Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blog #53: Full Stop

I started trying to write every day two months ago when I had just finished school and my internship and I was trying to find things to do that were productive. I want to be a better writer, and after watching Casey Neistat's vlog for a few weeks, I wanted to try my hand at daily creativity.

It worked pretty well. I did a bunch of things that I wouldn't have normally done and it challenged me to be a bit more proactive when thinking about writing instead of just making things up as I went along. I hope you've enjoyed the last two months worth of stories and thoughts.

I'm going to be trying something else now though and since there is bound to be some overlap, I am not sure that I can run both things at the same time. Therefore I'll be putting a hold on blogging for now, and I'll come back to it if conditions are perfect. I'll also be posting any updates about new work in the future on this blog. Until then, enjoy the workings of life as you go about your business.

Ben

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blog #52: Inside Out - A Review

Last night I went to see Inside Out with my sister Melody and Amanda. I initially didn't want to see this movie. I had it in the same category as Cars where it just didn't seem like it was going to capture me the way that some Pixar movies do. It did though. I was legitimately choked up a couple of times over the course of the film.

Without giving anything away about the movie, I will say that it is amazing to see Pixar be able to incorporate lessons about life which are applicable for kids and adults into a movie that is entertaining. There are some very deep thoughts behind the movie that will give you something to think about for a little while.

At this point, I think it's safe to say that Pixar can do no wrong. Actually it was probably safe to say that about five movies ago, but this is probably the point where I won't doubt them anymore.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Blog #51: Selling Old Shoes

There is a Converse ad playing in front of the movies. It does the most unusual thing for an advertisement. It is a campaign to sell old shoes. That’s not specifically what the ad does, but the ad glorifies the unique nature of each person’s personal pair of converse. The colour is different, the fabric is different, and the wear and tear is different. The ad shows you some shoes and the coolest part about them is that they are old. They bear the scars of kickflips or kicks to the pavement or dance steps. They have paint or marker on them. There’s a hole where a box fell. They’ve been left out in the rain and warped a bit. Each defect or deformity tells a different story about the shoes.

I went to school on Thursday for a bit (I took ill and ended up coming home). On my way there, I thought about people who look perfect. Not perfect in the sense of an ideal body type or something, but perfect in the sense that they look like they came out of a Matrix pod a few minutes ago. Their hair is perfectly placed, their skin has no uncovered blemish or scar, their clothes are freshly laundered and pressed, their shoes look like they just came out of a box. I look at them and the only information I gather from them is that they are wealthy and they took time preparing themselves for this morning. But what they wear says remarkably little about them.

I have a few grey hairs growing in. I’m also starting to bald. There’s a scar on my finger where I nearly cut my finger print off last spring. I’m missing a chunk out of one of my eyebrows because of a fall I took as a kid. I am covered in freckles on my forearms, face, and neck. I have a wacky birthmark on my bicep that shows up in the summer. In the same way that I don’t gravitate towards new shoes, I don’t gravitate toward flawless individuals. You’re easier to talk to when you smell funny, or your socks are mismatched, or there’s a surgical scar on your throat. It shows you’ve been alive for a while. There’s a story that you can tell me once you trust me. You’re like a pair of old shoes. I’d like to get to know you. But it's a whole lot easier if you have some marks.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blog #50: A Review of the movie "Gone Girl"

Gone Girl is on Netflix right now. I knew what it was about and had read a synopsis, but figured I would watch it anyways.

Sometimes I watch movies because they make me feel good. Sometimes I want to feel other feelings when I watch movies.

When I finished watching Gone Girl, I felt like I loved my wife and that whatever difficult things were between us they were not as crazy as that movie.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Blog #49: The Right Reasons

I'm a Christian but I'm also a contrarian. It's embarrassing how much of a problem it is because it interferes with my ability to be a normal person every day. There are some people who I just always disagree with. I have to be careful to make sure that I'm disagreeing with ideas and not people because I think that could happen and sometimes does happen. But sometimes I read things like this and I get so frustrated but not in a way that can be easily explained. If twitter didn't exist, I wouldn't have to hear these opinions from people I can't discuss them with, but the internet means everyone is both vulnerable and invulnerable to criticism.

There are a collection of pastors in the US who assert that everyone around them is just going to hate them because they are Christian. They look to parts of the Bible like "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." and they go 
"Well if people hate us, we must be doing things right!" and then they go on doing whatever it was that they were doing without pausing to consider whether they may have made a mistake.

