Welcome Olivia

I’ve launched a new “early intervention program” to help combat a perpetual social problem: someone new starts working here at The Guild and I never get introduced to them.

And then weeks pass, and I see them often, without really knowing who they are.

And then it become too late to introduce myself to them because, well, we’ve said hello to each other innumerable times, and to admit that I don’t know who they are would be embarrassing.

So today, upon seeing a new box office staffer in place behind the desk, I took action.

“You’re new!”, I said.

“I’m Olivia,” she said.

“I’m Peter,” I replied.

We shook hands.

So now I know who Olivia is.

Early intervention FTW.


Bitaccess ReceiptLast week while visiting Saskatoon, our friends took us out to Calories, a restaurant on Broadway. In the back, en route to the washrooms, I found a Bitcoin ATM, which is something I’d never encountered before.

Mindful that the opportunity might not come up again soon, I inserted $20 CDN, and out popped a “Temporary Bitcoin Wallet,” a paper chit with a public key and a private key that represented my $20 turned into bitcoins.

Today I managed to figure out, after considerable thrashing around, how to transfer this paper wallet into a Blockchain.info digital wallet.

And so, in theory, I now have about $18.00 of bitcoins ready to spend.

If you are feeling generous, and want to show me what it’s like to receive bitcoins from someone else, my Bitcoin Address is:


or, in QR code form:

My Bitcoin Address

Gary MacDougall

Almost every morning, since Oliver started at Prince Street Elementary School eight years ago, we’ve run into Gary MacDougall, Editor at The Guardian newspaper, on our way up Prince Street to school in the morning. We’ve shared a hello, or a bit of news, and gone on our ways to start our days. I suspect Oliver’s been left with the impression that it’s normal to have almost-daily interaction with the editor of the local newspaper. And surely it should be.

I got to know Gary a little better in recent years as he was instrumental in the establishment of IslandNewspapers.ca – the project simply wouldn’t have happened without his support as a strong believer in the power of the digitized archive of the newspaper as an educational and cultural resource.

Gary’s retiring at the end of this week, we all learned today, and it will be a great loss to the newspaper, the city, and the Island.

I’m going to miss chatting with Gary on the way to school every morning. I sure hope his replacement plans to walk to work.

Off to Regina

The first real thing I did with Catherine, shortly after our courtship began, was to accompany her to her brother’s wedding. It was fun. And terrifying. “Here, meet my hundreds of relatives in this formal atmosphere” is not an unbracing way to get acclimated to a family much, much larger than my own.

That wedding begat a daughter, and that daughter, Patricia Miller, is getting married this weekend in Regina.

This makes me feel almost impossibly old. And also mindful that Catherine and I have been courting for, well, a good while.

So in a few hours we bundle up the dog and the boy and ourselves and board the Air Canada jet to Toronto where me meet up with Catherine’s parents and fly onward to Regina.

We’ll be in Regina until Sunday, and then up in Saskatoon until Tuesday night visiting our old friends the Hansons on their home turf. I’ve known sisters Cindy and Lori and Yvonne for more that 25 years, since our paths crossed in Peterborough (and, later, in Halifax and Charlottetown), and yet, short of a night many years ago when I crashed on Yvonne’s couch in Saskatoon (while she was, sadly, out of town), I’ve never experienced them “at home.” I’m looking forward to it.

Air Canada, I should mention, has been fabulously helpful in accommodating us for this trip: their Medical Office arranged for extra room in the cabin for Ethan, and refunded us the cost of one of our fares so that we can be Oliver’s “assistant,” an entitlement that he’s eligible for, it seems, in perpetuity. Which kind of makes me think that it’s time to accelerate the “pack it all in and travel the world” plan.

If you, dear reader, have been quietly reading from Saskatchewan all these years and have never raised your hand, please do so; we could have a “blogger meet up” while I’m there.

Life of Crime

My friend Dave asked a question on Twitter this morning that produced a veritable torrent of replies:

Working on my latest parenting column and looking at summer jobs. What was your first job?

This got me thinking about the jobs of my youth – summer camp counsellor, computer programmer, Canadian Tire computer and Bondo salesperson – and this, in turn, got me thinking about the first time I learned that one of my friends had turned to a life of crime.

My friend – let’s call him Fred to protect his identity – had a job pumping gas at the Sunoco station across from our high school.

One day at school he told me about this scheme he’d worked out. Most people paid with cash in those days, and it was before the advent of “self serve,” so he pumped gas for everyone. When customers paid with, say, a $20 bill, he would go back to the office for change, and return with change for $10 instead, pocketing the rest for himself. If the customer protested, he would simply apologize and hand over the difference, claiming ignorance. I don’t think he ever got caught, and I imagine that his take from each shift could have amounted to a couple of hundred dollars (although I suppose the owner would have noticed the difference in the cash register at some point, so he must have had to moderate his take).

What shocked me about this when I first heard it was not the crime itself.  And although it did surprise me that Fred, who I’d known since we were very young, whose birthday parties I’d gone to as a kid, would engage in such pursuits, it wasn’t that either. It was simply the realization that such things were possible, that anyone would even consider such behaviour. Until that time I’d considered crime – and generalized dishonesty – to be the stuff of movies and other places; the notion that it was possible to simply be garden variety dishonest was a revelation to me.

I had a similar reaction when, on a YMCA youth group trip to Banff, one of our older counsellors shoplifted some sponge toffee from a candy store, and emerged to brag about it, with the implication that he did this kind of thing all the time. This was someone who I’d looked up to for a long time; a model of leadership, I thought.

The notion that this guy – this guy – would be casually criminal is something that I find deeply disturbing to this day.

Was everyone I knew engaged in a part-time life of crime?

In this light perhaps Dave’s next question should be “What was the first crime you committed?”

I’m not sure it would produce the same torrent of replies, but whatever it did produce would no doubt be compelling.