Friday, September 29, 2006

Diversity, awareness and paper clips

It is perhaps fitting that I just finished watching Paper Clips. This afternoon was spent in a diversity training session. I find such sessions great opportunities to see the world a little differently than I had before. Today was no different in that respect. I had the chance to conciously consider and discuss matters that are too often left undiscussed. To then wrap-up my day with a film dedicated to a project undertaken by a middle school in rural Tennessee specifically targeting awareness of a diversity of experience felt right. The Paper Clip Project saw the children of an 8th grade class begin to collect paper clips. This ubiquitous office tool was chosen for a significance assigned it by Norwegians during the second World War. Paper clips were worn by some to represent resistance to Nazism. Over the past 6-7 years, the students at Whitwell Middle School have received over 30 million paper clips from around the world. Many come with stories relating the enclosed clips to the lives of those who were lost during the Holocaust. As a memorial and educational tool, a rail car used to transport jews, homosexuals, romas, jehovah's witnesses and other "undesireables" was found and shipped to the school to serve as a memorial. Not only did a WASPy town see beyond it's borders and experience through this endeavour. It is now the children of the community that are raising the awareness of others who visit regularly.

Discussion today came up of our earliest messages about different populations and ethnic or racial groups. While we are all likely to move beyond what we originally are shown and taught (hopefully with the goal of improving ourselves and the world around us), those messages can still act on us if we revert to them unconciously. I feel like anyone who receives early messages about the horrors that hate and ignorance can cause is much less likely to propagate those things or accept them in the world around them. One can only hope that learning about such opportunities after childhood can still serve the same purpose.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm a lucky guy. I'm not referring to my success stopping a thief. Instead, I'm lucky to have an interesting, enjoyable and fulfilling job. I have tended to avoid discussing work in this context. There are too many people who consider their blogs an opportunity to sound off about anything and everything (I might be one of them) and some who may ignore the potential consequences (I hope not to be one of them). People have been fired over their blog content. I don't want that to be me. More to the point, I feel people deserve their privacy. As such, I limit how much detail I provide about anyone (besides myself).

While still respecting people's privacy I can say that today was a day where I felt particularly good about my work. Thanks to my work I was asked to be a witness at a wedding. This was not in the least way elaborate (that will follow in the future). But to be asked by someone to share in such a special moment is quite moving. More so when your connection is through work rather than years of friendship. What can I say? I'm a lucky guy.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Good Part of the Weekend

Yesterday was a final reunion for past residents and friends of King View Farm. I will unapologetically steal the wise move of my friends Holly and William by explaining that King View was an Intentional Community that has just been sold.

Someone who I was talking to there related it to a family reunion. Apt, but incomplete. Most family I saw much less of than many of these people who lived in the same community. Basically my entire life prior to university was related to this experience and there were many people there who knew me when I was "this" tall (visualize people holding their hands anywhere from knee to belly height).

There were too many people to completely connect with all of them and I don't have time to write extensively about it now, but I was glad to have had the opportunity to be there.

Maureen and Ryan

The "Bad Luck Trifecta" is in play

To start, I had a very nice weekend with family and friends (some of whom, I hadn't seen in a decade or more). This post is not about that.

This post begins when my mother wisely reminded me as I left her house today: "I think you should put as much of your stuff as possible in the trunk. Theives can be a problem in downtown Toronto." For those of you that are not familiar, this plot device is known as foreshadowing.

I headed down to a camera shop for a little window shopping. I get out of the car and head straight in knowing I'll only be about 20 minutes (also foreshadowing).

After a surprisingly successful time in the store I headed out the door and back to the car. As I approach, I notice someone looking through a car. Wait! Not A car, MY car. There is a man rummaging through the extensive collection of things I had in the car (I put as much as I could in the trunk, I really did). Foolhardy guy that I am (emphasis on the fool), I came up behind him and grabbed one of my bags that was in his hand and kindly asked him not to steal from me. ;) After he realized that I wasn't going to do anything to him he seemed to give me back everything that he had. I can't say for sure but I haven't recognized that anything is missing. He had been so methodical that he had gone into my backpack, found my shaving kit, gone in there and specifically chosen items he wanted and placed them in one of my bags. He had even gone into the trunk. It was as though he thought he was getting a loot bag at a birthday party. Or maybe he was a hollywood star down-on-his-luck who was used to the swag they all get at awards shows. Either way, his patience was my saving grace (as well as the fact that he didn't have a knife or gun or something).

