Happy Halloween!

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Throwback Thursday

Seven years ago, before I met my incredible wife, I was in a pretty bad state. I was fresh off of a separation from my (now ex) wife and hitting the bottom of the barrel in terms of depression. I was alone and desperate for attention of any kind.

I had gained a lot of weight during my wedding in a relatively short amount of time. At the time, I attributed it all to no longer smoking but I can look back now and realize that I turned to food as a way to deal with my depression.

I worked for a good company with a lot of good people. I decided to do something different for Halloween because I didn’t usually dress up. I went down to a local “party supply/costume rental” company and picked up a pirate costume. I wore it to the office and people seemed to get a kick out of it. I look back at it now and am horrified by how I look.

One pic has me in the whole wigged-out outfit minus the eye patch. Another pic has me sans-wig but WITH the eye patch. The bottom pic has my son coming to visit me at the office on his 2nd Halloween, just over a year old. It’s probably the only time you’ll see a pic of me and my son both dressed-up for Halloween.

I look at these pictures and am mortified by how I look. The weight is bad enough, but I can see the pain behind the mask. I can see the desperate attempt at getting others to like me. I can see the hurt behind the smile (especially as my ex-wife took the last photo of me and the Ankle Biter).

But this blog is about sorting through my feelings and confronting them head on. So today’s Throwback Thursday pic is a collage from 2007.

Ugh…

Halloween 2007


Turn Back Tuesday – 1988

So what were you doing in 1988?

As part of my ongoing attempt to recreate a lifetime of memories, I’m focusing this week on the year I turned 16.

16I’m sure you all feel the same way, but for me turning 16 (pictured at right…obviously) was a pretty big deal. I was looking forward to having a car and worked my tail off to pass my driver’s test. I know things are different now, but I had my driver’s license the same month I turned 16, so driving was pretty much immediate.

85 Honda Civic HatchbackMy very first car was a 1986 Honda Civic. I drove the heck outta that vehicle and ended up getting my first speeding ticket only a few weeks after getting the car. My dad was NOT a happy camper, let me tell you!

I started the year in the middle of Grade 10 and I was starting to think about university. I had a pretty deep conversation with my Grade 10 history teacher in an effort to try to figure out what direction my life was heading into. I knew that I wanted to become a radio DJ, but my father was pushing me to go into business instead. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps because I would have a better chance at a better life that way. So my history teacher told me to drop ALL sciences and focus on business and art programs. Math, History, Accounting, Typewriting, Modern World Problems, English…these were the courses I ended up taking. A good idea? It’s hard to say now, but that conversation ended up shaping the rest of my life.

Something else I did in Grade 10 was participate in the school’s King & Queen Pageant. Actually, I was trying to be “Junior Prince” (“Senior Prince” for Grade 11, “King” for Grade 12). I recently watched video from that particular evening and wow…what the heck was I thinking? In fact, what was anybody thinking? The whole notion of a pageant is ridiculous anyway. I’m embarrassed to have even taken part in it.

Did you know that Al-Qaeda was formed by Osama bin Laden in 1988? Scary to know the group has been around that long.

The winter Olympics were held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and the summer Olympics were held in Seoul, South Korea.

The #1 song at the time was “Groovy Kind Of Love” by Phil Collins. I remember liking this song at the time, but not loving it. As an adult, my infatuation with the song grew. When I proposed to Sunshine on our Caribbean cruise a couple of years back, one of the first songs we heard that evening was “Groovy Kind Of Love”.  That immediately became “our song” to the point where we had an acoustic instrumental version of the song playing when Sunshine walked down the aisle at our wedding. Definitely a special moment and a special song for me.

Roy Orbison passed away in December, 1988. He had 22 Top 40 hits in the 1950’s and 1960’s before his career hit a brick wall throughout the 1970’s. He had a bit of a revival in the late 1980’s, which culminated in him joining the supergroup Traveling Wilburys alongside Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne. He had one more Top 10 hit, the posthumously-released “You Got It”, which would hit #9 early the next year.

MulroneyIn politics, Brian Mulroney was elected Prime Minister for a second term in Canada. George H.W. Bush was elected president of the United States over Michael Dukakis, replacing Ronald Reagan. I’m not sure how history will perceive Bush, but he had some very big shoes to fill as Reagan is widely thought of as one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history. I was never a fan of his, but I used to love watching Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live do his Bush impressions.

Rain-Man-PosterThe top 5 box office films of the year were:

  1. Rain Man at $172 million
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit at #156 million
  3. Coming to America at $128 million
  4. Big at $115 million
  5. Twins at $112 million

There were a TON of great movies that came out in 1988. Looking back, I’m not sure the top 5 truly reflects how good the year was for movies. Other releases that came out in ‘88 were Die Hard, Young Guns, The Naked Gun, Beetlejuice, Rambo III, Cocktail, Bull Durham, Gorillas In The Mist, The Great Outdoors, and Scrooged.

