Tuesday, 26 February 2013

New Music!!

Any one who knows me, or virtually knows me by following this little slice of internet knows that I am constantly acquiring and listening to new music.  I get a real thrill when I find something new that has a fresh distinct sound.  Genres be damned, I am all over the place with my tastes.  I thought I would share with you some of my the most recent albums that I have been listening to and provide a short review.

Brazilian Girls- Brazilian Girls (2005) & Talk To La Bomb (2006)

I had already listened repeatedly to their most recent album New York City (2008) and had really enjoyed the laid back feel their brand of electronica had.  After a few listens to their other material and I can confirm that they are just as good.  I often listen to an album a few dozen times before I realize just how solid it is.  If an album holds my attention through each song and has no lulls I subconsciously find myself overplaying it like a pre-teen girl with her Beiber albums.

Hot Chip- Coming On Strong (2004), The Warning (2006), Made In The Dark (2008), One Life Stand (2010)

After hearing their most recent album In Our Heads (2012) what seems like 100 times, I went ahead and grabbed everything else these guys have ever produced.  While the current album is catchy beyond belief, I have not had enough listening time to the other albums to know if they hold the same powers.  Doubtless, all 4 albums are worth your time as the guys are incredibly talented when it comes to the mellow style of electronica.

Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob (2013)

Yes! New Stuff!  It has been 4 years since the last new album from the folk rock duo, and they didn't disappoint.  Displaying a knack for writing catchy lyrics matched with unique melodies this album explores a more synthetic pop sound as opposed to the acoustic guitar heavy folk sounds they have always relied on.  They mix their new sound with some classic stylings and a creative, fresh album is the pleasing result.

Goldfrapp - Head First (2010)

The fifth album from this British duo has a great upbeat sound that has garnered success in a variety of different countries.  Made up of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. they mix her strong, pure vocals with synthesizers to create an electronica sound that relies more heavily on vocals then most do.  The synthesizers provide a showcasing background for her talents.  I will likely check out more of their work in the future.

 Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)

A 25 year old rapper from Compton, Kendrick Lamar's album was one of the best reviewed albums of last year, finding its way onto all sorts of "best of" and "top album" lists.  It received plenty of praise in mainstream music as well, something quite uncommon in the rap genre.  I have admittedly only given it a couple listens, but I like what I hear so far.

Jack Parow - Jack Parow (2010)

This South African rapper features heavily on the Die Antwoord album that I have been really enjoying, so I thought I would check out his album as well.  Incorporating both the Afrikaans and English languages, he spits hard in a "gangster" style, but he generally has an upbeat message despite his delivery.  He prefers to rap in Afrikaans as he says it flows much smoother for him, his music is catchy despite the language barrier.

Down With Webster - Down With Webster (2007)

I have always had a passing interest in this group as they have an interesting pop style mixed with a clean sounding rap delivery.  After hearing that they would be coming to town in support of Mariannas Trench, I decided to give their debut album a listen.  It's anchored by its upbeat feel that kept me listening and enjoying.  I will have to give their 2nd and 3rd albums a go before long.

Mariannas Trench - Ever After (2011)

Despite Mariannas Trench having a significant following in Canada amongst the pop music crowd, I had only heard them a handful of times.  When I heard they were coming to Prince George to headline the CN Center, I was intrigued.  When I found out how much Sheila though of them, and discovering that they were played on her favourite radio station constantly, I decided to grab the album.  The big single "Ever After" is as advertised, a great catchy pop tune that you can listen to repeatedly.  So, as I play the Down With Webster and Mariannas Trench albums in the house, I have been building interest in the concert.  I gave Sheila her ticket last week for her birthday, but I hope to keep Jasmine in the dark a little longer.  She hasn't been to a concert before, so I expect a wee bit of excitement.

The Steeldrivers - Hammer Down (2013)

 As a nice change of pace I decided to give this Bluegrass group a go.  True to the genre, this album is heavy on banjo riffs and gravelly sounding vocals.  I am currently giving it a listen for the first time and it's lyrics are well-written and relaxing.

That's my time, give a few of these a listen, you won't be disappointed.  Thanks to my fellow blogger Yakshi, who's blog can be found here who's album capsule features have given me new music to listen to, and also inspired me to post what I am listening to.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Soccer Season Coming Soon!

Okay, so the season for soccer here in the great white north hasn't quite arrived.  If I needed a firm reminder, I got it this morning.  I woke for work at my usual time of 5:55.  Had my extremely quick shower, threw on my clothes and shoved my contacts into my eyes.  I walked outside after throwing on my coat and finding my keys only to be greeted by about 6 inches of fresh wet snow.  When I had arrived home the night before at 10:30 it was a balmy 3 degrees outside and snow was not on my mind in the least.  Alas, it's all part of living in Prince George where we seem to receive multiple false Spring weather systems.  A week ago the snow was melting rapidly, I had chipped most of the ice off of the driveway, and dozens of joggers were out roaming the city street.  Fast forward to today, and we now have nearly a foot of fresh snow on the ground between last night's dump and one we received the other day.  The weather is still mild as it hasn't fallen more then a few degrees below zero, but for those like me who aren't really winter enthusiasts it can be frustrating.

