Sleeping Puppy

Nozomi, the Sleeping Puppy Dog

Nozomi is an interesting dog. She has all the creature comforts a puppy could ask for and plenty of space to use, yet she confines herself to just part of my home office and sleeps with her head on the hard floor rather than on her much softer bed. Today I caught her dreaming about some sort of food and managed to catch this fuzzy photo. What you can't see is that her tongue is going in and out of her mouth while she eats … something.

The Internet has been around long enough for humanity to amass a lot of videos and anecdotes of dogs having very vivid dreams and it makes me want to learn more about sleep and why it is that mammals dream1. Given that this is a common function across multiple species, it's clear that this is an important element to our mental health, but why is it that a limited subset of motor control continues to be accessible while the mind is asleep? Nozomi can eat, bark, and sometimes appear to walk with just her front paws while unconscious. The boy can eat, throw, and laugh while unconscious. I tend to wake in the very same position I went to sleep in, which has me wondering whether I still roll around while dreaming.

Maybe this is something I can learn more about after retirement, when time avails itself a little more.

  1. I'm not sure if dreaming is limited to mammals. This would be something I'd learn if I actually studied the topic.

Nine Years of Nozomi

Day 0

Nine years ago today Nozomi joined the family, and things haven't been the same since. She was originally supposed to be Reiko's dog, but Nozomi and I seemed to build a pretty good friendship almost immediately. While this generally means that I get to do all the cleaning, feeding, grooming, and other tasks associated with taking care of a four-legged friend, the rewards are worth the myriad of chores. Nozomi has been part of the family for 3,287 of the 3,394 days she's been on this planet1 and I couldn't imagine her being with any other.

Day 3286

One of the many things that I find interesting about my relationship with the puppy is the level of trust between us. I grew up with dogs and cats and have spent time around domesticated farm animals, but none of them were really trustworthy. They could attack at any time, justified or not, and you always had to be watchful. With Nozomi, I can feel completely at ease. She could be sleeping on my lap, sitting next to my computer, or just walking close to my coffee, and I'll never have to worry that something might happen. She won't scratch my legs, paw the keyboard, or drink my beverage2. She's the epitome of calm … which helps me relax in almost any situation.

As a selfish person, I really hope that she stays close by — and in good health — for at least another 3,000 days. However, even if she cannot, she'll always be a cherished member of my family.

  1. 96.8474% of her life! Not including time in the womb, of course.

  2. These are all things The Boy has done in the last couple of weeks.

If You Solve Enough Problems ...

At some point, everything's going to go south on you. You're going to say "This is it. This is how I end." Now, you can either accept that, or you can get to work. You solve one problem, and then you solve the next problem, and the next, and if you solve enough problems, you get to go home.

— Mark Watney (The Martian)

This quote from the end of The Martian often drifts through the mind whenever I look under the covers of a "completed" task to find a mess of spaghetti and broken promises. Unlike the protagonist in this lovely work of fiction1, death does not wait for me at every turn. Instead I'm often looking at something that should have been done but isn't remotely close to being so.

This problem bit me today pretty hard when I went to access an old project of mine because a colleague wanted to see how something was done. The system was still up and running on the development server and I plugged in my credentials so that I could complete the task of creating a new account in a matter of seconds … except my password wasn't being accepted. So, because it was a SQL Server-based system, I fired up Azure Data Studio and tried to connect. No dice. The connection was made, but the pre-handshake was failing. So, being a Linux-based installation of SQL Server, I SSHed into the machine and confirmed everything was running … which it was. The credentials were still good, as I could connect through the command line, but it seemed that connections from external sources were not being accepted. Checking the firewall, I saw that there was nothing in place to prevent any other machine on my network from accessing this server.

So what was going on?

My checklist of operations for a failed SQL Server was brought up and I started going through each item line by line. The system was restarted. Any new updates were applied. A new account was created for testing purposes. The firewall was temporarily disabled. A full 30 items were run through to no avail. The machine simply refused to allow connections from outside the server. An hour on the Microsoft help forums and StackOverflow didn't result in any solutions but, after taking a short break for dinner, I remembered that I needed to do something after updating the system a few months back. SQL Server for Linux is officially supported only on Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS, but I am using Ubuntu Server 18.04 LTS which has updated versions of some required libraries. Symbolic links need to be created to the older versions of two files in order for SQL Server to work.

cd /opt/mssql/lib
ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/

After creating the links I restarted SQL Server and tried to connect from the web server again to find that it worked like a charm. Azure Data Studio, too. The issue had to do with an incompatible SSL library being used. By forcing SQL Server to use the older version, everything worked as it is expected to.

