Category: Philosophy

That’s My Secret, Cap

That’s My Secret, Cap

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Sometimes, I wonder if it’s a bad thing that I’m angry all the time. Oh, I’m not in a bad mood, and I’m not that stressed out. While certain decisions I’ve made in life have made things harder for me in the long run, I’ve mostly done okay. I have an incredible wife and three great children. We have sufficient income for food, shelter, and to make a serious dent in the overall cost of postsecondary education for kids. I have the leisure to do things I want to do, not just things I have to do. I am lucky enough to have been born into a wealthy country, and one that has yet to elect a Prime Minister comparable to the Orange Menace currently in power south of the border. Of course, we also have yet to elect our version of Obama.

So it’s a pretty sweet life, really. I have opportunities and rights and privileges and wealth that 80% of the world would kill for. Or at least be willing to lie, cheat, or steal for.

So, why so angry?

Because, large segments of the population in the country I live in, and other rich, Western democracies, are blindly stupid and willfully ignorant about really, really important things. And some of them hold extremely significant wealth and power, and some of those think that wealth and power entitles them to shove their beliefs and views down the throats of the rest of the population. Disregarding, for the moment, how some people in my society see the rest of the world.

Looked at globally, the social trend has almost always been upwards, and mostly has been throughout human history. Trend. That doesn’t mean any particular moment, but over time.

It matters who’s in power and what their view of the world is, but large portions of the population either follow along blindly, or don’t think there’s one bit of difference between one politician and the next, one crackpot and the next, one power-hungry narcissist and the next, one world view and the next when neither of them are their own.

So we have people who believe that vaccines cause autism, that the earth is flat, that chemtrails are a thing, that the universal cure for all cancers is being kept secret in the name of profit, that it really doesn’t matter who you elect to office because they’re just going to screw things up anyway, that religion is actually a force for good in the world.

We still have people who think they are better than other people because of their skin tone, gender, sexuality, ethnic background, religion, or shoe size.

The Internet lets those people be loud, lets them find other people who have the same idiotic viewpoints, lets them shout down anyone who disagrees with their uninformed opinions. And most of us don’t shout back, because we think it’s a waste of time, because we don’t want to offend anyone, because of we think we won’t make a difference.

Most days, I can find the time to be bothered, I don’t care if it offends someone, or upsets someone, and I can make a difference, if only to onlookers. Sometimes, silence is taken as assent. And just because a minority opinion is louder than everyone around them doesn’t mean that it’s a good opinion.

I’m not particularly interested in debate, but sometimes it appears be necessary. I don’t feel like I should have to explain things to people, because mostly, people are entirely capable of reasoning things out for themselves. Some just don’t so sometimes explanations and debates are necessary.

None of this should be my problem, should it? Actually, no. It should be my problem. I should be all of our problem. Because we have to live and grow and make life better for others and the world a better place. If we don’t, who will?

There’s an old saying when you want to ignore the crazy people: not my circus, not my monkeys. I’ve made the point recently in several venues that it is my circus, and they are my monkeys. The whole world, that’s my circus, and the whole of human civilization, those are my monkeys.

And they’re yours, too.

Stay angry, my friends. And be well, everyone.

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Miyazato-Sensei Was A Wise Man

Miyazato-Sensei Was A Wise Man

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I’ve been studying karate for closing in on nine years now, and I get a lot out of it, mentally, physically, psychologically, socially. It’s become an important part of my life and health, and I hope to continue that for the rest of my life.

My Sensei fairly often quotes Eiichi Miyazato-Sensei, the founder of the Jundokan (the Okinawan home of one of the two flavours of karate I practice), on a particular subject that doesn’t initially seem to promote karate, at least until you think about it a little. It probably sounds cooler in the original language, but still comes through fairly well in English:

“Family first, then work, then karate.”

Substitute your passion of choice for karate.

The point being that anything after your family’s wellbeing and the support of your family takes a distant third place.

It seems simple. Or it should.

So, for everything I do, there should be a series of three questions.

Does it help my family?

Does it help my career without harming my family?

Does it further a dream without harming my family or career?

If I can’t answer yes to at least one of these, there’s a fourth, obvious question: why the heck am I doing it?

Be well, everyone.

