January 31, 2008


I just knew that I was going to create a problem. Santa brought a PVR and a full-meal-deal cable package this past Christmas that has brought great disturbance to the force. The installer decided that this new piece of hardware should be hooked up to the best TV in the house which turns out to be the big screen in the basement. This has been a closely held secret for the past three years, thus allowing the head of the household, in all of his manly glory, to roam the digital universe in peace and solitude, confident in his battery-draining clicking of the channel changer.

The PVR has brought an unsettling number of tourists to the island in search of Star Trek and Oprah and we (the royal we) now understand that there are approximately 125 hours of recordings of this historically significant evidence of life in the universe. The original intent of the big screen was to be able to view hockey, some travel documentaries, the occasional blockbuster movie (if an invitation had been extended), perhaps an interesting cooking show, from which a recipe could be stolen and the Planet Earth DVD's. This invasion of the sacred male sanctorum has involved the wholesale movement of most furniture items, the banishment of the treadmill to the furnace area, feminine claims to certain chairs and lamps, the need to remove dirty glasses, plates and fast food containers and a certain traffic congestion that brings great disruption to the natural order of things.

It is now crystal clear that the genie has been let out of the lamp and that it will not return unless a significant inducement is offerred. Further to the cable guy's desire to hook up the PVR to the best TV in the house, it seems that a visit to a suitable store of electronics and all things mysterious, will be in order. I have been conducting extensive research on such things as LCD, plasma (not just your father's blood supply apparently), 1080i vs. 1080P, processor speeds and HDMI inputs (are you not impressed?) and I have determined that to return peace to the planet will require the purchase of a new television with all of these above mentioned features, for placement in the main floor family room and a reconnection of the PVR to the household's best TV. Some of the specifications and benefits are still unknown to me, for instance does anyone actually know what a pixel is, and can mere mortals see one, and what does it do, and.........?

January 30, 2008


Do you find it interesting how quickly we human doings adjust to change? For the past few days the weather around here has been frigid, although a couple of interesting adverbs are usually placed in front of the adjective, frigid. This morning when I went out to start the car (parked in the driveway, not the garage, a story for another day!)it felt much warmer, or at least, not nearly as cold -27C!!
I also find it fascinating how quickly our bodies adjust to increased activity and resistance - sometimes known as exercise. It's always interesting how much quicker they adjust to a decrease in the same thing. We adjust very easily to increased income, larger houses, new technology, most odours (with the exception of baby poop), sleep duration, heated car seats, Kona coffee, wet socks and questionable humour.
Perhaps the only thing we don't adjust to as quickly, is a change of mind. No preaching today but the difference between a good day and a bad day, happiness and despair, success and failure, acceptance and rejection, hot and cold is a change of mind.

January 29, 2008


Sometimes we commit too early. Like this morning, for instance. I shaved, turned around, opened the shower door, turned on the tap and then cleaned up the sink area and weighed myself while waiting for the water to heat up. After checking to see how many commas were in the number on the digital weigh scale, I took off my glasses and stepped into the shower. Fully inside, water and steam pulsing down on me, soaked in the familiar surroundings, it struck me. I had forgotten to put a new bar of soap in the soap dish. Yesterday, I watched the last suds from the bar of Ivory (I've had a wonderful relationship with Ivory soap for almost 30 years, ever since I shared.....oh, never mind, I digress) disappear down the drain. Now, it would be one thing to have to step out of the shower, on to the mat and reach under the sink for a replacement but no, I knew there were none there. In order to get more soap, I would have to wake someone ( I'm not that brave at 5:30 AM!) or make my own way out of the bathroom, through the bedroom and into the hallway to retrieve some soap bars from the linen closet. And soaking wet at the same time! Or, I could look for an alternative source of cleansing agent. I don't know if there is any real difference between Neutragena hair shampoo and Ivory soap, probably not, but at the time, I didn't want to smell like my hair - I'm not sure why, but it was early OK. Now that I have lost 10 pounds, I can see the edges of the shower stall again and the water flows all the way down the walls to the drain. There are certain body parts that have a much better view of the shower floor than my eyes have of them (go ahead, think about it) but I was able to discern a large number of containers sitting in one corner. After allowing for my shampoo, I counted another 8 bottles of varying shapes, sizes and colours. One of them must contain soap. I'm not sure what the difference is between a soap bar and body wash and I don't want to know what body butter is - do I? I located one bottle that promised a gentle, all day relief for dry skin (how the hell can skin be dry when you're standing in a shower?) so I squeezed a bunch on my hand and enjoyed (but not too much) rubbing it all over and became aware of a familiar smell. Once in a while, my kids, when they were babies and had clean diapers, smelled like this and now I do too. I'm apparently baby fresh for the rest of the day.

And you thought this was going to be all philosophical and deeply intellectual and stuff. Just good clean writing and try to lose some of the visuals from your mind.

