Friday, August 28, 2009

The Wishing Well

Sometimes when I throw my penny into the wishing well, my wish would be that I would've kept my penny. The wish never comes true, I am without my penny and hope, as well as my wish...

Something tells me that they should've up'ed the charge to ask a person what they think their wish is worth, and then see if we throw that amount. Then, that would be a real trick. It would show how much you really wanted that wish. My guess is that people wouldn't want to give up something valuable for it, and thats why it remains a wish.

A penny is such a small amount and the wish is so great. No wonder they dont come true. The amount should reflect the sacrifice it commands...

So I wont throw a penny for something worth a dollar ever again...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Men Lie

Why Men Lie…

My cousin brought up a great question today. She asked why men always lie.

Now, I don’t know the whole story behind her deal of why she asked that and I haven’t had the chance to play “Dr. Phil” and figure out each party’s story and come up with my own conclusion, but I thought I would give my 2 cents on the jist of it.

Now, in my own experience, men lie to women for a couple of reasons. The lesser of the reasons are ego-based, being that we want to impress you in our quest to be better than we are in order to “woo” you. Thus the “rule of 3” story in the movie “American Pie”
We will inflate anything in order to get your attention and better our chances for you to notice us. But this isn’t diabolical lying to us, it’s considered a “little white lie” or an exaggeration.

Now, there is “lying by omission” where you women think that we are not telling you the entire truth, when in fact, we haven’t volunteered the truth. We have left out big details that we know would be really stupid to tell you the ENTIRE truth. Hell, we’ve grown up with this our whole life. We’ve watched our fathers do it as artists, and the trade has been perfected from father and son as a right of passage. Our fathers are the king heavyweight champions of this…

To illustrate this point, I’ll give you an example…

You go out with the guys for a drink and end up running into your ex at the bar and it just happens that your ex happens to be there. You know that your present girlfriend has a jealous streak against her, but in your mind, you aren’t doing anything wrong. You’re just out for a drink with the boys, right? Well, as things go in our crazy world, you were spotted having drinks with your Ex last night by some of her crazy friends.

And it’s on… They stood there behind the white picket fence up on the grassy knoll waiting for the motorcade to drive by and then snipe you.

So when you get home, your girlfriend comes up to you and asks you what you got up to last night. You tell her the truth; that you went out with your buddies for a few drinks, went to a bar and “pretty much nothing else happened”

“Is that REALLY the truth?” she asks

“Yes, it is. I was home in my own bed at 1am.”

And that IS the truth!! But what we don’t tell you isn’t that we’re keeping something from you, it’s because you simply can’t handle the rest and we don’t want to deal with your shit if we tell you the ENTIRE story that you want to hear.

See, you women can’t control that funky little tempers of yours and you seem to like drama a lot more than we do. So, the best way to avoid a punch, is to not be in a fight, right? Besides, we simply want to avoid any conversation that would necessitate the words, ‘We need to talk”

God. Not talk… Anything but “talk” because we KNOW what “talk” means. You’ve never seen a guy turn as white, or look like he is as busy as when he hears those words uttered.
Besides, we know that given the opportunity, the majority of women will use any occasion to assert themselves on us by that dreaded, antiquated technique that has been around for centuries that your gender as a whole seems to think works, and that is the thing we call, “Nagging”

Now this must be avoided at all costs by us. This is an absolute no-win situation for us. It goes like this: You nag, we pretend to listen and smile, while visioning monkeys clanging cymbals together. All the while you are giving it to us, and in the end, nothing gets done.
As a matter of fact, in writing this note, I did some checking in history and I found a little tidbit of information that I thought I would share to illustrate my point.

In the HISTORY of men and women, a man has never been accused of nagging a woman.

It’s true, ask around. We simply just don’t do it. Why? Because we know that this technique doesn’t work, and in fact, it makes things worse. And the worst thing, is that women KNOW it’s not what they should be doing, but it’s something that they can’t stop doing. It’s like it’s in your DNA make-up that you MUST go into auto-pilot and use it whenever you deem necessary.

So the way I look at it, the best thing to avoid all of this which has taken me countless hours of research on the internet and in the library is one simple solution…


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Farewell to the last of the Kennedy Men, Ted Kennedy

The passing of Edward (Teddy) Kennedy yesterday marks the end of an era of great American politicians and of the Kennedy men.

The Kennedy family is about as close to royalty in the United States as there can be said.

The Kennedy family’s legacy is unquestioned, and a true great American story of power and charisma. The head of the family, Joe Kennedy was an astute American businessman who made his massive fortune in the roaring 20’s, and then went on to be Ambassador to the UK. Along the way, he and his wife Rose made good their Irish Catholic heritage and had 9 children. It is an impressive lot, including a US President, 2 Senators, all American Servicemen and the list goes on…

To have one person make the US Presidency is remarkable, but to have multiple children make that run to the nation’s highest office if nothing short of remarkable and unprecedented. However, this is also the Achilles heel of the family in which has brought so much death and despair to their legacy. The “Kennedy Curse” surely has struck many times in tragic and surreal ways that have permanently left their place in history.

