Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire

Do you ever have those days where you just can’t wait to escape from the monotony of the work day? Days where time seems to move backwards and weekends that never seem to arrive? Sundays that start off as great lazy days but have the looming dread of the fact that Monday is mere hours away.

I’ve had countless jobs like this and to be honest, I can’t remember a time where I haven’t been excited for Monday morning to come. Weekends were always too short and Friday seemed like an eternally distant finish line.

That is until now. It’s Sunday night and I can’t wait to get to bed so that I can get started on my week. Four months ago I was in the process of looking for a new job when I saw an ad in a local paper. It was an ad for a trade school and to be honest, the farthest thing from my mind at the time. I had spent the summer looking for new work but during my free time I undertook some odd repair jobs and minor projects around the house.

So when I saw the trade school ad, I realized that what I was doing in my free time was far more gratifying than any job I ever held. Sure there were moments where I enjoyed some things I did but I could honestly say that I would wake up on Mondays excited and eager to go to work. Doing this is not easy and there are a few things that will help steer yourself onto a happier path.

  1. Finances: This is always the most difficult part of the process. How are you going to make any money or support a life changing risk like going back to school. It’s not hard to do if you’re single and living with your parents. Unfortunately life is never that easy and families and bills are huge factors in making a decision like this. Additionally, starting from the bottom may mean taking a pay cut and that can sometimes be a huge check in the NO column. The best thing you can do to determine if this is a doable path for you is a sound budget. Sit down and honestly figure out what you spend, what your luxuries are and where you can make cuts. Brown bagged lunch’s and home brewed coffee’s can go a long way in pinching the pennies needed to make school affordable. I’m sure we all know a friend who is good with numbers, have them look over your budget to make sure you haven’t missed anything. The most important part of this exercise is to make sure you’ll have enough to get by with a little extra as just-in-case money.
  2. Time: If you’re going to spend the money on learning something new, make sure you have the time to focus on your studies. Be it carpentry or accounting, going back to school means homework and studying. Fitting that into family life will take some getting used to. If you have kids then make their study time your study time. If you have to work and go to school at the same time be sure to schedule your time wisely and fight the temptation to take an extra shift if you’ve got a test coming up. Focus and dedication will help ensure you’re not wasting everybody’s time just to end up where you started.
  3. Support: This is by far the most important aspect of any life altering decision. If you don’t have the support of your family and friends, studies can be difficult. It’s not as simple as having your spouse say that they support you – they have to be ready for the shift in responsibility and chores. Financially, they will be taking on a majority of the expenses and having less fun money then they’re used to. Additionally, you’ll be spending more time studying and less time doing the things that keep the house running. Cooking dinners, doing laundry, kid time and any other previously shared tasks that made the household run smoothly. If you have someone that is going to help you with this make sure that they’re on board as much as you are. Resentment compounded with stress can kill a happy relationship

As much as going back to school is a huge undertaking, this could lead to a much happier life and even a better paying job. It’s never too late to try and make a better life for yourself, just be prepared for the inevitable sacrifice for you and those around you. You may not see your friends and family as often and they’ve need to be on board with that as much as you are. Be mindful of your parter and ensure that you remind them how much you appreciate what they are doing for you to further yourself. Lastly – do it for you, not because others will think better of you. Prestige and success is not worth spit if you’re not happy and excited about what your new path has in store for you. Too many people get caught up in a job because they think it’ll look good on a resume or make them oodles of money. Happiness and fulfillment can be bought with time, effort and dedication to yourself – make that your focus!

As for me, tomorrow I’ll probably be working on a new lighting quote or running some conduit for a new power supply. Either way, I’ll be having fun doing it. Can you say that about your Monday?

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A long time ago……

3341011519_b1981fa824Twas the night before Star Wars and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even my mouse.

Reviews started spilling all over the web,
As our patience and suspense are now at an end.
On Rotten Tomatoes and on Geektyrant too,
Even Crave has released their opinion for you.

This had me a flutter, aghast and askew,
As I’ve tried to avoid reading anything new.
For most other films I’ll watch, read and brew,
Over rumors of castings, easter eggs and what’s new.

But this isn’t just any old movie release,
It’s STAR WARS – a cinematic masterpiece.
I’ve seen all the trailers and read all the news,
And have hunted through all of it looking for clues.

But now I have stopped as I remember back when,
I first watched Empire, I must only have been,
Five years old, so young and so new,
Wearing everything Star Wars, right to my underoos.

