Sweetness

Today I was rumbling around the internet, and ran across a photo that I just had to share. It made me pause, and reminisce; Many years ago, a newsprint copy of this same photo, cut from the Edmonton Journal and carefully “laminated” with packing tape, adorned the inside of the door of my high school locker.

Chicago Bears' Walter Payton, scoring his 100th NFL touchdown. No wonder they called him "Sweetness"

Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton, scoring his 100th NFL touchdown. No wonder they called him “Sweetness” Photo: chicagobears.com

There have been a multitude of talented athletes who have had, and are having, extraordinary careers in the NFL, but none of them have come close to displacing Walter Payton as my favourite player of all time. Play the video, and you’ll see why. 

Ok sportsfans, who’s at the top of your list? Tell me.

A Rare Serious Moment: Discussing Mental Health

I’m not really known for sensitive, insightful commentary on serious topics; But for a few minutes let’s set aside the recurring themes of beer, baseball and Salma Hayek’s cleavage.

I want to talk about Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), truthfully I don’t want to, but feel the need to discuss it. I just finished reading about the ex-RCMP officer who took his own life, after suffering through years of PTSD. It made me very sad and anxious, because, among other traumas he witnessed, Ken Barker was linked to the horrific tragedy of Tim McLean’s death and dismemberment, at the hands of Vince Li. If you’re not familiar with this event you might consider yourself lucky, because it is something that is truly heinous. It certainly was a sad, recurring memory for RCMP officer Barker. If you want to know more about this tragic event, here’s recent coverage by CTV News.

I am of the belief that the controversial court ruling that Vince Li wasn’t criminally responsible for his actions, due to his mental health problems, exacerbated the effects that being a witness to the scene had on Ken Barker. Having only experienced Tim McLean’s slaughter via media accounts, I can barely begin to fathom the impact it must’ve had on a witness, especially one whose job was to protect public safety.

We all have our opinions on how Vince Li should (or shouldn’t) have been handled by Canada’s justice system, but that’s not the point here. Mental Health is the point.  

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, as per the Canadian Mental Health Association, is related to exposure to severe trauma. The lasting effects of experiencing trauma vary, but PTSD is a very real danger, especially for emergency responders, and active military personal, who are likely to experience repeated exposure to trauma.

Great strides have been made in recent years in breaking down the stigmas of mental illness in Canada, through increased awareness, as seen in Bell’s “Let’s Talk” initiative with Olympian Clara Hughes. Talking about our problems does help, I think we can agree on that.

For emergency responders like police and firefighters, stereotypical macho, tough guy ideals may still make that approach more difficult, because the “rub some dirt on it, and get back in the game” way of thinking still exists with some. And yes, we want to know that our police, firefighters, and soldiers are tough, and can handle the burden of danger, but let’s not forget they have emotions and feel mental pain and anguish too.

I’m not sure what I can do to help with PTSD or other mental illness, but I guess empathy and acceptance are a good start. Understanding and support in a community can’t hurt, maybe it can encourage those who need it, to get help?

Honestly, I do feel better sharing my thoughts here.

My Office: a Window to my Soul?

Looking around my office, I realize that it’s like a visit inside my mind.

Yes, it’s a little dirty; obvious joke, my friend.

Seems that I’m either a sentimental guy, or I’ve got a future 15 minutes of infamy on Hoarders.

It makes sense that I have a collection of photos of my kids, and arts & crafts that they made for me, because they are two of my best little friends on this planet.

Treasures from my kids

Treasures from my kids

There are mementos scattered about, tokens of the loving, playful, and supportive relationship that my wife and I share. Fifteen years together, and counting. O_O

Ain't she sweet?

Ain’t she sweet?

The vintage photos of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Jackie Robinson; along with the Ryan Smyth Team Canada bobblehead, and Don Cherry coffee mug, are evidence of my love of sports.

Vintage MLB

Vintage MLB

I think the can of spray on sunscreen sitting on the windowsill shows my optimism, as even in January, I’m ready for summer.

The tangle of cords from my laptop, to docking station, external hard drive, second monitor, speakers, headphones, and a multitude of chargers confirm I’m not Amish, and doing my best to keep up in a geeky-techy world.

The fossilized megalodon tooth, that sits on my desk, keeps me grounded; Reminding me of how small we really are, the short time that humans have been on this planet, and that no matter how fierce of a predator you might be, that nothing lasts for ever. Deep, huh?  (Also – Hello, it’s a frickin’ shark tooth! – how cool is that?)

My tooth, graphic from fossilguy.com

My tooth, graphic from fossilguy.com

The menagerie of Hot Wheels, action figures, and happy meal toys, are here in case one of the kids accompanies me to the office, and in no way reflect a level of immaturity that you might otherwise infer. Shhh. Let us speak of it no more.