There was no risk of death today. There was, however, a whole lot of problem solving.

  1. Yes, there are a lot of people who dislike Any Weir's book for some semi-valid reasons, but I enjoyed it, so leave me alone. Get off my lawn! Darn clouds ….

Six Weeks a Month

Today I was up in Tokyo for a series of meetings with managers and colleagues to share information and make plans on a number of projects. All in all, it was a more productive trip than usual and resulted in some positive outcomes that should help a number of people solve complex problems with less stress and frustration. While at HQ, one of my new managers took a look at my time sheet for the past month and noted that I’ve clocked about 6 weeks of working time in the last month, which results in using a rather large chunk of the department’s monthly overtime budget. Given the tasks on my plate and the amount of output that comes from all this, he signed off on the time sheet so that payroll can do what they do and said something along the lines of “we’re still saving thousands a month by not hiring vendors to do your job.”

As anyone might surmise, I don’t mind putting in the hours to get things done so long as the end result is worth the effort. Most of the time the ends justify the means. Occasionally I miscalculate or make a glorious mess of things. However, the amount of work that goes into every hour that I’m at my desk is nothing to sneeze at. When I’m on the clock, I work hard.

While I’m Tokyo today I had the opportunity to observe a number of my colleagues at their desk going about their regular tasks. Servers were being managed. Accounts were being set up. Systems were being tested. Everyone was moving at a very leisurely pace, as though they had to fit two hours of work into an 8-hour day. This struck me as odd, especially as I tend to consistently beat myself up for not getting enough done in a day despite the 11-to-14-hour days that I put in. There is no denying that I’m self-driven to get things done, nor is there any point denying that I bully myself to accomplish more with an increasingly critical attention to detail in order to not only solve the problems of the day but the problems that I can foresee coming down the road if “lazy” decisions are made in the present. Watching my colleagues in Tokyo go about their day with ease, however, made me wonder why it is that I insist on pushing as hard as I do. Six weeks of work means 80 hours of overtime, which is about two hours per day. Would it not make more sense to use those 120 minutes for better things, like playing with my kid or getting some sleep?

The questions are rhetorical, as there’s no doubt in my mind that any reallocation of time would result in more stress at work as I perceive fewer things being accomplished, but I can’t help but wonder how it is that I’ve wound up in this sort of situation. What is it about my upbringing or personality that drives me to do what I do? Nobody in my family acts like I do and few have any reason to. Is this just the luck of a genetic draw?

I’ve tried on several occasions to take it easy at the day job, but any slow down generally reverts back to a nose-to-the-grindstone mentality after three or four days. There is no changing this just yet.

Hopefully the desire to succeed and accomplish complicated goals will not fade anytime soon. I’ll depend on it quite a bit over the next couple of years.

Lost in the Weeds

Many years ago, when I was still attending high school, some neighbours would complain about not receiving all of their mail on time or at all. Living out in the rural corners of Ontario generally meant that if the weather was less than ideal, mail delivery would be delayed by a day or two. However, if the weather was too ideal, mail delivery could be delayed as well. It was a couple of months later when someone living a few kilometres down the road discovered that some of our undelivered mail was rotting in a ditch next to a driveway to the old Gilbert home … a place that had been abandoned since the 1970s. Within days of this being reported to the police, the area had a new mail carrier and we never again had a problem with delivery — regardless of the weather.

Discarded Mail

Every so often I take a look at the Spam and Deleted folders in my mailboxes to see if any legitimate messages were mis-reported and filed incorrectly. It happens from time to time, and I despise not getting back to real people who take the time to send me a message. It's disrespectful. Today when I dived into these waste bins I found two messages from real people who have probably given up on hearing from me and a whole host of messages from companies and groups that used to mean something to me. LinkedIn continues to send me mail about former connections and colleagues despite having deleted my account years ago. Canon continues to send me email because I foolishly registered a purchase with them to activate the warranty. Axanar, a Star Trek fan production that I was once excited about, continues to send emails about unrelated things. Head hunters, job sites, Nigerian princes, and non-branded pill distributors all wants to get in touch to sell something — anything — in a bid to appear relevant. So very little of it is, though.

