Saying goodbye to Dad

My father passed away last week and we had a lovely, but unfortunately capacity-limited, funeral for him on Saturday at our family church, the Church of St. John the Evangelist, in our old neighbourhood in London.

I was honoured to make a few remarks (below).

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad had been members of the church – pillars, really – for over 60 years, and I was delighted that the Choir (of which Dad had been a long time member) was able to attend and sing some of Dad’s favourites. Dad had asked for John Rutter’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You to be sung, and the choir did it magnificently.

Here’s a slightly larger choir performing this wonderful work. I am extremely grateful to our choir for singing this one. (I could barely hold it together while listening to it.)

It was wonderful to see family and old friends at the visitation and later at the funeral service. Thank you to all who came, or who watched the live stream. That made the week easier.

I was honoured to deliver a eulogy for Dad, only a few months after doing the same for Mom. Here’s what I said, with more than a few pauses where I could compose myself. Dad, people laughed in a few spots. I hope that’s OK.

Eulogy for Dad

Welcome back

Well, welcome back everyone. It seems like we were just here.

Mom and Dad both loved the theatre. So in that vein …

Welcome back from intermission. Previously at St. John’s, in the Act One finale last July, we said goodbye to Mom, Anne, Gran, Mrs Hayman, a wonderful star to whom Dad was devoted for 65 years.

Today is Act Two. I want to tell you some stories. We have four scenes. Let’s get started.

Scene 1: Bob the Technophile

When Alex was born, Dad couldn’t understand why I felt the need to give a newborn baby an email address, and he wrote an editorial for our family paper the Point View Reviewer wondering why we didn’t just come up with a way to print messages on paper and deliver them through Canada Post. But … he changed. He grew to love online communication. And he’d want me to welcome everyone joining us on Zoom today. Even though Dad would have no idea how that worked, he loved anything that connected people.

Dad was fascinated, although often stumped, by technology. A slide rule was high tech when he was a student. But he adapted easily to this new world. For instance he’d love seeing the list of people who liked or commented on a Facebook post, and it was great fun trying to explain to him who everybody was. OK see those are my high school friends, there’s someone from the band, that’s your neighbour and … I don’t know who that is, one of your Internet friends maybe?

Dad was an amazing early adopter. In 1971 he bought the first pocket calculator any of us had ever seen! He let me take it in to wood shop class, where the teacher was so impressed, he helped me build a beautiful stand for it. It was so early, we didn’t even realize you could spell words on a calculator by turning it upside down. We just multiplied 4 by 7 and went, whoa, it figured that out in two seconds.

And he bought an Apple ][ years before anybody else had a “home computer”. He soon became the first person I knew to buy an airline ticket online! He had signed up for an account on “The Source”, an early nationwide bulletin board, that cost $15/hour to use. Somehow he found a travel agent in there selling tickets, and he experimented a bit and, apparently, actually purchased a return ticket from Toronto to Paris, or something. Of course he had no intention of travelling to Paris, he was just experimenting with this technology …- and we had to persuade him that yes, we think that was an actual thing, we think you actually DID buy a plane ticket there, you better call them back and cancel it.

Years later, in 1996, Steve Jobs demoed buying a plane ticket on the Internet, and immediately called United Airlines to cancel it, and everybody went, “oooooh, cool, that’s the future”, but I remembered Dad had done it fifteen years earlier.

He went through a brief spell where – being an engineer – he wanted to understand how computers worked, how you wrote programs for them, what was actually going on inside these boxes. That phase didn’t last. He wisely decided he would just enjoy using the computer. He’d leave that understanding part to others. Good move. Let the experts be the experts. We did have many discussions about the difference between a “file” and a “folder” though, as Dad pointed out that a “filing cabinet” actually holds “files” and my analogies were all wrong. Taught me a lesson there.

That Apple ][ got me curious, and here I am in my 29th year of working for Apple. Dad was always very encouraging about that even if he was a little unclear what it is I do here.

I overheard him telling somebody once that “Stephen is in charge of education sales for Apple”, which is, um, overstating it slightly. But he was proud of whatever it was.

Scene 2: Bob the Performer

When Dad was in high school at Rothesay Collegiate in New Brunswick, he organized the school’s bugle band, and something must have clicked because he enjoyed performing for the rest of his life.

Dad finished high school at London South, and here’s a quote from the 1946 South yearbook, describing a school assembly.

The program was continually being interrupted by the unscheduled appearances of Walden Allen, Dick Hutchison and Bob Hayman, who pestered the audience with skits and songs. But the people loved them.

The performing bug continued when Dad was studying engineering at the University of Toronto. He tried out for U of T’s Blue and White marching band, but it turned out they were looking for people who could actually play an instrument.

So Dad pivoted and founded the Inter Varsity Barbershop Quartet Champions of 1949, the legendary Four Flushers, from Drano, California.

The Four Flushers

The Four Flushers, from the University of Toronto 1950 Engineering Yearbook

On the evening of February 21st, the men of Civil Engineering grabbed their best gals and headed for the Savarin Hotel. A swell evening was had by all. The “Four Flushers,” of 5T0 Civil and international fame, comprised the official entertainment. After singing several numbers, the quartette was forced, by popular demand, to give its rendition of that old folk song—”Cigareets and Whisky.” The roof promptly fell in.

Dad also managed to appear in some London Little Theatre musicals. I remember him boasting of being in a production of Guys and Dolls, where he played The Greek. Now, I was very impressionable, and grew up thinking The Greek must surely be the star of that show, so imagine my confusion when I finally saw a production of Guys and Dolls and learned that The Greek only had about two lines. No matter! It was Show Business.

And yet some of Dad’s greatest artistic successes occurred right here, at St. John’s Church. I’d like to speak to the choir for a moment.

to the choir

Dad was a member of this wonderful choir for many years. He loved worshipping and singing with you all, but he loved socializing with the choir even more. Thank you, David, and everyone else for being here today and singing some of Dad’s favourites.

But he also founded the legendary St. John’s Marching Band in 1971. Dad would play the trumpet, sometimes – I never did figure out where exactly he figured out how to play the trumpet – or maybe the violin, and my siblings were in it too, along with whoever else in the church played any instrument at all, and the band would play for the Christmas pageant or the Lessons and Carols service, and then scatter until next year – unless the church was running a Chicken Dinner or putting on a show or a road race, and then the a slightly different St. John’s Marching Band, sometimes enhanced with a few ringers, would reassemble. We are all grateful that St. John’s has had a series of directors of music willing to embrace this ensemble. I am grateful for their tolerance and senses of humour about the whole thing.

