What Your Amazon Wish List Says About You


I don’t know exactly how it started, but we were having a family discussion about Amazon wish lists.  I think my mother was wondering what to buy my sister for her birthday.  My mother knew that I had a wish list and then started to quiz me on who had a wish list.  She asked if my sister had one.  I replied yes.  She then asked if my other sister had one.  While I wasn’t sure, I hedged my bets and said I thought so.  After a few more names, she wondered aloud if everyone had one.  My only reply was that everyone should.  It would save a lot of hassle when it came to buying them gifts.

On numerous occasions, my family and friends have expressed relief that I had several wish lists to choose from.  They had no trouble finding gifts for me.  My nephew was surprised when he saw a desk lamp on my list.  He wondered if I truly wanted it even after he bought it and gave it to me.  I was happy to tell him that it was a central part of my stamp collecting desk and that I had ordered the same one for my hobby room.

Today, I spent a bit of time perusing my list.  I am also reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Talking to Strangers” and I had just read a chapter in which people are analyzing other people by the words they wrote down on a random blank word quiz.  While it struck me as complete nonsense that you could judge people based on this (and I think the psychologists who planned the tests weren’t testing the people who wrote the words, but rather the people who used the words to make judgments about them) I started to wonder if we could judge someone based on what is on their Amazon wish list.

When I go to people’s houses, if I have the opportunity, I always check out their bookshelf.  Most of the time, I am looking for books I can borrow rather than judging their literary taste, but there is probably some judgement in there too.

Going through my list I can make a few generalizations….or conclusions….maybe some confessions.  In no particular order:

  • I must still secretly want to become fluent in Japanese since I have a few grammar books and other learning materials on the list.
  • I need to let go of some old TV series even though they are cult classics, I don’t spend nearly as much time watching TV series these days. Do I really need to see all three seasons of Forever Knight?
  • Also, my taste in TV is a little questionable.
  • My days as an English literature major haven’t totally deserted me.  There are still a bunch of classics and post modern works that I want to read and a few I want to reread.
  • My hobbies are well represented on my wish lists.  I probably spend more time reading about my hobbies than actually pursuing them.  It is probably a good thing I haven’t found a whole bunch of books on blogging–I know they are out there, but I have avoided the temptation of looking.  The first chapter probably starts out telling me I am doing everything wrong.
  • Why haven’t I pulled the trigger on the hardcover complete set of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons?  Why?
  • There are still a lot of Japanese things on my list.
  • I need to edit my list a bit more often.  There are some items that haven’t been in stock for years.
  • Sometimes I put things on the list only because I want to remember them, but not actually own them.  If they are books, I usually find them at the library, read them, and then delete them from my list.
  • Why did I put a six thousand dollar bike took kit on my list?  I will never buy it.  Even if they gave it to me for free, I probably could only use fewer than 20 pieces of it.
  • It is probably good that I have access to Amazon from Canada and not the US.  I know there is way more stuff available there.

I’d love to know what are the oddest, most expensive, or oldest things on your wish list.

Posted in Amazon, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, gifts, online, perfect moment, presents, shopping, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Monday

There is a soccer team–the rival to my friend’s favourite team–called the Wednesday.  The origin, if correct, was that they played on Wednesday.  They were also butchers and their team uniform reflects the apron of the profession.

Why am I telling you this?  Probably because I had considered titling this post and my thrown together cycling group the Monday, rather than the Monday’s–maybe it should be the Mondays….too much to think about.  I am writing this while waiting for my students to appear online for class.  I am going to change it, but I would like your feedback on that.

For the past few Monday evenings, some of us have gotten together to complete a short evening ride.  This group was mostly organized by one of my fellow Newmarket Eagles riders.  She is keen on riding and goes out for a lot of kilometres per week.  She has really caught the cycling and fitness bug and she is relentless.  I have to admit that it is contagious.  I think she is going out every night this week as well as doing early morning high intensity workouts.

My riding has been up and down lately.  On Saturday, I was running late, but managed to meet the group on the way.  It was a bit of a fluke because I hadn’t looked at the route and if I had, I wouldn’t have bothered.  They were supposed to head in another direction, but changed the start of the route at the last minute.  I don’t know if their change was better, but it meant I could run into them.

