I bought a pen 24 years ago…

The other day I had a sad thing happen. My old friend got injured. He either had someone man-handle him, or he fell from a great height. I picked him up the other day and I noticed something was off…

Back in 1989, I left the confines of my parental homestead, and moved over to the big city to get an education. If there is one thing that post secondary education teaches you, it is to think outside the box. One day, as I sat through yet another boring English lecture, I looked across the 200 or so students, and noticed each and every one of them ( including me ) was using a disposable pen. Hundreds of crappy pens, trying to keep up with another lecture about symbolism and Margaret Atwood.

For one reason or another, I started thinking about all the money I was about to start spending on pens. It was probably an early flag that my mind wasn’t quite into the Arts program, and I should start all over again and go into the Sciences. haha.  I figured out that one of these disposables lasted me about a week or two before I tossed it out. In my wisdom, I figured I was going to be spending hundreds of dollars on pens over the next 4 or 5 years…Books were expensive enough (yes, a complete understatement), so spending that much to simple take notes about the books seemed like something all together evil!

In the days before the Internet, one did not simply look online to find solutions. You pulled out the 6 inch thick phone book and went straight to the back of the book and looked up what you were searching for. In my case, I went to P, and found Pens! Ah, the good old days. I saw one pen shop in Vancouver that sold all sorts of pens! At least that’s what I gathered from the 2″x2″ ad they paid thousands for. I picked up my phone receiver, and proceeded to rotary dial the store. Yup, I did say this took place 24 years ago. 😉

The fellow on the phone told me there were having a pen sale on right now, and I should come on down and he could help me come up with a nice solution to my disposable pen problem.

I went down the following weekend and on that day I realized that I grew up in a disposable generation. I was introduced to the “fountain pen“. It seemed like the perfect solution to me throwing away hundreds of pens! What a great new invention!! Ya, I had never seen one in my first 18 years of life.

I found the following fountain pen on for $40 (half price! Woo Hoo!), and the store threw in a free bottle of black ink…


I felt like the smartest guy ever! I calculated that by the end of my first year, I would break even. After that it was all profit baby!

The pen is an Elysee. A German company that sadly has since gone under, but I loved it as it was thinner almost like a regular disposal. I got a fine nib so it didn’t feel like I needed to learn calligraphy before scratching rabid notes during one of my fast paced lectures about famous authors. Yawn…

This pen has followed me around for a very long time…Through my multiple failed attempts at completing a degree, to my first serious job that required me to sign my name, to the birth of all my kids, 2nd marriage, all the way to 2013. I suppose like many German-made cars, this pen was made to last, and through time, it has proved itself without ever failing me.

That is until I picked it up last week and noticed a small crack on the pen. I don’t know how it happened. It is easy to point fingers. It could have been my curious 3 year old, an old scorned lover, an angry declined loan applicant, or simply…Time.

Much like an old classic car, it is off to find replacement parts for him. I can’t give up on him now! He’s saved me a fortune, and now it is time to repay the favour…





Clifford Olson has died. Is it OK to say bad things about him now that he’s dead?

Canadians have breathed a collective sigh of relief that Clifford Olson has died today. He is our country’s most famous serial killer. For those of you that don’t live in Canada, he targeted, raped and tortured children and young adults. He was convicted of 11 murders on the west coast of Canada. Canada’s innocence was taken. He changed the face of trusting a stranger for an entire generation of kids. Even hitchhiking was now perceived as unsafe due to him. Continue reading “Clifford Olson has died. Is it OK to say bad things about him now that he’s dead?”

Photo of the Day – Country meets City

Today we were coming back from a trip to Vancouver, and had just parked at the ferry terminal. I looked to my right and saw this! It’s may be obvious but the hood ornament was getting quite a lot of attention…I overheard the owner of this awesome minivan proclaim that he got his inspiration from eBay???I don’t quite get the reference, other than to assume one evening he drank WAY TOO MUCH BEER, and won the bid for the horns…

One thing I like about my memory, is that once in a while I see the strangest item, and it triggers people from my past. These horns were one of those items.

When I was a bike courier in Vancouver I knew this guy named Dave that wore a cowboy hat underneath his Bell bike helmet. On the handlebars he had affixed a set of bull horns with some rope. He had done a pretty bang up job too!

He rode around the city like an urban cowboy. He was riding his metal horse. He was the most talented rider on the road too. One day Dave disappeared much like couriers do in an industry of transients. I heard he went off to do stunt double work in the movies.

I don’t know if it’s true, but the legend of Dave stuck, and I have always had this vision in my head of him in a movie riding off into the sunset with his cowboy hat/helmet on his 18 speed mountain bike…

Today I realized that my memories are old and stale

View on Vancouver on October 1, 2005
Image via Wikipedia

Today we were driving through some of my old neighbourhoods I used to frequent when I lived in Vancouver. At one point I had a small epiphany. My memories of the area are old. They really aren’t to be trusted.

I was reading a book on Buddhism a while ago as I’ve mentioned here before. One concept that struck me as odd was the part on always living in the now, and not really trusting our memories. They lie.

Today I really noticed that. I saw buildings that had aged over the 16-17 years since I’ve lived nearby. They looked different. Like they had aged like a human does, yet I recognized them like I would a person I haven’t seen in 20 years. Familiar yet different. The buildings had moved on since our last encounter, yet my brain had not. My brain was stuck in the past.

That was until the moment I saw them again. Now I have a new impression of them that is far more accurate. The closer I get to seeing the buildings now, the greater the possibility of seeing reality, and less likely that my memory will deceive me.

This all makes sense when it comes to buildings, but what else do we hang on to that is simply an in-accurate memory? A memory that we think is reality? I remember people and places that I’ve met and been to. How much of it really happened? Luckily for me, I think most of what I recall is a fairly accurate interpretation of events.But as I age, the more I need to realize that my recollection of events will become more and more skewed.

One of my challenges, if I choose to accept it, is to live more in the now, and less on the events of my past.

I think I have more reading to do…

Photo of the day August 9,2011 – Starbucks Mugs


I love Starbucks coffee mugs! My wife and I have both been collecting them separately and together for years! We collectively have over 20 of them.

I started using Starbucks travel mugs when I was a bike courier in Vancouver in the early 90s. There was a Starbucks at Pender and Granville and we would hang out there to stay out of the rain (it rains a lot in Vancouver!), and would do our best to flirt with the cute baristas and try to convince them to give us free coffee. In exchange we would give them free beer at the Cambie on Friday nights! It was a symbiotic relationship

Anyway, back to the mugs. Starbucks offered plastic tumbler mugs with a lifetime warranty. They fit perfectly into our water bottle holders, and inevitably we would wipe out, hit something or get hit by a car, and the tumbler would break. We would go back and get a new one.

Starbucks used to offer any drink of your choice when you got a new travel mug. What a good deal! After buying a mug for $9.99, I picked a $4 drink and then got two or three free replacements before the guilt would start to kick in, and I’d buy a new one and start the cycle again. Needless to say, the lifetime warranty is a thing of the past!

I thought I was SO SMART! It was like I was making money. But man, I was so wrong about Starbucks…

I have probably spent $5000 or more at Starbucks over the last 20 years! It was like they knew that their generosity at the beginning of our relationship would cement our marriage…They were right. I love Starbucks coffee, their espresso machines, and those great mugs…

My friend Jeremy recently came back from Seattle and brought me back the mug above from the first Starbucks store! I love it! As I do with every other one I have.

Some people collect coins, others collect dolls. I collect, well you know…