I'm probably a little over-susceptible to criticism. I like to take peoples accusations pretty seriously, so maybe my natural inclination in these situations is a bit too intense, but regardless there still is one thing that I think is important. Yes, people will be mad at Christians (we believe that humanity is essentially a write off. That's going to get some people going somewhere in the world). But if people are going to be mad at Christians, I'd like it to be for the right reasons.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blog #48: The Billy Graham Rule

Yesterday I read a story about another Pastor who was forced to resign after having an affair with another woman. I don't know that there is another profession, except for maybe politics, where an affair gets you in so much trouble. For me it was a reminder that pastors are subject to the same kinds of failures that regular people are, and anyone who is Christian and who pretends otherwise does not really know what being a Christian means for all of humanity. As I read the article, I noticed a phrase called the "Billy Graham Rule" which is named after a famous evangelist and is a rule that states male church leaders should never "meet, travel or eat with another woman alone". Apparently there are many other church leaders who follow this. I didn't realize this had a name, even though I have heard of the principle before.

For a moment let's ignore the more reasoned criticism of this rule (although you can read it here if you want) and consider for a moment what the intention is here. I want to focus on the relation to the pastor who had an affair. The first article mentions the Billy Graham rule as though that would have somehow been a solution to this particular issue. And yes, maybe it would have. But what I would like to know is how it seems to be so easy to get into an affair. (Remember how I said I would ignore the reasoned criticism earlier? This is me being ridiculous so just roll with it for a moment). With the frequency that these kinds of things happen, you would think that pastors and church leaders were constantly surrounded by a crowd of women eager to move in and latch on to the pastor. These articles sure make it sound like that at times.

No I think the Billy Graham rule is unnecessary, because if you can't draw a line between a friendship and your romantic relationship with your wife/husband, then you are not starting from a good position to teach people about the Bible. If you find yourself in a position where you would consider abandoning your marriage, then you need to seek some solutions to that problem. Nobody ends up in an affair because they were just walking around and suddenly a woman appeared and the next thing you knew they were in an affair. These kinds of issues happen because of long standing problems, and just avoiding women altogether is not a solution.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Blog #47: The Cottage

In 1946 (I think. My dad will correct me in the comments if I'm wrong), my Great Grandpa Welsh purchased a plot of land north of Oshawa, east of Lake Simcoe. On the shore of a silt-bottomed lake called Dalrymple he built a cottage with his family. Then it got replaced in 1984 with a slightly more modern cottage which still stands there today.

There are a lot of things that have changed in my life as I have gotten older. Our house in Kingston is gone, owned by another family. It looks weird now anyways. There's a tree missing and someone else's car is in the front yard. None of my friends live in Kingston anymore. Everyone is in Ottawa or North Bay or Hamilton or Illinois. My sisters are spread across two provinces an one state. Everything is a little crazy now that I am an adult.

But I went to the cottage this weekend, and the backyard there is exactly the same as when I was a kid. Not a single blade of grass looks different. You could look at a photo from twenty years ago and not know a day had passed. It's nice to know that in a crazy world of change, that one part of the cottage still looks exactly the same.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Blog #46: The Humane Society

I went with Victoria to look at cats at the humane society. It was her plan to adopt one. I found this out the night before when I went over for a visit. Victoria and Jason told me the story of their visit to the humane society, and more specifically how it had ended abruptly with no kitten because it was too late in the day for them to adopt. At the time I did not understand this, but later on I came to realize exactly why there was not enough time.

So the following day I went with her to the Humane society to look at the cats. We looked at all of the cats! I could not believe that they had so much space for cats. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I was. Old cats, young cats, black cats, white cats, cats who'd just been in a sulfur-type bath. It was a little overwhelming to be honest. Then we finally decided on a kitty and got in line for adoption. We had to wait, and the woman helping us said it would take about an hour. As we started the process, I got a strange impression from the woman helping us. She seemed to be going through the motions of adoption, but also trying to suggest to us that she didn't enjoy what she was doing. In a job you don't always enjoy what you're doing, but shouldn't people at least have the customer service sense to put on a good face? Maybe she could even roll out a red carpet for us instead of being rude. I wanted to stand up and say
"We are adopting a cat and helping you out. Worship us as the saviour of your animals!"

