1.31.2011

Day 30 – Goals For The Next 30 Days

Its the last day! One last list (for this challenge anyway):

  • Keep on blogging. This has been fun and I want to try and keep it up, if not a quite the same break-neck rate. I'm going to aim for at least a twice a week schedule, but we shall see how it goes.
    • On that note, perhaps I'll start another one? Not in February, but since the next 30 days includes March I may give that a shot. Topic suggestions are welcome!
  • Stay on top of my school-work. I've actually being doing pretty good thus far this semester and hopefully I can keep on tackling my work as it comes up instead of waiting till the last minute to start it.
  • Creative writing. This one kind of scares me - because of the time commitment it could take - but also because if I start tackling the kind of short-story/poetry writing that I want to, part of my plan involves putting it up for critiquing. Maybe. I'm not entirely sure yet, but either way I need to start writing again.
  • Tackle my TBR list. My To Be Read list is actually a little longer than what I have posted in the sidebar. This is probably the longest I have ever let my TBR list grow - aside from the Christmas my parents gave me pretty much the entire Wheel of Time series, which doesn't count because they wouldn't let me read them all right away - and I am actually itching to finish them all.
Yes, I do realize that all of my goals are going to have some serious price tags attached to them in regards to monopolizing my time, not to mention that I have other commitments as well. So, How about I just report back in 30 days and let y'all know how I did?

[Update] As a point of interest, I have updated the original post with links to each topic - just in case anyone wants to go back and read the others. That post itself is linked under the "projects" tab.

Day 29 – Your Highs And Lows Of This Month

Late, and in brief:

Highs:
  • Blogging: this has been a seriously cool experiment and while occasionally inconvenient (ahem, the late nights which are entirely my fault), it has helped me to sharpen my mind and practice some of the skills that I'm going to need if I'm going to survive the rest of this (and next, and next...) school year.
  • Developing For The Web: speaking of school, I picked up a new course this semester on web design and application building. It is really awesome and I have been enjoying it quite a bit. Here's hoping it continues.
  • Birthday
  • Anniversary
  • Getting plugged in at church: after spending a fair amount of time not really plugged in to anything, I am now (back) to running projection for services at my new church! It is exciting.
Lows:
  • N/A: surprisingly this has been a really good month with nothing I would particularly characterize as being a low. Unless of course you want to count hours being slashed at work, which does suck. But other than that, I really can't complain :-/

1.29.2011

Day 28 – Your Current Relationship

Today's topic is more a broad statement than it is a question. This is Seana and me in one of those photo-booth pictures that we did a while ago. There are other pictures of us, but I happen to like this one a lot. It is no coincidence that I decided to tackle this subject today, being that it is our four year anniversary.

It is a little funny to think about our relationship because we have been in it for quite a while. Seana and I were friends for several years before we started dating, and our relationship has seen us through some major periods of life. What with the end of high school, beginning of post-secondary and all the additional challenges and changes that come with that transition, it has been nice to have someone to walk with through it all - someone I can trust completely and unequivocally. Have we had our problems? Yes, and I fully expect them to continue - that is just the way life works. But the important thing is that we have managed to work through them and address them as they come up, some things probably more than once. Again, that's life.

I find it difficult to imagine what my life would be like without Seana in it. Different for sure. She sees a side of me not everyone does - a side effect of not always being the most open person. I love her, and I appreciate every moment that we have together.

With all my heart.


<3

1.28.2011

How To Perform Song-writing Alchemy

This is apparently how you create a hit pop song. Who knew it was this simple?

Note: There is some brief profanity at the beginning and end of the video.

Day 27 - What Kind Of Person Attracts You?

This is kind of a tricky one, in that the title immediately lends itself to a romantic interpretation, which may not be the kind of angle I am aiming for. On the other hand, speaking generally about the kind of attributes which attract me to someone in a more general sense can be challenging as well since they aren't really that clearly defined. Well, neither is the other, since I tend to be attracted to those of the female variety on a case-by-case basis - not that I have to concern myself with that (more tomorrow).

The key, I suppose, is that everything is fairly arbitrary. There are things that I admire in one person which I do not in others. I like to see people more as the sum of their parts rather than just settling for a few "positive" attributes and calling it a day. 

Sitting here and re-reading what I have so far has made me reflect on the friends I have and, in particular, the people I am closest to, and I suppose that there are a few commonalities that I can pick out:
  • Intelligent: not that I need to surround myself with people who have super-high IQs or anything, just people who don't take the world at face value and are willing to verbally spar about things like politics, culture, media, science, theology and the like.
  • Curious
  • Geeky: how do you know if you are a geek? Step one - complete two of the following quotes, and you are off to a good start (thank you #observationdeck)
    • "I am your ______" 
    • "Damn it, Jim. I'm a _____ not a brick layer" 
    • "I’m sorry, ____. I’m afraid I can’t do that." 
    • "I must not fear. Fear is the ______." 
    • "My name is ______. You killed my father. Prepare to die!" 
    • "End Of ____" 
    • "Kneel before ___." 
    • "Shop Smart. Shop ____" 
  • Honest about your quirks: born from my general geekyness, I can't stand it when people try to hide the things that make them interesting because they want to be "mainstream." Normal is overrated: come to the Darkseid, we have cookies.

1.27.2011

Day 26 - Your Favourite Books

Oooh boy, I have been looking forward to today for quite a while. As I may or may not have mentioned, I love books. The shape, the smell, the feel of them in my hands; there is not many things in this world that give me as much pleasure as reading a good book. So to share some of my favourites is a pleasure, especially since for one I know which I’m going to recommend. Also, this calls for another list!

The Recent – Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

I picked up Little Brother shortly after Christmas, mostly because I had received a fancy new e-reader and Cory has a tendency to give his writings away for free on his website. I had read some other stories by him in class before and already purchased one of his other books, Eastern Standard Tribe, but given all the buzz I had heard about LB I figured it would be the perfect book to start my e-book reading experience with. Boy was that a good choice.

