Scared Of My Own Blog Posts

Just a few minutes ago, I finished writing a post about my recent difficulties with some of my training classes. I posted it on Facebook and then a minute later, I deleted it. It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately which is why I wrote about it, but putting it on Facebook made me very uncomfortable. Why?

Well, there was a time in my life where I posted a LOT of things on this blog. Some of it was probably inappropriate to be on a public blog, but most of it was just my own ramblings about things going on in my own life.

However, all cards on the table, a single blog post once cost me a job. Since then, I made the conscious decision to keep pretty much anything about my work off of my blog. I didn’t want to have history repeat itself.

Since then, I have been pretty quiet about much of the specifics of what goes on where I work. Anytime I would write a post that would have anything related to work on it, I’d re-write it so that work wasn’t included. But once in awhile I’d make a reference to something but always in good taste and never breaking any rules.

So I wrote that article about my training issues because it’s something that was really bothering me. It’s something I wanted to write about and get out of my system. I read that post over and over again until I was sure that it was ok. It doesn’t talk about any of my specific clients, or even places that I was at. It doesn’t name specific individuals or companies that I was at. It doesn’t contain anything proprietary or confidential that would break any company policies. It does talk about the technologies that I teach about but none of those are proprietary and can be found easily through a quick Google search.

Everything about that post is purely my own thoughts and feelings and expresses them in a pretty clear way, without violating any confidentiality agreements.

So why is it that I am so paranoid about posting a story like that on Facebook?

I know I haven’t done anything wrong and I know I haven’t broken any rules. But I guess even things from so far back in your past still stick with you. There must still be a part of me that’s paranoid about what the wrong person would see in a post like that.

I want to be able to share some of the stuff I post on here on Facebook since many of my FB friends don’t visit my blog (and rightly so since I don’t post here a lot). But it is a place I can write about things on my mind and I know I haven’t written anything here that crosses any lines as far as my work is concerned.

Gotta find a way to get over it…

Categories: Flashbacks | Leave a comment

Training Those Who Shouldn’t Be Trained


So, I know some people ask me what it is I do and I always reply that I’m a “Technical Training Consultant”. I usually then add that I train IT or programmers technical aspects of software for law firms. I usually don’t get into much more detail than that because honestly, most people don’t care.

But, in order to set a bit of context around this post, this is what I typically teach to folks in my classes:


The code you see above is known as WordML. Those 11 lines of code actually produce this:

Hello, world!

And in all fairness, the code typically would look closer to this:


This blurb combines WordML with XSLT. The Hello line here pulls in information from a data file formatted in something called XML. That XML file typically contains information regarding an invoice from a law firm. The XSLT line also uses XPath to point to a specific field or set of fields in the XML data which needs to be rendered in WordML so that Microsoft Word can understand it.

Sufficiently confused?

Now, before I go any further, I teach other things as well. But generally speaking, when you see that I’m on the road or traveling somewhere, I’m generally teaching what I’ve put above just in a LOT more detail, and doing it over 4-5 days. The code I wrote above is very basic. We do a LOT more complicated things in those 4-5 days.

Without sounding like I’m being a bit arrogant, I’m good at what I do. In fact, I’m really good at what I do. Add to that the fact that I actually love what I do, my boss is awesome, my department is awesome, and the company I work for is amazing, I count myself extremely lucky to be where I’m at.

So all of that being said, the last few months have been kind of brutal. This week has been such a huge reward for me as it’s been an awesome group in my class but they have been the exception and not the rule lately. To give you more of an idea of what I’ve been experiencing over the last few months, let me use an English teacher analogy.

Imagine you are an English teacher. You have been teaching English all your life and know the language, and literature back and forth. You’ve read the great poets, and many other great authors and have studied them at great length.

Now, for most of your career, you’ve done part time teaching work in high schools and some university work. Generally speaking, you’ve typically been hired by educational institutions to teach Shakespeare’s poetry to students as you consider that to be your specialty. You can teach anything about English, but Shakespeare is really your specialty.

In high schools, colleges, and universities, your classes do very well and really enjoy being taught by you. You receive many accolades and truly enjoy your job.

You receive a new offer to teach a 5 day Shakespeare class to a private school in your local community. All is settled and arranged and you show up on the first day ready and eager. You meet Mary who you were hired by and she says they are very excited about class. The students roll into class with big smiles and seem quite happy and eager to learn. You then introduce yourself, give a little bit of history of what you’ve done, and then ask the students to introduce themselves.

The students turn and look at you in confusion. They mumble some words to each other but you can’t hear what they are saying. Eventually, Mary stands up. Mary tells you she’s the only one in the class that speaks or understands English. Her language skills are not bad but not great either. Everyone else in the class can only understand a handful of words in English, and can’t speak it either. No one has ever heard of Shakespeare and they thought they were taking a completely different type of class.

The students are not allowed to leave and neither are you. You must deliver the class as best as you can and try to make them understand. Frustrated, you begin the class.

During the afternoon, you get Mary to ask the class what some of their most memorable poems are. She looks confused, but asks the question in her native language to the other students and they all look as confused as her. She turns back to you and says “What’s a poem? I’ve never heard of that before.”

You realize that you’re teaching an English class about Shakespeare and his poetry to people who don’t understand English and they don’t even know what a poem is.

