Study after study suggest that memories are heavily linked to the senses; sight, smell and sound. According to this study it is because of where memories are stored:

Sights, sounds and smells can all evoke emotionally charged memories. A new study in rats suggests why: The same part of the brain that’s in charge of processing our senses is also responsible, at least in part, for storing emotional memories.

Spring has sprung in Tokyo and as in so many other four season cities around the world, that means construction. As I walked to the subway the other day I passed a construction site with a large safety wall blocking my view. It was early so the crews were just starting up … and in this case one of the crew was starting up a Stihl saw. I could not see it, but I instantly recognized the sound.

The ‘almost flooded’ coughing as the single stroke engine caught, followed by the high pitch whine as the operator revved the engine. It has been more than two decades since I put myself through university on summer construction sites – driving heavy equipment, lugging blocks and spending hour and hours bent over a Stihl saw with a diamond blade. At that moment, the memories felt like they were from yesterday.




Everyone is writing, talking, tweeting and blogging about Lance Armstrong. Me? I don’t care. His fall from grace is neither surprising or noteworthy (sports and Hollywood falls from grace are everyday occurrences). As long as these sports are ultra-competitive with the high stakes of money and fame, people will push the limits and many will do “whatever it takes”.

That being said, it is JUST sports. It isn’t world hunger. It isn’t about faking the cure for cancer. It is weekend entertainment. The only difference between Lance and the other dopers in his sport is that he got caught. The sport is LITTERED with dopers including the godfathers of the sport like Merckx (who would have doped even more if the stuff had been invented).

The real point of all of this is that society has misplaced their faith and should re-evaluate what is important. Who they look up to. I don’t see anyone writing about that. And I still say watching sports on the TV is boring (smile), give me the latest episode of Wilfred any day.

A few interweb items that did catch my attention:

  • The Hutzler 571 banana slicer on  2,404 reviews and counting. My favourite review “Once I figured out I had to peel the banana before using – it works much better”.
  • Academic buffoons, the only way that you can describe the staff at Dawson College in Quebec who expelled a student who exposed and reported vulnerabilities in the schools network and software. Sure he kept going (because they had not fixed it), but instead of expelling him they should have enlisted his support.
  • The apology that Lance Armstrong will never give. Well written.

And a photo from a cab in Malaysia – couldn’t get much clearer:




Living abroad you face many challenges; such as accessing websites to maintain your subscriptions and being blocked because of where your IP address is (i.e Japan) and buying things in another country that are not available locally or way over priced (In Japan, most frequent is “not available”).

The simplest way to re-sign for subscriptions is through a VPN service like StrongVPN which make it look like your PC is in that country via a local IP address. Relatively simply and one I use all the time.

As for buying things, that really comes down to how often you travel home. In my case, going to Canada is an “almost never” scenario. But the US is more frequent due to a US based HQ. But that doesn’t fully solve the problem as many websites require a US billing address. A few examples:

  • Try to sign up for a on-line service out of the US (i.e. a music service ) and you will be out of luck unless you have a US credit card and billing address.
  • Several websites will require US billing and shipping address when buying goods due to fraud concerns.

Very difficult, or so I thought. Turns out that you can change your billing address on a Canadian credit card to another address for a period of time (30 days, 5 days). I did it with Amex, changing my billing address to the hotel I was staying in for 5 days to process the orders. Voila, order away and when I arrive at the hotel my goods will be waiting.

I will also use this trick to renew a few online subscriptions, opting to pay the entire years fee in one lump sum.

Neat trick.



Well, Tokyo here we come. Reflecting back on work over the last 3 years, I had the opportunity to do a few very interesting things with clients. My top 3:

#3. Play in a pro-am with Louis Oosthuizen at the Mike Weir charity event the day before the Canadian Open pro-am. Capilano is the prettiest golf course I have every played. Ever.



