• Furnal Equinox 2023 thoughts

    I needed something to test the ActivityPub plugin that I just added to my site, so I figured that I’d also do a quick write-up of thoughts post-FE.

    I started staffing the convention as Business Director after FE 2018, though only had two in-person events under my belt (FE 2019 and FE 2022 – FE 2020 was cancelled in the 11th hour, and FE 2021 didn’t happen due to COVID-19 too) before I stepped down. So this was my first year as a regular attendee since the first time I’d attended the convention, back at FE 2017 – when I still lived back in the Vancouver area (and hadn’t even been contemplating a move out to Toronto then)

    Personally I felt this year was a little disappointing for me due to a number of factors.

    First, a couple of good friends who had planned to come out had (for good and personal reasons) backed out. This meant that my ‘hangout group’ was now quite a bit smaller than I’d planned, and I had been hoping to do more since I was no longer staffing.

    Second, for personal reasons of my own, I just wasn’t feeling particular enthusiastic about going to the convention in the weeks leading up. Barely a hint of excitement, very little planning of what to do, and so on.

    Lastly was the at-event experience. This year in particular I felt that it was very difficult to actually find other people to talk to and hang out with. I’m putting this down to a general lack of hang out space in the hotel and convention centre. The mezzanine (convention) level of the hotel has a long hallway with south (lake) facing windows which – when the hotel is not holding an event – has a number of comfortable seats. Starting from FE 2022, almost half of these seats got re-deployed into ‘Quiet Rooms’, to provide a refuge for people who might be feeling somewhat overwhelmed to retreat to. Then, there was no ‘Zoo’ (lounge) area where people could congregate and just hang out. This also went away in FE 2022 due to making the Dealer’s Room larger to give more opportunity for social distancing, letting that area expand from 2/3 of the Metro Ballroom to all of it. There were tables in the Gaming Room as well as a small handful in the Dealer’s Room, but it kind of felt ‘wrong’ to use those as chill/hang out spots. As for the hotel lobby, there were no real seating areas down there, other than the bar – of which you really had to be eating/drinking to make use of.

    So I felt that I was wandering the hotel and convention centre just looking for people to talk with, and when I didn’t find anyone I knew I’d just end up retreating back to my room. Then in the evenings, I’d wander down and the lobby area (except the bar) would have a handful of people, the same in that long south-facing hallway on the mezzanine level, and it seemed that everyone else was in the main stage area for the dance. I can only assume that if you weren’t a fan of excessively loud music and/or dancing, you were hiding in your own or someone else’s hotel room.

    That even made going out in costume difficult, because other than the a handful of costumers on the bridge from the hotel to the convention centre, there just seemed to be rather few people out. I went down in Tseatah mk.IV one afternoon and was only out for 30 minutes because there was so few people out and about.

    For a convention that had over 3,300 people, it sure didn’t feel like that many people were there.

    Hopefully I’ll have a better time this summer at AnthroCon, as at least then the weather will be such that people can socialize outside the hotel and convention centre.

  • 2019 in Review


    A sad month, as both Cylia and myself were learning how to live without Otter in our lives.


    Went to the local Floof Furmeet, which is held in the Delta Hotel by Pearson Airport. Took Athra of course, because that Khajiit is such a ham for attention. Other than that, not much of interest other than prep for Furnal Equinox.


    Before an FE meeting on the first Saturday of the month I had a bit of time, so I rode out on the TTC Line 4 from Yonge-Sheppard to Don Mills. That meant that I’d now ridden on every subway line from end to end. Hurrah?

    FE time, and this year had Aeto and Saerak come up to the con for the first time. Also, this was the first time that I was staffing the con as Business Director. Of course this meant I couldn’t do as much costume stuff as I wanted to, which was a shame, but other than that, the con seemed to come off okay.


    Went to see Come From Away with a few other local people. A good show! If you’re not familiar with what it is, it’s a musical of the real events that took place on and just after September 11, 2001 when 38 planes were diverted to Gander International Airport on the island of Newfoundland, and how the local people did whatever they could to welcome the ‘plane people’.

    Needed a relaxacon, so went down to try Motor City Furry Con down in the Detroit area. A small con with not too much happening, but was good to get away for a bit.

    At the end of the month, the plan was to go down to Florida and meet up with my parents and brother to help celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday. It didn’t quite happen as planned, because my dad had to back out due to a medical issue. In the end, I still went – along with Aeto – and stayed in the rental accommodation that my parents had already paid for. It was either that, or they’d lose the money completely. So, we got a small vacation out of it, and spent much of it in the company of Dreamfinder Dragon (Dreams).


