Monthly Archives: July 2007

Not too scary, so I’ve been told.

Tomorrow morning I have to go to the hospital for a minor day surgery. Apparently, it is a common surgery where I am basically in and out. Nothing to worry about, so they say.

I am not fearful of hospitals per se. The procedure doesn’t really frighten me but for some reason I am a little reluctant to go. Part of me wants to call and cancel the procedure. I know that I have to have it done, and that it really isn’t anything to worry about. And truth be told, I am not worrying. I just seem reluctant, that’s all.

I had to have my appendix removed last year. I tell you, it was the most painful experience of my entire life. I didn’t know the human body could be in such pain. I also didn’t know what was happening to me until I got to the hospital. That was a long day and a long night. It also turned out to be a long hospital stay.

Shortly after I had my appendicitis, someone I knew also had one. He was out and about in one day. I had to stay there for a week because I had a fever or complication or something.

Now I have a hernia. It appeared a few months ago. It seemed like my belly button moved. The hard part behind the belly button moved upwards, just a little bit. It doesn’t hurt at all. I think part of my reluctance comes from the fact that it doesn’t bother me physically,

It seems to me like the appendicitis and the hernia coming so close together can’t just be a coincidence. But then I know that is just me being silly. Of course they aren’t related.

Tomorrow I will have a quick procedure, be in and out, and have nothing to worry about. I will take tomorrow and possibly the next as recovery-take-it-easy days. I probably won’t get a chance to blog for a few days but I will let you know how everything went when I sign back on.

Recommended Reads # 1


I enjoy reading and would like to share some of my favourite books with you. This is the first of what I hope is to be several entries under this header.

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

This book sounds amazing! It is a verse novel and at first glance it seems like a collection of poems, but it is a novel. It tells a great story about a 12 year old girl who likes to run. It is my favourite book. If you can get a hold of the audio book, do yourself a favour and get that because this a book that needs to be heard.

Read my further posts about this book

Author Mail

Novel Study Tradtion Begins

Novel Study Tales to the Track

Beauty is Everywhere

Spam – What is it Good For?

I keep an outdated email address that I use whenever I need to sign up for anything on the Internet. I personally don’t use that email account for sending or receiving messages. I only use it to confirm my address for certain websites that require such a thing.

I have posted my email on my website and this blog because I want people who are interested in my writing to be able to get a hold of me. So far, I haven’t had any problems with doing so. But today, I started receiving spam at this address.

I don’t know what use unsolicited email advertisements actually serve. I normally delete messages where I do not recognize the sender. I have opened emails before thinking that ads can’t really do any harm, but I was wrong. I have gotten viruses and messed up my computer a few times due to an email. Now I am very cautious about opening anything suspicious.

I wonder if anyone enjoys reading spam. Do people open up links out of curiosity? I know that some people don’t like getting junk mail at home, while others enjoy reading flyers and looking for deals. I haven’t really seen people that do the same thing online.

I just hope that these two unsolicited emails won’t lead to an avalanche of more spam. I really don’t like the waste of time it incurs. I hope it doesn’t cause any damage or fill up my inbox. I just hate spam! Doesn’t everyone?

Blog Friends

How do you thank a friend for all that they do? I know that showing appreciation for regularly daily acts is something that is often overlooked. I want to make sure that I don’t make that mistake, again.

I have been blogging just a few short months but I have been fortunate enough to become involved with some great writers. At first, I know that I didn’t have any readers other than myself and the odd family member.

Then, all of a sudden I got a few comments posted from eastcoastdweller. I couldn’t believe it. Someone who I didn’t know read my blog and made several well-thought out replies. I was immediately intrigued and decided to visit ECDs blog. What I saw and read on his blog impressed me and I became a fan. We regularly comment on each other’s blogs now.

After ECDs involvement on my blog, I started reading more blogs. I found another great writer, Alexis, and was immediately drawn into her writing style. I put up a link to her blog and was honoured to see that she returned the jesture.