January 28, 2008


On Friday night I saw my movie hero, Jack Nicholson along with Morgan Freeman in The Bucket List. You can always tell a good movie because it makes us laugh one minute and perhaps a little catch in the throat,(or was that something in my eye? I had a cold you know!) the next. You can read reviews and stuff elsewhere but it did get me thinking about my own list. I wondered whether, at the time of our passing, we will regret the things we did, or the things we didn't do, more? Not that it will change the results of the story but it might change the quality of the passing. Perhaps it is too fine a point for some, but I seem to have both kinds of lists. Before I die, I want to learn to surf, sail, write a best seller, see Machu Pichu and on and on - all "doing" things. On the other list, there seems to be a number of things that I can't change without a time travel machine and so, what to "do" about them, is the question. One thing I thought about is making sure that history doesn't repeat itself by creating a "being" list. In the future, but starting today, I want to be more joyful, I intend to live with more passion, I will advance every day a step closer to my dreams and I intend to keep adding to the lists.
At this point, I will need to live to a hundred, so I'd better add a new blender to the list.

The question for the day, is it even possible to have "fat free" Carnation condensed milk? It doesn't taste the same in my coffee and it's too early for Amarula.

January 24, 2008


Reminiscing seems to be good for the soul. In addition to the cathartic effects of sometimes discovering truths about yourself and others, the effort to remember events in their stark veracity, can produce a new reality and a new layer of knowledge that brings into the light past decisions and offers the opportunity to heal ancient scars. Yesterday was such a day for me as I had three separate occasions to review part of my own history.
Lunch, with the same partner from a week ago, produced no new toenail polish stories but he asked me a question about whether I see myself as a conventional thinker or somewhat more radical in my approach to life. I feel that I have a fairly conventional way of thinking but can't help myself from pricking the balloon of conformity on occasion (see blog from Tuesday). I am a product of the sixties when every accepted norm was in play. Everything from government to love was poked, prodded, turned upside down, challenged and then someone would write a song about it. I learned a certain irreverence for accepted behaviour as I bounced back and forth between trying to fit in and wanting to display my independence.
"Did I live inside the box or did I prefer an existence outside the lines?" he asked. Both, would be my reply. I just love to do small and inconsequential things that produce major problems for others. For instance, and please, I urge you to try this, when you pull into a parking lot that is almost empty, don't park near the entrance doors. First of all, if you have a passenger, it will tick them off to no end ( I just assume that they could probably use the excercise but you decide if you want to say that) but even better, when you arrive at the back row, not another car in sight, park over top of the lines instead of in between them. It will drive anyone who sees this absolutely nuts. I just figure that I didn't draw the lines, no one asked me where to paint them and I get to fly in the face of people who have this need to follow the rules no matter what.
My favourite however is saved for the grocery store. When I walk up to the checkout counter and place my items on the conveyor belt, I frequently, and especially if there is a woman of a "certain age" behind me, pick up the little divider provided to separate the customers groceries from one another, turn it on its side and then lay it on the belt at a 45 degree angle behind my items. I guarantee that the person behind will move it as soon as you turn your back to them. They will usually throw a look of total disgust at you for this assault on all that is holy. A grin drives them right around the bend. I love it!
One of the other things I discovered during lunch is that my movie hero is Jack Nicholson - slightly licentious, always irrascible and consistently irreverent - I can't imagine why I would look up to him. For a guy with his looks, he always got the good looking girl, too. Right on, Jack!

January 23, 2008

ME TO WE, part 2

If you're still here after yesterday's blog, then it says as much about your taste in writing as it does about mine. Burgundy boxers today, how about you?
You may recall that I have been extolling the virtues of Craig and Marc Kielburger's wonderful book, Me To We in recent posts. In essence, they put forward a philosophy that one of our main purposes on this earth is to share our gifts with others. The route to true happiness is found in the joy that giving from ourselves, from our heart, from the basket of abundance that each of us possesses, changes us at a soul level. While we ourselves experience this change, the world that we choose to help experiences the benefit of a lift up. I'm always a little skeptical of big, monolithic and bureaucratic charitable organizations with large buildings, staffs and slick marketing campaigns. The fact that they are not required to provide any audited financial statements always raises my curiosity and so, when I see people who are serious about helping, serious enough to work at ground level by providing their own labour and sweat, then I get this warm and fuzzy. There is a link on the right hand side of the page and I urge you to at least take a look at some of the projects that Free the Children are involved in. Perhaps you could find a way to help, too?????
Next up on the reading list is a book written by John Wood whom you may have seen on television recently. He left Microsoft at the height of his career and earnings to collect used books to distribute to poor and illiterate nations starting in Nepal. A cause very close to my own heart is education because I believe that the way to change the world is to teach the 850 million people who can't read and write to do so. Feed, heal and teach, the road to peace and true happiness for all of us.

January 22, 2008


Well, sometimes we just have to take on the major issues of our time. We can't get our shirts in a knot, become frustrated or shrink from our responsibilities. Ladies, this here is man talk and we must ask you not to read any further. We will be revealing feelings, confronting age old beliefs and uncovering situations far too sensitive for your delicate eyes and ears. Thank you for reading no further.