    Went with Lanakila and Nexus to Mountsberg Raptor Centre and saw birbs! Chomper the Great Horned Owl still hates Lanakila, so that’s still amusing 🙂

    It was Game of Thrones finale this month, so I posted some pics of the Drogon costume (made by Temperance, Silverhusky and Wolfish) and got some good reactions.

    Also, went over to see Derecho in Saginaw, MI.


    A bunch of us went down to the University of Guelph and posed with the big gryphon statue there.

    Ribfests around the GTA had kicked off, so was good to wander out to those on Saturday afternoons for dinners.

    Traveled down to Michigan again, where Derecho and I went to the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival, and Athra was well received.


    AnthroCon right at the start of the month, and this time everyone from a little group-of-friends Telegram chat that I’m in was there. So we all hung out with each other for the most part. A fun convention. Brought Drogon down as well, and he got to re-meet Temperance again.


    After missing it last year due to a foot injury, drove up (with Babs) to Ottawa and attended CanFurence. Another smaller con, but had a decent enough time there. Ended up enjoying running around in one costume of mine that I didn’t think I’d be using most of the time. Even took the Kootenay costume up there! First outing of him in quite a while.

    Right at the end of the month, went to DragonCon for the first time. Took Drogon, Qesnel, Athra and a Cats-style costume (Snowpaw) I’ve had for a while and barely done anything with. Drogon participated in the Game of Thrones photoshoot and the big parade. Qesnel went out one evening along with Dreams’ Namid Jedi gryphon. Athra did his thing, of course, also going in for the Elder Scrolls photoshoot. Finally, Snowpaw went out with Temperance (as Rum Tum Tugger) for a while, and then went to the Musicals photoshoot. Quite a fun time overall! Not a con that I would do every year, but I would go back.


    My brother and his wife became parents, again! This time to twins – Charlotte and Imogen. Unfortunately, due to an early birth they had some health issues and were in the hospital for quite a while.

    Sadder news that month was that McVitie’s Canada had discontinued Ginger Nuts (a type of cookie/biscuit), so I could no longer buy them easily in grocery stores. Now I have to travel further afield to import stores to get them.

    The Furry Convention Leadership Roundtable (FCLR) was being hosted by Furnal Equinox in Toronto this year, so I got to participate in that.

    Then the following weekend I went up to a Pokémon Go Safari Zone event in Montréal. First time that I’ve been to the city and spent a significant amount of time in Quebec! Fortunately I remembered enough High School French to survive and figure most things out – mainly signage, as English was quite heavily spoken there still. First time too taking a train for a significant distance in N.America, as that’s how I got to Montréal and back. Was surprised how fast it went, actually, but it was not as smooth of a ride as in UK/Europe.

    At the end of the month, I was back in Michigan again, this time for the Michigan Renaissance Festival… which, of course, meant that Athra was out and trying to be the centre of attention again.


    Cylia worried me for a bit, as she ended up limping one night. She managed to walk it off, but was out of sorts for a bit. She got a trip to the vet out of it, but nothing was found. Whatever it was, she recovered from it okay.

    Nikoli got stockings! Saw these being offered, and thought that is silly enough for a spotkat.

    Canadian General Election – the second one that I’ve been able to vote in. As someone who hasn’t always had the right to vote where I’ve lived, now I have it, I take it very seriously.


    Went down to North Carolina for the Renaissance Festival! I’d thought about doing it for a while, and managed to find a trip for some airline points and some money to make it happen. Met up with Wyoon, Dreams and Saerak there, and stayed with Saerak at a hotel near Charlotte Airport. Good fun, and Athra was his usual self. The Khajiit even met Fireflicker the Dragon!

    Derecho came out to visit later in the month, and he took some really good photos of Athra out at the Scarborough Bluffs. I used a different outfit for Athra this time (the same outfit I used with Ryme the Raven at Sarasota a few years ago), and Derecho loaned Athra a cape. Wow, that worked with that outfit so well. I’m in love with some of these photos!


    Went to an offsite work event and rode in a N. American school bus for the first time ever. So… uh… yay?

    Didn’t do Midwest FurFest this year because of how bad it was for me last year. I don’t feel that I really missed out.

    Aeto came to Toronto for a week for work, and came along with Babs, Scani and myself to see Cats (the stage show, not the new movie). Followed that up with dinner with some more folks, and then back home. Also bought a cake that evening from a vending machine in the PATH! The cake actually wasn’t that bad either!

    Went back to the UK for a very quick trip to see family for Christmas. Not only do I have a nephew there now, but I also have twin nieces. While I was there, saw Come From Away again with parents. They’d never seen it before, and definitely enjoyed it.

