Welcome

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:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/119633

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


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Eh?


cloud4
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
It snowed yesterday and my childhood flashed in front of my eyes. I remembered how I played in the snow in the mornings and my toes would get so cold that they'd itch. I'd come into the house and Dad would put Noxema on them and the itch would go away. Magic. And then I'd go out and play again, only to repeat the cycle.
It's November and it already snowed twice; maybe we'll get a white Christmas--if we do, it'll be my first one in many years. I think it has been so long since I've actually had a white Christmas that Bing Crosby's song about it just came out. Well, okay, I'm exaggerating, but it must be at least 20 plus years.
My favorite Christmas as a kid was getting my first set of electric trains. Lionel, of course, with the smoke pills and the whistle and the little houses and the tracks that fit together. Once I got too old for them, I put the trains in a box and forgot about them. Then, one day I came across them while going through my stuff. I had no use for them anymore, or so I thought, so I gave them away to my nephew, Michael. I wonder if he still has them; I doubt it.
Trains had a way of being a catalyst for the imagination; today the imagination of the young is fed by computer games, cell phone games, X-Box, and things I'm not even aware of, but I know it's out there. The trouble is, we tend to spend all of our time, lately, on our computers (as I'm doing as I write this), on our phones, in our games, and less time in our real world. George Carlin had a theory about this--he believed that this was the way for those in real power to distract us from what's most important in the world, which is how our leaders (most of whom are not visible to the public), are screwing us.
I don't know if he was correct, but I do know we need to spend more time in the here and now.
What's your favorite childhood memory, eh?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Is it Winter Yet?


I love my new city
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
The weather report:
"Chance of rain tomorrow with a possibility of ice pellets . . ."

Ice pellets? WTF??? We never had ice pellets in New York City. Maybe some frozen rain mixed with snow and junk, but ice pellets sounds so pernicious--like destruction is imminent and cattle will die, and people will be stuck in the house watching Oprah or Judge Judy. Ice pellets is totally Canadian and it shivers me timbers just to hear it. Is it even a weather term?

We've been trying to keep the heat down in the house because I've heard the heating bills will be astronomical and will continue to rise over the next 20 years. In fact, some politico has figured it to the penny, according to a local radio station I listen to (and called into once). If a politician can predict hydro bills over a score of years, then he or she is sleeping with someone at the power plant and is getting kickbacks in the process.

And that's another thing, talking about words. People from Canada say pro-cess, not process. Pro as in the prefix of the word 'professional', with a cess at the end. We in the USA say process differently. It's almost a prah sound as in prahcess. But when you think of it, Canadians are saying it correctly and I, after all this time, realize that we've been saying it wrong in the states. Prahcessed cheese, for example, is really processed cheese. In both cases it's high in cholesterol, and we both agree on how to say that, and that it's bad fer ya. 

In any case, we hang out in my office and use the computer there, along with my laptop because it's cheaper to heat just the office. We put the heat on about (Canadians say 'aboot' and I don't care if you believe me or not) a half hour to an hour before going to bed and it warms the room just fine. Then I shut it off as we crawl under fifteen pounds of blankets, sheets, and more blankets. In the morning, it's almost cold enough to freeze my urine as I run like a gazelle to the bathroom (Canadians call it a washroom and I saw a dude at the mall today who peed and then didn't wash), and do what I do best after awakening.

So Canada has humbled me. That's a good thing. We should all experience being humbled, I believe that humility is good for the soul. It's part of the prahcess of becoming an adult.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fart Fresheners and other Stuff


ahh the pause
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
I was like wow, okay, so here`s the idea I had in bed last night, where I was attempting to sleep in a room that was cold enough to cool off my refrigerator. A battery powered battery charger. The problem with it seems to be the fact that once the batteries are charged, the ones in the charger are discharged, or low, so you`d have to use the charged batteries in the charger. It kind of sounds like the way our budget deficit and bailouts are working, but that`s another story. It was clearly a night for my brain to go into the invent mode. If there was just some way for the charger to charge the batteries it was charging to finish the job before those batteries discharged, then I would make a fortune. That`s the rub.

Another thing I thought about in bed: notice how annoying it is for the person sleeping next to you to have to deal with you when you`re coughing and she`s trying to sleep. What about a cough muffler? You know, something you could wear over your mouth that quiets your cough and maybe even helps you to breathe at the same time. And while we`re at it, a fart freshener wouldn`t hurt. Imagine, you`re lying in bed, your spouse gets up to pee, and you cut a deadly one loud enough for the neighbours to hear, (and you live in the boondocks)and the smell could peel paint off a Bradley tank. But instead, she comes back to bed and she notices a pleasant minty odour that reminds her of the great outdoors, and maybe gets her to agree to go ice fishing with you, which may or may not be what you want, so perhaps you need choose another fresh scent like jasmine or honeysuckle in order for your ice fishing to be what you really want it to be: a drunk-fest with your buddies at the lake where there are no kids that belong to you, and no responsibilities.

