Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Urge For Adventure

As I write this I”m listening to “The Trip” by Still Corners. Call it up yourself and listen as I contemplate thrill seeking getaways as sources of reinvigoration for the soul.

As the youngest of six kids, I recall my brothers and sister tell tales about how the whole lot of us would pile into a station wagon” rambler” back in the sixties and head down to Michigan from our old home towns of Balmertown Ontario and Esterhazy Saskatchewan. You think there was just the eight of us. Nope…we brought along our border Collie, Smokey, as well. This was a day when there was no such thing as mini vans, walkmans or go-pros – but there was etch-a-sketch.  Mike, he would give noogies, Fred would play peacemaker, Terry would protect Marina, and Lloyd would scheme pranks with Mike. Dad wouldn’t stop for pee breaks until the whining became unbearable and mom was luckily tending to me on her lap. That’s right, no jumper seats or seat belt laws back in those days. Distracted driving with threats from the driver seat is how dad kept the car between the lines. 

It was either Aunt Mina and Uncle Art’s house who lived in Battle Creek Michigan or “the farm” in Reston Manitoba that would be our destinations. Imagine this…..losing your dog on a road trip. With all the excitement of adventure, during one pit stop Smokey must have caught the scent of wildlife and bolted into the woods. It had become hours and hours of calling for him up and down the rest stop until dad had concluded that it was time to go. The tears started flowing and moping kids were directed to pile back into the rambler. Once the engine turned over and the wheels skidded through gravel….of course Smokey came scampering back as if testing the family for its love of the household pet.

My childhood was full of road trips like this many of which were one way to new homes. Balmertown. became Esterhazy. Then Britannia Beach…then Revelstoke. There was Surrey and Cranbrook and Kamloops and Tungsten. There was Tucson. Each destination had a pairing back of kids with lives of the elders taking turns of another kind of adventure – that of career.

Interpersonal bonds grow stronger during times of excitement and play. Accessing nature while in the company of someone else also in the mode of discovery simply fortifies the spirit. The unwrapping of the unknown together in wonder is primal and reminds us of the backdrop of our lives.        

Trip To Calgary Dance Stampede

Professional social dancers tutor and exhibit their talent once a year in what’s called the “Calgary Dance Stampede”. It’s an opportunity for dancers at any skill level to get acquainted with social dancing and improve their moves. Workshops are hosted throughout the weekend and are very well run. You need not have a partner because rotations are made frequently throughout the one hour workshop sessions.

Yesterday, I attended “nightclub two step”, “cha cha”, and a new innovative line dance called “Music To My Eyes”. After dinner at Bank and Baron, a few doors down from host venue – The Hyatt, I sauntered back and took in the “Jack and Jill” competition. It was a fun filled version of the normally competitive format of the contest whereby partners are paired through a draw thereby testing their aptitudes for adapting to random partners.  Imagine waltzing to a record played backwards. Well, not for the faint of heart for sure.

Over the course of the weekend, there will be 110 workshops with most at the advanced beginner level.  I was impressed by the organization and strength of the instructors. The MC last night at the “Gala” was entertaining while introducing the challenges for the Jack and Jill contestants. Ample time in the evenings are scheduled for practicing those new steps. A Pro-Am, a show case, and a “Rising Star” competition round out the performance element of the event. It’s all sold out for today and tomorrow but do consider the event for next year in the spirit of your good health and the support of keeping social dancing alive.       

Nakiska Day Trip

Ski day at Nakiska and first foray into vlogging March 14, 2019. Busted out with a day off work after the schedule cleared. I’ve had a season pass here for the past five years. Definitely good value if you catch the early bird discount. It’s really the quickest trip from Calgary and need not occupy the full day.

Those learning to ski need an easy going comfortable setting with appropriate terrain. Nakiska fits the bill.

There’s never a snow issue here because of the well developed snow making infrastructure. The snow park is well equipped with ramps, jumps and rails. Downhill skiing not your thing? Just jump on a tube or snap into X country gear and tour the picturesque landscape of Kananaskis Country.