Doctorow has constructed an eerily believable future in which the technology we trust and rely on often unthinkingly is turned against the population of San Francisco following a terrorist attack, leading to a level of surveillance usually associated with police states. The book’s teenage protagonists use all the tricks they know to stay one step ahead of the government hounds in an attempt to preserve the rule of law, due process, and human rights in the face of fear-mongering and power abuse. It forces the reader to question what freedoms they are willing to give up in the name of security. It is smart and (bonus) educational, though not overbearing when it is trying to teach the reader how something works in the story. It is the kind of book that is really hard to put down once you pick it up.

The Comedy – Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

My parents gave me this book for Christmas one year, likely because of the ties the legends of Anansi the Spider to Jamaica. My Dearma had told us some Anansi stories, and this book serves as a very interesting take on the West African/ Caribbean tales of the trickster god. This was also my first exposure to Neil Gaiman, who is now one of my absolute favourite authors.

The book centres around Fat Charlie and Spider, the sons of “Mr. Nancy” who meet for the first time following their father’s death. Fat Charlie, who never though of himself as anything special, is shocked to discover that his brother seems to have magical powers, though not as shocked as when he discovers that his father is a god. Trying to reconnect the two brothers is a daunting undertaking, and naturally hilarity ensues. Gaiman is always good for a laugh in that ironic, British way, and Anansi Boys has him at the top of his game.

The Time Consumer – The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Totalling up to about eleven thousand pages over fourteen books (with one more on the way), the Wheel of Time series is an epic of epic proportions. To attempt to sum the complex and layered stories would be madness, so I’ll point you to the Wikipedia entry to sate that thirst. What I can say is that the usual fantasy tropes are there: magic, swords, dragons (kind of), the reluctant hero, an epic struggle of good vs evil.  It is a long book series, but perfect for anyone looking for something to dig into that isn’t going to be over before the enjoyment kicks in. I picked the first book up at a book fair at my elementary school. Little did I know what I was getting into. A few years and a shelf on my book case dedicated to the series later, tWoT has fostered in me a huge appreciation for serialized storytelling of the sort that makes waiting for the latest manga chapters to come out bearable. It can take a lot of patience to slog through the series, especially as more and more characters are introduced, but it is worth it.

I linked to the fourth book in the series because it is my favourite, and though I own all the books in either paperback or hardcover the books are also available as e-books, for those not willing to carry around the tomes eating up space on my bookshelf. Strongly recommended.

Runners up:

  • Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett
  • The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkein
  • The Saga of the Seven Suns – Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Song of Albion – Stephen R. Lawhead
  • The Space Trilogy – C.S Lewis
  • Ysabel – Guy Gavriel Kay

1.26.2011

Day 25 - Somewhere You'd Like To Move Or Visit

The whole world.

I love travelling, and have been blessed with the opportunity to do a fair bit of it. From spending time living in France to travelling half-way around the world to visit some family in Tanzania, I have the travel bug, and the only prescription is more cowbell travelling. I really enjoy getting to go out and experience different cultures, learn the way other people live. Having exposure to different ideas about life and how to live it can be a transformative experience, if you let it be. The key to enjoying your travels, as far as my experience goes, is to be open to trying new things, especially food since that seems to be the second way people best express their culture (the first being language of course).

And again, because apparently I love lists, the top ten places I would like to visit:

  • France
  • Australia
  • The UK and Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Iceland
  • Japan
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands

Day 24 - A Moment You Felt Most Satisfied About Your Life

Again with the introspective topics. And again with the topics I'm not sure how to answer. Also, again with the late night post. Meh.

 I can't pinpoint a single moment and say "that was quantitatively the time I was most satisfied" for two reasons: 1) my brain doesn't file things away like that and 2) who really talks like that? Especially to themselves. What I do have, however, is a fairly consistent set of experiences which do the same job, ie make me feel satisfied about life. Those moments are the quality time I get to spend with my friends, especially my good friends. I often have trouble opening up, and so I have a very small set of friends I trust explicitly. The walks, the hanging out, the coffee shops, they all add up to a jumble of experiences I like to file away under the post's heading.

So thank you, my friends, for being constant reminders of how great my life is, in spite of all the challenges I face.

1.24.2011

Day 23 - Your Favourite Movie And What It's About

This is actually a rather difficult question for me. I love film and watch a LOT of movies, most of which I enjoy. But to narrow it down to just one favourite? That is quite the challenge. If I were to look at all the films I have in my collection right now, either digitally or physically, I would have a couple that I could watch over and over and never got bored, though no clear winner. Time for another list!

The Comedy - Monty Python and the Holy Grail



Come on, you had to see that one coming. I will watch this movie endlessly, if for no other reason that to quote it. Too. Many. Quotable. Moments! And it doesn't help that the version that I own comes with the screenplay, just to help me along that much further in my quoting frenzy. It isn't necessarily the greatest film ever, but it is absolutely hilarious.

The Classic - Star Wars



Like most things sci-fi, I was introduced to Star Wars by my dad, who was really more of a Trekkie (or Trekker, I'm not sure which side of that fence he falls on). I fell in love with it instantly, and how could I not? Epic space battles, drama, close calls and narrow escapes, swords made out of freakin' light. What is not ta love about all that? Not to mention being one of the most - if not the most - influential pop culture films even  today. Constantly quoted, often parodied, never replaced (or better than the original trilogy), Star Wars holds a special place in my movie favourites. Also, I love the old-school trailers.



Ok, so in all honesty if I had to pick a movie right now it would probably be this one. Action! Adventure! Intrigue! Swordplay! And yes... some kissing. I can't remember the first time I saw this movie, but the simple letters R.O.U.S stuck in my mind for forever. I love this movie more every time I see it, and it features some fantastic acting. Also, its a book! That said, this isprobably the only case where you will ever find me saying the the movie was better than the book. If you haven't see this film yet RUN AND GET IT, RIGHT NOW. You won't regret it.

Runners Up:

Day 22 - How Important You Think Education Is

Another late one, but this time I have a valid excuse: celebrating my birthday with my friends. Hopefully I'll get back to posting on the actual day starting, well, with today. Now that I've got that out of the way, on with the post!