Mom and Dad would host Christmas or Victoria Day parties and invite the entire neighbourhood, and a new ad-hoc orchestra would be formed. And with Dad and Uncle George on trumpet, my siblings on clarinet, me on trombone, Mom on the piano and other cousins on whatever instrument they were learning, the family band would get together on Christmas Eve and visit Grampa and Nana and Uncle Don and Aunt Grace and Aunt Jean to serenade them with Christmas carols from the well worn red and green books.

And the nightly flag lowering at the Point View cottage was always accompanied by a bugle solo, that could be heard far and wide. Dad was big on ceremony.

He and Mom travelled to Europe with Western’s New Horizons Band, playing to, if not exactly the great concert halls, various nursing homes. Talk about a captive audience.

I was inspired by all this and put a few bands together in my life and Dad was a great supporter, especially when the University of Waterloo Warriors Band would occasionally visit London and play a tune or two on the lawn at 994 Maitland St. before going off to see Waterloo edged by Western 72-0. Cathy was in one of those bands too, although I didn’t get around to marrying her until 30 years later. Y’see? You should join a band. Or a choir. A lifetime of memories is there for you.

Here’s the thing. I learned a valuable lesson from these groups Dad would assemble. Musical quality isn’t the important thing. No. What’s important? Just getting together with your friends and playing some music, and having fun, now THAT’s important.

Thank you, Dad

Scene 3: Bob the Traveller

Dad loved to travel. His philosophy was that money wasn’t doing you any good in the bank, so you might as well travel. And travel, he and Mom did. They saw the world. Sometimes they even took us.

Mom and Dad took our family on some memorable trips, including a mission in 1969 to see the launch of Apollo XI. Michael and I have been bragging about that one ever since – and that is what personally got me interested in science and technology.

I remember a wonderful two-motorhome trip with the entire Jones family. Mr. and Mrs. Jones owned a motorhome, Dad rented one, and we spent a great weekend arguing the merits of Champion vs. Superior motorhomes.

Mom and Dad also shared their love of theatre with us, and we all went to New York in 1978 to see some Broadway shows. We all remember Dad gasping at the ticket prices.

“$28 each?” he’d say. “That’s absolutely ridiculous, you should be able to take the whole family to a show for $28.”

The most memorable trip was to France in 1980. Imagine, trying to book travel for your family without the Internet, just with brochures, to a country where you didn’t speak the language. Dad’s bold speech at every hotel , using the remaining words of high school French he knew, became part of family legend. We’d all repeat this line to ourselves for years. Dad would stride up to the hotel, counter, and smile, and loudly tell the clerk

“Je Voudrais Doux Chambres pour Cinq Personnes.”

(That’d be “I Would Like Sweet Rooms for Five People”.)

Somehow that worked and we got our two rooms for five people.

We visited the world war 1 grave of Dad’s uncle Gordon McIntosh, killed at 19 in World War I in Lapugnoy, France. Dad made sure we were aware of those sacrifices, and of how hard Gordon’s death was on his mother, Gordon’s young sister. It was a very moving trip.

Also I remember we detoured through Belgium at one point because Dad wanted a real Belgian waffle.

Mom and Dad made many more great trips once they realized they didn’t need to bring the kids along, including a round-the-world trip where they flew to France for cousin Ian Hayman’s wedding, and then – seeing as they were already in the area – continued on to visit other cousin Ian Wallace in the Philippines. And on to Australia’s finest luxury resort, Hayman Island.

They cruised the seven seas, they saw the pyramids along the Nile, they cycled through France with the Whelens, they skied in Austria, but they enjoyed travelling to the family cottage at Point View on the shores of Lake Huron most of all. The family cottage wasn’t just our family, it included the entire MacFarlane and Baldwin clans across the ravines too.

Dad saw to it that family gatherings at Point View were frequent, and fun, and frequently filmed. A whole series of movies were shot on Dad’s Super 8 camera, starring every kid who was around, including classics you might remember like The Shed, or You Axed For It, or Quest for the Holy Pail. Movies with plots and special effects and soundtracks and everything. It was a regular Hollywood-on-Huron directed by Dad, H. R. Spielberg himself. And Dad would edit the movies – no small feat, you kids might not get this but back then editing a movie actually involved “cutting” film with a razor blade and gluing it back together, with the constant risk that the film would jam in the projector and melt your masterpiece.

We’re all so lucky that Dad created these moments on film, and preserved them and then showed them over and over and over again whenever guests were at the cottage. What a gift that was for the next generation.

We did our best to repay this – Cathy and I took Mom and Dad, and Cathy’s mom Eleanor, on a Caribbean cruise a few years ago. Sadly, all three of these wonderful people have passed away in the past year, but the picture of the three of them in Cozumel, enjoying frozen beverages while wearing silly balloon hats will make me smile forever.

Drinks in Cozumel with balloon hats

Thank you, Dad

Scene 4: Bob the Builder

Dad was a builder of buildings, of course – a general contractor with John Hayman and Sons, building buildings all over southern Ontario. A great occupation where you build permanence – structures you can point to decades later. (Unlike, say, the computer business, where programs I wrote last year don’t work any more.). He built buildings.

But he was also a builder of family. And not just family who lived in his house – family meant cousins, and second cousins, and sometimes kids in the neighbourhood who we just assumed were our cousins and they just figured Dad was their uncle. I’m honoured that so many of you from Dad’s big extended family are here today. Welcome, especially, to Kathy from Houston, Lisa from Atlanta, and Ian from France.

On an early job of building buildings, he was helping build something at the Labatt’s head office here. One day, eating in the Labatt’s cafeteria, he asked his engineering friend Harvey Hurlbutt who those pretty girls over there were. And Harvey happened to be dating one of them, and offered to introduce Dad to the other.

That was Mom, also working at Labatt’s. They – obviously – hit it off, married in 1956 and loved each other deeply for 65 years.

