Case for Action

I started the Landmark Self Expression and Leadership Program (SELP) last week. It is a four-month program in which I will be taking on a community leadership project.

The project I’m taking on is a developer forum that brings assistive technology to the realm of musical instruments to make them accessible to people who would like to play and are otherwise stopped with a physical challenge. The outcome of this project by April is five working prototypes, each one targeting a different instrument.

Since the day that I embraced that this is the project I’m choosing for my SELP I’ve talked to a number of people about it and have noticed some interesting coincidences popping up.

What is so right now

I’ve talked to a percussionist who does not play anymore, he is stopped with a condition similar to MS.

I’ve talked to a person who used to play guitar, does not anymore, he is stopped with pain (fibromyalgia?).

I’ve talked to a person who does not play guitar due to fat fingers.

Recently in the news Bono of U2 announced that he might never play guitar again following an accident in which he broke his arm.

The guy with MS does not play anymore and says he has found other ways to enjoy music – e.g. working at a music store. But he does not play.

The predictable future

If no action is taken, people like those described above remain in a place where they have given up hope of ever playing. Their full expression is diminished. A part of their talent remains bottled up without a means to express it, share it with others and to fully contribute.

A new possibility

Imagine if Beethoven had been stopped by his deafness from composing his works. What would be missing from the world today? That which would be missing is what is possible for the future. The possibility of full musical expression.

I already had a lot on my plate. It only makes sense that I would take this on and add even more responsibility in my life.

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Author Reading at Ten Stories High

Canadian Authors Association is a national association for writers of every kind, for those actively seeking to become writers and for those who want to support writers.

The Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association held its “Ten Stories High” Annual Short Story Competition, open to all Ontario writers. The top ten finalists have had their stories published in an anthology.

The Association launched their Ten Stories High Short Story Anthology on Saturday March 29, 2014 in St. Catharines.

Several authors read excerpts from their works.

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Celebrating my one year surgeversary

I celebrated my one year surgeversary today.

I wrote about this stage of my healing journey in past posts titled Chain of Events and Doctor’s Orders.

People sometimes ask me if I have increased flexibility now.

I did not gain an increase in mobility after the surgery. However, the joints in my operative hand (left hand) now have a better alignment. My left hand lays flatter on a surface now. One of the practical benefits to me is that I find it easier to wash myself – my hand makes greater surface contact for washing my head for example. Another benefit I’ve discovered recently is that my hand now fits into spaces that it did not easily fit into before. I will now slip a mitten onto my left hand with ease. When I wash my dishes, my left hand now fits into an object such as a mug so that I can wash it more thoroughly. My right hand will not fit into the same space, at least not easily, as the MCP joints stick out too much and the ulnar deviation of my fingers is too severe.

This afternoon I noticed some change in a deep and narrow cubbyhole in my car. Normally my hands would not fit into the hole; I would have to use a long implement to get the change out. However, today I discovered that my left hand actually fit into the space and I retrieved the change without any implement!

It’s not that it took an entire year for my hand to heal enough that I could do these things again. It’s that I have become so used to my hands not functioning that way that I didn’t even think to try until recently.

I still feel a kind of numbness in a certain area on the back of my left hand. The surgeon had to cut through a lot of nerve fibres to get to the joints, and I think many of them are still healing, repairing themselves, even after a year. Sometimes I feel a sensation that feels like a healing energy in my hand.

On my one year surgeversary date, I wish you all to Live Long and Prosper!

Wearing the outrigger splint

Last year: Wearing the outrigger splint
From “Next stage of the healing journey”

Live long and prosper!

One year later: Live long and prosper!

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Is $16,000 too much for an MP3 player?

Is $16,000 too much for an MP3 player? It has some nice features.

It has Bluetooth. It’s mobile, and it has less than 19,000km on it (almost 12,000mi).

It’s gas powered and does not need recharging.

The one I looked at has tinted windows. One of my Facebook friends asked if it heats my food like a microwave. As a matter of fact, it’s multifunctional – in the summer it will cook food and in the winter it keeps food refrigerated. Frozen even.

It’s a sporty model. Just the thing to give myself as a mid-life crisis present. In fact, if I get this one, I will probably keep it until I’m almost a senior citizen. That’s a sobering thought.

It’s mobile but not portable. I won’t take it on a bus with me, for example. On the other hand, if I get this I won’t need to take a bus to get around.

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This is not your father’s Pi!

Despite a rapid start and quick spurt of massive progress, I still ended up taking over a year to complete my Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS) at Toastmasters.

Did I finish my DTM in 2013? No. Recalibrating my goal, looking at finishing in 2014 now.

I did finish my ALB (Advanced Leadership Bronze) in November 2013, and I completed my ACS in January. All that I have left now for DTM is ALS (Advanced Leadership Silver) and ACG (Advanced Communicator Silver).

The last speech I gave was Project #5 from the Speaking To Inform manual – The Abstract Concept. My project objectives were to

  • Research and analyze an abstract concept, theory, historical force, or social/political issue.
  • Present the ideas in a clear, interesting manner.

What I chose for my topic was Pi. The number, not the guy who befriends a tiger.


This is not your father’s Pi!

I was inspired to choose this topic after encountering the Harold Finch (Person of Interest) monologue about Pi – the idea that it contains every other number and that if we convert the decimals to numbers then it contains every word in every possible combination that ever existed. Harold Finch claims that the never ending, never repeating digits of Pi include everyone’s life story from beginning to end. If that’s true then it would also contain every speech I’ve ever given, even my next speech!

