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?

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: Rants | Leave a comment

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.


Categories: Rants | 1 Comment

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

Germany + Jordan + Israel = A Memorable Trip

It has been a long time since I sat down and added a trip to my “adventures” list. Today, I’m taking some time to write down all of the biggest things I can remember from my trip this past November. Be prepared. This is going to be a long post but with lots of detail to share.

To make it a bit easier, I’ll break it out by country, and by destination. Here we go.

Pre-Trip Info

The original intention for this trip was for me to make my lifelong dream of seeing the pyramids in Giza for the first time. However, because of the civil unrest that was going on in Egypt at the time, our tour was cancelled because of safety concerns. We opted to make Jordan the larger part of our stay instead of Egypt. We would not be disappointed.

Frankfurt, Germany

Germany-20131108-100_2693This particular location was actually never on my list of places I wanted to go visit. In fact, truth be told, I didn’t have a lot of interest in seeing much of Europe at all as I am not really a history buff and I know a lot of people go see Europe for the history. Frankfurt ended up being a stop simply because it is a major transportation hub in Europe and our flights were connecting through it. Tamara made the suggestion that we stay a couple of days to see what it had to offer, then make our way to Jordan. Tamara was responsible for figuring out what to do while we were there and I think for the most part, she did a pretty decent job.

We arrived on a Friday morning and went directly from the airport to our hotel, dropped off our bags, then went for a walk. A long walk. We actually took a 2-3 hour walking tour of the downtown Frankfurt area. We saw a lot of the history of the city, some very cool churches, memorials, and an awesome bridge. But after having just been on a plane for something like 6-7 hours, we were pretty tired, and honestly, the walking tour just went WAY too fast. It was great to see a lot of things and have someone put it in context but because it went so fast we really never got a chance to enjoy it as much.

One funny story about the hotel room. I brought a transformer to change the voltage on my power bar and when I plugged it in, POW, the power went out. We managed to get someone to come up and flip it on and they gave us a special plug to use on our stuff. Never had the issue again.

We did however revisit one spot that was definitely both fascinating and sad at the same time. It was a memorial for a large amount of Jewish people who had been killed during the war. It was very creepy in some respects and very nice in others. I had never seen anything quite like it.

Once the tour ended, we rested up a bit and then went exploring some more. We checked out some local food spots, some shopping areas, and just generally explored the area quite nicely.

Germany-20131109-100_2853Saturday, I thought there was supposed to be a geocaching event going on in Frankfurt and I had brought a PILE of trackables from Moncton to drop at the event. We went to the other side of the city and did a little geocaching and discovered a really nice park. We saw a lot of wild swans and took a ton of wildlife pictures. We did not expect to encounter that in the middle of the city. Turns out I had made a mistake and the event was actually on Sunday. But, as luck would have it, the host of the event was actually there and I gave all of the travel bugs to her, and we headed back to our hotel.

Germany-20131110-100_3108Sunday morning, we ventured out on a tour bus to a place called Heidelberg. There was a really nice old castle there that Tamara had found which is why we did the tour. Despite it pouring rain, we saw the castle and a lot of cool things there. It would have been nice to spend more time at the actual castle itself, but it was a single day tour, and we kind of got the impression that the guy running the tour wanted us to see more of the city than the castle.

He took us into town, showed us a couple of nice spots, then sent us off to do our own things for an hour or so. We checked out a pretty cool bridge, this weird monkey statue, and a ton of really cool houses and other buildings. Tamara picked up a few small bottles of Absinthe which she then later drank sometime after Christmas. No, she didn’t see anything weird but it is apparently quite strong.

Germany-20131111-100_3339Monday was our day to catch our flight but it was in the evening so Tamara had found this large cemetery she wanted to visit. It was huge. I have never seen so many gravestones in my life. But this was not like any regular cemetery plot you’d see back home. All the stones were quite large and very impressive. Quite a sight to see. We finished up there, headed to the airport and caught our flight to Amman Jordan that evening.

Madaba, Jordan

We landed in Amman, Jordan which is the capital city around 2am. After getting through customs, obtaining our luggage, and finding our ride, we headed off to our hotel which was located in the nearby city of Madaba. Now, just the ride alone was an interesting experience. We got into a car with a man who had been sent by the hotel as per our arrangements when I reserved the room. He very quickly got us out of the airport area and took some side road on his way to Madaba. No street lights to be found anywhere and given that it was about 3am maybe, we couldn’t see anything, anywhere. We saw a couple of dead animals, broken down cars, a small fire or two, but other than that, it looked like a barren wasteland. We didn’t know quite what to expect.

