Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Things one should never outgrow:

I need one of these rollers to crush things and then examine them afterward. I also need a wood chipper. Which begs the question: where are the reality shows about these types of machines?

Anyway, this is less about psychology (anger issues or abandonment or entitlement and the like) and more about curiosity. Big machinery is cool; okay, perhaps there is a power dynamic at play: I might want to crush Donald Trump's ego.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

Really? No women? Not even one?

"Feminism isn't about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength." G.D. Anderson

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Along for the Ride

My education transformed and transported me. It's a common story. It's an important story too. As MLK said, "nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

Recently, both my children graduated: one from college and one from university. This was my #1 bucket list item. I've been working on this dream for 20 years. Determined, my wife and I made this happen. My children are starting their adult lives debt free. I'm grateful. I'm happy. And I'm looking forward to where it takes them next. Because I am finally going along for the ride.

Friday, June 3, 2016

108% Sure

We’ve all had our wars with insects. Whether spiders, mosquitoes, flying ants, and especially spruce beetles, the struggle is real. But honey bees? No problem. Sure they sting. Not pleasant. But more typically, they are busy saving the world, literally. Essential to human survival, not only do our precious bees make honey for our glazed doughnuts, they also make protective wax for those round little cheeses we all like. Oh and they pollinate crops and flowers and trees which is basically everything we rely on for nourishment. Yes, the little bee, like a tiny hairy farmer in black and yellow overalls, is essential to our food production and our food economy. Food’s pretty cool to have, isn’t it? So yup, bees = good.

But what about those other bees? Yes, I’m referring to the bee’s aggressive relative, the ones I’m 108% sure are never invited over to any bee family reunion: wasps and hornets. AKA flying arses. 

Sure, they resemble some sort of super-cool prototype for futuristic flying machines but they have one mode: hair trigger. And one emotional response to everything: WHAT? OH REALLY? MAKE ME! WANNA GO? WANNA GO? We all know at least one wasp or hornet who’s bragged on social media about
  • ruining a BBQ.
  • ruining some kid’s birthday party.
  • ruining an outdoor wedding.
  • ruining the outdoors.
  • flying around the bar set up on the deck trying to steal drinks like, well, bar-flies (on steroids).
  • constructing the only deceptively delicate paper mache art-pieces that (when suddenly encountered) induce terror.
  • snorting bear-spray.
  • killing a lady-bug.
  • kidnapping caterpillars and feeding them to their young, live! (Not even kidding.)
  • generally stealing happiness by causing everything in their path to wither.
But you know what else wasps and hornets do? They make a really sweet sound when you hit them with a badminton racket. There: now you have something I don’t recommend you try at least once this weekend. Wink. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

If only.

I don’t dream enough. Yet, when I do, in my dreams, I’m often on a journey and most times I have a task to do along the way, or an obstacle to overcome. (Thinking about it now, that’s not so different than life when awake, is it?) And the people who populate my dreams are often strangers; I see glimpses of them along the way, somewhat like the people you see and then don’t see on the subway. In my dreams, movement is the norm.

But then, unexpectedly, one of those strangers is suddenly familiar. I’m always caught by surprise and I feel foolish because I should have known all along because that’s when I realize or perhaps recognize the stranger is not a stranger after all: it’s a loved one who’s gone, someone who’s died, someone I’m missing.

Do you have these dreams too? Imagine if we could control our dreams, conjure at will those we long for. If only.

Once I dreamed I was looking out the passenger window of a truck, the window open, the sun shining, green waves of wheat stretching across a field and then I turned to look at the driver. It was my Dad. I hadn’t seen his eyes for years. Once, I stood up from the patio table at a restaurant and saw, at another table, my brother. He nodded and moved his chin in the direction he wanted me to look. Once, I was with someone in an unfamiliar kitchen searching for ice-cream in the freezer. When I found it and closed the door, sitting at the table was my Mom. We smiled at each other. Once, I was nervously walking on a dimly lit sidewalk in the fog when suddenly from across the street stood a friend from long ago. She waved. I waved back. Once, I walked down a gravel road next to a garden with rows of potatoes and gladiolas and then running to meet me was my grandparent’s old dog, Tub.

