’m reading some news and some news site posted the video of his last words on the show, followed by the Foo Fighters playing his favorite song to clips of Dave through his years on television. You can see the clip here:

I’m sitting at my desk, watching this and I start to cry. Not wanting anyone in the building to know I’m balling my head off, I keep my voice completely silent as the tears are flowing like the water from a tap. And as I sit there trying to watch this, and crying, I’m thinking the whole time about what the hell is wrong with me. It’s just a video montage of some guy’s life work. Why is this bothering me so much?

I finally collect myself, take a deep breath, and open up my browser to search on “midlife crisis” and “do people in their 40s long for their youth”.

See, the truth is, it seems over the last few weeks, maybe even the last few months, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the past. And on the way to work today I thought of a quote from Star Trek Generations: “You know, Counselor, Recently I’ve become very much aware that there are fewer days ahead than there are behind”. I’ve always said that I wanted to make it to 80 years old. That if I made it to 80, that would be fine. I would have lived long enough to experience a great many things and be old enough to enjoy the passage of time.

So as I am driving, I come to realize that at the age of 41, I have now officially crossed the line of having half of my life over. The first 50% of my life is theoretically over and what does that mean to me? Sure, I might live to be 90 but when 80 is the year you are aiming for, you kind of think of that as the end. So what does it mean for someone to have experience what they believe to be the first half of their life.

In watching those clips from the show, it made me have my own reflection of the passage of time and I think part of me is a little scared of that.

Don’t get me wrong, my life now is better than it ever was. In fact, aside from some debt, I don’t think my life could be any better than it is right now. I really am in a place where I couldn’t be happier. So what is it about looking backward that brings tears to my eyes? I think for me it was the sudden realization that those moments truly are gone and that once they are gone, you can’t ever get them back.

So with all of this, I’m sort of thinking that this is a natural stage that people my age start to go through. They think to the past and start to reflect on how they have lived their life, and what is coming next. What matters the most to you and where do you want to focus your time. Time. I think that is the key. As more time passes by, I have begun to realize that time is more precious than anything. Spend your time doing what you love. Don’t spend your time doing things that you can’t stand, or don’t like if you don’t have to.

I find myself at a point in my life where I have been given the means to truly enjoy my life and to embrace all of the wonder and insanity it can really bring. My days of youth may be gone, but I think as we acquire more wisdom, the path to truly finding happiness becomes clearer.

I’m feeling a bit better now. My own therapy seems to have worked and I can now go back to doing actual work today. I may not write a lot here, but there are days where this place is more handy than you’ll know.

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