I'm a father, manager, programmer, scrum master, geek, & movie lover.

Coding Again

After a few years of being a manager, I’ve gone back to development. im working on a project using Laravel and Vue.js. its the first time I’ve touched the frontend in roughly 10 years… and WOW have things changed.

There are now multiple competing build tools and chains: gulp, grunt, npm, etc. Theres no winner yet. It feels like the early days of php.

But THANK GOD for Vue. Not having to deal with the DOM makes javascript bearable, and dare I say it, kind of fun. I still DETEST the compile step (which is why I went with php and not Java or C), but at least it’s relatively quick, and easy to setup and run.

Anyway, today I’m at GrumpyConf in Ingersoll. My first dev confrrence in ages. Having a great time :)

Backup Your Shit!

Nobody wants to lose their contacts, texts, music, documents, photos, & videos. Before 2000, I didn’t. Then I lost all my data, and it cost $2500 to get it back. That was just 40GB. Today I have 2000GB. I hate to think what that would cost to get back.

The only rule of backups you need to know is this:

Two is one, and one is none”.

If you have a Mac and an iPhone or iPad, here’s what to do:


  1. Turn on iCloud Photo Library.
  2. Turn on iCloud Backups. Yes, this costs money, but it’s SO much cheaper than paying to recover lost data, and much less painful than not being able to recovery any data at all.
  3. Regularly sync & backup (turn on encrypted backups) your iOS device to your Mac.


  1. Turn on iCloud Photo Library. If you have enough free space on your Mac, tell it to download the originals of all photos and videos. That’ll act as a backup of your iCloud Photo Library.
  2. Sign up for Google Photos (free) and install their Sync tool. It won’t back up your photos and videos at their original resolution unless you pay, but the free plan still gives you high quality copies, and that’s much better than nothing.
  3. Turn on iTunes Match, which will upload all your music into the cloud. This will also make it appear in the Music app on iOS. This can free up lots of space on your iOS device, because instead of syncing to music to the device, you can just stream your own music from the cloud through the Music app.
  4. Turn on Document and Desktop Sync for macOS, but do not turn on Optimize Storage for macOS, because that actually prevents you from being able to backup your files! (It purges infrequently accessed files, so the only copy of them is in the cloud, therefore they won’t be copied to your backup drive).
  5. Move all your documents into Dropbox. Note: This isn’t a backup, because if you delete your document from your Mac, it’s gone from Dropbox & iCloud too. Both Dropbox & iCloud only guard against losing or breaking your computer, not against mistakes.
  6. Buy an external harddrive slightly larger than your Mac (if you have an external drive with data on it, buy an external that is slightly larger than your Mac and current external drive combined)
  7. Buy SuperDuper and schedule it to run daily at noon. When it pops up, that’s your reminder to break for lunch.
  8. If you want to go all-out, buy a 3rd external and use it as a TimeMachine drive. This is handy for hourly backups, which are useful when you do something you didn’t mean to do. It’s likely that a nightly backup isn’t recent enough to help you in these situations.
  9. Install Backblaze, which will backup ALL your data offsite for just $5/mth. Tell it to backup your mac and your external data drive (if you have one), but not your external backup drive or TimeMachine drive. An offsite backup like Backblaze is critical because it’s the only thing that can protect you against flood and theft which would presumably also result in you losing your external backup drive(s). Plus, you never have to remember to run Backblaze. It’s just always running. That’s priceless.

This isn’t really backup-related, but please install and use a password manager, such as 1Password or LastPass. It saves you so much hassle. No more remembering, and it makes it easy to use a different secure password for each site or service. That keeps your private information safe.

New Year, New Interests

In the past, I was mostly interested in UFOs and ghosts, with minor interests in bigfoot and conspiracy theories like 9/11, and the moon landing.

The new year has brought new interests!

In particular, a huuuuge interest in bigfoot, and the flat earth, and renewed interest in UFOs given recent statements by pentagon officials. These rabbit holes are truly deep. Expect a lot of blog posts on those topics in the coming days.

Some Evidence for UFOs

In 2016, a Citizen’s Hearing was held, with many governmental, military, and intelligence people testifying as to the reality of UFOs.


Here are some key videos from that hearing:

In 2001, Dr. Steven M. Greer of CSETI held a similar event at the National Press Club in Washington. You can watch the 2 hour event on youtube, by searching 2001 National Press Club Disclosure Event.

One of the men who testified at the National Press Club was John Callahan, Divison Chief of the Accidents and Investigations Branch of the FAA, “only 3 or 4 down from the Admiral”. You can see him talk about how a huge UFO (4 times the size of a 747) buzzed a Japanese Airlines flight, and they got it all on radar with visual confirmation.



New York Times implies UFOs are Real

In the last week, the New York Times has published several stories about UFOs. It’s important, because the people corroborating the stories are from the governmental, military, and intelligence communities. Keep in mind that a UFO is simply an unidentified object, not necessarily soemthing alien.

Story 1: Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program This story ran on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Edition on December 17th, 2017. The web version (published 20 hours earlier) contains 2 videos of UFOs recorded by US fighter jets, who had no ideas what they were. It is revealed that the US Government spent $22 Million over the past 10 years investigating UFOs. Here’s a CNN interview with one of the pilots. Furthermore, it states that metal alloys and other materials had been recovered from said unidentified aerial phenomena. Story by Helene Cooper (NYT Pentagon Correspondant), Ralph Blumenthal, and Leslie Kean.

Story 2: 2 Navy Airment and an Object That ‘Accelerated Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen’ This is a more extensive interview with one of the pilots from the previous article. At one point they state that the object travelled 40 miles in under a minute. It also alludes to the presence of a U.S.O. (unidentified submerged object). “It had no plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s. I want to fly one.” Story by Helene Cooper (NYT Pentagon Correspondant), Leslie Kean, and Ralph Blumenthal.

Story 3: On the Trail of a Secret Pentagon U.F.O. Program This article is about how the previous 2 articles got the green-light to be written and published by the NYT. It contains additional background information on the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Story by Ralph Blummenthal.

Regarding the authors of these stories, I have read Leslie Kean’s book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record”, and I constantly recommend it as the best book on the subject. It contains nothing but testimony by the most credible witnesses possible. People who are trained observers, who we trust with nukes, and who stand to gain nothing but lose everything by testifying about the veracity of UFOs. If I were to recommend one more book on the topic, it would be Disclosure: Military and Government Witnesses Reveal the Greatest Secrets in Modern History by Dr. Steven M. Greer, M.D. Again, it is a book full of testimy by the most credible witnesses possible.

To The Stars Academy

Luis Elizondo, who ran the Pentagon UFO Program, only left that program a couple of months ago. Here’s a quick interview with him. He now works at the “To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science” (aka TTSAcademy), an organization whose goal is to work with the authorities to bring secret UFO information and technology to the people. The name “To The Stars Academy” sounds silly to me, but they have a serious roster of talented, credentialed people on their team. Earlier this year, they held a live event to introduce their team, and their intentions. Watch it here.

Bias (aka Follow The Money)

You should note that the name of this UFO Program was the “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program”. The name alone predisposes people to believe that UFOs are threats.