OK, guys, now that it is just us, let's get to business as we confront the age old question of mankind, "Whether 'tis nobler in the hind to suffer the slings and horrors of outrageous skivies or is it better to cast aside our constrictions and embrace an eyre of independence." Shakespeare said something like that until his editor insisted on a rewrite - really! I had thought about adding a poll to this blog to discover how many of us wear boxers and how many wear briefs, but I figured some of you would use a different spelling of the word "poll" and then we would degenerate into a series of bad puns, short jokes and all sorts of word mayhem would ensue.
It seems to me that there is a time and place for both voluminous boxers and form-fitting briefs alike. Let's face it, the women have it easy - they can wear almost anything, or better still nothing, so long as whatever they choose is combined with a garter belt and high heels - job done, the perfect outfit for any occasion. We, on the other hand, must give careful consideration to so many factors like colour, size, comfort, "dressing" preference and of course the potential for some kind of exposure. As you know, some things are just not right, for instance, while sitting on the patio in a pair of shorts, boxers are so inappropriate when your legs are akimbo and we can't help but notice a significant degree of discomfort from those sitting across from us. In this case, briefs keep the package wrapped and there is little risk of sunburn as an added benefit. If the colour you choose is close to the colour of your outerwear, then a certain degree of mystery can heighten the curiosity of the opposite number (hopefully, they are also the opposite sex, but who am I to judge?). This is very important gentlemen, white briefs, sometimes referred to as, tighty whiteys, are only appropriate on two occasions - when you are playing tennis at a conventional club and if you are in the U.S. Navy and going on parade. Otherwise, choose a colour. You can just imagine the embarrassment of finding yourself in the bedroom unexpectedly, and as the moment of truth arrives you stand with your back to the bed to allow your Dockers to slide down your thighs and hear a slight gasp as your lady-love spots the vertical residue that has attached itself and is in high contrast to its snowy white host and then as you turn to face her, you realize that you didn't shake before reentry and the humiliation doubles. All thoughts of romance now destroyed because you didn't take the necessary precautions and at the age most of you have reached - it may be your last chance. Don't let this happen to you - wear anything but white! And while we are at it, the leopard skin printed thong, sometimes called a banana-hammock, is never appropriate if you are over the age of 20.
Boxers also present a few issues that need to be discussed. Because of their excess fabric, we find that they often cling to our trousers and after sitting for any length of time, a certain adjustment is required to release their folds from our folds. This can be awkward in restaurants and other public places. I also find it dangerous to be hurtling down the highway and requiring a massive shift of undergarment in order to return my voice to its usually dulcet basso tones. Also, we need to address the manufacturers of said garments; the type of material you use is very important. Too often, we have found that boxers with funny sayings, beer signs and sports team logos are made of a very stiff fabric thus causing excessive chafing and discomfiture to the nether regions. And one more thing, is it too much to expect a button on every flap - for God's sake, I'll pay the extra 5 cents to avoid the feeling of helplessness when the boys are accidentally set free! This usually happens as I address a room full of people expecting wisdom and no lectern in sight. Oh, the travails of being a man - if only women understood the oppression and stress of maintaining this high standard of excellence. "Woe be unto us!"pleaded Bill Shakespeare, until his wife made him change it.

January 21, 2008


A few days ago, I referred to myself as a man of the 80's. For that to be true (which it is, I suppose) I also need to be a child of the 60's. Some of you will vaguely recall the 60's, the rest can ask your parents and don't believe everything they tell you. One of the hallmarks of that period of time was a contempt for authority as represented by the "man" or our parents, churches and schools. We grew our hair long because parents didn't like it, we listened and danced to rock and roll because we were told it would lead to lasciviousness (we didn't know what that meant, but we knew we wanted some) and we smoked dope to improve our eyesight (ahem). Most of this anarchy seemed to have an air of innocence about it as I look in the rear view mirror of time. The whole peace, love and rock-on scene was embraced as a statement about freedom. We didn't want to hurt anyone else, quite the opposite, as we openly flirted with and sometimes embraced other cultures, religions, medicine, education, government and lifestyles. The unconventional became conventional as a certain amount of disobedience was required in order to be accepted by mainstream society. Those who rode the "straight and narrow train" were ostracized to some extent, by the "cool kids." Fast forward a generation, and we discover that we have passed this attitude on to our own children and of course, they have improved and pushed the envelope even further.
That seems to be a long way to go, in order to get to my point (what's new, you say?) but when parents throw common sense to the wind, in order to snub rules of safety and they bring their children along for the ride, the recipe can create dire consequences. Case in point, the neanderthal who took his 14 year old son skiing out of bounds. They apparently passed several warning signs that cautioned about the dangers involved and when they got into trouble, they required rescue. I don't care if the idiot parent wants to kill himself but to teach his son that the rules, the warnings, don't apply to him can only lead to more disaster. I am really thinking about this from two angles, the first of which is that they needed to be rescued, thus putting at risk a number of other people. Putting oneself in danger is one thing but this becomes an intentional endangerment of the lives of others as they were forced to go and get them. How is that different from impaired driving, a friend of mine asked on Saturday? It's not, so charge him and punish him appropriately! I see that the father, in this case, has been sent a bill to cover the costs of rescue but the addition of a stiff fine might be justified. The other area that concerns me is the lesson that he has taught his son. Most kids today think that they are living in the Age of Entitlement. Anything they want should be theirs, regardless of consequences, economics, the rights of others and common sense. So now, this parent has taught his son that disregarding a danger warning has no real consequences because there will always be someone there to rescue him. Dear old dad will pay the costs of rescue and the people who showed up to take them back to safety - oh well, they were just doing their jobs. What could possibly go wrong as we teach a whole new generation that there is no need to take responsibility for their actions.

