Category Archives: Culture

Hello Shanghai

Leaving our mark at one of the local pubs.
Leaving our mark at one of the local pubs.

Today is laundry day, so what better thing to do than write a few blog posts.

I arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday last week. The flight was a bit rough but ultimately uneventful. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Xi’an, but other adventures were calling my name.

To save some cash and get a sense of the city I opted to take the No. 2 Metro line from the airport to a station close to my hostel. Fortunately signage was both in English and in Chinese which made purchasing a ticket (4 Yuan, or about 69 cents Canadian) and making my way to my destination rather simple. At least in theory. In practice I failed to consider my own stupidity and exhaustion. After falling asleep on the subway, I woke to find I’d missed my first stop and had returned almost all the way to the airport. Feeling like a twit, I quickly corrected the situation and was back on my way to my home away from home for the week.

Scotch on top of Shanghai
Scotch on top of Shanghai

After checking in, I decided to saunter around the neighbourhood. Within about 5 minutes I stumbled into Andy whom I’d met in Xi’an the week before. Having been here for a few days already he gave me the lay of the land, and then we went in search of food.

Since then, I’ve hung out with him and several other travellers – the Brits Laura, Chloe, Sam, and Hugh, the Aussie student-couple Andrew and Sassica, and the Americans Jack, Ben, and Lauren. Various subsets of us have opted to explore the local pubs and clubs together, and that of course has led to some rather late nights/early mornings. From the dark and dingy yet strangely inviting and friendly C-club, to the overpriced but entertaining Cheers, to the posh techno shoulder-to-shoulder deafening thump-thump and visual assault that was M18 and Myst, and to the not-so-crowded, not-so-loud techno thump-thump and free booze of SoHo, we’ve pretty much been all over the place.

Street BBQ is the new crack.
Street BBQ is the new crack.

Between bar-hopping, I’ve managed to make my way to the financial district – where fellow professor Chris and I celebrated with a scotch on the 87th floor overlooking the nightlife of Shanghai – to the Bund, and to the major shopping district of Nanjing Road. I’ve been amazed by the contrast between old colonial buildings and the new modern flash of skyscrapers. The street BBQs have turned into a staple after-bar snack. I’ve snapped my pic with an M&M dressed as a panda, I’ve enjoyed fresh coconut water and probably too many dumplings, and I have been entertained by the various Chinese to English translations that I’ve read. The people, as in Xi’an, are exceptionally hospitable and welcoming.

In short, this city is vibrant and amazing and has so much to offer, I think I might just be in love with it.

Eating My Way Through The Muslim District

Dinner in the Muslim District with Peter
Dinner in the Muslim District with Peter. (Photo credit – Peter H.)

Since I arrived in Xi’an, I’ve made a point of visiting the Muslim District every day. There’s just too much going on there not to go. And every visit seems to offer something new – something that I either missed on previous visits, or something new and amazing that was added to the mix. It really is a feast for all of the senses.

The District is approximately 15 minutes from my hostel – assuming I’m moving at a very leisurely pace – and is situated right next to the Drum Tower. In the early morning hours it’s filled with vendors who are busy setting up for the day. Any time after 10am and it ranges from busy to crazy busy. The hustle and bustle is part of its charm. Of course, if you aren’t one for crowds this is probably not the place for you.

At night the area is truly hopping. Hundreds, if not thousands of people stream in and out of the area, sampling the many culinary treats they have to offer. It’s also particularly entertaining to watch each of the various dishes being prepared, in the open, on the street.

Saturday evening was the first time I actually decided to sit down on the street to eat. Previously I had bought food and continued to wander, enjoying dinner and a show – as it were. I sat with Peter as we ate noodles and watched the crowds go by. Everyone was smiling, laughing, snapping photos, and truly enjoying the marvel that is the District. Peter and I happily posed for many photos as we sat there and ate. We waved at little kids who stared at us wide-eyed, sending them into fits of giggles. The experience was truly fantastic and definitely one of the highlights of my trip so far.

