Turning it Around


More than once, I have heard the expression that things happen in threes. Actually I have heard this more about bad things than good things, but there are probably people out there who think that three refers to both of them and who am I to argue the point.

Yesterday started out with three bad things, or at least that is how I interpreted it.

I woke up to a text message about an Ebay purchase I made. The seller had made a mistake and wanted to propose altering the deal.  He didn’t have a complete set to sell me, so he wanted to send me the set minus a couple of pieces that he assured me would be easy to find.  He seemed quite earnest and apologetic, so I wasn’t angry, but sad that the deal had fallen through.  I declined his offer of a less than complete set, and thought no more about it.

Then, while brushing my teeth with my electric toothbrush in full throttle, some of the toothpaste jumped of the brush and landed squarely in my chest. While the toothbrush was running, it became increasingly difficult to dislodge the toothpaste from my chest hair.  I am not particularly hirsute, but still.

Then, when I got to the subway station the trains were delayed. I had a few things to get ready before teaching and thought I would have about 40 minutes to attend to them.  Sadly, I arrived with about five minutes to spare.  Classes, especially my writing class, which requires solid preparation and marking time, didn’t go as well as I would have liked.

So, yes, the day started off like a gigantic bummer. Nothing terrible, but I just got the feeling I was on some rotten losing streak.  I didn’t think that it would stop at three and I was worried that I would be riding this streak until the end of summer.

However, somewhere in the afternoon things started to turn around. I felt a definite upswing.

First, I had the chance to talk to one of my new co-workers. She’s a rather attractive young woman, but more to the point, she has one of those personalities.  At the time, I felt like magnetic was the right word, but now I am not so sure.  Maybe effortless and calming are the right words.  More likely, she’s the embodiment of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song–if that makes any sense to any of you.

From my bus window on the commute home, I saw a Porsche following a Saleen Mustang. It seemed to make the bus feel like it was moving a bit quicker.

When I got home, I discovered that I had won my first Ebay auction. I don’t live on my phone, so I wasn’t really tracking the thing during the day.  I also had never bid on anything on Ebay before, so it felt like a win.

This morning, I awoke to an email from the Ebay seller. He sent me a refund and sent me the incomplete set for free anyway.  I was totally surprised.  I had seen that his selling score was quite high, but I had no idea he would go that far.  Obviously his reputation is well earned.

Then this morning, after a wonderfully empty commute on the bus which featured an appearance of the woman with the rosary beads (I must have written about her) and didn’t feature the usual abundance of air conditioning on my neck, I found myself waiting at the traffic light beside a beautiful woman holding a book.

I noticed the book was by Lisa Jewell. While I might not be the target audience for Ms. Jewell, I am a big fan of her work.  I think I have read everything my library has on her.  I didn’t even know she had a new book out and was a bit excited.  Perhaps that is why I unthinkingly and rashly signalled to the woman, who until this point had been blocking out the world with her headphones.  She obliged me and we had a brief but interesting conversation about the book and the author as we navigated a few crosswalks. (The area around Yonge and Eglinton is a mess of construction and other obstacles)

On my way home tonight, the bus passed a Porsche Turbo (not the same one as last night) as well as a Lamborghini. The irony was not lost on me, but it probably was on the testosterone diminished drivers of those cars.

I am hoping this is the start of a long streak of luckiness. I am trying to focus on the positive–that’s probably why I wrote this lengthy post.  I certainly hope it isn’t the cruel swing of a pendulum that will one day find its way swinging back the other way.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blogging, blogposts, books, cars, chance meetings, commuting, conversation, Ebay, luck, meeting people, reading, Toronto, TTC, Viva, writing, Yonge and Eglinton, York Region | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tech Win


I am not a luddite. I have a blog, an Instagram, even Facebook.  At work, I use a smart board and we have interactive textbooks.  I use tech pretty much every day.  The thing is, I am not great at it.  I use it, but I am so far behind people who really utilize tech.

I suppose, I could learn it, but if I had more time I would much rather be out on my bicycle, or failing that learning how to keep my bike it tip top shape.

A small side note: I have looked into taking a bicycle mechanic’s course.  It is very appealing to me.  If I thought I could make the same money as the job I am doing, I would probably do it in a heartbeat.  This could be because dealing with cyclists seems much easier than dealing with students right now–but this is probably a grass is always greener on the other side kind of thing.

Back to the tech problem. These days, they make it easy to solve most tech problems by buying a new one.  No need to fix the problem, just buy a new one.  In my current case, the sd card on the phone kept saying it was full.  This seemed a bit ridiculous to me since I used to have 1000 photos on it, and now I didn’t.  If 1000 photos didn’t fill it up, what could I possibly have on it that could take up so much space?  The sd card was 16GB.  I checked with other phone users, including my students who have hundreds of apps on their phones and thousands of pictures, and they didn’t seem to have the problems that I had.  I then looked at what was in the memory and it didn’t add up to so many GBs.

