writings


Help fund Makerspaces for kids | Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Worthwhile project to Kickstart in PA:

Making things is a great way to learn new skills. So why shouldn't schools have makerspaces? That’s why the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh created this program, working with ten schools that are seeking to fund their makerspaces through the Kickstarter projects below. The plan is to turn this into a model other cities can adopt. It’s all about giving students the tools and resources they need to start tinkering, hacking, and creating. Join the movement by supporting these projects!


Spectres of Yore | Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Like most other people, I sometimes catch myself thinking about what life - mine and others - would be like if I had made different decisions. I don't do so with regret or disappointment, but with genuine curiosity. There exists a theory that there are infinite other universes, and that new ones are created every instant with every possible outcome or decision branching out into a new universe or dimension of existence. This intrigues me, because somewhere out there could be multiple versions of me that never decided to get on that plane, never took that class, or never got that job. I would like to meet those alternate "me"s, talk to them, see how they are doing. I wonder whether future versions of myself would want to thank me, yell at me, or warn me. And what would I have to say to past versions of myself? What advice or warnings could I possibly give them without knowing what all the alternatives could be? This, of course, all boils down to the same armchair-philosopher question, the "Would you have done anything differently?" motivational posters that office workers hang in their cubicles. However, it remains a difficult question to answer.

The concept of regret is one I continuously try to distance myself from, as it is arguably the most useless emotion bestowed upon us by whichever cosmic entity you choose to believe - or not - in. Unlike fear, anger or greed, it doesn't motivate us. It doesn't provide the comfort and warmth that love or friendship do, nor can we learn from it the way we learn from pain or pleasure. All that regret can teach us is that we want to avoid it, because the emotional drain it can cause us is amplified by the fact that we cannot change the thing we are regretting - it's in the past. Until time ceases to be linear for us humans, that means that we are stuck regretting something that we can never change. That's an awfully unappealing prospect to most folks, but it's difficult to just flip a switch and decide to stop regretting something, at least it is for me. We use tired expressions like "Hindsight is 20/20" to make up for decisions which, in retrospect, may not have always been in our best interests or that of others. "It was the best I could do with the information I had at the time", we try telling ourselves. We conveniently forget that we are looking at our past selves through rose-colored glasses, and that we could indeed have maybe done things differently. We never call our hindsight 20/20 except when we think we've made a mistake. It's never something we say about the good choices we've made in life.


The Mediocre Flood | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Dear Eastern Townships,

I like you. - I really do. We've been together for nearly a year now. Sure, we've had our ups and downs. You might not be the best cook I've ever met. You send raccons rummaging through my trash. You don't like it when I roar around on my motorcycle - truth be told, I think you actively tried to murder me a couple of times.

All that stuff, though? It don't matter. I'll stick with you. Your rolling hills, your honest disposition, your no-BS approach to cheese curds... they've won me over.

But we've seriously got to talk about your mood swings. In the year since I've been with you, you've thrown countless cold spells at me, went through the worst ice storm I've lived in two decades, and now - in April - a pleasant combination of flash foods and flash freezing. I'll admit that walking on thin ice only to have it give way over two feet of water is breathtaking, but not in the way I want it to be.

This is some bs, girl. This time last year, in Montreal, I'd already been riding my bike for a month. I mean, it's April 16th today, and you've frozen over my entire flooded town like it were the endtimes. That ain't no way to treat a man.

Please, just try and work on these tiny little things, and I promise we'll be stronger than ever.

Con cariño,

Esteban


Bike for sale | Monday, April 15th, 2013

(I hereby promise that this will be the last automotive/motorcycle-related post for a while)... 

So, I'm selling my wicked touring bike. This is the motorcycle I rode on my 24000+KM trip through Canada and the U.S. last fall; a 2005 Victory Kingpin.

Details copy-pasted from my Kijiji ad after the jump.


Great Big Rocks | Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Late last night, as I was driving back to my new apartment from yet another boardgame nerdfest, there was a large foreign object jus' chillin' rite thurr, in the middle of my lane. At first I thought it was just a snowball, but as I got closer, I soon realized that it was actually a near-bowling-ball-sized chunk of rock. I couldn't maneuver around it into the next lane because there was a white Mazda 3 with an "ARMENIAN PRIDE" sticker on the bumper, windows down, playing loud Armenian music, with two young, cute but overly made-up (make-upped?) dark haired girls - presumably Armenian - talking on their cell phones, completely oblivious to my plight. So, I decided to slow down as much as I could, and swerve away from it as far as possible without careening headfirst into the Armenian rave party happening in the next vehicle.


A Third Saab | Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

My dad was, in most ways, a creature of habit. In his later years he took some chances and let himself explore outside of his comfort zone a little more, taking up swing dancing, travelling more, making new friends, and trying new foods. It was only later in life that he'd let me start taking him for lunch, settling on an amazing little Indian restaurant in Laval as our go-to lunch place. Growing up, on the rare occasions we'd head out to restaurants, I always knew what the choices were: Bill Wong's [RIP], Harvey's or, on a really special occasion, Le Biftèque. On Sundays, after church, we'd all head over to the Montreal Pool Room on St-Laurent - comfortably nestled between a shady army surplus shop with blacked-out windows and a busy all-day strip club [sans blacked-out windows] - and impatiently wait in the car while my dad went inside to purchase hot dogs, fries and soda. He'd return with a big carton of the stuff, and my sisters, parents and I would sit in the Chevy Impala / Buick Century / Buick Century / Buick Century, parked right there on St-Laurent in the sweltering Sunday afternoon sun, eating greasy fries and steamed hotdogs, doing our best not to squirt ketchup or drop onion chunks onto the brown / burgundy / grey velour seats. After stuffing our faces with unredeemingly unhealthy junk food, we'd head up to St-Viateur Bagel to get a dozen (or two) freshly-baked bagels. Today, fresh Montreal bagels are at the top of my favourite foods list, but back in those days, the combination of the aforementioned greasy fast food and the raging sea-sickness induced by the yacht-like ride in my dad's car left me with a distaste for those fresh, warm, delicious bagels. Of course, the next morning, I would beg for them for breakfast.

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