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Are We Creators or Just Spectators?

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Hey YOU…my eyes are up here”

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C’mon Jack…put your BRO back on, BRO!.

I’m a guy, and yet- surprise- I want to scream this out about 3 times every day…maybe 4…maybe MORE! OK, not really! Confused? See if you can follow my 2 hopefully not-too-convoluted points that follow…

The headline above has nothing to do with the push-up Mansierre Jack Nicholson should wear to support his MAN BOOBS, or MOOBS!  It has everything to do with 1. high technology and an anti-face-to-face socialization trend that has spread worldwide. And 2. the impact this has on our collective creativity.

People won’t look me in the eye.

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I don’t think most people hate me, although I’m sure there are some. It must be something else. Their eyes are cantilevered downwards ogling their hardware…sorry,  let me clarify … technology hardware! I’m living a solitary life in a world surrounded by people.

Honestly, sometimes this is a good thing. As a self-outed introvert, I know I don’t want to be interacting with people every moment of every day. And I understand that when you’re sitting on a bus or at a Tim Hortons (Dunkin Donuts for US, Krispy Kreme in England, Donut King in Australia), a bit of quiet introspective time is perfectly justified. Plus, you get to read or play games. What could be better than that?

But come on, if we are actually having a conversation CONVO GUY/GAL, look up at me just a bit and exist within the interaction, OK? Look up and interface tete-a-tete…it makes me feel special and human, and you can admire my great unibrow too!

iPhone, Blackberry, iPod, Galaxy, HTC One, Lumia 900.

The names flow like sweet honey liqueur off the tongue and their resonance is SO hip and cool. They ARE cool. They do amazing things and add a profusion of value to our lives. I LOVE a lot of tech stuff. Hell, take me away from e-mail for a day and I go into the DT’s. I lose about 50 points off my IQ if you take away my Google or Wikipedia…DAMN, another secret revealed…

BUT…a big BUT …(Make-Us-Look)-Smartphones take our attention away fully from whatever else is going on around us. We retreat and isolate. Captivating people…soaring, rainbow-coloured birds… intoxicating scents… even blaring car horns are just so much…well…sense-less nothing because we’re not tuned into the radio station of the world around us. Technology has restyled our world in just a few short decades. The way we interact with each other has undergone a tumultuous transformation.

Just a few dozen years ago in what seems like a totally different era we:

  • read books and poetry to each other
  • we played or sang music for each other
  • we played games and sports together…

…and more often than not, we did all of these things as families.

Now we:

  • listen to iPods in solitude
  • we watch TV 
  • we browse and wander through the internet
  • we play games on X-Boxes
  • we observe spectator sports.

Did you notice how the verbs in the first part are active and in the second part mostly passive? What plagues me most about this is that technology has made us less creative and more consumptive – not just consuming material products but also swallowing up the creative fruits of others.

JUST_PLAIN_FOLK_1977

Earlier days of creativity – making music with my friends Nancy and Jim in the bars of Yellowknife…

We used to be the ones on the inside of the metaphoric TV set – making meals, playing hockey, singing along to a fiddle or guitar around the kitchen table.

Most of us now reside on the viewer side of the television/computer screen – observing, laughing, crying, snoring, but NOT participating, and certainly NOT creating.

We WATCH the creative process, we don’t CREATE the creative process. 

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I kick myself about once a week because I’m not writing music on my guitar. Good or bad (and most likely it WILL be bad), I want to express myself in song. I want to be James Taylor. I wish I watched less TV (except Tiger Cats Football!). I remind myself to read good quality writing (PLEASE…not Fifty Shades...!) and fewer newspapers. I do pat myself when I hit the Publish button on a new blog post (although I also catch my breath a bit too – is it too racy? have I revealed too much about myself? is it at all interesting?). I purr when I play my guitar and the tuning and notes are JUST right.

Religious tomes aside…The biggest and best CREATOR today in this world is the creator INSIDE ourselves…and we let it sleep, or at least nap for long periods. The creative germ is there. We knew it was with us as children, and we cultivated it. We sang, we drew, we played. It didn’t go anywhere just as we never gain or lose mass on this planet.

Creativity rests, twiddling it’s thumbs until…when?? If I want to be reborn, this is where I want to start. I need to park the techno-gear and let the inner Larry’s song burst out.

The Sleeping Giant that is our muse, our imagination, our creativity is sitting, waiting to be stirred, maybe even shaken, to life. 

Walt_Disney Creative

Walt Disney…a Creative Giant…

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SHHH…I’m Coming Out of a Different Closet

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QUIET please!…I’ve just read a book written by Susan Cain that has been on The New York Times bestseller list for months called QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

QUIET_Susan_Cain

An introvert walks into a bar.

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What’ll it be, buddy?” asks the bartender.

“Pitcher of beer. To go.”

Yup, that’s me! Sorta.

We all cache a bit of ourselves away in some sort of closet. Some of us are quietly gay, some take pleasure in secretly collecting porcelain dolls, others dress up and play Medieval Knights on weekends, there are those who write porn novels under a pseudonym (hmmm…now there’s an idea!). We all have something in our personal world that we would prefer that most others not know, don’t we?

I used to think being dubbed an introvert was somehow akin to being labelled “pervert”, or “faggot”, or “poopy pants”…or worse still…”Weird Al Yankovic”, or “Pee Wee Herman”…you know, an insult (my sincerest apologies if you love Weird Al or Pee Wee!).

So here I am now dropping my pants in front of you and coming out of the closet. In flagrante delicto, so to speak.  Take a good look.

