Photo by Richard Matthews, used under Creative Commons license

“From this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered”

I realized yesterday that Frank Perconte must have died.

After work yesterday I flipped on the TV and saw an episode of Band Of Brothers (imdb) in the guide. I watched it, as is always the case when I see an episode, despite having watched every episode dozens of times. It is, in my opinion, probably the best single piece of TV ever made. Anyway, it was the final episode, “Points”, where Easy Company’s story is wrapped up and we hear a bit about what happened to a few of the men who made it through WWII. I looked up the list of Easy veterans, just as I did the last time I watched “Points”, and noticed that the oldest remaining veteran — Frank Perconte — wasn’t there. Sure enough, he passed away last week at the age of 96.

Perco. Shit.

It surprises me how upset I get about these guys passing away. I’ve watched the series enough times that I feel like I know them a little, even though for the most part I only know what the actors look like. I was actually really sad when Dick Winters died a few years ago. I was sad about Shifty Powers and Buck Compton. I was even sad that David Webster died in 1961, alone on the sea.

Only 22 of these guys are still alive, among them some familiar names for fans of the series, especially Guarnere, Heffron, and Malarkey.  Here’s hoping I’m still writing about them next October.

(Edit: Babe Heffron died in December 2013)

(Edit: Bill Guarnere died in March 2014)


Photo by Richard Matthews, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by slgckgc, used under Creative Commons license

I would have to drink all six bottles before I’d put that CD in

My life right now is being measured in bite-sized chunks, less than two weeks at a time.

Last Monday, the 7th, I let my colleagues know that I’d be leaving my job in nine days. I’d been there for twelve years (fourteen total if you include my first stint) so it surprised a lot of people. There were lots of last coffees, lots handshakes, and lots of questions. I nixed any formal farewell, but did spend a few final hours with my team at Hair Of The Dog, and had drinks with friends at Caren’s. My friends and colleagues, knowing me very well and spoiling me entirely, bought me six tremendous bottles of plonk about which I’m fairly excited:

  • Maison Roche De Bellene 2009 Clos de Vougeot Pinot Noir
  • M. Chapoutier 2007 Monier de la Sizeranne Syrah
  • Domaine Bernard Defaix 2010 Cote de Lechet Chablis
  • Louis Jadot 2010 Boucherottes Pinot Noir
  • Piper Heidsieck champagne
  • Glen Breton 10 year old whisky

Oh, and a Miley Cyrus CD, just to make me wince. So it was a 9-day sprint to wrap up all my work and admin tasks before Wednesday. At 5pm I handed in my pass and Blackberry (yay!) and left the building. I took Thursday and Friday off to give myself a four-day stretch in which to relax a bit, but mostly knock some travel- and condo-related tasks off my list.

On Monday I’ll start my new job. It’s in roughly the same domain, still in Toronto. I wasn’t looking for a new job — I had no particular desire to leave my old one — but this seems like a pretty great opportunity, and I’m excited for Monday. I’m not fussed about such a short break between jobs; like my grandfather always said: “A change is as good as a rest.”

So I’ll have two weeks at the new job, and then we’re off to Africa. We got the last of our shots earlier this week, and apart from some fresh bug spray we have pretty much everything we need. A few days in Cape Town, a few in Stellenbosch, a few in Botswana, and a few in the air, and we’re back.

In my Thanksgiving post earlier this week I didn’t relate any of the many things for which I’m thankful, but it’s safe to say that great friends and two new adventures would make the list.


Photo by slgckgc, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by Doug Kerr, used under Creative Commons license

“Not since Hall and Oates has there been such a team.”

I thought about doing a whole long sappy blog post about how thankful I am for this and that, but figured the whole fact that I can write a blog post while the place smells like turkey pretty much denotes how good my life is. So I’ll just point out the highlights of our weekend so far:

First of all, it’s always a good weekend when your colleague starts it off with a gift of some 1er Cru burgundy:

We took it easy Friday night, sneaking a spot at Richmond Station’s bar for some excellent food. Nellie had oysters and flank steak; I had beet salad and crispy duck. A bottle of Norm Hardie Cab Franc went perfectly with it all. We then just watched The Sessions (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at home, which was excellent. Lots of ex-Deadwood representation too.

Saturday morning we got up early and gathered all we needed from St. Lawrence Market for Thanksgiving dinner, traded in some old speakers for a pair of outdoor Sonance speakers that look like fake rocks, picked up some interesting beer, then walked to Volo where we enjoyed some pumpkin beer and ploughman’s lunch and quite possibly the last hot, sunny patio day of the year.

After that we picked up our Thanksgiving turkey (who we named Carl, in honor of The Walking Dead re-starting tonight) at Cumbrae’s, then watched The Place Beyond The Pines (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which I’m still having a bit of trouble sorting out and a hockey game (mostly me).

Sunday was a day-long exercise in relaxing and cooking, then eating, Carl.

We also slammed through half the first season of Orange Is The New Black, which is pretty good. We’ll likely finish it today, along with the rest of Carl.

It was a perfect, relaxing weekend — just what I needed with the week I have coming up.


