Saturday, June 1, 2024

Who wants to be a pillionaire?

FULL-FAITH HELMETS: Karma is fearless, which would be a great name
 for a self-help book.
First: A spoiler alert sorta thing: The title is not a typo. I hope that if you read this blog to the second-last paragraph, you will say, "Great pun, Pete!" And you know how much that means to me. So thanks.

Now on to our story.

------------------------------

Here was my colleague--to me--on Thursday at about 3:35 p.m., in the parking lot at my office, as he strapped on a full-face motorcycle helmet: "I'm not going to die on the highway, am I?" 

Me: "I can't make any promises." 

Him: "Okay. Let's go."  

And thus got underway the great 26-kilometre motorcycle ride from north Toronto to the neighbourhood where both I and he--Karma--live.

Yup. Karma. He's Tibetan. 

And what other name could there be for a guy, who--when you tell him his fate is in your hands but you can't make any promises--shrugs it off with, "Okay. Let's go."? 

I love saying Karma is my friend. And that Karma lives down the street.

Yesterday, when I mentioned to another friend and author (and former Harrowsmith Country Life staff editor) Heather Grace Stewart that I would be giving Karma a ride home, she said, and I quote: "I love it! Karma's riding with you! You have to blog about this."

The thing is, I'd have blogged about Karma, even if he didn't have such a marvelous handle. 

He was born in a yurt in northern India to nomadic yak herders and I figure he wasn't the least bit apprehensive about climbing onto the back of my Harley because when he was a kid, Karma rode bareback horses to round up yaks in the Himalayas.

Karma does some computery job with our company that I don't understand, but he's also got a ton of side gigs, including book writing. A week ago, Karma asked me to edit this little "author's note" for his  next project. 

Karma T. Youngdue was born in Jangthang Nyoma, India and received his primary education at the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) in Ladakh. His journey to the USA began in 1992 when he represented TCV Ladakh in a rigorous competition against 14 finalists from different TCV schools. The competition involved oral and written exams, interviews and participation in a debate and Karma emerged as one of the top four students, earning a coveted full scholarship to a prestigious private school in Vermont, USA. After graduating from The Putney School, he secured another scholarship to Yale University, where he pursued English and Computer Science.

 After completing his studies at Yale, Karma earned numerous scholarships and pursued a bachelor of arts degree with majors in Mathematics and Computer Science at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He furthered his education by obtaining a master’s degree in information technology and systems from Regis University in the USA. Throughout his career, he has made significant contributions across various sectors, including software development for the aviation industry, healthcare, and eCommerce businesses.


I first met Karma after he and some other members of the Canadian Tibetan community had just returned from visiting the Dalai Lama in India.

They presented their national and spiritual leader with a  3-D hand-built scale model of visitors to the Potala Palace, which is the Dalai Lama's traditional home, back in Tibet. (Click on "visitors." It's such a cool project. One of the kids is actually a model based on Karma's daughter.)

And Karma built the thing himself. The model, I mean, not the palace.

MODEL CITIZENS: One of the pilgrims in the diorama
is Karma's daughter, which would be a 
fantastic title for a ballad.

And that was the guy hanging for dear life on to me as we roared down the Don Valley Expressway Thursday afternoon.

When I say roared, I don't mean raced. My bike is loud and makes a roary sound even when I go slowly, which is most of the time.

After I dropped him off and we took a few selfies, I asked Karma if I could write about our trip, and he was like, "please do." So I did. (Karma made me write this blog! Hahaha.)

And here's the thing about the title. 

I've met more than one Englishman--yes, they were from England and they were men--who referred to the back seat of a motorcycle as "pillion." It rhymes with "million." It means "little rug" or something like that.  

So when somebody is riding on the back of a motorbike, the expression is, they're riding pillion. 

Pete's Blog&Grille: Delivering good Karma and excellent puns since 2016.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Wanna make my wife laugh? Tell her my plans

LOL MEET ASL: Happy marathoners
Rachel and Ewa are both American Sign
Language interpreters
One week ago tomorrow, our daughter Ewa Frances ran the Vancouver Marathon. There is not enough room on the Internet for me to describe how proud of her I am.