I AM AN INTROVERT!

The very fact that I’m reading this book and also write a blog probably nails me as one, although not ALL readers and/or writers are introverts. I think it’s fairly obvious that no one is 100% introverted or 100% extroverted, although in most cases a person tends to gravitate to one side more than the other. Would you peg Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp or Julia Roberts, Lady Gaga as introverts? They are.

Julia_Roberts_Tom_Hanks


Two Hollywood Introverts…”you speak first”…”no, YOU speak first”…

When I was younger, I used to think that preferring solitude was weird. I don’t feel as odd anymore (at least not because I’m an introvert…there are SO MANY other reasons why I could be considered odd!) but I’m still not as cozy with being an introvert as a set of cashmere pyjamas.

Introverted yes, but I’m not shy. I prefer to spend time alone or in small groups of, oh, let’s say 4 or less. I can happily approach people and engage in a limited amount of small talk. But put me in a setting of 20 people and I clam up, unless I’m supposed to be giving a toast or a speech. And I can do that, even as an introvert. This is because I’m what I like to call a “Pretend-Extrovert”. I can turn on an extroverted side when the occasion demands it. (Esoteric Aside: On the Myers-Briggs Personality Test I come out as an “INFP”)

I even ENJOY public speaking, so long as I’m prepared. Just don’t expect me to jump up and down with super-charged energy afterwards. I’ll likely return home and curl up in the fetal position … oops, I mean, be by myself for the next day or so, recharging my batteries.

You know what my most hated word is? Network…as in, stand around in a group of strangers, Networking…making small talk in the hopes that some pint-sized piece of common ground will be discovered to raise my personal or business profile…ewww…SHOOT me now!

Some hallmarks of an Introvert:

  • Enjoy time alone
  • Consider only deep relationships as friends
  • Feel drained after outside activities, even if they were fun
  • Are often good listeners
  • Appear calm and self-contained
  • Think then speak or act
Introversion_Graphic
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Western society is highly extroversion-oriented. The world today is designed for the power of the extrovert. Extroverts therefore dominate public life. In fact, the outgoing and likeable extrovert has become our cultural ideal. In our current business culture the two best predictors of corporate ladder-climbing success are verbal fluency and sociability. The deck is stacked against the quiet and more reserved, even though they often make very successful CEO’s.

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Without introverts, the world would be deprived of: the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, Chopin’s nocturnes, Peter Pan, Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’, The Cat in the Hat, Charlie Brown, ‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘E.T.,’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, Google, and Harry Potter.

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Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

John Green

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It’s interesting, but I feel strange talking about my leanings towards introversion. I’ve spent a lot of my life filled with a nagging disquiet about my need to spend time alone. I’m less Bill Clinton and more Woody Allen- of course I’m referring here to personality issues, not playing with interns or step-children! Would Todd Akin consider me a “Legitimate Introvert”?

If, like me, you’re the type of person who needs “down time” after a busy work day or social outing; if you enjoy a party but half way through the evening start wishing you were home in your pajamas, then you probably belong in my merry band of introverts. We won’t form a support group though, OK (no one would show up!)?

And, if you are a natural extrovert, I enjoy being with you and admire your abilities and strengths. I, as an outsider, contemplate you and marvel at how you function so happily and smoothly with tons of social energy.

I’ll leave you with two questions that I – and apparently most researchers –  haven’t come to any firm conclusions about just yet:

  • Are more men or more women introverts and is there truly a difference between the genders? 
  • Have the internet and texting/messaging changed the introversion vs extroversion equation…versus face-to-face communication? Are we becoming a more introverted society because of Blackberrys and iPhones? 

 

STAYING In Tonight

8 Ways to be an IRONMAN in YOUR Life!

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I was in the throws of a full out anxiety attack.

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Anxiety_Scream

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The Time: August 26, 1990  7 a.m.

The Place: Okanagan Lakefront, Penticton, B.C.

The Event:  IRONMAN CANADA Triathlon race

Course: 3.9 km. SWIM, 180 km. BIKE, 42.2 km. RUN

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In the midst of 960 other nervous competitors, the starting cannon exploded. It’s acrid smoke filled the air just as the first sun rays burst above the eastern hillside over the lake- an homage to the Iron Sun Gods.

The first 10 minutes of the swim were noisy, confused, tumultuous, and like a battlefield, bordering on terrifying. Powerful arms and legs and bodies thrashing on all sides…some bashing me in the head, knocking my goggles askew. I’m hyperventilating – hyperventilating as I try to put my head in the water and make the swimming motions I practiced for 12 months leading up to this day. My chest is gripping me in a vice and I can’t breathe.

OK Larry .  take . a . slow . breath . Swim a breast stroke…Good, now take another breath. Another stroke. Ignore the agitated arms flailing around you.”

13 hours and 19 minutes later. It was over and I had finished an IRONMAN Triathlon. I was bone-tired, but blissfully drained.

Ironman Canada Triathlon 1990

Anxiety followed 13 hours later by euphoria…

FAST FORWARD 11 years

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The Time: August 24, 2001  7 a.m.

The Place: Okanagan Lakefront, Penticton, B.C. 

The Event:  IRONMAN CANADA Triathlon race

This time, 2500 others are surrounding me in the waters of Okanagan Lake. This time, I’m relaxed (more or less…who can be totally relaxed with 150 miles of distance still to cover!) and maneuver through the first 5 to 10 minutes of thrashing unruffled.

