Tag: Life

Satire

Satire

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It is time to turn some of my creative energy to satire. I’ve dabbled in it here and there, but never for long and never seriously. There’s nothing wrong with the bit of slacktivism I’ve been doing, sharing memes sizes trying to stir people up here and there and starting or participating in online conversations as I see the need. But I need more, and I feel like, at this point, I have developed a bit of a talent for writing. If the satire only amuses me, that’s fine. If it only preaches to a small choir, that’s fine too. In either of those cases, it’s probably not worth a tremendous amount of time. But if just one person, or more than one person, or whole bunch of people gets irritated at something I satirize, maybe we can actually get some new discussion started about the things that are wrong with our society. At the moment, by our society, I primarily mean Ontario and the bigoted premier we seem to have elected and who seems to want to run the province if it were his own sandbox and with 19th century policies.

Not acceptable.

So, satire.

I feel like I want to start by taking my cue from Piet Hein, one of my favorite poets, famous for short, stabby verses in at least two languages, and starting during World War II. I’m not suggesting Ontario is currently like Nazi occupied Denmark in the early 1940s, but, to my eyes, much as south of the border, there are flavors of it in the wind.

Not in my Ontario.

However, I also have to recognize that live in the Internet age, and probably there are no underground newspapers are going to be willing to publish said satirical poetry. At least nothing with significant distribution. There is, however, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. And I can certainly find unflattering pictures of my targets in the huge public archives and attach my short, stabbing versus to them.

And so I will.

Be well, everyone.

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Middle Age Is Not for the Weak

Middle Age Is Not for the Weak

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To be middle aged is to be caught between worlds sometimes. You still remember your youth very well, and frequently the dreams and aspirations you had. But you’re caught up in the day-to-day, the survival, making the right decisions, the best ones for your family, younger and older. Not easy place to be.

But you can also look ahead and see larger digits, recognize that at this point in your life, there are fewer days ahead than there are behind. And still, you’re caught in the day-to-day, a survival in life and getting by in providing support you need to for your family, younger and older.

The thing is, you often have no idea what that support needs to be.

You look at your children, if you have them, and other younger relatives, and understand they’ve grown up in a vastly different world than you did. But when you look at those younger family members, you can see in them the dreams and aspirations little different than yours in a fundamental level, you can see that they want to learn and grow and change the world. You see all the energy and vitality of youth that you are, probably, fighting to hold onto.

You look your parents and the rest of their generation, and you are always shocked at how old they are, because when they’re out of your sight, you remember them as the much younger, much stronger people who raised you. And you know that they grew up in a different world than you did, and because they’ve seen all of the change that the world has brought for you and your children, they have an easier time understanding your kids than maybe you do, even if the attitudes and issues they have don’t match up. And you really have no idea what they need, because they’re not living the same world that you are. They have that implicit understanding of aging that’s going to take you a couple more decades of direct experience to gain.

And so you realize that you are in your middle years, caught between youth and old age, and maybe, just maybe, you have enough wisdom and experience to figure out what you’re doing if not necessarily where you’re going.

You wonder what happened to all the years between youth and now, and you’re just a little bit afraid to look ahead to what’s coming in the years between now and the end.

It’s become a tagline here and there that old age is not for the weak. You’re starting to recognize that and when you look at your parents and you think about how strong they must be.

And then you look at your children you think about how strong they must be to live with the society we have in the world they’re inheriting. Youth isn’t for the weak, either.

I’ve seen it suggested, and maybe even backed up by some actual research and behavioral science here and, that midlife crisis, or whatever terminology is currently in fashion, is often a product of fear that we don’t want to admit. Fear of what we’ve lost, and fear of having to recognize what we still have to lose. We’re not thinking about the gains, of course, because somehow they don’t seem significant next to the stunning realization of our own mortality.

I think I might suggest that middle age is also not for the weak.

And I think that leaves us with the realization that the human experience is a tough one, that we are all stronger than we realize. We learn, grow, we strive, we go on.

But only until we don’t.

The human experience, whatever your version of it is, requires strength, so we all have it, manifesting differently for each of us.

A difficult thought.

Recognized or not, you are strong. We all are, and that’s not easy thing to know or believe or understand.

Be well, everyone.

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Cottage Life Day 7 – Big Adventure Day

Cottage Life Day 7 – Big Adventure Day

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Or, as I’m also referring to it as: “Trip to the Little Lake on Big Island in a Slightly Bigger Lake”. Another excerpt from last week’s vacation.

Said trip involved:

  1. 10-minute drive to the appropriate boat launch,
  2. 5-kilometre paddle by kayak to the place where I tied the boat,
  3. Safely extract myself from the kayak without drowning or breaking any bones and make sure it’s secured so I’m not stranded,
  4. 40-metre climb that also covered about 20 metres in vertical distance,
  5. 25 metres worth of horizontal-ish bushwhacking without the benefit of a trail or path.

Destination:

On a map (blue circle is the boat launch, red circle is where I stood at the tiny lake on Big Island:

Repeat in reverse to get back to the cottage.