    Now, as I finish off writing this, it’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve been out for a quick dinner with Babs. Spent the rest of the evening watching Netflix, but I’m not going to stay up to actually watch the time tick over to midnight.

    The coming year

    Only a handful of plans compared to last year.

    • Furnal Equinox, since I’m staffing it still
    • AnthroCon
    • CanFurence, perhaps going there again
    • FanExpo, since I’m not doing DragonCon two years in a row
    • Renaissance Faires, because Athra needs to get out there again

  • 2018 – A Year of Change

    This comes perhaps a little later than some people will have posted their reviews of 2018. My reason for the late posting – today (January 17) is also the anniversary of arriving in Toronto.


    The start of January was spent by packing up the old place in Maple Ridge, and working on getting it ready for a change in ownership. The sale was in process, but I had to get some work repairing the garage ceiling done first. It was also early on in January when I moved Otter and Cylia over to be looked after by Sydney Roo and his brother. Had a farewell dinner with some folks, and then on Jan 12 I left BC and went down to Seattle. There, another farewell dinner with some more people, and then left on the Big Drive on Jan 13. The drive was long, but fortunately uneventful, and I arrived in Toronto on Jan 17. Stayed with Babs for a little bit while I looked for a place to buy, and found somewhere maybe a week later. Then moved to an AirBnB for a few weeks until the purchase of a condo was completed. I started working on Jan 29th.


    Moved into the new condo on Feb 15th. Got all my stuff on the 17th. The cats arrived from BC (by air) on the 18th. My little family was complete again.


    Attended my 2nd Furnal Equinox. The previous year when I attended I had no idea that this one I would be living here for.


    Broke the 1000 follower ceiling in Twitter … yay. This would come to be of benefit a couple of months later at AnthroCon, as it would get me a free taco at the place across from the Westin.

    There was the attack by a guy in a van in North York – two subway stops north from where I work. A number of people killed as they were run down.

    Smirked as the Maple Leafs got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. Though I don’t live there any more, the San Jose Sharks are still my team.


    Otter made it to be 18 years old!

    Did a couple of fursuit outings – a walk in a park, and also an event on Victoria Day on Toronto’s Centre Island.

    Went out to the Doors Open Toronto event, and got to see Bay Lower subway station, the old Toronto City Hall and the new Toronto City Hall.


    Went down to attend the Niagara Falls Comic Con, bringing Drogon out there. Mistakingly ate at an Outback Steakhouse there, unaware of the massive tourist markup they charge. It wasn’t even that good of a meal either!

    Cylia’s had her 9th birthday!

    Visited Ottawa for the first time, and wandered the Parliament Hill grounds in the evening and a bit of downtown. The next day, went out to a Renaissance Faire near there. Originally had intended to costume, but it wasn’t great for that since it was on a government owned property, and governments are No Fun.

    Went to the theatre to see Phantom of the Opera! While I remembered the music, I was surprised at how much of the story itself I had forgotten.

    Visited the Raptor Sanctuary at Mountsberg, a place which I hadn’t been to since March 2008.


    Aeto came over to visit right before July 1 (technically he arrived June 30). We went down to Niagara Falls on July 1 (roads were so busy!) and then got back with what we thought was enough time to see the fireworks back in Toronto. Except traffic was a mess and transit couldn’t get us to where the fireworks were when it started. Saw some of them from a number of blocks away, but left somewhat early to avoid traffic. Drove down to Anthrocon – the first one that either of us had been to in years – on July 4. Debuted my new Khajiit costume, Athra, and had perhaps the best con I’d had in ages.

    At the end of July, I tripped over a weirdly placed curb and suffered a bad foot injury. While I’m mostly recovered, the effects still linger. I doubt that I’ll be back to the state that I was before, though.


    Intended to go to CanFurence, but because of the injury just a week before, ended up missing it. Also because of trying to recover from the injury, I really didn’t do much this month. For a large part of it, I was working from home as I really couldn’t comfortably make it into the office.


    Technically this started in August, but I went to the Toronto Fan Expo. Once again, I took Drogon there, and also Athra. Still liking that lots of people actually recognize him for being a Khajiit.

    While I never made it to the Gilroy Garlic Festival while I was living in the San Jose Bay Area, I made it out to the Toronto Garlic Festival this year.

    Right at the beginning of their season, I ‘challenged’ the Blue Jays that if they won the World Series I’d stop mocking them. They didn’t even make the playoffs. The mocking will continue.

    Went out to the Michigan Renaissance Faire. This was the first Faire I’d been to which had permanent buildings. Wow. This blew even the California Faires (which were my current high bar) out of the water. Again, brought Athra out, and he was quite the hit.


