On the Sidewalk

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Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day.  The temperature reached above 20 and the sun was shining.  What a fantastic day to head out for a walk.  Not surprising, many others had the same idea.  Had I been on my bike, it probably would have looked like a club ride without the club.

We went out for a walk of a little over an hour.  We got to see some lovely houses, some simple houses, and some houses which will be bulldozed to make room for huge condominium towers.  We encountered “closed” parks and greenway trails that people were still using.  We even found some wildlife.

I could wax lyrical about how great it was to get outside, but since most of us are in the same boat, you probably understand it in your bones and my words would fail to be any more precise.  I should note that the weather hasn’t been this great this year.  While winter was not a terrible beast, it did seem to hang around longer than anyone wanted and the weather has been cool.

After today, I completely forgot about that.  Sadly, the weather forecast doesn’t expect it to happen two days in a row.  Since I will be stuck inside working until well into the afternoon, I am going to pretend that I didn’t read that.

While the weather was great, the perfect moment was running across our fine feathered friend above.  It barely moved when we went by–which was a far cry from the sharp veering that everyone, including us, did when encountering someone.  We are all getting good at physically distancing ourselves.

Posted in perfect moment, seasons, Spring, walking, weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Responding to a Fellow Blogger

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I am following about 270 bloggers.  That seems like a lot, but since I haven’t cleaned it out in a while, I am sure the number of active bloggers is around 30, certainly less than 50.  Most are cyclists, a bunch are travelers, some are craft makers, and a few represent something completely different.  One of them is RetroDee.  She writes a unique blog that hearkens back to the 1950s and the music of Buddy Holly.  She writes from both a knowledgeable perspective and a personal one.  I urge you to give it some attention.

She also nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger award.  I am not going to go through all the rules, or nominate people, or make deep philosophical questions and stuff because that never works out for me.  I have nominated probably close to a hundred people for these awards and only a few have ever responded.  I get it.  It’s either a pain or it really isn’t why people are doing this.  No problem.  I have learned my lesson.

However, I am touched that she nominated me and is publicizing me to her dedicated followers.  I am glad she thought of me and I hope my blog brings a smile to her face.  As a result, I will answer the questions she has taken time to write.  I am also glad because it gives me something to write about.

1.What’s your favorite spice?

If I am cooking my famous chicken sandwich, it has to be oregano.  It makes the chicken taste even better.  I don’t have much of a spice rack.  My grandmother used to make these crescent rolls–more bread than pastry–with caraway seeds on the top.  They were fantastic.

2. Who is your favorite character of all time? (can be from anything)

I’ve got hundreds.  I have devoured books, TV and movies.  I like the heroes and the scoundrels, the detectives and the criminals, the pure and the evil.  Really, it all depends on how good the writer is.

3. Do you believe in Aliens?

I have always been into science fiction, so this only seems natural to me.  Also, and I believe this is a quote from Calvin and Hobbes, the surest sign of intelligent life in the universe is that they haven’t contacted us yet.

4. Do you use social media and which is your favorite platform?

I have a bunch of them.  I have Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram.  They all have their uses, but I am not sure I really like any of them.  I like blogging, but if I am being honest, I wish I got more of a response from people.  My students love Instagram, but while I check it every day, I only post in spurts.

5. Do you remember your dreams the next morning?

I do when I wake up, but this fades as the day unfolds.  I dream quite a bit, especially when I sleep on my side.  I seem to be having a lot of dreams where I am traveling either by bike, bus, or plane.  I never seem to be driving in my dreams.

6. What is your favorite charitable cause?

I can’t say as I have one.  I want to help, but I am so filled with cynicism that I do not.  I heard that many charitable organizations use up their donations in the course of soliciting donations.  That doesn’t seem right to me.

I would like to give to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto.  They do some fantastic work.  I would like to find a cure for Crone’s disease.

I am currently interested in the program in Africa that gives bicycles to children so they can get to school faster.  I think that is awesome.

