Howl and the World Howls With You.


We now return to the story of a [Software engineer], who’s gone to [digital marketing]…

When last we left out intrepid hero he had just passed a milestone 35th birthday…

It’s hard to believe the last time I posted to my blog it was some six years ago.  A lot has happened since then (including my finally retrieving  the whytewolf.ca domain from languishing in a domain squatters hell…) and I intend to recap that eventually.

But for now, just for those of you paying attention, I’m officially over the hill and now on attempt 3 to have a reasonably up to date blog.  I plan on hosting my thoughts on digital marketing, demand generation, military history, scale modelling and anything else that strikes my fancy–assuming I can maintain the momentum.

Not bad for the wrong side of forty.



(and if you get the title of this post, you’re likely my vintage too)


Through Little Eyes

September 12, 2009 saw the successful running of another edition of the Alberta AFV Model Show at the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary. Unlike the other major annual competitive model show in the Calgary area—the Western Canadian Regional Competition—the AAFVMS focuses solely on armour and other military subjects relating to ground combat.

Rhane's E-25This was my first AAFVMS, but more importantly it was the first time my daughter Rhane was able to take in, and show some of her work in a competitive format.

Rhane's ISU-152I started modeling when I was eight or so—my first model was a 1/48 scale Mirage IIIR I built with my father. Like many of us, I took a break in my teens, and after a stint in the Canadian Forces, and settling down into a career as a software engineer, I picked up modeling again on a more or less serious basis. My daughter Rhane was born around that time, and has grown up around models, and glue and paint, and when she was about two she and I started modeling together.

Now going into Grade 1, Rhane has graduated from pre-painted snap kits, to simple glue-able kits she brush paints. It was two of these kits she entered in the 2009 AAFVMS.

Dad's Leopard 1A2Recently, many of my friends and I in the local model club have discussed what needs to be done to attract more people to modeling—especially younger modellers. Much has been done by manufacturers to create a wide range of models for varying skill sets and tastes, but in today’s world of video games and internet, getting kids to sit for a while and model seems to be difficult.

AAFV Entry 1Like most other competitive shows, AAFVMS has a junior category for kids under 18, and there seemed to be quite a number of entries, and many of them with far more skill than I had when I was in my youth. Each entry won gold, and even more exciting for the kids, they were asked to come forward to receive a special certificate of merit for their work.

Snowberry ModelBut recognition of a job well done is not the only thing that I think grows the younger modeler’s interest in the hobby—the venue is important as well. The Museum of the Regiments is a fantastic venue for this show—and highly educational. Rhane was almost as excited to see the tanks and artifacts as she was to show her models, and receive her awards. Better yet, such a venue provides every parent the opportunity to help our children connect with their history and heritage in a very intimate and fun manner.

AAFV Entry 2All in all, I had a fantastic time, and plan on returning—even though my six-year-old did better than I did in the awards department (I won silver for both my entries). Just seeing the excitement, interest and occasional awe in my daughter’s eyes was a better reward anyway, and I believe that even if she moves away from the hobby as she grows—as many of us did, only to return later—what she will have learned about patience, craftsmanship, and sportsmanship will hold her in good stead.

A final note: all the photos taken for this article were done so by Rhane. Though she’s still learning the ins and outs of photography, I find it fascinating to see what things draw the eyes of a six-year-old when at a model show.




A Touch of Papaya

A friend of mine had a photography job booked for this past Saturday, and he invited me along for lunch. The models he was shooting looked fantastic, smelled fabulous and tasted even better.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m a pervert, the photo shoot was for a restaurant, and Dave was shooting the menu items.

And am I glad he invited me along.

Vegetable RollsIt was Dave who, lo so many years ago introduced me to my second favourite ethnic food—Vietnamese Pho and Bun. My favourite is of course, curry since I grew up with it at least once a week.

Saturday, Dave was at the Green Papaya, in north Calgary (so far north in fact, it used to be beyond the city limits when my sister lived in the area), a restaurant that serves—in conjunction with its sister restaurant that shares the same dining area—Vietnamese and Indian cuisine.

Tandoori ChickenSince we had been spending the day running about, I brought my daughter Rhane along—she’s only just learning to eat hot curries, and had never tried Vietnamese food before. I was hoping she’d have a good experience—and was not disappointed.

The interior decor is nice and open and airy, with alternating booths and tables comprising the seating of the main area. On the Vietnamese ‘side’ the art on the walls was simple, and understatedly beautiful—of Asian extract. The other side was similar, but with the flavour of India instead. The manager, who took time to speak with us while Dave shot fresh dishes from the menu, indicated that all of the items, from the seating to the dishes and glassware were authentically Vietnamese—“Everything but the food is from Vietnam” he said, “Well, the recipes are too.”

