Welcome to my blog. Here you will find information that is both interesting and useless. You can even see how Steve, my camera, sees the world through my eyes, or get your hands on my latest novel, Jihad Joe at:


Thanks for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the coffee and cake. Sorry we ran out of donuts.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Parking and Other Problems

seagull parking
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Imagine someone gives you a hundred good choices, say a hundred pieces of fantastic candy, all good, but all slightly different, and you can only have one piece. Or imagine you're a bachelor who is stranded on a deserted tropical island for years and suddenly a hundred beautiful people of the opposite sex (or same sex if you swing that way) arrive, and you can choose only one of them to satisfy your sexual needs that had gone unfulfilled for that entire year. Or say you go to Walmart to pick up some Elmer's Glue and when you get there you must choose between a hundred different parking spaces, all similar, but all having a slightly different advantage; what do you do?
This is precisely what Canada is like. There are so many choices and all of them are good ones. The pace is leisurely, and nobody seems to get annoyed at drivers stopping at red lights when they probably could have "made it" in time. Nobody minds being on the short line in the market and finding the long line is moving quicker and you would have been out the door faster.
Just look at all those parking places by the seagull and note the look of confusion on the gull's face--he wasn't sure where to park either.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

worms for fishin'

worms for fishin'
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
So, okay, Thasneem and I took the food handlers certification course today and don't you just hate when people start a sentence with "so" and/or "okay," and especially hate it when they do both in the same breath? So anyway, the course was about E-coli, Sal Monella (ex-third baseman for the NY Yankees, 1952) and handwashing and shit. No, I really mean shit, and the problems shit causes with food, which makes handwashing even more important. The photo you see here is of minced beef or hamburger meat--it's a closeup and it kind of tends to make a vegetarian out of many people.
So, okay, we took the course, aced the test, came home and we actually joined the gym in our neighbourhood (Canadian spelling). Tomorrow we work out for the first time since the beginning of June. They don't have a large facility here, but the price is right and there are enough free weights to do the job. I may need to pump to the metric system, however, and will know more tomorrow morning at abooot 7 a.m.
Have a good one, and sleep well, my American and Canadian friends (all five of you).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Canadian Guilt

Asian Grocery Store
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
As a New Yorker, I had enough to worry about just going to the store. You know, being able to safely get back from the store was just as important. I know everyone talks about crime in Metropolis, but while it isn't rampant, there is something to be said about it.
But now crime isn't a huge worry--there seems to be very little of it here, maybe a random duck snatching or two, a red light jumper, and maybe a stray snowball hitting a car window; that's about the gist of it. Now I have to be concerned with a far more important and personal matter and that, of course, is Canadian guilt.
What is Canadian guilt? Simple. It's the guilt you feel when you don't bring your own shopping bag to Loblaw's or Walmart and have to use one of their plastic jobbies to carry your stuff.
And boy, do I have stuff. Thing is, I have reached a point, (call it my going green phase), where I refuse to use one of their plastic bags for my groceries, even when I forget my cloth bag in the trunk of my car. The other day, I had to carry a bag of milk (yes, they come in these four little bags, which are then placed in a larger bag (plastic, I might add), a bunch of bananas, a box of cereal, two cans of No Name soup (that's the name, "No Name," I swear), sponges, and my 30-in-a-box No Name ice pops that I've become hopelessly addicted to, and then the woman at the register asks, "Will you need a bag with that?"
So I pretend that I always carry a bunch of stuff on my arms, pockets, and down the front of my pants to take them out to the car, because I want to look cool, and don't want to be thought of as a "waster".
Let me tell you something--ice pops down the front of your pants are damn cold.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

