By Richard Hsu
Latest | Archives | Contact | Others

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.

Canada Is in the War Business

Let's not kid ourselves, Canada is in the war business
Why the Canadian government hasn't criticized Saudi Arabia for its brutal attacks in Yemen [?]

Neil Macdonald, CBC.

Canada has a conflict of interest because Saudi Arabia is the No. 1 customer for our military business. The 14-year $14.8 billion contract to sell Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) is just 0.20% of Canadian exports annually but Canada's business reputation and 3000 jobs are at stake. There is no win-win here. Faced with a choice between a big business deal and 3000 Canadian jobs versus the safety of innocent civilians in far-away countries, Harper chose Canada and Trudeau did the same. Canadians, not the innocent civilians of Yemen elected them Prime Minister.

Other arms exporting countries are not clean either.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used simple and clear language in his address to the General Assembly:

Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands. Present in this Hall today are representatives of governments that have ignored, facilitated, funded, participated in or even planned and carried out atrocities inflicted by all sides of the Syria conflict against Syrian civilians.

A Lengthy Reboot

I got my daily A.Word.A.Day (AWAD) email and the word of the day was narcissism. This was the first of many words related to the con man running for the president of the United States. Many things have been said and written about him but a few quotes in the email still surprised me and pushed the bar of narcissistic behaviour lower. I shared the AWAD email with my friend Deepti and her response was interesting. She was more curious about Anu Garg (creator of AWAD) and told me his bio is impressive. That made me go to wordsmith.org to read more about him. One of his creations is the Internet Anagram Server.

Curious to try it, I typed "Yet another blog" and clicked on Get anagrams. The anagram Altogether Bony got my attention and I liked it. I considered giving my website a name before but didn't like the names I could think of. Google search for Altogether Bony showed results related to bones but the exact phrase was not in use. It was a nonsensical name, had A. B. initials, and made me think of bare essentials. Deepti didn't like it because it made her think of bones too so she went back to the Internet Anagram Server and looked at other anagrams of Yet another blog. She recommended A Lengthy Reboot. Voila! It was geeky, relevant, and interesting.

So that is how this website got its name.