You know Michael and Susan and me, but you might not know of our brother Tim, their first baby, who never came home from the hospital. Ever the engineer, Dad insisted that the nurses explain Tim’s spina bifida condition. And he couldn’t do anything about it. I cannot imagine how devastating that must have been to this new couple. But Dad supported and loved Mom unconditionally, and while he was building London, he was also building a family.

At their home, Dad built a coffee table out of, probably, lumber he’d scrounged up on a job site – and Mom gently suggested that perhaps fine finish carpentry was not his best skill.

But he was also building skating rinks in the backyard – and, naturally, making dramatic films of mythical hockey matches played there. One squad of neighbourhood kids taking on another, and the underdogs would always triumph because that made for a better movie.

Dad mentioned to me that he knew it was time to retire when the company started working on jobs that involved demolishing buildings he’d built at the start of his career. After retiring, he kept a hard hat in the car, and found a new calling inspecting churches around the province. For this, and many other contributions, the Diocese awarded him the Order of Huron.

Dad was proud of Michael joining the family firm and of Susan’s neuropsychology career, and he warmly welcomed Cathy and Brent to the family. And the family kept growing to another generation. Four day old grandson Alex was the star attraction at Dad’s 65th birthday party. Jenni reminded me Dad made it his mission to get this baby to laugh, even if it took all summer, and when Alex finally did, it was glorious.

Nick arrived a little later, and then Rob and Katie, and as a special bonus, Tyler and Caitie-with-a-C. Dad adored all six grandchildren, and was looking forward to Tyler’s wedding to Diana this summer – and I am deeply honoured that his grandchildren are escorting him on his final journey today.

Dad, the Builder. He built communities. Not just structures, but connections.

All along, Dad was completely devoted to Mom. His favourite expression about Mom was that “She never complained.” We kids had our doubts about THAT – like, really, what about this incident, or that one? – but Dad insisted. She never complained.

Mom and Dad were able to live out their lives at home at 994, which is what they both wanted, and I have to acknowledge all the work that my brother Michael did every single day to make that possible. And we are extremely grateful to the compassionate staff of Medical Priorities.

Now … I don’t really understand what happens when you die. I like to think you get to meet everybody who passed before you, and fill them in on what’s been happening. I hope Dad gets to reconnect with his wonderful sister Molly and brother Donald. And baby Tim too. Let them know how we’re doing.

When Mom passed away last summer, I do know that it left a huge void in Dad’s heart.

But I imagine Mom has been complaining, for the first time, wondering where on earth Bob was.

And Dad surely felt those complaints, and decided that wasn’t right, and did what he could to join Mom again. So, last Saturday, while listening to Anne Murray sing his favourite song, he slipped quietly away, with Michael and Susan and me at his side, to be with Mom again. And I know the first thing he asked her. Could he have this dance? For the rest of his afterlife?

And Mom surely answered, “Oh, Bob.”

Thank you, Dad, for everything.

Dad, and technology

I really want to thank everybody for the kind words about Dad.

One of my favourite things to do was to show him everybody who’d commented on a Facebook post or Twitter thread or blog mentioning him, and explain who they all were – look, here are some old high school friends, here are some people from work, here are your neighbours, here are people from Argonotes, here is – wait, I don’t know who this is, is that some friend of yours? – etc etc – and Dad was always fascinated by that.

I’m sad that I won’t be able to do that this time, but I know he’s smiling at how many people are being kind and thoughtful. Which is what he was all about.

Dad studying tech
Nick, patiently trying to explain something to his grandfather

Dad bought an Apple ][ for our family long ago, before almost anybody had even heard of a home computer, and my sister reminded me that when I saw it under the Christmas tree, I grabbed it and took off to set it up before she even knew what it was that had been unwrapped.


Another Christmas, Dad gave me Odyssey, the autobiography of John Sculley (former Apple CEO) just as I was giving him the exact same book.

And here I am finishing up my 29th year at Apple. Dad was always pleased about that even if he was a little unclear what it is I do here (and to tell you the truth, I’m sometimes a little unclear about it too.)

I overheard him telling somebody once that “Stephen is in charge of education sales for Apple”, which is, um, overstating it slightly. But he was proud of whatever it was.

He bought some stock in Apple, right after I started here. His financial advisor was somewhat aghast – why would you do that? They’re struggling. But he had faith, and I think those, I dunno, ten shares he bought worked out nicely, and he always enjoyed reminding his advisor that the advisor had been completely wrong in this case.

Rapidman 800 Calculatoe

He always took great interest in technology – Dad bought the first calculator anybody had ever seen, the Rapidman 800 in 1971, and I took it to wood shop class. The teacher was so impressed, he helped me build a beautiful stand for it in return for me letting him play with dad’s calculator. I think that was long enough ago that it didn’t even occur to anybody that you could spell words by turning it upside down. You’d just multiply 4 by 7 and be amazed.

Then after our family got the Apple ][, Dad became the first person I knew to buy an airline ticket online! He had signed up for an account on “The Source”, an early nationwide dialup BBS system (later acquired by Compuserve) and had somehow found a travel agent in there selling tickets, and he experimented a bit and, apparently, actually purchased a return ticket from Toronto to Paris, or something. Of course he had no intention of travelling to Paris, he was just trying out the user interface of this thing – and we had to persuade him that yes, we think that was an actual thing, we think you actually DID buy a plane ticket there, you better call them back and cancel it.

Years later, in 1996, Steve Jobs demoed buying a plane ticket on the Internet, and immediately called United Airlines to cancel it, and everybody went, “oooooh, cool, that’s the future”, but I remembered Dad had done it fifteen years earlier.

He went through a brief spell where – being an engineer – he wanted to understand how computers worked, how you wrote programs for them, what was actually going on inside these boxes. That phase didn’t last. He wisely decided he would just enjoy using the computer, without worrying about how it worked. He’d leave that latter part to others. Good move.

Dad loved Facebook too. He couldn’t use it much in his later years, but Facebook memories still pop up for me – just yesterday, Facebook reminded me of a conversation Dad and I had had 12 years ago where he’d installed Skype, but didn’t “get it.” Me neither, Dad.

Thank you again for all the kind words. My brother and sister are taking great comfort in it all, and I know we’ll have many more stories to share.

Howard Robert (Bob) Hayman, 1928-2022


My brother Michael, my sister Susan and I are very sad to report that our wonderful Dad died on Saturday. He slipped away peacefully, listening to his favourite Anne Murray song, and he’s now with Mom again, asking her if he can have this dance.