The food in the area really is fantastic. So far I’ve sampled various mushrooms, tofu, noodles, pastries, sugary drinks, quail (I think) eggs, and more. This doesn’t even begin to cover the variety of food available, which of course means I have a lot of work to do if I really want to eat my way through the Muslim District.

Challenge happily accepted Muslim District. Challenge happily accepted.

On The Topic Of Wanderlust

The world is so much bigger than North America
The world is so much bigger than North America

While my friends Beth and Rick were in town over the Christmas holidays, we spent some time chatting about travel (as we are wont to do). Both Beth and Rick have been on some pretty fantastic adventures over the past year (for example, read about their awesome but separate trips to Ireland here, and here1), and it’s always great to hear about travel related shenanigans.

One of the interesting things to come out of the conversation wasn’t exactly expected. We were chatting about off-continent trips, and I began to wonder when last I launched myself through the air in a people-filled lawn dart3. For someone who loves travel as I do, I was actually shocked by the realization. My last trip off-continent was back in the old-time-y days of 2011 when Rick and I adventured our asses off in Hawaii4, 5. The year before that also saw me in Europe twice – once for Christmas with my brother, and once to celebrate the successful completion of my PhD.

Clearly this close-minded North Amerocentric travel practice can not be permitted to continue. It’s just not right. Think of all of the cultures that I’m not learning about. Think of all of the shenanigans I’m not getting up to. Think of all the adventures that aren’t being adventured. It’s a travesty I say.

Fortunately I have a few plans up my sleeve. One involves Asia, the other involves a return to Europe. Both could occur sometime during the summer. In the former case I’m looking at a potential exchange program that would allow me to bookend a two-week teaching/researching adventure with shenanigan filled adventuring. In the latter case I’m looking at several conferences that are separated by a few weeks.

In any case, it’s very clear that I haven’t been living up to my wanderlusting potential. This is something that I must correct in 2014.


1 Also, why haven’t I been to Ireland yet2?

2 Honestly, 2013 seemed to be the year that everyone I knew when to Ireland or Scotland. I may or may not be jealous.

3 Also known as an airplane.

4 While Hawaii is politically part of the United States, it’s actually in the region known as Oceania.

5 Which means that the three year anniversary of that particular trip is only a few weeks away. I should figure out a way to celebrate said adventure-filled vacation.

Things I Should Have Posted But Didn’t

Adventures with the Doctors in New York City
Adventures with the Doctors in New York City

Since I started writing this blog back in the old-time-y days of 2011, I’ve used it as a sort of map of my life. It provides me with the necessary bread crumbs to guide be from wherever it is I might be, back to wherever it is I might have come. It has seen me through many adventures, lots of shenanigans, ups, downs, crazy accomplishments, rants, peeves, opinions, and the like.

However, as I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I’ve done a spectacularly poor job this year of writing down the comings and goings of my life. Where last year I posted daily, this year I’ve managed to post just over 80 times at ConsumedByWanderlust1. This means that at a time when I’m trying to look back and reflect on the last 365 days, I’m coming up with some rather large gaps.

Fortunately I have other sources of data. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have helped me piece together the things that I’ve gotten myself into this year. And amazingly, there were some things that I really should have written about but I didn’t.

So as not to bore you to tears, I now present for your entertainment my list of Things I Should Have Posted, But Didn’t.

