Canada AM on September 11, 2001.


For many who recount the shocking events of September 11th 2001, they will tell you the day started out like any other day, but at Canada AM, that wasn’t the case.

When I first started full time at AM, the hosts were Valerie Pringle and Dan Matheson. I worked with them, and loved every minute of it from August of 1998, until Valerie left the show in June of 2001. Over the summer, the hole left by Val was filled with a series of guest co-hosts, giving managment a ‘look-see’ in terms of a possible replacement. In August of that year, a shocker when it was decided Dan would leave our show and move to what is now CTV Newschannel. So, in effect, two-thirds of the Canada AM team was gone in the space of two months. But management had a plan, and in late August the new Canada AM…

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Questioning Why I Feel Compelled to Help

As some readers are aware, since before I started this random blog, I  have been employed as the Night Auditor at a locally owned, independent hotel. Clever that I named this blog after the time my wife sleeps as this is when I am living life.


If you are not familiar with the tern, the Night Auditor is basically responsible for that goes on in a hotel during the overnight hours. This includes going over the day’s deposits and transactions, the register, the housekeeping lists and assignment, security, sales, tourist information, some cleaning, and the light maintenance of the building; plus anything else which might have slipped through the cracks while the sun was shining.


I live in a small city which is closer to rural life than most other places that would be considered to be cities. This is part of the charm that drives the tourism industry in these part and attracts attention to the 113 year old building where I work. However, no matter how quaint tourist find this area, night life is still the darker side.


So, for almost the past eight years, I have seen a side of my hometown that most never will. There is crime, drugs, prostitution, and there is a lot of heartbreak.


Through it all, I have been the same goofy geek I have always been; but there are times when that is difficult.


As mentioned in an earlier entry, I do suffer from depression and a wee bit of anxiety. The hours I keep have been a bit of a blessing to me, as I don’t tend to have nearly as much social interaction as most people. This is not a bad thing; I have made it to work every night and rarely have bouts of social anxiety.


Yes, there are a lot of crazy stories I can tell about working the overnight hours in the hospitality industry – and I will, but this not what I am trying to write about now. It is a crazy story, but I’ve yet to find the humour in it.


Over a week ago, my routine was shattered. Routine is extremely important to me since being diagnosed. Routine makes the day possible and allows me to fight the dark that presses on me regularly. This night was already going to be a challenge.


It was time to start my first round of the building for the night and the switchboard rang to life. The display let me know it was an inside call; at this hour not uncommon as guests often pick this time to put in their wake up calls. When I answered, my stomach immediately dropped; the call was coming from a room that was not supposed to be occupied.


Irritation was my first response. Something like this does happen from time to time. Usually it’s a missed keystroke or a registration card misfiled. Irritation was rising as this meant I would have to look through more paperwork than most nights require. Irritation was quickly pushed down inside me as I heard a feminine voice pleading for help.


I could barely make out anything the voice was trying to tell me other than she needed help. I rushed to the room and was met by a securely deadbolted door. This sent me back to the front desk to get an emergency key so I could bypass the locks. I was doing my best to remain calm while I fumbled with the key.


Running back and forth to this room surely took little time at all, but I was convinced I was losing precious minutes.


Getting the door open, I don’t know what I thought I was going to find, but I know it wasn’t the sight waiting for me. A woman, curled in the fetal position, shivering, crying, bleeding.


She was slight, and had nothing one but for the smallest of tank tops. It was clinging to her wet skin. She was soaked, dirty, bruised, and still bleeding. I grabbed the comforter from one of the beds in the room and made motion to cover her up.


She recoiled instantly from me.


“It’s alright,” I said, “I am here to help.”


“LOCK THE DOOR!” she wailed.


I did.


I introduced myself while staying back from her, making no sudden moves.


“He tried to kill me,” she said in hoarse whisper. Blood was dark and covering the lower half of her face.


“He held me under,” she continued, “he wouldn’t let me come up for air. HE TRIED TO KILL ME!”


“There’s no one here but you and I, now,” I tried to reassure, “I’m going to call 911 and get you help.”




“I won’t let anyone in here who’s not going to help you,” I said.


I called 911 while she continued to sob and shake. I really couldn’t give them too much information beyond the location and a physical description of this woman. The  police were being dispatched along with paramedics. The medical team was asking questions about her condition and telling me to keep her warm and comfortable until help arrived. They let me go saying that assistance was on the way.