I’ll write more stories about Dad soon.

This notice will be in the London Free Press this week.

HAYMAN, Howard Robert (Bob) – On Saturday, March 5, 2022, Howard Robert (Bob) Hayman, P.Eng, loving father and devoted husband, died in his 94th year.

Bob was a devoted husband to Anne Elizabeth (Walker) Hayman (d. 2021), whom he cherished and adored for over 65 years. Bob’s commitment and loyalty to their church, St. John the Evangelist, was well known and appreciated by many, and he was named to the Diocese’s Order of Huron.

Bob was born on June 15, 1928 in London, and moved during World War II with his family to New Brunswick where his father was supervising wartime military construction projects. He attended Rothesay Collegiate School, and returned post-war to London where he graduated from South Collegiate.

Following in his father’s footsteps, he studied Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto, and was a fiercely proud 5T0 alumnus. Returning to London, he spied Anne, a beautiful Western graduate, while both were working at Labatt’s. They married in 1956. Bob and Anne built a family, and saw the world.

Bob spent his entire career with the family construction firm, John Hayman and Sons, founded by his great-grandfather. He retired in 1999 as its president. Their work appears all over London and Southwestern Ontario.

Bob shared his musical talents and song parodies with us all, equally proficient on piano, trumpet, violin, ukulele and the gut bucket. His Christmas poems were unsurpassed, and many occasions were celebrated in song. Bob truly loved making memories for all at the family cottage at Point View, Lake Huron. His passions for life and learning were matched only by his seemingly limitless joy and curiosity, which he shared with all he met.

Pre-deceased by his parents Howard and Helen (McIntosh), his dear brother Donald (d. 2008), beloved sister Molly, (d. 2021) and his infant son Timothy (d. 1958).

Admired and adored by his children Stephen (Cathy) Hayman of Oakville, and their children Alex, Tyler (Diana), Nick, and Caitie; Michael Hayman of London; Susan (Brent) Hayman-Abello, and their children Robbie and Katie of London.

Loved and missed by brother George Hayman and his wife Helen, in-laws Lenore (Donald) Hayman, Martin (Molly) Ware, and many nieces, nephews and extended family.

The family is extremely grateful for the many services of the Dementia Day Program at the McCormick Home, and for the caring staff of Medical Priorities.

In lieu of flowers, Bob’s family would be pleased if you made a memorial donation to the Endowment Fund for Music at St. John the Evangelist Church, or the London Kiwanis Music Festival.

Young people, a tech tip for you. Listen up!

I had a great chat with some students in Michigan yesterday, who for some reason were interested in my career – the level of feigning interest was excellent, I gotta say, well done – and it gave me a chance to share my favourite tip for coding students.

Young people: listen up:

Everybody in the computer business enjoys nothing more than complaining about how tough it was when they were getting started compared to the luxurious and inexpensive computers of today.

These devices you’re using now? They will be the lamest, shabbiest, most underpowered computers you’ll use for the rest of your life.

I hope I’m still around in 30 years to attend a seminar that one of you are giving, and you hold up a dusty old iPhone 13 Pro Max and say – “Look what I had to use! Look how thick it was! It only had one measly terabyte of storage! And sometimes you had to “plug in” a “wire”.”

the big tip

So here’s my tip: Save some piece of tech you’re using today! Set it aside next time you upgrade, so that in 30 years you can pull it out as a prop to illustrate your ‘Here is what WE had to use, back in MY day’.

Behold, for instance, the CARDIAC! The Cardboard Illustrative Aid to Computation!


This is how they taught coding to us when I was in the seventh grade.

Because your school didn’t have a computer. Why would your school have a computer? What are you, NASA or something?

The comedy value of pulling out props to show the Youth of Today what You had to Deal With Back In Your Day should not be underestimated.

Here, BTW, is an IBM Port-A-Punch. A portable keypunch so you can do your FORTRAN coding on the bus on the way to visit the computer.

the Port-A-Punch


And of course, everybody* loves the story about how you paid $2000 for a 300 Meg drive on your NeXT cube in 1988, and last week you bought a 5 terabyte drive for $150, and I can’t wait to hear the 2052 version of this story.

  • hardly anybody, tbh.

Ancient NeXT Cube and modern hard drive

So, anyway, this thread is my attempt at justification for why I haven’t cleaned out a lot of the detritus in my office.

But, please, save something from today’s technology. You’ll love showing it off in the future.

Now. where did I put my slide rule. Hmm.

speaking of careers

move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction: the car careered across the road and went through a hedge.

Yeah that definition sounds about right.

Teaching Math in Ontario

Ontario has – well, “had”, because it was just ruled unconstitutional – a Math Proficiency Test for new teachers. Which has been quite a topic of discussion around here, as my daughter is just finishing teachers college, and my future daughter-in-law is currently teaching.

In another version of my life, I thought I’d be a math teacher. I’d be that cool teacher who gets the kids excited about math (and also directs the pep band.)

so I woke up this morning and I thought, you know what would be fun? Why not try the practice test and see what this is all about?

You can try it too .

Perhaps this is an odd definition of ‘fun’ but I enjoyed going through the test.

71 questions. 2/3 of them are on math, and 1/3 on pedagogy, and then there’s an optional questionnaire. I believe 70% is a passing grade. For the past year or so, all new teachers were required to pass this, but the future of the test is up in the air at the moment.

plunging ahead

This, believe it or not, is one of the actual questions. (I got this one right, phew.)

Sample Question

What on earth is going on here? Is this an attempt to catch bots, or people who always answer “B” to every question, or a test to see if you’re reading, or was there originally some question that they later decided was inappropriate?

the math part

I did not have much trouble with the math part. Some of the questions let you use a calculator but as a show of mental toughness I decided to try doing all the questions in my head. Got one wrong – dumb arithmetic mistake that I’m sure I would have caught if I used the calculator.

Some of them are unbelievably basic, like (paraphrasing)

In the number 470,253, the digit ‘7’ represents what?

  1. 70
  2. 70,000
  3. 700,000
  4. 7

Others require you to evaluate a little expression using BEDMAS (“What is 16 – 2 * 3 + 5 * 0”, that kind of thing) which if you’ve been on Facebook any time in the past year, you’ve seen some idiot version of this which has fourteen million wrong answers in the comments.

