Servant Leadership

The recent announcement by Google that they are reorganizing into a holding company called Alphabet which will hold operating companies for each of their products struck me for a number of reasons. In particular the letter that CEO Larry Page released detailing the reasoning demonstrated a number of key things that keep Google successful.

1. They have stayed true to their core

In the letter Larry outlines that they set out with the intention that “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” The letter demonstrates to me that Google is not a conventional company. It is not a stuffy, formal letter written by lawyers or a PR firm designed to be as inoffensive as possible while still raising the share price of Google. It is a real letter, written by real person, expressing their real feelings, in natural language.  He says things like “Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company” and “Susan is doing a great job as CEO” and “We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about.” Apparently if Larry Page is one thing, he’s super excited!

2. They demonstrate servant leadership

Servant leadership is the concept that the leader of an organization is there to ensure that their people have the tools, empowerment, and opportunities under which to perform their best.

Robert Greenleaf, the guy that coined the phrase, describes it this way

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.


Larry Page demonstrates his dedication to this type of philosophy in the section of the letter where he describes Sundar Pichai, the new CEO of Google. He says “I have been spending quite a bit of time with Sundar, helping him and the company in any way I can, and I will of course continue to do that.” Then later when describing all the CEOs of their business lines “In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed.” It must be a powerful feeling to know that the CEO of one of the largest companies in history is “in service” to you!

3. Flexible and innovative

We work with companies every day that are small or medium sized (<500 people) that have the speed and bureaucracy of a large company. It’s almost as if they adopt bureaucracy and rigid multi-layered org structures as way to to  demonstrate that they are a “real’ company. This recent article by Sam Altman (of Y Combinator) really highlights the benefits of staying nimble and being a “project” instead of a “company”. While I would never call a multi-billion dollar enterprise a “project” Google does have the spirit of flexibility and adaptability that many companies lack.


Overall I’m really impressed by Google’s switch, by the subtle messages they convey in their letter to investors and I hope that they can hold on to their core values in the long run. The real test will come when Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt are no longer leading the charge.

Upper Kananaskis Lakes

Now that we have three kids under four, including one that is only 4 months old, mountain adventures are taking a backseat to playing in the yard and various nap schedules. However, we did get out for a nice morning trip to the Upper Kananaskis Lakes area.

The plan was to hike around the Upper Lakes Trail, and if possible, try and get up to Rawson Lake. IMG_8565

The great thing about hiking with kids is that they are generally full of energy. The kind of energy that radiates from their eyes and their smile and their legs as they race up and down the trail. It’s an infections energy that feels endless… until out of nowhere it hits a giant brick wall and cascades into shards of tantrums, whining, and pleas of “carry me!” Fortunately we didn’t experience any of this at Upper Kananaskis Lakes, but we came prepared for it anyway and brought along our double-Chariot and the Ergo. In this way we could transport all three kids if we really needed to; it wouldn’t be pleasant, but neither is abandoning one in the woods (c:

From what I remembered of the last time I was on that trail (~10 years ago) it was a fairly smooth and fairly open trail; surely it would qualify as a Chariot Friendly trail. As we started down the Upper Kananaskis Trail it was clear that trail was indeed Chariot Friendly – assuming you didn’t mind lifting it up and over roots, rocks, and ledges. This wasn’t bad with a 4mo old in it I didn’t really mind, so we stoically kept  moving along. Next time I think we’d leave the Chariot at home and just use snacks and breaks instead to make sure that the kids can make the trip.

For us, the trail ended at Sarrail Falls ~1km in.

The bridge across the creek was wiped out in the 2013 floods and has not yet been rebuilt. We briefly considered continuing, and many helpful people offered to help get our Chariot across the creek, but ultimately decided that was a poor idea. It really wouldn’t do to be on the far side of a creek later on with three kids running out of energy.

We always have the kids carry their own backpack, for a few reasons:

  1. They love it, it makes them feel like they’re “really hiking”. Since Jamie and I usually have one, they want one too
  2. In the super-unlikely, and super-uncool even they get separated from us in the woods they’ll have jacket, some food, and some water. It isn’t all of the 10 essentials but it’s as much as they can carry at this age
  3. It’s less stuff that I have to carry!

We turned back and went to play at the lake shore while eating sandwiches and trial mix. I’m always amazed how much fun the kids have just throwing rocks into the water and generally exploring somewhere new.