And besides, it didn't really improve my eyesight as promised - I have to wear glasses but I Can See Clearly Now.

January 19, 2008


If you remember the sixties, you weren't there. Where were you the day Kennedy died? or John Lennon, or Princess Di, or the day of the tsunami, volcano, snowstorm, and on and on and on. We tend to relate history to our own place or involvement in it. Otherwise, we tend to treat it like another school class, a little dry and one dimensional but knowing it, may explain why we have reached this particular place we stand in today, so we are told. History, as we know it in an academic sense, is rife with inaccuracies, opinions, revisionism and outright lies. Up until a couple of hundred years ago, very few people could write and there was no other form of mass communication. Most newspapers, until a few short decades ago, had only a limited local following. What history was recorded, was done quite often, long after the fact through heresay, conjecture and opinion, We have ascribed thoughts, words and deeds to kings, gods and conquerors centuries after they have passed from this mortal coil. How do we know what really happened when a very small and select group of scribes, under who knows what influence, have presented information without witness to people without access to other sources and usually many years after the event. What opinions do we hold today that are based on fictional episodes of historical conquests and discoveries? We know that in this age of communication, in this age of cellphone cameras, news networks, blogs and instant access, that information that we think we are witnessing on our television and computer screens is being manipulated, massaged, edited and politically corrected.
In our search for the truth, some of us have become too cynical (ya think?) and consequently miss what truth is sometimes staring at us and yet, there are still many who glance at the headlines, listen with half an ear to news radio in the car and glance at the TV news during dinner and can still offer an opinion on daily events. Presidential candidates are judged on hair do's, 15 second sound bites, whether or not they inhaled (yes I did), their squeeky-clean past and their ability to say much while offending no one. The point this morning is a little elusive as I had hoped to focus on the importance of sharing our own history with the significant people in our lives. That was the original idea but no, I couldn't leave well enough alone, I just had to rant on about the shortcomings of the rest of the world instead of my own. Oh well, stay tuned and I will reveal all, eventually.

January 17, 2008


I just have to get this off my chest. As a firmly entrenched man of the 80's, there are some things a guy just doesn't do. Things like admit fault, watch Dr. Phil, ask for directions, say "Let's just talk," tear up during The Notebook or walk into a lingerie store by himself(it's underwear isn't it?). I had lunch yesterday with a friend who informed me that he had recently had a pedicure. He went on to extol the virtues of soaking, scraping, buffing, clipping, lavender scent and everything else "ped" related. I couldn't help myself - after this clearly hetero buddy whom I have hiked, joked, golfed, lunched, laughed and bitched with for years, told me about his pedicurial afternoon and how much he had enjoyed the experience, the only question screaming in my mind was, "What colour polish did you get?" I think the "guys" at the next table had had enough by that time and may never return to that restaurant.

I have this theory (yet another one you say, surprise, surprise) that there are three types of people in the world - leaders, followers and I-don't-know's. In the last case, the residents of that particular village rarely, if ever, read anything and would be hard pressed to name a significant event of any type that has occurred in the last week. They may check a left over newspaper at the coffee shop, if they have absolutely nothing else to do, for scores of the previous night's sporting events, but generally they wander through life waiting for something to happen. They spend most of their lives on hold, in expectation of bad news.
Followers, on the other hand, bring great value to society by knowing that they are "in the game" and that if they follow the rules, they can and will create a life for themselves and their families. They are a little jealous of those people in charge, especially business owners and political leaders because they know, if given the chance, they could do the job better themselves! They are usually a little in awe of those other people in society who have had all the breaks, have been born into wealth, who were given the title of CEO or president and who set the rules that followers must live by.
Leaders know one secret - there are no rules. Life is simply made up in whatever manner we please. Where there is a vacuum, they step in and create what is needed to fill the space. They don't wait for someone else to level the playing field, identify the pros and cons and determine the best course of action. They make up the course of action, decide the rules and step forward into the unknown and take the risk of being wrong. The world could do with a few more leaders, don't you think?

And to my pedoital buddy, you are obviously a leader my friend, but I fear that I cannot follow.

