Friday, December 30, 2011

Occupy Soup Kitchen

Estimates for Occupy Wall Street alone vary wildly from hundreds up to 50,000. Moot actually as the specific numbers are unimportant, what is important is the global participation and duration of the protests. I feel safe in saying hundreds of thousands of protesters have made themselves present for some time holding signs and chanting. Also unimportant is the specific cause or lack of cause that was the catalyst for these gatherings.

What is interesting to note is the tremendous number of “man hours” that have been allocated to protesting and supporting a cause that at the highest level is discontent on the inequality of treatment to fellow humans on our earth.

Also, I trust I am safe to suggest that the demographics of these protesters is equally as diverse as the cause of the chants and placard slogans. From the homeless to labourers and trades people to doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs all took their place to improve the human condition.

Unlike my typical tendencies to do the math to make my point, a quick calculation of the number of worldwide protesters multiplied by the number of house spent in the mobs would result in a VERY large total of “man hours” dedicated to the cause.. Maybe in the millions?

What if these millions of man hours were allocated to actually improving the human condition??. Now THAT would be an earth changing protest. That huge (even for a short period of time) access to manpower would make change, and could possibly touch hundreds of thousands of the 99%ers, rather than standing idly by complaining about the 1%ers.

The possible incredible social impact of applying millions of man hours are way too numerous to even begin to compile a list of in a simple blog post. I encourage you to take a moment to consider how even a tiny sample of 500 protesters, for a single day applying their time to reach out to the less fortunate in your community; providing maintenance in homeless shelters, raising money for general charities, volunteering for youth groups, offering help to less fortunate.  Has a much better ring to it than taking these man hours to build makeshift tents and standing in circles debating what their actual cause is.

Listening to lawyers, accountants and physicians taking their place in front of news reporters microphones detailing their personal reasons and interpretation of the “occupy” protests.. leaves me to wonder, what if these valued professionals took that time instead to offer a day of pro bono work for the 99%’s who they claim are being down trodden.

The question, would these thousands of protestors, get as much attention to their cause(s) if they were diversified out into the communities, and not standing in impressive mobs and making awe inspiring photographs of their numbers in national newspapers? I feel a massive outcry of protesters  who actually putting their money where their mouth is would gather much more public support, than throngs of people standing around a burning barrel. And more important.. who cares if they get more “impact” in the press. Is the cause of the protest “impact” or is it to improve our world.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

That was stupid!... Let's do it again!!

"...I am going tell you all of the mistakes that I have made..."


Hindsight is 20/20 there is no disputing that, looking back in time presents us facts that are 100% accurate, and unchangeable.
As we enter a new year, boardrooms are full of executives working strategies and planning for new successes, and maybe even more timely, individuals begin planning New Year’s resolutions to make themselves better people and make their lives more successful.
Companies and people spend their time planning how to re-invent themselves, starting with a clean slate. Only to realize a year ago, they sat in identical meetings or self-reflection and find that their plans did not meet or even come close to expectations.
I suggest that a clean slate is a canvas destined for failure. Thousands of years of successes and failures have no place on a clean slate, and ignoring the opportunity to reference all of mans history is a self important ego trip bound for disappointment.
Let’s instead, start with a slate that is full of retrospection on successes, what DID go right, what DID work, and take the humbling approach on building planning on those items. Understanding of course that in every life or business, there are limitless areas to improve. But taking the time to analyse and dissect the successes is the buildings are fully proven building blocks to start constructing the new year. Repeating factors that result in successes obviously are a much better foundation than starting afresh with unproven, overambitious tactics.
Less critical than successes and certainly not as motivating to review are failures experienced. Once again dissecting failed projects down to the root cause can help in repeating poor outcomes.
I had a high school shop teacher who introduced himself on the first day and announced that for this semester he said, “I am going tell you all of the mistakes that I have made”. He continued on, that by us being taught all of the common mistakes made, we will not repeat them and will by default learn the correct methods. This profound teaching philosophy has been a value to me a good number of times.
Maybe trusting our perfect 20/20 hindsight is a much more trustworthy source in our efforts to improve ourselves and is significantly better than relying on good intentions, and  a completely random series of events that will affect our future. Until I can find a crystal ball that had impeccable accuracy, I continue to start every work planning meeting or personal improvement exercise... is with the simple question, “what went right last year and why”.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

There are 10 Types of People; those who understand binary and those who do not!!


"...far too often we judge these practices and beliefs with (lack of better phrasing) – stating such things as they are crazy, their whole culture is nuts!..." 

HUH? Ten types of people those who understand binary and those who do not? The grammar and sentence structure police coming to put me into handcuffs once and for all? How can there be a choice of TWO types of people (those who do and do not understand binary) yet I use a number of ten people. Obviously I am nuts and do not understand simple English and the most basic of comparison structures.

So to keep myself from being outcast as an idiot, and judged as mentally deficient, I will rephrase.

“There are two types of people, those who understand binary and those who do not”.. There we can relax now. I can be accepted and must be reasonably able to function in our society.

BUT, for those readers who do not understand binary, I will explain. Binary is a numbering system with a base of 2. Not what we have been raised and educated to count with, a numbering system with a base of 10. Our “normal” system, is based on counting in groups of 10’s


The number 4,758 is made up of

8 X 1’s =8
5 X 10’s =50
7 X 100’s =700
4 X 1000’s = 4,000
summed up - 4000+700+50+8  = 4,758

Whereas Binary is based on counting 2’s

The number 1110 is made up of

0 X 1’s  = 0
1 X 2’s  = 2
1 X 4’s  = 4
1 X 8’s  = 8
summed up - 8+4+2=14

So in binary 1110 is equivalent to the number 14 in our comfortable base 10 system.