We found pie at the Christmas Market in Columbus Circle
We found pie at the Christmas Market in Columbus Circle
  1. Interest in the Farm To Fork project continues to grow. In the past year I have chatted with numerous groups within Guelph, throughout Ontario, and beyond, as well as the Ontario Association of Food Banks, and a major grocery chain. I’ve also been interviewed for Inside Guelph, and several magazines (the Portico, col.lab.o.rate, the Renegade Collective – which is based out of Australia). The support we’ve received continues to blow my mind. This includes financial contributions from TasteReal, the Better Planet Project, and the College of Physical and Engineering Sciences.
  2. Earlier this month I returned to New York City with Steph and Gerarda. The 5 days were amazing. We ate, and drank, and ate some more. The trip was filled with laughter, great conversations, and so much good food. We also saw Pippin, Waiting for Godot (with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen), and a performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (which was unreal).
  3. In November I gave an invited talk at Western University in London Ontario. It was the first non-Farm To Fork presentation I had given in what seemed to be a very long time. I spoke about the use of Scenario Analysis for public health assessments. It was a lot of fun, and reminded me why I love statistics (even if my presentation offered zero equations, and very few real numbers).
  4. I was surprised and excited to learn that I was in the top 20 for the Guelphonography photo contest this year. The entries were so good, I really wasn’t expecting to place.
  5. Enjoying a brew from The Filling Station
    Enjoying a brew from The Filling Station

    During the fall semester I got to work with a bunch of great students. Some were research assistants, some were doing senior undergraduate projects with me, and others made my class that much more enjoyable. One group of students spent their semester working on The Guelph Coding Community – a student driven series of talks focused on computer science topics not typically covered in the classroom. The talks were all fantastic, and a lot of fun. Better than that, I learned a thing or two as well.

  6. On October 16th I was fortunate enough to be invited to the World Food Day Event with George Stroumboulopoulos. It was held in Toronto, and featured a panel of experts on Food Insecurity. It was also pretty cool to be that close to George.
  7. Because I don’t have enough on my plate, I decided this past semester that I’d start offering a statistics seminar. I was hoping to host one a month, but things got started late and I managed to hold two. Regardless, they were both well attended, and were a lot of fun. Since I normally only teach Computer Science courses at the moment, being able to talk statistics felt great. I’m going to continue the series this coming winter semester.
  8. I went to my first TiCats game in October. It was cold. I made it to halftime and then decided warmth trumped watching a bunch of dudes chasing around the pigskin. Can you tell I’m not really a football fan?
  9. I joined a bunch of friends at the end of October to tour downtown Guelph on a Ghost Walk. While I was hoping to see a ghost, I had to settle for being entertained by the stories. Also, it was cold.
  10. A view from our room.
    A view from our room.

    Earlier this year I was asked to speak at an event on campus where RBC donated $1 million to the University of Guelph. The money was provided to the University for undergraduate field experience related to Aboriginal water needs. The idea – get undergraduate students into the field to work on water related challenges identified by our First Nations partners. It was also pretty cool getting to hold a novelty cheque for $1 million.

  11. I finally received my Leap Motion device near the end of the summer. It is so freaking cool. Sadly I can’t tell you much more than that since one of my research assistants has been playing with it since then.

As I mentioned before, I need to do a better job of writing things down.


1 Full disclosure: I have other blogs for which I write. In total I’ve written over 150 blog posts this year: more than 80 here, almost 20 at danielgillis.wordpress.com, more than 30 at FarmToForkGuelph.wordpress.com, and more than 20 for the School of Computer Science.

 

My Life Is Weird And Wonderful

So apparently I was a model for a day.

Just when you think life couldn’t get any more interesting and bizarre, someone asks you to be a model.

You know, if someone told me years ago that at some point in my life I’d be walking a runway, strutting my stuff, being all that and a bag of chips, I would have assumed they were insane, or possibly whacked out on crack. And yet there I was, only a few weeks ago, shaking what my momma gave me.

Okay, I may have strutted and I may have sauntered, but I wasn’t shaking anything. At least not intentionally.

The night – hosted by my friends Beth and Joel – was surreal and a lot of fun. It helped that I got to spend the evening with a bunch of great people, and getting dressed up in some sweet clothing didn’t hurt either. For those of you who might be interested, there are a couple more pictures below.

Of course, you may be wondering where that sweet clothing came from. Well, dear readers, it came from Grey Rock Clothing. If you’re in Guelph, you should go there and buy all of the things. Every piece of clothing sold there is ethical. That is, no sweatshops were involved. At any time. Ever.

Modelling. I guess I have something to fall back on if this Assistant Professor and Statistician thing doesn’t work out.


