Supper at Cofoco

In 2005, on the closing night my first Reboot conference, I had supper at Cofoco. It was, in a number of ways, life-changing:

Halfway through reboot, I decided that, fuck it, I had to just jump off. Pretend I wasn’t terrified, and see what played out.

I went down to the “sign up for dinner out with the people you’ve met” list by the door, choose a group at random, and put down my name (previous plan: cower back to my hotel). Then I figured out a way to get a ride to dinner, and even hung out with some rebootkins before dinner by pulling up a chair and chiming in. I even sat down for a brief chat with Scoble.

Much to my complete surprise, it worked.

I ended up at Cofoco with a great group of people: Nikolaj, Mark, Dragos, Bernhard, Thomas, Felix, Stefan, Henriette, and a whole other bunch of people down the other end of the table.

And I didn’t explode or die or (I think) make a fool of myself. It was fun. I learned a lot (and had a great meal).

Back then, the restaurant had been open for just a year. Tonight, 19 years later, we’ve just returned from a lovely meal there.

What was once a single restaurant is now a group of 17, plus a hotel (where we happen to be staying for the next three nights).

This trip is not all a trip down memory lane, but it’s also not not about revisiting people and places that are important to me. Copenhagen is one of them. 

Posted up in Malmö

Six years ago, the same neighbourhood. Olivia and I took an Uber to the railway station, on a rainy morning, and caught the train to Berlin. I didn’t know then that I wouldn’t return to Malmö for an eternity of topsy turvy.

At supper the other night I told Olle and Luisa that I’d been afraid, returning here, that all my perceived growth in the years since would disappear into a cloud of self-delusion once I stepped away from home and in front of the mirror of distant friends long not seen.

It hasn’t.

I am me, the very same me.

But a very different me also.

When I look at photos of that 2018 trip, I see a heaviness now that I wasn’t aware of then: it’s as if I was held together with iron bands of the sort used to contain crumbling concrete.

Those bands, I’ve long since removed. But I remain bruised. It’s weird to realize that I am him, and me, at the same time.

We are here in Europe for a month. What a luxury that is. I am hoping for a rest, a renewal. And a rapprochement with this place, long a respite from, as I shift into a life from which I no longer need dramatic respite.

At cocktails at Luisa and Olle’s flat last night, I spotted my 2020 letterpress construction, with the final zero replaced with my Sally Forth print.



The night I invented the Dirty Caper Martini. 3 parts vodka, 1 part vermouth, a splash of caper brine, shaken and filtered. Finish with a few capers. The things one is forced to do when the olives have run out.


A blue street number on a white stucco background, "58"

Photo by Stephan Mosel. Some rights reserved.

I turned 58 today. I was partially under the impression, for the last year, that I was already 58, so this seems like a bonus year: I get to be 58 again!

Olivia and I were talking the other day about the number of things that 2024 represents the 10th anniversary of: Ethan the Dog came into our lives; we spent a good part of the summer in Europe, in a VW microbus, one teenager, two adults, and one big dog; Olivia’s first unconference; a Rukavina family gathering in Maine; Olivia started grade 8. And, most significantly, her Mom Catherine was diagnosed with incurable cancer.

If you’d walked by my house late morning yesterday, and looked in the front windows, you would have seen me wildly gesticulating, and yelling “FUCK YOU!!” at the top of my lungs at a Zoom screen in front of me, all part of a very therapeutic coaching relationship I’ve been in since the fall. A lot of what I was yelling about were things that happened the 10 years since 2014; a lot of the things I was yelling about were things that happened well before 2014 that continue to gunk up my chi.

I was thinking this morning, “what if I could go back and give 2014 Pete some advice about how to be more present and alive through the decade I now know the plot of.”

I realized, thinking about it all day, that there’s nothing I could have said that would have been remotely helpful, for it’s not the advice, but the willingness to hear it, that’s the important thing. 

Actions that, from this vantage point, look like cowardice, or shutting down, or selfish escaping, those were actions I needed to protect myself;  protection I needed to do everything that I did manage. 

It was a hard decade this. But did I ever learn a lot, grow a lot, rip pages out of my well-worn rule book of recalcitrance a lot. 

Rather than sending advice back to old Pete, I’ll take this occasion to send advice forward to future Pete, courtesy Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

Then indecision brings its own delays, And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. 

Fuck yes. 


Sonic Beaconsfield

Every once in a while you’d hear the rumour that Kris Kristofferson had a summer place on the Island, somewhere east of Charlottetown. Perhaps in one of the Keppochs. I do recall looking in the phone book once, and seeing a listing for “Kristofferson, K,” and I remember that being mentioned as the proof positive. 

