Archive for December, 2009

Saying Goodbye and Kudos to the Y2KO’s

December 31, 2009

Well, it’s that time.  Time to say goodbye to a lousy year and a fizzled decade all in one big sigh.  At least that is what some people will tell you.  As I sit here thinking about the past 10 years, I remember the trepidation the general public was feeling about the new millenium.  The world was going to come to a stop because technology hadn’t prepared for the changing of 1999 to 2000.  I remember all those headstone manufacturers that were lamenting the fact that not enough people had died to deplete their stock of tombstones that had been pre-inscribed 199_  and they were set to lose a fortune… like no one really thought the new decade would arrive.

But arrive it did and now we are about to say adios to the y2ko’s to make way for the double digits.  I choose not to look back in despair and criticize but to meander fondly through some incidents that you may have forgotten.  So as we ring in the New Year and decade, think positive about the past… after all, it’s too late to change it now!

First, in 2009.  It is hard for me to take seriously the fact that many people are pointing to 12-21-12 as the end of the world because of the Mayan calendar.   This may not have been too hard to swallow except for the fact that they released a movie depicting the end of the world called 2012!   Perhaps what the Mayans were predicting wasn’t the end of the world but the end of credibility from movie producers.   I predict the end of the world in 2112.  December 21, 2112 to be precise.  Then the digits would be 12-21-2112.  Much tidier and numerically friendly, don’t you think?

A lot of people have been complaining about the past decade, like this person…

These Terrible Aughts

  • Posted: December 29, 2009 at 12:37 PM
  • By Lauren Bans

As the curtains close on what Pew is calling the worst decade in half a century, the Internet is aflutter with uncharacteristic positivity, offering up bushels of best of the decade lists. The Village Voice recently ran a piece on the Best Dining and Drinking Trends of the Decade that included nods to the Slow Food movement and the mainstream emergence of local brews. The Hollywood Reporter issued a best films of the decade list with United 93 and No Country For Old Men making the cut (though feminist blog Women & Hollywood quickly pointed out that HR failed to elect even one female-directed movie to their list.) And Paste Magazine put together an all-encompassing series of Best of lists ranging from Best Video Games of the decade to the more self-indulgent Best Paste Magazine Covers of the Decade.

But what about the worst of the decade lists? From the attacks of 9-11, to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there’s a reason 50 percent of Americans view the ‘00s with negative feelings. Lucky for us neggos, Engine Industries has put together an exhaustive compilation of the Best of The Worst of the Decade Lists. Feast your eyes, and breathe a sigh of relief that the ‘00s are nearly over.

 But do we have to call them the aughts?  yikes!  like we ought to know better!

Nope, I prefer the y2ko’s.  But aside from the obvious, was the past decade really all that bad?  I mean, shucks, with the new millenium came a much enlarged and speedier Internet.  We have blogs like Advantages of Mutual Respect and Fair Play along with Facebook and Twitter.  There are phones that allow us to text message that include cameras with pixels enabling us to make videos, take pictures and surf the web as well as make a phone call.  How can that possibly be bad? MP3 players and digital downloads are cool.  We didn’t have those a decade ago.  YouTube.  Kijiji.  Wii. X-Box.  All innovations of the y2ko’s.  Who ever thought that e-mail would become quaint?  And yet, technology advances with alarming speed while we seem to accept it with a less than enthusiastic yawn.  This past decade has been marvelous as far as technological advancements are concerned.  We take too much for granted.

Oh I know, there are things that have been shitty, too.  911. Iraq.  Iran.  Afghanistan.  North Korea.  Katrina.  The economy.  Bail-outs.  AIG.  The Big Three.  Foreclosures.  Job losses.  The decline of the American dollar.  Protectionism.  But you don’t need me to list them here.  There are all kinds of people out there telling us how bad it was or still is.  But try this one on for size…

Highlights From the Happiness Project

Posted Tuesday, December 29, 2009 6:07 PM | By Gretchen Rubin Gretchen Rubin is the author of the new book, The Happiness Project, an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy. On her popular blog she recounts her adventures and insights as she grapples with the challenge of being happier. Aristotle, Samuel Johnson, Oprah, Benjamin Franklin, the Dalai Lama, Martin Seligman … she considers it all.

