More than a year later

Talk about slacking off with blog postings… to be fair I had a bit of a net stalker pestering me for a while and ended up parking various domains including this blog to avoid the hassles, and just didn’t restart until now.

Since last April naturally we’ve done piles and piles of things and had numerous changes, not the least of which is that we sold our Yukon Street home and moved to Kline Street where we have more space and room for a garage… quite luxurious actually. Around the same time Kate started looking for an apartment and will be moving out with Jesse in September – it feels totally natural at this stage in the game.

I’m off to California Brazil Camp on Sunday, but will have a few days in San Francisco beforehand. A great adventure!



Tron bike ride tonight!


Off to Havana!



Halifax Central Library construction

This shows the excavation for the new Halifax Central Library  foundation. The building is going to be huge, and amazing!

The image has  colour boosting, so the natural iron discolouration of the standing rainwater looks far more dramatic than it was to the naked eye.

It’s an exciting project to watch!

Halifax Central Library excavation


Introducing Timeline

Facebook Timeline rant

Introducing timeline
Tell your life story with a new kind of profile.
Introducing Timeline.

Stupid Timeline page

jumble crap shit

But I don’t want a new kind of profile. If I wanted my Facebook profile to look like some kind of jumbled cluttered MySpace page with all my previous posts flashing up on screen I would have sought something like that out. It feels like Timeline has crossed some other kind of line.

For this reason I’m going to start blogging on my personal blogs again… I can control these.

Blech on Timeline – one man’s opinion.


3 Things You’ll Hate About Facebook’s Timeline’s Kristin Burnham switched to Facebook’s Timeline two months ago–and she isn’t a fan. Here’s what she’s learned about the new design.


Halifax Skating Oval – YouTube





Deep lard fried dough coated with sugar.







St. Pat’s-Alexandra sale violated policy | Reality Bites

St. Pat’s-Alexandra sale violated policy | Reality Bites.

Some good comments here. How can the city just ignore its own clearly stated policies?


No more Quinpool Kid

The Chronicle Herald recently ‘upgraded’ their online paper and in the process killed the community blogs; no warning, no email, no discussion or plan to allow us to copy them. There were really only two active blogs, Quinpool Kid (mine) and Halifax Memories, and amazingly well written and very interesting blog by Dennis Cato who grew up in south end Halifax. He seemed to have an almost museum quality collection of memorabilia and historical artifacts, and a wonderful memory coupled by a literary gift.

Anyway, as stated they were killed with no warning. I emailed a couple of times but got only brief comment they would be restored some time. Further emails went unanswered. I’m being ignored now.

Absolutely not impressed.

Quinpool Kid


Blogging from my ‘phone’

Is there anything my little Android device can’t do? Wow!


September 10, 2010 – some brief notes and images

Here we are again at the beginning of another school year. The summer of 2010 in Halifax has been phenomenally beautiful, weather wise. It was day after day of clear warm sunshine with occasional overnight showers. I don’t recall any previous summer being so consistently beautiful and this one started early too. It almost makes me think twice about my retirement plans to seek a warmer climate, but that’s a long way off.

On one hand we loved the weather. On the other hand it’s been quite alarming to read that this has been an almost globally consistent situation. The ubiquitous warming was predicted by climate change scientists. I don’t believe it’s “a blip” as many will argue. I also don’t believe it’s a natural cycle as so many people argue. I’m just baffled by the folks who seem to recoil when I ask if they believe it’s man-made global warning. Folks say things like “the earth will balance” and “there will always be changes in climate” and “it’s a natural thing, it’s happened before”. Maybe their denial is rooted in fear.

work underway on the CommonsBack to local updates; have a look at the Commons from September 9. It’s the start of construction for the Canada Winter games speed skating oval. This corner of the Commons seems like it’s been under constant heavy use all summer, which I suppose is a good thing, although I would rather see some trees and gardens and trails and benches with people lying in the sunshine reading books and so on.

On Quinpool I found this graffito spray painted on a blank window on the street side of the Superstore. I’m not a fan of the average graffitti tagging style but this is something that made me smile. It rises head and shoulders above the average paint and it actually enhances and otherwise dead spot. Talk about artsy. I love it! Can you see what it is?