I knelt, holding the blanket out to her again. I suggested she might feel better on the bed.


She demanded I let her look me in the eyes. She to my face in her hands and stared intently and a bit frantically into my eyes.


“I can trust you?” she asked.


“I hope so,” I replied.


“I can trust you.” she sobbed and lept into my arms.


I’ve never held anyone who felt so cold to the touch as her; no one living at least – that is a story for another time.


She sobbed so hard and gripped me so tightly – I didn’t think it possible she had that kind of strength in her small frame.


I wrapped her in the blankets and propped pillows around her on the bed while she will holding onto me. I tried to give her space and had intended to wait on the other side of the room from her while waiting for help. She wouldn’t let me. She wouldn’t let me go.


Even after the police arrived, she was still holding me like a shield from the rest of the world. As the officers talked to her and began to reassure her that they were also here to help, her grip slowly relaxed.


I left the room to let her have some privacy. The paramedics were arriving and my part was done for the moment. I stood outside of the room to keep watch of any guests who might have been disturbed by the noises and also a little bit to stand guard. Deep inside, I felt like whoever did this was not far away.


I ended up overhearing a little of the details she was telling the paramedics and police what had happened.


What I was able to put together was that, according to her, this was the work of her boyfriend. He hit her, hurt her, and tried drowning her in the harbour near the hotel. She claimed she was not a guest of the hotel, not was her boyfriend. I don’t know why he hurt her; no reason was going to justify the state in which I had found her.


More police arrived. The name she gave them of her attacker seemed to be known to them and they were taking no chances.

The paramedics left with her to go to hospital as did two of the initial police officers. Other officers stayed and searched the area. I tried to get back to my routine.


I later came to find out that she had been lying about not being a guest here. I also came to learn that on earlier occasions that this couple had been asked to leave the hotel before; actually on multiple occasions – usually much earlier in the evening.


Over the next few days, I was repeatedly questioned by the major crimes domestic violence unit of the police. I told this story repeatedly. I was asked about what else I knew from that night. I’ve also been reassured often that I did the right thing and that she was lucky to have been helped by me. I’ve been told I saved a life.


I’ve been terrified of what has and will happen to that woman.


Two nights ago, before my shift began, the very same couple tried to get a room at the hotel. They were described as hanging on each other in a loving manner. They were told we don’t have roms available for them.


I am trying to get back to my routine.

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Depression Sucks Donkey Balls


Why I Wish My Unbalanced Brain Chemistry Would Fuck Right Off



Most people would perceive me as fairly happy-go-lucky guy who is content in his own skin. While this is not in the strictest of senses an illusion, it is not a naturally occurring state. My peace of mind combination of a slight talent for acting and the wonder that is modern pharmaceuticals.


Being diagnosed several years ago with depression has been a mixed bag to be sure. I’m very glad to at least know what the Hell has been happening to me for much longer than that, but frustrated not to be able to get back to the place I thought I was before all of the trouble.


Let me take it back a bit.


I was a newlywed, had gainful employment, good friends, and felt connected with my community through hobbies and volunteering. I was a bundle of seemingly boundless energies and enthusiasm. Then came the car ride.


In the weeks leading up to the car ride, there never seemed to be enough sleep. My wife was getting pretty upset with me for always napping. Yet, when sleep was happening, it was not full or satisfying. There were constant stupid thoughts that refused to let me rest- where were the cats? Are they fed? Is my wife going to leave me? Do the people at work hate me? Does everyone hate me?

My solution to the sleep problem was to curtail some of the hobbies. I gamed less, even though gaming was one of the amazing things my wife and I bonded over; it was actually where half of our shared social life existed.


I began to read less because reading was not helping me relax. I dropped off from writing because it was cutting into sleep time.


Or, at least, these were lies I told myself.


In the trap that was my own head, I knew I stopped gaming because I knew people hated spending time with me. I stopped reading because I was not worthy of having such luxury as an escape from the world around me. I wasn’t writing because I knew I was a self indulgent, pretentious, little shit who had nothing to say worth anyone’s time.


What did that leave me with?


There was work and there was barbershop singing.


Oh, I realize I have left my loving wife out of that statement. I’ll get back to that.


I love barbershop singing. I love the harmonies, the comradery, the volunteering, the sense of community, the constant learning, the practice, the discipline, the performances, and the corniness of the whole thing. The only thing better that singing a good barbershop tune with a tight harmony for me was singing a barbershop version of a Christmas carol. The only thing better than that was getting to perform these Christmas songs at seniors homes over the holidays.