She’s also the author of the best-selling Forty Ways To Look at Winston Churchill, Forty Ways To Look at JFK, Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide, and Profane Waste (with artist Dana Hoey). Rubin began her career in law and was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she really wanted to be a writer.

Here are some highlights from her blog, the Happiness Project:

A Secret to Happiness? Don’t Get Organized.
When facing a bursting closet or a cluttered office, don’t make the mistake of saying to yourself, “I need to get organized.”

Eight Ways To Tell If You’re Being Boring
Watch for the warning signs that show that you’re being a bore.

The Movie Twilight Inspires Me to Do A Better Job With Some of My Resolutions
Inspired by watching the romance in Twilight, Gretchen reflects on memories of falling in love with her husband-and redoubles her efforts to keep her resolutions related to love.

Bad Habits: Swear Off Them Altogether? Or Indulge Occasionally?
If you’re trying to resist temptation, take this test to determine whether you do better when you go cold-turkey, or when you indulge moderately.

Exercise Tips from a Recovering Couch Potato
Try some of these nine strategies if you have trouble sticking to an exercise regimen.

Can You Curse During a Gratitude Meditation?
Comedian Louis CK’s hilarious rant that “Everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy” is a (slightly unconventional) gratitude meditation.

Quiz: Are You Drifting?
When you “drift,” you make a decision by not deciding, or you make a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility. We often deny that we’re drifting, so take this quiz to see if you’re at risk.

Happiness Myth: It’s Selfish To Try To Be Happier
Contrary to popular belief, happy people aren’t self-centered and complacent; in fact, they’re more concerned with helping others than are less-happy people.

How To Respond to Your Happiness Emergency-Stat!
Having a really lousy day? These nine strategies will help you boost your mood right now.

Can You Predict If Someone Will Be Happy in the Future?
Sizing up the temperament of a potential boss, roommate, or spouse? The best way to predict whether a person will be happy is to know whether that person has been happy in the past.

Happiness Myth: Money Can’t Buy Happiness
Money, spent wisely, can buy a lot of things that contribute mightily to happiness. Some of the best things in life aren’t free.

Embrace the Paradoxes of a Happiness Project
Niels Bohr wrote, “The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.” Here, Gretchen outlines some of the paradoxes of a happiness project.

Quiz-Are You an Overbuyer or an Underbuyer?
Do you fit the description of an “overbuyer” or an “underbuyer”? These categories will help you identify strategies to be happier with your spending.

Life’s Cruel Truth: You Get More of What You Already Have
We all contribute to the atmosphere in which we live, so we get more of what we have. Friendly people meet with friendliness; irritable people find themselves surrounded by irritable people.

Practice a NON-Random Act of Kindness
Practicing non-random acts of kindness, it turns out, brings more happiness than random acts of kindness-especially for recipients.

Eleven Myths of De-Cluttering
For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. Don’t let these de-cluttering myths get in the way of keeping your surroundings clutter-free.

Five Mistakes I Make in My Marriage
Gretchen confesses to five mistakes she makes in her marriage-and explains how she tries to do better.

Why Might Small, Comfortable Changes Work Better than Radical Steps?
To bring about change in your life, it’s often more effective to focus on small, manageable steps rather than setting ambitious goals.

Bob Dylan Helps Me Recognize a Paradox of Happiness
Bob Dylan’s observation about his wife, “she’s always had her own built-in happiness,” highlights one of the paradoxes of happiness.

Is it really possible to be happy after one of the most difficult decades of the last century?

I mean, where would we all be without Reality T.V.?  and American Idol? or Dancing With the Stars?   This past decade has brought some innovative sources of entertainment.  Lest we forget, it was only a few short years ago that a very small and select group were telling us what to watch.  Now the selections seem endless.  With the advancement of the Internet, we have choices and information at our fingertips that used to take hours if not days to reach us.  I’ve read articles in newspapers that are at least three days old.  No wonder the printed page as a news source is dying. 