Out of the tragedy of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his younger brother Bobby just 5 years later, it was Teddy’s speech to eulogize Robert that has always struck me as his finest moment. There have been greater actions in Teddy’s career and life that have made him the long serving Senator that he was, but the speech that he gave at Bobby’s funeral was a beautiful tribute to a Senator, Presidential Candidate and a Brother. He said,

“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: 'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'”

Not knowing Ted Kennedy personally, but looking in as an outsider, I seem to think this of his family and legacy…
-That a man can make mistakes, and large ones at that in the middle of life. These mistakes can never be taken away or minimized, and it truly makes a man much more accountable to those he once claimed he was above. But the way he deals with this burden of debt is the measure of that man’s character. I think that Teddy Kennedy’s service to his country and his people, although smeared with incident, have proven that his contribution in his 77 years was that of honour, and gratitude to an indebted nation.

So today, I woke up and realized that the last of the Kennedy men are gone. -That a new era has been brought to the realm of a new hope with the Presidency of Barrack Obama and the similarities it held in the election of Teddy’s older brother John F. Kennedy. I see that history has a way of ushering in the new, and allowing the older contributors to rest after a lifetime of dedication, service and honour.
If there is an afterlife as we see it, I hope Teddy was greeted by his brothers Bobby and John half way to the Pearly Gates for that escort that comes with great men in history as they are ushered in to spend the rest of eternity with those he loved and sought to help.

Rest in Peace Senator Edward Kennedy

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Would you recognize Beauty if you saw it?

You always hear that Love is Blind.

There are always the stories of how ugly beautiful people are, and how people who do not appear to be convetionally attractive have beauty beyond words.

My thought today is, that in today's world of beauty and what we perceive to be beautiful, do we recognize what real beauty is, and where it is found. They always say that they eyes deceive. I wonder how many of us would not be with the person we were attracted to if we were blind.

I think that the biggest surprise is when you find someone that shouldn't be where they are. Whether it be a victim of circumstance, I always get amazed in my business by finding that proverbial diamond in the rough. The person that you see has SO much potential and yet nobody else can see it, and then you help get that person a job and see their career take off. Its the greatest reward in my business.
But I wonder if most people take the time to look more than skin deep these days, especially in Toronto; a city with a very busy pace and full of high maintenance shallow money hungry people.

I heard a story today about a world famous violinist named Joshua Bell. I have to admit, I have never heard of him, and I certainly wouldn't have recognized him if I saw him. BUT, I do know that I would recognize the brilliance of his playing and appreciated the beauty of it.

While walking through the subways of Toronto, you always come across buskers playing for money. Some of the people playing are really good. I thought they all just came and played, but I found out that they have to audition to the City of Toronto to be able to play.
Anyway, I remember once, I was busy and late getting to where I needed to go. But I heard a violinist play Corelli's "Adagio" (the string arrangement made popular from the movie Master and Commander) and I stopped and listened and it brightened my day. I threw in a loonie (dollar) in his violin case and thanked him, but I dont think he knew how much it made my day to hear that. I sang that song in my head all day and that was almost 20 years ago and I still remember it.

So here is my point...

Joshua Bell, a world famous violinist had just played to a sell out audience just days before in Boston at over 100 dollars per ticket. He plays a 3.5 Million dollar violin that is 300 years old and as an experiment, he played as a busker in a busy Washington DC subway. He played for 45 mins and this is what wikipedia has written about this experiment...

" In a curious experiment initiated by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten, Bell donned a baseball cap and played as an incognito street busker at the Metro subway station L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 2007. The experiment was videotaped on hidden camera; among 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one recognized him. For his nearly 45-minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 from 27 passersby (excluding $20 from the passerby who recognized him) Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for his article on the experiment."

So chances are, you may be around greatness in your everyday life. The point is to take the time to recognize it in every shape and form. So that when you see what you may think is great, it prob'ley is...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Seeing the ugliness in people. -Would you want to see it?

There are always people in our lives that disappoint us. And if they disappoint us, that means that we expected more from them than they demonstrated at the time to let us down.

But what if you could see someone that you really admired, liked, loved and you could see that person's past sins, or worse, their true colours and nobody could. Would you look at this as a gift that it could allow you to weed the people out that you would save yourself from enivitable heartache or disappointment, or would you look at it as a curse, knowing that everyone that you ever knew would never be without flaw that you couldnt see?

A good example of this would be in the movie "Crash" where you as the viewer get to see the ugliness of people before it was revealed to others. We judged the Asian man who got run over by the 2 black guys and left for dead as a helpless victim until we found out that he was a slave trader selling Vietnamese aliens to the underground market.

