Posts Tagged ‘Canadians’

Backpacking in the News: Google CFO Quits Job to Go Backpacking

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Patrick Pichette, former Senior VP and CFO of Google

I wanted to blog about this when the story broke two months ago but life got away from me.*

Confirming my previous statement — to truly be free to fuck off and travel for an indefinite period of time, you must either a) just finish school, or b) quit your job — Google CFO Patrick Pichette chose Option B.

On March 10, the 52-year-old Pichette posted a resignation letter of sorts to Google+, saying he simply couldn’t tell his wife it wasn’t “their time” any longer. The experience that set this realization into motion was a recent trip he and his wife, Tamar, made to Tanzania. While watching the sunrise atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tamar asked him why they wouldn’t simply keep going, on to other parts of Africa, and then East to India, the Himalayas, Bali and beyond. His response at the time was that he wasn’t ready.

“I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road.”
– Patrick Pichette, Former Google CFO

“It’s not time yet,” he wrote, in hindsight. “There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us: boards, non-profits, etc.”

A few weeks later and back at work, the Montreal-born Pichette says he couldn’t shake his wife’s question. Their kids are grown up: two are in college and another already graduated. He realized he’s been working for 25-30 years straight. He also pointed out it will be his and Tamar’s 25th wedding anniversary this summer.

“Allow me to spare you the rest of the truths,” he wrote. “But the short answer is simply that I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road — celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid-life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.”

He goes on to gush about his peers at Google and wax philosophical about balancing family and a career (*the irony that I delayed blogging on this topic because I was too busy is not lost on me), only to end his frank and endearing letter with two words: “Carpe Diem.” Yep. He fucking wrote that. I mean, good for you, man. But come on.

I hope Patrick and Tamar don’t get matching Carpe diem tattoos on their anniversary, but they probably will. It’s a mid-life crisis after all.

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36. Sewing on a flag from every country

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

flagpackI tried this, when I went on my first backpacking trip. It lasted all of five flag patches.

Ever try sewing a patch onto a weatherproof cordura nylon backpack, sans thimble? Not awesome. The patch is embroidered onto impenetrable wax. I thought it would be a good way to pass the time waiting for buses or right before bed. It wasn’t.

I wonder if anybody just started tacking them on with Krazy Glue…

Regardless, it was one of those things you look back on and ask yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?” Sorta like when you way overpacked on your first backpacking trip. Or when you did the double pack (big backpack on the back + small daypack on the front = retarded! See 6. Getting Pickpocketed). Or when you used to wear jammer shorts with striped tube socks pulled all the way up. Been there, done that.

With the flags, I learned I don’t need a merit badge per country — a stamp in the passport is satisfying enough and, from what I remember, cub scouts were a waste of time. The guys with the most badges were huge nerds.

One thing is certain: It’s a big beenou, an act of one-upmanship. It says: “Look at all the cool places I’ve been to. Wow, hey? Isn’t my patch collection terrific? This one’s really old (crossing arms in pride, head tilt). That was quite a few countries ago, heh heh. Yeah. I’m a real globetrotter (nodding).”

Even the Canada flag patch was a mistake. Other Canadians could already identify me by the MEC logo on my bag, the way I say “about” (I don’t say “aboot,” but anyway) and my passion for public health care. It was pointless. I soon realized I didn’t want people to interpret all these patches as: “Hey everybody! Look at me. I’m Canadian. I’m nice!”

I am pretty nice, though. Beenou. As for Americans sewing Canadian flags on their bags, well, that’s their prerogative (see 10. Anti-Americanism). I think.

Some of you would argue that I’m just a quitter. I tend to think of it less like quitting and more like developing good taste.

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Backpacking in the News

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Link to article: 10 Stereotypical Backpacker Nationalities

canadianbackpacker

Only a Canuck would suntan with the tube socks on.

This article was originally posted on BootsnAll.com by Amy Heading back in July 2009.

I got a kick out of a comment posted on Heading’s article by Beachcombers (05 March 2010): “Not to sure about the Israeli backpacker description. Friendly was not the first thing that leaped to mind. Aggressive, arrogant, rude, nihilistic perhaps….But Israeli chicks are super hot!”