I have soccer on my mind because I made a call yesterday to Steve who I co-coached with last year.  His daughter was a first time player last year, but by all indications she is eager and ready to play again this year.  A wise choice as she really is a natural.  Steve and his wife have a brand new baby at home but he is ready to help guide a team once again.  Our girls will be in the same division as last year, they will be in the older set now as it is a combined under 9 and 10 group.  I had a lot of fun last year coaching as there were numerous positives about the whole experience.  It was enjoyable to see how receptive to advice most of the girls were, and how appreciative they were to our advice.  They  really had a lot of fun too, as we the coaches were often the butt of harmless jokes.  The effort level was great, which is a huge indicator at the age level of whether or not the kids are enjoying themselves.  All in all, I am looking forward to another great season.

Another reason why the thought of soccer season has me excited is the thought of returning to the playing field myself.  My work schedule over the past 4 years has provided a significant hinderance to my involvement in the city league.  Last year, the recreational league played Monday nights, the same night that Jasmine's team played and I had to bow out of playing altogether.  This year, while I still have to work the weekends which makes it nearly impossible to commit to a team in the Open League, Jasmine's games have been moved to Tuesday's it appears, which means my Monday nights are free once again.  While the level of soccer is mediocre, I am looking forward to kicking the ball around in real games once again.  I am even considering a return to being a referee, something that I really enjoyed as a teenager.  It may be too much, as I will already be at the field to play and coach 3 times a week but I'm thinking about it.  The other challenge is that I would likely be treated as a beginner, meaning I would have to take the 3 day course and pay $150 to become a referee.  I'm not sure I can or want to put myself through the course for something I'm thinking about on a whim.  I have another month or so to decide.

I have managed to keep relatively active over the winter months what with my hockey games and lifting weights in the basement.  The warm weather and longer days has me brainstorming different ways of being active and looking forward to getting out and exercising under the open skies once again.  In my last post I mentioned my desire to set some lofty running goals for the year, and here in this post I am commiting to playing soccer once again.  What next?  Will I be looking to join the football league?  Take up kayaking?  Give ultimate frisbee a try?  Actually, I am considering that last one.  It's a great work out and it's inexpensive to take up.  Hurry up and get here summer!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Happy Trails Mr. Fauja Singh

From the files of "those who inspire" comes this amazing story about the world's oldest long distance runner.  Mr. Fauja Singh, age one hundred and one announced that he would be retiring from competitive racing after he completed his race today in Hong Kong.  While he "only" ran 6.25 miles in today's race, he did become the oldest person ever to complete a marathon in 2011 at the age of only 100.  Of course the sitffs at World Guiness Records won't officially recognize his feat due to his lack of a birth certificate, something he can't be blamed for as at the time of his birth India did not have a proper system of tracking births and many perhaps even most people born in his era went without proper documentation.

If you aren't blown away enough by his marathon completion at age 100, perhaps the rest of the tale will knock you flat.  He completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon at age 100 in 2011 in a time of 8:11:06.  Unbelievably, this was only 3 days after he set not one, not two but EIGHT world records for his age category at a meet in Toronto at Birchmont Stadium.  He ran the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter, 800 meter, 1500 meter, 3000 meter, the mile and the 5000 meter races all on the same day.  He established records in every race he attempted, including a few that had never been completed by anyone over 100 before.  He also significantly beat a number of 95-100 age group records. 

The whole story is quite hard to fathom.  Even in the most advanced countries in the world human beings on average expect to live to about 80 years old.  Here is a man who was born in a country where life is expected to be much shorter, yet at an age when nobody is expected to be physically active, he is accomplishing feats that very few at any age would even attempt.  The 8 races he ran in 1 day total approximately 13 kilometers a distance that I have managed once in my life.  That day was merely a warmup for him as he went on to run a full marathon just 3 days later. 

I would like to wish Mr. Fauja Singh well in his retirement even though he has no plans to quit running.  He ran his last competitive race today, but plans to continue running for pleasure until he can't run anymore.  I've read about him before and been inspired by him.  The feats he has accomplished in a pair of sneakers while pounding asphalt on 100 year old joints is something to behold. 

While I doubt I could accomplish the marathon any time soon, I would love to attempt to complete all 8 races that he ran in Toronto, on the same day.  It will take some serious training and commitment, and even more heart and mental fortitude but I would love to make it happen.  I plan to get back to running in the coming weeks as the snow begins to melt.  I regularly ran last spring and summer, but training for this much larger distance complete with stops and rest in between will be quite a test.  Stopping and resting then starting up again is much more difficult then pacing yourself through one race of the total distance.  I will keep you posted with my successes and failures throughout the spring and summer.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Happy Birthday Sheila!

