Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What a wonderful world...

The other day, someone was giving me directions.  They are as follows:

"You know XXXX?"*
"Alright.  You know that dead moose on the side of the road just past XXXX?  Well, you just go straight south from that dead moose and we'll be the second house on the right."

*The name of the place has been withheld because I don't want to get punched in the nose.

People in the country use roadkill as landmarks.  Yes, they do.  What's even weirder though, is that I knew exactly which dead moose was being mentioned. (Yes, there are often more than one.)  Just when I think that I have adjusted to life in the sticks, something like this happens and I am forced to realize that I "don't know nothin yet."  Everyday is a learning experience.  Yesterday, I went looking for our missing cat.  I must have walked for a half an hour around our property.  At one point, after I had crawled down from a broken down swather, or combine, (It was hard to tell because hey... what do I know), I realized that in the city it would have taken me all of two minutes to look around the property, and I wouldn't have had to look in an assorted mass of old vehicles, shacks, barns, workshops, or small forests.  I almost needed to have a search party come looking for me.  I never found the cat, but I discovered an interesting odor in the middle of the woods out back... something had sprayed its musk out there and the smell was strong.

I miss the conveniences of the city, but the trade offs are worth not having them.  At night, the sky is hard to see for all of the stars in the way.  Some of the spots that I have visited and some of the sights that I have seen make up for the cityscape that I have left behind.  That doesn't mean that I don't ever want to drink water from the tap again, or have consistent Internet connections, but there are things that can only be found out here, and to be honest, I find it pleasantly weird that someone could use a moose carcass as a road marker and I would actually know where to find it.

Now, to change things up a bit. 

I have a wall of death.  No, it's not what you think... yeah, I'm talking to you.  As has been previously mentioned, many of my students love to hunt, and they often miss classes to do it.  I was unhappy about this at first, but I was taken to task for my attitude.  I thought about it for awhile and an idea occurred to me.  I decided to recognize the hunters in my class by having them bring me pictures of their hunting successes.  I post the pictures on the wall and the kids feel good about seeing their 'accomplishments'.  So far, this has actually worked really well.  Most of the kids don't miss class anymore, because they want to bring in pictures to put up on the wall.  Eventually, the pics will take up all the room on my wall and I will have to expand it somewhat.  None of the pics are gory or inappropriate, in fact, they are all rather tasteful.  I don't mind it when I get some elk jerky either, but I won't be pinning that up on the wall...

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's a conspiracy, I tell you...

I've been reading Dan Brown's, "The Lost Symbol".  It's fluff reading, but it has been nice to read something non-pedagogical.  Just so you know, this is not going to be a book review, or a critique...  Anyway, in typical Brownian style, conspiracies abound throughout the book.  There are mentions of different groups, but the group that is the main focus of the story is the Freemasons.  As I have been reading, I have found myself wondering about secret knowledge, puzzles, theories, etc.  I know that like most writers, Brown takes factual information and twists it just enough to make a story more interesting.  Just try to get most people to read a treatise on freemasonry, and you'll see what I mean.  However, he does make some very good points.

How often do we look at other belief systems and think they are just a bunch of quackery, or mumbo jumbo?  Here is an example: Brown describes a special room where a mason can go to reflect and meditate.  In this room there are bones, a skull, a candle, a plate of salt, a plate of sulfur, etc.  Everything has a specific place and setting, and everything represents something else.  Now, many people might find this rather strange.  However, is it any stranger than practicing ritual cannibalism, or revering finger bones?  I want to be clear here.  I am not criticizing any belief systems.  I am not poking fun at them, or trying to slander them in any way.  What I am trying to do is say that when we look at any beliefs in a certain light, they might sound crazy, but only in a certain light.  Change the way we look at things and some of these beliefs don't seem so strange after all.  Many Christians partake of the communion.  The wine represents the blood of Christ and the wafer represents the body.  In a certain light, this could be seen as ritual cannibalism.  Relics are revered in many places, and these relics are bones, or hair, or blood.  The different objects in the masonic room of meditation represent mortality, truth, light, wisdom, etc, and when looked at in this light don't seem so strange afterall.  In fact, these are all things that most of us do seek after.

Now, let me step down from my soapbox.  I love puzzles, and I love mysteries... not the detective story, whodunit type of mysteries, which can be fun, but the ones that deal with the unknown, or the hidden.  I also love to learn.  I love to learn new things.  I especially like to learn new things about old things; I just can't can't get enough.  I sometimes wish that I was wealthy enough to actually spend my time learning the things that I want to learn, do the things that would help me to learn, and then share that learning with any who would be interested to learn my learning... erm... yeah... Anyway,  It's a dream that, someday, may become a reality.

I know that this post may open up some cans that I wish had stayed closed.  I also know that there may be some who misunderstand what I have written, and take offence where none at all is intended.  I hope that I am wrong. 

