By Richard Hsu
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A recent episode of CBC's Now or Never asked listeners to make their own Now or Never list. Its a checklist to help get things done. I decided to give it a try*. First question: "One thing I did as a kid that I’d love to do now is ". I filled in "Play". Few days later, I got an email from the show asking me to expand on that answer. Here it is:

As a child, playing occupied most of my time. When I wasn't playing (school, homework, tuition, chores), I was thinking of playing, or reading about it, or watching a game. Growing up in the 80s & 90s in India, football (soccer) and cricket were the two games I played the most both indoors and outdoors. I also played tops, marbles, flew kites, field hockey, chess, and others. Playing gave me pure joy. Scoring a fluke goal in football (school inter-class game), hitting a "full toss" for a "six", winning my first Chess game for school are some memories I still look back fondly. Of the hundreds of kites that I tried to fly on trespassed rooftops, I just got a handful in the air but it was worth the cuts to the fingers and the yelling I got.

Playing indoors is another memory I cherish because of the fun I had playing with my brothers and cousins. I got yelled at a lot for breaking things but I am grateful to my grandmother and parents for allowing us to play. One time, in an indoor cricket game, I was bowling to my brother Robert who hit the ball towards my father's plants behind me by the windows. One of the plants fell and I instinctively ran to it and caught it. Unfortunately for me, it was a cactus! My father was upset but didn't overreact (something I only truly appreciated after I became a father myself). This is one of my kids' favourite bedtime stories.

I also followed sports regularly on TV and magazines. Tennis (Sampras-era) and Formula 1 (Schumacher-Ferrari era) were the two sports I didn't play but followed regularly (cut-outs of Sampras kissing his Wimbledon trophy is probably still sitting in some scrapbook somewhere).

Watching Romario score a goal for Brazil in the Football World Cup, or Sachin Tendulkar hit a Six against Pakistan in Cricket, or a clean Sampras forehand winner, or Mika Häkkinen overtaking someone in F1 gave me thrills that words cannot describe. A couple of years ago, I rode the go-cart for the first time and I imagined myself in an F1 car trying to find the perfect racing line. It was fun.

The playing stopped around the time I got into university but the following didn't. Then came computers, marriage, immigration to Canada, making a life here, and I stopped following as well (except for the occasional "historic" game like Federer vs Nadal in the 2006 French Open final).

Things changed after my son was born. I started playing again with him (and still do to this day). He plays drop-in soccer at YMCA twice a week, started Shinny hockey last year and I enjoy watching all of it. Hockey is the only sport we both follow regularly and we do it with the same nerdy obsession like I had when I was a growing up. My favourite is the Leafs, followed by Penguins. My son knows all the jersey numbers of Penguins players and he will cheer against the Leafs just to irritate me but he likes the M, N, M (Awesome Mathews, Nylander, Marner). I can't wait for the NHL season to start.

*Online surveys are a pain but this was implemented using Typeform, the most pleasant online form filling system.


Backstory: The wife offered Aiden one Monopoly house as payment for an essay about Minecraft. He wrote it by hand on paper. Below is the digital version.

Aiden 08/18/17
Salary: 1 house (Monopoly)

Minecraft Essay (Job)
The topic of the essay is Minecraft. Minecraft is a 3-D Pixel block game. The producers of the game are Jeb, and Notch. The main objective is to survive, create, and have fun.

Minecraft is a simple and fun pixel game. It takes your creativity and imagination to become a reality! In Minecraft, there are two modes to choose from: Creative or Survival. Creative is where you focus more on building. You have access to all the blocks, in the Creative inventory. Survival, you have to focus on more, well, surviving. You have nothing when you start the world. You have to gather resources, and build a shelter. You can craft, farm, build, battle, go to other dimensions, and get a few pets. There are few mobs (short for mobile), there are passive, neutral, and hostile mobs. Passive mobs never attack you, neutral mobs don't attack you unless you attack them or provoke them. Hostile mobs will attack you on sight.

Well, that's Minecraft. Hope you like my essay and download Minecraft available on these platforms: PC, Mac, XBox 360, XBox One, PS3, PS4, XBox One S, iPad/tablet, Nitendo Switch, Wii, Wii U, Phone, and more. If you have already downloaded Minecraft, then why did you read this?

Ode to Joy

She walked on stage, bowed to us, then sat down in front of the grand piano. She played the first notes but it didn’t sound right. After scanning through the keys, she tried again, and it still didn’t sound right. She looked worried. She tried it again and stopped, shaking her head. Her eyes briefly turned towards the audience looking for someone (her lips read mommy). She looked back at the piano keys one more time to search for the starting key. All this happened quickly but I could imagine the teacher, seated in the front row, patiently alternating between waiting or helping.

When it became clear she needed help, the teacher walked up to the piano, gently placed her fingers on the right key and we were treated to a beautiful performance of Ode to Joy. It was an amazing thing to see. She played confidently, not missing a beat or key, and completed what was likely the first performance of her life. We clapped and cheered for her as she bowed to us and walked back to her seat.