Instead I'll tell you about how complicated it is to watch your son or daughter run a marathon. It's no mean feat.. ha. 

But first, a point of privilege. 

I every single day of my life wake up in awe at the fact that I am fortunate enough to be in a position where my wife of 37-odd years Helena and I can actually board an Air Canada jet and travel clear  across North America from our Toronto home to witness such an event. More important, we are mom and dad to three beautiful, healthy and bursting- with-love children. Plus I was born in Canada. Meet me: Winner of life's lottery. 

Meantime, a problem. Marathons go on for hours. In Vancouver, Ewa was only one of more than 23,000 runners. (She finished about 5,000th. Until just now, I didn't even think you could make 5,000 into a "th" number.)

Standing in one spot sure wouldn't cut it.

That might be okay for the first hundred or so runners, but it'd quickly devolve into one of those piano recital experiences; you know, the ones where you sat through other people's kids' performances.  Imagine 22,999 renditions of that old recital favourite  Mouse in the Coalbin
BIKE VERSYS APP:
 (A Kawasaki Versys.
Get it?) 

We could copy our good friends Trevor and Liz MacIntyre, whose marvelous daughter Allie recently completed the Toronto Marathon. Trevor and Liz tracked Allie with a special marathon app and moved from one vantage point to another throughout the race. . 

That made sense to us. Except we didn't have an app. And we were in Vancouver.

Enter Peter's excellent marathon-tracking device: Ewa Frances' dark green 2017 Kawasaki 650 Versys motorbike. 

So what if I don't know my way around Canada's eighth largest city? We had a map. What could go wrong? 

And who knew that a lot of the streets near the marathon route would be cordoned off? So that, at one point early in the day, Helena and I would be stopped, bestraddling an idling Kawie and squinting at a distant intersection three blocks south, where a teeny parade of runners loped past, and us having just learned that we weren't allowed to drive any closer. 
OUR MAP APP
Don't leave home
with it.  


Or that we would be driving hopefully (a word I employ correctly here) along a several-kilometre stretch of Granville Street without seeing a trace of the race? While precious minutes passed?

Adding to the fun? If  Helena and I cared to further discuss--or maybe revise--this Einsteinesqe scheme of mine, we--aboard a moving motorcycle with the wind roaring through our full-face helmets--had only one mode of communicating, and that was yelling. With no runners in sight. As half hours passed.
 
You're jealous, I can tell.

I'll skip a lot of details and cut to the chase* in a moment. Just know this: Helena and I've been married since 1986 and our marriage has survived lots bigger challenges. Many of them a result of my navigational plans.
 
After about two hours of buzzing around the city, we located a spot we knew we'd see Ewa from. 

Bike parked trackside, we proceeded to cheer ourselves hoarse as hundreds of other people's kids trotted by. 

What's really great was, they were all wearing name tags so I could scream out, "You got this Ashley!!" and Ashley--or Joel or Vinesh--100 per cent of the time grinned and sometimes waved back.
RODE SIGNS. All over Vancouver, we rode. 
With these signs.
   

We even managed to catch sight of and cheer on Ewa's good friend (and fellow American Sign Language interpreter) Rachel, who was followed a few minutes later, by the star of our show, Ewa. 

And thus wound up that part of the recital, I mean marathon.

After Ewa, we climbed aboard the bike and headed for the finish line. 

And that was the first time all day--some might say in my whole life--I knew where I was headed. 

And once again, getting there was more than half the fun.
 
* Cut to the chase? Get it?  Pete's Blog&Grille has been a thing for more than 12 years, and there are days I think the only reason I do this is to come up with lines like cut to the chase.




 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Who's the boss of me?

MAD ABOUT PLAID: Portrait of the editor as a
young show-off.
Last night I decided to write down the names all the terrific managers I've had since I started working as a journalist.

There's a lesson here somewhere.