Jordan-20131111-100_3465We got to the hotel and checked in and were quite surprised by the room. Small, three single beds, and not quite what we were used to but we really did just want to sleep. Our plan was to get up, see Madaba, and then make our way to the Dead Sea hotel reservation we had later that day.

When we woke up, we could now see outside and at first it looked ok. A lot paler than I had ever thought but we went and had breakfast, and then decided to go for a walk. I had brought my GPS and had a vague idea of where the visitor’s center was so we went on our way. Once we left the hotel however, we really started to see how dirty the place was. Garbage was all over the streets. There were dead cats, all over the place. We must have saw three or four of them while we were just walking around. While we walked to where we thought the center was, we both were a little concerned about our safety. We were foreigners in a foreign country and we didn’tJordan-20131112-DSCN2055 really know if Tamara should have her body covered up more than it was. The stuff I had read said she was fine but we really didn’t know judging by what we saw. It was kind of unsettling as we walked around and got some strange looks from the locals. When we finally did hit the visitors center, it was actually women working there who helped us to realize that there was no concern about it being safe, or Tamara having to cover up. Once we were pointed in the right direction, we were fine.

We did get to see some of the amazing mosaics for which Madaba and Jordan in general is known for. Talk about amazing to see. We did a little walk around town then came back to the hotel to check out, store our bags, arrange a drive, then went back out. We visited a church with an old mosaic floor which had been uncovered years ago. Pretty amazing stuff to see. We also watched a guy fill a Jordan-20131112-DSCN2102bottle with sand and draw artwork using coloured sand and glue to put our names in the sand with a nice sunset. Very cool to watch. We then had some food where I ate some sort of weird chicken dish with a white paste sauce that was not to my liking. I somehow managed to muddle through.

We took some more photos and then headed back to our hotel where our ride to the Dead Sea was waiting for us. Turns out we’d see a lot more before we got there.

Museum & Mt. Nebo

Our driver knew we were just seeing the sights so he made a stop or two on the way to the Dead Sea. He took us to some sort of Jordan museum where there were a lot of replicas of famous biblical things that were known about the area. We didn’t have to pay to get in and honestly, it was kind of tacky. It was nice to see that they had put this together, but it really was just a bunch of fake people set in some of these scenes from early times depicting earlier days of Jordan. Yes, neat to see, but very tacky.

Jordan-20131112-100_3566The cool part of the museum was a spot where we got to actually put in a few pieces of stone to a large mosaic that is being submitted to be the largest in the world. We put our names on a couple of stones, and glued them into place. Very cool.

The driver then continued on his way along the road towards the Dead Sea. Now, it was just desert on either side of this road and the filth and garbage that we saw in Madaba didn’t stop at the city boundary. We saw this everywhere which was very unfortunate. He made another stop for us at a place called Mount Nebo.

Jordan-20131112-100_3592This is apparently where Moses looked out into the desert and saw the promised land. We took some photos of the nice area, and I even cracked a joke about Moses using the pipes there to bring water to the locals. We didn’t stay too long but we did manage to see a pretty nice view of the valley from there.

The Dead Sea

We arrived at the Holiday Inn Dead Sea resort right around suppertime. We heard that the beach closed at sunset and Tamara really wanted to get into the water before that happened. So, we dropped our bags in our room, and went off to the beach to see what the big deal was about.

Jordan-20131112-100_3641The water was cold, but you could very clearly see on the surface of the water a sort of film or something. We knew the salt content was high but it was interesting to see that you can actually SEE it in a way. We walked out just a bit and before we knew it, the salt was lifting us up. It is not like anything else you will ever experience. As someone who has lived near the Atlantic Ocean for 75% of my life, I can tell you that floating in the water back home is nothing like this. You have NO control over NOT floating. In fact, at one point, I stood in the water, straight up, not able to touch the ground because the water just pushed me up. You could roll around without issue and would never sink. It was truly surreal to experience this. The sun went down and we went to the pool where we kicked back with a regular swim for awhile and then headed in. But not before we’d enjoy some nice dinner entertainment.