So now that you`ve come up with some of the best ideas of the century, and you want to blog them, but you want as many people as possible to get to your blog, what to do, as my lovely Indian wife would say. You find the best keywords to use for the Googlers of the world to hit upon. And the best keyword in the world is just something I happened to think about lying in bed while I was thinking about fart freshener and such. That keyword is “keyword.” Yep, it`s that simple. Keyword is a word on every keyword list and that should mean that the entire planet will see your blog, and you will get the hits and the advertisers will pay you the big bucks that will change your miserable life so you can go ice fishing with your buddies and not have to worry about fart fresheners, cough mufflers, and battery powered battery chargers. See, it all works out in the end.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

old soldier


old soldier
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Thasneem, Vidhya and I found ourselves in the midst of a huge crowd on Remembrance Day, November 11th. We were simply planning on showing Vidhya the town but when we saw what was going on, we had to be part of is--especially since I brought Steve, my Nikon D300 camera along for the ride.
It was a huge event, and I suspect there were tens of thousands of spectators, and there was a flyover by a few jets and some older planes like Mustangs, and the like. I mostly got to see the backs of people's heads as we were buried in the crowd (next year I'll go earlier), and I felt proud to be a part of this town where it was obvious, that people took very good care of their hair, and I couldn't find even one case of dandruff in the crowd.
There were speeches and a 21 gun cannon salute, which was quite moving and quite loud. There were wreaths from many countries, businesses and even local schools, laid at the tomb of the Unknown. I became a bit nostalgic, thinking of my own Marine Corps days, and how glad I was to make it home from Vietnam in one piece. War sucks, but sometimes it is the only way to defend our country. I worry about the world of today. I think the west is handing over our land to people who don't deserve what we worked so hard to get and to keep. I think the west is asleep at the wheel and it isn't funny, like it was in the movie Vacation, when Chevy Chase woke up in the car from a deep sleep, and he realized that he was still driving. I hope the west remembers that Israel is a better country than any of those tyrants who would want it destroyed. I hope Obama changes his thinking about Islam being a religion of peace and sees it for what it is and what it is doing.
Lastly, I hope someday we'll have world peace, but I don't think that's going to be for a long long time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

nightbirds


nightbirds
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
The night is moving in, the sun is moving out. Ottawa is ready to sleep. And it's only 5 p.m. Winter is slowly approaching and it should be here within the next few hours. Not the official " " winter, but the winter of our discontented Canadian lives. Of course I exaggerate. It isn't going to snow anytime soon, but I'm anticipating a cold winter--I do this because I am so sure that in spite of the great deal I got from a neighbor, Mark, on firewood, I didn't take enough for the fifty dollars he charged me. He said I could take as much as I wanted for that price and I think I took enough to build a respectable campfire for maybe two nights, but the winter will probably be cold enough to require approximately seventeen times the amount I calculated as being sufficient. Well, actually I did no such calculating--I based the quantity of my take on the fact that I took eight trips with his wheelbarrow from his place to mine, and I was getting tired of the boredom of my mini-journey, what with the schizophrenic neighbor kid watching my every move as he smoked frenetically on his cigarettes, rocking and staring at me. It gave me the willies and I thought it best to stop at eight.
So I pray for warm nights and even warmer days but as an atheist, I doubt my prayers will be answered. However, I am willing to think it over if there is divine intervention and the quantity of my wood gets us through the winter. Let's see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

thasneem and vidhya


thasneem and vidhya
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Our friend, Vidhya came to visit us on Tuesday. She lives in Chennai, India, and was in Boston visiting her daughter, so she wanted to see snow and thought Canada would be able to accomodate her. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate--it has been sunny, warm, and basically beautiful, which sucks for Vidhya as she has never actually seen snow in her life. She was going to extend her stay in the west for another few weeks but learned that it would cost an additional $700 dollars and so she will be leaving for Boston on Friday and then for home a few days after that. Why is it that god refuses to allow a nice person like Vidhya to go all the way back to India without seeing snow? Is it such a big deal for our Lord to just do someone a favor for once? I mean, c'mon, for Him how big a deal would sending a few billion flakes be? Sometimes I think god doesn't really care about the little things. Maybe He's too busy with the big stuff to sweat the small stuff. Or maybe there's so much small stuff to sweat that He doesn't have the time for a little premature snowfall to put a smile on the face of our guest. I just hope He'll do us the favor of snow for His birthday--even though it really isn't His birthday but a day randomly chosen by people who are evidently in the retail business to celebrate His birthday.
Anyway, at the very least, He can ensure a safe return trip for Vidhya..