I took further inspiration when I saw a post from one of my Facebook friends that he found Jenny’s phone number in Pi. Not Jenny, as in Forest Gump’s girlfriend. Jenny, from the 80’s song by Tommy Tutone. Remember 867-5309? Well Jenny, Pi’s got your number. Past the 9 millionth position. And it’s in there 15 times in the first 200 million digits.

I did some research and found a website for searching through the first 200 million digits of Pi. I also found a chart of probabilities of finding strings of certain length in the first 100 million digits. The probability of finding a 10-digit sequence (e.g. phone number with area code) in the first 100 million digits of Pi is less than 1%. My Ice Breaker speech was 4,069 characters, so the chances of finding my next speech in the first 100 million digits are far less than a fraction of 1%. It’s not impossible and it’s probably in there somewhere; it’s just going to require sifting through a lot more than 100 million digits to find it. And that’s a crappy excuse for taking so long to come up with my speeches!

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Being Resourceful and Unstoppable

Two mantras I am applying to having a successful Reboot of my career are i. remember that I am resourceful, and ii. be unstoppable.

I’ve taken my game to a new level and I’ve had some positive results in the past month through my effort. I’ve landed one customer and I have two interested prospects in the pipeline.

I think I am now being tested.

Perhaps God is saying, “Oh, you think you are unstoppable? We’ll see about that.”

More likely he is saying, “I’ve been waiting for you to up your game and now that you are, I want you to grow and stretch even more, to face what is to come.”

It started as a tickle in my throat a few days, a scratchy feeling, that has since developed into an energy sucking, mucus spewing sickness. Call it a cold, call it a cough, I don’t know what to call it but it’s there.

Lindt Lindor Truffles

Lindt Lindor Truffles (Photo credit: cacaobug)

I drank lots of fluids, made lots of tea (peppermint – hot). Then it dawned on me – doing the same thing and expecting a different result is insanity. If I want to get rid of my cold, I have to do something different; therefore I should eat a few of the Lindors I’d been ignoring all day. Resourcefulness – yeah!

And then my car died.

Not as a result of my sickness, mind you. A result of old age. The car’s, not mine.

My thirteen year old car with over 300,000 kilometres. I put more mileage on that car than the distance from Earth to the moon. I’ve had that car longer than any girlfriend. Perhaps I’ve been doing it backwards – keeping the same car long term and trading in my women after three to four years. But that’s a whole other topic.

Thursday night, my car wouldn’t start. I had planned to drive to Toronto for the weekend with my parents. My car had another idea. It was too late at night, too cold, and I was too sick to want to deal with anything other than hopping into my car and driving to Toronto, so I cancelled my trip and stayed in. I’ll deal with it in the morning, I told myself.

The next morning my car still wouldn’t start. I called CAA and told them I needed a boost, maybe a new battery.

CAA came, tested my car, told me the battery was fine. It’s probably the starter or the timing. He called a tow truck driver for me to take my car to my trusted service guy in Niagara Falls.

Later that afternoon I got the call from the auto shop where I had my car towed. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s the timing chain. Given the age and condition of the car I don’t recommend repairing it.” Simply put, he recommended I put my money into a replacement car instead of into repairs.

Over the weekend I adjusted to the idea that now that I have no car I have to learn to get around and function without one. Until I get a replacement, that is. I could be upset about no longer having a car, on which I’m so dependant, – or I could be unstoppable.

With that in mind I set myself several missions for the day.

I was down to my last roll of toilet paper and the way I was using it up blowing my nose – I had a potential crisis in the making.

Mission 1 was to bundle up, walk through the cold and the snow to the nearby MiniMart and replenish my supply.

Mission 1 accomplished, potential toilet paper crisis averted.

Mission 2 was more challenging – make the longer trek to a grocery store several blocks away, for a few grocery basics – garlic, onion, vitamin C, etc. A few basic things to use to get rid of my cold faster. I knew I wouldn’t cure it with Lindors alone.

Mission 2 accomplished – I came back with an assortment of items that are Good For Me.

Toilet paper Español: Papel higiénico

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mission 3 was to mix and take some of the Good For Me’s, to encourage my body to heal and detoxify. Which brings me back to Mission 1.

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Revisiting That Warrior Spirit

That Warrior Spirit - Front CoverThe other day my buddy Matt came by to help me with a few things in my apartment.

He noticed my book That Warrior Spirit on display in my living room, and I gave him a copy.

A few days later he told me he’s been reading it. I asked him which part he’s gotten to, and when he told me I was surprised – I didn’t remember there being such a scene in the book. He started telling me certain things the characters had been doing – I found that not only did I not remember the characters doing those things, I didn’t even remember the names of some of the characters!

I pulled out one of my own copies and started skimming through it. I found that there were some parts that I wanted to skip over quickly – I didn’t like the writing in those parts! I also found other scenes that I enjoyed reading. When I’m working closely and intensely on something, I may lose my objectivity, but the real test is when I come back to it after a break. In this case, I’m coming back to it after a few years – I think I have a clearer sense of which parts are good and which parts could have used further revision.

Will I come back to this project? Will I rewrite parts of it? Start the sequel?

Not at this time, not in the next few months. I am putting all my creative energy into attaining certain business goals right now. I’ll reconsider in a few months.

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