My swim time improves by 11 minutes compared to 11 years earlier…hmmm…one minute faster per year. It stupidly occurs to me that I could WIN the swim part of this in 15 years if I keep this up!!

Six hours later I drop out of the event after the 112 mile bike segment and prior to the marathon run with excruciating and unexplained foot pain. The last 15 miles I cycle using the spinning power from one leg only, the other foot attached but hanging loose in the pedal. If you’re thinking that I dropped out because of the “urine spray” from jerky cyclists ahead of me who don’t want to take a 30 second break to get off their bike and visit the Porta-Potti, you’d be wrong…but I was “PISSED“!

My Ironman has ended prematurely. I’m frustrated and angry – with myself and my flawed body. A year’s worth of training has been squandered. I’m a failure and a loser, I tell myself. I’ll pause a moment here if you want to say it too!

One success and one failure, right?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

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Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” 

Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Holmes was referring to the mind in his assertion, but I honestly think that it applies to all areas of your life: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Reflecting back, each of these Ironman races taught me something about myself (like 8 LARRY’isms). Here are the lessons I learned from the joy of finishing one Ironman race, and the heartache of not finishing another. They aren’t just for IRONMEN…they apply to both you and me in other areas of our lives:

  1. First and most important of all. Have the largest and most thorough bowel movement possible. Nothing will ruin a physical or mental exercise more than cramps and/or bloating. LESSON: The bowels must run efficiently before anything else does.
  2. The first Ironman race was exhilarating and exciting. I was terrified heading into the start, not knowing if I had it in me to swim, bike and run for 12+ hours. I had never done an entire Ironman-length distance in my training sessions. It takes courage and focus to attempt things that scare us.  LESSON: I discovered that day that the combination of good preparation (training with focus) and adrenalin would carry me the full distance. The positive ends justified the positive means.
  3. The second Ironman was exciting but lacked the full FEAR FACTOR that was part of the first time out. I knew I could cover the full distance, now could I improve on my time from 11 years earlier? As it turned out, I couldn’t…well, I might have except I dropped out after finishing the swim and bike portions of the race. Each of my swim and bike times were better than those from 11 years earlier. Even in failure, we discover things about ourselves that we can build on. LESSON: Goals for improvement are an important motivational tool.
  4. Gratitude for the health and physical attributes I have. I’m so fortunate not to be saddled with any genetic or acquired illnesses such as arthritis or maybe SYPHILIS (!) that might hold me back. A lot of health is directly related to the care we take of ourselves. I’m not a true believer in luck, but sometimes I just feel lucky to have good health. LESSON: Health isn’t something to be taken for granted. Appreciate it.
  5. Don’t limit myself with internal thoughts about what I can and cannot do. Ironman is not something that only “Jocks” can do. I’m definitely not a jock. I wasn’t a high school sports guy. I wasn’t on the football or track teams. I joined Band and Chess Club…oh yeah, I was on the badminton team too! I don’t think this makes me jock material.  LESSON: The knowledge that anyone in reasonable physical health can take this on and DO IT! 
  6. Doing an Ironman race is more of a mental toughness exercise than a physical one. Training day after day for a year for anywhere from 45 minutes to 7 hours requires a strong desire and ability to push onwards, even when you would rather be on a couch with a bowl of potato chips. I can’t count the number of dark mornings where I dreaded the alarm clock sounding, signifying it was time to get up to go swim some laps or run 8 miles. LESSON: Developing mental strength is as important or even more important than physical strength.
  7. There is a Catholic nun from Spokane, Washington named Sister Madonna Buder. She’s 82 years old this year. Starting at the age of 55, she’s entered 45 Ironman triathlons in Canada and Hawaii, the most recent one here in Penticton last year at the age of 81. She is amazing. Just to show you how “non-competitive” I am, both in 1990 and in 2001, my main aim in the Ironman was to finish the race before the IRON NUN! Actually, my real goal was to just finish the races, but there was always an underlying thought in my head that NO Senior Citizen Catholic Nun was going to finish ahead of THIS heathen. I don’t want to step on others to achieve my goals, but I CAN use them to help push myself just a little bit harder. LESSON: There’s such a thing as a healthy dose of competitiveness. 
  8. There are people who support me whenever I am trying to achieve something important in my life. Don’t forget their sacrifices too!  My family and friends keep things afloat while I pursue my dreams and ambitions. When I’m feeling totally bummed, they prop up my spirits. In my second Ironman, my 80+ year old neighbour Elza stood patiently at the finish line with a bouquet of flowers waiting to congratulate me for crossing the line. It was a hot day. Still, she stood in the hot afternoon sun and into the dark of the evening, waiting. I didn’t show, of course…I dropped out after the bike and returned home to wallow in my self-pity, not knowing that Elza held the vigil.  LESSON: Remember to thank the ones who make your dreams and goals possible and support you through the terrific and the terrible. For the Elza in your life…say THANK YOU!
IRON_NUN

Sister Madonna Buder wins in the 75+ age category of Ironman Canada…her smile is just a bit strained because she knows I beat her!

 

Related:  3,000 people will jump into Okanagan Lake at 7 am this Sunday for the 30th Anniversary running of Ironman Canada.

May they achieve their dreams… 

Why BRAmance is More Important Than BROmance

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I don’t speak GUY!

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I’m not really a BROmance kind of male that sits around with his mates and shoots the s**t about cars or women or sports. But BROmance is critically important to the beer and film industries, and so I don’t think I would want to flap my butterfly wings and colossally disrupt something that holds such an important place in our world. Budweiser, Guinness, and Coors need BRO’s to be BROmantic, quaff their suds, and watch Judd Apatow buddy movies. Cheers Boys!

