Thursday, December 29, 2011

Retrospecticus, 2011

   Well here we are at the end of another year. For me 2011 flew by just as fast as any other year, and they seem to get faster as I get older. A lot has happened in my life this year, and honestly the majority of it hasn't been all that great, but I'm not going to write about that. There were plenty of great experiences this year, and the positive memories from those experiences far outweigh the bad ones.
   This is the time of year when most people will sum up the past year in list form. Everything from news stories to favorite songs are usually put out in a Top Ten list, so following that format I've decided to share my Top Ten Memories of 2011.
  1. Mexico. From Feb. 25 to March 4th, my wife and I took our first ever trip to Mexico and stayed in a nice, all inclusive, beach front resort in the beautiful city of Puerto Vallarta. I could go on and on telling stories from that trip, but that would fill this page. Seeing humpback whales and exotic birds up close and steering a 47-foot sailboat by myself are definite highlights, but my wife and I also took in the local culture and didn't just stick to all the usual tourist traps. We also made some new friends that I hope to see again sometime soon. Overall, that whole week was the best week of the year.
  2. Half My Life With My Wife. In August my wife and I celebrated 17 years as a couple, and we've been married for three of those years. I was 17 when we met and I'm 34 as I write this, so that means we've been together for half my life! I've got no problem being with her for the rest of my life, too! :)
  3. A Day At Wild Play. On a nice day in July my wife and I got together with a bunch of our good friends and spent the afternoon going through Wild Play Amusement Park's "Monkido" course. The course is made up of different obstacles suspended from trees such as tight ropes, zip lines, rope climbing, and all kinds of other challenges. Everyone is rigged in for safety and just goes at their own pace. I have no fear of heights, so that was no issue for me, but some of those obstacles were still pretty tough. It was worth it though. All of us felt a hell of a sense of accomplishment when we got through it. Afterwards, all of us unwound near a historic lighthouse then went to our homes to freshen up and later reconvened at one friend's house for a few drinks. A perfect day.
  4. My Turn on The Zone. This was just back in October when my favorite local radio station allowed regular listeners like myself to come in each day throughout the month to guest host our own one hour shows - playing our favorite songs, and chatting on air with the host. The real deal! I had a lot of fun during my turn, though when I listen to the playback I think I rambled a bit too much about my job during one segment. Nerves, I guess. Fortunately the host Pol helped me stay on track and I redeemed my cool factor by playing some great songs.
  5. Jump Ship. The word "epic" gets tossed around a lot these days and doesn't always apply, but honestly epic is the best way to sum up that day. It started with gathering in Victoria's Inner Harbour with our friends to watch a bunch of BMX riders perform stunts on a barge tied up to the dock (thus the title Jump Ship), and the day just took off from there. After the event the lot of us wandered around downtown for a while, stopped for lunch, wandered some more, saw a bunch of naked cyclists, made our way to my home, then up to the lake nearby to meet another friend, then back to my home, then out for dinner, then finally out to another friend's house for drinks. Again, epic.
  6. Sam Roberts. Now there`s a Canadian artist I`ve been wanting to see in concert for a while now and this year I finally had my chance. Mr. Roberts and his band rolled into town in October and played at the historic Royal Theatre and just the venue alone was worth the admission. What a beautiful building with great acoustics! The show went on for roughly two hours and everyone was moving. They played all of their well known hits and extended a few of them with nice little jams giving each musician a little solo here and there. I hate to say it, Sam, but I think your saxophone player stole the show a few times! I`d see them again if they come back to Victoria.
  7. The Zone`s Toy Drive. I wrote about this event not too long ago. This was the second year I took part in the radio station`s Christmas Toy Drive and I`ll do it again next year too. It all goes to such a great cause and it makes me feel good to know I`ve done my small part to make some underprivileged children happy during the holidays.
  8. My Birthday. As I mentioned above, I turned 34 this year, and this was the first time in many years that more than just one of my friends was able to make it to my birthday party. Thanks for coming out and making it a good one, guys. Just six more weeks until my 35th!
  9. Building RMS Titanic (in 1/700 scale). I haven`t built a model ship since I was in my early teens, but in the summer of 2010 a good friend of mine, knowing my fondness of ships, gave me a plastic kit of the famous ocean liner saying it would look good in my den/office. It sat on my shelf until I finally had some time off last winter, then I went out to get some supplies and paint and had a go at building the kit. I started just before Christmas and finished this year just after my birthday in February. It does look good here in the den! I`m quite proud of how it turned out.
  10.  Highest Roof In Town. The job site itself may have been a nightmare with so many other different trades around, and our task at hand was a daunting one to say the least, but there`s something to be said for having the privilege of seeing the city from a perspective that few people ever get to see it from. Although geographically there are higher points around Victoria, none offer the view you get from the roof of the 23-storey Orchard House building near Beacon Hill Park. When it wasn`t raining, it was downright beautiful up there and made up for all the job related crap we had to deal with. It also helped that a few of the guys I was working with are good friends of mine. If we didn`t have each other to vent to, we would have likely un-clipped our safety gear and taken a dive! (Okay kidding, but it was a rough job.) Thank goodness for good friends.