7. Do you collect anything?

I collect everything.  I’ve got a collector’s mentality without the collector’s organizational skills.  Currently my focus is on my stamp collection.  I am trying to collect every stamp issued from the year 1970.  There are enough to collect that it won’t finish too quickly and there aren’t as many expensive stamps as there would be in other years.  There are some expensive ones, but I am holding off until later before investing in them.

Digitally, I seem to be collecting woodworking vloggers on YouTube.  For reasons that I cannot explain, lately, I am fascinated by people making little wood projects.  There are so many talented and creative people with fantastically organized shops making some great videos.  Fortunately, I do not have space for this or I might launch myself into another hobby that is both expensive and time consuming.

8. Do you use curse words on at least a semi-regular basis?

I am surprisingly restrained in this area.  Of course we all reach levels of frustration.  In these times, I tend to blurt our words that are not normally in my vocabulary.  My girlfriend finds it cute and starts to laugh.  That usually diffuses my anger quite quickly.  On a strange note, when driving, I tend to swear in Japanese.

9. Would you like to go back in time and live in the 1950’s?

I don’t think it would be my first choice.  I am much better suited to go back to the 30’s when I could write pulp science fiction.  I also would like to have hung out with the lost generation.

I was an English Literature major in University.  And like Jim Croce said on one of his live albums, “I left University prepared for life in the 18th or 19th century.”

That being said, I would love to have owned a  57 T-bird, so getting the opportunity would be rather nice.  I also might have found work in television or movies during that time.

Upon reflection, I might have found comradeship in the life of the Beats, but then again maybe not.  They seem much better reflected through our current lens than actually living that life.

10. What’s your favorite Elvis song?

When I was young, it would have been Hound Dog.  However, on one flight to Japan, Air Canada was giving away Elvis EP CD’s in the in-flight magazine.  I took a few of them and when I gave one to a friend I was visiting in Japan, he became ecstatic that Suspicious Minds was on the CD.  He played the song non-stop that weekend.  He has since died, and I can’t help remembering him whenever I hear the song.  He was a great friend.

Posted in acceptance, accomplishment, achievement, award, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, growing your blog, perfect moment, thanks, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Local Businesses Need Your Help

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It’s pretty clear that we need to support local businesses–both those that are still open throughout the crisis and those that manage to reopen after the crisis.  As great as it is to click a few buttons and order things through Amazon, we need to think more about our community.

Today I went and got takeout from Granny’s Fish and Chips.  I’ve been going there sporadically for years.  Despite my sporadic visits, they seem to have remembered my name.  I guess that means one of three things.  It could be that my visits are not nearly as infrequent as I claim.  It could mean that they are just good at customer service—who doesn’t feel warmth when someone remembers their name.  It could also mean that I have made somewhat of an impression on them.  The last is possible because in the early days, I was one of the few who realized the family who owned and worked there were Korean and not Chinese.  I also know how to say thank you in Korean, and know how to hand money over with two hands–you’d be surprised at how much of an impression this makes.

Although the shop cannot take in any sit down customers, they seem to be managing.  They’ve got lots of pick up orders and some of those food delivery services are working with them.  I saw an iPad on the counter.  This was a clear indication that they were taking steps to keep their business open.  I feel pretty confident that they will navigate this crisis.

In the next plaza to them is my favourite shawarma place and they, like a lot of places that weren’t able to find a solution, are not open at all.  This doesn’t make me happy, but I hope they survive long enough to open again.  They were a thriving business because their food was delicious.  I am planning on being one of the first customers upon reopening.

Today’s Perfect Moment is supporting local small businesses and the people that work there.  My order isn’t going to set them up for life, but it is part of a wider effort that we all can be part of.

Posted in Aurora, business, fish and chips, help, perfect moment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Finally Crossing Something Off the List

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If you came here from yesterday’s late post, were you able to guess what I have accomplished?  Either way, I invite you to read on.