Vermicelli and PorkService was pleasant and fast—although for lunch there did seem to be fewer patrons than I would expect, but considering they have buffets during the week, I suspect most people visit the establishment on weekdays or weekend evenings.

Rhane and I shared a bowl of vermicelli (Bun) with BBQ pork and spring rolls, we also had some of the veggie rolls with peanut sauce and papaya salad—which was a little spicy for Rhane, but I thought was fantastic.

Green Papaya SaladPrices are reasonable for the quality of food, and I look forward to returning with my mother and sister to try to Indian side in the near future. An interesting note, is that each side of the restaurant uses a separate kitchen, chef and kitchen staff—which allows for the Green Papaya to provide fusion-style atmosphere with an authentic ethnic menu regardless of whichever of the two are your favourite ethnic foods—Indian or Vietnamese.

The Green Papaya is at 128-12024 Symons Valley Rd NW, Calgary (just follow Beddington Tr north past Stoney Tr and it’s in the mall on your right)

Now if only Dave would invite me along the next time he’s doing a fashion shoot.



In Box Preview of Ram II at On The Way

I just had my first In Box Preview posted at On The Way–take a look: AP Models Canadian Cruiser Tank Ram II

I plan on putting together another couple of previews for On The Way as I work through some of my braille scale resin kits backlog–and heck, maybe even some build up reviews. Sometimes I think there’s not enough support for us braille scale modelers out there, but thanks and kudos to the guys over at On The Way–it sure helps!



The Struggle for Universal Health Care

Since I picked up an inner-ear infection a week ago, I’ve been thinking about the healthcare system. It took me 30 minutes and ultimately cost me $11 to receive the diagnosis and get the antibiotics required to clear it up. All thanks to the Canadian single-payer healthcare system.

Tommy Douglas said it best: “Courage, my friends; ’tis not too late to build a better world.” Douglas knew first-hand about the struggle to being universal healthcare to the people. Thanks to Douglas’ work in Saskatchewan as politician and later Premier, all Canadians now have access to what I personally consider the best health care system in the world.

Is it perfect? Nothing man-made is. In many of our major cities, and even in smaller places there are extensive lines in Emergency Rooms and too few hospital beds. Waiting lists for non-critical procedures can be extensive as well. In some cases people look for a private for-profit solution, paid for out of their own pocket rather than wait. I myself did that several years ago after my car accident–I elected to have a private MRI done to examine the damage to my back an neck when I wasn’t satisfied with the initial diagnosis. But more and more my experience with the Canadian system is one of quiet competence, and better yet, affordability. On the occasion we need to see a doctor, my daughter and I go the neighborhood clinic. The wait time is rarely long, even when the waiting room is full, and I am more than pleased with the standard of care we have received. I’m a big proponent of these sorts of walk-in clinics, and believe they are key to solving the issues with ER wait times and reduce the load on the system so long as people who are in moderate medical need go to the clinic as opposed to the ER.

Bed shortages and procedure wait-times are a separate issue, and one that requires more than simply changing personal habits. We need to find a way to increase the money going to the healthcare system without breaking the bank or de-listing services. It might be easy to simply say ‘raise taxes’ but I think that we need to look at things more creatively. We’ve been able to reduce drug costs simply by using the government’s weight to negotiate better rates from drug companies–without needing to raise premiums. It’s time for Canadians, and most especially, their politicians to think outside the box to solve this problem. Canadians need a system that will survive for they and their children, and ideological fist-fights over what to do mixed with political posturing and short-sightedness are a toxic mix. Lets be practical people.

Americans need a system too–and one that is fundamentally more equitable than their current one. The fight south of the border over universal healthcare is heating up, and opponents are all the usual suspects. Sadly many American politicians who should be on the side of universal healthcare are either dragging their feet or actively sabotaging it. With a single payer plan like Canada, the US would find itself far more competitive economically when it comes to worker’s benefits. Part of GMs problems are based on having to bear legacy health costs negotiated in their contracts with the unions. Now while many would simply say turf the unions a more practical view has to be taken regarding worker health–for without healthy skilled workers, what sort of quality are you producing? Who want’s to buy poor quality goods–and who could afford to if forced into low income realities due to poor wages, or outrageous healthcare bills.