I was driving home from a particularly fun night of Christmas concerts at a number of places on the North side when it happened. The practice disk was playing on the car stereo, there was a bit a snow falling on the highway, and I was grinning like an idiot alone in my car – then I began to cry.


Tears at first, then full on sobbing.


I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t stop crying; full on ugly crying. Tears and mucus poured out of me and I was hot and cold at the same time. I am not sure how long it lasted but it was long enough that I suddenly had very little time at home before I had to be ready for work.


That night at work I sat at my desk and barely moved.


At home, I got into bed and barely moved.


Then I went to work and barely moved.


Then, at home, I got into bed and barely moved.


Then I went to work and barely moved.


Then, at home – well, I’m sure you get the picture.


It was about here that my wife – oh, how I love her – said the magical words, “should you maybe make an appointment to see the doctor?”


Until that moment, it was not something I had even considered. I don’t believe I was suicidal, but I genuinely felt that if I disappeared the world might be better off at best and no worse off at worst.


Yet, here was my wife, actually concerned for me, giving me a lifeline.


Then it hit me. She was a bright spot I was blind to right in front of me. How many other bright spots were hidden from me?


What the Hell was going on???


I made the appointment. Then I actually went to the appointment. I felt like an idiot spouting symptoms that sounded like the imaginings of a whiney little bitch. Yet, the doctor was not acting like I was wasting her time. She was making notes, checking her computer for how the symptoms presented themselves, and asking questions; good questions.


Did I want to harm myself? No.


Did I care if harm befell me? No.


Was I happy? No.


Was there anything I wasn’t doing that I used to do? Yes.


Was there anything I was doing that I wasn’t enjoying? Yes.


Did I usually enjoy it? Yes.


Was I having sex? No.


Was I experiencing any physical pain? Yes.


Was I finding it difficult to be around people? Yes.


Then she laid the diagnosis of depression on me. Not just any depression; it was classic depression.


I was given a prescription and a warning that things were not going to get better overnight.


Weeks past and eventually I was sleeping less; or at least hiding in bed less. I had more appointments and dosage adjustments on my medication. Things got a little brighter.


I can tell you I don’t hurt as much. My wife and I talk a lot more. I am doing a lot of the thing I used to enjoy more frequently, even regularly. I am actually exercising and eating more healthfully. But I am not cured; merely treated.


You see, I have to maintain some activities on a schedule because if I don’t, I run the risk of hiding from the world again.


The key is adding more to what I do, not taking away, because it is too hard to get back into the swing of old routines if I cut them out.


How do I know this? Barbershop.


I was panicking about performing. I was panicking about standing in a group of 30 to 50 men and singing. I was doubting my abilities to sing at all. So, I stopped going to practice. I stopped singing all while going through the balancing act of getting the medications just right. I am not sure when I will be able to go back.


I keep the alarm set on my phone to remind me on Monday nights there is barbershop practice, but I’ve not followed through yet. I hope I will.


Since the diagnosis, I’ve begun miniature gaming again, dungeon mastering on a regular basis, reading comic books – heck, reading again, being a more attentive husband to my wife, beign more productive at work, and with this little piece of fluff I am writing again. Still no singing, but I haven’t given up.


I am working on it. Maybe that’s the best any of us can hope for in time. As long as I am working on it, I am not sliding backwards down the slope into darkness.


Every day I put on the disguise that everyone can see and I back it up with medication. Sometimes I manage to actually see what others see – more often than not. I am not back yet, but I want to be.


It sure would be nice to sing again.

Posted in Barbershop Harmony, Cape Breton, Cape Breton Chordsmen, Cats, Depression, Family, Games, Geeky, Performance, Personality survey, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bye Bye Lully Lullay

Some time during the 16th century, The Pageant of the Shearmen and the Tailors included a carol as part of its performance. The earliest known copy of the text was written down in 1534 and the earliest known printed copy of the melody dates from 1591. The play itself depicts the Christmas story, and was a popular piece in Coventry. This carol is the only one to have survived from this particular mystery play.

As Christmas carols go, this one seems devoid of the hope and joy many have become accustomed to hearing in the modern era. It is a somber and sober reflection on part of Matthew 2; in particular, the Massacre of the Innocents. It is a lament of grieving mother for her doomed son.

