Monday, September 11, 2006


On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I had arrived at my client's office around 8:20. This client had some of its employees on strike at the time, and I waited while they politely talked to everyone passing through the picket lines. It took about 2 minutes for each person to pass which wasn't too bad, I thought. After I made it into the building, I went straight to the cafeteria to get a coffee rather than going to my desk first. I got the coffee and made my way to the elevator. Someone said that a plane - they thought it might have been a 737 - had hit one of the World Trade Center towers.

But it's such a beautiful clear day.

That was my first thought. Then I remembered that a B-25 Mitchell bomber had crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945.

It must be crappy weather in New York.

I thought briefly about what a monumental rescue operation that was going to be, and headed up to my desk. It was about 8:50 AM.

A few minutes later, someone came out of their office and said that a second aircraft had hit the other tower. I, and many others, knew right there and then that this wasn't an accident. I remember someone saying, "This is war!". I didn't realize how right that person was at the time.

We tried in vain to check some of the web sites such as CNN and The Globe and Mail, but they were overloaded with traffic. We eventually found some French-language sites that were still available, and news came that a third plane had hit the Pentagon. I went down to a boardroom where a TV had been set up, arriving just in time to see the South Tower collapse. I know my mouth fell open, and so did those of many others in the room. Shortly thereafter, my manager came by and said that there was an evacuation order. No one knew why, or even knew if it was real, but no questions were being asked. I headed for the parking lot around 10:30 AM. On the way home, reports came in that United 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania.

I'll be honest - I was scared. At the time we lived relatively close to the airport in Ottawa, so I was watching for anything strange in the sky.

I picked up my son from day care, and went home. He was 3-1/2 at the time, so he didn't really know what was going on. So, the rest of the day with him was spent acting "normal", with occasional glimpses at CNN or the Canadian networks to get updates.

After all North American air traffic was grounded, it became eerily quiet except for the occasional 747 passing overhead on it's way to quarantine at Toronto Pearson.

Five years later, it's once again a clear, cool day in Ottawa - quite similar, in fact, to this day in 2001.

The world isn't, though.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006


In Canada, at least, Americans have a reputation for being loud and rather obnoxious. I have an uncle in San Diego who fits that stereotype perfectly, right down to smoking a cigar! Of course, the loud part could possibly be attributed to hearing problems, but why break a good stereotype? ;)

I've had the chance over the past few months to spend some time in the U.S. in Missouri and Colorado. One thing that struck me immediately was how friendly people were. Walking down the halls of a place where I had never been before, practically everyone said "Hi" or "How are you doing?" or, in Colorado, "Howdy!".

Canadians, I'm told, have a reputation for being friendly, polite people. I walked into the office this morning, and had only one person say hello, and that was someone I knew. Everyone else was doing their best not to make eye contact in case they then had to say something.

Of course, some of the people in the U.S. who said hello could be serial killers and those who didn't in Canada could be the nicest people in the world. However, such a small, simple thing certainly makes me feel more "at home". Maybe it's owing to my small-town roots, maybe not... I don't know. Perhaps the places where I was staying were more friendly than others. Again, I don't know.

What I do know, though, is that it's something very simple to do and I'm going to continue to do it myself.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Transitions III - Way Cool!

I've had my new MacBook Pro for over a week now, and despite a few quirks learning how to translate 16 years of PC keyboard habits, it's going very well! I've installed FireFox, Eclipse, Skype, etc., with hardly a hitch. I connected to my wireless network at home effortlessly, and transferred a whole whack of stuff over from my other laptop and desktop machines.

After using just the mousepad for a few days, I decided that I'd get the add-on BlueTooth mouse. However, I didn't find the time to go out and get one, so I tried my little Microsoft wireless USB mouse. Lo & behold, it worked perfectly including right-clicking! Funny how Apple doesn't advertise that. :) It does feel a bit strange using MS-branded equipment on a Mac, though.

I haven't yet tackled the task of installing BootCamp or Parallels to allow the use of Windows XP. There is some software I need that only has a Windows version at the moment, so I will have to sully my otherwise pure Mac with that other operating system.

More to come...