Category Archives: On Human Connections

Pakse and the Bolaven Plateau

“I felt a light expectancy.  This, I thought idly, was how people died: by mistake, imagining themselves bodiless.”  — Colin Thubron

August 13th-16th

I was driving my rented bike down a road on the Bolaven Plateau in Laos, gazing with my jaw agape at the vista that unfurled in front of me.  It was a little foggy, a little dewy, the road empty for long stretches.  It was on one of these stretches that a horn snapped me to attention and I veered out of the way of an oncoming truck. Continue reading


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Filed under On Human Connections, Travel

Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

August 8th-12th

If ever you’re feeling a little lonely, arriving somewhere new for the third time in under a week, watching couples and groups of friends descend on a town with the vigour and voyeur that only backpackers can, here’s what you do. Continue reading


Filed under On Human Connections, Travel

Phnom Penh

August 5th – 8th

I spent three nights in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, a city of marvelous architecture and lovely food and the haunting memories of the Khmer Rouge.  I stayed with a young woman named Liz, a teacher and radical environmentalist from Ohio.  I slept on the hard wooden couch in her bedroom, the only other room in the apartment being the kitchen.  The generosity of couchsurfers never ceases to amaze me. Continue reading

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Filed under History, On Human Connections, Travel


Note: I’ve been writing these as I go, but I was actually in Saigon August 3rd-5th…no laptop with me and only intermittent internet access.

I had breakfast in Hanoi – sticky rice with dried squid from the old lady who sets up shop outside my former apartment – and lunch in Saigon.  Continue reading

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Filed under History, Life in Vietnam, On Human Connections, Travel

Toronto, a city of…taxpayers?

“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”  — Howard Zinn

I’ll throw in my two cents, though it’s a long toss across the ocean and into the streets of Toronto.  Even from here I can feel the palpable anger, the quiet desperation, and unfortunately, some bitter resignation.  I think there’s also creativity and passion and wit in the resistance. Continue reading


Filed under On Human Connections, Politicking

The chicken in the popular imagination

Chickens at Green Vietnam

I was perplexed by a friend’s seemingly irrational hatred of chickens.  His explanation weaved itself through an afternoon of conversation.

Over coffee and hash browns (with nary a chicken in sight), the conversation turned to writing.  I’m going to write a post about chickens, I said.  He laughed and said something about absurd blog topics, which sounded distinctly like a challenge.  So, chicken thoughts. Continue reading

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Filed under Food and Cooking, History, Life in Vietnam, On Agriculture & the Environment, On Human Connections, Politicking

Chop it all off!

“Our limbs, indeed, have enough room, but it is our souls that rust in a corner.”  — Henry David Thoreau

There’s nothing like a new haircut to inspire one to action!  I said, chop it all off, do what you will with this mop.

Maybe it wasn’t just the haircut.  Maybe it’s also the fact that I’m on the move again, living out of a bag for the sixth time in as many months. Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, Life in Vietnam, On Human Connections, Politicking

Nate Woolaver

Lately I find myself thinking of Nate.  I’ve been trying to recall all my memories of him but they’re escaping me and I hate it.

We spent the summer of 2003 sweating, laughing and selling our labour to a company who ruthlessly commodified what ought to be freely and publicly accessible – the Toronto Islands – for the paltry sum of about $7.25/hour. Continue reading


Filed under On Human Connections

On account of the weather

It rained.  It rained and rained and my eyes stung and it felt a bit like crying because the tears were there against my will and made me think I should feel melancholy, but I don’t.  Or maybe I do and nature’s response was appropriate.  I pulled over a few yards past the local Indian restaurant when I could no longer see and decided to get some vindaloo.  “Look at that rain.  Do you live here?” asked the woman at the table across from me, as she twisted in her chair to look out the wide open windows.  And thus began my evening with Meg.

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Filed under Academia, Life in Vietnam, On Human Connections, Politicking


Right now I’m missing wild leeks and garlic scapes and the pungency of all that potential pesto.  In May it seems a crime not to be making it by the jarful and spooning it into my mouth so half of it’s gone before pasta’s had a chance to hit the water.  I’m going to get another tattoo, this time garlic scapes curling up my arm.  It’s taken me seven years to reach this conclusion, but I think it’s the right time.  It’s a chance at a feeling of a little bit of permanence in a life that is in the end, fleeting.  It’s an historical artifact.  It’s a story, and people like me, who are bad at small talk, need stories we can draw on when we have no desire to hear what that person with the loosened tie and tired eyes does between the hours of 9 to 5 and what movies they’ve seen lately and their thoughts on the recent turn in the weather.

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Filed under Food and Cooking, On Agriculture & the Environment, On Human Connections