Of course, the card is actually a micro sd and wouldn’t fit the card reader in the computer. After a search of the drawer of lost tech (Don’t tell me you don’t have one.  We all have one.  It might be a drawer, it might be a box, it might even be a plastic bag in the closet–we all have the place where we put all the tech stuff that we don’t use.) I found the adapter.

Well a quick ten seconds in the computer and a quick reformat and things are back to normal. I now have tons of space on my phone.

I had planned to spend a couple of minutes in the electronics store being talked down to by tech nerds….or geek squads…or whatever the heck they call themselves or are called by the tech friendly, but now I don’t have to.

Saving money + problem solving + feeling proud of myself = Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, fixing, repair, smart phone, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Lucky Rabbit


I was on the bus, alternating between nodding off and reading my book (Will Ferguson’s Belfast and Beyond–a humorous read like a Canadian Bill Bryson).  I had had a bad end to my day at work.  A student who rarely came to my class made an itemized list of complaints against me even though she had argued to stay in my class.  My boss assured me that this person was “challenging” and that I didn’t have anything to worry about, but truth be told, it bothered me.

I went home in a bit of a funk and public transportation did nothing to improve that funk. So I sat on the bus, feeling sorry for myself and ruing the day I became a teacher, and basically doing all the stupid things I tell people not to do–if only I had someone like me in my life.

Amidst this bizarre pity party, I noticed the baseball cap on the head of person in the seats in front of me. Luckily for me he was wearing it backwards in what he must have considered a cool style.  It made it difficult for him to lean back in the seat, but who was I to point something so obvious out.

These days, thanks to computer controlled embroidery machines and other textile related technology, and probably thanks to sweatshop slavery in low wage countries, you can put anything on a baseball cap.

When I saw the cap above, but before I took this picture surreptitiously (thank you spell checker) I thought this was a good omen. I took it for a lucky rabbit with all his feet.  It made me feel better and I was able to give myself the pep talk I needed.

Posted in adversity, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, commuting, encouragement, ESL, obstacles, overcome, positive comments, public transportation, recover, students, teaching, transportation, Viva, York Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When Students Give Gifts


I am not one of those teachers who are constantly showered with gifts.  However, every once in a while, I do get something special.  It makes me believe I am doing a good job.

Thank you, my amazing student.  You made me feel valued and you’ve given me Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in appreciation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, gifts, presents, students, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Musings on Kerouac

kerouac jacksbook

I am reading another book on Jack Kerouac, this one called Jack’s Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac by Barry Gifford and Lawrence Lee.

The question I have for myself is why? It isn’t that I dislike the book.  In fact, I think the book is very compelling and well written.  I wish there were more pictures of the people featured in the book, but that’s something altogether different and probably not that important now that I and the world have Google.

You see, I am not that enamoured of Jack Kerouac’s work. I am not that enamoured of the people he travelled with.  I am not into jazz music and I don’t need to discover America.

This came up a few weeks ago when I was talking books with some of the new teachers at work. We were dropping author’s names like so many playing cards at a poker game.  At times like these, I do not drop the existentialists or the Beats, and I mostly criticize books that we had read in school that I do not like (I am looking at you Gatsby).

When someone brought up On the Road, my comment went something like

There were moments when I loved the book and moments when I didn’t. Some of it is brilliance, but not all of it.  However, what I do admire is the way it moved people.  It was a book that got people talking.  It was a book that challenged narrative.  It was a book that meant something, even if we can’t agree on what that is.  What a great blessing and a great curse to have written such a novel.

The people listening probably didn’t understand what I was going for (and now that I read it over, perhaps I am not being eloquent enough, or not taking a hard enough risk with my words…)

So, I am reading this book, getting sucked up into a world that became fiction that became the world again through analysis and social commentary. I am reading this book that shows the hero and anti heroes in a less than flattering light.  I am reading a book about a doomed group of people whose moment in the light burns quite brightly, if only too quickly.

I think it is because Kerouac wrote. Kerouac’s words became immortal on the printed page.  I admire and envy this with every fibre of my being.  Every time I am lazy and not writing; every time I don’t write down the idea I have for a story; every time I don’t heed the lessons on the printed page….I feel so much less.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, authentic, books, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

A Good Ride


july 7 ride 2

Thanks to rain and incredible heat–and the need to recover the ego from a particularly bad ride–I had gotten out on the bike for two weeks. Today, thanks to a break in the heat and perhaps to mark the start of the Tour de France, I got out for a ride today.

I joined the C group, which moved at a slower pace than the B group I took on my fatefully bad ride. I had no trouble keeping up with everyone and for the first time this season, didn’t fade as the ride wore on.  My body is sore, but not excessively so.

group ride

This ride was special because the group leader failed to memorize the route before we left, so we started off on his standby route. We also had a newbie in the group and the group leader stayed with her while we tooled around.  We had a pretty nice ride with a good number of tiring hills.

It might be too early in the day to call this Today’s one and only Perfect Moment–I am certainly open to something even more amazing happening–but for now, I think it qualifies.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, cycling shoes, exercise, fitness, group rides, Newmarket Eagles, Saturday morning, strava | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rain vs. Chocolate: Winner Take All


Cookies, chocolate, and a bicycle.  This is a snack built for me.


Vying for the honour of being called Today’s Perfect Moment are two finalists.


After a week of oppressive heat that had me experience Japanese summer flashbacks, we got a Noah’s Ark amount of rain.

I was in my classroom when the bright afternoon sky became cloudy and dark. Suddenly my smartboard was much more visible.  This phenomenon was accompanied by what can only be called a class-wide-moan.  This was followed by a class-wide-grumble about not having an umbrella.

When school was finished the sky had once again become bright and I was able to enjoy a lovely walk to the subway with one of my colleagues. I had escaped the deluge that I witnessed from my classroom window.

When I emerged from the subway, after what seemed like a long ride punctuated with delays and apologies from the operator, the sky had turned dark, but rain hadn’t started falling again. This was saved until I was safely on board the bus with my nose buried in a book.  Once again, I remained unscathed.


Cookies. I always appreciate it when a student gives me chocolate, or cookies, or in this case, chocolate covered cookies.  These were not from his country and I suspect they were purchased at the dollar store.  Nonetheless, my enthusiasm for free chocolate food could not be dampened.

The Winner

Hard to top a good rain storm. Perhaps if there had been two cookies instead of one.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, chocolate, comfort food, commuting, food, public transportation, school, students, transportation, TTC, Viva, weather, York Region | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Steamroller Party


When I was young, I was fascinated by steamrollers, even though I never saw one in real life. I saw them in Bugs Bunny cartoons, and probably on some educational TV shows like Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood.  I just never saw one in real life.

I am not sure why I found them to be so cool, but as a little boy, moving earth, constructing and building using big cranes, cement trucks, and bulldozers seemed cool.

Over the years, I have seen them from a car window as we sped past. Whether I was a driver or passenger, I tried to get a look at them.

Now, this morning, on a day that was predicted to be hot and muggy, I came across these two parked on the street near my house. I probably should have run for the bus, but I couldn’t help but stop and take a picture.  I felt like a kid again.

I posted it on my Instagram as a steamroller party and could not think of a more appropriate title for this post as well.

Absolutely, Today’s Perfect Moment.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, construction, construction equipment, construction machines, luck, Omens | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dragon Fruit Drama


I wouldn’t exactly call myself adventurous with food. I am not brave enough to eat just anything.  However, I have travelled a bit and I have sampled lots of different delicious foods.  In fact, some of my best memories of my last two cycle vacations were about the food and all the fantastic fruit I got to have.

Luckily for me, there is an Asian grocery store within walking distance from my house. They were advertising a sale on dragon fruit.  I decided to see if I could get my mother to try some. I knew this would put her outside her comfort zone, but I thought it might be worth doing.

You see, she is a bit finicky. I remember trying to get her to eat tofu one day from a Japanese Nabe (hot pot).  The looks, sniffs, and sour expressions were classic.  I did my best to convince her.  I tried all the classics she tried on me–“it doesn’t taste like anything” or “it won’t hurt you” or my favourite (which never worked as a child) “Try it.  You might like it.”  She was not a fan.

I should give you some background on this. When I was a child, my mother did a few sneaky things with food.  She loved to put turnips in things and tell us they were either carrots or potatoes.  One bite and I knew they were anything but.  I tried it, but I certainly did not like it.  Once she told my sister and I that we were eating chicken fingers, but the obvious fishy taste belied that.  That was probably the longest dinner of my life.

These days, after a lengthy stay in Japan, I love fish.  Granted, except for an excellently grilled sea bass, I prefer the raw over the cooked, but I am sure I am not alone in this feeling.  I also love tofu in its various forms.  I don’t get it enough these days, but what can you do.

So, I took my mother some dragon fruit. Her reaction was much as I suspected.  She tried only the smallest portion and rather than commit to a like or a dislike, she started waxing on about some other fruit….or food…or something that had the same taste.  I shook my head and let her be.

I wonder if I should try and get her to eat some durian.


Posted in adventure, adversity, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, eating, ethnic food, food, food shopping, fruit, grocery shopping, risks, shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Happy Canada Day

cyclingstamp (289x175)

I would just like to wish Canadians, and any Canadian friendly people out there, a Happy Canada Day.  We’re 151 years young.  We have a lot to be proud of (and a few things to atone for).  Our year begins with challenges, but we shall be strong.

I could have gone with the flag motif, but I decided to choose something simple this time around.  I also wanted to choose something that speaks to my passions.

I should note that as well as celebrating the founding of our nation, I am also feeling pretty good about the signing of John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Now, with this two pronged attack, there will probably be more room for Auston Matthews to work his magic.

Bring home the cup.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, birthday, Canada, Canadian, celebration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments