20 Questions Tuesday: 233 - Mike Milloy


It has been too long since I have been to Nova Scotia.  It is a gorgeous place filled with wonderful people.  One of these people is the lovely Mike Milloy.  Mike and I started corresponding years ago because we were both daddy blogging like champs in the mid-aughts.  In a period of a year I had the opportunity to hang out with he and his family twice in the wonderful world of Nova Scotia.  First I was up there for the ALIA Leadership institute, and then a few months later the whole family came heading north to the Halifax area for my wife to work for a few days and follow that up with a crazy fun vacation.

If we had the money and the leisure time, I would work hard to have a second home somewhere in Nova Scotia.  Anyhoo… Mike is an absolute joy to chat with and a person I met on the Internet that I was ecstatic to meet in person… You will get to know him in the following 20 Questions.

Geography, my second love, compels me to ask you for your geographic story.  You have read these questions before, and I am sure you know what most of them are, so I assume you will have no problem with Question 1: What is your geographic story?

My geographic story starts out in the frozen tundra of Manitoba: land of lakes. And mosquitoes. And a lot of bundling up for long, freezing winters. Growing up there wasn’t as bad as you might think. As kids, we are innately bulletproof and don’t care much about how hot or cold it is, and so long as your parents have dressed you appropriately (or taught you how to do so), there is no problem lacing up your skates on your front step, putting on the skate guards, and walking half a mile on hard packed snow to play hockey at the community rink.

I lived there for fifteen years, then the family was uprooted and headed west to oil country for another decade or so, where I finished high school and the first of my university achievements. Going from the Keystone Province (really, that is what they call Manitoba) to Alberta wasn’t a touch switch. More hot summers, more cold winters… it didn’t really matter where it was, just that we were a lot closer to the mountains. It was in Alberta that I learned to ski and snowboard (enough to get by on a trip to Jasper or Banff), drive, and cram for exams. All in all, a good place to continue one’s formative years.

After taking a year’s reality check, I uprooted myself to Toronto for a couple of years to get away from my main area of study (economics) and into the environmental field. Two years at a university in the Big Smoke — I’m all about the place names today — I had both fallen in love and out of love with the city, and deeply in love with a girl; a girl from the East, no less.  And so it was that we would eventually pick up and move to Nova Scotia.

Trading the mountains for salt water wasn’t much of a hardship. I missed the snowcapped peaks, but learned how to sail and play in the hurricane-churned waves (if my kids are reading this, you should NEVER play in hurricane-churned waves. It’s just not safe.) I fell in love with the ocean, the bays, harbours, and inlets of this part of the world, and love reading nautical charts. I’m sure you as cartographer can appreciate moving from the world of hiking through the mountains with a topographical map in your hand, to holding a tiller of a sailboat and scanning charts to make sure you don’t run aground and sink your boat.

So that’s it, in four paragraphs… started in the middle, moved west, then steadily plowed eastward. I feel like a displaced prairie boy sometimes, but actually fit in with the comfortable east coast lifestyle better than I thought I might.

That is quite the Geographic Novella.  I knew the Manitoba piece, the Ontario piece and the Nova Scotia piece, but was unaware of the Alberta piece.  So I gather that Manitoba and Nova Scotia are the primary places that you call “home.” Question 2:  Which one is truly your home in your heart of hearts?  and why?

It’s cliché to say that the place where you raise your kids is inherently “home”, but maybe that’s for a reason. We (in the personal sense, not the collective sense) call this home because that’s where the most important memories are being made. I visited my birthplace a decade after leaving it, and found nothing that would really tie me to the place. Similarly, these days, visiting out west leaves me with the feeling that I just don’t belong there anymore: it’s a bit like having a geographic yearbook, or flipping through old photos. You’re in all of them, but they’re all time and place specific. So for now, this is home. Did I answer the question?

I completely understand, and you answered the question perfectly and eloquently.  When my childhood cat died whilst I was in my Super-Senior year in college (5th year) I realized there really wasn’t much “back home” for me to visit.  Yes, my parents still lived there, but that is beside the point.

People want to know, and they are getting antsy Question 3: Cake or Pie? Which kind specifically and why?

I am really more of a pie guy. Berries are my thing… blueberry pie is awesome. Cherry pie, even better. Lemon meringue? Don’t even get me started. That said, I have in my old age taken to going in for seconds on the pound cake with buttercream icing that is usually a ‘cop out’ at a birthday party. But for the sake of coming up with a single answer, pie.image

I have found that most people who like cake, LOVE frosting more than they like cake… Question 4: How do you think a pie with frosting would go over? I have my thoughts and will share them after your answer…

I think that would be a spectacular way to rocket one’s way into a sugar induced coma! I think the frosting is supposed to add something of a contrast to the stability and relative blandness of the cake texture, which really doesn’t exist in a pie. So I don’t think I’ll be an early adopter of the cake/pie hybrid. 