I guess the ultimate rush for me would be to solve some ancient mystery, or puzzle.  I know most people would be more excited to do something like climb Everest, or K2, or go to the moon, etc, but for me knowledge is the ultimate frontier.  You can neither have to much knowledge, nor can you have all knowledge.  This is wonderful.  It means that the adventure can continue forever because there will always be more to learn...

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Stranger in a Strange Land...

It has been too long since I have posted anything, and I am going to repent of this starting now.  I have been adjusting to a new life, in a new place, in a new (to me) part of the country, and it has been interesting and life changing.  I have moved several hundred kilometres north of where I lived in Edmonton, to a place called Silver Valley  (Sounds almost magical, doesn't it.  I sometimes expect little pixies, or fairies to pop out from around corners and such.) 

Life in the country has been a real adjustment for me and my family.  No more traffic, no more noise, no more quick trips to the store, and no more frivolous activities like spur of the moment movie going, or visits to the mall.  We now travel forty-five minutes to get to the nearest town, which is in the next province over, so we have to mentally adjust our clocks since they are in a different time zone.  Life is different here, but it is a good different.  I keep waiting to hear banjos, etc, but luckily none so far.

We took our kids out trick or treating, and it was quite the experience.  It took us three hours to visit seven places, but people out here are generous, and they doled out the loot to the kids in huge quantities.  It would have taken at least ten times the number of houses in the city to bring in the same haul.

This post is turning into more of a 'journal' than I want it to, please bear with me... 

I have found myself wondering when the laid back country life was going to occur.  I have been busier here than I ever have been before.  I'm not complaining, but it would be nice to slow down things a little.  We live on 162 acres of land (a section), and it has taken time to get used to looking out the window and seeing almost nothing as far as the eye can see.  My wife has gotten into the habit of taking the kids for walks through the fields, and forests around our place, and on those opportunities that I have had the chance to go with them, I have been grateful.  There is a peacefulness out here that is unequalled.  We have made a few trips down to the Peace river, and it has always been a beautiful and wonderful experience.  My son is a rock hound, as am I, and on these trips we have loaded up our trunk with the treasures that we have found.  We have brought home fossils, petrified wood, water carved rocks, and even some really cool looking driftwood.  Our home is starting to look like a museum, but it is something that my son and I can share with each other, and that is more important to me than the actual rocks, etc themselves.

My children have grown in some surprising ways.  They are quickly gaining a maturity that they lacked in the city, they are better friends to each other, and there is a bond within our family that is stronger than ever.  I am grateful for it. 

We are adapting to the country in other ways as well.  We have a cat that never comes in the house, I own, and wear, a  pair of 'gumboots', (Wellies, to you British folk), and I have 'enjoyed' mowing the vast yard we have with a rider mower. 

We buy our drinking water in 18.9 litre bottles, and we wash our clothes, dishes, etc with water from a dugout.  our plumbing takes our 'waste' water to a lagoon not far away from the house, although it is far enough away that it doesn't smell.  The truth is that it doesn't smell even when you are close by it, (but I still wouldn't want to fall in...)

Hunting is huge out here, and almost everyone uses antlers in their decorating, although, very few are as bad as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.  We have a rock display in the front that highlights a rack of antlers still connected to an elk skull.  Surrounding this are several antlers.  A friend from England said that it reminded him of  "Pet Cemetery", and I guess it does, but my kids love playing there... what does that say about my kids...

The long and short of this whole post is that we are now in a world that we never thought we would be in, but that we are finding will most definitely change our lives.  In the end, isn't that what life is all about?  As they say, it is the journey and experiences we have while traveling the road of life that matter the most, and I am grateful for every step that I take on my own version of the hero's journey.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just a short note...

It has been a while since I posted anything, and I have really missed it.  As I stated in my last post, I was in for a big move, well, that move has happened and it was really big.  In many ways, I am still adjusting.  The upshot is that I will be doing a new post within the next couple of days, but I thought I would just drop in to let everyone know that I had not forgotten, or lost interest in this blog. 

See you soon, and thanks for being patient...

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Although I have decided to write more here about writing, I will also continue to blog about thoughts and ideas, my life, and anything that I feel like blogging about.  I also feel a very strong tendency to write sort of stream of consciousnessly coming on, so please bear with me.  Right now I want to write about changes.  In fact, you could define my life lately with that word. 

I have been offered a teaching position about six hours north of where I currently live.  Since this makes a commute a little difficult, we have decided to move closer to the school that I will be working at.  The job itself is an incredible opportunity.  I will be teaching in my subject specialization (English) as well as French, photography, and video.  However, I will be living on 162 acres of farm land that is at least 45 minutes from the nearest town, (Spirit River, or Dawson Creek), and an hour and a half from the nearest city, (Grande Prairie), which means that we will be far more isolated than we are used to. 

I really don't want this blog to become an announcement page, but I need to say all of this to illustrate my point.  Our lives will be changing... drastically.  Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.  In fact, this is an opportunity that would be hard to find anywhere else.  However, very many things will be very different for us, but here's the kicker... wait for it... wait for it... change is only temporary.  Tada!  Really, it is.  When we moved into the house we are currently living in, I told my wife that it felt like a house and not a home.  I also told her that I felt that I would never be able to call it a home.  Well, now that we are moving, I am feeling sad about leaving the 'home' that I became very comfortable in and very fond of.

