Bits and bobs

Random thoughts about random things by a random person


Now I lay me down to…read all night and not catch a wink?

It’s 3:13 am. I have to get up in 2 hours and 44 minutes. I went to bed 4 hours and 46 minutes ago.

Apparently, tonight is not a sleeping night.

I gave it about 45 minutes and then gave up. I’ve been reading since then a blog about sailing from New York to Ireland. The writer skipped what happened after she left the boat so I stopped reading.

At this point, I probably could fall asleep, but now it’s almost too late. That’s the worst with sleepless nights – if I sleep now, I’ll be in seriously rough shape come 6 am! I have a day full of meetings tomorrow, too, so really not fun.

Weird, too, how this never happens except when I have to work the next day. Some kind of sadistic Murphy’s Law?

There are a couple of upsides, though.

First, I’m writing another post! That’s 3 in about 10 hours! That’s gotta be a record for me.

Secondly, I’m writing it in the WordPress app on my tablet. I haven’t done that before so it’s an interesting exercise. Probably not the best idea to do something new when you’re totally baffed, but of all the things an exhausted, sleepless individual could do online when randomly awake in the wee hours of the morning, this is probably just fine. ūüôā

And now that I have identified the silver linings of the nocturnal debacle, I shall bid you adieu and decide on my next steps:

To read or not to read

That is the question

Whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous exhaustion

Or take arms against a sea of sleeplessness.

Ok…a little poetic licence there, but that soliloquy does talk about sleep, so I think I can be forgiven. Plus it’s now 3:34 am – a body can’t be expected to be at its literary best at this hour. ūüėČ

I will, however, take my leave of you – you who are, hopefully, nestled in a pleasant world of dreams!!


Happy birthday, WWW!!

I had my introduction to the World Wide Web (WWW) somewhere, I think, in late 1994 or early 1995.

I was living in Calgary, AB at the time and one of my friends was dog sitting for friends of hers. They had Internet access and told her she could go online while she was staying there. They gave her some instructions (how to dial up, for example) and told her if she ran into any trouble, she could just call the brother of one of the friends. Easy peasy, right? Uh huh.

Before I go any further, I should say that I know that the WWW and the Internet aren’t the same thing. At the time, though, it was all the same to me. Those were the days of Netscape Navigator and MetaCrawler. Ahhhh the memories! In any event, my first Internet experience was also my first WWW experience.

She was staying there for a week or two and was allowed to have friends over and we were pretty excited to check out this Internet thing. The first time I was over, we thought we’d give it a go. We were pretty excited – we had no idea what this thing was, but it sounded pretty cool. Looking stuff up without books or paper? WHAAAAAAAAT?!?!

We were big movie buffs so the first thing we searched for, after the beeeeep-boooopedy-beeeeeeeeep of dial-up got us online, was movies. Specifically, because we were in our mid-twenties and single, I think we included “hot men” in the search field.

Well, if you weren’t online much “back in the day”, you may not be aware that there was very little by way of search filters. You REALLY had to be careful what you searched for because anything and everything pretty much brought up porn sites. (There’s a little bit of foreshadowing there, in case you didn’t catch it… ūüėČ )

In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have searched for movies with hot men. Nowadays, you could search for “movies with hot men” and you’ll get regular movies. In 1994/1995…not so much. But we didn’t know. WE DIDN’T KNOW!!!!

All of a sudden we found ourselves on this page with this naked man behind a chain link fence, some sort of sign or something strategically placed over his “we weren’t looking for this” bits.

We went through a few quick reactionary stages. We were surprised, shocked (really, we had no clue) and then we cracked up laughing. It wasn’t what we were looking for (we were in a Hugh Grant/Four Weddings and a Funeral phase) so yeah…porn wasn’t what we were looking for and we found it hilarious.

But the people who lived there had kids so, before we did anything else, we wanted to make sure that the page we landed on was deleted. We hit the back button, thinking that would do the trick. Then we hit the forward button to make sure the porn page was gone.

You know how the forward button works, so you aren’t surprised when I say that the page was still there. The nekked man was still behind the fence. Eek!!!! We didn’t want their kids to accidentally stumble onto that page. For that matter, we didn’t want her friends to think we hopped online to scour for porn. (Mind you…”scouring” requires wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy more effort than porn searches require online, especially back then…)

We tried the back and forth thing a few times and even closed the window and opened it again. No matter what we did, the nekked man was still there.