January 16, 2008


People are talking. So, what's with the grocery store, they ask. Standing in the checkout line last night, I had time to look around at the other customers as well as the employees. Once again, old rock playing over the sound system and slightly louder than I recall other stores playing it. The common denominator between customers and workers seemed to be the smiles and the jaunty attitude as they cruised around the aisles - or I am the only one who noticed it? Tonite, I think I'll check out another grocery store and see what their music is like. Actually, while standing in the lineup last night, I began day dreaming about the possibility of the store adding a latte bar in one corner, perhaps a customer-use kitchen with counter and stools in the other and would it be too much to ask them to lower the lights, add a disco ball at the entrance....

When I was a young lad, someone very important in my life, accused me of being a dreamer. It wasn't meant as a compliment. It came with the advice to straighten up and fly right, put your nose to the grindstone, work hard and make something of yourself! Now, I didn't take advice then, any better than I do now. The whole idea of dreaming as a virtue may have been the typical teenage reaction to authoratative instruction, but all of a sudden I began to notice how many people were dreaming. Everyone from the Everley Brothers to Martin Luther King had a dream. We dreamed about everything from unfulfilled love to changing the world. Somebody has to be a planner and an organiser, someone has to lay out on paper how we move from one objective to the next. Blessings to the accountants, researchers and engineers, but long before any of that can happen, somebody has to dream, somebody has to hold the vision for what is possible. I'm always amazed at how many people are tremendously successful, especially in business, with nothing more than a dream in their briefcase. We all know examples of the high school dropouts who went on to found hugely successful business empires and who now employs all the accountants, engineers and MBA's. Totally lacking a business plan, the dream was so strong and the vision shone so brightly that despite naysayers and conventional wisdom, the dream had no choice but to become reality.

The size of the dream is only limited by the size of the dreamer.

Here's to the dreamers of this world, it is a better place for your being here.

Now, if I could just find that old, white, polyester suit, head back to the grocery store.......Get down tonight!

January 15, 2008

ME TO WE, part 1

No sixty year old blonde-by-the-bananas last night but I did see an attractive fifty-something moovin' and groovin' to the grocery store tunes. While winding her way through the aisles, she couldn't help herself from singing along with the rock and roll oldies emitting from the ceiling speakers. Is this the death knell for musak? There is a God!
Faithful readers will remember my mentioning a book that my daughter gave me for Christmas, written by the two young brothers, Craig and Marc Kielburger, called Me to We. After being awakened by the wind howling through the trees, chimes and fence gates at 4 AM this morning, I would normally have climbed on the computer (not the treadmill!) to start reviewing emails. Halfway to the computer I use at home, and still out of sight of the treadmill, I realized that I had taken the CPU in for cleaning/wiping/erasing or whatever it's called, of the hard drive. I made a pot of coffee and settled in to finish Me to We. Some readers insist on the 30 second version of a book before deciding to read it, so this morning's post is dedicated to a very quick overview of the Me to We philosophy. It is heavily paraphrased by your faithful interpreter and therefore, mistakes and apologies are mine.
Simply said, each of us has been given a gift. Regardless of our childhood experiences, regardless of economic or health circumstances, regardless of physical or mental constraints, each of us has received gifts. When we create an "action" word with these gifts, they become "passions." Each of us is passionate about at least one thing, but more probably, more than one. One of the major life purposes that we all share is to search for our passion. Here's a hint, most passions end in "-ing" as in an action word like running, writing, dancing, photographing, reading, riding, cooking, speaking......and for some, working. We receive this gift/passion without asking for it. It is ours to use as both a gift and a responsibility from the God that is our source. Here's the catch, whether we search and find our gifts, or find and don't use them doesn't matter - there is still a price to pay for them. They are not free. If we choose to ignore or not seek our passions, we pay the price in things like depression, stress and anxiety which always lead to sickness, disease and worse. This is the result of the frustration from not being in our "right" place or sometimes referred to as, not fulfilling our destiny. If, on the other hand, we have spent the time to discover our passions, we must still pay a price. The price we pay is to share our passions with someone else. We use our gifts to help, inspire, teach, raise money, motivate, feed, create joy or whatever we know is necessary, to bring light into the world. No matter the size of our help, a smile, some volunteer time, a cheque, a piece of clothing, seeds, a pat on the back, our responsibility for the receipt of our gifts is to pay for them, one way or the other. The bigger the gift, the bigger the price, but it always starts with one small step. What step can we take today to begin paying for the abundance we share. If this makes any sense to you, start by buying a copy of Me to We and reading it, before passing it on to someone you know. I will put up a link to the Me to We website soon.