The thing about all good rumours is that they have a ring of truth to them. I mean, George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst used to summer in Bay Fortune. And I’m pretty sure I saw a photo of Ron Howard at the Empire Theatres out by the mall once. But none of the Kristofferson stories ever involved laying eyes on him.

I think of ”Kristofferson, K” every time I encounter some actual thing on PEI that seems an unlikely brilliance.

One example: Lucy Farrell.

Lucy Farrell is an enormously talented singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist, born in Kent, in the UK. She performs all over the world.

And she happens to live on the Island, on account of her partner Jake Charron, of The East Pointers (who, I suppose, is contractually obligated to stay within driving distance of East Point at all times).

I first encountered her music at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival, some years ago. The experience stuck with me. Then, last fall, thanks to a pointer from Martin Rutte, Lisa and I went to a voice workshop she helped to facilitate at the nearby Beaconsfield Carriage House. That experience stuck with both of us.

To the point that, when a March 22, limited-to-15-people, Lucy Farrell concert was announced, just before Christmas, I secretly bought tickets for Lisa as a Christmas gift. And, as it turned out, Lisa also secretly bought tickets for me.

We took our mothers and, via two more tickets we bought as gifts, our friends Martin and Maida, to hear her perform solo, in a snug drawing room in Beaconsfield House itself. As it happens, of the 13 people who attended, in addition to the 46% of the seats we purchased directly, all but two others had been bought by friends of one of us or the other. And so there we were: Lisa, Peter, Frances, Karen, Martin, Maida, Trina, Mark, Sue, Kim, and Danny, enjoying transcendent music in a small space, with friends (and two others, who must have wondered what exactly was going on).

The experience stuck with all of us.

In addition to a selection of traditional songs, Lucy played several tracks from her album We are only Sound. It has been on rotation here in our house (and our car, and in my AirPods) ever since. I’m a particular fan of the title track (in part because we were invited to sing the chorus at Beaconsfield), as well as But for Youand Suddenly (woken by alarms)

It wasn’t Kris Kristofferson, but it was better.

We were back to Beaconsfield last week, and back in the Carriage House, for the monthly Sonic Yin. Lisa had been before, and raved about it. She invited me on a yoga date, and I plucked up my courage and said yes. 

What is Sonic Yin?

I can’t say exactly, but let me rough it in.

We showed up just before 7:00 p.m. with more blankets and pillows and yoga mats than I thought reasonable, and claimed a space on the Carriage House floor. I was introduced to the host, Megan Macdonald, who assured me that I was welcome, and that everything that was about to happen was optional. Gradually others arrived and set up, each with their own blankets and pillows and yoga mats.

At 7:00 p.m. Megan introduced herself, and the musician who provided the live soundtrack, Trevor Grant.

And then the proceedings began.

Over the next two hours Megan gave a short introduction, and demonstrated by example, a series of yoga positions — the Yin, I learned, is one approach to yoga; another is Restorative, which finished the evening out, later. None of the positions were impossibly contortive, and Megan provided many options for each, exhorting us to find what felt good (and offering “if you find a position that feels amazing, and like you want to stay in it all night, then do it!”).

It was all kind of lovely. My mind wandered all over the place. I held my urge to pee for far too long (“you can’t have a full bladder and be relaxed,” she’d told us at the start; I ignored her at my peril). The music was flutey and drummy and bowlsy, without being yoga-twee; the Sonic was as important to the Yin as anything else was, it emerged. 

There were a few precious moments where I felt genuinely transcendent, lots of moments where I felt warm and relaxed (yes, we needed all the blankets and pillows), and some moments where I got too in my head to relax at all. It turned out to not be uncomfortable at all to pose around on the floor with a group of strangers, which might have been my assumption going in.

As we walked out into the cold just after 9:00 p.m., I felt like I’d experienced something, and any night you can say that is a good night.

Megan leads Sonic Yin once a month at Beaconsfield, and you can find information about it on Facebook.

I don’t think of Beaconsfield as a place to go to find transcendence through sound, but it’s happened three times in 6 months, so I’m calling it a pattern.

Remembering Joe Flaherty

Starting in my second year of high school, I was the president of the Computer Club. In the computer room at WDHS, right opposite the main office, there was a nascent computer lab, overseen by Mr. Shields, a chemistry teacher by day, but shepherd of the computers extracurricularly (and, later, when there was actually a computer course, formally). The lab had a fleet of Commodore PET 4032 computers, networked together with a (very fragile) MUPET system.