By the time lunchtime comes on day 2, it’s very clear that no one in the class is getting much of anything. Mary is getting some of it but not enough to really say she’s learning anything. You speak to Mary about how the class is not moving along and that you were told that it was English people in the class so why are non-English people there. She explains that after she spoke to you, she decided it would be ok to put the non-English people in the class because they really should learn Shakespeare. You explain that you will not be able to cover all of the material, and what you do cover will be done very slowly. She happily agrees and you move on.

The end of the week comes and the class thanks you for your work. Mary is very happy with what you have done and thanks you herself. You pack up, and head home and hope next week you’re teaching to people who understand English, and know what a poem is.

This has been my life for the last few months. And you can imagine that if you were the teacher in that story, how incredibly frustrating it is, and how quickly your patience would wear thin trying to deal with that. Add to that the fact that I am not teaching English. I’m teaching programming like what I showed you earlier.

I have found myself more exhausted after classes than I have ever been in my life. It is extremely draining to try and be patient and understanding while still trying to get the material across.

There’s a multitude of reasons why it seems to be happening more so lately than before. I’ve expressed my concerns with my manager and she’s been very good at doing her best to try and prevent this kind of thing from happening again. I am hoping the future is going to be better, but when you go through batches of classes where it’s so much more draining, it can get to be a bit much after awhile.

Another thing I should add is that it’s not the students themselves either. To continue with the analogy, imagine that those students in the English class are engineers. They can design the most sophisticated pieces of technology in the world, but when it comes to English, and poetry for that matter, it’s just “not their thing”. It’s not that they are not intelligent or capable, it’s just not something they are going to “get”.

It’s like me and cars. I have no clue how cars work, how to put them together, or fix them, or do anything other than drive the car, and put gas in it. I can jump start a car and put washer fluid in it, and in a pinch I might be able to change a tire. But do an oil change, or any kind of actual repair: forget it. It’s just not something I “get”. I’m not stupid or unintelligent. It’s just not me.

Also, as a teacher, it’s your job to get the students to understand a concept so they can take that concept and use it. It’s a lot harder on the head to constantly be thinking about a 100 different ways to explain something so that someone who doesn’t get it, gets it. I have my stock methods of explaining things and to the right people, they work every time. But for the wrong people, you really have to think extra hard about how to explain a complex subject in a much simpler fashion. I enjoy being challenged, but at the same time, you don’t want to be challenged on every single thing you’re trying to get across.

Thankfully, this week is my last week of full on training for awhile and I have 3 fantastic students who are blowing through the material at a regular pace. I even told them I was so happy to have them after having had some of my previous classes the last few months.

After feeling so frustrated, there was a part of me that was seriously considering leaving the training world completely. I love teaching and it’s something I am good at, but after awhile a person’s patience dries away and it gets harder and harder to keep being polite. Thankfully, my most recent client has rejuvenated me and I’m feeling much better about the future.

Let’s see what comes next.

Categories: Rants, Tech Stuff, Travel | Leave a comment

A Trip Back To 1985

I’m going to tell you a story. I won’t lie. This is not going to be a short one. This is the story of how my life took a huge change and put me where I needed to be. It happened 30 years ago in 1985 and just a a couple of weeks ago, I really had some serious flashbacks.

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta. My earliest memories are of playing in my front yard in a subdivision of Edmonton called Beverly. I have vivid memories of walking to and from school, playing in the park, playing with my cat, going to birthday parties, and even being kissed by the girl next door.

When I was 7, my parents moved us to another part of the city called Hermitage. I changed schools, friends, home, and everything but it was still in the same city I knew as home. I have even more vivid memories of that time in my life. Playing street hockey in the parking lot, eating ice cream with friends, playing tabletop hockey with my mom, Atari video games, the Edmonton Oilers, the best teacher I ever had, and so many more things that I just don’t have the space to write them all out.

These are all part of the first 11.5 years of my life. It’s a part of my life I don’t tend to think about very often mainly because in some ways, it feels like it was another life. I’m sure we all have parts of our lives that seem so far removed from where we are now that it’s like they were a dream or something. My life in Edmonton is very much like that. Seems very much like a dream that’s slowly fading over time.

In the summer of 1985, my parents had been split up for awhile and I had been living with mom. She decided to move us to Moncton, NB; her home town. I had just gone through a major trauma of my own dealing with my newly discovered Thyroid condition and all of the things that went along with that. But mom picked us up, and moved us across the country. I left my home town, my friends, my hockey team, and everything I had ever known in my life. It was all gone when we got on the plane and left. The only thing that I really had left in Edmonton other than my memories of the place, was my dad. He was still there.

I didn’t get back to Edmonton until 1994, 9 years later. By that time, my dad was unrecognizable, and Edmonton seemed like such a different place. I visited again in 1997, and then again in 2003, 2006, and 2008. My dad died in 2010.

I knew that I would be returning to Edmonton this September for work. I knew it was going to be weird, but I had no idea how weird and emotional it was going to actually be. This was the first time I would visit this place without my dad being there. Everytime I had come back there I always had my dad to go back to. It was somehow tied to my past and part of my life there, but with him gone, it seemed that connection was gone. Yes, I do have a few relatives there (uncles, aunts, even a half-sister) but my biggest connection to that place was my dad.

