Lifetime of Learning

We like to be surprised. If you think of the last YouTube video you watched or online platform you used outside of WordPress (or perhaps within it) the best part was without question when you became enraptured by something.

Why is that?

Why watch a YouTube video of a cat missing a jump and falling out of shot like a cartoon.

I still get caught by those cats, or Simon’s cat.

There was the “double bounce” videos where both kids and cats got shot into the air, or even off camera by a person or preferably two in succession falling on the same mattress.

Someone did this to me on a trampoline when I was a kid. I shot into the air and shrieked.

In all of these cases, maybe even now, we lose ourselves in the thrall of it. In the subject of learning sure, bouncing a cat isn’t exactly a study of the northern Wyoming’s biodiversity but it is still a study nevertheless.

Over the past year I have been more musically focused which is the reason for less of these as I have been over there (pointing to my keyboard, trust me) more than typing these on my phone. But I’ve been enjoying the study of that and I’ve noticed my own growth over the past year. I’m almost 45. Like in two days. I know, it’s scary lol!

But I’ve been making music “seriously” since about the age of 20 or so. (Got my first bass guitar quite late). Anyways I can promise that I am still absolutely enthralled by learning and there is lots to tuck into. My playlist just went to Teru by Wayne Shorter off of his album Adam’s Apple which seems appropriate as listening to that level of musicianship speaks to how much there is still to explore.

Even if it’s what you watch of YouTube. Now some documentaries on there are pretty bland (if there is lots of animations and ‘exciting’ noises it’s probably less of a heavily academic work) but there is some really good ones too. Even though his stuff is a bit of a British cliche by now I would suggest anything hosted by Tony Robinson who has gone from actor to amateur archeologist with programs like Time Team and Walking Through History.

Here’s episode one as a sample.

There’s also Hoopla Audio which is an amazing app you can connect to your local library and can get you music, audio and even plays. For a writing project I’m listening to stuff on Shakespeare including acted plays that are on there.

There’s NPR of course and the Ted Talk series, How I Build This and a variety of other programs on there. I have to mention Car Talk as that has become a early week tradition for me at work laughing along with the episodes by Tom and Ray while I learn about cars. Or at least feel like I’m learning about cars.

And then of course there’s the public library.

Maybe this all starts to get you as you get older but I never was that jazzed about library stuff as a kid. I remember me and my older sister being part of a library kids club back then and she did way better at it than me.

Anyways later later on I wanted to write my first real book based on Lord of the Rings and so I did all this research on everything I could, trying to step up to Tolkien’s level (trying being the key word) and even though, no, I failed to create any languages I really had fun learning about things like archery (which I also did physically-awesome!) and some botany subjects and other things. I remember getting really excited about anything I could tie in like the history of wine. See my Georgia blog for more about this.

So, how to wrap this up! I’d say browse. Browse one of these platforms or the library for something you’d like to know. Make some tea and settle in. No this won’t be something to entertain friends with straight away. Take a quiet moment to settle into this kind of journey.

The world is out there.

Explore!

🙂

Tom

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Happy Indigenous People’s Day!

I know today has other other holidays attached, such as Canadian Thanksgiving but you can learn about this one wherever you are, even if you can’t get your hands on a Tofurky.

🦃

The image above is from a great audiobook on the Hoopla Audio App which is free and attaches to your local library account (you can get a book for a month and a CD for about a week)

While at the library have a look for books on the subject of Native Americans, First Nations or American Indians (yeah they still use the latter, unfortunately. Some find it annoying, some have decided to roll with it. If you don’t know the tribe or band best to use Native. Or the person’s name. People like that… anyways, I digress)

There are so many books out there especially by First Nations authors that you can really get stuck in if you wish. Makuk, First Nations 101, Two Houses buried in Sand spring to mind from just the top of my head (and that’s just from here on Canada’s west coast.

In my own area there is so much to learn. On Vancouver Island’s southern tip are around 8 bands and 3 main languages. Then, similar to the Uk’s variation on accents regionally, there are subtleties between bands and clans in all aspects of life. To say you can just learn it all is a little like saying “I’m gonna learn the history of every family in Western Europe!”…it’s huge! But you can always dip your toe in with something today. After all you have studied some history I assume. Why not add the stuff they never taught you?