Homesteader Fork

Use ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em – Hospitality and Entertainment

I know, you’re saving up for a family vacation to see the The Great Barrier Reef down under and so all your fine dining dollars for the next while will be “order out” from KFC. The trouble with this is that good restaurants and entertainment venues are losing out on your disposable dollar and could simply shut down. We don’t care if bad ones shut down but the good establishments form part of our cultural landscape. You do want your home to be a place rich in cuisine, dance, theatre, and music.  These things bond us in the place where make our lives.

It’s bad enough that we have urban planners over developing office towers and outskirts. Worse yet, the automobile – as the ultimate entertainment center in and of itself as we spend an inordinate amount of time during the commute out to the ‘burbs.

Although the City of Calgary has made some poor development decisions in the context of facilitating cultural expression, there are still great places to go. Our city has the new Studio Bell which may be under utilized as a music centre in the context of a mandate. It has tasteful aesthetics and delectable acoustics. You must find cause to go down there. There’s been the upgrade to the King Eddy as well as the Telus Science center. Renovations /expansions will be starting on the Arts Commons as further evidence of arts support from governments, donors, patrons and sponsors. Millenium Park has been great for the kids and a new place called “Cobbs Adventure Park” is fairly new. 

My appeal to bars and restaurants is to find some reason for being other than the dining experience in order to keep people interested. Some empathy obviously goes out to the patron who has been hit by job loss, high taxes, government intransigence toward industry, and tight finances due to high mortgage balances. Sustainability in hospitality is going to require flexibility from governments on excise taxes and labor regulation in order to keep our communities vibrant.     

Facebook Unfollow Stats

You all have facebook friends you don’t follow in order to keep your facebook stream positive, fresh, and in line with your objectives of use. It’s a good thing. I’ve just run the stats on the percentage of facebook friends that I’ve unfollowed and it’s small but relevant. Here are criteria I use in order to determine if I unfollow someone:

  1. Is the platform being primarily used for commercial promotion or is there a surreptitious agenda?
  2. Do people actually sincerely share about themselves? Is it personal?
  3. Are the numbers of posts excessive and sometimes overly trivial?
  4. Can I learn something through the feed which is interesting which I wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere?
  5. Is vanity a theme?
  6. Is there a concentration toward political topics?
  7. Is the post original, a repost, or a re-circulated quote. If not original, is there context or has it been freshened with a personal addition?

Furthermore, people have the capacity for change and I’m still very interested in the lives of those few in which I’ve unfollowed of whom I may very well refollow. In fact, I’ve unfollowed one very good friend (LOL).

I suspect that most intuitively have similar criteria. Social media is evolving and frankly I’m fascinated by what I sometimes see. One friend here (you know who you are) was onto the social media bandwagon at its outset. In spite of facebook having security issues, people are resilient and continue to hang here which speaks to the power of the internet as a viable way of interpersonal connection.

Zombie State Accentuated in Canada October 17th

I’m highly suspect that the legalization of cannabis will become a net positive for Canada. In fact, I believe it will accentuate the zombie state. You see, already there are vast numbers of people in our society who have difficulty functioning at a high level because of a poor education system, a poor work ethic, poorly engrained values, an entitlement mentality, a daily hangover, and sleep deprivation.

In recent times, you don’t have to travel far to identify an indifferent customer service representative, a dispassionate reservation clerk, a vacant politician, a selfish tailgater, a stupefied crosswalk texter, or an ambivalent professional. Have these lower functioning souls been aberrated by mind altering substances, lesser cognitive acuity, or are they simply subjects of traits akin to the aforementioned? Could they be tempted away from ambition by the neural effects of cannabis ingestion? Could their ingestion of cannabis improve their productivity? I’m guessing you’re thinking, no.

You’ve seen the new urban train platforms with the big wide yellow bubble strips at the cusp of the train’s alley. You may think they’re there to aid the disabled, but perhaps they’re there in anticipation of the new cannabis legislation? Although I kid, not about the degree of smarts that your government awards you credit. Perhaps, your government would actually like to see you become more docile as a citizen through the cannabis habit so that you’ll become less abrasive in your opposition to their liberal agenda?

Your country, Canada, is a first world nation largely in part because of a value system which included the purity of a cerebral mind implemented in order to build and industrialize. In fact, the Canadian government prohibited alcohol when the seriousness of World War I became apparent. Times though have changed. A new industry has blossomed (pun obviously intended) and capitalists can now take pride in selling a product which has not historically been aligned with the freshness of mind synonymous with the capitalist ideal.

There will be those who will genuinely benefit from taking marijuana in order to alleviate symptoms of physiology. Unfortunately, there will be many who will wrongly look to it instead of within for answers pertinent to their homeostatic well being.

Declutter At Your Peril?

There are particular recreational and general interest items which you need at the ready in order to stimulate the brain at home. Don’t let your spouse throw out that harmonica that you haven’t used since last year’s family reunion. That book with the marker at page 23 is still going to get read but maybe not tomorrow. How many of you think it would be nice to learn a language but there’s clearly no evidence of learning aids amidst that tidy end table by your TV chair? Someday, right? The discovery of some old dancing shoes may just be the re-think required for reworking old West Coast swing moves. How about that crochet project which isn’t happening because of some subconscious dilemma of tidiness? Is there a family bonding opportunity lost because the scrabble board is tucked away in storage while junior obsesses over some phone app?

We downsize and right size and retool as we grow. Then grandchildren are suspicious of the person of old. Sterility takes hold and the culture becomes cold. Can we live in the new lost from soul sustaining symbols of identity?

If your work commute is more than 45 minutes, it’s detracting from your quality of life and possibly impacting your health. Could the associated fatigue be a cause of waning interest on a home hobby? Perhaps it’s the behaviour modifying influence of a roommate or spouse? What is the cause of deteriorating mental health? Is it all physiological in need of mind altering chemicals? Is there some correlation between the suppression of a creative outlet through the sterilization of home and mental fitness? What about the social impact of a conglomerate of such individuals?

Embracing Calgary’s Winter

You either hide behind your smart phone, TV, tablet or get out there and bask in the sun’s glory when it’s minus eleven, no wind and the snow has settled perfectly awaiting the crispy crunch of your footsteps or ski boots. I for one prefer the slippy slide of skis whether it’s X-country or downhill. I’m typically setting the pace by marking trails for others who look up from the doldrums to discover that winter has its place in an outdoor fitness regime. Calgary has oodles of acres of green space within its park system and public spaces due partly to inept urban planning. You might as well pay tribute to your health while others navigate traffic on their way to the mall. Makes good sense, right?

You can hum and haw at the prospect of finding a fitness friend with all the coordination and texting for confirmation while knowing full well that it’s not of their highest priority, or you make that one time commitment of acquiring some affordable equipment for those occasions of spontaneous winter thrill while leading the charge. Whether it’s from the annual ski swap, Value Village, Sport Chek, or cousin Harry’s garage – winter sporting equipment is available to all who seek refuge from the germs of the gym and electronic frequency.

Speaking of the annual ski swap, a volunteer at the event back in October took time with me to discuss his upcoming ski adventure plans. He had his multi day multi hill pass all picked out which was going to mean fulfilling its benefits by travelling to distant resorts while arranging logistics, rides, time off, and the opportunity cost of time from his studies. There will be the inevitable disappointment of friends, some poor winter road conditions, and lift line ups during the high season. He was perplexed why I picked up the early bird season pass at Nakiska.

Irresponsible Travel Habits

I am so dismayed by the latest motorcyclist death in Calgary this past Saturday night.  The fellow was at waiting at a stop light when rear ended by an SUV.  The SUV driver panicked and due to the panic, ran the fellow over. With alcohol and drugs ruled out, a distraction would appear to be the cause.

Also on Saturday, I checked my rear view mirror and I saw three motorcyclists.  One was stunting with an apparent motive to show off to his friends.  We all pull in to a Tim Hortons and little do they know I’m behind them in line. Upon over hearing their reference to the stunt, I remind them about responsible behaviour on their bikes. Sheepishly they concurred.

Then on Sunday I’m pulling out of a mall and there’s a skateboarder with her ear buds in and cell phone in hand wheeling through our intersection.  I’m thinking, you should have your complete wits about you especially considering that those church goers down the street were just dismissed from mass.

Then there are the oblivious pedestrians that I witness every day transfixed in their cell phone alter ego without any regard to space and time.  They’ll walk down the middle of an aisle at the store and they’ll look down and up and down and up while waiting at a stop light.  They’ll ignore their friend / lover / wife / husband while dining because of their cell phone fetish.

Our governments are weak on the subject when it comes to distracted driving and fear imposing any real penalty due to the perceived challenges inflicted by an even weaker legal system. The topic is addressed nonchalantly and everyone knows it’s a big issue but it receives only token attention.  Your governments believe that an ad campaign is in your best interest instead of a meaningful financial deterrent. I beg to differ.

When nobody was tethered to a phone, we needed to be organized when going to the store instead of calling home to learn if there were eggs in the fridge. We trusted that children in the care of a sitter or school would be safe without a compulsion to “check in”.  We got our work done when at work so that our leisure time was our own. Employers respected family time. We could count on an engagement to be kept with directions and destination agreed and planned in advance without last minute texting of confirmation and detail. We participated in the spontaneity of a moment unfastened from technology and free to engage wholeheartedly in a spirit for adventure and newness.

 

 

A Life Enriched By Ethnicity

My first non-white friends were the Kims from South Korea. Mr. and Mrs. Kim sought a better life for their kids Hak Gin, Hak Il, and Mejung by relocating to Tungsten N.W.T. Yes, the town was named after the metal mined. The Kim kids did not have much English upon arrival but the warmth of a cold weather sub arctic northern township earned them a little after school help inside the two room school house. Both Hak Gin and Hak Il became my friends.  I was probably their closest friend during fifth grade.  I was invited to their home for dinner and Mrs. Kim would be amused by my reaction to her traditional cuisine. Although father Bok Kim was a stern man, it was a joyous household of song and laughter.

My days as a promoter of health products always brought me in touch with different ethnic groups. I typically viewed other ethnicities as more open to a “pitch” and generally the statement holds true.  My travels in prospecting strangers (basis of my livelihood today as a public accountant) put me in contact with Phillipina Rose, and Sri Lankan Arjuna. Both became my friends.  Rose and I would sing karaoke one Sunday afternoon and talk philosophy on another. Arjuna received my moral support as he encountered hardship in his new homeland. I would remind Arjuna of his fiery spirit which would carry him through troubled times.

Membership in a private personal development club enabled me to sail the Caribbean on chartered cruises (two successive Januarys).  While partying one night alongside cabin mate Randy, along comes Ochuko. One of the biggest bonuses of membership in this club was stumbling upon this soft spoken thoughtful Nigerian on the periphery of the dance floor while admiring the moves of those marvelous mesdames.  Fate would have us hailing the same cab upon disembarking in Miami. Have been friends ever since.

My client database composes very cool Pakistanis…and recently three new Sri Lankan friends have become quite close.  One of these three has come to learn my sentiment that I think he’s whiter than most whites given his manner and traits (and he reads my blog…so I know you’re grinning).

Dancing lessons and one lovely Russian lass blessed me with exposure to the Russian heritage and those distinctive traits of intelligence, passion and beauty known to this part of the world.

More people with experiences far greater than my own from a land I’ve never seen will continue to come into my life and enrich it with adventure stories, their aspirations, things they miss from their birth place, and characteristics of Canada for which they express gratitude.