Somehow, while this was all going on, I also managed to notice the second part of the "Bad Luck Trifecta", I had a parking ticket. That ol' "I'll only be 20 minutes" bit came back to bite me.

In an optimistic nutshell: I had a great weekend. I won the "Bad Luck Lottery"... Twice! Getting the parking ticket may have limited the amount of time the theif had to collect my stuff (meaning that I got there while he was still at it). Nothing is gone. Maybe the cost of the ticket saved me the cost of everything else.

In a pessimistic nutshell: I had a great weekend. I lost the "Good Luck Lottery"... Twice! I got a bloody parking ticket and had my car and things rummaged through by someone looking for money for their next fix.

I'm inclined to go for the optimistic nuts. They tend to be much tastier. That being said, the trifecta is in play so I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the third misfortune. My hope is that nobody collects on the trifecta this time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More Scurvy Stuff

BTW (By the way for the less acronym-savvy), in case you've been having difficulty coming up with something suitably piratey to say today there is an english-to-pirate translator to assist you.

Today has been a long and tiring day. I enjoyed it, but am ready for a rest (and some dinner). I'm also looking forward to a day where I can hang out with friends at 4:30 rather than work 'til 9:00.

Now read it in pirate: Today be a long an' tirin' tide. I enjoyed 't, but be ready fer a rest (an' some dinner). I be also lookin' fore t' a tide 'ere I can hang ou' wi' shipmates at 4:30 rather than work `til 9:00.


Avast! Ahoy! Yaarrr!

No, I don't have something stuck in my throat. Rather, I'm celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Another celebration to add to No Pants Day on your annual calendar of fun.

However you spend the day, make sure you give at least one person a good "Avast!" Or at least call someone "me hearty!" Who knows, you could even help save the world. If you believe the folks behind Flying Spaghetti Monsterism then you know that Global Warming is not due to carbon dioxide and other goodies in the air (like Al Gore tells us in An Inconvenient Truth). Instead, you know that Global Warming is proportionally related to the number of pirates in the world. As pirate numbers have decreased, the temperatures have increased. Coincidence. I think not. So, make sure that you spread the "gospel". The more converts to Piratanity, the further we are in our fight against Global Warming.

Keep your poop-decks clean you scurvy dogs! (Doing my bit for humanity)

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Hate Spam

Sure, canned meat isn't my favourite but Junk Mail is particularly insidious. Call me naive but I am inclined to think that people are, in their hearts, good. The world would be a better place if this were true. Sadly, it is not. I know there are many reasons why this may be the case and that it's not just a choice when people get up in the morning: "Today... I think I'll be bad." Spam just makes me crazy because it is specifically out to fleece people. Not only that, but it assumes that people are stupid. I wish that the web-going, e-mail-sending public could collectively prove spammers wrong (and in doing so, put them out of business) but alas, that is not the case. Your bank is not e-mailing you. Nobody is ever going to ask you to e-mail your credit card information. If they do, take a looooooooong hard look at them. Shifty, shifty.

Why do we have to live within our species just as we live with all the other species? Survival of the fittest results in preying on the weak. I'm Canadian, it's going to be a hard fight to convince me that this strengthens the herd and is better for the whole. I'm not naive enough to believe that convincing the "baddies" out there to be good will be as easy as making sure they wake up on the right side of the bed. I guess that leaves being the change we want to see in the world. And not sending junk.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

All Hail the Weekend!