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Let’s Talk

Let’s Talk

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Conversation is important. Meaningful conversation is important. And I don’t mean the way that men and women talk to each other or separately, because yes, evolution has provided more than one set of basic wiring and we don’t talk or communicate the same way, and yes, some of that can be divided at least partially along gender lines even as we recognize gender (like everything else) as being on a spectrum. And we can overcome evolution, but it’s hard.

What I mean is more in terms of when I’m having a conversation, I want to talk about things of consequence. I don’t care if it’s raining or if the grass is green or the carpet is still ugly today. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t bring any joint my life. I seem to be adapting the phrase “life is too short” in several ways lately, but life is too short to spend time talking about inconsequential things. Nothing gets fixed and nothing gets better by my telling you it’s a nice day and you agreeing.

I want to talk about politics and religion and philosophy and major events in the world. And I want to talk about how my kids are doing in school and how yours are and how their experiences are different and how we’re helping them to adapting to a ridiculously stressful world. I want to find things out about you to figure out where you’re coming from, where you’re going, what you think, and how we can find common ground to stand on. I want to talk about things that matter, to you, to me, everyone.

There is no subject that is or should be off-limits.

Why doesn’t our society have a proper line dividing church and state?

How do we find a way to talk about the terrorist attacks in Las Vegas or London or Baghdad or Mogadishu or the Philippines that doesn’t send either side of the relevant social arguments off on a tirade?

How that last natural disaster really knocked us all on our asses and what we can do to actually prepared for the next. Or mitigate those coming in the farther future.

How we can help our American friends get rid of the orange menace who somehow got himself elected, without breaking any laws are opening ourselves up to being sued.

Is China’s human rights record really is bad as I think it is or am I remembering things from 20 years ago and just deciding that that’s the way things always are?

Talk to me, argue with me, fight with me. But do it about things that matter.

Not all communication matters, but it all has the potential to. It all could.

But it doesn’t.

A lot of noises we make day-to-day are just that, noises. Social lubricant so our brains don’t have to work too hard and get overheated, so we can avoid thinking too hard about each other because then we’ll have to try actually understanding each other. Sure, sometimes small talk can actually purpose, when you’re feeling around the edges of something important, trying to figure out where someone stands or to approach a difficult conversation situation. But most of the time, not so much.

So, let’s discuss, argue, fight. Rationally, and with consideration for each other. Remembering that while ideas don’t deserve respect, people do.

Be well, everyone.

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Year of Celebration: October 2017

Year of Celebration: October 2017

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I realized, putting this one together, that I didn’t actually write a post in this vein for September. I’ll put the days celebrated at the bottom of this post, with less commentary (probably none).


01 October 2017: World Vegetarian Day

And the first day of Vegetarian Awareness Month, bringing awareness to the ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Done preaching.

It’s also Change a Light Day. Got a burnt bulb you’ve been ignoring? Maybe one you’d like to upgrade from incandescent (who still has those) to fluorescent or even LED?

02 October 2017: Name Your Car Day

In my case, the Personal Shuttlecraft, NCC 1701-5.

03 October 2017: Virus Appreciation Day

And if you’re not interested in that, remember that a virus was the first vaccine and helped rid us of Small Pox.

04 October 2017: World Animal Day

A day to think about the important roles animals play in our lives and to act to decrease some of the suffering some of them experience as a result.

05 October 2017: World Teachers Day

Have a teacher in your life? Maybe one in your past that was a huge influence on you? If not, you’re probably not looking hard enough. Or didn’t listen in school.

06 October 2017: Mad Hatter Day

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”

Also, it’s Noodle Day. Celebrate the humble noodle in all its forms.

07 October 2017: Random Acts of Poetry Day

Have you ever written any poetry? Today is a good day to give it a try. And don’t be afraid to post or share.

08 October 2017: World Octopus Day

These are neat creatures, for a lot of reasons, but I’m going to pick out that they’re neat because they’re likely one of the smartest animals on the planet, with the ability to learn new skills and solve problems. I don’t think we should be worried about competition, but maybe we should encourage them just a little.

09 October 2017: Moldy Cheese Day

Danish Blue, Roquefort, Stilton… mmm, moldy cheese.

