Monday, September 30, 2013

Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow

Provocative. Makes you think about how you think. I'm making my way through this one consciously and slowly, going back to re-read certain sections and skipping ahead to others.

Here are three quick puzzles that may tell you something about yourself.

A bat and ball cost $1.10.
The bat costs one dollar more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost?

If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
100 minutes   OR  5 minutes

In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half the lake?
24 days          OR    47 days

These questions are part of a Cognitive Reflection Test, and they are chosen because they evoke an immediate intuitive answer that is incorrect.  Here are the correct answers: (1) the ball cost 5 cents; (2) 5 minutes and (3) 47 days.

Most people are guilty of 'Intellectual Sloth'... being satisfied with the first answer that comes to mind.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

7.7 Knots!

Two great day sails, back-to-back. Saturday we caught winds that took us 7.7 knots across the water. Not quite America's Cup, but definitely pushing Yondering's hull speed. Sunday was another fair weather day, with more boats billowing their sails than I've seen since the beginning of the season.

What makes it all bittersweet is knowing the boat will be out of the water in 4 weeks time.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September garden

toad lily looking strangely carnivorous
perennial favourites - sedum in wooly thyme

first year I've noticed September flowers on the tovara

The Light Between Oceans

The lighthouse keeper and his wife live a life of solitude and isolation. They love each other, but crave a child. Three miscarriages later, their dreams remain empty. Then a baby washes ashore in a lifeboat with a dead man.

The wife pleads with her husband to keep the baby and pretend it's their own. He feels uncomfortable but ends up agreeing.
Existence here is on a scale of giants. Time is in the millions of years; rocks which from a distance look like dice cast against the shore are boulders hundreds of feed wide, licked round by millennia, tumbled onto their sides so that layers become vertical stripes.... it astounds him that the tiny life of the girl means more to him than all the millennia before it...  (p. 150)
It isn't until two years later that they learn the mother is alive, still hoping and believing her child and husband may still be 'out there'.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman lays out the moral dilemma. As the child turns four, just whose child is she? Is it 'right' to return her to her birth mother, now a stranger?

The premise is fascinating, as is the description of life as a lighthouse keeper in the early 1900s. Set in Australia, the seasons often caught me unaware. Like when the child wanders off in December without a coat, and people are thankful because the nights are still warm.

The ending was incredibly sappy though. It seemed to aim for tearjerker, but totally disappointed me, as it skipped over decades in an attempt to neatly tie up loose ends. The saccharine family reunion really didn't work for me, and I can't help but wonder if the author or publisher held the pen at that point.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last days of summer

morning view from deck
When we sailed to the Island Thursday night I intended on a commute into the city for a day's work, but luckily the winds changed and I ended up only working a half day from the boat.

Rob and I took the ferry into the city, had Dim Sum at the Pearl, and then rode our bikes down to Queen's Quay and the Music Garden, where a butterfly bush was living up to its namesake, covered in Monarchs and Red Admirals.

At the marina there, Rob ended up chatting with a sailor couple that had just returned from 7 years in Europe... Spain, France, Germany, Austria.  We stood dockside chatting about their adventures. 30 foot waves in the Atlantic. Spanish sailors taking over the marine radio to sing karaoke at night.

Later, when it got dark, Rob and I went down to the beach to listen to the waves and watch them catch the moonlight. Plotting to have a sailboat down south in the winter and returning here in the summer. What would it take?

Lightning sent us hurrying back to the boat, where we zipped up the shelter to prepare for rain. One minute I was looking at the calm surface of the water with the CN Tower and a nice steady reflection. We heard the rain coming before we felt it, and then watched the skyline disappear in the haze.  A timpani of raindrops on the canvas.

waiting for the ferry
Butterfly bush in the  Music Garden

the skyline at night, between the rain showers

Moonlight Trail

A moonlit trail followed us on the port side all the way from Bluffers Park to Toronto Island.

We tied up Thursday night at Hanlan's Point, the Wall practically deserted.

Another sailboat's mast mimicked the shape of the CN Tower in the background.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Gone Girl

What a great story! A fun read.

Keeps you guessing all the way through. As if a coin is tossed and instead of falling heads or tails, it keeps spinning on its thinnest edge.

I can't help but think Gillian Flynn had fun with her wicked twists of plot. Very entertaining.

According to imdb,  Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, and Emily Blunt, were considered for the lead female role before Rosamund Pike was cast. Looking forward to the movie version, even if it just for the sake of comparing how true it stays to the book.

Will people be able to keep the premise secret when the movie finally gets released? Will the film stay true to the novel or will the Director David Fincher insert a new interpretation?  


The last days of summer mean shorter days and longer nights, and backyard fires in the chiminea.

There is something so relaxing about staring into the fire and watching it take different forms and shapes.

It was the perfect way to unwind after work earlier this week. Hanging out in the backyard with Rob and Alex, under an almost-full moon, watching flames dance in the chiminea.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Full Harvest Moon - September

7:13 a.m. on September 19 the moon is officially full.

Harvest moon! Golden fruits for picking.

photo credit

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


419 was the book under discussion at the BPYC book club.

There were several memorable scenes in the novel. Some comic, some horrific. There was political satire, detective mystery, descriptive travelogue, and a hint of romance. Almost as if Will Ferguson was trying his hand at different genres and then stitching them together. This may explain why some of us liked certain sections of the book more than others.

