Back in the Saddle

It’s a happy Sunday here at the Little Bitty. My great Bloggyville friend from Canada is back. And the good word is: Not only has Paul Curran returned from his WiFi-less hiatus, but he’s moved his weekly guest post to this very space because our cohort in the U.K., Willow, has decided to concentrate on other important things in life. So without more mouthing off from me, welcome back, and take it away, Paul.

Paul Curran

Holiday Is Over

What a pleasure it is to be here at Mark’s doing the Sunday “If We Were Having Coffee” post once again. He has graciously invited us to all assemble at the Little Bitty on Sundays to discuss the state of affairs of the world. Please join me in offering heartfelt best wishes and prayers to Willow and her family. She is having some challenging times, and hopefully all will work out in as positive manner as is possible.

We have coffee or tea or adult beverages in more brands and flavors than ever before. There’s something to satisfy even the most refined tastes — or simple, like mine. I will once again be your barista, and I am looking forward to serving. Just let me know what you would like, and we shall supply it (in the beverage department that is). Now that we’re all gathered please say hello to Karen and Ellie as well – they are kind enough to welcome us while we visit.

Our hosts.

Our hosts.

I was scanning The Globe and Mail, Canada’s National Newspaper Saturday and I came across this video. It touched my heart, the kindness and caring of people. I sometimes lose faith in goodness, but every now and then, the human race steps right up to the plate and does something so touching I have to re-evaluate my opinion of humans upwards again. There is a young boy in Abbottsford, British Columbia, who loves hockey. When all his mates went off to play organized hockey, his parents could not afford for him to participate. (For those of you who have never had a young hockey player in the family, especially a goalie, the last time my step-son played at that age it was about $2,200 per year, all in.) He took this in stride but did not give up and dressed in what he had and went out to the parking lot and began to practice by himself on a small frozen puddle. A passing neighbor, knowing the story, took the following video, and you’ll see what happens:

It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

Anyway, whilst I was perusing the Globe I came across another interesting article.

A piece titled “The problem with working for a supposed meritocracy” appeared in Friday’s Globe, and it basically questioned gender equality in the workplace. This has been a problem for a long time, but a new study was rather eye-opening:

“A study by computer science researchers from California Polytechnic State University and North Carolina State University found that acceptance rates of code submitted by women to GitHub, a software repository, was actually higher than that for male coders – but only when their gender was hidden. Female coders who declared their gender saw their acceptance rates fall by more than 15 percent.”

The researchers were clear after interviews that this bias is not conscious – which, I suppose, could be good news or bad news. It is systemic. In fact those who most insisted that their companies were strict meritocracies, actually turned out to have the worst record. The researchers theorized that stating they did not show preference meant they did not feel like they had to be vigilant – and a bias would reappear. If you’d like some more detailed info, the article is in the Globe and Mail at:

So, it is wonderful for me to be back on the internet. For those of you who noticed, I was gone for about 3 ½ months – and not by choice. I went through withdrawal symptoms but all is good now – no residual issues. If you’re interested in the convoluted story, I posted it in two parts over at Cordelia’s Mom and part two the following day.

Linda G. Hill

Linda Hill

The fine lady pictured above is Linda of . When all else failed and I was lost to the world, she cared enough (as a representative of a whole pile of bloggers who cared but were spread all over the world) to actually come and knock on my door to make sure I was OK. I was astounded. I was feeling down and depressed one afternoon when my doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so I went to see who it was. There was this sprite of a woman standing there and she identified herself as Linda. I could not think of a single Linda who would be ringing my bell, and I looked confused, I am sure. Seeing this she said: “Linda from WordPress.” I was amazed.

Apparently the WordPress community had been very worried, and one of the motivators was the very same Mark Bialczak who operates this site. Together they found someone who had my address and passed it to Linda, who was visiting Ottawa on business and she put it to good use. I must say, it gives me a warm feeling of belonging to have such a visit happen.