On my side of the border, it’s also Thanksgiving. Hope everyone has a good one with friends and family, as they choose.

10 October 2017: Metric Day

Celebrate a system of measurements that actually makes sense.

And it’s World Mental Health Day. Believe it or not, most of us have some kind of mental issue, and they’re just as important to take care of as physical ones. Some of us have a harder time and may need a little extra support, so remember to be understanding.

11 October 2017: Coming Out Day

Whatever some folks might think, gender and sexuality are both on a spectrum (most things are) and not necessarily on the same one. Whatever some folks might tell you, it’s okay not to fit their definition of normal. Whatever some folks might shout, diversity is a strength. A good day to remember that and just be inclusive.

It’s also Pet Obesity Awareness Day. We have two we’re working on right now, both cats. One came to us that way and one who ballooned after moving in with us having been a stray for most of his life and experiencing a lot of food scarcity. Both of them are happy, but rounder than they need to be. It’s a slow process.

12 October 2017: International Moment Of Frustration Scream Day

How publicly you want to exercise this is up to you. It’s more about catharsis than shocking people, though.

13 October 2017: International Skeptics Day

Having an attitude of doubt is a good thing. Somewhere out there, someone wants you to believe something ridiculous to generate fear, amuse themselves, or sucker money out of you. Demand evidence and be open to it. Question statements of fact that don’t have any attached. Be understanding of your friends who believe weird stuff, but don’t be afraid to talk to them about that weirdness, or of trying to talk them out of it.

14 October 2017: Bald and Free Day

Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street. It’s a solar panel for a sex machine. Insert your favourite line here. Really, though, I don’t know how you people with hair do it; I’m uncomfortably warm about half a second after I put on a hat unless it’s below freezing.

15 October 2017: National Grouch Day

Whether we’re talking about Oscar or that guy down the street who wants to make sure you stay off his lawn, don’t stress too hard about the grouches in your life. Smile and wish them a grouchy day.

16 October 2017: Dictionary Day

You’ve been on social media. You know how many people need a dictionary and a spell checker. ‘Nuff said.

It’s also Feral Cat Day. Every stray may be looking for a home, but ferals are a little different, and if they don’t necessarily have the instincts to become a house cat (some do, some don’t), they do have a role in our society, whether most of us realize it or not. They keep the rodent population down to levels we poor humans can tolerate or even fail to notice. The problem is more about unrestricted breeding, and that’s something that can be worked on with some aware humans.

17 October 2017: Spreadsheet Day

Is there anything more beautiful than a well-designed spreadsheet?

18 October 2017: Chocolate Cupcake Day

Mmm. Chocolate cupcakes. I can probably stop at one…

Also, it’s No Beard Day. The days of the lumber-sexual are, thankfully, in the past. Even hipsters are trimming back. Believe it or not, you’ll look younger if you get rid of it, and people you kiss will be less likely to complain about how scratchy and itchy you are.

19 October 2017: Evaluate Your Life Day

Is your life where you want it to be? Do you have dreams you’re not working towards? Think about them. Find a path. Take the first step.

20 October 2017: Information Overload Day

Yes, we’re constantly bombarded, drowning in a sea of information. Take today and turn a few of the streams off. Breathe deep. Smell the pizza. It will all still be there tomorrow.

21 October 2017: Reptile Awareness Day

Some of the coolest critters on the planet are reptiles. We’ve shared our house with a couple of them, and one, a 1.5-metre long corn snake by the name of Sonic, still lives with us, and probably will for a decade or so yet. They’re not slimy, they’re not icky, and most of them aren’t dangerous. Some of them are even affectionate with a little handling. Or maybe they just want to stay warm and you’re a good source of heat.

22 October 2017: CAPS LOCK DAY


23 October 2017: Mole Day

Avogadro’s number, 6.02 x 1023. 10 to the 23. 10-23. Get it? The number of atoms of something that gives you its atomic weight in grams. But you didn’t come here for a chemistry lesson, even if everything is made of chemicals.

24 October 2017: United Nations Day

Anniversary of the UN charter. First steps along the path to giving all nations and peoples a voice and a place to speak. Still not very far along that path, are we?