Education is very important to me, so much so that I started my post-secondary schooling training to be a teacher. I love learning, and education - institutionalized education - plays a vital role in instilling into children that love and equipping them with the ability to succeed in their learning and life challenges. Sometimes it isn't quite as good at that job as it should be and needs to be, after all who doesn't have a story about a teacher who just doesn't seem to care about the materials they are teaching. It is the challenge any institution faces when trying to provide top-notch service to a very broad base of users from different socio-cultural and economic backgrounds, especially with users as fickle as grade-schoolers. While I can say for sure that I have met some teachers, and teacher candidates, who should not be anywhere near a classroom, teachers on a whole should be applauded for the difficult work they do.

It is a job not made any easier by the internet. There are many fantastic and quality learning resources out there on the world wide web, such as TED, that you have to wonder how far away we are from a major paradigm shift in regards to how we teach many of the topics we cover  in school and what role technology and the internet will play in creating that future. Hopefully schoolboards and the Ministry of Education will be able to keep better pace with the breakneck speed at which education technologies and aids evolve  in the future.

1.23.2011

Day 21 - How Have You Changed In The Past Two Years?

This is late, I'm tired, and there is no way I'm going to be able to answer this question with level of introspection I would like. I may come back to it later, but for now I'll leaver you with the few thoughts I have banging around the top of my head right now.

Mostly when I look at my "growth" over the last two years, it is with a little bit of regret. It has involved a lot of backwards steps for me in regards to my mental and spiritual well-being. There are some things I wish I could take back and some opportunities I wish I would have chased after more. Probably one of the biggest areas of growth came with the realization that there is no sense in regretting the past - difficult as that may be to put into practice. The other would be that sometimes the only way forward is to go back and find another rout.

In terms of specific changes I have undergone in the last while, the one that stands out the most is my entry into the working world, or part-time working world. Oddly, many of the things I have regrets about lead back in some way or another to my work, which is telling in and of itself. But again, there are lessons to be learned here, and that is what is important.

And now I'm falling asleep as I type, so how about I leave things here for now.

1.21.2011

Day 20 - One Of Your Favourite Shows

I originally only had one show in mind here, as per the subject of the day, but then I received a rather exciting email from a fan group I belong to so I have now decided that I will talk about two shows. Also, because I can, I'm going to avoid talking about specific plot developments as best I can. No spoilers here!



First, and also the original, is what I personally consider to be the best show on television right now - genre or otherwise. My interest in Fringe was piqued after seeing all the posts and positive recommendations it received on io9, and so I proceeded to... acquire all the episodes that had aired by that point (I think that they were just finishing season two). Best. Decision. Ever. I will admit, there are some problems with the first season that can make you wonder why you are even bothering to watch this somewhat amusing if not entirely there X-Files clone. Then you get to season two and they smack you over the head with a frying pan. And suddenly the first season makes a lot more sense. And then they go and out do themselves with season three and you go from X-Files clone to "X-Files wha?"

Fringe is great because it is smart. They don't have to dumb down the plot line so that you can follow along. They give you enough of a mystery so that you have something to create wild and crazy theories about between without dragging them out overly long ala Lost. It is a tensely written thriller with enough of a procedural feel to satisfy the Bones/CSI/NCIS crowd, and yet wears its genre colours very openly.

Easily the best part about Fringe is its characters. They are engaging and complex. It isn't very often you see characters as multi-dimensional (ha!) as Olivia, Walter, Peter and the rest of the gang. Their background and the stories about who they are and what they have gone through are deep and the changes that the characters face as the story goes on feels like they are actually centred around the multitude of tiny details that make the characters work. John Noble certainly deserves recognition for his role as Walter Bishop, the somewhat mad-scientist with a penchant for hallucinogens who kicked off the entire chain of events the series covers. I mean, this guy gives depth and some absolutely amazing character moments to someone who is literally missing parts of his brain and who can swing from serious scientist to taking his pants off in front of a group of his employees in the blink of an eye. And then you have Anna Torv, who was criticised early in the series for her wooden acting. Then the end of season two happened, people saw how much of an acting genius she really is, and now she has been juggling the equivalent of four different character roles at the same time. Kudos for that.

I could go on for much longer about how much I love Fringe, and often will if you let me, but I want to leave some things for discovery. I will leave you with a whole-hearted recommendation to check this show out though.



Now for the exciting news. One of my favourite shows when I was little was ReBoot, a show from Canadian animation studio Mainframe Entertainment. IT was a great show and the first of its kind: fully 3D computer animation. I loved watching it and my dad still says that is was one of the better kid's television shows. Anyway, apparently they are going to be re-releasing the entire series on DVD and I received the email today saying that it was up for pre-order. Naturally I was very excited, and here we are. Awsome tv, here I come!

1.20.2011

Day 19 - Something You Miss

Probably one of the things I miss the most is camp. I spent three summers as a team leader at Hope Valley Day Camp, and they were fabulous. Not all the time – there were some… interesting things that happened occasionally – but for the most part I loved it. There is something I should make clear about myself: if I could, I would spend all of my time volunteering in some capacity – especially with kids if possible. So having the opportunity to spend pretty much my entire summer living at Hope Valley with a great community of other Christians who were (often) just as passionate about giving up their time was fantastic, and some of my greatest friends –  including my girlfriend – are people I met there. And the kids! They came from so many different backgrounds with so many different personalities and struggles and stories. You always get campers who cause trouble, and it can be difficult to help them through the issues that cause them to act out. Sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do, but we always took the view that there is no such thing as problem campers, just campers with problems.

Camp helped me grow, both personally and as a Christian. Maybe that is what I miss the most.

1.19.2011

Day 18 - Disrespecting Your Parents

Less of a concrete question and more of a general topic. What does it mean to disrespect one’s parents? Much in the same way that we often struggle with the meaning of “honour thy father and mother”, the people who suggest that it is bad to disrespect your parents often have very different ideas of what exactly that entails.