If you don’t understand this... no worries. BUT you will have to trust me that the binary number 10 is actually the number 2 in our regular counting system.

NOW THAT WAS A RECORD CONFUSING PREAMBLE!! But it is a shining example of a case that although something is perfectly accurate and understandable, at first glance, or not bothering to taking time to understand – looks ridiculous and terribly incorrect.

So the statement beginning all of this - There are 10 Types of People; those who understand binary and those who do not! Actually by now having taken the time to learn and understand is PERFECTLY accurate. And looked at in the proper context (10 in binary = 2 in our daily numbering system). In fact , computer programmers (who are thoroughly educated in binary, as it is the most basic component of computer language) find this a very logical and accurate statement.

Thanks for your patience in reading this far.. my point, we exist in North America and observe foreign religious beliefs, political systems, economic structures, cultural traditions and family values. And  far too often we judge these practices and beliefs with (lack of better phrasing) – stating such things as they are crazy, their whole culture is nuts! We ask ourselves as we read headlines of religious wars, political upheaval, cultural traditions, “how can they even think this behaviour is acceptable or normal?”

I suggest that they, following their beliefs, are equally within their proper state of mind as we are, as we follow our beliefs. We may not understand, and from what we know, and from our perspective think they are all wacko. So, I too often have to remind myself as I hear of seemingly unnatural or terrible situation across the big pond, that other peoples do not wake up in the morning and say “ I am going to be nuts today” any more than myself waking up and saying same.

Does 10=2? Matter of fact it does. But only if we take time to be willing to adjust our perspective.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Twelve Days of Paradox...

"so we can have that Norman Rockwell moment of sitting in matching sweaters in the early hours of Christmas morning opening gift after gift."

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me....

I will fight the temptation to rework the words to this rather lengthy song to deliver my thoughts on this blog post. Probably easy to do, but been done too many times before.

The Christmas season, according to all of the carols, slogans, greeting cards.. well, everywhere, a time of joy and happiness. A time for friends and family to count down the days until Christmas Morning and a time of relaxation and festiveness. Good food, good friends, gathered around a fireplace, sipping wine, laughing and reciting old stories. Opening gifts, overjoyed with the feelings of generosity and the warmth of giving.

But something is afoot... the days leading up to the big day, and the days following, in my experience look very little like these “Hallmark” moments. And a little elf tells me that I may not be alone in finding the irony in the commercials on television of groups, all wearing Santa hats, sipping coffee and loving the season.

So why this paradox, why is the reality so different than is advertised? Lets take a quick peek at the realities of the Season.

Setting aside for the moment the festive season itself, shall we look at the Calendar. Christmas falls approximately at the end of the Calendar year, and also a pretty good start into the winter season. A high percentages of business run their fiscal year end with the calendar year end. At this time, many of us are forced to review the financial results from the year and complete planning for the New Year. A stressful and critical activity that may roll through our minds as we dance around the Christmas tree. Aslo with the start of the winter season, we are forced to financially invest in preparing our vehicles for the winter ahead, fill our furnace tanks with oil, pay fees for our children’s winter sports etc.

A direct result of Saint Nicks impending visit, is rampant spending of money, most of us don’t have to populate the space under that tree sitting in our, and our family and friends living rooms. Credit cards, and lines of credit get heated up, so we can have that Norman Rockwell moment of sitting in matching sweaters in the early hours of Christmas morning opening gift after gift.

I find fascination as the population en masse, lives through this season in denial, as I circle through department stores, desperate to find items on my list, that is crumpled and marred with dots of perspiration. Over the stores sound system, Christmas carols, songs of fun and excitement, and the faces of the throngs of shoppers tell a much different story.

The Santa hats, snowman adorned scarves, cannot hide the stress and worry of their works year end and next years financials, the bills piling up, unopened on their kitchen counters and full of anxiety and worry that when they finally reach the cashier with their carts overflowing with gifts, will the credit card machine say “accepted” or “declined”.

I am not a scrooge, and I do find joy in the season, but I am also with age becoming wiser, and no longer let straw that could break the camel’s back of all stressors affect me.. “Why does my life not look or feel like the pictures, verse, songs and visuals that fill this Christmas Season” I am coming to grips with the realities that from the middle of December until early in January.. we all must endure the Perfect Storm of stressors. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

He was not "Rain Man".. but still...!!

"When he was done, he politely stood up, carefully handed my guitar.. and in words I understood this time, said “thank you”. 

I had the pleasure a week ago, to volunteer to play guitar and sing for a group of 30-40 mentally challenged adults for a Christmas party celebration. I have enjoyed the experience of having a mentally handicapped adult in my extended family for over 20year, and have frequently attended a weekly “drop-in” gathering with her and a good number of these adults as they socialize, do crafts and play games.

I have on a handful of occasions brought along my guitar and participated in their evening, by providing some music, some tambourines, and shakers to share with the group.

I had a very special moment this year as I situated myself, with my chair, small amplifier, guitar, music stand and microphone. The “drop-in” participants were beginning to arrive at the party, and I sat tuning my guitar, and preparing for the evening.

It is not unusual, for this to draw the attention of a handful of the group, and several of them took positions beside me as I asked for “assistance” in plugging  in wires, setting out my music books etc. However one man seemed to be particularly interested in my guitar. Un-distracted by the growing group and energy in the room, he watched my every move with my guitar.