CSETI Disagrees, says UFOs Not a Threat

If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I spent a week with Dr Steven M. Greer (Director, CSETI) in the high desert of Colorado, and experienced some weird stuff out there. He recently released a movie about what he knows, called “Unacknowledged”. It’s well worth watching on iTunes, Netflix, etc. Anyway, suffice it to say he’s a world-renowned expert on the topic of UFOs. His perspective is that the UFOs/ETs are friendly, and are here to help humanity advance. He says that if they wanted to harm us, they would have already wiped us out, and there’s nothing we could do about it, because they are SO far ahead of us, technologically. He’s worried that the Military is going to try to paint them as threats, in order to get more money flowing into military budgets. As soon as those UFO stories hit The Times, he sent out an email, which read:

URGENT: Note that the recent NY Times story is couched from a Threat office of the Pentagon: This a clear ramp up to False Flag FAKE disclosure designed to prepare people for a threat from outer space- so the War Mongers and War Profiteers have a new , bigger enemy . BEWARE

Meanwhile , Unacknowledged is being BLOCKED by media, no coverage even though it is the 2017 # 1 Documentary on iTunes and widely popular on Netflix etc. The secret government is manipulating a false disclosure and threat via their lackeys and ‘cut-outs’ . Stay tuned!

Please read Dr. Greer’s paper: When Disclosure Serves Secrecy. For additional details about False Flag Operations and their implications, read the book “Unacknowledged”.

The TTSAcademy team

Tom DeLonge, President & CEO

“UFO Researcher of the Year, 2017”, author of Sekret Machines and Gods, Man, & War, and former frontman of the band Blink182.

Jim Semivan, VP Operations

“Retired” senior intelligence service member of the CIA’s operations division. Currently an active consultant in the Intelligence Community.

Dr. Hal Puthoff, VP Science & Technology

An alumnus of SRI, the NSA, GE, and Sperry, he regularly advises NASA, the Department of Defense, and various intelligence agencies. He’s an expert in electron-beam devices, lasers, energy fields, and space propulsion. He ran a program to investigate paranormal abilities for SRI, focusing on Remote Viewing more info

Steve Justice, Director of Aerospace

“Retired” Program Director for Advanced Systems at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Program (aka Skunk Works, aka super-experimental top-secret stuff).

Luis Elizondon, Director of Global Security & Special Programs

An alumnus of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, the National Counterintelligence Executive, and the Director of National Intelligence, and Director for the National Programs Special Management Staff. For the past 10 years, he ran a sensitive aerospace threat identification program at the Pentagon, focusing on UFOs.

Chris Mellon, National Security Affairs Advisor

Chair of the Science Committee at the Carnegie Museum of Natual History, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Minority Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He has received multiple awards from the Department of Defense and agencies of the US Intelligence Community.

Dr. Garry Nolan, Genetics Technologies

A Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He has published more than 220 research articles and is the holder of 20 US patents, has been honored as one of the top 25 inventors at Stanford University and is the first recipient of the Teal Innovator Award (2012) from the Department of Defense.

Dr. Paul Rapp, Brain Function & Consciousness

Professor of Military and Emergency Medicine, Professor of Medical and Clinical Psychology, former editor of Physica, holds degrees in Physiology (minor in Chemistry), and Engineering Physics, and a Ph.D in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Dr. Norm Kahn, National Security & Program Management

National Security consultant for the US Government, with a focus on biological weapons of mass destruction. A 30-year veteran of the CIA, he created its Counter-Biological Weapons Program. Recipient of the CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal and the Director of National Intelligence’s National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.

Dr. Colm Kelleher, Biotech

Does micro-biology for the Deartment of Defense. Former Deputy Director of the National Institute for Discovery Science, a research organization using forensic science methodology to unravel scientific anomalies. Former Deputy Administrator of a US government funded threat assessment program focused on advanced aerospace technology.

Dr. Adele Gilpin, Biomedical Research & Law

Licensed attorney, and medical scientist, focusing on FDA regulated products such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

WWDC17 Unmentionables

Man, that was a kick-ass keynote. SO much stuff was mentioned! But you know what? Some stuff that wasn’t mentioned still happened, and I’ve pored over the word-clouds from the keynote, and bits of documentation to bring you this list of unmentionables:

We didn’t get iCloud Family Photo Libraries, but the groundwork has been laid. There was also no mention of how (Vocal ID?) multiple users will be accommodated by HomePod.

P.S. - now I want an iPad Pro, but 256GB 10.5” with Wi-Fi+Cellular and Pencil and Smart Keyboard Cover and AppleCare+ is $1617 CAD. Ouch!

WWDC17 Predictions

In late 2016 Apple stated that they’d be getting more into Podcasting. They have pre-announced that for the first time there will be podcast booths available for use at WWDC. I think it’s not just a nice gesture, but a place to try out a new piece of software designed for facilitating podcasts. My guess is that it’d be called Podcast Studio, and would free podcasters from having to use Skype for all of their remote guests. Apple loves to contribute where they can make a real impact, and podcasting definitely needs a good alternative to Skype.

I think we’ll finally see Family Photo Libraries. If you have Family Sharing, you can simply go in and say who has access to which Photo Libraries. In the Camera App, there’ll be a Library Selector/Picker. Whichever one you have selected is where the photos you take will be uploaded. You can move them from library to library in the Photos app on iOS or macOS. Users will be able to list photos in a single library, or see all libraries at once in a single timeline. This will require having a Family iCloud Storage Pool (e.g. 1TB shared across 5 iCloud accounts/Apple IDs).

I expect to see the debut of Vocal ID / Voice ID. This will be crucial for any Alexa competitor, and it will simple account switching on Apple TV, iPad, and even macOS.

Lastly, I think Apple may reverse course on its statement that touchscreen macs are a bad idea due to ergonomics. When using an iPad Pro with a keyboard, it basically is a Mac with touch screen. It is a primarily-touch device, with some clicking. I believe there’s room for a primarily-click device, with some touching. It wouldn’t be for fine-grained control, but broader motions like swipes/gestures & certain actions like pinch, pan, scroll, highlight/select.

Along the same lines of thinking, they already brought a TouchBar to the Mac. I think they might take Rene Ritchie & John Gruber’s advice and bring a ClickBar to the iPad.

Managing Loss

As a team-focused manager, there are a few things that I find quite difficult:

My favourite part of the job is the regular 1-on-1 meetings I have with my team. I learn all about them; their families, habits, likes & dislikes, and that helps me be a better manager. It also helps them open up to me when there is a real problem that needs to be remedied. This means we get close. Closer than most bosses & employees, which is great, until someone decides to leave.

It’s like losing a close friend. I know it’s nothing personal, but that doesn’t prevent me from wondering if there’s something I could have done. I’m the leader, right? So it must have been Something I did, or didn’t do, that made this person want to leave. That feeling is horrible.

I spend a good long time finding and choosing the right people to add to my team, so losing one is always bad. It throws everything off balance, and changes the dynamic… and in general, it’s just kind of a bummer.

I don’t have a solution to this. People gonna change. Needs gonna change. That’s life. But what I’m not going to do is stop investing in these relationships. Taking my emotions out of the equation would make things much easier, but that’s not the kind of world I want to live in. I want a warm world where people care, even if it’s inconvenient. I want a world where people love, even if that means risking hurt.

To me, management is caring.

Playstation VR

Ula got me the PSRV for my 40th birthday. I played with it for a couple of hours last night, and it was fucking amazing.