Pleasant visit

No coffee post would be complete without a short discussion of the weather. BRRRRR! Ha! It is currently -20 C here in Ottawa as I type this – ungodly cold temperatures for March. We just had another 20 cm (about 8 inches) of snow last week, and it looks and feels like a winter deep freeze. Now mind you the weatherperson says it is supposed to warm up next week. I sincerely hope so. Meanwhile, a hot coffee with a dollop of whiskey and the excellent company of my fellow “If we were having coffee” readers warms the soul.

I wish you and yours a most healthy and prosperous week, and I hope you can make it again next Sunday for another chat and a beverage here at Mark’s.

'Nother Cup?

‘Nother Cup?

I Got My Refill – Would You Care for One Too?

53 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle

  1. I’m glad you’re back, too, and happy you have this space here. Mark is awesome, as is Linda, and all the bloggers who helped get you back. As if we’d let you get away… 😉 😉

    Also, I need a coffee cup like the one in that last picture. Yes, yes, I do. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rara! One humongous cup of coffee coming up! It is great to have you come and visit. It is wonderful to know that so many people care. Warms the cockles of the heart. Thank you Rara.


  2. The pleasure was all mine, dear Paul. 🙂 I’m not sure about your neck of the woods, but here we’re supposed to have rain all week. But don’t worry – the Weather Network’s predicting snow for March break. 🙄
    It was lovely to share my morning coffee with you! 🙂 Gotta run!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elyse! Wonderful to see you here- I am honored. Would you like a refill for your tea? Yes,that video really touched me. I must say, as cynical as it is, I was surprised at the help people gave the little guy on the puddle.


  4. I had just poured myself a cup of tea (sadly, no doctoring) when I saw your comment that you’d posted. I loved that video of the boy — the internet can be a very warming place sometimes (as you found out!).

    Mark, Word Press has dropped me from a whole host of folks I followed. Apparently they don’t want me mingling as much any more. So they’ve dropped me. I just thought everybody else was busy … But I’m going to re-sign up!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never had whiskey in my coffee before, but let’s try it today. Well, I’m glad you’re back in fine form. You had us worried sick! Don’t you ever do that again. Here we had to send Linda in to check on you. Thank God you were alive and kicking, Paul. 🙂 Now as far as the video, that was nice of people to send him things, but they can’t send him a bigger puddle, no? And I’m still trying to process $2,200. That’s insane. That’s a FEW months of our salary. No way any kid around here could afford that. And yet you keep producing all these hockey players. You Canadians must all make hefty wages to dole out so much for taxes and then still have some left over for your hockey children. Here, we have soccer moms, and it is much less expensive. And warm and balmy. I’m sorry global warming hasn’t gotten to you yet. As I told Mark earlier, our neighbors are out planting trees and flowers today, and the bees are just everywhere! Keep a warm hat on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kerbey! Awesome to have you come visit. Well now, one piping hot coffee with a dollop of Chivas Regal (a very respectable whisky originating in Aberdeen Scotland in 1801) coming up! I have to tell you, this is a taste to which i was introduced by a fellow American of yours. I was trucking at the time and it was February and I had pulled over at a restaurant/ motel/ service station/city hall/ city in deserted Nebraska for a snooze. It was basically a two person town at a junction with two buildings owned by brothers and incorporated as a town. The restaurant owner was the mayor. Ha! Anyway, I had my girlfriend at the time with me and when we awoke it was bitterly cold. I still remember hoping out of the truck and hearing ice on the frozen puddles crackle as we walked across the parking lot. The restaurant was delicious warm and smelled of fresh baked bread and cooking bacon – the mayor was busy. We were the only customers in the place. He was very cheerful when he greeted us. He poured our coffee and commented on how cold it was outside. He asked if we wanted a shot of whisky in our coffee. I hummed and hawed and he said it was just what was needed on such a day. He took the cover off a center cabinet and there must ave been 120 kinds of liquor shelved there.
      He chose a whiskey and put a shot in the coffee. Wow! The heat of the coffee caused the whiskey vapors to be very aromatic over the cup and when I took a drink it was so smooth and I could feel the blood flowing.