The top 5 television programs of the year were:

  1. The Cosby Show (yet again)
  2. Roseanne
  3. A Different World
  4. Cheers
  5. 60 Minutes

bill_cosbyIt’s crazy how popular The Cosby Show was. Remember the Friends and Seinfeld craze? Well, double it and add 30 so you can grasp just how popular Cosby was. I loved his show, too…it wasn’t just people watching because there was nothing else on. Bill Cosby showed how a black family could be on television without having to fall into any stereotypes or caricatures (ex: The Jeffersons, Different Strokes, Fresh Prince of Bel Air). It was just a good family doing good deeds and having good times together, which is why it crossed all racial boundaries and was a hit with everyone who watched it.

That’s 1988 in a nutshell for me. For me, it wasn’t really that memorable of a year other than for a couple of things. What do YOU remember about 1988?


Halloween Memories

70s HalloweenI’ve always enjoyed Halloween, but I don’t know if I’ve really got a lot of memories from my time as a kid dressing up.

It’s funny…I’ve found a couple of older photos from me back in the late 70s dressed up for trick-or-treating, yet I have zero recollection of me dressing up like that. I don’t have any costumes that I specifically remember wearing or nights going out with my parents or with friends that I can recall.

My Sister & I - Halloween

There was this one time, though…in the 80’s (around 1984, I think). I was trick-or-treating with a couple of friends through a fairly residential area. It was getting a bit late and the majority of the smaller kids were already done for the evening. Things seemed to be calm when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving on the street next to us.

We all ran to find out what it is that we only got a small glimpse of. When we got to the street, it was already on the NEXT street over! What was it?

Someone had created a monster costume, but not like Frankenstein or Dracula. They were using stilts for legs, so it appeared as though it was a 4-legged creature moving; and moving fast! It was almost graceful how this “creature” would quietly speed down the street. They didn’t make any noise and were covered in what I can only describe as burlap of some kind. It really did look like a 4-legged brown monster just walking around.

They didn’t trick-or-treat, either…not once did I see “it” go to a house or even carry a bag. Whatever this person was doing, it was doing to spook out those who happened to catch a glimpse of them.

Of course, this story probably reads a lot better with a bunch of kids sitting around a campfire and me telling the story with a flashlight pointing at my face.

Do YOU have any Halloween memories?


Halifax…we’re BETTER than this

I’m pissed off.

Halifax…we’re BETTER than this.

After the horrific events that took place in our nation’s capital on October 22nd, tensions across the country were at an all-time high. We lost a good person and a reservist who was simply doing his duty of guarding the tomb of the Unknown Soldier…and there’s no need for that. No justification. Thankfully, the shooter was gunned down inside of the Parliament Building. I’m glad he’s dead and the Canadian Soldier At Arms, Kevin Vickers, is a damn hero for pulling the trigger before more innocent victims died.

Yesterday morning at 8:36am, a report was phoned into Halifax Regional Police. The report was that somebody believed they saw a man walking with what appeared to be a rifle wrapped in black cloth. Police swarmed the area immediately and then social media took over.

What bothered me wasn’t so much the immediate fear and panic that this report caused, it was the fear mongering that local media proceeded to push on the people of Halifax through unconfirmed reports and hearsay.

I’m sorry, but a single, unconfirmed report of someone possibly carrying a rifle underneath a black cloth is not the same as “reports of a gunman”. This type of erroneous reporting only goes to mislead the public into thinking that there was absolutely a gunman in Downtown Halifax because it’s now substantiated with the misnomer of having more than one reported sighting. This type of sensationalistic reporting is what I expect from TMZ and CNN and the like…I don’t expect it from my local media.

The police department attempted to clarify the situation:

It got so bad at one point that local social media folk joined the police department to make sure people knew that shots were NOT fired and there had been NO ATTEMPTED SHOOTING…as people across the country began to re-tell stories around the social media campfire:

As the online community was beginning to go a little bit out of control, this is what the police department officially had to say about the situation at 9:56am:

“At 8:36 a.m., several patrol units, including members of the Emergency Response Team, responded to a report of a man walking in the area of Duke and Brunswick Streets in Halifax carrying what is believed to be a rifle. He was reported to be wearing black cargo pants and an ear piece and was concealing what is reported to be a rifle wrapped in black cloth. We are currently attempting to confirm the single report as well as locate the man. There has been no report of shots being fired or any threats.”

Scary situation? Absolutely! I would be freaking out a bit if I were in the downtown area. As it was, I was outside the downtown core by a couple of kilometers and receiving my information via Twitter and Facebook. Thankfully, I don’t rely on one or two sources of information (such as the goddamn local newspaper!!) or else I would have been freaking out that my city was under attack by a crazy gunman.

Was it stated specifically by the Chronicle Herald, JackFM, and News 94.5? No. Was it inferred by their reckless reporting of multiple reports of a gunman downtown? Absolutely! And even after the police released their clarification of the situation, the Chronicle Herald couldn’t help but continue their sensationalistic ways…

This type of frivolous reporting has got to stop. Everybody is on edge already. We all know that this can happen in our back yard; just look at what happened to my former home of Moncton, New Brunswick just a few months ago.

As a member of the media, you are supposed to INFORM the public. The information needs to be accurate. What you aren’t supposed to do is treat providing news as a race to the finish line on the last lap of the Indy 500. By doing that, you report inaccuracies and cause undue panic and fear amongst your readers. I don’t want to know what COULD be going on, I want to know what’s going on. If you don’t know, DON’T REPORT IT.

CBC television did an incredible job covering the events as they unfolded in Ottawa on Wednesday. Local reporting icon Peter Mansbridge was insightful and stressed numerous times “this is what we know for certain at the moment”. There was no jumping the gun or throwing around wild stories. He didn’t try to sensationalize the situation because, let’s face it, it was scary enough the way it was.

After a situation like what happened yesterday, I think our local news sources need to re-evaluate how they report the news to the public. In a world where typing tweets into a cellphone can result in embarrassing typos, it’s even MORE important to ensure that what you’re sending out to the world is accurate and can be backed-up by evidence.

Will they learn? Probably not…though it didn’t take too long for the Chronicle Herald to wise-up and realize that they were part of the problem yesterday morning:

Let’s just forget the police report saying that there is yet no direct correlation between the two incidents. To the media, this is a “case closed” situation and they were justified in their reporting.

I, for one, and sick of it.

**********

UPDATE – It turns out that the two cases were NOT related. 


Turn Back Tuesday – 1987

So what were you doing in 1987?

As part of my ongoing attempt to recreate a lifetime of memories, I’m focusing this week on the year I turned 15.

I went to band camp and yes, every time I say that I think of the American Pie movie. But no…I didn’t see any flute fornication while I was there. I was WAY too nerdy to have been involved in that type of shenanigans.

Here’s why…my mom thought it would be a good idea for me to get a perm on the top of my head; that way I wouldn’t have to worry about gel or hairspray or mousse or looking like my dad. The problem as that I did the perm on TOP of my head, not the sides or back. And instead of leaving it alone, I tried to comb it out that night…totally RUINING the perm.

This is how I ended up looking for months afterwards:

Yikes

Yikes.

I exited Grade 9 as a kid who was trying to be friends in a certain group of guys and would do anything to be part of “the gang”. I showed off in school…I skipped the occasional class…I was in detention more than I wasn’t. My parents thought I was going down a bad path or something. I just wanted to get some of the attention I wasn’t getting at home.

I entered Grade 10 at a pivotal point in my life. The big thing was that I was finally done being the outcast at school who kept begging for attention. I feel as though I began to settle into my own body a bit and not feel as though I had to be somebody I wasn’t. I began to hang out with a group of people that I really wanted to hang out with.

I still looked like a nerd and I’m sure I acted like a total goof, but I was no longer the butt of ALL the jokes. I had friends who would have my back if something were to happen. I’m still friends with those same people today.

Players Light Smooth cigarettesAs bad as this may sound, but I think one of the reasons I got to hang out with the “cool kids” was because I took up smoking. I mean, this was a different age…I could walk down to the corner store and buy a single cigarette for 25 cents…so the way to “look cool” was to take up this nasty, disgusting habit. It’s such a weird thing to write about today, but I totally gave into peer pressure and ended up smoking over a pack a day for 15 years.  I celebrated 10 years smoke free this year, actually.

My dad's first restaurantDad was working like crazy at his pizza restaurant. Business was booming and life was good. I never had to need anything growing up. We were never a rich family, but we always had a roof over our heads and food on our plates. Dad did very well in the pizza business for a time.

WrestleMania III took place this year. To a non-fan, this isn’t a big deal. To a wrestling fan, though, this is very well known as being the largest indoor sporting event in North America with an attendance of 93,173 fans. That incredible number stood for over 20 years until the 2010 NBA All-Star Game eclipsed it with an indoor attendance of 108,713 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.

Did you know that The Simpsons first got their start on The Tracy Ullman Show in 1987? It’s crazy to think that the show is still rolling along almost 30 years later.