I landed in Edmonton, got my rental car, and the first thing I did was go visit the places I used to live and hang out in. I even went by my dad’s old place. It was kind of neat to see these places again but nothing really jumped out at me. That was until my last day there.


I decided to go to a park near where I used to live. I spent a little time in there but then decided I really wanted to go back to the neighbourhood I lived in and sort of re-trace my steps as a kid. I have no idea why I felt compelled to do this, but over the few days I was in Edmonton, it kept feeling more and more like this was likely to be my last time there and if I ever wanted to do anything, I needed to do it now.

The animation you see above starts at 389 Hooper Cres, Edmonton, Alberta. Most of my childhood memories come from this place. This was the home I lived in from grades 3-6. I parked the car in front of the houses, and went for a walk. I stood in the parking lot and stared around and just soaked it in. My mind was flooded with images of kids playing hockey, the ice cream bike going in and out of the area, and a thousand other images that would be meaningless to anyone else. I then stood about 5 feet or so from the door of the place I used to live. The black mailbox with 389 on it just stared at me. Again, more images of the past flooding to the forefront. From ghosts in my kitchen, to watching the hockey game in the dark, to memories of me hoping to see the pretty girl across the road from my kitchen window.

I then walked in between the two sets of homes, and down the path I used to take to school every day. I walked up the hill and into the middle of a big field just beside the old school I used to go to. The entire time I walked, I just had so many childhood memories coming back to me. I stood in the middle of this big field of green grass and remembered watching kids play ice hockey in a homemade rink in the middle of the field. I remembered my mom and I setting off model rockets and wondering where they were going to land. As I took a few more steps towards my old school, the tears started to come.

I stood there, with no one around to see how ridiculous I looked, and I balled uncontrollably. Not misty eyed like you get from a sappy movie or a feel good song. I’m talking uncontrollable, pure crying. I cried and cried for a few minutes and had no idea where it was all coming from. I shook my head and turned around and looked at the school. I walked over to the yellow doors and stared at the brick wall and remembered so many days of losing so many hockey cards to some stupid game where we threw them against the wall.

I walked around front, took a few pictures, smiled a bit as I peeked inside, then went back to rear of the building and just stared for a minute. In that moment, I realized that it had actually been 30 years since I left Edmonton. And in that moment, I also remembered the face of the last person I ever saw at the school; Mr. Schlotter.

To keep it short, this was a great guy. My all time favourite teacher and someone I will never, ever forget. I had a memory of him and I talking about some computer thing I wanted and then saying goodbye. Standing there behind the school, I got misty eyed this time, and with no around, I smiled at the school and said “Goodbye Mr. Schlotter”.

I walked back to my car, started it up, and drove away. I do not expect to return there.

I repeated this same kind of experience when I went to my other neighbourhood. I walked the old way to my other old school, wandered around, and had plenty of memory flashes but this time it wasn’t as emotional. I think whatever I was feeling came out in that field near Overlander’s School and I was truly ready to go.

I visited a couple of other places I knew as a kid, then headed to the airport and couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Unless something major changes in my life, or work sends me back there, I do not expect to ever return to Edmonton. I think that’s why standing in that field was so emotional.

I knew it was going to be weird not seeing my dad. But what I didn’t expect was to have so much emotion from my past bubble to the surface when seeing these places. Sitting here writing this, I’m trying in my mind to think of the best explanation as to why it was really so emotional for me. The only thing that comes to mind is the fact that there is a part of me that’s always going to be in the place because I was there for 11 years. That’s part of my history and part of what I was as a child. When you don’t think about something, it’s not that it’s forgotten. It’s just buried among all of the other things.

I’ve had so much happen to me in that 30 year time period that most of what I experienced in Edmonton never comes up any more. When I talk about the past now, it’s usually high school, college, my VAJ/Rounded Edges years, IRC days, Greco Days, IBM, Norampac, and countless other things I’ve experienced since moving away from that place.

Even though I had returned multiple times since I left, this one was very different because it really did have a sense of finality to it. In a strange way, it’s almost like saying goodbye to my dad again, but also saying goodbye to that entire part of my life. I’ll never forget that place, but it very much felt like I was really saying goodbye to everything that was there regardless of how long ago it was.

Then… I heard this song on the airplane coming back from London a few days ago. I downloaded it and have listened to it a bunch of times and it just seems to be sticking to me. I Lived by OneRepublic. It’s a really nice song and has a really great message about making life what it can be. I think it’s striking a chord with me right now as I’ve got a lot of things floating around in my head as a result of my recent travels.

Really thinking about standing in the field and how I felt, I think part of it was the fact that my dad is really gone. I think another part of it is the realization that my mom took me away from anything and everything I had known in my life and I don’t know if I ever really processed that. My first few years in NB were not easy. In fact, junior high at Queen E was pure hell. I’ve written about that before but the context is a bit different now. After leaving everything in Edmonton, Queen E was just an awful place for me to be for those three years. The only thing that made grade 8 & 9 bearable was my good friend J.C. and a beautiful, strawberry blonde girl I couldn’t stop talking about.

Sidetracked…. the point I was trying to get at was that maybe there was a part of me that was still mad at mom for taking me away from all of that. Don’t get me wrong. My life turned out exactly as it should. I am where I am supposed to be. But like all people, sometimes you just don’t let things go and then they stick in your head somewhere and you don’t even realize it. Before you know it, there’s a lot up there that you don’t even know about or understand until you’re put in a situation where it all comes out.