There are times when I wonder if it would make sense to change how my personal mail server manages messages so that it's more like the mail carrier that decided to dump communications in a ditch to be weathered away and forgotten. So many of the emails that hit the inbox, particularly those that are immediately forwarded to the garbage bin, do little more than take up space on the server for 30 days before disappearing into oblivion. What if instead of receiving the mail, which sends an acceptance message back to the transmitting server, I sent an SMTP response of 510 or 550 back? This would tell the other server that the email address doesn't exist and, hopefully, result in less spam in the long run.

Naturally, there would be some limits to how this is done. Any message from a known spam domain or a service that I've long since left would get greeted with a "Jason's not here, man!" message, while others are treated the way they are now. Over time addresses and domains would be added or removed from the filter list with the ultimate goal of having my actual email addresses marked as "No Good" on thousands or millions of spam lists around the world. The change wouldn't be that hard to implement, either. Maybe a couple dozen lines of code and a confirmation of which SMTP response is most appropriate.

There's no reason why a bad mail carrier can't have the job of ditching the unwanted messages while a reliable one delivers the good.

In My Head Like a Riot

This past weekend has been pretty fruitful, as I’ve dedicated a good bit of time to practicing some photography and learning about Swift UI, which is used to create applications for Apple devices. That said, it hasn’t been a particularly restful weekend as my patience for various sounds and the volume they’re projected at has all but vanished. The TV has become more annoying than usual, the boy’s high pitched tantrums are infuriating, and the echo in the house makes everything else two or three times more difficult to tolerate. It’s getting bad enough that I am actively ignoring as much sound as possible, which includes people’s voices as they never seem to cease. I’ve actually wished on several occasions this weekend to be deaf.

Is this normal, though? How often would a person willingly choose to permanently lose one of their senses for the sake of present discomfort? The question is as absurd as the wish. Podcasts, music, and conversations are really hard to enjoy without the use of our ears so being deaf would just lead to more problems. What I really seek is quiet … something that is impossible when working from home when not living alone.

Once again I’m wondering if it would make sense to give up working in my own environment and return to the office. There would be a number of immediate disadvantages to this, such as the hour of wasted time commuting from home to the city where I would end up using the very same computer. This lost time would cut into how much overtime I can do which, though it sounds like a good thing, really just means I’d be falling behind on projects faster. Heading to work during a typhoon or 40°C temperatures isn’t great, and I wouldn’t have the luxury of wearing little more than shorts and a t-shirt as professional attire is understandably expected from employees working at the schools. Then there’s the added issue of not being around the boy as much while he’s young and still very dependent on his parents. Most fathers do not have the same opportunity to watch their kids grow.

The advantage, however, would be the hard cut-off for when I need to put the work away and unwind. As it stands, my typical working hours are 10:00am to 6:30pm — with the occasional gap for lunch and tending to the boy — then from 9:30pm until 11:00pm. The evenings are generally dedicated to meetings with overseas colleagues and working on the really complex things that cannot be done while the boy is awake and running around the house. Unfortunately, this “quiet time” generally means that I continue working until after midnight, which is clearly not cool. The degree of exhaustion I feel is beyond absurd, yet I generally feel compelled to complete “just one more thing” again and again until I look at the clock and say “What the? It’s 2:30 in the morning!”1 Despite the gaps, or perhaps because of them, it feels as though I’m working all day long. From the time Nozomi’s morning walk is finished until I climb into bed 18 hours later, I’m thinking about work. Sure, the pay is decent, but this isn’t at all what I want to do for a company that is not my own. A hard cut-off might be the friction I need to properly “shut off” when not at the office, and the hour-long commute each way would be the buffer between work-mode and dad-mode.

Would this solve my listening problems, though? It would drastically increase the burden on Reiko, and I would still need to work from home two or three days a week when she goes to work. This would lead to more friction and possible resentment at home, which is the whole reason I made the enormous efforts to work from home in the first place2.

Ultimately what I am looking for is a quieter house where I don’t need to keep my ears open just in case someone is talking in my direction. I’d like to be able to block out the world when it’s feasible so that the only thing I hear is the ceaseless chatter in my head while solving problems. The boy starts kindergarten in February where he’ll be gone for a couple of hours every morning. Perhaps when he’s busy at school I can use some quiet time to work on complex things during the day rather than only at night. My goal is still to be in bed before midnight every day, and I would love to go back to not using and glowing screens an hour before sleeping. Right now neither of these goals are even remotely realistic, and it’s causing a lot of undue stress.