Change is temporary.  Let me explain.  Change and time work very closely together, in fact, you might even call them two aspects of the same job.  Change occurs and time comes along and smooths everything over.  It's kind of like time follows change closely and cleans up any messes that change might make.  It has been said that time is the great healer, well it is.  It is also the great fixer upper, the great cleaner upper, and the great big, soft mattress that we land on when change comes along and throws us off of the electric bull, so to speak.  Time makes everything all better.

This doesn't mean that change is always easy, but since we live our lives uni-directionally from past to future, we know that the great temporal shift of time will come along and make everything better if we will let it.  That's the key.  We can choose to let go of that which is left behind, or we can hold on so tightly that time would need a crowbar to pry it out of our hands and minds.  It comes down to what almost everything comes down to... choice.  Well, we have gone from change to choice... what's next?

Well, we'll have to wait for the next post to find out the answer.  Don't worry, I won't change my mind.  I won't change channels, or change direction, or even change places or positions.  I will post an answer to the question, "what next", and that's a promise that isn't going to change...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I met someone...

It has been quite a while since I last posted.  Well, enough of stating the obvious...

I met someone.  I thought I would share that with the whole world.  I met someone... three words that can inspire joy, anger, sadness, bliss, tingles, etc... but what do they really mean?  Language is wonderful, and powerful.  The right words can inspire a nation, or bring joy to the hearer, and the wrong words can destroy hope, or fan the flames of hatred. Words, and knowing how to use them, are powerful gifts/talents.  There are many out there who use words to weave a spell over any who may dare to read, or listen to those words.  As the great Stan Lee once said, "With great power, comes great responsibility", and writers, wordsmiths, authors, etc all have great power.

I told my students that I met someone.  Here are the reactions I received to that comment:

     "But you're married!"
     "Eeeewww, you're old!"
     "Is she cute?"
     "So.  I meet people all of the time."
     "Does your wife know?"
     "What do you mean by, 'you met someone'?"

There were other comments, some of which were rather silly, or rude, or actually were answers to questions I asked yesterday... 

The point is, that most of my students assumed that the phrase, 'I met someone' meant that there was some sort of romantic attraction, or at least something more than just meeting another human being.  We meet people every day.  However, we rarely mention the run of the mill meetings, or meetings that don't have a significant impact on our lives.  Since some of the most significant relationships we have are of an intimate, or romantic nature, when we use the aforementioned phrase, the assumption is almost always 'you met someone that you have a romantic interest in, otherwise you wouldn't bother telling me/us about him/her.'

We as thinking, speaking and assumption-making people have learned, for the most part, to be careful with what we say and/or how we say it.

As writers, we need to be aware of the unwritten rules behind our language use.  We need to be aware that although being able to craft language is powerful, if we don't know the social/cultural connotations, assumptions, etc. we can end up holding onto the tiger's tail and find ourselves the authors/creators of something that we neither intended, nor control.

So, go ahead meet as many people as you want, but be careful when you tell the world...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Did someone see that truck's license plate...

It has been a long day, a long week, a long month, and a very long year.  At the same time, this year, this month, this week, and today have zoomed by incredibly fast.  Combine the two perspectives and it feels like I have been hit by the proverbial truck.  I'm always astounded by the fact that time can pass slowly and quickly concurrently; I'm convinced that somewhere within this particular temporal phenomenon is the secret to time travel.  (I have been watching Star Trek Voyager lately... can you tell?)

I am fascinated by time and memory though, I always have been.  The whole arrow of time, entropy, the third law of thermodynamics, etc all have a special place in the back of my mind.  I've even written a story or two about time, time travel, and the whole space-time continuum thingy. 

I am fairly sure that we have all experienced the feeling that some things pass by quickly and other things don't.  Ask anyone who is sitting in a dentist's chair how time is passing for them, and I am pretty sure you will get a different answer than that given by someone who is having the time of their life.  Is there a real temporal shift going on here, or is it just perspective?  The answer may seem obvious, but again, it depends on who you ask.  I know people who are convinced that we control the speed of time without being aware of it, and there is no convincing them otherwise.

The reality of all this is that time passes no matter what.  We can't change it, stop it, or even turn it around.  Everything we experience throughout our lives is coloured by our perspective, even time... or should I say especially time.  I have started reading a book and eight hours later realized that it was eight hours later but it felt like only a few minutes had passed.  My middle child had to have laser treatment when she was six months old.  The actual treatment lasted maybe 30 seconds to a minute, but my heart was breaking as she cried in pain and fear, and it felt like an eternity.  I believe that there is a corollary here: The more enjoyable the experience the faster that time flies and the more un-enjoyable the experience the slower that time drags by.  I'm sure that someone out there has made a mathematical formula out of this to torture math students with.