In Coventry, in fact in most of Christendom between the 16th and 18th centuries, it has been estimated that 40% of children did not live past their 10th birthday. It is not hard to imagine how such a haunting carol might have moved the audience. Though earlier sources of the lyrics and melody have been lost over time to fires and poor transcription, and debate on the meaning of the lyrics or even if we have the correct lyrics, the message is one which has resonated with people for close to 500 years.

Thankfully, changes in our society and understanding of medical science have significantly lowered the child mortality rate in the last three centuries. What changed in the 19th century that allowed for this kind of progress in humanity’s development?

In London in 1843, a survey revealed that of the 2,400 people in hospitals, only 26 were children under 10. Compare that number with 51,000 deaths in the city where 21,000 of those were children under 10. Death in childhood had become so prevalent that many in power or in policy making positions had come to regard children as an expendable part of society. England at the time may have been the leader in world’s industrialization, but it was far behind in how it treated the most vulnerable members of its empire.

It would take strong individuals to stand up for something they knew to be right in face of public apathy and even suspicion. Individuals like Dr. Charles West, Lord Shaftesbury, Barroness Burdett-Coutts, and Edwin Chadwick would eventually open the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. Friend of Dr. West, Charles Dickens wrote passionate articles to inform and persuade the public to support the need for provisions of healthcare to all children and the encouragement of clinical research in paediatrics.

Today many would take the notion of first rate healthcare for children for granted. It only makes sense to put the welfare of the next generation first in much of our decision making, though it was clearly not always the case. And yet, there are still significant ways we fail to truly provide for the welfare of the most vulnerable.

In United States, the new leader of world’s industrialization, the nearly unspeakable happened on 14th December 2012 in Newtown. Nearly unspeakable because as President Obama noted it“… happens all too often.” 20 of the most vulnerable were lost. Of the 20 children, all were six or seven years old.

This is not a uniquely American problem; school shootings, gun related violence, and violence perpetrated against children happens the world over. It certainly happens or seems to happen at a much higher rate in the United States than other countries, but it is by no means isolated to one nation. It has people everywhere asking why does this happen, what could we have done to prevent it, and what can we do to stop this from every happening again?

Is this a problem which happens because of a gun culture? Is this the fault of the media? Is there something lacking in how mental health is addressed? Certainly the answer lies in no one easily fixable area. Perhaps it is time for another fundamental shift in public perception of what truly matters.

In a country where the media has seemingly absolute freedom to vie for attention at any cost, there is the notion that baring arms is a right of each of its citizens but equal access healthcare is not. Holding fast to ideals many believe their founding fathers developed to last for all time does not seem to be the answer. After all, these founding fathers were only all too human and believed men had the right to own other men, women were inferior, and homosexuality was something never to be brought to mind. Is it at least possible, though well intentioned in the crafting of their constitution, that it in order to create a more perfect union some ideals are no longer as self evident as they once were?

Almost 2000 years ago, the massacre of the Innocents would mark the dawn a new way of Western philosophy. The Innocents were made the first Martyrs of the Christian Church; a church which is suppose to hold the ideals of peace on Earth and good will towards all of human kind. The Coventry Carol serves as a reminder of both the darkness that existed before dawning light and the lost lives which must be mourned.

The senseless slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary, so close to the Christmas season, has made the words and melody of the Coventry Carol echo in my mind. Why? Maybe because my wife is a school teacher, maybe because we are trying to start our own family, or maybe because I need to know things will be different; I honestly don’t know.

This is not a call to action, a demand for change, an affirmation of faith, a belief in the divine, a condemnation of policies, nor a laying of blame; these are only ramblings as I try to comprehend the horror of a few days ago. If you are reading this, then I beg your forgiveness as I try to wrap my thoughts around this most recent loss and share them with you. I have no answers; only questions.

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Wizards, Warriors, Wednesdays, and Wil Wheaton

Now that Jade’s health has improved, she has been able to get back to work and has returned to the sleep cycles of most of the day walkers out there. She is very happy at her new school and, in my humble opinion, she wears the role of a French language arts teacher in the Immersion program very well.

However, this means that once again we are on opposing schedules and I am left to my own devices.

Thankfully we have Wednesdays.

My plan to introduce her to the world of RPG’s has been beyond successful. She has taken to gaming with our friends like a duck to water. Gaming with her has brought us close together as a couple. Being able to game master for her has been one of the most satisfying gaming experiences in my life.