Many of you have seen these funny mini-galleries of crafts. What a quirky installation to find while striding, head down and huffing with seriousness on the way to work in the morning! What’s it all about? They seem to be a naive sort of work but all contain upbeat positive and happy messages, encouraging people to exhibit civic pride and friendliness toward others. They’re all carefully made with wires holding small pine cones on the carefully cut boards. Each is meticulously painted with all sorts of free extra semi-colons. Talk about smile inducing. I love them and have bought two so far. The idea is to take a plaque and drop some money in the money bin… well worth it due to the extra dose of joy it will bring to your day. There are a few around the downtown. Nicole MacIsaac did a an excellent piece on this in Spacing Atlantic. ~ Thank you anonymous artist! ~

And finally, a huge BOO to Eastlink for their illegal trashy commercial graffiti style sidewalk advertising. I hope they get a fine for it to help discourage other companies from feeling they can just go around spraying their ads on public sidewalks and public property. I suspect it’s the work of one of the few guerrilla marketing companies that have appeared in the market lately. Legitimate ad agencies despise them because they give the whole industry a bad name. I have an earlier blog devoted to the topic of illegal advertising. I heard a segment on CBC radio where HRM traffic guy Ken Reashor said the city was taking action. Good!


Christmas potlucks

Today, December 24th is downtown office potluck day. Watch for all the folks around the streets with their Tupperware containers, shrimp ring boxes and armloads of paper plates and napkins.

We’re having one at my office. Yesterday was clean out the staff fridge day. Everything was tossed. Maybe this happens once a year, I’m not sure, but the cleaner remarked as he was emptying the garbage receptacle he thought some of teh food came over on the Mayflower. He also said “I thought Tupperware is expensive?”. Ha!

The event is highly organized and involves spreadsheets. There’s also a flow chart so you don’t get mixed up between desserts and hot dishes. It’s very impressive!

Enjoy your last day at work before a short holiday, office workers! See you around town with your containers on the way home.


David Whitzman

David Whitzman PPC

“I have no great aims in art. No axe to grind. No world ailments to cure. I paint to please myself and to bring pleasure to others.”

This week I had the great pleasure of taking my Mom to visit her friend of many years, David Whitzman. We had a delightful time in his room at his seniors home off Lacewood Drive. It’s very close to the Keshen Goodman Library where you can go see one of his grand seascapes.


After graduation from Nova Scotia College of Art David became a teacher during World War Two. He later continued as an independant artist with shows and sales in various locations. He always enjoyed painting sport fishing scenes, such as his 1966 Wandering River (below).

When we stopped to see him, his eyes twinkled with each story and joke. What a kidder! At 94 he still has his paintin equipment with him at all times but as he said, he does most of his painting in his head. He says that when he’s resting he will start a canvas, and over a periof of time he’ll return to to and complete a whole painting. I wish we could tap into that artists reserve of mental paintings!


Comments (2)

Great job!

Here’s what I get to do for work… make trips like this from time to time – you might need to click the map to see my route.

View DFO Sept 2, 2009 in a larger map

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Artifacts from Monastery Lane

I live near Monastery Lane where Heritage Gas started connecting a line that will service homes on Yukon Street. The locals got together and got a critical number of people to sign up so the gas company is digging a trench and laying their familiar yellow hose today.

On my way home I came across a couple of kids and local high school history teacher Brian Rawding examining pieces of pottery and glass that came out of the trench where Yukon meets Monastery. It must have been an old trash heap.


There was quite a lot of it, all broken up and dirty but still a fascinating glimpse into what was ordinary trash at the time. Several complete bottles were found but left with the workers. I imagine they must have come across a huge amount of material like this over the many months they’ve been digging. My daughter has the Minard’s Liniment bottles and ink well below: img_0009

plate shards


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Hurricane Bill


Here’s another event where you’re either in the “oh it’s just a bunch of hype” camp or the “better get ready” camp. The same thing comes up anytime you mention swine flu although people seem much more divisive about H1N1.

Did we get ready for Bill? Yes indeed! I’m no alarmist but as a long time camper and gadget lover I have plenty of stuff on hand that would get us through any form of disaster from a short power outage to a full blown zombie apocalypse.

What did we do to prepare? Well we tend to keep a small freezer load as we don’t have a separate deep freezer so the foods we bought were more or less what we always have on hand anyway, with the addition of a bag of powdered milk and some bottles of juice instead of frozen concentrate.

I bought a can of naptha to fuel my trusty 1950’s Coleman stove that I bought in a Miller and Johnson auction around 25 years ago. Some older technology like my Coleman 411 is really the epitome of function and good design. Also coincidentally the first car I owned was a 1968 Volkswagon 411 given to me by Capt. (Ret’d) Larry Dzioba to transport his daughter/my future wife around town. Again with the old technology that might not have been great but we sure loved it.

