Thursday, 25 December 2014

Our Personal Christmas Spirits

Christmas is different now. There's something about it that hurts, and I don't know why I feel the way I do. So I'll try to figure it out as I write this.

I lost my dad five years ago and my mom 12 years ago. Since they've been gone it feels different, a kind of empty something missing feeling. My family is here with me and that feels good. The music's playing, there's a turkey cooking, the presents have been opened and the greetings came in waves this morning from friends and distant family. It all feels like it should. A happy day to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday - thanks.

But something's missing. I miss my parents and the way things were growing up. First of all, my dad was a nut. He was all over Christmas. The house was bedecked in every sort of decoration you could imagine, including dozens of Santas - everything from small ceramic statues to a giant plastic Santa hanging on the front door. We never had a wreath. If we did, it would be covered in Santa's face. There was over 100 of them. Then there was the rest of the decorations. And the tree. Covered in Santas. It was a running joke each year that when dad put everything away there would always be one Santa left out, somewhere. It was always fun to have the kids find it. Eventually he just left it alone, one Santa out all year. Each year it would change.

Dad also was Santa. He was the mall Santa, rang the bell for the Salvation Army campaign, hired himself out to people on Christmas Eve to visit the kids, and always visited the hospital where mom worked to put some cheer into some sick people's hearts. He was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. And he loved it all, especially the kids. I took him to one gig one year, a rather wealthy man wanted to pay him a good sum to visit his kids at 2am Christmas morning, after midnight mass. He didn't take the money. He did it for the kids.

Mom was in the spirit too, although I still believe she didn't have much of a choice, she married Santa. We called her Mrs. Clause, appropriately. Dad called her SWMBO (pronounced schwambo): this stood for She Who Must Be Obeyed. My wife is now known as schwambo junior. Mom was a very spiritual woman, and ironically, dad wasn't, his spirit came from somewhere else. At least that's the impression he let people have of him, but we knew that without spirituality and faith, he couldn't have been anything like he was. It was in his heart.

Since they left us there's been a hole in our existence. We carry on like family does and deal with our loss. They will always be with us in spirit - their memories are just as important as those of us who are left to remember. We still hang ornaments on the tree that were part of our childhood and my parent's life. We always will. We still sit on their couch, read their books, I'm writing this on mom's desk. They're always going to be with us and everyday I feel that. But today is hard. Today is Christmas Day and they won't break bread with us.

But that's okay. I have to move on with life and realize that our existence on this little blue planet is fleeting. We will all go one day. It's the time we have with each other that matters. I cherish the memories of my childhood and the season. That's a spirit I share now with my children in whatever way I can, except for the Santa heads everywhere, they got a little unnerving. But traditions of old mixed with new traditions come together to mould us into a new family. A little of time gone by with a sense of the future. But above all else this year we never forget how it all began. Our traditions began with the traditions of our parents, as theirs did before them. And so on. Our children will take up the torch once they have families of their own and again the traditions will evolve.

So this year as you gather around your table with your family don't neglect to pay homage to your ancestors. Don't forget to thank them for what you have in your heart this Christmas. I intend to thank mom and dad for their generosity, love and hope. I do that everyday, but at this time of year we all stop and feel the presence of our parents and grandparents. We say Merry Christmas to them as they are still part of our families, even though they may not be here in person, they are still here in spirit.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Don't You Hate It When You're Head Explodes?


Me. With enlarged idea tumour. Soon, boom.
That's the sound of my head blowing up. The ideas want out, I have to open some sort of release valve soon. This blog is one part written explanation of my sordid little existence, and one part storage pit for the ideas and thoughts that fill my head on days I don't feel like crawling under a rock and hibernating. Today is the latter.

The nature of my illness, as I've explained previously, is that I bounce from one state to another rapidly, like, in a minute and a half. I can go from a deep solemn depression to a ecstatic high, or manic state in no time at all. If I'm really lucky, the manic state doesn't cause a deep crawl under a rock sort of depression, or crash. Today I feel good. I have ideas and thoughts I want to let out and put to practise, it will occupy me for the day, and hopefully longer. If there's one thing I've learned about this state of mind, it scares people. Lots of people. People slowly back away from me when I start into a rant about something occupying my brain. Sometimes the ideas are like tumours I'd like to yank out through my ears with a melon baller.

About five years ago I dreamt up a project and I haven't had the opportunity to bring it to fruition. The long drive home from work everyday on the highway gave me about a solid hour of thought time. Never good. I relished in ideas that were both terrifying and absorbing, all the time trying to keep out of oncoming traffic. Most times that worked. Other days I drove along like a lemming, mindlessly following the endless flow of commuters leaving or going to mindless jobs, like mine.

But I digress. 

The idea is unique and if I may say so, damn good! But I bit off more than I could chew in the sense that I haven't the resources to pull it off. I talked about it with several people, none of whom slammed me, if anything the idea was met with optimism and encouragement. This led me to believe I really have something here, and it needs to be done. But how? I need resources, I need assistance. And I don't want anyone stealing the evil plan. So I'm hush about it, still, after five years. 

Now it needs to be done. I need to open the valve and let the steam out. I sit in the house all day looking for a direction for the life I have in front of me. At mid-life, my career is stalled because of medical conditions, but I'm far from dead. I don't want to be a house husband for the rest of my life. As far as my doctor and the government are concerned I'm retired. To that I say bollucks. I'm not sitting on my ass for the next 40 years, I'm going to make a difference. Hence the idea. Again. 

And no, I'm not going to tell you what it is.
Deal. (Move along if you're only here to steal it, you bunch of selfish thieves).

I opened old files this week and dusted them off. I started working on the business plan again, and messed with options for progressing the project into the future. I have to consider things like marketing, design, web presence, sales, administration and logistics, sanity, and running out of coffee. (And bacon, I have to consider running out of bacon).

