Sunday, 14 April 2013

My Week In Pictures

I'm in a really weird place this morning.  On one hand, I am really beginning to feel like a real blogger.  Having now posted more then 60 times since the start of 2012, and managing to post at least weekly since 2013 began I now regularly begin to think of ideas to write about as my free mornings approach.  Sunday and Monday are usually my writing days because I have significant time to myself in the morning on those days.  Today, while I am excited to share a few stories about what my family and I have been up to, I don't feel an overwhelming desire to actually type out the content.  In fact, I am not sure there is much to type up, and that is why I've decided to do something a little different.  I'm going to share some pictures and provide some commentary with each one.  Let's see how this goes.

The other night, the guys pictured above played their last game of the season.  That's my brother Ian on the left, and me on the right.  We had a decent season really.  We moved up to a tougher division, and while the scoring and puck possession time was down, it felt like we were solid contributors to our team.  The team was able to have a solid season, winning as often as we lost.  The season was capped off by beating one of the better teams (we finished 5th out of 8 for the regular season) and qualifying for the semi-finals against the best team.  The game started poorly for us and never did get any better.  We ended up losing 6-1.  That's that.

As I have already covered to the point of annoyance in this space, I have gotten myself pretty wound up about running this spring.  It's something I seem to do almost every year, but this year I am taking it to another level.  I have never had myself in this kind of shape, and I want to take advantage of it.  I'm signed up for a 10 KM (6.2 miles for my American readers) running race exactly 7 weeks from today.  While I'm not flush with cash I decided the benefits of having a new pair of running shoes made a purchase necessary.  After researching extensively, I settled on the Saucony Kinvara, and to save a few bucks I went with last years model.  I bought them Tuesday and put them to use that night.  I ran in a driving rain but all I could think about was the comfort my feet were enjoying.  No knee pain, no shin splints, no pain at all.  They seem to be designed in a way that gets me away from a heavy heel strike towards a more ball of the foot focus.  More stride feels more springy and I really like it.  It was week 1 of the 8 week program I am doing to get ready for the race.  I ran a 3 mile run Tuesday, then a faster paced 2.5 mile run on Thursday and I am already feeling the love for my new shoes.

Nearly 50 years before she met George W. Bush and recieved the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to American Literature, the woman pictured above wrote an engaging, thought provoking novel.  Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a great read that I finally got around to completing.  It is funny how that works.  I didn't realize how badly I wanted to read it until a friend by chance offered me a copy.  As soon I finished the book I was reading at the time I jumped into Harper Lee's work.  She put together an amazing book, focussed on what seems to be my favorite novel subject, black rights, segregation in the United States and what that entails.  The main character and narrator of the novel Scout Finch is on the best characters I've come across in a novel.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I always feel the need to get to know the author of the work I am reading.  Being that she was one of Truman Capote's best friends, and I have enjoyed everything he wrote I figured I might enjoy Harper Lee's work.  Harper Lee had this classic published in 1961 at the age of 35.  She is now 86 and in deteriorating health.  In the 51 years since her novel was published, she wrote nothing but a handful of short papers.  When asked why she never wrote again she said: "Two reasons: one, I wouldn't go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again."  What a great woman.

I don't watch a lot of golf these days.  In my teens I was an avid golfer, and for $200 a season I got an entire summer's worth of fun out of my course membership.  I always enjoyed playing more than watching, but there is a handful of tournaments that I still make a point of watching, namely the Major tournaments, specifically the Masters.  I've been relatively busy this weekend, but I will be watching golf this morning while I work.  While there are a number of guys in contention to win, my favourite story of the tournament is the golfer above.  Yes, the boy in the yellow shirt who could pass for 10 or 11 is playing the Masters golf tournament.  He is actually 14, which makes him the youngest person ever to compete at the Masters, the second youngest golfer ever to play a Major.  Amazingly, he didn't just show up, but was competitive.  He managed to overcome harassment from rules officials about his slow pace of play, even absorbing a one stroke penalty for it, to qualify for weekend play.  Dozens of other golfers were sent home after the second round including numerous former champions of the event and other major tournaments.  I was excited at 14 to golf a round of 85 on an easy local course.  An intriguing story that will have me watching today.

Sheila and I settled in and enjoyed a couple of movies this week.  I am always on the lookout for comedy movies as it seems we have seen a lot of them, and there is a limited number of good ones produced every year.  My research has been focused on older movies, often ones that were before our time.  The movie we watched Wednesday wasn't old, but it was one I had not heard of.  "Black Dynamite" was the result of incredible creative vision from Michael Jai White.  He wrote the movie after being inspired by blaxploitation films that rose to prominence in the 1970s.  He plays the title character himself, and incorporates his martial arts background into the role.  As a begin my rambling, gushing diatribe about this flick, I will put this out there, I flat out loved this movie.  Creativity oozes from every scene, Black Dynamite comes off as a bad ass hip hop Robin Hood type with witty lines and funny slap stick scenarios thrown in.  Black Dynamite's brother gets killed, and he spends the movie trying to avenge his death.  At the same time, I works to rid his hood of a new drug that has taken hold of the youth.  While he is so slick that he manages to both avenge his brother and take back his neighbourhood at the same time, I found myself laughing a number of times at the subtle understatedness of the whole premise.  Watch this film, find it any way you can, and sit back and enjoy.  You are welcome.

