My 2016 plans…

Also known as resolutions.

I figure I should try to improve myself in different ways, and what better way to ensure *some* accountability than to post some resolutions here for the wild world to see.

So here we go!

  • Be more assertive when it comes to women. What I mean here is, if I’m interested in a woman, I should just go for it. Talk to her. Ask her out. Show I have interest. The worst that can happen, in most cases, is she says ‘no.’ I lose nothing by asking, but stand to gain lots.
  • Save more money. I’m going to be 30 soon. I shouldn’t be living with other people with whom I have no connection. Yes, housemates do keep rent down, but then I have to deal with people I have no interest in knowing anything about, and are always in my way. By saving money, I can eventually put a down payment on a house or condo and be truly self-sufficient.
  • Get in better shape and lose weight. This is a multi-faceted resolution — go to the gym more, eat less, eat better. Once it warms up, this means biking to work. This also dovetails nicely into saving more money.
  • Read more. I will set a target of reading for at least an hour every day. I have a lot of books to get through, and the perfect time to read is during my commute.
  • Take more photos. I have a prosumer-model camera, and now that I have a job that doesn’t require near-daily photography, it sits unused for weeks at a time. And my skills are deteriorating during that downtime. So, I resolve to take photos every day, and post regular updates of all those photos. Much like I did in 2011.

That’s pretty much it. Short, sweet and to the point.

Here’s hoping I can do it.

Comments on «The Force Awakens»

I saw the new Star Wars movie the day after its wide release — on Dec. 19.

I loved it.

Many people, I have noticed, did not. To the point they are calling it the worst Star Wars movie.

That’s their prerogative. I don’t agree, naturally, but I won’t say they’re wrong and denigrate them for their opinions — they’re allowed to have them, and things like movies are subjective because different people are looking for different things in movies.

For me, I was looking forward to seeing how the film matched up with the trailers, all of which basically said, “Tim, you have to see this! You want to see this! You *will* see this!”

So I did.

And now, I want to talk about what I saw and why I liked it.

I will also refute some of the arguments those buzzkills made in arguing The Force Awakens is the worst Star Wars film.

There will be spoilers, so in the spirit of protecting those of you with delicate sensibilities, I will place them under this new-fangled ‘read more’ tag I just discovered…

Continue reading

Monarchy

I like to think of myself as a monarchist.

I support the monarchy in Canada, and Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state, since it is a largely ceremonial title in this day and age.

But from reading A Song of Ice and Fire lately, as well as watching Game of Thrones, I’m starting to wonder about royal families and all that fun stuff.

For example, the idea of traitors and treason.

Listen, I fully understand and can get behind the idea of lines of succession and heredity in such a world as the timeframe in which ASOIAF is set.

But the idea that, when the reigning monarch dies and others who are not in the direct line of succession declare they are the proper monarch, saying there is more than one person declaring to be the king/queen/etc. is treasonous is ridiculous in my mind.

Think about it, using the example of what happened in ASOIAF…

Robert dies and Joffrey ascends to the Iron Throne. But because of the (true) questions about his right to the throne, his two (supposed) uncles declare they are to be king.

I’m leaving out Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy here because Robb never really declared for the Iron Throne, and I don’t completely recall how Balon declared.

So, as I understood things while reading, it was considered problematic if someone within Westeros said there were five kings, or that five men had declared they are kings.

I don’t see it being a problem, because it’s a statement of fact — there are five men saying they are the king.

And what’s in a name, anyway? What does ‘king’ really mean? It’s just a title that has been elevated to the highest echelon of importance.

You know, I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this. It’s just made me think, is all.

I guess if I were to opine on our current constitutional monarchy in Canada, and all those people who can’t seem to wrap their head around how our system works, I would say this:

We’re not dumping the monarchy any time soon. If we ever do, I figure it would happen when Liz dies. And by that I mean we would only begin the debate in earnest at that point. Liz is well loved, and it’s highly unlikely there will ever be the necessary groundswell to introduce someone else to be Canada’s head of state.

Beyond that, it would require a constitutional amendment, and that’s not going to happen in our current political climate. We’ve had two tries, and they failed. And this country is more polarized now than it’s been in a very long time.

Offensive

Look at that, I’m posting again shortly after my last post. Wow. I’m back in the saddle, it appears.

OK. It’s time to talk about what is offensive.

This post is influenced by a series of tweets I made, and then a poor choice of words a few days later.

To wit, those tweets deal with my “All hail zombie Jesus” comment in the Barrhead Leader in the spring of 2012.

