My Father Died Last Week

And I’m just starting to deal with it, I think.

Spilios (Uncle Louis) Tsielos died on the 14th of September, 2020. What a shitty year. I was notified of his death by a cousin posting the information on fucking Facebook. I’m really unhappy with that but it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. I’m not close with that side of the family, as I’ll delve into more as we go along. Regardless, I got the information nearly twelve hours after the fact by a social media post. How do you relay information of that gravity on Facebook without second guessing yourself?

I’ve included a grab of said post here for … posterity’s sake.

Geez, really….

I’m not sure why there were dum bells in the background but considering the decision making that went into posting this already, I’m not going to waste the mental exercise in trying to figure it out. Also, I’m not really a big part of that area of the family (or any family, for that matter) so I’m not about to get my knickers in a twist.

My Father and I had a complicated relationship. I’ve spent more time with my wife then I ever did with my Father (twenty years in November). At some point I might sit down and do a proper estimate on the number of months we were together throughout my life. It should signify how low that number will be when I display my confidence in being able to figure it out without much trouble.

It was only recently, within the last 2 years, that I learned my Dad was a radio repair technician in the Greek army when he did his mandatory military time. I’ve never thought of my Father as a technical person and to be told this information shook my understanding of who I thought my Dad was, right to the core. We spoke, really for the first time, about some of the work he was responsible for and I was amazed that he would do that sort of work.

Throughout my life, my Dad has always worked in restaurants. Periods of my life in which my Dad was around involved being in, going to or leaving from restaurants. When I was an infant, it was Uncle Louis’ Pizza. In my preteen years it was the White Spot. Later it was Yianni’s Taverna or Spartacus, both in Edmonton. Later teen years, before I stopped spending my summers with my Dad it was Villa Caruso or L&W in Jasper. Our life together, for what it was, revolved around restaurants. In all of these roles he was either the Manager, Head Server or, for a short time, a cook.

So consider my amazement to discover that he’d been in a technical role in the army. But this, dear reader, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The things that I don’t know about my Father are legion and I’m afraid to make the next statement but I’m going to do it anyways.

It doesn’t, nor did it, matter.

There were several times through my life that my Dad showed up for stuff. He was there when we won the Junior Football High School City Championship. He was there when I ended up in the hospital after getting cracked in the head by an aggressive douche bag wielding a bat. That was three days in the Peter Lougheed that were a little scary but he showed up. He also made the trek to New Brunswick when Sylvia and I were married.

And I’m trying to think of any other of my ‘shit, I wish I had my Dad here’ moments that occurred during my life. There were many. Many. And he wasn’t there.

I wont’ speak ill of my Dad. He wasn’t a perfect man; few of us are. But I used his failures in life as a crutch to keep myself from taking some risks.

I didn’t gamble until I was in my 40’s simply because I was sure it would lead me to a ruined life. So far, that’s turned out to be false. Perhaps it’s an age thing? I started gambling far beyond when my Dad started playing poker. I’m more mature, understand statistical risk better than my Dad (I think) and I’m not willing to bet my future, and that of my wife, on a session of Blackjack.

Thinking about children, I’m positive that I would do poorly, even more poorly than my Dad. Is that, too, just a fear which is incorrect? I don’t think so but now knowing that my personality enjoys balanced risk, this is not one I’m willing to take. I’m not willing to fuck up a person whom I’m supposed to be caring for. What are the odds of that happening? Too high for me.

This is the last picture I have of my Dad when he seemed happy. This is from September 2016 and we’re with my aunt Dina, the last surviving member of that generation.

Me, My Aunt Dina and my Father, Spilios (Uncle Louis) Tsielos

I have a feeling I’ll be dealing with this for a while. That’s it’s not just going to stop one day and all will be right in the world. Writing things down, finding reminders to my state of mind is helpful for me, very much like a map.

Where I was, where I am and where I might very well wander off to.

I’m thinking of buying a new travel bag

And this video might just be the motivation I needed.

But seriously, I’ve been wanting one of these Nomatic bags for some time now. They’ve got a serious sale going on, I’ll assume due to the old C-19, and it’s substantially discounted. If I pick one up, I’ll post my thoughts on it here.

Las Vegas: Oyster Bar Pan Roasts

Enjoying time in Vegas must always include culinary experiences. Usually it’s to try something that you’ve never had before but many times it’s all about going back somewhere that fed you something outstanding or where you had a truly enjoyable experience.

An article in the LA Times talks about one of the little known culinary attractions that continues to bring people to the oyster bars all over Vegas. Though I didn’t know how widespread ‘Pan Roasts’ are, I do also have a favourite haunt to visit that gives me access to something similar. And even in some of the other resorts I don’t regularly visit (the Palace Station mentioned below, for example) they have a pan roast available that draws the folks in.

“People stand in line 24 hours a day for the pan roasts. They outsell everything else on the menu three-to-one.”

