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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New Canadian Copyright Law Explained

Over the last week or so, I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook about people worrying about the new copyright law that came into effect here in Canada. I have also been seeing a lot of people freaking out about it and thought I would explain it in my own words.

Let’s compare your downloading of the latest Katy Perry album, to using your vehicle as the getaway car in a bank robbery. You drive your car to the bank, get out, go inside, rob the bank, and escape in your car. The bank security guard chases you outside and manages to write down your New Brunswick license plate number. At that point, the license plate number is the only thing that ties you to the bank robbery. That number by itself is meaningless. But matching that number to the owner of the car is definitely useful.

The bank gets a lawyer to ask a judge for a court order to force the DMV to give them the name of the owner of the car. Once they have the name of owner of the car, they come find you, arrest you, and throw you in jail.

Now instead of robbing a bank, you downloaded that album. Instead of the license plate on the car, it’s the IP address of the computer used to download the album. Instead of the DMV, it’s your internet provider (ISP) giving the details of who had the IP address at the time the illegal download occurred.

When you downloaded that new album off Pirate Bay, you connected your computer to the internet using an IP address which belongs to your internet provider. In order to provide you access to the internet, that provider needs to know who was assigned what IP address and when. This information is kept for a certain amount of time, depending on the provider. The record company tracks torrent sites like Pirate Bay (and many others) to see who downloads their copyrighted works. When you downloaded the album, the record company saw your IP address and noted what you were downloading. They then looked up who owns that IP address and obtained the name of your internet provider. If they wanted to, they could then go to a judge, get a court order for the provider to release your name, and then come after you.

Copyright owners have been monitoring illegal downloads of their works for years. In the US, those same copyright owners have been forcing internet providers to give up the names of the people associated to the internet accounts used for downloading. They then come up with some ridiculous amount of money to sue them by and walk away with buckets of cash.

Here’s how it’s different in Canada.

The new Canadian law states that a copyright holder (movie/record company) can only “ask” an internet company to issue a “notice” to one of their customers that they may have downloaded illegal content. The ISP is now compelled to comply with this request. They do NOT however have to release any information on who the customer is unless the copyright holder has a court order. This means that even if the notice is sent, the copyright holder still doesn’t know who you are unless they go to a court of law and request a court order for the internet company to give up your details.

Now the part that REALLY matters. You cannot be sued for millions of dollars for downloading movies and music if you live in Canada. A company can threaten you all they want but they’ll never get more than the maximum amount allowable by Canadian law: $5,000. According to Section 38.1b of Bill C-11 (The Copyright Modernization Act), no one person can be charged more than $5,000 for ALL infringements incurred for non-commercial purposes. This is the BIG catch that people are not realizing.

What this really means is that by law, those huge lawsuits for thousands of dollars cannot happen in Canada. Canadian law now clearly states that 5K is the max penalty for ALL infringements. That means if you downloaded 100 movies from 20th Century Fox or 1,000 songs from Sony Music, you can only be charged $5,000 in total. If you’re selling those works, the penalty is higher, but for personal use, it’s $5,000.

If for some reason you actually did receive some sort of notice from an official movie studio or record label, and they try to tell you that you owe them thousands and thousands of dollars, you know that is not the case because the law clearly states the maximum penalty for all infringements is $5,000.

What does this actually mean?

It means the odds of any copyright owner coming after you for downloading that Katy Perry album is slim to none. It costs a lot of money to pay a lawyer to get that original court order, and even more money to actually take someone to court. Since the amount of money they would spend on litigation would far exceed $5,000, there’s no money in it for the copyright owners to go after illegal downloaders in Canada.

So, take a deep breath, calm down, and feel a bit more at ease knowing those high profile lawsuits are not coming to Canada anytime soon.

Addendum – January 6th, 1:41pm

After posting this on Facebook, one of my geocaching friends asked a very good question so I thought I would add it here and provide more info.

I have a question. Let’s say there are 6 adults living in the same house and one person is illegally downloading movies. How would the ISP know who actually broke the law? Would they send the notice to whoever is the account holder? Wouldn’t they have to charge the person that broke the law?

The ISP would have no idea, nor would the copyright holder. They only know that a device from that IP address was used to illegally download a movie. This is the reason many of the lawsuits in the US were thrown out because an IP is not a person. The IP is assigned to the router in your home (See NAT to understand internal vs external IP addresses). Any devices within that home that are connected to the router appear to have the same IP address to the rest of the world. It would be up to the copyright owner to confront the name of the person on the account to determine who the culprit really is. In some cases this would be pretty obvious and in others, not so obvious.