That feeling I got when it was fully revealed,
That Darth was Luke’s father, I was out in left field.
That joy was renewed when George Lucas first said,
That he was ready to visit the Wars again.

I hoped and I prayed that the prequels would rock,
I waited in a line that wound ’round the block.
That opening crawl took me back to that place,
Where I sat next to Chewie, soaring through space.

Then the movie had ended and my hopes were all dashed,
My initial excitement was shattered like glass.
Mr Lucas’ vision had broken my heart,
As Anakin and Jar-Jar stunk worse then my farts.

I had let all the hype pull me in way too deep,
I was left feeling dirty, broken and cheap.
I didn’t want politics, no pod racing tales,
I wanted Jedi’s and magic not box office sales.

Now I know what you’re thinking,
I know what you’ll say.
“This isn’t George Lucas,
It can’t go that way.”

I’m not going to let social media win,
I’m not going to stumble upon the cool spin.
That twist at the end, that secret reveal,
I want to be five, full of hope and of zeal.

With this simple poem, I now disconnect,
That way I don’t have to try and deflect.
Whoever will try and send spoilers my way,
Before I wake up on that glorious day.

The day that I’ll sit in the theatre seat,
Like five year old me who was in for a treat.
I’ll sit and I’ll judge and I’ll cheer and I’ll jeer,
I’ll proclaim that the film is the best/worst of the year.

I now sign off my tech which takes all of my might,
Merry Star Wars to all – And to all a good night!

Gender Roles and the Average Male

I’m conflicted as I write this post. On one hand, I don’t want to pay any attention to something that has received some negative media attention. On the other, I can’t just bite my tongue and I need to say my piece.

Daryush Valizadeh. That name was recently the cause of much distress for Canadians due to some very controversial views on women and relationships in general. It seems that he’s been vilified as being a man who condones rape in the privacy of a private residence. I haven’t heard what he actually said regarding the rape comment, however I did take the liberty of watching two other videos he had posted on his YouTube channel.

The first video I watched was one that was titled 36 Things Wrong with American Women. As much as I wanted to turn it off I sat through it, much to my dismay. The second video was actually posted by a Brandon Carter – who according to his profile is a self-professed best-selling author, speed reader and fitness expert.  This video was an interview titled How to turn your passion into profit and its one that I had to turn off at the 3:11 mark.

Daryush claims to be a writer – and I’ll give him that. He’s written 22 books, all of which seem to do with getting laid and places to get laid (or not to get laid) for those that choose to travel for sex. From what I can see, he’s an “expert” on getting women into bed and feels like it’s his duty to share his wisdom to other men.

It’s my belief that this man and his philosophies are part of what is negatively affecting our society AND the stifled evolution of gender roles. I’m not going to waste my time in reading his instructions on how to get laid, however these books are the first issue with his philosophy. Getting laid is not a game, if your end game is just getting laid then there are escorts and hookers to help you with that. As much as I don’t support the sex-for-sale trade, I still feel that it’s a better alternative than this need to “hunt” for sex. This type of objectification of women by men is a contributing factor to the gender gap that exists today.

Secondly, the list. I had some major issues with his list of things “wrong” with American women. I’ve previously stated how religion drives people apart, well stereotypes contribute to the same. People are different and be that due to race, religion or geographical placement and if you don’t like or agree with them, then don’t associate with them.

Some of the items on his list made me laugh as he was obviously exposed to a very small population of Americans. For Example: Number 3 – The fact that all American women have short hair, which obviously equals laziness as they do not want to maintain long hair. For twelve years I’ve had long hair, and I can attest that it does require more attention but if I have the ability to cut my hair short, why should any woman be chastised for doing the same? I’ve met some very non-lazy bald women in my life that are quite pleasant.

Number eleven states that a woman who has given up on getting a man, gets a dog instead!? I strongly disagree – I see animal adoption as quite a compassionate and caring action. It’s a huge responsibility to adopt and raise a pet and to do so by yourself is akin to being a single parent. To take on such a huge responsibility is quite honourable and should not be belittled as a negative attribute.

Then there were number nineteen & thirty-one. They really got to me as it was a clear statement that a woman is not worth as much as a man. Nineteen states that American women are proud to be dating many men, as if they were men themselves. Thirty-one claims that women care more about maintaining a good career instead of keeping a home and family, that they care more about money instead of having kids and a husband. Clearly this list is compiled by someone who is under the impression that women have a place and it’s nowhere near a career or a choice. This bothers me as I feel that our own societal progression is dependent on eliminating our sense of cast and gender and view each other as we are, people. Letting people carve out their own path instead of following archaic and simply irrelevant gender roles is one of the first things that need to happen before we can evolve as a society.

