Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Random Round-up

Every Wednesday I'm going to put myself through the torture of writing an entry involving one each of the following random things: odd fact, video, quote, picture, knee slapper/groaner, and a lesson learned.  If anybody else would like to participate (you would have to be crazy), link to your post below.  Who knows... we might all learn something from each other and have some fun along the way.

1.  Odd Fact:

Only one species of bee will pollinate the one species of orchid which produces vanilla beans.

2.  Video: 

3. Quote: 

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."
--Carl Sagan 

4.  Picture:  
five day old toes

5.  Knee Slapper/groaner: 

When you're down by the sea and an ell bites your knee; that's a moray.

6.  Lesson Learned:

The eight foot snowbanks on either side of my driveway are good evidence that suggests climate change is indeed real.  Remind me to buy a snow blower when they're on sale in late spring.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Attack of the Forest Tent Caterpillars

The year was nine-teen eighty-eight and the damn things were so plentiful, when you walked down the street it sounded like crisped rice popping and crackling underfoot.

It was gross.

Unless you were a ten year old boy... then it was cool.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eleven shades of Winston

Sometimes I become consumed with life's little negativities, regardless of how impermanent they are.  I've been doing this a lot lately... even more in the real world than I do on my blog.

My beautiful wife reminded me this morning that it's important to take the time to reflect on the positive things that  make us passionate and sometimes focus on good or happy perspectives of the present.  It is with that in mind that I write this list of things that make my heart feel super-happy:

Exploring - The deep woods, urban centres, train yards.... I've always loved poking around to see what's new (or old) - and perhaps gain perspectives of life otherwise not imagined.  This was the driving force behind the very first incarnation of my blog.  (I've never been, but I would imagine I would absolutely love space exploration)

She may not look like much but she's got it where it counts

Photography - This one sort of goes with the exploring.  It's nice to have a picture to show you were there and what it really looked like, but also it helped to expand the exploring by always trying to search out subjects that have never been photographed before.

Star Wars - Yup. Maybe not so much since the prequels were released, but I have to admit I have hugely high expectations now that Disney is running the show.  I'm a little less wary of admitting that I'm a Star Wars fan again.

I don't know the people who live here, but I  feel like I should 
bring them a batch of "Wookiee Cookies" for making my day.

Quality (read: non-parenting) time with my wife - After six years, five dogs, three kids, and a cat she is still my favorite person, and I find her to be the most attractive thing on the planet.  I love her to death and greatly enjoy her company in every regard.

Busking - I've always enjoyed playing instruments, and I've had entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age. This allows those two things to be combined and that kicks ass.

Building things - Lego construction, snow forts, shelving units, you name it.  If it involves turning smaller pieces into a more complete whole, I'm there.  The same goes for fixing things and "upgrading" things.

Cooking/baking (non-professional) - I'm almost a Red Seal chef.... I even had my own restaurant for a while.  I really do love food and flavour and can prepare just about any kind of cuisine.  Although I am passionate about the craft of cookery, I quickly learned during the time I did it professionally that cooking for my friends family and myself is a whole different (and more enjoyable) stick of butter than doing it for the public at large and for money.

Biking - I'm not your typical "stick-to-the-bike-paths" biker.  I like to get on the beaten trail... then off the beaten trail... then carry the bike with one arm against my back as I cross a ravine on a slippery log while fending off a grumpy badger chasing me.  I bike everywhere - even in the winter.

Drawing/sculpting - This is another thing on my list that I went to school for.  I'm not the greatest at it, but it's fun, relaxing, and brings a sense of fulfillment for some reason.

My favorite mediums are pastels, pencil, 
crayon, chalk, and broken circuit-board.

Teaching/coaching - A good number of my previous jobs have involved teaching or educating in some capacity.  One of the reasons I'm drawn to this is because it's something I really enjoy doing.  I'm good at it and again, I get a sense of fulfillment from helping somebody out or expanding a person's knowledge.

Well, that was fun.... and a good exercise in reflection.  One of the reasons I'm blogging again is to regain some of my creativity.  What better thing to do than take an inventory of things I'm passionate about and thus inspire said creativity.

What makes you creative?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Red-winged Blackbird

 I'm working on a longer post and it's not done yet....

Enjoy this picture for now.  I can't wait to get my new pocket camera so I can go exploring and picture hunting once more.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Review

If you're like me and enjoyed the sound of gangster rap in the nineties, but are more mature now and don't like the typical message that generally goes with that genre, have I got an artist for you.