I found the Beautiful Day Rule blog which reminds us all that we should spend time outside when it is indeed a beautiful day. Karen writes about topics that interest her and is a crusader for various worthwhile causes.

I think ECD started a little community here because there are about five bloggers who are now frequently commenting on each other’s blogs. I think it is great!

I love to see all the comments I have been receiving from chipazoid, the empress, Alexis, Karen, Silverfish, Leese, and of course eastcoastdweller. I just wanted to say thank you to you all, and although I don’t know you in the physical sphere, I am honoured to call you friend in this blogosphere.

Autograph from a Hip Hop Legend

This is a picture of the album cover I got signed on the weekend. I got signatures from some legends in hip hop; Masta Ace, Wordsworth, and Punchline. These three emcees have joined forces with Stricklin to form the supergroup EMC. They performed Friday Night at The Opera House in Toronto.

I tell you, it was one of the best shows I have ever seen. I am a big Masta Ace fan and he didn’t disappoint. Punch and Words were in a group together before and have both released solo albums. Strick has done songs with all three of them before so they had a lot of material to draw from for their performance.

I really liked the way they all got to shine and perform their biggest hits. Masta Ace and Strick even left the stage to let Punch and Words do some of their songs. It was like having four different concerts all seamlessly put together on one stage. The supergroup also played new material from their forthcoming album.

After the show was over, all four artists came down off of the stage and signed autographs. I was so excited at getting the chance to meet Masta Ace. Punch and Words both appear on his album too so I got all three of them to sign it. The picture is a little blurry but I couldn’t get my camera to take a better picture of it. This cover means a lot to me now that it is signed. I will treasure it.

Internet Privacy

I don’t think that there is any privacy on the Internet. The Internet is too big of a community that is not sufficiently policed. Anyone can get online and access all sorts of information that I would normally have considered private. For instance, I googled an old acquaintance and found a newsletter from her company that bid her farewell and good wishes on her new endeavor. Should that have been online? I don’t think so. It was a private matter for that company only, not a public document of any sort.

The other thing that disturbs me somewhat is Facebook. This is a specifically designed website that allows you to post up personal information and find old long lost friends. It really is an interesting service. I decided to join and participate in this online community. I got freaked out though when people started posting all sorts of pictures of me in the line of “friendship.” I did not want these photos being posted up but I couldn’t do anything about it.

I deleted my account sometime ago but when I did so a message came up that I could reactivate it anytime I desired. I tried just that today and was a little taken aback to find that all of my personal information was still on the site. Deactivating my account did not delete anything whatsoever. I decided to manually delete everything in my Facebook account and then deactivated it again.

I hope that does the trick. The truth is that I don’t feel safe having personal information out there in cyberspace. And now that it is out there, I don’t think it can ever be truly erased. I think we need to be careful of what be post up online.

Sometimes I think this blog might even be too personal and give people some ammo to use against me. Perhaps I am just being paranoid. I don’t know. All I know is that we need to use caution online. I will be a lot more careful in the future of what I do online.

It Doesn’t Mean Anything

I would like to comment about the ribbon campaign. You know the one I am talking about, right? The one where you wear a ribbon to show your support of a very important cause.

I am being deliberately vague here because there seems to be a new ribbon and a new cause every day. The latest one is this yellow ribbon that is really just a decal that you can put on your vehicle. The ribbon is supposed to show your support for Canadian troops overseas.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the troops. I support them and their efforts. I wear a poppy every November to show my support for those men and women who have fought and died in service to this great country. But what does a decal that looks something like a ribbon placed on the back of a car really mean?

The thing is, with all these ribbons and jelly bracelets out now to show your support for such and such an organization or cause, you can get absolutely weighed down. My car could be completely covered in ribbons and decals, so could my jacket or outfit.

To support a cause you need to do more than wear a ribbon. A ribbon is pointless. It shows other people that you put in a minimal effort. It doesn’t show the troops and doesn’t really help them in any way. So let’s slow down with these utterly pointless campaigns. If you want to do something meaningful and supportive by all means, go ahead and do so.