Although there is a wide scope of functionality and causes for the mental challenges of these adults ranging in age from 30-70years, this particular man was late 30ths, and suffered from Down’s Syndrome. He was blessed with very little physical disabilities, and mentally relates to others at a Grade 1 student level.  I expect that he would be unable to know the address of his house, or have the ability to read or write, and would struggle with some of the simplest of tasks that we all take for granted.

I struggled to understand his speech, and our communication settled down to more of a pointing and exchanging gestures, but for what words I could understand, and his pointing. He wanted to play my guitar. Although I am very comfortable working with mentally handicapped adults, I struggle with letting anyone touch my guitar. As is very common with mental disabilities, emotion is unfettered, no hiding behind educated politeness, shyness, reservations... an enjoyable trait they all share... honesty, complete and sincere honesty. They have no ability for the complicated process of hiding their feelings, or beating around the bush, or reining in desires.

It was clearly something that he truly wanted, to play with my guitar. I sat him down, and carefully handed him my guitar. I was very surprised, when, he spoke insistently (I could not understand), and he reached out, and took the guitar pick out of my hand. I nervously watched and he adjusted himself on the chair and positioned my guitar on his knee.

He started... he played.. he was not playing WITH my guitar, he was PLAYING my guitar. I stood in complete shock, as he strummed perfectly rhythmically through the series of chords... Am, C, G, D. I was slack jawed. I watched closely as he played, he was not simply mirroring something that had been taught to him over years, I watched his fingers on the strings as he formed chords. All musicians as they progress thought chord changes, make near mistakes as they start to form an incorrect chord, and without missing beats, make the minor corrections to finger placements. My friend fingers were performing in this exact way. He was playing and understanding the music that was filling the hall full of his peers.

As I stood in amazement, he without missing a beat, reached his feet forward to begin pulling the base of the microphone stand towards him, the microphone that was out of reach from him, slid closer until it was perfectly positioned in front of he. Thinking my bubble of awe might be broken slightly seeing now that he was going to sing. And he did begin singing. I almost had to reach for a chair myself, because his singing was beautiful. The unintelligible speech remained a curse for him, as the words he sang were not understandable.. but that did not matter.. he was in perfect key, he confidently offered a voice that was dynamic, energetic and a joy to listen to. I wish I knew the song he was singing and playing, so I could fill in the words in my mind. But that did not matter. It was a completely moving experience, one which I will never forget.

When he was done, he politely stood up, carefully handed my guitar.. and in words I understood this time, said “thank you”. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beware, There are a lot of butterflies flapping their wings in Africa!!

"When an outside force artificially influences this beautiful balance very, very bad thing things happen"

How can I summarize two years of study into a preamble paragraph? I can’t and should not.. but a necessary evil for me to get to my point is a VERY quick overview of a very fundamental concept is a must. Be patient, I will get to my point quickly.

In economics, there is a magical convergence on a simple graph, a graph that has one axis that plots Quantity, and the other axis Price/Cost. This graph is a basic Supply and Demand visual. As quantity (of available items changes and is plotted) is plotted in conjunction with a plotting of price/costs.. These two plotted lines will intersect at a very special position.  An extremely important position. The natural position where, when uninfluenced will indicate at a particular quantity what the correct price/cost will be. This position will always be the TRUE cost/unit.. and surprisingly enough is very logical to follow even without formal study in economics..  If fewer items (quantity) are available, the price naturally increases. If there is a glut of products available, then the price decreases. Yeah, Yeah.. Oversimplified.. but enough to continue with my thoughts.

So this magical convergence of supply and demand, how does this relate to our lives and fills our newspapers?  How is it blogworthy?

When an outside force artificially influences this beautiful balance very, very bad things happen.

A union decides that their members need a pay raise, and often result in a strike or arbitration. There is another outcome as well - a disruption of the economic balance! As the supply and demand graph offers the ideal price/unit in a commerce model it also offers perfection in Wages (cost) and Employment levels (quantity). Simply put, it determines what the economy is prepared to pay for a particular line of work. If a job required a certain degree of skill, wages will have to rise up to meet what those skilled workers are willing to work for (or obtain education and training to get those jobs). McDonalds can offer minimum wage, because there is a significant number of people willing to work at those wages. Engineers have much higher expectations of wages as there are many fewer of them thus their value is higher.

The market has established the appropriate wages for workers, but when the  union forces a pay raise, this has effectively messed with economics version of mother nature and comes with significant penalties. As the members are now being paid more than Supply and Demand dictates, it causes a waterfall effect. The employer who will  be competing against other companies bearing the weight of an over inflated staffing cost, and will be forced to reduce costs by laying off staff, or cutting spending, hinder growth etc. Far too many companies have been forced to close their doors as a 
result of tinkering with the laws of natural balance.

Unemployment, Stifled business growth, bankruptcies and financial collapse are all inevitable outcomes of these seemingly harmless union demands.

Union bashing? Absolutely not! However it stands as a simple example of a how a butterfly fluttering its wings in Africa may cause hurricane in Florida.

Slightly more complex examples of this tinkering surround us daily, Oil production and Marketing, Government economic bailouts, Interest rates, Crown corporations competing in the private sector, Auto Industry rebates, Social Security Programs, etc. It is an interesting exercise to apply a simple graph with two lines intersecting and foresee the inevitable outcome that awaits us.