All of the best models giggle as they strut. True story.
This is my “deer caught in headlights” look. Apparently.

Cleaning House – Nerd Style

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Being the a place for everything and everything in its place kind of man who I am, I have taken on the task of revamping my Not-So-Bucket-List list. I did this mainly because I was getting tired of searching for things in the ever-growing list. I also didn’t like the aesthetics of such a massive list where some items were crossed off, and some were not.

I like clean lists.

I like organization.

My Not-So-Bucket-List had neither of those characteristics.

To deal with these issues I decided to take action. I poured myself a large cup of coffee, grabbed a snack, put on some writing tunes, and set myself to task – clean up, clear out, organize, overhaul, and improve my existing Not-So-Bucket-List list. And that dear readers is why I present to you my New And Improved Not So Bucket List list. You can find it up there in the menu bar labelled NAI-NSBL. The NAI stands for New And Improved.

But what’s so new and improved about it? you’re probably wondering.

Well, first off the list is now categorized. You’ll be able to find items classified under one of the following categories: Academic, Adventure, Culinary, Culture, Exercise, Finances, House, Other, Reading, and Travel. Second, the categories are also alphabetized1. Crazy, right?

To avoid the New Coke vs. Old Coke type of mass hysteria the old list will live on here, but it will no longer be updated. Further, in order to keep things spic-and-span, I’ll be moving all of the things I manage to do to another list known as my Not So Bucket List Been There Done That (NSBL-BTDT). In this way, I’ll be able to easily figure out month-over-month and year-over-year statistics. Yes, I am that nerdy.

For those with a keen eye, you’ll also noticed that some of the incomplete items on the original list have not made it onto the new list. Some have been removed because I was advised by my good friend and chiropractor Dr. Mark that they were really bad for my back2, while others were removed because the danger factor was deemed to be far too high3. I’m sure my mom will be relieved to read that.

As always, if you have any crazy ideas of items I should add to my list please pass them along. I’m always open to new and crazy adventures.


1 Because 4 out of 5 Scienticians suggest that alphabetized categories are about 315% better than non-alphabetized lists.

2 I’m specifically referring to all of the sit-up challenges I had on my list.

3 Base-jumping, how I wish you weren’t so deadly. And honestly, the only reason this is really off my list is that the time commitment required to get to the point where I could base-jump is far outside of the time I’d actually have available to do it. I think. I may re-evaluate this at a later date.


Wanderlusting Version 2013

Oh the places I’ll go…

I have a wee confession to make; despite my attempt to travel as often as I can – what with my insatiable wanderlust – I have realized that there is no way that I’m going to be able to use up all of my vacation days this year. Not even close.

Despite my failure to use up all of my allotted vacation time, I have still managed several trips this year, including Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Quebec, and Calgary. And that doesn’t even include that epic adventure with Rick known as the Big Mountain Challenge. While the trips weren’t necessarily as frequent1 as in previous years, they were fantastic, and filled with adventure filled shenanigans. I have absolutely zero complaints about any of them.

Of course, having written that, and with the knowledge that I won’t be using up all of my allotted vacation time this year, I think I need to set myself a task. Specifically, I need to ensure that next year I use up all of my vacation time and I do so by travelling as much as I can.

So, dear readers, I present to you my newest challenge. In 2013 I need to travel to at least 12 different cities outside of Ontario2,3. I think this is completely within the realm of possibility because I already have some trips in mind4 for various reasons:

  1. January – Orlando, Florida (Goofy Race).
  2. March – Las Vegas, Nevada (wedding).
  3. May – Edmonton, Alberta (Annual Meeting of the SSC).
  4. June – Corner Brook, Newfoundland & Labrador (CUExpo 2013).
  5. June – Banff, Alberta (Banff marathon).
  6. July – Calgary, Alberta (Gran Fondo race with Mel).
  7. August – Calgary, Alberta (visit Rick and hopefully climb Mount Temple).
  8. September – New York City, New York (vacation).
  9. October – Victoria & Vancouver, British Columbia (Victoria marathon & visit Beth).