As soon as I thought of this, I recognized that this was ridiculous. As important as adoptions are to a humane society, it's only a part of what they do. The woman serving us probably sees hundreds of cats come in and out a week. She probably also sees old cats picked over time and time again. Then there's the intake process which means she probably sees dozens of animals who aren't cared for. Though adoptions are an occasion for celebration, I am sure that job has to wear on you after a while as you see that people don't care about animals as much as you do. Though I think she could have been nicer about the whole thing, I think I can understand her rough attitude given the particular challenges of working at a humane society. It must be a tough life.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blog #45: Drugs

There was a time when people knew enough about Christians to know that we didn't drink, we didn't dance, and we didn't do drugs. Now that doesn't matter so much because there are Christians who drink (and Monks who brew amazing beer), Christians who dance, and Christians who do drugs. More accurately speaking, Christians have always done all of these things we have just stopped trying to hide it in many cases. I don't have much of an issue with Jesus and beer, and I don't have any issues with Jesus and dance, but I have a serious point of contention if you want to put Jesus and Cocaine together.

Nearly every Christian anti-drug talk I have ever heard in a youth group or camp has used 1 Corinthians 6:19 as a proof text. It says "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" The argument says if your body is a temple, don't pollute it by filling it with filthy drugs. This is a pretty compelling argument. Though I know there are shrines where people sacrifice drugs to gods of various kinds, the concept of offering God, who has historical demanded animal blood in his sacrifices, a pure street drug seems foolish. But no, the real reason that I can't put drugs and Jesus together is the incredibly destructive effects the drug trade has had on every place in the world it touches. Sure it destroys your life, but you can make your own choices and if you make bad ones you suffer the consequences. Drug cartels do not only affect your life though.

I worked with a girl from Honduras in the fall. Sometimes she would talk about what life was like back at home. I cannot retell any of her stories with their original integrity, but they usually dealt with the feeling of not knowing what was going to happen to friends or family or neighbours. Violence as a part of the drug trade is common and scary and from the way she told the stories, a shockingly common part of every day life. In Canada where life is cushy, I had a hard time entering into the world of her stories because they were just so shocking, and because she had so many of them. And this is the reason why I can't stand people who try to justify illegal drugs. The summary of Jesus teaching on the Law is to love God and love the neighbour. You cannot tell me that you are loving your neighbour when you are supporting a trade that disrupts, dismantles, and destroys the lives of millions of people in South and Central America as the drugs work their way northward. If I had one wish, it would be to make the US and Canada impossible to smuggle drugs into. I would love to see how that would trickle back along the trade routes of those drugs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Blog #44: Pictures

I went for a walk on Monday. It was part of my plan to do more interesting things in a week where I have no class. Yes, going for a walk counts as exciting for me. I walked around our neighbourhood a little bit and I walked past the Much Music building. Though it was once somewhat open and had things going on all the time, now not much happens there. Except for today. I walked by it today and there was this monstrous stage set up that took up the entire parking lot. It had a lighting background that appeared like some kind of computer-inspired sculpture. The whole thing looked expensive and complicated. From the back, you could see a bottle delivery service dropping off several flats of beer for backstage.

My first reaction upon seeing it was to take a photo and post it on Instagram. In a sense this says "this is the most interesting thing I did today". I do it with photos of the cat or things that look pretty or stuff that is out of the ordinary. But when I post photos on Instagram, I tend to stop thinking about them. If I were to have posted a photo of the Much Music stage, I would not have recounted my discovery to you now. That story would have been told already, and in kind of a crappy way.

See a photo on Instagram is usually accompanied by a short caption. My entire experience of stumbling across this stage and all of it's wonders would have been trumped by a grainy photo and a short caption. Maybe five words and five seconds of your attention. But since I didn't, I was able to get five minutes of conversation out of it with Amanda, and the first paragraph of this post. I think the value of your experiences depends on the way that you share them with other people. When you do a lot of things, photos are a good way to summarize. But when your life is kind of boring, it makes you way more interesting to tell stories about the things you see instead of just taking photos of them.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Blog #43: Public Shame

I like a good witch hunt just as much as the next person. I don't know why because they can be quite destructive, but something in me gets deeply satisfied by the prospect of someone getting payback for something bad they did. For example if someone says something stupid on twitter, watching them get vilified by a million strangers is exciting. I think this is a problem, but I can't help it. I think it's the fact that people who get publicly shamed usually seem like bad people. I suppose I should be careful because I'm sure people could dig up a large pile of dirt on me.