Even if it’s a YouTube video. Here’s a series with narrator Kevin Costner (post Dances with Wolves). I normally do a music clip but I’ll leave this up here as I want it to be leading. However, check out Native American musicians on Google if you want and discover way more that just Buffy. Though Buffy is great 😉

Anyway, get the popcorn and a drink, and when your all settled, click here

Cheers,

Tom

Read the World

What is really happening around you? The truth is that there are numerous things that we don’t know about and couldn’t know, because we all have our own personal stories.

Consider how many stories that is, around the world, every single day.

Now I am not a voracious reader, no way as much as I’d like to be, so I tend towards piling on the audiobooks. These days, one of the benefits to smartphones is the ability to get audiobooks and books on demand. Between Hoopla (free library) and Audible (Not free but expanded) you can easy learn about every corner of the world.

Here is a direct screenshot from my device, no b.s. of the book that got me fascinated about the subject of North Korea back in December of 2016…

Later on I actually took out the following hardcover book from the Greater Victoria Public Library which may be available in your area as well.

On the same subject this book is amazing, written by an author still residing in North Korea who goes under the pen name “Bandi” which means firefly in Korean. Suffice to say he had the book smuggled out miraculously and cannot dare reveal his name.

When it came to my study of the broad subject of First Nations, well the first thing I learned straight away that can’t be one subject as it’s a bit like “ok, learn everything there is to know about the history of Europe”, so I narrowed my focus to then Coast Salish (and even that is far too vast, so I tried to focus on this area).

Of the many I read, this one stood out with it’s honest accounts of local history.

There is also an amazing dissertation by Allis Pakki Chipps-Sawyer called “Standing on the Edge of Yesterday” which you can pull down from Google as a PDF that explains so much about what is misunderstood about Coast Salish culture.

My mom got me reading a book ages ago from a middle eastern writer, who’s name sadly escapes me (gotta ask her on Monday) but here’s one that is totally worth getting however you can..

Set around the period of the Iraq war the protagonist is an American Iraqi woman who is trying to help her family and community, falling into questions of loyalty when things are seen from their perspective.

Now it is no coincidence that I picked three groups of people who have been seen as “other”. From my own experience with studying Native culture (and more) for writing, and just learning in life, when you are brought into a conversation things suddenly become clear.

The idea for this was me and a friend on Facebook talking about violence, both agreeing that noone should hit anyone. From my love of true to life things like the BBC’s The Office or NBC’s Parks and Recreation the idea of violence is uncool, pathetic and even just embarrassing.

As a human species is was not our ability to physically fight that kept us alive, it was our ability to plan and create cooperation.

A lot of violence, and the worst tends to come from faith reasons, which is how it becomes so deep set. As someone raised Catholic but a woman who would have been a nun if it wasn’t for his Dad (no kidding, mom was head of the British Columbia Secular Franciscans for years) I utterly disagree with the idea that God or any deity needs our help in enforcement.

100000000 Arnold Schwarzeneggers would be nothing compared to your supreme beings ability to snap his/her feelings and instantly fell your foe, so why does he need your help for that?

He does need your help to spread his love.

Ooh and in researching this I can a blog by a lady who has read way more than me (not hard to find)

Here’s the cover for it with the link below…

World Tale-Away challenge

Oh yeah and the music for reading, blogging and totally chilling comes from this favorite. Now I have listened to Tycho – Dive before but here’s their album from two years later called awake. Sort of reminds me of Groove Armada and Air so if you want great working ambient sound you’re good to go.

Tycho – Awake

Cheers,

Tom

🍻

P.S. checked with Mom and it was called Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana

Niagara made me cry

I still have a weird relationship with the falls that lasted ever since I saw this image. It was so long ago that I actually don’t remember because I was very small.

I was about 2 or 3. I was in Chilliwack, British Columbia when it happened.

I’ll pull out…

I don’t know how I ended up on page 133 staring at Niagara’s brink in this big volumn by the Canadian Automobile Association in 1976 but I did and it freaked me out so bad I cried and my father actually tried holding me while I looked at the photo (Still didn’t work).