    My parents came out around the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, prior to them going down to Florida. Again, went down to Niagara Falls (3rd time this year), and managed to find other things to do as well to keep them occupied.

    Went to the Hamilton Comic Con. Met Caroll Spinney (who used to play Sesame Street’s Big Bird), and brought Athra out again.

    While playing Pokémon Go out in a park one Sunday afternoon, I saw my first real blue jay. Eh. Not at all as impressive as Steller’s Jays!

    I decided to bring in Phijardni to work for Hallowe’en, and won ‘scariest’ at the work Hallowe’en contest.


    Went to Furnal Solstice, which is Furnal Equinox’s winter holiday party. Brought out Tatonga for that one, since he does his best to fake being a reindeer occasionally.

    Then towards the end of the month, things started to decline.  Stuff happened that caused my mental health and happiness level to start rapidly going down. Then the day I was going to leave for MFF, my workplace decided to terminate the employment of one person in my team, and a few people in the neighbouring team to me. I knew that I was okay, but these thoughts stuck with me while I was heading to the convention.


    Continuing on from the end of November, things just got worse. Lots of little things that kept going wrong just compounded, and I ended up having the worst convention experience I’ve had for years. By Saturday afternoon, I was almost ready to try and get an early flight home. While it’s not the fault of the convention, I think that I will not be back to MFF for some time.

    Right in the middle of December is my birthday – 45 years old now. To celebrate it, went out with a couple of people to see Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo show. After that, walked over to a BBQ place and had good food.

    This year, I was heading back to the UK for Christmas. I had the Friday before I left off work, and that was fortunate, because while I was going to take Otter to the vet for boarding, he appeared rather unwell during the day. I took him down earlier in the day instead. He was dehydrated, and there were a few tests that we were going to get done. He was in the best place to be for the next week, at least.

    The time in the UK was decent, and I managed to avoid political arguments while there. Went and did the Crystal Maze Live Experience in London with my brother, which was a lot of fun. On Christmas Day, met my nephew for the first time, as well as my aunt’s new dog. Thursday, went and saw the Disney stage show of Aladdin, which was okay except for that they made Iago to be a human henchman to Jafar instead of a parrot – so that nagged at me the whole show.

    But the year closed out on a bad note. Once I got back home, Otter was not in good shape at all when I picked him up from the vet. He was now barely able to walk, couldn’t make it into the litter box, and was hardly eating. On New Year’s Eve, I took him back down to the vets for the last time and said good bye to a friend that I’d had for almost 18 years. 🙁


    Looking ahead to 2019

    When this journal is posted, I’ll have been in Toronto for a whole year. It’s had highs and lows. It’s starting low now because of the loss of Otter, but I’m hoping for it to get better. The plans for this year include:

    • Furnal Equinox in March, where I’m staffing it as Business Director
    • Heading to Florida in April for my Dad’s 80th birthday
    • AnthroCon in July
    • Fan Expo in August
    • DragonCon – my first time going to that one – in September
    • More Renaissance Faires – I want to go back to the one in Michigan, as well as others in that state. Also, want to try and get to the NY Faire. Depending if someone (not me) gets a particular Khajiit costume, I may try to make it down to the NC Faire too.

  • Ailing Otter

    Before I went back to the UK for Christmas, Otter – my eldery diabetic cat – did not have a good day on the Friday before I left. Since I was going to board him at the vet anyway, I took him down earlier to get him checked out. The vet was going to do some blood tests.

    I called the next day as soon as I got to the UK for the results, and there wasn’t too much that was pointing towards anything in particular. A slight reduction in the vitamin B12 levels, and dehydration (of which the dehydration we knew Friday).

    The plan for Sunday was to do a blood glucose curve – taking readings every 12 hours to see how things looked. He was all over the place, apparently. That tracked with my own observations before, where he really wasn’t very stable in his levels.

    Nothing else until Saturday, yesterday, when I got back to Toronto and picked him up. Basically, his diabetes is being hard to manage, and it’s giving him all kinds of problems now. Weight loss is a big part of it. Since May 2017, he’d lost almost 0.8 kg of weight.

    He was 3.9kg then, and 3.1kg now. Having picked him up since I got home, I now really notice how much body mass he’s lost. It’s alarming. But now he’s having a much harder time moving. Before, his back legs weren’t being as strong, but now… he can barely walk.

    Today, he’s been having an incredibly tougher time just trying to go about his daily needs. He’s pretty much stayed in one spot near the food and water all day. As for the litter box, he’s not had the energy to get into it a few times now.

