Sunday, March 27, 2011


I am slowly writing a book about chemistry for a general crowd.  I have been at it for a while and I'm barely started. I want it to be interesting.  How do you make science interesting? For that matter, how do you write anything ‘interesting’?  

For some time now, I have collected ‘well-phrased’ thoughts I come across.  Interesting thoughts.  I’m trying to learn.  I’ll pull some of them out of the vault for you today.  My brother once said: “Bill Gates has probably done more good for the world than all of the hippies combined.”.   It was kinda deep.  I liked it, so I kept it.  

I appreciate an author who lets me help with the thinking - drops me off at the party but doesn’t stay.  Like this: “The time not to become a father is eighteen years before a war.”  (E.B. White).  You have to take just a second to get it, and then realize the futility of the advice... and it feels nice to do that doesn't it.

Good comedians and good rappers.  If I had to listen to anyone all day it would be them:
The trouble with jogging is the the ice falls out of my glass.’ Martin Mull
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing’ Red Foxx
And did you ever stop to think, I’m old enough to go to war, but I ain’t old enough to drink.’ Tupac.

Do you think I can write a book about chemistry with humour and timing and balance and rhythm in the words?  It might take me a while :)  

Kate and Wallace are in Canadia visiting family.  I am alone with my work and my thoughts.  There is plenty of work of course... and I should get back to it.  It was nice to visit with you.

I'll leave you with a gift... here is my beautiful boy in his grandparent's tub yesterday.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's this dad?

- Hey what's this dad?
- It's just a lemon Wallaby.

- It's awesome!  I must swallow it immediately!

- Hey!  What the heck dad?  Come on!  It doesn't fit in my mouth.

- I know it doesn't young'in... that's sort of the point.

- Oh yeah, I'll show you!!!

- This is ridiculous dad!  Why do they make these stupid lemons so big?  I quit.

- Okay Wallaby, i wouldn't normally condone quitting something so fast, but in this ca-- Hey what's this dad?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Farewell to Oz

A few months ago my family and I left Brisbane for good.  I’m back on the ‘front’ of the world now. From here, three years living in Oz now seem like a long happy dream.  It was surreal - too bright and colourful to be true.  

I miss it of course, but not how you might think. It's not so much the climate or the sand but the 'youth' of the place.  Queensland had a wonderful immaturity to it.  It felt like I was back in undergrad.  Many of our friends were in their worry-free early twenties and acted accordingly.  But there’s more to it.  Brisbane also had worry-free thirties, and forties, and fifties... and so on.  It was odd and it was appealing.  It’s hard to explain.  I suppose ‘thirty-one’ in boots and a winter jacket is a lot older than ‘thirty-one’ in flip-flops and sunglasses.  In fact, I don’t think it is possible to feel old while driving without a shirt on.  The whole country had that calm happiness that must come from... well, never having to worry about being cold.  I don’t miss the heat, I miss the attitude that comes with it.  

I’m sure some people here would scoff at that sort of living.  ‘Life is serious business!’ Right?  Stressed, and busy with work, perhaps many North Americans would insist that life is no joke and should be taken seriously.  There’s little time for costume parties.   There’s truth to that of course, but I now believe this to be an attitude borne of winter and snow.  Pour a bit of sunshine on a human being and we start to think differently.  We feel a deep urge to chill - like those big cats in Africa, just laying in the shade smiling.  Kate and I just had 36 straight months of sunshine!  More than enough to change us somewhat... to develop a bit of that Aussie-style soul-comforting relaxed’ness.  Hopefully it will stay with us for many years.

It’s sad to have left so many friends so far away.  I imagine my parents must have felt the same thing when they left Poland for Canada in the 80’s.  Anyone that spends a good chunk of time living and working (or schooling) overseas must feel it too.  Facebook is no substitute for facetime.  

So why come back to the snow?  I get asked that sometimes.  Wally’s birth ended any serious doubt I ever entertained about staying in Australia.   In a word, ‘rodzina’.  And the fact that there happens to be better work for me on this face of the globe doesn’t hurt.  Nor does the fact that this side of the world has some precious little treasures that I would have missed... like beautiful small towns, and snow, and Taco Bell.  But most important were Wally’s grandparents, and uncles and aunts.   Although the lucky little man also feels some love coming from across the Pacific and I think he always will.  

I think this will be my final Aussie-themed post. Queensland has earned my respect and part of me will always long to be back in the QLD. How could I possibly forget that beautiful river and city with the heat and the outdoor living. Although Queenslanders occasionally die of dehydration, none have ever frozen to death. That little ‘Suzie’ was the best car I will ever drive - thanks Libby. And I will find no substitute for that sand, and that ocean, and that Sandogs Beach Volleyball Club, and the tour that welcomed us with open arms, and that precious ol'school tournament (the envy of all tournaments). And those sweet, sweet, yield signs everywhere! I will miss all of it. But mostly... we left good Aussie friends.  