We opted to have dinner outside at one of the restaurants at the hotel. What we had seen after arriving there was that stray cats were actually the norm. We saw several of them while there and when we sat at our table, a few came over. As cat people, me and Tamara didn’t mind it. We did not however expect that after a few minutes there would be more. At some point, I think there was 5, 6, maybe 7 cats around the dining area. We smiled and just took it all in as part of the experience of being somewhere else. One of the staff told us that the cats are just part of the area and that they have tried to get rid of them but they just keep coming back.

Jordan-20131113-100_3679Now, the funny thing was that these cats are hungry. They are strays and are looking for any food you might have and they are not afraid to ask. We had a couple of them paw at us and meow but nothing serious. However, for a few select other people, the cats jumped on the chairs, the table, and even swatted a couple of the other guests. It was even more entertaining because the cats seem to sense which guests liked cats and which ones didn’t because they only went after the people who hated cats. Me and Tamara sat there and laughed as this one older couple near us got pretty mad and was yelling at the animals. The food was not anything spectacular but the entertainment was awesome.

We headed back to our room which was quite nice for a Holiday Inn. In fact, the entire resort was really amazing and quite high end for something I sort of expected to be on a lower scale. I’d definitely go back there.

Jordan-20131113-100_3750When we got up in the morning, we knew we would be leaving by noonish so Tamara wanted to get in another float plus a mud bath. We went down to the beach again and did a bit of bobbing in the water. We also took a walk on the mud where Tamara snagged a bit of mud and salt to bring back home. We finished it all up with Tamara getting covered by me from one end to the other in the famous Dead Sea mud. Didn’t feel any different than regular mud but it was pretty neat. We cleaned up, checked out, and then started on our ride towards Wadi Musa where we’d have our encounter with Petra.

The Drive To Wadi Musa

Jordan-20131113-100_3820Getting from the Dead Sea area to Wadi Musa and Petra was going to be about four hours by car. We knew the drive would be long but it was the only way to get there. The same driver who had driven us to the Dead Sea came back and picked us up to drive us to Petra. He was awesome. Plus, he took us to a few cool spots along the way.

Some of the more memorable spots along our journey was to a “cave” motel. There was this little shop along one of the small little villages we drove through that was actually a store, built into an old cave. Tamara and I checked it out. While she was looking at the jewelry, I wandered around the area a bit and found an actual motel that was inside of the cave. Stone beds, but still very neat to see.

We then were taken to a “castle” in the middle of the desert. I thought it might have been Karak but it was some other lesser known castle. We were greeted by a friendly guy who wanted to be our guide of the castle. We paid him and he took us around the castle showing us this very long and dark deep hole where they used to get water, places where the hung criminals, and all kinds of otherJordan-20131113-100_3863 cool stuff. My biggest problem with him was he didn’t seem to want to keep his hands off my wife. Everytime I turned around he was putting his arms around her, holding her, and it made me very uncomfortable. But, we got through it and made our way out of there.
We made several stops along the highway to take pictures of the desert and views. Quite amazing to see actually. So pale but so beautiful at the same time. Enroute, our driver made arrangements for us to get tickets to see Petra @ Night. When we finally pulled into our hotel, the stuck his hand out the window and two tickets were put in it and that was it. We were done our ride and would begin our adventures in Petra.


Jordan-20131113-100_3945Of all the places we saw in Jordan, Petra was my favorite. Tamara said that Wadi Rum was her favorite but for me, Petra was the absolute best part of the entire trip.

After we got checked into our room, we opted to go for a little walk. Across the street from the hotel, we found the entrance to Petra. There were a pile of little shops there with folks trying to sell you pretty much anything. The Indiana Jones Gift Shop was a notable spot.

We walked by one of the shops and a guy insisted we come in and dress us up. He proceeded to put one of the head wraps on me and Tamara and took our picture. It was a little tacky but still kind of neat.

Jordan-20131113-DSCN2357After waiting for a little while, we started to follow the crowd into Petra for the Petra at Night show. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked some more through a long walkway and passageway lit by candles. I am sure it took at least 30-40 minutes to get there but when we did, wow.

It was pretty amazing to see the Treasury at night. We parked ourselves at a picnic table and waited for the “show” to begin.