View across Upper Kananaskis with Mt. Lyautey on the left and Mt. Indefatigable on the right. IMG_8581

Mt. Indefatigable (which was fun to scramble for sunrise)
As is our style these days we took off shortly after lunch and let the kids sleep in the car. Since Logan and Riley are both still napping 1.5-2hrs per day this works out pretty well. They never nap as long in the car and I really have to be careful to hit the cattle-gates just right or risk waking them up.

Castle Mountain – Night Photography in the Canadian Rockies

I recently had the good fortune to spend a week in Banff attending the 2014 International Snow Science Workshop. The conference was an excellent mix of snow science researchers, practitioners, and industry members and covered a lot of ground including snow mechanics, materials properties, human factors, and of course plenty of time for networking.

While in Banff I swapped out a night of networking in favour of astro photography. One of my favourite things about doing night shoots is that by their very nature they force me to slow down. I have found that it takes at least 30min of open exposure to time to get a star-trails image that I’m happy with, any less doesn’t do it, and this is 30min of slow, outdoor, time that I wouldn’t otherwise take. Unfortunately, the night I chose had a few clouds blow in on me and I ended up cutting the session short. I think the images still worked out, and I’d like to go back again for another try.

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Since the clouds were covering Castle Mountain I re-oriented and tried for some shots of the Milky Way galaxay, another favourite of mine. Unfortunately there were clouds there too.

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“Do you have everything you need? Are you OK?” Calgary’s positive cycling culture

I cycle commute to work as often as I can, and it’s an experience I really enjoy. There is great value for me in starting the day with physical activity and waking up my mind and body. I live in the NW quadrant of the city and work in the SW so the commute works out to about 25km each way, or about an hour of riding time, less if the wind is at my back.

Two years ago I upgraded from my mountain bike to a sleek and speedy road bike which decreased my time significantly (~20% I’d estimate) and made the ride more enjoyable. The only downside that I have found with riding road bikes is the sturdiness of skinny tires. I seem to get a ton of flat tires. In the 20 rides I’ve done this year I’ve had three flat tires - I don’t know how many flat tires is “normal” for a road bike commuter, but it probably isn’t 3 flats in 20 rides. In all fairness, the flat tires might come from my own lack of prowess at changing a bike tire as 2/3 flats this year were pinch flats.

This morning’s flat tire was was simply poor riding on my part. I was day dreaming about something or other and not watching the road for debris. I was zipping along southbound on Home Road heading towards the Bow River when I felt a jolt through the handlebars and heard an unnerving bang. In my day dreaming I hit a rock square-on the front tire and after a moment of wobbling I regained my balance and kept riding. However, only a minute or  two later I felt the characteristic sloppy feeling of a flattening tire and had to pull over right where Home Road joins the river pathway.

As you can guess I’m pretty good now at changing tires on the go (excepting the pinching part…) and I was taking the front tire off when the first cyclist rode past me. He called out “hey, do you have everything you need? Are you ok?” I called back a quick “yes” and he was on way again riding in to work. My flat happened right near a popular bike-and-ride parking lot and there was a steady stream of of riders passing me. Many of them slowed down and shouted out a variation of the first guy’s offer of help or gear, and I am always impressed by the helpfulness and generosity of Calgarians.

This aspect of helping one another out, of offering up something from own kit for a complete stranger, is something that I really appreciate in Calgary’s cycling culture. It is nice to know that cyclists are all looking out for one another and that there is a support network of strangers with kind hearts willing to help out.

This morning I was fortunately able to say “no thank you” to all of the offers of assistance, but in the past I have not been so lucky. Twice, in fact, I’ve accepted the offer and each time another cyclist has offered their help or gear. Just two weeks ago in fact I had flat #2  while I was on my way to work and had to ask for help. I was just south of downtown in Stanley Park and had realized that, in fact, I did not have a spare tube with me that morning. My options were slim and all resulted in my being late for work: hike the remaining 5 km to work, try and catch a C-Train (even though bikes aren’t allowed on during the rush), or patch my blown tube. I’d already turned down a few offers since I thought I had everything I needed and wasn’t really expecting to get more in a low-traffic area like that. I was looking forlornly at my patch kit, I have a bad record with field patching, and was thinking that a 5 km walk wouldn’t be so bad when I heard a voice call out

“Hey, do you have everything you need”? Are you ok?” I paused, admitted to myself that I did not have everything I needed, and said

“Do you have a spare tube? I forgot mine this morning”

To her credit she did have a spare and gave it to me with a smile. I thanked her profusely and she was on her way while I finished up my repair.