I read an article about the Nobel Prize winning scientist named Tim Hunt who described his experience of being publicly shamed for making some admittedly stupid comments about women in science before being hung out to dry by every other person he knows. Yes, what he said was stupid, but do such a collection of words really deserve the complete destruction of your entire life? I wonder about that. I feel remarkably little sympathy for people who are shamed, and yet Tim is the first case where I think I recognize that the dog-pile that occurs when someone gets publicly shamed is a little bit of overkill. Make the man apologize because what he said was stupid. Maybe give him a slap on the wrist. But I don't know that everyone is ignorant enough to require the anger of millions of strangers for them to understand that they shouldn't have said what they said.

All of this makes me consider wiping all of my social media. If you think about it, there is very little incentive to share your life with others, and an incredibly high penalty if you say something stupid. Better to be a hermit and be left alone, than become a public figure and have it all taken away from you. And I have a problem with this because that sounds an awful lot like we want to encourage mediocrity.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Blog #42: "Spy", some thoughts on a film

Amanda and I went to see the movie "Spy" last night. Let me begin by saying that though it's full of swearing and there's even a few brief shots of penises (that still shocks me when it happens in a mainstream movie....It happened with The Hangover too) it is super hilarious. Both Amanda and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. It had some really great moments and the plot itself was pretty interesting too.

My only deep thought about the film has to do with Melissa McCarthy's characters. I've seen enough movies with her at this point to notice that she kind of has two characters. Either she is resigned to being sad about her life and everything in it, or she's yelling and swearing at every single person around her. In Spy she does both. In Gilmore Girls she is mostly sad. In "The Heat" she is mostly angry. There's nothing wrong with any of this. Her character fits well in the cast of Gilmore Girls, and The Heat is a hilarious movie.

My point is just on the note that her characters seem to be written so that the only way they can be fulfilled is by yelling at every single person they come into contact with. I know that sometimes you have to fight for your rights, but that seems to be the only thing she does. I think it's possible to not be sad but to also not be angry. I would be interested to see what that would look like in another Melissa McCarthy movie.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Blog #41: Some Brief Notes

Yesterday I wrote my final exam for the first part of my Hebrew class. Exam is being generous. This was like a test. It was six pages long and I absolutely crushed it. Not in the sense that I got 100%, but in the sense that I was confident in what I wrote. It was a good feeling. I have not had that on an exam in some time. I certainly never had it in undergrad.

They made a decision on the Gardiner Expressway yesterday. Thank goodness. I hope they follow the whole thing through.  I was hoping that they'd tear it down, but I'm sure that this hybrid option will work out fine. I just hope that people can move on from this issue. It's the kind of decision where it's not worth it to go back and fight about it again.

It is strawberry season and yesterday I hit the grocery store and cleaned them out. I bought five pints. I promptly ate one pint for supper. The other four went in the freezer, and it is my plan to load our freezer with them over the next couple of days (don't worry, I will also eat many fresh berries). The differences between Ontario berries and California berries are incredibly and it brings me joy each year at this part of the season.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blog #40: Current Events

Toronto has this big thing called the Gardiner Expressway. It's been around for long enough that it's starting to crumble into bits soooooooo the city has to decide what it is going to do with it. Now I don't know why, but for some reason giant infrastructure projects interest me most because that's the cool stuff that government does. Sure it gives health care and pensions and those things are important, but they're not very sexy. New roads and trains and bridges though, those are attractive proposals. Those are the kinds of stories I follow. So I am following the Gardiner discussion thus far.

I had written yesterday's date on my calendar. "Gardiner Decision" it said. I should probably have put the word "decision" in quotes, as no decision was reached before the end of council. Instead somebody proposed a motion to put off the decision for sixty days. When I saw that come up on my Twitter feed, I was unbelievably frustrated. The debate has been going on with this thing for weeks. I have seen so many op-eds about how tearing it down is good for the city. I don't have a vested interest in either side (although I feel like tearing it down is smarter....) but I do have a vested interest in watching things happen.