   So there you have it. Ten highlights from an otherwise not so great year. I`m looking forward to 2012, even if the Mayans are right and the world ends. I`m going to try to make the most of it, and you should too. Remember the people who are most important to you in your life and make time for them. Do things you wouldn`t normally do, but be safe about it. You want to make sure that if there is a 2013 you`re here to see it.
   Until next year, my friends.

The Wandering Oak

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Poem About Our Cat

This follows the rhythm of the 1822 classic “The Night Before Christmas”.

'Twas just days before Christmas and all through our flat, the only creature 'twas stirring was our little cat.

We awoke late last night to the sound of a clatter, followed quite promptly by an ominous shatter...

Three o'clock in the morning and without any warning, our cat had decided to do some exploring.

From the top of our book case, about 5 feet tall, he knocked over a jar which bounced off the wall.

A collection of rocks, found on various beaches, mixed in with the glass now in razor sharp pieces.

Fearing he might get a swat on the ass, kitty ran off and hid as we cleaned up the glass.

Soon kitty came back to the scene of his crime, but we’d never hit him. We love our feline.

So we found a container to hold all our rocks, then crawled back to bed until, oh, 6 o'clock.

The Wandering Oak
A Note From The Author: Based on the 1822 Clement Clarke Moore classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” (also known as “A Visit From St. Nicholas”), I originally wrote this in 2005 and posted it on a former blog that I’m no longer maintaining. It then appeared in my Notes on Facebook back in 2007. For 2011 I made a few minor adjustments to the phrasing and added another line.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Successful Year For The Zone's Toy Drive

   For the second year in a row, Zone listeners have knocked it out of the park and have made the Second Annual Toy Drive a huge success, and it never ceases to amaze me just how generous people can be even in hard times.
   This is what the pile looked like when I arrived just after 8:30 this morning...

   The event is put on by my favorite local modern rock radio station and benefits the St. Vincent De Paul Social Concern Office. Interestingly enough, one of the women that works for SVDP happens to be the mother of morning show host Dylan, and she is certainly one of the nicest women I have met.
   I participated in this event last year, and I was more than happy to take part this year. For me it feels good to help others because I didn't have a lot when I was growing up. In fact, I can remember a few Christmases that would not have happened if it wasn't for the kindness of strangers. Although I couldn't donate a lot, I still showed up with a bag full of cute stuffed animals that I know will make some kids very happy this Christmas. Then I stuck around and mingled with  the Zone staff and everyone else who was there as we watched the pile grow and grow.
   This is what the pile looked like less than two hours later...
   You can't even see the sleigh anymore! I stuck around until the end to help load the truck, and believe me when I tell you it was full! There were cash and cheque donations made as well, and last I heard the total was around $6000! Zoners, give yourselves a pat on the back!
   A few other personal highlights for me are:
  • Getting a round of applause when I arrived with my toys. Everyone got applause as they arrived and it just feels good, doesn't it?
  • Making morning show host Jason laugh with my "I'm a knock-off" joke. It's always funny when you can make a comedian laugh instead of the other way around.
  • Getting a new Zone lanyard. I just mentioned in passing that my old one is wearing out and wasn't expecting Allie from promotions to find a new one for me. Thank you so much, Allie!
  • After helping to load the SVDP truck, Dylan's mom gave me a big hug. Did I mention that she's one of the nicest women I've met?
   I'm happy that the Zone has made this an annual event. I will definitely be there next year! My friends on Facebook can see more photos from this morning once I get them posted. Happy Holidays!!!

The Wandering Oak
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