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34. ‘Departures’

Friday, March 5th, 2010

It’s a fantastic show, made by my fellow Canadian backpackers, but I hate it.

The award-winning reality show drives me up the wall with jealousy. Having done the buddy travel thing so many times (beenou), watching Departures on OLN Canada continually brings back me to the same question: WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS?

Well, I don’t have a cinematic genius of a third friend willing to accompany buddy and me on trips to obscure and exciting destinations. Wait a second. I do have such a third friend. What the hell am I doing working a nine to five?!

See what I mean? The show drives me crazy.

departures21

I’d been able to avoid the show as much as possible until two days ago, when I came across a Lindsay Post article  (by Brian Gorman of ZAP2IT): ‘Departures’ a dream come true for three adventurers. Damn you, Gorman, for reminding me of missed travel, TV stardom and wealth opportunities!

I feel like one of the pimps on Dave Chappelle’s sketch “The Player Haters’ Ball,” where each character takes his turn ripping into the other, as well as into celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell and The Osbournes. The pimps pull no punches, regardless of their victims’ good intentions — it’s all for the sake of hating (see 27. One-uppers). Is the hatred driven by jealously? Probably. But my job, as with theirs, is to hate and hate well.

The reality show is successful — it has “a cult following and eight Gemini nominations under its belt, including a best photography win for (cameraman Andre) Dupuis,” Gorman writes — because it’s genuine. The two travelers, Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, are longtime buddies from Brantford, Ontario (indeed, the hometown of another affable Canadian hero, Wayne Gretzky). Their conversations, tribulations, discoveries and overall enthusiasm are candid, but more importantly, they’re believable.

I understand that saying a reality show is good because it’s genuine may be stating the obvious, but after watching the shit-eater supreme Jake Pavelka compete on The Bachelorette last year for the affections of Canadian Jillian Harris (That’s the third Canadian reference this entry. Call it post-Olympic patriotism, people. I kinda hate the Olympics too, by the way), only to be granted extended C-list fame with his own show entitled The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love (Note: Pavelka is a commercial pilot), let’s just say my faith in reality TV, not to mention in the intelligence of the general public, has taken a nose dive.

I digress. From one honest episode to the next, the Departures duo struggles with common backpacker issues, including money transfer hassles, long-distance relationships and break-ups, scheduling stress and missed flights, travel companion tension, foreign hospitals, constant hangovers and homesickness before the otherworldly backdrops of Antarctica, Ascension Island (in the South Atlantic; I know, I didn’t know it existed either), Libya, Mongolia, the Cook Islands and Iceland. Not your typical backpacking haunts. To call what they do a dream job is like saying Kevin Durant is proving to be an alright NBA player.

“The biggest quest for us is to find real authentic places that, when you walk up to people, they look at you like you’re from another world,” said Lukach, in the article. “We have found those places, but it takes so much to get to those spots. We don’t get off a plane and drive for an hour. We get off a plane and trek in the jungle for three or four days.” BEENOU.

So, to Andre, Scott and Justin, I say: Kudos and keep up the good work, fellas. Keep living the dream. And, I hate you all.

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12. Tattoos About the Place

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

angelinaFew things capture the paradox of backpacker pretense better than tattoos. Every year, thousands of young travelers try desperately to be original only to end up behaving like everyone else. Getting a tattoo of a place you’ve visited is sort of like wearing American Apparel. It was cool and unique when nobody was doing it, but soon enough it got played out (see Nice but ubiquitous hoodie).

Ah, tattoos. So youthful and rebellious. Such a ballsy move to paint oneself with permanent artwork. And when backpackers sport a dope tat from their sojourn overseas, well that’s a backhanded beenou my friends. Go ahead, ask them what it means or better yet:  where they got it. Before you know it, you’ll be witnessing the eruption of Mt. St. Beenou.