It took us a couple nights due to extreme fatigue Thursday on my part, but Sheila and I also enjoyed this classic Steve Martin film.  The Jerk was blatant in its use of stereotypes, the storyline is that Steve Martin's character, after being raised by a black family in the deep south goes out into the world not realizing that he is in fact white.  Hilarity insues as his ignorance and naivety get him into all sorts of scrapes.  My favorite may have been his attempt to halt a group of criminals who come to his gas station to fill up.  He attempts to apprehend them, but in the end he tears a church in half.  While not as awesome as Black Dynamite, Sheila and I both still enjoyed this one.

I really left this one for last because I wanted to appear modest.  Consider the above content, movies, running shoes, sports, and books as filler to get to this one.  You see these two above?  Asher Felix, now 27 months old, and Jasmine Rose just a week past her 10th birthday are darn cool.  This photo was taken by their Auntie Larissa, and I quite like it.  She watched them for a couple hours a few weeks ago, and Asher managed to get all sorts of treats and snacks out of her.  As you can see, he doesn't have just one sucker, but a whole bag of them.  Jasmine absolutely loves her little brother.  She looks out for him, and spends a lot of time entertaining him.  I appreciate how patient she is while giving her time to him.  It's hard not to love the little guy.  In general she is a great girl, who is quickly growing into a young woman as scary as that is for Dad. 

This week, Jasmine did a number of things that made me proud to call her my daughter.  On Tuesday, after coming home from school, we had decided to go for a walk.  Asher in his stroller, and me ready to go, she came running out of the house with garbage bags in hand.  We have taken a number of walks since the weather as started to warm, and during these walks we have discussed the litter problem in our neighbourhood.  Jasmine had mentioned a few times that she would like to pick up garbage so that we could enjoy our walks without seeing so much trash.  Also, she wanted to protect the animals around from getting sick or choking to death on the various things people had tossed on the ground.  She started with gusto, and as my pride swelled I joined in.  Before long, we were filling our bags, finding bottles and cans to help her get rich, and having a great time.  I was already getting emotional about how cool it was that she had taken this initiative, but when Asher started joining in it was almost too much.  He was riding along in his stroller, stopping constantly so I could grab trash.  He started to help out by spotting litter and calling out to us so we wouldn't miss it.  "Wawa!!!!  Look at dis!  Right dere!!" Pointing and smiling the whole time.  We filled out bags twice, then tossed them in a dumpster at the daycare around the way from our house.  Jasmine made plans to finish the rest of our walking loop next time.  "We need bigger bags Dad!"  I couldn't have been more proud.

Jasmine is nearing the end of grade 4 and lately has been faced with a grim reality of getting older.  Homework.  She has had occasional assignments to complete at home, but lately she has had to tackle school work more regularly at home.  Her teacher retired shortly after Christmas and she has a newer teacher, who assigns more work to do at home.  I like it.  It's going to help build a work ethic for school that Jasmine doesn't currently have.  She enjoys school, and she does reasonably well.  It seems to come relatively easy to her, but she doesn't handle adversity very well.  Anything tough leads to her giving up and getting frustrated.  Well, she got a doozy of an assignment on Wednesday.  She started on the 3 assigned pages of math work with her mom, but Sheila admittedly isn't very good at the subject.  I took over, and soon realized that Jasmine was struggling in large part because she seemed to have no knowledge whatsoever of the material.  I enquired about this, and we concluded that her teacher had gone over the material, but she had paid little attention.  While battling frustration, both of us worked for nearly 3 hours.  Staying up well past her bedtime, Jasmine struggled.  I explained the same concept to her dozens of times.  We would complete a question, move on to the next one that was in the exact same format as the previous one.  I would have to explain it to her again, as if she had never seen anything like it before.  She managed to complete 2 of the 3 assigned pages before nearly falling asleep with the books on her lap.  Jasmine got a good nights sleep, and while she was willing to go to school without finishing the third page, I encouraged her to open the books back up at 730.  She breezed through the last page in 15 minutes without help.  I double checked the answers, and gave her a big hug.  Proud Dad again!

While I drone on about my amazing girl, I must conclude with another big one.  Jasmine has also registered for the YMCA race on June 2nd and she is busy getting ready.  Her race is called "The Healthy Kids Marathon".  The idea is that she will complete 41 km of exercise, either walking or running before June 2nd.  On that day, all the kids registered will run 3 laps of the track at Masich Place to complete their marathon.  At my urging, Jasmine has embraced the idea.  In the first 2 weeks she has recorded 9 km of walking distance, not including a few shorter walks to and from school.  On Thursday, after some coercing from me, we set out for our first jog.  I mapped out a 2 km route for us, wanting to see what she was capable of.  We started out, I gave her a few pointers on running style and pacing and things were going well.  A number of times I was able to motivate her to keep going, as thoughts of quitting creeped up on her.  She did stop for a brief few seconds once, but started up again.  She was a little annoyed with me for getting her to finish and tiring her out so much.  Within hours she was bragging to her mom about it, and was happy with what she had accomplished.  We plan to jog together more often as we prepare for June 2nd.  Asher found it hilarious to have Jasmine jogging beside him, he enjoys his runs with me, but it seemed to be even more fun to have his sister along.  As proud as I am now, I can't wait to watch her run the race with all the other kids.  Hopefully, the future runs are a little easier on her and we can chat and visit while we get our exercise.

I could continue on about how great Jasmine is but I am going to call it her.  If she happens to read this her head will swell, but I don't want to risk permanent damage.  Sheila and Jasmine are off to the Mariannas Trench concert tonight, and both of them are at home bouncing up and down with anticipation.  A fitting way to end a great week for Jas, full of accomplishments that had her Dad beaming with pride.  I hope everyone has a great week!

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