25 October 2017: Karate Day

For those of you who study some flavour of an Okinawan or Japanese art that falls under the umbrella of karate, or one of its descendants, take a moment and remember. Then do a few kata.

26 October 2017: Howl at the Moon Day

And then maybe wonder why it’s taken us so long to get back there.

27 October 2017: Black Cat Day

Cats haven’t always had the best reputation in Western society. For some, black cats still have some kind of stigma attached as a witch’s familiar, the devil’s helper (and I wish I wasn’t being serious on those two) or just being bringers of bad luck when they walk in front of you. But a black cat is just a cat that happens to be black. They’re just as varied and loveable as the rest of our domesticated felines. Makes me wonder a bit what the problem is.

28 October 2017: Animation Day

How to celebrate? Well, watch a cartoon, whether it’s traditional animation or some of that new fangled CGI stuff. Pick a favourite and remember why love the medium.

29 October 2017: Hermit Day

Spend some time alone today. We all need it. Go somewhere you can enjoy the quiet without interruption.

And directly opposite that, it’s also Internet Day, the anniversary of the very first transmission on the network that would someday grow into the internet. The world wide web came much later, and started simple. Check out the first web page ever.

30 October 2017: Checklist Day

Make a list. Check it twice. Then start checking things off it. Feels good, no?

31 October 2017: Halloween

Does Halloween really need any explanation? It’s all about fun and candy. Have some of each.


So that’s what I’m thinking about in terms of celebrations in October. Have any you like better?

Be well, everyone.


Oh, and things Celebrated in September

01 September 2017: Ginger Cat Appreciation Day

02 September 2017: Calendar Adjustment Day

03 September 2017: Pet Rock Day

04 September 2017: Wildlife Day

05 September 2017: Voyager 1 Day

06 September 2017: Read a Book Day, Star Trek in Canada Day

07 September 2017: Buy a Book Day

08 September 2017: Star Trek Day

09 September 2017: Wonderful Weirdos Day

10 September 2017: World Suicide Prevention Day

11 September 2017: Make Your Bed Day

12 September 2017: Battle of the Planets Day

13 September 2017: Scooby Doo Day, Defy Superstition Day

14 September 2017: Cream Filled Donut Day

15 September 2017: Make a Hat Day

16 September 2017: Eat an Apple Day

17 September 2017: Battlestar Galactica Day

18 September 2017: Respect Day

19 September 2017: Talk Like a Pirate Day

20 September 2017: Magellan Day

21 September 2017: International Day of Peace

22 September 2017: Equinox, Bilbo’s birthday

23 September 2017: International Rabbit Day

24 September 2017: Punctuation Day

25 September 2017: Princess Bride Day, Comic Book Day

26 September 2017: Batman Day

27 September 2017: Ancestor Appreciation Day, Crush a Can Day

28 September 2017: Confucius Day

29 September 2017: Ask a Stupid Question Day

30 September 2017: Blasphemy Rights Day

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Celebrations in August

Celebrations in August

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The Year of Celebration Continues!

I’ve been crazy busy of late, so this post didn’t go up before August started, mostly because I couldn’t find time to write it. Because it’s so late, it isn’t going to have the same level of detail as the last one, but here’s what I’m celebrating in August.

01 August – World Wide Web Day – surf a little, just for fun, and without feeling guilty about it.

02 August – Ice Cream Sandwich Day – mmm, ice cream

03 August – White Wine Day – a breakfast sort of wine, no?

04 August – Dad’s Birthday (he’s 73 this year)

It’s also International Beer Day – make sure it’s a good one

05 August – Underwear Day – please wear clean ones

06 August – Friendship Day – remind a friend you’re happy they exist

07 August – Civic Holiday – it’s this thing in Ontario to get an extra long weekend. We like it.

08 August – Happiness Happens Day – help it happen for someone

It’s also International Cat Day – different from every day how?

09 August – Book Lovers Day – again, different from every day how?

10 August – Duran Duran Day – possibly the greatest hair band of the 80s

11 August – Mom’s Birthday (she’s 70 this year)

It’s also Play in the Sand Day – even if you don’t have small children, playing in the sand is worth the time once in a while

12 August – World Elephant Day – keep an eye out, they’re smarter than you think

It’s also Vinyl Record Day – vinyl never really went away, but it’s just not integrated into our culture the way it used to be. Nostalgia anyone?