I probably shouldn't make a big deal about it, and I most definitely shouldn't and won't share my lady's age with you but Sheila has officially become one year older today.  Of all days, the date fell on a Friday, the day of the week that she leaves the house at 730 to go to work, and I don't see her until 1030 at night when I get off of work.  We will likely cuddle up to watch a movie tonight to celebrate, even though I have fallen asleep during each of the last 4 movies we have started together.

As Jasmine, Asher and I knew that we wouldn't have a chance to celebrate the special day with her as a group, we treated her last night.  When Sheila got home dinner was being finished, and Jasmine was hurriedly putting the finishing touches on her hand made card.  Asher made one too, but he has less interest in artistic things and took about half a minute to make his.  We scored points by getting an orchid as a gift, Jasmine remembered it was Sheila's favorite.  Also, tucked into her birthday card was a ticket to the Mariannas Trench and Down With Webster concert in April.  She only got 1 ticket, and I told Jasmine that mom was indeed going to have a relaxing time at the concert by herself.  The fact that the concery falls the week after Jasmine's birthday was not lost on her but I hope to keep her in the dark until her birthday anyway.

Sheila enjoyed her dinner and was happy to have pudding for dessert that Jasmine made.  I even remembered to pick up some gluten free snacks to have during the movie.  I hope Sheila was able to have a nice evening, and maybe the kids will go easy on her tonight for her "real birthday".

Sheila works so hard at her job, at home raising the kids and putting up with me that she deserves to kick back and relax on occasion.  We really are very lucky to have her in our life.  Happy Birthday Sheila!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Kids in Sports

Why is it that they have taken something so simple (soccer) and made it so difficult for the kids and parents to enjoy?  This thought crossed my mind while chatting with my fellow assistant coach at basketball yesterday.  We had only a handful of girls for the last scheduled basketball game of the year as the rest of the team members were off at a small tournament for soccer.  These girls are just 10 or 11 years old and they are already participating full-time in soccer activities that seem to leave little time for anything else.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the whole idea of children being involved in sports mostly because I get to see on a daily basis just how much fun Asher at 2 years old has whenever a ball, puck or any sports equipment is present.  I think it's really cool and I look forward to helping him get involved in all sorts of different things, but the cost and the viability of it all hadn't dawned on me until recently.  The better your child becomes at a sport, the more costly it gets.  I would love to see Jasmine and Asher excel at sports, but at what cost?  I feel like I do a reasonable job with Jasmine when it comes to not pushing her, because I want her to enjoy her involvement and not feel like she has to please me.  I didn't coax her into playing sports that I liked, but rather I steered her towards what I thought were affordable options that she would be interested in.  Sheila and I enrolled her in the Girl Guide program as well to provide a different type of leisure activity, again, at an affordable price.  As it turns out, even affordable has it's costs.  Between soccer, basketball, Girl Guides, various activities at school, and the horse riding lessons I spoiled her with last summer, I have collected over $500 worth of reciepts.  This doesn't include the various equipment she needs to participate be it her Guide uniform, her kicks for b-ball, her soccer cleats and her other equipment that she needed for having fun with dad in the yard.  This includes her bicycle, her softball bat and glove, her hockey stick and helmet and so on.  When it comes right down to it, leading your children towards a sedentary lifestyle can be "cheaper" if one was to measure the cost in merely dollars spent.

Now, what got me started on this topic was my conversation with my fellow coach and the absurdly complex system that the Prince George Youth Soccer Association has implemented called "Future Stars".  I have no problem with the idea that children at the age of 9 or 10 are referred to as "Future Stars" as that sounds like fun and could leave the kids dreaming big and setting their goals high.  The system itself is flawed immensely and for numerous reasons.  Last year, Jasmine began her first year in the new program.  She played as a 9 year old in the 9 and 10 year old division.  The division was tiered so there was a green division and a white division and based on who knows what standards and evaluations the girls were lumped into one or the other.  Keep in mind, I coached the year before and had provided evaluations for my girls to the league.  Jasmine was placed on a team in the second tier along with 3 first time players, but at the same time the team was probably made up of half 9 year old and half 10 year olds.  You would think that the second year players would be more likely to play in the top tier.  Both divisions played twice a week and the league also provided additional coaching sessions on a 3rd night of the week that was the beginning of the "Future Stars" program.  This division does not have a special team to represent the "Future Stars" that starts in the next division of 11 and 12 year olds.  To start the year, the league had the brilliant idea of having a paid coach show up prior to each game and lead both teams in a warmup.  Additionally, the would provide instruction throughout the game to help improve their skills.  Well, if any of you know children in this age group you would know that attention spans are not that long.  The professional coaches spoke to the kids as if they were adults with nearly everything they said flying over their heads.  I was still preaching that passes were made with the side of our foot, and that both feet stayed down on a throw in.  The professionals wanted to work on things like "shape" and "ball movement", essentially coaching them as if they had played for years and years and were mature enough to listen to intensive instruction.  I had to remind the professionals that 3 of the 11 girls had never played in their life, and 1 girl looked like she had never seen a soccer ball before.  When these same coaches stopped the games repeatedly to preach more concepts that were entirely lost on the girls, boredom insued.  They were ruining the fun aspect of the game and my co-coach and I were pained while watching.  Exercise and fun really should have been the only points of emphasis.  Luckily, the coaches were so busy with whatever it was they were busy with and they just stopped appearing at the games.  Likely, it was due to the fact that this was tier 2 not the big leagues and it may have had something to do with loud complaining that was done by nearly every coach I spoke to.  So, the PGYSA is understanding and capable of adaptation, right?

