Category: Life

Year of Celebration – July 2017

Year of Celebration – July 2017

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The Year of Celebration Continues!

July has some odd and interesting holidays and awareness days. Plus one or two things that are a little more personal. Here’s what I’m celebrating in July.

 

01 July – Canada Day (and Canada is 150)

So it’s Canada’s 150th birthday this year. On this day in 1867, the British North America Act took effect, creating the Dominion of Canada as a separate nation and setting up the basic functionality of the Canadian government system. A sesquicentennial may not make Canada old as far as nations go, but it’s a mark worth celebrating.

 

02 July – World UFO Day

Ever seen a UFO? No, I don’t mean aliens landing to make crop circles. The U stands for Unidentified, as in Unidentified Flying Object, as in an object in the sky that you can’t identify. I saw one as a kid living in Sudbury. Pretty sure at this point that it was a weather balloon of some kind launched from the airbase we lived near, but at the time, it was a distinct dark circle against a light cloud cover, moving just a little differently than the clouds themselves.

 

03 July – Plastic Bag Free Day

While I find the 5-cent charge for a plastic bag at most places has certainly decreased my plastic bag consumption (and data seems to bear this out for almost everyone), I’m moving in the direction of refusal to use them at all. We have a couple of dozen heavy-duty reusable bags, and I don’t mind cardboard from the grocery store when it’s available.

It’s also Disobedience Day. Which doesn’t mean you should go out and break the law or do something just for the sake of being disobedient to some rule or authority. What it does, or should, mean is that you should take the time to break a mould or habit. Take a different route or method to work. Refuse to settle into your normal habits and try something new or twist something into a new path. Disobey your own ingrained ruts.

 

04 July – Independence from Meat

I’m not telling you to become a Vegetarian or Vegan, though if you’re considering moving in that direction, you could look at this as drawing your attention to the idea a little more forcefully. There are health benefits to be found be decreasing the amount of meat in your diet. There are environmental benefits to be found in farming less meat. There are also gains to be made in the number of people who can be fed by farming less meat. Think about it for one day.

 

05 July – Bikini Day

Seriously? This is a thing? How about we celebrate Wear Whatever Makes You Happy Day instead?

 

06 July – International Kissing Day

Kissing has a lot of different levels and meanings. Pick one and kiss someone today. Make sure you have permission first.

 

07 July – Tell the Truth Day

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. I don’t recommend telling only the truth for the entire day, because that isn’t what every situation needs. Does my ass look fat in these jeans? How do you like my son’s band? I just got a new piercing, what do you think? None of these are likely to warrant a strictly honest answer.

But if there’s something that’s been bothering you, that you’ve been keeping under wraps so that it sizzles in your guts, maybe it’s time to come clean and talk to whoever else might be involved, being honest about how you feel and being kind to them.

 

08 July – Video Games Day

Yeah, like I need to find a reason to celebrate this one. Pull out something you haven’t played in a while and revel in the nostalgia it brings you.

But maybe you’d like to celebrate Math 2.0 Day instead. Yeah, I know. Math probably wasn’t your favourite subject in school. But anytime you need to figure out a tip, how long it will take you to get somewhere, how much tax there’s going to be on something, you use it. And you almost certainly use some of the thought processes involved in the course of rational decision making. Don’t be afraid of math. Celebrate it.

 

09 July – French Fries Day

Ah, the lowly potato. A little oil, some properly applied heat, and perhaps some seasoning, and you’re left with some form of fry. Shoe string, crinkle cut, wedge, curly, waffle, or just regular. Add what you want in terms of seasoning and sauce, but don’t be afraid to enjoy some today.

 

10 July – Clerihew Day

A clerihew is a four-line poem making light or fun of a famous person. They’re supposed to be mentioned in the first line, and the poem follows an AABB rhyming scheme with a meter up to the poet. One I wrote in 2007 for our then-Prime Minister:

My greatest wish for Stephen Harper:

That he were just a little sharper.