  1. This happened twice last week, and it’s not at all uncommon.

  2. It’s very uncommon for a male to be allowed to work from home in Japan. Very, very uncommon.

The Wrong Culprits

Hannah Fry, an associate professor in the mathematics of cities at University College London, said an equivalent of the doctor’s oath was crucial given that mathematicians and computer engineers were building the tech that would shape society’s future.

Maths and tech specialists need Hippocratic oath, says academic — The Guardian

Ms. Fry seems to have left one bubble only to get stuck in another. It's not just the mathematicians and software developers who should be thinking about the ethical and long-term concerns with any given technology, but the people who lead organizations that build the digital tools. How often do we hear someone say something along the lines of "I don't like this, but it's my job and I have bills to pay, so I'll do it anyway?" It's all well and good to lay the blame for the adverse effects of social networks, facial recognition, and machine learning at the feet of the early pioneers of the fields, but it's a little too convenient as well.

Mark Zuckerberg didn't write every line of code that powers all of Facebook's tools. Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn't write every line of code that powers all of Google's tools. The same can be said for for Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and every other person who has led a group of people that has created something that the world once considered to be impossible outside the realm of fiction. It is not just the people who make the tools that should consider the ramifications of their labor.

Looking at this a little more broadly, everybody should pledge an oath equivalent to the Hippocratic oath for every job they do. We rely on so many people from so many industries to do things we're either unwilling or unable to do. We must trust that the labours of others will not harm us or the people we care about. Should meat processors pledge to not mix stale bread or rodents into their beef in an effort to reduce costs while conning the consumer out of money?1 Yes. Should a person who develops medicines do their darnedest to ensure that the pills they make are not addictive? Yes. Should a taxi driver strive to take the most direct route between point A and B to save the passenger a little bit of money?2 Yes.

And so should the managers of these professionals. And so should the middle-managers of the organization. And so should the C-level executives. Every person has a responsibility to "do no evil", including the people using the products and services (willingly or otherwise).

I'm not at all happy with the fact that every time I go to a JR train station in Japan my face is recorded and that data is instantly sent to a Fujitsu-run data centre in Tokyo, where it's processed, analyzed, and stored for who knows how long. There is no GDPR in Japan, and there is no way to even know how much data Fujitsu has on me. I wrote to JR about it and I wrote to the federal politician who represents this area. Neither even took the time to respond because there aren't enough people raising their voice over this issue.

I despise the fact that my non-smart TV and even stupider DVR want to send viewing habits back to Sharp and Panasonic respectively. It's not their bloody business what TV shows the family is watching and when. I've blocked these devices from accessing the Internet while maintaining a connection to the media server, but people shouldn't have to do this. I've written to both companies. Sharp responded with a generic "please read our revised privacy policy on our website"3, and Panasonic — having already taken my money — didn't care enough to even receive the message. Their web contact form gave an error.

Every couple of weeks my microwave wants to be paired to an Android phone despite the "cookbook sync" feature being disabled for 5+ years. My Canon printer recently asked if I wanted to order more ink because the PGBK4 cartridge was low. My work-supplied phone received an SMS a couple of months back when I walked into a mall in Nagoya offering a 50 Yen coupon for a restaurant in the food court5. Were all of these the fault of developers or mathematicians? No. They were the fault of management.

“We need a Hippocratic oath in the same way it exists for medicine,” Fry said. “In medicine, you learn about ethics from day one. In mathematics, it’s a bolt-on at best. It has to be there from day one and at the forefront of your mind in every step you take.”

People should be learning about ethics from day one on Earth, regardless of what career choices they make in life. Placing the blame for these technologies at the feet of the people charged with creating and implementing them is just a lazy cop out. There is nothing inherently bad about a lot of the technologies and tools we create until an ill-defined line is crossed. It's the job of management to ask "Is this too much?" before directing their people to make it happen.

  1. This was a real problem in Japan with a company a few years back, until a whistleblower had enough and ratted them out to the press … after three years of keeping quiet.

  2. This was another problem that was rampant in Japan for a little while.

  3. My eyes rolled twice when I saw that it was specifically referred to as a revised privacy policy.

  4. Photo-grade Black. Why do printers have two black cartridges, and why can't it use them more intelligently?

  5. This was freaky and very undesired. I've since learned that the mall has "ended their limited trial" and won't be sending SMS messages to phone numbers tied to faces anymore.