And at one point I had to pause for a moment to try to recall the formula for the area of a parallelogram – one question showed you a parallelogram, gave the lengths of the sides, and said “if you divided this into two congruent triangles, what would be the area of each” and, well, there’s a button in the test that takes you to page showing all the formulae for things but you know what I REMEMBERED HOW TO DO IT WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP phew.

You could answer a lot of the questions that required calculation by just doing a rough estimate with rounder numbers – can I quickly come up with something that’s within 25% or so of the right answer? – which was often enough to rule out 3 of the 4 choices. This is also a useful skill. You don’t always need to do an exact calculation.

So, good news, I passed the math part with flying colours. I should hope so. I have two degrees in math, which honestly is two more degrees in math than anybody really needs.

the pedagogy part

The last section was pedagogical questions. This sort of thing. (I got this one wrong, I think I mixed up “of” and “for”.)

Pedagogy Question

My daughter commented – Yeah…I mean that question would be very easy for someone who’s taken a pedagogy course…but yeah that’s the level of minutiae.

She’s right, this pedagogy part just seems to ask you to repeat the buzzwords you learned in a course. It’s a test of memorization, not of math and logic.

The first part of the test seems like a pretty reasonable way to evaluate if somebody remembers what they were taught up to about 9th grade math. I think that’s a reasonable thing to ask of all teachers. They’re not asking you to do calculus, they’re just asking you to apply some general principles. I heard it said once that All teachers are teachers of language, and I think you could extend that to basic math numeracy too.

But the pedagogy part. That would really trip up people whose first language isn’t English, for one thing. And what’s it doing in a test about math proficiency?

having said that I am delighted to say I got 17/20 on the pedagogy part with some educated guessing, which is also a useful skill. I’ve been lucky to work in the education division of my employer so I’ve been around teachers for a while.

And Cathy reminds me “Didn’t you actually go to teachers college?”

Well, yeah, I did, for three weeks; I am a proud dropout of York University, after a brief, unsuccessful midlife crisis experiment a while ago.

It turns out some of this is hard.

the questions I hoped it would include

Math is a wonderful thing!

Get off your ath and do some math!

Six times a billion is …?

so should there be a math proficiency test?

Yes. Yes there should. Math is a universal language. It is the foundation of truth, and beauty, and has a standard of proof higher than that in any other field of human endeavour.

When we send satellites out of the solar system, hoping they will some day reach a distant galaxy, we engrave plaques on them with math symbols to prove that we are an advanced species. Prime numbers, in particular, are such a fundamental idea that if you can just list them in some language-independent way, like this –


that that’s a good start at demonstrating where you are. There is no conceivable universe where 7 is not a prime number! We have to agree on that with whatever aliens are out there!

The first radio message beamed out to the stars from the Arecibo Observatory in 1974 was sent as 1,679 binary pulses.
Why 1,679? It’s the product of two primes, 73 and 23, and if you can figure that out, you might realize you could arrange the binary pulses into a 23 * 73 graphic like this (colour here added by the Wikipedia article with all the details- but can you see the patterns in there?

There’s a human (red) and a representation of our solar system (in yellow) – notice how the 3rd dot is offset, that’s where this message originated. And more. How much of this can you figure out? Here’s the details.

400px Arecibo message svg

Isn’t that cool? Yes, yes it is.
Math. It’s everything.

But the pedagogy part. That needs some thought. That belongs somewhere else.

Apple + NeXT, 25 years ago today.

Apple and NeXT Announce Merger

25 years ago today, I was a field systems engineer for NeXT, one of three NeXT employees in Canada – and our family was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, introducing a three week old baby to his grandmother.

Nobody had reliable cell phones back then, so most messaging was done through a voice mail system called Audix, and somehow I still remember the number. 1-800-345-5588. I dialled it the other day. Number not in service. But I can still dial it quickly.

So anyway, we got a sudden Audix message. Urgent. Everyone must dial in at 2 PM. I went looking for a reliable land line for the call, not having much idea what it was about, and somehow wound up on a pay phone at the Steamtown Railroad Museum. (which I kind of wanted to visit anyway.)

And there, we learned that NeXT had agreed to be acquired by Apple for $400,000,000.

In retrospect, the tech involved in the merger wound up being so one-sided that many people say “NeXT actually bought Apple for negative $400,000,000.” A few years later, something like 70% of Apple’s VPs were ex-NeXT people.

I was floored. I didn’t expect this at all.

NeXT was struggling. Our founder, Steve Jobs, seemed to be spending all his time at his other company, Pixar, and although we just just eked out our first quarterly operating profit (mostly based on selling WebObjects, a Java application server) we weren’t exactly setting the world on fire.

Here’s the sort of thing NeXT was selling at the time – a press release from three weeks before the merger, touting CyberSlice, a revolutionary new system for (get this!) ordering pizza from your computer. (WebObjects was also powering the Disney and Dell online stores, and Steve had even demoed using it to buy a plane ticket through a web browser. Heady stuff for the mid-1990s.)

“CyberSlice has enabled any small or large pizza provider to get online,” said Steven P. Jobs, Chairman and CEO of NeXT Software. “NeXT is excited to provide the enabling technology to CyberSlice, which combines fun with an innovative business concept. The success of CyberSlice shows the versatility of WebObjects in creating and deploying consumer web applications that are both sophisticated and original.”

It must have been killing Steve Jobs that his vision of a revolutionary new workstation and operating system for higher education hadn’t panned out and that he was now reduced to selling enterprise server software for $50,000 a copy.

Apple was seemingly caught in a death spiral too and was getting awfully close to running out of money.

two weeks earlier

Two weeks earlier, I’d got a call from a former NeXT colleague Barb, who’d gone to work for Apple. She wanted to know if I wanted to come along.

“No thank you”, I replied politely, when what I was really thinking was “What, that bunch of losers? Why would I go there? They’re the only company going out of business faster than WE are.”

But the merger happened anyway, and Barb called me about a minute after it was announced to say “Well, we really wanted to hire you, so this is the only plan we could think of.”

I always wondered if the message of “We really need to hire Steve from NeXT” got garbled somehow.

shortly thereafter

Barb called and invited me to visit Apple’s office in Markham to “show us what the heck it was we just bought.”