Of course, I’m also hoping to cross the pond at some point, and I’d like to visit my friends Ben & Erin in Chicago, Arlene in New Jersey, and Amanda in the Great White North.

Whether or not I manage these trips specifically, or replace them with other trips, the goal is the same: twelve different cities outside of Ontario in twelve months.

I’ve totally got this.


1 Or international.

2 The further the better.

3 This does not have to be a monthly activity, although that would be awesome.

3 All of these are completely tentative and will depend both on budget and whether or not certain friends are available.


After The Scotchening

Mmmm scotch. Photo courtesy of Nick (@Merc_Media)

On my rather slow walk to campus today, I couldn’t help but be amazed that my body hadn’t decided to stage a revolution on my brain.

You see, dear readers, it was my brain who decided that I should get myself involved in the Goofy race. My brain was also responsible for my love of scotch – although I’m going to have to point an accusatory finger directly at my stomach for enjoying it too. As it turns out, despite what my body might think, it usually has to tag along and do whatever my brain decides it wants to do.

Yesterday my brain almost went too far.

As part of my training for the Goofy race, my body was forced by my brain to run 24 km; this after having been forced by my brain to run 12 km on Saturday. If my body were more aggressive, it might have just had enough cause right there to punch my brain in the face.

After forcing my body to run 24 km, the normal course of action would be to spend an ample amount of time stretching, and stretching, and stretching some more. One might also be inclined to hydrate given the amount of water lost during a 2+ hour run.

My brain of course, had other ideas. I mean, how could I stretch and hydrate when my condo was about to host Scotch Night 2012? Your body can wait argued my brain.

Amazingly, my body didn’t argue. I mean, why hydrate when one can drink tasty delicious scotch with friends? Scotch has water in it – that’s almost as good as hydrating, right?

Sigh. Sometimes my brain is so stupid.

Despite my present dehydrated, exhausted, and slightly achy state, yesterday was awesome. Part of that is due to staying on track with my training (because I did consider abandoning my training run given the scotch-filled evening I was about to have). But mostly yesterday was awesome because I got to share the eve enjoying food and scotch with an awesome group of guys. So a huge thanks to Danny, Mark, Nick, Bang, and Greg. Scotch night was a huge, hilarious, sometimes inappropriately hilarious, scotch-filled success.

And now I’m going to go drink some water because damn I’m dehydrated.


For the record, scotch night included samples of the following:

  • Lagavulin
  • Wemyss
  • Ardbeg
  • Glenmorangie
  • Té Bheag
  • Bruichladdich Organic
  • Glenrothes
  • Oban

Wonder how scotch night progressed? Here are several tweets to give you an idea.


 

And The Golden Moustache Award Goes To…

And the winner is...everyone!
And the winner is…everyone!

And just like that the contest is over. We can all wake tomorrow knowing that most of the moustaches we see today will be replaced by freshly shaven faces. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on the individual sporting said ‘stache and your own personal facial hair preferences.

Anyway, after some rather intense competition we have the winners of this years MoContest.

Insert drum roll here

Congratulations to Justin – with 47% of the vote – you have been voted by ConsumedByWanderlust readers as the man with the manliest of manly moustaches. You have, in the eyes of the readers, done men everywhere proud. As such, you have won a $100 donation to your Movember campaign. Great job sir. You may celebrate your manly victory by scratching, belching, drinking beer, drinking scotch, eating wings, watching football, or whatever other stereotypical thing you feel that manly men do.

Congratulations also go out to Adam – with 61 % of the vote – you have been voted by ConsumedByWanderlust readers to receive the Heart was willing but the follicles were not award. While your ‘stache may not have been the fullest or bushiest, we respect your attempt to strike fear into the heart of manly cancers. For that you have won a $35 donation to your Movember campaign (courtesy of @common_st). You too may celebrate your victory. Of course, you may want to scratch extra hard, belch extra loud, and drink an extra dram of scotch or two in order to prove to the world that you are a real man, despite what your follicles might imply1.

