Paul 2009-09-28

After traveling up the California coast in April and enjoying the lanai and hiking the Na Pali Coast on Kauai, Hawaii, we moved back to Encinitas, California in May. Since then, we've mostly enjoyed some stationary punctuated with hiking, surfing, beach jogs and swims, Vegas weekends and catching up with old friends. Taking it a little slower, you could say.

Paul 2009-04-27
After pulling into truck stops for the last two nights, I couldn't resist the signs for Cumberland Mountains State Park, near Crossville, Tennessee.

Not that the truck stops weren't thrilling... The low, deep rumble of hundreds of idling big rigs is mesmerizing. Row after row, they're lined up with up just a couple of feet between them. It's like peeking back stage and seeing the guts of the operation to supply America's insatiable thirst. And what a sub-culture long haul drivers have!. You'll have to spend a night among them some day. Very interesting contrasts. Both nights Darby and I tucked away in a quiet corner of the lot and slept soundly till sunrise.

But that was New York and West Virginia. This is Tennessee. The most beautiful state we've yet passed. Big, healthy forests unvisited by big, unhealthy (but very kind) people. Perhaps the active ones spent their Sunday somewhere other than the Interstate. Go figure...

Anyhow - so I see the sign for Cumberland, and decide that Darby and I are due for a hike in the woods together. We explore the trails, slowly at first, side-steppng the poison oak (I'm almost over the last bout I got on my legs in California a month ago) until a stream with good flow beckons for a splash. The water's refreshingly crisp, welcome after a day blasted from above by nearly cloudless sun and below by the heat radiating from the endless freeway. After a thorough spring cleaning, we double back and pick up the pace. Now rapidly to get back to the truck before dark Alas, as I have a tendency to do, we hiked the last bit in the dark. And no, leaving my headlamp in the car wasn't brilliant, and neither was the trail after the sun set. Whatever, we took turns leading and found our way. We both have the nose for this kind of thing.

Exhilerated by nature, we're signing off in the dead quiet of our Tennessee night.

Paul 2009-04-25
I'm standing in line at a gas station Dunkin' Donuts and a guy points out that the auto transport isn't installed on the truck's hitch ball! It's just sitting on it loosely. I must have a horse shoe up my butt, because I drove for 24 hours like that and it didn't come off... Lesson: don't install a hitch in the dark...

Paul 2009-04-25
Packed up a 17' Uhaul, towing my car behind, I head out from Montreal with Darby on our way back to California. I love long drives, and I have at least 7 days of it ahead of me - the same drive I did 13 years ago...

Paul 2009-03-16

We’re back in California, looking around to see if we’d like to relocate back here. Good times with old friends – nice to be back.

Arrive. First stop: Moonlight Beach

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Hanging with the Holmes

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Paul 2008-06-13
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I've always felt that life's served me a lucky platter. Yesterday was one such day. I've never come so close to death, and yet felt so alive.

I sat outside at the Second Cup coffee shop on St-John's in Pointe-Claire under a blasting hot sun. Suddenly a storm presented. Bright light faded to brooding darkness. The air pressure sank and the winds came. I quickly packed up my laptop and headed to the car to avoid the coming rain. A bolt of lightning struck a few hundred meters away near the Fairview Shopping Center, announcing the arrival of the near-instant storm. Happy to have beat the rain, I hopped in our new Mazda 3 Hatchback – which we've had for 6 days – and started the engine. Then, an enormous BANG! Instinctively I ducked. A fraction of a second later, another even louder BANG! as the roof of the car smashed in. I reopened the door and ran – a witness said they'd never seen anyone move so fast – and saw a huge branch more than half a meter in diameter from an old tree laying on the car. I was ok. Some blood dripped from cuts on my arms, I was covered in tiny pieces of glass and had a bloody lip. But I was basically unharmed.

Lightning struck the tree. The first bang was the sonic boom of the thunder a few meters away. The second was the tree destroying the car. Had I parked one foot closer to the curb, had the tree fallen two degrees to the left, had I not bent over… Well – let's just say I wouldn't be here to tell the tale. Every spot in the car except where I was sitting was crushed to mid-torso. My head would have been in my stomach. I am a very, very lucky man.

But wait, there's more.

A half hour earlier and separately, a freakishly large German Shepherd dog ran ferociously towards Joanne as she rollerbladed. Expecting the attack, she slid foot-first, baseball style towards the dog. The oversized dog pounced on her, paws on her torso and lunged for the kill. As the teeth approached, in timing that is just as incredible, its owner threw the dog off her. She picked the grass out of her wheels and went on her way, until, oddly, a bird attacked her head. Twice.