January 14, 2008


Picture the government office scene from the movie, The Full Monty and you will get some idea of my recent trip to the local grocery store. The background music playing over the loudspeakers was disco and without realizing it, I found myself tapping my grocery list on the cart handle and kind of bouncing through the vegetables. I swear that if they had turned the volume up a bit more, the sixty year old lady with the tight jeans and high heels and I would have been forced to boogie beside the bananas. Alliteration aside, it was almost the same thing yesterday when they were playing old rock anthems, but no disco in sight - there is no room in rock and roll classics for disco!
Travel is on my mind a lot lately and I keep remembering the huge contingent of uniformed Homeland Security personnel we encountered in Hawaii last spring. I wonder what the budget is for that department (must be billions) as the U.S. attempts to protect itself from the other members of the human race. When I take a bigger, or more long term view of our time on this planet, it seems a little bit like the internal squabbling that occurs in most families. Members can be vicious and hurtful to each other but when an outside threat shows up, they turn their focus and become a cohesive and powerful unit totally dedicated to each other's survival. I wonder if that is what it will take to bring the various factions on our little planet together. I also wonder if that threat is already here and we are too politically motivated, intransigent and fragmented to recognize the threat. Unlike the movies about space aliens and big rocks threatening our survival, both of which might well be possible, we have a few issues closer to home that we might want to look at, in a cooperative sense, rather than a competitive one. Some of the big charitable and environmental groups seem to spend more time and money finding someone to blame than finding some solution to the problem. How is all this connected you ask? How about if we took all of the political, religious and special interest group leaders into a big room, locked the door, threw away their clothes and turned on disco music at about 6 on the volume scale. How long do you suppose it would take to find real solutions to real problems if we didn't feed them or allow them out until the job was done?

January 10, 2008


Surely, you must be noxious, or nauseous (take your choice, you might have an odour problem), from my sachrinistic blogging of the past two days. Where's the acerbic wit, where's the bluster, where's the bombast, where's the passion (alive & well, regardless of the topic), where's the promised irreverence, where should we point the pencil today?
Since no one cut me off on the way home last night, I can't title this column "Neanderthals with Hummers." But, sooner or later, I will.
Today kids, I'm thinking about evolution. I know that certain sections of the populace refuse to accept the inevitability of evolution but they will catch up sooner or later. I suspect that our physical bodies are evolving as evidenced by the fact that we are now able to survive quite nicely without certain organs like the gall bladder and how many have had their appendix removed? Mother nature ain't no fool - if these were critical to survival today, we wouldn't be able to continue without them. They were critical at some stage, or they would never have existed.
I'm thinking that the next step in evolution will manifest in our ability to use more of our minds. You would probably agree with the old saying that we only use about 10% of our brain's ability. You would probably also agree that there are those among us who seem to have insights, intuition, instinct and intelligence that rise a little beyond the norm. I've chosen words with the prefix "in" because I simply think that we will move inwards to find the next level of growth or evolution. We joke about having "spidey senses" but who hasn't noticed something amiss, had a "feeling," watched a sports hero operate on "instinct," or heard the stories of people who decided not to get on a certain airplane, take the usual route home, and on and on. As newborns, we operate purely on these instincts and feelings and then the parents, teachers and other well-meaning caregivers grind it out of us as they dismiss our ability to sense things. I know more and more parents who are now honouring their child's ability to "see" things that don't have hard evidence attached. By the way, animals have been doing that forever but they don't have parents who demand "proof." It might be interesting today if we were aware of when we operate out of instinct and when we deny that instinct. Perhaps we could all imagine these little antennae sticking out of our heads like "My Favorite Martian" and tune up our own evolutionary sensors. Where do we see it operating in our children and grandchildren? Has anyone else ever "sensed" a radar trap and been right?

January 9, 2008

Joy to the World

OK, I'm over my snit about guns from the other day. I haven't changed my mind one bit but I'm just in love with the world today. A friend phoned with tickets to the hockey game tomorrow night, I found a new leather jacket at 60% off, had a great lunch at Leo Fu's and everything else seems to be turning up roses. And no, I'm not about to start attracting things I don't want by feeling guilty about just plain feeling good! So, as old blue eyes sang back in 1977 - "What Now My Love?"
My neighbour, across the back, has had his Christmas lights on all night but he doesn't have them hooked up to a photo electric timer (sniff) so this is a haphazard, not a nightly occurrence. It is however, a very pleasant experience to walk into the kitchen at 5:30 AM and see colourful lights spreading a little joy into the world. He will never know that he has done that for me personally, but isn't that the reason most of us put up lights through the holiday season - to bring a little light, a little joy into the lives of others. It doesn't take much to accomplish this, in fact I suspect that it is the small acts of "joy-spreading" that mean the most. The small and often anonymous acts of kindness, given without need of a return, or a thank you, can often change lives. They can certainly change the lives of the giver, if not the receiver. I suspect that the key here is to be very mindful of giving without expectation even though we dance between expecting the courtesy of a 'thank you' on some occasions and wanting to remain anonymous on others.
I was reminded last night of how lives get changed. Most of you will know that we have an annual hockey tournament that honours the lives of two young men in our community who died 5 years ago in an avalanche (there's a link below). This tournament takes an enormous amount of time and effort by some very dedicated people, most of whom didn't even know Ben or Jeff. I looked around our dining room table last night at 8 people who have come together in a cause that is bigger than themselves. They will be responsible for providing a great deal of joy to the 300+ players in the tournament in addition to offering the opportunity for all of them to apply for education bursaries. Who knows, one of the bursary recipients could go on to find a cure for cancer, in which case, each of these 8 people (along with others who are involved) will have played a small and probably anonymous role, in helping change the world. Most of us want to change some things in the world that concern us and I suspect that the best way to start might be to take a small step in the direction of joy - our joy and the joy of others - try smiling at the first person you see after reading this. Then, watch their lights come on.

January 8, 2008


So, my ego is getting stroked pretty good. There are not exactly thousands of people checking this blog every day but I really appreciate those of you who have taken the time to send emails directly to me, or call, etc. with some very flattering remarks. Thank you. This has been a great exercise as it helps me hone and discipline my writing skills (OK, so maybe I could spend a little time learning punctuation - I was sick that day - let it go).
I have become a little bit addicted to this entire Google mail and blogging thing and the fact that my computer was giving me grief today created a little anxiety. I see however, that access on my home computer is fine.
As faithful readers, you will remember that I am reading a book called Me to We by Craig and Marc Kielburger and today I read a passage that resonated with my New Year's penchant for establishing some objectives for the coming year. I sometimes call them resolutions but the word is not nearly as important as the concept of considering where I was, where I am and where I want to be, in relation to the values I consider important in my life. I could paraphrase but that wouldn't give credit to the following direct quote from their remarkable book.

"Overall, research has found that three types of goals that people strive for are consistently related to well-being. The first type involves intimacy, the desire for close, reciprocal relationships. Fundamentally, these kinds of goals involve creating (or recreating) connections with others. The second type involves spirituality. These types of goals involve a concern with ethics and lead us to seek the divine in daily life. The third type involves a commitment to and concern for future generations. For us, such findings suggest that happiness happens when we recognize and appreciate our connection to others and align our goals with the best of our values."

I can't say it better, but I can continue to strive to be better - care to join me?

January 7, 2008


So, I'm a bit confused. I'm neither a hunter nor a gun owner and so you might say that I don't know what I'm talking about. You would be right, but I have a lot of trouble understanding why anyone needs an automatic rifle, machine gun, pistol or whatever, that fires multiple rounds in a matter of seconds. How the hell many times can you kill a deer? Sorry, "target practice" is a smoke screen - what are you targeting? I understand farmers requiring a rifle to keep predators under control and I understand (sort of) hunters who use a rifle to provide food but I just don't "get" what the need is for automatics. A weapon that fires multiple shots with the squeeze of a finger hardly sounds like "sport" to me - what it sounds like is a weapon of war. So what does someone need a weapon of war in their house for, in this part of the world? If politicians in this country, or the good ole neighbour to the south, had any guts, they would vote to ban automatic weapons in the hands of the public. PERIOD! And please, don't give me that old saw about constitutional rights. Try and drag your knuckles into the 21st century. Parents who have automatic weapons in their house or on their property are irresponsible, selfish, dangerous to the human race in general and themselves and their children in particular. Saying they are locked up and therefore, "safe," is a load of bunk visited upon us by people unable to take responsibility for their actions. I've heard the old line that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Get over yourself - everytime I pick up the newspaper or watch a news program I see people holding guns killing other people.

That's my opinion, it doesn't have to be yours.

Rhythm and Moves

It has recently come to my attention that the picture included on my profile makes me look like I'm picking my nose. Upon closer inspection, it has been determined by a panel of experts, that this is not the case. I try hard to not get caught on camera doing something embarrassing, despite my daughter's best efforts. This doesn't mean that I don't do embarrassing things - I just try to keep my clothes on now.
Big changes in our house over the weekend! I have cleared space in the storage area of the basement to move the treadmill from the rec room to a much better location (also known as the workout area). Out of sight - out of mind. It joins the wobble board and exercise ball in a special place of honour. Now there is much more seating room for the Stanley Cup Playoff run - book your seats early!
The voting for the title of this blog is now running 4 to 3, in favour - a simmering controversy if ever there was one.
There was no newspaper in the mailbox this morning before I left for work. I normally have a coffee and read the paper prior to going out to slay dragons. With time to spare, I was able to sit in the family room quietly and without interruption from people or TV's or music and spend some quality time with myself. It occurs to me that there is a natural rhythm in our lives and that we often ignore it. In our rush to accomplish things on our "to do" list, we move past that which is calling for our attention and move to areas of our lives that show we are "doing" something. I am reminded that we are "human beings" not "human doings." Spending time listening to what is tugging at our heart, listening to the inner voice trying to make itself heard, probably takes us closer to experiencing "joy" than another tick mark on the list could. I have this feeling that our minds and bodies are able to focus energy in particular directions, at specific times and that if we take the time to recognize this particular energy and act upon it, we can experience more joy, accomplishment and success than we can by forcing ourselves into situations in order to satisfy an artificial timetable. We can only know what we need to do by listening in a place that is physically, intellectually and emotionally quiet.
Given that last comment, I will be quiet now and let you focus on what is important in your life.