I volunteer a lot in my community to show my support for a variety of different things. I give blood regularly as well. I do my part. I just won’t adorn a ribbon or bracelet. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone.

Preserving Memories

I have written a journal for about ten years now. I think that it is one of the best ways to preserve memories. I love reading old entries and getting transported back into time.

Recently, I have found another way to do same thing. I was searching through some old video tapes that I thought were just garbage and have found a lot of family memories. We used to tape things all the time on our VHS camcorder. It was a great surprise finding all these old tapes.

Now that VCRs are on their way out, I thought I would get rid of my old tapes that I haven’t seen in years. But I just can’t get rid of these old camcorder tapes. I can watch these again and see my grandparents who passed away some time ago. I can see how dorky I looked like as a teenager (of course back then I thought I was cool.)

So I went shopping and purchased a relatively cheap DVD recorder. I am now in the process of transferring all those special moments onto DVDs. I can put the discs into a wallet and throw out boxes and boxes of out-dated tapes. This also makes it easier to share these memories with my family because everyone these days has a DVD player and few even have VCRs anymore.

Secret of Life

When I was a teenager I had this figured out. I was so sure that I knew what the secret of life was. I wrote about it in my old coiled notebook which was the first version of “Silent Cacophony.” I still haven’t been able to find this book but I have a few places where it could still be hiding on me. I just haven’t had the time to launch an extensive search but one day I will.

City Slickers had a great take on this theme. Curly, played by Jack Palance, shared his belief on this subject by holding up his index finger. That was the secret of life, he said. It’s one thing. It was a succinct way of saying that everyone already has the secret of life at the tip of their fingers. Curly explained that it is something that everyone needs to figure out on their own.

When I was a teenager I thought I had it all figured out. I believed that life was about finding what makes you happy and doing it. I also thought that you needed to help other people to get what they want as well. By doing both of these things you could have a happy life. The whole point of living is to be happy.

I still think that we are meant to be happy in this life. I think that most people will agree with me. But being self-centered and not caring about others is not the way to do it. If you are happy but your neighbours or family members aren’t, then it doesn’t really count.

I heard someone say this on television this week but I can’t remember where it is from. They said that life is about passion and sharing it with others. So if you can find something that you love and do that, then you will be happy. If you share that passion and pass it on to others then they will also be happy.

I know this sounds completely simple. Life is complicated and hard to figure out. And of course we can’t be happy all the time but maybe working towards happiness and pursuing it is what life is all about. I could be wrong, who knows?

Skateboarding without a Skateboard

Have you seen this new sport? It’s called parkour and it involves running, jumping, and flipping over every obstacle that you can think of. It looks amazing to see people acting like Spiderman by running up walls, jumping and flipping over buildings and anything else they happen to come across. It reminds me of skateboarding except that you don’t use a skateboard.

This new sport originated in France and has now become popular among college campuses. The word is derived from a French term for obstacle course, which doesn’t really fit what the sport is all about. It is about athletic prowess, style, and skill. In a lot of ways, it parallels skateboarding. Skaters use the man-made environment to do all sorts of tricks, jumps, and manoeuvres. People who do the sport of parkour call themselves traceurs and basically do the same thing.

I remember when I was a kid I used to see karate films where the stars would run up the wall and do a back flip. I was so intriguing by this that I tried running up the wall too. I never tried the back flip part (I was too scared I would kill myself) but I was surprised to find that I could actually run up a wall. If you run towards a wall and bend you toes just right you can actually take three of four steps up the wall. I used to do this in the community centre when I was a teenager and I would get so close to the ceiling that I could actually kick it. It was an amazing feeling.

I still like to run up the wall in the gym occasionally. If I am playing tag with the children I will launch myself off of the wall or take steps across it on my way. The kids call it “Matrix” every time I do it now, in reference to the movie.

I am not about to start this new sport but I can appreciate it. I think that people need to treat this as a sport though. I worry that people might just think that they can run and jump over anything whenever they want. First you need to be able to run. Train yourself to run three to five kilometres so that you have a comfortable pace. Second, you need to train your self on the safe ways to jump and land. Third, you must learn how to fall and ways to protect yourself. Fourth, practice, practice, practice. You need to be a good athlete before you even try to do any high level or tricky manoeuvres.