So now, if my kids ask about where I grew up, I can tell them all the stories they want, but I don’t really have a need to go back again.

Thanks Edmonton. It was nice knowing you.

Categories: Flashbacks, Friends & Family, Travel | 1 Comment

The Hat-Trick of Faith No More Concerts

Two nights ago I saw Faith No More play live at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. This is the third time I have seen them (Toronto in 1995, LA in 2010) and each time just keeps getting better and better.

Before I left, I posted this on Twitter:

Then I went to the show, had my mind blown, and ended the night with this:

To say the entire experience was amazing would be underselling it. But for me, there’s a whole lot more going on here than what most people may realize.

If you go back read item #6 from “Things you didn’t know about me“, you’ll learn that I’ve had a real affinity for Faith No More, and Mike Patton. As a kid, I idolized that guy. This was the guy I looked up to and emulated more than anything else in my teenage and college years. As time passed, obviously that changed but my admiration for the man, and how he helped shape me in some way has never, and will never go away.

So as an adult, the chance to meet the person whom you saw as your hero or idol as a child is kind of a big deal. Yes, when it comes to Faith No More, and Mike Patton, I am clearly in the fanboy camp and am perfectly fine with that.

When I left Moncton on Friday afternoon, I packed my 7” picture disc that I bought back in the early 90s in hopes that maybe I could get someone to sign it. I really wanted to get all 5 guys to sign it but I knew that it was a slim chance. But a slim chance is still a chance.

When I arrived at the coliseum on Friday night, I walked around to try and find the tour bus and sure enough, there they were. I knew when the show was over, I’d be coming back there to see if I could get a chance at a few signatures.

The show ended at 10:30. I picked up some merchandise I had pre-purchased then headed outside. After only about 30 minutes or so, Mike Bordin (Puffy) came out and signed a bunch of stuff and took pictures. He was a real nice guy and said he couldn’t stay out too long because he was the one BBQ’ing for the crew that night and had to go make some food. He signed my album. That was one down. Jon Hudson the guitar player followed and he signed as well. In fact, I told him that me and Gary had met him and Puffy in LA back in 2010 and he actually remembered us. I was blown away.

Not too long after, Roddy the keyboard player came out and did his round with the fans with Billy the bass player following suit shortly thereafter.

In talking to these guys, it was VERY apparent how nice and friendly they were. Taking photos, cracking jokes, and generally just being real great people. It was really awesome to see how as much as these guys are adored by their fans, it hasn’t gone to their head. It was awesome just getting a chance to talk to them.

Eventually, each of them left and the crowd that had gathered by the buses began to wait to see if Mike Patton would make an appearance.

A lot of people said he was actually really shy and didn’t like talking to fans because it made him nervous. Some said he was just a dick and didn’t like signing autographs. And others were just getting impatient waiting. The entire time I stood there, I kept a positive attitude and just kept telling me that these guys are real people too. They deserve to rest after a hell of a show.

Sometime around 1am, the crowd had thinned considerably. A bunch of people were going around the bus to the other side for something that was going on. Since there was so few people where I was at, I decided to see what the fuss was all about. I got to the other side of the tour bus and found this:

The entire band was literally just hanging out at the back of the venue, drinking beer, eating food, and just being themselves. It was truly an interesting view into the world of these guys outside of being on stage.

All five guys (Mike Patton included) were there, chatting with their friends and family, and just enjoying each other’s company. The fans were separated from the BBQ group by a small fence but for the most part, people were very considerate and just stayed quiet, leaving them alone.

Billy (bass player) came over to talk to the fans and even said he felt weird eating in front of everyone but no one said a thing. We were all just happy to be there. Despite not being on the “other” side of the fence, there was a part of me that kind of felt like I was at the party too. One of the techs even came around with a plate of steak Puffy had made and gave the fans some food. I was completely blown away at how nice and friendly these people were being. They didn’t need to tolerate a bunch of fanboys hanging outside their party, but they were fine with it and even came over and talked to us occasionally.

Sometime closer to say 1:30am or so, a bunch of us heard security say the bus drivers had arrived and shortly thereafter, the buses started up. We knew the end was near. Everyone there who had been waiting was waiting on Patton as the rest of the band had already signed stuff and taken photos. It was at this point, some people started to think he was just being a dick by not coming over. I stood at the fence, record in hand, and patiently waited to see what would happen.


After everyone but Patton and three others had left, he said his goodbyes to them and then some other guy came over to him and I’m guessing basically told him he had to leave. He then walked over to the fence and said something like “I couldn’t make you guys think I was just being a dick not coming over here”. He smiled, took photos, signed stuff, and was very chatty with everyone there. One fan told Mike that his family was Italian and that he hadn’t learned it yet, and Mike got all serious telling him about learning Italian. He wasn’t condescending but just real serious for a moment. Shook the guy’s hand then went on to take crazy selfie pictures with pretty much everyone there. I handed him my record, thanked him for a great show, and he signed it. I stood there, kind of speechless and just watched as this guy I had admired for so many years was chatting with everyone just like a normal guy.

