Category Archives: Lifestyle

Music and Dance Reminisce

My piano music book, “Pop Standards” by Hal Leonard has select classic pieces from the ‘70s. It’s sent me back on a childhood revisit this past weekend. As I write this I’m listening to the classic “Love’s Theme” by Barry White and Orchestra. The time was so innocent in many regards which was spawned by the music of the decade. There were so many happy (major keys) melodic songs. There was the one hit wonders. There were the indecipherable lyrics. There was the disco and Abba. There was Le Freak by Chic and Mike Oldfield, and “The Hustle”. There was Saturday Night Fever and Fleetwood Mac. There was Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd. There was the Eagles and Kiss. My sister was into Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and I actually saw the appeal although I was mostly playing baseball instead. The latter part of the decade had me thinking that dancing looked fun. I had no problem with it at all in spite of friends looking at me strange. There was the band “Heart” and the program “Midnight Special”.  I was enthralled.

The years 76 and 77 had me focused on Littlle League ball but I had memorized the lyrics to Hotel California. I had the album and played it all the time along with Kiss, Destroyer. With the move to Kamloops from Cranbrook in grade eight – I didn’t think twice when school dances came around. I went to them all and I danced to Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way”, Bee Gees – “Night Fever” and “Stayin Alive”.  There was Donna Summer, Blondie and Cheap Trick (Surrender), Foreigner, Journey, Asia, Trooper, and ELO. I was remarkably composed in refuting a friend’s insinuation that dancing wasn’t cool. I even overcame nerves and rejection in asking girls to dance.   

Free form dancing apparently is not in right now. It could all change again one day. Culture could go through another period of revitalization having gone through a pandemic and the realization that part of the soul’s earthly journey is one of connection through dance.            

Pandemic Potpourri

  1. So ah, take out delivery. Don’t you have tons of time on your hands to cook
  2. Something like seven years to get a doctors degree and still so much contradictory opinion about wearing a mask and defining etiology
  3. Idiocy of downplaying potential and then actualizing the black swan.
  4. Still selling toilet paper in packages of 18 rolls weeks after discovering supply chain issue.
  5. Much talk and little real leadership from particular politicians.
  6. Few people exercising outside and you know they’re headed for a weight gain dilemma.
  7. Human rights reflection in failing to permit cruise ships to port.
  8. Potential for infringing on civil liberties with cell phone tracking permissions.
  9. Discounting any semblance of common sense and government dictums with bulletin board notices and patronizing ads about staying home.
  10. Instances of misplaced sense of authority over others’ conduct.

The Future of Work

I attended a U of A sponsored alumni event last night entitled “The Future of Work”. It was hosted at the newly restored old Calgary Science Center.

Economist Todd Hirsch from the Alberta Treasury Branch gave the talk with a power point presentation. This well spoken gentleman referenced topics which many of us maybe have thought about but haven’t really worked through logistically in terms of how exactly advancing technology will impact our working lives.

Todd suggests that advancing technology is going to in fact do away with certain job functions. His example illustrated the chronology of events required to fill a prescription for the elderly. He demonstrated that in Canada today it takes six working people contacts for an elder to have their prescription filled from the time he walks into a doctor’s office until the time medicine is dispensed. However; once an electronic medical bracelet with the capacity to monitor biological data is affixed to the wrist, a reduction in manpower inevitably can serve the individual as well and perhaps better. Imagine one pill instead of a cocktail delivered by drone. 

Another theme presented was the sociological effect of having less people serve us. Todd suggests that people will become more isolated with the deployment of technology. I wonder if robots in decades to come will be programmed to elicit emotion. 

In one provocative slide, Todd depicted the working timeline of people’s lives since the dawn of formalized agricultural to the onset of industrialization and into the digital age. Finally there was a forecast of decades new transformed by automation. He forecasts that a “Universal Basic Income” will be required to offset the improved efficiency brought on by automation. He also predicts that structured volunteerism will emerge as government programs collapse under their weight with government finances stretched. Continuous learning will be evident in a fast changing work place and the career profile of someone in 2030 and beyond will be starkly different from the “good job” espoused by baby boomers.        

Recreational Bike Riding

I am what you could call a normal bike riding enthusiast. I don’t have the best bike and I don’t go the fastest but I break a sweat and burn calories in the spirit of active living. The occasional trek gives a non-competitive cyclist such as myself much to ponder while travelling the trails of North East Calgary.

