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Milestones

29 January, 2008

Two interesting things to mark. First, I have now been in Boston for one year. It doesn’t feel like that long… but in some ways it feels like I’ve been here for longer than that. The second is that I finished updating my reading list. Only now it’s the “Reading List – 2007” since I’ll have to start a new one for the current year. And yes, I’m already behind on updating the list for 2008. =P

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Happy Birthday, Blake

20 January, 2008

There hasn’t been much to report lately. I’ve mostly been busy with work and other things, and unfortunately the ol’ blog has been a bit neglected. But I’m here now to make up for that.

The one big, exciting thing that happened in the past week was Blake’s birthday. The little fella turned five on Jan 15th. And he got what every tiger wants… a Barrel of Monkeys!
BlakeBirthday
He looked like he was having fun. = ]
Truth is, I don’t actually know precisely when Blake’s birthday is. It was five years ago that I made a donation to the World Wildlife Fund to adopt a tiger. I figured they would just send me a picture of a tiger or something, but a few weeks later, a big fat envelope showed up in the mail, and there was Blake. His adoption papers didn’t include a birthdate, so I’m just kind of estimating that he must have been born about 3 weeks before he ended up with me. That’s close enough for Blake and I.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rescue Blake from his monkeys…
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Joy to the Whirled

26 December, 2007

Before I write anything else, let me wish you, dear reader, a very Merry Commerce and a Happy New Year. I hope the past year has been good to you, and you’re having a wonderful holiday, and there are good things in store for you in the coming year. I still recommend you usher it in blinding drunk, just in case that turns out to be the high point.

I’m having a great holiday so far. I will now present my bullet point list of highlights.

Dan’s Bulleted List of Holiday Highlights

  • getting blasted on French-Canadian beer (appropriately named “La Fin Du Monde”) with T&A, while playing endless rounds of TimeSplitters 2. I was the dinosaur on the rooftop with the chaingun.
  • my dad has finished his book on our family history. I’m about halfway through, and it rocks.
  • me, Vania, my two nieces, and my mom, all sitting around playing our respective Nintendo DSes. I got the girls Phantom Hourglass, and my mom is seriously hooked on Puzzle Quest.
  • Doing a grueling class of Hapkido with Master Forster. It’s a great reference point to come back and train with him each year, and make sure I haven’t been backsliding.
  • My eleven-year-old nieces know all about Thor and Odin. My sister has taught them well.
  • There is half a metre of snow here, and we’ve had more heavy snowfall the last two nights. This is the way a white xmas is supposed to be.
  • The devil invented a new card game and taught it to my mother. It’s called sets, and it’s cruel like salt in a paper cut. My mom loves it and makes us play it every night. Only for my mother…

In general, I’m having a great time. These visits home every year are like plugging in your cellphone overnight – it’s the only thing that keeps me going through the rest of the year. I find that as time goes by, my family becomes more and more important to me, so it means a lot to get back to see them every xmas. When people have known you this long, and still like you… you keep them close to your heart.

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Back in Van (plus chocolate)

13 December, 2007

Yes, here I am, back in Vancouver for a week. And, get this… it’s raining!

I’m really just passing through on my way up to Prince George to visit with my family for Commerce holidays, but it’s great to have a couple days to see a bunch of old friends again (old friends, heh, I’ve only been gone a year).

In other news, traffic on this blog has spiked like crazy. It’s like a geyser with a stick of dynamite in it. And it’s all hits from people searching for one thing: chocolate. Apparently I’ve mentioned it on here a time or two. Now, it’s drawing people from all over the intertron. I wonder, is chocolate the new pr0n? Should I revamp my blog to be a hub for all things chocolate? Should I post recipes?

Ingredients:

1 litre Chocolate Milk

Directions:

Open carton. Makes one serving.

Should I (chocolate) increase the (chocolate) number of (chocolate) times I use the (chocolate) word (chocolate) “chocolate” (chocolate) just so (chocolate) I can boost the (chocolate) amount of  (chocolate) traffic here (chocolate)? No, I’m above such naked pandering to the masses, chocolate-crazed though they may be.

Because really, this is a blog about a boy and his tiger, not chocolate (though it does make the occasional guest appearance). It would be wrong to draw people here when they’re really just looking for chocolate, and have no idea who the heck Blake and I are. The proper thing for me to do would be to refrain from mentioning chocolate at all, so I don’t end up leading people astray. So there you have it, I won’t mention chocolate again. Except that I just said it.  Chocolate, I mean.

I’m such a brat. =D

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This and That

8 December, 2007

Sorry I’ve neglected to post for the past week or two. Things have been pretty busy at work, lots of overtime again as we work on finishing up Bully for the Xbox 360. But all of that is behind me now – I started my xmas holidays today. I’m taking a glorious, well-deserved 4 weeks off. I fly out to Vancouver tomorrow, and then on to Prince George the following Saturday.

I should also report that I have had my first encounters with the American medical system. I will now unfold a litany of terrors!!!

Not. Actually, I don’t have much to complain about. It all started with some pain, inflammation, discoloration and finally an obvious infection in my big toe. I will not provide photographs. Since I didn’t have a doctor yet (this is my first medical complaint since arriving here) and couldn’t arrange an appointment in short order, I took myself into a local Emergency room. Where there was no line up, no chaos, and I was seen to immediately by a nurse and then a doctor who informed me I had an ingrown toenail. But enough about the toe. What I found interesting was that the capacity to serve (with medical care) seemed to outstrip the need for it… they were able to treat me immediately and could have treated more people in the same time.

Then this week, I went to an actual doctor’s appointment. I had to wait a while for the appointment (the earliest the could book me was a week and a half after I called), but once I got there, again, I had the same impression. The doctor did not seem to be rushing between patients – instead, he spent a fair amount of time with me and chatted about random stuff like his college basketball days.

All of this is in stark contrast to my visits to doctors and Emergency rooms in Canada. There, you could always count on having to wait several hours in Emergency (my last visit, with a bleeding injury, involved a 7 hour wait). My visits to the doctor involved being shuffled into one of a battery of examining rooms through which the doctor then rotated as rapidly as possible, spending no more than a few minutes with each patient unless it was absolutely necessary.

Now, two more obvious differences. I had to pay a nominal user fee in each case. The Emergency room visit was $50, and the doctor’s appointment was $15 (with the rest being covered by my medical insurance, of course). And yes, I have medical insurance, which not all Americans do. However, it’s significant that in Massachusetts, everyone is legally required to have medical insurance, and for people with low incomes, this insurance is subsidized so as not to be a burden. So in fact, everyone here has access to the same level of care that I received (unless they’re refusing to buy insurance on principle, which apparently some are).

To be sure, there must be many other factors underlying the differences that I’ve noticed. But it’s just interesting to find, given what a sacred cow we’ve made of our universal Medicare, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth that meets any move to allow privatization, that the American medical system is actually pretty friendly, competent and more than able to meet the needs of its patients.

In other news, I’ve updated the Reading List again.

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Thxgiving

22 November, 2007

Here I am, celebrating American Thanksgiving. I already celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving (on the proper day!) with a dead chicken, so today, I’m celebrating with a piece of dead cow. For those of you who have neither, here’s an LOLcat.

lolcat

It’s just really nice to have a four day weekend… hey Canada, we should move Thanksgiving to a Tuesday!

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Chilly

19 November, 2007

I saw my first snowflakes of the winter this morning, as I was walking out to my car. The air was just the right kind of cold and clear, the perfect way for winter to say hello. I’m looking forward to another Xmas in Prince George, with mounds of snow and temperatures that would kill me in minutes if I wasn’t wearing a toque.