Saturday, February 6, 2016

ToadMama's Brave, Bold Blogger Challenge (now with BBBC # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6)

Kathy (ToadMama) published what she is calling her Brave, Bold Blogger Challenge. It's simple, a little crazy, and potentially demanding, but in the end, ought to be a lot of fun and very revealing.
It doesn't happen with all bloggers. Some bloggers have excellent blogs that generate a ton of pageviews, but never become  part of a community. Moto bloggers, at least many of them, are part of a community. The thread that allows you to explore my community is in the list of blogs I subscribe to a little lower down on the right side of the page.

I go out of my way (literally miles and miles and miles out of my way) to meet other bloggers. When I do, I post their rider profile here (actually, there, at the top of this page). Always the same questions, but an amazing array of fascinating and sometimes surprising answers.

Kathy's blog challenge will work pretty much the same way and should yield some fascinating reading.

It's simple: Kathy is asking participating bloggers to publish one article a day during the month of February. That's 29 posts in 29 days. I'm off to a late start and have to play catch up.

To keep things as interesting as possible, I have decided to take a slightly different approach from the way I normally publish articles.

I will post all my articles on this one page (Ed.:OK... that's going to be a really, really, really, long post. I'd rather not test Blogger's limits - all software has boundaries and limits, often not publicized. I'm going to carry on with multiple posts per page, but I will break the challenge into multiple pages. I think I'll keep the same multiple post format, and daisy chain the posts to keep the overall challenge easy to read and follow). Each day in February I will update this page so that it moves back to the top (or maybe almost at the top) of the journal. Kathy will attempt to provide some kind of list of participating bloggers. I will try to link to other participating bloggers' contributions so that whenever you find this article, you'll be able to read the answers other bloggers have published.

1. All About You (pics and/or words).

People who love me say I'm quirky. By that I think that they mean that I'm unconventional. I was born that way (left-handed), and I understood that being left-handed made me unconventional, it must have had a liberating effect, because being labeled as quirky or unconventional bothers me not one bit. There are other things that make me odd. I am perfectly bilingual. In North America that makes me odd. Today not as odd as in the past, because there are many more cultural chameleons now than ever before, but odd nevertheless. It freaks people out (both French and English-speaking) when I blithely switch languages in mid-sentence when the need arises, not skipping a beat, and with no trace of an foreign accent in either language. 

What else? I'm a lawyer. People who have dealt with me professionally, say that I don't fit in the usual nasty lawyer mold. I'm generally diplomatic. Much more Vulcan than Klingon. Oh, I don't fit the usual guy's guy profile either. Not into watching other people who aren't related to me play sports, on TV or otherwise. I only started to acquire a taste for beer four or five years ago. I cherish my deeply liberal convictions, but I'm a small-L liberal, not a socialist, much less a communist. I like smart and well-meaning politicians of pretty much any stripe. I'm a mystery to Donald Trump and his ilk.

I hate selfies, so I rarely post them. Susan insisted we dress for Christmas dinner at home, so we all obliged. I was the head turkey chef and gravy maker. I liked these pictures:   

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, and Mark

2. An everyday item in your house

Now that was too easy. Our house is full of items, but made to choose ONE EVERYDAY ITEM, it is unquestionably our Nespresso machine. Yes, Susan and I are, beyond doubt, seriously in love with our coffee. The Nespresso shares counter space with our Russell-Hobbs electric kettle (mostly used for instant coffee - our morning preference, believe it or not), and our Cuisinart Grind & Brew burr grinder automatic drip coffee maker (used on weekend mornings when we make breakfast, and when we entertain). And we also have a French press. Serious addicts.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, and Mark

3. Today.

Hmmm... Kinda broad. This seems like an invitation to poets, songwriters, or people in need of therapy (which Steve has kindly suggested I may need due to my reluctance to take selfies. Better not tell him about my fear of heights that caused some queasiness touring a 24th floor condo with an otherwise wonderful terrace).

Let's see, what's on my plate today?