    I just ran out to get a shallow litter pan for him, and when I got back found that he’d emptied his bladder just outside the box, but after that had managed to get in, and was having trouble getting out. When I put down the new pan, he just lay in it until I helped him out.

    Otter was born on May 20, 2000. He’s 18 years, 7 months and 10 days old. But it’s now starting to look like he won’t make his 19th birthday – not even close. He’s pretty miserable right now, I can tell. It’s breaking my heart to see him like this.

    I always thought that The Decision would be either a few months away, or that one morning I would wake up, or come back to work, and find him gone. Those last two, I think would destroy me, as I was not around when Otter’s brother, Boone, passed. Was on work travel.

    I can see his quality of life has deteriorated. He’s a stubborn little fighter – always has been – but I’m doubting that he’s going to be able to come back from this now. He’s existing, but it’s tough to see a ‘spark’ of even contentment in him right now.

    I think that even Cylia knows that something is not right. She’s been a little more vocal and fussy around him than usual. He may not care for her in the slightest, but she always has shown signs of doing so for him.
    But now I think that The Decision is starting to approach quicker than I imagined. I’ll see how he is throught the night and into the morning.

    I’ve seen that a few other people have made such Decisions in the past week. During my time in the UK, in the back of my mind I was dreading having to join them… but it’s possible that soon I may have to. 🙁


    Edit: At 1:57pm on December 31, 2018, Otter left this world to go be with his brother, Boone. It was a hard decision, but I think the right one for him,

  • Trip

    Back on Saturday July 28, I was looking forward to CanFurence that was coming up the following weekend, as well as being ready for another social event on the Sunday (July 29). Little did I know that the entire rest of my summer was going to be screwed up that day.

    I was out getting some groceries, getting a new set of keys cut for the condo so that the person who I would have coming to check in on Cylia would be able to get access, and then going to find some other costume stuff for the new lynx I had debuted back at AnthroCon.

    It was at that point that I came around a corner after parking my car, and tripped over a curb/lip sticking up in the middle of the sidewalk.

    I went sailing over that curb, landed badly, scuffing up my right forearm, left palm, left knee, but most severely; landed back on my left foot. After a few minutes I was able to pick myself up, but I could barely put weight down on the foot. I aborted my costume clothing search and headed home. I was able to hobble on the foot enough to get back to my condo. But once there, I started feeling shivery, teeth chattering; signs of getting shock from this ordeal. After mulling it with some online folks for a while, I decided to head to the nearest hospital, making use of Uber to get me there.

    I was processed and actually seen very quickly, getting an X-ray of my foot. However, despite following the instructions of a nurse, the ER people ‘lost’ me for an hour, as I had been directed to wait in a specific room (which is where I was), and they expected me in another general waiting room. Nothing was broken, and it was considered to be a bad sprain. I was given a pair of crutches, an anti-inflammatory shot, and sent out on my way… heading back home again using Uber.

    The next week I was able to work from home, since I really could not walk well at all. The following week I went in a couple of days, but it proved hard enough that I worked from home for another week. I’ve since been improving and getting physiotherapy for it the past three weeks (including today), and I’m feeling reasonably well enough to do costuming at FanExpothis weekend.

    I’ve still got some pain in the foot, and it’s going to take a few more weeks until it’s back to near 100%.

    But that small trip and fall pretty much torpedoed the whole plans I had for late July and all of August. It’s not like I even saved that much from not going to CanFurence, as I’ve also had to shell out money for new shoes (hiking shoes, which don’t bend as much near the toes, which helps that part of the foot heal still), and a pair of ‘hiking poles’ so I can use one of them as a stick for support as I’m walking around. At least with using the stick/pole, I’m getting a seat every time on the subway!

    After all of this is healed, I’m still going to have a big scar on my forearm as a reminder of this. 😛

  • Toronto

    It’s now been about 2 1/2 months since I made the move across the country from Vancouver to Toronto.

    So, how are things faring for me so far?

    I think that the answer has to be … ‘not too bad’ to ‘pretty good’.

    On the work side, the company that I’m working for here is considerably more mature than the previous one I was working for in Vancouver – and the company is not as old either.

    Certainly, the impression that I get immediately from this place is that they do care about their employees a lot more. It’s not so much big things, but little things here and there.

    For example, there are subsidized breakfasts and lunches brought in each day. Now, I know that I’m a picky eater, but there are still some things brought in occasionally that I find pretty good (some lemon salmon with roasted potatoes, for example). Sometimes, the lunch is completely free as a random ’employee appreciation’.