These sorts of dreams feel heavy and stir emotions but they don’t make me sad because they are gifts. We have very little control in our lives about who comes and who goes and when and why. It’s the same thing with our dreams. We must enjoy who we can when we can in whatever way we can before we can’t. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

14 countries in 1 room with 1 cake

Recently, I had the great privilege of observing my very first citizenship ceremony. Over 20 people became Canadian citizens.

Those in attendance included Christians and Muslims, Blacks, Whites, Asians, English, French and several other languages too. Fathers, sons, mothers, grandparents, a few babies and toddlers. One husband very proud that now nothing could separate him from his wife. Hijab, sari, neckties, high-heels and running shoes. An RCMP officer if full regalia. A framed photograph of our Queen. One flag: Canadian. And why not one big slab of cake too? Cake speaks many languages.

The presiding judge told the candidates they were a “wonderful cozy group of people” and “at this hour, the most important people in Canada.” He explained that’s why everyone showed up: to formally “invest our trust and our hopes in you and your future contributions to this country.”

Every new Canadian received gifts: a Canadian flag, a pin and a cultural access pass which provides free entrance to museums and cultural sites across Canada for one year. Essentially, the gift is an expectation to learn more about this amazing Canada that only some have always called home. I dare say we Canadians could all use one of those passes.

The judge had several tips, recommendations and instructions. He said that “citizenship demands participation, involvement, and commitment.” He requested these new citizens “adopt our symbols, our traditions, our history, and share our values.” He asked them to “become leaders, and respect the sacrifices made in the past by women, by soldiers, by our freedom fighters.” He added that, “just like you, many Canadians originally came from different places, with different beliefs. Like them, learn to be good citizens, obey the law, and defend our country” because “you are now entitled to opportunities many countries only dream of.”

And finally, the judge explained the purpose behind this gift of citizenship: “make Canada a better place.” He noted that “with 14 different countries represented in this room, we could have a meeting after this ceremony and solve all the problems of the world.” Well said sir. Well said. Because we sure can’t do it alone. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Um, by texting this emoji you...
have a shadow?
I hesitate to admit this since it makes me sound 94 years old, but I pretty much don’t do emojis. If people text me a happy face emoji or a thumbs up emoji, I gotcha. And there are a few emojis that I will occasionally use (for obvious reasons) albeit quite rarely:
-thumbs down
-a gun
-a small fire, and naturally
-a shrimp. 

Ahem. No explanation required for these right? Anyway, text me emojis outside this narrow collection and I have no idea what you’re talking about. Why? Well firstly, emojis are like billboards for ants, but smaller. Secondly, does the poop emoji actually enhance one's productivity/credibility? And thirdly, the real kicker is that emojis are more ambiguous than Donald Trump's foreign policy. Some examples:
  1. The grimacing face emoji: Are you distraught? Or did you smell something bad? Perhaps you just got new braces?
  2. Any heart other than red: Heartburn? Or jaundiced? Or were you just awarded a medal?
  3. The smiley face with money symbols for eyes and a green money tongue: Did you find money on the street? Or is this an epiphany about your shopping addiction? Maybe you swallowed a $20 bill?
  4. The smiley face with one enlarged eye with the tongue hanging out: Stroke? Should I call 911? Or are you winking (and if so I’d recommend that you put your tongue back in your mouth)?
  5. And finally, unless you’ve been abducted, do not text the screaming alien and even then it’s infinitely more productive if you just phone home, ok ET?

One more thing. Honestly, despite the whiff of bitterness in these words, I don’t hate emojis. I love that language is always evolving and I am never against playful usage. The problem is this: clarity. Plus there’s one other problem based on a common argument in defense of emojis: they save time. You know what actually saves your time and mine? C'mon. Say it with me. If we...put...our...phones...away. :)

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

not cool when this arrives close to your birthday.

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