Night Flights

When the weather isn't too hot or humid, Nozomi and I like to sit on a bench next to a nearby ball diamond after the sun has set, listening as the world goes by. Cars drive past at a little over the speed limit. Cicadas chirp loudly at each other. Mosquitoes search enthusiastically for blood. Every couple of minutes, though, a plane can be seen crossing the sky en route to a destination that is likely no more exotic than the neighbourhood that Nozomi and I call home.

Planes Fly Over London

There will likely be another flight to the US coming up in the next 12 months as the global project begins to roll out and various teams wind down. Meetings will be held in New Jersey to decide the next steps, create organizational structures, and assemble small teams that will take ownership of various elements. I don't mind flying to the other side of the planet to attend 50-hours of meetings crammed into a 5-day working week, but I do wish I could bring the family — minus the puppy, unfortunately1 — somewhere beforehand.

Until this most recent annual row2 with our neighbouring country, Reiko and I were talking about visiting South Korea for a couple of days. The flight wouldn't be too long for the boy and it would give us an opportunity to get him accustomed to more complicated forms of travel. When the time comes to bring him to visit family in Canada, he'll need to be much more patient than he is today. This can only happen with experience and practice, so South Korea seemed like a logical choice. However, with this not being a viable option for the moment, it makes sense to look elsewhere.

Another option would be to head to Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture, as the weather there is much cooler. There are daily direct flights from Nagoya to Sapporo for about $80 a seat. The flight itself is just under two hours and the trip to the airport would likely be just as long; an excellent way to get the boy accustomed to travel without the hassles of spending an entire day in airports and planes.

I wonder if everyone would be up for a trip up north ….

  1. I would ask the in-laws to look after Nozomi, as they seem to get along quite well. This would be less stressful for the puppy than a pet hotel.

  2. Every year around August it seems that South Korea demands another round of reparations from Japan, deeming all the previous apologies, cash payouts, and infrastructure investments null and void.


Over the last couple of months I've found myself writing a lot of posts that will likely never be published. The topics are varied as is the general vibe of the article, but one thread that can be found in each of them is a type of cynicism that rarely results in anything positive. Negativity towards an idea is not necessarily a bad thing, of course. Constructive criticism is still criticism, which is often viewed negatively by the receiver, but when it's actionable then something good can come from the critique. Every so often I'll look at these abandoned posts and find the pessimism to be little more than frustrated venting about Facebook, hype around an unproven technology in its infancy, or the state of the Internet. Stuff that's not even worthy of a Digg.

The writing process that I've tried to follow for the last 11 months has been pretty simple:

  1. Jot down one or two sentences on a possible topic during the day
  2. Choose one topic during "writing hour"
  3. See where it goes
  4. If it's not horrible, press publish

For the most part this does work. On an average day there will be five or six topics that I have quickly put into Evernote or Byword. The one that seems the most complete is selected and the others left aside. Over 330 of the most recent posts on this site have been written in this manner … which certainly explains the "stream of consciousness" style of writing that permeates the blog. However, with less than a month to go before completing my goal of writing a post a day for 365 days, I'm seeing some patterns in how I've managed to accomplish this streak. Just over 70% of the posts I write that contain more than a single paragraph are cast away, most of which are written on Thursday and Friday. At the start of this challenge, the percentage was much smaller.

Does this level of waste exist in other places, too? I wonder. Looking at my commit history on GitHub, there does not seem to be a disproportionate amount of deletions from one day to the next, nor is there a pattern that shows more commits taking place at the start or middle of the week. If anything, my coding has remained frighteningly consistent for this past year.

How about body weight? I've recently started measuring myself twice a day just to see how a mostly-sedentary life is treating me. Interestingly enough, I've lost 5kg in the last year and generally gain weight on Sunday and Monday before losing it again Tuesday through Saturday.

Sleep? Thursday and Friday are the two worst-quality nights according to SleepCycle, so there's a good chance that my general state of mind near the end of the work week is more negative than positive. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, though. More data is needed.

One thing I would like to do over the coming month, however, is spend less time writing posts that will only be disposed of. If the vibe early on is too negative, it will be best to just cut the idea loose and move on to something else.

BASF Tapes and FM Radio

Since it seems I'm perpetually stuck in the 90s, it seems apt to share a thought that crossed my mind while listening to an iconic 90s techno track from Sash!. While growing up in Canada during the early 90s, there were just a limited number of ways a young person could get their hands on music. If the opportunity availed itself, a person could get a part-time job and buy albums for anywhere between $16 and $22 a piece1 or they could buy a bunch of blank cassettes and engage in an intricate dance involving pause buttons, radio DJs, and dumb luck.