Most of this is easy to consider, that's what I did for 20 years. But I'm stumped at the web presence. I'm kicking myself in the ass now for not getting more involved in web building when I was younger, I always focused on print media. I have a working knowledge of web design but I've never really gotten the hang of it, too much code. I'm a graphic designer, not a frickin' code monkey. Now I realize I have to be both, as well as a salesman, administrator, marketing expert, and the rest. I have the software and the internet is full of people who know how to use it, so I started with tutorials the other day. My brain really hurts now. I'm stuck, probably because I'm listening to what the tutorial is saying and trying to figure it out visually, as an artist would. I need to get past that really annoying bit and think like a code monkey. Yuck. Don't want to. I like pictures.

Today I'll take a break from that and work on something else, like writing here. Or laundry, haven't quite decided which is more important. There's always bacon. I have coffee, that's a good start.

I'll let my mind wander back and forth, let the ideas flow around a bit, maybe take a walk. I couldn't sleep last night as I had visions of websites dancing in my head. Today I have to focus on something else to distract me from my nightmare of XHTML and CSS. I have to focus on other aspects of the project like 'how the hell am I going to sell this? There's a reason they kept me in a locked room all those years'.

I wish all this was as easy as writing, words flow like water some days, just as ideas. I am WRITING about this instead of DOING this. I'm sure that will change soon as I am becoming obsessed with accomplishing this and starting the next phase of life. I want this idea to become a career of sorts. It's entirely mine and no boss can fire me, no doctor can tell me to stop. The biggest concern I have is that I'm my own worst enemy, I still crash on occasion, but I need to find something to occupy myself, that's the best medicine for mental illness. Being alone with thoughts and fears can make anyone fail but bring mental illness into the picture and it's ten-fold. Besides, I would like to make some money in the future, it's hard to eat without that. You start gnawing on chairs after a while. I may crap out on this, I don't know. I hope not as I am really enthralled with the idea and I feel right now that nothing is going to stop me from at least attempting it. Except me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, all this talk of bacon is making me hungry.

More later.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas 2014 Is Not Going To Be Normal

Tis the season.

Christmas is right around the corner, and I'm a little nervous. I haven't felt the spirit yet this year for a number of reasons, first being my ongoing struggle with the whole state of mind issue. I sink into a depressive state so easily now, and when I see people going on about how wonderful the season is shaping up to be I get quite disturbed. When I go shopping I get quite perturbed. More often than not a panic attack ensues. Tough to pull up the socks and move forward into the best time of the year. It's got nothing to do with money or commercialism. It's the simple fact that I'm supposed to be happy and I'm not. 

That being said, I move forward knowing that I'm completely in the wrong mindset. I can't do that. If there's one time of year to thank God for what I've got in this life, regardless of how else I feel, it's now. Christmas is a time for thanks. I have a wonderful (if not dysfunctional) family, I have my physical health, I have good friends, and a neurotic dog. It's all good! I have more in my life than many others have. This year like so many we've experienced, we have too many people with nothing. People on the streets or in refuge camps in some far off land. I feel for them and think of how we should be trying to change that. One step at a time.

This year things are different, and so the season will reflect that. 

We always get a real tree at Christmas. It's an annual tradition, we load up and head out to the tree lots and spend hours in the cold slush trudging around for the perfect tree that 'talks' to my wife. She's the deciding factor. The tree must speak to her and her alone. Nobody else can hear trees talk. And they call me crazy. The best times are when we head out into the county and cut down our own. Doing that brings the whole nostalgic feeling of the season to fruition. But it begs the question, why couldn't Christ have been born in July?

This year is different. We didn't get a tree, we built one. Out of books. 

Two factors led to that decision. Ok, well three. First, we have no car this year and it's a long frickin' walk back to the house lugging a live tree behind you. We figured by the time it got home there would only be needles on one side. So no. Secondly, we have a dog that will eat anything. (see previous post). We were afraid that we'd wake up one morning to a bare dead skeleton of a tree and the dog happily sitting on the couch licking his chops. Then there's the whole antique decorations thing. Wasn't going to happen. The third factor was that we have a ton of books, and technically they used to be trees. So we decided to recycle.

The tree is up, it took the four of us about two hours to assemble it, each one of us picking books based on size and thickness for each stage of the project. Moving from large coffee table books for the base and working towards small pocket books at the top. Each book had a meaning. They weren't chosen at random. Here's what Kim had to say about the selection process....

A brief story about the tree that adorns our front hall. We did not randomly throw books into the pile.....books were chosen so that a piece of each of us is included in this tree of knowledge. We have Harry Potter from Bug, Winnie the Pooh from when the children were small. We have The Complete Works of Shakespeare and of course a Dictionary..From my Gramma Nora a copy of Gone with The Wind. From my Dad, a copy of Poem's to be Read. Faith's copies of Anne of Green Gables, and of course Papa's Poems of Robby Burns. My first copy of Little Women, and my original copy of Now We are Six. Keith's copy of The Chronicles of the World and Iain's copy of Mighty Machines, that he and Papa used to read together. It is a history of our family both present and past. It is the perfect reflection of who we were and who we are. It is Love.

The tree is done. The dog hasn’t attacked it, the stockings are hung with care, the mistletoe is up and more will be put out soon. But it’s starting to feel like the season. We had a problem that needed a creative solution, and because of that problem, this Christmas is shaping up to be one of the best instead of the mindset I was in just a short day ago.

This morning made me happy. It made the anxiety and fear go away, at least for now. 

And that’s all I really wanted for Christmas. Joy.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Things My Dog Has Eaten

Not necessarily in order.
Some numbers are estimates based on how we feel about him.