So get a skateboard and fly through the air, do all sort of fancy manoeuvres and tricks. Or if you can’t afford to buy a skateboard you can learn how to parkour. Just remember that both sports are technical and require training and practice. I don’t think anyone would jump on the ice and try to do figure skating without any training. So be smart, have fun, and get active. Or just be a spectator and appreciate the art and beauty because these sports aren’t for everyone.

Research has Changed Dramatically

Research has changed dramatically since I was in school. I remember in elementary school the libraries still had card catalogues. We were trained in how to use them to find books that we wanted to find.

Technology moves fast because by the time I was in high school, card catalogues were starting to go extinct. The system became computerized and it was a lot easier to find books on a certain topic.

When I was in university, we used computers to locate books and journal articles. We then had to physically go and find the journals and then the specific issue we needed. Sometimes the book I needed could only be found in the special collection. To enter that you room you were not allowed to bring in anything except a pencil. This was to protect the old and irreplaceable books.

I remember spending hours down in that basement making notes on lined paper with a pencil. It was really amazing actually being able to peruse through books that were hundreds and hundreds of years old. I think many of those special collections have now been closed to the public. It is sad that students can’t have access to those beautifully bound books. But it interesting to see that these old texts have now become totally digitized and you can access them on library computers. Of course, now research does not even have to begin at a library anymore.

The first step of researching these days seems to be a Google search. It is easy to find what you want if you specifically define your search. Of course, I still find it a bit limiting. I still go to libraries often. I think they give you an authentic experience that you can’t get anywhere else.

I just hope that the Internet does not take away patrons from the libraries. Libraries are very important and offer services that you just cannot get on the Internet. So go to one and find out something that you are curious about. I’ll see you there.

Call to Action


This is a notice from the Save Internet Radio Campaign. Please read this and help to save the best radio on the planet.

Thanks,

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED FOR THURSDAY, JULY 12TH

Greetings,

Time and options are running out for Internet Radio. Late this afternoon, the court DENIED the emergency stay sought on behalf of webcasters, millions of listeners and the artists and music they support.

UNLESS CONGRESS ACTS BY JULY 15th, the new ruinous royalty rates will be going into effect on Sunday, threatening the future of all internet radio.

We are appealing to the millions of Internet radio listeners out there, the webcasters they support and the artists and labels we treasure to rise up and make your voices heard again before this vibrant medium is silenced. Even if you have already called, we need you to call again.

The situation is grave, but that makes the message all the simpler and more serious.

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES RIGHT AWAY and urge them to

support the Internet Equality Act. Go to

http://www.capwiz.com/saveinternetradio/alert_9738601.html

to find the necessary phone numbers and make the call today.

Thank you,

The SaveNetRadio Campaign

p.s. click on the label “internet radio” on the sidebar to see all my posts about this issue. Thank you.

Three Easy Pieces

I ran to the record store today with determination. I hadn’t heard one song off the album I went to buy but I didn’t need to. I knew that this album would be good. And I was right.

Most bands seem to change their sound every album. The artists always claim that it is a natural progression and that they need to constantly reinvent themselves to stay fresh. I don’t know if that is necessarily true but sometimes the same old thing can get boring. There are very few bands that can stay true to their original and distinct sound throughout their entire careers and not have it sound tired or old. One of those bands is Buffalo Tom.

I have loved Buffalo Tom for years. I was first exposed to them on the excellent television show My So-Called Life. I bought their current CD then, way back in 1993 and have been a fan ever since. I own all their albums and was very excited to hear that they were putting out a new album, their first new material in nine years.

The most amazing thing is that this album sounds like the Buffalo Tom I’ve always loved. They still have that distinct sound and haven’t changed one bit. And it works. I am a fan of all of their albums. I can put on their music no matter what mood I am in. It always fits the spot.