I know that sounds kind of silly as they are just normal people like you and me, but to see him, and the other guys, in this setting, it truly put things into perspective.

I stuck around until he left and said goodbye. I waved to him as he left and he waved back. I smiled, turned around, and headed back to the hotel.

I got all five band members to sign my record, and I got to meet my childhood hero. How could it get any better than that?

When it comes to bucket list items, this was a very personal one that I had been waiting to cross off my list for a long time. Let me tell you, it’s one I won’t forget anytime soon.

As for the concert itself, AMAZING! The band was in top form playing a lot of oldies and new ones. A lot of stuff from Angel Dust, and they even kicked the show off with The Real Thing which blew my mind. I almost started crying when I heard that song because it really brought back a lot of memories.

They were talking about the fact that Van Halen was in town and asked anyone if they were Van Halen fans. This garnered a bit of a boofest from the crowd and the keyboardist started playing Jump which got a good laugh from the crowd. Shortly thereafter, they went into Midlife Crisis with a nice little Jump interlude:

They did a typical encore then came back and Patton told the audience that “We only have 5 minutes left” and broke into We Care A Lot.

Combine a great show with a great after-show experience, this tops my list of concerts and will likely never get bumped from that position. Unless I ever get to go backstage and hang out with the guys.


The Real Thing
Be Aggressive
Everything’s Ruined
Black Friday
Midlife Crisis
Cone of Shame
Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Separation Anxiety
Ashes to Ashes
— First Encore
I Started A Joke
— Second Encore
We Care A Lot


Categories: Concerts | 2 Comments

The Calm Before The Storm

It’s 9:54pm. The kids are asleep. Tamara is in Fredericton until late. And here I am sitting in my office thinking about what is about to transpire over the course of the next few days, and then Saturday.

In August of 2013, me and my friend Ken began minor discussions about hosting our own geocaching “mega” event. For those who haven’t seen my barrage of Facebook posts over the last few months, a mega event is one that has 500 or more attendees. For the one we are doing, it’s basically a geocaching trade show.

Vendors, games, kids activities, educational seminars, and a ton of other stuff are all going to go down on August 1st, 2015 at the Moncton Wesleyan. Me and Tamara will be there at 7am and the doors open at 9am for paid registrants. Once those doors open, the insanity will begin.

So right now, I’m enjoying the quiet time in the house. I bought some malleable board to pin some maps to for the event, but I am as far from crafty as can be and have no good way to put a banner on the top to indicate what it is. I printed off a bunch of words in big letters and draped them over the top of the sign. Hopefully Tamara can make it look nicer than I did cuz God only knows it looks crappy right now.

The mega is kind of a big deal. I know most of the people I know could care less about geocaching, but it has become a big part of my life. This event is the biggest thing I have ever had a major hand in putting together. Between this mega and last year’s Amazing Race stuff, there seems to be big things all around.

To put it into perspective, people from Ontario, Quebec, BC, Alberta, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, and possibly Manitoba are to be in attendance. We’ve got registrations from people in Boston, New York City, and I think I saw some from California possibly or somewhere in Texas too I think. And lastly, we’ve got folks from Germany, Finland, and I think the Netherlands coming to this event. Ya, really. That far away to come to Moncton all of all places to celebrate using multi-million dollar equipment to find Tupperware and film canisters in the woods. Sounds kind of crazy doesn’t it?

But at the same time, right now, there’s a sort of inner peace I am experiencing. There are SO many things that have gone into the planning of this event. Two years in the making in some regards. 18 months of planning. But as it was mentioned today at our first “satellite event”, now it’s all about the execution. We planned it well. Now we need to execute it well.

So with this inner peace I am experiencing, I’m wondering if this is just purely my mind allowing myself to be relaxed before the big day. Or, is it that I am becoming more and more accustomed to some of these larger scale projects that I feel a bit more confident. I’d like to think it’s the former. If it’s the latter, than I wonder if I’m becoming a bit  too full of myself. I really hope that’s not the case but I would like to think that after having seen other events continue to scale up and beyond what they were intended to, and them continue to do well, I suppose it is a possibility that I’m getting used to it.

I took some medication to help with my sleep tonite and I can feel it starting to kick in. Before I start making less sense of myself, it’s time to go to bed. I’ll post a recap of the mega once it’s all done. I am pretty excited to see how it goes.

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Spend your life living, not having

“Spend your life living, not having” – Matthew Klem, 2015

A few weeks ago I read an article that said something to the effect about how people spend all of their time and money acquiring “things” when they should be spending it on acquiring experiences. This really struck a chord with me. While driving home from work, I was thinking about this and it just sort of came to me: “Spend your life living, not having”. In a moment of clarity, I realized that for me, I think this has now become my own personal mantra.

Last night me, Tamara, and the kids went down to the cottage and ended up spending quite a bit of time just hanging out on the beach, collecting little critters and enjoying the time outside. We finished the night off with the Canada Day fireworks and went home to crash. Spent very little money but had a great time.

It seems that a lot of people are obsessed with acquisition of “stuff”. The more money you make the more stuff you have. Homes, cars, computers, gadgets, boats, and countless other things that ultimately are nothing more than just a collection of crap to show off. And as the years go by, those things decrease in value. Experiences do not.