When it comes election time, and candidates begin speaking of handing out subsidies, offering financial support for private ventures. Campaigning based on tax cuts/increases, increasing or decreasing spending. This is an opportune time to revisit the iron clad rules of supply and demand and we all need to understand how these policies will truly affect this natural balance. Even the smallest artificial influence in the convergent point of our graph, may cause a hurricane to our economic health.

Beware, There are a lot of butterflies flapping their wings in Africa

Thursday, December 15, 2011

MOVE!!.. Just move....

“Now, to consider something with identical principles, but much less politically correct"

You made your bed and now you have to sleep in it. How about if we apply some real world situations to this and see if it is as much of an agreed with adage. So, let’s try, you chose to purchase your home and now you have to deal with traffic noise. You live outside the city limits to pay fewer taxes, but you need to pay through the nose for access to city recreational services. You chose to live in desolation in the cold north, and you won’t have a maintainable industry to pay your bills. Much less palatable sounding I expect.

For my readers in Russia, Germany and even the US, you may not be privy to these more localized events. But I am sure that you will see similarities in your own area.

It was only months ago that a city project that (typically) ran over budget to a total cost of 2.3 Million dollars was completed. A drop in the taxpayers bucket I suppose. But the reason for this expenditure was to build a wall, a soundproof barrier, so a handful of residence did not have to hear traffic noise from a highway in the vicinity. I should not have to spoon-feed my readers as to why this is a head shaking embarrassment to the city. That is obvious. To stay focused to my making bed and sleeping in it... I am pretty sure, that anyone purchasing a home, or living in a home, was fully aware of a highway and related noise. I am sure that all open houses, and viewings, and closings were not done at 4:00am when there was not traffic. And for those already living in this area displeased with the noise.. I am equally as confident that there are no laws, no regulations, no bars on the windows, prohibiting them from looking for a home, in the serenity of the country, and moving. CHOICES... last I checked, in Canada, we have the freedom to live, do, and say whatever we so desire.  It does not seem to settle well in my stomach to see that 2.3 million dollars was paid, because a small handful of homeowners made the wrong choice; even worse, feel that the taxpayers are responsible for their happiness and serenity.

That was an easy one, and aside from the handful of home owners who have the tax payers paying for their poor decisions. I am pretty sure my email won’t be filled with complaints on my opinions.

Yet another, in your face, obvious case is that of the bedroom communities, in our city. Throngs of families build, buy homes outside of the city limits, and are pleased to offer up comparisons of their lower tax rates, expansive properties, low cost property purchases, and quality of life. I applaud them for making this sort of decision. All within driving distance to the amenities of a large city without the associated costs. A very good decision I say!

But what seems to be a shock, and outrage, is when they come to find out that the city tax system subsidised services such as Skating rinks, and swimming pools are not subsidized for them. How dare the city tax base, not spend their money keeping the costs down for their use as well. Shame on us, we should gleefully listen to their wise decision to pay less taxes, and understand that they have the same “rights” to our city subsidized services.

Now, to consider something with identical principles, but much less politically correct. A community, who have made the choice to live in a isolated region with no industry, no income, no services, and a hostile climate environment,. A choice they have made. Not necessarily a choice to move to this difficult environment, but a choice to remain in this environment. 

Although distasteful to some I am sure, culture and tradition at some point have to go out the window when it comes to survival and to stop a slow painful death from malnutrition, exposure and illness. The media attention, the genuine kindness of private industry, and government support is newsworthy and a good news story. It is warming to see the generosity of our communities and citizens coming to the aid of this group.

I am not naive to suggest a solution is an easy one.. But I am certain the temporary solutions that are being brought forward so this community can continue exist in this in-hospitable environment are not easy ones either. But considering that this community has chosen to endure these conditions, it is very difficult for me not to offer up my recommendation. MOVE! Move to a location that offers what any community requires; access to healthcare, education, running water, heat, adequate shelter. MOVE! Re-allocate the stop gap funding to help in mere survival, to re-location. Culture and tradition are not anchored on a particular acreage of frozen ground – it is based on community.  MOVE!, maintain your heritage in a location that lets you focus on your heritage, not focusing on trying to survive hypothermia in a non insulated shack.

The choices we all make as humans are our own to make, and we have a responsibility to live with all of the costs/benefits of these choices. I don’t feel our government budgets should be drained supporting those that have made decisions to set up home but are unwilling to live with the downsides of these decisions. So wherever you make your bed, and as you sleep in it.. Don’t demand that the government pay to make it full of serenity, warmth, luxurious and perfect.. That is your choice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Creating is Better than Dissecting

"...provides me insight that maybe information on creating something beautiful and practical serves a much better purpose on the internet than digging into topics that are already over thought..."