duck proud

duck proud
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
I am so duck proud of Thasneem--she did her first sale last night and today she did two, as I write this, and who knows how many by the time I go to pick her up. But seriously, we were worried about moving here without jobs--and I can't even work until I'm a permanent resident (which I believe is supposed to be capitalized). So every time the phone rings Thas announces another sale--the phone is beginning to sound like a cash register "Cha-ching" and I've been home here writing and blogging, and working on my photography. I really am proud of my wife--I don't generally like using the term "proud" because it has a sense of superiority about it, as if I am the grownup proud of my kid--but I can't help it because I really am proud. This woman is a survivor--moves from one country to another, then another, then back to the second one. I'm surprised she isn't dizzy and blonde, just so she could be a dizzy blonde. Hey, that sounds kind of sexist and I apologize to any dizzy blondes out there who may be offended. No offense intended, eh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

my day off

faster shutter
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
There was a time when I worked five days a week and had the weekends free to go into Manhattan and enjoy myself. That was when I worked as a psychologist. Then a time came when I worked the weekends and most other days, taking time off only when I had no appointments--that was when I worked in real estate and it was the toughest job I think I ever had. The way I soothed myself, and treated myself really nicely was to run full speed into walls, using my head as a buffer.
Only kidding.
But now I am a lowly immigrant and I'm an orphan. Both of my parents are dead--I don't use the term "gone" because it implies that they may be coming back and I know they aren't. So as an orphan immigrant I have a lot of time to myself; I mean a lot.
Thasneem is at work and called earlier to tell me the good news-her first actual day on the job (she had been in training prior to today) and she made her first sale. I knew she was going to be a success. She also has an interview next Thursday for a full-time position with CAS, the Canadian version of ACS, or The Administration of Children's Services where CAS is the acronym of Children's Aid Society. And this immigrant is at home writing his blog, taking photos of waterfalls, and earning enough money to buy the Metro, Ottawa's free newspaper.
But I am taking heart, holding out hope, and crossing my fingers for the permanent residency card to arrive soon. I believe I need to interview first, and I know that I will do okay there, but the waiting time for the card is actually worse than waiting your turn at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Manhattan at lunchtime on a sunny day.
Anyway, I'm making the best of trying situation. After all, I could be all depressed and miserable, but I'm not. I'm as happy as a kid with a bucket of gummy worms whose dad just bought him a ten speed bike.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thas cooks as I shoot her

Thas cooks as I shoot her
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Thasneem is an incredible cook, so we started a cooking business here in Ottawa. We've made a few contacts, shook a few hands, namaste'd a few South Asian business people, and even filled a few food orders. All well and good, but the problem is that we're now cooking from our home kitchen and we need to do everything we can to keep the odors of food out of our furniture, and the oil of cooking from bathing our new couches. I think we've succeed by the strategic placement of a floor fan near a window that goes out to the terrace. Winter should be fun.
But a funny thing happened yesterday when we were heating the stove. I had a flashback to my days in Vietnam, in the war. There was the unmistakable smell of Pandemonium Red number 101--a spliff-filler so powerful, it could make a naked man charge an enemy tank and beat it with a stick. (Believe me, I know this.) I looked at Thasneem, knowing that she never even held a marijuana joint in her hand, and asked her where that fantastic odor was coming from--she was as clueless as me. It turns out, the house we bought was being rented out to college students prior to our moving in and the stove must have had some old seeds underneath the elements. (This also gave us some insight into the colours chosen for the washrooms.) We cleaned it out and, as it turned out, all is well, but oh, the flashbacks to more innocent times--a time of war and killing, a time to be young, and a time to smoke up.
But not me--I was a good Marine--I'd never smoke pot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