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you will know that I have been utilizing my non-work time while working from home rather well.  I have employed a simple self-nagging device called the “to-do” list.  I write it every morning based on the leftovers from the previous day.  I thought about making a weekly list, but I realized that is the exact opposite of motivating and given the time frame might put me in the position of adding overly ambitious things to the list.  Perhaps when I get good at the daily list, I can think about something with a longer time frame.

In the past five weeks, I have crossed off many significant and insignificant items.  There are some items that have remained on the list.  Some of these are daily reminders to stretch, do planks, and plan better classes.  Some aren’t done because they are waiting for input from other people. Others are things that I just haven’t managed to accomplish.  These are the annoying ones that give the list its nagging quality.

Several weeks ago I put “fix towel rack” on the list.  Its a pretty insignificant job and certainly well within my skill level.  Despite writing it on the list every single day, I never managed to get around to it.  I had all the tools and I didn’t expect it to be difficult.  I just kept forgetting about it because it’s in the guest bathroom.  I might walk in there to get a tissue or wash my hands, but it isn’t my “go to” bathroom.  Every time I touched the towel, the thing would shake and remind me that I had to fix it.  Then I forgot about it until I started writing the new “to do” list and noticed that it still hadn’t been done.  I was starting to think I would procrastinate that one until the end of the lockdown.

For whatever reason, today was the day.  I fixed it in under 5 minutes–and that’s going slow and being careful not to lose the tiny screw that connects the outer portion with the hidden inner part.

Crossing that one off the list is, without a doubt, Today’s Perfect Moment.

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Building Suspense

20200429_202306I was talking to my girlfriend and she asked me if I had written tomorrow’s post yet.  She knows that ideally, I write the post before going to bed and have it publish at 6 in the morning.  Some nights I have written before we talk, and some nights it is after.  It is also true that some nights nothing comes to me–it isn’t writer’s block.  It’s either a lack of perspective on deciding what was the Perfect Moment, or no phrase that I want to incorporate in my writing sticks out in my mind.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Sometimes, I write a post because some turn of phrase, or some word combination struck me as interesting.   I have always felt confident that this kind of thing would make me a popular writer someday.

When I told her that I had the idea, but that I hadn’t written it yet, she asked me to tell her all about it.  My answer was that she could read it in the morning after it was published.  I don’t know whether I was being egalitarian or rude, but I didn’t want to talk about it until after I had written it, and I think everyone should read it on the platform–but maybe I am just being a bit goofy about stats.  I should also admit that if I allowed her asked her to read it first, she could help me fix the silly errors that seem to populate my work.

Her response was quite interesting.  She said that my reluctance to talk about it made her want to know about it more.  She accused me of building up the hype and implored me again to tell her about it.  Without even understanding exactly how, I was building suspense.

It got me thinking.  Is there a way for me to get people excited about an upcoming post?  Is there some trick I could use to draw people to the blog?  It’s pretty hard to know what tomorrow’s Perfect Moment is going to be before it happens.  I suppose if I were desperate, I could employ some fortune cookie style vagueness:

Tomorrow’s Perfect Moment will come from and unexpected place and take to an even more unexpected one.

Tomorrow’s Perfect Moment will shock you with its simplicity and thrill you with its unapologetic take on society.

I guess the question I really want to ask is; Do the ones closest to you get a sneak peak at your blogs or do you make them wait like everyone else?  Perhaps, you don’t even let those closest to you read them.  I know I didn’t tell my family about the blog until I had already finished writing about any childhood grievances that I was still holding.  Let me know what you do, and whether you share you ideas to help them grow or keep them locked away while they mature.

Also, if you want to know what the picture at the top of the screen is all about, you’ll have to read the blog tomorrow.

Posted in blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, followers, growing your blog, increasing blog traffic, perfect moment, subscription, words, writer's block, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Getting Better at the Tech

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Today’s Perfect Moment is getting a better handle on the technology I have to employ in my new role as online teacher.  However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that today’s bike ride really should also win the honours.  The thing is, you are probably going to be sick of me droning on about amazing bike rides and things seen on the side of the road –giant stop sign for one–so I thought I would give you a break.  However, if you want to read a tiny bit about the ride, just read until the end.