They are a three piece band made up of members Bill Janovitz, Chris Colburn, and Tom Maginnis. Maybe that is what the album title refers to, I don’t know. All I know is that you should go pick this album up. They play rock music that isn’t too hard, nor to soft. The album is getting good reviews too so don’t just take my word for it.

Check them out,

www.buffalotom.com

Me vs. Myself and I’m Winning

I heard that line in a song recently but I can’t remember where it is from. Time for a Google search…

I came up empty on that search. Time to email my friend, his brain is full of hip hop and television trivia, if he can’t help me out no one can…

Alright so I came up empty on my research but it is still an interesting topic and one that I am going to tackle here.

Competing with yourself is essential. It is impossible to take on the world. You can take on yourself with ease though. Runners do this all the time and even have a phrase for it, “Personal Best.” To get a Personal Best (PB) means that you have topped your old time in a race; in effect you have competed against yourself and won.

My personal best in a 5 kilometre run is 19:03 minutes. It seems to be my limit though because I run often and I always time myself. I have come close to that time but I have never surpassed it since I made that PB. I guess I could take that as a negative, but I don’t. I know what I am capable of. I know my pace and I can now judge how far I have run by how long it takes me.

What if we take this idea of PB and apply it to our other aspects of our lives? We could teach children to strive for their personal best in their school work. If you can write a good quality paragraph once, you can repeat that every time you write one. If you can do a math problem by showing your work and solving it step by step, you can give each new problem you come across the same effort.

We will always feel defeated if we try to measure up to others. We will even feel defeated if we measure up to only ourselves sometimes. Trying our best is all that we can ask of anyone. I try to strive for my personal best in all aspects of my life. It doesn’t mean that I do anything with perfection. PB is not about perfection, it is about effort. It is about trying. I think that is all we can do in this life. We need to try our best, learn from our mistakes, compete against ourselves and come out on top.

Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction does not interest me too much. Most of it is poorly written, which is a shame because some of the stories I have come across have had so much potential.

It is hard to read fan fiction when the author tries to write it like they think a television episode would be written. It is easy enough to do some research and find out the proper format for scripts. Maybe this is just the teacher in me coming out, but if something isn’t presented correctly, it is really hard for me to get past that.

I think people like to see stories continued indefinitely. This explains the popularity of sequels in the theatres and the countless Star Trek and Star Wars books available.

I’ve been thinking about writing a My So-Called Life story for some time now. It’s been something that has been kicking around in the back of my head for a while. I have some reservations about writing this story however. I would very much like to see where the characters are now. Of course, I don’t own these characters. Everything else I have written has been an original creation of mine. Should I take the time to write a proper fan fiction piece?

I’ve done some research and found out that there are places on the Internet to post fan fiction. Most of these sites contain poems, short stories, or television episodes. I am proposing to write a novel. I could post it on my website and some of these fan fiction sites.

The reason I remain a little reluctant about this is that I just found out that the series will be re-released on DVD this fall. That could create a lot of interest in the show. If the DVD sales do well, who knows, perhaps there could be a reunion show. It is doubtful but I would hate to write something and then have something official be released that would make my work null and void.

I also found out that two novels have been written about the show but were not authorized. These novels must be highly sought after though because the prices for them on Amazon are astronomical.

So, I don’t know what to do. Should I write the MSCL novel or not? I know that there are plenty of fans out there, and that it would probably find an audience. I know that I would enjoy writing it. But it would be a lot of work. Hmm, decisions, decisions.

Build a Bear – Spend a Fortune

If a child asks you to take them to Build-a-Bear in the mall, beware. I don’t want to knock the company or take any sales away from them because they are very good at what they do. In fact, a lot of companies seem to be good at this strategy, that I will call, sell to the kids. My only caution is that if you go, be prepared to spend a fortune. I did just that today when I decided to take two children to this store in the mall today.

This is how it works. First, you pick an animal design from a row of bins at the side of the store. On top of each bin is a finished-fully-stuffed animal so that you know what it will look like when you are done. The stuffed animal that you want to get is really just a shell when you pick it up at this stage.