By the way, if you’ve managed to read any earlier entries, her character was able to help reverse a nearly cataclysmic event as the world was about to be swept up in chaos of the King in Yellow. Since those sessions, Jade has created another character to investigate shady dealings in the Great Swamp, thwart the plans of a daemon and a witch, solve an ancient mystery, and come into to the service of a black dragon. Part of these adventures were made into a broadcast for the local university radio station.

And it is not just RPG’s (though I think she has found her niche as a half-elf adventurer); we have become a gaming household.

Our home has become known as the Nerds’ Nest (not entirely coincidental that this was the title of the radio program that I mentioned) and our friends are the Nesters. Wednesdays are our usual sabbath. Beyond the RPG’s (that’s right, there is more than one of those running now. I’m not the only game master in the group and when we are not wizards and warriors looking for dragon treasure, we are at the beginning of a rebellion in galaxy far, far away) we have plenty of other table top games.

Our circle of friends has grown almost as fast and as wide as our games collection. Jade has been a driving force behind the expansion. So personable is my wife (who wouldn’t want to hang out with her?) and so addicted to games (I may have unleashed a monster here) that new Nesters regularly join our ranks as new games find purchase on our shelves.

In the past three months, we moved to a larger apartment and discovered over 48 table top games (not including RPG’s, expansions, video games) between us (we have added six more games and two expansions to that number in those months). In the last 18 months, the number of people who have come to be identified as Nesters has grown from eight to 25 friends.

Of course, the reason for this expansion is not entirely the fault of Jade and myself; I believe that much of the blame should be bestowed upon Mr. Wil Wheaton.

Not long after beginning our courtship, I shared some Youtube videos with Jade of Mr. Wheaton at conventions discussing why games matter. In fact, I decided show her these so she could better understand my passion. She totally got it. It was then that she told me of the crush she had on the young Mr. Wheaton “back in the day,” I told her of how I began following his writing career and soon afterwards we began to follow him on twitter, facebook, tumblr, and most other forms of social media.

Then along came Geek & Sundry.

Wil Wheaton unleashed his Youtube show, Table Top, upon us and Jade and I were powerless to resist. Not since Transformers has a show made me want to obtain so many products! If was just me, then it might not have been so bad. Part of being married means that you have strength to cancel out a weakness; only in our case when it comes to Wil Wheaton, there has been only weakness. True, there have been some games of which we were already aware or had started collecting beforeTable Top, but I cannot say that there were many of the games the show introduced to that we have not acquired or await future release due to back order.

Thanks to Mr. Wheaton and Ms. Day, the Nerds’ Nest will never be short on activities. Thanks to the Nerds’ Nest, every waking moment I get to spend with Jade is a quality moment that more than makes up for any time apart. While there may be many who don’t get the appeal; cracking open a game box, pouring two cups of tea served up with a few cookies, and sitting down at a table with my wife to make another quality moment is just about the best thing in life (regardless of what Genghis Khan or Conan had to say on the subject).

Bring on Wednesday.

Posted in Cape Breton, Games, Geeky, Love, RPG, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So I took a little quiz…

A friend had posted a link to me and I was intrigued. It was a kind of personality survey that tries to categorize you. Without really thinking about it too much, my result was one I could have easily predicted. However, the amount of detail involved was impressive and, unlike some other similar personality quizzes, and the reasoning (to me) behind the results was astonishingly sound.

Of course, it helps to have 27+ years experience playing Dungeons & Dragons to truly appreciate the survey.

So, how did I do?

You Are A:

A Reaper Minature

A table top avatar for a game not yet on my horizon.

Lawful Good Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 16
Dexterity- 13
Constitution- 17
Intelligence- 18
Wisdom- 16
Charisma- 16
Lawful Good- A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards- Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Detailed Results:

Chaotic Neutral – XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Lawful Evil —– XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Neutral Evil —- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Chaotic Evil —- XXX (3)
Law & Chaos:
Neutral – XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Chaos — XXX (3)
Good & Evil:
Evil —- (0)

Another Option

This might have been a second choice

Dwarf —- XXXX (4)
Elf —— XXXXXX (6)
Gnome —- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Halfling – XXXXXXXX (8)
Half-Elf – XXXXXXX (7)
Half-Orc – XXXX (4)
Barbarian – (-25)
Bard —— (-19)
Cleric —- XX (2)
Druid —– (-17)
Fighter — (0)
Monk —— (-2)
Paladin — (0)
Ranger —- (-2)
Rogue —– (-6)
Sorcerer — XX (2)
Wizard —- XXXX (4)

This would appear to be me in a nutshell (seems as apt a word for it, I suppose). I would be curious to learn how anyone else did and how accurate they found the results.