Thanks again to all of the contestants. You guys rock. And thank you also to @common_st for once again donating to this hilarious contest.

We’ll see you again next Movember.


Justin

Click here to donate to Justin.

Mid month
End of month

Adam

Click here to donate to Adam.

Adam


1 I only mock because my ‘stache would, after 30 days, look like this.


 

Time To Choose

Holy hell it’s already the 29th. That means we have one day remaining in Movember – the month where those who have the follicular ability sprout whiskers of awesomeness in support of men’s cancer research. Since I am what one might call follicularly challenged, I have once again opted to support my Mo-bros by holding a wee contest. The idea – figure out who has the manliest of manly moustaches after the Movember challenge has ended.

The prize? A $100 donation to the man who sports the pornstachiest moustachiest manliest manly moustache of 2012. For extra fun, however, I am not deciding who wins. That, dear readers, is up to you. And so, I offer you the following manly specimens of manliness. Your job, pick the moustache that you believe exemplifies the moustache of 2012.

But that’s not all. We also have a donation of $35 (courtesy of @common_st) to the man with the Heart Was Willing But The Follicles Were Not moustache.

The man with the most votes by 8pm tomorrow night (in either category) will win. Good luck to all of the entrants.



Contestant 1

Nick (@Merc_Media)

Click here to donate to Nick.

Contestant 2

Click here to donate to Justin.

Mid month
End of month

Contestant 3

Matt

Click here to donate to Matt.

Contestant 4

Jorge

Click here to donate to Jorge.

Contestant 5

Click here to donate to Kevin.

Contestant 6

Adam

Click here to donate to Adam.


Fa La La La La La

This Christmas sweater and turtleneck combo is so bad, words fail me. Image found here: frockon.com/2011/12/20/an-ode-to-the-ugly-christmas-sweater/

So it’s November 24th, which means that Christmas eve is but 30 days away. For whatever reason my mind hadn’t completely accepted this fact. I didn’t particularly feel any Christmas spirit despite having several Christmas parties already penciled into my calendar. Braving the malls over the past few weekends1 also didn’t seem to help.

Perhaps my lack of spirit was a function of the excessively long Christmas buildup. I of course refer to the Christmas displays that were out in stores even before Halloween was over. I also refer to the rather early playing of Christmas music I heard while walking through the mall even before Remembrance Day. Call me old-time-y, but I like to celebrate one holiday at a time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Grinch, I just feel that some of the sparkle that is Christmas is lost when the holiday requires 6 months of prep time.

Anyway, today I decided to once again brave the malls in an attempt to cross some things off of my Christmas naughty and nice list. I also hoped that this would be the thing that switched my Scrooge switch to low.

I won’t say the attempt was a complete failure: the Christmas tunes were pleasant, spirits seemed high, and there was some fantastic people watching to be had2. While I’m not completely into Christmas mode as of yet, I can say that the Christmas spirit is building. Regardless, I left the mall with not a single thing crossed off my naughty and nice list. Perhaps last-minute panic shopping is what I need to find that perfect gift for that special someone.

No matter – I may try again tomorrow. This time, however, I’m going more prepared. Instead of a list of who’s naughty and nice, I’m going to try to come up with ideas of what said people on that list might like. Planning – it’s the secret to Christmas shopping. Well, that and a little pre-shopping cheer3. That’s a rule, you should write it down.


1 Unsuccessfully, I might add. Unless buying myself a latte, lunch, and a Keurig coffee maker can be called successful Christmas shopping.

2 To the twenty-something who opted to pair jogging pants with a sports jacket and t-shirt – I’m not quite sure what image you were going with, but I question your choices. Ha! I kill me.

3 Read Scotch.


 

My Memory Is A Litte Foggy

Eerily beautiful

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent my eve at what I thought might have been the first Christmas party of the season. It was, in fact, not a Christmas party. It was, however, a party to celebrate my friend Patrick’s recent completion of an intense body building challenge. That challenge transformed him from someone who most of us would envy because he was in such great shape, to someone who most of us would want to punch because he’s now even more in shape.