I could not imagine a time I would rather be living in than right now.  It is because of our ability to grow, change and adapt that we have made some of the advancements we have made.  Not that losing a job and going bankrupt is progress, it certainly is not.  But the way we viewed credit and buying more than we could afford had to be curtailed.  We had to re-think our priorities and the long-term effects of our purchase.  People are far more frugal towards the end of this decade than in the 90’s and that’s a good thing.

My wife predicts Oprah will run for President in 2012, that’s why O.W.  has announced the end of her talk show.  Or perhaps Obama will choose Oprah as his running mate for his second term, I’m not sure which.  But the politics of the y2ko’s has made this possible.  We would not have thought about electing someone with absolutely zero qualifications before.  Now just the thought of somebody inspiring somebody else without actually accomplishing anything other than the possibility of said accomplishment garnishes praise and awards.  That was unthinkable just a short decade ago.

The thing with the y2ko’s is that we are more uncertain of the future than ever before.  Fear plays a lot into that uncertainty and it has been played up to a level that is worse than any time in recent memory.  Fear makes us ill.  Our society is heading towards a nervous breakdown if we don’t get our heads out of our asses and do something about it.  We need to demand more of our politicians but more than that… we need to demand more of ourselves. 

So I am looking forward to the future and the double digits, the teen years.  I have no doubt that politics are going to change and change appreciatively for the better.  People are fed up with government and paper champions right now.  We will scrutinize more.  We will want substance and not rhetoric, details and not empty promises.  When we hear the word “change” we will want to make sure that that word is accompanied with “change… for the better” and find out exactly how this is proposed to be accomplished.  Technology will continue to advance at an amazing rate, medical breakthroughs will astound and cause us to cheer.  And the world will be a better place because if the y2ko’s accomplished anything, it is this…

You are responsible for your own happiness, nothing is free and nobody is going to do anything for you that you could not have done better yourself.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

Like George said… it’s all in the mind, you know.

peace.

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watch?v=51Qbzc1Xn7Q

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True Colors

December 26, 2009

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City
True Colors
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I went job searching recently.  I know what you’re thinking.  I’m supposed to have a job BEFORE I take up a writing career.  How can I be told after someone reads my column, “Don’t quit your day job ” if I do not have a day job?  In the States we call it having something “bass ackwards,” quite likely you have a similar phrase in Canada.
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I am an electrician by trade.  We are supposed to be one of the professions that needs recruits.  Our numbers are dwindling, there will not be enough electricians in the next few years to meet demand.  When the power fails and your lights go out, who ya gonna call?  Imagine trying to watch television by candle light.  But that was before the Great Recession of 2008-_____?
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I decided to use the local assistance organizations at my disposal, one of them being the Sudbury Vocational Resource Centre.  The nice folks at the SVRC help you with making a resume`and preparing for job interviews.  They provide resources like newspapers and computers to aid you with finding that perfect place for employment.  There are programs that direct you into different related fields you may be qualified for and help you adjust to the working environment.  One such program is called, “True Colors.”
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True Colors helps to identify your personality traits and how you will mesh with co-workers.  There are four colors; Blue, Orange, Green and Gold, sort of like the four basic food groups or even…  the name of a rock’n’roll band, B.O.G.G. (Get bogged down, boggles the mind, all you need is bogg, the possibilities are endless! )
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To help determine what your color is, first you are asked what color you THINK you are; Blue being romantic, Orange adventurous, Green cerebral and Gold conservative.  I picked blue because I feel that I am one of those thoughtful, warm, tender, passionate, kind, selfless, and affectionate guys.  Then came the questionnaire.  It had five rows, each row had four boxes, each box had three traits.  You had to decide which of the boxes in each of the rows best described you.  Naturally, I wanted to get as many right as I could, so I picked all the ones that fit my romantic, creative and unique side.  Turns out, I AM blue!  Now comes the part about getting along with others. So I did some mental calculations on blue screen.
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If we compare employment to an artist, his palette will contain the primary colors; blue, red, yellow, but you have to blend primaries to get orange, green and gold.  If I am blue, I am a primary example of my trait.  If the oranges, greens and golds are secondary, they are subservient to the primary, which is me.  All Oranges, Greens and Golds are therefore inferior to Blues.  In the rainbow of the workforce, Blues are the predominant color of the arc.  Planet Earth is blue and there’s SOMETHING I can do!   I’m livin’ on blues power!    I shouldn’t be applying for a job, I should be running the friggin’  company!
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Shucks,  I’ll fit in anywhere.