It’s time for an intermission, to stand up and give the ole noggin a break. No political ranting, no personal confessions, no community service, no cerebral diagnostics, and certainly no preaching!!
Now it’s time to eat crow. I began this blog to find an outlet to my right or left winged opinions and observations.  Surely items that would cause my readers to react, in protest or in support.. or even better to look at day to day situations in a different light. And I will take reward in the fact that I have achieved a small taste of this in the limited time I have spent typing away.
The mechanics behind a blog are extremely interesting. With a click of a button I can see traffic statistics; how many visitors, from what continent, right down to an hour by hour analysis. I assure my readers and subscribers, your privacy is protected, as I am unable to see specifics as to who my visitors are, I am only able to see numbers and continents and how my site was found. Also I am able to see the source of the referrals such as Facebook, Google, and other Blogs etc.
Why am I eating crow? My son was interested in my blogging and decided to set up his own blog. His interest and amazing skills at tying Salmon flies seemed to be a natural topic that may perk reader’s interest. So the inevitable question was aired last night. “Dad, so how many hits on your blog?”
I was proud to provide what I considered flattering numbers to him. Of course the internet community would be far more interested in the deep thoughts and analysis I shared with the world, than it would be in s step by step instruction on how to tie a “Blue Charm” Salmon fly. And of course the diversity of my thoughts in several controversial topics would draw readers from many different regions of interest, far more than a description and photographs of a fly vice holding a hook and feathers and thread.
I was wrong. Very wrong! As he is my son, and I am extremely proud that he has done a fantastic job with his very first post. His visitor statistics blew the doors off of mine.
Does this discourage me from continuing my brain dumping here??... not one little bit. What it does do is provides me insight that maybe information on creating something beautiful and practical serves a much better purpose on the internet than digging into topics that are already over thought. I believe this observation on human nature has changed my outlook on us more than public interest debates on CBC radio and in the newspapers. Thanks son!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You may want to Order this Disorder!!!

“.....there is a growing belief that minds fortunate enough to have ADHD are actually a step ahead in evolution to those “normal” linear thinking brains ..."

Here is a scenario...
A printing company, with a large staff, and fully equipped printing plant is faced with a client request. The client demands do not fit any printing process that is an exact fit for any of their vast assortment of equipment. In fact, no other company is set-up to meet the client’s specific demands.
The owner of the plant gathers all of the managers to meet in the boardroom to determine if they can fulfill the client’s needs. It is a very lucrative project, so all of the team gathered in the boardroom agree that they must find a way to manufacture the unusual request.
A full day is spent having each member of the team detailing a proposed solution, but without exception each solution is faced with a barrier that will not solve the full problem. Each manager with their specific background exercises their expertise to find a partial solution. The brainstorming continues until end of day when the owner begins to see that a hybrid of each one of these solutions, a combination of each individual solution forms a complete solution. And the project proceeds successfully and the company reaps the financial reward.

A new scenario with all of the same issues is approached differently.
The owner of the printing company enters into the office of an experienced sales representative. He has been in the industry for years and has spent many hours socializing, and nosing into everyone’s business in the plant. His office is a mess, scattered papers, dirty coffee cups, post it notes scatter everywhere. Unopened boxes and envelopes sit in a pile in the corner. His attire is less than polished, but his demeanour is forward and will talk your ear off if given the chance.
The owner details the manufacturing challenge to the sales rep and asks for help. Within the time that the owner finishes the description, the Sales rep (almost speaking before the challenge is fully detailed) offers the exact same solution that the boardroom of managers took a day to come up with.

Magic? A trick question? A riddle?
None of these. The sales rep is one of the lucky ones that have ADHD. Ironically it is more natural to use the phase; “Is afflicted with ADHD”, or “suffers from ADHD”. I suggest the exact opposite from these coined phrases. I stand by my belief that he is LUCKY to have ADHD.
A Physician offered me an excellent analogy as to (in simple terms) how an ADHD mind works.
                Think of the mind as a computer running Microsoft windows. A “normal” brain, will open a window, let’s say a Microsoft Word Document and start working on a document. It will chug away on this document until something else takes priority. Before starting another task, the brain, selects “save” and closes the document. Then proceeds to open another document and begin working on another task. And so on.
                An ADHD mind, faced with a task, opens Microsoft Word, and begins working away, until faced with a new task. However does not save and close that program, but instead just opens up a new document and begins working on the new task. Now a new task and the action is repeated. The brain now has three applications running at the exact same time, and in reality there can be dozens and dozens of these applications running concurrently. The brain leaps from one task to the other, essentially working on all of the tasks at the same time.  One task blends in with another, and the speed and frequency in which thoughts transfer from one process to another is almost immeasurable, to the point that all of the unrelated processed virtually become one ever growing process.

Understanding how a brain blessed with ADHD, you can look at the scenarios detailed in the start of this blog make sense. The salesmen instantly was able to “open” each one of the manufacturing process at the same time and with all of these processes running in parallel.. it was easy an natural to come up with an outside of the box solution. A true value to have on staff at any company.
The only reason that anyone with ADHD is unfortunate, is not the state of their mind, it is those around them that judge them because of the tangible signs that surround them. Extroverts, Slobs, Disorganized, Scatterbrained, Overfriendly, Hyperactive, addicts, forgetful etc.. Don’t give a gift of a day timer, PDA’s, Organizational aids.. They will never use them.. They can’t use them. They are not wired to take the time to sort out all of their plans, and thoughts.. as they never close these thoughts, so there is nothing to detail in writing or filling a calendar.  Give a gift of a television or a IPod for their bedroom.. so they can focus on something other than the barrage of thoughts racing through their heads, something to distract them so they can go to sleep, and start closing some of the “applications” in their heads.
As off the wall that this may seem, there is a growing belief that minds fortunate enough to have ADHD are actually a step ahead in evolution to those “normal” linear thinking brains. Existing in today’s world is much more complex than hunting and gathering. It is filled with chaos. A world filled with so many stimuli is a cake walk for a brain that can respond to all of this as a natural way of thinking.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Under the Knife

“As the time for my being under the knife approached, my need to have as much practical preparation became an obsession.”