Disrespect is literally the antithesis of respect, that much is inherent in its very structure and is a bit of a no-brainer. If respect is a positive feeling towards someone or something, in the sense of being honourable, then to disrespect someone is to feel that their actions are worthy only of distain and rudeness. By that definition, it is incredibly easy to disrespect our parents.

I can say for sure that at one point or another I have disrespected my parents. It is inevitable to do so at one point or another just because of those awful teen years where you are so cocky and self assured that your parents Must Be Wrong About Everything. It isn’t just the teen years unfortunately, but they do bear a fair amount of the blame for kicking everything off. That said, there is no excuse for such behaviour. Our parents often do wonderful things for us, and often times it can take years to truly understand the sacrifices and lessons that they try to equip us with for life outside of the sheltered nest of our homes. Does this apply to every parent? No, not necessarily - I do recognize that I have been blessed with an amazing family and that is the only perspective I can really write from. But I do believe that respect is a two-way street and that there is a lot of value to be had in recognizing and celebrating our parents, even if that isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.

Again, do I have the greatest relationship with my parents? Not as much as I would like. But I’m taking my own advice and I’m working on it. Life is a journey, what else can you do?

1.18.2011

An Epic of Epic Epicness

Step One: Play video
Step Two: Fall off chair
Step Three: Repeat


Oh internetz, when will you quit?

Day 17 - Your Beliefs

I am a Christian. That is what I've grown up in and what I have decided to be. It frames the way in which I see the world and is the starting place from which I form all of my opinions about everything else. I believe in a knowable, personal God who is not distant from the world, but is active in His creation. I believe that Jesus existed as a real person who walked on Earth in human flesh, and yet was also God. I believe that He died on a cross for my sins and the sins of everyone else throughout time, the perfect sacrifice for an imperfect world. And I believe that, more importantly, He rose again. I believe that that we are impure and imperfect in God's eyes, but if we accept the gift He has given us through Christ's sacrifice he will forgive us and cleanse us and that we can enter into a personal relationship with Him. I do not believe that becoming a Christian is an instant solution to all my problems: those will continue to exist by the very nature of the world we live in. I do, however, believe that becoming a Christian can give you hope and strength to get through the tough times. I also believe that God is active in the world through the Holy Spirit, a guide to speak to us and enable us who dwells within everyone who follows Christ's teachings.

This is the core of my beliefs, and should be in line with the core beliefs of every Christian. They are the only beliefs I have which are not up for debate. Everything else that follows, everything not central to my salvation, reflects the decisions I have made through my exposure to different faiths and denominations. I won't write about all those because the list would be too long and to changing to be of any real use to anyone, so I'll just leave it at this.

1.17.2011

Day 16 - Someone Who Fascinates You And Why

This question is more complicated than it first appears. I'm not really all that great about picking things, and picking people is even more of a challenge. And then you have to write about who they are and what they've done to garner your attention and why the fascinate you so much... gah. Too much decision-making.

Pulling a name from a hat.

So Bill Gates then. Founder of Microsoft, one of the masters of Silicon Valley along with Steve Jobs, philanthropist. Love him or hate him, Bill Gates is a pretty cool guy - digs at personal hygiene aside.  Honestly, it wasn't enough for him to help revolutionize the computer world (if some of the actions Miscrosoft were, well, questionable), he had to go ahead a become this great charity-guy as well.

On the Things That Interest Me side of the Bill Gates equation, I recently read his book The Road Ahead in which he muses on the future of technology. It is a little lopsided in its portrayal of the tech world (if you were to read this in a tech vacuum you could almost believe that Microsoft was the only computer company out there), however a lot of what he has to say is both eye-opening and largely applicable today. Jobs gets a lot of credit for being a visionary, but I think that Gates deserves some recognition on that front as well.

One of the things that impresses me the most about Gates is his commitment to charity and philanthropy. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the worlds largest private foundation and is involved in relieving poverty, enhancing healthcare, and improving access to information technologies and education. One of the most interesting projects that they have started as a kind of sidebar to the Foundation is The Giving Pledge: an attempt to get the world's billionaires to pledge to give away the majority of their fortunes away either in life or in death. This is a project which they started with Warren Buffet, who has pledged to give away an astounding 99% of his fortune. Even if they can get a few of those wealthy who have committed to giving away their fortunes to actually do so, the potential impact of all those dollars is phenomenal. Forbes has a really interesting, if long, article on the whole shindig if you want more information, and I sincerely recommend reading it.

1.16.2011

Day 15 - Your Favourite Blogs

It is actually kind of bad how many blogs I read: as of this moment I have something like 620 unread posts in my Google Reader stream. There are just so many people out there blogging who have interesting perspectives on the world and lots of interesting things to say. That is, after all, the purpose of a blog - to get fresh ideas and perspectives out to whoever is interested in listening. Here are some of my top blogs:

The Personal - Broken, In Repair
Just a guy being healed by Grace
It may embarrass Hansen to be mentioned - again. But I actually appreciate and read his blog quite a bit. He writes with brutal honesty about personal issues and struggles, as well as successes and joys. He approaches his blog with the same kind of openness which he helped me foster when he was my leader at camp, and that I appreciate.

The Tech - GizmodoEngadget

These two rivals share space as my favourite tech blogs. I read Engadget for the long list of new and shiny tech invading the world, as well as for their excellent coverage of the Windows Phone 7 plateform, aka the phone I own, which Giz has more or less annoyed much to my annoyance. The only thing that really annoys me about Engadget is the commenting community which more resembles YouTube than anything particularly useful. Flame wars abound and there are often more admin-deleted comments then not. That is where Gizmodo steps in. Like any tech blog, they have their fair share of trolls and fanboys; that said, they do a better job then most at keeping them in line. Giz is also my source for tech news that falls outside of the realm of personal gadgetry: it collects the gamut of gadgets as well as essays on gadget culture and the science behind the tech. Note: as much as I love Gizmodo, it is best viewed with the t/not:NSFW tag appended to the end, unless of course you are in to reviews about sex toys. In which case, fill your boots!