Interviewing movers to get a quote for our upcoming move to Toronto and beginning to think about re-jigging our closing dates to accomodate a less costly move by avoiding storage costs. It's raining in February, never a good thing for a house in Montreal. So I opted to take no chances and to have our non-operating sump pump replaced (our purchaser will appreciate the courtesy, I hope). Reviewing the 177 page status certificate for our new-to-us Toronto townhouse condominium and trying to wrap my mind around the financial statements, budget, reserve fund estimates, forecast and projections (never an easy task for a lawyer, doing accounting analysis). Fortunately our son Jonathan is a real estate guru and in mere minutes he spotted the potential sore points (no contingency built into the capital expenditure budget, no line by line disclosure of the anticipated capital expenditures, and a somewhat aggressive inflation assumption). Contrary to what the property manager told our agent, we are entitled to double park a car and a motorcycle in each of our owned parking spaces as long as we don't cross our borders and thus annoy our fellows. And, as I write this, I am deferring the painting in the basement. That's a long story. Susan will have difficulty getting to sleep until the last lick of paint is drying. I'll get to the paint as soon as I am pleased with this post... and apparently after spending an hour or so on the phone with Taylor, our Toronto realtor, and Gary our Toronto counsel, reviewing the status certificate, and updating my spreadsheet. Earlier, I seasoned a roast of pork and put it in the oven for a delayed cook start at 4:50 p.m. so that I don't have to interrupt the painting. In the middle of all this I am checking my e-mail and responding to enquiries concerning the furniture we'd rather sell than move and that we posted on (like Craigslist, only Canadian).

That's it, the day is largely spent, and I haven't opened a can of paint. Only one thing to do, crank up my Blues playlist, light up all the speakers and blast away singing the 'Basement Painting Blues'... while I paint. Actually I leave you as Mark Humel wails away on his harp on Can't judge nobody.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, and Mark

4. Misused and/or mispronounced word or words that make you CRAZY.

I see we're the fawth o' thuh month.

One of Mark Twain's major contributions to American literature was capturing the vernacular, the dialects of the Mississipi. Dialects can be fascinating, music to my ear, but can also be jarringly incomprehensible, and can sometimes be, like someone dragging their fingernails across a chalk board.

Other times they can just lead to hilarity. So it was when Susan went to ask for directions in the London tube and, unable to control her laughter, called me over from my study of the tube map because the gentleman she selected in (if you can believe it) a black suit with a bowler hat and an umbrella on his arm, three stories underground, had suggested to her politely and repeatedly that she simply needed to go to cross the road. I immediately thanked him and apologized profusely as I dragged Susan away by the elbow, still laughing with abandon, telling her softly but firmly that we needed to go to the Gloucester Road station.

Run into a Staten Islander when you're looking for the intersection of 43rd and 3rd in Manhattan and you might be directed to "foidy toid and toid". Children's fashions at Macy's? "Fath flah!"

It's all good. Southern drawls don't annoy me in the least. Besides, the fact is that US and Canadian dialects are receding like the polar ice caps. It's all about the TV networks' consensus that the only proper American idiom is the way English is spoken in Chicago. It's all we hear from Gnome to Nawlins and St-Johns to San Diego, so that's how we're learning to speak, on this side of the pond. How the Queen's English is spoken is a whole other kettle of kippers.

Now if you tell me that your niece graduated college and you gifted her a ring, that, to use Steve's word of the day, drives me crazy. When the 'top chefs' on TV declare "the cook on that beef is perfect" I cringe, because clearly the cook is not standing on his steak. When I hear a business-type declare "that spend is a big ask" and later over lunch they share where they "graduated college", well let's just say that I begin to question everything they've told me.

My personal history with language is ironic, and more evidence that God has a wicked sense of humour (oh, allright, humor). You see English is my mother tongue, but I was educated exclusively in French through grade ten. When I switched to an English high school, my English lit marks were stellar. When I got a composition back and one of the few errors noted was "dangling modifier", I was mystified.