This wasn’t the only memorable moment in the Spring music concert for students. My daughter also performed for the first time in her life and it went well. In five months, Adele went from knowing nothing about music or piano to playing Part of your world in front of an audience full of strangers. I hope she continues to learn and enjoy music.


I wish a phone call is still about something other than a donation, credit card, survey, vacation, or duct cleaning. Most of the time it isn't, so I hardly pick up phones now. If I am nearby, I will glance at the caller ID and see if I recognise the name or number. Most of the time I don't, so it goes unanswered and the automated voice messaging system takes over. If I am still nearby, I will listen to the voice message. Most of the time, there is none. If the message is from someone that isn't soliciting, I will call back.

It is sad that marketing calls have turned a simple, elegant solution into a nuisance.

When I was a kid (90s in Kolkata, India), my elderly neighbour had the first phone in the entire building! Her son in Germany sponsored what was then a luxurious gadget. The ring of the phone was distinct and eventful for everyone in the building (we had open doors and windows during the day). Others in the building or nearby also benefited as they got prearranged calls from distant places. It was a magical gadget. Eventually, we got one as well. Having a phone at home eliminated errands I despised. I didn't have to bike to the residential gas cylinder office and stand in line for an hour to book a replacement. A phone call worked.

The Canadian National Do Not Call List and regulatory enforcement has helped but it hasn’t eliminated marketing calls completely. I am looking forward to a screening solution like Adblockers, firewalls, etc. for computers. Hopefully, it will bring the magic back, when the voice of a person follows my Hello and we have a delightful conversation.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Dear Toronto Maple Leafs,

It has been an entertaining and fun season so far. Good luck with the playoffs. I will be cheering for you!

Thanks, merci (French), gracias (Spanish), dhanyawad (धन्यवाद Hindi), danke (German), efharisto (ευχαριστώ Greek), toda (תודה Hebrew), grazie (Italian), arigato gozaimasu (ありがとうございます Japanese), gratias tibi ago (Latin), khawp khun (ขอบคุณ Thai), takk (Faroese), mahalo (Hawaiian), dziękuję (Polish), mulțumesc (Romanian), spasibo (Спасибо Russian), blagodarya (благодаря Bulgarian), salamat (Tagalog), shukran (شكرا Arabic), köszönöm (Hungarian), obrigado (Portuguese), děkuji (Czech), ďakujem (Slovak), takk (Icelandic), dankon (Esperanto), teşekkür ederim (Turkish), dhanwaad (ਧੰਨਵਾਦ Punjabi), diolch (Welsh), ahéhee' (Navajo), asante (Swahili), e sé (Yoruba), ...

Update: My brother says xièxie (謝謝 Chinese traditional, 谢谢 simplified) was left out.

Credit to wordsmith.org for the words.

No Smoking

Adele noticed the No Smoking signs at the train stop and said:
Daddy! Look! No smoking!

A lady standing by heard it and smiled.

Later, inside the train, Adele noticed No Smoking signs again and said:
Daddy! Look! No smoking!

The same lady, now sitting across from us smiled and said:
She is a sweetie. Like mommy, taking care of Daddy.

Waiting to Pay

Standing in the snake line
Waiting to pay
Passing my time at Winners
It's half day
Notebooks on the left
Protein food on the right
Thinking to myself
I am feeling bright

They Said It

Adele was sleepy after dinner so I carried her to the powder room to brush teeth. I asked her "is your battery down?" She replied "no, it's blinking".

Me: Aiden, you will get a kick.
Aiden: Is that a methaphor or a simile?
Me: It is a prediction.


Wanted Root Beer.

I would have settled for a Diet Coke or anything cold and fizzy.

Skipped McDonalds because of three cars waiting at the Drive-Through.

Skipped the convenience store because I felt lazy to park the car.

At the mall, I went to the juice seller, ordered a Mango juice instead.

The lady taking the order heard Mango Smoothie and that is what she shouted to her colleague behind the counter.

I heard it but did nothing.

I got the Mango Smoothie, forced myself through half of it, and then threw the rest into the garbage.

Wasted perfectly edible Mango, water, and all that went into the Smoothie.

Wasted $5.

I still crave a Root Beer.

Jelly Bean Joe

I slept at 3am due to a dinner social event that ended late and also my pre-sleep bad habit of labouring over specification, benchmark, review, and pricing of desktop computer parts and camera equipment. G.A.S attack comes and goes but it is especially brutal between the November to January Birthday-Christmas season. I am close to the bottom of that now but that is a story for another day.

So this morning, sleepy and lethargic, I was vacuuming the basement and not enjoying it at all when I found a small toy in a corner. Recognising it as a Shopkin, I gave it to my daughter who was happy to get it back. She said "Oh! that's my Jelly Bean Joe*".

And just like that, life is interesting again!

* Online, I found references to Jelly B. but not Jelly Bean Joe so I asked my son. He educated me that it is a character from the TV show Odd Squad.