On the other hand, BRAmance is as important or even more important to me and to the world (BRAmance sells beer too!) because it involves both men and women intimately…and I MEAN intimately!

BRAMance Bacon

Take this one out for a stroll Lady GAGA!

Honestly, I LOVE BRAS! I’m very BRAmantic.

I know it’s selfish and terribly chauvinistic. I’m almost more into bras than I am breasts. I like the look of the bra’ed woman. Bras are like the bun around the burger…the lettuce beneath the entree…the shell around the oyster and pearl. A bra frames the main course and makes it more appealing and appetizing. A man’s hormones and bras share a direct linkage.

My first “hands-on” experience with a bra was at 17. I was deeply in love and lust and to have the chance to slip my novice hands under her shirt and up to her bra was heavenly. It was a light white cotton lacy affair and made no resistance to my exploring fingers. It felt as soft and smooth as the breasts that it cradled beneath. My heart felt like it might explode. It was like a Bra Mitzvah for a non-Jewish kid. A coming of age story of young adulthood. I felt like I was grown up. Despite my fumbles, I didn’t need the famed New Yorker writer and author Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert here. It was as instinctive as cliff swallows returning to Capistrano each year.

BUT…the bra is one area that men and women see from different perspectives. Men generally love and adore the bra in a pretty superficial way…women have a far more mixed and intimate viewpoint as sexual, political and philosophical aspects play a part of the perspective.

I’m not out burning bras, but I’m very opinionated about women owning their power.”

Katherine Heigl

Since wearing a slip and a bra in Ed Wood I have much more respect for women.”

Johnny Depp

It’s back to the old Mars (Men) and Venus (Women) scenario. It’s like Liberals (or Labour) and Conservatives…Democrats and Republicans….Heaven and Hell…Marriage and Divorce…Abbott and Costello. There is always a perspective that differs depending on which side of the C cup you reside.

An aside: speaking of C cups, the average cup size in Canada, Australia, most of South America, and Britain is a C, the US slightly larger at D, most of the Middle East carries a B booby, and China and most of Africa sport A cups.

BRAmance Canine

I don’t know the average cup size for canines…

Bras have become a major force in society in the past century. Since the word “brassiere” was coined in 1893, busts, push-ups, and under-wires have underpinned our world. Our economy and mindsets are dependent on the physics of breast support, decoration, and decolletage. Whole companies (Victoria’s Secret, La Vie en Rose) and Television Shows (Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show) and magazines (Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition) are predicated on the not-so-humble bra. Worldwide, each year, about 17 Billion dollars worth of bras are peddled with the average North American or European woman purchasing two new bras each trip around the sun. This is major commerce.

Of course the bra has practical purposes, some of which can be disputed but hold more or less sway with the user and observer:

  • Disguises unruly nipples
  • Prevents sagging and jiggles
  • Complies with socially acceptable dress codes
  • Prevents pain and damage when running
  • Adds sexual allure
  • Gives the illusion of larger breasts
  • Accommodates all manner of clothing
  • Symbolizes coming of age
  • Supports prosthetics post-mastectomy
  • Provides shock value
Edible BRAmance

Shocking yes, but edible too!

I expect the bra is here to stay and the BRAmance will continue for some time to come. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with lingerie….let’s not deny sensuality and sexuality as aspects of an entire person. I play, I work, I read, I sex.

I’m a whole person and so are you.

Whether you’re a man or woman…whether your cup is half full or half empty…love the bra or hate it…it’s up to you. Ultimately, the spandex scaffolds aside, this world is full of judgment and probably no area of life is more judged than sexuality. What we wear and what it symbolizes sometimes gives us joy, sometimes guilt, sometimes it just means comfort or discomfort.

We BRO’s love the BRA, but you know, the beauty of the BRAmance is truly in the eye of the BRAholder.

The most grounded advice I know comes from a lady who chooses to go braless:

In my case, it makes them [braless breasts]  happy because it means my knees don’t get lonely”

How Would YOU Like to Die?

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DeathofLenin

Amazing…LENIN (Vladimir…not John!) tastes just as good today as the day he died 88 years ago)

Woody Allen probably speaks for most of us when he says,

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.”

What I Would Like to Die From

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Isn’t it a profoundly sad statement – you know – that we’re all going to die? Isn’t it? I still have some denial issues to sort out on this whole matter. What, ME die?  I only know for sure that YOU are going to die!

From the day that we become cognizant of who we are and what we are, the certainty of knowing that death awaits is firmly implanted in our minds. Strangely, there are few things that we can be so certain of in this world…I know -you’re right- DEATH and TAXES!

We don’t know if we’ll be hit by an unpredicted asteroid some day. We don’t know if we’ll marry Lady Gaga or Steven Tyler (YUK on both counts). Unknown is the number of X-Box addicted children that will be born to us; the means by which we’ll earn our meagre living is a mystery. DEATH we know.

Yet, despite knowing this, we try to fool and delude ourselves that we might somehow avoid the last nasty!

EVERY single living human on this earth, both now and in the past, has known that one day in the future, near or far, they will draw their last breath and become “living-challenged”. There are no exceptions; no amount of money, no fame or glory, no success makes it avoidable. No child has been born into the world whose parents have lived on and on forever. Of course, always an optimist, I’m still researching a way around it for me!