Starting with my first reporting job, in 1979, they are:

Jon Butler, The Standard in Elliot Lake, Ont.: Jon hired me twice. Then, when I tried to quit, Jon didn't let me go. In 1981 I spent an evening drinking beer with a man named Mark Cranford and we came to the very sensible conclusion that we should both quit our jobs and go to India. Mark backed out. Me, I handed in my letter of resignation, which Jon flatly refused. He said if I wrote stories for The Standard from India, my job would be waiting when I got back. That was only one tiny part of Jon's stellar bossness. As publisher of the first newspaper I ever worked for, The Standard, Jon set the bar against which all subsequent managers would be measured. The Standard? Get it? Never mind. 

Rick McCutcheon, Manitoulin Expositor. I still write for this, the best community paper in the world, whenever I get a chance. Rick told me one of the reasons he hired me was I wore red Converse high-tops to my job interview.

Glen Brisebois, Northern Life: Speaking of shoes, Glen put on his front page a story I wrote about my parents' neighbour Joe Hughes' 40 year-old shoes. At the time, I thought keeping an item of clothing for four decades bordered on the miraculous. As I type, this I'm wearing a red t-shirt I bought 25 years ago and still think is pretty cool. 

Jim Cormier, Influence Magazine: When our kids were little, my wife Helena augmented Kraft Dinner with extra cheeses and spices and it was delicious, but Jim always prepared KD according to the directions on the box, which the kids preferred and called Kraft Dinner a la Jim Cormier. Jim died far too young in 1998 at 39, but I think about and consult Jim so often he might as well still be alive.

REJECTED LETTER : My notice of
quitting that Jon Butler turned down.  
Alan Lofft, Sound &Vision, ProSound: Alan's not only an editor, banjo picker and actor, he's a hi-fi expert. When I applied for a job with his hi-fi magazine Sound&Vision, he gave me a little test that asked what the terms "wow" and "flutter" meant. I didn't have a clue. I answered "what I would say and what my heart would do if I got a job here." I got a job there.

Peter Worthington, Influence:  An "every idea is a good idea" guy who taught me that the only difference between a good and bad haircut is three days. Plus he said my ability to write attention-grabbing headlines probably stems from me being the youngest of 10 Carter kids. 

Ernest Hillen, Influence: When I first met Ernest, he had already travelled the world for various magazines including one I grew up with, Weekend, but despite that, he shared the same excitement and sense of wonder of a 12-year-old and never made me feel like a junior. He turned 90 this past April 6 and strangely enough, our phone conversation just yesterday lasted a mere 47 minutes. By Ernest's standards that was scarcely enough for a hi-how-are-ya?

Alan Morantz, Metropolitan Toronto Business Journal: Years after I worked for Alan, after he had moved on to another magazine; as I had,  I one day found myself fired. (That was neither the first nor the last time.) Next morning, Alan, sensing how much I'd feel like a loser, assigned me a story about Mississauga rattlesnakes. Those snakes made me feel like a writer again.  

GENTLEMAN JIM: He still helps me
make decisions.
Patricia Anderson, Metropolitan Toronto Business Journal: Pat was my boss the year my wife Helena gave birth to our twin daughters Ewa and Ria. A year or so earlier, Pat had become mom to Zoe. So sweet was Pat that one day, visiting our house and holding Ewa or Ria in her arms, my boss Pat actually mused about her actually nursing our daughter. My late brother Ed was on hand. Ed was like, "I work at the post office. Every day, we're fighting  with our managers. If my boss showed up right now I'd call the cops to get him off the property. And yours is talking about breastfeeding your baby??? "

David Bailey, Financial Post Magazine: Here's David, to me, when our baby son Michel arrived into our lives: "I really like what you've done with Michel. If you need any extra days off, just call me and say 'I need a Michel day' and don't worry about it." David died young and is now in heaven. 

Maureen Cavan, Harrowsmith Country Life: My mom and three of my sisters are nurses. Maureen was a nurse before becoming a publisher. That was evident in everything she did and that's all you need to know.