Fortunately city council restored my faith in human sanity and rejected the motion to defer a decision. At some point today they'll come to some kind of final decision on the thing, and then I can start looking at what it will look like in ten years when they finally finish building it. I don't expect very much from politicians or city councilors, but I do expect them to actually decide stuff especially when it seems big enough to put on my calendar.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blog #39: Backpedaling

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone where you are telling them something, and then they question your motives, and then you try and justify it?

Then a few hours later you are sitting at home realizing that the other person was right and you need to rethink what you said? Then you realize that if they hadn't challenged you, you would have done something really stupid?

That happened yesterday. I'm glad it did.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Blog #38: Oranje

Yesterday I went to the post office. But when I went to the post office it was raining, so I had to put on all of my associated rain gear. For some bizarre reason, I love the feeling of invulnerability that comes when you're wearing rain gear. It's a bit like saying to the rain "nothing you can do to me! Rain as hard as you want, you won't get me wet". I'm probably the only person who thinks like this, but I'm okay with that. The first thing I put on was my orange Detroit Tigers hat. I bought it last summer when Gimli and I attended a Tigers game in Detroit. I put on the hat because my hair is getting longer but not quite long enough to tie back, thus if I want to go outside without constantly brushing my hair out of my face, I need to wear a hat. It is also the only hat that I own, so there's really no choice in the matter. So I've got my orange hat on.

Then I need to put on my coat. My rain jacket is orange. I bought it in a hurry before a trip to New York City that Amanda and I took a few years ago. We were leaving, and noted that it was supposed to be warm that week so I needed something to wear in the rain. We went to MEC and picked out the most economical coat available. It happened to be orange. I was happy about this because orange is a pretty great colour, but also I had no choice in the matter. I needed a rain-coat. The only rain coat I could afford was orange, therefore I have an orange coat. So now I have my orange coat and my orange hat.

Then it's time for footwear. The shoes I usually wear are Nike Free's. If you know anything about Nike's "Free" line of shoes you will know that they are free to let all of the water straight into the shoe which leads to you having some pretty wet feet very quickly. They are not really very good rainy shoes. But luckily, I have a workaround for this. I have rubber boots! My strange fascination with being impervious to rain motivated their purchase. I bought them last spring and when I was buying them, I wanted to go for maximum visibility. I was about to start a job where people were going to need to find me and I thought if it was raining, it'd make that easier if I stuck out. I chose a pair of orange rain boots for this purpose. I am not working at that job anymore, but I still have the orange rain boots. I head out the door. I am wearing my orange hat, my orange coat, and my orange rain boots. If anyone runs me over on the way to the post office, there is no court in Canada that would let them pass it off as an accident.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Blog #37: A Certain Kind of Friend

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I've recently been playing the game Destiny. I am still playing, which is probably just a testament to the kinds of things that I stay committed to. One of the things that is a challenge about Destiny is that it requires you to play with others for certain kinds of tasks. There are two missions called raids that require you to join up with six friends in order to complete the level. I don't have any friends I know of to play the game with and run through that content, so I run other parts of the game but I am constantly thinking of how I might find people to play with.

I struck up a conversation with Marc about this two weeks ago. We were talking about having video game friends and how it's rare to find a friend that is as interested in video games as we happened to be. As you grow up, your friends become interested in other things until you happen to be the only one who's left. Then you try and find people to play games with but the challenge is that they're all at home playing games and not out running around looking for people to play with. It's actually kind of funny to think about. All of these people at home playing games looking for other people to play games with but never bothering to find them.

It's not just about games either, because I've found random strangers online to play with but I have a different set of problems with them. We can play games together but they are usually so hardcore that there's no moderation to their game playing. I had a guy drag me through one of the raids (I am not equipped to do it but he is able to run it himself) and we talked for like an hour, but mostly just about the game. Very little outside of that. I think the people I'm looking to play games with are like some kind of magical fairy unicorn. They want to play games, but they also want to be casual and talk about other things at times.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Blog #36: Escape Games

It was Victoria's birthday party yesterday. When she started talking about it a month ago, she suggested we might do an "escape game" which is a new thing that's been popping up in Toronto where you are locked in a room filled with puzzles and you need to try and figure out how to escape. You can read about the company who ran ours here. So 11 of us showed up in front of this place to join them for some escaping action.We went inside, signed a waiver, and then sat down for the explanation of the game. Our game master took us through the rules of the game and gave us some pointers on how to play. Then he pointed to a board and said that 1130 teams had participated in the escape game and only 26 had escaped in the allotted hour. I looked at that and then said to myself "There's no way that we'll get out". I lowered my expectations to avoid disappointment. I didn't want to assert that I was too smart.

