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My Past

See also my publications list and list of recently seen films.

1964, Buffalo NY
I remember very little about being born, though my parents tell me that I was precocious in many other respects. We lived at 1735 Amherst Street, Buffalo, NY 14214.
1966, Toronto ON
During the summer, much of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto resigned en masse, and the chairman suffered a fatal heart attack. Job prospects for Anthropology professors at nearby universities look suddenly brighter, and my family moves to Toronto, which is considered the more civilised city because it has a Japanese food store.
1967, Tokyo JPN
First trip to visit maternal relatives. Slight confusion when, after observing my mother and her sisters and my father and his colleagues, I deduce that all women speak Japanese and all men speak English.
1969, Fairmeadow P.S., North York ON
Begin Grade 1. Teacher puts me to work as a teaching assistant reading stories to half the class, when I'm not browsing in the library. Read Alvin's Secret Code by Clifford B. Hicks and acquire lifelong interest in cryptography.
1970, Fairmeadow P.S., North York ON
Get stung when I'm clapping and a bee flies between my hands; lose respect for insect life, rule out entomology as a career choice. Learn about centripetal acceleration by spinning around a pole surrounded by slick ice until I lose my grip, land on and break my elbow, decide I'm not crazy about physics either.
Father goes on sabbatical, decides to take the family (parents, eight-year-old me, six-year-old Ted) around the world. Train to Vancouver, plane to Honolulu for a few weeks, plane to Tokyo, enrol for a year at Saitama-ken Niiza-shi Dai-yon Shougakko (Niiza (Saitama prefecture) P.S. #4), boat to Nakhodka, train to Helsinki stopping for a few days at Lake Baikal and Moscow, boat to Stockholm, three weeks including birthday in Södertälje, train to Malmö, hydrofoil to Copenhagen, train to Turin via Milan, several days in Pecetto (sp.?), two weeks in rest of Italy (mainly Florence, Pisa), train back to Germany for a few weeks (Frankfurt, Nürnberg), train to Zurich, train to Paris, train to Amsterdam, then plane home via Montréal. Learn Cyrillic, improve Japanese fluency and acculturation, satisfy self that world is round, decide that Russia and Italy are children-friendly countries.
I spent $150 on a Texas Instruments SR-10 calculator. I still have it, and love the way it displays the last two digits of the exponent when you overflow 9.9999999 E+99. My mom wouldn't let me buy it until I'd demonstrated that I could do everything it could do, longhand, with a slide rule, and an abacus. Years later, I was appalled that none of my graduate math classmates even knew how a slide rule works, or how to calculate square roots by hand.
Johan Vink was my favorite grade school teacher. He was Dutch, and chugged a two-litre bag of milk for lunch every day. He read us The Hobbit, made me read Watership Down (my favorite novel for many years), introduced me to science fiction, and let me spend much of the year designing a never-implemented self-contained greenhouse ecosystem for the roof of our school.
First of six years at UTS.
Spent summer working for NCR Japan in Tokyo
Won Canadian Mathematical Olympiad. Spent summer working for Sony Japan in Atsugi. Developed a Z-80 assembler syntax resembling APL, thought it was cool. Made it into the SMC-70 CP/M machine. Won the First Toronto Rubik's Cube Championship with a time of 27 seconds.
Won Descartes Mathematics Competition; placed second in Canadian Classical Society's Greek Sight Translation Contest. Represented Canada at 1981 International Mathematical Olympiad, in Washington, D.C., the first time Canada participated.
It's not really a huge part of my life, but I've been unable to find mention of it elsewhere on the web, so I thought I should say that one summer afternoon I was riding the Yonge subway on the way home from work when I felt a thud and the train screeched to a halt at Summerhill station. It turned out that a maintenance worker, new on the job, had tried to climb onto the platform to get out of the way of the train, and had only half succeeded. We passengers walked past the bloody half-corpse, which had been covered up, and streaks of blood and the occasional stray organ, which had not, and took replacement bus service on to our next destinations. The only mention of this incident on the web now is related to the death in late April 2007 of Antonio Almeida, the next TTC employee to die as a result of an industrial accident. I would like to know the name of the worker who was hit by my train, and should go look it up in the archives someday.
1985 04-09
Worked at Canadian Pavilion, Expo 85, Tsukuba, Japan.
Attended the 14th International Congress of Linguistics in East Berlin with my father, who was there to present a paper.
1993 07
Started playing serious SCRABBLE®
1997 03 04-11
Annual trip to visit my parents at their winter home in Puerto Morelos in the Yucatan.
1997 03 23-30
Attended 10th Annual Motluk Potluck, held this year in Varadero, Cuba.
1997 04 01
Moved to a new apartment closer to school, hate moving but enjoying living on my own again for the first time in six years. E-mail me if you need my new address or phone number.
1997 06 07-08
Attended the 1997 Canadian World Scrabble Championship Qualifying Tournament in Montreal. Came close to qualifying, consider switching back to horseshoes.
1997 06 14
Dropped about forty NSA ratings points at a one-day tournament in Mississauga. Must remember that I'm playing this game Because I Enjoy It So Much.
1997 06 15
Played Zev Kaufman to a 502-point tie in a tournament game, setting what I hope is a world record. I'll be analysing the game over the next few weeks and will eventually post a critique.
1997 06-06
Raised four kinds of roses; spearmint, dill, chives, green onions; carrots, two kinds of Japanese cucumbers, three kinds of tomatoes, lettuce, a sunflower, snow peas; two kinds each of raspberries and strawberries.
1997 09-12
T.A.ed MAT 194F (Engineering Science Calculus)
1997 09 14
Skipped Matchups and the Toronto tournament to attend my niece Amanda's wedding. Check out the picture of my dad and all his descendants.
1997 09 27-28
Played in the annual Toronto-Montreal club Scrabble match at Kingston ON.
1997 11 20-24
Acted as Word Judge and Internet Reporter at 1997 WSC. Had a great time; thanks to everyone at the NSA!
1998 01-04
T.A.ed MAT 195S (Engineering Science Calculus)
1998 03 13-24
Ate, drank and visited my way across England, Denmark and Germany. I haven't enjoyed a vacation like this in just about a year. Thanks, Alison, for organizing your Potluck each year.
1998 03 24 (observed)
Fell in love with Kristen.
1998 05 18
Celebrated Victoria Day by cooking dinner for Kristen, Justin, Daniel, Ken and Tami but not Tom and Michelle, who were called away when William Ross West decided to enter this world a few weeks early. (He was born early the following morning.)
1998 05 23-24
Played in the annual Memorial Day tournament in Montreal.
1998 06 02
Got a PCS phone for my birthday. Whee, and thanks!
1998 08 08-13
Webmastered the 1998 NSC - the next best thing to being there!
1999 07 03
Married Kristen!
2001 05 04
Bought our house at 9 Fulton Avenue.
2001 06 27
End of Toronto SCRABBLE(R) Club 2000-2001 season.
2001 09 05
Start of Toronto SCRABBLE(R) Club 2000-2001 season.
2001 09 28-30