What Apple was most interested in was NeXT’s NeXTSTEP operating system that originally came with the NeXT cube but had been ported to run on Intel systems as well. I wasn’t even using that day-to-day any more; most of my work was using WebObjects on Windows NT. But I managed to reinstall NeXTSTEP on my Toshiba Tecra, and took that up to Markham for a demo to the Apple team.

I remember struggling to get my laptop to work with their weird mutant boardroom projector, and thinking “geez, I hope this works.” and I wasn’t just thinking about the projector.

Ultimately we got it to work at a cramped 640×480 resolution and I was able to show off NeXTSTEP, Unix, Interface Builder and (horrors) the Terminal program, which was pretty much the opposite of what Apple had been providing.

Everybody at NeXT was so unclear that this merger was going to work that we all handed out our NeXT business cards for as long as those phone numbers and emails still worked. (Remind me to write up my “I was” story some time too.)

eventually all was well.

It worked out OK, though. The merger happened at a historic low point for Apple, and once Steve Jobs came back as CEO, an incredible technical and business turnaround began.

NeXT’s software and hardware became the foundation of everything Apple made. The NeXTSTEP operating system – which NeXT was just about to shelve, until a midlevel NeXT guy John Landwehr (hi John! How are things at Adobe?) cold-called Apple’s CTO Ellen Hancock to ask if they needed a robust operating system because Mac OS was really shaky – became the foundation of Mac OS X; NeXT’s Project Builder and Interface Builder became Xcode; NeXT’s love of the Objective-C language eventually created Swift.

And, all that technology that I started learning when I bought my $11,000 NeXT cube in Indiana in 1988 now runs on my phone. And my watch! On my wrist. Objective-C and NeXTSTEP runs on my wrist today. Crazy.

And here we are. It’s been a pretty amazing run.

The three week old baby turned out to be a fine young man too.

My NeXT Badge

My NeXT badge, and over my shoulder, my NeXT cube.

the people

At the time of the merger, NeXT had about 400 employees, and Apple had only a few thousand. Today. Apple has 160,000 people. I’m curious how many of the NeXT crew are still here. I know about a dozen, and I’m sure there are more. 100 maybe? Who knows. We’ve all been incredibly lucky.

PS. This is a photo of the last ever gathering of NeXT employees before the merger was legally finalized. To my great regret, I was not able to get out to NeXT’s HQ in Redwood City for this picture, but it sure brings back a lot of memories.

Very Last NeXT Team Picture No Logo

Orchestra Wee Wee

In 1999 the Hamilton Tiger-Cats managed, somehow, to win the Grey Cup, a feat they have not accomplished since but they’re going to try again next Sunday.

In June of 2000, the team held a banquet at which the players were awarded their Grey Cup rings. And since the team had a sense of humour, they actually contacted, us the arch-rival Argonotes, the Toronto Argonauts Band, to see if we’d pretend to be the Ticats band for this event.

(Hey, they offered us food and beer – and T-shirts – how could we say no?)

So here is Orchestra Wee Wee, the temporary Hamilton Tiger-Cats Pep Band, at the Grey Cup Ring Presentation Ceremonial Dinner


As far as we could tell, nobody noticed that the band looked kind of familiar, but we gave it our best shot and played the Tiger-Cat Marching Song multiple times. Our band has a long history of playing that song in Hamilton and wondering if anybody recognizes it.

The Ticats, recognizing a good thing when they hear it, briefly set up their own pep band and we were delighted to confront them at Ivor Wynne Stadium at a game in 2003. Here’s a joint picture of the Massed Bands of the CFL East Division at the Labour Day Classic in 2003.

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That too didn’t last but it sure was fun.

here’s an email I sent to Argonotes after our rousing success as Orchestra Wee Wee –

From: Steve Hayman
To: Argonotes
Subject: Orchestra Wee Wee!
Date: June 30, 2000

I want to thank the 14 members of Argonotes who became Orchestra Wee-Wee, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Band last night for Hamilton’s Grey Cup Ring Ceremony dinner. Over 800 people were in attendance to see the Ticats presented with their championship rings, and as far as I can tell nobody managed to put 2 and 2 together and realize that some of the music they were hearing sounded very familiar!

We got off to a shaky start. Weather caused the mother of all traffic tieups on the QEW – *three*hours* from downtown to downtown –
and everyone (including Premier Harris) was late, and when we started playing we had a whopping four people on hand, but once we all got there, they hustled us up to the balcony overlooking the banquet hall and had us play the Alleged Former Ticat Song (“We love those Cats,
those Tiger Cats ….”) over and over and over again while the players were being introduced. I imagine we played it more timesin that one stretch than it was ever played at Ivor Wynne Stadium in history.

We did a nice, tight, post-banquet show outside the hall as well. It’s amazing how good you can sound with the right 14 people
in place!

We got a picture or three of the band, in our souvenir Hamilton TiCat shirts, with the Grey Cup, and I’m sure it will be featured prominently on our “other” web site,, as soon as yours truly gets his scanner fixed.

Thank you again to saxes Clem, Steve and Trevor, trumpets Alex, Gary and James, trombones Richard, Ian and Deb, tuba James, and percussion Bud, Angela and Tina. I really enjoyed doing this and I thinkwe did ourselves and Argonotes proud. Fundamentally I think we are all CFL fans as much as we are Argo fans, so if we can do the odd thing to help Hamilton, it will be good for the league, and maybe it will even shame Hamilton into actually organizing an actual band.

They’re already looking forward to having us visit for the Toronto at Hamilton game on Friday October 13. Game time is 7:30. based on what we saw of the traffic yesterday, I think we should all plan on taking the GO train.

Have a great Canada Day and we’ll see everyone at our next ARGO game, Tuesday July 11 vs Montreal. Meet at 6:30 at Front and Simcoe. More details later.

Oskee-wee-wee—excuse me, that should be
Argos Rule,

P.S. The Fan 590 has inquired as to whether we might be available for some sort of parade on the 11th from their downtown studio to the dome. It’s intended to celebrate Toronto’s home teams and will involve both the Jays and Argos, and a double decker bus which we might be able to ride on. I think, unfortunately, it’s during the day but if it’s at lunch time we might be able to find enough people. I’ll let you know the plan, if there is one, when I find out more details.