1 raw steak
1 raw chicken breast
1 raw pound of hamburger
3 pairs of jeans
7 pairs of Kim's dress shoes
13,876 pieces of tupperware
429 tennis balls
87 pairs of socks
54 pairs of underwear
1 package of SOS pads
3 picture frames
EVERY pen ever brought into the house
EVERY pencil ever brought into the house
1 wallet
1 ATM card
3 plastic bowls
1 skirt
6 pillows
38 books
1 pair of eye glasses
3 towels
1 arm of a recliner
The entire lower half of my computer chair
26 tin cans
47,963 cardboard boxes
1 ipod
2 internet cables
6 pounds of cat food
My daughter's homework
1 basketball (it's still here, just looks like a deflated dodge ball now)
1 spatula
6 wooden spoons (average lifespan - 1 day)
The entire lining from the underside of the couch
1 XBox game
2 leashes
16 dish scrubbies
1 bottle of ketchup (that was fun)
1 can of tomato sauce
13 two litre pop bottles
1 newspaper reporter (attempted really)
1 wasp
19 flies
6 rolls of toilet paper
5 rolls of paper towels
Everyone's right arm
2 pairs of slippers
And the partridge that used to be in the pear tree. Sorry kids.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Parenting v2.0

I just had an epiphany. 

I just realized how scared my son is of life and how lost we all are. Being a father just got much more difficult. And I have no idea what to do about it.

I stopped working about four years ago due to illness and in that time I have become the house husband and father. I have seen my life devolve from a working class stiff, going out everyday and earning my keep in this world, to being at home, medicated, and taking care of the house. The first thing I realized is that it's harder than working for a living. The second thing I realized is that I hate doing it. Not because I like going to work everyday, but because the responsibilities of being a father and a husband are still there and I don't know how to make the shift to a different mind frame. You'd figure after four years I'd figure it out, but no. 

This morning I realized how terrified my son is of becoming an adult, and there's nothing I can do about it. I talked to him, told him I loved him and encouraged him to seize the day and make it his own, but that didn't take away the fear. No longer can I lead by example. Everything is different now. Instead of encouraging him, and defacto, my daughter, to take the example I have set for them, I now have to say 'do what I used to do, not what I do'. 

In the past four years I have lost my military career, my professional career, my health, and much more. It has been a trial of the mind, in the sense that I fight with my inner demons regularly. I want to get back to the way things were and move forward, but I know it will never happen. Not the same way. Not at all. I have to accept the things for what they are, and I can't do that when I hate the way things are. I love my family, I love life and my friends, but that's not enough. I want to be able to give to them the way I used to, even though unmedicated and undiagnosed, I probably screwed things up even more. Is he scared because of what life has become for me? Seeing me wax poetic about better days? Is he scared about losing what we had? How did this happen for him. I don't know. Maybe better that I don't know what caused the fear, and just do something about it.

But I don't know how. I think I took the first step toward understanding this morning. I held him as he broke down, a scared little boy crying on my shoulder. I held him there, I didn't want to let go. I remember holding him like that when he fell off his bike when he was seven. I remember holding him like that when his best friend moved out of town when he was ten. Telling him things were going to be okay, time will heal the wounds and the scars will fade. It was easy then, it's not now. The things he's afraid of are monumental now. This is no scraped knee. This is life. He's 19 and just starting to live it as an adult and we're both afraid of it. I told him I will always be there for my kids, as a parent should, but I can't sway the direction his life takes him anymore. The ball is in his court now and I'm in the stands watching. We've tried to be good parents, mentors, tried to set the example, tried to lead. Now all we can do is watch and see if what we have done as parents made the difference. 

I told him it's too late for me. My path has been set down by forces beyond my control. Nobody can predict what will happen in life, we can only get on the ride, hold the wheel and try to steer, but inevitably, by some unknown force, the car is firmly affixed to the tracks. We are just passengers. He has to take the lead and try to force his direction. He has to choose what ride he gets on. Obviously, mine had a busted track and I fell off.

My daughter has grand plans. She wants to go to Oxford University in England and study to be an anthropologist. Or at least she did last night, that may change today. We will do everything in our power as parents to make that happen. My son also has dreams, to work in the entertainment industry doing the production work on major shows. He wants to work on the cruise ships, he wants to produce major venue events, he wants to be where the music is. He has the passion to do it, as does my daughter, but I can't do it for them. Not anymore. Now I sit by the side and hope and pray that I have been a good father. Good enough for my kids to realize their dreams.

I'm not sure of my dreams anymore. I know that I want to go back to work, I'm too young to be retired, even though everyone says that I can't work anymore. I think that's bullshit and I'm not going to let this illness stop me. At some point I will move forward. I just don't know when or where. I'll send a postcard when I get there. All I know is that whatever happens tomorrow, I'll still be a parent. I still have to care for and nurture my children, my wife, my relationship with my extended family and my friends. None of that has changed, only that I am nurturing those relationships differently. 

And I hope that these relationships can help me find my path again. Because my son is not the only one who's scared about this life.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Watch Your Mouth

We are afraid to speak our minds anymore.

The politically correct bandwagon has rolled back into town and we're all jumping on board. There are many world events ongoing right now that have people riled up; from ISIS causing Islamiphobia, to the Ukrainian situation, to cops killing unarmed people in the US, to gay rights. Everyone has an opinion on something. And we should! Our differences are what make us unique. If we all thought and acted the same way we would have no freedom of anything. No freedom of thought, freedom of individuality, freedom of choice, it would be a truly distopian world as George Orwell imagined it when he wrote 1984. 

But luckily we live in a free society and that's not the case. Or is it? Are we moving toward the big brother is watching situation? I believe so.

People with firm beliefs are a Godsend to the population. They create dialogue that progresses the issues that face us everyday, and we need that to happen. We need debate to move our society forward. But what's happening today is that someone voices an idea or opinion that, although legal in the eyes of the government, is outrageous to someone who receives the message and things go south.

There's a difference between being passionate about a cause and being militant about it.

People with passion can debate a topic with tact and civility, those who are militant, can't. If you don't agree with them, then fuck you. All over the news individuals are being attacked because they spoke out about an issue, and what you see today is not debate, it's militancy. 