I may have offended some of you, and offered further proof to some that I may truly be a snob (really I'm not; by the end of this February madness maybe the topics will have given me an opportunity to prove I'm no snob). So it's best for me to calm down and move on.

Let me share this morning's recipe.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, and Mark

5. Name a place you want to visit this year. Why?

We have so much going on right now that coming up with travel destinations has been driven down the priority list to where Susan and I have all but lost sight of it.

Our son Andrew is getting married in Vancouver in late August, and I have a conference to attend in Whistler the week before. We were toying with a trip to Japan right after the wedding, though I could tell we weren't really serious about it. We are more seriously considering an Alaska cruise, perhaps with some family members since everyone will be in Vancouver for the wedding.

I really want a moto trip from Jacksonville to Key West in the coming weeks, and I desperately need a break. For the time being, that's my destination of choice.

There are so many daunting hurdles, what with getting the basement renovation finished (we were doing that to make the house more attractive to buyers, then of course got an offer when it was 1/4 finished) and the upcoming move to Toronto, that I haven't even had time to reach out to plan that trip. It's looking like a cliffhanger.

At the moment, as I find myself a day late with this 29 in 29 segment, stealing time at 6:00 a.m. on February 6th to get episode 5 posted, we are scurrying to finish painting the basement hallway, sell furniture we no longer want, run errands, select a mover, and orchestrate lawyers, bankers, realtors, sellers, and buyers.

The good news is that March 30 is moving day. That is the day I ride the Vespa 518 kilometres (320 miles) to our new home.

2016 is shaping up as the most hectic year of our lives, bar none.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, and Mark

6. Your age.

Phew!! An easy one: 63.66575342465753. Now figure out my birthday.

Read what other bloggers posted:

Kathy, Richard, Rachael, Steve, Mark, and Dar

Click here to read the next articles in this series.


ToadMama said...

I like it!

Good point about updating the links daily so folks can see everyone else's answers. That's adds a bit to complexity,, but it's a great addition.

I added a widget to my page so that the list of BBBC participants appears in the upper, right-hand corner of my page at and when you go to individual post pages. I do like the idea of linking to all answers/posts, I just need to ponder how best to implement it. Thanks for joining in!

ToadMama said...

About You -- "Quirky" is always good in my book. It can sometimes be synonymous with "creepy" if a person is trying to be extra-nice and/or PC, but from what I know of you so far, you're the fun/interesting quirky type.

I love those pics of you. I'm also glad you added that Susan made you dress for dinner. Otherwise I'd see those and think you're the fancy-schmancy type. (and if that were true, "quirky" could take on a whole new meaning!)

Everyday Item - yep, you are coffee snobs. I'm guessing the instant coffee in your parts is better than the instant coffee typically sold in America. I learned when visiting Europe that instant coffee CAN actually be good. Why is it your morning preference, though? Because it's faster and/or quieter?

Also, I'll have to Google Nespresso. I'm assuming it's the espresso equivalent of a Keurig coffee machine.

I'm not really a coffee snob, but I do prefer certain brands -- Seattle's Best and Douwe Egbert -- and I prefer drip coffee makers over Keurig. A French Press is too much hassle for me, but I also like moka pots. I don't currently own one, though.

David Masse said...

I don't think we're snobs. In fact, Susan doesn't enjoy going to the Nespresso store in Montreal because she finds the staff and ambiance far too pretentious. We are lovers of the Nespresso coffee that comes out of the machine though. It's espresso for lazy folks. Nespresso is like a Keurig concept, just much more chi-chi (which again is really not us). We're like walking, talking contradictions.

Our morning instant (as long as the jar lasts) happens to be Nescafé, but Susan is a slave to price, not brand, so when this jar goes, the next might be Maxwell House. It's our morning preference just for speed really.

Montreal is not Seattle, or Vancouver (what is up with the West Coast and coffee? Must be the rain) but in the last few years we have ten or twelve micro-roasters operating. And boy does it make a difference in terms of taste.