Another possibility is for those who have “open” hotspots in their home, someone could park their car in front of the house, leach your wifi, download movies illegally, then drive away. When the copyright holder comes knocking, no one in the home knows anything about it but the logs clearly show someone from that home downloaded something. In cases like this, the account holder would likely have to try and prove it wasn’t them. In many of those cases, it’s pretty obvious the homeowners were oblivious.

 

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Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

For awhile on Facebook there was this thing going around where people were putting X number of previously unknown things about themselves. I thought a little about this and figured I would do the same. Be prepared, some of these may surprise you if you know me at all.

  1. I have been fired from three of my jobs over the years. The first time was actually my very first job as a flyer delivery kid. Second time was from School District 2 where I was a complete and total ass and kind of deserved being canned. Last time was in 2006 when I was let go from a teaching job for violation of one of the school’s policies. I disagreed with their point of view, and could have fought it, but I really had begun to hate working there anyway so part of me was glad to be done. It was scary but I ultimately ended up going to work at Whitehill and have been there ever since. More proof of the fact that everything happens for a reason.
  2. On December 15, 2002, I swallowed an entire bottle of pills in a lame attempt to kill myself. My first marriage had fallen apart earlier that year and I was trying to deal with seeing her happier with someone else than she ever was with me. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to have to feel the emotional agony I was experiencing at the time, and I just wanted it to all go away. I knew that if I talked to anyone about what I was feeling, they would just tell me that “it will get better”. I didn’t want to have to wait for it to be better. I wanted my pain to stop now. I spent a day or so in the hospital being evaluated but came out fine as far as my physical health. My mental health took a lot longer to heal. It was because of this incident I realized I had to make very hard decisions about how to move forward in my life. The first four months of 2003 were brutally hard for me to go through but they were necessary. By fall of that year I was going out with Tamara and my life was completely different.
  3. An episode of How I Met Your Mother showed me the most beautiful way to describe how insane a person can be when they are truly in love with someone. At one time in my life, I loved someone so much that it didn’t matter whether or not I was ever going to be with them. I just needed them to be happy. Despite how many times they hurt me over and over again (throughout the course of about 11 years by my best estimate), I still kept coming back. When I finally did walk away, it was only a short time period later when I got together with Tamara. In retrospect, I’ve come to realize that I had to go through what I did in the past in order to really be able to walk away from it, and be ready for the life I would have with Tamara.
  4. I talk to myself a lot. I’ll sometimes go for long drives and “think out loud”. I find it a very therapeutic way to “get things out” when I need to think about things that are hard to talk to other people about. There are times where I will rehearse a conversation I know I have to have that I’m not looking forward to because I feel I need to be able to say things right to someone the first time I say it. I don’t think I’m crazy. I just think that I’m the type of person that needs to get things out vocally regardless of whether or not someone else is actually there.
  5. Many of my friends know I don’t drink alcohol. You may not know that this originally from the fact that as a kid my grandfather was a serious alcoholic and so was my grandmother. She died later on from complications arisen from her excessive drinking. My mother once told my grandfather that if he didn’t stop drinking he’d never be allowed to see me again. He eventually did give it up but all of the alcoholism I saw as a child made me scared of drinking alcohol. This is not why I don’t drink now but it is where it came from.
  6. As I watched many of my friends succumb to the pressures of alcohol and drugs, I stayed clear. I owe this to my mom for raising me well, but oddly enough, I think some credit goes to Mike Patton and the band Faith No More. With no male “dad” figure to emulate or serve as an idol or someone to look up to, Patton served as mine. During the 90’s when FNM was hugely popular, Patton was known for a lot of antics and insane things he did on stage and even off. But the bigger surprise was the fact he was drug free. His bandmates would often say “the only drug Mike is on is sugar”. I emulated him almost to a disturbing degree. Many friends from that time can recall my many instances of crazy behaviour and “flopping on the floor like a dying fish” in an attempt to emulate Patton’s stage antics. It was this desire to mimic Patton’s craziness without the influence of substances that helped keep me on the straight path. It also provided a hell of a lot of funny memories from my teenage and college years.  As an adult, I can look back and realize that I was influenced in a good way from someone in popular culture. Whether or not the things I believed at the time were actually true or not doesn’t really matter. The end result is that it kept me away from a path that ultimately cost some of  my friends their life.
  7. During the spring and part of the summer of 1993, I started to fall in love with Tamara. We were just friends and I had known her for a couple of years and had never thought of her as more than a friend. I woke up one morning and realized that I was starting to fall in love with her. But, the universe had other plans and our friendship drifted apart. In the summer and fall of 2003, ten years later, our friendship reunited and another 10 years later, I’m still with her and cannot imagine my life without her. I knew 20 years ago that she was the person I was meant to be with. I felt it in every fiber of my bone but I also knew that it was never going to happen. It took a whirlwind of life experiences for both of us, to allow us to come together and have the amazing life we have now.
  8. I do not believe in regrets. I did at one time but I have come to realize that even the worst decisions you make in your life are for a reason. It’s how you choose to handle those bad decisions that matters. If you let the discomfort or pain from the result of a bad decision overcome you, then you are doomed to never let go of it. If you take a deep breath, accept that you made a mistake, and move on, you can learn from that mistake and make your life better as a result of it. I can honestly look back at some of the things I have done in the past and shake my head at them. But I also can see that those things led me in a direction that was ultimately where I am supposed to be.
  9. In #6, I said that my family’s history with alcohol is not why I don’t drink today. This is still true. Why don’t I drink alcohol as an adult? It’s no more complicated than just “by choice”. As a kid, I didn’t want to be an alcoholic. As a teenager, I wanted to be like Mike Patton. But as an adult, it’s more about choice, and not wanting to go back on what I have been doing for 30 years. I’ve never had a single alcoholic drink. No beer, shots, wine, anything. Nothing. And at the age of 40, to say that I’ve never had a drop of alcohol, it seems somewhat impressive to me. It’s not something many people can say. And honestly, there’s nothing about alcohol that even appears to be appealing to me. Every time I have an urge to maybe have my first drink, something else happens and shows me why I don’t drink alcohol. It usually involves seeing someone who’s had too much and I am reminded that I don’t have to deal with memory loss, staggering around, or being obnoxious because of how much I’ve drank. I can just shake my head, walk away, and know that I’m not waking up with a brutal headache in the morning.
  10. Although I have been blogging since around 2001, my desire to write predates that. Before blogging, I wrote most of the material for the 14-15 issues of VAJ Magazine I produced. Before that, I was writing Robotech fan-fiction in junior high school. Even now with my blog entries being far less than they were at one time, I am still writing on here, as well as on my geocaching website, Cache Up NB. I even do a lot of writing as part of my job. I write a lot of training manuals and curriculum for the courses I develop. I even wrote a “tech” column for HERE magazine for awhile. Writing is something I love to do and would love to find a way to make some money doing it if I could find more time to do it.