Then we went into the room and as we started playing, it felt like a lot of stuff was happening. We were finding things, we were solving puzzles. It was a blast. The game we were playing was brilliantly designed and they kept people in the room to ensure that we didn't break any game rules. We had a few eureka moments, and then a long pause of silence as we thought about what to do next (I'm being ambiguous because it's best for you to experience the game with no spoilers). But then we remembered something someone had noticed, we tried it out, and then it turned out to be right, and we escaped with ten minutes to spare! We were the 27th team to escape the mysterious room!

Now being that so few people escape, I tried to play it cool. I acted like it was no big deal. But all evening I kept telling Amanda "I can't believe that we escaped". I had downplayed my expectations so much that there was a feeling of complete shock over our success. But here's the catch. We are part of the 3% who succeeded at the game, but what does that mean? It means we succeeded at a game. It means we're good at escape games as a group. It doesn't mean we get a reward, or entry to some exclusive club. It's just about the pride of having completed the task unassisted. It's natural to go for reward expectations right away, but some things in life are really victories only to themselves.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Blog #35: This Tim Horton's Thing

I forgot to post this morning (it was a busy day) but here I am writing about a contentious issue which will probably spark a Facebook/Twitter fight. You can read a more thorough explanation of the #boycotttims madness here and you can read Rex Murphy's thoughts (you can imagine him talking while you read it here). I don't want to go into too much detail to avoid making too much out of this thing. They whole exercise is kind of ridiculous for two reasons.

First, why does Tim Horton's have advertisements in its store? That seems silly to me. Few other businesses would allow advertisements in your store. Your store is the place where you have free advertising space. Isn't that usually a space that you fill with advertising for your own products? Putting ads for another company in your store seems dumb.

Two, if the Canadian Energy Industry needs the support of Tim Horton's to continue to create jobs then we have a problem. Industries (whatever they are) should really be self-sustaining if they want to employ lots of people and have long term stability. Once upon at time the auto industry was built on demand for cars. Even as auto companies crashed in the late 2000`s, they still remain and are a major employer of people in North American in manufacturing. Their continued operation is based on the fact that people want to buy cars. Likewise the Energy industry is built on the demand for oil. If there is a demand for oil, there will be jobs in the oil sands. Whether or not Tim Horton`s supports those jobs should have little effect on whether those jobs continue to exist or not. No policy will ever be changed and no economic sector will ever crash because Tim Horton`s decided to do something like remove an ad. Man all of that sounded curmudgeonly. It`s beautiful outside. Go outside everyone! Stop listening to me get mad about #boycotttims

Friday, June 5, 2015

Blog #34: A Post About Nothing

You know, for the first time since I started doing these a month ago I cannot think of a topic where I can come up with three paragraphs to write. I am barely staying awake right now and so I think that's blocking up the creative juices. Do I write about being needed? No there's not really much there. I nod off into my keyboard for a moment before kicking myself to wake up again. Perhaps I can tell you about these blogs. Two things for your information.

The first is that I started them because I like writing and I needed to write more and giving myself time to write what I thought was interesting wasn't going to cut it any more. In that sense it has succeeded. May is the month with the most blog posts out of the last several years on my blog. It has also brought back some interesting things that used to happen when I blogged every day in high school. I go to visit a friend and start telling them about something and they say "Oh, I read your post about it". We usually end up talking about it in more detail but I feel like I'm giving all my stories away.

As far as advertising goes, I have been posting here every day (with one exception). I do not always advertise on Facebook and Twitter though. It is usually because I am less proud of the content or I am nervous about what people think. It still gets posted, but no one is told about it. Anyways, that's all I've got for today. I do not feel like I should advertise this post...


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Blog #33: The Race Track

A friend is in town for a course and we wanted to spend some time together. He suggested we go to the Woodbine Racetrack.
"It's cheaper than a movie, you can be there for longer, and you actually get to be social"
He was right. At a $2 minimum bet, you can be on six races, be there for four hours, and still have spent less money than a $14 movie ticket. Plus horse racing is a lot of waiting around with brief moments of excitement so there truly is lots of time to talk to each other. To top it all of, the landscaping at Woodbine is BEAUTIFUL. It just looks really good. Plus it's probably the largest swath of green space in the city that isn't a ravine. Definitely a good spot if you're looking to kill some time with friends.