We talked about calling the brother, but we didn’t want him to think we were porn dogs, either. My friend didn’t even know him. “Um…hi…I’m dog sitting for your brother [or was it sister?] and I…um…accidentally ended up on a porn site and don’t know how to get rid of it before they come home.” We could only imagine his reaction.

So yeahhhhhhh…we didn’t jump at that option. We tried all the things we had already tried several more times. Needless to say, they never worked. Ultimately, the fear of the kids landing on that page outweighed the feeling of stupidity and, with much trepidation, we made the call.

The brother, who worked in IT, reacted pretty much how we expected. He laughed. A LOT. And loudly. But he helped us.

After that, we refused to try again. We walked a wide berth around it. It just wasn’t worth it.

In the fall of 1995 I went back to university to get my education degree and I was “properly” introduced to the Internet. I was taught how to use it and to be careful of the dangers of porn showing up in your searches. By the time I started teaching, I had a clue. Finally…I had a clue. ūüėČ

And the rest is history!!!


Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song with lyrics

I just saw this on Wil Wheaton’s page… it’s funny! Have a listen and let your inner geek (or outer geek…we don’t judge here!) have a moment to shine!! (Allan: I’m posting this for you in particular – I think you and Matthew could make a lovely duet out of this!)

When we worked on Next Generation, Brent Spiner and I would sit at our consoles on the bridge, and make up lyrics to our show’s theme song. I vaguely recall coming up with some pretty funny and clever stuff, but nothing that held together as perfectly as this, from the weirdos over at

via this is brilliant ‚ÄĒ WIL WHEATON dot NET


And then there were four…

There’s a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Toula tells Ian about her huge Greek family. She says:

So, you have two cousins. I have 27 first cousins. Just 27 first cousins alone!

(Watch this 5-second clip to see how emphatic she is about it.)

My immediate thought when I heard that was, “27? Big whoop.” You see, there are 73 of us first cousins in my family, including me and my 3 brothers. Yup – 73. And no,¬†we’re not Greek. ūüėČ

Now, you might be thinking that to get that many first cousins, there have to be a lot of aunts and uncles, right? And you would be correct, but maybe there were not as many as you might think, since most of them had pretty large families themselves.

There were¬†7 siblings in Dad’s family (3 of whom died young) and 15 in Mom’s (4 of whom died young). All who lived to adulthood, except one, married, and all¬†who married, except one, had children. So that’s 13 aunts and uncles (plus their spouses)¬†who had families of their own,¬†with a total of 73 kids¬†– that’s an average of 5.6 kids each!

I thought that was normal.¬†It¬†wasn’t until¬†later, discussing that part of the movie with friends,¬†that I realized that my situation was actually the unusual one.

That said, I didn’t actually know most of¬†my cousins on Mom’s side.¬† Geography separated me from most of them, as they were scattered across the province and country.¬†Travel was very expensive back then and with the (obviously) large families everyone had, getting to visit with each other was not feasible.¬†Everything I knew about those cousins¬†came from¬†occasional photographs, wedding announcements, and so on.

Then there were those who grew up in the same town I did, but from whom I was separated by age.¬†Mom was one of the youngest of her siblings and she didn’t marry until the (then)¬†ripe old¬†age of 34. Her older siblings’ kids then, were much older than I was and had grown up and moved away by the time I was old enough to really get to know them.¬†Most visited, though, for holidays and such, so there was still at least a closeness that we didn’t have with those who lived far away.

With Dad’s family it was somewhat different. There were still cousins on his side who were much older¬†so that was still a bit of a challenge. But, while none of them lived in the same town where I grew up, they lived only a four- or five-hour drive away in or near the capital city of St. John’s.¬†As such, we were able to visit them more regularly, especially as the highways improved.

Because of all of that,¬†there were only two first cousins I actually grew up with. Out of 69, there were only¬†two that I grew up with. Huh – I hadn’t thought about it in that way before! Bizarre.

Now, back to the aunts and uncles and the reason for today’s post.

Mom’s oldest brother, Roche,¬†died (before I was born) of the industrial disease that left a couple of generations of families in the town I grew up in fatherless.¬†When I was born, then, I had 26¬†living aunts and uncles (in-laws included). I’m now 48, so it’s no shock that, over the years, that number has dwindled.

Yesterday, I¬†went to Burlington, ON¬†for a memorial service for Aunt Nora, one of Mom’s sisters, who passed away last Sunday. She had moved back to Newfoundland for a short time in the late 1990s or early 2000s which enabled me¬†to get to know her when I went home to visit Mom and Dad. We had kept in touch after she moved back to Ontario through phone calls and letters, as well as a visit a couple of years ago. She was funny and I had enjoyed getting to know her – I remember her with a ready smile and her fingers putting in her pin curls with a magical speed.¬†¬†I was saddened by her loss and very glad to be able to go to the service.