While it might not be as clear & crisp as the Vive or Oculus CV1, it is WAY more clear & crisp than the Oculus DK1 that I had, and the tracking is far superior.

I was honestly blown away.

The PSVR comes with 2 discs. One contains “VR Worlds”, a collection of 5 experiences built specifically to demonstrate the abilities of the PSVR, and the other contains 9 demo versions of PSVR games that are available for purchase. When you install the PSVR (which has many, many wires and dongles), a free download also appears on your PS4, called “Playgrounds”. I haven’t tried that yet.

Anyway, when you start “VR Worlds”, you are in something like a Roman or Greek temple. There are the titles of games surrounding you. There’s a DualShock4 controller floating in mid-air in front of you. When you move the one in your real hands, the one in mid-air moves in exact correspondence. There’s also an orb, floating in front of the controller. You can bump it with the controller, and the orb reacts, and the controller rumbles. It’s great. The appearance of the orb changes depending on which game you have selected. I played as many of them as I could last night.

** Danger Ball

I haven’t tried this one yet. Looking forward to it tonight.

** Ocean Descent - Shark Encounter

This was the first one I tried, and MAN, was that ever a great experience. It was probably the perfect “first experience”. You are being lowered down into the depts of the ocean inside a shark cage. You get to see lots of marine life swimming around you, while a sense of tension is building. I could feel my heartbeat picking up the pace. When he shark did finally attack, yes, I actually jumped in my chair.

** The London Heist

You plan a diamond heist in a smokey bar. You steal the diamond. You shoot your way out of the place. You escape. You rip off your friends. They catch you and torture you. It’s amazing. In the smokey bar, you can get right up in the guy’s face and look at his wrinkles. You can light your cigar and smoke it, and it feels totally natural. I actually found myself exhaling in real life. You answer a cell phone call by putting it up to your ear. You shoot a guy by holding the controller like a gun, aiming it like a gun, and pulling the trigger. One time I didn’t stand up because I thought I couldn’t because a piece of (virtual) metal was in my way.

** VR Luge

Tilt your head, and the luge turns in that direction. Very simple. Kinda fun. Boring after 5 minutes.

** Scavengers Odyssey

Pilot a mech around inside a ship, and jumping from asteroid to asteroid. Pretty fun, but induced a little motion-sickness.

I felt a little weird after playing for 90 minutes. Hot. My eyes and brain? felt a little weird. Falling asleep was difficult. I don’t know what to call this feeling. VR-hangover? Hopefully I just become accustomed to it over time, and the feeling subsides.

Fast5 Day8

Today is my 40th birthday. On this day, every year for the past… ohhh, 30 years, I have said to myself “By this time next year I want to be skinny”. I have yet to achieve that… but this year I have real hope of being able to do it!

It’s Day 8 of my Fast5 lifestyle, and I’m still going strong. My hunger and cravings really went away on day 5. It has been much easier since then. I am very alert all day. No cognitive fog at all, and no crash mid-afternoon. I have more time in the morning to help get Claire fed and ready for the day. I have more time at noon to do whatever I want. I hope to start walking during that time. Not to lose weight, but just to get outside.

The only exceptions I’m making to the diet are: 1) If it’s a family holiday or special event, I can eat on a regular schedule. 2) I can go out for breakfast once on the weekend.

I believe that being able to do those things guilt-free, because they were rules I pre-established, will be key to maintaining this lifestyle for the long run.

I have also tried to start incorporating a special drink into my diet. Once a day, 750ml of water containing 4 tsp of apple cider vinegar (with the mother), and 2 tsp of lemon juice. It tastes a bit vinegary, but if you look it up you’ll see that it has many healthy effects.

Bonus: the swelling in my leg & ankle is down to almost nothing, for the first time since I broke it in 2004. I mean, there have been other times, but the cause of the decrease wasn’t known, and the effect wasn’t sustained.

By this time next year I want to weigh less than what I weighed almost 10 years ago when I met Ula, and even a bit less than what I weighed 17 years ago in university :)

Did I mention that I can’t get a kidney transplant until I lose 100lbs? Yeah. So… in addition to wanting to lose weight to be able to play with Claire, there is some extra life-saving motivation.

The Fast5 Lifestyle

I’m trying the Fast5 diet & hopefully lifestyle. It’s super simple: eat within 5 consecutive hours. Outside that window, don’t eat & only drink water, tea, & black coffee.

I. The past I’ve tried to not eat after dinner (at 5pm) and it hasn’t worked. I’m always hungry later. Fast5 suggests that your 5 hour window be from 5pm-10pm, and that sounded perfect to me. I can still have dinner with my family, and snacks while watching TV or movies! Sure, skipping breakfast & lunch will be tricky, but it’s worth a try.

I’m done day 3 now, and it hasn’t been too difficult. Surprisingly, I feel more alert, I don’t have any crashes during the day, and my mood is better than usual! Good stuff! I’m also finding that I feel full more quickly, so even when I’m allowed to eat whatever, I don’t eat that much. I don’t feel deprived. I think I can do this :)

The Old McDonald’s Song (1988-1989)

Big Mac, McDLT, a Quarter-Pounder with some cheese, Filet-O-Fish, a hamburger, a cheeseburger, a Happy Meal. McNuggets, tasty golden french fries, regular or larger size, and salads: chef salad or garden, or a chicken salad oriental. Big Big Breakfast, Egg McMuffin, hot hot cakes, and sausage. Maybe biscuits, bacon, egg and cheese, a sausage, danish, hash browns too. And for dessert hot apple pies, and sundaes three varieties, a soft-serve cone, three kinds of shakes, and chocolatey chip cookies. And to drink a Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and orange drink, A Sprite and coffee, decaf too, A low fat milk, also an orange juice. I love McDonald’s, good time great taste, and I get this all at one place…

Hear it here

Getting Uncomfortable

I have a bad habit of not attempting things that I feel I could potentially fail at. I believe this is one of the reasons for the success that I have in my life, such as it is. BUT it’s also the reason I don’t have more success. It’s why I haven’t launched any of the umpteen web apps & services I’ve built over the years. It’s why I procrastinated for so long on creating the London PHP Meetup.

I used to make a habit of tackling these sorts of fears head-on. For example, throughout high school and university I was deathly afraid of public speaking, and believed I had a poor memory. To combat that I auditioned for the play Hamlet and got the part of Claudius. I had to memorize over 600 lines, and it took over 3 hours to perform, 3 nights in a row. It completely eliminated my fear, and I even got a shout out in the local newspaper for having given a good performance. I’ve continued to speak publicly since then, at developer conferences and meetups, but I haven’t tackled other things that are actually holding me back.

That changes on Monday. Ever since I started receiving and paying for student loans, I have had a mental block against spreadsheets and numbers (and unexpected phone calls).

At work, I have had to get comfortable with the phone, as I am doing some account management these days, in addition to all the one-on-one meetings I do with my team. So what about spreadsheets and numbers?

Well, as of Monday our 30 person company’s sole Project Manager is going on a leave of absence for 8 weeks, and I’m adding his duties to mine until he gets back.

That means I’m scheduling everyone’s work, tracking everyone’s hours, calculating anticipated vs realized revenue, figuring out our WIP numbers, and lots more. If I screw up, it could be disastrous. Nothing quite like jumping into the deep end to teach yourself how to swim.