A few backpacker tattoos to ponder (combinations of the below options may also exist):

  1. Plants and wildlife. Take, for example, a simple dolphin or whale tail. Countless girls have fallen victim to bad ink (see Megan Fox) and a common precursor is a fond and lasting encounter with porpoises off the coast of [Insert tropical dolphin inhabited place here]. Female backpacker Type A suffers terribly from the above Backpacker Tattoo Syndrome (BTS).
  2. Traditional/tribal tattoo styles. Thai bamboo style tattoo. Anything Maori. It looks fucking cool. Surfers rock it so it must be, right? Don’t forget that Mike Tyson has one on his face. If you wanna pull an Angelina, go adopt a kid from Vietnam.
  3. Foreign writing. I’ll be the first to admit that Sanskrit, Arabic and Farsi look awesome. But not if you’re a white boy from Idaho. You end up looking like that dad wearing the “My Sister Went to the Bahamas and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” shirt. Speaking of t-shirts, you may be aware of t-shirts from Japan and Taiwan printed in senseless English (e.g. Happy So Much!). The meaning is lost in translation. Yeah well, that “Carpe diem” you got in Chinese characters is just as meaningless (e.g. Grab Time) to the average Chinese person.
  4. Pretend spirituality. Buddhist, Taoist and vegetarian symbols are common offenses.
  5. Carpe diem. Cliches are excellent ways for backpackers to express their originality.
  6. Nationalistic beenous. On the topic of cliches, Canadian backpackers often have tattoos of Canadian flags or maple leaves. These are as cliche as the Canadian flag patches on their backpacks.
#1-2 combo.

#1-2 combo.

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10. Anti-Americanism

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

If you’ve spent any time overseas, you are either familiar with the widespread Anti-Americanism being perpetuated on the backpacker circuit or guilty of contributing to it. It’s such a big problem that it’s truly inescapable.

anti-americanismAlthough the prevailing Anti-American sentiment has taken the form of distrust-under-the-guise-of-acceptance since the election of President Obama, it is not genuine. “Giving Americans a chance” is simply trendy right now. As much as they’d like to deny it, backpackers love trendy.

During the George W. Bush era, it was far too easy to hate on Americans. Since backpackers also love stereotypes*, any American they met while traveling was categorized as a redneck agent of capitalism, war and ignorance – three things backpackers openly codemn. Any possibility that said American could be an open-minded, educated Gore voter (which most young backpackers were) was promptly disregarded.

Keeping on the theme of stereotypes, Europeans are without a doubt the most condescending people on the planet, so it should come as no surprise that they are the most active Yankee bashers as well. The French, for example, have a long history of hating the United States (see Why do the French hate us?). They are quick to overlook, however, their known affinity to several pillars of Americana: Hollywood movies, cigarette smoking, blue jeans and black music.

Contemporary Anti-Americanism has led many Canadian backpackers to mistakenly believe their shit does not stink. This notion is the product of an overwhelming national inferiority complex, similar to that of Kiwis to Aussies. A vast majorty of Kiwi and Canadian backpackers are convinced that because everybody seems to hate their more powerful and cooler neighbors, it makes themselves superior. Consider renowned Kiwi movie director Peter Jackson for a moment. Dude is talented. But he is by no means cool.

It’s about the accents. Canadians and Kiwis will tell you their accents are markedly different from those of Americans and Aussies, respectively. The foreign ear, however, can detect no such differences. Thus, a common scenario takes place across the globe:

  1. Canadian/Kiwi speaks.
  2. Foreigner assumes speaker is American/Aussie, expresses dislike.
  3. Canadian/Kiwi freaks out.
  4. Foreigner apologizes, retracts and feigns approval for Canadians/Kiwis.
  5. Canadian/Kiwi feels awesome, purports to being cooler than Americans/Aussies.

About 10 years ago, a nasty rumor surfaced that American backpackers, so fed up of being vilified at every turn, were sewing Canadian flag patches onto their backpacks. These allegations were no doubt a smear-campaign-under-the-guise-of-a-beenou-campaign created by a smug prick Canadian. Or maybe it was a Kiwi…

*Note: This blog is riddled with stereotypes.

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