Oh – maybe it’s just me who wants to punch him.

Ha! I kid. I’m super proud of him. The challenge couldn’t have been easy, but he stuck to it and was able to cross something amazing off of his Bucket List.

Anyway, the party was a blast even though I felt it when I woke up this morning. I’m going to assume I was just extra dehydrated before I dipped into the celebratory juice1 because I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have felt as bad as I did. Fortunately, a hot shower and a cup of coffee had me feeling like a million bucks. And good thing too, as I spent part of my day on campus (as described at my Professorly Blog here).

After last night’s festivities wound down, I opted to walk home. I don’t live far from Patrick, so the 15 or 20 minutes required to get home seemed like an easy chore. Also, I figured the fresh air would do me good. After walking for a few minutes I realized that it was the correct decision. A fog had fallen over Guelph that was truly beautiful. Eerie, but beautiful.

I’m not sure what it is about fog, but it always creates a mixed-emotions type of response in me.

Look closely – you can almost see the fog planning to get me.

On one side of the coin, I’m always captivated by the beauty of fog, especially given the contrast of light and shadows. I am fascinated how the light travels through the fog, how it is cut by trees and people and cars and such, and how I’m able to see the beams of light radiating from their source; as if the fog purposefully draws each and every ray of light. It paints the world in monochromatic colours. It makes the typically recognized often unrecognizable and sometimes scary, but it also highlights the beauty in everyday things that I might take for granted.

On the flip-side, I’m always reminded of the movie The Fog2 that I saw when I was younger. Since seeing that movie I’ve always imagined that there is something ominous in the fog. It’s not so much that I imagine a creature lives in it, but that the fog itself is evil, and with every breath it insidiously permeates my cells, consuming all there was, is, and ever will be of me. All I know, when my brain finds itself mired in these thoughts, is that the fog is not good for the part of me that doesn’t want to die a horrible, painful, scream-filled, blood-curdling death3.

Dramatic, no?


1 Read beer.

2 For obvious reasons.

3 Possibly after the alien abduction which also seems to only happen on foggy nights.


A Big Day

guelPhonography.ca – check it out.

I really should be in bed already.

Okay, technically I am in bed. What I really mean is that I should be asleep.

But why should you be asleep Dan? It is only just after 11pm and you typically don’t go to bed until well after midnight.

Well first, thanks for keeping up with my comings and goings. Second, I should be in bed because tomorrow is going to be a very long day. It’s also going to be a lot of fun.

To start, I’ll be heading downtown tomorrow morning to head into Toronto1. My first mission will be to grab coffee for fellow School of Computer Science nerds Amanda2 and Chris (and myself of course). My second mission will be to find them on the Go Train. Our destination is the Ontario University Fair (OUF). The University naturally has a large plot of land at the OUF where high school students can come, chat with students, staff, and faculty, and learn about the courses and degrees offered at the University. The day is bound to be a lot of fun.

Afterwards I’ll be returning to Guelph to head immediately to the Guelph Civic Museum to enjoy the launch of the guelPhonography exhibit. The exhibit includes 30 pictures of this awesome city as seen through the eyes of the rather ubiquitous smart phone and the creative people who snap them. Somehow one of my pictures made it into this exhibit, so I’m uber stoked to see it on display.

Tomorrow is definitely going to be a long day. It’s also pretty much guaranteed to be a fun day. Regardless, if I expect to survive the hours needed for both of these events, I’m going to have to call it quits. So with that, I bid you adieu.


1 Via the Go Train which now services the awesome city of Guelph.

2 Whom you may remember from such epic adventures as the Ottawa Road Trip 2012.


A Cure For The Cold And Flu Seasons

Oh summer, how I love your sunshiny carefree laughing and carrying-on with friends kind of ways.

As I sit here looking out of my window1, I have realized that the last two days have really done an amazing job of reminding me that summer is over. The fact that it’s just after 7 and the sky is already dark really says it all.