13 August – Left Hander’s Day – it’s not always easy to be left handed in a right handed world.

14 August – Creamsicle Day – haven’t had one in years. It might be time.

15 August – Relaxation Day – ah, if only I had the day off.

It’s also Pythagorean Theorem Day – that piece of high school geometry no one thought they’d ever use, but everyone remembers.

16 August – Sister’s Birthday – let’s just say she’s younger than I am and leave it at that.

It’s also Wave at the Surveillance Cameras Day – am I the only one who doesn’t need a special day to do this?

17 August – Get Smart About Credit Day – it’s never too soon or too late to start.

18 August – Men’s Grooming Day – really, guys, take a little time.

It’s also Bad Poetry Day – release your inner Vogon.

19 August – Homeless Animals Day – ever thought about taking one in?

It’s also International Geocaching Day – download the free app and go find a secret treasure you didn’t know was there.

20 August – World Mosquito Day – not my favourite disease carrying insect, but at least they’re food for animals I do like.

21 August – Poet’s Day – and you should be one of them.

22 August – Take Your Cat to the Vet Day – if you’ve been holding off, now is a good time to ensure your Feline Overlords’ health.

23 August – Ride the Wind Day – get out and enjoy the air in your face.

24 August – Vesuvius Day – on this day in 79CE, Vesuvius erupted, wiped out two cities, and killed thousands. That we still know about this today is a joint tribute to Roman record keeping and archaeological persistence.

25 August – Sean Connery Day – not just the original James Bond, but if that’s what you remember, hum the theme song.

26 August – Dog Day – give yours a treat and take them for a walk. You know, like every other day.

27 August – Just Because Day – do something just because you want to. Make it fun. And preferably legal.

It’s also International Bat Day – mosquito hunters extraordinaire in my neck of the woods.

28 August – Bow Tie Day – make no mistake, they are cool.

29 August – Individual Rights Day – there’s a long history of struggle and fighting for individual rights. It’s not over here, much less in other parts of the world.

30 August – Grief Awareness Day – remember that everyone you meet has lost someone close to them. A lot of us may still be grieving.

31 August – We Love Memoirs Day – your grandchildren might, too. Write down some treasured memories and keep them safe.

It’s also Burger Day – this year, make mine vegetarian.

Be well, everyone.

And celebrate something.

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Error Code: -72

Error Code: -72

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I’ve started making story submissions again. Rejections are a part of that. A big part. And sometimes, they’re because you screw something up that isn’t even related to the story itself.

I made a rookie mistake yesterday on one submission, spending the time to adjust the manuscript formatting to match the requirements of the market in question (“Industry standard”, but with a different font, a specific type of quotation mark, italics instead of underlines) and making sure it was exactly as requested. But my eyes skipped over the line that said they like things anonymous inside the story and to take your name out of things. Oops.

Here’s what I got back only a few hours later:


“Dear Lance,

Submission guidelines tell you what a magazine is looking for. If you don’t read them carefully, you won’t know what’s wanted, and you’re saying to the venue that you can’t be bothered to find out.

In our case, we only accept anonymized stories. Your submission contained your name or other personally identifying information (e-mail, address, etc.), and is therefore declined. You may resubmit an anonymized version no sooner than seven calendar days from now.


Editor Of A Publication I’m Unlikely To Submit To Again”


Yes, I made a mistake: I didn’t read things thoroughly enough. Reject the story and tell me to try again. The response I got does that, but it does so with a very passive-aggressive tone designed to make me feel bad and punish me more than just rejecting my story would.

What if I’d been a 16-year-old kid submitting my first story ever and excited about it?

What if I were overcoming an anxiety disorder to submit a story to a magazine I love?

Neither of those things apply, but what if I were a human being? You know, one of the ones who exists and has feelings?

I have to wonder if I’ve just been lucky or if this kind of thing is common. There are old (ancient) rumours that publications and publication groups have blacklists, a file somewhere containing the names of authors they won’t work with for a variety of reasons. This is not my first negative experience in publishing, and I’m far, far from doing this for a living, so my experience isn’t all that broad, but I’m starting to wonder if I need a blacklist of publications. Or at least a grey one for markets I should think long and hard before sending something to.

