The Common Good

This morning while in the Post Office I overheard two men, one in his early 30’s, the other in his 60’s, discussing the increasing amount of traffic that was flowing through the neighbourhood. They commented on the noise and the road wear and had heard that someone was going to present like concerns to the local council. As the conversation grew older the conclusion was that there should be a toll on the road to keep the traffic to a minimum and hopefully the road would be for locals only.
It was somewhat hard to believe what I was hearing, a public road with restricted access. There wasn’t much discussion about the common good of the road being accessible to everyone. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Middle Ages with drawbridges and tollbooths. I am sure the hospital that either of these gentlemen may attend in the future would have to have free and open access! There are some in our society that just don’t seem to understand what the common good means anymore.

The principles of society…yeah sure…

Greed. Are greed and the acquiring of material goods the engine of growth in our society? It seems that we are no longer supposed to feel badly about being greedy. Sacrfice is a foreign word and there is no limit to the number of expensive items we are expected to have in order to have the lifestyle we so “richly” deserve. Nothing should be free or even done for free. This seems to be the central organizing theme of our society.

But do we really understand the road we are on and where this path will take us? How can we individually look out for only ourselves and expect there to be any social good in the context of our neighbours and our communities. We are not the centre of the universe and the first time we slip and see the necessity of help from others there will be a tremendous amount of upheaval in what we have thought our world to be. Our ability to make meaning in our lives from “things” is limited. And yet the world and the communication apparatuses around us keep churning out that mantra.

Easter Sunday

This morning 4 of us prepared a Sunday morning breakfast at church for about 50 people. The interesting things was that we actually received compliments for the meal. When you are in the middle of preparing 14 pounds of sausages or 8 pounds of pancake batter you really aren’t thinking about how people will appreciate it. You just want to finish doing this and getting the dishes done. In a typical household this morning is what you would prepare for at least 10 breakfasts, or 10 weeks of Sunday household breakfasts. And there were a lot of helping hands to cleanup.

A new project

At work we are in the final stages this weekend of testing something we call MemberNote. It should be released in April and as it is the first version of the product it is pretty basic. We don’t know of anyone else anywhere having a similar product. Here is what it does:
1. Whenever you use your debit/bank card for an electronic transaction be it an ATM or Interac purchase, an SMS (text message) will be created of information from that transaction and sent to
your cell phone as a text message and/or an e-mail address you choose.
2. From the time the transaction is accepted by the merchant you should be noticed in about 5 seconds with the information.

Very simple so if you get a text message and haven’t been using your card guess what – someone else is using your card!

There has been a lot of talk about debit card fraud with a lot of information making the end user aware of the risks. We thought it would be best to find a working solution so this is what we have come up with. We don’t know what the competition will do but we hope that it will prod others for solutions or even build on what we have developed.

From some people we have talked about this we have received some great ideas. One was a suggestion to customize notifications based on transactions. [Remember this is for debit cards. Credit cards are the Visa, MasterCard, AmericanExpress cards you carry which is a very different product.] We could notify one of any transactions greater than a certain dollar amount. Or we could move into notification of any items that cleared an account. One that quickly comes to mind is payroll. There are a lot of people that like to know when their payroll deposit has been credit to their account. Or what about a cheque that you wrote that you want to know immediately when it clears. Maybe you post dated it for the end of the month and it now is clearing 5 days early….a big no-no.

All of the suggestions point to a next version. The key strategy at some point has to be that the variables that manage notification would be set by the card holder. That done through a web site would be ideal.

On Thursday I was at a meeting with Xerox discussing print solutions. The showed me their DocuColor 3535 printer/copier and the Creo Spire Color Server as well as a few other software solutions. There were all very impressive products. Xerox seems to be focussing on some great software stuff they have developed. Remember they gave us Parc.
The colour printing world is getting pretty good and for small print jobs the benchmark is pretty high.

End of business report.

Good Friday. Probably one of the most difficult days to try to understand and realize within the context of one’s Christian faith what transpired over 2,000 years ago. Peace be with you.

And it’s only Tuesday

Was able to pickup two tins of Altoids at London Drugs yesterday for just over $4.00. The Wintergreen “Simulated Flavour” is pretty good but doesn’t beat the Sour Tangerine. Great candies and they seem to last forever. You’ll never buy LifeSavers again. There sure are going to be a lot of Altoid tins lying around my office at home. Now one needs to figure out what to do with them after they are filled with pins, paper clips and thumbtacks.