Oh and a French press is actually really easy, provided you have some ground coffee. We buy beans for the Cuisinart and don't have a separate grinder, and that's why the French press doesn't get out much.

And finally, I resented having to wear a suit. If I never wear another suit, it'll be too soon.

RichardM said...

I have to say that the suit + the fancy coffee maker = ... Well maybe I won't say or be banned from the Internet.

To me the hassle of the french press is cleaning out the grounds. The Keurig thing is so painless that the only improvement would be the ability to plumb it into the water supply line.

I had difficulty with the "everyday" part of the challenge so I just focused on "item".

Taylor de Sa said...

How fun! I'll enjoy reading.

David Masse said...

I think I've got it. I'll check your list to make sure I have everyone, then for each day I'm adding a link to the others' post for that day. So far not an overwhelming chore. I'll see how it goes.

David Masse said...

... but, there will potentially be a lot of comments on this post, but that's OK, it'll make it easier to follow along, I hope.

David Masse said...

Oh I walked right into that one now didn't I? The truth is that I am victim of circumstance. The Beemer is Susan's, I drive a Civic. And I ride a Vespa for heaven's sake not a Beemer (though I think I might be secretely coveting a BMW GS). But... I haul mattresses on the roof, and I got chased by the cops for it. That has to count for something. Plus I went camping without bug spray in July! And I do my own painting, plumbing and electrical work! And I taught myself to program in Basic, and I gave a conference in SF on public key infrastructures. Surely I am worthy of redemption?

I know, I know, you're thinking "ride to Alaska and get dirty helping me rebuild the carb(s) on my Ural, and then we'll see!"

We had a Tassimo at the office, and I ended up fetching the water (others were... too good... too lazy... thought the machine had an automatic water generation system? I day dreamed about plumbing it into the water supply. That has to count for something, redemption-wise?

David Masse said...

As you can see Taylor, this has the potential to be seriously humbling. Read on and find out!

David Masse said...

Folks, meet Taylor De Sa, Toronto realtor (and blogger) extraordinaire! I have a post coming that will speak eloquently of her talents.

Steve Williams said...

Coffee -- can't comment since I don't drink it. Love how it smells though. Great to throw some coffee grounds in the vacuum cleaner so it smells of coffee shop while cleaning.

You hate selfies? Hate? What's up with that? I assume you're in therapy. Photographs are vehicles to the soul. What are you afraid I might see???

David Masse said...

You're right, 'hate' is too strong. My limited attempts didn't produce photos I liked. Our eyes are windows to the soul, and so selfies capture the soul moment by moment. I know I don't take good selfies, and that self awareness produces photos that betray the self-doubt. It's a vicious circle.

ToadMama said...

I meant "snob" in a good way, as in one who enjoys the finer things.

The first time I visited Washington State, I was amazed at the amount of coffee and espresso places. I mean, everyone sells the stuff there. There are little coffee/espresso shacks all over the place, not to mentions all the Starbucks and, a personal favorite... Bigfoot Java. Who can resist a coffee shop with a giant yeti?

ToadMama said...

My husband has a Keurig in his office, and I'd guess he's thought about how much easier it would be if he connected it to the household plumbing system. He could do it, too, but probably nixed the idea after realizing there would also be some drywall repair involved.

ToadMama said...

I think selfies are fun, depending on how they're done. The ones I hate are the ones posted by people, on a very frequent basis, that are obviously being shared to say, "look at me and how attractive I am." Essentially the same picture every single day, or multiple times a day, with no purpose other than to highlight their appearance.

RichardM said...

Moving is hard work. And I hate painting. It must be time for some coffee...

David Masse said...

The day is nearly done, I'm sitting in my favorite chair with a nice decaf cappucino, writing this note to you. So it looks like you nailed it Richard.

Now time to see what the rest of you nuts are up to.

ToadMama said...

Crap, I meant to comment yesterday, but the "day" got away from me.