While¬†I was there, I reflected that of all of the blood-related aunts and uncles alive at the time of my birth, there are now¬†only 4¬†left: Mom’s sister Flo,¬†her brother Vic, and¬†Dad’s sisters Lucy and Rita. It seems like one minute they were all there and now they are gone.

I couldn’t help but think in particular of Uncle Vic and Aunt Flo – of the 15 children their mother bore, with Aunt Nora’s passing, they are now the last two. Even though they haven’t physically been around all of their siblings for much of their lives, there must¬†have been¬†some comfort in knowing they were there – knowing they could pick up the phone, or before cheap long-distance rates, pick up a pen and jot down a few lines.

I realize that that’s the case with all loss – we can’t just pick up the phone or the pen anymore –¬†I feel it with both my parents being gone. But, for Aunt Flo and Uncle Vic, I have this image of a large family photo where most of the faces have faded and theirs are the only two distinct images left; the others are more like ghostly impressions than actual images. It must be a strange sensation.

Or maybe not.

We all deal with death and loss in our own ways and, because they’ve dealt with the deaths of their siblings literally throughout their entire lives, maybe it’s not as impactful as I think it might be.

I should have some sort of clear conclusion here before I end, but I don’t. I haven’t reached a conclusion on this one. It has, however, given me something to really think about.

Thanks to for the word bubble image of our family names (aunts, uncles, cousins).



Wise words about listening

Do you watch the TV show Black-ish? I do…I really like it. It combines two of my favourite things: learning and laughing.

Last week’s episode (which I watched on¬†Thursday night – gotta love a PVR!)¬†was pretty sad, though. It was all about how the two lead characters, a husband and wife duo, have grown apart. In case you haven’t seen it and would like to, I won’t say anything else about the plot. The only other thing I will say is that they did an amazing job at portraying the emotions of the situation.

Fast forward to Friday night. I was looking for some painting projects on YouTube when I saw there was a clip with Henry Winkler on The Late, Late Show with James Corden. I love Henry Winkler. Truth be told, I love everything Happy Days. So I watched the clip. It was James Corden with David Duchovny and Henry Winkler on the couch. It turns out, Henry and his wife just celebrated 40 years of marriage.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that the conversation inevitably led to Henry being asked what he thought was the secret to a long and happy marriage. A few jokey answers were given, but then he said something that made me pause. Literally, I paused the video so I could write it down:

Respect what the other person heard as opposed to what you thought you said.

Go ahead…read it again. Realllllllllllllllllly read it and let it sink in.

It’s not rocket science. Communications specialists have been telling us something similar for years: Listening isn’t about us; it’s about the other person.

I really like what this quote says about it. So often, we get frustrated and upset because the person we are talking to just doesn’t “get it”. At the same time, because we are so focused on them not getting what we are trying to convey, and planning what else we are going to say, that¬†we are equally not getting it. We are misunderstanding them. And when we stay focused on our own perspectives, things go awry.

We all live our own experiences (obviously) so when we say things, we say them through our own filter. And when we hear things, we hear them through our filter. The exact same words heard by 10 different people can be heard very differently by each of them because of that. So when we say something, whoever hears it may hear it completely differently than we, through our filters, intended to say it. I think this is particularly true in conversations that are very serious or important.

I know it’s just a TV show, but I couldn’t help but relate the quote to what I had seen the night before on Black-ish. Probably because it was so relatable. How many relationships head towards, or go into, the toilet because we don’t validate¬†what the other person says, needs, or feels? And how many can be saved if we do the opposite?

Obviously, relationships are much more complicated than that Рboth personally and professionally.

I don’t pretend to any sort of expertise in that regard, but I do know, from experience, that when I’ve paid more attention to the other person in a conversation than to my own agenda, things have gone better.¬†I also¬†know that when speaking with someone who¬†makes me feel that they¬†are genuinely interested in my perspective, I’m automatically more interested in finding a positive resolution.

If you’d like some more information on communication, I recommend you check out the book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most.¬†It’s a super easy read and (yippee!) it’s fairly short. I love it and have gone back to it several times over the years. I’ve given it as a gift and recommended it to lots of people.

Anyhoooo…just some thoughts that I wanted to share. Hopefully you’ll find them interesting and maybe even helpful!!

