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.