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watch?v=NbS8JK4TS8Q

Canadian Yoga Class

December 19, 2009

Two Cents’ Worth in the Nickel City
Canadian Yoga Class

I braved my first winter in Ontario and I did not come out of it half bad.  In Florida, the winter season  means part-time residents and a giant influx of tourism.  In Sudbury, it means being shut in for four months.  But I have become acclimated now and to prove it, I went out and joined a yoga class.
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To the casual Canadian observer this might not seem like much of a cultural leap, but let me explain.  In the States, we don’t take up an exercise class  now, in the Spring;  we do it in January.  That’s right.  In America, exercising is part of our New Year’s resolution.  It is Spring now.  You don’t take up exercising in Spring because you have no excuse to quit.
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Back home, everybody breaks New Year’s resolutions by February.  It is like a do-over, sort of a ‘get out of jail free card’ for commitments you should have thought twice about before making. Americans have a reasonable excuse to stop exercising in February because we were caught up in all that New Year’s hype.  Everyone you knew was making a resolution to improve their lives in some way so you thought you’d make one , too, just to fit in.  By February the polish is off.  By February everyone has started smoking, eating bon-bons and watching internet porn again so it is only fair that you stop exercising, too.  February is full of American New Year’s resolution re-thinkers.
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But here it is, Spring, and I thought to myself, “What better way to get out and meet Canadians than to do some social networking?”  I had been cooped up all winter, frosting my breath on window panes like some sort of Rorchsach test and waiting for the thaw.  This way I could meet people AND stretch out those lethargic, atrophying muscles.  I figured I could just “blend in.”
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I knew I was in trouble when I sat down on my mat and watched the people in my “beginners” class.  They were breathing, cooing and stretching, mentally preparing for the class.  I thought the class was all about  beginning to THINK  about breathing and stretching, the actual exercise being what Americans call the “advanced” class.
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I had selected a little out-of-the-way corner so I would not be too obvious in my discomfort of being “the new kid.”  It was kindergarten class all over again, where you don’t know anybody and you’re the only one to “brown bag” your grub while everyone else has those spiffy Lone Ranger lunch boxes.   We laid down and took deep breaths to let the cares of the day just ebb away, like in the Beatles’ song “Tomorrow Never Knows.”  But my strategic location backfired.  I could not stretch my hands above my head without slamming them into the wall.
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My classmates had no trouble  keeping up.  I think Canadian yoga must be different than American yoga.  Did I mention the majority of these people are seniors?  Yoga is a stretch for me, but Canadians seem to be a hearty bunch, right down to their (argh ) toes.