Back to the truck I mentioned earlier... We can get the license plate of that truck by simply adjusting our perspective.  That's the easy part... saying it, that is... the hard part is doing it.  It takes a lot of self control to be in control of time, or our perspective of the passage of time.  We can easily make ourselves aware of it, but can we really control how we perceive it?  Anyone who has watched a clock knows that just by making yourself aware of the time and counting the minutes along with it will slow the clock right down.  If you don't believe me, try it.  The second that you start counting the seconds is the point in time at which the universe seems to slow down.  Conversely, the moment you lose yourself in an enjoyable activity, time speeds up, and you can't measure it, because again, the moment you do so... well, you get my point.

Speaking about 'time', it is time for me to finish this post.  So without further time spent, I will end this in a timely fashion.  I hope that you are looking forward to the next time I post.  Until then, have a good time, be on time, and take the time to smell the roses.  It's high time that more of us did so...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Time off does not necessarily mean time off...

I've been meaning to update my blog for some time now, and I was looking forward to this week off to do so.  I am quickly discovering that I may need a break from my break.  The reality is that unless you plan every moment of the day when you are on holiday, life is very unstructured.  Now, I am the last person to complain about the lack of structure since I find that flying by the seat of my pants and living life full on is the way to go, and this happens best when I don't actually plan.  However, This week is not one that has allowed me to steer my course through it with only my behind to guide me; this week has consisted of doctor's appointments for my daughter and wife, visits to the in-laws, and grocery shopping. 

I was very close to going on a school trip to France, but circumstances occurred to make that an impossibility.  So, instead, I am changing nappies, feeding babies, and staying up late watching Star Trek Voyager until 0100 in the morning.  I don't want to sound like I'm complaining though, because I'm not.  I have a chance to support my wife, spend time with my family, and watch old episodes of Star Trek; these are things France would not have given me.  I also don't want to complain because most of the working world doesn't get spring break off, and I don't want to come off as a putz.

You have probably figured out that this is one of my blog entries where I ramble.  Rambling is good, though.  It is very stream of consciousness type stuff and you never really know where it will take you.  I knew that I would ramble as I sat down to write this, because I am writing more for the need to do so, than for the need to say something specific.

So, bear with me.  This blog entry may not be the best thing that you have read today, this week, this month, or this year, but hopefully, it won't be the worst either.

I have only one and a half days left of spring break.  Tomorrow, me and my son are going to the mountains to have some good solid father and son time, and when I get back I will take my daughter out for some daddy daughter time as well.  Saturday will see and my wife going on a date, so I guess after all is said and done, France has nothing on my being with my family.

I will get some writing done this week, and I have almost finished this entry, so I guess I am not as far behind the game as I thought.  I also made new friends on twitter, and making friends is always a good thing, and I will take friends and family over France any day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Being lost in a place full of maps...

There are times when being lost is a good thing.  When I lived in England, I would often take roads that I had never been on before just to see where they went; I discovered some of the coolest things by doing this.  I have done this while traveling in Italy, France, and Germany; I have done it while traveling in Canada and the United States; and I have done it when hiking or climbing in the mountains where I lived when I was younger.  I find not knowing where you are to be somewhat exhilerating. The fact is that not knowing where you are leads to new things and new experiences, which makes life that much more pleasurable and happy.

When we define ourselves, if we bother to try, we usually look back at our lives and use our past as a sort of rubric or template by which to base our definition of self upon.  In many ways this is normal and natural.  Plato believed that we are the sum total of all of our experiences.  In other words, we are who we are because of what we have done, or haven't done; because of the choices we have made, or haven't made; and because of the way we have reacted, or have not reacted to the choices that others have made.  I have said this before, and it is something that I will say again because I strongly feel that it is true.

However, having said all of this, there are times when being or feeling lost is not what we want to feel, or be, but it is what we are.  There are times when the vagaries of the world combine against us and force us out of places we feel comfortable, into places that we don't.  Although there may be exhileration connected with discovering that which is new, there can also be sorrow or fear.  There are times when not knowing, or seeing the way can be frightening, if not terrifying, and if this happens too often, the feelings associated with things that are new may not be positive or happy.

We all feel like this at times.  It's true... we all do.  Even those people we look at and think have it all together, even those who seem in control, and even those who we turn to for comfort and guidance have found themselves lost and afraid.  It often happens when there are maps and signposts all around, but we have, for some reason, lost the ability to read them clearly.  However, the wonderful thing is that these times do pass and we find ourselves again, or we find the joy in being somewhere new, and we move on.  It's like traveling through a field of roses.  We see the beauty before we enter the field, we experience the thorns while we are within the field, and when we have left and look back, we once more only see the beauty.

Life is good, even when it isn't.  This is because, like Bilbo Baggins, we go 'there and back again', and we are never the same person when we return as we were when we left.  New places, new things, and new experiences shape us, and grow us, and teach us, and I believe that this is good.