    On the employee culture side of things, there is a ‘shoutout’ board where anyone can give ‘kudos’ to anyone else for a particular example of any of the company’s core values. I’ve managed to get one of these. While it really is nothing apart from ‘public kudos’, there is a definite ‘feel good’ factor about being recognized for something.

    Then there are bigger things the company does too. Right now, I’m writing this during the lunch break of the ‘Fiscal Year 2019 Kick Off’ event. This is nothing like the sales kick off that my previous company did the week of the Christmas party. That one was heavily sales focused, and if you weren’t part of sales, then you were pretty much left out in the cold. Here, everyone is involved. Everyone, not just some people, is brought from whatever remote offices they are in to Toronto, and everyone is attending the big All-Hands session today and the break-out sessions tomorrow. This also isn’t held in the company offices – they would be too small for this – so we’re at a theatre that’s part of one of the University of Toronto colleges.

    There was swag we get too for attending. Apart from a stylish (okay, not really) re-usable shopping bag (always useful), we got some luggage tags, a hoody, and a GoPro (clone) camera! Obviously, the camera is the big win here.

    The presentations given by the C-level people have a definite professionalism to them, and we even had former RIM/Blackberry CEO Jim Balsillie give a presentation. Sadly, he read it from paper instead of knowing it, so it was not much of an engaging speech. The Q&A part was more interesting.

    I cannot imagine the previous company spending that kind of money on something like this.

    On the actual work side of things, I think that I’m getting to grips with things well. I’d been on the job for 2 months, and already had done some online training on the software by now, so the weeklong training session I was in last week was a lot of “hey, I know this now”. My team lead is also happy with how I’ve been managing to come along, and told me so too.

    So, that’s work. How about personal life?

    A big reason why I was fine to make such a big move out from Vancouver to here was that I really didn’t feel that I was firing on all cylinders socially. Sure, there were a few core people that I got together with for stuff. But when it came to the larger social scene, I felt that I was very much on the fringes.

    Since I’ve been here, I have been doing my best to get involved with some of the social events. Fortunately, Furnal Equinox didn’t happen too long after I got here, and I managed to prove to myself that I can have fun at a local convention after all. I’ve also been to some of the regular dinner social meets, as well as a fursuit bowling event. I would have gone to a few more, except I’d been fighting off a cold and cough the last few weeks.

    One really good thing is that I’m really well situated for transit. I can actually go downtown after work and stay til late, and get back home easily by transit. I just could not do that where I lived before. Things are a lot more flexible and open to me now!

    Sure, the weather is definitely different. The snow did suck when I didn’t have my own place with a garage, but now since I take transit to work, it’s no longer an issue. As for the cold, it’s not been that much of an issue (since I don’t need to be outside waiting for anything for long), but I am ready for it to start being warmer now.

    And when it gets warmer, then I can go start exploring around the area more. Then there are some other events during the warmer times I want to get to – like some Renaissance Faire type things, some of which might be close, and others that I may have to drive a few hours to get to (such as the one near Ottawa and another in Michigan).

    But, the outlook for more interesting stuff to do around here is good, and perhaps better – for me – than Vancouver.

    Overall, I think that I am giving this move here a decent positive grade right now.

    Let’s see what the next few months bring.

  • Jeff

    If you didn’t already know, I’m moving from Vancouver, BC to Toronto, ON this coming January to start work at a new company – leaving my present company after 14 years. I moved to Vancouver specifically to work there, because my H1-B visa for the US was expiring and I couldn’t stay in the US. At the time, it seemed that Vancouver would be a good ‘temporary’ location to stay in North America and then get back down to the US.

    Yeah, that didn’t happen, and with the current state of things in the US, is not going to happen any time soon.

    With the current company heading into treacherous waters (45 people leaving in the space of a year), I felt it time to jump ship – and the ship I found is over the other side of Canada with a company that does almost the same thing, but for a different customer sector. A pretty good match, in all.

    But, as part of the move process, I can’t keep my current phone number. Rogers Wireless wants $250 in penalty for me to move the number to a different carrier, because no way am I going to pay their phone plan prices. So, I got a new phone number, and everything worked fine in changing things over to use it … until it came to my Amazon account.

    The problems I have had with trying to change my Amazon account to use this number have been incredible, and it was recommended by an Amazon employee friend I have that I email Jeff Bezos – the head honcho there (and, I think, currently the richest man in the world). Now, it’s quite likely that he himself will ever see this email, as there’s apparently a team that reads the email that goes to him and sends it in the right direction, makes things happen. But still, if it ends up with this issue getting fixed… then yay.

