It Happened to Me

Granddad’s Blog Entry

We held Granddad’s funeral on Saturday, a sunny, cloudless day. Following his written instructions, he was cremated in the Philippines and his ashes were flown here to Accordion City to be interred beside the ashes of my grandmother. Although neither of them ever resided in Canada, this is their children’s chosen home, and it is the home — and in some cases, the birthplace — of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their final resting place may be far from where they lived, practically on the other side of the world, but it’s close to family.

Since I am the family’s designated public speaker — I’m always called upon for readings at church, MCing events, saying free-form Grace before big dinners and improvising toasts — I was assigned the first reading and responsorial psalm (ask a Catholic friend if these terms are unfamiliar). However, I thought that I’d do a little something extra that I’d never tried before.

“Uh, Mom,” I asked, “would you like it if I played Amazing Grace?”

“You have your accordion?”

“In the car.”

“That’s very nice, son. We’ll start with that.”

The other surprise came from Granddad himself. While sorting out his belongings and getting his affairs in order, we found his diaries. Written in English and in clear, beautiful longhand (as opposed to the chicken-scratch one expects from a doctor), they show his talent for writing as well as his thoughts, plans and hopes.

At the funeral, Mom read a couple of entries. One is a personal decalogue written in 1935. The other is a letter to himself, a personal manifesto written in 1938, near the start of his medical career. With her blessing, I’ve published the entries below.

I like to think that Granddad has transcended time, space and even the grave and made his first blog entry. Welcome to the blogosphere, Granddad.

Decalogue (1935)

  1. Faith in God
  2. Faith in Yourself
  3. Consistency and Singleness of Purpose
  4. Hard Work and Perseverance
  5. Lend your troubles to no one
  6. Don’t you holler until you are hurt and then don’t do any hollering, but just hang on till you win
  7. There is plenty of crowd below but there is plenty of space above
  8. Optimism breeds hope and then success
  9. You should live while you work
  10. Success is at hand to one who seeks it

Letter to Myself (1938)

Dear Myself,

You are a physician whose thoughts are constantly focused on reaching the pinnacle of success. Never for a moment have you discarded this ideal. All your thoughts are concentrated on one thing: to attain success in your profession and be of the most benefit to mankind.

I am writing this to you as a sort of a counselor. My intentions are only for the realization of you goal. Your task is a hard one and needs a lot of hard work, patience and sacrifices. The pointers you will soon know are infallible guides in the attainment of success.

First of all, you have to consider humanity itself which is a mass of frailties, weaknesses, gratitude and ingratitude, virtues and sins — in fact every imaginable quality, both bad and good.

Your mission as a physician is to alleviate human suffering. It is your primary mission. The anguish and anxiety of families over the life of their loved ones is more than sufficient calling which should be attended to. Irrespective of any considerations, you should respond to their call. Give the unfortunate ones food and consolation for their languishing souls. Never for just one time aggravate their suffering by not so responding.

You as a human being are apt to be calloused to the frantic calls of unfortunate souls who could not materially reward you. They are in the first place, the unfortunate sons of Destiny. Denying them you most valued help embitters their already embittered life. You who could assist them with no trouble at all on your part, could do something to ameliorate their lot. Such aid as you might extend will merit undoubtedly Divine blessings. Real service is altruistic and unselfish.

Pecuniary demands from you as a physician will tempt you to consider your calling as a business. Never be so — your calling is not a business — yours is one of service to humanity — rendering service to suffering humanity will give you what you need. It will reward you much more than making of your calling a business concern.

You will encounter difficulties, obstacles, disappointments; pay no heed to them. Go to your calling, undaunted and unafraid. Every obstacle will surely melt away your firm determination — every stubborn resistance will give way to your courage. You can only reach your goal by actually working towards it. Scoff at everything that hinders your journey. Go forward, onward until you reach your goal.

At times you will feel exhausted and tired under the stress and strain of your calling. Go take a rest for a while, and resume your work after you feel refreshed and strengthened. Every little upset you may encounter may you now and then. You only have to remember that they will all pass by themselves.