You’ll have to excuse me, I don’t think I’ve finished mourning summer’s departure yet. I’ve got nothing against autumn2, I just miss all the heat and the sun and the blue-sky goodness.

Sweet baby jebus, autumn isn’t even a week old and I’m already wanting to hibernate. I clearly need to do something about this otherwise I’ll never survive the next 8 months.

Fortunately I have a bunch of things on my list that I could do, it’s just a matter of deciding on which of these to do. For example, there are at least two weddings early next year that will involve travel – both to locations where the sun never seems to leave. Obviously these are high on my list.

There’s also the Goofy Race in January. Since I’ve already committed a sizable fortune to that event, and since my friend Mark and I have agreed to run this together, it’s on the definitely happening list.

Between now and January, however, is where I’m drawing a blank. I’ve got a few races scheduled. I also have that little thing known as renovate the aftermath that is my flooded condo. And of course there is the course that I’m teaching – which to be honest is a lot of fun even if it is taking up about 80% more time than I had anticipated. I’m just not quite sure that this is enough to get me through. 

So, dear readers, I guess I’m left wondering what crazy and wonderful things I could add to my list over the next few months that will get me through the cold and flu seasons. I’m looking for personal challenges (of all sorts and sizes), weird and wonderful competitions, crazy adventures, outings, hikes, races, and all things in between. It could be related to photography, fashion, food, travel, yoga, tattoos, must listen to music, must see movies, or must read books. Be creative. Be awesome.

I can’t promise I’ll accomplish all of them, but I’ll give it a go at least. If you’ve got an idea, please leave it in the comments below.


1 Not an easy task given all of the stuff that is still in the way after the floods. Boo floods. Boo floods indeed.

2 Save for the fact that it paves the wave for that cold and stupid wintery season3.

3 Okay, okay. Hate might be a strong word. I mean, winter does have it’s perks – like snowshoeing, bobsledding, skiing, snowball fights, hot chocolate, and winter running. But it’s also the season where I freeze, and I hate me when I freeze.


Thanks Guelphonography!

The Barn: my entry to the guelPhonography contest

You may remember about a month and a half ago – more specifically July 25, 2012 – I posted about a little photo competition in Guelph known as guelPhonography (for full details about the contest, click here).

In the event that you have no idea what I’m talking about, the contest was put together to celebrate the City of Guelph, and the amazingly creative people who live here. All you had to do to enter was snap a picture of Guelph with your mobile phone and submit it to the contest organizers.

Well guess what?

Apparently I can count myself as one of those amazingly creative people because the photo I submitted – called The Barn – was one of the 30 selected for the upcoming guelPhonography exhibit1, 2. I won’t lie, I didn’t think my photo stood a chance because of the amazing entries that I saw. To say that I’m flattered and stoked is an understatement.

Children of the Corn: an awesome day with my nieces, brothers, and sister-in-law.

What makes this even better is that the photo came from a day when I was exploring a friend’s barn with my nieces Haley3, Sydney, and Makenzie, my younger brother Aidan, my older brother Bernie4, and my sister-in-law Becky. You see, not long before this day of enjoying some quality family time together Bernie was in a massive car accident, and before that his youngest Haley was battling the flesh-eating disease. And yet here we were on a beautiful summer day exploring the field and the barn, clucking with the chickens, picking berries, and sampling the corn, all without a care in the world. It’s funny how life works.

I can’t wait for the exhibit to open. It’ll be great to see all of the photos together, celebrating Guelph, celebrating the people who live here, and celebrating life in general.

Thanks for picking my photo guelPhonography. I can’t wait for opening night.


1 The exhibit runs September 28th until November 19th at the Guelph Civic Museum.

2 For a full list of those selected, click here.

3 Whom you may remember from such epic posts as Bite My Ass Flesh-Eating Disease (But Not Really).

4 Whom you may remember from such epic posts as How My Brother Got His Boo Boo, and What I Learned Today.