Monday, March 15, 2010


One of the primary reasons I started this blog was to discuss matters of writing.  I find it interesting that I have posted more entries about non-writing topics than I have actually posted about writing.  However, I also believe that any form of writing, be it blogs, novels, short stories, poems, non-fiction, or whatever has a life of its own.  That is, it goes in the direction it wants to go in.  There have been many times that I have begun writing a post for this blog and what came out was not what I intended, or more accurately, I often sit down without any intentions at all and just wait and see what comes out.  Today is no exception.  I believe that what we write is what we need to write, even if it is not necessarily what we want to write.  When we fight this tendency our writing suffers, or more to the point, our ability to write suffers.

Since I have been involved with tools such as twitter, this blog, etc, I have become even more aware that there is a vast population of writers and would-be writers out there.  I always knew that, but now... well, let's just say that I am, as previously stated, even more aware of them... or should I say us...

I have found that, interestingly, many people who write often find it hard to understand those who do not, or cannot write, and it is also very much the other way around.  Non-writers don't understand the need that we writers have to write, nor do they understand the feeling writers get when they do write.  It is also something that is very hard to explain.  In fact, it is much like describing the taste of salt without using the word salt, or salty.  The best way to see into a writer's heart, mind and soul is to read what they have written since this is the way that writer's express themselves.

I, like most writers, have always written.  I can remember no time in my life when I have not written.  A while ago I was looking through some boxes of stuff I have from childhood and I found stories, or ideas for stories that I wrote so many years ago. 

The fact that many writers do not publish does not make them any less of a writer than those who do.  Some people write solely for the sake of writing, and not for fame, or financial reward... not that there is a lot of that for most writers...

So, those of you who write... keep writing... no matter what.  Don't give up because you aren't published, or because no one gets or likes your writing.  Write because there is that spark within you that demands to be released.  Write because the thought of not writing is unbearable.  Write because it is what you do and who you are.  Write because of the sheer joy it, and finally, write because the world needs writers... it really does.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ponderings and mental wanderings...

I haven't blogged for a little while, so I thought that I should do so now.  It has been a very strange time in the world during the last month.  We have had earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, storms all over Europe, a death at the Olympics, and a death in Vancouver while the Olympics were taking place.  With all of these sad things occuring, it is good to see that there are many not so sad things taking place as well.  It was good to see Canada break two Olympic records.  The first, never having won a gold while hosting the Olympics, and second, winning more gold medals than any other country who has ever hosted the Winter Olympics.  From famine to feast, so to speak.

I was thinking about the earthquakes, and storms, and deaths; and I realised how blessed I really am.  My children have enough food to eat, they have clothes to wear, they have a roof over their heads, they have each other, and they have two parents who really love them.  I have a wonderful wife, and again, my children are awesome.  I have a roof over my head, a job (for now) that I love, and talents and opportunities galore.  Are there things in my life that I wish weren't there?  Yes.  However, my focus is on what brings me joy and gives me hope, life would be too unbearable otherwise.  We all have a measure of both good and bad in our lives, and although that measure is not often very equal, we need to realise that everything is cyclical, and that there will be times that our measure of good will outweigh our share of bad.

Happiness is a choice.  Sometimes it is a very difficult choice, but it is still ours to make.  It becomes easier when we focus on the things in our lives that are wonderful, joyful, and positive.  This doesn't mean we ignore the sad or hurtful things, it just means that we relegate them to the appropriate shelf and deal with them as they deserve, never forgetting the things in our lives that make life worth living.

Exult in all that you love and enjoy, take pride in your accomplishments, and remember that good things will happen, even in the midst of great sorrow.  Be happy, no matter what...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reading and writing...

My wife gave me a couple of articles to read the other day.  One was about having a good relationship between father and son, and the other was about travelling in Turkey.  I enjoyed them both, but soon gave up trying to find a connection between the two.  I guess it just goes to show how eclectic my wife and I are in what we read.

Anyway, I started thinking about these two articles and then I started thinking about my life.  I lived in England for over two years, which means I have a somewhat intimate knowledge of the place, so why haven't I written anything about it?  I also remembered that I had the opportunity to spend a lot of one on time with my son over there doing things like swimming lessons, father and son camping trips, etc.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love my family... very much, and I enjoy and have enjoyed almost every minute we have had together.  Every day is a gift as they say, and I don't want to take them for granted, but I digress. 

I guess my point is that there is always a connection between every aspect of our lives, and we can find them if we but look.  I love to travel.  I love my family.  Therefore, it stands to reason that I would love to travel with my family.  I love to write, I love to travel, I love my family.  Therefore it stands to reason that I would love to write about traveling with my family, or that I would love to write about family travel, or that I would love to write about places to travel to.  I could go on and on, but the I hope the point that I am trying to make is obvious, and that is, again, that everything we do or experience is connected, if only by experience.

So I have decided to write about my past travels, and about England, Italy, Canada, etc.  Sometimes I will write about these things here, other times I will try to publish them wherever I can.