If I could summarize three years in one picture (other than the one of those two young gentlemen that started this blog) it may be something like this:

And if I could use a second picture.. maybe I would choose this one:
... because we truly do know some pretty interesting Queenslanders. But when it's all said and done... I brought a lil'something back with me from Australia that will keep the place alive in my heart.
And for anyone who followed our Wallaby's story, here's an update worth at least a thousand words:
The little man needs to wear a few more layers here, but they don't slow him down a bit. 
So I have decided to re-brand and continue this blog. I suspect it will end up being a rarely-updated tale of my son's childhood. Perhaps I will be motivated to include an occasional story of the interesting people we tend to meet here in Idaho. And maybe even a few words about the 'academic life' to put you to sleep. In any case as of today, although the web address won't change, this blog is now: 'The Huckleberry Days'. I'll explain that some other time...


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It’s 5 pm in Brisbane...

It’s 5 pm in Brisbane right now - a Thursday afternoon - but I’m not in Brisbane.  I’m in Ontario 14 hours earlier.  It's 3 am here but I’m obviously not sleeping.   Wally, Kate and I arrived in Canada a few days ago and my confused little brain is still living in Australia.

I don’t know yet exactly what I’ll do with this blog now...  I’ll figure it out soon.  But tonight I have some time to speak to you for a while, my dear reader, because nobody else here is awake to listen.

First, I appreciate your attention.  I am told that many friends - and friends of friends - have been reading my foolishness on here in the past months.   This is not a private blog but it was never my intention to make these words and pictures overly public either.  So thank you for your interest, Kate and I truly appreciate anyone whose thoughts and well-wishes have been with our little boy in the past months.  Thank you.

Wallace is 11 pounds, growing fast, and healthy as an ox (knock on Maple).   He handled the big long flights like a little champion.  If you have ever wondered about the look on an infant's face when moving at 850 km per hour at 35, 000 feet... here he is: 

... maybe a bit worried but surprisingly calm.

I had a feeling that my boy wouldn't be troubled by the flight because, as much as Kate and I loved the QLD, Wally was actually starting to show the occasional signs of boredom with his birthplace.

I got the feeling it was time for him to try something different... I tried to explain to him that there were many awesome things that he would miss when we left Australia for colder weather but he seemed generally unimpressed.

I guess each of us has our priorities and for Wallace there is stuff in Canada that easily outweighs anything he had in sunny Australia.  For example: 

Lucky little boy.  There is no shortage of people here like dziadzio and grandpa that have much love for Wallace.  Here is a photo that has captured a common theme in recent days: a loving family member (in this case Kate`s uncle) protecting Wallaby from a mob.  

And don't worry, he may not always look like it but I'm certain Wally loves the attention!

Let me finish today with a message to our friends back in Australia (Wally’s many wonderful sun-soaked aunts and uncles):  Thank you for the hospitality and friendship.  And take care of yourselves until we meet again (Kate and I won’t be able to stay away from the QLD for too long, and I`m sure you already know that Northern Idaho is as a world-class holiday destination :)

.... okay I can't leave you with that last picture of the young'in with his auntie and me; it's just not accurate.  The little one is generally happier this week than we have ever seen him.  Here, how about I leave you with this shot of my pretty little family at LAX (a picture that might actually have been illegal for me to take):

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Little Comedian

You may have already seen this happy snap somewhere else: 

Why is this picture so funny?  It's simple.  It's because babies are funny!  In fact, Wallace is hilarious.  You may have heard that babies are 'cute' or 'precious' or 'delicate' but I'm now leaning heavily toward 'funny'.  He's a miniature person who is trying to figure out how to use his body and face and I can't help but find the entire thing extremely amusing.

Admittedly, I have rarely found the need to be serious or stern in my life but I did invest a great deal of sober concern in Wally's early-birth-related-health-stuff in recent months so I am now delighted that the boy is so eager to reimburse me with some pure genuine entertainment.  Wallaby, of course, has no idea how much he amuses me.  I will thank him when he's much older.

The details are hard to explain but I'll try.  In truth, if you watch him long enough you can't miss it.  Mostly it's the big eyes and dramatic facial expressions.  Here, I'll show you: 

I hope you see what I mean.  And there's more to it than that.  There is also the timing.  You see there's a fine line between cute and funny and sometimes Wallace crosses that line very quickly right in front of our eyes with no warning.  Here is on the 'cute' side of the line: 

And moments later, he has hopped across to here: 

It's brilliant.