I for one, would not wnat to deal with the constant disappointment that this vision would bring. I can't see it now, but I would keep it this way. I think I would be in living hell if I saw the ugliness of everyone in this world. We all have an ugly side, and I would prefer it stay hidden....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cheaters that ruin the sport

You know back in the day, I was pretty fly for a white guy... I was pretty quick and very skinny. I started running from a young boy in school. I did a lot of Cross Country and then got into track in high school. Around 15, I developed some speed, and I began sprinting. -Even though I hated it. I was good at it, and I wanted to win. My brother Chris trained with me with a couple other friends, and we began going to York University to train on their indoor track in the winter and use the outdoor one in the summer.

That was a great time for Canadian Track and Field. We had Ben Johnson, Desai Williams, Angela Issajenko, Mark McCoy and a few other Track World Greats. We watched them train, lift weights, run, and socialize all to the beat of their own drums.
Ben had about 6 different cars, and we would always guess which one he would be bringing that day. Charlie Francis, his coach was always there and we would watch to see what kind of drills they would do to make Ben better than World #1.
I wish I could say that Ben was a great role model, but I can't. Maybe it was because he was at "work" and he didn't want to be bothered by kids or autograph seekers, but he wasn't ever nice to us. Whatever the case was, I wasn't really a big fan of his. I did approach him once for an autograph. Jannine Bolton loved him, and he signed for her and was quite nice about it. You should've seen the look on her face when I gave her that

Anyway, I guess when Ben was breaking all these records and had this rivalry with Carl Lewis, it was the greatest time for the sport that maybe hasn't ever been surpassed. I remember being in Halifax watching the 100 Metre Dash in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, and seeing him absolutely DESTROY Carl Lewis in the Men’s Final.

9.79!! His previous world record of 9.83 was shattered. Before this, the record was 9.99. So, in an event where a hundredth of a second was the difference between world record and second place, this was a massive amount to beat it by. We as Canadians were marveled by Ben's achievement. It was truly unbelievable. And then we found out a couple days later that it REALLY WAS unbelievable.

Ben Johnson on steroids?! No way. Not possible. -Someone duped his water bottle!! But as we all found out later, it was like finding out that there was no Santa. Ben had cheated, and a piece of my childhood went out the window for good.

What we thought was bad turned worse. It seemed like a house of cards coming down. ALL of these players in Canadian Track and Field were cheaters and it all came out in the wash. Maybe it was just our athletes that got busted, as I’m sure looking back now that everybody was guilty of substance abuse, but we were obviously one step behind the testing.

And now I look at this and think I could rhyme off names like Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, A-Rod, Flo-Jo, Marion Jones, Edwin Moses, Floyd Landis, and Michael Johnson just to name a few.
I know that there are many more, but this is a good start. Let's look at a great example of this.

I mentioned Michael Johnson. He was a 200 and 400 metre Olympic champion and former world record holder in each event. His record of 19.32 in the 200 metre was remarkable and unbelievable. Up until his record run, Pietro Mannea's record in the 200 metre of 19.72 had stood as the longest unbroken track record. Not even the great Carl Lewis who had amassed a 2 year unbeaten streak in the event, and came within a 100th of a second of tying the 200 metre world record, could come close to it. And this was the world's dominator in the event for a decade. So it stood unbroken for Michael Johnson in the Atlanta Olympics of 1996.

And Johnson ran it in 19.32.

Hmmmmmm, lets see here. This record stood for over 2 decades and the best in the world couldn't get within a 100th of a second of it, and now this Johnson guy comes around and beats it by 4 TENTHS of a second?! YOU GOTTA BE SHITTING ME!!...

How was every alarm in the world not going off calling this guy a cheater?! If this wasn't a wake up call for the World Doping Organization to get their act together, I don't know what could be. NOBODY beats the longest serving record where an elite world class athlete like Carl Lewis couldn’t touch it by that margin. It just can't happen. That's the equivalent of someone walking into a casino and hitting 4 jackpots in slots for millions in 4 pulls. -Its theft!!

Yet, it went unheard.

Now, this Jamaican runner comes out of the woodwork and beats these records that were tainted by drugs and thought to be unbeatable. Johnson's 19.32 was eclipsed to a modest 19.30 by Usain Bolt. -The same man who just broke his own 100 Metre record this weekend. In a time of…(Can I have the envelope please?)


His broke his own record by .11 of a second. That’s the largest margin the record has been broken in the 100 since the invention of electrically timed runs started in 1968. (Ben Johnson did it in Rome 1987, but because of his steroid scandal, it was stripped from him) So are you getting the hint?

How long do we buy this shit about our athletes breaking old sacred records by massive amounts before we say something and cry FOUL?

Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa stole a record which belonged to a class act like Henry Aaron and Roger Maris respectively and we let them do it.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Cyclist Lance Armstrong gets fingered out and caught for some sort of substance abuse. I mean, do you really think he retired a couple years ago because he wanted to?