You could very easily take the money you spend on those “things” and spend it on fun and interesting experiences. Go on a trip. See the world. Go for a road trip. Explore the world around you. Take your kids to an amusement park, or take them to an ancient city. Go out and experience what there is in the world instead of sitting home, playing on your iPad or XBox, or laying down in front of the TV for night upon night.

I’m extremely lucky in that I get to travel for my work so I make sure that when I do go somewhere interesting, I try and soak up as much of it as possible because those are the memories you take with you. Those experiences are the ones that you can look back on when you’re 80 years old and remember how amazing it felt. If I buy a car today, 40 years from now it will be worthless. But if I save my money and take a trip to Thailand or Antarctica, those are experiences that never get old, and will be with you forever.

When you reach the end of your life, you’ll look back at the things you did and only have regrets about the things you didn’t do. I should have taken that trip around the world. I should have gone skydiving. I should have asked that girl out. I should have done that hike. Even if you make mistakes, it’s better to make them then have regrets later in life when it’s too late.

Enjoy it now and go for it now. If you can’t afford it, save your money, or find another way to make the experiences in your life worth remembering when you’re old.  It’s better to live your life than having a bunch of stuff that will ultimately be meaningless to you in the end.

Spend your life living, not having.

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Have I Started My Own Midlife Crisis?

It may not describe how I feel today, but the song title sure does. Within the last few weeks, I have begun to feel my age. It’s not something I ever really think about. I’m always joking with the kids that I’m not a grown-up but just a big kid. But for some reason of late, I’ve begun to feel my age.

Forgive me for babbling for a bit but for me, writing is therapeutic and right now I need some therapy.

Just under a week ago, I stayed up til 2am watching the final episode of David Letterman. Although I didn’t watch his show religiously, I was a big fan, and even went to see a taping of his show once. I got a little misty eyed watching the show that night thinking about my experience of going to see the show.

Then this morning, I’m reading some news and some news site posted the video of his last words on the show, followed by the Foo Fighters playing his favorite song to clips of Dave through his years on television. You can see the clip here:

I’m sitting at my desk, watching this and I start to cry. Not wanting anyone in the building to know I’m balling my head off, I keep my voice completely silent as the tears are flowing like the water from a tap. And as I sit there trying to watch this, and crying, I’m thinking the whole time about what the hell is wrong with me. It’s just a video montage of some guy’s life work. Why is this bothering me so much?

I finally collect myself, take a deep breath, and open up my browser to search on “midlife crisis” and “do people in their 40s long for their youth”.

See, the truth is, it seems over the last few weeks, maybe even the last few months, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the past. And on the way to work today I thought of a quote from Star Trek Generations: “You know, Counselor, Recently I’ve become very much aware that there are fewer days ahead than there are behind”. I’ve always said that I wanted to make it to 80 years old. That if I made it to 80, that would be fine. I would have lived long enough to experience a great many things and be old enough to enjoy the passage of time.

So as I am driving, I come to realize that at the age of 41, I have now officially crossed the line of having half of my life over. The first 50% of my life is theoretically over and what does that mean to me? Sure, I might live to be 90 but when 80 is the year you are aiming for, you kind of think of that as the end. So what does it mean for someone to have experience what they believe to be the first half of their life.

In watching those clips from the show, it made me have my own reflection of the passage of time and I think part of me is a little scared of that.

Don’t get me wrong, my life now is better than it ever was. In fact, aside from some debt, I don’t think my life could be any better than it is right now. I really am in a place where I couldn’t be happier. So what is it about looking backward that brings tears to my eyes? I think for me it was the sudden realization that those moments truly are gone and that once they are gone, you can’t ever get them back.

So with all of this, I’m sort of thinking that this is a natural stage that people my age start to go through. They think to the past and start to reflect on how they have lived their life, and what is coming next. What matters the most to you and where do you want to focus your time. Time. I think that is the key. As more time passes by, I have begun to realize that time is more precious than anything. Spend your time doing what you love. Don’t spend your time doing things that you can’t stand, or don’t like if you don’t have to.

I find myself at a point in my life where I have been given the means to truly enjoy my life and to embrace all of the wonder and insanity it can really bring. My days of youth may be gone, but I think as we acquire more wisdom, the path to truly finding happiness becomes clearer.

I’m feeling a bit better now. My own therapy seems to have worked and I can now go back to doing actual work today. I may not write a lot here, but there are days where this place is more handy than you’ll know.

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Appreciation Vs Criticism

I logged on to Facebook this morning and found an article posted by my cousin Nikki. She said it was a bit long but worth the read so I took a few minutes from my morning news reading and read it. By the time I got to the end of it, I felt like I had been reading about a part of my life that I don’t talk a lot about. You can, and should, read the article here.

The article tells the story of a woman who realizes that she’s been sort of abusing her husband without even knowing it. The jist of the article is that she’s been nagging her husband about all sorts of things that at the end of the day, really don’t matter. She came to find that her husband does very small things differently than she, and that when he did these, she would then feel it necessary to “correct him”. After awhile, he’d end up covering things up that he’d done because he didn’t want to listen to her “nag” him. It all starts with him not buying the “right” kind of hamburger. From there, it goes on to other things.

In reading this article, I found myself flashing back to a time before I was married to Tamara. To a time where someone else played the role of Mrs. Klem. And for everything the woman in the article wrote about, I kept thinking about how she was describing exactly what I felt like back in my earlier days.