Caroline Connell, Chatelaine: Everybody who has worked with Caroline calls her the best manager they've ever had. And she might kill me when she reads this next part but what the hell I've had a good run. Before Facebook; before Instagram, before emojis, Caroline's family and close friends and her jazz-piano wizard husband Peter Hill called her, presciently, "LOL"! As in laugh out loud. There. I've outed Lol, one the best bosses on the planet. 

Rona Maynard, Chatelaine: Before Facebook, before Instagram, before the invention of everything, Rona let me brag about my family in a column in her magazine. But also, before I worked at Chatelaine, and shortly after Rona was named editor, I wondered, in the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors newsletter, how a physically wee woman like Rona could hold sway over such a behemoth as Chatelaine. She told me later that helped convince her it wouldn't hurt to have me around. Humour. More powerful than you know.

Stephen Petit, Today's Trucking: Hired me for what turned out to be the job of a lifetime. "There'll be as much travel," he said before leaving and handing me the reins, "as you want." I wanted lots.

UNTIL HE WAS PETERED OUT: 
 At 13-plus-years, Rolf was the longest
 putter up with me of all. 
Rolf Lockwood, Today's Trucking: Rolf was Stephen Petit's boss and then mine and let me, for 13 and change years, have as much fun as Stephen promised. 

Jim Glionna, Today's Trucking: You've never met anybody like Jim,  the founder of Todays' Trucking. Come visit me and I'll spend two days amazing you with Jim Glionna stories. But you ain't getting any here.

Okey Chigbo, CPA Magazine: Way back up there at Metropolitan Toronto Business Journal, I hired Okey to be an associate editor; his first full time editorial gig, and he's never let me forget it. In a good way. 

John Carson, The Lawyer's Daily: John's style: If an issue arises, look it in the eye, solve, move on. Staff love bosses for that.

Matt Grace, The Lawyer's Daily/Law360 Canada: Matt has put up with me as his direct charge for more than three years and hasn't fired me yet. 

And those are all the great journalism bosses I've had. 

So far.

 

 



Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Boodle Fight!

OODLES OF BOODLE: Ria, Josie (who comes from the delightfully named Sama, which 
rhymes with summer) and proud pop Michel

I don't want to  make anybody jealous, but two days ago my wife Helena, my son Michel, my daughter Ria and I ate dinner at a Filipino restaurant that's a 15-minute walk from our place and it was among the most memorable dining experiences ever. And not very expensive. 

The restaurant's called iSLAS, which is Tagalog for island. 

We were celebrating Ria becoming a licensed psyschotherapist, and Michel entertained us with stories about his visit a week earlier to see his handsome eight-year-old son Mateus, who lives in Nova Scotia.

 And who knew Filipino food would be so tasty and exotic? I don't even know what all we ate; just that there was fish and chicken and pork bellies and noodles and rice and plantain and it was all served on one giant plate made of banana leaves. I will even admit that I enjoyed a non-alcoholic cocktail called an Ubu Latte, which was cold yam juice and tastes way better'n it sounds. I'm talking spices and sizzling stuff everywhere. But one of the coolest things about the visit was that the menu was first recommended to me by a friend who lives in Manila Philippines and who has never been to Toronto.

HANDS DOWN GOOD FOOD: Hands up, actually
because Kamayan means "eat with your hands"

"Make sure you have the boodle fight!" is what Aian Nuestro told me, two years ago, when he and I first talked about this restaurant. 

"It's something that started on army bases, a long time ago. You don't use knives and forks, you just use your hands to fight for the food." Sounds to me, I said, like the 11- or 12- Carter household I grew up in.

I bet you're thinking: "But you've never been  to Manila, Peter. How can you have a friend there?"

And I'm glad you asked. 

One of the best things about my job is that I get to talk to colleagues around the globe, all day long, about anything I want, via Microsoft Teams software. Our company has something like 35,000 workers, and we're all just one click away from each other.