And of course I have some of my own fun with the boy.  It's so hard not to.  Here I have helped Wallace show us how much growing he still has to do: 

And this next one is a real gem.  There's a story behind it but it's not important, the picture speaks for itself:

We've pretty much decided that he'll fly with us instead.

Keep in mind that I would never embarrass my baby just for your entertainment.  No way!  I do it mostly for my own entertainment.  And I do it for Wally of course.  Huh?  My theory is very simple.  I believe that funny babies receive more parental attention than boring babies.  And I've read that parental attention is correlated to brain development.  It's all very scientific.  Maybe Wallace will thank me one day for helping him look so ridiculous.  

And hold on to your pride young'in because I'm just getting started.    

I'll leave you with Wally's exemplary 'photobombing' performance of an otherwise ordinary family pic earlier today.

Cheers :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The two-oh-eight!

Once upon a time this was a ‘travel blog’ full of new cultural experiences and distant adventures.  Kate and I grew up in a friendly part of the world they call ‘Southwestern Ontario’.  Our family and friends are, for most part, still there.  This ‘Brizzy Days’ thing was me sharing the Aussie experience.  It has also doubled as a journal; a rough record of adventures that will be fun to recall.  Our adventures are lately just one big ‘adventure’ (or 'little' adventure if you go by weight.)  But today I jump off the Wallace bandwagon for a bit.  The little man is adorable as ever but this will be a pre-Wally style post.  You see, Wally may be a little Aussie but he won’t remember Brisbane.  Nope. Instead, it appears like my son will grow up in a tiny little American college town called Moscow, Idaho.   As of August, you can call us: ‘Idahoans’. 

I have little doubt that most of you have always desperately wanted to learn more about ‘the state of Idaho’.  Wait no longer, here is your crash course:  First, Idaho is one of the last remaining states with a single area code: the two-oh-eight!  I can’t explain why Ludacris didn’t mention it in his song.

Idaho grows 1/3 of America’s potatoes.  One and a half million people live in the state - one person for every 6 square kilometres of land.  So there’s some breathing room.  A lot of breathing room actually filled with forests, mountains, rivers, and many national and state parks (some with scary names like: ‘Hell’s Canyon’ or ‘Bear Lake’ or ‘Sawtooth’).  So there is much hiking, rafting, climbing, biking, fishing, hunting and all that outdoor stuff.  Here is a collage I made for you:

I wouldn't call my self an 'outdoors' person.  Kate certainly is.  But I'm not an indoors person either?  Hmmm...  And, of course, there are some big and wild animals that don’t always play nice.

Another key bit of information is that Idaho has many official ‘emblems’ including  an official state: horse, fruit, bird, vegetable, tougher bird, tree, flower,  fish, insect, gem, and fossil. 

Seriously: Appalosa, Huckleberry, Mountain Bluebird, Potato, Peregrine falcon, Western White Pine, Syringa, Cutthroat Trout, Monarch butterfly, Star Garnet, and equus simplicidens. That’s right... a fossil:  Equus simplicidens, or ‘Hagerman Horse’.   They also obviously have a state song, and flag, and a state dance (the square dance) a catchy Latin state motto: Esta Perpetua, which means: everlasting, eternal, forever (you get the picture) and translates directly to ‘it is perpetual’.  And here is their official seal:

That's it.  Congratulations, you have just completed your Idaho crash course.  I might also mention that the state happens to have many pick-up trucks.

And as for the town of Moscow (home to the University of Idaho): I have been there just once, briefly, and I think I love it.  It felt like a perfect little laid-back college town with almost as many students as citizens.  (Town: 23000 people.  University of Idaho: 12000 students).  It’s a rich pocket of life that happens to be far, far away from everyone else.  The closest ‘big’ city is probably Seattle at 7 hours drive away.  And incidentally it’s 10 highway-hours to Vancouver and 12'ish to Calgary (and about 36 to Southwestern Ontario)

This is the only picture I could find of downtown Moscow for you:
And this is the entire town from above. It sits on little rolling hills. 

There's not much to it.  Many people don’t like small towns: 'boring' they say.  But I disagree.  I've met boring people but have yet to discover a boring place.  You can read anywhere.  But little towns have fewer ‘random people’ and more ‘familiar faces’.  Many of us constantly see nothing but strange faces.  It's evolutionarily abnormal :)  Plus I hate traffic, I hate line-ups and I hate traffic.  But little Mowcow, Idaho... I can’t wait to get to know this town. 

Admittedly, beach volleyball may be tough to find.