As you grow older and make a little name for yourself, there will come to you a feeling self importance. You should forget your own self and feel the false vastness of your greatness. If you fall to this temptation you find your own light put out by the folly of your mistake. Your only importance, if you think you are, lies only in your own unselfish service to humanity. You only become important and great when you, as a physician could bring hope and alleviation to a suffering soul. You may not be able to bring a restoration to a physical ill — but you
could at least allay a suffering spirit by ministering to it. If at all, you should feel important — do feel so when you give service to ailing humanity.

Consider always yourself in the patient’s place. If you were suffering great pains which keep you restless — and yet you have no money with which to pay a doctor and then you had a doctor called to minister to you — just imagine the great contrast between the selfish and unselfish ministration that he may extend to you. In case of any doubt, just place yourself in the patient’s place.


One Thank You, One Answer, Two Questions

Thanks to everyone who posted a “My Canada Includes Accordion Guy” banner, linked to the article or made a comment. With the notable exception of my esteemed blog sparring partner Kathy (whose post pointed me to the Enter Stage Right article and whose comments you will find here), the reaction has been nothing but glowing praise.

First, an answer for a reader who asks:

random person me needs to know where in niagara falls you got that
tie!!!! I very much need a tie just like that, and am having trouble
finding it.. please mail me at if you can
help me, or remember where in niagara you got it

I can’t remember the exact address of the store, but I can give you a
general idea of where it is…and better yet, in picture form! Here’s a
picture of Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls’ cheesy tourist trap street:

The approximate location of the place where I purchased the tie. Click the picture to see it at full size.

Hope this helps.

Paul informs me that he heard a story that this summer will be nothing
but rain, rain, rain. Can anyone confirm this. and if so, could they
please tell me where the complaints department is?

Another reader makes a comment in response to my election post:

The relentless focus on “The Leader” obscures the fact that you can’t
vote for Prime Minister, you can only vote for your MP. In your case
Joey, you can choose (you’re in Trinity-Spadina, right?) between Olivia
Chow (NDP), who has been actively involved in the community for years,
or Tony Ianno (Gliberal) who has one of the worst attendance records in
the current Parliament.

Where can I get Parliamentary attendance records?


If programming languages were fireworks…

Check out this entry in the blog I get paid to write, The Farm, for this photo of a “Python” brand firework (which got a high rating in this National Post review of fireworks). Be sure to read the entry and the comments to read the “if programming language X was a firework” jokes too.


My Blog Includes Other People’s Comments Sections

There’s some spill-over debate going on in David Janes’ blog, Ranting and Roaring, in this article where he responds to my article about the election and others respond to that really popular article I wrote yesterday.

Read the article, then check out the comments.


My Blogware Includes a Stats Package

One feature that puts Blogware far ahead of other blogging tools is its statistics package. If you have a Blogware-powered weblog, you can see more than just how many people are reading your weblog: you can also see how they’re reading it, in all kinds of ways.

The Stats area of Blogware is located in the Dashboard. To get to its main page, click on the Dashboard tab of the Navigation Bar, then click on the Web Stats item in the Dashboard tab’s menu:

Click the image to see it at full size.


You’ll be taken to the Web Stats main page, which provides you with a quick overview of the number of pageviews your site has received.

Note the calendar on the left side of the page — all stats pages have this calendar, which lets you select the day for which you want statistics. It’s very handy for answering questions like “Hey, what caused that spike in my readership last Thursday?” 

The Stats main page gives you not only the total number of pageviews, you also get pageviews broken down into two categories:

  • HTML requests: These are pageviews from people viewing your weblog using HTML — in other words, using a browser.
  • XML requests: These are pageviews from people viewing your weblog using XML — typically, this is done using tools like newsreaders (a.k.a. “aggregators”).

You can see these statistics for the currently selected day and month.

Click the image to see it at full size.


The Hourly Stats provide an hour-by-hour breakdown of pageviews for your weblog. This breakdown is further broken down into HTML and XML requests. Using these stats, you can find our what time of day most of your readers read your weblog:

Click the image to see it at full size.


The Most Popular Articles page lists your entries, from most to least popular. For each entry, it lists:

  • Views: How many pageviews the entry got.
  • Title: The title of the entry. Clicking on the title takes you to the Edit page for that entry.
  • Author: Who wrote the entry (useful for weblogs that have multiple administrators and authors).
  • Type: Whether the entry is an article or photo.
  • Published: The date the entry was published.