Well, after hearing what I heard this weekend I am not so sure.  Jasmine will once again be in the 9-10 division this year be it tier 1 or 2 and I will once again be her coach.  Her basketball teammates all know each other from soccer and in fact 9 of the 11 players on the basketball team had been soccer teammates at one time or another.  While Jasmine's sport activity in the winter consists of 1 basketball session a week, a trip or two to the pool and whatever else her dad has the energy for during the week, the other girls had 3 soccer sessions a week, during the winter!  They dilligently attended practice had scrimmages and what have you right from the end of the outdoor season through to the spring.  I had been hearing for the last few weeks about this tournament that was coming up, mostly from one child with an attitude and superiority complex that makes me sick, but I didn't think it was too big of a deal.  Jasmine never asked me about why she wasn't playing soccer in the winter, and frankly she seems quite content with her current level of sport playing time.  She prefers sleepovers with friends, goofing around with mom and dad and her brother, watching movies, reading and doing artwork rather then eating, sleeping and breathing soccer.  Knowing what it costs to play the short outdoor soccer season, I knew that this indoor program was likely out of our budget anyway so I was happy to hear nothing about it from Jasmine.  When we arrived at basketball yesterday I was surprised to see only 5 girls total, but then heard about the soccer games.  Interestingly, 2 of the 8 girls who had been practicing all winter with this team were at basketball (my co-coach's twin daughters).  I then hear that for the tournament a team was selected out of a larger group of girls and her children had been left out.  They had practiced all winter, just as hard and as often as the rest of the group, and they were excluded from travelling out of town for this tournament.  At age 10, they were obviously hurt.  The way the program operates, the girls are expected to be back at practice later this week with the same girls and will likely get to hear all about the fun that they were excluded from.  What makes the whole system even more disgusting is that it continues into the outdoor season.  Her girls have to decide between playing "Future Stars" and potentially being left out of more chances to play out of town with a team, or to play in the house league either tier 1 or 2.  If they chose "Future Stars" but aren't good enough to make the travelling roster they may go all year without playing an actual game.  If they chose house league, they will be excluded completely from competing for a spot on what is essentially the city all-star team.  They will also be denied high level coaching as that will be reserved for those in the "program" who have ponied up the additional dollars to take part. 

To add to how silly it is to begin grouping and excluding starting at the age of 9 was that my tier 2 team last year was very competitive.  We won lots of games, and individually a few of the players were very good compared to their peers.  I observed a few tier 1 games, and interestingly enough, a few of my players would have been top players in the first division.  I also saw a couple of the girls I had previously coached and had classed as weaker players struggling in the first division.  Obviously, mistakes had been made by the evaluators.  Also, it was amazing how much a 9 year old girl could improve in a handful of months.  The point being, it was way too early to start categorizing them as soccer players.  I had a blast coaching last year even though we were part of the division that PGYSA has given up on.  Essentially, tiering at this age is a sick way of getting the weaker players out of the way so the talent can be developed.  Luckily, the girls didn't even know they had been tiered, and as I had said the 2 divisions were likely pretty even anyway. 

While I got a little carried away with the structure of the PGYSA, another key to my concerns is the costs associated with playing a game that is fundamentally so simple that it can be played with no equipment at all.  Many of the poorest countries in the world are competitive in international soccer for that reason.  It's one of the things that make the sport so compelling to follow.  The idea that Honduras or Jamaica, or the Ivory Coast can qualify for a best on best tournament speaks to how inclusive the game of soccer really is.  Sadly, Canada has a terrible track record at the highest levels of soccer, and I believe that over complicated programs at the grassroots level will only serve to continue this mediocrity.  The league fees for Jasmine's league are $160 this year, up from $150 last year.  This will be her 6th season of soccer and every season I have paid more for her to play then I did the year before.  There will be no additional fees because for this year there is no option of playing on a fancy "future stars" team.  For the division higher the fees are the same, but if you are involved in "future stars" you will play $240.  Remember, that being in the program does not guarantee you a spot on the team, and it's possible that some of these girls will not play a single game all year.  I still can't comprehend the ridiculousness of it all.  How do we expect these girls to have fun and enjoy themselves?  By practicing themselves to death 3 times a week?  I'm quite glad that Jasmine is competitive, has fun while playing, gets the gratification of a few goals every season and has no desire to obsessively practice all hours of the day.  She appreciates soccer for what it is a fun and social activity with a moderate level of competitiveness.  I'm hopeful that I won't have to explain to her that it's too expensive for mom and dad to have her involved in all-star teams and travelling squads.  That doesn't sound like fun, and it's something I don't think anyone wants to do.  I'm realistic though, I know there are thousands of families in Prince George that have that problem, the children want to play, but beauracracy has gotten in the way.  So many paid employees adding to the overhead costs, then these employees create these complicated structures that crush hopes and dreams of children who are too young to realize what is being done.  And for what?  So that Prince George may produce a player or two per year who manages to recieve a division 3 American College scholarship to some school in Arkansas. 