Steve Ely, Palace Station’s Assistant Food and Beverage Director

I usually make a point of visiting The Orleans, just west of my usual strip hotel, The Excalibur, on each trip that I make. Within it’s gloriously overdone Mardi Gras theming, you’ll find Big Al’s Oyster Bar, home to my favorite dish there, the Crab and Shrimp Boil.

This is a great meal to enjoy while you visit the resort. I’m usually in between playing blackjack and heading to the theatre for a movie or the bowling alley to knock down a few pins when I decide to make a stop. Bowl of beautiful broth filled to the brim with shrimp and crab, corn and potatoes, it’s truly a thing to behold. It comes to you so hot that you’ll need to give it a few minutes before you dig in or risk a scalded mouth. What I didn’t actually know before reading the article is what a pan roast is and why I need to try one. There’s one listed on the menu at Big Al’s but I’ve just never gotten past the crab and shrimp boil to see it.

I’ve got a whole ridiculous list of things that keeps me coming back to Vegas, both solo and with the dear wife, but one thing that never gets removed is trying the awesome food and beverage that’s available a reasonable prices as soon as you get off the strip. The same is available on the strip but at a much different price and experience.

The next time I stop by, which will be in October on my next trip to Vegas, I’m definitely going to be trying one of these and I’ll report back. I think this next trip might be my chance to document more of what I love from that city, while it’s happening! We’ll see if I can remember to document during the trip. 😀

Source: LA Times online, URL: https://www.latimes.com/travel/story/2019-09-10/pan-roasts-not-oysters-big-draw-vegas

My Lime Addiction

No, not the fruit, the scooter company. If you’re in a larger American city (LA, Austin, Dallas, etc) you’ve already seen the bright green electric scooters littering your walkways. Here’s a quick video used as a tutorial to teach new users how to properly park your scooter at the end of a ride.

Hey, can I park it here? No? What about here? Yeah!

Lime started a pilot program in Calgary on the second week of July. The city gave them the latitude to have these devices out on the streets for people to use and to charge same people 30 cents a minute for the opportunity.

So these scooters have pretty good batteries and will last almost a full day but they eventually require recharging. Enter the Juicers!

I’ve signed up as a ‘Juicer’, a contracted employee of Lime that is tasked with gathering, charging and ‘serving’ a number of Lime scooters each day. I was provided with a couple of chargers to use in my activities and will charge an empty scooter to full in about six hours. Then I find a location out on the street to serve, or drop off, the scooter. For that sequence of activities (harvest, charge, serve) i receive a payment of $5.25 CDN for each scooter charged.

Why? Why am I doing this? What is the possible reasoning behind someone who is doing fine financially wanting to run around being a ‘Juicer’? In the rain, tonight, I asked myself that question a couple of times.

It’s tough to explain but people who actually know me will probably understand: it’s about the quest rewards! I’ve always been a big fan of Role Playing Games (RPGs) going all the way back to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Sitting around a table, rolling dice that are desperately trying to kill me and killing the (dragon, kobold colony, Orc infestation) before receiving a reward for all my hard work. +5 Vorpal Sword!

I like the small work/small reward of the ‘Gig’ economy. I like that I can make an extra $10.50 per night doing about 30 minutes (max!) combined of work. Pays for my morning coffee addiction!

The other question I get asked all the time is how much electricity am I paying for to charge these scooters? I asked one of the electronic engineers in my lab for a suggestion as to how much electricity is consumed and his suggestion was about 8 cents per scooter per night. I haven’t gotten my first full electricity bill to confirm this yet but I don’t have any reason to think it’s much more than that.

I’m going to continue doing this until they take the scooters off the road in November. I might still be interested in continuing in the spring but who knows? As long as I continue to get that mini-rush of quest complete, I’ll probably continue the activity indefinitely. I’ll update if that changes.

Some Great PR for CIITS

http://www.harderlee.ca/
Chris Zaal (CIITS @ SAIT) and Mike Allan (Routique). Photo by Harderlee Photography. http://www.harderlee.ca/

Working for Applied Research and Innovation Services at SAIT has been an excellent opportunity for me to grow as a technologist and leader within a technical team, both things that I want to continue to experience advancement as time progresses.

Occasionally, we get a chance to add our voice to the alumni SAIT magazine that goes out quarterly. I just wanted to add a link to the latest bit of propaganda from our communications team. 🙂

You can read the article here:

https://saitalumnilink.ca/2019/06/using-the-internet-of-things-so-the-food-we-eat-stays-frozen-or-fresh-during-transport/

It’s Finally Happened

My flight from Memphis to LaGuardia has been delayed so long that I’m not going to make the last flight from there to Toronto, my final destination today. As it currently sits, I don’t arrive in Toronto until 2345 and I’ve been sitting at the airport since 1100. If I wasn’t sitting comfortably in the Delta SkyLounge I’d be really angry right now. It’s taking a large amount of self control not to deplete their self-serve bar of all their bourbon.

Continue reading “It’s Finally Happened”