16 Again!

December 12, 2009

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City
16 Again

I received my Ontario drivers’ license recently.  It felt like a big deal because I was giving up my Florida license and becoming a full fledged Canadian occupant.  I am officially a permanent resident and have my social insurance number, I have a checking account and the all important library card.  But finally came my drivers’ license.  The last vestiges of my American identity had just been turned over and a new driving record was being established.  Technically, I am sixteen again!
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The lady was very friendly and of course, asked the inevitable “Why did I move here?” Most people I meet are still having difficulty understanding why I would make the transition from paradise to paradox, but I just smile.  Then we began trading war stories.
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“You’ll find summer a little different here.”  She offers soberly.
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“Oh really, how so?”  I respond cheerfully.
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“It is cooler in the North.”
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“Better than the heat and humidity in the South.” I volunteer.
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“Well… you won’t like the bugs, the mosquitos are awful.”
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“Do you have mosquitos?  In Florida we have an army to combat the mosquitos; trucks, airplanes, helicopters.  We are at war with mosquitos! ”
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“Really?”
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“Really!  Mosquito Control is a multi-million dollar industry in Florida.”
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“Wow, well… we have dangerous animals, like bears.”
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“We have bears in Florida… and panthers.”
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“Really?  Well… you can’t be too careful here, the animals are wild.”
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I thought of a snappy come back, like not all the animals in Florida come from Disney World, but I refrain.  It is time to take my picture now.  I wonder why in Ontario they request you keep your mouth closed and don’t smile for identification photographs on passports and drivers’ licenses, so I ask.
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“Why do they tell you not to smile?” I ask; smiling, feeling defiant.
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“We have to make you look like a criminal.” She answers matter-of-factly.
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That sounds reasonable to me, I guess if you are pulled over by the O.P.P. or the R.C.M.P. the last thing you would feel like doing would be to smile.  Imagine the officer asking for your identification then forcing you to smile, just to make sure it WAS you smiling in the picture. I figured it would just be too difficult and awkward.  So when she told me not to smile, I thought about something unpleasant: income taxes.
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“There,” she says afterwards, “that wasn’t too bad.”
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“No,” I agreed, “that is the best face I have.”
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“It’s not a bad face.” She smiles.
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“Well… it got me this far.”
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It was time to go and I throughly enjoyed my time at the drivers’ license outlet.  The nice lady wished me good luck and happy driving.  I thanked her and turned to leave.
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“Watch out for bears.”  She reminds me.
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“Oh, I will be very careful.”
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I know she felt like she trumped me with that “wild animals” qualifier and  I could have brought up Florida alligators as my ace in the hole, but I resisted the urge.
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I walk out smiling, 16 again

The Pen is Mightier than the Swine

December 5, 2009

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City

The Pen is Mightier than the Swine

It seems that with every Spring a different mutation of the flu virus rears its ugly head and then the pharmaceutical industry races against time to come up with a drug to vaccinate the masses.   First, it was thought that the “swine” flu was caused by some inerrant association with pigs, but not the pigs themselves.  Then the WHO (World Health Organization, not the rock band) decides that the term, “swine flu” is detrimental to pig farmers and changes the “official” name to H1N1, (no relation to R2D2) because the flu is not being spread by pigs and eating pork is okay.  NOW  pigs in Alberta are being infected by the flu formerly known as swine by HUMANS.  Do we need to change the name again?  Is it safe to say that eating humans is not a good idea?
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Contrary to popular belief, pigs are rather clean animals and fairly intelligent.  Pigs take to the mud because they have no sweat glands and this enables them to stay cool.  It also helps to rid them of insects and parasites.  Pigs protect their young, tend to congregate, and are choosy about where they leave their feces.  While most domesticated animals will just go when the mood strikes them, pigs choose a designated area all on their own.  On the list of creatures with the most intelligence on Earth;  pigs rank 4th  behind dolphins/whales, 3rd, primates (monkeys, apes, etc.) 2nd, and human beings, 1st.  So pigs are smarter than cats, dogs, and horses, but do not make good pets because they get bored easily.  Harry Truman, 33rd president of the U.S. was once quoted as saying, “No man should be president who doesn’t understand hogs ”  It seems pigs are often misunderstood.

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WHO has estimated that 2 billion people could become infected with the swine flu.  That is a pandemic that would rival the Spanish flu of the 1920’s and the Hong Kong flu of the late 60’s.  With all the modern advances in medical research and preventative medicines, I thought we would see another wide spread flu like this again when pigs could fly, but hold on.  Now the WHO says that the swine flu has mutated with the bird flu.  We may have an entire animal farm flu before long.
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As of this writing, the human/swine/bird  flu has been widely spread throughout Canada due largely from traveling back and forth to Mexico, where the flu is rampant.  They say that in order to prevent spreading the flu you should wash your hands (like your mother told you to do) after using the toilet and before eating.  It makes me wonder if we are being subjected to viruses simply because people are not educated about sanitary provisions in the work place?  Dirty handed workers handling pigs?  Oh!  The humanity!  How could this be?  We are first on the intelligence scale!  Cleanliness is next to godliness!
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Now realistically, we cannot expect wash basins and soap for every hog lot in North America, but will somebody please give those Alberta pigs some disinfectant wipes?