I think that he was basically FORCED to retire because his little secret was about to get found out and he couldn't risk losing races and titles without his advantage. So he quietly retires. When he gets a new formula, he'll be back. Oops...Scratch that. He's already back. And despite the time away from this incredibly tough and competitive sport of cycling, he ALMOST wins the Tour De France.


Sprinters are no different. I say we set the records straight and keep blood samples for as long as it takes so that when technology catches up in a decade or so, we can strip the athlete for cheating. I mean, cheating has no time limit, right? Can you imagine if Ben Johnson ran and didn't get caught and then 10 years later his urine sample was found to have steroids in it that were not detectable at the time?


Stand the test of time if you want your record to.

So let this Jamaican have his moment of glory and his fame and fortune that he's cheated for. But just like the others before him that were once World greats, his legacy will be tainted before his time is up.

And I Thank God for this...

Could you love your son if he were Adolf Hitler?

Seriously twisted question, I know...

But you would be surprised at the responses you would get...

I always marvel at interviews with the mothers of serial killers, like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy just to name a few. They defend their darling son despite admissions of guilt to heinous hate crimes against humanity. A mother's love is like no other, but how can you defend this type of behaviour?

I was watching an interview with Ann Coulter, the controversial political right winger the other day and she was just saying stupid shit. By the end of the interview, she had ruined my entire day with her stupidity. I googled her and saw countless youtube clips of her being an idiot and I thought to myself, "how could someone love this dumb broad?" Not a husband, not a son/daughter and certainly if I were her father, I would be ashamed to call her my daughter.

There comes a point in life where people become a drain on society. If your son or daughter were the terror of the world like a Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Mousolini, or other notables, how could you look their victims in the eye and defend your child, when they have done so much damage?

I know that it must be heartbreaking, but I would have to step out of my endearment and love for my child and realize that you cannot defend or love someone who is such a monster. Period.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I think that people all have a dark side. I should clarify this though...

I don't mean that people are all axe murderers, but I think that we all have deep secrets that we would all go out of our way to hide from others. Something that we are not forthcoming with telling others...

Case in point to me, would be the confidentiality of your laptop/pc/mac. I think most people keep most of their personal stuff on their computers, and I would not really know a lot of people that would give you a free look into their life's info by leaving it open to casually look into. "I have no secrets, go ahead, look all through my computer. No porn, all my finances are in check, no pictures, no emails that would make me feel uncomfortable." And then you would have a private eye follow them around and see what they do in their off time, and who they associate with and what kind of side trouble or deals go on. Not many of us can say we've never been consistently virginal in our everyday behaviour.

I know most of us are probably pretty clean cut in our personal lives, but Im sure that if I didn't just catch your attention with the above paragragh, I would be willing to bet that if we were having a drink around a campfire that you could tell me something that youve done that was contraband, or underhanded. There aren't a lot of us out there that aren't above a shady handshake deal, or have done something that we knew was wrong, but we didnt care, or worse, justified it as an entitlement issue that we felt that we were "owed" it.
I'm sure that all of us reading this will say, "Im guilty of this...." and can think of some example of an act they've done that they see in their head and wince.

-And those are the GOOD people. And if that WAS you that I just described being good your whole life, I would imagine that the rest of the world calls you boring, square or nerdy.

The really bad and evil people have lies upon lies, and false lives going on that you would never know who they really were and they are trapped in this false life by their own doing. Some of them are plain assholes, but the ones that really scare me are the ones that you don't see coming. When you find out that someone you knew was a rapist, or a killer or swindled people out of money. Things that they would throw your ass in the can and let you do some thinking with a few years' time on your hands.

But for the most part, I get bothered by the disappointment that it all takes. When someone lets you down, and you held them right up there with the good guys and you find out that they arent anything that you thought that they would be. Its impossible to ever trust that person again and you lose all respect for that person too, dont you?

Well, I know that I've been on both sides of that situation. So I'm not throwing stones at glass houses, but it really makes me feel worse that people will always hurt one another based on what they want.

I LOVE it when people screw you and then tell you that "its nothing personal, its just business"

Are you kidding me? What they MEAN to say by this, is that they "didn't mean this to personally hurt you, its just that my greed got the best of me, and I wanted something that you got in the way of"

I loved it in the movie "Taken" when Liam Neeson was tracking down his kidnapped daughter and the man responsible for trafficing the women said that line to Liam Neeson's character.
-Like it would make Liam Neeson feel better that his daughter was kidnapped and sold off to Albanians who used her like a sex slave. Oh, Nothing personal though!!

Sorry, I went off an a tangent there...

And for the most part, you only see us people Sorry when we are caught. I dont think many people cry in front of judges and jury's because they really feel badly for what they have done. They feel badly for what is about to happen...To themselves.