The reason that giving up your spare tube is a big deal is not the $3 cost for the tube, it’s that you’re giving away your insurance policy. If she had a flat on the way home she’d be in a bad way because she chose to help out a stranger, and yet many cyclists in Calgary willingly offer up their insurance policies to strangers. The other time I had to accept help I remember telling the guy that I’d find him the next day and get him his tube back, but he just laughed and said “don’t worry about it, just pass it on to someone else”.

Today, I have 4 3  spare tubes in my kit and would happily give one to another cyclist in need. It can be intimidating for many new cycle commuters to think of being out there “on their own”, especially if they aren’t familiar with repairs or changing tubes. If that is you then I’d urge you to consider the positive, helpful, and kind attitude of all of the other cyclists out there and know that you’re certainly not out there alone. If you’re one of the people that asks others if they need help, then thank you for creating a positive cycling culture in Calgary (and for lending me tubes when I blow through the other 3 in my kit!)


Being Outside – the power of community green spaces

I love to be outside, and I love to be in the mountains. I’m also utility-oriented with a desire to maximize the benefits for any costs, so as result it isn’t always “worthwhile” to do a mountain trip with our two toddlers. If it takes 1+hr to drive there and another 1+ hour to drive back I figure you should have at least 2+ hours of mountain time to make the trip worthwhile (this is my equation, your mileage may vary and I’d love to hear it in the comments).

With toddlers we find this isn’t always possible since ours are still solid nappers and are not yet quick to get going in the morning. With this excellent summer weather we have instead been making the most of our community green spaces. We are fortunate to live in a city where green space is plentiful, available, and often times left wild. These green spaces range in size from the incredibly vast such as Nose Hill Park, Fish Creek Park, and The Weaslehead area to mid-sized areas such as Edworthy, Bowmont right down to the local neighbourhood sized green spaces.

In our case we are fortunate to have a ravine running through the neighbourhood which has been left relatively wild and which provides many excellent opportunities for an urban wilderness experience. As far as the kids are concerned they get the same joy from the local ravine as they do from an early-season trip to Sunshine Meadows, or Kananaskis Lakes. 

The power of these community green spaces is that they can connect us to the outdoors, give us a fleeting glimpse of wilderness, and create a relaxing fun space that is distinctly different from work or home. They help us to find wilderness, explore nature, and experience the world in a way that is different from simply being in our houses, offices, and rec centers. It requires very little effort to take the kids to local green spaces and let them explore along the pathways, through the aspens, and splash in the creek. For them every little bug, flower, stick, and rock is an exciting new discovery.

For me it’s a chance to be outside, in a natural environment, experiencing things through their eyes without the 2 hours of driving. The other great benefit of course is that we can make many small trips to our local green spaces, sometimes two or three times per day. Each visit provides something unique, a chance to discover something new, and another chance to be outside. While I will always advocate for, and do, big mountain trips with the family I think it is good to remember the power that our community green spaces have and their ability to provide wilderness into our everyday lives.

Kananaskis Lakes – Hiking with toddlers

The Kananaskis Lakes are an easy 1.5hr drive from Calgary and offer some spectacular scenery. I’ve done plenty of trips there before from a night-time scramble up Mt. Indefatigable to backpacking Northover, and camping at many of the backcountry campgrounds they have available.

This weekend we took the kids out there for a low-pressure chance to wander around explore the area. Both kids were in a great mood and we started off from the Interlake Parking lot with the goal of walking/hiking as far as possible whilst enjoying ourselves as much as possible. I’ve really found that when we take the pressure to hit some certain objective off the table then the day is much more enjoyable and we can experience things at a toddler’s pace.



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We initially started out going clockwise around the lake before quickly coming to a washed out section of trail. Being that there is no glory in hiking with toddlers we elected to simply turn around and go counter-clock-wise around the lake instead. This was a good deciding and we followed the easy trail for a total of 1.5 km. The kids did a mix of hiking and riding in the backpack, with us encouraging them to hike as much as possible. Riley loves the ride the backpack and I think for her there is still huge novelty in the experience; as you can guess this means that she hiked very little!

Around 11:30 we stopped off at a nice section where there was a beaten donkey-trail from the main path down to the lake. We ate lunch, threw stones in the lake, and looked across the lake at the raging thread of the waterfall and generally enjoyed life outdoors.

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Once the kids grew tired of stone-throwing we loaded them up and headed back towards the parking lot. There is a nice little isthmus that runs out in the lake and provides a great spot to poke around and look at things. We played on this for a while and found even more stones to throw in the lake.

