I just finished my usual last-minute tax filing and payment. This year I have 2 hours and 30 minutes to spare. I used UFile for the third year in a row. For anyone who does paper tax returns, I highly recommend getting with the 90s and doing your taxes electronically. UFile is super-simple to use. You enter your name and SIN, your spouse and kids’ info, and then just follow the steps, adding each form you got from your employer, RRSP vendor, sports club, dentist or whatever, and it automatically calculates the best way to apply your deductions between you and your spouse, and calculates your refund or amount owing. Then, if you have a CRA passcode, you can NETFILE your taxes right away and you’re done. My bank even lets me pay my return’s amount owing by Internet banking. Everyting is quick and simple, and it cost me twenty-six bucks.
I’m trying to post a blog posting from a text editor called TextMate on my Mac. If you can read this, it worked.
I bought an HP EX470 Home Server for Jennifer and her workmates to use as a backup target for their systems at work. It looked carefully factory-packed in the box. I took it out and went to set it up, and noticed that the tape holding the plastic bag wrapped around the actual server box had been un-stuck previously. Uh-oh, I thought.
I booted the thing up, connected an XP virtual machine to it (I have all Macs at home), and sure enough, instead of asking me what to name the server and what I wanted the password to be, it asked me to login to the server that was already configured. The London Drugs dudes had already had the machine out, and set it up, and then when they repackaged it, they didn’t reset it to factory settings. Now I have to recover it back to factory with the restore disk before I can configure it the way I need it.
I have a large milestone birthday coming up. I’ve asked people not to bring gifts to my birthday party. I just want to get a bunch of my friends together and socialize (and drink beer, of course) especially in light of recent events.
I’ve been living through some tough incidents this past year. On April 23 2007 my dad died. We’re still feeling the effects of it, but now at least we’re past the series of firsts without dad (first mothers day, first birthdays, first Christmas) and we know what to expect.
We visited my dad’s grave on the 23rd. We removed the foot of snow from his memorial, and Mack and Emily each left a letter to dad telling him about the great things they did in the last year. I think it was therapeutic for them. I have this blog, which is my therapy, I guess.
I had a tough time dealing with my dad being gone, and so far it’s only gotten a bit easier. The toughest part for me is being at the pool a lot. My dad was always there at the pool when I swam, and now that my kids swim so much and play water polo, I’m at the pool all the time for them. When my dad was still alive, he was always there watching my kids too. I still walk into the pool and look across to the stands trying to pick him out.
Anyways, another swimming season is about to start, and in many ways I’m looking forward to being at the pool for my kids. I know my dad’s memory will be there too, but I’m trying to turn that into something positive in my mind.
In the past year, three men who influenced my life in significant ways have passed away. A year ago my father, who taught me everything important about family and helped me determine my values, passed away from illness. He taught and motivated me to become the man I am today.
In October, Allen Williams died in a plane crash. He was the father of one of my closest childhood friends, and the person who introduced me to the profession of engineering. He influenced my choice of education and his company was my first employer.
A little over two weeks ago, Reagan Williams, Allen’s son, also died in a plane crash in an astronomically unlikely duplicate of his father’s accident. Reagan was one of my closest childhood friends, from age 10 onwards. We swam together on the Olympian Swim Club and afterwards on Keyano Swim Club and then U of A Varsity Swimming. We experienced many rites of passage together, including sibling rivalries, first girlfriends, first breakups, swimming milestones like making nationals, winning national medals, breaking records together on relays, going to university in the same field of study, summer jobs, partying, and all the stuff that you share growing up. We also occasionally fought like brothers (but not as much as he did with is actual brother Sheldon). Even when I went to work in Calgary and we didn’t see much of each other for a few years, we still kept in touch and got together when we could. Whenever we reconnected it always felt to me like we had just spoken yesterday. I was proud to have Reagan as one of my groomsmen at Jenn and my wedding, along with Mark and Dean, the other two of my closest buds. For years I’ve thought of Reagan as family.
He was the most fun-loving and funny people I’ve known in my life so far, and he excelled at living life. He was a big goof as a kid, and I never lost that mental image of him even to this day, despite his lovely wife, committed fatherhood, respectable suits, and his influential nature in his business. He helped make many events in my youth fun and memorable, and always played the largest role in all our mutual adventures.
During the past couple of weeks while coming to grips with Reagan’s accident, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many of Reagan’s (and my) early friends, and also with ones he made more recently in his life. A common thread in our conversations was that it really seemed like Reagan was the glue that held so many of us together. With him gone, it will take a herculean effort to maintain all the personal connections that he was at the center of, and no single person will be able to pull that off. I intend to do as much as I can to make sure that I stay connected to all those friends.
During a chat with Tanja (Oswald) Nelson on Facebook (who was my first girlfriend many years ago and best friends with Reagan’s first girlfriend Jill (Hayden) Jackson), I said this about Reagan, and it really expresses what I and many others feel about him: Everyone who met him thought of him as a friend. I think nobody but his wife Mandy could claim to be his best friend, but many people would say he was the best kind of friend. I feel privileged to have known him and I hope to stay in touch with Mandy and see Reagan’s kids grow up. I would appreciate the opportunity to help in some small way to let their boys know what a great person their father was.
According to Tom Evans, often when he would come to Edmonton, he and Reagan would meet at the Kinsmen and have the “Old and Slow” 50 Fly race. In honor of Reagan, we decided to swim a race on Saturday before his memorial. Tom Evans, Scott Lebuke, me, and Dave Goodkey showed up ready to swim, with my wife Jenn, Dean Schultz and his wife Jennifer, Scott Lebuke’s wife Mary Jean and Tom’s dad Dr. Evans as spectators and photographers. We swam the race in true Reagan style, with no warm-up at all. We did it with the middle lane empty for Reagan.
Tom won, but we all managed to get through it with legal fly, including two-hand touches, despite Lebuke’s last-minute attempt to change us to freestyle. During our post-race photographic analysis, Tom said I was in the lead at the 3 metre mark. He suggested I just needed a couple of practices to work on that last 47 metres.
All in all, it felt like a good way to remember Reagan. I’m still a bit sore, but still smiling.