Photo by Doug Kerr, used under Creative Commons license

Nuit Blanche 2013

Yesterday we altered our sleep patterns so that we were able to take part in Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s version of the all-night art thing. We left our place at 11 and it started out pretty rough — I forget each year how annoying massive, mostly-drunk crowds of people can be — but we stuck it out until 2am. Here’s what we saw (or tried to see):

  • Before we even went out an enormous traveling dance party drove along Adelaide right under our balcony. I can only assume it was part of Nuit Blanche.
  • 36km: Toronto Alleyway Exploration Project
  • Garden Tower in Toronto, which we only saw from the outside since the line to walk inside was too long
  • Diaspora Dialogues, which we abandoned shortly after walking in since the crowds were too big and lines too long…we couldn’t tell what was going on at the front of the church
  • Smoke House, which we again decided to abandon because of the length of the line to ride the bikes. We could see everything though.
  • Howl, which I think saved Nuit Blanche for me. Up to this point I was so frustrated with the overcrowded exhibits, and exhibits whose entrances were marked incorrectly on the website, and the impenetrable crowds, that I was just seconds from packing it in. But Howl was terrific. Howl made me want to keep going.
  • Campfire, which we couldn’t really appreciate because of the crowds and how loud it was…the dialogue was totally drowned out
  • The Anthropocene
  • Night Shift, which we walked past in between their dances, so they were just cleaning up piles of golden paper. We didn’t stick around for more dancing.
  • Arctic Trilogy, which we watched for about ten minutes
  • Take A Penny
  • Shrine, for which we didn’t line up but could see just fine from the outside, including the disappointment on the faces of those exiting the inside
  • Mariner 9, another favourite
  • We walked past a screen showing WATERMARK Cubed in the distance, but didn’t really observe it…but that’s fine, we just saw the documentary itself
  • It wasn’t an exhibit, but a drum troupe outside of First Canadian Place was one of my favourite moments of the night
  • The Soniferous Æther of The Land Beyond The Land Beyond was also trippy and excellent. I wish we’d stayed a little longer — some people had actually laid down and gone to sleep in front of the exhibit, so clearly it was soothing or mesmerizing or something — but we’ve learned that you have to keep moving on Nuit Blanche
  • Pink Punch
  • We were lucky enough to walk past the extremely strange Burrman on his travels, on York around Richmond
  • Queen Of The Parade
  • Music Box
  • After a long roundabout route we walked past Toaster Work Wagon and arrived in the top half of Nathan Phillips Square to see Ai Weiwei’s Forever Bicycles, which was pretty cool. However, the crowds on the Queen Street side were so daunting that we couldn’t even get near Crash Cars. Luckily you could read the lit-up poetry of The rose is without why from anywhere in the square.
  • Clothesline Canopy was actually undergoing repairs so we couldn’t walk underneath it, but we did see it from the side.
  • We have no idea what was happening at Agit P.O.V.
  • The Big Crunch
  • We got in line for L’Air Du Temps but when we saw the line that said it would be a 45-minute wait we bailed
  • We interacted with Take A Load Off as the artist intended: but sitting on the discarded furniture…but then we remembered that this was discarded furniture, and were kind of grossed out

And so, that was it for our Nuit Blanche 2013. The weather more or less cooperated…cool and breezy beats cold and rainy any day. The crowds were close to unbearable, and not just for me…they created enough friction between patrons for two people to be stabbed during the course of the night, and I’m sure there were dozens of fights. And how at least one pedestrian isn’t killed every Nuit Blanche I’ll never understand.

Garden Tower In Toronto
Take A Penny
Music Box
Forever Bicycles
Clothesline Canopy

More pictures.

Photo by Doug Wheller, used under Creative Commons license

What exactly is a nel-drip anyway?

Earlier this week I was in San Francisco to speak at a conference. I don’t write about work on this blog, but I certainly write about what I eat and drink, especially while traveling, so here are the highlights:

After the first day’s meetings the conference organizer hosted a few of us at the Press Club, a bar / event space which was happily quite close to my hotel.  Their wine list is enormous (and the full draft list is very interesting) but there was a limited set of each on offer. Still, the 2010 Donatiello Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) was good, the 2009 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley) was very good, and the 2011 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) was okay. Cool space too.

A few times I found myself needing decent coffee, so I visited the Blue Bottle at Mint Plaza. I wasn’t blown away with the coffee itself — just not a fan of that particular bean’s flavour profile, I think. It’s clear they take their coffee pretty seriously though; it looked like a chemistry lab in there. But it was a nice little cafe at which to sit and sip a cappuccino. Oh, and the olive oil shortbread was delicious.

Finally, after the main day’s conference, the organizers again generously took a few of the speakers out for dinner at Trace. I had an excellent pumpkin soup with bacon relish (!) and some slow-roasted berkshire pork loin. I had no hand in the wine selection, but the Fumé Blanc and Pinot Noir our hosts selected worked perfectly. I had no room for dessert, regrettably.

With less than 48 hours between my flights, the vast majority of which was spent in conference rooms, it wasn’t a very adventurous San Fran visit. Tasty, though.


Photo by Doug Wheller, used under Creative Commons license