Posted in Adventure, Cape Breton, Games, Geeky, Personality survey, Quiz, RPG | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Looks like I have been away for a while

Oh my, where has the time gone. Can it be that my last entry was back in May of last year?!? Yes, it is true, I have become lazy in my attempt to write more.

I’m pretty sure that this is a sign my brain is going to to atrophy like the rest of me. 

Since last I’ve even glanced at this blog, Jade and I have married, my barbershop chorus competed and had it’s Fall concert, a letter I wrote was published online, and I’ve actually made it back to the gym… oh, and the kitties continue to be the mischievous beings they’ve always been.

Really must question the title of this blog as Jade has come totally over to the Dark side. Her sleep cycle is now matched with mine.

This will be changing as the doctors have given her the all call clear to return to work in early February. I am excited and a little sad at this news. I know she is looking forward to returning to the classroom where she belongs; but I am going to miss crawling into bed beside her each morning.

Must redouble my efforts to make the most of each minute we get to spend together from this moment forward.

I cannot think of more of a reason to return to a regular schedule of blogging; so she can keep track of all my activities when we are not together.

What does this mean for the coming year and what could readers expect?

Pretty sure it means more talk about the kitties. It also means that there is a good chance for some overly sentimental moments as I miss my wife. There stands to reason there might be a few insights into my continuing adventures at the gym, my love of barbershop and what it means to be secretary of my chapter, and our continuing love of gaming will be noted.

It might be a point of interest that our little gaming group here at the Nerds’ Nest is being recorded for an upcoming show on the university radio station.

So, the blog must go on and I think that more will come more often. I’ll do my best not to be as absent from the blog-o-sphere as I’ve been for these last too many months.

Posted in Adventure, Cats, Family, Geeky, Kitties, RPG | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


Cape Breton Chordsmen on Award Night 2011

For the first time in eleven years, Cape Breton will play host to the Sunrise Division Competition of the North Eastern District ( of the Barbershop Harmony Society ( The Cape Breton Chordsmen, the Cape Breton chapter of the society, are looking forward to this weekend of entertainment and camaraderie starting May 6th, 2011.

Within the last two years, the Chordsmen went from nearly folding as a chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, to tripling their membership. There is an amazing sense of pride in the chapter and the society as whole for the progress made here in Cape Breton. Now, given the opportunity to host the division’s annual competition, the Chordsmen once again hope to do the society and local community proud for the support they have received.

While the weekend is organized around this annual competition among barbershop choruses representing all four Atlantic provinces and members coming from as far away as Baltimore, this year there is an unprecedented concert which aims to give back to the community. On Friday May 6th, at 7pm, all of the competing choruses come together for an evening of entertainment in support of the Cape Breton Regional Foundation ( There will 18 acts performing at this event with members from the entire division giving their best. The concert will be held at Sydney Academy ( on Townsend Street, Sydney and admission is free with a goodwill offering.

The contest begins in earnest the next day, May 7th at noon, also at Sydney Academy. Choruses, quartets and VLQs (Very Large Quartets) will take the stage in front of an international judging staff from New England and Wolfville, NS to compete for top spot within the division. There are spectator tickets available to this contest; admission price is $15.00 each. Competition is more thrilling in front a of a large audience and all participating want to shine like never before.

Please help spread the word and make this year’s contest in Cape Breton one that everyone will be talking about for years to come.

Posted in Barbershop Harmony, Cape Breton, Cape Breton Chordsmen, Charity, Chorus, Competition, Music, Performance, Quartets, Singing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dragons, Dungeons, and Dice

Cybele and Karma get ready for the game.

I am beginning to think that this was not the best choice in titles for this blog. Since I’ve started writing all of this, Jade a has pretty much started on the same sleep schedule I keep.  Best laid plans and all that I guess.
Actually, plans (hopefully best laid ones) are what have be preoccupying me as of late. No, not wedding plans, plans for upcoming barbershop competition, or future plans for this blog. No it is the planning of a game.
I guess you have to be a special kind of geek to appreciate why this would be taking up so much of my thought processes. I am a particular kind of gaming geek, one that takes the slightly egocentric title of game master. You see, while I am a lover of things gaming, be they card, board, video, computer, or parlor related, I truly enjoy role playing games, particularly those of a cooperative storytelling bent, with a slightly fantastical Medeivel setting. 

