Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Time for a Pick Me Up

When I was younger I remember walking to and from school each day. It started with my Mom walking along with my sister and I as we rode our bikes. Eventually, my sister and I were allowed to walk to school together and I will never forget the year we moved houses and our ten minute walk turned into a forty minute journey.

Eventually, my sister went off to high school and I found a spot on the bus list. I don’t really remember much about walking. I can remember my sister watching over me a lot. She would say things like, “don’t do that” and of course, I would do it.

Looking back at it now I miss the simplistic days. We knew our walk was long, but we did it anyways because we were kids. We didn’t have any other way to get to school, so we walked it.

It’s now 10 years later and I am in my final year of University and I find myself walking to school each morning. Having no car to call my own, I venture out each morning into the North Bay winter and begin my forty minute trek to my placement school.

It’s not really that hard of a walk. I actually find it soothing. The sun is rising. I have my music playing in my ears. It gives me an opportunity to think about the day at hand and all the possibilities ahead.

Every once and awhile, a car will stop and someone I have met throughout the year offers to give me a ride to where I need to go.

Conversations often start like this:

“Not from North Bay eh?”
“It’s a small city. You can go anywhere in under 10 minutes by car”
“Cabs never cost more than ten dollars.”
“No one is ever ‘out of the way’ in this city”

The last few times I was offered a ride I decided to do some research. I began asking people how long they have had their cars for and what their mileage was. My initial thinking was that in a city where people usually drove to get around, especially in winter, that mileage counts would be really high.

To my surprise, the exact opposite was the truth. Most cars were 8 years old and averaged roughly 80,000 clicks. How is this possible? Back home we can’t help but rack up the mileage. We have to drive here, pick up this, drop off that, go do this, and we can’t forget... what is it we can’t forget again? We have conversations about who is going to drive. We have arguments about who drives too much or who doesn’t drive enough. Cabs are out of the question because traveling from one end of the city to the other would be a ridiculous cost I don’t even want to think about.

Yes, North Bay is a small city. But, it’s size makes it unique. People don’t spend 2 hours a day driving in their car. Stopping to pick someone up is never really out of anybody’s way.

Anyone who has spent time in North Bay knows that it is a close-knit community. Everyone really does know everyone and if you don’t know somebody – chances are someone you know does.

The city itself has provided its citizens the opportunity to spend more time with one another. Parents can leave work to watch their kids play sports, friends are within a stones throw of one another, and drivers stop to pick you up! But, be sure to remember! Never take rides from strangers…

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Make the Time

When I was in Eighth Grade I was the starting point guard of my school basketball team. For those of you who aren’t familiar with basketball the point guard is the player who dribbles the ball up the court and calls the plays. I remember at recess we would play basketball day-in and day-out three times a day as long as there wasn’t any snow on the ground. Believe it or not the other kids used to call me Kobe. As in Kobe Bryant. Basketball Championship winning Kobe Bryant!

Before I continue on there is something you should know. Back in the day I was playing basketball when I was 4 feet 11 inches tall. Remember, this is a sport for tall people.

Anyways, lets fast forward 10 years. I am in my final year of University at Nipissing. It’s gym class and today’s lesson is on basketball. I am instantly reminded of my glory days and how I was able to command the court.

I ran over to the rack, grabbed a ball and began firing. With each passing shot I began to notice something. I wasn’t very good at basketball anymore.

So what happened? I thought about it long and hard and came to two conclusions. The first being that I haven’t played basketball since Grade Eight and the second being that I have grown over a foot and some change in height in that time span.

For those of you who don’t know, I am an Education Student and part of my teaching placement involved me coaching a small team of pond hockey players today. A squad of 4 boys and 1 girl took to the ice in a display of skill unlike any other. I jumped and cheered as they glided along the ice. Thinking nostalgically about the days when I used to play my basketball with my friends.

What I am trying to say is. As we grow older we forget to do the activities that we used to have all the time in the world for. Back in Grade Eight I couldn’t imagine a day when I wouldn’t play basketball. Maybe for you it was hopscotch, jump rope, handball, tag, etc., but one thing is for sure: Adults aren’t playing.

Use my basketball as an example and go out there and try something fun. Maybe it’s throwing on a pair of skates. Or, perhaps you want to re-connect with your thrill for nicky nicky nine door.

Whatever you do, just remember to have fun.

And! Don’t just do it because I told you so. Remember there is a little kid inside who wants to see it happen too.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Medeiros Theory

When I was 18 I took my drivers education course during my March break. It was the best deal for the price I was willing to pay in the whole city. My logic was: at the end of the day we are all given a license that entitles us to drive. So, why not pay 300 dollars less to do so?

My plan worked flawlessly and before I knew it I was completing my ten practice lessons with my driving instructor Shiu. Together Shiu and I practiced stopping, turning, parallel parking, one-ways, two-ways, sideways, highways, and any other way you can think of.

After all my training I was ready to take the test to get my license. AND… after some confusion behind the words “light it up!” and “hold up!” I was awarded with my G1.