The Awesome - io9
My favourite blog of the lot and the one I follow the most, io9 is a must have for any geek's reading list. They bring together sci-fi and fantasy fandoms into a crazy mix of books, comics, tv shows and movies as well as covering cool scientific breakthroughs and just keeping you well informed of the things geeks love to know. Add to that probably the best community online for respectful and engaging discussion and you have one of the absolute best blogs on the web.

1.15.2011

Day 14 - Your Earliest Memory

To be honest, I'm not all that good at reminding time frames to begin with. Ask me a question about something that happened in a book I read or a show I watched years ago and I can probably answer that; ask me a question about myself... chances are not as great. That said, I do have some hazy memories from when I was younger, albeit with no particular concept of a timeline and the only marker distinguishing them as the earliest being my place of residence at the time.

Is it strange that all of my early memories are tied to relatively unimportant events? No birthdays or Christmases; maybe Thanksgiving - but those have a serious tendency to blend together. No, I can remember playing Lego in my bedroom closet, my brother bloodying his lips rubbing them on his crib, losing my boomerang on the playground, and playing Pluto in a class play on the planets (back when Pluto still was one). I suppose on the important side you could count my Kindergarten graduation, though it really doesn't count as my earliest memory. If you asked me to order the others, however, I couldn't do it in a million years.

I guess it just speaks to the enigma that is our brain. By what arcane methods and arbitrary criteria does it chose to store and remove certain memories?

1.14.2011

Day 13 – Give Pictures Of 5 Girls Who Are Famous Who You Find Attractive

Figures this would be on Friday the Thirteenth (day). I have no idea really how to properly gauge the fame-level of people these days, especially since my interests fall just a little bit outside of the mainstream. So regardless of how famous the following five may or may not be, they make the list in my eyes. And hopefully I don't get into trouble ;D

... please?

In no particular order:

1.13.2011

Day 12 - Bullet Your Day

Maybe I should have tweeted this as I went along and then collected them here: I don’t use Twitter as much as I might like.
Then again, lets take this one thing at a time.
  • 8:45 – Woke up and showered
  • 9:00 – Morning routine: eat breakfast, check email and RSS, survey Ogame empire
  • 10:00 – Counselling appointment
  • 11:30 – Had lunch with Emily and chatted about life, the universe, and youth work
  • 14:00 – Class! The Wenjack makes me sleepy
  • Apparently Freudian Psychoanalysis is a plague (says Freud himself)
  • 15:30 – Ghosting the corridors of the OC, my old haunt. Check up on my fleets, again.
  • 17:00 – Class! Again! Developing for the Web though, much more interesting
  • 19:00 – Walk out to my truck to discover that my headlights had been on since I got there. Hooray for dead batteries! Now to find someone to boost me.
  • 20:07 – …aaaand no such luck yet. Call Seana to see if she will come and rescue me :D
  • 20:40 – Help arrives, and my dead battery adventure is over.
  • 21:20 – Home, and dinner. Chat with my mom about the day
  • 22:10 – Call Seana and catch up on the rest of the day
  • 22:30 – Dad get home and we rock the freezer, getting it loaded in the van.
  • 23:10 – Bed time! No, wait. Blogging time!

1.12.2011

Day 11 – Put Your Zune on Shuffle

 And Write 10 Songs That Pop Up

Yes, that says Zune - its what comes on my phone. And I suppose I should have specified the first ten, but here we go!

  • Everything - Michael Bublé
  • Black Sheep - Metric
  • Kara Remembers - Bear McCreary
  • Wake the Dead - Family Force Five
  • Fire Fall Down - Hillsong United
  • The Jitterbug - Harry Connick Jr.
  • If I Had $1000000 - The Bearnaked Ladies
  • No One Likes Superman Anymore - I Fight Dragons
  • What Have We Become? - dc Talk
  • Your Hand In Mine - Explosions in the Sky

1.11.2011

Day 10 - Discuss Your First Love

Ah love, you come in so many forms. You take us to heights and depths, always an adventure. The subject of poetry and song, tv shows and movies, and everything in between. We seem to live in a culture that loves to love (thankfully) more than it loves to hate. I myself have fallen prey to Cupid's arrows, and have been the better man for it. However, much as I would like to wax eloquent about my romantic love, she is not in fact my first love (sorry dear). No, that title has been reserved for a love affair which has continued since childhood: my love of books.

As far back as I can remember, my life has been immersed with books. I can remember my dad reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit to my siblings and I before bed. And any time we would spend time with my Poppa and Dearma I would always have tonnes of books at my disposal. I must have read through every Hardy Boys adventure during those summers, not to mention my Dearma providing me with the Arthurian legends to spark my imagination and have a huge impact on the way I live.

I love books. I love to read them and explore the fantastic worlds that authors have put so much time into creating. Science Fiction and Fantasy are my particular genres of choice, though I enjoy a great mystery, thriller, or whatever-the-heck you want to label Douglas Coupland's books as. I enjoy reading the classics, not just because they are great stories, but also because of the rich heritage they lend to the full breadth of literature. I only really read Homer because of Dante, and only read Virgil because it tied the two together (though I just looked over to my bookshelf and noticed that my copy of Il Commedia is missing, and now I shall have to go on the hunt to find it). My parents recently acquired a bookshelf for me because they were sick and tired of seeing them on the floor, and it is already filled to overflowing. I love the feel of a book in my hand, the weight of it, and the smell of paper - whether it be the fresh scent of a new book or the slightly must smell of an older one - is one of my absolute favourites. I love walking into a room and just seeing stacks of books; it makes me happy.

My (current) bookcase:

1.10.2011

How High is the Rent?

Not a new video, but I just. Can't. Stop. Watching it.



That is some impressive facial hair, I'm just sayin'.