Today got me thinking about common courtesies and the urge to rush. Occasionally, we’ll run up behind a pedestrian. From experience we’ve come to learn that mankind seems to have this propensity to deploy technology at every opportunity. In this case it would be the “bike bell”. I can see reasons to use it but not in every situation. When it’s a quiet morning and a pedestrian is sauntering along in thought, I’m inclined to find a way around like a wide pass that doesn’t jar him / her out of their serenity. Call me strange but I’m just not in that much of a rush. Then there are those vehicles which offer a wide pass when it’s safe for them to do so. You know they’ll be looking back in their rear view mirror. I’ll give them a wave. 

Many drivers have an urge to rush and this behaviour is elicited by vehicle incursions at intersections and through cross walks. You know they feel guilty when surprised by a bicycle. Traffic regulations require vehicles to stop in advance of the stop line or in absence of a stop line, slightly in front of the stop sign. If intersection visibility is unclear, drivers should then sneak forward.  When folks cheat, pedestrians and bicyclists can be put at risk. Law enforcement seems to have better things to do than patrol this poor driving habit. Always be on guard at intersections.

Distracted driving is a reality and it is a material hazard. Pedestrians will not mind sharing a sidewalk with a bicycle if the bicycle yields to pedestrians always, passes with care, and slows down while passing. It simply makes good common sense to use sidewalks when road conditions such as narrow shoulders are unsafe to share with drivers.     

Tennis on The Board

So, your game of the week got cancelled but you still want to work on your strokes. Do visit the board at your local community centre but practice with it the right way. The right way you ask? Since the set up is crucial as a prefix for delivering a ground stroke, it makes no sense to be scrambling with the board since the ball returns so quickly. Instead, feed the ball to the board –make your stroke and only set up for another stroke if in control and set up properly. The purpose of this practice is to develop consistency without producing bad habits which can arise when chasing down errant balls.

How important is this? It’s critical because the neural pathways need to be developed without the impedence of experience associated improper mechanics. Similar to golf, tennis is difficult to pick up without basic fundamentals learned from somebody. The teaching of tennis has positively evolved to incorporate larger more forgiving balls and smaller racquets for youngsters.  Becoming versant in fundamentals is definitely a prerequisite before approaching a board without a playing partner.  There is also no denying the strength in some of the youtube content. For those who have good coordination and average athleticism but lack a playing partner, the board can be a great resource having picked up fundamentals from youtube.  Naturally, there’s good and bad content on the net but it’s mostly good so fear not. You can always hire a tennis teacher because it’s only in the one on one setting whereby your strokes can be observed and corrected.

Yes, that’s right – I, Blair Sveinson, am a certified tennis instructor with Tennis Alberta and I invite adults to reach out if keen to take up this wonderful game. I can be reached at 403-397-3110. I’m in Calgary.

How’s The Guitar Coming Along You Ask?

Well, it’s been about 2 1/2 years since getting serious about guitar. This is my old Fender Gemini III from 1987 which basically sat in storage until 2016. Looking back at the “set up” of the guitar and learning much about the “build characteristics” of acoustic guitars, it’s not surprising that I turned away from learning the instrument so quickly back in 1987. The “action” was “high” meaning that it needed a “truss rod adjustment”. Now I’ve made it easier to play and is a nice complement to my new Yamaha FG800. I’ll let the video do the talking from here on out.

Vicious Dogs Not Welcome

It’s happened again. In Cambridge Ontario a young girl has endured nineteen stitches in the face from an attack by a neighbor’s dog. The full extent of the injury is yet to be determined. Common sense suggests that vicious dogs as pets in communities are more of a risk to citizens than they are as benefits to owners. If communities and their bylaws are not going to serve citizens with common sense solutions to unnecessary hazards then the penal code should step in. It’s that simple. I’m all for liberty and rights of the individual but not to the detriment of the quality of life of others.        

Her Smell

The mere brashness of protagonist Becky in full flight fix is something to behold. This ‘90’s grunge band lead woman exposes the darkness of drug induced euporhia and the consequential effect on close relationships.  This movie’s scenes could have been done in one big take because of Director Alex Ross Perry’s apparent affinity for rawness on set. Fortunately, he found an ideal actress in Elisabeth Moss to play this unique role of a rocker gone bad.   

Backstage glam and drama is raucous . Recovery is a requisite for the real. Despite dysfunction, the bond of band mates is visceral with appeal. You’ll be left wondering about that. You’ll be perplexed by the acquiescent demeanour of a manager in quandary over a recording studio overtaken. Then there’s mom infusing support when she can digesting the chaos in context of her maternal past. 

Oh yes, there’s music but it’s secondary to the lifestyle plot and the preponderance of the prized backstage pass.  Consider the flick one ripe tomato.

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.