Dave Winer has a great podcast – A new Morning Coffee Notes about ocean swimming, podcasting as art, Terry Shiavo, my software project, and of course, philosophy.
As always he brings up some very valid points.

Why is there this sudden challenge to podcasting and blogging by some in the news media? Are they upset that there are some alternate sources of information and opinion? Is it because this new view is available fairly easily? I find the opinions, in most cases, are more in tune to everyday thinking. The blogging/podcasting point of view fits better with what I have been thinking and isn’t such a foreign concept to understand. That’s not to say that what anyone says is always agreeable. The best part is that you can debate as much as you like. There is something important about the nature of who is writing/broadcasting – they are doing it because they LIKE TO DO IT. There is some joy in what they are offering. It isn’t a Monday to Friday paid job. The form they take is much freer and not so compressed into a specific format. And it is much more direct and to the point. The pre-ambles are not necessary. It really seems to be an experience of a our culture with a strong connection to people and their thoughts and what their lives are focussed on. It makes one feel a bit more human.

there…finito. Listening to Elliot Smith. Sure miss his music.

First day of spring

Officially, the first day of spring (and daylight savings time soon!)

At the green grocer today they had horseradish root. It isn’t always available but today there was plenty. Freshly grated on just about anything is delicious. There were also beets so a favourite dish of beets, sour cream and freshly grated horseradish will soon be devoured.

The speed and quietness of the new Mac mini that was received last week is very impressive. It is a 1.42 mhz with SuperDrive, 1 Gb RAM, Airport and Bluetooth.. One assumes that something that small will have it limits but it is a very responsive machine. And it seems to be absolutely quiet. Apple has really put together something very good here. If PC users are switching based on this machine they are in for a very nice surprise. The size and price is going to bode well for businesses also. Dedicated machines for specific purposes beyond a server have always been a headache. They take a lot of room. The minis solve this dilemna.

Lazy Sundays

Last night we went to visit some old family friends. We were able to see some new babies and visit with their parents. The fathers of the kids, who are twins themselves, live in Edmonton and Norway. It is amazing to be with people who you have known all their lives that have changed in some ways and not in others. People seem to always remain the same. It is like there is this core personality and that is who the person is, period. They get older, have different interests, get married, whatever— but their sense of humour, their mannerisms, their articulation remains the same. You can’t put a finger on what it is exactly but you know it is them. And no two people are the same.

The rain has finally arrived in the amounts we are used to. And with any rainy Sunday afternoon the household seems to just shut down. It is re-charging time for the upcoming week, which is shorter than usual because of Easter.


We spent a great morning yesterday on the Chilliwack River fly fishing for steelhead. The weather is warming up and spring is just starting out there. It was absolutely spectacular. We fished for about 3 hours and didn’t get a bite. One bait caster came by and said no one was having any luck. There was a duck that flew right up the middle of the river going up river at about eye level. It was multi-coloured with a mid-brown head. I have never seen a duck with so much vivid colour. About 10 minutes later it flew back down the river at eye level. Saw one bald eagle hovering over the river. Maybe the duck was flying in the middle of the river to keep out of harms way.

I don’t know of too many things that soothe the spirit as much as fly fishing. There is something so peaceful about pulling that fly out of the water and placing it back in the water with one fell motion. No mechanical sounds just the swish of the line as it moves out over the water.

Today I was at a meeting of trustees of an education foundation. One of the trustees is leaving after serving for 9 years. We will all miss him. He always came to the meeting with so much valuable input. His perception of any situation added so much to any final decision. Just a great person. It is always amazing to see how people interact and work together.

Life’s Circles

Everyone that you come into contact with has his or her own circle of life. Let me explain. We all live within a realm of people, places and time. There really isn’t much else in the day. But each of us exist in a truly unique environment not only by what we think and what our senses appreciate but also our individual perception of all those components. And this fluidity that is “us” is constant. Our family, friends and passing acquaintances each move themselves into our circle to create that experience. We can disengage from people to consider that static world around us, be it man-made or natural. Time always is moving no matter what.

I think therefore I am. I think therefore time moves. I think– so what happens when I don’t? Sometimes your brain hurts from all the thinking. In this day and age the appreciation of silence and stillness isn’t such a bad idea.