He goes on and on about the most asinine stereotypes about Americans, insinuating all the while that a woman’s role isn’t much more then to be a wife, mother and model all at the same time. He is publishing books called “Bang” teaching young, sexually frustrated men and passing along negative insights that help nobody.

I’m friends with plenty of American women and none of this applies to them. My own wife is (secretly) American and I can say that she couldn’t be the farther from this list and that makes me happy. She is an individual who is not only focused on herself but on our relationship as well. We work best when we’re each happy and this is a lesson that I think few people actually get a chance to learn. Instead of teaching young men how to get laid, teach them how to be in a happy relationship. Foster a happy partnership by ensuring that both of you are happy. If you’re living with someone that makes you miserable or makes you hide who you truly are, why stay? If you’re lying and sneaking around to do things that make you happy then why aren’t you focusing your efforts on finding someone who can enjoy what you do, or at least accept it? I guess that just not the way this world works.

Oh and one last thing about the list, number Twenty-three. I think it’s appalling when people do this, but he skipped point twenty-three altogether. I mean why lie and say you have thirty-six items on your list when you clearly only have thirty-five!

Garden of Sam

To clarify, I currently do not have a garden. For 6 years I lived in a townhouse style condo with a relatively small balcony and for the past 10 months I’ve been living at my parent’s house. It’s just temporary, I swear.

For the past few months I’ve been unemployed and as much as I’ve been looking for work, I’ve also taken advantage of having the opportunity to be able to have a yard and garden to do a bit of work in. It has been nice to be able to have a space to work the earth, however when I was living at my condo I did manage to cultivate a small swath of green space on the small balcony space that I did have.

Pre-greened Balcony

Pre-greened Balcony

As you can see by my funky panoramic picture, I didn’t have much space to work with. The space measured a paltry 8’x4′ and some of the space was taken up by an air conditioning. The flooring was some sort of plastic covered concrete that would constantly be dirty and wet. If you notice, there is snow in the parking lot behind out unit. I started this project in late March so it was still quite cold out. As I ventured on the cleaning process I also started seedlings from seeds I acquired from Seedsnow.com. After doing some research I found them to provide the best price and value for organic and heirloom seeds which was important to me.

Getting Started

Seedlings

After several attempts at cleaning the flooring, I realized that I may have to look at an alternative to the existing cement-like floors that were on the balcony. As you can see below the floor would stain and would constantly pool with water and debris. Initially I was looking at putting down carpeting or some sort of wood covering.

Swabbed the deck

Swabbed the deck

After doing some research I stumbled upon some composite decking tiles that were quite remarkable and were able to be installed without the need for any tools. That is aside from a table saw that was used to cut them to the right size around the AC unit.

Deck it! Deck it good!

Deck it! Deck it good!

They are a 100% polymer material that looked just like cedar planks. They are durable and mold and mildew resistant. The plastic webbing underneath allowed them to snap together easily and were available at the Home Depot. Altogether I spent just under $90 for the tiles and had exactly the amount I needed. In the box on the right, you’ll also notice some tools that I used for the garden including an x-hose that was small enough for storage and attached to the sink for easy use once the garden was up and running.

Almost fully installed

Almost fully installed

Measuring and fitting

Measuring and fitting

Once the tiles were measured and fitted, the warmer weather had started rearing it’s head. Fortunately, we were able to get everything installed in time to start transitioning the seedlings from indoor to outdoor in order to get them hearty enough to survive. The balcony was south facing and I ended up planting mostly veggies and plants that would thrive in those conditions.

As this project is over a year old, I don’t have any current pictures of the balcony but I’ve included some photo’s that show the progress over the rest of the summer. All in all I was quite happy with the results of the project and I was able to accomplish it all for under $200.

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Teak Patio Furniture

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Coconut husk planters

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Foldable chairs hung nicely for storage

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And old Tupperware bin made a nice vegetable patch. Onions, Tomatoes of the beefsteak and cherry variety

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The tops of one of the Tomato plants broke off, fortunately it took root and was able to be re-potted elsewhere

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Re-purposed an old garbage pail into a carrot patch.