It’s fortunate for me that the positive experiences tremendously outnumber the negative ones, but that just makes the negative ones annoy me more. For a little passive-aggression of my own, I’ll suggest maybe I should have submitted this story on July 29th instead of July 18th.

Writer folks out there: have you ever received a rejection that seemed designed to make you angry or punish you? I’m suddenly very curious about how widespread this might be.

Be well, everyone.

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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:


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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Bread and Circuses

Bread and Circuses

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I’m simplifying dramatically, but it works: in ancient Rome, to keep the people happy and ignorant, the rich and powerful would sponsor huge gladiatorial games and give away free food. See, all of the amazing entertainments and things I give you. Are you not entertained? Are you not well fed? Am I not awesome? Do you not love me? Try not to think beyond your own immediate contentment.

In current days, we have professional sports and other entertainments. Some people might lump music stars, movies, television, and so on, in with this. I would tend to disagree, but only partly. Books, movies, plays, music, all of these are forms can have a message. Not every example does, certainly, but each can.

The messages and meanings built into a sports team, franchise, or individual game are simple. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Don’t think. Ignore the world around you. Us versus them.

Maybe that last one has dangerous undertones, but I’ll leave in groups, out groups, and competition for another time.

Sports fans get so wrapped up in their support of the team of their choice. Discussions and arguments aside, the hours involved in watching and research and understanding all of the potential nuances of the game can be staggering. And the energy put into cheering or attending a game can be almost disturbing to those of us who don’t partake.

I live in Canada, so apparently hockey is big. It’s not our national sport, but some people treat it as if it is. I like to make fun of hockey fans sometimes, asking as early as mid-September why hockey season isn’t over yet. If pressed, I’ll mockingly remember that hockey season is never actually over, that hockey falls into the category of ‘how can I miss you won’t go away?’ Pattern: the regular hockey season starts in September and carries through until April, when the playoffs pick up, and those are over some time in early June. At that time, the hockey world transitions into international tournaments. When those are over, networks broadcast classic games from the 1980s and 90s. Those will carry the hockey fans through until preseason training and exhibition excitement at the end of August so that the new regular-season can start in September. Hockey season never ends. How can I miss you if you won’t go away?

There are people who feel the same way about every sport.

In fact, I feel the same way about every sport. I imagine all of the energy, time, and money wasted on professional sports. I try not to weep at what could be accomplished by the same people if they poured the same time and energy and money into things that actually matter.

  • Child poverty
  • Poverty in general
  • Government Corruption and waste
  • Systemic inequalities and racism
  • Abuse of power
  • Abuse of animals
  • Climate change
  • Anti-science movements
  • Class disparity
  • Pollution
  • Religious Control
  • Fanaticism
  • The watering down of education
  • Terrorism
  • Concentration of wealth
  • Water security

and dozens, hundreds, thousands of other things.

But let’s get excited over a hockey game.

Why are we so easily distracted by bread and circuses? What is wrong with the human species?

Stay angry, my friends.

And be well, everyone.

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Happy World Drawing Day!

Happy World Drawing Day!

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I meant to actually draw something and post it, maybe along with the video of my drawing it. Completely ran out of time due to real world commitments.

So, instead, I offer one of my infrequent drawings, this is something I did a few years back for what was then my primary blog at (Which still exists, and I’m thinking about what to do with things there.)

Note the variety of elements. I, the Renaissance Ninja, sitting at my computer writing, a Star Trek delta on the side of the desk. Above me, a picture of the rest of the ninja family. In the background, a saxophone and a telescope. On the wall, a whiteboard with a simple integral, the kanji for “karate do”, a cat, and a musical note. If I were to draw this today, there might be a dog lurking somewhere, too.

Note the straightness of the various straight lines and the curves of the various curved one. Note the wonderful expression of light and shadow and the bold pen strokes to create a pleasing mix of images. Note the effective use of whitespace so everything doesn’t look crowded together.

Note that I can’t draw worth a damn, but I still do once in a while.

Did anyone else draw something yesterday?

Always lots going on, as it should be.

Be well, everyone.


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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.


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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