It's on social media. People with opinions are not afraid to voice them and someone slams them for it which causes all kinds of wrong. Friendships end over a difference of opinion. All too often we see feeds that we don't agree with and rather than stir the pot, we let it slide. We fall victim to the politically correct movement. Don't piss people off with your views. Why not engage in an intelligent debate? Why not just realize that some people don't share your views? I'd like to see more of that, I'd like to take some people to task on their comments.

I've never really been one to stir the pot. I have my views and for the most part they're none of anyone else's business. I have political beliefs but I don't volunteer, I have religious beliefs but I don't preach, and I have social beliefs but I don't advocate. Last month something happened that made me rethink my ability to keep my big mouth shut. I was asked as I walked down the street to put my cigarette out because it offends Islam. Now let's think about that for a minute.

I wasn't asked because it offends the person, I was asked because it offends his religion.

Since then I have become more outspoken about things. I decided that day that my opinion should count, because if it doesn't the argument becomes very one-sided.

I think this guy should have kept his mouth shut. Just my opinion. He should have had a big glass of shut the fuck up. If me having a cigarette offends you, fine, I have no problem moving out of your space, that's considerate. His problem was religion and he shoved it into my face. I was pissed, and still am.

If I said anything to him about religion and how ours differ, I'd very much be on the losing side of the politically correct battle. Why? Because I'm a majority. And  majorities most always lose. Advocates for men's rights lose because they appear to be anti-feminism, white supremacists lose (and they should, not supporting them!), anyone pro-heterosexual lose, because they appear to be anti-gay. You get the idea. If you are part of the majority, you can't really voice the opinions you want to because you'll be slammed. We see it all the time. People who do stand up for these majority rights have to walk a fine line and do their research carefully. They have to prove they don't hate the opponent, they just have an opposing viewpoint. What's wrong with that? (except supremacists, they can all just fuck off).

I had a great talk this morning with a couple of people about freedom of speech.  One comment summed it up nicely....

"I would say instead that we have free speech, but not freedom from the consequences of our speech. You can say all the racist crap you want - it's not illegal, and the government cannot prevent you from doing so. But you aren't free from everyone thinking you're a big ole douchecanoe for saying it, or from others calling you out on it".

Thanks Janiece. I couldn’t have said it better.

It is worth indicating that Canada and the US have different hate laws in place. In Canada, you really can't say anything you want. Some of it is illegal. Nazi Propoganda for one, is outlawed here.

But is freedom of speech really free? At what point does your opinion piss someone off to the point that you just keep it to yourself? We shouldn’t have to get to that point. If you have something to say, then say it, just don’t say it in a way that will enrage people. Don’t be a douche.

Do No Harm is the creed of the Wiccans. That’s something to think about, and discuss.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Mid Life Pie In Review

Last week I started at the beginning of this journal. I was really bored. The first few posts were terrible. I really had nothing to say! I started the blog because my wife Kimberly-Ann wrote one called wilsonworld. She isn't there anymore, but I've linked to her archives if anyone wants to take a peak. She's a fantastic passionate insightful writer, but unfortunately, for her own reasons, doesn't write anymore. She inspired me to start my own blog. 

Over the years I've evolved. I've been told I'm a good writer, and I have to take the reader's word for that as I'm not one to judge. Stephen King is a good writer. I'm just some random (and intermittent) blogger. But I'll take the compliment. I'll take anything I can get. 

So I thought I would revisit some of my posts here. A greatest hits if you like. At least they're some of my favourites. Mostly from events that changed my outlook on life, or an event that is indelible in my memory. Enjoy. (Or don't, your choice!)

A New Crisis (October 25, 2008)
My first post to this blog. I had one years ago but I dropped it quickly. This post isn't really worth the effort, it's here because it's the first one.

Nothing to see here, move along please (November 5, 2008)
How life can move on without 500 television channels.

Remember Them (November 10, 2008)
The highest hit post ever. A Remembrance Day post that involved a ton of research. I still get hits on this eight years later.

Goodbye Old Girl (December 4, 2008)
Reflections on the end of a hockey era.

Un-BELL-ievable (March 24, 2009)
How Bell Telephone become my arch-nemisis.

Windsor in the Summer (June 6, 2009)
Making the best of the Windsor garbage strike.

Taking Back Our Park (July 5, 2009)
Amazing things happen when people take the first steps.

The Guns Fell Silent (November 11, 2009)
My fictional take on the last minutes of WWI.

Heroes (January 6, 2010)
The worst day for Canadian Forces in Afghanistan and my reaction to cowards.

The Most Difficult Post I've Ever Written, and Most Important (July 8, 2011)
My life changed with my Bipolar diagnosis.

Keith Wilson - Graphic Designer (January 16, 2012)
Self promotion at it's best.

Everything for a Reason, For Everything, a Time (February 13, 2012)
The day we found our relatives in Scotland.

Therapy Can Be Fun! (April 17, 2012)
An update on my ongoing mental wellness treatments.

At this point I essentially stopped writing. I totalled two posts in 2013. Neither of them are worthy of this list, both kinda boring. When I look back at it, it's easy to blame my mental state for my dismissing this journal. But in reality, I think I just got really lazy. But I moved on.

ISIS Just Started WWIII (October 23, 2014)
Canada was attacked on her own soil. A sad day for all of us.

Religion For Sale (November 14, 2014)
An essay about the changing perspectives of religion and how it affects all of us.

So there's the best of it all, in my opinion anyway. These posts area snapshot of my last eight years. So you won't see vacation pics here, you won't see pictures of cats or dogs, no great oratories on useless daily trivial life. I ignored those posts. These posts are the ones that changed me in some way or another. They're the ones that matter.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

More Things That Piss Me Off

Lately there has been a lot on the news. Wars, shootings, stupid people, more stupid people, and imagine this, even more stupid people. All this brings up today's list of things that piss me off. So without further delay, here we go.