The book is great if you can find a copy. It essentially goes from what it groups as “Atlantic Canada” and continues went through every National Park starting with Terra Nova National Park which is just west of St John’s on the Island of Newfoundland. The photography is of the time of course, but still quiet good, especially for that one photo that later on, when I flipped through the book would try to flip past quickly.

More recently, and I think due to stress, I had these waking dreams of going right up to that brink and being swept over but never actually falling. I’d just replay that over and over until I’d get out of bed. I tried neutralizing it by watching things on the falls or even the movie Niagara with Marilyn Monroe (where she does the walk that apparently many people have tried to emulate. Couldn’t find a meme of it but I love this shot…

Anyways all any of this did was make it more visual as I tried to be sensible with questions about it’s point of no return, and “oh so they can turn the spillways on and cut Horseshoe Falls down by fifty percent to help ground a boat out?”. Eventually I tried to write it out as I was trying to create more material this year. “Precipice” was born.

Original Song – Precipice

Haven’t had the dream in a while but I’m still fascinated by it and I’m conflicted about if I would ever want to go. I almost want to go and face it down, whatever the hell that is lol. I mean, how would I know I conquered the falls? Do I walk right up to it like a 50 gangster in a pinstriped suit and go “Ok Falls… Listen here, see?” Would a barrel be used (I think they are actually illegal now.).

Or would it just be randomly unpleasant for me and why go? There is lots of interesting stuff in the area, like the Thousand Islands, Niagara-On-The-Lake where Stephen Fry is presently taking up residence, or the Scarborough Bluffs on the shores of Lake Ontario which look like clay and glacial debris forming something from the Grand Canyon.

Has anything freaked you out so you just had to take it on? I think my fear of heights comes into my falls thing too, but yeah have you decided to take skydiving because of your fear? It’s all “false evidence assumed real” so if your skydiving (and naturally pull the cord as per instruction) or you visit Niagara (and stay on this side of the railing) you will get through it like anything.

If you feel crazy brave enough to tell us put it in the comment section below.

Cheers,

Tom

Man’s Search for Workspace

There’s a strong possibility that it’s all just procrastinating. I used to romantically think that I should work on things in the least fancy possible locations because then it was..well..romantically unfancy I suppose. Like if I did my writing or reading in a McDonald’s then I really meant it. Kind of like busking in the roughest area of town. Seems a bit Vincent Van Gogh out there. As I said in a previous post I have done writing on buses and that is true, but its usually the back of a fairly comfortable one with earphones in.

Victoria used to have some amazing late night locations back when there were 24 hour cafe’s. Cafe De La Lune was on the corner of Douglas and Pandora, across from city hall and sported a comfy second story that was perfect for writing. Then there is Qv’s on Government that made for lots of late night work while listening to “Warm Beer, Cold Woman” by Tom Waits. I think I ran into someone from the song there. She smoked menthol cigarettes like Waits said, but I dont remember much else that night. Didn’t turn into anything that seedy (though part of my imagination is fascinated by anything like that.)

I can’t really work at home. On music I mostly can because its more physical I think and active and there’s headphones and shiny blinky lights. Lots of stuff to keep a now forty four year old Adhd’r humming along. But with anything like this I feel like I like to be near activity, though not actually in it. I know, right?

This has lead me to search high and low for just ages, trying to find the best places. I even rented part of an office once with a former cowriter, and i do miss that. I like the idea of a downtown office but as anyone can imagine, the cost would be mind blowing. That was the corner of a room and it cost us a combined hundred and thirty in a building that the police had once raided due to extreme drug problems.

Its like wanting to be near the energy of downtowm but still keep it locked out. Otherwise you get situations were it tries to get involved with you and then you instantly regret your decision.

“What is that…homework?”

And now your a man with a coffee, putting away books to explain why you spend your time off work doing homework when you dont go to school.

Yay.

Do you have any favorite places to work? Maybe you do work at home, or have a perfect time that’s never failed you.

Ironically this is written at home early on a Sunday with Cece asleep next to me.

So maybe I’m growing into the homebody role. Ooo I sure hope so.

😁

Cheers,

Tom