To highlight the absurdity of the soccer organization, I would like to contrast it to the PGMBA, youth basketball sponsored by Steve Nash.  This was the scond year of involvement for me, Jasmine had a great time last year and she was ready to play again.  We played once a week from 11-1 on Saturdays.  One hour of warmup and practice time, followed by a game.  The girls get great coaching from volunteers, the coach for Jasmine's team is a former College level player who's daughter is on the team.  He does a great job, lots of patience and plenty of different drills that are geared to their skill level.  The girls never complain about practicing, and generally try their best during the games.  The best part?  We don't keep score!  Not only are these teams all inclusive with no tiering or all-star status, but no one worries about who is winning or losing.  Frankly, the girls have had a tough go.  The other teams all seem to have at least 1 superstar player and if we were keeping score we would like have a losing record.  None of them get down the dumps during the games because they don't dwell on the results.  Also, it's interesting to note that each week it seems someone different is the "best player".  These girls are only 9 and 10 years old.  They aren't always in the zone and that just shows how silly tiering and separating them really is.  One week Jasmine might be the best player on the court, the next week she might struggle to keep up.  It really should be fun while the competitve aspect gradually gets introduced as they get older and more experienced.

To conclude this long winded diatribe, I must also point out that we have been inundated with reminders through the press that as a whole North Americans are getting more and more unhealthy.  We are constantly hearing about the soaring obesity and diabetes rates.  The provincial government of B.C. went ahead and banned all unhealthy foods from the schools a few years ago.  Around the same time, they made it so that Physical Education was no longer required through to grade 12, and significant cuts to gym time were made at the Elementary level.  Jasmine only goes to the gym a couple times a week, it seems inadequate particularly if that is the only activity a child participates in.  Shitty, unhealthy food is still out there, so banning it from schools isn't going to have much impact.  Unfortunately, the healthier a food product is, the more expensive it usually is.  It would be nice if the government did something to encourage healthy eating rather then taking away all the junk food.  The federal government did implement a tax credit program for children's physical activities, but for those with little to no disposable income seeing a 20% return on their registration fees a year later will be of little comfort.  Fun and fitness, it seems so simple, but unfortunately nothing in life is as easy as it could be.

Monday, 11 February 2013

An Abundance of Support

As I near the end of another work week I am battling against both mental and physical exhaustion.  While I have a fairly busy schedule every week it seems that the most tiring thing I end up doing is play hockey.  Yes, it is a recreational league, and we play for fun, but man the level to which we exert ourselves is pretty extreme.  Now, Monday morning is when I am most tired anyway owing to my two early mornings on Sunday and today, but the last few weeks have seen the added element of Sunday night hockey.  Luckily, last night's game started at a decent hour and I was sleeping by 1130. 

A great elixir for the exhaustion is remembering the outcome of the game.  We played a great game last night and have now won 4 of our last 5.  Despite the team's success I had played a few very poor games lately and was getting quite annoyed about it.  In our previous game, we tried something new and Ian and I played on separate lines for only the second time in the last 2 seasons.  It worked out alright with Ian's line producing a goal or two and my new line at least succeeding in reducing the goals scored against us.  That game ended with us scoring an empty net goal to tie the game, sending it to a shootout where our top scorer Justin put in the only goal to win it.  Last night, Ian and I again played apart, but due to different players turning out we had different lines then the game before.  I played centre for only the second time all season between Vern and Riley, a line that had never been put together before.  Ian played the wing with Mark and "Killer" a quiet unassuming guy who is absolutely relentless on the ice with his puck pursuit hence his nickname.  He is about 6 feet tall and 140 pounds adding irony to his moniker as well.  My mom, dad and sister had come up for a visit to show off their new dog and see the kids so family support was overwhelming for the game.  Jasmine, Asher, Sheila, Mom, Dad, my sister Paulette, Ian's girlfriend Larissa, her neice, and Jasmine's friend were all in the stands and Ian and I were determined to give them their money's worth (please note there is no way we could ever charge money for our hockey games).  Our first shift out resulted in the other team popping in a goal.  Great!  A few minutes later they got another one and we were down 2-0. 