I knew it was going to be busy, which is why I opted for a short post and decided not to chronicle my day. Y'all would've been bored to tears.

I did chuckle when I read about your painting. I hate painting, too, and will put it off for an eternity. But, when I do paint, I always sing. Always. So it's usually best for me to do it while Hubby is away.

ToadMama said...

I find it fascinating that you were educated primarily in French and then had to switch. I envy bi- and multi-lingual people. Americans are so behind the curve on the whole language thing. In grades 7-8, I had Spanish. In grades 9-11, it was French and Latin. I remember little of any of it. Of them all, Latin has probably been the most useful.

Sadly, I am like most Americans and only know English. But I understand a lot more British english than most Americans, thanks to my various jobs working for global companies. The differences between the two can be quite amusing.

SonjaM said...

I'm with Kathy on this. I have done selfies long before the word for it was invented. Fun is the imperative on this ;-)

Max Paganetti said...

Love reading your blog. Hope the challenge goes well for you! Thanks for the post!

David Masse said...

I wouldn't say I hate painting. It's better than watching paint dry. And a fresh coat of paint, reasonably well-executed is a joy to behold.

David Masse said...

Kathy I learned French the hard way. Couldn't speak or understand a word of it when I got dumped in grade 1. The only other kid in the school who didn't speak French, spoke only Spanish. For two years I was a stranger in a strange land.

Let me tell you, when it's sink or swim, you learn to swim damn fast.

We tried to do the same with our kids, but by the mid-eighties every English speaking family in the city had their kids in French schools. So they struggled to learn french in the classroom, and the schoolyard was a sea of English. Not surprisingly, my kids are not as bilingual as I am, but they definitely speak and write French fluently.

David Masse said...

Wow Max, that's high praise. Thanks for stopping by. I'm happy to return the favor by saying I enjoy your blog as well.

You have to be a pretty competent and pretty crazy blogger to accept a challenge like this one.

RichardM said...

Mastering French after being heaved into it says about your ability, especially having to use both in your field. I still have enough difficulty with our version of English...

Conchscooter said...

Well, I wish there was something with which I could disagree, but there ain't, so there.

David Masse said...

That's a kind thought Richard, but I think most kids would do as I did and learn the second language like a native speaker. In my case my self confidence in all things academic took a hit. The challenge was overwhelming and there was no way to compete. Merely surviving was all I could manage for the first two years. I didn't feel comfortable in school until grade five. That said, the ability to speak two languages like a native is huge. In Europe it's far more common. My uncle George is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.

ToadMama said...

I can't imagine how that felt as a kid. When traveling in regions where English isn't the primary language, people make an effort to communicate with us as best they can. That's a one-on-one situation. As one kid in a class, the teachers didn't have the luxury to do that. I'm sure it was overwhelming. Many people in Europe are fluent in multiple languages. Most know at least a little English, so it's easy enough to get by. I've had some amusing experiences, though.

David Masse said...

Click and Clack, the so-called Tappet brothers of the PBS series Car Talk (I love those guys, only now available as podcasts I believe) had a regular feature they called 'Stump the Chumps'. Now you're no chump and you're not stumped, just speechless. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

David Masse said...

It was a bizarre surreal experience that marked me for life. But hey, in the grand scheme, many, many, many people have fared far worse.

I'm a happy guy.

Joe said...

#3 - After "... on my plate ...," I'm glad you came back to that pork roast!

- Joe at Scootin' da Valley

David Masse said...

It was delicious Joe. We had the leftovers tonight.

Pork roast are so lean today. Next to no fat at all. In some ways it's a shame. When my Mom made them in the 1960's the crackling layer was just heaven. Seems unobtainable now. Healthier but...

RichardM said...

You forgot that this is a leap year in your calculation.

RichardM said...

My mistake. Leap year would only matter if today was past Feb 29th. So today - 243 = June 8th.

David Masse said...

Ha-ha-ha-ha I knew you would nail it!!

Taylor de Sa said...

Thanks, David! I look forward to that installment. ;)

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.