Please feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below.¬†¬†And don’t forget to click on Follow if you’d like to be notified whenever I post. ūüôā


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Commitment issues, anyone?

Today’s blog assignment is about being inspired by social media. I was skeptical cuz that seemed like a bit of an oxymoron. But that might just be because my breakup with Facebook is still raw. ūüėČ Either way, I wasn’t going to let that get the best of me!

In the email, they gave a few tweets to pick from. The first one…the verrrrrry first one made me laugh. Out loud. To myself.


Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  We have a winner!

I just read a few of the comments and for a lot of people it seems this tweet is mostly about the tattoo part. And, you know, maybe it is. After all, I don’t know this Abby Heugel gal. But to me it’s about making a decision and sticking with it – reallllllllllllllllllllllly committing. And, boy, does that resonate with me!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a total commitment-phobe. I’ve committed to lots of things – like potty training, personal hygiene and chocolate. Just to name a few. But man oh man…there are times when I cannot make a decision to save myself.

Come to dinner with me sometime! I’ll change my mind about what I’m going to order about five times before I actually commit to it. And even then, there’s no guarantee that I won’t ask the server if I can¬†change my mind before she heads back to place the orders. True story. And if you’ve ever eaten out with me, you likely know that. (Feel free to comment to that effect.) If it hasn’t happened yet, don’t feel slighted – it will come.

I remember one time, in fact, when I was a kid and¬†I was in Aylward’s Mini Mart to get a chocolate bar. I must have been maybe in my early teens, or maybe a¬†tween (even though we weren’t called tweens back then…). I had already been thinking about what kind of bar I wanted before it was my turn. As I got closer and closer to the counter, the panic started to mount. “Which one do I want?!?!?!?! Which one???!!! Oh my….WHICH ONE!!!!!”

Then it was my turn. I still didn’t know. I picked something. I’m sure I ate it. But I don’t know what it was. And I don’t know if it was what I really wanted. But it was my turn and I had to choose. Sadly, that’s not the only time I’ve had the “Which chocolate bar do I want” conundrum. I’ve often wondered, “Why can’t there just be two options? Like plain chocolate or chocolate with nuts.” It would be easy then. The question would just be, “Am I in the mood for nuts or not?” Voil√†!

Yeah…not so fast, Lucy. I know it wouldn’t be as easy as all that. What if I picked plain, but I really¬†did want nuts? Nuts and chocolate are¬†soooo good! But what if I picked nuts, and it turned out I only wanted the silky smoothness of melting chocolate on my tongue? WILL IT EVER END?!?!?!?!?

No…it will not. So, I feel kinda kindred to Abby. Not only do I not want a tattoo, I absolutely, unequivocally should¬†not¬†get one.


So, what do you think?

As you know I’m doing one of the online blog courses WordPress has. My assignment for today is two-fold: first, I’m to write about where I write and then to ask you for suggestions of things to write about. I know…that’s not exactly a great hook, is it? And I get it… that wouldn’t likely make me want to read this post! So I’m intentionally keeping it short. At the very least, please skip to the last paragraph and leave some of your ideas in the comments. ūüôā

I suppose the purpose of the first part is to get me thinking about the physical aspects of writing. Maybe so that I am more intentional about where and when I write, which likely then impacts what and how I write. Interestingly, I read the assignment itself yesterday and have been thinking about it since then. It motivated me to clean off the pile of papers and crafting stuff on the desk in my den so that, going forward, I can do my writing in there, depending on the weather. Laptops are handy that way!

Normally, I write where I’m currently writing: on my couch, in front of the TV, with a cozy blanket, and the soft light of¬†a lamp. Sometimes it’s music instead of TV, but usually it’s TV. (I’m a creature of habit.) Nothing that I need to pay particular attention to…it’s just kind of there. Right now I’m watching (mostly listening to) an episode of Deep Space 9.

I thought of going to my newly tidied desk in the den, but took a pass. It looks out to the parking lot in front of my building. That sounds worse than it is. On a sunny day it’s still quite nice. The afternoon sun comes in that way and it can be quite cheery. Today, though, we’re having freezing rain. And, I gotta be honest, watching the ice build up on my car was not fun earlier when I was tidying up and it will be less fun now. Hmmm…that reminds me. I may need to go out and clean some of it off so that it doesn’t take me an hour tomorrow morning because it’s going to continue all night. And into tomorrow morning. Good times!

But I digress!

That covers the where I write bit. Next up is…what ideas for topics do you guys have? This whole course is about inspiration so now’s the chance for you guys to inspire me!