A STAND-UP-AND-THEN-SIT-DOWN-
AND-EAT GUY: Aian, whose name means "He of good taste."
 I just made that up.
For the record, I am not required to talk to anybody outside the dozen or so Canadians I work directly with, but, frankly, what's the good in being able to connect with the rest of the planet if you're not going to meet people? 

So I do. Via  computer. People from South Africa. The Philippines.  I've even got a workplace pal in--I hope you're sitting down--Carleton Place Ontario.
 
As my sister Charlene puts it, "Nobody's safe from you Pete."

But never mind her.

Manila and Toronto are on opposite ends of the clock so when it's midnight there, it's noon here. When I started my shift at 8 a.m., Aian'd be starting his at 8 p.m.. and because he likes trucks and motorcycles and his family and his job and joking around, well, having him helped make logging on every day all the more enjoyable. 

He's also Catholic, funny and a real stand-up guy. Which is a joke. Aian is not only a trustworthy chap, he knows a lot about stand-up comics and in fact turned me on to his fellow countryman Jo Koy and when he saw my daughter Ewa's  most recent 10-minute stand up routine, Aian responded with "Wow! She's a natural. She could give Dave Chappelle or Jo Koy a run for their money. She's good! I'm laughing like a proud uncle!" (That was the correct response.)

He also taught me a few tagalog words and laughed when I told him I wanted to tag along to some language lessons.  

And is his English good you ask? 

Get this. At one point about a year ago, the dog who shares his, his wife Sophia's and son Aori's Manila home, gave birth to a litter of pups. 

I told him I trust he was going to name one after me and Aian's response was, "I already did. The dorkiest looking one."

If you don't think that's the kind of thing a person who loves you says, you don't have any brothers.

And p.s. Sorry if I made anybody jealous. But jeez, sometimes I make me jealous. 

And another p.s. Check out  iSLAS, featuring the charismatic and informative Josie, here



 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

No More Bad Hair Days!

TWO OLD WHITE CATS: I'm the
one wearing glasses
I got a haircut last Saturday at First Choice near my house and I have lost track of how many people told me they like my new do.

My favourite was on Tuesday, just after I finished work for the day.

I stepped out onto the porch and noticed our brand new neighbour woman, who just bought the house directly across the street, walking up the sidewalk towards her recently purchased home. 

I knew what I had to do. (My sister Charlene once put it this way: "Nobody's safe around you are they?" Nope.)

I strode across the street, introduced myself and before we said much, I saw another neighbour, who lives a few houses east of us on our side. I motioned her over, with "Ashley come meet the new person." 

She did  but before I could introduce them, Ashley was like, "Hey Peter. Nice haircut!"

If that didn't freak Ms New Neighbour out a bit,  maybe it should have, especially if she'd seen the super eerie Netflix series The Watcher, in which a happy family moves into their dream home. At first, the weirdly perfect neighbours are all smiling and like, "welcome here" and "we get along so well on this street" and then you know what happens next. But never mind that. 

My second favourite was another neighbour named Calvin who started with "great haircut," but then paused and added, with so much diplomacy he should be appointed to the UN, "but I liked it longer, too. You're one of those fortunate people who can make it work either way."  Calvin could write a book titled How to make people feel good about themselves.

I've had coworkers comment; quite a few neighbours and even the members of the writers' group that I sit in on every Friday. I told my wife Helena that I am going into the office one day next week because there were a few people I wanted to talk to directly but also, "because some folks haven't seen my new haircut." I was kidding. I swear.

Such a great hair week has this been that this morning, I decided to return to the scene of the wizardry--First Choice Haircutters--to thank the stylist, whose name I believe is Rob--for his handiwork.  

I also wanted to take Rob's picture to go with this blog because the barber's photo is a key part of the story.  

Here's why: For as long as I've been going for haircuts, when the barber gets to that part where he or she asks, "how would you like your hair?" I am at a loss for words. (Yeah, I know.) 

I glance at the handsome haircut models on the wall, but nobody has a head like mine. Most are mysteriously dark-eyed swarthy types with artistically shaped five o'clock shadows. 