And so, for most of us- religious or not- death is something to be feared and sidestepped at all costs. Humans have an instinct for survival whether they believe in an afterlife or a finality of all at death. We search for a movie with happy endings, but life’s cinema always concludes with the credits, “THE END”.

FunnyDeathtombstone

(This will be my tombstone…)

We use genteel euphemisms to make it sound more pleasant and agreeable, almost delightful:

  • Passed away
  • Departed
  • Asleep
  • With God
  • Eternal rest
  • Into the good night
  • Resting in Peace

I’m not fooled – dead is dead. So now, as I age and begin in some small way to accept the inevitable, I want to at least have some control and decision-making power in how my end comes to begin.  No surprises, no great dramas please.

Many people I speak with say that they want the end to come suddenly and unannounced. To drop dead of a heart attack or stroke that fells them in an instant would be great. No wrenching pain. No fearful dread. No drawn-out anticipating, just short and sweet and done with, like a Tim Bit (sorry, for non-Canadians, this is like a donut hole!). Flopping dead on the street is a great way to wind it up, or so some believe.

My mother collapsed onto the hard, cool, asphalt driveway of our house on a lovely spring evening when I was 15, her heart and breathing stopping suddenly. I watched helplessly, panic-stricken, as she drew her last breath. No goodbye or words were exchanged to end our connection. It was TOO sudden. It wasn’t fair. In 5 minutes, my young life was colossally changed (and sadly, her’s ended). Sorry, this is not for me. I want some closure and this isn’t the way to do it.

The polar opposite of this sudden, unexpected death scenario I suppose is the horror and anxiety that comes with a long, drawn out and painful cancer or ALS-like demise. Being terminally ill (or sick at all) is frightening and wretched. I don’t think I’ve heard any person suggest that this would be the way that they want to spend their final days. Many many have experienced this play out with a friend or relative, and the encounter with this grim reaper rarely seems like a positive way to say goodbye. The pain and torture also cuts into the bedside survivors like a knife blade.

Death shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it doesn’t need months or years to finish up. After all, it’s not the Stanley Cup playoffs (NOTE: Sorry again non-Canadians! I’ve got to get away from ice hockey references…please suggest some cricket or football references that I can use.) I’m seeking a happy death medium.

So, for me at least, the end should be relatively brief but not a complete surprise. I want to have a chance to know the life I’ve lived is finishing.

GoodNightGoodLuck

I want to say goodbye.

I want to reflect on what life has meant.

I want those around me to have an opportunity to share their dreams and feelings before I go.

Very few of us can bring ourselves to say the things we truly feel about our loved ones without some threat of their departure from our lives. Kind of like divorce, I understand!

We’ve all had experiences with death – some likely positive and life-affirming, and others that were nightmarish horror stories. It will come for you and for me, one day, near or distant.

So, if you had the power to choose, How Would YOU Like To Die?

The last word here goes to the great philosopher Woody Allen,

I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

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DeathbyText

 

An Olympic Dream of Equality

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Last night I had a dream:

The badminton teams played their hearts out start to finish…the Australian

and Japanese teams flew BOTH their men’s AND women’s teams to the games

in business class…soccer referees had great judgment at critical points in

matches…women could happily pound the s**t out of other women in the

boxing ring…Cock fighting was a huge success…”

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Business class meal - appetizer

The modest but reasonably tasty repast consumed by the Japanese Men’s Soccer squad and Australian Men’s Basketball team en route to London Olympics

The equally sumptuous spread provided to the corresponding women’s team members…YUM!!

That last one about cock fighting?… you can probably safely ignore…but it was MY dream!

The Olympics are finally over. Life can now return to normal for the many anonymous highly-trained and conditioned athletes who pop up out of the woodwork every 4 years to impress the bejeepers out of me. There are substantial sacrifices that the athletes and their families make to arrive at this level of competition. I tip my hat to their remarkable dedication.

As a Canadian, I’m disappointed that my home country athletes won only 1 Gold medal, and I’m disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I wanted them to win so I could feel like I’d won. I train my feeble little legs and heart out for minor running races and I never ever come close to a winning time.  I can understand some of the torture that goes into achieving a world class standard. Huge physical and mental energy. It hurts, big time!

BOXING…The aspect of this Olympics that truly intrigues me in regards to equality is Boxing. Boxing in general and boxing for women. For the first time, boxing is now an Olympic Womens’ sport. Blood sports are nothing new; we’ve witnessed death struggles in the arena for millennia from Gladiator times to high-tech wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Humankind thrives on battle and the outcome of a victor.

Equality means women never having to say they’re sorry! You Go Girls!

Boxing in today’s world is ludicrous. The Objective? Punch at each others’ faces until blood spurts, eyes glaze, and an opponent is knocked unconscious with a concussion…something like a typical hockey game but played in a tiny square arena with no ice! Olympic boxing is a bit more refined since the athletes wear head protection, but the primary object still remains to knock your opponent senseless.

We heap high praise on a competitor who can render his opponent unconscious on the mat and ignore the potential brain damage that doesn’t materialize until much later. Muhammed Ali didn’t show signs of Parkinson’s disease until years after his career ended. Somewhere around 15 to 20% of boxers develop a syndrome akin to Parkinsons called chronic boxer’s encephalopathy. It usually takes about 15 years or so to materialize. Rock ’em, sock ’em, knock ’em down now…but kill them later…the perfect result!

An NBC boxing analyst was rumoured to say during a network broadcast,

Sure there have been injuries, and even some deaths in boxing, but none of them really that serious.”

So, what to do?