Single payer universal healthcare makes sense economically and socially. I urge the Americans to continue to look at the Canadian example–the Tommy Douglas example–in their fight for their own system. You will be inundated with stories of where the system has failed Canadians–and sad or frustrating as they are, and as much as they do need to be dealt with, don’t for a moment think that these examples are any more than exceptions that prove the rule. 30+ million Canadians use our system, and by and large they are as satisfied with it as I am.

There is still work to be done here–practical work. The struggle never ends, but with a bit of that courage we can build a better world.


A Very IT Short Story I Had Floating Around…

by S.D. Campbell

BEL was a character.
He was—like everyone else he knew, a low brow character. That wasn’t usually a problem. He’d grown up with most of them—his closest friends were ACK and BS—but he was well acquainted with FS, GS, RS and US from the Board (he worked with them).
Then his life changed.
She made an appearance.
And nothing was ever the same again.

Her curves were stunning. Shapely. Beautiful. To BEL she looked like a radiant angel.
But she was one of the high placed numbers, and no Low or High ever mixed. After all, how often had a Low been used to terminate a block?
Yet here she was, on the wrong side of the tracks so to speak. He maneuvered past the others who were staring and smiled at her.
“Hi.” He said stupidly.
Her look contained distain—and a little fear.
“Perhaps you can help me.” She said, “I seem to be lost.”
“What’cha looking for?”
“The port.”
BEL smiled, “I can show you.”
“Uh…” she sneered at the little character, “Thank you, but…”
“Please. I’ll be good, I won’t beep I swear.”
She sighed, “Fine. We go now.”
He nodded exuberantly, and led them though the still silent throng.

“So what’s your number?” he asked, trying to make conversation.
She rolled her eyes, it was a classic Low pickup line. “One-two-five.” She said, “As if you couldn’t tell.”
He tittered, “Heh, I guess I just need to look…”
She snorted, “Like any intelligent character. I, for instance, knew the moment I saw you you were zero-zero-seven.”
He drew himself up to his full height—which wasn’t much. “I like to think of myself as just plain double-oh-seven thank you very much” he glanced about furtively, “On a daring mission to assist a beautiful…”
“Brace?” a husky voice called out.
BEL turned to see another High approach them. He too had curves, but his were thicker, and bulged in places. BEL wondered if this brute was using a different font.
“Oh Lefty!” she fell into his embrace, “I got separated, and found myself down here, and this…”
BEL smiled nervously.
“Thing attempted to assist me.”
BEL beamed.
The Left Curved Brace glared. He glanced to his superior, “What should I do to it?”
The Right Brace who BEL had attempted to assist shrugged and looked at her ends, “Whatever…” she sighed.
BEL began to tremble.
“After all he tried to hit on me.”
Both Braces looked at him.
“Did you…” Lefty said.
“Just Beep?” Brace asked.
“I didn’t mean to…” Bel whimpered, beeping again in terror. “Please don’t delete me.”
Brace was blasé “Demote him Lefty.”

At least they’d left him part of his name NUL thought as he moped about zeroing out variables and flagging them for garbage collection.
As bad as it was to have been demoted to (null) and have his number set to zero-zero-zero, at least he hadn’t been deleted. So it could be worse.
What really hurt though was what she said to him as the two Braces left.
“It never would have worked out anyway honey.” She said with silky elegance, “Our children would have been Capitals.”

Of #twitterfail and Other Internet Realities

The Internet and the Web are vast and rich spaces. The advent of social networking may seem to have revolutionized how we interact with these spaces, but in truth it has only really added just one more place in which information transfer can occur. The information available through the ‘net is amazing in its scope, breadth and depth. I’m sure if you looked long enough (say 10 minutes) you’d pull up an old post I made to the space1999 mailing list in praise of Alan Carter’s propensity for crashing Eagles–posted sometime when I was in University over a decade and a half ago.

Today those of us plugged in tweet and blog and update our Facebook status–and often fail to remember just how long what we say will hang around and how it might impact our lives and/or careers ten years later.

Yet, that said, quite often there seems to be this strange memory pot-hole in the ‘Information Super-Highway’ (what an old term!). Often what we cherish most in terms of posts or articles or positions seem to fade from the Internet and Web over time–sometimes in the most inopportune moment! I think this is for two reasons. First, each of us is generally a small fish in an immense ocean, and unless you’re a public figure, what you say or do is at the mercy of the vagaries of hosting and archiving. Which comes to the second reason: the vagaries of hosting and archiving. Data storage isn’t free, and with that in mind it’s not surprising some of the short fiction I had published with small press e-zines a decade ago is no longer accessible now that said e-zines are long out of business.

Recently Twitter has been making noise about how to generate a revenue stream without moving to on-line advertising. I understand this need–I work for an Internet company, and revenue is the lifeblood of any business. Without some steady income Twitter will eventually just go away.