Click the image to see it at full size.


The Most Commented Articles page lists which articles got comments, from the most- to least-commented. For each entry, it lists:

  • Count: How many comments the entry received. Clicking on this number takes you to the Comments page for this entry.
  • Title: The title of the entry. Clicking on the title takes you to the Edit opage for that entry.
  • Author: Who wrote the entry (useful for weblogs that have multiple administrators and authors).

Click the image to see it at full size.


You can see which of your weblog’s categories is most popular using the Most Popular Categories page, which lists your weblog’s categories from most- to least-read. For each category, it lists:

  • Views: The number of pageviews the category has received.
  • Category: The name of the category. Clicking on a category takes you to its page in the Article and Photo Manager, where you can see the list of all entries in that category.
  • Type: Indicates whether it is a category or photo album.

Click the image to see it at full size.


Ever wondered which browsers your readers are using to view your weblog? The Browser Summary page can show you:

Click the image to see it at full size.


How did people get to your weblog? You can find out using the Referer Stats page, which lists sites that have pointed at least one reader to your weblog, in order of most to least referrals (clicking on a referrer name takes you to its page):

Click the image to see it at full size.


Whether you use the statistics to further refine your content to reach a target audience or to simply satisfy your own curiosity about your readership, you’ll find Blogware’s statistics pages to be very handy tools.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments…

It Happened to Me

My Canada Includes Pyromania

Yesterday’s now-famous article was inspired by the now-infamous Enter Stage Right article, which in turn was inspired by the Victoria Day holiday.

I spent the evening of that holiday with Paul, Deenster, Chris, Josh and Lisa at Trinity Bellwoods Park,
a large common situated a short jaunt west of the downtown core. Paul,
who loves fireworks, had brought along a Manhattan Project’s worth of
them, but what we had couldn’t possibly hope to rival what the Hardcore
Dudes brought.

The Hardcore Dudes had whole filing boxes’ worth of Roman candles,
bombes, barrages, screamers, pinwheels, cherry bombs and all sorts of
other stuff designed to explode with satisfying puro-flourishes and
exhilarating ka-booms. They also preferred to plant their fireworks
ridiculously close to each other and often couldn’t wait for one
firework to finish discharging before lighting the next one, which was
usually the one beside it.

The Hardcore Dudes were crazy and giggling like mad scientists, but
hey, they put on a killer show that everyone in the park loved.

Here’s a video that I shot featuring the Hardcore Dudes at the height
of their show
[3 MB QuickTime]. I shot it from about four or five large paces
away, close enough to feel the ashes from the discharge falling on me.
It’s got fantastic explosions, including a couple where one of
the Hardcore Dudes gets slightly singed thanks to his overeagerness to
keep the explosions going.

I expect to read about the Hardcore Dudes someday. I suspect it will be
in an article covering speaking engagements at high schools: “Back when
I had eyebrows and all ten of my fingers, I used to be careless with

It Happened to Me

Almost 30 years later, and I still don’t belong

Winter 1975, Eaton’s College Park:

Mom: Which jacket do you want?
Me: This one. With the Canadian flag on it.

Summer 1978, shortly after the swearing-in ceremony:

Mom: Son, you will always have to work harder and do better than everyone else, because no matter how long you’ve lived here, no matter that we’re citizens now, there will always be people who will look at your Filipino features and say that you are not “Canadian”.

Summer 1980, following family friend and local historian Mike Filey around town:

Mike: This is Spadina Avenue. The word “Spah-dee-nah” is an Indian word meaning “hill”…

January 1993, speaking as a special guest lecturer in front of computer science students at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines:

Student: Do you consider yourself a Canadian, or a Filipino?
Me: Both.

Before you answer back, hear me out. Who said you had to be only one or the other? Does being a computer scientist rule out the possibility that you have other skills? Maybe as a businessman, or artist or musician? Can you not be a son, brother, father and friend all at once?

Even computer science says you can have it both ways. Computers are von Neumann machines — the numbers they juggle can either be data or instructions.

I am Filipino by birth and at least part of my upbringing is in the Filipino tradition. I’m polite to elders and parents, I get twitchy if
I haven’t had rice in a week and I can play a musical instrument and tell jokes in front of an audience at a moment’s notice.