A test of fiction is always whether it is believable. Although there was much debate about whether the characters passed this test, there was no argument about whether the story was well-researched and based on fact. The plot is rich with strong detail:  buildings close to the Nigerian airport with signs announcing "this house is not for sale"; corruption that allows easy access into hotel rooms; lonely or desperate people whose dreams make them vulnerable; the pillage of the oil companies and colonial exploitation of Africa.

I read this around the same time as I read Enrique's Journey, and both books reminded me how fortunate I am to live in Canada, and take things like running water and a roof over my head for granted. The desperation of some to create a better life for their children, that ends up being exploited to become the root of self-destruction. Good motives, disastrous results.

419 met favourable reviews in the Quill and Quire and National Post. It was winner of the Giller.  Additional press post-Giller in outlets like the Huffington Post,  and CBC have certainly helped boost sales.


No one seemed to like it from beginning to end. Some liked the beginning and end, others preferred the middle. Overall, the club seemed to find it a worthwhile read but only a few would recommend.

We had an Interesting discussion, though. Not just on literary merit but about which parts appealed to different readers. People who normally share perspective were diametrically opposed on their interpretations.
Was it the proximity of the full moon?

Differences of opinion arose about the plausibility of events and the believability of characters. Disagreements over theme. Stances on morality and political justifications, one hemisphere of the globe exploiting the other. It kept the conversation lively, even if at times it was hard to get a word in edgewise.

A. told a story about how she was mailed a $2,000 check a few years ago and asked to cash it; for her troubles she could keep $200 but would she please wire $1,800 back? Of course, she didn't fall for it. Called the police, but there was little they could do. Which is probably why vigilante sites like, a site devoted to scam baiters, exist. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Last weekend of the summer

Next weekend will be September 21, and the official start of autumn. How did the summer pass by so quickly?

Rob was away for the annual 'Boys' Weekend', and I had fun with family visiting from out of town.

When my mom tries to guilt me into visiting Kitchener, I kid her that the road goes both ways. This weekend, I managed to coax her, my sister Kathy and her beau Jeff, into an overnight visit.

Dave and Therese and Emma popped by Saturday afternoon and we sat out back and enjoyed the garden.  It was a bit chilly, and leaves were falling to the ground, but it was a nice sunny day.

I wanted to treat my guests to dinner. The Crazy Tomato around the corner, Lahore Tikka in Little India, or Greek on the Danforth? No one seemed to have a preference so I steered us to the restaurant at Bluffers Park Marina. The service was excellent, the view was great, and the food was pretty good.

My sister hasn't seen the boat yet in the water yet - she has a business that keeps her weekends booked most of the summer - so we popped over to sit on Yondering for a couple of hours. It was dark and fairly deserted at the club, although a cabin light shimmered here and there. All seemed still and quiet, except for the occasional honks of the Trumpeter swans. A few glided by on the water, puffs of white sailing by in the darkness.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Life is for loving and laughing"

Happy Birthday to Me!

"Good things will happen over the next 12 months.
You don't need to do anything special - just let Jupiter shower you with joy.
Life is for loving and laughing - and learning, too, if you can spare the time."
- Brompton in the Globe & Mail this morning

"Your birthday this year occurs shortly after a New Moon, suggesting a time of new beginnings and fresh energy. You are instinctively starting a new phase in your life. It's time to give your life a makeover and to branch out into the untried." cafe astrology

Friday, September 6, 2013

Case worthy

Hard not to admire the colour in the glass, the circle of the rim promising a nice mellowing. The taste delivering. Nice mouthful, very smooth finish.

Tasting Note
The 2005 Reserva is a blend of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano from 40-year-old vines aged in American and French oak for 18 months. It has an understated, subtle bouquet of dark cherries, loganberry and just a hint of tobacco and balsamic. The definition is wonderful: great clarity and focus here. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, fine tannins and a crisp core of cranberry and raspberry fruit that leads to a subtle leather and tobacco tinged finish. This is very classy. Drink now-2020. Score - 93. (Neal Martin,, Aug. 2012) LCBO

Monday, September 2, 2013

Enrique's Journey

Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario is the book being discussed at book club this month.

Nazario won the journalism prize for her account about Enrique's odyssey in 2002.  She recounts how this boy traveled from Honduras to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. to rejoin the mother who had left him behind more than ten years before. The journey is one that thousands of children attempt and many die trying.

Enrique finally made it into the States after his ninth attempt. He is reunited with his mother, a now mythical creature who has become a stranger as a decade passed. The sad thing is, Enrique and his wife repeat the cycle, leaving their own child behind in Mexico, hoping to have their daughter join them some day in the distant future.

I read the original series of articles that were published in the Los Angeles Times, available in their entirety with chapter notes, on the Pulitzer site. The book was published four years later and quickly became a bestseller.

In the Introduction the author shares how a conversation with her Mexican maid led to her discovery about mothers who leave their children behind in the hopes of building a better life, entering the U.S. illegally, "undocumented". Some never see their children again, unable to save the money required to bring about their passage. With others, it is their children who decide to make the perilous journey to reunite with family. Interestingly, the maid questions the motives of middle-class, American mothers who leave their children to go to work every day, wondering why they would ever do such a thing if they would only "tighten their belts".

Following the journey of one boy, Enrique, personalizes the trek made by thousands and helps readers translate the enormity of the situation.

Many of us found the story well told but difficult to read. What can we do about all these horrific things that happen in the world?

We happened to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Book Babes tonight.

Miriam served her homemade tortillas, amazing mole, guacamole, and her famous margaritas in honour of the occasion. And yes,  I felt suitably guilty, with my privileged first-world problems. Enjoying the feast, the company of these women, the discussion. 

Miriam shared this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye and it resonates...


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
     purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.