Firstly, I think you underestimate the amount of sugar that the typical North American (predominately United Statesean) diet can handle.  secondly, I think you also underestimate the sheer variety of frosting/icings that are available out there for desert consumption.  I suggest to you, the equivalent of a dutch apple pie, wherein you replace the highly brown sugar laden crumb topping of a typical dutch apple pie with a layer of cream-cheese frosting.  Cream cheese frostings are typically not that sugary (compared to butter-cream, at least) and have a savory undertone to its sweet flavor.  I say if done correctly, frosting on pies could bring about world peace.  One just needs to pair the correct frosting recipe with the appropriate pie… Q.E.D. World Peace.

I also think that many cakes would do well with some kind of fruit compote as a topping instead of frosting.

You work as an economist for the your province’s government, Question 5: When did you find out that you wanted to devote your mental energy toward economics (a subject loathed by many [coming from a mathematics major, so no judgement here, just curiosity])?

I don’t want to belabour the pie-frosting point here, but if you think the world could agree on what kind of frosting would best go with which kind of pie? You should contact the United Nations post-haste. I look forward to the impending state of world peace you will undoubtedly bestow upon us.

On to your next question, which if I read it correctly, is asking at what age I cut my hand so badly that in my swooning state of blood loss, I realised I would make a terrible doctor?


As for what I did eventually become… I wanted originally to get a business degree. Why? I can’t really say. I think I was influenced by someone out there who was charismatic enough to garner my awe. And so I started on the path to getting some economics courses under my belt, and I just kind of kept rolling with that, to the tune of over two dozen economics courses before I realised that I still had to get some electives in or I wouldn’t graduate. Completely finished with my undergraduate degree, I knew that economics was getting too theoretical for me, so I’d better do something practical with my education, which took me into the environmental studies field. I eventually learned that pairing the two was a useful combination, and it set me on the path to doing a) economics, then b) environmental economics, and (now) c) mostly economics but with a critical environmental/interdisciplinary bent.

In other words, the cosmos aligned and I became what my education was supposed to prepare me for. Weird, right?

Being an economist in today’s era is an interesting thing. It’s like being a scientist and having your lab become the entire world. Or maybe the other way around. In any case, I don’t think economists are any more reviled than before; it’s just that people let you speak longer before they determine everything is your fault and even though you saw it coming, why can’t you fix it already??

And don’t get me started on math majors. Those freaks used to take the hardest mathematical-economics courses as electives.

Dude, I have way too many holes in the ground to look at to worry about world peace via the correct frosting to pie combination (whipped citrus flavored frosting instead of meringue on a lemon custard pie) … and as far as Math majors taking high level economic courses as electives?  not this guy;  I took art courses.

That being said, it is completely odd that you are working in the field for which you studied and you did not go after a professional degree like a medical doctor or lawyer.  Question 6: So, aside from chasing three kids as a parent and pouring over environmental economic indicators, what consumes your non-existent free-time?

I would make some witty comment about being so busy that I have totally forgotten about free time, but I read something the other day that indicated that people don’t actually ~care~ about how busy parents are! Can you believe that?

I like to run around. Sometimes by myself in straight lines down roads and paths, sometimes chasing and being chased by frisbees (And no, I am not a border collie.). I also like things with wheels: Bikes, skateboards, inline skates, what-have-you. Basically, unless it’s dark out, I’d rather be outside doing something active, and usually it’s with my kids. If it’s dark out, I’m probably consuming copious quantities of television shows that people also really don’t care to hear about.

I always enjoy hearing how busy my non-parent friends are and how they “can’t” do something because of their schedule.  Ha!  I say, they know not what busy is.  I am surprised you did not mention the photography, because you have a pretty good eye for that as well.  Anyone who follows you on the twitters or knows you on Facebook recognize your love of movement.  One of my favorite posts of yours was for one of your winter runs when you got a pic of yourself with a balaclava, and then took one with a balaclava and a jaunty scarf.  Makes me giggle every time I think about it. Every. Single. Time.

Question 7: Is there anything out there that makes you laugh every time you experience it?image

That was kind of a funny picture. Hooray for accessories, I say.

Something that makes me laugh every time I see it? Hmm… I think human comedy is the funniest. I was brought up with a healthy sense of humour in the house (I know humour is subjective, so what I consider healthy might be construed as sick, or dry, or just off-base.) — particularly slapstick and physical comedy in movies and TV: Steve Martin, Peter Sellers, John Ritter… fantastic abilities. So anything that has to do with people falling down or making mistakes usually makes me smile. In the vein of internet distractions that keep me amused, two of my favourites are “Cakewrecks” and "DamnYouAutoCorrect". Dot-com those if you dare.