You could play Space Invaders on the PET, which seemed amazing. When I first started high school, before the lab was created, there was just a single PET in a second floor classroom. Some of the older kids had figured out a way to jimmy the door to that classroom in the early morning hours, after our buses arrived but before the teachers did, and they allowed grade niners to watch them play (but never to play ourselves).

Simon Coles was the vice-president of the Computer Club with me. I can’t recall much of what our activities were (I do recall that we brought in David Williams from the Toronto PET Users Group once to talk about machine language programming). What I do recall are the morning announcements that Simon and I made, using our cassette recorders at home.

Our inspiration for a lot of the announcements — we thought of them more as commercials — was this sketch from SCTV, featuring Joe Flaherty and John Candy.

Flaherty played Guy Lafleur, from the Montreal Canadians, and Candy played Darryl Sittler, from the rival Toronto Maple Leafs:

Flaherty: I’m Guy Lafleur, and I use a Darryl Sittler hockey stick.

Candy: I use a Darryl Sittler hockey stick.

Producer: CUT!!

Don’t ask me how, but we built those lines into a lot of Computer Club morning announcements, always finishing with the tag line:

The Computer Club… where the future is TODAY!

(Delivered in a stentorian voice).

That commercial—and SCTV in general—were the epitome of what Simon and I thought was funny back in the early 1980s. Our attachment to their schtick was powerful enough that we had almost no awareness of the social risks associated with both being officers of the Computer Club and making goofball announcements was (or maybe we owned our nerdy and figured we had nothing to lose)?

Our productions increased in complexity, characters, and length over the years: we’d often rush into the office and hand cassette tapes to Mr. Japp, the vice-principal, seconds before “airtime,” and he generously abided way, way more than he needed to from us. Eventually, if memory serves, we went too far: too much complexity, too many characters, 3 or 4 minutes long. He didn’t cut us off, but we were gentle instructed to rein things in.

I can’t think about high school without thinking of Flaherty, and how influenced I was by the characters he created, and the brave buffoonery he engaged in publicly.

Joe died on April 1, 2024 — could he have planned the date better if he tried? — and he will be missed.

Apple Pay for Everything

I remember thinking, when Apple Pay was released in 2014, “why on earth would I want to pay for things with my phone?!”

It just seemed so cumbersome, fumbling with a phone to pay for a coffee. That’s what the things in my wallet are for!

Fast forward ten years: I don’t even bother to take my wallet when I leave home; I pay for close to 100% of what I buy with my iPhone.

Practically, this has only caused issues twice in three years.

The first time was early in my relationship with Lisa. We were out one night for a glass of wine and some oysters at a well-known Charlottetown restaurant. It was still “serious COVID time,” when eating in a restaurant required both having proof of vaccination and personal ID; although we both had our “vax passes,” neither of us had ID. 

To the infinite credit of the restaurant, they allowed us to call up our respective blogs (this one, Lisa’s) on our phones by way of establishing our identities (personal publishing for the win!).

Thus, in truth, not a practical problem at all and a good story to boot. 

The second time was a few weeks ago at a well-known Charlottetown hotel (managed, by coincidence, by the same group). I had popped in to pick up a book they had on sale, and, somewhat perplexingly in 2024, their payment terminal didn’t support “tap.” I simply didn’t buy the book (and will, instead, borrow it from the public library, so actually a win for me).

Otherwise it’s Apple Pay for everything.

Indeed, I’ve bought hook, line, and sinker into the “keep everything in my Apple Wallet” system;  the current contents include everything from my credit card, to my vaccination records, to my library card, to my loyalty cards (after years of “do you have a Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum card?” at the cash, I relented). 

The only reason I carry my wallet anymore is when I’m going to be driving, as there’s no way—yet—to carry a digital version of my license.

Coda: After writing the above, I thought to myself “hey, isn’t 2024 the expiration year of my current drivers license?” I looked in my wallet, and, sure enough, my license expires in two days. Not the worst thing in the world, but for I’m heading off travelling shortly and I want to have a current driver’s license with me. Access PEI to the rescue: in the olden days, you could just go and get a new driver’s license while you waited, but recent changes mean they’re now printed “at an offsite facility with advanced security features” and are mailed, arriving 14-30 days later. Fortunately there is the option, for an extra $23.00, to have the new license sent by courier, for arrival, said the clerk I talked to over the phone, “5 to 7 business days, but most are coming in 2 or 3.” Which is just under the wire for me (I hope).