I've always dreaded that question.
THUNK THE BARBER: "My customer has it bad 
for this guy."

The only time I got the answer right was once when I was writing the Family Room column for Chatelaine, and a professionally taken shot of me appeared  on the page, every issue. 

On one trip to the barber, I happened to be carrying a copy and when he asked how I wanted my hair, I opened the magazine and pointed at me.  "Like that!" I said.

My haircut turned out alright but I forgot to tell him the photo was actually me, so I'm sure the barber was left thinking, "My customer must really like  the woman's magazine columnist." (He's right. I do.)

But last Saturday, I didn't have a magazine.

Rob asked me how I wanted my hair, I looked into the mirror and realized the right answer was looking me in the eye.
 
"Same as yours," I said.

Rob: "Mine?"

Me: "Yup."  

Away he went. Confidently clipping and snipping and wiping and chatting, about travel, his love of airplanes and his 92 year old mom who still lives alone and drives a car. Only after it was done did I realize he probably took my instructions as a compliment. I hope he did. 

Because his work has certainly led to more than my fair share. That's why I returned to tell him this morning.

Turns out he's on three weeks holidays. So I'll have to wait to tell him the story I just told you. You can bet I will. The  hair stylist added an unprecedented sparkle to my week.

Which reminds me of another Chatelaine memory. The day news went around the office that a locally renowned stylist, who had a shop on Yorkville Avenue not far from Chatelaine, was closing up shop and moving to another city, a  few of my colleagues--his loyal clients-- almost fell into a state of mourning. At least one broke down and cried. That was, I thought, quite the over-reaction.

Oh wait. Another thing Rob told me? 

He's retiring in a few years and probably moving to Niagara. 

My question is, do you suppose Helena will be surprised when I tell  her I think we should move there too? I have a busload of cousins down that way. Should be fun.

Friday, February 16, 2024

3,444 reasons why you should visit Louisiana

TEAM MARDI GRAS: Gerard (Jed) Delahoussaye;
Marie-Therese (Maite) Costisella; Helena (my wife) Szybalski;
and Marie-Jose(Marie-Jo) Delahoussaye.
Last Thursday evening, my wife Helena and I arrived in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. 

I know. 

How fortunate is that? I've been wanting to see Mardi Gras since I was a little kid, but somehow, my guardian angel has been, until now, smart enough to keep me safely away. 

I'm thinking that at 66, she figured, I couldn't get into trouble

She was almost right.

After our Delta flight landed at the Louis Armstrong International Airport, we hopped a taxi to our hotel, but because of the crowds and parade barriers, the cab could only take us to within three short city blocks of the front door. 

We got out, and at one point as we were winding our way through the crowd, a passerby mentioned to Helena that it's unwise to leave a backpack unzipped. "You never know," he said. 

We stopped, checked her backpack and  discovered that her red leather wallet was gone, along with two credit cards, somewhere between $50 and $100 Canadian in cash, a debit card, driver's licence, health card, Costco membership, assorted photos, some other stuff, a gold Cross pen and her passport.

CSI NEW ORLEANS: Helena raising cane, showing the local 
constabulary where we were when we found the wallet was lost.
Up to that point, the trip had been flawless. Our flights had been prompt, we flew to New Orleans by way of La Guardia in New York, and flying over the Statue of Liberty is always memorable. In the taxi lineup at Louis Armstrong International, I enquired of the young woman in front of me if she knew how far downtown was. She laughed and said, "I know less than nothing." Turns out she, Nancy, and her charming companion Greg were, like us, in Louisiana for the first time, and they had travelled from Northern Ontario. So we shared a cab and Shania Twain jokes all the way to town.

But then the cabbie arrived downtown, we exited and approximately three and a half minutes later, the trip turned sour because we learned the wallet was gone.

But you're busy. I won't waste your time. Things turned around fast.

The next morning---preceded by a fretful night that included a visit to the Royal Street precinct where a compassionate officer named Shultz helped us through the process of reporting the loss--Helena's cell phone rang.