1. ISIS. Fuck off. You're killing people because they aren't as you are - extreme right wing fucktards. You are killing people who think for themselves and have an opinion. They have values on life, love and faith. You're killing them because you don't. Just fuck off.

2. Kim Jong Un. You're worse than your father even was. When he died the rest of the world hoped in vain that you, being young and western educated, would change North Korea for the better. We'd hoped you'd bring the country into the modern world. Boy were we wrong. You've killed more people in the first two years of your reign than your father, Kim Jong Nutfuck ever did. Go away.

3. Crooked cops. You shoot people because you don't know if they're going to shoot you. Well idiots, here's a clue, CHECK FIRST. Assholes.

4. Right Wing nutjob asshat politicians. And I quote, "If it's a legitimate rape,” Akin explained in a weekendTV interview, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." (former R. Missouri congressman). Enough said. This is the one example I thought summed up idiots America voted for.

5. Construction companies that leave a mess. My road is brown. My sidewalk is covered in mud. There’s assorted construction equipment still on my lawn. Didn’t your mother ever tell you to pick up after yourself? Thanks, I’ll clean it in the Spring. Don’t get up.

6. Insincere people. You spin tall tales and make wonderful promises, but you lie. You lie to your friends and your family. You are the lowest of the low. Even worse than right wing nutjob asshat politicians. May I direct your attention to Franck Gervais, who wore our uniform on Remembrance Day in Ottawa, and NEVER EVEN SERVED.

7. Reality TV. Reality TV is on because A: network executives don’t want to pay for real entertainment and therefore resort to turning cameras on whack-a-doodles looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Or B: they have no money left in the budget after buying private planes and summer retreats in the Caribbean, for real entertainment. Reality TV is cheaper, but STUPID.

8. Walmart. Pay people what they’re worth for Christ’s sakes. You’re the only major retailer in the world that has essentially banned unions. Even the court system has told you to pay more. You shut down small businesses in whatever town you enter. Sam Walton, after being ordered by the courts to pay his employees the bare minimum wage said, “I’ll fire anyone who cashes the check”. 

9. Religious fanatics. I have no problem with religion, I’m a Christian and proud of it. I go to church, I have a strong faith, and I don’t hide that. Fanatics shove their religion down your throat and get pissed off when you fight back. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, every major religion has fanatics. They all think if you’re not them, you’re going to hell. Get a life. For the most part people aren’t stupid. If your message is pure of heart, people will hear it. Let them make they’re own decisions without consequence.

10. Me. I’m an asshole. I haven’t been true to myself or my family. Hell I haven’t even taken my meds in about a month. That’s not getting me too far in the good books. I’m slipping back to a time where I was angry and resentful to everyone. I’m the only one who can change that. At least I realize it. I'm working on it, but it won't be fixed today. To anyone I've pissed off, I'm sorry.

So there’s today’s list. Try not to end up on it.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Something's fishy on the Interweb...

Reading the intersphere this morning something caught my attention, and I immediately got suspicious. A friend posted a story about the mayor of Dorval, a suburb of Montreal, who wrote a letter in response to a Muslim women's demand that pork products be removed from local school cafeterias. He refused. Here's the letter:

“They must understand that they have to integrate and learn to live in Quebec.
“They must understand that it is for them to change their lifestyle, not the Canadians who so generously welcomed them.
“They must understand that Canadians are neither racist nor xenophobic, they accepted many immigrants before Muslims (whereas the reverse is not true, in that Muslim states do not accept non-Muslim immigrants). “That no more than other nations, Canadians are not willing to give up their identity, their culture. “And if Canada is a land of welcome, it's not the Mayor of Dorval who welcomes foreigners, but the Canadian-Quebecois people as a whole. “Finally, they must understand that in Canada (Quebec) with its Judeo-Christian roots, Christmas trees, churches and religious festivals, religion must remain in the private domain. The municipality of Dorval was right to refuse any concessions to Islam and Sharia. “For Muslims who disagree with secularism and do not feel comfortable in Canada, there are 57 beautiful Muslim countries in the world, most of them under-populated and ready to receive them with open halal arms in accordance with Shariah.
“If you left your country for Canada, and not for other Muslim countries, it is because you have considered that life is better in Canada than elsewhere. “Ask yourself the question, just once, “Why is it better here in Canada than where you come from?” < “A canteen with pork is part of the answer."

Nicely written. But one little problem. This also happened in the Belgian town of Ath. Here's his letter:

“Muslims must understand that they have to adapt to Belgium, its customs, its traditions, its way of life, because that's where they chose to immigrate. They must understand that they have to integrate and learn to live in Belgium.
They must understand that it is for them to change their lifestyle, not the Belgians who so generously welcomed them. They must understand that the Athois are neither racist nor xenophobic, they accepted many immigrants before Muslims (whereas the reverse is not true that Muslims do not accept non-Muslim foreigners on their soil).
That no more than other nations, the Belgians are not willing to give up their identity, their culture.
And if Belgium is a land of welcome, it's not Marc Duvivier that welcomes foreigners, but the Belgian people as a whole.
Finally, they must understand that in Belgium with its Judeo-Christian roots, Christmas trees, churches and religious festivals, religion must remain in the private domain. The municipality of Ath was right to refuse any concessions to Islam and Sharia. For Muslims that disagree with secularism and do not feel comfortable in Belgium, there are 57 beautiful Muslim countries in the world, most of them under-populated and ready to receive them with open halal arms in accordance with Shariah.
If you left your country for Belgium, and not for other Muslim countries, it is because you have considered that life is better in Belgium than elsewhere.
Ask yourself the question, just once, "Why is it better here in Belgium than where you come from?" 
A canteen with pork is part of the answer.

I smell rotten eggs.