It’s hard to remember exactly the order of how things went but I do remember a man playing a sort of flute instrument that seemed to go on FOREVER. I mean it was really nice to enjoy the local music but I am sure he played one song that lasted at least 30 minutes. After awhile I was getting bored and just wanted it to be over with. At some other point they had a man come out and tell us a few stories about the history of Petra and what we would see. Eventually, the music and lecture ended and we wandered around for awhile.

After that, we headed back to the hotel where we really did crash for the night. The next day would be quite busy.

We woke up bright and early, packed our small daytrip bags, grabbed the hiking poles, and headed off to see Petra. I fired up my GPS and wanted to track exactly where we went and how long it took us. According to the track, we hiked about 15.5K over 8 hours. Now keep in mind that a lot of that time was also sight seeing as well. If it was pure hiking, we would have covered a lot more territory.

Jordan-20131114-100_4044We started down the same path we had been down the night before but this time we could actually see things. It was a long path with cool stone caves on either side, and a “lane” for horses. We eventually came to a sort of turning point where we entered the “Siq”. This was basically a very long and narrow passageway between tall rocks that we had to follow until we would hit the start of Petra itself, known as the Treasury.

We walked and took pictures and admired a lot of things. The size of the Siq and the rocks around us were pretty breathtaking. We did see a few donkey’s and carriages carrying people but we kept on foot. We also spotted some little kids playing, and even trying to sell the tourists some little trinkets.

Eventually we came to the end of the Siq and the Treasury peaked out behind it. I got really excited as I knew we were getting there and just as I was bouncing, it all came into sight.

To see the Treasury in the day is quite something. There’s nothing quite like looking at a Jordan-20131114-DSCN2594structure like that that has been sitting there for more than 2000 years. I took a pile of photos and just soaked in as much as I could see. Me and Tamara walked around a little bit but eventually we worked our way past the Treasury to some of the other small tombs and made our way towards the main part of Petra.

There were a lot of people around and a lot of tourists and lot of people trying to sell you horse or camel rides. We said we would stick to being on foot until we couldn’t no more. We also checked out a few of the small little vendors who kept insisting that their prices were the best. “Only 2 dinar” we heard many, many times. (Dinar is the currency in Jordan).

Eventually we opted to climb the steps to the high place of sacrifice which is basically on top of the mountain. Tamara was going to take a donkey up as she didn’t think she could do the hike. She paid a local for a donkey and they started up the steps just behind me. Within 5 minutes of getting on the donkey, Tamara almost went head first onto the ground and almost slipped off the side of the animal. That was enough for her to say no thanks to the donkey and try the hike anyway.

11239200574_4f96852476_oThe hike up for me was hard, but not too bad. The hiking poles really helped and you just took your time. Before you knew it you were up high enough that local merchants on the mountain were trying to sell you stuff. Tamara was slower than I but she took her time and like a real champ, she made it all the way to the top.

Once there, we had a pretty amazing view of the entire area, including down where we had just come from. We headed on to the place of high sacrifice which was an area where many animals were sacrificed and their blood would drain off. Creepy to think about but very cool to see. Tamara made friends with a local woman there who was quite fascinated by Tamara. When we finally came down off the spot where the high place was, there was a sitting area. The woman showed Tamara her baby and they talked for a bit before we moved on.

11239216326_553b2e323b_oA point of interest here as well is that I managed to find two geocaches while in that particular area. Tamara’s new friend helped me find one and the other one was stuck in a rock wall overlooking the backend of Petra. Very cool.

We started down the back way and going down for me was easier than going up. Before we knew it we were looking at an old garden tomb and many other tombs on the ground. We came to a spot where we had to decide which direction to go but it wasn’t entirely clear. So for us, the GPS came in handy.

11239269973_9364f75a18_oThe track showed that we should go right and not left but there was no clear path as to where to go. So, we winged it. A little weirded out, I tried not to think about it and just kept following the GPS until it showed us getting closer to the track line we had already been on. Before we knew it, we could see down below where people were and then we spotted some familiar spots from where we had started. We made our way back to the road and took a pause.

Tamara was feeling a bit sore but I had a few more tombs I wanted to take some photos of. So, she sat and rested while I made my way over to a few more tombs. Again, Tamara made some new friends who insisted on getting their photos taken with her since she was the one who looked different to them. Kinda funny.

11239197896_c73a4f6b75_oAfter I got back, we worked our way back to the Treasury and made one more stop at the Theatre. This was the last thing I wanted to see while I was there. Took a few photos, then we started the trek back to the hotel, through the Treasury and the Siq.