Louis is a great guy, although a little shy. For the record, my least favourite moment was when I picked it clean out of the bunker jumping it onto the next tee and an older woman exclaimed “Oh dear, that isn’t good”. My favourite moment …. outdriving Louis with a 300 yard bomb. I let him hit first (smile).


#2. Joining a SWAT team for a day – rappelling down a building and shooting a fully automatic weapon for the first time. It had been a while since I have shot a gun (other than paintball with the boys) and had never shot full auto (shotguns, hunting rifles, my .22 as a kid), but shooting comes back to you quickly.

2009 11 Hamilton Police

And last, but not least, my most interesting client event over the last 3 years.

#1. Playing hockey at a client event at the Bell Center in Montreal. Although wearing Guy Lafleur’s number didn’t help my goal scoring. I suffer some kind of Montreal curse … Multiple games, more than a few heartbreakers, but no goals. Standing at the line in the Bell Center (I keep wanting to call it the forum) when the Canadian anthem played gave me shivers – truly awesome and distinctly Canadian.



That is me on the left and the goalie making an insane save to keep my record at a whole bunch of assists and no goals … The slacker in the number 76 somehow got a bunch of goals (you know who you are) and wouldn’t let me forget it for 2 months. See the goalie lying on his side? The puck is teetering on his shoulder. I flicked it up twice and ….. no joy (And it would have won the game). My shame forever caught in this photo on the jumbotron (smile).


I will miss you Canada. Ciao for now.



The theme of this international move has been “the big purge”. Room by room, we eliminated things that we do not use. We also set the goal of “no storage” which means leave nothing behind. We are either going to use it in Tokyo, or it goes. The logic being that the boys are heading off to University in 3 and 4 years (scary) so that provides a simplification/downsize opportunity in the very near future.

This is no small feat when we are moving from a traditional big North American home to a place in downtown Tokyo and required a lot bid decisions – primarily around furniture. Over the last 8 weeks we set about selling off a few very big items, like our 10 piece, 100 year old mahogany dining room set.

Which brings me to PayPal and Kijiji. I like classified sites, they are very handy. But when you sell an item worth more than $1K it brings out the pond scum. In this case, the PayPal scammers. Here is how it goes … first they respond to your post with almost the same line every time (I had more than 10 of these):


Anything to add or ads say it all?

The first time this happened, I threw in a few more pictures and some additional color. Here is the classic response or in one case, this was the opening email to me:


Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 5:12 AM

Subject: Re: Reply to your “Elte Kitchen/Dining Table only 1 year old – as new – paid $5800.” Ad on Kijiji

I appreciate your reply, I’m very interested and I’m willing to pay $2900, The means of payment will be via PayPal and I’ll pay for any charges that may incur. I just relocated to United Kingdom and I’ll be needing the merchandise here. A shipper will come over for the pick up after you receive the payment.

I await pictures(if available) since I won’t be able to see this in person. What’s your paypal email address so that I can send the funds to you asap.


Which leads to the scam. They will then go into this elaborate scheme which can be broken down into the following steps:

1. They will send you a fake PayPal confirmation email that they have made a payment to you which you will get when they have received delivery with PayPal holding the money in escrow.

2. You must pay for the shipping to get the funds released, but do not worry because PayPal is holding your money plus the shipping fee.

3. You send the money and the whole PayPal email confirmations turn out to be fraud. You lose your money.

The best way to avoid it is in your online ad put at the end “No PayPal payments accepted”. It stopped all fraudulent emails.

In closing, my responses to the fraudsters:


Anything to add or ads say it all?


That I will not take PayPal or ship to another country you pond scum. You should be ashamed of yourself. Just remember: what comes around goes around.

Share with friends. These people deserve nothing. On the plus side, we sold everything with only one item on Kijiji. Everything else simply through word of mouth, emailing a bunch of friends and letting everyone know. A friend tells a friend ….

UPDATE: Don’t tell the scammer to look at this blog post. Play with them. Mess them up. But don’t warn them.