There ya go. A unloaded quite a bit here but it feels kind of good to do so. Wonder how many of these you already knew.

Categories: Flashbacks, Rants | Leave a comment

Helicopter Parenting on Sleepovers

This morning I was reading Facebook and saw an article on why you shouldn’t allow your kids to go on sleepovers. Here’s the story.

The general idea is that if you let your kids go on sleepovers, they will be molested. You can’t trust anyone because molestation happens all the time and that if you send your kids to someone else’s house, you run the chance that they will be molested.

It’s this sort of parenting that drives me insane. What was worse, people I know on Facebook were commenting on the link and agreeing with it. I shook my head and realized that the world really is all about paranoia.

Dylan & Megan have been going on sleepovers for ages. Both at their family and friends houses. No, we don’t send them to places where we don’t know the people. Megan has asked to sleep over at another friend of hers place and we have said no because we don’t know the parents. But they have slept at a couple of friends homes, Tamara’s brothers home, and we don’t have an issue with it. Why?

Because we choose to live in a world where we aren’t paranoid about every little thing that could possibly happen. The reality is, bad things happen. Yes, they do. Do I want them to happen to my kids? Of course not. But if I try and keep my kids away from all of the bad things the world has out there, they might as well not ever leave the house. I know of abuse that has taken place on school property. Does that mean that I now have to home school my kids? People get hit by cars all the time so does that mean my kids should never be allowed outside to play?

Everytime I turn around, I am seeing yet another parenting article about things you need to do to “protect” your kids. More and more things to protect your kids because it’s “not safe” and “bad things can happen”. When did the world become so bleak that we have to be scared of everything out there?

I let my kids play. I let them drive their bikes around our block. I let them climb trees. I let them climb the monkey bars. I let them enjoy being a child and having fun and not worrying about what the world has out there. I do all of this while at the same time insuring that they are safe, but without being paranoid that they are going to get hurt. Do I wrap them up in bubble wrap everytime they go on a bike ride? No, I don’t. Because even with a helmet, kids fall of their bikes, get scrapes, cry, and get upset. I’m there to comfort them, protect them, and do what I can, but I’m not going to shelter them from every tiny little thing the world can throw at them. In fact, that’s the worst thing I can do.