A few more neurons to realize

He leads a nation.  It’s not a prize.

A little more recent:

President Donald Trump

I wish, instead of tweeting, you’d use that giant lump

Of useless clay between your ears

To allay your self-generated global fears

Okay, I tend towards biting when I write at all about politics.

 

11 July – World Population Day

Noting the anniversary of Day Five Billion which occurred on 11 July 1987. We hit 7.5 billion in April this year. When I was born (at the end of 1970), there were fewer than 4 billion. If you’re keeping track, that means growth is actually slowing down, maybe even fast enough to help the increasing stress we’re putting on the global ecosphere overall.

A lot of the population growth comes from developing nations where there’s insufficient access to contraceptives. This is improving all of the time, but then you can look at how certain developed nations <cough>United<cough>States<cough> are trending and you might find some things to be worried about.

 

12 July – Simplicity Day

Simply put, we have too much stuff. Today is a day to look around and see if there are things you can do without, if there are things you can stop doing, or if there are things you can start, all with the objective of simplifying your life.

 

13 July – International Rock Day

Whether you realize it or not, a big part of the world is made up of rock. There are a lot of different kinds of rocks, broadly fitting into three categories (Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic), and those rocks come in a variety of sizes. Look at a rock, of any size, you haven’t noticed before. Find something to appreciate about it. Think about all of the things rocks have given you. There are far more than you realize.

 

14 July – Shark Awareness Day

Cue Jaws theme song.

Not really. Sharks may be super predators in their element, but they aren’t really any threat to people. The chance of getting killed by a shark is roughly one in 3.8 million. Only 5-15 people die per year from shark attacks. Know how many sharks die from people attacks? Estimates usually ballpark around 100 million. I’d love to put a set of odds on that, but there are no reliable estimates on how many sharks might remain in the world, and isn’t it enough of a horror that we kill ten million of them for every one of us they accidentally try to eat?

Sharks are actually pretty cool creatures, and come in a surprising variety (something to the effect of 450 known species). Find something to like about one.

 

15 July – Be A Dork Day

I’m not going to define dork for you, but we all have dorky things we like or enjoy. Today, do something dorky and fun without being ashamed that you find it fun.

 

16 July – World Snake Day

Snakes are pretty neat creatures and they can be really interesting to watch. We have one as part of our household menageries, a cute little corn snake who goes by the name of Sonic. Affectionate, as far as reptiles go, and interactive in his way, too.

Oddly, it’s also Guinea Pig Appreciation Day. We used to keep a few of those loveable little fur balls as pets, too. Closest thing you can get to a tribble in the real world, right down to the purring.

 

17 July – Hug Your Kid Day

Never miss an opportunity to hug one of your children, the ones that will let you, at least. There may come a time where they merely tolerate it, and don’t want to be touched. When that happens, remember when you could and take your warmth from the memory.

 

18 July – Nelson Mandela International Day

It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build. – Nelson Mandela

Do something today to make a difference, no matter how small, in your community. Mr. Mandela devoted his life to human rights and spent a significant time in jail as a result of this pursuit. That didn’t stop him. What’s stopping you? What’s stopping me.

 

19 July – Take Your Poet to Work Day

I’m taking Piet Hein.

The road to wisdom? Well, it’s plain

And simple to express:

Err

and err

and err again,

but less

and less

and less.

 

20 July – Our Family Day

Assign the days from January 1st to December 31st values from 1 to 365 in order. Add the numbers for our anniversary and the birthdays of all five of us, then take the average. You get 201, which is July 20th.

And today also happens to be Space Exploration Day, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. I wonder what we can do to get back.

 

21 July – No Pet Store Puppies Day

Adopt a rescue. You’re changing a life.

 

22 July – Pi Approximation Day

For a couple of thousand years, an approximation of Pi was used (accurate to 2 decimal places) of 22/7. So, the 22nd of July. Geek alert.