Here is the first of them. The remaining seven tweets are linked here.

The thrust of them is that I’ve always felt that it’s not my fault if you’re offended. If you think something is offensive, it’s your responsibility to deal with it.

Life isn’t fair and you aren’t going to be able to go through it in a bubble so as not to have your delicate sensibilities damaged.

At least that’s what I always thought.

I think what else made me so unsympathetic and unrepentant about the impact the ‘Zombie Jesus’ comment had was that I didn’t know the people who were offended personally. I couldn’t tell you any of their names (except for those who wrote letters, whose names I can’t remember), nor did I care.

Harsh, and probably not conducive to a successful reporting career in a small town, but it is who I was.

But recently I made what I thought was a funny comment to describe women: “long hairs.”

It made sense and makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. On average, and stereotypically, women have long(er) hair (than men), a point driven home when you live with them and their hair clogs the drain in the shower.

[Incidentally, the last time I lived with women, I actually had the longest hair in the house.]

Well, this comment didn’t go over very well with the woman I would consider my best friend.

Acknowledging now that you can’t get tone in a text message, from what I was reading of her response to my use of that comment, I assumed she was right royally pissed off and I had jeopardized our friendship.

I was so worried, I fretted about it all the next day, until we talked on the phone last night.

In the lead up to the phone call, I was thinking about my thoughts on the ‘Zombie Jesus’ hullabaloo, and how the situation changed when it came down to someone I actually knew.

Those people offended by my comment in Barrhead were just ‘other people,’ ‘faces in the crowd,’ or ‘humourless Christians.’

But my ‘long hairs’ comment was said to someone I know, love, respect and care for.

It’s kind of funny what difference knowing who you have (allegedly) offended makes — when you don’t know the people personally, who cares; when you do, you realize the impact your words have.

So, I guess the long and short of this is I will be trying to curtail my language and offensiveness. And please call me out on it if you see/hear me using it.

Or not. I don’t really give a crap what you think.

Five years in Alberta

I wasn’t going to do this now, but I can change my mind, so I am doing this now.

In my last post, I touched on (previewed, really, this post) the fact I’ve been in Alberta for five full years as of Nov. 23, 2015. And what a five years it’s been.

And what’s even more interesting is I’m posting this on the five-year anniversary of starting work at the Westlock News. So things are coming together rather nicely.

So, what kind of a five years has it been for me out here in Alberta?

First, I think we need to flash back to before I arrived out here. But by only two to three weeks. It was right after I was offered the gig in Westlock, when I sat down in a darkened living room with my parents, discussing whether I would actually take the job. Many of you know how my Meadow Lake experience went. I won’t rehash it, because let’s be honest, that was over six years ago and it was really a blip in my personal history.

Anyway, it was a fairly difficult and serious conversation. I had to decide whether I really, *really* wanted to move back to Western Canada barely a year after I left it. Ultimately, we all agreed that there was no harm in going for it, knowing if it all fell apart again, I could simply move back to Toronto again.

Clearly that didn’t happen.

That first year in Westlock started well, with none of the problems I had in Meadow Lake. The people were nice, the community was much nicer, and having Edmonton about an hour away was certainly more than welcome.

I can’t express how important it is to have people you like among your coworkers. If you’re coming into a new place, far and away from everything you ever knew, it’s the people you meet and deal with on a regular basis who will determine if you’ll succeed or fail. And in my case, I felt supported and welcome, which in turn helped my work.

If you don’t feel welcome and comfortable where you are, your work is going to suffer.

Clearly I did some things right and showed I had the skills needed to succeed, because less than a year into my time out here I found myself living and working 40 kilometres to the west in Barrhead.

Barrhead. That was an experience. I felt less welcomed than in Westlock, but still considerably more welcomed than in Meadow Lake. The Barrhead experience did not go as well as it could have.

Maybe it was because I had become set in my ways in Westlock and adjusting to a new environment wasn’t easy. Or perhaps it was I came off cocky and arrogant, and didn’t fit into the environment as well as others could. I do know there was a healthy degree of animosity and friction in that office. It wasn’t exactly a healthy situation.

It was in Barrhead I first started seriously entertaining leaving Alberta, but that clearly didn’t come to fruition.

Instead, I ended up leaving Barrhead after offending the Dutch Christians in Neerlandia, an act that was unintentional, but one for which I remain staunchly unrepentant. I think you all know what I did. I went on a twitter rant about it.

So I returned to Westlock after the second reporter who replaced me proved not to be up to the task.