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo

Well, it's that time of the year again--my anniversary and yes, NaNoWriMo, or NationalNovelWritersMonth. It runs from November 1st to the 30th and all one has to do is write a 50 thousand word novel by midnight of the 30th.  The good news is that the novel can be a hunk of crap, lousy plot, weak characters, and all the typos you might have if you just wrote like a bat out of hell without checking yourself for errors. The whole idea is the word count--that's all that counts. I am the proud owner of not one, but two NaNoWriMo congratulatory certificates of completion of two rather awful novels.
But this year is different. Not only is my novel not awful, but my novel isn't going to be written by November 30th. I just will not subject myself to that burden this year; but next year will likely be a different story, literally and figuratively too. I have what I believe is a great idea for a novel and I am researching and writing, but I can't go forward fast enough to get that kind of word count without sacrificing quality.  Now I know they don't give a rat's hairy little butt about quality at NaNoWriMo, bit I do, and if I forge ahead too quickly, I'll lose my voice and my plotting.  My timing will suffer too. 
Also, I am not going to publish the title of my novel, or at least the working title (publishers often rip out your heart when they use their own title rather than yours), but I will say that it's clever.  Really.  I also believe the book idea itself is rather clever too, but that remains to be seen.
So I will leave you, dear reader (I use the singular "reader" to give a sense of familiarity and for the fact that I don't have that many readers of my blog to justify an ego-filled plural), with hopeful anticipation of my newest creation, my baby, my love.  I wish you all a good night.
Ho ho hoey

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vidhya


porch
Originally uploaded by Rob Hoey
Our friend Vidhya is coming to visit on Tuesday. She lives in India and is visiting her daughter, Lakshmi, in Boston but wants to see snow for the first time in her life. We hope we can accommodate her but I'm not sure I can influence the snow god, Frostama. I'm not a religious person and haven't prayed in a very long time, particularly to a snow god, but I'm going to try.
I've heard that no two snowflakes are alike but I would really like to know how anyone could know that with certainty. I'm sure there are snowflakes that are pretty damn close to looking exactly like their sister snowflakes. When I was a child, there was a kids tv show and I remember the song they played every winter after the first snowfall--it was called "Susie Snowflake." My sister's name is Susie and she is far from being a flake, but that's another topic altogether.
"Here comes Susie Snowflake look at her tumbling down,
Bringing joy to every girl and boy
Now Susie's back in town;
Here comes Susie Snowflake
Hear what she's come to say,
'Come on everyone and play with me'
Before I'm on my way.'
If you want to make a snowman,
I'll help you make one
One, two, three
If you want to take a sleigh ride
The ride's on me
Here comes . . . .
etc.

I miss my childhood--the innocence, the high snowfall, my tingling toes from playing outside, my sister, Ellen, Mom, and Dad. I miss them.
Let's pray for snow--Vidhya should see it

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What I've Learned to be a Better Canuck

So I've not written a word since the beginning of October and it's even NaNoWriMo month (National Novel Writer's Month) from November 1st to 30th in which one tries to write a 50 thousand word novel, good or bad, in order to receive a piece of paper that says you've done it--and I still have not written one word on my blog. Luckily however, I did write a few good pages of the book, and did a lot of hard research and outlining, which means I should be finished with my masterpiece within the decade, if I don't get off my butt and push.
But I did accomplish something really great the past two days--I registered Doug, my car, and even got him protection, in case he wants to fool around with girl cars. Well, actually, the protection is insurance. We're finally covered Canadian style. That's why I'm using a photo of downtown Ottawa to show cars and how Doug can now go out and make friends legally.
I've learned a lot in the process of making Doug legal. I can now convert miles into kilometers (Fun Fact: one mile = 1.6 kilometers) and I learned that some car insurance salespeople can be really decent individuals--I kind of knew the latter to be true, as I was a real estate person before coming to Canada, and I know how difficult sales can be. Did you know that Tom Clancy, of the Jim Ryan, submarine, incredible weapons system fame was also a real estate salesman too? I also learned other things since becoming a wannabe Canuck--a Looney and a Twonee are one and two dollar coins, respectively. The Rideau Canal is the longest free skating canal in all of the world (or Ottawa, at least). The Giant Tiger is a very good place to shop for many interesting items you find in such stores as Walmart and Value Village, and the food doesn't suck as much.
Well, that's the interesting fun facts for now. I hope you'll give me more to add to my repertoire of Canadian information.
I love Canada.