The civilized approach would be to quietly remove the little square arenas and turn out the lights on this so-called sport. Better to let the fighting occur more naturally and spontaneously outside the football fields where London hooligans really know how to fight. But civility lost this fight.

The less-polished and ludicrous way about it is for the IOC  (International Olympic Committee) to EXPAND the sport by declaring it a gender equality issue and put women into the ring. This demonstrates that men aren’t the only ones who know how to create brain injury. After all, up until now women were only allowed to cuss, not concuss. Women have progressed in so many areas of today’s society…THIS is not a step forward.

You’ve Come A Long Way Baby! But Not This Time!

Memo to Jacques Rogge:

In order to make some progress, I have a few suggestions for the IOC to move towards gender equality in the world of sports:

  • Make the burkha the official uniform of both the women’s and men’s beach volleyball teams. Let’s find out if this sport is popular because of the skill involved or the Tits & Ass. I’m a guy…I know why I’m watching girls play in the sand!!
  • Make Rhythmic Gymnastics and Synchronized Swimming both women’s and MEN’S sports. We don’t exclude men from the world of ballet or opera. I want to see macho men with nose plugs and hair gelled high! A man flinging a hoop sky high into the air could be very sexy!
  • It’s time for men to zip circles around the gymnastic uneven bars and do fancy spins and flips on that long 4 inch wide balance beam. We men can thrust our chests out and make delicate ballet-like movements before performing a quadruple flip on a razor-thin chunk of hardwood too. Who says a man looks any less swashbuckling wearing a skin-tight glittery leotard that conforms to his genitals? Just give us a chance Jacques!”

What guy couldn’t do this?

I’m hoping that last night was my final Olympic dream. After tying myself up in sheets with backwards flips, and giving my significant other a nasty eye shiner with a perfectly placed uppercut punch, it’s time to move on.

Perhaps tonight I’ll find myself on some distant planet, riding around on the Curiosity Rover and still attempting to figure out why Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!

Household Chores Make Men Happier??

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LIES, LIES and MORE LIES…a pack of lies (wolves)…a murder of lies (crows)…a colony of lies (rabbits)…a business of lies (ferrets).

      I’m sorry, have I made my point clear yet?

There is nothing happier than a man with a broom in his (?her) hands.

Cambridge University researchers have recently released an intriguing study . It says that men were found to have an improved sense of well-being and work-life balance, as well as less work-life conflict, if they helped more around the house.

Excuse me while I pick myself up from the floor laughing!

The academics expected to find that men’s work-family conflict rose, and their well-being fell, when they did more housework. In practice, they found the opposite, with conflict falling, and well-being going up.  The study suggests that this may be because more men support gender equality, so they feel uncomfortable if the woman does most of the housework, and because women are becoming more assertive and making their dissatisfaction with lazy partners plain (more of those MAN-BOYS!).

Men are actually HAPPIER when they cook, clean, wash, shop and look after household maintenance.

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? George Eliot 

Paul Harvey used to have a renowned syndicated radio spot called, “And Now You Know…The Rest Of The Story”. So please allow me to explain what the researchers didn’t say in their report…so that YOU know The Rest Of The Story.

We men are fairly simple beings, but not totally stupid. Happiness to a man, from the time he hits puberty until I don’t know what time in his life (I can only speak to the age of 55) means GREAT SEX and lots of it. We’ve figured it out girls…hormones and housework have a direct correlation. The more vacuuming performed by the man= more parting of the legs by the woman. 1+1=2…simple arithmetic!

(This is pretty cruel of me to suggest all of this and also grossly generalizing. But I’m able to state categorically that men want lots of great sex because we men are afraid to say anything less for fear of feeling de-masculinized. Any man who wants to refute my points here, please step in!)
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I could go on and on about my own sexual desires here, but I have to remember that I have three adult kids out there who still don’t believe that their mom and dad get down and dirty…so why totally ruin their lives for the sake of the truth!

“Soon as I finish here…how ’bout a rendezvous on the Workbench?”

“Society today is witnessing an ongoing paradigm shift in gender relations“, Jackie Scott
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MEN don’t like doing household work.

WOMEN don’t like doing household work.

Doing chores is a dull, repetitive experience for most people…hence folks don’t like to do them. According to an MSNBC survey:  74 percent of men said household chores were shared; 51 percent of women said chores were shared. Twenty-six percent of men said one person did the housework; 49 percent of the women said the same. Hmmm…interesting juxtaposition.

So, who’s right?

I’m going to come down on the side of women here. This is my personal experience. When I wash a sink full of dishes, I feel like I’ve accomplished a week’s worth of work. I do! I look around and see the product of my effort and I pat myself on the back. What a good boy am I! Hence, I don’t need to clean, or cook, or vacuum, or iron clothes for another week. I’ve done MY half.

And in my mind, I’ve just shared half of the housework.

And since most women are kind and generous to a fault, they’re just so pleased that Mr. Mom has helped at all that they accept that this is a reasonable contribution…my significant other excluded (not the kind and generous part, but the reasonable contribution!). Girls have been conditioned to believe that ANY contribution from their partner is wonderful and they are the luckiest ladies alive…

-Of course I’ll let you sex me you hunky house-husband!

But to be fair, women should know that men are struggling somewhat in today’s world. We too have been conditioned.  We believe that looking after and out for a woman is part of our “job” in life. Men in the study were less likely than women to report that gender equality was an issue in their relationships. For them, the notable cause of distress was being in a lower socioeconomic position than their partners. Men who aren’t bringing home the bigger part of the slab of bacon can be a bit lost and feel a loss of face and hurt ego.