Perhaps best of all, my sister Jessica, who's had a complicated pregnancy that forced her into bed rest for the last 18 weeks – the last 7 or 8 of which were spent in the hospital – gave birth after just 28 of the normally 40 weeks to the newest member of the family: Samantha Hope Plamondon. Samantha's yet undeveloped lungs let out their first cry. Relieved parents did likewise. Doctors say she's a fighter. She came out fists first, above her head. I'd say she's a member of the lucky day club.

As I sat eating dinner peacefully reflecting on how different the day could have gone, I was again reminded of the temporality of our time and that any day could be your last.

Live richly, pursue what feels great and don't let yourself be blown around by the unimportant. And give someone you love a hug for no reason.

Paul 2008-06-12
During the most recent stint of our travels, we've had a tremendous set of experiences throughout the Caribbean, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific. We're back in Montreal for the summer as we think about our next ambitions. The warmth of family surrounds us and we're soaking it in.

Posts to come from our road trip down the east and south coasts of Australia, as well as our incredible experience in Tahiti.

Paul 2008-03-19

My friend Tim Windsor asked about my favorite spots on our journey. I usually answer this question with something like

"It's hard to say, each place we've been has offered something unique. Our favorite places usually end up being places where we were in sync with whatever that thing is."
But something made me start listing off a few places that jumped into mind. Looking at the list, I thought it would be fun to link to blog posts we'd written about each spot. Well, that email ended up turning into this blog post. Here's to a trip down memory lane...

Memorable Experiences


Photo: Ashley Computing
I received this photo of my niece computing, and it prompted me to think about how the generation that's growing up now interfaces with the Internet.

Her generation will not have known a world without a global network of computers or pocketable Internet access devices/communicators that can get to anything or anyone, anywhere in an instant. It's quite a different world than we grew up in. It's great to see that she's already engaging in what will be her primary means of contact with her world.

Despite the influence of the previous generations, today's kids aren't growing up watching TV, they're interacting on the Net, in real-time 2-way communication. Participant, not consumer. Get this... Kids today think that email is for old folks! They prefer more interactive means, like synchronous communication (instant messaging), social networks (obtaining information via the influence of friends and their friends and their friends, ...) and real-time multi-party collaboration. It's quite amazing to see them go. Their brains were wired for this kind of thing from the beginning and they are master multi-taskers. They handily carry on three to five conversations simultaneously, while browsing the web in multiple tabs, having many sites open at once, while actively choosing and listening to some music.

They're able to contextualize it all at once and handle multiple information inflows and outflows simultaneously, without stumbling. I can't do that, despite computing since I'm 10. But mine were linear interfaces. Do one thing at a time and wait for it to finish, then move on. For them, the infinity of information is accessible synchronously and they have the tools to access and create them in multiples at a time. And they do.

The pace of change continues to accelerate. It's so great to see that she's starting to wire her brain so she can function in the world that awaits her.
Michelle, a yogi living next to us in Byron Bay, Australia exclaimed "Your package is here!" and I jumped out of my seat in disbelief. I was sure it was a goner...

The package took the most convoluted path across the earth to arrive with us. We had feared that it was lost or stolen during the last leg - between Brisbane and Byron Bay (a 2 hour drive apart) - when a week passed without a hint of a delivery.

I'm ecstatic to report that the mailman (who we'd been talking to every day this week) hand delivered it to Michelle, who, fully aware of the eagerness with which we awaited the package brought it to us.

Western Digital 320 GB Passport 2.5You see, my trusty Thinkpad X61 Tablet had run out of disk space back in Thailand so I ordered a Western Digital 320 GB Passport 2.5" USB 2.0 Hard Drive online while we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from somewhere in California. It was shipped to Louise in New Jersey, who repackaged it and sent it (with difficulty because of UPS's idiosyncrasies) to Michael in Montreal, who loaded it up with data I desperately need and mailed it to Travis and Carissa's place in Brisbane - but it arrived the day after we had left for Byron Bay. Finally, they re-mailed it to Byron Bay where it now sits expectantly with a cool blue glow, awaiting its indoctrination.

Thanks to all who were involved in this adventure in world-wide data movement.