I ended up not feeling particularly well and bailed after about 15 kilometres.  I was pretty slow and my stomach was a bit nauseous.  I kept up at the beginning, but the climbs wore me out.  I was glad, I got out, but dropping back and dropping out soured me for the rest of the weekend.  I didn’t even put the 15 up on Strava–and you know what they say, if it isn’t on Strava, it didn’t really happen.

So, last night was a bit of redemption.  I was still slower than the group, but kept up until the very end–but by that point I was completely spent.  I rode the last few kilometres fast, but they weren’t the pleasant ones.

When I got home, I was completely spent.  Even eating was an arduous task.  The thing is, despite how tired I was, I felt glad that I had gone out.  I guess it is true.  You regret the things you didn’t do more than the tings you did.

Posted in achievement, bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, exercise, group rides, Mondays, Newmarket Eagles, perfect moment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Not As You Might Suspect

20200727_120014From the picture, you might think I am choosing pizza for lunch as Today’s Perfect Moment.  That wouldn’t be surprising.  If I go back and look at the past 1000 or so posts, I have undoubtedly written many posts in praise of pizza.  If I look at my Instagram, there are probably a dozen (if not more) pictures of pizza.

However, I am not choosing pizza as Today’s Perfect Moment.  Instead, I am choosing willpower.  You see, I could have eaten all this pizza in one go on the weekend.  I could have scarfed it down like a university student.  I could have scarfed it down like a gaijin at Shakey’s All-You-Can-Eat lunch buffet (that’s an insider reference, but would love to hear from anyone who gets it.).

The key point is that I didn’t.  Instead, I saved it for lunch today.  I am planning on going out riding later, so hopefully it will be fully digested and make for good pre-ride fuel.

Posted in bicycles, cycling, delicious, group rides, perfect moment, pizza, willpower | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Too Drained for the Kitchen


It’s funny how we develop and break patterns.  I could be talking about habits, but really I am just talking about where I get my takeout food from.  Lately, I’ve mostly had pizza or Chinese food, or Shawarma.  Pizza because….well, it’s pizza.  You probably don’t need an explanation.  The Chinese food place was the victim of some discrimination early on in the Covid 19 saga and I thought they needed my patronage.  I went to the Shawarma place because I really like it and I want it to survive.  There are going to be retail casualties of all kinds, regardless of how much funding there is.  We need to do our part.

Before Covid 19 one of my monthly stops was Mucho Burrito.  However, owing to their location and a bunch of other pandemic related reactions, I hadn’t gone there since before my winter vacation, the end of which coincided with the lockdown.

Today, I had to deliver unfavourable news to one of my students and their arguing and bizarre rationalizations were rather draining.  I was able to keep a straight and sympathetic face….most of the time. Maybe I rolled my eyes a few times….maybe I buried my head in my hands once or twice…and if I am being honest, I probably showed my dumbfounded look once.

My point being, that when it was over, I didn’t have the energy to make something.  A special pick-me-up was needed and that is why I donned my mask and gloves and headed to Mucho Burrito.  I can report that there were some safely protocols in place.  As usual, I got the server to make the burrito rather than sit over him pointing out each thing that I wanted.  This doesn’t work at all restaurants, but I have had luck with it from time to time.  To his credit, he managed to jam a whole lot of stuff in there, and find a good balance between deadly spicy and tongue burning.

It wasn’t the best  burrito I have ever had, but it was definitely good enough to be Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in burrito, comfort food, Covid 19, ESL, ethnic food, food, food blogging, mask, perfect moment, problems, restaurant, students | 4 Comments

The Future of ESL Teaching

What do you do with a room of about 30 unemployed ESL teachers and the managers who had to deliver the bad news?

Sounds like the opening of a good joke….if only I knew the punchline.

My colleagues and I gathered online to hear the latest updates for when face to face classes can resume, what those classes are going to look like, and when we expect to get new students.  As you can imagine the news on all of these points wasn’t really good.

Yes, we will get back to the classroom part time in about five weeks.  The amount of safeguards are going to be quite stringent and they will take some getting used to.  Having to teach while wearing a mask and having the students do so as well doesn’t really sound all that appealing, but better than the alternative–which I suppose is either infection or unemployment.

If there is any Perfect Moment to this, it can be only one thing.  It was fun to see all my colleagues–and based on the tough reality of the future, I should address some of them as former colleagues–in one place.  I wish a few of them had stuck around for a chat afterwards, but they probably had their own things to do.  Their non work routines might have become quite solidified by now.