I had finally found my freedom. But, there was a problem… Looking back on all the practice I had done with Shiu I feel as if there was something missing. Something that all instructors should consider in future instruction: the art of finding a parking spot.

This is where the Medeiros Theory comes into play.

I was driving with a friend around the local Wal-Mart parking lot in North Bay when we pulled in and just our luck, it was full. While I was thinking all hope was lost my friend said, “It’s time to put the Medeiros Theory to the test”.

My family is Portuguese and I actually have an Aunt and Uncle with the last name Medeiros and so you can imagine that I was slightly intrigued when I first heard about the theory.

The general idea is:

a. Most people don’t have a problem parking in a far spot and walking a minute or two to the door. They figure, “Hey! I found a spot. Why waste the time looking when I can just walk the distance?”

b. When you enter a parking lot. Your vision automatically picks out a spot closest to where you are. Since we almost always enter at the back of a parking lot, we pick out a spot we can see from our entrance point.

Medeiros theory says: Drive right to the front.

Think about it. When was the last time you thought “I am going to drive right up and get a parking spot”. Exactly! You haven’t and neither have 90% of the other people who are parking. It just doesn’t make sense, right?

Wrong! It makes perfect sense. If everyone is making the parking sacrifice then they are filling up spaces at the back. So, when people who enter the parking lot see all the spots filled they think the lot is full and decide to park at the first spot they see, which is also in the back. Still following? Good. That means, under the Medeiros Theory, there should hopefully be a spot near the front of where you are parking.

Now there are no guarantees, but what’s the harm in putting it to the test? You might just find the Medeiros Theory works for you. Just try not to think of my Aunt and Uncle while you do it...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Riding the Sixty One

There is something about music that I find very calming. The different pitches and tones create sound waves that fill up my ears and relax my soul. Nothing satisfies me more than finding a new tune. It’s the adult version of finding where your Mom hides the cookies. The cookies taste so good and even though you know that the more you take the more likely you are to get caught. You still keep going back.

But, what happens when the music stops? You have emptied the musical cookie jar. While you have collected a solid library of tunes, your heart still longs for the call of an unfamiliar suitor.

For the past year I have been stuck in a musical lull. I would often rely on friends or the radio to find new music. But, I came to realize two things.

1. People are very passionate and shy about their music. While some people can’t wait to tell you about how wicked Miley Cyrus is. Others find listening to music to be a private experience and are often shy to have their favourite music subjected to opinion (especially if it is Miley Cyrus).

2. As much as I love the radio. I find that Canadian radio, structured under CRTC guidelines, is forced to focus on making percentage quotas rather than sharing the best possible product to audiences.

Where does this leave me? I’ll tell you where. Stranded and alone walking down a two lane highway with no on ramps for new life, invention, or expression.

That is until I saw a tiny road sign in the distance. As I grew closure I realized that there were two numbers written on the front that read “61”. During one of my stumbles through the Internet I came across a website that is designed to promote bands and their music. It’s thesixtyone.

The site flushes a wide array of new music your way and puts you in charge of rating it. The higher the rating, the more popular songs become. How would it feel to know that artists you like are being picked up by an agent because of your ratings? You have just shifted forward in the music creation process. No longer are people being told what music to like. They are right there at the grass roots level. You could be the first person to say “HEY! I listened to them while I was on the 61!”

Just when I thought I would never find anything new to peak my interest again. The musical spirits-that-be came down and showed me the way. I have found my stride walking down the 61.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

One Night Stands

Let’s face it. We’ve all had one. I mean. I’ve had more than one. Over a span of several years. Especially during my nights at Undergrad.

What I am trying to say is - when I was in high school and during my first few years at undergrad I kept finding myself up late at night working on a paper. Most of us have been there. We hum and hah and before we know it we have to write a 1500 word antithesis on Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. I would think to myself “how did I get myself into this mess?”

The plan is always simple. Open your books. Put on some music. Grab some water, coffee, tea, etc. and hammer out a masterpiece more divine than Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

For some reason, when we start a project the night of it always gets done. I know you have heard some people say, “I stayed up all night, but it’s done!” and the person who adds “your preaching to the choir!”

So, I started thinking. If every time I needed to get something done could I just leave it to the night before? Would the super powers of completion enter my finger-tips when the pressure was really on? Personally, I can’t do it anymore. Nor do I endorse anyone else to flirt with the one night stand.

But, what I do find interesting is now I start assignments earlier and they take me longer to finish. If something is due in two weeks I might start a week and a half early, but only finish a day or two ahead of schedule. It makes me wonder why I shouldn’t just leave everything till the very last moment. Imagine the possibility! All students ever want is more free time and my pressure theory has made their dreams a reality.

At the end of the day we all find our own way to do our work. Planning is a dance practiced and presented over a series of school semesters. The dance is different with each assignment. Some require the passion of the Tango. While others need the tempo of the Cha Cha.

The important thing to remember is: we all eventually find the right stride.