A year or two ago, I sat across a desk from a Neurologist, as he spun his rather large computer monitor around to show me and explain the image that filled the screen. It was a large black and white high resolution image of an MRI that I had undergone the day prior.
As he pointed with his pen on the screen, with little build up, he indicated a mass on my spinal cord, the image clearing showed my vertebrae and my spinal cord that they surrounded. My spinal cord was white on the screen and the obvious abnormal growth was easy to see, even with untrained eye. My first impression of the “coolness” of the ability to see my inners so clearly was quickly replaced as the Doctor shared his thoughts on this tumour. “I can’t say exactly until we have a sample of this, but this rare location and type of growth is typically cancer”
The rest of the conversation was mechanical in tone; other views of this growth were displayed on the screen, top down, bottom up, front and back... Regardless of the fact that it was me that I was looking at I continued to be in awe of the technology. The end result was a referral to a neurosurgeon in Saint John, as it was without question the recommendation as I prepared to leave the Doctors office.. this tumour had to be removed.
My appointment in Saint John, with the surgeon, was a bit more stressful, but again, thankfully very mechanical in tone. The description of the surgery, the odds of my not surviving and even if I survived the operation the odds of my never walking again were bantered about.
This blog is not intended to be a detail of my procedure, nor my recovery and experience. It is the interesting observations that I found as I was left with the odds and awaited my surgery.
There is probably not a person out there that in some way has not had to spend some time with someone that is faced with the chance that their life may be unexpectedly shortened, and I do not suggest for a moment that my thoughts are consistent with theirs, but on the occasion that I have spoken to anyone facing similar situations, or their end of life is confirmed to be sooner than expected.
My thoughts during this time between diagnosis and treatment, was not filled with fear and sadness about potentially not living a long fulfilled life. They were filled with practical thoughts, and fears that I may not be able to provide support to those closest to me.
Financial concerns, work concerns, family and friend concerns occupied 99% of my thoughts. Only quick glancing emotional blows of the potential that I may not have opportunity to complete bucket list items existed. As the time for my being under the knife approached, my need to have as much practical preparation became an obsession. I did not fear the outcome... just feared that I had not thought of everything that I should have done to minimize the impact to those around me that relied on my input and/or support.
I was thankful of course for all of the well wishers that offered their support and worry, and the generosity of offers for me personally. I am fortunate that I did survive (obviously), and I am also fortunate to have had the opportunity to face this possibility of losing my life.
It changed me, but in context to this blog, it changed how I relate to those terminally ill, or those facing life altering situation. I used to feel sorry for these folks, worried how they lay in their hospital beds terrified of death, terrified of not seeing the next day, so saddened about their impending passing. Because if in any way they shared my thoughts, I feel their minds are full of practical items, the funeral plans, financial items, who will help fixing the home computer, who will know the secret of that special way you wiggle the key to get into the garage.. etc.
If I could have a do-over with my father’s passing, these are the questions that I would ask him, ask him things that would free him from his worry, assure him that these practical things will be taken care of.. for him to allow himself to spend his last days recollecting a life that he was proud of, not worrying if those that he supported will manage living after his death.
I am committed to longer say to those who are facing their mortality, “I am so sorry and everything will be fine”, I ask them “ is there anything weighing on you that I can take off your shoulders”... maybe I will get answers that will surprise me, and I can be a true help to them during a terrible time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It takes gold to win gold

"...But something terrible happens with so many of our children in sports.. something almost too horrible to mention. Some of them actually become pretty good at their sport..."   


As Canadian’s, every Olympic year, we engage in water cooler discussion about our dismay of poor medal results. More of what I can relate to, winter Olympics. How can we, as a country that is covered with snow and ice for so many months of the year suffer endless embarrassments with less than mediocre results. Yes there are high points and stars that gain media attention, but frequently we are forced to endure Canadian Sports broadcasters celebrating a result that would cause other countries athletes ending their careers and becoming water boys  and team mascots.
This is a topic very near and dear to my heart and my wallet. Those who know me personally have long grown tired of conversations that involve sports.. because it will only be moments into any conversation before the topic turns to money.
As a county that embraces fitness and good health for our children, our government spends millions on marketing same. Eat well, exercise, participate, and be active. I suspect that we as Canadians do a pretty good job at that with easy access to sports in elementary school levels. Although not free, generally within the financial means to have your child active in Hockey, Soccer, Football, Basketball and so on. Kudos to Canada for the wide variety of sports available and within reach at that age.
But something terrible happens with so many of our children in sports.. something almost too horrible to mention. Some of them actually become pretty good at their sport, some show real talent and begin to excel. This is when the organizers, government, community avert their eyes and hide.
The financial bleeding seems to begin as a small paper cut, before you know it, full fledged career ending arterial bleed.
To step back, and in the simplest of terms, it is a horrible thing to see that most possibly the best, most elite and skilled athletes are halted in their athletic careers before they even enter into their  teens. A time that they should be accelerating to the top of their field, they are relegated to watch on the sidelines, and return to their couches and play Xbox.
In order to take the leap from community based athletics, to the national field of play, regardless of the sport, tens of thousands of dollars are required annually. Travel, trainers, equipment, competitions no longer can be covered by a sub one hundred dollar bill sports registration fees.
So in Canada, sadly, the top qualification to represent our country is not the talent or commitment of our athletes, it is the bank balance that they have access to. How many Olympic podiums could be populated by athletes that never had the chance to “get out of the gate”. How many top potential athletes are playing Xbox at home instead of setting world records for no other reason than their family could not finance thousands of dollars needed.
I know, and expect notes responding to this that there are exceptions.. athletes from poor background rising to the top, and well heeled athletes reaching the top... I do not dispute that in any way. But for the handful of exceptions to this financial brick wall, I expect that there of thousands of our athletes that never make it beyond city leagues that their natural ability should have them as a household name as one of Canada’s best.
As I write this, I think of a particular athlete (NO, not my son). Who showed incredible promise, natural talent that made him stand out heads and tails above his competition. I true pleasure to watch compete. And at the age of 13-14, when the cost begin that slow climb to becoming out of reach. His parents were unable to meet the financial requirements. And he was forced to quit the sport. A true waste.
Surely our government offers assistance for the less than financially able athletes.. Hypocritically they do not. They pitter away millions and millions of dollars to appear committed to our national sports. Unfortunately, none of that filters down to where it will be truly effective.. The athletes. Advertisements, committees, bureaucrats, ridicules wasted dollars spent trying to convince the world we have the best athletes would not be required, if we supported our athletes, and let them stand on the podiums... let this speak for our programs. It would get the world’s attention, quicker than bureaucratic bull sh*t.
NOTE: As I was about to post this, I felt it necessary to state clearly that there are a number of athletes that do come from financially comfortable households that deserve every right to be at the top because they have the natural talent, work ethic and commitment to the sport. This blog is not to question this whatsoever. Simply to voice my thoughts on those that do not have the ability to meet the financial reaquirements.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Excuses are like A$$holes.. Everyone has one!