That’s interesting, I find wordplay to be more enjoyable than the slapstick… between us is comedic genius.  Humor is terribly subjective, that is why there are acts like Larry the Cable Guy and Cedric the Entertainer and Patton Oswalt and Brian Regan. All are fairly successful acts, but all are radically different.

Question 8: What would 13 year old Mike Milloy think about current Mike Milloy’s entertainment choices?  I know my 13 year old self would not understand all of my entertainment choices.

I have to believe that other than reality television, which pretty much didn’t exist when I was 13, my entertainment choices have stayed virtually unchanged. It’s sort of like music — at some point, your CD (tape?) collection stops changing, or at least growing noticeably slower.

That is true, but digital music has helped considerably in infusing new music into my repertoire.  For example, PSY’s Gangnam Style… I think I might like K-pop. Question 9: How are you introducing music to your kids? umm… I am asking for a friend.

I think the question of kids and music comes at an opportune time. With the first kid, I tried to keep things mature, but wound up in the downward Raffi spiral (which is good once you’re fully indoctrinated — kind of like a cult). That said, there’s a pile of contemporary artists doing kids stuff, which is a bonus. With the second kid, it wasn’t quite as tough, though the older was looking for something a little more interesting so we had to split the difference when it came to songs in the car. The third kid? She knows all the words to songs that I don’t want to tell her the meaning of.

We sheltered the oldest for a bit.  We Laurie Berkner Banded it for awhile and other kid stuff… Then he migrated to Weezer, you know, more kids’ stuff.  With Q, she is into dance music and gets exposed to the lyrics that accompany dance music.  Ke$ha writes some great lyrics for kids.

Question 10: Fill in the blanks.  I find that I am mostly _________.  Other people find that I am mostly __________.

I find that I am mostly barely holding my shit together. Other people find that I am mostly relaxed and in control of my faculties.

It is amazing how hard it is to hold everything together.  It is the “Duck Axiom:” On the surface serene and even regal, however, under the water, paddling like Hell.  I honestly do not know how I am above water right now.  I have the full-time job, I have a full graduate school course-load, I have 2 kids, and my wife has to travel for her job.  This does not even count the side work I have that seems to be lining up.  It is a wonder.  So because of your running in long distance running events, having three kids, having a full-time job, and spearheading the Movember movement in the Halifax area with your thin and blond moustache, it is a wonder you can come up for breath at all.

Question 11: What would you like to be doing with your time that you just cannot get to?

I’d like to be building something. Bikes, furniture, something that takes a moderate amount of time and obviously would require some degree of prolonged concentration. Life is just not conducive to individual pursuits such as those.

I once bought the plans and rough cut all the wood to build some Adirondack chairs for a friend’s wedding present. They now have three children and I never did finish the project. Luckily, I never told them about it.

I’m not saying that given the time, I could successfully pull off something that would look professional, but I wouldn’t mind pointing at something other than a photo on the wall and say, “I did that.”

Having a physical record of effort would be a great thing.  That is why I have been drawing more and more.  Lots of flat colorful artifacts of various degrees of quality.

Question 12: Do you have a favorite thing that comes in a set of dozens?

I like eggs

More of a doughnut man myself… I find that eggs are only an occasional thing, whereas I could eat doughnuts daily… Hourly even.

Since we are on Question 13: Do you have any superstitions/ rituals/ out of proportion fears, etc….?

Having been born on the 13th, I feel justified in claiming the number as a lucky number, rather than an unlucky one. I’m not sure if that’s irrational or not. On an unrelated note, I do sometimes fear that the difference between quirky behaviour and OCD can be a very thin line, so I’m constantly suspicious of my own idiosyncrasies.

Well, the issue with quirky vs OCD is if the action you are performing is to make sure some other unrelated activity occurs or doesn’t occur.  If it that kind of situation (I need to check my phone for voicemails so I know my kids are safe even though I checked 5 minutes ago and the phone hasn’t rang since then) then it is OCD.  If it is wearing a flowerpot on your head and dancing a jig, you are quirky.

I am well familiar with the effort it takes to deal with 2 kids in the house.  Question 14: In orders of magnitude, how would you rate the amount of parental energy it takes to scale up from parenting 2 wee ones to dealing with 3?image

Luckily, we never had three that were all “wee” at the same time. It felt like a geometric leap to go from 1 to 2, but the third actually was much easier to handle. People with two kids should definitely just go ahead and have a third. It really makes that difficult learning curve worthwhile! (Disclaimer: I should not be trusted in any way when it comes to parenting advice.)image

It is going from man-to-man to a zone leaves open seams for a kid to make a break across the middle… and you don’t want the kids to get a TD… at best a field goal.  ”Keep the kids out of the red-zone” is what I always think, say, and do.