As the second period started we were getting plenty of chances and soon Ian got the puck at the point.  He beat one guy, then as he was trying to get a shot off another guy checked his stick, the puck slid to "Killer" and through a screen of a few players in front he slid the puck into the net.  Our cheering section errupted Asher doing his little clap and hollering and my sister was the loudest of all with her take on the soccer cheer "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!" followed by an Arsenio Hall style fist pump and "WOOP!  WOOP! WOOP!"  A few minutes later my line was on and we had some solid pressure going.  Our defensemen Hardeep had pinched in from the blueline and was battling in the corner.  I called for the puck behind the night, but as he battled he freed himself up and curled off the boards towards the net.  He fired a low shot.  On its way I knocked the puck down, and this threw the goalie off.  He moved off to the side anticipating the initial shot.  I was able to slide it underneath him to tie the game!!  YEEEESSS!!!  I unconciously celebrated by miming a sword thrust with my stick and hollering which got a few laughs from my teammates.  The fans again went berzerk, Paulette gave me an extra long "GOAL!" cheer and we were back in the game.  As the game went along we were able to outwork the other team.  We have played them 3 times previously and they are tough but big guys for the most part.  They tire as the game goes along.  We were able to outlast them to win 7-5 and it felt great.

As for the rest of my week, well I finished off my book "Time Must Have A Stop" by Aldous Huxley and I was not overwhelmed by it.  While satisfying, it just didn't have a great flow to it.  I may go back to Huxley again at some point, but I don't have an overwhelming desire to jump back into it right away.  For now I am already 100 pages deep in "Sons and Lovers" by D.H. Lawrence who interestingly was a very close friend of Huxley's.  This novel is ranked #9 on the Modern Library list and it hasn't disappointed.  It has a great easy reading feel to it, while at the same time it is filled with slang and vernacular from the period of the early 20th century which keeps things interesting.  At work we went to see "Warm Bodies" on Friday.  It was a fun and quirky flick about zombies who become undead through the caring of humans.  It was directed by Jonathan Levine who also did 50/50 on 2011 which I absolutely loved.  While the subject material was a little less hard hitting in this one I still enjoyed it quite thoroughly.  The rest of my week was alright though I felt less energetic then I would have liked.  Asher and I missed Strong Start as I was a mess Wednesday morning.  My body had been broken down by hockey the night before, but I feel bad that we missed it.  We will be back this Wednesday.  I also skipped a workout last week which I don't like to do.  Here's to a more energetic and productive week!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Music That Deserves Your Attention

I really am quite proud of the diverse tastes I have when it comes to consuming music.  It seems that I have enjoyed at one time or another almost every genre of music in the world.  The beauty of music is that there is always going to be more material for one to enjoy as we as humans only have so much time in our day.  I like different genres depending on my mood, my energy levels and other factors.  Currently, my favorite genre tends to be electronica, dance, upbeat stuff that gets me going either for working out or just as a pick me up.  I thought I would share some of my favorite artists and groups that I am currently loving, and maybe encourage my small collection of readers to give a few of them a try.


Described on wikipedia as "a band from New York City known for their eclectic blend of electronic dance music with musical styles as diverse as tango, chanson, house, reggae, and lounge (but no Brazilian rhythms at all)", this group is difficult to describe.  Wikipedia goes on to call them "alternative dance, downtempo, electronic and dance-punk", how's that for obscure genres?  While their music is typically upbeat, the pace isn't overwhelmingly fast.  It seems to be just perfect for when I want to relax but not overthink things.  I have been playing their most recent album "New York City" from 2008 extensively, but the other day I grabbed their previous 2 albums "Brazilian Girls" and "Talk To La Bomb" to give them a listen.  I have yet to hear a song I didn't like.  Try this one on for size.


These guys are a British electronica band formed in 2000.  They have produced 5 studio albums and it is their most recent release "In Our Heads" from June 2012 that I have been playing repeatedly.  I have no acquired the rest of their albums and I have enjoyed everything I have heard.  Creative, upbeat music to keep you smiling.

Overwhelming Positivity

After thinking about, typing and publishing my post yesterday I spent the rest of the day interacting with other people.  First, at a friends house where about a dozen people had gathered for a poker tournament and Super Bowl viewing, then later in the night at my rec hockey game I was witness to numerous conversations and confrontations.  With the content of yesterday's writing still fresh in my mind it was interesting to take note just how easy and natural it is for people to be negative in body language, tone and speech. 

I arrived with the small 10 man poker tournament already well underway.  I knew that I wasn't going to be able to play as I was working until 230 and the tournament had been set to start by 1.  A couple guys had already lost, but it looked like they were more worried about watching the upcoming football game then they were about getting a cash poker game started.  "Oh good!  Now I won't have a chance to lose my money!"

As the football game got underway a few guys suggested playing "Squares" as we watched.  While I do like to gamble I had never taken part in football squares.  Not wanting to miss out and perhaps relying on my newly positively charged outlook I jumped in even though I didn't know how it worked.  I plunked down my cash, initialed 10 boxes and proceeded to wait for a good time to ask for an explanation.  The numbers were assigned to the sides of the grid, and I managed to get the most obscure numbers possible.  As I now sort of understand it, each square is assigned a number from 0-9 representing the last number in the total score of each team.  So if I am assigned a square I can scan across the page to the side and to the top to find out which score I am looking for.  For example Baltimore 6 and San Fransisco 2 would lead you to cheer for certain scores by each team so that you can cash in.  The pool of money is then divided and awarded at the end of each quarter.  "Great!  I got the most obscure numbers that have no chance of leading to any wins!"