As far as technology goes, I would generally give myself a passing grade.  I am not a whiz, but I can generally hold my own.  In terms of the stuff I am using for my job, I certainly would be happier (and better prepared) if I had been given more training.  Training consisted of a one hour meeting updating us on our work situation using the technology.  I guess it was learn by example.  It was woefully lacking in strategies, examples of best practice, or even ways to deal with problems.  True, teachers don’t like to told how to teach, but this is a bit of a different story.

One of the difficulties I have been having is wanting to split the students up into smaller work  groups.  They seem to talk more when in small groups and I would rather monitor small groups than cajole a large group.  I just didn’t know how to do it.

One of my ex-coworkers (he has been laid-off) offered to give me some guidance, but since he doesn’t even know how to spell my name, and he has been a divisive force in the company, I didn’t really want to give him the satisfaction of helping me.  Petty on my part?  A little.  I am fiercely independent and I don’t want help from someone who is only doing it for their ego and not because they are genuinely helpful.  Before this moment the only people he has helped are ones he wanted to control by feeding their egos. And still, he can’t even spell a seven letter name correctly.

The good thing is that this morning, I figured out how to do it myself.  I successfully used it in class in a mostly seamless way and had a very good effect on the students and the topic.  Cue the Rocky music.

  *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

If you’re still here and wondering about the bike ride.  It was a glorious day filled with triumphs over technology.  How could I not go on a bike ride?  I still struggled a bit out of the gate, but at the turnaround, I felt strong and finished strongly.  I also came across the biggest stop sign I have ever seen.  I am guessing that a number of people have missed it over the years, and somebody decided to do something about it.

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Posted in bicycles, challenges, co-workers, cycling, cycling gear, cycling shoes, ESL, obstacles, online, overcome, perfect moment, teaching, work, working from home | 4 Comments

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

I awoke with the morning sun blasting through my window and  my cat sitting on my shoulder.  When I opened my eyes, he merely said “Meow.”  Luckily I speak Cat and I knew he wanted to be fed.  A quick look at the clock confirmed that he was early.  Why should this morning have been any different?

I managed to put him off for a few extra minutes and even took some extra snooze time.  When I finally emerged from the coccoon that precipitates back to work on Monday morning, I managed to smile.  It was a great day out there.

I did most of my morning tasks with ease and found myself at the kitchen table pouring over the previous day’s paper.  I haven’t looked much at the news but thought I might as well take a peak.  In all the bleak predictions and explanations of why some people want their freedom more than their health (and an explanation of why guns are really important right now) there were some good stories.  The young lady who sings The Nation Anthem before hockey games managed to land a part on a TV series and her career is taking off.  There was also a story about a former Toronto Blue Jay player now playing in Taiwan–yes, they have handled the crisis better than anyone and nobody is talking about it.  Shame on you WHO for buckling to Chinese pressure.  Spread the word.

The best part was that I was fully prepared for my classes and had time to drink my coffee and look out my window.  I wasn’t eager to start teaching, but at least I wasn’t anxious about it.  Seems like a pretty good Perfect Moment to me.

Posted in breakfast, cat, coffee, ESL, perfect moment, preparation, relaxation, students, sun, sunrise, teaching, work, working from home | 2 Comments

Ticking Things Off the To Do List

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Having a house means there is always something to do inside and out.  Growing up, I heard this lament a lot.  I didn’t buy it then.  I thought if you went and fixed what you were whining about, then it would be done and that would be it.  It seemed like people wasted a heck of a lot of time talking about doing stuff and then not doing it.

As an adult, I still agree with that idea, but I know not all of us are capable of getting things done immediately.  We love to procrastinate. it might take a couple of minutes to screw in that screw, but now just doesn’t seem the time.  Mowing the lawn can wait until it rains (making it impossible) or for a time when something isn’t on TV that I want to watch.