I have to be comfortable letting my kids make mistakes because if I don’t, the real world will slap them in the face. I remember seeing so many college students who had no clue what the real world was like and it was because of helicopter parenting. Parents who insist that they do everything to protect and “help” their child while simultaneously making it so much worse for them when they have to deal with the way the real world actually is.

So for me, I’ll continue to keep my kids safe, be mindful of what they do and who they interact with, but I’m not going to keep them away from their friends or family because of something that “could” happen. I “could” be it by a bus tomorrow, but I’m still going to cross that street. I could be killed in a car accident and leave my kids without a father, but I’m still going to drive my car to work.

People need to stop being so paranoid and realize that shit happens and people need to learn to deal with it.

Categories: Dylan, Megan, Rants | Leave a comment

The Amazing Race Canada: Matt Edition

Tonite I’m on a bit of a high. I’m going to take a page out of a completely different book and spend a little time being a bit “braggy”. I’m not an egocentric person and I don’t brag about much, but right now, I am feeling pretty damn good about myself. So be prepared for a mild departure from my regular personality.

Tonite, a secret me and my friend Ken have been keeping under our hats for 7 months, was revealed. As you can see by the photo above, I participated in part of The Amazing Race Canada. The geocaching website I help run, Cache Up NB, was asked to build one half of the detour for this leg of the race. Me and Ken had several meetings with the shows producers and on May 19th and 20th of this year, we shot our part of the show. Unfortunately, none of the racers chose our task (which at the time burned us) but despite that, I’m feeling pretty damn amazing myself right now. And here’s why…

I started Cache Up NB. It was an idea that I conceived in my own head and executed what I needed to do to make it happen. That happened about four and a half years ago. Something that didn’t exist before that I created in my head, became real, and became something that has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of geocaching in New Brunswick. The involvement of CUNB with The Amazing Race Canada is the ultimate form of validation of what I have been working on these past four years. It’s pretty hard to say that CUNB is just another geocaching website or group when Canada’s highest rated TV program came to us and asked us to help them. We didn’t seek them out. They came to us. If that doesn’t tell people about what CUNB is about, and the kind of quality I have strived SO hard to show in our projects, then nothing ever will.

Judging by the amount of Facebook comments, retweets, emails, and other feedback, it seems the community agrees with my opinion.

For me, this experience is a definitive way of showing that when you do things the right way, good things happen. There have been times where people might have wondered why I chose to do things on CUNB a certain way or have chosen not to do certain things. It’s those kinds of decisions, and the specific “mission” and mandate I have stuck to over the last four years, that has made it successful. If CUNB was just another cookie cutter geocaching website, we would likely have never seen this kind of exposure. The lead producer was very clear on why he came to us and it’s our unique take on geocaching that seemed to impress him. The proof is in the pudding folks.

I don’t dive deep into something and do a half assed job. I am ridiculously anal about some of the things we do, but it’s because of how I steer the ship that Cache Up NB has become a name that people respect and know can accomplish great things. What aired on TV tonite is proof of that.

No, I didn’t get to where I am now with CUNB on my own. My good friend Ken has been there from the beginning and has helped out more than anyone will ever know. Ken has been my partner in crime in all of my biggest projects and my biggest supporter on CUNB. He’s been so great to work with. Something people wouldn’t know is that the moment we found out we would be doing The Amazing Race, the first thing Ken said to me was that I would be the one giving out the clues. Yes, we didn’t have an awkward conversation about that. He deferred to me knowing that we are truly partners in the work we do, but that I’ve always been the one to steer the ship and to put us on course to the bigger things. I don’t take ownership of Cache Up NB very often as I have always felt that it is more than just me and that it is a sum of our community and our volunteers. But this is a case where I’m not ashamed to lay claim to the fact that Cache Up NB is something I started and something I continue to be the driving force behind.

So, for me, right now I am reveling in the success of my work. I’m feeling immensely proud of what I have been able to accomplish through my own actions, and through the actions of my friends. And for the next little while, I’m going to be on a little bit of a high. It will pass eventually but I wanted to record it here for myself so that I can remember later on how I felt in the moment.

And right now, this moment is f*cking awesome.

Categories: Geocaching, Rants, Television/Movies, Uncategorized | Leave a comment