Excerpt -  “....Maybe success can be as simply to stop using excuses and accept and admit that they are uninterested in the hard work that is required to achieve it....”

I expect that this topic is in a dead heat with my thoughts on religion, with reactions from those who fall victim to my ranting. Both seem taboo, and unless one tows the accepted lines, you are misguided and / or doomed to spend eternity with a guy with rather red skin, horns and a pitch fork and sweltering heat.
I enjoy the heat, so I will enter into a sharing of my thoughts on “excuses”
Let’s start on the easy ones..  I have no time in day to day life for excuses for failure.. if you take the time.. it will only require  moments recollection to think of a conversation that you have had, and heard statements such as “I would have but (insert excuse here)..” or “I am sorry I could not have completed what you asked because (insert excuse here)” or “if it weren’t for (insert excuse here).. I would have been able to...”.. I think you get the idea, and I bet you can picture a recent conversation you may have been part of... or maybe these words were excepting from your mouth.
In existing in today’s world, a long list of reasons as to why we fail are exceptionally simple to draw from. BUT... in the end, regardless of the reason.. There was failure. And we own these failures. So I am a firm advocate of cleaning out the clutter and own the failures.. It is irrelevant in EVERY case as to why we fail. We fail. There is not a valid reason in the world for failure. Maybe a reader of this is sitting back and thinking bullshit!.. “I failed last week because my co-worker did not complete the proper paperwork so I was working with the wrong information.”  - a good reason to be incompetent right? In my opinion – NOPE.. I hear that and all I hear is “I failed, blah, blah, blah”
What a more efficient world we would live in if conversations were more precise and accurate..”I failed, but I know what happened and it won’t happen again”.
There is NOTHING wrong with screwing up, or taking the fall for someone else’s lack of brains.. OWN the issue, fix it, and don’t repeat it.. No one really cares why the mistake happens, or who the cause was. But they DO respect a person accepting ownership of an error and committing to fix it.. Very simple actually. Try it.

Well that was easy.. But my true issue is a bit more Macro in scale.
Daily, in the news, and in our worlds, we find situations where meathead’s commit more that mistakes, more than simple failures, or are burdens on the taxpayer populous in one way or another. We have jails overflowing, people living in the street, throngs of welfare recipients, who exist in this state based on long lists of excuses, and “reasons” for their failed existence.
The list of excuses is a taboo one, and the core of why we accept them.. they are terrible things that have been endured; broken homes, learning difficulties, abuse, poverty, alcohol and drug addictions, trauma, PTSD and so on.
Almost always more masked or discretely reported, but to edit out the pretty words. We hear so much of : “I abuse because I was abused as a child”, “I needed to break into that house, because my parents were alcoholics”, “I can’t work because I was thrown out of school”, “they live in poverty because that is all they know”, “I lost my job because I have PTSD”. I have NO question that they are all indeed facts, and are terrible things to overcome. But we live only once, and living, failing, being a burden under the umbrella of these excuses is unacceptable.
For those that have these hurdles to overcome, it is their responsibility (unfortunately) to have to work a little harder than others to find whatever they see as success. Maybe success can be as simply to stop using excuses and accept and admit that they are uninterested in the hard work that is required to achieve it. To walk by a homeless person holding a cup for money, the situation just oozes with a long story of excuses that has that person in that state. But, he/she came into this earth in the exact same way that ever other citizen in the world, but as they faced hurdles to overcome (some bigger than others) they chose not to overcome them with hard work, but adopted them as reasons for not succeeding.
Maybe next time you see or watch the news reporting a reduced sentence on a criminal because of a trouble childhood, and having all of the cards stacked against him.. flip the TV channel to look for “Special Olympics” or “Paralympics”.
How dare I suggest that an ADHD child of a broken home, alcohol ridden family, peer abuse, family member suicides, job losses, financial distress have to deal with all of these hurdles, and “buck up” and be a productive member of society. This child/adult cannot be expected to succeed.
I did.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Time to wade into FRACKING (Kinda)

Birds don't like fracking??? WTF!!
 Too easy to pick a side and carry a sign on this one.. lotsa crap floating around like that.. so not going to go into a PRO or ANTI tirade on this topic..

