Archive for April, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

Hope Springs Eternal

It’s 1:31 am and I am experimenting with late night writing. Strap yourselves in as I try to segue between random thoughts.

I was having trouble sleeping tonight. Terrible nighmares, in fact. I almost never have nightmares although I do sometimes have trouble sleeping. The sad thing is, I know exactly why I couldn’t sleep tonight: Second dinner.

You know you’re getting old when eating too much or too late actually messes up your sleep. At one point after I woke up, I found myself remembering an episode of the Cosby show where Cos was being I-told-you-soed by his wife because he couldn’t sleep after eating a really big sandwich. My nightmares were bad, but having Cosby ring true in my life was worse.

To get back to the second dinner: Tonight I was out at Fanshawe College with a colleague providing some input on possible changes to one of their┬ácertificate programs. I had a couple sandwich-halves there, but when I got home I didn’t feel like I had really had supper. I probably needed nothing more than a glass of water, but instead I nuked a serving of leftover pastitsio. Five hours later, here I sit, typing, while my side of the bed is empty. (Except maybe for a cat, or the leg of a sprawling spouse.)

Fanshawe College, huh? While I love any chance to give my opinion, I was really impressed with the process they’ve got going on. When I skim their course catalogue, (at least the programs I know something about) they seem to be pretty current in terms of course content and really practical. Now I know why. They actively solicit feedback from the appropriate industries and have a whole process set up to incorporate that feedback into changes to specific course content or to the list of courses that make up a program. I left feeling really good about the process, about education, about meeting some new people, and just generally pretty positive.

So working back to the title of this entry “Hope Springs Eternal”… For a long time, I enjoyed a joke with some coworkers that I was neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a rather a contrary —-. The idea being, that essentially I love to debate, and that when faced with an optimistic view I would always play devil’s advocate and when faced with a pessimistic appraisal I would always find the bright side. Well, a recent conversation got me thinking that’s not really true.

I was at a friend’s place last weekend and shared my “contrary so-and-so” anecdote. My friend, who is sharp and quick enough to be dangerous in any conversation, said “Great. That must make us a bunch of miserable sods, because you’re always pretty positive.” I didn’t know how to respond at the time, but I have thought about that comment all week. My co-workers are definitely not miserable, and not even pessimists. I do really try to be positive, though – so I guess the days of calling myself a contrary —-are over with.

Well, I think I covered most of what was rattling around in the ol’ noggin, but this post is seeming way too serious for me, so I’ll leave you with a comedy classic (at least in my books).

Viewer Discretion Advised: Comedic profanity, violence, and poorly drawn nudity follow.

Travel Thoughts

Travel Thoughts

Having recently returned from my second trip to Mexico, I thought I would try to pull together some random thoughts that kept coming up.

For me (and my partner Jen) travel is not about comfort or relaxation, but experience. Frankly, I get enough (if not too much) relaxation and comfort at home. For all that we bitch and moan, I think most westerners are pretty coddled. I tend to work and stress too much in terms of actual hours in the day, but I have no shortage of leisure time and no real serious wants that I couldn’t find a way to accomodate.

Travel is a fantastic way to learn about yourself. Every time we go away, I learn what I take for granted. I learn empathy. I tend to have more real human interactions with strangers in a week of travel than in three months at home. Not sharing a language (because until we hit Puerto Vallarta we encountered virtually noone who had any english) really pulls you out of your “social script.” It’s humbling. you get used to being looked at as a gringo at best or a moron at worst.

I also loved this trip because we were constantly reminded of how much different things are when they are driven by common sense and practicality rather than rules and expecations of propriety. I’m sure it has its down sides, but all I noticed was how much smoother and more sensibly things worked. Want to hold a parking space? Put a big rock in it. Have a customer who wants something you don’t sell? Buy it from your neighbour and keep them in your place. No big.

Finally, travel time is always a great reminder for me that I am lucky to be sharing my life with a wonderful woman who shares my humour and my values. The world’s a big place, and full of great people, but not many that I would want to spend ten days with.