 

23 July – Hot Enough For Ya Day

It’s been hot enough for me for a couple of months by this point, but we’re far enough into summer that it’s time for people to start longing for the cooler days of autumn or even winter, right? I wonder if there’s a “Cold Enough For Ya” day in January or February.

 

24 July – Cousins Day

Some of us had cousins we played with as kids. Or second cousins, or whatever. Maybe we only have sporadic contact with them at major family events as adults. This is the day to reach out to your cousins and remind them you know they’re alive. Probably on social media since it doesn’t involve all that much effort and you can send a quick greeting. Maybe that will even spark some of them to respond and maybe you’ll talk to each other a little more often in the future. You’ll never know until you try.

 

25 July – My Wife’s Birthday

And if that’s not reason for you to celebrate (and why isn’t it?), it’s Hot Fudge Sundae Day. Mmmm… hot fudge.

 

26 July – One Voice Day (read the Universal Peace Covenant)

One Voice Day is a global movement to unite the world in reading the Universal Peace Covenant, a pledge aiming to bring people, nations, and the world together in peaceful co-existence. Not the easiest thing to contemplate given the general state of international interactions most days. To bring the “unite” into things a little more closely, the idea is for everyone to read it at the same time, 6 pm Universal. That’s 2 pm Eastern Daylight for me. I may record. Here’s a link to the text. Don’t get too hung up on the punctuation.

 

27 July – Walk On Stilts Day

Once upon a time, I could make a set of stilts work. If I had a set of stilts, his would be the day I’d try again. But, and let’s be completely honest, it’s been decades, so there’s some chance of hilarity for the people nearby if I find a set.

 

28 July – Milk Chocolate Day

I like chocolate. Dark chocolate, light chocolate, and just about everything in between. My basic school of thought: dip it in chocolate, it’ll be fine. Unless there’s mint involved. Mint is for toothpaste, mouthwash, and gum and doesn’t belong anywhere near chocolate

 

29 July – International Tiger Day

There are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild. Some estimates say twice as many. Beautiful giant cats, but the kind you want to admire from a distance. I’d like to keep admiring them, so it would be really nice if conservation efforts were successful in bringing them back from the edge.

Not entirely unrelated, today is Don’t Be A Dick Day, a celebration of Wheaton’s Law, namely, “Don’t be a dick.” Seems like it should be easy, but I see people screw it up all the time. We should all try just a little harder today.

 

30 July – Paperback Book Day

Sometime today, curl up with a paperback. Not an e-reader. I love me an electronic book, but not today. Engage a few more senses and celebrate how many more people got to read and own books because someone figured out how to make them smaller and lighter. Celebrate the explosion of reading and stories throughout the twentieth century because of them.

 

31 July – Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day

How many instruments can you name? There’s a lot more out there than what you see in the typical pop band or high school concert band. Watch a video of someone playing a theremin or a glockenspiel or a glass armonica. Or pick one of your own. Maybe learn to play a few notes?

So there’s the celebrations I’m picking for July. Feel free to find your own.

Be well, everyone. And celebrate.

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Year of Celebration – June 2017

Year of Celebration – June 2017

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So a few years back, I tried to christen the calendar The Year of Celebration. The idea was to have something to celebrate every single day of the year if I wanted to. I don’t remember if I got bored writing things up, or if I got distracted by some other part of life, or something else, but I don’t think I made it through even half the year. Which doesn’t really explain why I’m starting in June (or with my anniversary in May, which is when I really started but haven’t written about it before now.

Leaving that aside, here are the things I’m celebrating or marking in June 2017

01 June – Say Something Nice Day

Seems easy, right? So why do we need a day for it? It’s a Thursday and I’m probably at work. I’ll find lots of nice things to say, I hope.

02 June – Hug Your Cat Day

Something that should be every day, and probably is for most cat people. Make a special point of it today.

