Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Eve

Sunrise on Demers Drive on October 30, 2011
Procrastination is the mother of invention, at least that's what I'll keep telling myself as I avoid putting together a conference session I'm delivering on Thursday in Edmonton.  I tend to ruminate on these kind of things till the last possible moment, waiting for inspiration for strike.  This is the title of the subject of my presentation:

SOCIAL MEDIA AND POST-SECONDARIES – BE NOT AFRAID:  Traditional media usage is declining at an unparalleled rate as social media channels explode in terms of total participation and “hours tuned”. However, organizations of all kinds, including most post-secondary institutions, still focus the bulk of their time and financial resources on that ever-shrinking traditional piece of the media pie (some say traditional media has fallen to below 15%). Why do you need to hop on the social media fan bus? Because, as former Alberta Energy Minister Murray Smith sagely said: “if you want to go duck hunting, you need to go where the ducks are.” This session will illustrate the power and potential of building your social media presence, and provide a compelling argument why choosing not to do is no longer an option.

Sounds exciting, yes?

So as my brain simmers in the background, seeking a path to go down on this social media adventure, I'll write a Wood Buffalo Update.

I hopped on the scale this morning, as I've been doing quite regularly since August 27th when I started my Ideal Protein journey, thanks to the inspiration provided by Warren, Cindy and others.  What I saw surprised me, as I have dipped underneath the low water mark that I thought had been achieved 8 days ago.  Don't get me wrong, there's no complaint in my observation.  I'm in Phase 3 of the program, less than a week away from the finish line, eating a gargantuan breakfast on a daily basis, but not putting the weight back on.  Life is good.

What do I mean when I say "gargantuan" breakfast?  How does two eggs, three strips of bacon, half a grapefruit, and two toasts with butter sound?  Yummy!

Breakfast like a king. Lunch like a prince. Supper as a pauper.  That's the long-term plan for me, with the exception of one day a week when it is "mandatory" to have whatever I like!  That delightful direction comes into play next Sunday.

My progression from plump to trim
While the east coast of the USA gets hammered by an early season snowstorm, we in the north have been spared from the dreaded white stuff.  The good weather is helping out all our friends who are trying to get as much road work in as possible before the finality of winter.  Our new 5-lane bridge opened up earlier this week, the largest in Alberta in terms of deck size.  Unfortunately, we won't feel the blessings of this new structure as concurrent with its opening came the closing of the two original bridges.  One will get resurfaced and the other will get a significant makeover.  It'll be a number of years before all 9 lanes of the three bridges are fully functional.

With Councillor Scott on the new bridge moments before it opened
We welcomed the new Premier to Fort McMurray on Thursday.  It was nice to meet her in person and spend time with many of her ministers.  It turns out that Alison Redford is a contemporary of Therese Koturbush, originally from Kamsack, my hometown - they are old friends from law school.

While I go from function to function in these heady days of autumn, Heather remains busy with the many prongs of her practise: yoga lessons, reiki, baby massage, therapeutic massage, yoga teacher training, craniosacral therapy (the newest offering) and probably more that I've forgotten.  Today she is teaching teachers.

Dylan is enjoying his first weeks as Vice President of Dr. Clark School's student council.  They had their first dance of the year which he described as being "crazy".  I'm not exactly sure what that means, but as long as the phone doesn't ring with a panicked principal on the other end, I won't worry about it.

Ben has enjoyed the first months of being in Cub Scouts.  Trying to fit things in has been challenge, but Leader Andrew Thorne has been enormously helpful in picking Ben up on those days that prove impossible to manage for Heather and I.  He is prodigiously working on his Artist badge and several others as he approaches his investiture this Thursday.  The Cub Scout promise, motto and law rolls out of his brain, across his tongue and out his mouth without hesitation.  We are proud of his efforts.

Tomorrow is Halloween.  Dylan will haunt the neighborhood with his 3D zombie outfit while Ben will scare the kiddies with his scream face.

We hope you have a spooky spectacular day tomorrow!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Sitting by the river yesterday, I could feel winter's grip off in this distance as the soft breeze cut through to the bones in my fingers, making them slightly numb. Fishing in the fall has a very different feel to it and is a rather solitary endeavor as I was the only one with a pole in my hand. It was sure beautiful though, with a bright blue sky,and the leaves of the forest turned to their late fall colours.

I snapped a picture of the eastern point of MacDonald Island, just across the channel from my favourite angling spot on the other side of the confluence of the Snye and Clearwater.

Later that evening, after having bought a couple of cheap stretched canvases from Walmart, both Ben and I decided to paint a picture. I chose to attempt a landscape of that picturesque scene. It turned out pretty good, good enough to give to Heather in thanksgiving for all she is and does. Of course, giving it to her in person was an impossibility, as she had just arrived in Revelstoke, on route to Vancouver with our friend Tiffany. So, I posted a picture of it to Facebook, which allowed her to see it right away. She liked it, she really, really liked it, as was once said on the famous television commercial for Life cereal.

As Heather is driving to the wet coast and Dylan is spending the weekend with his grandma Patsy, Ben and I are on our own. It's been great to spend time outside raking leaves and getting the yard ready for the winter. Although, it was baffling me why Ben was acting so skittish, absolutely petrified of the lone wasp meandering near the roof of the shed in the back. Unbeknownst to me, he was stung on the ear last weekend when Neil and Susan were in town, helping out with turning over the compost bins in the back.