By the time we got to the hotel, we had spent a whole 8 hours out and about hiking. We were dead tired but man, the things we had seen would never compare to anything else, ever.

Wadi Rum

When we got up the next morning, we had breakfast and made our way to Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum was something I had never heard of but one of the guys I work with had been to Jordan before and recommended it as something to do. It’s a protected part of the Jordanian desert and many people go out there to see the mountain areas and desert and camp out under the stars. This seemed like a very relaxing way to experience the desert so I signed us up for a night there.

We actually took a taxi from Petra to Wadi Rum which was quite a long drive. When we finally got there, we got on an open back “jeep” and set sail for the desert. Now this jeep was not a jeep but a pickup truck with a sort of half-canvas on top of it. Not great for coverage and not great for all terrain driving but is apparently the norm in that area. We were driven to a sort of shack which was our first stop. Tamara had some tea while I snapped some photos.

11312953933_0c0bcb6a04_oFrom that point forward, we went from point to point with our guide, Rakahn. He took us to a wicked sand dune which we climbed up and took some photos. He also brought us to a couple of places that had ancient writing on the rocks. At one point, we ended up at another dune where people were using a snowboard to “slide” down the side of the dune. It was pretty funny to watch. While we sat there and watched them try to go down the hill, our guide was trying to get his truck fixed as it had died.

Once the vehicle was mobile again, he took us exploring some more to a small canyon rock which was pretty cool. Eventually we ended up having lunch in the desert and then heading onward to our camp. Just before hitting camp, we stopped at this “cow” rock. Our guide showed off his climbing skills as he got up to the top and waved down to us. We took some photos, 11312825205_5f81cce08a_oand then went to the camp.

Turns out our camp was not just tents in the desert. We had a little hut with two beds where we stashed our stuff. We then had supper with our guide, his friend, and two other folks who were staying at the camp.

The other local, I want to say his name was Omar but I can’t recall for sure, was telling us stories of him and his dad hunting. Turns out they hunt with machine guns. He showed us a few pictures and it was pretty funny to see someone with a machine gun in their hand while trying to hunt for the Jordanian version of a deer. At one point, one of the other visitors said “Omar, you look like a terrorist”. My eyes jumped out of my head thinking that was something you just don’t say. But then sure enough, he laughed and said he did kind of look like a terrorist.

11312797395_da25dfb8a3_oThey finished the night off by going outside setting off some small fireworks on the ground and on the top of one of the rocks. Me and Tamara took a walk around one of the big hills and enjoyed the sunset in the desert. It was so quiet and so peaceful that it was weird not to hear much of anything. Add to that the fact that there was NO light except the moonlight and stars that you really could see everything. It was pretty amazing.

We crashed for the night and woke up in the morning ready to go. Our bags were taken for us and we were put on camels which we would ride back 11312877403_fc12cc9737_ointo town. Now here’s the thing about riding a camel. It feels kind of cool for about 5 minutes, and then afterwards, your ass starts to hurt. It is not comfortable to be on for very long. I sat criss-crossed on the camel and switched positions often to try and be comfortable but it really didn’t help. The ride took about 2 hours but the funniest thing about that entire experience was the fact that here we are riding camels in the desert, and our guide is talking on his cell phone. Seemed so funny.

From there, we snagged a ride over to Aqaba where we would spend our last night in Jordan before working our way back to the capital on our journey home.


11312549656_b76352631a_oAqaba itself was just a sort of beach town. Not a lot to do there but we did wander around a bit and get some food. The hotel was pretty nice but security was a bit of a pain in the ass because of language issues. We had gone to Pizza Hut for supper and brought back some leftovers. When we tried to go through security, the guy wouldn’t let us bring the food in. So I said fine and put it on the machine. After I went through the metal detector, he starts yelling at me in Arabic about the pizza. He said I couldn’t bring it in but he didn’t tell me what to do with it. I tried to explain that if I can’t bring it in, what do you want me to do? The disagreement got a bit heated and then the hotel bellboy came over and talked to him and the security guy just barked something at me and told me to take the pizza.

DCIM100GOPROWe took the bus down to the beach to do some snorkeling. This was pretty awesome. I had not been able to do snorkeling before because I kept panicking when my face was in the water. But this time, I took my time, and managed to figure out a way that worked for me. Once I got it, it was easy from there on in. We spent a few hours snorkeling the reefs and enjoying the sun before heading back to the hotel. Just as a side note, we could almost see the border of Saudi Arabia from where we were. Very close.