traffic jams

Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
So what's the one thing you think of when you think of New York City and its population? Yes, traffic jams. I thought that Ottawa would be totally different but let's remember, Ottawa is in a western country just like New York, and there will be similarities. And of course, the one similarity on the negative side of life is the generic traffic jam. In New York City, particularly Manhattan, the jams are caused by intellectual deficits and automotive excess. In Ottawa, the jams are caused by these huge machines they call a Zamboni, which are used to smooth ice and flatten hot tar on new surfaces. Yes, I'm fairly certain they're using Zambonies because of the hockey craze here. I never saw so many hockey fans in one town like I've seen here. You'd think they'd invented the game or something.
The good thing about traffic jams is that they force me to take alternate routes, which then force me to learn new neighborhoods (oops, I mean neighbourhoods), and perhaps even give me photo ideas. The photo you see on this post isn't really Ottawa--I tricked you--it's actually Chennai, India. I shot this photo from an auto rickshaw while giggling from fear for my life because the cars come within a silly millimeter of each other and every moment feels like your last. The woman on the scooter is either scared, stupid, or religious, and none of them rules out any of the others.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
I wanted to take more photos today. I took care of our budding food business, got in the car (his name is Doug), and drove over to Riverside, where I'd taken a few HDR's a few weeks ago. I found myself driving aimlessly along the side streets near the river. I could have parked, but I decided that there was nothing new here that I wanted to photograph. I think I'll need to concentrate on street photography--I started a group "Ottawa Street Photography" and I think that this is what I need to concentrate on. I've met a few people via Flickr online, and I like the work they're doing here. So many great photographers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

first day away, eh

Thas is at The Brick taking her first class on sales, learning about furniture, style, and how to talk someone into spending a thousand dollars when all they came in for was a pillow to match their old couch. I have to admit that I envy her because she's already working--I really miss work because I feel about as useful as a garden hose on the Sahara Desert. But I tried to do some work around the house--like change a plug receptacle, which turned out to be a waste of time because there's something wrong with the wiring, not the old receptacle. I managed to put an extra hundred bucks on my mobile phone, however, which is a good thing in case I get a call from someone. . . anyone. But the writing is coming along--doing the story in first person--a first for me as I invariably use third person, author omniscient, which I wish I were. It's 5:00 p.m. plus, and Thas is still in training. I just hope my permanent residency card arrives before my cane and walker.
So Thasneem starts her new job tomorrow--The Brick--a furniture store, renown in all of Canada. She will be selling good quality furniture and I will be driving her there. I feel like I should wear one of those enormous white hats with the wide brim and a feather, cool shades, watch fob, tight white pants and white shoes as I take my lady to her place of business while I stay home and relax. Yes, I feel like a pimp! I can't feel good about her working and me hanging out. Maybe I'll write, but maybe I'll just hang. We shall see. We went on an interview on the far reaches of the soon-to-be frozen tundra of Ottawa. It described itself as a supervisory position but it was really a babysitting job with problem kids. Thas was able to imagine herself in the winter trying to simply negotiate the long ride to work and was able to say no to the position. Thus, The Brick is looking progressively better as night falls, eyes close, and minds wander all night, unable to sleep.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Shopping in Canada is different than in the Big Apple. For one, you need to know how to calculate kilos, grams, kilograms, liters, milliliters and then convert them into pounds, ounces, quarts and gallons. Then and only then, will you know how screwed over you've gotten since paying for stuff in Canada vs. the USA. We're starting a food business and I've been trying to calculate our Ottawa food expenses with a Brooklyn brain. It's mind boggling, but I'm doing it.
The other thing I find really interesting and, in fact, downright cool about Canada (besides August) is that they don't assume you're going to need a plastic bag on checkout from the market. They ask you if you need a bag and charge you if you do. Being married to an Indian means that it's a terrible idea not to bring your own bags into the store because there is no way we're going to pay for a bag we don't need.. We can have 87 cans of veggies, a 4 liter (whatever that means) bag of milk wrapped in individual 1 liter bags to put into our little milk pitcher we had to hunt for days to find, a bag of chips, eggs, and a 99 ounce can of Tim Horton's Coffee, and you can bet that Thasneem will not let me buy a plastic bag to carry it, even if we left our cute little cloth bags at home. We're humping the load to the car even if I have to stuff a can or two where the sun doesn't shine and the cows find reminiscent of home. I will balance kidney beans upon my own kidneys (luckily they jut out slightly from not going to the gym), and cereal boxes will go down the front of my pants before Thasneem will buy a bag to haul our haul to the car.
So, lesson number one: always have your cloth bags in the car and be prepared to learn the metric system. And know that they just don't understand.
More to follow.