IMG_3659 (1024x683) IMG_3660 (1024x683) IMG_3662 (1024x683) IMG_3665 (1024x683) IMG_3666 (1024x683) IMG_3667 (1024x683) IMG_3668 (1024x683) IMG_3669 (683x1024)Once the kids were tired out and nap-time was upon us, we tossed them in the car and headed back to Calgary. Usually this trick works brilliantly and the kids sleep the whole way home in their car seats. However, this time we hit the Texas Gates by Canoe Meadows and the loud rumbling and shaking woke them both up. Unfortunately there was no amount of suggesting, telling, pleading, or soft-talking that would encourage them to go back to sleep. Even if we had some cranky kids for the afternoon, it was another excellent day in the mountains.


Sunshine Meadows – Hiking with Toddlers

If you’re a reader of this site you know that Jamie and I are big time outdoors people. More than anything we love spending time outside and it wasn’t unusual for us to spend both days of the weekend , every weekend, in the mountains. Since we had two kids and I started an MBA our available mountain-time has been drastically reduced by course work, house work, yard work, and of course constrained by nap-time. However, every once in a while we still make it out, and as our kids get older and I get closer to finishing school I expect that the frequency of trips will continue to increase.

Over the beautiful 4-day weekend, with a lull in school and some wonderful weather we took the opportunity to get out to Banff National Park again and explored Sunshine Meadows. If you haven’t been there Sunshine Meadows is a beautiful location. It’s easily accessed via Sunshine Resort and (for a fee) you can ride a bus up the “ski out” from the base of Sunshine to the “Village” where the lifts are found. This cuts off 6 km of hiking and some substantial elevation gain. On Monday we pulled in to the nearly-empty Sunshine Village parking lot and pulled the kids out of the car.

It was a balmy 7C at the base and Jamie has smartly packed mitts and toques for the kids. The trails in the Meadows still had 70% snow coverage, however the trail to Rock Isle Lake was open and cleared. Logan, our 2.75 year-old son, is obsessed with cars, firetrucks, and school buses so for him the best part of the entire day was riding the “Mountain Bus” up the steep windy road. Riley, our 1.5 year-old daughter loved looking out the window and seeing the water running in the creek.

Once we arrived  at the top we got off the bus, put the kids coats on a started up the trail towards Rock Isle Lake. We traveled for maybe 100m before the kids needed snacks (c: This is our experience



It was a pleasure to be out in the mountains, even if we were about 2 weeks too early. The snow cover was still substantial, however there were wildflowers everywhere just poking their heads up and looking around.


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Unfortunately, this was as close as we would come to Rock Isle Lake. Riley had a full on melt-down and (despite all of the layers) was complaining that she was cold. We devised the “big green hug” and wrapped my jacket around the backpack to build another layer around her in hopes that it would help. The other constraint was the bus situation – buses back to the base ran at 12:30 and then not again until 2:30; and our kids typically conk out for nap around 1. If it had been a stellar warm day up there we would have pushed it, but with one kid already melting down and the other getting whiny we opted to turn around and head back to base.

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The “Big green hug” in action! On the way back to the Village Riley conked out in the backpack and stayed that way all through lunch. We had a nice play at the Village, ate some lunch and the took the Mountain Bus back down to the parking lot.
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All in all I would call it a successful (if abbreviated) day in the mountains.


Gender bias and STEM subjects

This ad about women and girls in science is making the rounds on social media today and while I don’t usually share advertising pieces I do think that this one is worth discussing.

In an era when kids can switch the gender on their birth certificates traditional gender roles are increasingly being broken down. The video/ad linked above encourages us to think about the way we talk to our girls and the implicit expectations that we set for them. As the father of two toddlers (one boy, one girl) these implicit expectations are something that I keep in mind for both of my children, regardless of their gender.

While I agree that we should be mindful of what we say to girls and avoid setting implicit expectations that they should all become princesses, I also think that the message in the video is a little patronizing toward women. Why do we never see ads about the implicit expectations and roles for boys? The video ad highlights the small number of women that major in engineering (22% here in Alberta) but we never hear about the lower number of men that major in nursing (10% at Johns Hopkins).

I realize that it may seem strange or unnecessary to point out the lack of support for gender equality for men, but my point is this: if the goal is to break down implicit gender stereotypes and roles beginning at childhood, shouldn’t we do this equally for all genders?