Day 09 - How You Hope Your Future Will Be

Much like trying to say where I want to be in 10 years, trying to say how I hope my future will be is somewhat difficult. I want it to be good. I want it to be great even - really, who hopes for a bad future? The only problem is that questions like this make me reflect on where I am right now, because any question about the future requires some reflection on present circumstances. It is one thing to say "I hope to be an astronaut in the future"; it is quite another thing to see that become a reality when nothing you are participating in or plan on participating in leads down that road. I just don't know what is in the cards for me, and generally speaking I don't really take a rosy view on my future. I worry too much: about grades, about work, about relationships. And when things get down, I seem to get really down too. It is hard to hope for a happy future when you're worried about being placed on academic suspension from your school for crappy grades. But hey, that is why I have people around me to support me. And really, should I be worrying about things that are out of my hands? The past is dead and gone and there is nothing I can do to change it. The challenge is owning up to my mistakes and moving past them.

Maybe that is really what I hope to have in my future: the strength to stop worrying about things I can't change and the will to move past my mistakes.

1.09.2011

Day 08 - Your Views on Mainstream Music

I listen to it occasionally.

Seriously, I really don't listen to that much music on the radio, and when I do it is either oldies or whatever the CBC has decided to play on Bandwidth or Vinyl Tap. When I get bored of either of those, I turn on country (which is new, ask any of my friends from high school and they'll tell you how much I hated country) or flip to one of my CD's. See, I hang out online quite a bit, and since I've become somewhat more selective in the kind of music that I listen to, I often only check out bands based on word of mouth (such as I Fight Dragons or Explosions in the Sky) or just random browsing through PureVolume, Grooveshark, or Slacker Radio. Of course you will occasionally come across more mainstream music as you got through these sites, and it is impossible to avoid in stores, on pop radio stations and hanging out with friends, and it isn't that I have a problem with mainstream music; my musical tastes just don't lend themselves well to mainstream music. I like instrumental music - in fact a custom mix of songs from the Battle Star Galactica soundtracks is my current driving poison - as well as electronica and chiptunes. Sadly there is not much of a market out there for these in the mainstream world. So again, I don't dislike mainstream music as a rule - though Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and Nickleback drive me bonkers - I'm just not overly exposed to it as part of my listening habits.

1.08.2011

Day 07 - Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

And if you think it fits your personality.

INTP
IntrovertedIntuitiveThinkingPerceiving
Strength of the Preference %
22501222

The Architect

Architects need not be thought of as only interested in drawing blueprints for buildings or roads or bridges. They are the master designers of all kinds of theoretical systems, including school curricula, corporate strategies, and new technologies. For Architects, the world exists primarily to be analyzed, understood, explained - and re-designed. External reality in itself is unimportant, little more than raw material to be organized into structural models. What is important for Architects is that they grasp fundamental principles and natural laws, and that their designs are elegant, that is, efficient and coherent.

Architects are rare - maybe one percent of the population - and show the greatest precision in thought and speech of all the types. They tend to see distinctions and inconsistencies instantaneously, and can detect contradictions no matter when or where they were made. It is difficult for an Architect to listen to nonsense, even in a casual conversation, without pointing out the speaker's error. And in any serious discussion or debate Architects are devastating, their skill in framing arguments giving them an enormous advantage. Architects regard all discussions as a search for understanding, and believe their function is to eliminate inconsistencies, which can make communication with them an uncomfortable experience for many.

Ruthless pragmatists about ideas, and insatiably curious, Architects are driven to find the most efficient means to their ends, and they will learn in any manner and degree they can. They will listen to amateurs if their ideas are useful, and will ignore the experts if theirs are not. Authority derived from office, credential, or celebrity does not impress them. Architects are interested only in what make sense, and thus only statements that are consistent and coherent carry any weight with them.

Architects often seem difficult to know. They are inclined to be shy except with close friends, and their reserve is difficult to penetrate. Able to concentrate better than any other type, they prefer to work quietly at their computers or drafting tables, and often alone. Architects also become obsessed with analysis, and this can seem to shut others out. Once caught up in a thought process, Architects close off and persevere until they comprehend the issue in all its complexity. Architects prize intelligence, and with their grand desire to grasp the structure of the universe, they can seem arrogant and may show impatience with others who have less ability, or who are less driven. [Keirsey.com]
o.0

Not a bad assessment at all. Typelogic's breakdown is also pretty spot on. I think I can safely say that I agree with this.

1.07.2011

Day 06 - Write 30 Interesting Facts About Yourself

So apparently the blogging app on my phone has been posting my stuff as drafts, which is why my posts for the previous two days are only appearing now.

Now, in no particular order, 30 interesting things about myself:

  • I love to travel. I've been to France, Jamaica, England and Tanzania, and I plan on going to more
  • I play clarinet.
  • I L-O-V-E books. This was really the reason I started this iteration of my blogging life, to write about books and graphic novels and comics and stuff, but I haven't really got to that yet.
  • I have been in a relationship with my wonderful girlfriend for almost four years. She told me to put stuff like how handsome and dashing I am on my list, but I figured that would be a little too much ;)
  • I used to write poetry. Some of it is still up on my old blog, but I haven't really written anything new in a while. Got out of the habit I guess.
  • I'm a huge geek, especially when it comes to sci-fi. I'm not a Trekkie (or a Trekker, though I know that there is a difference) but I do circle around some of the fandoms.
  • Firefly is one of my absolute favourite tv shows, and it was through that show that I've discovered much of the programmes that I watch today.
  • When I was little I had a stuffed dog named Doggie (or Falkor, cuz he kinda looked like the luck dragon) and a stuffed bunny named Bunny. I was really imaginative.
  • My dad's side of the family is from Jamaica. And yes, I am white.
  • I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, though I'm still banking on dragonrider.
  • I love instrumental music. Movie, tv and video game soundtracks are absolutely phenomenal.
  • I am increasingly aware of how great things were when I was a kid. Power Rangers, Sesame Street, Art Attack... kids tv these days sucks in comparison
  • Doctor Who is pretty much my all-time favourite tv show and almost without fail I manage to get my friends addicted to it.
  • I think British tv is far superior to American. Same with comedy and humour.
  • My best time for reading the entire Lord of the Rings is 36 hours. That is 6 hours per book. Hmmm... I wonder if I could beat that now?
  • I love exotic food, especially sushi and Indian food.
  • Also, spicy foods. cf. Jamaican-ness.
  • I had a pet fish named Seaking (I was really into Pokémon at the time) that I kept for three years.
  • Silver > gold
  • Not only was I in chess club in elementary school, I started my school's chess club.
  • I also sang in my elementary school choir at a Toronto Blue Jays game.
  • I'm not much for sports in general, but I love volleyball and soccer (or football if you prefer)
  • I don't cry very often, but there are only three movie which have even got me close: Bridge to Terebithia (and I even knew what was coming!), Up, and Toy Story 3. Darn Pixar and its ability to tell such great stories.
  • I laugh out loud when I read really funny books. Sometimes embarrassingly so. Good Omens, I'm looking at you.
  • I have weird man-crushes on Nathan Fillion and Matt Damon. There, I said it.
  • I love the stars and space. There is just something so romantic about them, not just in a lovey romantic way (though they are that), but also in the way they catch our imagination. 
  • On that note, Pluto is my favourite planet (I'm still in denial). I played Pluto in a kindergarten play, and my mom recently found my costume.
  • My favourite colours are green and blue, though I also really like black. Coincidentally, those are the colours of Seana's eyes.
  • I have a lot of mannerisms which resemble those of a cat, especially when I am relaxing. Probably because I learned from one.
  • I love the Arthurian legends, and ever since I was exposed to them as a kid I have tried to live my life as much to the Knight's Code as possible. Chivalry is not dead yet.