For those of you who regularly follow my blog, (and thank you very much for doing so, and thank you to those who actually click on the follow button on my blog to publicly let me know that you are following) you will notice that there isn't always a rhyme or reason to what I write about, and I don't think that is about to change.  I feel that I can express myself much easier if I can express whatever needs to be expressed instead of sticking dogmatically to a particular theme.  Having said that, leave comments and let me know if there are things you would like me to write about on the blog, or just leave comments on the blog itself about anything you want.  I enjoy reading your comments, and it helps me to know that you are reading and thinking about what I post.  I feel a sense of pride and joy when I write, and this blog is a really great venue for doing just that.  I would suggest that many of you should start up your own blogs, if you haven't already, and if you do so, let me know and I will happily read and follow yours.

This post has turned into a mishmash of first person and second person narrative, the ideas and thoughts of the moment, and even a bit of pleaing and bargaining.  Thanks for staying with me through all of this, and all of the typos, etc.  You really are my hero, really...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My future as a teacher... An aside...

Today, at 3:00 pm Ted Morton will be releasing the Torie's budget for 2010.  There has been a lot of supposition and discussion about the upcoming budget, especially among teachers.  I am sure that there are other areas that will be affected by the new budget, but as I am a teacher, and education and teaching are the waters I swim in, I have a special interest in how the budget will affect me and my fellow swimmers.

It has been somewhat frustrating that many of the people I talk to have already supposed that my job is going to be cut from this school, and even though I have been given assurances that nothing has been decided as far as my future here, the fact is, that almost every day someone commiserates with me and tells me to have hope.  I wonder if hope is necessary when there is nothing to worry about.  One big issue for me in all of this is that I find it difficult to think positively when very few people allow me the opportunity to move through my day without focusing on negative possibilities.

I love teaching, and I really enjoy teaching at this school, and I am very frustrated at the timing of all of this. 

Having said all of this, I am trying very hard to be positive and hopeful about next year.  In fact, this may most likely be the one and only time that I post my thoughts and feelings on this particular topic.  Being positive and hopeful means not complaing, not worrying, not being afraid, and not being negative.  Besides, I don't want to spend the majority of my time suffering and worrying about a decision that hasn't been made yet.  Having said that, it is only human nature to do so, and it is also natural for those who are not threatened to try to comfort those who are, whether said comfort is asked for or not.

I have a wonderful family.  I love my wife very much and she and my children are the greatest source of joy in my life.  I am greatly blessed, and I am glad to be able to recognize this.  Life is change, good and bad, and the reality is that no matter how much or how little we like it, the future is not written in stone, and that is something to be extremely happy about, really.  We make our own futures in response to the things that happen in our lives.  We can choose to make a positive future, or we can choose to make a negative one. 

Life is like that... and I for one, would not have it any other way.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Some things are more important than others...

I was at the North and Central Alberta Teachers Convention last week.  The first session I went to was... well... let's just say it was and leave it at that.  The next session that I went to was much better; I actually took away something that I can apply in the classroom, and in my own life too.

Just before the second session began, I posted a comment on FaceBook about chest pains, or some such, and I was amazed at the speed of the feedback that I received.  I even had a phone call from England within minutes of me posting.  I am touched and honoured that all those who told me to go to the doctor actually took the time to do so.  I know that I have friends and people who care for me and that is wonderful knowledge to have.

Last night, I started to wonder about these 'phantom' pains/spasms/tightnesses/ feelings that I was having in my chest.  I started wondering if it was serious, or not, and if so was I ready to leave the world.  It was a pretty scary night and I started to think like everyone who thinks the end is near... I started to think about the things I didn't want to leave behind.  My family came first in my thoughts, naturally.  Then I started to think about the things that I had done wrong, you know... the sins and wrongs committed and left unrepaired and unrepented.  Happily, my list is not long, but the fact that I do have a list at all is a sign that there are things that I need to do.  I made some decisions, said some prayers, and went to sleep.  (For those of you who are interested, I did go to the doctor and I am awaiting the results.  I was told to hang tight and wait unless things get worse.  If they do, then I am to run to emergency, which I promise I will do.)

I have recommitted to improving my health, attaining and maintaining a healthy weight, and making sure that I don't add to my sin list and try to clear it off.  I know that there are priorities in life and that I need to make sure mine are clear and appropriate.  I need to make sure that I have fun.  I need to make sure that I reconnect with old friends, and make new ones.  I need to spend more and better time with my family.  I need to appreciate every minute of my life.  I don't need to worry about the future, or stress about things... anything.  I need to accept that life throws things your way and you either dodge them as best as you can, or catch them and hold on tightly.  I need to trust that I will know the difference.

Life is like that... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Time and tide...

It seems to me that we spend much of our time waiting.  We wait for the bus, or for dinner, or for a favourite tv show, or... well... almost anything.  For the most part, waiting is something that is peculiar to humans; in fact, I think that we have almost turned waiting into an art form.  Some people are far better at waiting than others.  They use the time to do other things, and honestly technology has been, and is an integral tool that allows us to make better use of this time between.  I used to use my pda to pass the time, but then I bought a BlackBerry and that became my technological tool for making the time pass more efficiently while I was waiting.  The truth, in my opinion, is that a lot more work gets done during waiting time now, in this era of technological progress, than in any period before. 

