Category Archives: Nostalgia

Pat Buckley (17 March 1948 – 11 July 2011), the man who taught me I had a brain

Patrick Buckley, 17 March 1948 - 11 July 2011

Pat Buckley entered my family’s life many years before I was born, and remained a steady source of good humour and resilience for the quarter century I knew him. It’s always hard to deal with a friend’s death, especially when that friend was such a constant fixture in my family’s life. Us kids grew up seeing Pat and his daughters at least once a week and sharing a lot of memories. We even got to share a house for a while! I never much care for organ playing, because it just doesn’t sound quite right if the organ isn’t played the way Pat always played it. He helped bring music into a lot of people’s lives, and was an accompanist literally hundreds of times for my mom’s singing. I was always impressed by, and will always be inspired by, Pat’s ability to maintain a positive attitude in difficult circumstances. With his stories and his jokes and his music, I’m sure a bit of his attitude rubbed off on a lot of people over the years.

I still remember how some of us kids used to flip upside down onto the old brown couch we had at our house on 41st, so that we’d end up standing on our heads with our feet up against the wall, and Pat joking that it was bad for our brains. I remember like it was yesterday, insisting that I did NOT have a brain! And he kept saying that I did in fact have a brain, and I refused to believe him. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what a brain was, I simply thought I didn’t have one. Pat laughed, and of course he didn’t make us stop goofing around on the couch!

The funniest thing I remember from when we all lived in the same house, was when Pat decided to teach us kids how to make honey when my parents were out. I even remember that I was standing at the north end of the white kitchen table as I made my bowl of honey, just the way he told us to do it. It was years before I realised that the brown sticky product of mixing massive amounts of brown sugar into your bowl of hot porridge is not actually real honey. It sure was tasty though, and wasn’t the last time I made it!

Pat will always be dearly loved and missed by our entire family, to whom he showed so much kindness over the years. While I was in Vancouver this spring, I had the good luck of bumping into Pat in Oakridge Mall, near the White Spot. We had a great chat – I could see a few people seated nearby were listening and I imagined at the time that they wished they could be part of our conversation – and, having said our goodbyes, I walked away with a smile on my face (which is really saying something, as it’s extremely rare to catch me alone in public with a smile on my face). I would really have liked to see Pat again.

My BumbleBike!

One sunny summer day when I was a kid, maybe 4 or 5 years old, I was sitting on the front lawn of my childhood home on 41st Ave in Vancouver, waving goodbye to my uncle as he drove away in his blue car. As he often did, he had come to visit and bring us some hot cross buns, always quickly devoured by us four energetic kids. As I was sitting on the lawn, barefoot, a bumblebee landed on my big toe (my daddy toe, as I used to call it, and still do). My parents had told me that bumblebees don’t sting, but as I waved goodbye to my uncle and my toe wiggled a little bit, the little buzzing ball of fuzz stung my daddy toe. I was not impressed, and duly made this known by profuse crying, as was my reaction at that age to most things unpleasant.

Fast forward a couple decades, and shift the scene one city block southwest: I wanted to build up a bunch of bicycles while I was in Vancouver this past spring, but I had less spare time on my hands than I had planned, so in the end I was only able to complete two projects. The first was a custom red and white single speed freewheel built with my brother as a gift for my sister, which turned out really nicely.

For my second project, I decided to build a single speed freewheel bike for myself. After thinking about different colour schemes for a while, I decided on black and yellow. When I mentioned the idea to Ben at Our Community Bikes, he immediately replied “Oh cool, you’re building a bumblebike!” A great name if ever I heard one, the bike had been baptised before even being born!

I began by searching for used black rims to build the wheels. At Our Community Bikes I found one fully built 32 hole black rear wheel with black spokes and black hub, and a 24 hole front rim. Down at the Pedal Depot I found a black 24 hole front hub, and I bought the black front spokes and spoke nipples from Jett Grrl down on Union Street. It was really tough building the front wheel – working in my bedroom, I had to re-lace it about 5 times before I got it right!

Bumblebike 24 spoke front wheel in progress

Next, I took a secondhand frame and got out my angle grinder to remove the labels and most of the paint. Before:

Bumblebike frame before paint removal


Bumblebike frame after paint removal

I did the same to the front fork:

Bumblebike front fork

As with my sister’s bike, I spent a long time spraying thin coats of paint onto the frame and fork and waiting for it to dry:

Bumblebike frame with black paint

I also made a BumbleBike decal and bumblebee logo for the bike, and got a sign-making place to print them as decals. Unfortunately, despite several coats of ink, the yellow still came out relatively translucent, so the colour of the decals doesn’t quite match the yellow on the rest of the bike:

Custom bumblebike decal

Rather than think about packing, half of my last day in Canada was spent putting the BumbleBike together. It still needs brakes, different cranks, and I have to fix the rear wheel alignment, but it’s neeearly rideable now:

Almost complete bumblebike
Almost complete bumblebike

Colin Jack, Beer Expert and All-Round Awesome Guy (1970-2011)

I first met Colin Jack in the fall of 2004, when my brother Dan and I signed up for the UBC AMS Minischool course titled “Beer Tasting.” Three guys were running the show: Colin, Rick, and Zayvin. Longtime friends, they knew how to teach us the science, the art, and the fun of tasting beer. Colin put a lot of effort into Just Here For The Beer, including creating the annual Canada Cup of Beer in Vancouver which has been gaining popularity every year, and regular radio shows on AM 650.

Colin was a good teacher and a good friend, and as a result I took his class three times at UBC, learning more each time. I thought so highly of him that, when I returned from a year abroad in 2005, I hand-carried glass bottles of Beer Lao as a gift for him and the other Just Here For The Beer guys – something you couldn’t find in any beer store in BC at the time. I was lucky enough to volunteer at two Canada Cup of Beer festivals, and attend a third one last summer when I visited Vancouver, and I had a great time at each one thanks to the effort that Colin and his friends and family put into the festival. I had been looking forward to seeing him in three weeks at the next Just Here For The Beer event in Vancouver. I’m sad I won’t get to share another laugh with Colin, but I have a bunch of very happy memories to keep hold of, and am very thankful that I knew him. I’m sure that many of my friends will feel the same way.

He died on the weekend, just 40 years old.

The last class of my third and final beer tasting course, UBC, Vancouver, March 20th, 2007 with Colin on the far right side of the photo:

The last class of my third and final beer tasting course, UBC, Vancouver, March 2007

Colin at the Canada Cup of Beer, July 6, 2008:

Colin Jack at the Canada Cup of Beer, July 6, 2008

Vancouver Courier article about Colin:

ChristChurch Cathedral, two thousand and one days later

2001 days ago, I paid NZD 1.50 to climb 134 steps up the spire of ChristChurch Cathedral in New Zealand with my friend Vania. Now that spire is just a pile of rubble in the centre of the South Island’s most populous city, after an earthquake destroyed buildings and killed dozens of people.

Back when we visited Christchurch, in August 2005, I took a bunch of photos from the Cathedral spire 30 metres above ground:

Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand
Chess in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand
ChristChurch Cathedral spire, New Zealand
ChristChurch Cathedral spire, New Zealand

Vania returning down the spiral staircase back to ground level:

Returning down the spiral staircase. ChristChurch Cathedral, New Zealand

After our visit to the cathedral, we went and enjoyed hot chocolate at Starbucks, appreciated the beautiful weather, and laughed as we watched this seagull eating someone’s unfinished cake.

A seagull enjoys someone

None of my Kiwi friends were badly hurt in this earthquake, but it’s still pretty sad. Christchurch is a great city, and it’ll take a long time to recover from this.