While there shooting the breeze with the guys I knew, my buddy Jason talked me into betting the game with him.  Our other buddy wanted to take Baltimore, but so did Jason and I.  The line for the game had San Fransisco favoured by 4.  Tanner offered to take only 3 points if we would take San Fransisco.  Next thing I knew I was in with a bet on San Fransisco.  As the game started to unfold Baltimore looked like the proverbial Superman and San Fransisco looked more like Aquaman (Big Bang Theory reference).  "How the bleep did I end up backing San Fransisco anyway?"

Later, as we were throwing on our gear before hockey there was a bit of a buzz in the dressing room.  A few guys had some "bad blood" with a few of the guys on the other team.  The talk went so far as to preplan significant aggression towards certain guys on the other team.  Having played this team previously and personally disliking a few of the guys, I understood to some degree but was still quite taken aback by this talk.  Hardly a good idea for winning a game, we proceeded to take numerous penalties throughout the game and got ourselves into a nasty hole before we had a chance to get anything going.  To top it off, I felt flat, played poorly and our line got lit up for 4 or 5 goals.  "Why did I bother showing up?"

Now, if you are like me and generally take a negative look at most everything that happens in the world it would be quite easy to write off yesterday as a miserable day with nothing to grasp on to as a positive happening.  After my self awakening experience yesterday that I went ahead and documented in this very space, I pressed myself to put look at everything in a positive light.  Many of the negative aspects of yesterday were either so minor that I shouldn't ever worry myself with them, or they were out of my control ie my teammates approach to the hockey game. 

The new me looks at it this way:  after a laid back shift at work where I am lucky enough to get to watch hockey or basketball or a movie of my choosing while I complete my tasks, I then got to hang out and shoot the breeze with my poker buddies without risking any money.  I got to watch most of the Super Bowl at Eddie's house while enjoying some great food that he had prepared.  I then went to hockey where I got to play with my brother Ian and get a great workout while Sheila, Jasmine, Asher, Ian's girlfriend Larissa and her Grandpa all came out to watch Ian and I.  When I got home I laid down to watch a few shows while cuddling Asher (he even waited up so he could see me!  what a feeling!).  After he reluctantly went to bed, Sheila and I cozied up to watch the movie "Unforgiven".  Sheila gave me a great massage after I complained about my back and I dozed off to sleep while she finished the movie.  She woke me and we went upstairs to bed where I got a solid restful sleep to get me ready for today.  This positive outlook thing is going to take some getting used to, but I like the idea of summarizing my day in this way.  As it turned out, there were plenty of high points that I could have carelessly taken for granted if I didn't stop to consider them.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Climbing That Mountain

A man stands atop a snow-capped mountain.  Oddly enough as his chest rythmically rises and falls with each breath he takes he appears calm.  His eyes are closed adding to the perception on calmness.  When one looks closer a level of wonder begins as it is not common to see someone in this attire on the peak of a mountain.  Dressed more for a casual walk then for mountain climb he is sporting worn running shoes, with a long sleeve athletic shirt and a pair of sport shorts.  The peak of the mountain is actually a fairly flat plateau that is barely large enough for both of the man's feet to take up a place on and it does appear to be covered in a layer of ice and snow.  The visual scene causes one to wonder: just how did this man come to be at the peak of this seemingly treacherous mountain?

Society is by definition "a body of individuals living as members of a community".  As one goes through life it is often difficult to take as much pleasure from the positive things you encounter as it is to take on negativity from the bad things that happen.  In the most simple of terms, worry often comes easier the happy in the emotional spectrum.  How did the man seemingly so ill-equipped find himself on the icy peak of a mountain?  One must focus on what made that man who and what he is.  The mountain symbolizes all of the support he recieved from the members of society who make up the community he is a part of.  I have struggled recently with this concept in that my focus has been placed on the negative things in my life, leaving me little time to celebrate the successes that I and my family have achieved.  If you don't take the time to digest the support you are recieving, then you are not truly gaining what you should gain from the support offered, recieved and benefitted from. 

I have spent too much time recently worrying about money, period.  Do we have enough?  Does anyone ever truly have "enough"?  Why focus on that?  Sheila and I are lucky that we both have jobs that we have had for a number of years.  Through my employer we have solid health and dental benefits.  For that matter, all 4 of the members of our family are healthy people.  Unfortunately, many of my co-workers deal with financial stress as well and I often find that we spend down time at work commiserating with each other.  This is often done in a negative way that doesn't breed optimism but in fact does the opposite.  I don't want or desire to be a foot loose and fancy free type of person because as a responsible adult I know this attitude can be quite toxic.  What I do want is to enjoy and appreciate the things that I have already, rather then focus on acquiring and getting more things.  Stuff can always be done without.  I have read some incredible literature about people doing without and surviving.  Read "Into The Wild" by Jon Krakauer or "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls if you want some insight on this topic.  I am make a concerted effort to enjoy and appreciate what I do have in my life, and to celebrate the successes that I have. 