Sometimes, I think that the worst thing that God ever did was create people. And then you meet someone who touches your life, and restores your faith in the human spirit all over again. -Only to have this roller coaster tale appear over and over again your whole entire life.

Having being an optimist, I always think on the positive side that people are indeed for the most part good. But Im aways aware that there are many people out there that dont think quite like me...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Looking at yourself

A time of innocence...

There is the Simon and Garfunkel song called Bookends. It’s a short song. There are only a few lines in it, but they speak volumes to me.

"Time it was, and what a time it was.
It was a time of innocence.
A time of confidences.

Long ago, it must be.
I have a photograph.
Preserve your memories,
they're all that's left you...

I hear this, and think back to being a little boy. I can see myself sitting on my stoop in my front yard. I am about 7 years old, yet I don't recognize myself.

How weird.

This is me. The same DNA make-up, and yet I cannot see myself in this kid. I mean, I know that he is me, and I am him, but I can't seem to look that little boy in the eyes and introduce myself.
Worse, I don't think that he will believe that I am him years later. That little firey boy would have so many more expectations of me that I just haven't lived up to, and I wouldn't want to disappoint him. He has the whole world in front of him, and he wants to be a young boy and conquer. That kid hasn't had his first real defeat yet that will take the life out of him little by little. He hasn’t had his first girlfriend, or his first heartbreak. He doesn’t know what death or loss is and how it pains. -Like the man he has become looking down has.

The thing is, would I be able to look that kid in the eye and tell him that I did everything to ensure his happiness, and that I worked hard in making sure that we have lived a worthy life? I don’t know. I’m not so sure I could tell him that. His expectations are so much higher than mine are now. In fact, I think I would try to convince him that life isn’t the way he thinks it is. He thinks it is idealistic and vibrant, but I would try to convince him about how jaded he will become so that I may curb his expectations later in life when he is disappointed with roadblocks along the way.

That’s certainly not the way my parents talked to me, or brought me up. So why would I try to do this?

Maybe self-preservation.

Well, that kid went through all the trials and time that every single kid in my community went through. I’m sure we all think that we had it worse than the average person so that we can make ourselves feel better about where we are in life right now.

Wait, do I sound bitter? I don’t mean to be jumping on the bitter bus, and I’m not that way. I’m quite sure if you are reading this, that you have many feelings about things that you’ve chased or done in your life that you shake your head at. If you haven’t, then you aren’t human and you certainly haven’t lived life. Everyone knows that if you wanna make an omelet, you need to crack some eggs. –Just don’t get that egg on your face.

So, the good news is that this story only happens in my head, and it’s not reality. I think it’s a good reminder though. I like looking at that kid on the stoop. He’s a really spunky kid. In fact, he reminds me a lot of a little guy I used to know once. That little Hellion that terrorized the neighbourhood and used to pull the pigtails on girls… (sorry girls)

So, do you have thoughts about this? What would you say if you had the same vision?

What would you say to yourself?

A soldier's story

There was once a soldier and he was overseas away from home and very homesick. His hometown was proud of him and he received many letters from the town he grew up in.

However, out of the many letters he continued to receive, he was most touched by one in particular. It was from a woman that said she knew him, but he didn't know her. She wrote many letters, sometimes a letter a day came for him. The soldier started a writing relationship responding to each letter back to the woman.

This carried on for weeks and then months. It became a sort of routine that he would finish his patrol and then get another letter from this secret admirer. It made his heart swoon, and he began to fall in love with this woman that he had never seen in the flesh.

It felt stupid, and he couldn't tell any of his soldier friends because they would laugh at him. But each night, he would write back and it made the war seem further away, and he fought harder to come home alive so he could see this woman.

Well, the war ended and he got on the boat to come home. He felt so excited about his return. Not only was his hometown going to give him a hero's welcome, but he was about to meet this woman he had fallen in love with. This woman had kept his spirits alive in the war, and he owed his life to her for giving him the hope to return home safely.

Although they did not see each other, it did not matter to the soldier. He would love this woman no matter what she looked like and he told her this. At first she did not believe him, so she said that he would recognize her in the crowd. She would be wearing a wild purple orchid above her heart so that he would know its her.

When he came into town, his heart was beating so loud he thought everyone could hear it. This was the moment he was waiting for....

When he stepped into the crowd, he was immediately greeted by all of his family and friends until he finally saw her. She was considerably older than he was, and she sat in a wheelchair being attended to by a young vibrant woman behind her. As he walked up to her, he knelt down on one knee and pulled the orchid off her jacket and put it in his hand. Then he took her hand and joined them together in a tender embrace and kissed the woman on each cheek.
Looking into her eyes, he said, "I owe you a debt of gratitude I shall never be able to repay. You brought me such joy with your letters and I am standing here because of you. I fell in love with you in each and every letter you sent to me, and I am overjoyed to finally meet you so that we can start our life together."