As for the betting, it went about as well as my foray into Proline last year. Of the six races, my horses placed dead last in four. Now to be fair I had no idea what I was doing. I was betting on horses that had cool names (coolest name of the night: Honolululemon) but still. You'd think I'd pull one out eventually. I think it's for the best though. I love games and if the act of doing something is fun, I'll keep doing it over and over again. If I had actually won a bet, I'd probably still be there. Fortunately it was a bust so I can remain detached.

One thing I noticed while I was there is that it's easy to forget that the horses are animals at a track. They take on this mechanical quality in the way that the races are staged, but every now and then you realize that they are living creatures. In the last race, my horse was chasing the leader and almost passed it but then it started necking the first place horse near the finish line and it slowed up. Instead of pressing ahead with steel gaze, it was kind of all over the place. Just another reminder that a horse is an animal, and not a machine.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Blog #32: Olympic Champion of Grocery Shopping

The best thing that happened on Monday was my grocery shopping trip. Okay, we also visited a friend who was passing through Toronto but that was good in the sense that people are more important than groceries. This grocery trip was a triumphant experience. It started with the assembling of the grocery list which was a largely pain free exercise. It took us ten minutes to come up with one and it looked pretty good. Then I had to drive over and there was no traffic on the way over (it's a good thing I resolved to keep driving in the face of all of Toronto's shenanigans). When I arrived there was tons of parking. As I pulled my items I didn't run into anyone. When I got to the checkout there was no line up. My bill was fairly reasonable, and after all that I got home at a decent time. I left the grocery store feeling like I could conquer the rest of the day.

Then I proceeded to get very little done for the rest of the day. I did some good stuff. I read a commentary on Leviticus (which is full of really good things). I organized the fridge. I drank too much milk. But I didn't do any homework, and I didn't advance any further on the question of what to do next (other than continuing to pray and try to listen). The rest of the day did not line up with my gold medal performance at the grocery store.

But that's okay because I am willing to put aside all of those other things and simply marvel at how incredibly easy my trip to the grocery store was. It makes me think for a moment that I just may have figured out how to live in Toronto finally without having a meltdown. Though the rest of the day was crummy, I always had the morning to look back on. I could always thing of my gold medal in groceries.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Blog #31: Holes where poop comes from

On Sunday I took a drive to the storage locker to put away some things that I need to sell/throw out/give away later. It bothers me that we have a storage locker, but at the moment it's either that or become a full time kijiji wrangler and garbage dump visitor. If you judge me though, I'll accept that. I would. Anyways, that wasn't the point of this paragraph. I had to drive there. The storage locker, without traffic, is about twenty minutes away. It took me forty five minutes to get there this afternoon. I thought that it wouldn't be such a long drive since Sunday, but there were lane reductions, traffic jams, and the worst kind of drivers. People who run through an intersection on a red light or deliberately cut you off or honk at you for no apparent reason. By the time I got home two hours later, I was thinking to myself that I should just stay at home forever. Better to be at home alone and safe than to go outside and face such oppressive traffic and such self-centered drivers.

On Sunday I was playing Destiny. I recently obtained a headset which allows me to voice chat with others online, but I am hesitant to use it because I have been flamed for being bad at a given game. I've been told to uninstall or given comments of supreme disgust. As with most things on the internet, my approach is to avoid places where I might get yelled at so I just stopped using voice communication with strangers. I use it to talk to friends only. Better to be alone online and safe than to go outside and face such oppressive language and such self-centered players.

Except I don't want the worst kind of people to decide what I do and do not do. Sometimes I need to drive and go places and it's not fair if a bunch of asshole drivers intimidate me off the road. I don't have to respond in kind, but I also don't need to leave the road to make way for their self-centreed tactics. My lack of voice communication prevents me from planning with strangers I'm playing games with and also prevents me from making new friends to play games with. I'm only avoiding voice comms because a group of people choose to be assholes. That's dumb. I don't want them to get that much power over me. I would rather be yelled at and refuse to be intimidated than quit using a mic altogether. I don't want the behaviour of a select group of assholes to keep me away from good things. I don't think anyone else should either.