For some who might read this, you might not know that before Tamara came along, I was married once before, and that it was a short lived marriage. For three years I was with someone who it became very obvious was not the person for me.

In my case, it wasn’t hamburger. In reading the article, I began to recall the criticisms I received on an almost daily basis. Here’s some of the examples of things I would get lectured on almost every day:

  • I couldn’t dry the dishes right because if I touched the dish, it would need to be washed again
  • I didn’t know how to fold my laundry right because I had never worked in a hotel and the way I folded my laundry would not allow it to stack properly
  • When driving her to work, I always took the wrong way because she didn’t like the street I drove on
  • If I took a bath and she saw me, I would be told that I had to wash my body parts in a certain order because any other way was “wrong”
  • I didn’t understand what being close to my family meant because it’s not possible to be “close” with your family without practically living next door
  • I shouldn’t have some of my best friends come over because she felt they were inappropriate or “weird” yet her friends were around all the time and were just as weird

I can’t speak as to why she was like this. But I do know that it was this consistent berating of me that ultimately ended our marriage. The constant barrage of criticism came out of me in the form of anger. I’m not a violent man, but I do have a temper, and it would ultimately come out in the form of screaming and yelling and a lot of fighting. Some people would simply swallow their feelings  I did  the opposite and blew up on a fairly regular basis. I take responsibility for being the one who probably got angry more than anything, but there was a reason for behind the anger and the yelling. I was tired of being criticized for doing things that were not “wrong”, but different.

In reading that article, it made me think about folding the laundry. Did it really matter how I folded our towels? Yeah, sure you knew how to fold towels consistently for hotel rooms. But we didn’t live in a hotel. Did it really matter if one towel didn’t quite fit in the closet exactly right? Was it that important that it be done “your way” as opposed to simply appreciating the fact that your husband was trying to help at all?

That was the point I took away from the article. Whether I was drying the dishes, or driving her to work, I was trying to help. I was trying to be the good husband and doing something for her. Could you not simply appreciate the effort as opposed to criticizing how I went about it? I have seen time and time again where wives of unhappy husbands are telling them how they should do things and then they wonder why the husband isn’t happy. Well DUH! Do you like being told everything you are doing is being done wrong?

The article really points out how for many wives, they need to really consider the fact that if their husbands are doing something for them, even if they think what they are doing is being done the wrong way, they really should spend more time appreciating the fact that the husband is doing anything at all. Marriages where both sides appreciate the other last much longer than those filled with excessive criticisms and beratement. I’ve watched friends of mine have their lives self-destruct because of this.

Tamara gets that. She’s not a fan of how I put dishes in the dishwasher. She’s even told me that she’s changed how the dishes are in the dishwasher after I have filled it. Not because she thinks I am doing anything wrong, but just because she prefers it a certain way. She’s always thankful of me loading the dishwasher and never complains. The same is said of our laundry, making supper, or cleaning around the house. I do things differently than she does, and she shows her appreciation by thanking me, and not criticizing me. Men want to know that their wives appreciate the work they do, even if they don’t agree with how the husbands do it. It’s the appreciation that really matters.

My takeaway is to always be aware that although you might think of your own opinion as the “right way” to do something, it’s very likely that many others will not share that same opinion. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it right. That can be so true in so many different situations.

– Matt


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Are my days in geocaching numbered?

Back in the mid-1990’s, before the internet really exploded and the web became what it is today, I spent a lot of time on IRC. Internet Relay Chat. This was long before Facebook, and IM, and a lot of other modern day mechanisms for connecting with other people via the internet. Me and a couple of others formed a “channel” (basically a chat room) called #Moncton. And imagine this, people from Moncton hung out there.

As time went on, a lot of people “hung out” on the channel and eventually we started having parties, and hanging out in the real world. It was a lot of fun. Being one of the founding members of the channel, I did a lot for it. Organized the parties, built a website, built some neat games to play in the channel, and other things like that.

But like all social groups, eventually as they grow and mature, they all succumb to the same thing: drama. Eventually as things grow, differences of opinions come into play and all of a sudden before you know it, there’s drama. I always played the part of the diplomat. Trying to get people to get along and see different sides of view. I was actually pretty good at it and most of the time I was able to smooth things out.

After awhile though, I got sick of it. People would bitch and complain over things that just don’t matter. Things that an outsider would look at and wonder why the hell you would ever think that’s something worth getting worked up about. Eventually, the drama grew so much I opted to walk away from everything I had helped built. Funny thing was, after walking away, I felt a lot better. It seemed much easier to simply walk away and be happy with knowing what I had helped build.

It seems though the same thing is beginning to happen for myself in the world of geocaching. I’ve been caching now for 7.5 years and I have done a lot of things. I’ve also managed within the last 5 years to build a pretty amazing geocaching community through Cache Up NB. But alas, with working on this “mega” event project, I’ve begun to become tired of the “drama” that this community has developed.

Once again I’ve placed myself into a position where I cannot really voice my own personal opinions on things because of my particular situation within this community. This makes it extremely difficult to deal with some of the unpleasant drama that comes from being a part of a group like this. In many cases, I can shake my head and let it go. It’s not a big deal. Then other times, it truly pisses me off to no end knowing after everything I have done, people are shitting on things they have no business crapping all over.

Tonite was yet another example. Today we posted some big news about a new coin challenge that we have available for our mega. A certain individual decided to go off on Facebook and rant about his dislike for our choices. He went on and on, making personal attacks against myself and my colleagues when he literally has no clue what he’s talking about.

From his point of view, our choices in how we are handling the release of the program is a horrible way. Yet, he has no clue as to the complexities required in order to get that program off the ground. He has no idea that literally thousands of dollars were donated to make this program a reality and there’s only so much money to go around. He has no idea that although he thinks certain individuals are being treated at a disadvantage because of our choices, he has absolutely no clue as to what those same individuals will actually receive in exchange for their services.

This is a person who has opted to scream and yell about how mad he is about X and Y but yet has only about 10% of the facts. He was not included as part of the decision making process because quite frankly, we knew this kind of behaviour is exactly what would happen and look. He proved us right. Furthermore, when we started out, we asked people for their input and feedback and he never once said anything. He didn’t show up to our planning events. Hell, he didn’t even sign up to be one of the folks that he’s saying are being treated unfairly but somehow he is qualified to judge what we are doing.

With all of that said, this is the second piece of geocaching “drama” I have had to endure in just the last week alone.

When I am faced with seeing and dealing with this drama, it makes me wonder if I should take the same path I did with IRC. Is it better to just walk away completely and know I did my best to build something great but no longer wish to deal with the likes of these individuals?

In the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling the heat of not wanting to deal with any of this crap anymore. When you try and try and try to make things good for people, you inevitably end up having to deal with people like this on a regular basis. It’s whether or not the good is better than the bad in situations like this.

I know that come August 2nd, the mega will be over, and behind me, and I can move on to something else. But there is a part of me that wonders whether or not geocaching has a place in my life after the mega. I enjoy doing what I do for Cache Up NB. But I do not enjoy having to pussyfoot around just because it’s not my place to say something….

What do I do?

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It’s All About Moderation

Have you ever found yourself reading something on Facebook, then you go to write a comment, get most of it written out, and then you delete what you wrote and don’t bother commenting? I do this all the time and I usually walk away from the comment for the simple fact that I don’t want to have to listen to others try to argue a point that is ultimately not worth making. This happened to me again today.

This time it was on the whole “eat healthy” movement we have been seeing in recent years. This time I saw an article pop up going on, yet again, about Jamie Oliver and his anti-McDonald’s crusade. Of course, the people who post this stuff have not done any research on what has been said or done and just assume that if it’s on the internet, it must be true.

But that’s not the rant for today. The rant for today is all about those out there who insist that we should all be eating natural foods, don’t eat red meat, don’t eat white meat, don’t eat meat of any kind, don’t eat green vegetables, don’t eat red vegetables, don’t eat vegetables that come from a farm that are within 20km of dogs, don’t eat gluten, don’t drink urine, drink more urine, or whatever other ridiculous idea you can think of as I am sure it’s been used as an excuse to push someone’s agenda.

I know that many of my friends are doing their best to “eat healthier” and good for them. If that’s what makes you happy and you are feeling better for it than more power to you. But don’t stand there and try and tell me that my eating a burger from McDonald’s is going to kill me. Just because I eat at a fast food place from time to time doesn’t mean I’m doomed to death early. What it means is if I choose to constantly fill myself with crap, I’m not doing my body any favours, but ultimately it’s my choice. Just because you want to live on kelp and nothing else doesn’t mean it is what I should be doing. If it works for you fine, but what works for you may not work for me. Plus, all of that aside, you can be the most healthy person in the world and still get hit by a car or get cancer. It doesn’t remove those chances.

Years ago, I worked with a guy who was VERY conscious of his health. He was someone who ran all the time, did his exercise, watches his calorie intake, ate only the best and most healthy of meals. I mean this was a guy that most healthy nuts would practically worship. He was in great shape. Then out of the blue, he got a bad batch of cancer and had to fight his way through it. So tell me all you health nuts… How did he end up with such bad cancer when he did everything he thought he could to prevent it? I mean this guy was in his 30’s and in prime shape, but none of that healthy lifestyle crap helped him dodge that C bullet.

In looking at what he went through, it made one thing VERY clear to me. You can do anything and everything to “improve” your health but if you are destined to get sick by something like cancer, then there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. If people who work their asses off to stay as healthy and as fit as they can end up with cancer in their 30’s, can you honestly tell me that all that calorie counting is actually making a difference?

So for me, I live by a philosophy of moderation. I don’t eat at McDick’s every day but I also don’t cringe at having a burger or nuggets once in awhile. I don’t get a lot of exercise but I do go out hiking from time to time. I do a lot of walking when I am on the road for work. I love eating vegetables so I eat as much as I can but I don’t obsess about every little thing I eat thinking it’s going to buy me an extra few days or years of my life.

I choose to live a moderate lifestyle, and enjoy living life. If I spent all my time obsessing over my health, I’m missing out on the things I could be doing with my life. I would rather enjoy the time I have and live it to the fullest, than trying to organize every tiny little aspect of my eating habits in hopes that it buys me some extra time.

So if you’re the type who is trying so hard to “live healthy” because you are scared about dying, then I feel sad for you. Death is part of life. I’d rather LIVE my life than fear my death.

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