Wish me luck on twitter @lo_fye

Leaving Wordpress

You may have noticed that I rarely update my blog. Part of that is that it’s running on Wordpress, and every time I login, I see a message that says there’s a new version, or some plug-in needs updating, or there are comments awaiting moderation, and most of them are spam anyway. It’s just easier to not blog.

I’ve decided to give it another try, on a new blogging system. For quite some time now, I have been meaning to start writing everything I write in markdown. Markdown is just plain text, but you can transform it into html quite easily. I want plain text, because it lasts forever. I can no longer open the Wordperfect files I wrote in grade 9, but I can open the text files just fine. They’re durable.

So, I wanted the new system to allow me to write in markdown, and render in html. Thankfully, there are lots of systems that can do this. One of the great benefits is that I can write markdown in any number of fantastic applications, from TextEdit, to BBEdit, to PHPStorm, to what I’m using right now — iA Writer.

Because I was a PHP developer for 15 years, I also wanted the system to be written in PHP, so that I can modify it if I want to. Lately I’ve been using Laravel, so I thought I’d give bonus points if the blogging system was written in Laravel.

Another requirement was that I wanted no PHP dependencies on the machine I’m writing on, because it could be my iPhone, which can’t run PHP. All of the markdown-to-html conversion should be done entirely on the server. I don’t want to transform it here, and send the transformed text to the server. That’s too much overhead for me.

I also wanted to be able to publish simply by saving the markdown file to Dropbox. Yep, that’s a thing you can do. That means there is NO admin panel for your website. There’s not even a login/password. You manage it through your Dropbox.

The final requirement, which I only came up with right near the end was “as simple as possible”. I figured, the less there is to go wrong, the more likely I am to actually blog instead of spending time working on my blog.

After a lot of googling, I narrowed the list of finalists to 3:

Despite all its flaws, I chose SecondCrack. It really is just the simplest system. Here’s my favourite section of its documentation:

Why doesn’t it have [feature]?

Because I didn’t think [feature] needed to be there. Comments: Use Disqus or Facebook comments. Or just go without comments. Do you really need them? Stats: Use Google Analytics or Mint. (Or both.) Widgets and dynamic page content: Use Javascript. Dynamic rendering for automatic mobile layouts, etc.: Use CSS.

What’s so good about that? It doesn’t try to be everything to everyone. That means it’s a much simpler system. It also encourages using the right tool for the job.

You know what I hate about React.js? That it smooshes javascript, css, and html into a single thing. It makes me feel gross just talking about it. SecondCrack doesn’t do that, and I love it for it.

Unfortunately, there was no easy way to get your content out of Wordpress and into SecondCrack, so I had to make one: wp2secondcrack converter.

All you do is export your Wordpress to XML (that’s built-in to wordpress), and then run my converter on it, and you’ll have a complete set of markdown files; one for each blog post or page. Then you just put them in your secondcrack “posts” folder, and that’s it.

Anyway, yay. The blog is back!

P.S. - yes, it’s super-ugly right now. I’ll fix that soon enough.

Intel and ARM, Together at Last

I’m willing to bet that you could attach an iPad Pro to a MacBook Pro, where the screen would normally go. You could un-dock the iPad and use it as an iPad, or dock it and it becomes the Retina Display for the MacBook Pro.

It would be 1 device, made of 2 devices, running 2 operating systems, and syncing files via iCloud or Bluetooth/Wi-Fi. What you’re doing could be sustained from device to device upon dock/undock via Continuity’s Handoff & Universal Clipboard. PowerNap and other background services could keep both devices in constant sync.

This would require “Super-Universal” apps, that contain both Intel/macOS and ARM/iOS versions, but it might be doable.

What are the advantages? It truly means no compromises. iOS+iPad for some tasks, macOS+MacBook for other tasks. Power when & where you need it. Maybe those devices could delegate tasks to one another for off-board processing. The MacBook wouldn’t need to contain speakers, because the iPad would contain the speakers. This would leave more room in the MacBook for additional battery.

Maybe you could mix & match the individual pieces: iPad Air & MacBook Air iPad Pro & MacBook Pro

How would they market it? Maybe call it a MacBook Plus? or dare I say it… an iBook?

It would also help increase iPad sales. It’s a natural coupling, too, since the iPad and Mac sales cycles seem to be similar, which is to say, much less frequent than iPhone upgrade cycles.

It’s just a thought… but I think it’s an interesting one.

Hello Again

I would like to see the MacBook Air line go away, and be replaced by just the MacBook line (13”), and the MacBook Pro line (13” & 15”).

Potential “One more thing”: external 27” Retina display with wide colour gamut and TrueTone, with AirPlay receiver built-in.

Wild cards: new Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac. Detachable keyboard. 3D Touch support, e-ink keyboard.

I think this is coming sometime, but I have no evidence to support it: Siri switch replacements with built-in proximity sensors, iBeacons, and microphones. They replace a light switch, are electricity powered, always on, and always listening. They make Siri omnipresent and reactive.

Comments from my old blog:

(Derek)[] said: Well, looks like I scored about 4 out of 20 on that one: - Touch ID - OLED Magic Toolbar - Much beefier speakers - USB-C & Thunderbolt 3 at 2016-10-27 19:29:33

HomeKit 2017

What’s in store for the future of HomeKit? Right now, the clunkiest bit is if you walk into a room and want the lights to come on, you either have to activate Siri on your watch or phone, or you have to get to the physical switch and turn them on. This could be better. The lights could just come on. For this reason, I think iBeacons are about to finally become commonplace. They’ll detect the proximity of a watch, or Mac, or iOS device, and activate a particular light, or scene. This is better than motion sensors because iBeacons have a sense of your identity. As a simple example, it could turn a room’s lights blue for me, but purple for my sister.

About 10 years ago there was this concept of “data emitters”. Things you put around you in the room that expose information. At the time, they connected via USB. Now they can be connected via Wi-Fi, and/or your electrical grid. For example, if your stocks are up, your house lighting could turn green. If a smoke detector is going off, or motion was detected at night, or you left the door unlocked, or the oven on, all the lights could flash red.

One thing to consider when purchasing HomeKit lighting, the main thing you need to consider is whether you want colour changing lights or not. If you don’t, I can highly recommend the Lutron Caséta line of in-wall dimmers and remotes. They’re the ones that have worked flawlessly for me. The best thing about them is that you wire them into the house. This means that someone can’t turn off the switch, and make it so that your lights are no longer controllable via HomeKit. That can be very frustrating.

Up until recently, that’s exactly how Philips Hue lights worked. Thanks to a new wall dimmer from Philips, you can now get around this in 2 easy steps: 1) Remove your existing wall switch, hard-wire the connection to on, and cover it with a faceplate. 2) Stick the new wireless wall dimmer to the faceplate. Now nobody can turn off the light except via HomeKit or that wireless switch, which just triggers the appropriate HomeKit action.

P.S. - Looks like I was right about how Apple would do Siri APIs :)

How the Siri API Could Work

  1. Change iOS to allow you to set default apps for certain use cases
  2. Apple creates full sets of Siri APIs for each use case (for example: a set of APIs for managing ToDo lists)
  3. Apple makes all of its own apps implement those APIs. By default, Siri will use the Apple app for any task.
  4. You can write an app that implements the entire API.
  5. Users can choose to set your app as the default for that use case instead of Apple’s app (e.g. use Omnifocus for ToDo, instead of Reminders)

In other words, you won’t be able to make your own commands. You’ll only be able to do what Apple has already created APIs for. This keeps Apple in control of Siri, and affords them the maximum ability to tweak and change things as they go along.