03 June – Drawing Day

Visual arts aren’t my thing. I have problems getting the proportions right on stick people. Still, sometimes it’s fun, right? On June 3rd, I’ll draw something, scan it, and post it.

04 June – Cancer Survivor’s Day

You know someone who beat cancer. Today, remind them that you’re glad they’re still around.

05 June – World Environment Day

Pick something up off the ground and recycle it if you can. Water a plant. Help a turtle across the road. Take a deep breath and think about how clean the air could be.

Veggie Burger Day

It’s also Veggie Burger Day. These come in a lot of varieties from “clearly seaweed and tofu” through to “I can’t believe it’s not meat”. Pick your favourite. Have one.

06 June – D-Day

Seventy-three years ago today, the largest amphibious assault in history marked the beginning of the end of the Third Reich. Something to think about.

07 June – VCR Day

Ah, the humble VCR, with us for far too short a time but whose influence is felt even now.

Running Day

And it’s a good day to go for a run. Especially if it’s been a while. But take it easy.

08 June – Mom & Dad’s 49th Anniversary

But for those of you who might be less interested celebrating my parents’ anniversary, it’s also World Oceans Day. We should be a little more worried about how much crap we’re dumping into them.

09 June – International Archives Day

Be glad there are people whose job it is to preserve things. Some day, you might want to know.

10 June – Missing Mutts Awareness Day

Have you ever had a dog go missing? This was a huge deal for us at one time when I was a kid. We were lucky enough that Alexander turned up a week or so after he disappeared. Not everyone has that luck.

11 June – Abused Women and Children’s Awareness Day

I think the name speaks for itself. That this is an issue large enough that it warrants a day of recognition shouldn’t surprise me, but somehow, it still does. It also offends me.

Ferris Bueller Day (released on this day in 1986)

If that’s a little too depressing for you, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off released today in 1986. That might be depressing in a different way.

12 June – World Day Against Child Labor

How to celebrate this? Take a minute to be sure you don’t by your clothes or other products from companies you know use child labour.

13 June – World Pet Memorial Day

We took in a pair of rescue cats just before our first anniversary and had them until just before and just after our seventeenth. I still miss them both.

14 June – World Blood Donor Day

If you haven’t given blood in a while, this might be a good day to think about it a little harder. Maybe even do it.

15 June – Nature Photography Day

Take a picture of something interesting outside in the natural world. A plant, an animal, a cloud, whatever. Post it.

16 June – Fudge Day

Do you really need a reason to celebrate fudge? I’m sure there’s some around here somewhere.

17 June – World Juggling Day

What might be really funny is if I posted a video of me trying to juggle. I can juggle two things, but that’s not really juggling, is it?

18 June – Father’s Day

Call Dad. Give Dad a hug. Remember Dad. Whatever you can do, do.

19 June – Viking Day

As in the Mars probes. On this day in 1976, 41 years ago, Viking 1 Entered Mars orbit. I don’t remember it. I was only five. But it’s pretty cool to think about the awesome planetary science being done when I was a little kid.

20 June – World Refugee Day

Depending on how you count things, and I “like” UNHCR’s numbers, there are as many as 65 million people in the world who can be counted as refugees. That’s equivalent to the entire population of the UK or France. Tell me again how the world is at relative peace?

21 June – Solstice

Depending on whose calendar you use, it’s either midsummer or the first day of summer. Either way, it’s warmer than it was three months ago on the equinox.

World Humanist Day

It’s also World Humanist Day, a day to celebrate, as openly as your own situation allows you to, that people are more important than ideas.

22 June – Onion Rings Day

So I could probably give up everything fried without too much in the way of regret or problem, and still nom the next onion ring offered to me.

23 June – Take Your Dog to Work Day

I wish. Aside from the fact that my dog is an incredibly anxious Saint Bernard rescue, I work in a casino. He’s not a service dog and the lights and sound would drive him completely insane in a few minutes.