This website claims the Belgian letter is a hoax. I, as well as many other people, saw the letter from Dorval weeks ago. At the time I read it I thought it was poorly written and harsh, but the meaning was well intentioned. The mayor was defending the rights of Canadian born Christians by not giving into demands of other religions. 

Now I think it was a hoax as well. The internet’s full of them now. The old saying goes (and we fell for it) “I read it on the internet so it must be true”. We’ve been duped. Makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with people? Are the people who purported this crap that angry at the muslim world that they will create a hoax just to stir the pot? It certainly looks that way. Now the mayor of Ath (the real one) came out and exposed it for what it was, but there has been no such comments from the mayor of Dorval. Not at least that I could find. So maybe he did indeed write the letter? 

Either way it’s a shitty situation that someone is inciting hatred this way. It’s propaganda aimed at the masses. It’s a clear indicator that we can’t believe, nor should we believe everything we read. Whoever wrote this would have made Joseph Goebbels proud. Maybe they think they’re helping? 

Maybe they’re just idiots. Read credible sources. Read to inform. Read into the stories, and find the weak links. Wikipedia is NOT credible, most think the same of CNN, Fox, MSNBC and others. It’s up to the reader to make an informed decision. The best option is to read a story from several sources and make up your own mind. I find it amusing to read hoax stories and conspiracy theories. Some people have some very fervent imaginations. 


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How World Religion Affects Everyone

I've lately taken a keep interest in religion around the world in the past few weeks. With all the religious infighting going on in the middle east, not to mention at home, I thought it would be interesting to ply further into the demographics and social breakdowns.

It doesn't matter whether or not you're a religious person, the statistics are still fascinating. It's well known that religion affects all of our lives around the world. Religion unfortunately has always been the number one cause of strife in our history. You can't escape the ramifications of faith. History has taught us that religion is forced on those who don't want it, or people of one faith are forced under the sword to change their beliefs to another. We are seeing this right now in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is forcing conversion. The other option is death. This isn't new, every major religion throughout history has been guilty of this practise in one form or another.

It's easy to think that because there are so many people in the world that we should all just get along in our own little sphere of influence. If that happened, we would indeed become a global society, building strong economic and social bonds. We would prosper. Sadly that isn't the case. We are constantly at war with someone (globally).

Here's the facts according to the Pew Research Centre. You can read the entire report here.

Of all the sites I visited in this little adventure this site is the most comprehensive and easiest to understand without bias.

The only downfall I saw was that this information is four years old. In that time the numbers have already changed significantly. One report I saw indicated that the unaffiliated category was at 17.5%. The percentages will always change but the scope of influence will remain fairly constant.

Here's some info I found interesting by breaking the numbers down.

• Unaffiliated people are the third largest group and growing. Which means people in large numbers are turning away from organized religion even though they may identify with one other group.
• 76% of all people of faith reside in the Asia-Pacific region.
• 63% of Muslims live in this region and only 20% in the Middle East.
• Israel is the only country where Judaism is the majority.
• Muslims are the youngest group, Judaism is the oldest in terms of median age of followers.
• 50% of the world's Christians are Roman Catholic, or 15.75% of the world's population.
• One 1% of the middle east is Christian
• The largest Christian population (531,280,000) reside in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
• 87-90% of Muslims are Sunni, only 10-13% are Shia.
• Varying percentages of unaffiliated people still attend services sporadically, just not enough to call themselves religious. This ranges from 7% in France to 44% in China.
• 76% of unaffiliated people reside in the Asia-Pacific region.
• 99% of Hindus live in the Asia-Pacific region but they only make up 25% of the total in that region.
• Less than 1% of Buddhists live outside the Asia-Pacific region.
• Folk religions, faiths associated with tribal or ethnicity, are defined by not having any formal creed of sacred texts. This makes them the most difficult to narrow down and obtain data on.
• Folk religions often incorporate elements of the dominant religious beliefs in any one area.
• There are only about 25 millions Sikhs worldwide.
• The largest Jewish population in the world is in North America at 44% of the total.

These points are only a small portion of the information provided by the study. 

So it doesn't matter if you are a person of faith or not, we live in a faith based world. Even those who claim not to believe still believe. Religion is pervasive and dynamic. It bonds us together or can tear us apart. It doesn't matter who you are, you're affected.

At the end of the day the only questions you have to ask about faith is, how do 7.2 billion people get along? How can we live in peace? And most importantly, why do people have the need to wipe other faiths out? The answer to all three questions is we never will.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Before you read on, Blogger code is messed up, so I don't know why this post is displaying with white boxes behind some text. Can't see anything in the HTML, so there.

All people are skilled in various trades and professions. All people have skills in different areas of creativity from art to zen. All people are different. So what is it that binds us together in a common mutual cohesive unit? 

We all have the ability to piss other people off.

Some of us do it better than others, some people get their kids out of doing it. It's a talent. You'd think they'd practised for years, taking the failures with the successes. In reality, some people are just better at it. They are well versed at digging into their opponent's (or victim's) psyche, grabbing ahold of the one idea or belief and twisting the dagger into it to maximum affect. These people are generally known as assholes.

Assholes (shln. Vulgar Slang 1. The anus. 2. A thoroughly contemptible, detestable person. 3. The most miserable or undecirable place in a particular area), generally don't care what they do to piss someone off, they don't care how this person feels about being the brunt of the bullying, they just do it to get their kicks. Why?

They always (except to themselves) just come off as morons. (moron (ˈmɔːrɒn1. a foolish or stupid person 2. (Psychology) a person having an intelligence quotient of between 50 and 70, able to work under supervision).

Nobody has time for negativity like this in our lives. 

So why can't we all just get along? Why can't we just debate issues instead of blowing them out of proportion and losing our wits about the most mundane things? Why do people have to be douchebags? Today it's become the norm that being politically correct and non-confrontational is the only way to succeed. That's not the case at all. We all have our beliefs and we as a free people are allowed to disclose them with whatever public forum floats our boat. Whether that be one on one, in social media, on TV, radio, whatever. We will implode if we do not put forth our opinions. 