    Here’s what I sent, which explains the situation well, I think:

    Dear, Jeff,

    It is not usual for me to escalate a customer service issue to a CEO, but after expressing my frustration over this particular issue to an Amazon employee, they recommended that I contact you.

    Here is the situation:

    I am changing jobs, and as a result of this, moving from Vancouver, BC to Toronto, ON.  For the last 10 or so years, my employer in Vancouver has provided me with a cell phone – and this has been the only phone number I have had. However, as it will cost me a not insignificant amount to keep this phone number, I opted to get a new phone number instead. I got such a new number this week (Tuesday December 26th), and began the process of changing all the places online that use a phone number as some method of username. I lose access to this previous number on January 5th 2018.

    All went well with this, until I got to trying to change my mobile phone number with Amazon. The message that I received when attempting to do this through the site was that the “mobile phone number (I) provided is already in use”, and that I should use a different phone number. But this will be the only phone number I have, so that is not an option.

    I then contacted customer service on Tuesday. First I used the online chat service, who said they could not help, and said this needed to be dealt with over the phone. I then used the number provided, and spoke with someone. It took some time for them to actually understand what I was trying to do, and then they claimed they had made the change.

    I checked on the site the next day, and no change had been made.

    I called customer service again today, and it was explained that this change could not be made because this phone number was already in use by another Amazon subscriber.

    I do know that there is a good chance from time to time that such a situation could happen – where someone perhaps changes their phone number and does not update their account, or perhaps even the account holder (for whatever reason) no longer has that phone number, and no longer uses (again, for whatever reason) the Amazon service. I would find it quite hard to believe that my situation is unique.

    I did suggest to the CSR that perhaps they could use the same method of authentication as they did earlier in the call – send a code to the new phone number, which I could read back to them, in order to demonstrate that I do have the phone number that I am trying to change my account to use. I was informed that because there is this account that is still open with this – my new – phone number, that this is not possible, and that I should use a different number.

    I escalated the call to a supervisor, who went to investigate this more. They called me back later and recommended that I talk to my cell phone provider, and inform them that I have been given a phone number that is already in use. The only place that this phone number is considered to be ‘in use’ is Amazon – nowhere else have I had that issue.

    As I have just gone through and changed my phone number in many places, as well as providing this new number to friends and family, I do not consider this to be an acceptable solution.

    While I do understand that an account holder’s security is a very prime concern, by not allowing the phone number to be changed to someone who can demonstrate they are the holder of that phone number, this could potentially give me access to that subscriber’s account – merely by using my new phone number with the “Forgot Password” feature on the site, and getting a temporary access code sent to that phone number.

    I have zero desire to break into the account that way, but it does highlight a definite security flaw that is exposed by customer service’s policy of not changing the phone number, despite my being able to prove it is mine.

    I am hoping that you may be able to address this issue, please.

  • Daylight

    It’s Monday morning, and one day past the North American time-change back from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time. As is now the norm twice a year there’s the whining and complaining about how annoying and pointless these time changes are, and opinions being spouted from people as to whether we should all just remain on Standard Time, or permanently move to Daylight Savings Time, or just continue with the status quo.

    This issue has gotten a little more attention this year here in British Columbia, as last week our Premier, John Horgan, was asked at a media event about his position on the twice yearly time change, and replied that he’s seriously considering it.

    Not just this, but last week a special commission in the state of Massachusetts voted a recommendation to permanently keep the state on Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4). Not that this is going to happen, but it’s being recommended at least.

    Personally, I am of the opinion that increasing the fragmentation of regions that retain their clocks permanently in one time zone is going to make things difficult with the rest of North America who mostly still make the switch twice yearly.

    Really, I’m looking at this with a business perspective, as I don’t feel that affected by the shifting of the clocks.

    This stems on from a personal ‘niggle’ I have with people who continually say PST/MST/CST/EST despite the fact they may be on PDT/MDT/CST/EDT – and there are a lot of people in the business world that do that. When arranging times to get with a customer to do whatever needs to be done, meeting/calendar invites are not always sent, and people just give a time instead.

    So, let’s say (hypothetically) that BC decides in 2018 to remain on PST after the spring time change, while the rest of Canada and the US (except a few places) move forward an hour. A customer says in an email “Let’s do X at 11am PST.”

    Now you have to go back to them and say do they really mean PST or actually PDT? Because now that actually matters.

    Already this happens with time changes in other parts of the world compared to N.America. There have been a number of meetings that people turned up to at the wrong time because of hours shifting. Usually that just lasts for a week or two, but with this we’re now talking months of potential confusion.