We get to play too, right?

I’ve been playing these kind of games for over twenty five years. I adore them. More often than not I am the game master for these games. If there are any readers still in the dark about what this means, I’ll do my best to explain. The players all gather to tell a story, most are taking on the roles of individual  protagonist characters, while one player, the game master, provides the actual setting, plot, and antagonists the hero es encounter. I’ve been at this over two decades and that is the best explanation I can provide.
Since we’ve met, Jade has taken an interest in this hobby of mine. so much so, she even bought a rulebook, and dice so she could learn how to play too. She has been nervous about playing with my friends because she hears things like played for ten, fifteen, twenty years and she worries that she will not be on the same level with us, or that she will bring the game down. The truth is I’m the one who is really nervous.
Oh, I am hardly worried that she is going to bring the game down, or anything like that. No, I’m worried that I’m going to fail to make the game fun for her, as it is for me.
We share so many great things, I really want this to be one of those special things we share for years to come. I don’t want to be one of those things some couples do, where, the man goes off and does his thing, while the woman finds something else to do on her own. Not that there is anything wrong with separate pursuits; but I always prefer to do things that bring us together as a couple.

Cybele rolls for initiative

Karma takes his turn

I don’t know, I guess I’m being a little greedy wanting Jade to share the hobby I enjoy (I really want that cake AND eat it).

This hobby and Jade seem a perfect fit. She loves fantasy, magic, and all things creative. She even enjoys computer games molded in the same vein. The more she learns about the game, the more she seems to want to play. We’ve played games that skirt the genre, and she really likes them, actually she excels at them! She`s sat with me on many an occasion and fleshed out here character for the game. She has even painted a miniature to have “kick-ass boots” (she claims this is must for her character).

Jade's miniature with boots of kick-ass

Jade has the books, the dice, and the desire to play.
So again, where’s my worry?
I don’t want to muck it up. I want to meet her every expectation of the game.
So, I have spent months waffling on how to bring her into the game. I’ve thought about starting up a new game that would let her start from the beginning and see how characters progress. However, I am now committed to bring her into a game which has a story line that has been going on for longer than Jade and I have known each other.

Charme plots her moves

My reasoning is this; whenever I have gone off and played, Jade’s asked me all about it when I come home… she knows what has been happening in the game. Plus, she has met all of the players and has informed me more than once that she really likes my friends. I can’t think of better reason not to include in this on-going game.
I will do what I can to make it special without showing favourites.
I had best get back to the planning of the latest adventure. I think there is an elven urban druid who will be making an entrance at tonight’s game. I want to be sure her skills are put to great use before the cultist overrun the village.
I can’t wait until our next adventure.
Posted in Cats, Games, Geeky, Kitties, Love, RPG, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Corned Beef and Cabbage Adventure

Alright, I’m only one post into my blog and I am already slipping away from the main premiss. Instead of a tale of what happened when left alone, this will be a rousing yarn of what transpires when the lovely Jade and I get the chance to work together.

Trouble will surely follow almost as fast as if I acted alone; this is why I love this woman.

This is why I love this woman

The start of an adventure.

So instead of starting with the moment Jade went to sleep, let’s begin with a particularly wide awake Jade and first wee small hours of this past Saint Patrick’s Day…

It all began when our poor, geek raised cats became the focus of Jade’s attentions as she requested I have my camera at the ready. She had decided the best way to express and celebrate our own connections to Irish culture was through use of a tiny hat and kitty photo session.

Before I had barely time get out my digital device,  Jade had already cornered our eldest (and at times most cantankerous) cat, Charme and fastened the small green stove-pipe atop her furry head.


Charme gets her Irish on.

You gonna die for this

Cybele is not feelin' the love.

Next up was our youngest, the dark Cybele. Truth be told, I do believe there was a hint of future vengeance contained within her gaze at Jade.

Finally it was time for the most rambunctious of the bunch, our beloved evil doer, Karma. He was not as upset as his sister cats to wear the hat, but he certainly was the hardest to pin down to get the blasted thing on in first place.

karma and his hat.

I can has Irish now?