“Where” is a key question

A coworker of mine recently forwarded an email newsletter to that he thought would be interesting. The newsletter was for a small company that offered a wilderness venue for events such as retreats, offsites, weddings, and family gatherings. The newsletter was interesting enough that I actually clicked-through to see their full site and was pleased to see nice photos, good descriptions, and a fairly clear picture of what they offered.

However, one of the key things was missing – I couldn’t find where they were! Their site didn’t have a business address listed, nor did it have an embedded map, or even large heading with a short description underneath it. For me, where a service provider is located is one of the first questions I ask, and if the answer can’t be easily found then I am inclined to move on to another competitor who will tell me where they are.

“Where” is a key question for many consumers, and the answer has implications on their likelihood of purchasing the product or service. Even in an era of increasing globalization people want to know where their products are coming from, if only because this tells them how long they’ll take to ship. Looking at a business like this wilderness venue, “where” is a  critical question to the buying process. I’m located in Calgary and it makes a difference to me if your venue is located in Bragg Creek vs Nordegg vs 100 Mile House.

“Where” is just as important as the other key questions: (who, what, when, why, and how) and as consumers are now more location aware than ever it is a critical question to be answering.

Christchurch New Zealand

I have a had a fantastic week in Christchurch NZ. It has  been tremendously interesting to travel here and find out how technology development and commercialization is done in a different part of the world. On a personal level it has been very interesting to go intercontinental again and discover what travel is like now that I have a growing family of my own.

First off, the city of Christchurch was hit extremely hard by the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and there are still many visible signs and daily reminders of this destruction for New Zelander’s. I was staying in the central business district (CBD) which was hit very hard and where the majority of the deaths occurred. Walking around at night was spooky, in a very other-worldly and post-war sense. The people here are friendly and I certainly didn’t feel unsafe, rather the spookiness comes from the dark buildings, the empty streets and the rubble of buildings all around. I did have the good fortune to spend time with some friends from Denver that have moved to Chch as a change of pace. Kea and Jason, with their son Porter showed me around the city and we took a short drive out into the country as well. it was fun to re-connect with people from my past and to hear a familiar accent upon arriving here in NZ.

On the second day here I rented a car and drove out to Mt. Cook. This wasn’t my first time driving on the left, but it’s been a few years since I was in Scotland so the skills were a little rusty. The roads here are great in the narrow and windy sense of the word. I was able to cruise along and the enjoy the scenery while still maintaining enough concentration to keep the car on the correct, eg left, side of the road. Particularly impressive are the hedges, they grow they massively tall to act as wind-breaks I suppose. Many a prairie farmer would be envious of these hedges, some of which were solid walls of green towering 20 feet high or more!

After a few wrong turns (that’s just how I navigate) I stopped at Lake Tepako for lunch, leg stretching, and great photo opportunities. Lake Tepako is an enormous and beautiful lake with a glacial aqua-marine colour that would rival Lake Louise. In fact, picture Lake Louise and Moraine Lake crammed together and you’ll get a good image of the colour. Now imagine 108.75 Lake Louises all squished together and you’d have the 87 sq km Lake Tepako. Simply gorgeous. From Lake Tepako I continued on to Lake Pukaki and took the road that winds up along the west side. This road leads to the Hermitage and ultimately to Mt Cook.

Mt Cook is an inspiring place set into a verdant and familiar feeling valley. When I was there the summit was wreathed in clouds and all-but inaccessible to mere mortals. We did have a great view of some sub-peaks and the large gaping crevasses that have opened up in the Kiwi spring. I took a short walk up the Hooker Valley trail, across swinging bridges, and decided to climb up Hooker Bluff. My goal was to get as high up the bluff as possible and to change my view of the towering Mt Cook, even so slightly. On the way up the bluff I passed a group of Japanese tourists that had pulled of for tea and I smiled when their leader told me “this is not the trail” – that’s precisely the point! My grin turned to a grimace before long as the bluff became a frustrating mix of loose scree and tight thorny vegetation. Finally, I reached a suitable and respectable stopping place and sat down to enjoy the view. I peeled an orange, saved from breakfast, and looked out over the Hooker Valley trail. The well groomed and graveled path led a steady stream of tourists through the scraggly valley bush to the cool blue Hooker Lake and above it all stood the giant of Mt. Cook. Finishing the orange and taking some water I put my camera away and headed back down the bluff and thence back along the path to my rental car.