Next, you take your chosen animal shell to a lady who sits beside a stuffing machine. She slides the animal over a tube and the child then pushes a foot petal that starts the machine. The lady moves the bear around so that it gets completely filled with the stuffing.

After that, the child gets to pick a small cloth heart from a bin. The lady asks the child to kiss the heart and rub it on their heart, face, arms, etc. It is a ritual apparently. After it is completed, the lady asks you to blow on the heart so that we can give it the “breath of life.” She then asks you to place it inside the bear. Finally, she sews it up and gives it to the child.

But that is not all. No.

After you have your bear made, you take it to a shower. It is really just a forced air machine that is once again operated by the children by way of a foot petal. Then once you bear is “clean” from its “shower,” you can pick out an outfit and accessories for it.

I tell you, the outfits they had were really impressive and could fit any taste or imagination. They had dresses of all sort, sports uniforms, t-shirts, and even superhero costumes. There were tonnes of accesories such as purses, cell phones, skateboards, hair, etc to choose from. You could also put a device in your bear that would give it a heartbeat or a voice when you squeezed it. Of course, all these extras cost extra.

Once you were all done, you typed in a computer to create a birth certificate for your creation.

We picked up the birth certificates at the front counter and were given a box that looked likes a house. So for the whole experience, you get to take your new friend home in his or her own little house, complete with a birth certificate.

Selling to the kids makes sense because we like to see our children have everything. I wanted to give them this experience, but I tell you I had a hard time not wincing at the price and running out of the store. All in all, I bought two stuffed animals and one outfit and the bill came in at just under $90.

It was quite an impressive show and I could see why kids would love this experience. I thought it was cool too until I looked at the price tags. So, if you intend to go, be prepared to spend a fortune. I just thought I’d warn you.

Trio of Poems

I don’t know why I wrote that trio of poems on the theme “Out of Bounds.” It was just something that came into my head and I immediately saw three different takes on that one phrase. I wrote them quickly in one night, but now looking at them a week later, it seems that they form one sequence.

I can see the poems being about someone who was afraid to take a risk. He thinks that he doesn’t deserve to have a beautiful woman, as if her beauty makes her out of bounds for him. He learns that he deserves love and that nothing is out of bounds, but the lesson was learned too late as his relationship ended poorly.

I like to think that the ending is more hopeful than it seems though. His future is open now having gained this new knowledge. He is ready to love again and this time he will know how to do it better. Maybe.

She’s Out of Bounds

She makes my head turn every time I see her
The most beautiful girl I’ve seen
that much is clear
but why her?
She’s out of bounds
no if ands or buts about it
And if she wasn’t would I risk it?

Love is about sacrifice
but the price would be great
I’ve felt infatuation before
it’s a weight
upon my heart
that begs for release

I think I need to bottle this one inside
just to keep the peace
It’s a shame but it’s also
the only way
She’s out of bounds
and that is where she must stay.

Out of Bounds

You want what you can’t have.
It’s a universal truth,
at least I hope so.
It could explain a lot.
I want things that I don’t need,
I need things that I don’t want.
I try to stay in bounds
but what exactly are the boundaries?

People break laws all the time.
Everyone speeds down the 401,
if I don’t follow the flow of traffic,
it feels dangerous.
I get honked at, tail-gaited, and cut in front of,
So I throw up my hands and speed.
I’ve done it so much that I don’t pay attention to the speedometer anymore.

Is this a poem if it doesn’t rhyme?
Am I out of bounds by not following a formula?
for writing?
for driving?
for life as a whole?

The answer,
I think so.
Take that as you may.

Nothing is Out of Bounds

It ended
We both had our own lives
That was the problem
She cut herself off from me
and I from her

A strong relationship cannot be made
from two hard-headed stubborn people.

We never learned to live with each other

The only thing I know is that love requires a lot of sacrifice.
And I believe that it can only work if both partners give so much of themselves
and give up their “own life” in the process
and form one united life.
With that nothing is out of bounds
And everything is perfect.