The day before I had been focusing on the big bin where I compost grass clippings and leaves. It's a simple system that I built many years ago - dump the grass and leaves in all year and harvest the rich soil in the fall. I opened the front of the entrapment, unscrewing the one side and swinging it open thanks to the hinges I had put on the other. I began raking the top fresh layer to get at the rich black loam below when all of a sudden a wasp appeared, followed by another, then three, then too many to count. I backed off in hurry, realizing that I'd hit a nest.

By the following day, I had successfully extracted their honeycomb home, going at it late at night and early in the morning when it was cooler and the rascals were dormant. I thought I got them all, but obviously one decided to linger and give Ben an earful. Ouch!

It's been a busy stretch of time since the last Wood Buffalo Update, as it always tends to be in the first few months of the academic year. The evening following my last post I donned a tuxedo and assumed my role as a celebrity waiter for the annual Harvest of Hope fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.

This is an event where guests buy play money (for a charitable tax receipt) and tip their servers for doing all the things they should be doing and some things they really shouldn't. I kept it pretty much on the straight and narrow this year, but many of my colleagues got a little funky and raised a lot of money, over $270,000 by the end of the shenanigans.

To be honest, my focus was on the first ballot of the Alberta PC leadership vote, the results of which were trickling out at the same time. In between courses I was carefully watching Twitter for the latest news. The front runner, Gary Mar, didn't garner quite enough votes to take it on the first round which set up a second trip to the polls on October 1. This time, only the candidates with the three highest vote counts would be on the ballot.

I was at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention in the days leading up to the second vote, getting a chance to see two of the three finalists in action: Gary Mar and Doug Horner. Unfortunately, the third contender, Alison Redford, couldn't be there as her mother had tragically died and she needed to focus on the family.

It was closing in on 1 am on the night of the vote when I finally gave in to my fatigue and went to bed. At that point Gary Mar was up by almost 4,000 votes with only two polling stations left to report. As he didn't achieve the required 50% + 1 to win, and as it was a preferential vote (you had to pick both a first and second choice), the second choice of the third place candidate would be added to the final results.

In the end, and well after 2 am, it was announced that Alberta would have her first female Premier, barely creeping over the 50% mark on the strength of the supporters of third place finisher Doug Horner.

While I was sitting in the airport in Calgary waiting to catch my flight home following the convention, Dylan tried to call to let me know the results of a different election.  He was up against several candidates for the position of Vice President of the Student Council at Dr. Clark School. Unfortunately, I couldn't pick up as I was in the middle of something, so he sent me a text message with the news that he had won.

As I looked at the words, my eyes (and heart) swelled with pride. I called him back right away and loved hearing the excitement and exuberance in his voice. "A chip off the old block," wrote somebody on Facebook.

It's been a good stretch for Dylan as moves into his pubescent teenage years. He heralded the arrival of his first pimple a few weeks back, got elected to student government, and received excellent results from his recent gait analysis at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton.

Beth Watkins called from the Syncrude Centre for Motion and Balance to give us the news.

"Dr. Dulai is really happy with how things are looking," she shared. "There are so many positive changes I can't begin to list them all."

As Dylan basks in success and manliness (that's a funny looking word), Heather is overflowing with health, happiness and inspiration. She enjoyed a transformative craniosacral therapy course in Edmonton last weekend, developing an additional discipline to add to her menu of wellness offerings. The Ananda Center for Balance is truly thriving offering services ranging from deep meditation to baby massage and many things in between. Heather is delighted in being able to do "her joy" for a living, making it feel more like an avocation.

Ben, apart from battling the bees, is doing great. He continues to spontaneously create, spending hours focused on delivering a particular idea in his head to paper. This homemade guitar was a collaborative effort.

As a creature who operates in phases, his bent of late is on All-Hallows-Even - as it was originally called - or, Halloween for the masses. We have made several trips to the ghoulish emporium in the mall run by Bill and Suzanne Rockwell to select his accouterments for October 31st. He is going as "Ghost Face" this year, a costume that comes complete a pump that will cause fake blood to ooze from the mask. Frightful!

I'm heading into Week 7 of my Ideal Protein life-change. As of Saturday I was down 23 pounds and feeling great.  Barb - my coach - is thrilled with the results and in fact, was rather perplexed that I had done so well in my fourth week.

"We've never had someone do so well in Week Four," she said. "For my own benefit, let's get you on the big scale to see what we see."

The "big scale" is one that customers pay extra to use. I chose to go with the no-cost normal weigh scale as I didn't feel the need to follow every nuance of my body changes. That said, she put me on it and discovered that no matter which way you are looking at it I was in the healthy range across the board.

After a month on the program, depending on the setting, my body was at the metabolic age of between a 29 and 36 year old. I don't know what any of these readings mean - she told me but I've since forgotten - but it's all good news.

The windows of the Escape are frosted over this morning as the sun creeps up on the day. An additional injection of cold will help the lingering leaves on the trees make their final descent to the forest floor, another step closer to the inevitable first snowfall just a few weeks away.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!