The drive back to Chch was largely uneventful and my stomach started to rumble right around the local dinner time. It was then I also discovered some small amount of big-city snobbery that I seem to have developed. Despite being quite hungry I passed up many grungy looking small-town restaurants in hops that I would find one more suitable. I suppose flexibility and openness are skills that need to be practised. Finally, I asked a girl working at the local gas station if they “had any restaurants that were any good”, yes, those were my exact words. I cringed inwardly when I heard them but she didn’t seem offended and after paying for my fuel ($2.12/litre!) directed me to a local pub/restaurant. It had all the signs of a small town place, furnished in the 70’s and only a handful of clearly regular customers inside. However, i was immediately struck by how warm and friendly the owner was, she struck up a conversation with me and I felt myself smiling and changing my attitude. The roast lamb dish was excellent with flavourful gravy and a heaping side of potatoes, squash, and fresh vegetables. The dinner included a huge helping of a banana caramel cream pie on a biscuit (cookie) crust, which was also amazing. The rest of the drive back was uneventful and I enjoyed the short walk from the rental car place to my hotel.

The next day, Tuesday, was the official start of the conference I was here to attend; however it was primarily focused towards students. I decided to walk from the hotel to the university, a delightful 6km walk that took me through the Botanic Gardens, Riccarton Bush, and a number of residential areas. The Botanic Gardens are amazing. With the mild climate and reputation as “The Garden City” they have the ability and desire to grow fantastic gardens. There were flowers of the like I’d never seen, towering trees from the 1870s, and rose blossoms larger than my hand! In the residential areas it was refreshing to see something that hadn’t been impacted by the earthquake and to know that life was somewhat normal for most people. The campus of the University of Canterbury is well established and  buildings coincide with gardens in a very natural way. Like most of the CBD the campus was under some level of reconstruction and the site was swarming with men and women in bright orange vests blazoned with “Earthquake Reconstruction Team” and then in a smaller font below “Safety is no accident”. I didn’t spend much time at the student-focused conference, I did introduce my to the organizers and get the lay of the land though which helps for the following days.

The rest of the day was spent walking and wandering and generally touristing, albeit in a low key kind of way.

The conference was enjoyable, I met many new and interesting people including a large number of Canadians over here for work or school. It was interesting to hear their stories, fill them in on local news, and get a real perspective on what life in AUSNZ is like. Mostly they agreed that life is slower paced in Aus, and slower yet again in NZ; there was no consensus on whether this was good or not and I suppose is up to personal taste. Given that it’s winter at home right now I was envious of their ability to live outdoors most of the year and the ease with which they can blur the lines between inside and outside. I was staggered  to learn that Aussie houses of a certain vintage do not have central heating/cooling or proper insulation, in fact one fellow mentioned wearing a down coat in the house because the winter was so cool and the house so drafty. It’s always good to hear things that change the default point of view.

At the start of the conference they had a Maori invocation and good wishes to open the conference. I’ve noticed that Maori is very integrated in the life of NZ even coming first on many official signs and structures. A few times during the conference they referred to New Zealand as “bi-cultural” which I found to be very interesting given that Canada is purportedly “multi-cultural”. So I assume then that the two cultures are Maori and “New Zelander” (my term, I don’t know of a proper one to use) and I would be curious to find out more about how immigrants from other cultures are integrated into NZ society. Does they need to fully adapt and integrate? Does the definition of “New Zelander”  change over time to reflect a changing demographic? Does it retain a traditional anglo-Caucasian definition leaving cultural immigrants to exist in a shadow-culture? I don’t know, but I’d be interested to find out.

The first night we had a dinner in the Cardboard Cathedral, a transitional structure designed by a Japanese architect after the local Cathedral and traditional city icon was nearly destroyed in the 2011 earthquake. It was a fun and social time with a great group of industry and domain level peers. The food, drinks, and setting really set a positive and fun mood.

All in all I have very much enjoyed this short trip and the opportunity to see a new part of the world. I often find myself reflecting on the adventures and travels contained in this blog and sometimes lamenting how little travel or “adventure” we have these days. However, being away has highlighted so many of the good things that I have in this life, my family, kids, friends and colleagues. Sometimes it is hard to accept that one phase of life is over and that we are entering a new lifetime. Sometimes we need a reminder that the old phase like an old jacket, no longer fits in the way that it used to. I am thankful for all of my previous adventures, travels, and experiences. I am excited to be in this phase where I can watch our children grow and marvel at the world. And finally, I look forward to a day when Logan and Riley are of an age that we can travel with them, show them the world, and experience it through their eyes as well.

(I’m in an airport so can’t upload photos… for now check them out on Facebook link)