Teenagers and fishing

I just had an interesting meeting with an old neighbour of ours who moved outside the area. His kids are getting bigger and much older than I had thought and he is seeing the teenage years for them fast approaching. Someone once said about teenagers – “They become aliens and leave the planet around 13 or 14 years of age. But don’t worry they usually return to earth 5 or 6 years later.” At times that is what one had to think in order to get through it. Anyway he is beginning to look for something to do outside the home and as golf is not his sport, and sitting at the Legion would probably not help any marriage, he was thinking about fly-fishing. Voila! Another person to accompany on those fishing expeditions, that time when you just need to get out and get some fresh air. Nothing is a better than being beside or in a river.

Sushi time

Had a very interesting lunch today with my favourite ad agency, Currency. The account manager and I talked about blogs and what businesses were about to venture into with this new form of communication. The relevancy of the blog is going to be different for each business as the “wall of silence” begins to erode. Some interesting times are ahead for businesses that don’t or won’t change or use this process.

We also discussed the need for a new type of conference centre, one that isn’t part of a hotel with the typical white table cloth setup for food and beverages. We could really use the American model here. Last year at the Seattle Conference for GTD the venue was fantastic. If you took a break, outside of the meeting room was a good counter (not table) that would have bowls of different types of candies and just great snack stuff. And the bowls never went empty! The other neat thing was you took your own break (except for lunch) so when you got a bit drowsy you could go out and grab a drink and snack. It sure came in handy at about 4:09 p.m. when the eyelids got heavy. Now wouldn’t that setting be a little better than heading out for stale pastries or giant cookies at exactly 3:15 pm. Lots of possibilities here.

Two more meetings today. Gotta luv those meetings. There should declare one weekday a year as non-meeting day. We sometimes need less human interaction to complete our workloads.

Sunny and warm. Wonder what its like on the Prairies?

Yes it is March

Even though by the calendar spring is a few weeks away I am sure everyone has there own personal signs as to when spring begins. When the cherry blossoms (or Japanese plum tree) blossoms appear, when the daffodils begin to show some signs of aging and the robins are chirping away in the morning to wake you up…well those seems to be the internal signs for me anyway that spring has un-officially arrived.

This bloggin needs some personal discipline. Getting busy with life seems to get in its way. Thank you Gillian for reminding me not to give up.

Yesterday I had lunch with a fellow who has been living in Tokoyo for the last 7 years. It was great to see him (he usually brings me some neat thing from over there). His question, and one that every Canadian thinks about when out of Canada for a few years, is what is a Canadian. Who knows? The only thing that seemed to be very different for Canadians for me is their perception of geographic distance. We tend to think in terms of the number of days it takes to drive somewhere. Most nationalities don’t see geography in those terms.

Another question comes to mind. How does the randomness and chaos of the nature around us make meaning for each indvidual. When I look at a tree there are so many lines and paterns it is amazing. Look at a man made object and it just seems to be straight lines. But the mind seems to be much more soothed by the natural pattern.

And its raining again.

Last day of Feburary

Should have gone fishing today but there was a ton of chores backed up that needed to be done. And the sunshine ended.

Yesterday was the day of the 2 hour walk. It is always interesting to walk with the iPod as the music sometimes brings what you are walking into a very different focus. Passing all those giant trees on Burnaby Mountain you have to wonder why every single one of these once magnificent trees had to be cut down. Think about it. In all the Lower Mainland where are all those ancient trees? We just see the stumps. Couldn’t those “pioneers” just kept a few for following generations? We’ve been left a legacy of stumps.

Politics is in the air. The signs are up just like the dandelions. We ran into our local NDP candidate and had an interesting talk. He has some interesting ideas. It should be an interesting election.

Finally found a place that sold Callard & Bowser Altoids – Citrus Sours. These are the best sour candies made. The label state “Curiously Strong’. There’s even an expiry date on the side of the tin. Yes tin. After all the citrus sours our gone you have a neat little metal tin for storage of you every increasing stuff!

Was down at Memphis Blues on Commercial for lunch today . Just amazing food that you can’t taste anywhere else but the deep south. And the blues music playing is great. There goes the cholesterol.

First and foremost a name…

First and foremost about blogging with Blogger is trying to find a name that is unique, understood and easily remembered. But guess what. Most of the names you come up with have already been taken. So looking at the kitchen counter there was some tinfoil. Why not? But someone had taken that. Why not add “today”. There must be some sort of science to making this up.