Having said all that, I believe that we live in a culture of convenience.  This means that we organize, produce, and create ways to make our lives easier, and quicker.  I remember when it became possible to order pizza from the internet, and when stores started staying open 24/7.  We can do almost anything at any time.  The fact that we have worked so hard to make everything convenient has lead to convenience becoming inconvenient.

That's a paradox you may say, but the truth of it is if waiting time is the time where much of what we do is done, then by increasing those things that are convenient, we are becoming less efficient.  For example, how many conversations take place when people are at a restaurant waiting for their meals to come?  How often do we chat with strangers around us who are also waiting, and thereby a new friendship or contact is made?  We complain about waiting, but is it really all that bad for us?

There are things that we can choose to wait for, and there are things we cannot; however, having said that it's what we do with the time that is passing while we wait that makes a lot of difference.  I for one have complained about waiting, but like our hearts, we need to rest between beats.  We need to take advantage of what comes to us during this minor period of down time, even if it is time that we use for work or whatnot.  Remember, time and tide wait for no man... it must be lonely being that far ahead and all alone...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Looking back...

I was just reviewing all of the posts I have written that never made it as far as being actually posted.  I have copied all of these drafts, even the blank ones, and I am going to post them here for you now.  They are all incomplete, or titles only, but I thought I would post these to let you see the workings of my mind... that is if you dare to, or care to examine said workings... I have included the dates of these drafts as well... please do not use this post against me, thank you.

Day 4 - 6/26/08

Day 5, A Friday - 6/27/08

Today is the last day in our 'old house'. We have people coming over to move tomorrow morning fairly early, which we are thankful for, however, we still have lots to pack.

A Day in the Life of the PLRS Gaming Club - 10/29/09

I'm sitting here, at school watching some of the kids kill each other. Of course, I had to get parental approval before I could let it happen. The weapons fire and the screams of the wounded and dying are somewhat annoying, but if it keeps the kids happy, then who am I to complain. Sounds like an excerpt from "Battle Royale", doesn't it. Before anyone calls and reports me to the authorities, let me clarify that the kids are playing "Halo", and yes, I did get parental approval to let them.

Gastric Joy... - 11/12/09

I'm watching a colleague's class right now. About half an hour ago another teacher came in to use the microwave. What he heated up still remains unknown, but the odour that is lingering has elicited a few comments from some of the students. The room, in fact, is redolent of something that has existed primarily to offend, disgust, and most likely exude gases that would melt solid steel.

We All Have Days... - 12/9/09

We all have days where we definitely need to be treated with kid gloves. Days when the daily grind has done its job and left us feeling bruised and tender. Where do we turn when we feel like the world has had its way with us and then tossed us aside because we were all used up? To be honest, there are a plethora of options, but I'm convinced that the best answer is the truth. The truth? You say. Yes, the truth. Let me explain.

We all have within us a core of truth that is only for us and only understood by us.

Reflection - 12/11/09

I was

No Time For Time - 12/29/09

Perception... - 1/13/10

I was just having a conversation with a colleague about how many people percieve the world around them, and it lead me to thinking about how we develop our perceptions, etc.

Change, change and more... that doesn't change... - 1/20/10

Thursday, January 14, 2010


A couple of the students in the school are passing out a survey that deals with self-image.  The focus is mainly on weight, beauty, and a little bit on healthy choices.  I was told, when I filled it out, that I asked too many questions and that I was being too analytical about the whole thing.  It made me think.  When I was younger I would have answered these survey questions very, very differently than I did today.  At what point in my life did my thoughts, feelings, and ideas on these issues change?  I can honestly say that my self-esteem is not determined by others, but when did the change happen?  As a teenager, I believed what my friends told me and I often determined my own self worth based on what my friends told me. 

The question is, was that just a surface thing that I did on a subconscious level because that is what teens are supposed to do?  Did I really have a strong core belief in myself deep down?  Or, was I really affected by what others thought and said?  If the latter is true, it would be interesting to map my life and see if I could pinpoint the period in my life when this changed.

I watch my students everyday, and I can see which ones have self-esteem issues, and which ones don't.  I can't tell you which ones have good home lives, or come from strong families, or which ones have familial, or platonic support.  I know that our backgrounds, our home lives, and our social lives are all intertwined and work together to either build us up, tears us down, or act against each other and result in some kind of homeostasis.

Do I have things about me that I would like to change?  Sure.  However, The changes I want to make are tied more into health than acceptance, but I think that this probably goes without saying for most adults, but I am generalizing and I am sure there are adults that do suffer from low self- esteem because of their bodies and what they think others see when they look at them.

I'm happy to say that I don't care what others think about me, but then again... if all my friends were more interested in body image, could I say the same thing?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Teaching kids who really need...