Potential API use cases Apple would need to implement: todo, calendaring, music, video, phone, email, instant messaging, video calling, timers, photos/cameras, health.

Standardizing Apple’s Hardware Naming Conventions

Our Cat Max

On MMDDYYYY, we went to visit my mom at the cottage. We saw a cat hanging around, and Mom said he had been around a while and must’ve been abandoned. At night he’d meet up with the local raccoons, and they taught him to forage for food, but their hands were better suited to the task. He only got whatever they left, and was very thin and small. She half-jokingly said we should take him home, but we shrugged it off. We didn’t have any pets, and had no plans to get a pet.

That night we had a fire, and Ula and I were sitting on an outdoor porch swing ( . The cat came right over and jumped up into our laps. He curled up, and started purring. He knew we were suckers, right from the start… We tried to be strong. We said “Ok, IF he comes back to us tomorrow when we’re leaving, we’ll take him home, but if he isn’t around, it wasn’t meant to be.”

Sure enough, first thing in the morning, he was right at the door waiting for us to come out and scratch him. He stayed near us all day. He had clearly chosen us, so we had no choice but to uphold our end of the deal.

Ula held him in her lap while I drove back to London in our recently acquired first car, a 1989 Volvo 740GL. We made one stop along the way, at PetSmart, where we bought a litter box, some cat food, litter, some cat toys, and a book about how to be a good cat owner (which we never read).

We got him home, somehow immediately decided to name him Max, and setup his litter box. We put him in it a couple times, and showed him that he could dig in the dirt. The first time he had to go to the bathroom he went straight to the litter box and did it there. The only time he ever had an “accident”, it wasn’t an accident. It was his way of saying “It has been far to long since you emptied my litter box, you animals. I’m a civilized being, so I’m going to poop right here on the tile floor beside my box until you clean it out.” Fair enough.

That being said, because he was raised by raccoons, he missed out on some early “how to be a cat” lessons. For example, he never quite fully understood the litterbox technique. He would go through the proper motions of burying his poo, but instead of digging up some litter to bury it, he just cleaned off his paws by rubbing them on the side of the litterbox. It didn’t bury his poo at all. All it did was get the litter out from between his toes. Maybe that was intentional? Maybe this was just part of his civilized way: “Burying poo is beneath me. I’ll clean my paws, but that’s it. I’m leaving the poo-burying to you folks”. It was ok, though, because Sammie would bury it for him before she did her business.

Anyway, Ula was afraid to tell her parents we had gotten a cat because her dad (Tony) had always hated cats, which is why she’d never been allowed to have one growing up, despite always having wanted one. Years ago Tony’d had a neighbour who didn’t take care of his cats, so they went to the bathroom in the hallway of the apartment building. He came to think of cats as filthy animals, and never looked back… until he met Max.

We told him about how Max used the litter box right from the get-go, and he was impressed. Ula’s parents came over to meet him, and Max went right up to Tony, flopped down onto his back, thrusting his optimum scratch-spot (tummy) into the air curiously close to Tony’s hand. One scratch later, and the affection was flowing in both directions. From then on, Tony affectionately called him Tiger.


In the early days, we tried to do a lot of “the right things”. We put various collars on him, and he removed them all, immediately. We tried a harness, and attached it to the clothesline, but he hated it, and it seemed like it could hurt him when he got to the end of the line and it yanked him off his feet. We drove him to the vet to get his shots, and the vet commented that he was a very happy, content cat. On the way home, we weren’t thinking straight and had the window open. Being in the car made him nervous, to the point that he actually jumped out the window at the intersection of Florence & Highbury. Luckily, Ula was paying close attention, and just managed to catch him by the tail. He wailed, but we managed to get him back in the car, and both he and his tail were fine.

We learned that he would let out a deep, sorrowful moan any time (day or night) he was inside and another animal friend was outside, or when he was trapped and didn’t know how to get out (such as in the neighbour’s fenced-in garden). I’ve never heard anything else like it.

At the time, I was working from home full-time, so Max became what my friend Chris would call my office manager. Whenever Ula was at work, Max was my only company. He always wanted to be on my keyboard, my desk, or the printer. If I printed something, he’d reach down the paper loading slot to try to catch whatever was moving around in there. More than anything, he just really wanted to be wherever I was, so I tried to be accommodating. Eventually I figured out that if I emptied out my desk drawer, he’d curl up in there and not bother me. He was so small back then, but that didn’t last long.

Max was smart. He taught himself to push open doors, and he didn’t do it timidly. He’d give it a good shove with his full weight behind that paw, and once it was completely open, he’d mosey in like the cowboy that owned the joint.

Not long after that, he learned to open doors from the other side, by pulling the edge toward himself and then backing away to let it swing open. Then he moved on to cupboards. He would occasionally hop on the counter in the middle of the night (never in the day), pull open the cupboard containing the butter dish, and stand on his hind legs until he’d licked it clean!

He could also open the cupboard that contained our garbage. I can’t count the number of times we were laying in bed when I heard the distinctive creak of the garbage cupboard door, followed by the soft thud of our plastic garbage can tipping onto the floor.

Max was so tenacious that we eventually had to put elastic bands around the handles to hold the door shut. Even that wasn’t enough to deter him, though. If there was something particularly delicious in the garbage, Max would fidget with that cupboard all night, until he removed the elasticity successfully, or broke then with his claws. One time he pulled hard enough against the elastics that he was able to slip his arm in between the door and cabinets, reach up, and pull the garbage out one piece at a time. The bag was in shreds in the morning. One night last week we forgot to put the elastics on, and sure enough, in the morning the garbage was everywhere. He really enjoyed our porkchop scraps. The raccoons would have been proud.

Shrimp and chicken were the things things he loved most, but he would eat just about anything. He always wanted some of what we were having, regardless of what we were having. The only way we could get him to leave us alone was to let him smell our food. We’d put a bit on a fork and lower it down to his nose. He’d come up, sniff, and decide if he wanted some or not. If it was broccoli, he’d walk away and stop bothering us, but if it was virtually anything else, he was relentless. He enjoyed: lettuce, carrots, cheese, cheese-filled-pastry, pepperoni, crepes, curry, chicken korma with sauce, chicken wings, even Vietnamese beef from Thuan Kieu. His appetite was insatiable, we think because he almost starved to death in his youth. Curiously, unlike most cats, he did not enjoy milk.

Everyday around 6:45am (which he decreed was breakfast time) if we had our bedroom door open, he’d come in and either scratch the dresser or scratch our new bed, because he knew we’d get up to chase him out and make him stop. If the door was shut or if we had already chased him out, he’d whine and whine. If THAT didn’t work he’d reach under our door and repeatedly twang the doorstopper until we went to get some catfood to feed him (and later Sammie). We’d take a can of wet food out of the pantry and go over to the counter to open it. He’d get SO excited that he’d reach up and scratch a drawer in giddy anticipation. Over time the top left quarter of that drawer became obliterated. Later on, it somehow became his job to wake us each day, and get us to put out the food for he and Sammie. As soon as we did, Max would get forehead licks from Sammie, as if to say “Good job, love. Thank you for providing!” Max was a good provider, and she appreciated it.