Well, there are no sports on TV and only a few of my shows haven’t finished their seasons.  Add to that, with no commute to make, I seem to have a lot of time on my hands.  While I could waste it on YouTube or do something good like read a book, I actually seem to be getting quite a few things done.

As I type this, I can reflect that I haven’t been at peak performance.  There are lots of things I didn’t do and lots of things I did to waste time.  However, my success rate at getting things done is better.  I have managed to do a lot more than I would normally do.

Not all of my problems were procrastination.  Part of the problem was my memory.  I would remember things that happened in elementary school, but forget that I planned to organize my screwdrivers.  I could remember detailed conversations I had in university with people at bars, but couldn’t remember I had to fix the towel rack in the bathroom.

During this teaching from home phase of my life, I have been making To Do lists and keeping them in front of me while teaching.  When teaching was over, I would try and get one of them done. Sure, sometimes I took care of the low hanging fruit, but other times I have been more ambitious.

It has helped with work too.  I usually have things to scan and take care of that I was too lazy to do and put off until I should have been asleep.  Making a list when it comes to me might actually mean I get it done immediately after my teaching day is done.

It isn’t all roses.  I still find helping students with their writing to be an arduous task.  It isn’t any better in the digital age.  They send it at all hours and the formats that they choose seem somewhat incompatible.  If I put notes, they can’t read them.  If I do something else, they can’t open the file.  It can be frustrating.

However, some things are getting done.

Posted in accomplishment, mindfulness, obstacles, perfect moment, procrastination, tasks, to do list | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stating the Obvious

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Some of the time, perhaps much of the time, I celebrate the obscure in this blog.  That makes sense to me.  I see myself as the artist who sees the world through a different lens.  A bit pompous, a bit over-dramatic, and a bit par for the course.  Why would anyone want to read about something they already see.

However, for Today’s Perfect Moment, it is sometimes necessary to state the obvious.  I am happy it is the weekend.  I am glad for a couple of days that do not involve teaching online.  Yes.  I am still at home.  I am still at the computer screen typing this.  Yes, there are lots of things on my to do list.  There is a difference though.  This isn’t work.  This doesn’t have a schedule.

Posted in acceptance, accomplishment, appreciation, hard work, perfect moment, relationships, relaxation, to do list, weekend, work, working from home | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tales from the ESL (virtual) Classroom.

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I could easily have chosen to write about my bike ride today.  It wasn’t epic, but I was out on the bike, and if you love riding a bike (and you should) you would understand how awesome it really is.

Instead, I want to write a bit about my teaching day and the weirdness of it.  Perhaps, I am overselling it.  I just want to write about something weird that happened today.  It isn’t anything new.  It’s something I know, but for some reason I feel the need to write about it today.  I hope you will allow me this indulgence.

So, my work has me teaching four different classes a day.  They have been kind enough to allow that the classes come in pairs, so that I am only teaching two different things.  My first two classes that focus on speaking with higher level students.  The next two classes are general classes with intermediate students.  I hope this makes sense.

For my speaking classes, I wanted to focus on humor.  I thought that maybe the students could discuss different aspects of humour, or how their cultures view humour.  I even showed them a short clip of Kim’s Convenience to show them Canadian humour–and yes we spell that with the letter u in there (which also applies to colour, neighbour, flavour……I digress.)

For the first class, this went amazingly well.  The students were able to discuss some very interesting things and I merely monitored.  At the end of class we went over some of their errors, and I provided some formal and informal alternatives to what they said.

The second class was pretty much the opposite.  They tried to speak about it, but they soon exhausted their vocabulary or some found the topic dull.  They had fewer opinions and didn’t open up the discussion.

Now, as I wrote above, this is nothing new.  Assigning a level to a class or a class to a level does not guarantee ability or effort.  Also, different topics and delivery create different reactions.  This is not my first rodeo.  The thing is, the difference was so big that when the class was over I had to shake my head in disbelief.

And then I felt the need to blog about it.

Posted in blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, class, ESL, humor, humour, obstacles, online, overcome, perfect moment, teaching, working from home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments