Follow Up from Last Summer

I wanted to follow up on my progress from last year to see how well I did. Some might even include this summer, but given the year I’ve had, you can’t blame me. 😉

1. Go Camping – CHECK. We did get to go camping for one weekend last summer. Though we didn’t get to do this again this summer, I think we’ll make up for it next year.

2. Have Garage Sale – CHECK. We got rid of quite a bit of stuff, so I’m pretty happy about that. All before I even knew we were moving to Hamilton.

3. Visit friend on Georgian Bay – CHECK. Got to go for a weekend, but didn’t get to see my friend. Need to check in on her this week.

4. Get Gainful Employment – So-so. Started my own consulting gig and I’m really enjoying it.

5. Complete 5 WordPress installs/clients – CHECK. Have done a couple of my own and most for clients. The biggest one is for the Malvern Red and Black Society, coming soon!

6. Post once a day on any of my three blogs – So-so. Getting better at it and it goes in waves.

7. Go on at least 3 dates (with the same person or different people) – FAIL. Dates? What are they? It’s a type of fruit isn’t it?

8. Get ready for September grading by training at least twice per week. – FAIL. Moving has put a bit of a damper on the training front. Getting better at taking a walk at night and doing training in the park.

9. Lose 10 pounds (would love 20, but lets start there). – CHECK AND FAIL. I lost about 20 pounds, but mostly due to CO poisoning. I think I might have put it back on by now.

10. Read 5 books off the bookshelf – CHECK. It took me a little longer, but I actually took up the 50 Book Challenge. Though I may have succeeded from my list here, I’m quite far behind on it.

Bonus: Visit a museum or gallery – CHECK. Went to the AGO for my birthday.

Sunset on the beach in Tiny

Sunset on the beach in Tiny


My Event With Canadian Customs

I attended FITC Toronto a few weeks ago and heard a great talk by Kyle McDonald. During his talk, he told us of when the Secret Service came to visit him and I imparted my Canadian Customs story. I was encouraged to write it down, so here it is. Definitely one of my favourite stories to tell.

My brother and I landed at the Buffalo International Airport from our trip to Dallas, Texas. We had left my father’s car there a week earlier and now we were heading home. I made sure that my cargo had been in my name and that my suitcase was in my brother’s name. His luggage went on board with him.  I had prepped him before crossing the border back into Canada. Understand, my brother is autistic and has Tourette’s Syndrome, so at first glance, he may seem to Customs Officers like he’s on something or nervous. If I don’t prep him and something unusual happens, he gets very frazzled.

When we drove up to the booth the conversation with the Customs Officer went as follows (I’ve left out the boring stuff):

Officer: “Citizenship?”

Me: “Canadian.”

Officer: “Where are you coming from?”

Me: “Dallas, Texas”

Officer: “What was the purpose of your visit?”

Me: “Attending a wedding.”

Officer: “Who’s wedding?”

Me: “My cousin’s.”

Officer: “How long have you been gone?”

Me: “Seven days.”

Officer: “What is the total value of goods that you are bringing back?”

Me: “I’m bringing back about $700 and my brother has about $150.”

Officer: “Any tobacco?”

Me: “No, sir.”

Officer: “Any alcohol?”

Me: “A 500 mL bottle of liqueur for my mother.”

Officer: “Any weapons or firearms?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Officer: “Excuse me?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Officer: “What are you bringing back?”

Me: “A sword.”

Officer: “What kind of sword?”

Me: “A Japanese katana.”

Officer: “What is the total value of this sword?”

Me: “$99.”

Officer: “Really? Okay, is it easily accessible that I can take quick look at it?”

Me: “Yes, sir. It’s in the trunk of the car in a box.”

Officer: “Do you mind popping the trunk so I can take a look?”

Me: “Not at all.”

He goes around to the rear of the car where I’d popped the trunk to investigate. About a minute later he comes back and says: “I see it’s wrapped up, so I’m going to have to send you over to the side there so someone can take a better look. It’s just a formality, but it’s protocol.”

Me: “I understand and expected that. No worries.”

He handed me a slip of paper and I drove to the side and waited in the car as he instructed until told to do otherwise. Within a minute or two, our car was approached by two female officers, each going to either side of the car. The one on my side addressed me and said: “So, what’s this we hear about a sword?”

I simply replied: “Yes, ma’am.”

Officer: “All right then, could you please leave everything in the car and I’m going to ask both of you to exit the vehicle.”

Me: “Yes. Ma’am.”, at which point I turned to my brother and repeated the instructions to him to make sure he understood them. We both exited the car and walked around to the open trunk. At this point, I’m wondering what they are more concerned with; the insurance cost to them if they break anything or that they may have a woman yielding a sword at customs.

Me: “Would you like me to take it out of the box?”

Officer: “Yes, please.”

After lifting it out of the box, “Would you like me to take it out of the cloth?”

Officer: “Yes, please.”

I untied the cloth and removed it to show the sword laid out over my two hands. “Would you like me to take it out of its sheath?”

Officer: “You don’t have to, but… Do you mind? We’d love to see you do something with it.”

Me: “Sure!”

I did a couple of forms that took all of about a minute, they smiled and thanked me as they signed off on my slip and sent us on our way.

Every once in a while, I hear my brother utter under his breath: “Sword…” and I know that he is recounting this story in his head.

Have you been to where your parents were born?

Have you been to where your parents were born?.

Not both, but most. 😉

I have been to where my mother was born and grew up in England. We went after I graduated from University in 2009. I had been to England on my own over the last few years, but not to where she lived, nor with her. She hadn’t been there since they left when she was 5.