Things I Should Appreciate:

- I am lucky that a wonderful and caring woman has chosen to spend the last 7 and a half years of her life as my partner.  Sheila is an amazing partner who works tirelessly.  She cares deeply about Jasmine, Asher, myself, her Dad, her sister's and their families, my Mom, Dad, sisters and brother and spends so very little time thinking about herself.  She deserves a lot of the credit for how great our children are. 

-Jasmine Rose Theriault really is an amazing 9 year old girl.  She is an artist, an athlete, an avid reader, a movie connoisseur, an attentive student, a patient and caring big sister, and a really good friend to her peers.  I often find myself being to hard on her and asking her to do too much, forgetting that she is still a little girl.  Dwell on the positives and let her be a kid will be something I strive to do going forward.

-Asher Felix Prosk is pretty cool.  Our time spent together is so much fun and I will credit myself with being able to enjoy our one on one time much more in recent months.  Rather then getting upset when he is fussing or whining I look to change the environment so he becomes happier.  His growing love of hockey has given us opportunity to have lots of fun together.

-Sheila and I have owned our own home for more then 2 years.  The freedom that this provides is something that I often take for granted.  Lots of people never get the opportunity to own their own home and I realize this.  The space that we have has provided each of the kids with their own room, and we have a great rec room area downstairs.  A nice viewing area to watch movies and sports, and a great workout area are something we didn't have the opportunity to have in our basement suites or ground level suites.  Even owning our own yard is a really positive thing.  I was discussing my gardening endeavours the other day with a co-worker when it dawned on me that even this was something lots of people miss out on.

-We have 2 working vehicles that while expensive to maintain and operate are the lifeline to many of the activities that our family enjoys.  Our family loves to swim, Jasmine plays basketball and attends Girl Guides, I go to hockey, we visit friends and family and of course Sheila and I go to work.  Even running errands becomes time consuming and difficult if you are unable to afford a vehicle to carry out the tasks.

-Our extended families are very supportive.  My mom and dad, my sister Paulette, my brother Ian and my sister Erin have been great to our family.  Sheila's family, her dad Bryan, her sister Shelly, her sister Sherry-Ann and their husbands Patrick and James all live close by and we are lucky that they do.  When we were down visiting in Quesnel at Christmas it was really cool to be surrounded by all of my neices and nephews as well as my own children.  I have 3 neices: Taylor who's 8, Cienna who is 5 and Keelee who is 3.  I also have 3 nephews: Bailie who is 4, Ethan who is 3 and Seth who is 2.  With Jasmine and Asher the 8 kids almost have every age covered: 9,8,5,4,3,3,2,2.  They are all lots of fun and I can't wait to see them again at spring break.  I hope I got the ages right, it's tough to keep track. 

Successes in My Life:

- I possess a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Northern British Columbia

-I have been a soccer coach with PGYSA for 5 years.  I really enjoy the time spent with Jasmine and the other girls and love to be a part of their successes. 

-I have been a basketball coach with PGMBA for 2 years.  While I am not as knowledgeable as I am with soccer, I enjoy motivating the girls and most of all it's another way for Jasmine and I to spend some quality time together.

-As I near the dreaded age of 30 I am in the best shape of my life.  One of the best decisions I ever made was to get a weight bench for the basement ( my brother Ian and I went in on it together).  My renewed passion for exercise also led me back to playing hockey, and the increased stamina I have has made me a better Dad.  Having the energy for skating with the kids, swimming, Strong Start, 3 weight sessions, a hockey game and more in a 4 days span is something I couldn't have done a few years ago. 

-I have been actively writing again for over a year in this very space.  I must thank my sister Erin for encouraging me to take it up again, and I definitely appreciate the positive feedback I have recieved.

-For the last 3 or so years I have been an avid reader.  It's one of those things that you don't realize what you are missing until it is back in your life.  Reading gives my leisure time meaning and I really like that.

I can go on and on here, and that is frankly the point I am trying to make.  I spend much too much of my time thinking and worrying about the negatively things in my life and not enough time thinking about and appreciating the things that I have mentioned above.  Think not of what you don't have but of what you do have and suddenly those things will have more meaning.  All of this negative energy focussing on material things has led me to want to try something a little different.  I want to go an entire week without purchasing anything.  I will have to buy gas for my Explorer, but outside of that, I will attempt to steer clear of consumerism for an entire week.  I don't feel that it will be that difficult as many of the things I have planned already don't have a cost.  My hockey has already been paid for and we have 2 games this week.  Asher and I go to Strong Start on Wednesday's and that is free.  I plan to take the kids sledding either Monday or Tuesday, also a free activity.  I may have to make an exception for swimming, but we go during the discounted time and this costs less than 5 dollars.  I will let you know how it goes, but I want to do this as a way of showing myself and the kids that you can have fun without a cost associated.  I want to get out an enjoy the outdoors a little more and this week would be a great chance to do it.  I will let you know how it goes.  Thanks for the read, I hope this has proven as cathartic for you as it has for me.