      That Kerbey is how I came to that taste sensation. You’ll like it. The hockey. Yeah, it is expensive. but that is seriously subsidized. For instance there re usually about 12-16 kids on a team. Let’s say 12. Ice time from the indoor city rinks is billed at $110.00 per hour for each team (for adults they charge about $200. and they still break even or lose money and there are about 35 in Ottawa alone owned by the city.). For competitive kids, they need about 3 practices and a game per week. That means that each kid has to contribute about $110. per month for 7 months or about $770 just for ice time. 12 -17 year old boys grow a lot. A Kevlar Goalie mask is between $350 and $800 and last about 2 years – around $250 per year. Goalie pads also last about 2 years and they are total about $650 new – so about $325 per year. Skates range from $50 to $500, a decent pair of goalie skates is about $200 and have to be replaced every year with wear and owner growth. So far we are up to about $1,500. Transportation costs about $200 in gas over the regular season – so we are up to about $1,700. Then comes the hard part – tournaments. The kids LOVE tournaments as they get to test their skills against teams they don’t see during the regular season. Typically the organization the team belongs to will host one tournament in a year locally – registration fee about $20 per kid. Then they will enroll their teams in usually three out of town tournaments – typically 120 – 175 miles one way travel with multiple games per day so that it is necessary to stay in a hotel for the two nights of the tournament. that’s about $160.00 cost plus registration of $20. – or about $540 per year = plus often lost days at work to travel Friday for Friday evening games or off Monday morning because the games went too late on Sunday.

      Or about $2,200 per year total per kid – and for years we had two kids in hockey – thankfully only one was a goalie, so the other was about 35% cheaper.. My ex was a Director at Canada Post (our equivalent to the US Postal Service) and she paid – if I had had to pay I wouldn’t have been able.

      In all fairness there is a thriving market for used equipment and if a young person wants to play house league (non-competitive) it would be possible to play for less than half that cost but still not cheap and not in competitive.

      Thanks again for dropping by Kerbey. It is such a pleasure to have you visit.


      • So ice time is much more expensive than just using city park fields. Man alive! That’s a ton of cash, my friend. And then if teeth get knocked out, more dental work!

        Liked by 1 person

      • All the adult time is donated as are a lot of incidentals like drinks and snacks, There are likely about 200 outside rinks that are flooded by volunteers and maintained for the season. But our temperatures are so unpredictable these rinks cannot be scheduled – if you’re there and it is open, then you can use it. Many kids practice their skating on these but snow and temperatures often make the ice rough and hard to skate on.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Absolutely CM – we always have a warm pot on for you. Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and comment – I’ll look forward to seeing you on Sundays. 😀


  7. Hi Paul, so glad you are doing well. I am fairly new to the blogging world and was really impressed by the concern of the blogging world and how Linda came to find you. That is so very cool!!!!! and heartwarming and gives me hope.
    We are in the 70s down here in California, at least we were last week. It rained and rained yesterday, which is good. The trees and the plants are so happy and green. Everything looks freshly washed. One more week and we are past the danger of frost and then…..let the planting begin.
    Stay warm, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good day SD. Thanks so much for dropping by. I must admit, I was blown away by the outpouring of concern when I was unable to get on the internet. This Word Press crew is a superb and caring bunch..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. glad to see you back, paul. and what a comforting place to return, mark’s corner of the world. i love the hockey story and am happy to see the goodness in people played out this way –

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for dropping by Beth. It is an honor to have you here – I too love the hockey story. Definitely a heart warmer. Hope your week goes well.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Welcome back Paul!!! You were missed. And I was amazed at the outreach trying to find you and make sure you were okay. Isn’t it amazing? We go about our life and are often never aware of the thoughts and feelings being sent to us at any given time.

    Thanks for the coffee. Iced. Just how I like it. And the hockey video got me a little happy misty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Van! Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and a comment. It is a great pleasure to be back again and I am honored that Mark found space for me. You guys are the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so very much for adopting my Sunday “If We Were Having Coffee” posts Mark. I am honored. It is wonderful to be back blogging again – I missed all you guys terribly. I hope all is well with your family and cherished readers Mark. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sadly, I don’t follow my reader that closely…that was very compassionate of Linda…I suspect me saying we are planting tomatoes and some other plants tomorrow would get me a birdy…lol…we are

    Liked by 1 person

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