One Million

Call it civic pride or call it mathematical curiosity, either way the latest census data for Canada was released this week and my city officially recorded one million residents for the first time in history.

One million.

That’s a lot of neighbours, most of whom I’ll probably never ever meet. A great big crowd, busy streets and an ever-more bustling mini metropolis with which to contend.

We sometimes talk about the switch from being a big little city to becoming a little big city, and what that means for everything from being a resident here, to welcoming visitors, to building and growing and changing now and into the future.

Admittedly, it’s been a tough couple of weeks to think about the future of our city and my country. The crowds are pressing against each other and it’s getting uncomfortable in here.

If you watch the news these days, Canada is abuzz for mostly the wrong kinds of reasons, including blockades of borders and an occupation our cities by protests that have been spiraling into more complex political movements. Even last week, as I drove south of town for a family event, we passed on the highway a parade of (literally and at least) a thousand flag-waving semi-trucks, tractors, SUVs, and other supporting vehicles en route to my city to protest vaccine and masking rules. And whether you’re on one side, the other, or stuck in the fuzzy middle it’s hard to sit back and watch with anything resembling hope when such protests are driven mostly by heated emotion, divergent ideologies, and ever deeper pits of self-affirming misinformation.

Alas, my golden rule, and one that has served me well living in a big little city — and now living in a little big city too, perhaps — is whenever possible to lift those around you instead of pushing them further down.

You can interpret that how you will, but in this great big city, and this great big world, one million of us or seven billion folks spread across the globe, I recommend to try it for a few days.

Stop honking. Stop blocking. Stop insulting. Stop trying to crush others to climb for yourself a little bit higher onto the pile.

Instead, elevate someone else’s opinion, even for just a moment. Clear a path so someone else can climb a step up. Complement a friend and give a stranger a boost. Think what would happen if we all did that.

One million people might feel less like a crowd and more like a community.

Don’t Take Participation for Granted

You can read these words.

You have access to knowledge unknown and unfathomable to any generation before you.

You are online, connected, exploring big ideas and complex thoughts.

Explain a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.

I restarted blogging at the beginning of 2021 after a fairly long absence from the sport. I put fingers to keys once again not because I think I have anything particularly important to say or even to add to a conversation already a billion-voices-strong, but because everyone should be able to have a space among those voices.

Everyone should at the very least be able to participate.

Equally. And if not, then equitably.

This is definitely not the case right now.

Voices are amplified because they are already louder.

Voices are lifted because they come from someone famous.

Voices go viral because they say something ridiculous, hateful, dumb, or nonsensical.

Some people like to talk about deplatforming.

Some people opt to complain about cancel culture.

Others seem to be hung up on who has the right to speak about one thing versus another thing.

We can and should have authorities on topics of importance, voices who speak with weight on certain topics or issues or policies. We should hear those voices and measure them against rational, thoughtful indicators of truth, reason, and the tools by which we measure the same.

But we should all participate in the conversation. At the very least, weigh in, converse, listen, and hear each other. Participate in two-way or a billion-way exchanges of position, idea, and respect.

This is definitely not the case right now.

You can read these words. You are participating. I am participating. We shouldn’t take that for granted. It is a gift, a responsibility, and part of being alive in this time when we all live.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Across the Universe

This afternoon I was driving through a snowstorm listening to a science radio show on the CBC talking about the launch of the new James Webb space telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a space telescope being jointly developed by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. It is planned to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission.

– Wikipedia

That programme got me thinking about how a couple weeks back I looked out across the evening sky while I was out for a walk and noted that three bright “stars” were lined up right there above me. I opened my astronomy app on my phone and oriented the navigation tool to point towards them above the horizon and realized that I wasn’t looking at stars, but instead very likely and as best as I could deduce, three planets neatly aligned just over the roofs of some neighbourhood houses.

Looking at the sky makes me feel pretty small in the vast scheme of things, peering out into the universe and realizing that even our one little solar system in the backwater of our one little galaxy barely registers as anything but points of light in the vast inky blackness of the multiverse.

Describe your 2021 in politics, culture, and the universe?

I point this insignificance out because I think there are those of us who feel the reality of our smallness and rareness in the vast universe and embrace it. I also think there are others who lash out against it in ways that are indecipherable to the rest of us.

Both perspectives emerge from that mist of confusion in many different forms representing many different things.

For me, it emerges as rambling blog posts, art, occasionally music, and adventures through my little corner of this tiny planet.

For others, it seems to emerge in less constructive ways. Politics, online rage, cruelty, crime, and willfully working against the general goodness that is possible in this universe.

In the upcoming year I hope you find a way to lean into even just a little more constructiveness — for yourself, for me, for all of us — as you whirl through the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, and that you continue to enjoy my attempts at the same right here as I continue to write about cooking, travel, adventure, and filling my face with delicious foods.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.


It’s not that I’m not a political guy. In fact, usually kinda the opposite.

But I’ve made a very deliberate decision to keep this space fairly free of politics and opinion that links (directly) back to those topics.

That said, it’s election day in Canada and today the nation was off to the polls to pick a federal government.

Traditionally, I pour myself a glass of whiskey, settle onto the couch, turn on the television and watch with bated breath as the results start to roll in.

With a country as geographically expansive as Canada, there is literally a rolling in of the results as we cascade east to west waiting for election zones to close down and start reporting results.

My region closed a few minutes ago and numbers have started appearing on the bottom of the screenful of commentators on the CBC coverage.

The glass of whiskey will either be a celebratory drink or a mournful way to drown some political sorrows.

As of now I don’t know which, so I’m sipping and watching and sipping some more.