This scares some men…

This is an era of tumult for the roles of men and women and how they relate to each other. Both sides struggle. Both sides want to pull their hair out with frustration. Sometimes they want to pull each other’s hair out in frustration.

So, for all of the Mr. Moms and Mrs. Doubtfires out there, I leave you with the following:

The world has changed. Your job has changed. Your partner is just that…a partner. Partners pull their weight  50:50. It’s time to make the transition to the new reality. You don’t get a job for life, people are gay, women do housework AND men do housework.

After all of my initial outrage, if you think I’ve done a 180 degree turn in my original statement in this post, then you would be correct. Ultimately, both men and women will feel more satisfaction and intimacy in their PARTNERSHIP, if both contribute equally, or at the very least, equitably.

But as men let’s not pretend that we’re happy washing dishes any more than a woman should feel privileged to do it. Let’s just do it…and then…

LET’S DO IT !!!

8 LARRY’isms

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I’m not the only one who makes mistakes!

I’ve spent a lifetime making mistakes…hell, I almost killed a baby during my lab training with a simple math error. I’ve hurt people with dumb things I’ve said. I lost a whack of money investing in a publicly-traded company that turned out to be a front for Russian money laundering. I’ve spit cherry pits out the window of a speeding car and had them fly back in my face!

But I’ve learned a lot because of my mistakes and I’ve tried to take something positive away from my gaffs, which leads me to… Not so long ago, a good friend from my childhood (thanks Denise) replied in an e-mail that something I had said sounded just like a “LARRY’ism“.

I liked the ring of that…LARRY’ism!

And it struck me…sure, there are some things that drill into my core and are a part of who I am and what I believe..things I’ve learned through my errors. I have LARRY‘isms and I didn’t even really realize it until she told me.

We all have LARRY‘isms …of course, yours are called MARGARET‘isms or DAVID‘isms or BILBO‘isms. These are the parts of you that make up your identity, an individual, a real person.

Some would call them principles…others a belief system…others just simply a way to live.

Because this is my blog, I get to tell you what some of my strongly held tenets are…there are more than 8 but we’ll get a good start here, right?!

I’d love to hear some of yours so please SHARE.

8 LARRY’isms

If it’s important, bore in, focus, and make it happen…

  • FOCUS- Unexplainable things appear from the ether when you set your lasers onto accomplishing something. Putting aside the distractions that are everywhere and focusing your mind makes you into a magician of the truest order.

Multi-tasking is a wonderful talent, but when you really want to accomplish something important to you…it’s all about FOCUS. I can’t read Facebook, scan a novel, check e-mails, and write a great song all at the same time (but I try!). Which is the most important to my contentment over time?—the song—so concentrate my mind and energy on creation.

Just one example: I was involved in a lab conference a few years back and was responsible for lining up exhibitors and sponsors. I determined that I would outpace anything done in recent history by selling more exhibitor booths and more sponsorships than ever before. I spent a lot of time on the phone. I sent out a ton of e-mails. I made the pitch about how much the company would have to gain. Did I make a sale every time…NOPE! I made hundreds of phone calls and ended up in a lot of dead-ends. But I did reach my goals (actually, exceeded) and despite the naysayers who said it couldn’t be done…it happened!

No special talent involved. Just focus and determination.

  • BUT SEE THE FOREST TOO- focusing on one thing for too long (ie. months, years) seizes your ability to see how one thing impacts another. Everything we do has a ripple effect…so we have to make sure the ripples create a great wave we can surf on and not a tsunami that destroys all around it. Don’t forget the other significant things around you…family, friends, exercise. Be a complete YOU!
  • INTENSITY- kind of like focus, but really it’s about pressing hard and making things happen. This can refer to mental intensity, using perseverance to stick things through when the going gets tough. Physical intensity brings your body and muscles to a point of strain and pain that when you can deal with it in a healthy, non-injurious way, will take you to a higher level than you would think is possible. Intensity lets you accomplish things quickly and that sets up a great feedback loop of positive inner feelings, and often muscle and speed too. I run some intensely hard interval runs in my marathon training because it makes me faster…but it’s tough stuff, and it hurts.

This is a work in progress for me… mental strength is a key component and I fall short sometimes.

Don’t let negativity around you sap your energy…surround yourself with enthusiasts.

  • POSITIVE PEOPLE- we all have our incredibly bad moments, sometimes lasting hours or days. Life is often tough and trying and painful, full of bruises and bleeding. But there are just some people who can’t find the silver lining in even the best things that happen to them. But then there are others who can find a nugget of happiness in a pile of stinking, fetid garbage and rise above the despair they feel.

This is the person I aspire to be, and the type of person I like to be around.

In my bad moments they lift me back out of the goo, and in the great moments, they make the sun shine even brighter and help to make me a better, more positive person.

  • GROWTH- the feeling that you have learned or accomplished something is a better high than most drugs or alcohol I’ve tried (of course I haven’t yet tried the full gamut!). Humankind has become what it has – both positive AND negative I suppose– because we’ve learned and we’ve learned and we’ve learned some more.  The house I live in, the food I eat, the people who love me and I love back are here because I’ve learned and grown and that allows me to function and thrive in the world surrounding me. I wouldn’t be doing the job I do with databases if I hadn’t learned how to operate and understand the software that makes it all possible.

I learned, I grew, I prospered. Direct connections to a pretty good life.

  • SELF-DISCIPLINE- I often hear the phrase, “Live for today, for who knows what tomorrow will bring“. It sounds like a wonderful, and sublime piece of advice. And there is a germ of truth in it, but only a germ.