Mom, Elizabeth and Sheila on the pier

Mom, Elizabeth and Sheila on the pier, one of the day trips we made

I have been to Mumbai where my father grew up, but I haven’t been to Tanzania where he was born. He relates more to Mumbai than to his birthplace, and I enjoy visiting there too since it is closer to our heritage. I once spent three months there studying my MCSE and got to stay with my grandmother.

Me on the balcony at Napean Sea Road in Mumbai

Me on the balcony at Napean Sea Road in Mumbai in 2006


What would your profession be if you didn’t need money?

What would your profession be if you didn’t need money?

I think I’d like to be a writer. I’ve certainly beeing enjoying writing these blog posts for Post A Day, but I don’t seem to have enough time to write them. I’m certainly trying to change that, but if I could learn to write and do that for a living…I’d be a happy camper. Put some photography into it around the world (so add in the travelling) and I’m sold! Where’s my winning lottery ticket…?

Happy 5th Anniversary To Me

This was a cover that I used for my second level Niei Chi

This was a cover that I used for my second level Niei Chi

Saturday marked a real milestone in my life. It has been five years since I stopped smoking. It also marks 5 years since I graded for my first black belt.

I was never a very heavy smoker. A pack a day was a challenge. I averaged 7 or 8 a day and smoked ultra light menthols. I’d tried quitting before and it usually lasted about 6-8 weeks before I’d go back to it. I even had major surgery to remove my spleen and thought I could beat it. I tried acupuncture but because I could go for 6-8 weeks on my own, they said it wouldn’t do much good.

Taken one day after class on the East Beach in Toronto

Taken one day after class on the East Beach in Toronto

In our organization, all black belts must sign their name stating that they are smoke free. I’d been promising myself each belt level that I was going to quit. But as I went through them, I kept smoking.

Grading for your black belt is a great honour and I regarded it as such, including the oath I took. The day I graded for my black belt is the day I smoked my last cigarette.  A month later when I was awarded my first black belt, I smoke half a cigar in celebration and haven’t smoked since.

Since then, I’ve been to Hong Kong for 5 months, where everyone smokes like chimneys. I could have cheated but something a friend of mine kept me in line. Whenever I thought “Maybe just one; no one will know.” His voice would answer: “But you will.”

I finished university, go the rest of my shodans, went onto my nidans and about to start my sandans in the fall.

Thank you Sensei. Ous.

Make a top ten list of things to do this summer

This is based on one of the topics presented in the PostADay2011 campaign: Make a top ten list of things to do this summer

The Hotel Del Coranado in San Diego, CA, 1988

The view from my window overlooking the ocean

1. Go Camping

2. Have Garage Sale

3. Visit friend on Georgian Bay

4. Get Gainful Employment

5. Complete 5 WordPress installs/clients

6. Post once a day on any of my three blogs

7. Go on at least 3 dates (with the same person or different people)

8. Get ready for September grading by training at least twice per week

9. Lose 10 pounds (would love 20, but lets start there)

10. Read 5 books off the bookshelf

Bonus: Visit a museum or gallery

Would I want to live forever?

Topic: Do you want to live forever?.

Unlike some who might think that it would be a lonely existence, (such as “Highlander” or “Doctor Who”) I believe that it would be a wonderful opportunity. Many times, we say we didn’t have enough time to do things like have a successful career, own a home or to travel the world. You’d have all the time in the world.

What would I do?

I’d travel. One country at a time. I might work for a bit at the tail end of the visit, enough to get to the next country and travel around for a while. I’d learn a few languages…to start. I’d improve my French, then master Japanese. Probably start my travels there. I’d continue my martial arts training, and learn some new ones. I’d also keep learning, maybe a few more degrees. Maybe one in literature next. If I lived forever, I’m sure I’d master history!

Oddly enough, I don’t think I’d want to be famous. Just let me do my thing, watch the world unfold as it will. Maybe advise leaders now and then, but only if asked. Imagine the discussions you could have, the things you could witness and the hearts and minds you could help shape.


Finally having a chance to sit outside without dying of heat. There is at least a bit of a breeze. Have school all day today, so it will hopefully be productive.

Starting to come to the realization that these courses aren’t going to be as easy as I first thought. The engineering course (Corporate Networking) promised not to have too much algebra and formulas to remember. The last few classes have been all that. Though today, he looked at me, knowing that I have a business background more than an engineering background and promised to lay off the formulae for a while and focus more on theory. Gives me a chance to catch up.

The database course is working more like a computing course (which it is) but makes it difficult for translation from business. I am now really seeing the difference between business and computers! It’s almost like relearning how to do ERD’s which I used to do really well. Not good.

Then there is the other computing course in networking. I think I’ll do well in that one as long as I keep on top of it. Lastly, (yes, I dropped the Putonghua/Mandarin) the Japanese for Business. He’s moving way too quickly. I asked him the first day if I would have problems with this course, and he said that I would probably do better in some ways because of my English. But I’ve never learned a symbol language before, so I am at a disadvantage. Need to do some studying on those this weekend.

Lastly, was planning to go to Beijing next weekend, then thought we had a presentation and then put it on hold. Then realized, no we didn’t have it until the following weekend. Something is telling me that I should stay close to home, so I think this time since I’ve now made alternate arrangements for that weekend, I will heed that gut feeling. I will have much time to travel, so why not enjoy it close to home. I need some time to myself (since my roommate will be done) and I’ll go hang out with Cheryl for a couple of days on Lamma. I like that plan and I’m sticking to it.

Had a great email from a friend yesterday. Almost brought me to tears. I’m reminded of when he was away in a far off land (more than once) and we support each other when we are far from home (wherever that is at a given point). He’s returned the favour to me and made me remember why I’m here. Yes, I’m here to learn, but also to experience. I won’t try to cram everything in to one small time or space, but I will do the things I was sent here to do.