Back in Westlock, things went as well as always. I reported and photographed things, I lived with a cat and its owner.

Then I became an editor again. That was interesting. I think what I learned from that is I a) am not a great editor, and b) I would be a good editor if I didn’t also have to produce a reporter’s worth of stories as well as guide a reporter.

The less said about the reporter I worked with, the better.

That second editorship was a nine-month gig, after which I returned to that in which I felt most comfortable – reporting.

About a year later, I found myself at the Edmonton Sun, where I have been now for about 14 months.

So looking at things professionally, it’s been a great ride, with a few hiccups and rough patches. But nothing I would say that could be construed as horrible.

Personally, it’s been a lot less great.

Still single. Still living with random room/housemates, when I’d rather be on my own or living with a female, conjugal house/room/bedmate. That will come, eventually, maybe, I hope.

I was never good at making friends, but I think I’ve found a community that I could possibly flourish in. Or at least be welcomed. All I need to do is work on calming down on the field and not really worry about wins and losses. I mean, so I win a sports game – I feel good for a while. But is there an actual tangible effect on my life? No. Same, but in reverse, goes for losing.

I have anger issues at times.

Anyway.

Five years in Alberta. When I left for this province in mid-November 2010, I hoped it would be a successful venture, but I never truly imagined it would be one that shows no signs of ending after more than five years. I really thought I’d stay here two, maybe three, years, and then head elsewhere. Maybe not back into the GTA, but somewhere in southern or eastern Ontario.

That all could still happen come spring 2016 (no way in hell am I moving in the winter, again), but right now I would be content to remain in Edmonton and Alberta for another five years.

Because I know this for sure – short of being fired/let go/downsized, there is no way I’m leaving this place without another gig lined up. And gigs are still a big tough to come by.

 

quick update…

It has been a very long time since I have posted here. There are many and not very many reasons for this. We won’t get into them now, as they’re not important.

But…

I recently learned I have been here in Alberta for five full years. My anniversary was on Nov. 23.

Right here is where I was going to link to the post I posted when I first arrived in Westlock on Nov. 23, 2010, but it appears I never wrote one. So, so much for that idea.

Instead, I have many thoughts on my five years here in Alberta. Trust me, there are a lot.

Alas, you’ll have to wait. I have not had the time to sit down and put pen to paper, so to speak, and I’m leaving for a weekend in Canmore on Friday, so I don’t really have time now to post either.

But I promise I will give you something to read when I return.

I swear.

Bollocks!

See, I told you I swore.

 

Six months in Edmonton

To be completely truthful, I have not actually lived in Edmonton for a full six months yet, but when have I ever let facts get in the way of a good story?

Actually, very rarely. That’s sort of what happens when you’re a journalist — facts are kind of critical.

But, nonetheless, I believe I shall take some time right now to reflect on what is almost a full half year living in Edmonton and working for the Edmonton Sun.

Here we go!

First off, I never hated living and working in Westlock. It was a nice little town, and the people were great. I got along well enough with everyone, so from that perspective there was no reason to leave. However, being the new guy in town brought with it a lot of problems that could not easily be overcome — namely the dating game. Notwithstanding I’ve had horrible luck with that to begin with, trying to date in a community where everyone has known each other since they were knee high to a grasshopper is very difficult. I found those women who were my age and in whom I was interested were either engaged or married already. Boo.

And even besides that, I am a city boy at heart and in truth. So living in a small town, even one that’s about an hour away from a major city, is not precisely my cup of tea.

And I’d been there for nearly four years, so the job and the stories I was doing were getting stale.

So, with those thoughts in mind, it was getting to the point where I was looking for a change.

Enter the Edmonton Sun’s open special sections reporter position. Here was my chance for a change and to get into a city again.

I never actually thought I would get it, however. But I did.

And things have been pretty good ever since.

I work considerably fewer hours, but there are times when the stress levels are considerably higher. But that’s the nature of the beast, I suppose.

Then there is the fact I can play ultimate more than once a week. In fact, that was pretty much my first thought once I accepted the job offer. I play not only for the exercise and because I enjoy it — I also play to meet people. Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve made “friends” in the strictest sense of the word, yet. But I have met a lot of people whom I like and who seem to like me, so that’s good.

Now, it hasn’t been all good, this whole living in Edmonton thing. I’ve had to deal with a sewer drain backing up in one place I lived, a car crash (which, to be honest, could have happened anywhere) and an emergency move (the result of the sewer drain issue). But I can’t let those dampen what has been a really good past (almost) six months.

Time to see what the next six months have to offer.