But there’s a fine line to be walked here. Twitter’s value isn’t really in the service it provides, but in the reach it has to it’s millions of subscribers. Charge for the standard on-line service and the subscribers begin to vanish. This is what many newspapers have discovered when they put their content behind a pay-wall when they moved online (and sadly, some are now attempting to relearn that lesson again–likely with the same results). People might pay for premium Twitter service–but no one will pay for what we get to do now for free.

So, if no subscription fee, and no advertising, what is Twitter to do?

I say, just imagine the market and trend-research and analysis potential in mining billions of tweets from millions of users. Monetize that is what I say. Otherwise I think the end result of old revenue thinking on Twitter’s part is one giant fail whale.


A Late May Haiku

Buddha has a neko nature
Graceful and pure


Dun Mess Wiv Im

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

The Ballad of Chronic Pain

Though not a subject I speak about very much–if at all–recent conversations with friends and family have gotten me thinking about the role chronic pain plays in my life.

Hi, my name is Sean, and I experience chronic pain.

(Hi Sean!)

Notice I said experience, rather than suffer. To me, this is an important distinction that makes dealing with the pain far easier than it might be otherwise. I guess in my mind, experience is something that happens to you–something you have little control over and something that life has bequeathed to you. Suffering on the other hand, is optional.

First, some background: in late 2000 I was in a rather serious car accident. A mini-van t-boned me as I was turning left. The collision snapped my car around, smashed my head into the steering wheel and pinched my knee and ankle between the door and steering column. Most of this I know only from after-action reports, as I remember nothing of the accident save the mini-van’s headlights in my left window–I saw those out of the corner of my eye the instant before being struck, and had nightmares about them for years.

I was lucky. If my car had been struck six inches further back, I’d not be here writing about it. Eating mini-van grill at 60 km/h isn’t something most people survive.

I ended up with two blown disks, one in my back and one in my neck. The accident also left me with nerve damage in my lower back. It’s this nerve damage that continues to haunt me even after most of the other injuries have healed. Because of it my body is constantly telling me that something’s wrong with my left side–sometimes it whispers, and sometimes it screams, but it’s never quiet.

It took me some time to recognize this, as there were a variety of other aches and pains I had to heal from, and that too was for the best. I was laid up for a month, and spent another two in physio learning to walk again after the damage to my left ankle and tendons. By the time I realized that the ‘phantom pain’ was lingering, I’d begun to accept some of the limitations resulting from the accident.

Even more than my own recognition of the lingering after-effects though were two examples of perseverance regardless of physical pain and discomfort. The first was a friend from high school, who despite her youth overcame the pain of her leukemia treatments to experience life more fully than I ever could. Even though she eventually lost her battle, it was an amazing testament for what a zest for life can accomplish, regardless of what your body tells you.

My second example is my aunt. Despite her lupus she has been a blazing beacon of optimism in my family’s lives. My father especially is in awe with her selflessness and perseverance, and indeed optimism in the face of some incredible physical challenges. I can’t say that she’d necessarily agree to the distinction between experiencing and suffering, but I can only thank her for the inspiration and example she has provided me in my own journey.

Because in the end that’s what life is. On every road there are hills to climb and valley’s to ford, and every one of them has meaning and value and lessons to be learned. Each experience is one more piece to the puzzle that life is, and if you spent that journey lamenting about the life you live, how can you ever be happy? No body knows how many days we have on this earth, and I for one have little interest in suffering through the rest of them.

Pain is a part of my life, and though I don’t relish it, neither do I suffer it. I accept it as an experience, and savor it as proof that life can be fragile, but is always valuable. I can’t say that I wouldn’t be a little sad if I woke up tomorrow pain free–for that reminder would be gone, and with it, perhaps something that brings the value of my life into sharp relief would be gone too.

For all of that however, I could never have grown to accept, and continue to experience my life with pain without the love and understanding of my family and friends. Many thanks are owed to my aunt for her example and inspiration, but many more to my daughter, who is always understanding of her father’s occasional failure to stave off grouchiness. Thanks also to my parents, who have been supportive in every way possible. And also to one of my oldest and dearest friends, who never takes my pain as an excuse when he drags my fat ass off the couch to go bike riding.

If my life as it is today were a song, it would be a ballad of pain, but not a sad one. There is triumph in not letting it stop me from living.

For those of you out there who also experience chronic pain, I can’t say if my worldview is right, or even right for you, but I can say there is hope, because there is still life. And if you take one thing from my ramblings, it would be this:

Suffering is optional.



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