Why, you ask?

To answer that, I’ll ask another question: have you ever wanted to stand somewhere no one has ever stood before?

This is a sparsely populated lake in a sparsely populated area. The island is up a branch of the lake that doesn’t seem to attract much fishing or boating traffic. It’s also completely undeveloped and I saw no evidence of human traffic at all while I was there. The only reason I knew the tiny lake was even there was because I was looking at the geocaching map before we left for our vacation, thinking about what caches we might like to get while we were in the area, and I happened to notice the isolated spot.

No, I’m not fooling myself into thinking that no one has ever been to that tiny lake before. This part of Ontario has been inhabited, if lightly, for thousands of years. The Madawaska River has had cottages on it for decades, and there were settlers in the area by 1800. There are people who live here year round and there are plenty of occasional/summer dwellers, too.

But it’s fairly well off the beaten track and I’d guess the number of people who have seen this spot is very small.

Yes, I left a cache there.

Maybe someone else will want to stand where few people ever have. If they’re a geocacher, they can sign the log book while they’re there. If not, it was a lot of work to get there and they can still enjoy the feeling of accomplishment to take in that quiet scene.

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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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:

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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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Something This Way Comes

Something This Way Comes

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HiResSo I’ve been pretty quiet lately on both the blog and Facebook, creatively speaking. There are reasons.

The big one is that I’m trying to figure out exactly what it is I want to accomplish creatively. If I look at my recent journal entries, I’ll find a debate with myself between creating a torrent of words (one goal set was to draft six novels this year) because I have a lot of stories I want to tell, or to work harder on a much smaller number of really finely crafted tales looking at big ideas and concepts dear to my mind, or even to try for some combination of the two.

The slightly less big one is that there are things I want to do other than write fiction. Family things, creative things, social things, academic things, athletic things, philosophical things. Lots of things. Many, many things.

How do I get done everything I want to get done?

The quick answer is live forever. Which means the real answer is that I have to make some choices. Some of those choices are hard, but that’s life.

Creatively, there are stories I want to tell and stories I need to tell. Need comes first and want follows as time allows. There’s audio and video coming, too. Yes, some of this relates to my writing, but not all of it. I need more satire in my creative life, and more collaboration, too. And more poetry.

And perhaps a wee bit of help.

Choices are being made. Things are happening, but it’s pretty much all been background stuff so far.

That’s about to change.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Believe it when it happens, not before.

Be well, everyone.

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Three Teenagers?

Three Teenagers?

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12So today is my youngest child’s birthday. She’s turning 12. I’m not sure if you can count 12 as a teen year or not, but if you can, that means I now have three teenagers.

When I was a teenager, that would’ve been the furthest thing from my mind.

In my 20s, especially before we got married, kids were a distant thing on the horizon, at least until we decided we wanted them.

In my 30s, when I had those kids, when they were small, the teenage years still seemed comfortably far away.

Now, not so much.

16, closing in on 14, and just turned 12. Two-teen, right?

Okay, I’m reaching. But why is it necessary on each of my children’s birthday that I’m the one feels old? It’s a parent thing, I guess. I’m always nostalgic on my children’s birthdays. I especially feel it today. My littlest baby is a dozen years old. And she’s incredible.

And while I can’t wait to see how she turns out, I’m entirely fine if she stops growing up, too. Well, not really. I love her so much for who she is, but I won’t hold her back from who she’s becoming.

Happy birthday, Youngest. You are an awesome girl, and you will become an awesome woman.

Love, always,

Dad.

XOXO

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Life Lessons From 2014

Life Lessons From 2014

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We should always be learning. I’ve learned lots this year as well as others. But some lessons stand out and sometimes because they were hard to learn or relearn. I have four picks for this year, each learned or relearned or reinforced in a different way.

If someone is wrong on the Internet, it’s not that important.

Rather than telling someone they’re wrong on FB (or Twitter, or wherever), it’s often just as satisfying to comment out loud to yourself without posting. Humans being humans, most people are just going to resent the correction anyway. Make an exception when they’re posing a danger to themselves or others.

If you haven’t got anything nice to say, say something nice about someone else.

There’s something about our modern society that entitles someone’s opinion to be as valid as carefully researched and proven facts. Combine this with the fact that many people think that just because they have an opinion that other people have to listen to it. Throw in a little anonymity on the internet to bleed belligerence through into the real world and you’ve got a veritable douchebag cocktail at work in western society. Try not to contribute to it. Find something you like about someone and say something about that instead.

Do something to make the world a better place.

Anything. Stand up for something that’s wrong. Be kind to strangers, animals, and small children. Pick up a little garbage. Write a protest letter. Be the person you wish everyone could be.

Meet your kids where they are.

They’re still pretty young when they stop automatically coming to where you are and joining in with your interests. Finding their own path is important, but you’ve got to learn to walk it with them, and that’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s bloody hard. But it’s also incredibly important.

Be well, everyone.

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