What money gets you

Here’s a fascinating thread on Reddit where a $20 million lottery winner was casually fielding questions, as long as no one probes for his identity.

Unlike most lottery stories I hear which tend to follow a tragic rags-to-riches-to-rags cycle, he seems to have a proper noggin on his shoulders.

He hired a lawyer, set up a blind trust, took the lump sum and paid off all his debts. Now his self-described pastime is travelling the world and buying drinks to people he’s met. He still keeps fiscally conservative – he flies coach, uses a rewards credit card, and keeps modest mutual fund investments.

My favourite question:

Question: How did you invest [your winnings]?

Answer: a full time financial advisor who is in turn monitored by a full time accountant… who is then audited in secret by a team of auditors.

He also got a vasectomy, to avoid any costly “accidents”.

Callie Shell on the campaign trail

Copyright Callie Shell for Time Magazine

I must say, I don’t care for most of the ruckus around politics – I think it’s the last refuge for cults of personality – but in light of Tuesday’s historical event, I’d like to link to Callie Shell’s adlibbed photographs that were taken of President-Elect Barack Obama when he was campaigning.  They’re very genuine and very human.

There is one of Obama along with his volunteers cleaning up after a photo-op at an ice cream parlour, long after the media has gone back to their studios and bureaus to file their stories. It struck me as more telling of the man than any sing song TV special.

Those photos also beg the question: why don’t we see more of this kind of guerilla photowork of famous people? Are they too afraid of appearing too raw? In a world of processed media, ghostwritten words and retouched photos, I think it would be a nice change of pace.

As an after-election mint, you can also read how Obama won via campaign strategy, and online strategy.

Hopes and Fears

misc 011_filtered Sometimes I stand in the darkness of your room late at night facing your crib and listen to you slumber. I am still in wonderment of it all. You’ve grown so fast in the past few months, and you learn something new every day. One day you discovered your feet. The next day you learned how to smile. It seems the very next day you were enjoying your first spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes.

But as I watch you rub your cute sleepy head with your cute sleepy hand – yes, you already have funny habits – I also worry, playing out my hopes and fears.  You look at the world with wonder and awe, and as we watch you innocently play we fancy aloud what man you will grow up to be. Maybe you’ll be an astronaut, a Olympic athlete, a doctor, a deejay or heck, maybe all of the above. The world seems completely accessible to you.

However, someday, that wonder and awe will be gone and be replaced with knowledge and resolve. We, your parents, will be your principle life tutors. We cannot fail you.

But for now, you’re just our little man, even if it always seems to be for only a heartbeat longer. You use me as your personal jungle gym. Watching the cat dozing is considered top tier entertainment. You must be basically dragged to sleep every night where you fight to remain conscious until the bitter end. And then you wake up every morning, all smiles, ready for a new day.

Words I think my baby has spoken even though it is physiologically impossible


Baht – The currency of Thailand

Ghee – Clarified butter, a popular food additive in Southwestern Asia

DEVGRU – Acronym for the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, an elite Navy SEAL team

Eggle – Eggo, a brand of frozen waffles, in a slight Taiwanese accent

Goo – The sound babies make.


Baby Man turned 8 months last week.

Mouser-ity report

A Rhode Island senior’s home is amazed that their resident cat, Oscar, appears to be able to sense death:

Every day, Oscar makes his rounds among the patients, entering each room and giving each patient a sniff. When he senses that someone is near the end of his or life, he will hop onto their bed and curl up beside them. Within hours, without fail, the patient will die.

I’m surprised no one was proposed the following explanation: Oscar is karate chopping these poor folks in the neck when nobody’s looking.

Download Dezza’s Mac screensaver

835125e7-9315-44bc-aefe-5f67a2c50d6aA couple years ago while living in China and Hong Kong, my friend Dezza got bitten by the photo bug and began documenting his travels.

He’s gotten pretty good at it – his photos have been featured in JPG Magazine, among other publications – and now a collage of his photos is now available as an official Mac OSX screensaver on Apple.com.

Called People of the Middle Kingdom 1.0, it features, and I quote: “beautiful, positive, and thought provoking photography shot in China.”  Nice going, Dezza!

The real O.G.

This O.G. is so original, he uses lassos and fireballs rather than Uzis. I am of course talking about the Opera Ghost, aka the _Phantom of the Opera_.

As musical plays go, _Phantom_ has pretty rudimentary plotting and a fairly formulaic musical score, and its story may seem incomplete to those who haven’t read the novel by Leroux. However, its special effects, magical illusions and pyrotechnics remain top notch. The Phantom was a fixture in mainstream Toronto theatre in the 1990s, and it was the first professional production I ever saw. Last Wednesday afternoon, I came back to watch it a second time, and Silverlotus saw it for the first time.

It’s been ten years, but I could tell the differences. There are the obvious variations between watching a matinee vs. the night show I remember; for example, some parts were hammed up for laughs (Hannibal struggling to climb up the elephant) to the delight of the schoolkids.

Of interest is also how the role of the brilliant but disfigured Phantom was played. In the 1990s, Colm Wilkinson played the Opera Ghost with a smooth, melodic malevolence while today’s O.G., John Cudia, interpreted the man as one barely sane and seething with rage, with his motions jerky and lines shouted rather than sung.

By the way, does anyone ever root for the Phantom over Raoul? While ugly and homicidal, the Phantom is a brilliant musician, illusionist and inventor. Raoul is just a rich pretty boy who, in the climatic scene, heroically sings, “I would make her lie to you, to save me.” I’m just saying.

The newfie nurse

We saw _Tempting Providence_ run by the Factory Theatre. Chronicling the feats of Myra Bennett, a nurse in the small and isolated Daniel’s Harbour in Newfoundland in the 1920s, it also featured 101 ways to use a table set as props and scenery. They also had fresh oysters on the half-shell by Oyster Boy and strawberry champagne in the foyer.

Seriously, it was a good play. And if you’re wondering why a nurse is the subject of a play, consider this: in the winter of 1926, her brother-in-law had his foot cut off by a lumber saw. She stitched it back together, then herself and her husband pushed him on a sled some 60 miles to the nearest hospital. She had did such a good job with needle and thread, his foot was saved. She was also three months pregnant at the time.