It was Marie-Josee--the one in the far right in the photo--reporting in a delightful French Canadian accent, that her sister (Marie-Therese, visiting from Hull, Quebec) had been downtown the night before. Marie-Therese had found the wallet with all contents, minus the cash, intact. And if we could find our way out to their place, we could retrieve it.

She gave us her address, we hired a cab, met Jed, Marie-Josee and Marie-Therese, and our trip was happy again! Elated in fact.

Plus, our new acquaintances wouldn't accept a reward. 

End of story, really. 

If you want to learn more about our terrific time in New Orleans, call me. The ensuing week was among the most memorable and fun weeks of my life and to this point, there have been --and I just did the math, about 3,444 of them. 

Most people are good. 

But herein is the lesson.

One of  the things in the temporarily lost wallet was a little card with my, our daughter Ria's, her sister Ewa's, and our son Michel's phone numbers, without which Marie-Josee wouldn't have been able to find us. 

This excellent travel tip has been brought to you by Jed, Marie-Therese and Mary-Jo.
  

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Roland down the road to work

IRIS WATCHERWOMAN: Fur the love of Pete, she doesn't abide anybody dogging it.

I miss going to the office.

I'm not complaining. I love my job and the fact that I can do it from home makes it all the more enviable. Also, if you know me you know I don't use the word love unless I mean it.

Here's why I love my work. 

All day long, I deal with some of the smartest and most well-intentioned people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting; people who want to make the world a better place and who believe that telling stories is a good way to do that.  

Most days I exchange emails, texts and conversations with these extraordinarily articulate folks often about big ideas like right and wrong but also about what's funny; what's not and what our families are up to.

My friend Baxter Naday once  put it this way "You do the same sorts of things when you're not at work as you do on the job." 

I mostly do my job from the comfort of my living room couch, with Iris the cat near at hand. Plus I listen to music while I work. All day.

The vast majority of the people I work with are in Canada but I also regularly deal with colleagues in South Africa,  Italy, The Philippines and Zimbabwe.

And get this: Somebody pays me to do it. Every two weeks! Real folding money. 

And it's always the right amount. They never pay me less than they say they're going to; and the money arrives on time! 

Who in the history of humankind has had a more luxurious lifestyle? With clean clothes, deodorant? A furnace that works and all the food I can possibly ever want a few steps away?

I was going to write a column about how I miss commuting to work because last week, one of the really interesting people I work with; an Ottawa-area lawyer named Juliana Saxberg (I love that elegant name) asked if I miss going into the office.

I wrote:

"I love going to the office. I think I'm a better person for the experience. Smarter, funnier, wiser, fitter, I hear more jokes and juicier gossip, and in fact I  dress up prettier because I go out in public. It keeps my driving skills honed and I get to see the changing city landscape and the everchanging variety of motor vehicles that occupy our roadways. PLUS I listen to radio in the car and NEVER listen to radio at home. Morning show deejays are the hippest people on the planet. Plus the diner downstairs at 111 Gordon Baker Road is owned and operated by a European trained chef and nothing that comes out of that place bland. He makes the best hamburgers in Toronto. There's dozens of varieties of free coffee at work and stuff--copiers, toilets, power sources--works! But mostly it's the people. Every individual is like a beautiful blossoming flower and I am a social bumblebee. Yesterday, one of our colleagues at Gordon Baker, a relatively new Canadian named Roland who emigrated from Cameroon a few years ago, said to me in his deep voice and that great African accent "people with a positive attitude like you live a long time, Peter." I never heard that before. And I wouldn't have heard it yesterday had I not gone into work. Yeah, you might say I miss the office." 

And that is the kind of email I spend my days writing. 

See what I mean about not having anything to complain about? 

I heard a gerontologist last week say that there are more than 10,000 Canadians over 100 years old. Ten thousand!  Imagine. When my grandmother Carter turned 90, she got a letter from the queen. 

I sure hope Roland's right.  

I forget what it was I started writing about.