Earlier Posts

2008-Feb-26  Brisbane to the Gold Coast of Australia
2008-Feb-16  Sorry, we're closed
2008-Jan-23  Thailand - Cooking 101
2008-Jan-21  Thai massage
2008-Jan-13  Climb on! Ton Sai, Thailand
2007-Dec-25  Ton Sai Climbing Photos
2007-Dec-22  Rock Climbing in Ton Sai, Thailand (1)
2007-Dec-17  Ko Tao Bungalow (1)
2007-Dec-17  Morning Balcony View in Ko Tao, Thailand (1)
2007-Dec-17  Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Thailand
2007-Dec-16  Beyond Taiwan's Stereotypes
2007-Nov-29  Taipei Update (3)
2007-Nov-28  Glutenous Rice Balls (4)
2007-Nov-27  Cultural Immersion (1)
2007-Nov-27  Thanksgiving in San Diego
2007-Nov-24  Reset Between the Caribbean and Southeast Asia
2007-Nov-19  Flowing in a River of Wind (6)
2007-Oct-22  The Learning Curve of Travel (5)
2007-Oct-16  Unseen Side of the Turks and Caicos (3)
2007-Oct-14  Photos: Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos (1)
2007-Oct-09  Photos: North and Middle Caicos (1)
2007-Sep-28  Provo, Turks and Caicos (3)
2007-Sep-27  Carefree Caribbean (2)
2007-Sep-09  Getting ready to go (3)
2007-Jul-31  Summer in Montreal
2007-Jun-05  The Relativity of Home (5)
2007-May-28  Living in Buenos Aires
2007-Apr-13  Buenos Aires Apartment (12)
2007-Apr-11  Crossing the invisible line in the middle of nowhere (1)
2007-Apr-06  Do Merino Sheep Smell? (3)
2007-Mar-26  Exploring Patagonia (3)
2007-Mar-22  Photos: Fitz Roy (1)
2007-Mar-22  Bearded, sort of... (3)
2007-Mar-19  Quickie: Argentina to Chile on foot
2007-Mar-15  Fitz Roy trek and next steps (1)
2007-Mar-10  Torres del Paine - Gloriously Unpredictable (3)
2007-Mar-09  Photos: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile (2)
2007-Mar-05  Video: Valle del Frances at Torres del Paine
2007-Mar-02  Video: John Garner Pass at Torres del Paine (1)
2007-Feb-27  Video: Insane Winds at Torres del Paine
2007-Feb-26  Starting Torres del Paine Circuit Trek (1)
2007-Feb-19  Experiencing contrast (6)
2007-Feb-14  Last minute deal to Argentina (4)
2007-Feb-10  Traveling vs. Vacationing (4)
2007-Feb-04  Vilcabamba, the fountain of youth (3)
2007-Jan-22  A rhyme heals faster than time (2)
2007-Jan-22  Old Center of Quito
2007-Jan-21  Otavalo Market (1)
2007-Jan-21  Oldest trick in the book (3)
2007-Jan-18  Off the Beaten Path
2007-Jan-07  Isabela Paradise (4)
2007-Jan-06  Photos Bartolome Island, Galapagos
2007-Jan-06  Photos from Mindo, Ecuador
2007-Jan-06  Photos from Quito December 2006
2007-Jan-06  Photos from Quito November 2006
2007-Jan-05  Boat or Bucking Bull? (2)
2007-Jan-02  Isabella Island (4)
2006-Dec-30  New Year's Eve Food and Burning Men (1)
2006-Dec-29  Making our own way (3)
2006-Dec-22  Galapagos Wild (3)
2006-Dec-16  Series of Connecting Events (3)
2006-Dec-16  Quito Up, Up and Away (1)
2006-Dec-14  Gem in the Rough (2)
2006-Dec-11  Super-Sized Post (4)
2006-Dec-11  Ecuadorian Jungle Photos
2006-Dec-11  Ecuadorian Jungle (5)
2006-Nov-25  First week in Quito, Ecuador (3)
2006-Nov-20  Journey back to South America
2006-Nov-17  OQO on eBay (1)
2006-Nov-14  Chef Rico
2006-Nov-13  Posting by phone (3)
2006-Nov-13  Final Week in Montreal! (3)
2006-Nov-05  Photos from Montreal (1)
2006-Nov-05  Picnic on Mont Royal
2006-Nov-04  Double Slit Experiment (1)
2006-Nov-04  Curiosity
2006-Oct-25  Family
2006-Oct-16  Lombardi's Restaurant
2006-Oct-16  Soaking in Montreal (1)
2006-Oct-04  The Unexpected Turn (3)
2006-Oct-02  Montreal
2006-Sep-10  Perspective (1)
2006-Sep-07  Increased Incentive (3)
2006-Sep-03  No normal schedule (4)
2006-Aug-27  Last day of Summer (1)
2006-Aug-24  Not Enough Words (3)
2006-Aug-23  Aha!
2006-Aug-22  Heavy Burden (1)
2006-Aug-21  Sweet Departure
2006-Jul-25  What a Big Day! (2)
2006-Jul-14  Making the med kit (4)
2006-Jun-19  My First Entry (2)
2006-Jun-19  Welcome to PoJoGo (8)

Flow is the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity, with a high level of enjoyment and fulfillment as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.