But you don't have to be an asshole about it.

I've been reading a lot lately online about various issues facing the world, terrorism, crime, human rights, the basic right from wrong crap. I've seen some wonderful debates from very intelligent people and I've rather enjoyed reading them. Commenters who address their adversary as sir or madam, those are particularly worth reading because you can see the obvious mutual respect for opinions. Obviously it's not their opinion, but they respect the opposing point of view and don't come across with "If I want your opinion I'll give it to you".

Then I've seen some nasty shit flinging.

Reading CNN International yesterday there was a debate about women's rights in the middle east. Now I am diametrically opposed to misogynistic garbage being spouted about women, I love them. Life wouldn't be the same without them. But these asshats commenting (the discussion was about ISIS' treatment of women and sharia law) were outright opposed to women's rights and had no qualms in telling the pro-rights commenters off. They're assholes. See above definition. And it wasn't just from people that support sharia. I saw comments from those opposed to such draconian measures but still supported the view that women are second class citizens.

This morning I read a post from a friend who wrote about men's rights today and how they're being eroded in today's society. I loved the post, but I, like anyone else who read it, had to take it for the facts. This person risked being outed as a racist (racist [rey-sist] n 1. a person who believes in racismthe doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or allothers. a 2. of or like racists or racism:racist policies; racist attitudes). That may not be the best word for it, but it does fit with the overall feeling put across. Views about women can easily translate into similar views for all of humanity. This person took a chance to cleverly and succinctly express his opinions, and he got slammed for it. Not fair to this particular topic. Everyone has an opinion, and he got the facts to back it up before putting the first word out. Good show. Not an asshole.

High schools have debate clubs. Politics is about debate. Simple conversation is about debate - a back and forth on a particular issue, with each side contributing to the idea. A resolution isn't always common, but at the end of it you can go have a beer together. Assholes can't fathom this concept.

People aren't going to agree with me on this. I don't care. It's my opinion and I have no fear in expressing it. Bring on the debate. Bring on the opposing opinions. Just don't be an asshole about it. 


What the Hell Was I Thinking?

I found this cleaning out old files yesterday...

I'm scared.
I'm terrified.
I'm a mess.
My family will suffer because of my decisions.
My decision are because of my illness.
My illness has lingered because I wouldn't listen.
My judgement is shot.
My perception is gone.
My life as I knew it is over.
My new life is nothing but pain and sorrow.
My family is the victim of that new perception.
My family will suffer because of my ill judgement.
My fear is real.
My fear is overpowering and I can't see past it.
My illness has taken hold of me and I can't escape its grasp.
My life is no longer what I wanted or hoped for.
There is no white picket fence.
There is no happiness in my heart.
There is only fear.
My friends and family are there for me.
My family is suffering more than me. 
My family shouldn't have to endure this.
My friends shouldn't have to listen to this.
My friends and family shouldn't have to rearrange their lives for me.
I should be providing the solid footing for a good life.
I should be working.
I should be around for them. 
I shouldn't be sick.
I should fix the problems I've caused.
I should never have let this happen.
I don't know how to get back to normal.
I have memories of good times and happy people.
I have memories of my youth which were happy and peaceful.
I have memories of my early career, with so much promise.
I have only memories now.
I have fear now.
I have to pay for my kid's educations.
I have to pay for my house.
I have to pay my debts.
I have to pay the piper for my mistakes.
I can't do any of these now.
I can't because of the fear.
I made promises that I haven't kept.
I have lied to my family and friends
I have nothing but regret over those actions.
I have fear about the consequences of those actions.
I don't know how to make amends.
I don't know how to fix my life.

Please help me.

I wrote this on November 1, 2011. Shortly after I was diagnosed Bipolar. I copied this in unedited.

As I read this again I can plainly see how distraught I was over the prospect of losing my career to illness. I had no idea how to proceed, and like everyone who goes through a period of change I was obviously afraid, no idea how to move forward. It's been three years since I wrote this and some of the ideas here are still relevant; I'm still afraid of the future, yes, but I have moved forward in my headspace after therapy and support from friends and family. 

Having a forum to release this energy has a twofold affect, it helps me calm down whilst airing all my dirty laundry to whoever cares to read it. I really don't care who reads my writing, essentially this blog is for my own needs; to vent. Just like this piece, I find it interesting to go back and reread some of my previous attempts. Last week I spent some time going through my first posts from 2008. They were terrible. I had nothing to say, just blabbling on about mundane everyday life. When I got sick, the posts began to change. I constantly talked about the pain of being sick (I don't like to call it that anymore, I don't have cancer or lack of bones). The posts began to get very dark and worried many friends, family, and in hindsight, myself. This is a perfect example of the place my mind was.

I'm posting this because I'm moving forward. Or at least trying too. I've slipped a few times in the past month or so, even once commenting on the fact that life was no longer worth living. The coward's way out. Then good things happen and your mood changes quickly. The crappy thing about being Bipolar is that one can change back in a heartbeat. The Dr. Jeckle and Mister Hyde thing again. But you deal with the mood swings and move on. You look for the good in life and push yourself in that direction. This is what I'm striving for by reposting these negative comments. When I read them again after a period of time I can see where I sit in relation to the universe. I can see how things have changed - good or bad. 

I can see the light. Unfortunately on some days that light is a dim bulb that burns out.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Too Many Things

2003, previous to buying
I fell in love with this house when I saw it. It's not the prettiest house on the street, it's old (built in 1925), and it had issues that had to be dealt with before we even moved in. For example, it didn't have a working furnace. But it had character and a lot of potential. Over the 11 years we've lived here we've had to overcome many obstacles in or to be comfortable here. We replaced the furnace in the first 30 days, painted and patched several rooms, ripped out the old shed in the yard and replaced it with something more durable and modern, ripped out bushes that were planted (or grew wild) with no purpose, replaced windows, replaced the ceiling in the kitchen after a chunk of it fell on me, replaced doors, built a back fence, built a patio, drywalled the laundry room and basement stairway, and much more. We did a lot to bring this house up to livable.