The #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was “Bad” by Michael Jackson. I’m a life-long Jackson fan, but I’ll be the first to admit that this was one of his worst songs. I mean, c’mon…out of all of his singles during the 80s, THIS was definitely the worst one. Am I wrong? And I can’t even listen to it without thinking of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody version, whose lyrics at least makes the song itself listenable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As a Canadian, I would be amiss if I didn’t include the historic introduction of the one dollar coin into our country. It was immediately nicknamed “The Loonie” because of the loon pictured on the “tails” side of the coin (we’ve got a beaver on the nickel, a boat on the dime, and a moose on the quarter…we’re a weird country with our coins).

Three_men_and_a_babyThe top 5 box office films of the year were:

  1. Three Men And A Baby at $167 million
  2. Fatal Attraction at $156 million
  3. Beverly Hills Cop II at $153 million
  4. Good Morning, Vietnam at $123 million
  5. Moonstruck at $80 million

Gosh…it’s hard to imagine that Three Men & A Baby was the #1 movie of 1987. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a horrible movie or anything…but it was a silly comedy with sub-par acting and a generic story. I guess it was a bad year for movies. I saw the top four movies over time but never saw Moonstruck, nor do I have any desire to.

lethal weaponLethal Weapon was released in 1987. I’m assuming that it was because the movie was R-rated that it only made $65 million at the box office. That franchise was, for the most part, pretty darn good. It really blended comedy, action, and drama quite well. The chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover was fantastic, and only got better with the addition of Joe Pesci. And of course, as a Canadian music fan I was stoked to hear that Honeymoon Suite was getting their “big U.S. break” by performing the love song “theme” to the movie.

the_cosby_showThe top 5 television programs of the year were:

  1. The Cosby Show
  2. A Different World
  3. Cheers
  4. The Golden Girls
  5. Growing Pains

star trek tngI consider myself a Star Trek fan. I’m not a “Trekker” or a “Trekkie”, but I’m still a fan. But even still, I had no idea that Star Trek: The Next Generation actually debuted in 1987. Although now that I think about it, maybe I did know that…I just completely forgot and assumed it was a 1990’s television show. Huh. I think it’s fair to say that TNG was vastly superior to any other Star Trek program. I was a massive fan and couldn’t wait to watch every Saturday night at my friend’s house. Yeah…good times.

And for those still trying to wrap your heads around Windows 8, just try to wrap your head around the fact that Windows 2.0 was released in 1987.

That’s 1987 in a nutshell for me. What do YOU remember about 1987?


The Super Scary & Extremely Exciting Combined Income Financial Plan

TOO MUCH MONEYI’ve never had a REAL financial plan before. Sure, I’ve set up budgets and had some pretty lofty goals, but I never ended up following them for more than a week or so. As such, I have never had any kind of savings in my account and have been living paycheck-to-paycheck for pretty much my entire adult life.

Sunshine said something to me the other day that resonated with me. I had to sit there and really think about it.

“I thought our financial situation was going to improve when you moved here. It hasn’t.”

moneyShe was totally right, of course, because we are both living paycheck-to-paycheck. One or two unanticipated expenses have popped up and things have been looking rather grim as we head into the holiday season.

But then I looked at what we make and thought there had to be something wrong. I mean, we’re not raking in the big bucks or anything, but we’re not doing too shabby. Where was our money going?

So we had a discussion; a REAL discussion about finances. No secrets, all money out on the table. What we make and what we owe. To some this may be just a normal marriage situation. For me, especially, it’s a massive leap of faith. I have never shared my financial information with anybody prior to Sunshine. Mind you, that was probably because I was embarrassed about the state of my bank account…but still, this was a pretty big moment for me.

money_issuesSo we have come up with some ideas and solutions and ways to get us back on track. Changing bank accounts here, consolidating finances there…keeping track of ALL money because it’s going to be completely shared. Again, this is something I’ve never done before…but where what I’ve done before has never worked, I’m jumping into the deep end of the pool and trusting that the two of us can not only stay afloat together, but swim strongly.

We’re going to start small and think big. We’ve watched programs on television and have seen ideas online on how to pay down debt and manage finances. The plan is to take care of the smallest debts first so that those payments can then be added to the larger amounts owing.

If all goes according to plan, we should be able to begin actually saving money in January. Of course, we’ll have to see how things go over the next two months…there could be unexpected expenses or we might just be unable to stick to the budget. But with the prospect of having our finances in order and money in our savings account, I think we’ll find a way to make this work.

We’re adults. It’s about time we started acting like it.

At least, y’know, when to comes to finances. Heh.Our money


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