That night, we took a taxi to the Aqaba airport and caught a flight to Amman which is the capital of Jordan. Now, a couple of notable things about that experience. For starters, I wasn’t allowed to have the carabiner from my GPS in my carry on bag. Very weird. They really dug through all of our luggage and asked a bunch of questions but we were eventually let through. But the most interesting thing about that flight was what I saw while in the air.

11312620843_86c65c1124_kAqaba to Jordan is only an hour or so by air. Quick and easy. It travels from the southern most point of the country north. I was on the right (east) side of the plane at a window seat. It was midnight when we left so everything was pitch black. As we are flying, I start to see these flashes of light off in the distance. At first, I didn’t think anything of it but after awhile, some of them were pretty big. I then realized that these were explosions. From everything I could tell, it looked like weaponry of some kind that was going off in the middle of the night. I got pretty freaked out as I had never seen explosions on the ground from the air like that. I have no idea what they were or where they came from but it was kind of freaky to see.

We got to Amman, snagged a cab to our hotel, then proceeded to crash for a few hours before our last day of sightseeing.


Given that Amman was less than 50km from Israel, me and Tamara opted to take a day tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem just to be able to say we were there. I may not be a Christian, but to be that close, you kind of have to go see it just to say you were there. Well, let me tell you, THAT was a bad idea. Here’s how it went.

11668726705_2b310535fd_kWe had arranged a tour, so we got picked up at the hotel and driven to the Allenby bridge. This is a bridge that goes between Jordan and Israel. When you get to the Jordan side, they check you in, and TAKE YOUR PASSPORT. They don’t just look at it, they take it. They then load you onto a bus, and once on the bus, they give you your passport back. You then cross the bridge, and in the process go through I believe it was 5 or 6 security checkpoints on the bridge. Once across the bridge, you go through two more sets of security screenings. One for your luggage, and one for immigration. Once out, our guide was there and picked us up for our tour but it seemed to take FOREVER to get there. Not a great experience.

Our guide was fantastic but the overall experience in Israel was very disappointing. For that reason, I won’t go into a lot of detail about every little thing we saw. The biggest thing about the entire experience was that me and Tamara only knew of the biblical Jerusalem and Bethlehem which is a far cry from the real thing. Both places were excessively over crowded, and VERY busy. It was kind of insane how busy it was in that part of the world. So many people there to see so much of what it had to offer that it kind of turned us off.

11669251374_890c172f81_kWe did get to see the supposed birthplace and deathbed of Jesus. We also saw the Sheppard’s fields which was kind of cool. We took some photos but a lot of the interiors were hard to capture on camera. Plus, with so many people around it was kind of crazy. A big part of what sort of freaked me out was how so many of these people were so emotional about being there. There was a stone tablet of some kind that Jesus was laid on or his clothes were on or something, and many people wanted to touch it or pray on it. The tomb where Jesus was buried was also another spot with a huge long line of people just waiting to get inside. It was very unsettling to me.

11669029175_5855286af9_kAnother interesting thing was that we had two guides. The first one couldn’t take us to Bethlehem because that’s considered part of Palestine and he wasn’t allowed to go there. No security but we did switch vehicles. The second guide was ok but not great. He really tried to push us on souvenirs at some shop he either owned or was involved with.

We finished the day off with a ride back to the bridge where we went through the same sort of long hassle about getting back into Jordan. We hit the hotel and crashed, and then headed to the airport for our 2am flight. Before we knew it, we were back home and it was all done.


This was a trip that was supposed to be one thing but turned into something else. For both me and Tamara, it was an amazing experience. It’s been 8 months since we were there and it seems like so long ago.

If you ever have the chance to see Jordan, go. Don’t hesitate and just go see it. It was truly an awesome experience.

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Is Sharing A Form Of Gloating?

A few years ago, me and Tamara helped my mom finance the construction of our new cottage. It was something that was important to us and to her, and we knew it would be a good investment in our future. Ever since I was a teenager, I can remember going down to Pointe Du Chene every Sunday to have supper at “the cottage”. The cottage was my grandparents place during the summer but it was always a place for family. Eventually my mom and step-father bought the cottage beside my grandparents and that became part of our life.

