It was 20–I mean, 10–years ago today–er, last week


Blogging hiatus aside, I intentionally put off my yearly January 1 “state of the blog” post until later in the month, so as not to multiply milestones unnecessarily. Little did I know that my PC would choose that particular weekend to blow a CPU fan. While I’ve bought a replacement, the original screws that held the old fan to the heat sink are now too short. The computer works fine, but the fan is literally hanging by a thread (about three threads, actually, not counting the one screw that hasn’t threaded into anything). I’m afraid to leave it unattended lest it vibrate off and purée my video card, or something.


Last weekend marks my 10th anniversary arriving in the fair city of Ottawa. It was Sunday, January 18, 1998 that I arrived here, suitcase in hand, to look for work. The original plan was to travel a week earlier – but the top story in the news that weekend was the massive ice storm that had crippled Ottawa, Montreal, and most of eastern Canada. So after about a millisecond of soul-searching, I decided to hold off a week. By the time I arrived in the city, life had pretty much returned to normal. The damage to trees was still evident on the highway, and many of them still had a thick coating of ice. In Ottawa itself, however, most of the ice appeared to have turned to slush.

(It could be worse: our senior pastor arrived in Ottawa as a candidate the previous weekend – baptized by fire, as it were. And ice. Still, it didn’t deter him from staying, and he celebrates his tenth anniversary here as well.)

Way too much has changed in the last 10 years.

  • My first job was compiling, creating and burning documentation CD-ROMs. Not only were CD burners not yet common household items, but getting the right combination of hardware and media right was a real crap shoot. On my work burner, Verbatim and KAO disks worked all right. Memorex and Maxell consistently produced coasters.
  • My computer was a 100-MHz Pentium, and it connected to the Net via a 2400-baud modem. (A friend was kind enough to donate his lightning-fast 14400-baud modem a few months later.) Wireless Internet, indeed high-speed Internet at all, was still a pipe dream for homes.
  • The iPod was still a few years away from being a light bulb going off in Steve Jobs’ head. And MP3s, although not unknown, were very rare.
  • Google? Never heard of it.
  • The biggest story in the news, apart from the ice storm, was Bill Clinton’s greatest legacy to the American people: Monica.
  • The roof of the Parliament building was still green.
  • Our sales tax was still two percent higher.
  • Osama bin Laden was hardly a household name, and the tallest building in Manhattan was not the Empire State Building.
  • High school still had a Grade 13; students graduating from university this year were probably still in elementary school.
  • Although the Web probably contained numerous online journals (lovingly hand-coded by their owners), the word blog had yet to be coined.

Speaking of which, I really, really have to get into the swing of this again. Inertia is a powerful deterrent. Fortunately, I have a hard drive full of almost-finished posts ready to unleash on the blogosphere. If only I can get my CPU fan to stay put.

Until then, dear reader, sit tight. Ransom is back.


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