As one would expect from a teenager, I generally went with the second option.

BASF Cassette Tape

My cassette of choice was BASF's 90-minute Ferro Extra I line, which could typically be found for about $2.50 from the discount shops in town. These had pretty decent sound reproduction and would allow just under 45 minutes of audio on each side of the tape. There were better options available but, given that the source for much of my music was the radio up until 19962, the BASF tapes proved to have the best ROI.

The early 90s were the age of the mix-tape, where people would put music on cassettes for friends, family, and loved ones. I enjoyed doing this as much as anyone else, using my evenings to listen to Burlington-based "Energy 108" to record the tunes of the day. Friends would often give me tapes what were just straight copies off the radio, which included DJ banter, ads, and the random play of Celine Dion between Tupac and Dr. Dre "because Canada"3. As one might expect, I didn't like this lazy approach to mixing. You cannot call a 44-minute straight recording of a radio station a mix. It just doesn't work. If a person was going to mix a tape using the radio, it had to be done with a little more finesse.

My process when assembling a mix tape would be simple, though time consuming. I'd choose the person who would get the tape, often a friend from school, then select a single genre to record. From there I'd put the radio on and fiddle with the dial until the reception was just right, then put a blank cassette in the loader, press pause, then press record+play4 simultaneously. From there it was a matter of waiting for the radio station to play something of the right genre without a DJ speaking through the entire intro. When a song was being recorded, I'd time the length of the track and record the information to a folded-over sheet of 8.5"x11" paper. Times were in red ink. Song titles in blue. Artists in black. This allowed me to verify a song wasn't already on the tape and to calculate how much time remained on each side without going through the hassle of pressing play and listening to how much dead air there was before the tape ran out, then determining how much space at the end of the reel couldn't be recorded on. A single mix-tape might take two or three days to assemble. Once done, I'd fill out the track listing using the cover that came with the cassette case, including a quick message to go along with the tape. If I was feeling particularly creative, I'd go all out with the cover-art and draw things that interested the recipient5 such as cars, stacks of money, cigarettes, or — for one special person — cute frogs.

There were some mix tapes that I kept for myself, of course. Some of these were listened to so often that I can still remember the track sequences and — much to my chagrin — the songs that bled into the music I wanted because the radio station cross-faded between two tracks. When I listen to the songs today my mind still expects to hear 2 seconds of TLC's Waterfalls after Sash! belts out Ecuador. I expect to hear a little more than 1 second of a beer commercial after Pearl Jam's Alive. On my most-played cassette, Eiffel 65's Blue cuts out half-way through because I'd run out of recordable tape.

Most people don't have the same degree of friction today when assembling a mix tape for friends or family. Heck, to the best of my knowledge, I don't know of anyone who puts together a play list for someone else. This is despite the relative ease of making a list and the much higher sound quality people can enjoy from streaming services. Nobody needs to be bound by a hard limit of 60, 90, or 120 minutes, either. The whole process is much more elegant.

There are a lot of activities that look better when using rose-coloured glasses, but this isn't one of them. I enjoyed putting the tapes together this way at the time because there was no other realistic option. I enjoyed the thought and care that went into the mixing. I enjoyed doing the artwork, too. Would I do it again today with a cassette, CD, MD, or some other physical media? Sure. But only for someone really special, and only with better-quality audio.

  1. Beware those Columbia House offers of 6 CDs for 1 cent!

  2. In 1996 I started working at the farm across the street from where I lived. I'd go over to help where possible and often earned $20 more than they offered with every visit. One day I'll have to write about the time their pack of insane dogs — yes, plural — got off the leash and took a bite out of my leg. Fun fact: I've been employed almost every day of my life since 1996. There was just a 7-week period in 2002 and again in 2007 where I was not being paid for doing something for 40+ hours a week.

  3. Canadian broadcast stations are required to play a certain percentage of content created by Canadians as per the law, otherwise they can lose their broadcast license. For this reason, there would often be music of a different genre thrown into the mix just so radio stations could meet their quota without playing the same songs more than once every 2 hours. Mind you, if you did listen to the radio for more than 2 hours, there was a very high probability that you'd hear the same song twice at some point.

  4. Remember doing this? Pressing record only would include the play button, but always felt like something might break. It was better to press both at the same time.

  5. Before computers, I planned on being an artist. A pad of fresh unruled paper and my trusty 3H pencils would keep me busy for an entire day … if the family was out somewhere.