Question 15: When are you coming to Columbus?image

That’s a good analogy. But having the oldest kid on your side part of the time is like having a mole… so it may appear it’s a zone defense, but it’s more of a hybrid.

Columbus is #1 of my places to visit when in Ohio. You should know that. But I have yet to broach the subject of a summer vacation in the family truckster to that part of the world. Do you have a board of tourism that can send me a video?

Nope, our tourism is more bored than associated with a board.  Don’t get me wrong, C-bus (as the locals are known to call it) is a great place to live.  Good schools, relatively nice climate, growing restaurant scene, etc… but it doesn’t really have much in the way of attractions.  If there is some kind of conference in the Columbus vicinity that is all about Economics… I insist that you visit.

Question 17: Have I missed anything? Any questions you were hoping that I would have asked?

Well, you haven’t asked me what the secret to blog longevity is, so I can only assume you’ve visited my dormant blog and have crossed me off the list of informed sources.

What about you? Is there anything you want to come clean about? Tell me about your childhood, Scott.

There is no secret to blog longevity.  Blogs come and go and mainly go, everybody knows that.  I am only doing this because I find it relatively enjoyable.  Once it begins to feel like a chore again…. another lengthy hiatus will ensue.

Well, Question 18 is typically the “What questions do you have for me?” but you jumped the gun… you turned the tide on me too soon… I don’t know what to do…

hmmm… a secret from my childhood… I was in the Boy Scouts, and got my Eagle Scout.  While I was there I was homophobic and pretty racist…  It was Alabama in the 80’s and early 90’s.  No matter how much my own tendencies went towards progressiveness and openness, I was a product of the environment.  It was not until I went to college that I shed that shit. Product of my environment and all, I still never liked country music.

You brought this upon yourself… Question 18: How about you?  Is there anything that you want to come clean about?

As a non-catholic, I never understood the idea of ritual confessionals. I mean, we all do bad stuff from time to time, but how is being sorry about it on a weekly basis going to make things better?

I try not to do things I’ll be regretful for, but I admit that I often do things without thinking about the downstream effects and consequences. Usually nothing too serious, but I admit that I’ve disappointed people close to me from time to time and it’s hard to revisit those days and events. Hopefully those people realize, like me, that we’re not a perfect species and that holding a grudge forever is just not productive. image

Grudges can really hurt things.  The hubris of my youth facilitated very similar actions without thinking of the consequences.  I guess that is how people become wise.  Stupid, unwise becoming wise people.

Question 19: What are you taking from this 20 questions that you did not bring in with you?

The motto for the Beavers (the entry point for boy scouts in Canada) is “sharing, sharing, sharing”. I feel I’ve done a lot of that here, which I suppose was your intent all along. I am not one to mesh my online persona (such as it is) with my personal life, but you’ve definitely been able to scratch through my veneer. Thanks!

I am a veneer scratcher, if nothing else.  But let’s be clear , I scratched the veneer to look at the deep luster of the subsurface.  You are a deep and wonderful person, that I am lucky to know.  On top of that, I am well aware that had it not been for Daddy blogging in the mid-00’s I would not have the pleasure of knowing you.

Question 20: What is next for you?  Be as concrete or as vague as you want to be.

At the risk of sounding like someone who’s turning forty (which I will do in less than three months’ time), I’d like to work on Who I Am. Not to say I’m going to buy a corvette, hit up a sweat lodge, and embark on a journey of truth (or open a record store), but I’ve come to realize there are things about me that are only “about me” because I like those things in other people. So I think the next phase of my life is going to be centered around critically thinking about the things I do and wondering if they’re really about ~me~ or if it’s just something amusing about other people that I have somehow latched on to. I should leave those things to them.

Maybe another way of putting it is that I’d like to try to live genuinely. I hope I have the fortitude to pull that off. No guarantees.

Well, I look forward to the genuine Mike in the future instead of this disingenuous bastard I have been dealing with here.  Mike, thanks so much for taking the time to do this.  FYI… to all my reading public, this 20 Questions spanned a full 6 months to complete… when he says that raising three kids is not significantly more effort than 2… I think he is a lying liarpants. image

Follow Mike on the tumblrs and the twitters

To recap:
I love me some Mike Milloy
You should too
Drew this for my 4 year old daughter
She wanted Superman
And then said, “No!  Supergirl!”
Done and done!
It is silly cold today
But the cold has nothing on the windchill
I am not telling you what the temp is
Look it up your damn self
Well… that’s about it
Have a great weekend everyone