I never gave it much thought about “going to the cottage”. But then Tamara mentioned to me one day about how it made her a little uncomfortable to talk to her friends about “her cottage” because she thought it made her sound a little snobbish or perhaps a little “better off”. If you know Tamara, you know that’s the farthest thing you would ever call her, and yet her talking about our own property made her a little uncomfortable. I kind of knew what she meant but I never really understood it until recently.

Since 2012, when I switched to becoming a full time software trainer, I have had a lot of travel included as part of what I do. Previously I had traveled a little bit for my job but it was not as common as what I do now. The general rule is I’m on the road about 50% of my time. It varies over the course of the year where I might go a couple months and not travel at all then have a couple of months of a lot of travel. It all averages out.

Now, I have been very fortunate with my work in that it has taken me to some pretty amazing places. There are times when I can’t even believe that I have had the chance to do these things. Now I’m the type of person who loves to share my experiences. Whether it’s road trips I did as a younger man, being in a band, interviewing my favorite band when I was younger, or even talking about the places I have visited.

Recently I’ve started to wonder if I should even bother talking at all about my travels. For many of the people I work with, going to New York, LA, London, and other parts of the world is just a normal thing. It’s part of our regular conversation we have because it’s part of what we do for a living. We talk about places to eat, hotels to stay in, and cool spots to check out. It seems pretty normal to us.

But when it comes to my friends, some of my family, and even just people I know on Facebook, I’ve started to wonder if my talking about places I go for my work comes off more as bragging, than it does just wanting to share my experiences. If you know me well enough, you know I’m not the bragging type. Yet I’m always checking in at airports and hotels and snapping pictures of places I have visited and part of me now understands what Tamara meant.

It’s not that you don’t want to share these things you have or do, but sometimes it might feel like you’re flaunting something you have or something you have had the chance to do, in front of those who may never do it. It’s this part of me that sometimes wants to just not tell anyone anything about anywhere I have been unless it comes up in conversation.

For me though, I get so excited about some of these places I have been to that I just want to share all of it with the people I know and care about. What’s the point of experiencing all of these amazing things that the world has to offer, when you can’t share that with anyone? Especially when most of the time I am traveling solo, sitting in a hotel room, and writing blog entries like this.

And honestly, there’s also the part of me that kind of doesn’t care one way or the other (although obviously part of me does care if I’m writing about it). This may sound a little snobbish but the reality is, I’ve worked pretty hard in my life to get where I’m at today, so I don’t think I should feel guilty about being given opportunities when I know I have worked hard to get them. It’s just that I like to think of myself as being pretty down to earth and I want to stay that way.

So to those of you who may think I’m showing off or bragging, sorry you feel that way. It’s not my intention, but I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I love sharing my life with others and it kills me when I can’t talk about the things I am most excited about. I’ve got a pretty big one (non-travel related even) coming up in September and it’s killing me to not talk about it.


Categories: Friends & Family, Travel | 1 Comment

The Degrading Perks of Business Travel

If you know me at all, you know I’m not the type to brag or show off or talk about being better than others. It just isn’t who I am. But today, I’m giving myself a bit of permission to be a bit of an ass. Here’s my story.

Flashback to about 6-7 years ago when I started doing a lot of travel for work. I got status with the airline and started to experience some of the perks. Free upgrades, lounge access, priority boarding, and the odd other item here and there. It was nice to enjoy these things when they were relatively new to me and I was just getting used to frequent travel.

Here I am today, a changed man when it comes to air travel. And the more I travel, the more I am beginning to notice that I have less and less tolerance for some of the things that have now become commonplace. Specifically, the lounge.

At one time, the airline lounge was a place exclusive to frequent travelers and those who flew first class. You’d enter the lounge, be kindly greeted, and enjoy the relative quiet nature of the lounge. Since only first class and business travelers were in the lounge, it was so quiet and really peaceful to be in compared to all of the loud noise of the regular airport gates. For those who travel a LOT, this was a very nice perk. Yes, some lounges have free food, and free booze, but for me, the quiet was always nice. I have a hard time dealing with a lot of noise sometimes so the quiet nature of the lounge was so appealing.

Now it seems that the lounge is no longer just for business travelers and first class passengers. I have seen more kids and babies in lounges in the last year than I ever have in all of my travels. And on top of that, it seems that the parents of said kids seem to think it’s a free for all where they don’t have to pay attention or mind their kids. Screaming, yelling, kids running around, and general panic from these little ones is more common than ever.