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Cucumbers scaled the railing with a little help

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The other side of the garden, there was Basil, Cilantro, Sunflowers Lemon Balm, Jalapenos and even an evergreen to boot

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Watching the World Cup on my tablet while enjoying my mini-oasis

Making a mountain out of an Ant Man

Nobody expected that a movie about a shrinking man who could control ants, would be any good. At least the people who I talked to felt that way. Hell even I had some doubts about how good such a movie could actually be. But when Edgar Wright was attached to write/direct the film I was on board. I loved his cinematic style and his sense of humor. In fact the first movie my wife and I saw together was Shaun of the Dead and to this day it holds a very special place in our hearts.

Then things changed, Peyton Reed came aboard and my confidence was shaken. It’s funny how opinions can waiver so much especially after having your heart set on how a movie could have been. Even after walking out of the theater I wonder what the Edgar Wright version of the movie would have been like.

Unfortunately that is a movie we’ll never see but what we have in its place is a wonderfully crafted three act play that delivers action and humor in spades. One of the greatest assets of the movie were the supporting cast. I’ve seen Michael Peña in various supporting roles and never paid him any mind. This role however really ingratiated in my eyes, kind of like a Luis Guzman or John Leguizamo. His stand out performance as Scott Lang’s sidekick was perfect, the yin to Scott Lang’s yang. Along with his crew – Peña’s team is tasked with making these former criminals like-able, and they do that well.

Then there is Rudd – when I first heard that they were going to tell the Scott Lang story and not the Pym story, I was not happy. I felt that the Pym story was what should have been told, especially as he was a founding member of the Avengers. I didn’t think that Hank Pym’s story would be strong enough to have his own film, but introducing him as a central role around the Avengers was what I felt would have been best.

Sure enough Marvel proved me wrong and in their infinite wisdom they adapted the role of the hero and were able to craft together a story that was just on the border of the standard superhero genre that we’ve been exposed to. In focusing on the Scott Lang character and writing a story around him they were able to shake up the genre and make you root for what would otherwise be a bad guy.

All in all if you have any doubts about Ant Man, I say put them aside and go watch the film. If anything, it’s got some great writing and effects. Seeing a young Michael Douglas on the screen was what impressed me from the start and if anything, the post credit scenes (there are two of them folks) are also fun and set up some key story elements for Civil War.

Excelsior!

Equality for some, little American flags for others

I’m embarrassed to admit that in an age of equality and acceptance, there are still those that choose to look beyond the person and focus on the belief. Yesterday one of my very own family members had the courage to stand up and be heard for who she really is. I’ve seen many stories lately about people coming out and the family being surprisingly helpful in heartwarming and humorous ways. This unfortunately is not one of them. Religious pretext has caused people to react in fear and concern over image, instead of acting out of love and support.

If you’ve read my previous posts then you know that I have concerns over religion. My belief is that it has contributed to not only a lot of bad that goes on in the world, but also that it holds us back as a society. As a person outside of religion, my reaction to this reveal was one of joy and happiness. Due to the tone of the post, it seems like there were family members who just couldn’t put their faith aside to be able to support what was a most challenging and life altering confession.

I’d like to say to those that can’t see beyond their beliefs: please don’t turn your back on your kin. Compassion, love without judgement, family. Are not these some of the basic elements that religion promotes? Or have you selected which parts of the scripture should be followed and which shouldn’t.

I’m going to stop myself from devolving into a rant and I just want to say a few things. Firstly; we really need to stop hating based on religion, race and sexual orientation/identity. Take a moment to realize that the hatred and fear you feel is contradictory to what I remember from scripture. There is one passage in first Corinthians that states “..these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Greater than your faith, greater than your hope – love, the element and ability to care for each other despite our diversity. Read further into 1st Corinthians chapter 12 & 13 if you’d like but to me it sounds like love beats faith every time.

Secondly – to my family. One of our own needs us. Regardless of the choices that they have made and regardless of how you feel about these choices we must love and support each other no matter what! This is what being a family is truly about. I may not agree with the choices some of you have made but you have not stopped being my family. Think about what we truly mean to each other because if you abandon one of us in a time of need you abandon us all.

Lastly to my cousin – you are deserving of all the happiness life has to offer you. Don’t let anyone stop you, ever!

The Theory of Religion

Firstly – in no way am I putting down religion. Understand that my views are very much my own and I have the utmost respect for anyone who puts their faith in any religion out there.