A few years ago I bought a small 1000 watt Honda Generator and have never regretted the expense of buying such a good quality unit. I put fresh gas in every year (it takes just over a half gallon and will run over 8 hours on a tank), change the oil and it always starts on the second or third pull. Of course it seems that testing it will guarantee there will be no power outage but it doesn’t hurt to have it ready just in case.

Our tiny pantry areas (mostly just cupboard shelves and hidy holes around the kitchen) are filled with our normal foods; pasta, rice, canned goods for chili and my made-up bean and curry things. I have enough camping stove power to keep going for days, the little generator can power enough lights or computer gear or even the furnace if needed and we have neighbours who will go out of their way to help each other.

That’s about all I can do. I hate to sucumb to any hype or fear mongering but the satisfaction of being ready for any issues whether at work, as a parent, or while waiting for a major storm is rewarding in itself.

Batten the hatches and stay safe.


The Power of Excellent

Hey John how are ya doin’?” …   “Excellent!” … or “great“, or “couldn’t be better”!

This is how I respond to the typical office greeting. If you ask anyone at my work I’m probably one of the happiest, most content, easy going guys around. I’m always doing “excellent!”

Is it true? NO!

Like everyone some days I’m royally pissed at someone, or frustrated at one or another of the seemingly constant parade of obstacles that pop up at work out of nowhere and slow me down or totally block any hope of getting something done. Other days I haul my tired ass in to work exhausted from staying out too late the night before, or just because because I would rather be anywhere than a soul-destroying cubicle farm; yet when asked how things are going… “Excellent!”

Is this phony? Is it fake? Does it make me liar? Sometimes… maybe… not necessarily.

Why do I do it? It’s quite simple on one level; who wants to hear a belly-acher complain? When someone asks “How are ya doin’?” they generally don’t expect an actual review of your day, or want to know whether or not you are happy or sad or angry. It’s a simple greeting. I could respond in some bland way as I used to: “Not bad”, “I’m ok” or I could even respond negatively as I might have years ago before I found the “excellent!” secret to happiness with, “Can’t wait to get outta here”, “Five o’clock can’t come soon enough”, “Nine years to go!” and worse.

Instead, with an “Excellent!” the other person, my co-worker who might be expecting a grumble, or who might be grumbling themself ends up with a dose of good medicine. They seem surprised and it probably shakes them up a little tiny bit. What? There’s someone that happy in the office?! Hmm…. maybe it makes them stop and reevaluate their frame of reference for the day. “Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Maybe I’m excellent too?”

A second benefit is that by saying it, by repeating this concept through a smile and firm statement when asked about my day, it actually affects my mood. It’s like a satsifaction virus that spreads through my soul as I scurry about the office. As the day goes on it gets easier and easier to be pleasant with people and to treat them kindly and respectfully. The result is that I never have an issue approaching someone for a request. There’s never any “baggage” from previous negativity.

It’s like a grease for the machine that keeps my workday moving.

Cynical people make note; if I seem to be listening I while you complain don’t be alarmed by the glazed over look in my eye as I’m probably far away thinking about something that is going to make my day great. Carry on, and I hope your day becomes excellent!


Urban animal habitat

Halifax has some urban wildlife areas. You see all sorts of spots around Halifax where little islands of nature eke out an existence oblivious to our busy schedules and never ending development. They go unnoticed by our backhoes and saws and gravel trucks and asphalt spreaders. Some are remnants of a long-ago city and some are new incursions of nature where we have plunked down a garden or where a property manager didn’t set up a grounds maintenance program and a piece of dirt was able to host trees and plants and allow a little habitat to thrive.

I’m almost afraid to describe the following area because someone might notice and the next thing you know someone’s Grounds Maintenance Plan has been updated to prune the bushes and clean away the thick growth and then the whole mini-ecosystem is disrupted. There’s no way I want to be responsible for that.

It reminds me of a science fiction time travel story where someone travels back in time to some prehistoric era. In their temporal journey they’re allowed to explore an area but with very strict instructions to stay on a boardwalk. One of the time travelers steps off however, crushing a little butterfly. No big deal eh? Au contraire; when the scientist returns to present-day life there are a several profound and horrible differences all arising out of that tiny interference in a previous timeline. That’s why I have this hesitation, but here goes.