A final look around reveals a beer coaster and a bottle opener, perhaps because one of my favourite things about work is that at the end of a hard day, it’s even more enjoyable to kick back and play.

The tools of happy hour

The tools of happy hour

Now you know me a little better. Need to know more? Click here.

Cheers!

Remembrance Day, 2013

I am Canadian.

I am a patriot.

And I am proud of, and grateful to, the members of Canada’s armed forces, past and present for their service to our country.

Photo: veterans.gc.ca

Captain William A. Bishop, V.C., Royal Flying Corps
Photo: veterans.gc.ca

In this country, November 11th is known as Remembrance Day, and is intended to honour our military men and women for their often unimaginable sacrifices in standing up for those who could not stand up for themselves, fighting for the freedom and peace of others.

I regularly observe the day through my tiny symbolic support, in wearing a red poppy on my lapel. This plastic red flower, with it’s annoying little stick pin, that I receive in exchange for dropping a few coins into the collection box, has become an important symbol to me.

As a small child, I recall on several occasions, unintentionally jabbing myself with the ill-positioned pin, or folding the flower (sans pin) in half and giggling at the resulting bright red girly lips. Not the strongest act of Remembrance or patriotism, I know, but the innocence of children should be excused, no, it should be embraced. Happily, I was not a child of war.

But I also remember In Flanders Fields, the poem written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, while on the front line of battle in World War I, after a friend was killed by enemy shelling. The words mean far more to me as an adult, with the ability to try to empathize with the brave soldiers and their often incredible sacrifices, made in the name of freedom and duty to the people.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Recently, I have become aware of a white poppy campaign, claiming to be in the name of peace, disavowing the red poppy as a symbol glorifying war. You can take your symbol of peace, and be proud of your ideals; as this is an opportunity afforded to you by the sacrifices of men and women of our military, and the fights they fought for you and me.

There is no glory in war, and few people desire to spend their (sometimes final) days being shot at, or targeted by bombs, and deprived of so many of the comforts we take for granted; The ones who are willing to put their lives on the line to uphold the peace, and fight against the oppression of others, guarding the safety of the weak and innocent, surely deserve our respect – as we sit on the sidelines at a safe distance, with our oversized lattés and free wifi, passing judgement.

This year, Veterans Affairs Canada posed the question: What if every day was Remembrance Day? This is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly agree with. November 11th is an important day, to officially recognize the contribution of our military men and women, but let’s use the rest of the year to be appreciative of the peace and freedom that we enjoy because of them. That is not an act of glorifying war, that is what is known as gratitude.

So, in addition to wearing my poppy, I’d like to say thank you to our military, today and every day.

Peace to you all.

The Big Finale – My Matt Dusk Interview, Part 2

If you follow this blog regularly, you know that I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Canada’s own Matt Dusk, and ask a few questions. In case you missed it, this will take you to Part 1 – (click here, you know you want it)

If you’re not a frequent visitor to this site, ask yourself: Why the hell not?

Here is the shocking conclusion to our interview (yes, the one where Matt tries to kill me):

And I think it’s only right to end it with some of Matt’s crooning, here, as you’ll hear in the hilarious TV series – Call Me Fitz:

Ring-a-ding-ding Baby!

The Matt Dusk Interview – I Did It My Way

Recently, I noticed that silky smooth crooner Matt Dusk was performing in my local area, so I shot an email to my music guy Eric – to hook me up with an interview. While I was denied my preferred setting of dimly lit, booze soaked, dive bar (only for atmosphere, of course), I was granted access to one of today’s most talented guys in the business of keeping jazz crooning alive.

Via: MattDusk.com - photo: Sarah Bourne Photography

Via: MattDusk.com – photo: Sarah Bourne Photography

If the spirit of Frank Sinatra were assembling a modern day Rat Pack to take over the Vegas strip, Matt Dusk, with his highly polished stage presence and notable musical abilities, would surely be a cornerstone. Throw in that he’s a funny and humble man, you’re sure to come to the conclusion that he’s the kind of guy you’d like to hang out and have a beer with. Next time, right Matt?

We caught up with Mr. Dusk at Millennium Place, in Sherwood Park, just before sound check, and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions.

Here is the first of my two part video interview with Matt Dusk, I invite you to spend 5 minutes with us:

If you’d like to experience some of Matt’s musical talent, how about a bit of “Back In Town”

Be sure to check back soon for the exciting and shocking conclusion to my interview with Matt Dusk.

Bartender! Two Shots of Happy, please.

One Question Quiz – The Matt Dusk Edition

What is happening in this photo?

Really Matt, don't  you own a suit?   Photo: Big Daddy

Really Matt, don’t you own a suit?
Photo: Big Daddy

 

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Dusk and the opportunity to ask him a few sorta serious questions. The full interview will appear on this site shortly.

In the interim, why not enjoy some of Matt’s music? (Play the video, you know you want to)