Of course, it wasn’t always that nice. In the early days, Max would eat all of his food AND all of Sammie’s food. It was only later, after they became family, that he let Sammie eat first, and then inhaled whatever was left. Max grew to become a gentleman, and he made sure it was always ladies first.

Speaking of Sammie, I should mention how and when she came into the picture. We’d had Max for about 6 or 12 months (date check) when we visited my mom on the farm where I grew up. There was a very small, very skittish cat living in my former tree fort, which was going to be torn down in the sprint. It was the dead of winter, and the snow was deep. Mom usually put out some dry food or milk for the cat, but it would probably have a hard time surviving in that cold. Every time we visited, the cat would appear and rub up against our ankles, but when we tried to pick her up, she would run away… Until one time she didn’t. She let us pick her up and pet her, and she purred, and we knew right then that she needed a home, and would be a good friend for Max… or so we thought.

We brought her home in the car, and immediately introduced her to Max. That was probably a bad move. Max was like “s’up?”, but Sammie was not prepared to meet another cat, and she freaked out, hissed, and ran away. She stayed hidden under a coffee table, in the corner behind the couch, for months. We had to put her food down there, otherwise she wouldn’t eat. If and when she did come out, she’d hiss at Max, and attack him, swatting his face faster than Mohammed Ali. Max was so chill that he just let her do it. Often he would lay down and roll onto his back, exposing his tummy as if to say “Look, I’m no threat! Stop actin’ all crazy!”

About 6 months in, I was watching Sammie have one of her usual freak-outs, hissing, and spitting, and slapping as Max sat there patiently. Then, with the split-second-speed that only cats and hummingbirds know, Max rose up and gave her a good solid right hook to the left cheek. Sammie didn’t know what hit her. A few hours later they were cuddling on the couch together, and she was licking his forehead and face.

From that moment on, they were family. There was never any sexual interest between them, but they did everything together. She did kept him on his toes, though. Almost daily, she would walk up to him, lick his forehead and face, and neck, showing immense affection… and then immediately bite his left year, hiss, and threaten to swat him if he didn’t go away. She was slightly crazy, but she was family, and he loved her. He knew it wasn’t personal, and the facelicks were always worth it.

Max was such a character, with loads of personality. In the early days, he acted pretty much like any other cat, lazing around on our back patio’s astroturf, and walking along the top of the fence, looking for squirrels, birds, mice, voles, and chipmunks. Later, he and Sammie learned to double-team their prey, like velociraptors. Sammie was faster, so she’d chase the creature to wherever Max was laying in wait. They didn’t stand a chance, and from that point on I don’t think I ever saw another chipmunk in our yard. We did have a few brought to us as trophies by a very proud duo of kitties, but we never saw them in the back yard ;)


When Max was younger, he’d fall asleep between us in bed, laying on his back, with all 4 paws up in the air. He was completely at ease with us, and that made it easy to love him.

After he and Sammie became friends, whenever it was cold and our bedroom door was closed, Max and Sammie slept together to keep each other warm. Ironically, Max always played the part of the small spoon.

Max liked to be warm, but he also liked to observe, and eat. He had a lot of favourite spots in and around our house that allowed him to do just that.

He’d lay by the side of the fridge, where the heat from the compressor came out. It was also a high-traffic area, so he’d see us regularly. Plus, it just happened to be where we stored the food he’d often get scraps of.

At Christmas time, he’d always sleep under the Christmas tree, on the runner. Even after we loaded it up with presents, he’d find a way to get under there, and hang out in amongst the fake-pine, and coloured lights. Sammie never went near it.

Max supervised countless home renovation projects: the basement, the patio, the cold room, the bathroom. He’d always watch intently; not just me, but exactly what my hands were doing. Just yesterday he sat on a chair in the home office and watched while I installed a new curtain rod and curtains.

He liked to sit/lay on top of something, whenever possible - a full warm pizza box, a gym bag, or as a last resort on our memory foam bath mat (he wouldn’t walk on it, he’d walk around it, but he would sleep on it). He’d sleep on the kitchen table, the bedroom dresser, the leather recliner, the floor between the pantry & bathroom, and lately the couch in the bonus room. He also loved to lay on top of the car in the garage. Once or twice he snuck out there to explore while we were bringing in the groceries, and ended up getting locked in the garage overnight. He never panicked, though. He just laid on the roof until we realized he was missing, and opened the door. Then he’d mosey back in, and head straight for his food bowl. “Meow.”

In the summer he’d lay under the neighbour’s evergreen tree, whose branches hung so low as to keep him hidden, but let him watch people pass by on the sidewalk.

One time, we couldn’t find Max. We looked all over the house! Under things, in closets, behind things. We eventually found him on top of the bar, curled up in a cardboard box, fast asleep on top of a pile of irregularly shaped stuff. It didn’t look comfortable, but he slept there regularly for the week or two the box was there, while we were cleaning out the workshop. He even watched a movie from that box, with just his head poking out.

At night, he and Sammie would both come into our bedroom. I lay on my left side, and Sammie would usually curl up between my arm and chest. Max would sleep on top of my dresser, but once every few hours he’d jump across to the headboard, which was positioned directly beneath the window.

Our windows are old and draughty, and he loved to have his nose next to the cold glass. When it was warm enough, I’d open the glass, and he would sit there for ages, staring out, watching the pedestrians and traffic, inhaling the evening air.

There was more to that headboard than just a place to sit, though. It was designed as a sort of cabinet, such that each person has one compartment above their heads, with a third compartment in the middle. It’s usually open, but can be closed by sliding one of either side compartment’s doors open, such that it would close the middle. Early on, Max turned this into a game called “Hide and Claw”. He would climb into the middle compartment and lay down. Jokingly, we closed the door on him. He didn’t freak out, though. He was totally quiet. When we cracked it open a bit, a white paw shot out, and grasped around, trying to catch our fingers. We closed it again. Then re-opened it at the opposite end, and touched his tail. He would turn around inside the compartment, and try to reach out and attack our fingers again. This provided a LOT of fun for all of us. Later on, he was too big to turn around in there, but he still liked to grab at our fingers, and play. He never forgot that game.

Speaking of the headboard, it was too high for him to jump on by himself, so he’d first jump onto the cedar chest, then to the top of the dresser. From there, it was just a short jump to the headboard. Once or twice he didn’t quite make the jump, and fell off. He ran away, all embarrassed, and we could hear his distinctive gait go “doop doop doop doop doop” down the hallway, as his belly wagged to and fro.

Our new bed was almost too high for him to jump directly onto, but not quite. He could get up there in 1 of 2 ways. First, and most frequently, he’d sit at the base of the bed, drum up all his might, and lunge upward, using his claws to compensate for any lack of lift. He always made it. The second way was much more rare, but also more entertaining, and he did it just last week. He would start all the way down the hallway, and sprint like a bat out of hell straight for the bedroom. Within a moment of entering, he’d leap instantly to the top of the bed, and use his momentum to spring forward right onto the top of the headboard in a single elegant movement, like an olympic athlete vaulting over a pommel horse. It was epic.