People buy into it because it is easy and because they rationalize the things they want to own or like to do now.

-I will live for today, so I’ll buy a yacht.

You’ve actually made a decision about tomorrow in terms of payments you’ll have to make, or lost income opportunity from the money you’ve paid. And if you’re gone tomorrow, your estate and your heirs will have to make good on the debt owing.

I don’t want to delay everything that makes life enjoyable and desirable to some future time that all the stars align and perfection exists. I can’t change the past. It’s done. But I can affect the future and one of the best ways I know is with self-discipline. I can enjoy some things today, and others I can derive delayed gratification from holding off until later. WAIT and I enjoy it more.

If I want to retire at 55, I need the self-discipline to save 10% of my income for years and years ahead. Spend it all today and it’s three squares a day of Puppy Chow when I’m 75!

Self-discipline can be HARD…that’s why the word discipline is in there!

The easy choice is not always the best one!

  • GIVE LOVE AND PRAISE– everyone thrives on being told or shown that they are loveable. And everyone loves to be honestly told that they’ve done something well. Most people I think, are stingy with their compliments because they feel it somehow lessens their value when in fact it is just the opposite.

Applauding another is a gift that costs nothing and gives something to both you and the recipient. I’m not talking only about praising children. Congratulate your neighbour for a great job of painting his house…praise your co-worker for staying 10 minutes after hours to help you get things cleaned up…gush over the restaurant server who brought you an extra plate unasked to share your piece of pie with a friend. The joy you give someone in praise, reflects right back at you for a long time after.

IS that eight? Ooops, one short. It’s not actually a LARRY‘ism but it is something that I really like about waking up on a brilliant spring day.

  • SUNSHINE– it just gets so hard to feel sad or bad when the sun is warm and shining. Sunshine is like having that positive person around you that I’m talking about above. Sun casts a shadow and obliterates despair or disappointment. Maybe it’s because I have seasonal affective disorder or something, but sun rays melt away gloom almost as good as butterscotch ice cream, my favourite…ALMOST!

Well, I’m sure I’ve made a spelling mistake or grammatical error in my writing today. Or worse still, an error in logic or judgment, so hopefully it will be pointed out to me and I’ll learn and grow. But for now, it’s a gorgeously sunny day. This Larry is heading outside to get in a hard run and some Vitamin D!

I’ll run hard…just not THAT hard!

A MAN LOOK or A WOMAN LOOK?

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Genesis 2: And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man,

made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

        The next line in The King James version of the Bible should then read:

And Adam said, Honey do you know where my running socks are? My red tie? The onions we bought on the weekend? The vacuum cleaner? The TV remote? Especially the TV remote!

    I’m betting that the same scenario mentioned above occurs all the time in the homes of:
                • George Clooney
                • Stephen Harper (substitute Barack Obama if you’re reading this in the U.S.)
                • and this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners, which in this case was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”. Of course, in the Nobel winners’ cases, they are the ones who are being asked the questions!
English: President Barack Obama discusses the ...

Obama: “Sorry George, I’ve looked everywhere…I’ll just have to get Michelle to locate the White Paper on Sudan for you.”

So…who does lose things more often…MEN…or…WOMEN?

The 10 most frequently lost household items of 3,000 people polled by ensure insurance:

1. Mobile / smartphone
2. House keys
3. Car Keys
4. Paperwork
5. Sunglasses / spectacles
6. Purse / wallet
7. Lip balm
8. Hair brush
9. Gloves
10. Clothing

The little research available out there on this says that Men are far worse than women – with a third of wives claiming that their husbands regularly misplace household items. Further, it found that four out of ten often argue with their partner about lost items.

Just as every person, regardless of placement high or low in society, pulls on their pants one leg at a time, I’m betting that every man, including George Clooney, and me,  is hopeless at locating anything in his own home. I can’t swear this is true, but for me, it is definitely the case. Affluenza (accumulation of mounds of stuff) is part of the problem , for sure, but the bigger problem is that I can’t see things even when they’re literally under my nose!

This “lost my screlifelotter” scene occurs in my house numerous times every week, and my significant other has taken to saying,

Well, did you take a man’s look, or a woman’s look?

 – Sorry, but the difference is?

You know, a man just skims the surface and if he can’t find what he’s looking for, he comes whimpering to the woman to help him (this is kinda like men whining  when they’re sick).

Within 2 minutes she has located my frustratingly long-lost item and I’m back in the game…I can cook, or clean, or build, or play. I’m happy. I’m back in the saddle metaphorically…if only I could find my horse now, where did I put that horse?!

Focus and concentration…maybe this is the missing idea that will save men like me from misplacing their keys, and glasses. Conscious thought of what we’re doing at all times. I honestly believe that focus is one key to success in all areas of life (more on this topic in a later blog). But this would forbid me and others from living in our Walter Mitty worlds….hmmm, such a dilemma!

Is this one way that men and women differ? Women are able to multitask…talk on the phone, prepare a meal, and put away folded laundry simultaneously with absorbing the location that they set down their keys? Perhaps the evolutionary process has better endowed damsels with search and rescue capability in order to find their children in the Lucky Charms aisle or a partner missing in the bra section of Victoria’s Secret. 

“You hold this for a minute and I’ll find your screwdriver!”

I’d hazard a guess that if Adam and Eve were still here with us today (why DID you eat that apple anyways!), that poor hopeless schmuck Adam would be wearing only one sock!