The woman looked at him and said, "Brave soldier, I am honoured that you have returned safely to a hero's welcome, and I appreciate your kind words, but I am confused. This lovely woman behind me asked if I would wear this orchid, and she offered to push my wheelchair to greet you..."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Discriminating against the Handicapped. Are you guilty?

What would you say if I told you that I yelled at an amputee on the street with no legs for being too slow? What if I told you that I yelled at him in front of a crowd of people and looked down on him for all to see. Who do think would look more foolish? The amputee, or me for being so heartless at chastising a man without legs for being slow in going?

Well, you don’t have to worry, I didn’t do such a thing. But I almost did…

Only this person wasn’t an amputee, he was mentally ill. Let me explain…

I live with a neighbour that calls a tent “Home”. He has lived on the lake’s shore for at least 5 years now. He is not so much homeless, as a professional camper. He lives in a tent and has a campsite and basically lives like a camper year round. He is very intelligent, and looks like a mountain man, but he is quite harmless. He doesn’t harm anyone, and he keeps to himself and must live a very lonely life. The only thing is, he is obviously mentally ill. He says very odd things most of the time that you talk to him. I mean, who else would live in a climate like Southern Ontario winter and summer in a tent with a "right" mind?
He is always worried about the government putting in microprocessors into things to listen in on your conversations and such. Sometimes, I’ve just had to roll my eyes and walk away.

So the other day, I saw him and said hi. He didn’t reply and kept walking. I saw him again and asked him how he was doing and if he needed any pots and pans (that I was gonna throw away) and he didn’t answer me again. So I asked him if he was on a talking strike (sometimes he wouldn’t talk for a week in protest of some things) and he just walked away and snubbed me. Well, I was pissed. I couldn’t believe that after all the stuff I had given this guy and the things I had done for him that he would want to piss me off by snubbing me this way. I almost walked over to him and was set to teach him some manners when I realized that he wasn’t playing with a full deck. He was mentally sick and his brain didn’t work the way mine does. He is dealing with demons and voices and other things that I would have no idea about and yet I expected him to behave like a healthy person.

That’s when I thought about him having a disability and how myself, and we in society look down on the mentally ill without having any knowledge about them. Had this person been missing a limb or have cancer or some physical illness, you probably wouldn’t be in this situation. We treat the physically handicapped much better than we treat the mentally handicapped. Even though, the people who are suffering from mental illness suffer just as much if not even more…

In fact, while I was thinking about this, I watched 2 programs on TV this weekend. The first program was about the 40th year anniversary of the Charles Manson Murders, and the second was about the 2 deranged students who shot and killed their fellow students at Columbine High School in Colorado, USA.

In both cases, you could clearly see after the fact, that these people were not mentally well. People like this who exist amongst us are the threat that we dread every time we see a story like this. A post office worker, a chauvinistic man walking into an office, a high school student tormented by others and many other people that commit violent crimes that don’t think with the same logic that the rest of us have. And they commit horrific crimes against society. They become study cases for others to learn from so that we can better prepare in these situations the next time it happens.

Well, that’s bullshit.

I know that there are people out there that don’t commit these crimes, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of committing them. There are some really crazy people out there, and there seems to be very little we can do to help them. I really don’t know how the brain works in their situations, but I would like to think that people aren’t born this way. I think it is a combination of things that create this unbalanced mindset, and it takes events in their lives to create the deviation in their perceptions to want to hurt people. But what do I know, I don’t study this stuff.

I would like to think that people would be nice no matter what, but that’s not the way life is. The truth is, there are a lot more people out there that are not nice, than nice. And these are the people who are supposedly balanced in life.

I mean, I know that we all have stress and some can handle more than the next and some break a lot easier than others. But, I still think that there are a lot of people running around in my world that suffer mentally from something and there is no help for these people. Drugs can only help them cope with the imbalance and there is always a side effect. Depression is the first thing off the top of my head, and I think we have all suffered from it at one point in our lives.

But anyway, I just realized that I have discriminated against the handicapped. And whether they are mentally or physically handicapped shouldn’t matter. The point is, we should all understand that a handicap is not subjected to our personal belief system, but rather, a person in need of our help. Regardless of our perception, these people suffer in a way that healthy people would never understand. And when it came to almost confronting my neighbour, I didn’t.

I just knew that I was offended, and I wanted to lash out and let that person know that this was not the way I was going to be treated by him. But in the end, it was he, the mentally ill person, who taught me the lesson…

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Great Movie Scenes

I LOVE movies.

In fact, many would say that Iam a movie snob. I either love the movie, or I think it was ok (meaning it could have been so much better) or it disturbs me.

This week, I rented a movie I knew would bother me. I have had so much interest in seeing it dispite knowing it would bother me, but I knew it would never stop bothering me until I saw it. So this has inspired what I feel are great movie scenes of some of my favourite movies.