I grew up in a church and until I was about 15 I strongly believed in the teachings that were taught to me by my church and my parents. I love my parents for giving me some of the basic teachings that allowed my faith to evolve. To give you an example: my parents taught me that Christianity is NOT the church,  it’s not going to Sunday school or how much time you spend in church. They showed me through their actions that church was in fact HOW you lived your live and believing and living in the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.

This always stuck with me and when I was ready to get baptized I was ready to reach into that higher level of spirituality and love through faith. But as I was dipped into the baptismal pool I had a profoundly life-changing moment of enlightenment. I came to the revelation that aside from being wet, nothing had changed. Well one thing had changed, I will filled with questions. Questions about what had happened and why I was searching so hard for a further level of external love and fulfillment. Now these were not evident in that immediate moment but there was a sudden emptiness that I felt which evolved over the next 10 years. This seed germinated into a further curiosity and questions that propelled me into a  journey of self discovery and searching that ended up giving me a greater sense of spirituality then the church could ever give.

I explored Buddhism and the teachings of the Taoist way, I tried to understand the similarities between Judaism and Islam by reading and experiencing people and hearing how people lived their faith. What really wrapped it up nicely for me was when I was attending college in Canada’s North. I was studying a native stream Family and Child Social Work program and by default, was immersed into the culture and teachings as a distant relative. Being very skeptical of outsiders had been something that was almost bred into what I refer to as TRUE Canadians, but I opened to them and explored my own native and cultural South American roots they accepted me as a distant cousin who was eager to learn and share the culture. I even had the opportunity to stand in as a translator for an Ecuadorian Shuar elder who was visiting and sharing in this cultural exchange. It was where I was first able to note how all religion tied together and how it propelled my own personal theory forward.

Humans have an innate inquisitive nature. Always looking to understand how things work in order to understand their place in life. This is what drives us forward, drives us to understand electricity and how we continue to modernize our everyday lives. Explaining how the sun rises and how things grow, especially when you don’t fully understand the complexities of the nature can lead to finding a logical way to explain the in-explainable elements around us. To me this is the root of religion, the need to try to explain or label how things work and why things happen. This is the root of my theory: As humans, we wanted to try to explain the in-explainable and in doing so we produced GOD, and supreme being that could explain the mysteries of life and give meaning to our purpose here. Created by divine purpose in order to explain the biology, the chemistry, the physics of why the world is as it is – why we feel the way we do and where we go once we expire. A way to give us hope and a purpose fueling fire to continue to strive forward.

At this point in our civilization I think that we should be able to move beyond relying on religion to explain the inexplicable. I feel that we have evolved enough to be able to use the technology and pure human intelligence to be able to explore and answer the questions that seemed impossible to answer. There are two other elements of religion though that require a little more human development and evolution before we can move completely beyond a dependence on religion.

The first: Religion is a huge tool in teaching our children the right and wrong of this world. Teaching that actions come with consequences and that a life of goodness has a reward in the afterlife. However I feel that this is still slightly wrong as you are initially teaching people to do good in order to avoid going to hell rather than being good for the sake of being good. We need to go away from the ultimate punishment theory and actually teach people, being good is its own reward. I still remember being taught in Sunday school that if were good enough AND converted enough people you would be rewarded in heaven with a jeweled crown. Positive reinforcement may work with training animals but when it comes to humans it can lead to religious leaders being arrested for fraud and embezzlement instead of being true leaders of people.

The second: Love. Not the love between spouses, families and friends but the love of oneself. I remember wanting a greater love, the promise of the kind of love that you could only get from the deity – if you worship and adore them and follow all their rules. When I started on the path to searching for that external love I ultimately came to the realization that what I was actually craving was the ability to love myself (insert dirty joke here). In all seriousness I needed to be happy with myself, content with my life and fulfilled by everything I did in order to be able to live the way I needed. When I finally came to that understanding I was finally able to live. Enjoying the world around me has become so much more enriching since I stopped looking externally for love and started validating myself.

Ultimately the point I am trying to drive home is that I don’t believe that traditional religion is for me or anyone for that matter. I think  our society needs to start thinking outside the religious box and start understanding the core fundamentals of what religion provides and how you can provide it to yourself. I like to imagine a world where love really does prevail and the hopefulness that people feel due to differing theologies is a thing of the past. The last thing I want to do however is take anyone away from their own faith as that is something that really bothered me about the church. Believe what makes you happy but respect others and focus on how YOU can enhance your everyday life.

Last point – please note that at no time have I denied the existence of a higher being, one that possibly had a hand in creating the world we see around us. That, however is a story (or theory) for another post.