24 June – International Fairy Day

The Fair Folk have, in some way, been with us in our stories for centuries and across dozens (hundreds?) of cultures. Remind yourself of the huge collection of myths we all have available to us.

25 June – Colour TV Day

How could we live without colour TV? The world would be a very different place.

Global Beatles Day

Or, if you want to think a bit about music, remember that fifty years ago today, the Beatles participated in the first ever global transmission broadcast by singing All You Need is Love.

26 June – Chocolate Pudding Day

Mmmm. Chocolate pudding.

27 June – Sunglasses Day

I’m trying to remember the last time I actually wore sunglasses. I used to have a prescription pair, but it’s been a while. I’d love a set again.

28 June – CAPS LOCK DAY

Ah, how to celebrate. Should I post gentle reminders to avoid this key? Or should I take the ironic route and use it all day myself?

29 June – Camera Day

Don’t limit yourself to nature today. Take some cool pictures of whatever you want and throw them up on your social media.

30 June – Meteor Day

Hope for clear skies and spend a little time looking up tonight. Maybe you’ll catch a shooting star as it consumes itself in the upper atmosphere.

So there you have it. Celebrations for June. I do intend to do this every month for a year. We’ll see if I get further than last time.

Be well, everyone. And celebrate.

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Happy Paper Airplane Day!

Happy Paper Airplane Day!

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By the time I get this post up, it will be well after midnight, local, but it’s still Paper Airplane Day somewhere, right?

When I was a kid, once in a while my dad would fold a special paper airplane. It took me a while (probably several years worth of watching the occasional plane take shape since it didn’t happen very often) to learn to fold it myself. When my own kids were small, I tried to do it a little more often, but none of them were particularly into paper airplanes, so it gradually went away.

Today, I decided to see if I could remember how it worked. To entertain myself, I rested a video camera on a counter facing down to the table I worked on.

Here’s the final result:

And here are two versions of the video. First, at almost seven minutes long and with me talking far too much:

Second, shortened and sped up to just see the folding itself.

Not the best video work. Someday, and soon, I’ll be setting up a small studio to do audio and video. In the meantime, anything I do will be a little rough.

Be well, everyone.

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Sleep is not Overrated

Sleep is not Overrated

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If I could only stop sleeping, I’d be so productive.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Who has time to sleep?

Sleep is for the weak.

You lose so much time sleeping.

Our society seems to thrive on pushing its members hard. Work hard, play hard, party hard. Anything that takes time away from overindulging, overcompensating, or overdriving is somehow bad. Sleep is at the top of the list for a lot of these things.

But I’ve been going through a period where sleep is hard to come by, mostly due to my work schedule. A couple of days each week, I work a night shift. A couple more, I work a day shift. To get from one to the other, I work an afternoon shift. Rinse and repeat. Over-caffeinate to get through the night shifts and then not be able to fall asleep early enough for the day shifts so I have to over-caffeinate for those, too.

It sucks, and it’s hard, and it’s proven one key thing to me, if I hadn’t already figured it out: sleep is not overrated.

The day after I got 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for the first time in about eight weeks, I was twice as productive at pretty much everything I turned my mind to. I wrote faster, moved faster, got more things done in less time, and had time left over to take care of things on the list that I’d been ignoring.

5-6 hours per night is enough to function, but it’s not enough to function well, not over the long term.

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything. – Irish Proverb

Sleep is the best meditation. – Dalai Lama

We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep. – Shakespeare, The Tempest

Sweet dreams, and be well, everyone.

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Once Again, I Feel Old

Once Again, I Feel Old

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So she absolutely hates it when I post about her, or even mention her in passing on social media, so I’ll leave names out to protect the innocent and merely note that my oldest daughter turned sixteen today. Whether she wants to admit it or not, that’s a big deal.