This time last year, I was working a lot and thinking about a cycling vacation somewhere.

Posted in better safe than sorry, ESL, meeting people, perfect moment, students, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When There’s Nothing to Write About


Having no thoughts on where or how to start and stop this thing, you can expect a bit of a ramble.

I haven’t been writing much.  This is probably due to the mourning of my cat and the heaviness I feel about things associated with the pandemic.  The cat will take time, but I suspect the pandemic will take a lot of time.

As for the cat, I still expect to see him when I turn the corner, come back in from an errand, or finish my teaching day.  I still find the empty space where the litter box stood to be a little jarring.  I have even found not having him wake me up before my alarm in the morning to be a little less than satisfying.


As for Covid 19, things aren’t bad where I live.  The numbers are certainly lower than our neighbours to the south–but aren’t almost anyone’s. I am still working but the number of students drops slowly week by week.  I expect to hear a mix of good and bad news tomorrow when we have a meeting.  Luckily for me, I have a girlfriend that doesn’t let me wallow in doom and gloom.

I’ve been riding more than usual.  Since more people want to go on group rides, we have found places to meet and take off for a little jaunt.  While I won’t be setting and mileage or speed records, it is awesome to be out on the bike and see some great sites.


I don’t want anyone to think there haven’t been perfect moments.  They’ve just been beaten down in my subconscious by other less positive things.  Let’s consider the following

I have:

  • eaten some good meals
  • listened to some great music
  • done a jigsaw puzzle
  • seen some great sunsets
  • followed friends and family from afar on social media
  • become a bit more handy around the home
  • taught a few good lessons
  • used technology to virtual share a beer with friends
  • had some amazing dreams of traveling to distant lands
  • watched and re-watched a few good movies and some mediocre ones
  • got parts of my stamp collection organized
  • spent time with my girlfriend
  • read a mediocre book or two
  • researched new hobbies on the computer

I was going to list all the things that went wrong, but then I realized that it was rather defeating.  There is no point in dumping over the mostly good points above.  Let’s leave it at that.

I’ve had my ramble.

Posted in blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, cycling, perfect moment, writing | 9 Comments

Portrait of a Cat


My ex-wife really wanted a cat.  I was concerned that it would affect our traveling and I wasn’t really ready for the responsibility.  I managed to put her off for a little while, but one day, while I was running errands at the mall, she had wandered into the pet store and fell in love with a little black kitten.  He came home with us that very night.

He was little and was a little afraid to be in our place.  It took him weeks to venture to all parts of our relatively small place.  There were some thresholds he wouldn’t cross….until he did.  Once that was accomplished, he was the king of the castle.

In that first apartment, we used to play fetch.  I would throw the bouncy ball down the long hallway we had that spanned the whole place.  He would chase the ball and bring it back to me….most of the time.  He would even bring me the ball and signal that it was time to play.  When the ball was no longer fun, I did the same thing with his cat treats.  He could chase those down relentlessly.

After the divorce, he stayed with me because making the transpacific journey was difficult.  Also, Japan requires a lot of paperwork, microchips, and shots before they will accept any animal in the country.  It is a rabies free country and I can’t blame them for wanting it to stay that way.

In those years, he was my post break-up company.  Maybe we as humans project onto animals, but I think he had a lot of empathy for me.  His companionship helped me and having a sense of responsibility wasn’t too bad either.  Of course, I had to find people to feed him when I went on vacation.  While this was difficult, and sometimes not free, it was always nice that he was there to greet me when I got back.

Our daily routine consisted of him waking me up before my alarm.  I usually managed to put him off with a few “just wait a minute” phrases said in Japanese.  (Chotto matte).  However, he could be persistent when food was involved.  He would either lovingly rub against me, somewhat less lovingly head-butt me, and on a few occasions slowly protrude his claws into me Wolverine style–just so I got the point.

keitatsu and shinkansen 001

When I got home from work, he was always there to greet me.  I like to think it was me and not the treat he was bound to get that motivated this.

He was quite protective and didn’t like interlopers in the house.  If you weren’t staying long, you might not even see him.  However, if you were around for a while, he would make his presence (and dominance) known.