January 4, 2008


According to my image consultant, who goes by the acronym SWMBO, I need to seek the services of a hair stylist and "we" are now letting my hair grow out??? Dishevelled, thinning and greying - I thought these were already styles. To add more abuse to my life, I returned to my trainer, Elvira the Mistress of Pain yesterday, for the first time in three weeks. She tells me that the excessive sweating, cold clamminess and spots in front of my eyes are caused by toxins in my body. I was under the impression that it was the Amarula and hot chocolate left over from Christmas and New Year's.
Is it just me or are you tired of "breaking news stories" based on some idiotic misdemeanour by some second rate celebrity? Isn't it amazing that television stations, who try to create a serious news image, can convene a panel of experts on a moment's notice, to discuss, actually speculate, about the potential legal ramifications of some star's DUI. Are we that bereft of actual things to think about? It would be easy to lay the blame at the foot of the media but somebody is watching and apparently in large numbers. The ratings suggest that as soon as news channels show a picture of a blond starlet in a compromising situation, their ratings skyrocket. The media outlets have some culpability in this situation but the rest of us need to vote with our channel changers. It is mind-boggling to imagine the amount of money spent on technicians, on-air personalities, electricity, equipment and infrastructure to carry all of the prurient details of some over indulgent teenager with too much money to a breathless public with the "right to know." Could we please move on to something, anything, with meaning, like perhaps the plight of the homeless, pollution, world hunger, graft, disease..........

I seem to be a tad grumpy this morning.

January 3, 2008

So, I see that the Futurist Organization predicts that a Cloak of Invisibility, something like Harry Potter's, is within the realm of possibility. I would like to place my order for a cummerbund - it's OK, I can wait for the laugh.
Yesterday, one of my best friends told me that he didn't like the title of my blog. It reminded him of some sort of noxious bodily function. COOL! Now, if I could just get 2 or 3 more friends or family members to agree with him, I will know that I'm on to a good thing. What do you think?
Travel is also on my mind today. Friends are returning from warm places with tales of fun and sun and I wonder what it would be like to live in that kind of climate. Would we get bored with it, would we simply take it for granted, would we ever think about the people who live in cooler climes? The technology certainly exists so that most of us could conduct our business from anywhere in the world. What prevents us from doing so? An accident of birth has placed most of us geographically in a particular region and do we just become comfortable and familiar and choose not to change? I know it is a choice we make and we have but to change our minds in order to change our worlds.
In some parts of this world, most of them quite warm, by the way, it probably doesn't look much like choice. My thoughts wander to many places in Africa, in particular, as we continue to hear about the tragedies that occur on a daily basis. It seems that we here in the West, should be able to do more, in a real way, to help. I am in awe of people like Bill Gates, who have combined their own resources with those of some very high powered friends like Warren Buffet and others, to try and make a difference. I hope that they, and we, can have the patience to let this help take effect. I suspect that it will take more than cheque books to make a long term difference, however. I believe that access to education is the single most important way that the third world can eventually change its status. I'm reading a tremendous book at the moment called, Me to We and will comment on it when I've finished, but the two young authors have made incredible inroads into solving some key issues through their Free the Children organization. You can find more information at www.metowe.org

January 2, 2008

Stayin' Alive

A few months ago, a good friend invited me to a very special evening of entertainment. It seems that he had been taking a stand up comedy course and he and his classmates were giving their first performances at a local comedy club. I arrived to find about 400 people jamming the theatre and anticipation was running high. Some were good, some were nervous and some were hilarious. I'm prejudiced, but I think my friend was the best of the lot. I asked what I thought was a pretty obvious question, "Why?"
He gave me a one sentence answer that has stuck with me ever since, "Every year I do something to scare the shit out of myself!" he replied. You've heard the saying - brevity is the soul of wit, but it may be the soul of wisdom too. In 12 words, my buddy had said something that I had needed to write a whole book about. See the link to The West Coast Trail: One Step at a Time found below. I had been doing something similar for a few years. After all, how do we know we are alive unless we challenge ourselves to do something unfamiliar, or even a little scary. I'm not too proud to steal good advice and pass it on but I have decided this year, to incorporate it into my New Year's Resolutions, as well. So now there is a brand new category called, what I'm going to do to scare the crap out of myself. This year I have decided to learn to surf! Besides all of the training, conditioning, balance and strength work, it means that I have to go to Hawaii - my favourite place on this planet - too bad, eh? If there is any pictorial evidence of this auspicious event, I will pass it on in this space. I've got until April to get ready - so does Hawaii.
I have another thought rolling around in my head that I find pretty scary as well, but we'll just have to wait and see if I have the courage.
What will you do this year to scare the crap out of yourself?
How will you know you are alive, if you don't?