1.06.2011

Day 05 - A Problem You Have Had

@#!

In the category of Most Vague Questions Ever.

Probably the biggest thing that tends to be a problem for me is my time management. I may have mentioned this already, in my celebration of procrastination. But it isn't all rosy and nice. Time management is a serious problem. I failed two courses last year at school as a result of poor time management and it is taking quite a bit not to go down the same road this year. For whatever reason I tend to prioritize less important things in order to leave off on the things that I really need to get done. This is why this challenge is important to me: it forces me to do something I have traditionally put off and forced me to get into the habit of writing, which is a Very Good Thing. It is something which I am going to really have to challenge myself with, especially since my poor time management has also had a very detrimental impact on my spiritual life. So, if I were to be making a New Years resolution it would be to better my time management.

1.05.2011

Day 04 - Your Views on Religion

So this is a big topic. Everybody has their own opinions on religion and what it means to be religious, which means that I am most certainly not alone in the opinions I have and that there are just as many people who would agree with me as would disagree.

Beating around the bush, whoo!

My views on religion are primarily informed by the fact that I am a Christian. What that means exactly for me is the subject of another day (Day 17 actually), but it is useful for now to serve as a starting foundation to understand where some of my ideas come from and what I believe religion's place is in the world.

I believe that everyone subscribes to some kind of religion or another. Atheists would probably like to bite my head off at that statement, but I believe that the term religion can be applied beyond the systems of faith - such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam - that it is traditionally associated with. Science has rapidly evolved into a kind of religion, a central hub for explaining the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, with the greats in their fields evoked much in the same fashion as the Catholic saints. Whereas people once reached for the supernatural to give them hope and direction for their lives, people adhere to the tennants of Science. It even has its own zealots; people like Dawkins who evangelize the virtues of Science. I don't want to come across as a science hater - in fact I love science and try to get beyond the false barrier put up between science and faith - but it does provide a very good example of a modern, non-spiritual religion.

Religions can be tricky things. Much of what we find wrong with religion happens when it is separated from its core set of beliefs, when the practices and the rules become more important than the heart of the practice. This is the case in Christianity anyway. We often get a really bad rap because of some crazies in the States who are trying to prove a point by being as controversial as possible. Honestly, I get a little disgusted and ashamed when the news reports on groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. Much like the Pharisees of old,  these groups miss the point - that we are all imperfect beings in need of love and grace - and fill the void with legality and hate. This is religion without faith, religion gone wrong.

I believe that religions can be a powerful force for good in the world, just as long as they are on the right path.

1.04.2011

Day 03 - Your Views on Drugs and Alchohol

The nice thing about this challenge is that some of these questions are good and open ended, meaning that I can interpret them any way I want. In this case, I can assume that this question is more in regards to the use of, or abuse of, drugs and alchohol.

The short version of the story is that I am straight up against the overuse of drugs and alchohol. End of story. I don't believe in getting plastered, smashed, pixilated, crunked, or wasted. I don't see the pleasure in spending time with my head in the toilet or forgetting my weekend entire (though if I spent said weekend with my head in the aforementioned toilet I might). That just isn't my idea of fun. I'll enjoy an alchoholic beverage or two with a meal or with friends, but that is it. That said, if you like to imbibe I won't say anything as long as you're smart about it. No drinking and driving on my watch.

Drugs get a similar ruling. Recreational drugs are out. No question there. I don't need anything entering my body to alter my state of mind. Medication on the other hand is a bit more tricky. If a doctor prescribes it, I'll take it; I tend to trust the judgement of medical professionals. But honestly, for the most part I try to avoid things like Tylenol and Advil. If I've got a cold (which doesn't happen too often) I'll take the minimum medication recommended, as I also do when my seasonal allergies hit. But for the most part I figure that we were created with an immune system for a reason, and if I am proactive in keeping myself healthy by eating right, getting sleep, not stressing out (ha! yeah right) too much and engaging in physical activity (which I've been working on), I should come out all right. Plus, all that talk about superbugs kind of freaks me out.

So there you have it. Pretty simple from my end: too much booze is bad, and drugs can be too.

1.03.2011

Day 02 – Where you’d like to be in 10 years

This one's a tricky one. I don't know where I want to be in a single year, let alone ten. Honestly, there is just way too much in flux in my life right now to give a definite answer as to where I would like to be. That said, there are a few things I would like to see in my future self. I would hope that I would be married by that point, maybe with little spawnlings running around. Maybe not. Whatever I'm doing for work (no specific aspirations for that that at the moment) I hope that I am involved in some way working with kids; if its as a part of my actual career then that would be cool, but so would be just having volunteer opportunities that I could capitalize on.