Interesting aside on this, which I suppose only re-enforces the content below.. but not a lot of PRO ranting out there is there.. No CUPE Paid bus transport to Pro-Fracking Rallies, Not a lot of Pro-Fracking signs littering the lawns of the supporters.
Maybe a good time to take a peek at tge definition of Silent Majority
Ok, back to the point at hand... In trying to understand the sides of this debate... I more often end up trying to be recruited by the Anti side.. and seems the core of there beef is that "the government is not addressing our concerns.. they have not answered any of our experts questions, they are in cahoots with big business, there silence is obvious a result of them hiding something."

THIS.. is the base of this blog... why is the Government not addressing the questions and concerns of the Anti-Fracking mob...

My thoughts:
A governments role is not to "justify" every policy, decision, or action... the power to manage the province is provided by the voters.. and if they publicly negotiated every tough decision, that would make them completely ineffective. Typically the quiet majority do not picket in the streets in support of a government policy.. so if the government wavered to every protesting group (Be it abortion, EI benefits, Fiscal Restraint, Fracking, etc) - then the point of having a government would be moot.. and the province would end up being directed by the vocal minority on every policy..

If one happens to support of a movement, I am sure it is frustrating that the government does not defend their position on it.. BUT  if you shared support with the government on a policy and they flipped the policy because of a group of people carrying signs - you would be irate.. (the old can't have your fraking and eat it too story)
The government fighting back with their own propaganda would erode their strength, effectiveness, and confidence of the population The fact that they (as a representative of the public - and voted to be so) have decided to go forward with this.. it is all they need to say.. as representatives of us, they have done the investigation, studies, cost/benefit analysis and so on.. what else do they need to say.

I can only imagine a large, successful business, employing thousands.. deciding it course of business, based on a small group of their employees down in the shipping department.. I doubt that they would remain in business very long.

So.. I am pretty indifferent on the Pro/Anti thing... but I am enjoying watching yet another minority movement in a state of absolute awe, because the Government has not dropped everything to respond to their placards, yard signs, and dropped leaflets from airplanes (Ok, maybe they are not doing that yet)

Monday, December 5, 2011


I occasionally have the need to jump up on my soapbox and express a few thoughts. Even worse now that my radio station of choice for my daily commutes is CBC.  (I realized that sentence has just stopped 95% of the readers of this in their tracks and they are back to look at status updates.)
For those still reading, I was enjoying an interview this morning with three high school students and their commitment to the Anti-Bullying campaign. Of course I am very happy of the overall awareness that Anti-Bullying has found in our schools.T- Shirts, Rallies, Posters, Empowered Educators, Peer Groups.. All something that is long overdue, and certainly effective. So.... I trust that any comments below are not in any way controversial.
Growing up in an environment that bullying was not even really a word, it was more of a regular school routine, and I’m sure a lot of blank looks would result from educators, administrators, and god forbid peers with the mere mention of being mentally or physically tortured during and after the school day. Lunch hours, recesses, bus waits were more a game of hide and seek from those handing about this abuse. And not going to school, or feigning illness, I bet, were more often a result of trying to avoid this abuse than it was to try to avoid a test or handing in homework. But I am sure we are all aware of these going on from K-12.
So now in the new world of Anti-Bully and the great steps being taken, what on earth is there to write about other than a congratulatory note? It struck me as they interviewed these three high school students on CBC, and my contact with people that Bullying still exists.
My observation, or interpretation of more than just this one interview.. is that a lot of the peer organizing groups are high in percentage of victims of this  situation themselves. And educators and guidance counsellors and even parents are outside of the true culture of teens. In the mind of a bully, will they stop their behaviour towards a victim, because a teacher does not condone it? Will they stop because a group of their victims protest? I am sure the teenage mentality has not changed THAT much since I was in school. I reiterate – these programs are all critical, and proving to be somewhat effective.
A complete vanishing of Bullying.. Never I am sure.. the world remains full of insecure, low IQ, self worthless teens that can only find acceptance by being a bully.. so possibly addressing these mental deficiencies within them will find some effectiveness. Finding groups of teens that have confidence, self worth, and social skills to get behind this effort I see is critical.. so who are these untapped anti-bullying resources?
Athletes, Team Athletes. Hockey, Football, Baseball, Soccer, etc.. Yeah sure, get the Jocks to fix bullying. And yes, I expect that some of these jocks may be perpetrators as well. But a commitment from coaches, and buy in from the athletes..might just begin to turn the tide that a weak minded Bully, may begin to see that an attempt to build their own self esteem by taking someone else’s, will find them self on an island.. Alienated from all peers.. it would not take to many incidences to a soft brained teen to bully, then see that it only lowers his “status” in  school pecking order.
Victims, in addition to reporting abuse to peer groups, administrators etc.. are directly supported by the Athletic Community.. I have been involved in enough team sports to KNOW that the brother/sisterhood within a athletic group is a strong tie, and to be able to direct that significant bond towards a non-athletic goal would be very successful.
Up on my soapbox here, I am not educated enough to know the stats on what percentage of kids are bullied, are out how many out of a thousand have to suffer through this. And I don’t know the number of kids that are in athletic teams.. But I can only guess that working to align a student afraid to go to school with a group of kids that have a strongly developed peer support system in place (a team is not a team without this necessary support system) seems a natural fit.
It would not take long for a bully who is abusing a teen with this large peer support group, to be brought out in the open, and publicly be put under scrutiny of a significant group of peers. I doubt the bully would find much personal reward in this alienation. And maybe find this further blow to their already weak minds, not worth it, and prefer not to bully any further.