When the hell did this become the norm? Where did my quiet lounge go? How is it that everyone and their dog (in some cases that is literal) is now allowed in here? How is it that us who keep the airlines in business now have to put up with this racket on a frequent basis when at one time, it was nice and quiet?

Yes, I’m sounding a bit elitist but the reality is, us business travelers keep the airlines in business. If it weren’t for us, there would be far fewer flights, and they would be FAR more expensive. Is it that much to ask that we have a place where we can relax without the worries of some 1 year old kid screaming while his dad points and laughs at him thinking it’s funny. I kid you not. I sat in a US lounge last year and watched this with my own eyes. The kids scream was audible from the other side of the airport and his dad thought it was just funny. I left the lounge quite pissed.

It would seem now that the lounges are no longer for us who earn the right to be in them, but for anyone who can smile nice enough to get in. Makes me want to spend less time in them.

Then comes a second, albeit much smaller qualm. First/Business class.

I rarely get the chance to fly first class because my clients don’t want to fork out that kind of money. But I do get free upgrades from time to time. Part of flying first class is the extra special treatment you get, and that it’s somewhat “above everything else”. It varies from airline to airline but you expect far better service and a quality of treatment that you never see in economy. Today, flying from Toronto to Houston, I had a business class ticket. I was looking forward to sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the flight.

Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. For starters, I forgot my tablet at home so I was forced to watch what the airline had. Not a big deal but annoyed. Then came in not one, not two, but THREE kids who were all seated in business class. Add to that a VERY loud SCREAMING kid just behind the first class cabin. Between the racket and commotion the three kids made and the screeching noise coming from the baby, it was very hard to relax at all. Thankfully, once we were up high enough, noise cancelling headphones cranked up solved the problem.

I have never seen that many kids in first class. And yes, I know all kids are not bad. I have two of them and I know exactly how they’ll react when they get on a plane. They will be excited, blah blah blah. I get it. But as a business traveler who deals with dozens of flights a year, the less commotion for me the better. This just made it worse.

As a result of this trip, I find myself turning to the dark side and becoming more and more of an ass when it comes to air travel. I’ve never thought of myself as a snob or stuck up in any way but I think I have become that way with air travel. My tolerance for bullshit is at an all time low. If I have to spend 8-12 hours on planes and airports, I want and need less bullshit to deal with. Noisy kids in first class and the lounges needs to go.

But since it’s never going to happen, I’ll simply vent my frustrations here, get on my next flight, plug in my headphones and hope I can drown out whatever terrible noise is happening this time.

Categories: Rants, Travel | Leave a comment

Why I Refuse To Participate In Movember

It’s November 6th and the Movember has begun. People all over the office, the city, and likely the world, are taking the month of November to raise awareness regarding prostate cancer. For guys who participate, they are encouraged to grow a mustache/beard/facial hair during the month and collect donations to the Movember charity. It’s going on at my work and I’ve started seeing the posts on Facebook. I however am not participating and here’s why.

As of today, I have received 11 requests either via email, Facebook, or via someone directly asking me, to participate in Movember. Not one or two. 11. ELEVEN! I have never been asked to donate to any other charity as much as I am asked to donate to Movember. For me, 11 times counts as harassment. I feel like I am bombarded everywhere to participate in this one charity fundraiser. Yet there are thousands of them that go on every year and I am never nagged to death about them. But when Movember rolls along, I get nagged and nagged and nagged about participating. Last year I had an employee corner me in the office and nag me about joining and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to participate. This year the nagging has been worse.

I understand that people are passionate about their cause and they want people to participate. But ELEVEN TIMES?!?!?! Seriously? Enough is enough. As long as I continue to be nagged about this, I will never participate. If I got asked once or twice, maybe I would consider it. But 11 times to me is harassment. I will be steering clear.

If you want people to join in your cause, understand that nagging the hell out of them is not going to be an effective way to get them to join your cause. If the cause is worthy, and a person is so inclined, they will join up on their own. A nudge on something you are passionate about is fine but don’t go too far.

And lastly, remember that not everyone is interested in advertising to the whole world that they donated to charity X. For me, donations are something that I do rarely because there are so many out there and it’s hard to pick one. So when I do, it has a special meaning to me and I’m not really keen on telling the whole world and asking them to do the same.



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