    The other part of this is that I work doing technical support, and it’s known by our customers that we staff during the hours of 8am to 5pm Pacific. But say BC remains on PST all year around. That now means that 8am PDT is 7am PST, and we don’t have people in the office at that time. So do we now have to try and staff for that one hour earlier? It would be a similar issue if BC remained on PDT all year, but at the other end of the day. People would leave at 5pm PDT in December, but it’s still 4pm PST then.

    At the moment, the only major areas that do not use DST in Canada or the continental US are Saskatchewan and  Arizona. There’s a scattering of smaller areas that don’t observe DST either, but there aren’t any major centres where we have customers in those areas.

    I would be curious to hear from folks in those areas who work in business that deal with customers in other time zones what their experiences are with time.

    For now, I think that if provinces/states decide to ‘go it alone’ with deciding to remain on just one time zone through the year, it will just lead to a fair amount of confusion. Better to try and get everyone to try and do one thing – which is asking a lot.

  • Discovery

    I’ve just finished watching the first two episodes of the new Star Trek: Discovery series. Fortunately, I was in to catch it and watch it live, otherwise I probably would have missed it. While Space Channel here in Canada is airing it, it seems that for some reason they delayed the start time by 18 minutes. Of course, many PVRs only download their guide data once a day, so would not have updated themselves for the delayed start time. Not a very good start to a premiere, really.

    Taking a look on Twitter, I’ve seen many positive comments about it. I’m going to be one of the seemingly few negatives.

    Let’s start off with the “elephant in the room” first of all – the technology. This series is meant to be in the ‘prime’ timeline (that is to say, what the original series back in the 1960’s gave us). Interviews with the show-runners have said that they couldn’t go back and give us a look that was along the lines of The Original Series because audiences today will turn off and expect better. Perhaps so. I’m all for updating the look of things, but the technology of where things are in the Discovery series now seems at a level that rivals that of The Next Generation. The main guilty piece of tech here is the emergency forcefield technology all over the place. It stuck out like a sore thumb.

    Another part that I’m having issue with is the relation of central character – Michael Burnham – to Sarek of Vulcan; aka, Spock’s father. In this series, Burnham is Sarek’s ward, living with him – and presumably Amanda Grayon and Spock. Unless there is some acknowledgement of Spock in this series, this link is going to seem ‘forced-in’ and out of place.

    Now the Klingons: I’m still having a tough time reconciling with their new appearance. If this group had been just one sect of them, I could have been fine with it, but when all the other houses apparently make an appearance and they’re all looking the same… I’m finding it harder to believe. Especially when we need to consider that during the events of Enterprise the reasons for their more humanoid appearance in TOS is somewhat explained. Now we have this, set 10 years before TOS and they’re looking more Klingony than they should? Eh…

    Finally, what seems to be missing is the underlying philosophy of studying humanity that is Star Trekis. There didn’t seem to be any of that in these first two opening episodes.

    So, thus far… a lacking of “Star Trek”, and an even more obvious lacking of the starship “Discovery” itself.

    Perhaps next week we might actually see the true premiere of Star Trek: Discovery. Until then, I’m not sold on it.

  • Megaplex 2017 con attendance meme

    Where are you staying?
    At the convention hotel – the DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld.

    What day are you getting there?
    Wednesday morning,

    Who will you be rooming with?

    Will you be fursuiting?

    What is your gender?

    How old are you?
    Early fourties 🙁

    Can I talk to you?

    Can I hug you?

    When I’m in costume only, please.

    How can I find you?
    Probably best to buzz me on Twitter/Telegram as @tseatah

    Which suit(s) will you be bringing?
    Penryn (Magpie), and another I’ve not decided on yet. No Kootenay this trip. He’s just too big and padded for the Florida sun. 😛

    Do you draw?

    How tall are you?
    6′ 2″

    Are you taken? Are you looking for a mate?
    Single. I keep hoping to find the right someone.

    Can I visit your room?
    Maybe. It’s not going to be a party room, certainly.

    Can I buy you drinks?
    Sure. Coke, Bacardi & Coke, Wheat beers or Red wines (NOT Malbecs)

    Can I give you stuff?
    Depends what the stuff is?

    Can I snuggle with you?
    Nope – I’m not a snuggler.

    Are you nice?
    I think I am?

    How long are you going?
    Will be there from Wednesday to Monday.

    If I see you, how should I get your attention?
    I’ll answer to Frysco, Kootenay, Koots, Jay.

    What/where will you be eating?
    The ‘what’ will likely be meat and potatoes in some sort, the ‘where’ will be wherever I can find such that’s not stupidly expensive.

    What’s your goal for the con this year?
    Fursuit and flap around as a bird a bunch. The rest remains to be seen.