I'm in a Knowledge and Employability English class, and I am watching the students work on a writing/Movie Maker project.  I was pleased to see that some of the students chose to write a story instead of throwing something together on movie maker.  Not that those doing the movie maker project are any less capable, but the writing assignment is a bit more difficult than the movie maker assignment, and I'm pleased to see that some of the students chose the more challenging route.

The quality of some of the stories that I am reading is quite beyond what I expected.  Although, these stories are supposed to be fictional, they are eerily close to reality for many of these kids.
Many of the students in this class do extremely well just by showing up for class.  I am always excited to see them, and I am always enthusiastic for them when they are in class.  The kids in this class will not graduate. Some of them may get a certificate, but none of them will get a diploma. That is unless they go back to school and upgrade classes that they have missed. Will this happen? I honestly don't know. Can it happen? That one is easy... yes, it can.

I have grown to care deeply for these kids; however, in many of the cases this feeling is only one way.  I am okay with that.  Many of them come to school, not because they want to learn, or be cared for, but because it is a safe place for them.  At school they don't have to dodge bullets, or beatings, and they are warm and protected. 

Unfortunately, many of them make poor choices that often result in their suspension, or even having to go somewhere else, and this breaks my heart.

It is so easy for many teachers, parents, authorities, etc to marginalize, forget, or even exacerbate the situations that many of these kids find themselves in.  It is also unfortunate that many of these kids do the same things to themselves, and this the real heartbreaker.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I have come to the realization that my favourite punctuation mark is the ellipsis. You know, those three or four little dots that you sometimes see at the end of a sentence, or phrase. I find that you can convey so much in just three dots, or periods, or full stops, or whatever you want to call them. You can leave so much unsaid, but understood, or you can intimate, or insinuate many thoughts feelings, beliefs, or actions without using any words.

I'm also amazed at how punctuation has so much in common with our lives, or vice versa. We have those moments where we pause, or exclaim, or question, and we often feel like we are living someone else's life as if we are walking quotations. We can feel like things have come to an end, or that things are just beginning, and often we feel the need for a break somewhere in between.

Life is like that. In fact, our lives can be written, edited, reviewed, changed, expressed, sung, whispered, imagined, etc. We often have moments of happiness interjected with moments of sorrow, and for some, it can be the other way around.

Commas are my weak spot. I either use them when I shouldn't, or don't use them when I should. As a writer, and an English teacher, this is not something that I should be struggling with. I will say that I have gotten better, but I know that I still have a little way to go before I can confidently say that I am a comma connoisseur.

I love languages. I love learning how they work. I have studied over 14 languages; some just because. I want to qualify the last statement; I have studied 14 languages, but I only speak, somewhat, 2 or 3 of them. Having said that, I could probably make my way through many of them if I spent a little time with them. I am fascinated by how languages work, and this has often been the focus of my studies, but I guess you can't study any aspect of a language without learning how to communicate with it a little.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, the ellipsis is a wonderful punctuation mark. It lets the reader know that this is the end, but there is more to come, or at least more to think about. It is an idea that makes me wonder...

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I'm finding myself with a lot to say, but not being able to say it. I feel somewhat like I'm suffering from literary locked in syndrome. I guess the old saying is true, if you don't use it, you lose it. I used to think that only applied to body building and language learning, but I guess it applies to many other things as well.

I have been thinking a lot about the direction my life has\is\will be taken\taking and I find that things aren't as clear as they seemed to be in the past. This is alright though; because that means that I'm not alone. After all, isn't this part of the human condition? I am convinced though that if we always knew the whats, whys, and the wherefores, we would either lose those moments when we suddenly feel linked to the universe and everything makes startlingly clear sense, or we would, even worse, lose an appreciation for those very special moments. While I lived in England, I saw a lot of castles, and throughout my travels through Europe, I saw many beautiful cathedrals. How does this connect with my previous thought, you ask. Let me tell you. I soon found myself not feeling that sense of awe and wonder that I felt when I saw my first castle, or my first cathedral, and it saddened me. The good news is that as soon as I became cognizant of this lack of gobsmackedness, (nice word, eh? I just made it up), I decided to change how I experienced things and I soon found myself gobsmacked (probably my favourite word in the English language) again.

To be honest, I am pulling a sort of stream of consciousness thing here. I usually sit down with a focused idea as to what I want to write, but I haven't had one of those since December 8, 2009, which was when I last posted. However, since this blog is the only form of writing that I have been able to do since... well, since for a long time, I don't want to let this dry up. The fact that I am writing at all right now is a good thing, even if it is short. Having said that, I will try to commit to writing every week at least, if not more.
This means that this post will be shorter than some, and much less poignant than others... if any of my posts can be considered poignant that is.

I have actually been brewing and percolating some thoughts and ideas, and as the beginning of this post states the material is there, but I have just been unable to communicate it. Give me a couple more days and hopefully I will be back to my old self, spewing forth words, thoughts, ideas, and images that will leave you... well... gobsmacked.