I feel old, and I often get nostalgic on my kids’ birthdays, remembering when I held them first, brought them home from the hospital, watched for first steps, listened for first words, went to tea parties and school shows, picked them up when they fell down, held them when they were sick, and all of the other firsts and events and tragedies.

She doesn’t allow her picture to be taken these day, but I’ll go back a few years for a couple of memories and just say that I love her more than I can possibly express. And I won’t post this anywhere she can see it.

Be well, everyone.

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A Sad Day

A Sad Day

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One of the saddest days of my life, actually.

No joke.

My son moved out today.

Oh, I’m excited for him, moving in with his friends and getting ready for school, getting ready to start his life. He’s got so many awesome things ahead of him in the next little while.

But he’s left home. He doesn’t live here anymore. The only time he’ll be home is to visit.

I thought I had until the end of August, but they rented a house and got the keys yesterday. Of course they want to move in.

I’m just going to miss him, is all.

I should post a picture of him as a little kid. That would be the normal thing to do to provoke some kind of emotional reaction from whoever might be reading this.

But I haven’t got one handy. Instead, here’s something goofy from the Christmas he was seventeen.

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Interview Limbo

Interview Limbo

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question-mark-male-silhouette

There’s nothing like having your future be partially in limbo to get you to overthink everything.

Although, I suppose that’s kind of normal, depending on your point of view. Under the logic that no one ever really knows what’s going to happen, that there might always be fewer days ahead than there are behind, that everyone’s future is always unknown.

But I’m in a moment where I might be less than 48 hours from a job offer that will mean a major career change, that will, in some ways completely overturn the life and routine I have right now. And I have absolutely no idea if I have a chance the job or not.

You see, the final interview in the process was the least interview-y interview I’ve ever had. There were practically no interview questions. It was basically an hour-long, business-based conversation between myself and the General Manager, with the HR manager participating here and there. He’s building team, to open a new facility, and he was quite open about the way he sees the process: it wasn’t the conversation to see if I was qualified—the screening process to that point, he was sure, had taken care of that—but a conversation for him to figure out my basic personality and to decide where or whether that basic personality would fit into the matrix, the jigsaw puzzle he’s putting together.

I like to think I’m personable, presentable, and can get along with anyone. Most of the time, I’m fairly certain that’s even true. But it was a strange, strange interview, even if I left more comfortable with the process than I entered. The best I could do was to be myself and speak honestly, and if that’s always the right thing, it’s not always the best thing.

I left the interview having had engaging conversation, and developing idea of the direction he wants to take for the team, and some of the qualities he was looking for. The question is, how well did I personify those qualities? I suppose the next question is, how well do I fit into the thing he’s building?

I should find out somewhere between now and Friday afternoon. Until then, I still have a job to do, and I still have family that needs me. Either way, both of those things will continue, even if the job changes.

Be well, everyone

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Holy Giant Mushroom, Batman!

Holy Giant Mushroom, Batman!

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So I’ve lived in Ontario since I was twelve, but my formative years right before that were spent on Vancouver Island. Not the same species of anything, really, except maybe grass.

When I think, for example, of a puffball mushroom, I think of something like this colossal one that still, more or less, fits in the palm of your hand:

Western Puffball

Actually, I think of them as being able to more or less fit in my 10-or-so-year-old hand. Yes, I knew they could get bigger, but you found those in the deep dark forest where no one could see you and no one ever went. My friend’s cousin’s uncle found one the size of his head. You get the idea.

But yesterday, walking along a trail while geocaching in Prince Edward County, we found this monstrosity:

img_5699

I wear size 10.5 shoes, and those are winter-ready hiking shoes. So, on its short axis, this particular puffball is 2.5 times as wide as my foot instead of half again as wide as my 10-year-old-hand.

Apparently, they can get to be about two feet across.

Visions of the <dramatic music> Mushroom that Ate Toronto.

Be well, everyone.

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