I picked up  the album "The Heist" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis a few weeks ago and it's pretty much all I've been listening to since.  I would classify the genre as "adult rap" - and not in the sense that he raps about sex, Hollywood parties, and illicit drugs, but that his lyrics are about real mature issues - songs about beating addiction, LGBTG rights, consumerism, ethics in advertising, and so on...

The following song is what really did it for me:

I was seven years old, when I got my first pair
And I stepped outside
And I was like, "Momma, this air bubble right here, it's gonna make me fly"
I hit back-court and when I jumped, I jumped, I swear I got so high
I touched the net, "Momma I touched the net," this is the best day of my life
Air Max's was next,
That air bubble, that mesh
The box, the smell, the stuffin', the tread,
In school
I was so cool
I knew that I couldn't crease 'em
My friends couldn't afford 'em
Four stripes on their Adidas
On the court I wasn't the best, but my kicks were like the pros
Yo, I stick out my tongue so everyone could see that logo
Nike Air Flight, but bad was so dope
And then my friend Carlos' brother got murdered for his Fours*, whoa

See he just wanted a jump shot, but they wanted to start a cult though
Didn't wanna get caught, from Genesee Park to Othello
You could clown for those Pro Wings, with the Velcro
Those were not tight
I was trying to fly without leaving the ground,
Cause I wanted to be like Mike, right
Wanted to be him,
I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to touch the rim
I wanted to be cool, and I wanted to fit in,
I wanted what he had, America, it begins

I want to fly
Can you take me far away?
Give me a star to reach for
Tell me what it takes
And I'll go so high
I'll go so high
My feet won't touch the ground
Stitch my wings
And pull the strings
I bought these dreams
That all fall down

We want what we can't have, commodity makes us want it
So expensive, damn, I just got to flaunt it
Got to show 'em, so exclusive, this that new shit
A hundred dollars for a pair of shoes I would never hoop in
Look at me, look at me, I'm a cool kid
I'm an individual, yeah, but I'm part of a movement
My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it
They told me to just do it, I listened to what that swoosh said
Look at what that swoosh did
See it consumed my thoughts
Are you stupid, don't crease 'em, just leave 'em in that box
Strangled by these laces, laces I can barely talk
That's my air bubble and I'm lost if it pops
We are what we wear, we wear what we are
But see I look inside the mirror and think Phil Knight tricked us all
Will I stand for change or stay in my box
These Nikes help me define me, but I'm trying to take mine, off

They started out, with what I wear to school
That first day, like these are what make you cool
And this pair, this would be my parachute
So much more than just a pair of shoes
Nah, this is what I am
What I wore, this is the source of my youth
This dream that they sold to you
For a hundred dollars and some change
Consumption is in the veins
And now I see it's just another pair of shoes

The song is (obviously) about shoes, and I had some of that issue in grade 7 and 8.... you weren't cool if your clothes came from Biway, or if you didn't have a Vuarnet T-shirt in your wardrobe, but that wasn't why this track resounded with me.....

Every stinking lyric here could hold just as true for the industry I work in.  "Your love is only as big as the diamond you buy her...", "Your success is only as great as the gold watch on your wrist" or from my perspective, "If I sell enough of these big diamonds I'll make that fat commission check to buy my love a big diamond just like one of these "- and does she ever deserve it.

It makes me physically ill.  I seriously bought into this attitude for a while... I thought I had to in order to make my sales.  To sell a product - REALLY sell it - you have to believe in it, right?


I reflected and changed my attitude some weeks ago and I'm still top sales in the store.  I'm not using my commission check to buy a diamond anymore, I'm paying off old debts.  It doesn't feel good, but it feels better.  And eventually...

I'll break free from it all.


It's the diamond selling thing again..... I know, it's all I ever blog about.

Annnnnyway, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Good messages, good sound, lots of catchy riffs and samples and feature artists... also heavy use of brass and string instruments.  I fully recommend giving it a listen.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Fastest Ever Built

Last night I was left with the three kids while my wife was off teaching high school and college students about the Matrix.  It wasn't long after she left....

...that I was transported back to grade 5.  The pad of construction paper and roll of masking tape came out. I was transformed into an aerodynamic paper-folding engineering genius.  I taught my construction techniques to my two eldest for the first time... Soon the skies were filled with streaks of coloured paper and laughter of children (and their father). 

It's funny... sometimes having kids makes me feel very old.  Last night - at least for an hour - having kids made me feel about 3 decades younger.