Another game we established early on was the bathroom game. There were 2 variants. In the first, you had left the bathroom door open while you were using it. Sitting on the toilet meant he had you trapped. You had to give him at least a few good scratches before you were allowed to leave. In the second variant, you had shut the door. Max was outside it, and he heard something inside, so he’d reach his paw under the door, grasping for something… anything. Putting your bare toes within reach was only natural. He’d usually manage to snag one, and while it kind of hurt, it was also fun. That game quickly became a family favourite.

Max did have one other favourite spot, and it was reserved for special occasions: Ula’s stool, which sits just below the front bay window, between the glass and the sheers. If we were out, Max would sit there waiting for us to come home. We’d pull up to the house in the car, and his face would always be there, waiting. As soon as we hit the button to open the garage door, he’d dismount the stool, and his face would disappear. He ran to the inside of the door, and greeted us by rubbing against our legs until we picked him up, cradled him like a baby, and rubbed his tummy, which he loooooved, and always rewarded us with a long deep purrrrrrr. To be honest, him waiting on that stool is one of our favourite memories. Sammie rarely sits there, and never waits for us. It’s just not her thing.

After some time, we bought Max a cat perch, and positioned it by the sliding doors that look out over our back yard. It became his default spot during the day. He would always lay or sleep there, basking in the warm sun, watching the birds and squirrels. For the past year or so, he adopted the pose of the “I don’t always ___ , but when I do, I ___” meme-guy. I found it extremely entertaining.

Max was so friendly that I worried every time we let him outside. He was not afraid of people at all. He’d go up to anyone, flop over onto his back, and be like “Rub my belly!” Consequently, he had a lot of friends in the neighbourhood. He was skin and bones when we got him, but over the years he had gained weight up to about 17-20lbs. We tried to put him on diets several times, but he would beg and beg, or just eat all of Sammie’s food as well as his own. She was never a big eater, and didn’t complain when Max ate her food. Even when we did manage to keep Max on a diet, he never lost any weight. I have a feeling that he’d charm his way to unlimited treats from the neighbours. He was always friendly to everyone, and as gentle as gentle could be. He only ever bit anyone once, and that was 2 weeks ago. It wasn’t intentional, though. Ula accidentally slammed his tail in the door, and he bit her out of instinctual fear. They both felt badly afterwards, and had a good cuddle to make-up.

Usually, when Max and Sammie were outside, we could just shake a treat bag to get them to come running, but on occasion one of them wouldn’t come back. If it was Sammie, there was nothing you could do but wait. If it was Max, there was one thing you could do. On the 4 or 5 occasions that Max was nowhere to be found, I picked Sammie up, and whispered in her ear “Go find Max. Go find Max. Max Max Max”, then I’d put her back outside. Within 5 minutes they’d both be at the door. It worked like magic.

Another other unique thing about Max is that he snored… when he was wide awake. Any time he was super-relaxed, or content, he would snore. He could be sitting on the headboard staring out the window, and after a few minutes, the snoring came. It eventually got so loud that Ula had trouble falling asleep. I think its repetitiveness actually helped me fall asleep. He snored on his perch, looking out the sliding doors at the back yard. He snored on Vine, and Instagram. He snored on the leather recliner, while we were trying to watch movies.

Oh, movies. Whenever he hadn’t already fallen asleep, Max loved to watch movies with us in the basement. He would either sit between us on the couch, or on one of the bar stools, with one of his paws dangling through the handle-hole. Even if there were glasses, or plates, or remotes on the bar stool, he’d figure a way to squeeze himself on there. Either way, he stared intently at the screen. If there were characters on the screen, you could watch his head follow them around. Same for video games. The only part he didn’t like was the loud rumbling bass of explosions. He would immediately jump down, and run upstairs. He would usually come back, though, once things had quieted down. You see, between us on the couch was the perfect spot to get a 2 hour belly-rub. Being able to watch a movie while we rubbed was just a bonus.

What else was he afraid of? Not much, but definitely the treadmill, the vacuum cleaner, and the lawnmower. Any time we used then he’d go hide on the chair in the dining room, in the bedroom, or on the recliner in the basement.

Max was overweight, but he was still fast, and agile. Often, Sammie would just start running around the inside of our house, and Max would give chase. Sammie went so quickly that her momentum would push the carpet runner in the hallway over and up the side of the wall. Max couldn’t catch her, but he never gave up trying. Outside, I have no idea how, but he could still jump the gate to get out of our back yard, and back in. Just this summer I saw him bolt all the way across the lawn, and straight under the BBQ cover that was laying against the house. He came out a second later with a mouse. I have no idea how he saw it from that far away, or how he managed to catch it so quickly, but he did it with ease.

He also had a favourite summertime game with Sammie, which they loved to play again and again. There’s a patch of very long jungly grass-like stuff in our garden. It’s so long that it arches over so that the tips touch the ground. This creates a kind of grass tunnel/canopy. Sammie would hide in there, and Max would hunt her down, pouncing when the time was right. She would sprint away, and either circle back around to hide again, or race up the big Maple tree that Max was too heavy to climb. It was a good game.

Max loved being outside. In the fall, he’d chase leaves. In the summer, he’d chase butterflies, and lay in the long grass. Most memorably, though, is that he also loved to just sit in the garden, looking at flowers like a furry little Buddha. Let me clarify; he would sit on the grass just outside the garden, facing the flowers, which only had a wooden fence behind them. The only thing to see in that direction was the flowers… and he’d sit there staring at them for ages. Occasionally he’d go over and smell them. Other times, he’d just go sit under the big maple tree, surveying the yard. He loved the tranquility of it all.

Max also loved being with his family. Wherever we were, Max also wanted to be. If we were in the bedroom, he wanted to be in the bedroom, and would whine or twang the doorstopper until we let him in. If we were in the TV room, so was he. If we were in the bathtub, we closed the door to keep the warm air in, but he still wanted to be in the room with us (even though he was afraid of the sound of running water). If we were in the back yard, he wouldn’t go exploring. Given the whole world, he preferred to stay with us. We were his friends.

When I was growing up, I lived on a little hobby farm, just outside of Petrolia, a small town in Southwestern Ontario. I was too young to bike or walk to friends houses, and my sister wasn’t born until I was 7, so I spent a lot of time alone. I was very sensitive, and whenever I got yelled at, or when my parents fought, I would tell all my troubles to my dog, Freeway (I named her that because she was fast — kid logic). Anyway, point is, I established a pattern of treating my pets as best friends. It always seemed like they understood me when nobody else did. They always seemed to care, and give an empathetic lick.

Later, in high school, and at university, I didn’t have any pets. My friends took over that role in my life, and I still try to keep in touch with that inner circle of people, but in 2008 I met Ula, and moved from Toronto, to London. I didn’t have any friends in London, and I worked from home. When we got Max, it was only natural that he become my new confidant. Max took on the role like a champ. He never licked me, but he and I did share a special bond. Whenever I was deeply emotional, I would tell him my problems. We were either in bed, or I was sitting at the table, and he was laying on the table. In any case, when he saw that I was distraught, he would get up, walk over to me, and make a slight head gesture. I would lower my head down to his level, and he would press his forehead against mine, with the middle of our eyebrows touching in the same spot. He’d give a light press forward, and then back away. Occasionally, he’d repeat the motion. Sometimes, in reply I’d rub my chin between his ears. Then he’d curl up in my arms and lay a while, in a comforting way. He normally demanded scratches when he lay next to you, but never when I was upset. My “language of love” is touch, so that was immensely therapeutic.