P.P.S. Yesterday I got a call from someone wanting to hire us for a Canada Day parade. (As you might expect the answer is “No, even if we did do parades, don’t you think we would have figured out something for July 1 before June 29?”)

P.P.P.S. I got another invite for a parade later in the year in Mississauga. Here is how this kind of thing usually goes. They tell me that they’ve got the Argonaut cheerleaders, so they figure they could get the band; however it usually means they have 3 of the 30 cheerleaders, and while that works great for the cheerleaders, if we had a turnout of 3 people it wouldn’t be quite as great, soI usually politely turn this sort of thing down.

Tuning Up in Victory Formation at the 100th Grey Cup. And the best picture ever.

Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of the 100th Grey Cup, when Canada’s most loved team, the Toronto Argonauts, defeated the Calgary Stampeders.

It’s also when we got the best photo of the band, ever.

So, the Argos win, seconds after the final whistle, the band sneaks onto the field through, uh, a door or two that we got tipped off might be open.

And hey, there’s Marcus Ball, #6 of the Toronto Argos! Gerry gets him to whack the drum a time or two …

Marcus Ball on the drum

and then I immediately started fumbling around, trying to take a picture of the band.

Marcus Bell, who may I remind you has JUST WON A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP, says to me “Here, give me your phone, you go get in the picture.” A scene captured by my cousin in the stands – here I am handing off my phone ….

The Band on the Field

And Marcus Bell takes this picture. Possibly the best photo of the band EVER. In retrospect, maybe we should have retired right then and there.

The Band, by Marcus Ball

This is why we love the CFL. A player steps out of his own celebration to do the band a favour, and I’m sure he’s not the only one who had done that.

Of course, moments later, we had a ritual to attend to. Tuning up! We would only tune up after the Argos won the Grey Cup; no point jinxing things by tuning up earlier in the season. May I present to you –

Tuning Up in Victory Formation

Remembering Linda Carson, and the Varsity Briefcase Drill Team

Update: Linda, pre-organized as always, set up a bequest at the University of Waterloo to establish two new student awards. Learn more or join me in donating here.

Let me tell you about my friend Linda Carson, who tragically passed away last week from ALS. She was known for an astounding variety of creative endeavours, but I want to mention one in particular – the University of Waterloo Varsity Briefcase Drill Team.

there’s video proof!

My thanks to VBDT member Ken Jones for hanging on to this video, which was shot by the basketball team’s videographer in 1987.
Here are two performances from 1987 – the inaugural, with six VBDT members and the UW Warriors Band, and a repeat engagement where the team had expanded to 10 and added a second number to the show.

Here’s the original team in 1987

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and a revival of the team in 1999 – with Linda in the middle and the Warriors Band scattered around the edges.

VBDT 1999

Linda’s passing comes far too soon, and it’s not fair, but I hope I can face a challenge like that with the humour she showed. Check out this Twitter thread where she announced the ALS news to us all – here’s the first part (but you should read the whole thing.)

I knew Linda multiple different ways at Waterloo. We were both Mathies, although she moved on to fine arts, which kind of left me agog. You can be good at math AND at painting and sculpturing and drawing? I had no idea.


We both wound up involved in FASS, too, Waterloo’s annual Faculty, Administration, Staff and Students show. This was a big original show, supposedly a musical “comedy” although I think a lot of the jokes were way more fun for the participants than they were for the audience. Linda was a theatrical jack of all trades. Actor, choreographer, director – and complete amateurs like myself were always welcomed into the production and somehow I even became Musical Director for the 1985 and 1987 shows. Wait, what? I get to conduct the band? in the orchestra pit? And it moves up and down hydraulically? COOOL.

I couldn’t believe that I got to hang around with actual creative and talented people like this! Surely there must be some mistake… but that’s one of the great things about university, how you can become friends with people with wildly different backgrounds and ideas and it’s all very welcoming and fun and somehow we all learned a little bit about math at the same time.

But anyway.

So one night, Linda, and Paul McKone, and I were hanging around in the University of Waterloo Grad Club – an old farmhouse on the middle of campus – and somehow a tremendously silly and amazing idea was born there.

the Varsity Briefcase Drill Team

Let me quote from the June 2 1997 issue of the UW Daily Bulletin, a decade after the birth of the VBDT when it was prepping for a repeat performance –

Hot dog! The faculty, staff and retiree “birthday party” for UW is set for tomorrow at Federation Hall, running from 12 noon to 2 p.m. The barbecues will be hot, the music will be cool, and the return of the Varsity Briefcase Drill Team is promised — what more could anyone ask?
Well, maybe an explanation of the Varsity Briefcase Drill Team wouldn’t be out of place. Linda Carson was in its founding “in 1987 or thereabouts”, and does her best to blame Paul McKone:

“We were sitting in the Grad Club,” Carson says, “Having a refreshing lemonade — as I recall — and bemoaning the dreadful conformity of the whole notion of cheerleaders. It just didn’t seem to represent the true spirit of the University of Waterloo. Paul said something flip about how the true UW spirit would be represented by a bunch of people in suits throwing briefcases about.
“It sounded like a great stunt,” Carson continues. “I’d done a lot of goofy choreography for FASS over the years. I got a few people together and we started working on weird stuff you could do with a briefcase. Paul was a member of the Warriors Band so he arranged to have them play for us. Steve Hayman came up with a musical arrangement and everybody got to work.

“The team rehearsed on the pavement outside the Math building. We had a rotten little tape deck and an atrocious recording of the Warriors Band. The team — all six of them — never heard the Band play live until they actually performed the number.”

The UW Varsity Briefcase Drill Team made its debut, unannounced and unauthorized, at halftime at a basketball game, November 1987, in the PAC. Nobody knew they were coming but the Warriors Band. They marched onto the court in suits and sneakers, and performed their signature piece: Nine to Five. “The crowd had never seen anything like it, but from the moment those six people entered that huge gym in formation, everybody got it. I think that’s still the greatest thing about it. UW knew right away what the team represented: ourselves,” Carson remembers today. “I’m very proud of that moment, when the University of Waterloo proved it can laugh at itself.”

I remember that first performance well! Six VBDT members marched out onto the floor as the Warriors Band played my arrangement of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. It brought the house down. And the VBDT was invited to return – only bigger!