I imagined that my perfect career would be one where I didn't need to look forward to the weekend. I was naive. I have a great job (which may be a career) but I am also learning that there is nothing wrong with looking forward to the weekend. Unless, I spend Monday and Tuesday lamenting the passing of the weekend and Thursday and Friday dreaming of the next. That would leave me one entire day to get things done and I don't think that is conducive to turning a job into a career. Either way, the weather has been nice so far this weekend and it seems likely to stay that way. It's felt like a last little blast of summer after a month of business that had me barely even noticing what was going on outside. A welcome change.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Justin and Da - Continued

T plus 2 (days).

It is true, we are both one year older (how that can happen over the course of a couple of days still amazes me). We are also connected in many ways. Ways which make us both lucky to have a shared experience, even if we're separated by nearly 30 years. That being said, I'm glad he doesn't have to share my current exhaustion. This (older) boy needs to rest.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Rest of the World

T plus 5 (years).

Sure, the world is always changing. But it is seldom that so much change can be traced back to one day, one occurence. September 11, 2001 will be memorialized many times today. It is truly a tragedy, what happened that day. So too, what has followed. I mourn a world that may have stood a much better chance of defeating some of the long-standing tragedies of our time. AIDS, poverty, global warming... Some may argue (justly) that advances have been made in those battles over the past half-decade but I have no doubt that successes would be far greater had much of the world not turned it's thinking and it's budgets over to "defense".

Justin and Da

T Minus 1 (day).

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fill Yer' Brain!

Sure there's more information out there than any of us can handle. Sure I have trouble handling the information I am already exposed to (ie. I looked for my keys yesterday on my, admitedly messy, desk while actually holding them in my mouth). Still, I do enjoy learning new (and often useless) things. Here's a new way: Set your homepage to It will bring up a random page (thus the Randompage bit) from Wikipedia which has become my source of all sorts of information. I acknowledge that it's not perfect. When anyone and their dog can submit changes to an article there's the possibility for abuse. Still, I'm inclined to think more of the web-going public. I've already learned about rapper-sweated jeans, a character on a cheesy tv show and a pint-sized british rocket. What might you find? Go ahead, edumacate yourself.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Picton Castle is in town. In case you are not inclined to follow web links, it is not a real castle, but rather a sailing ship, a Barque to be specific. No, today I won't be giving you an incomplete lesson in Marine and Maritime lore (though I know you're all studying ferverishly for your upcoming seamanship exams). Instead the surprise appearance of the Picton Castle brought back some memories so you're going to get navel-gazing, instead of naval-gazing.

The year: 2002. It was the "International Year of Ecotourism and Mountains". On January 13, George W. Bush fainted after choking on a pretzel and the Picton Castle was the subject of a t.v. show called Tallship Chronicles. The host, and his intrepid cameraman, signed-on for a true adventure that by June of that year would see them having covered 37,000 nautical miles and over 22 countries before ending the voyage back in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. I, on the other hand, had some time on my hands. I had just finished a couple of contracts and was looking for something to do. Having seen this adventure, I was definitely attracted. It was about time for the final leg of the voyage: from South Africa back to Lunenberg. I contacted the offices. There were a couple of berths still available. Then the other shoe dropped: It was going to cost over $10,000 USD to participate. That would've been a little steep and I realized that I would be joining a crew where many of whom had been together for a year or so. Only to be with them for the final leg didn't fit for me. So, the Picton Castle was not to be. Granted, in lieu of that, I spent 3 months in Europe seeing much and generally enjoying myself. That led to S.E. Asia, New Zealand and Australia the next year, and the work I find myself doing now in the year after that. With the docking of the Picton Castle things may be coming full circle. Or maybe I need to sign on for a voyage for it truly to come full circle. As nice as it would be to learn many seamanship skills over 6 months in the Caribbean, the $24,150 CAD they're asking for is a little steep. Maybe I'll start by going and checking out their Cargo Sale.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ernie, Ernie. Silly Storm.

You've done your damage Ernold. Thankfully we're a reslient bunch and your dour complexion didn't keep us down. Not to say you're not having an effect. I have no interest in going wandering in your rainy goodness (which, I might add, is fine by me). Time for a wee rest.