10) Wedding Crashers/Swingers/Old School

Vince Vaughn may play the funny/cool guy role better than anybody before or after him. Take a pick of his many funny moments and you will see why he makes the top 10

9) True Romance

The death scene of Dennis Hopper's Character with Christopher Walken at the helm. It is poinant, calm and violent all in the same moment. Brilliant writing which includes the history of so many misunderstood reasons of Italian dislikes...

8) Ferris Beuller's Day Off

The moment when the camera moves from the abhorred face of Edward R. Rooney (Dean of Students) to the face of Cameron Fry imitating the voice of Ferris Beuller's girlfriend Simone's father. This is every kid's greatest truimph when you pull one over so badly on a higher ranking adult that it makes them almost cry with joy...

7) The Princess Bride

You could very well pick any scene from this movie and I would agree with you, but I would have to go to the sword fighting scene between the Man in Black and Eneugo Montoya after climbing the Cliffs of Insanity. The character development is just too funny.

6) The Shawshank Redemption

This was a very tough movie to watch in many places, but it was such a great movie and really well told. I think to me, the best scene was the ending one where Andy was working on his boat and the soothing voice of Morgan Freeman was walking his character along the beach as a free man towards his good friend Andy Dufresne.

5) My Best Friend's Wedding

The Scene where the entire wedding party is at lunch and Jules's friend (Rupert Everett) starts telling his (made up!) story about how he and Jules met and they take it to the next level by singing "I say a Little Prayer For You" Love the energy, love the hat, love the song, LOVE IT!!

4) Legends of the Fall

I think this is the movie that brought Brad Pitt the sexuality that has since followed him everywhere. There are many scenes that are touching, but the one that stands out the most to me is the letter that Mr. Ludlow writes to his estranged wife about how having all three of his sons safe inside his house fills him with a great satisfaction that he thanks God every night. This is set to a very moving piece of music that leads into the first and long list of tragic moments in their lives; showing that you should be thankful for the peace in your life when you have it...

3) Beautiful Girls

A fantastic, but not well known movie with an All-Star cast including Natalie Portman's best role ever. Ted Demme directed this movie and then was involved in a nose-candy related death. Unfortunate, because it was great work...
However, I think the scene where Timothy Hutton and and Uma Thurman are in a plush ice fishing hut in the dead of winter having a quasi-sexual moment leads us all to a place in our lives that we have been caught in and would like to forget with honour and class. This scene says it all.

2) Forrest Gump

Tom Hanks actually took this role over the lead in The Shawshank Redemption and it couldn't have been a better happy-feel good moment.
The scene at the Mall in Washington DC where Forrest is talking at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and he tells the MC what his name is in front of 10's of thousands of people. After the silence, a lady yells, "FORREST!!" and she leaps into the reflecting pool. He replies, "JENNY!!" and makes his way down to the water and meets her half way as they embrace and the people watching them explode with excitement. Touching...

1) Almost Famous

If you've ever loved a band or travelled in one or followed, the #1 scene that I love is the scene after Russell Hammond, the guitar playing, acid-dropping, sleep deprived rocker has after spending the night stoned with his friendly side-kick correspondent William Miller.
The rocker gets picked up by the band's manager and after making a speech about leaving the small town they played the night before and bidding them adieu with the promise to return the following year, the piano of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" starts to play and it crescendos to the point where the whole bus is singing the song as it rolls on down the highway, all smiles and all forgotten...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting Conned!!

You know, there’s nothing worse than being conned...

It makes your stomach just sick when that horrifying feeling hits you that you’ve just been had. It sucks that you end up losing property or money, but I think those things can be replaced. It’s the brutal blow to your intelligence that really hurts, and it makes you feel stupid. Combine these 2 things, and you are left with a story that hurts to tell, admit to, or remember which brings back that ugly feeling every time it comes to mind.
You think to yourself, “How could I have been so stupid that I didn’t see it coming?” Looking back in retrospect, it may have been so easy, but the truth is, many people fall for the same things over and over again. Most of these scams have been around for centuries, and keep re-appearing over time.

After watching the Liam Neeson movie “Taken”, I came to the understanding that I was very na├»ve. Things like that happen in a split moment, and when you get to the point where you wonder how you got there, it is too late. Movies like “Hostel”, “Derailed” and “Taken” are sad tales of woe, but thank god they are movies. Now, I know that things like this really happen in life, but at least watching these movies, make you aware of bad situations so that you can avoid being made a fool of.

I want to share my story or woe with you…

I was in Europe over 10 years ago and I was in Barcelona on the Rambla. There were many street performers on this wild strip at night, but one that caught my attention was the game where a guy was playing “Hide the ball” There were 3 small shells and he was hiding the ball and you had to guess where it was hidden. Well, there was a guy who was playing with him and he was betting, and I was short on money so I just watched. This guy ended up guessing right the first time and made $50. He then walked away and a new guy came in and lost a lot of money. I only had a few minutes, so I left thinking that I should’ve bet the $50 as well and I would’ve drank for free that night.