Something possessed me, a two-left-feet uncoordinated klutzomatron, to join. The team expanded to about 16 people and returned to another basketball game for the same schtick, again, that you can see in the picture at the top.

There’s the band behind the VBDT.
I recall the game was telecast, and the cameraman was given instructions to film the shenanigans but he wound up filming the Warriors Band the entire time, oblivious to the synchronized briefcase drill going on behind him.

So there might be video out there somewhere. i’m still looking.

actual rehearsals

And I remember another writeup of a VBDT rehearsal, which was about the only time I was ever actually spotted in the UW’s dance studio. Oooh, this floor is bouncy. Hey, look at all the mirrors! What is this ‘bar’ for?

Linda sent me this photo from a 1987 rehearsal –

VBDT Rehearsal Feg 2017

Back row, L to R: Ken Jones, Dave Till? Heidi Leblanc? Peter Houston? And somebody of whom I can only see a shoe. John Sellens maybe?

Front row, L to R: Angela Yeates, Me, Chris Kitowski, Brian Dickson, Suzanne Langdon

and Waterloo’s Imprint student paper wrote things up –

Briefcase Drill Team Rehearsal

Photo from the UW Imprint, January 22 1988. Captioned: Waterloo’s varsity Briefcase Drill Team, fresh from its triumphant debut at the Naismith tournament, will perform again at halftime during the Warriors basketball game against Laurier January 30 at 2 p.m. in the PAC.
Shown here in a recent practice, the Varsity Briefcase Drill Team provides a brand of entertainment and team support uniquely suited to UW.

The Varsity Briefcase Drill Team encourages you to support Warriors basketball, and looks forward to seeing everyone at the game. Linda Carson is the team’s choreographer.”

Front to back, right to left, that’d be Angela Yeates, Ken Jones, me, Dave Till, Chris Kitowski, possibly Suzanne, Brian Dickson, Peter Houston, Heidi Leblanc?, John Sellens.

A photographer for the UW Gazette took what was probably the least flattering photo of me ever – not the one above, one even worse – for another writeup – and in that story, Linda mentioned that all the VBDT moves were named after computers on campus and the photo showed us `practicing the bruising wateerc manoeuvre’.

Gotta dig that article up.

Perhaps my strongest memory is that Chris Kitowski, who’s in the center in the light gray jacket in the photo, had a briefcase with a latch that would always pop open at the exact same point in the routine. Always. Every time. And Chris would click it back shut, on tempo, right on the beat, at the same point every time. Every. Single. Time. It was hard not to laugh.

successful dumb ideas cannot be stopped

I moved away from Waterloo, to Indiana for a few years, but the VBDT kept going, and appeared in a Santa Claus parade, and then, to my great delight, reformed and performed at my (first) wedding reception! (That particular marriage did not last; I don’t think it was the Varsity Briefcase Drill Team’s fault though.) And the team reformed for UW’s 40th anniversary in 1997.

I know many of us in the VBDT held on to our decorated briefcases for years, just in case we were called on to serve our university again.

That was just one thing Linda did for us all.
We can argue about who actually came up with the idea, but Linda made it happen. So many great endeavours are all due to someone who took the time to implement a silly idea, rather than just laughing it off and saying “yeah, that would be cool.” It was cool. And Linda is why.

Linda even had a law.

“There are fewer rules than you think.”

Thanks, Linda, for proving that.

We’ll all miss you, Linda.

On Getting Corrected by Ken Jennings

Yesterday: achievement unlocked. I was personally corrected (on Twitter) by Ken Jennings.

What an incredible honour!

Well, I’d always hoped to be corrected by Ken on the set of Jeopardy! itself, but still, a twitter interaction is a pretty cool alternative.

I mentioned to my brilliant colleague Tom that I’d been corrected by Ken Jennings, and Tom replied “Did he find a way to spell handyman without Hayman?” (good one, Tom.)


I have reviewed yesterday’s Final Jeopardy answer and … Well, I’m not sure Ken Jennings was right to correct me after all. And what fun would the Internet be if we didn’t argue about minutia?

The situation:

Final Jeopardy Category: World Capitals

World Capitals
The answer is:


An Annual Event Called Winterlude Includes Skating on the Rideau Canal, a Unesco World Heritage Site in This City.

(Of course every Canadian immediately shouts “What is Ottawa?”)

what is Paris?

Ken gets to the 2nd place contestant. She has written: “What is Paris?”

Jennifer answers 'What is Paris'

here’s what Ken says

Ken says, and I quote:

“Jennifer, you were in second place, which world capital did you write down? ‘What is Paris?’

No, the name is French, but it’s not Paris, so that will cost you something.”

(Remainder of Final Jeopardy unimportant at this point, although Amy Schneider (who also got it wrong, with ‘What is Amsterdam?’) won anyway, her fifth win, congratulations!)

wait, what did he say?

So Cathy and I immediately started debating. When Ken said ‘the name is French, but it’s not Paris‘… what did he mean? Does he think “Ottawa” is a French name?

It isn’t, of course, “Ottawa” comes from the Algonquin word ‘adawe’, meaning ‘to trade.’

Now what do you do when somebody is wrong? You tweet about it, of course. I immediately composed a tweet, saying

And, a few minutes later – oh my god, I got a reply from Ken Jennings himself!

(Saving a screen shot for posterity in case either of us deletes something in the future)

Tweets between Steve and Ken

I better apologize

Suitably chastened – who am I to argue with Ken Jennings – I apologized.

And I then had to wade through multiple tweets from other people. Ken got way more likes on his reply than I got on my original. Apparently a lot of people read all of Ken’s tweets and some feel obliged to reply to me. This one was good.

Along with other tweets from Ken’s army of followers reminding me that he meant that ‘Rideau’ was a French word. And a few helpful but off topic responses –


This has been nagging at me.

It’s an honour to be corrected by the legend Ken Jennings.

But what actually did he say?

The contestant writes What is Paris? and Ken responds

No, the name is French, but it’s not Paris

I think I know what he meant but …. can you not argue that the name and it both refer to the same thing, the correct response (Ottawa) here, not another word in the clue (Rideau)?

It is possible that I actually am right here. Or that we both are.

Not sure I want to risk another Twitter firestorm though!

Ken, if you’re reading this

I’ve taken the Jeopardy! test multiple times. Why don’t you call?