Had it been myself, acting alone, there is no telling how long it might have taken to get each of them to sit still for this display of Irish pride (Okay, that pun may have hurt me a little too). My Jade was most determined to get them all in a festive mood. I was in no position to stop her.
Ordinarily, this might be the end of the adventure, but there was more in store for us; so much more.
I think that Jade has started to live more of her life on my schedule. She claims she was always a nocturnal creature, yet I can’t help but feel more than a little responsible for her recent turn on the dark side.
I awoke in the afternoon and so did Jade (she really is keep very similar hours to me) with one thought on our minds (we have determined we must be sharing a synapse), ‘it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, we should have corned beef and cabbage.’
Now neither one of us thought to have bought or prepared our own, so the only option was to venture out into the light of day and find some restaurant that could satisfy our craving.
We made it a point to stop only at establishment that were actively advertising the sale of this wonderous Irish delicacy. However at each place we stopped, we discovered that this dish we sought was sold out.
It was uncanny, it was not quite supper hour and six restaurant visits were all proving fruitless for our dinner. We started calling eateries as fast as we could think of their names, and all told the same story; they were out of corned beef and cabbage.
How could this happen? On Saint Patrick’s day?!
I had one more card I could play; my father. If ever there was a man who would know the location of a corned beef dinner, it would be him. I called and explained our dilemma. The result was unexpected.
“Hmmm, that’s a good question. I’m thinking most places would be sold out,” he said. So much for dad.
Actually, he seemed surprised at the notion of going out for a corned beef and cabbage dinner this day. The last thing he suggested, other than make one ourselves, was drive to a place on the other side of the harbour and even then it would be a long shot.
Jade and I resolved ourselves to the fact that no place in thirteen towns was going to have any left and we would have to put off our craving with a homemade stew. We set off to purchase all the fixings of a hearty beef stew. I even volunteered to make dumplings to go along with our meal.
This seemed to please Jade, if falling short of delighting either of us.
We arrived home, greeted the cats and started cleaning up to prepare the meal. Well, Jade did the cleaning, I had to contend with some special byproducts our little darlings have no problem producing (perhaps I’ll leave that for another blog entry).
While I was almost wrist deep in the busy work the kitties had made for me, the phone rang. Jade answered and said it sounded like my father but there seemed to be a party in the background.
I cleaned my hands, and took the phone.
“How did you make out on your search?”
“It was a bust so we’re making a stew instead–“
“Too bad. They’ve got plenty here.”
“What? Where?”
“That little place way on the other side of the harbour… they’ve lots… still.. in kitchen… listen… [loud fiddle music] tomorrow… stew[click]”
And he was gone.
Once Jade and I grasped there was still a chance, we began to put away all of the stew ingredients quickly. We grabbed our coats and were out the door and back in the car.
“You know if they have none, I’ll cry,” Jade said.
I knew she wasn’t kidding. I did my best to assure her we would get there in time.
“Should we call my mother and see if she wants to go too?” she asked.
“Are you crazy,” I said perhaps a tad too shrill, “and make less for us?!!??”
Jade laughed and got us in the parking spot next to my parents’ vehicle.
It should be noted there is a possibility we may have set a new land speed record on the way to the pub and eatery.
corned beef dinner

Sweet sweet success.

We quickly found my parents and saw they were chatting away with Jade’s cousins. As luck would have it, her cousins were the evening’s entertainment. And by another piece of absolutely blind luck, we were able to get the very last two corned beef dinners in the pub. Heck, they might have been the last two corned beef dinners served on the whole island that night.
Mom and Dad had a good laugh at our arrival. We had inspired them to go out for the same dinner we were after (they were well past half way into their dinners), and they wondered if we would show up. Of course they couldn’t guess that we were going to appear faster than a transporter beam.
Lucky charms

They're always after her lucky charms!

Now while we were able to get our Irish on, it should be noted in there is coda of warning to this little adventure. It really is all about being careful what you wish for… always! On the way home, Jade and I needed to stop for some water; a litre and a half each.
By all above me, we were thirsty, so very thirsty. The dinners were very high in salt content, and as full as we were, there wasn’t enough water we could consume fast enough to quench our thirst.
We later learned that the dinners were having the same effects on my parents. And there were some notable effects beyond incredible thirst. Without becoming too graphic, let’s say that I have a new appreciation  for the expression, “Through me like a dose of salts.”
We were dry, full, emptied, and still beyond thirsty… but it was so worth it.
I can’t wait until our next adventure.
Corned beef eating grins

Corned Beef and Cabbage Adventurers

Posted in Adventure, Cabbage, Cats, Corned Beef, Family, Geeky, Irish, Kitties, Love, St. Patrick's Day | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment