Month: March 2020

Shon Hopwood’s “Law Man” book.

March 22, 2020 Uncategorized , , ,

I’d heard Shon Hopwood interviewed on the Rubin report quite a while ago.  Now that I’m living in Toronto, I have the Toronto Public Library at my disposal (which has a far superior selection to the Markham Public Library).  They had Hopwood’s book, which I’d been meaning to read for a while, and luckily was able to pick it up before the current coronavirus mass hysteria shut down the library and most of the world:

The story in this book is really amazing.

Part of the book describes life in prison.  What I know of prison comes from a couple sources.  The first of those sources is the most unreliable (movies), the second is an old childhood friend who I saw after he’d served some time (*), and the last is a family member who is now a guard in the US prison system.  This book added a bit more color to my understanding of that very different world.  There are probably lots of prison memoirs, but this is one that is exceptionally well written.  I really loved the way it starts by telling a story right off the bat.

The improbability of Shon’s story is truly phenomenal and inspiring.  The subset of Shon’s life that is described in this book ends with him starting as a law student, but I knew from the Rubin interview and Wikipedia others that he completed that schooling and went on to work as both a lawyer and a law professor!  In his book Shon ends up, somewhat reluctantly, attributing some of his miraculous story to a higher power.  Perhaps a higher power was at work, but so was a lot of very hard work.

I’d highly recommend this book.  It provides a glimpse of prison life, some peeks of aspects of injustice of the US justice system (which is probably mirrored by Canadian law), and shows how Shon managed to avoid the trap of perpetually cycling through iterations of prison and crime with a with a combination of hard work and luck.  Along the way, it tells a very entertaining and inspiring story.


(*) I had a friend who had the misfortune to end up dating the daughter of one the Toronto Chinese mafia kingpins when we were both in high school.  Things didn’t go well for him after that dating selection, to say the least, and it’s been over 25 years since I heard from him.  He did tell me all about guards on the take, butt smuggling of drugs and cigarettes into prison, and the absurdity of airport security theater given how many airport staff were effectively paid mafia employees.  I’m sure that airport mafia payroll is still essentially the same, despite airport security theater now being far worse than it was in the 90s — criminals can still get the guns and drugs through the system easily, but we have to throw away our toothpaste and finger nail clippers, and dangerous too-big water bottles.

Kitchen reno progress: Cabinets are installed!

March 19, 2020 Uncategorized , ,

Our kitchen installers, Umair and Khazir, worked really hard for four very long days, and wrapped up their work today.  Their work was superb, with lots of attention to detail, and I’m really happy with the result.

Our cabinets (and appliances) were purchased from IKEA.  Think of this as the IKEA assembly from hell, producing enough waste cardboard to completely fill our RAV to the ceiling twice.  Here is the end result:

Here’s a little video, panning the kitchen:


What’s still TODO:

  • Electrical box and outlet in the cupboard above the microwave+range hood.
  • Countertop selection and installation.
  • Plumbing (sink and dishwasher connections.)
  • Electrical connection for the dishwasher.
  • Take the wrapping off the appliances, plug in and test.
  • Clean the (drywall) dust off the fridge and stove.
  • Backsplash.
  • New casing for the window.

For the countertop selection, take a look at this view of the floor tile:

and compare that to the following possible stone:

That stone is pricey, and we have about 34 square feet of counter to put in, so the cost will add up if that’s what we choose, but it would look really classy.

Of all the stones I saw today in my quick trip to the decimated Markham Home Depot, it was obviously and immediately clear that the one above was the best match.  It happens to also be the stone that we used for our master bathroom counter too, so I can simply bring some left over kitchen tile up to the bathroom next time I’m at the house to see how they look together.

Inka brand “coffee”: a silly nostalgic find

March 10, 2020 Incoherent ramblings , , , , ,

Dad was never functional before his morning coffee.  He usually headed down to the “Goof” for his fix.  He’d complain bitterly that it was horrible coffee, but that didn’t stop him from drinking it daily.  When he didn’t go to the goof for his fix, he’d stand beside the percolator like a zombie waiting long enough that he could interrupt it and pour his first cup of the day.

Dad, who survived on coffee and cigarettes while seated long hours at the glass blowing torch must have known you could have too much of a good thing.  So, when he’d finished mainlining coffee for the day, he switch to Inka brand “coffee”, a roasted grain beverage.  I didn’t know the brand was still in business, but blundered upon it today at the local grocery store:

I was looking to buy such a roasted grain “coffee” mix today anyways, as I’m now old enough that coffee after 7:30 pm equates to a high probability of a night of insomnia.  Finding dad’s old brand triggered a surprising number of memories, and provided the perfect way to cross off that shopping list item!