Visit the corner of Monastery Lane and Yale Street where the power company has a brick building roughly the size of a renovated west end prefab. Not one of the two story renos mind you, but a beefed up story-and-a-half. Look at the front. It has two huge juicy looking evergreens that have to be 4 meters tall. They probably started as regular nursery plants but over the years grew up to massive trees with almost year round sparrow activity. Some days it’s a veritable warblefest. It’s like the trees in Point Pleasant Park where multigenerational bird populations swoop down to peck seeds from the hands of the regulars. Other days it’s as quiet as a mediaeval forest grove.

In walks around the city between home and work or to something downtown, or from Steve-a-Renos or the library I’ve encountered some other urban mini habitats. Most of the crow hangouts have been occupied for decades. For instance check out the pair at the base of Citadel Hill right across from the upper police station parking lot. There’s a groundwater drain in the area where even in the coldest weather there’s usually a little trickle. These birds are smart to hang around there. They hop around and look at you in case you might be a source of food or something.

Nearby between the police station and the Citadel Inn, and the next door mixed use office building there’s a sort of neglected no-mans-land that hasn’t seen a mower, saw or rake for a long time. The crows pull back to this mini-grove in high winds. Maybe it’s like their permanent roost in that daytime neighbourhood. I wonder if they join up with extended family near the Mount Saint Vincent motherhouse in the evenings.

Keep your eyes open for these little patches of nature in the concrete and asphalt jungle of the urban core. Observe, move on. Repeat as necessary to maintain a good mental health exercise program.


Old buildings on Quinpool Road

Quinpool Road in 1899, with the Monastery of the Good Shepherd, St. Ann's College and the Catholic orphanage

Quinpool Road in 1899, with the Monastery of the Good Shepherd, St. Ann's College and the Catholic orphanage

In 1893, Archbishop Cornelius O’Brien acquired 15 acres (6 hectares) of land on Quinpool Road, five of which were used for the building of Holy Heart Seminary to be run by the Eudist Fathers. The seminary occupied that part of Quinpool from Chebucto (Monastery Lane) to Vernon Street, and was a familiar landmark from its opening in 1895 until it closed in 1970 and the property was sold. The buildings were razed and the Quinpool Center was built in their place.

The remaining 10 acres (4 hectares) acquired by Archbishop O’Brien between Windsor Street, Quinpool Road and the seminary was used for the new campus of St. Mary’s College in 1903 and remained at that site until 1951, when it moved to its present site on Robie Street.  St. Patrick’s High School and St. Vincent’s Guest House were then built on formerly occupied by the college.

(This article relies heavily on a section by Cyril Burne in Halifax Street Names, An Illustrated Guide edited by Shelagh MacKenzie)


Peter Darling

DARLING, Peter Duncan, QC, LLM

Peter at one of our musical weekends

Peter at one of our musical weekends

The family is saddened to announce that Peter died on Sunday, November 2, 2008, in Halifax, following a courageous battle with cancer. The son of Barbara (MacPherson) and the late Frank Darling, Peter was born in Vancouver, B.C., and grew up in Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal. He studied law at Dalhousie University (LLB in 1981) and McGill University (LLM in 1989). Peter and his law partners built the firm of Huestis Ritch, in Halifax. His legal interests were wide-ranging, with particular focus on admiralty and insurance litigation. Alongside his mother, Peter is survived by his wife, Nancy (Cameron), and his children, Sascha (Philippe Clermont), St. Jerome, Que., and Alanna and Rob, at home. Peter is also survived by his four sisters and their families: Francis (Pete Leckie), Duncan, B.C.; Marcia (Mac Scott), Toronto, Ont.; Barbara (David Crowther), Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., and Mary (Mike Schepp), Los Angeles, Calif. Many friends supported and encouraged Peter and his family throughout his long illness. We thank you. His family offers its thanks to the medical team of the Cancer Care Program, in particular his primary doctor, Wojciech Morzychi; to the doctors and nurses of Palliative Care, in particular to his primary nurse, Monica Flinn; to his nurses and LPNs of the VON, and to his personal caregivers of the Red Cross, for the wonderful care he received.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, November 6, in The Cathedral Church of All Saints, 5732 College St., Halifax, with a reception in the church hall to follow. There will also be a service celebrating Peter’s life in Duncan, B.C. The family is grateful for the kind thoughts of friends and colleagues, but asks that no flowers be sent. If desired, donations to Peter’s favourite charity, The Salvation Army, are appreciated.


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