2007, new windows, shutters, gardens
But the joys of home ownership means that situations will arise from time to time that are unexpected and unwanted. A few years back the bottom fell out of our hot water tank flooding the basement. Before replacing the tank I had to replace the floor it sat on. There was actually a tree growing up from the underside of the tank!

We also had an infestation in the bedrooms at one point that saw us throwing out all the carpeting from the second floor and stairs. We had to install new flooring throughout. That also saw us investing a ton of money into professional cleaning. We had to invest in new mattresses and threw out a lot of clothes. Unfortunate circumstances that cost too much time and money. In hindsight we have great new floors, but ouch. 

There's still much to do here. I still haven't painted over the green living room, fixed the cracks in the exterior wall of the kitchen, which is four inch thick concrete.

Some day.

Backyard, 2003 prior to purchase
We've had some successes here but with every step forward there's a half step back. Now the kitchen roof is leaking, I may have to replace a ton of the insulation and tiles in the kitchen. Now it's the upstairs toilet. The intake pipe is leaking inside the floor and the only way to fix it is to carve a huge hole in the ceiling below it. Wife is not pleased. Luckily we have a bathroom downstairs, but I still have to fix the leak. Yesterday we punched a hole in the ceiling to see what we're dealing with, and the lathe is soaked. It's been leaking into the ceiling for years. It's obvious that there was a leak there before we bought the place, you can plainly see where a portion of the ceiling has been replaced. It's back. So today I have to get up there with a sawsall and open up the hole so I can access the pipes. That's the easy part, I have no idea how to fix plumbing!

2007, new patio and fencing (not complete yet) 
Some days I wish I rented again. So much easier and cheaper to call the landlord and have them fix the problems. That's if you have a landlord who will actually do it, all too often we hear horror stories of slum lords who refuse to fix anything. I think my wife feels I am one of those as well, I have a dozen unfinished repairs and projects around here. Some are just beyond my abilities. Some are just overwhelming. It's easy to turn away to something easier and forget about it. Until of course you're reminded about it. And I'll be the first to admit I get lazy with some things. I'm working on that.

There are things about such an old house you can't easily do much about. The floors on the first floor are crooked. If you put a ball down gently it will roll away. Furniture is shimmed up. That's just the result of the house settling for the past 90 years. It can be fixed but at a very high price tag. That's right up there with dream projects like restoring all the woodwork and finishing the modernization of the basement.

For the most part I'm happy with this place, but it erks me looking at the shape of some of it. I'll get there eventually. There will always be repairs and projects around here, but my to-do list isn't shrinking that quick.


Friday, 21 November 2014

Whack-A-Loons et. al.

I've spent a bit of time this week bouncing around the internet reading different things, news sites, Facebook pages on political subjects, off the grid information sites, I even stumbled upon some sites dedicated to conspiracy theories - they make for particularly funny reading. With all these sites a common theme came through time after time: people are idiots and will believe anything. With the advent of this form of media being made available to everyone from successful business professionals to struggling students, opinions abound. And they're funny as hell.

Here are some of my favourite topics gleaned for the week's efforts...

• The CIA created ISIS
• Obama and his administration are muslims and are trying to destroy the US
• A giant fissure that opened up in the Arizona desert is God's way of keeping Mexicans out of the US
• There are concentration camps operated by FEMA throughout the US and Canada
• The United Kingdom is now 80% muslim
• The 9/11 terrorist attacks were carried out by a group of Jewish bankers
• The United Nations is trying to disarm the US by influencing the government into changing the 2nd    
• The attack on Canadian Parliament was faked by the government in order to raise the security

So many idiots, so little time (for them). 

We've seen over and over again that people (and sheeple), have some very weird views of the world and their views are more vocal when turmoil hits us. Everyone has an opinion, and thanks to free speech in our little part of the world, everyone is entitled to those opinions. But people don't think about how ridiculous these ideas are. It's entertaining to those of us with brains, but pathetic. It only goes to show how dumb people can be.

Yup, I wasted a week reading this dribble.

Notice that three of the above "news" items are based on muslims? That isn't really a surprise considering what is going on in the middle east. Let's put out a disclaimer here, I'm not going to support or slam any religion again, my religious views are my own and I will leave them off this forum. Suffice it to say though, these ideas are based on religious fears. Especially the idea that God ripped a hole in the earth to help "fix" the immigration problem. Christians fear muslims, muslims fear Christians and Jews. Jews fear nobody. It goes on and on. As entertaining as these posts were the religious aspect of the information was getting old fairly quickly. So I switched to mainstream media to turn my brain back on. Guess what, didn't work.

Mainstream media sites covered many news stories last week, from the shooting at a Florida university, to the massive snowstorm in New York State, to Obama's immigration decisions. (Apparently nothing happened outside the US). Then I made the mistake of reading comments. And again, my brain melted. The sheeple started all over again with ridiculous right-wing neo-conservative religious based dribble. These idiots are the ones that give religion a bad name. They're the ones spreading hatred and intolerance. And the paranoia doesn't stop with comments on news sites, I clicked on some of their FB links only to find they're certifiably nuts. With a giggle I carried on. 

People don't realize just how dumb they come off.

Idiots of the world unite. That should be Facebook's motto. Social media has been an amazing advancement for our age, it connects us to the world in ways we never thought possible just a few short years ago. But it has also endangered our own sense of morality and ethics. By using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other media platforms people are displaying their personal agenda for all the world to see, and much of it isn't pretty. The problem of course is that sheeple believe this crap. It becomes the truth for those who can't disseminate real information from meaningless garbage and moronic theories. It does one thing however, it provides hours of entertainment to people with brains and a sense of humour.