(laughter from class)

But I am also Canadian. I’ve lived there most of my life, since I was seven. My parents went there to make a better life for us, and I hope
in return, we’ve made Canada a little bit better too. Even though it’s on the other side of the world from where I was born and several
degrees colder half the year, it’s home. It’s a good place, with all sorts of good people, and if you have a chance to visit, I would highly
recommend it.

October 1998, while visiting an English school in Sanda, Japan:

Student: You are from Canada? You look Japanese.
Me: Watashi-wa firipin-ji des [I’m a Filipino]. But yes, I’m from Canada. A Canadian.
Student: Is Canada a nice place? Do you like it there?
Me: It’s a great place, and yes, I do like it there. Here, let me show you some pictures…

Spring 1999, during the “Worst Date Ever”:

Me: You know where the word “Spadina” comes from?
The Waitress: No.
Me: It’s from an old native word, “Spah-dee-nah”, meaning “hill”…

September 1999, USA vs. Canada desert floor hockey match, Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada:

Referee: And now, the Accordion Guy will play the Canadian anthem of your choice — O Canada or Ren and Stimpy’s Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen
Crowd: Yaks-MEN! Yaks-MEN!
Me (singing and playing accordion): Our country reeks of trees / Our yaks are really large…

December 31st, 1999, Zamek Roztez Castle, an hour outside Prague:

Cute Czech Czick: You Western guys…you’re all so crazy.
Me: Hmmm…I’ve been called many things before, but “Western”? This could be the first time. I like the sound of it.
Cute Czech Czick: Are all you Canadians so charming?
Me: Yeah, all of us. You know, in Canada, we have this tradition of kissing at the very start of the New Year…

July 2000, DefCon, Las Vegas, in front of the ABC News cameras:

Me and several people from Hack Canada: CANADA 0WNZ!!!1!!!

(Breaks into Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole”)

October 2000, showing the girlfriend from New York around town:

Me: “Spadina” comes from the native word for “hill”…

c|Net Radio interview, February 2001

Interviewer: So you’re from San Francisco?
Me: No, but we have an office here. I’d like to point out that we’re a Canadian company, following in Canada’s great tradition of computers and telecommunications…Waterloo, Seagate, Zero Knowledge, Nortel, the Blackberry, a lot of gaming companies, computer animators…

[Nortel was semi-respectable even then]

From this blog, nine months ago:

December 5, 2003, Pearson International Airport:

Me, to The Redhead: Welcome to Canada! Let me show you around.

December 6, 2003, chez Accordion Guy:

The Redhead: I like Canada.

Later that afternoon, walking around my neighbourhood:

Me: “Spadina” comes from “Spah-dee-nah”, a native word for hill…

Last month, before the National Anthem session at BloggerCon 2:

Me (to BloggerCon’s founder, Dave Winer): Hey Dave, is there any way I could also play the Canadian national anthem?

Last Saturday, in the Globe and Mail:

Canada is well represented with strong pieces by Toronto blogger Joey de Villa, better known as Accordian [sic] Guy…

From Enter Stage Right, two days ago:

The heroic efforts of Canadians during the Boer War, the two World Wars, and the Korean conflict, where their fighting spirit was much praised and appreciated, as at Vimy Ridge and during the Normandy campaign, seemed to have (ironically) only weakened the country, by the loss of its bravest and most courageous men. The English-Canadians of those days certainly did not fight with the image of a multicultural Toronto of the 1990s — where their male descendants would be subject to formal discrimination in employment, and be the victims of constant jibes in the mass-culture — in their hearts and minds. Nor, one doubts, even today, would Canadian troops (the overwhelming majority of whom are either English or French) be willing to die for the sake of all of Canada becoming another region of the Third World.

The heterogeneous populations of the megapolitan areas — with a few rare exceptions — have no knowledge or affection for the old Canada, in either their hearts or minds. They are effectively dead to the stone and wood relics in their midst, and to whatever old writings, paintings, or other records of the prior period exist. The “discourse” of the old Canada has no meaning for them.

Me, after reading that article:

Fuck you, eh.

I should kick your ass down the Spah-dee-nah.


I doubt anyone will actually want to use this button, but go ahead.