On Saturday morning, we woke up, put out some food for the cats, and went to the YMCA pool together for the first time. We did 10 laps (20 lengths) followed by 45 minutes of Aquafit. I have to lose a lot of weight in order to be eligible for a kidney transplant and time is running out, but we both love swimming so that’s how we’re going to do it! After the swim we went home, hung out a bit, and then headed to Ula’s parents’ house around 2pm for thanksgiving.

In between preparing the turkey, and my mom arriving, we had a whole conversation about how we fit “The Whole Family” (Ula, Me, Sammie, & Max) in our double bed, and about how it has gotten more difficult recently, with Ula’s pregnancy, and the addition of a body pillow… but we still manage, and we still love it. We talked about Max and Sammie, and how after all this time, they are still best friends, and true characters. We talked about how Max always jumps up on the bed where Sammie is, and lays down almost right on top of her, thrusting his face into her licking-zone. She dutifully licks his forehead and face, then hisses, jumps down, and runs away. Max just shrugs and enjoys having a clean face.

We got home around 9pm, and were beat. The cats hadn’t had dinner yet, and were starving, crying for food, as usual. I was too tired and lazy to open a can of wet food and dole it out, so I just gave them each a handful of dry. Max isn’t a big fan of dry, but’s he’ll eat it. Plus, it’s Sammie’s favourite. Then we went straight to bed.

The next morning (Sunday) we woke up at 5, and Sammie was laying on my hip. I turned to face Ula, and Sammie jumped down and left, as usual… A few minutes later she came back and laid on Ula. Rare, but whatever. We fell back asleep and got up at our 6:20am alarm, so that we could be at the pool for 7am.

Max hadn’t yet scratched at our door, or whined for food, but we were up earlier (6:20) than he usually came by (6:45). We did notice that he wasn’t there begging for food, but as we were in a rush, we just brushed it off and thought “He must still be sleeping downstairs on the recliner” (as he so often did), so we just put out some dry food and ran out the door.

We got back around 10am after having swum, bought groceries, and stopped at Ula’s parents for tea. I was in the bathroom when Ula yelled “Come here! Come here!” I replied “Is it a spider?”, and she said “It’s Max!” My heart skipped a beat.

I didn’t even finish what I was doing and ran out “Where is he? Where is he?” She pointed. There he was, laying next to the heat register in the dining room, in his usual cozy, calm, relaxed pose, but his chest wasn’t moving. I immediately fell to the floor and felt him… room temperature, and stiff.

We both burst into tears and wailing. We cuddled there on the floor, asking how… why… screaming no, and that we missed him, and that he was the best cat in the whole wide world. I ran my fingers through the hair between his ears, as I always had, and scratched his chin, and pressed my forehead to his, because he could no longer press it to mine. How utterly horrible.

For years, Max & Sammie had been our only children, and I have been looking forward to introducing them to our first human child in January. I’ve imagined countless times, watching the baby touch the soft kitty fur. I have imagined Max watching over the baby while it sleeps. I had imagined having to tell the baby not to trim his spectacular whiskers, because cats did not need haircuts. But that had just all come to an end.

As far as we can tell, his heart stopped while he was sleeping. There were no signs of sickness, fear, vomit, or otherwise. His eyes were closed, he was in his most comfortable pose, and he was just gone. He died peacefully in his sleep.

We started mentally beating ourselves up. we sould have noticed that he didn’t greet us when we came home; that he wasn’t sitting on the stool in the window. We felt horrible for not realizing sooner. But there was nothing we could have done. The reality was that he had passed in the night, while we were still asleep, long before we got up to go for a swim.

That explained why Sammie had tried to stay in our bedroom this morning. Her friend had died, and she wanted some comfort. Then I remembered Sammie. Where was she? I looked, and found her on our bed all hunched up in a tight little ball, completely silent, alone, and sad. She’d had hours to realize what had happened. She wasn’t interested in his body at all. It was as if she no longer recognized him. After a little cuddle, she wanted outside.


We let her out, and she immediately ran around and burned off some energy, but then she did something very unusual for her. She sat in the garden looking at the flowers. She sat by the tree that Max had chased her up countless times. She chased a few leaves, which was Max’s habit, not hers. While I dug a large hole under the old maple tree, near the birdbath, this was how she paid her respects. Afterwards, she inspected the hole, but did not enter. I think she knew. Then she hid in the bushes while we went inside to prepare his body.

We wrapped him in a light blue blanket, and laid him to rest on his favourite pillow with his 2 favourite toys (a knitted mouse with yarn tail that once had catnip inside, and a mouse that hung from a doorknob on an elastic string). We carried him out to his grave. It was a crisp autumn day, with leaves falling effortlessly to the ground, without being intercepted by Max’s paws. A sunbeam fell across his final resting place as we lowered him down, and then together, each with a hand on the shovel, filled it in, both wanting to participate equally in the ceremony.

It’s 10pm now, about 36 hours since we found him breathless, and I have been breathless ever since. I can’t remember a time when I cried so hard for so long, virtually nonstop for two days. I’m 38 and have never really come face-to-face with death. All my former pets either ran away, or simply disappeared, which was fairly common on a farm. I’m having trouble coping. I can’t tell Max about this problem. I haven’t been hungry, and skipped most of my meals. I only made it part way through dinner before falling apart again.

Nobody begged for my turkey scraps tonight, and for the first time in a very long time, we only had to wash one catfood dish.

Everywhere I look, something reminds me of him: bits of his shed hair peeking out from under the bed, all the spots he loved to sit, Sammie walking down the hallway alone, meowing quietly, awaiting a reply that never comes.

I am grieving for myself, and Ula, and Sammie. She lost her best friend, too, and now she’s the only cat left in the house. Ula had to work today, but Sammie and I spent the whole day in bed together, reassuring one another that we’d get through this.

It’s thanksgiving Monday, and we are so thankful to have had Max in our lives. He died too young (7), but he was a happy cat. It’s nice that he didn’t have to know the pains of growing old, not being able to catch mice, not being able to chase Sammie, not being able to jump up on the dresser, etc. We are thankful that he didn’t get hit by a car, and we are happy that we could give him a life of luxury, with the family he chose to love, who loved him back with every ounce of their being. We’ll always remember him with deep love. So long, my friend.


I see a lot of myself in Max. We were both at risk of dying due to being overweight. Max’s weight caused his heart to stop 5-10 years prematurely, and it’s the number one thing preventing me from getting the kidney transplant I so desperately need. They won’t operate on me until I lose ~100lbs; a seemingly insurmountable challenge… but given this weekend’s events, death is, all of a sudden, much more real and painful than it was before.

Max didn’t know he was about to die, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. In this case, I believe he died just far enough out of sight that it didn’t stop us from going for the swim I needed in order to help establish a new healthy habit; one that could literally save my life. That was his last gift to me… and holy fuck I’m crying as I type that.

So, I’m going to visit my dad, my sister, and my mom more often. I really need to spend more time with them. Life is so short, and can disappear with no notice, when you least expect it.

Tomorrow morning, I’m getting up bright and early to go for a swim.