In the last week, he was seemingly a much better cat than he had been for the past year.  In fact Thursday, he spent most of the day near me.  He even slept beside me in the small pet bed I bought last week–I bought one that was too small, but he seemed to like the coziness—while I taught my classes over the internet.

Sadly, Friday morning he didn’t wake me up to feed him.  It was the last day of his life.  Thank you for letting me share this portrait of my cat with you.  It helps me a lot.

Goodbye Keitatsu. Rest in peace.  I miss you already.

Posted in perfect moment | 14 Comments

From the Mailbox


The mail carrier/postal worker arrived rather late today.  This didn’t bother me, but it did make for a good starting sentence to this post.

Long after work was done, I made the short pilgrimage to the mailbox.  When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised.  There was a small package for me.  As I walked back to my house, I mentally went over my recent purchases, trying to guess what it was.  I am expecting a number of things that, thanks to Covid 19, are overdue.  These include birthday gifts, stamps, and some cycling gear.

Then it hit me.  It must be the screwdriver I ordered months ago.  I ordered this particular screwdriver because it was better suited to adjusting the derailleur on my bicycle as it was “Japanese standard”.  I don’t know whether it will really make any difference, but I saw a video that featured the screwdrivers and how all the top cycling teams use them,  like the idea of having bicycle specific tools, liked the design of the tool, and probably needed another purchase to qualify for free shipping.

It has been so long that I was starting to think it would never arrive.  I had already started mentally composing my complaint letter to Amazon and the supplier of the screwdriver.  It felt pretty good when it showed up in my mailbox.  It wasn’t Christmas, but it was Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in Amazon, bicycles, Canada Post, Covid 19, cycling, cycling gear, mail, online, perfect moment, quarantine, shopping, tools, waiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Being Bad


I have a short story to tell.  It feels like a confession, even though it isn’t.

My girlfriend is rather neat.  I don’t mean that she is a neat freak or anything like my third roommate in Japan.  She just takes pride in her house and is quite well organized.

Early on in our relationship, I noticed that her nail polish bottles were neatly lined up on a shelf in her bathroom.  Being the curious and deep thinker that I am, I wondered a lot about the order.  I would ask myself; Is it based on colour?  Is it based on shades of colour?  Is it based on when she bought them?

From time to time, the order would change, but not dramatically.  That’s when I started to experiment.  I found it fun to change the order of the bottles and wonder if she would notice.  If she were like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, she would notice right away and I would have gotten a stern lecture.

My little fun didn’t create any big waves and sometimes she would catch me and sometimes she wouldn’t.  She never yelled at me, but she would exit the bathroom and give me that knowing look that told me that I had been caught. She might chuckle at my efforts or she might just shake her head disapprovingly.

The truth is, I had been expecting to get caught.  I not only changed the order, but I also changed the physical orientation.  I moved them forward and back.  I created more space between them than they had before. I turned them around and I created interesting (to me) geometric patterns with them.

Why did I do this?  Of course, I wanted to see whether or not she would notice.  I also wanted to interject a bit of randomness into her life.  I like changing things and I like to see the ripples the changes make (this whole Covid 19 ripple is a bit much and the changes are going to be massive).

I hadn’t done this in a while, but then yesterday, I realized that her nail polish wasn’t observing social distancing (physical distancing is the better term but people seem to like social distancing more) rules and I had to remedy that.  In the picture, you can see I left the triplets together.

Posted in confessions, Covid 19, organization, perfect moment, randomness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Saturday Struggles


I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have come to believe it’s true for me.  Some days, you just don’t have it on the bike.  You might have been decent the week before, but on this particular day, it just wasn’t your day.

Today was that day for me.  It probably didn’t help that our group was really composed of people from all our groups.  There were some A riders, some B+ riders, some B riders and some C riders. It might also have been because I didn’t sleep enough.  Maybe I ate too much breakfast, or too little breakfast.   It might have been a combination of all those things or none of them.

That being said, I still think getting out on the bike is Today’s Perfect Moment.  I may not have been a star, but I got out there and tried.  I had some fast sections, but I just didn’t have it on the hills.  One of the faster riders said it best when he explained that he was tired of riding alone.  I have to agree.

We put in 70kms before the heat got to be too much.

Posted in club, cycling, cycling gear, exercise, group rides, hills, Newmarket Eagles, perfect moment, Saturday morning, training | 3 Comments