More important to me is being where God wants me to be in that time period. We may not have the best of relationships at times, but I'm sticking to Him and seeing where He is going to lead me. Hopefully I follow. In the mean time, I just have to try to live my life to the best of my ability and to the fullest. Whatever the Future has for me is in the future, and there's not much I can do about it right this moment. All I can really do is trust God to show me the ways that will bring me in line with His plan, and try to do so by getting as many different experiences as I can. Hopefully, ten-years-older me will be able to look back on this and say "yeah dude, plan worked" and not just "man, did I ever cop out on this topic."

1.02.2011

Day 01 - Your Highs and Lows of this Past Year

Not a bad time to tackle this topic, having just left a year behind. Its uncanny that this would show up just in the same time that people traditionally get reflective, like someone planned it or something... :D

Lets start with the lows of the year, since they tend to be more painful. Probably my biggest low for the year was my academic performance my second year at Trent. Failing two courses isn't an easy pill to swallow, and neither is suddenly realizing that a) you have a lot of bad habits to deal with and b) that you may Be a bit out of your depth trying to tackle things like a "normal" student instead of suiting your education to your needs. Its an ongoing learning process. Continuing on the not-so-great side of the year, and something which may or may not be related to the previous point (I tend to believe it is), I also realized how unplugged I had become from life. Sure, I got to hang out with my awesome girlfriend and other friends, but compared to highschool I wasn't doing much. No extra-curriculars for me, no church groups or ministry work (if I even got to church), no volunteering. It bummed me out a lot. Again, something that is an ongoing battle, though I have been going to a church fairly consistently now and I'm even involved in a group there. *Shock, horror* its a miracle!


On the cool side of the coin for last year, I did manage to make some new friends at school. I also finally got to go to Jamaica and see first-hand some of our family history there. It was a wicked 11 days spent, again, with my awesome family, for whom I am so thankful.

1.01.2011

Jumping On The Band-Wagon

I enjoy writing, really I do. That is part of the reason why I started blogging in the first place: to have a place for me to put my thoughts down and to have a (somewhat) creative outlet. Well, that plus it was something that none of my other friends were really doing at the time - and, now that I think about it, still aren't. But looking at my progress on this, my chance at a fresh start in the blogosphere, I can't help but be reminded of the same troubles I have had previously trying to have a blog: I'm just not very good at the whole upkeep thing.

However, this being a shiny new year full of opportunity and new chances, I intend to overcome that blockage in the hopes that maybe if I start writing here on a regular basis I might start writing again in general. And so, partially inspired by my friend Hansen, I am taking up a 30 day blogging challenge; I am committing to updating this blog every day till the end of January. Now to make sure that I actually do this and don't beg off a day because I can't think of anything to write about, I will be laying out the topics I'm going to tackle in advance. And because I completely lack in the imagination department imitation is the highest form of flattery, I'm also going to be more or less stealing Hansen's topics, with a few modifications.

The List:
I'll try not to pull any punches, but this should be an interesting month

Resolve To Do Less

Welcome to a brand new year ladies and gentlemen! I hope that your holidays were filled with much merriment and joy and all the other things that come with the death of the old year and the dawning of a new one. Usually around this time, people stop for a little introspection to analyse the things in their lives which could use some improvement and make resolutions to address those personal shortcomings. A perennial item on my list is time management, my lack of which being a general detractor to things such as school achievement and side-projects (the Jiyu-Shin website is still coming, I promise!).

I know that I am not alone in making a resolution to manage my time better, nor am I the only one who has this on their list year after year. Well this year I say forget it! And in honour of my incredibly misguided rebellion I would like to unveil my list of Top Five Time Wasters!

Wikipedia
via xkcd
Like many students these days, the first place I reach to when trying to get a rough idea of what anything is about is Wikipedia. I really like to learn and there is just so much there. Regular, old-school encyclopaedias usually were pretty big and came in 20-ish volumes. Wikipedia? Printed, it would probably be 2100+ volumes (based on a little math and some statistics) just for the English version. So yeah, you can waste some time there; though not as much time as at...

Tv Tropes:
via xkcd

For those not in the know, Tv Tropes is a wiki which documents and details tropes in our culture. From music and film to webcomics and animé, Tv Tropes covers just about everything a fiction lover needs to know to never look at media the same way ever again. Tv Tropes is a must-have resource for any media student. Given that it is a wiki, it suffers from the same problem as Wikipedia: finding yourself with a tonne of tabs open and two hours gone. Heck, Tv Tropes even has a trope to describe the phenomena. It is, however, worse than Wikipedia for wiki-walking because the each trope is defined by the way it interacts with other tropes, often leaving you with 7+ tabs open after visiting a single page. Represent that exponentially as you explore each tab you have just opened... well lets just say that it took me over two hours just to write this section.

Know Your Meme



There is a lot of crazy stuff out there on the internetz. And sometimes you miss a lot of it. KYM has a nice index of memes (basically inside jokes online or viral video. Encyclopedia Dramatica has a pretty good definition, but be warned - here there be monsters) and often have videos to go with them and give a nice summary or further detail.

Webcomics:

They're like what you find in the paper, only online. And instead of having just a few strips to work with each day, you have MASSIVE ARCHIVES to deal with instead! I love webcomics. They are a fascinating take on the old comic format and provide a really neat platform to tell stories and have some rather complex narratives. Or, if you prefer something a little less involved, there are strips for that too. In fact, there are webcomics that touch on just about every topic imaginable, so there should be something out there that appeals to everyone. If you're looking to start into a comic with a little (or a lot) of history, the devil Tv Tropes has a round-up of webcomics with a minimum of 1000 posts in their archives. Schlock Mercenary ftw.

Books:

Last but certainly not least, reading is a great way to lose some time. Whether it be curling up with your favourite novel, working your way through your TBR list, or grabbing an anthology of short stories and picking a quick read at random, books provide a great escape from the daily grind.