Boy was I wrong…

Ever since that day, I’ve remembered that game and swore to myself that if I ever saw that game again, I would play it and win. Well, about 10 years later from first seeing it, I got my chance.

It was summer a few years ago, and I was in Stockholm, Sweden. I was in the city square when I saw this guy have the same game I had seen in Spain a decade earlier. True to form, I saw a bunch of people playing there, and I watched people come and go before I tried to play. Well, let’s just say I lost, and it felt like I had been sodomized.

And it wasn’t until today I figured out how the scam worked. And it is rigged that you can never beat it. It’s a scam, not a game. But everyone doesn’t understand how it works…

I’m going to share this with everyone reading this, and if you think what you’re reading is valuable to someone travelling, backpacking or whatever, forward this to them to warn them. It may save them a lot of hard earned money changing hands to a scam artist.

There are many of these scams that you should be aware of and how not to put yourself in harm’s way, so I’m going to put the youtube video links up so that you can watch them all.

The point is, that if something looks like it is too good to be true, it really IS too good to be true. Don’t be afraid to be cautious and challenge a person to make sure that you feel good about something that may appear not right to your instincts. More often than not, if your gut feeling is sensing something wrong, IT IS!! Your brain tries to make you think that everything will be alright, but this is very usually not the case.

I could tell you many stories from fellow backpackers in Europe that I’ve travelled with, known, or heard accounts of these cons, but it would be too long to write. But after you read this, you can arm yourself with knowledge so that you better your odds in noticing these things. I look back and think it was blind good fortune that I escaped certain situations I put myself in, and got out luckily unscathed. I would like to save you from the mistakes that I and others have made so that we can learn from them.

Check out Real-Hustle on Youtube and see what to watch for. It may just save you from that one moment you regret for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Tickle Trunk

I remember when my grandmother passed away. I was lucky to have a really young grandmother. She was 36 when I born. I was just shy of 20 when she died, a young woman, but I was lucky enough to have lived with her for the final months of her life. This gave me an immense amount of closure with her and for months knowing that she was terminal, we were able to talk about everything in her life, her kids' lives, and although she should've been bitter about a lot of cards she was dealt, she wasn't. She was a very bitchy woman to many, but to her family, she was the nucleus of what made everyone stick together.
But what made her a great mother and grandmother was the passion that she had for her family. She was very protective of her kids and grandkids. I knew this, but never as much as after she had passed away, when we were cleaning up her stuff at her house and we found her tickle trunk.

It was just like opening a time capsule to your whole life. There, she had every piece of art and drawings and stories that I had made right from kindergarten to the day that I graduated high school. And they were all nicely put away and cared for, as if they were little tiny treasures. And I guess that they were for her... What was simply pieces of paper with ink and paint on them, were now part of her collection. In going through these, I found a time line from me, the eldest grandchild right down the line to the others who were so important to her. I wished that people who didn't like my grandmother could've seen this.

I know that my grandmother had battles with her kids, but her grandkids were everything to her. And I see that now, how much grandparents have the greatest moments. How life just seems to be much more spiritual, and less of an everyday battle than it does to us parents or single people.

But I can't tell you how happy and honoured that I was that my grandmother took the time to appreciate and keep my work. I looked at one drawing that I had done in Kindergarten when we had visited the Washington DC Metro Zoo and I saw my first Giant Panda which was a gift from China to the USA. I loved that cuddly looking ball of fur. I came back to class and I drew a picture of it (badly) and then the teacher quoted my caption of what I said about the Panda.
"Here is my Panda. He is smiling because he is looking at me. I love him, and I want one of my own.- Chuckie"

Looking down at that piece of paper, I was grateful for everything my grandmother did for my family, which in turn, included me. Some of my younger cousins were too young when she died, and its sad, because they missed a beautiful woman on the inside. I missed her dearly, but never as much as I did posthumously when I found all this, which just made me feel like crawling up inside that trunk to feel closer to her.

Its funny how time goes by and you remember stuff like this randomly. All the things going on these days with the economy and the hustle and bustle of everyday life and this is the good things you remember. Talking to people on facebook, I have remembered a lot of things in the past that have been put in that tickle trunk in my head. But opening it up every once and a while makes life seem a little more manageable and certainly much more lovable.

Now, my mother has taken her mother's name and has become "Nanny" to my daughter. I can't wait to see how things happen just like this in the next 20 years. I started a Journal for Kennedy, starting from the day when we first found out she was going to be a girl. I had started that journal talking to a child that hadn't existed yet in our lives, and without a sex; without a name. When I came home after finding out the sex of our baby, I could write her name in the book and say hello for the first time. Its been almost a year since I started telling her about her story and I can't wait to give it to her on her 16th birthday. With all the things a tickle trunk should have in it.

So thanks Nanny, for loving us, and teaching us how to love so dearly...