Hostage night in Canada

Whaddya do on a rainy night in Toronto?

MacLean & MacLean – What Do You Do On a Rainy Night in Toronto?

It started off so well. A good friend and writing colleague of mine, Patricia Flewwelling, asked me if I was interested in going to an event put on by the Crime Writers of Canada, CWCbetter known as the CWC, announcing the short lists for their Arthur Ellis awards. A handful of authors, including three I had books from, would be reading, cool people like Jill Edmondson, another author, would be there. Possibly even Paul Alves from Bookguys.ca I really wanted to meet him, but unfortunately, he didn’t make it.

bookguysSide note: if you’re interested in books or movies, check out bookguys.ca. It’s cool.

Anyway, the event sounded like an interesting Thursday night out. So I said yes.

Pat, who’s from Montreal, was staying in a Howard Johnson’s (better known as “HoJo’s”) in the extreme east end of Scarborough. So, I drove there and parked my truck. We would take Pat’s car, which is smaller than my ridiculously big fat Dodge Ram Hemi, and much more amenable to parking in downtown Toronto.

Pat shifted the detritus from the front seat to the back and I climbed in. The next half-hour was rather hilarious as I watched Pat, who is used to driving in Montreal, proceed to sputter and rage at the drivers on the 401 and Don Valley Parkway. It was then that we realized this was, in our thirteen years of knowing each other, that I was in the passenger seat.

We made it into Toronto, running late. The CWC event started at 7:00, and we were parking right around then. Pat found an underground spot, we drove in, got the ticket, and parked, then rushed out to the event.

arthur ellisOf the event, I won’t say a lot, except that I really enjoyed Howard Shrier‘s and Robert Rotenberg‘s readings, as well as a couple of others. I got my books autographed, met Jill and it was decided that a few of us would head over to a bar for a couple of drinks. I didn’t mind horribly, though I’d hoped to be home by 10:00. Howard Shrier mentioned he’d likely only have one as he had an early meeting with a publicist for his new book in the morning. Good, I thought, we won’t be late then.

Around 10:30, I started making noises about leaving. More drinks were ordered. Around 11:00, I made some more noises. Around 11:30, it looked like it was going to happen, then I realized we hadn’t paid yet, so we had to wait for checks. That led to another round of drinks and toasts.

Finally, we got out at 12:30.

Pat and I hit the streets, wet with light rain. We made our way back to the parking lot. I figured, well, it’s 12:30 now, so it’ll be at least an hour before I’m home. I’d better grab a coffee for the road. So we hit the Tim Horton’s across the street, then laden with coffee, tried to get to the car.

The garage door was down. No matter, there was a stairway leading to an entrance. I walked down it, jiggled the doorknob. Locked.

Locked?

Heading back up, I looked at the sign. Yes, it said it was open 6 am to 7 pm and, forgetting for the moment how ridiculous it is to close a public parking lot at 7 pm in downtown Toronto, I looked for the note that said something about “no entrance after hours.” There was none.

I called the number on the sign and it went something like this:

“Hi, I’m parked at the 1075 Bay Street parking lot and I need to get to my car.”
“Come back at 6 am.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No sir.”
“Look, I need that car. I’m from Courtice and I’ve got someone here from Montreal that needs to get back to her hotel room and her dog.”
“There’s nothing I can do.”

1075 Bay Street Parking...better known as the Ninth Circle of Hell

1075 Bay Street Parking…better known as the Ninth Circle of Hell

So I swore loudly and disconnected. As I did this, it immediately started to rain much harder.

With nothing else to do, Pat flagged a cab and we headed back to her hotel room in Scarborough.

We’d just gotten into the cab and were discussing options (both of us needed to work in the morning, we were trying to figure out ways to get Pat’s car) when the Wife called. “Are you planning on coming home tonight?”

I explained my situation and told her I was on my way back to the truck. As I told her this, I had a flash of a memory. A memory of me looking at my keys and weighing options.

“Oh shit,” I said.

Both the Wife and Pat said, “What?”

“I just realized,” I said. “I left my keys in Pat’s car.” I let that sink in. Pat’s car. Currently receding behind us at 110 kmph. “I can’t drive home.”

I have a real problem with keys. To find out more, read this.

My first thought was to get the Wife to drive out and meet me in Scarborough, but she reminded me that our daughter had taken the car and was sleeping over at a friend’s place. They were celebrating the end of their first year of college. “She’s likely had a couple of drinks by now,” the Wife said. So that was out. I could tell by her voice she was not happy.

It was decided at that point that I would sleep on the floor in Pat’s hotel room. Pat warned me that, because she’d been drinking, she’d likely snore. “I snore too,” I said. “No biggie.”

I apologized to the Wife, Pat apologized to the Wife, and I hung up. $70 and 30 minutes later, we got back to the HoJo’s.

Pat’s mother had been dogsitting, and offered me a ride back, but with my daughter out, there was no way I would be able to get back to Scarborough, or to work in the morning.

Now, Pat’s mom is nice, but by now it was around 1:00 am, and I’d made the decision to get up at 5:30 to go get Pat’s car right when the garage opened at 6:00. So I just wanted to lay down and sleep. Pat and her mother chatted about the dog, about pizza, etc.

I’ll be honest here. When I’m tired, I can get rude. I’m sure I was rude, but neither Pat nor her mother mentioned it. They’re both far too nice to say anything.

Me? I grabbed a couple of pillows, dropped them on the floor, took off my button-down shirt so I’d look a little presentable in the morning and stretched out in my jeans and t-shirt. Pat’s mother left shortly thereafter.

Ever tried to sleep on the floor of a hotel? The carpet’s thin. It smells. We hadn’t thought to request an extra blanket, so there I was, fully clothed, contacts still in my eyes, trying to sleep. Let me break the next few hours down for you.

1:15 – 2:00 am:
Pat and her dog Dixie settled into bed, and both started slow, regular breathing. I tried to ignore the discomfort of the floor and focus on getting to sleep. Instead, I felt the slow thrumming of that last coffee jangling my nerves and popping my eyes open. Cars and trucks drove by. Dixie breathed. Pat breathed. Then I heard the shift of Pat’s breathing and thought, wow, if that’s what she calls snoring, that’s nothing. Ten minutes later, it got louder. Then louder still. It crescendoed to a room-rattling snarl, before reaching a peak, a snort, and a sound like glib-glab, then stopped. Then the whole cycle started again, taking about fifteen minutes from first heavy breaths to final glib-glab.

2:00 – 2:30 am:
The snoring was now done for the night. Next came the argument in the front lobby. I could tell the one guy was the poor bastard manning the desk of a Scarborough HoJo’s in the middle of the night, but I couldn’t tell who the other guy was. And the yelling didn’t serve to educate me any further

“I’m gonna call the cops.”
“You aren’t gonna call the cops.”
“Yes I am. I’m gonna call the cops.”
“You won’t call the cops.”
“I’m gonna call them. I’m gonna call the cops.”
“Go ahead! You call the cops.”
“I’m calling the cops.”

Seriously. If I wrote conversations like that in my fiction, I’d immediately delete it.

Not able to sleep, I pushed a pillow up against the wall and sat, arms on knees, head on arms. Did nothing.

2:30 – 3:00 am:
Two dogs. Two separate occasions. The first, some little pipsqueak of a thing, out in the hallway, yipping, then it was quickly cut off. The second was a bigger dog, and it barked five or six times.

Gave up and stretched back out again. This floor wasn’t getting any more comfortable. Smelled like dogs and dirty feet. I tried not to think about how many feet had walked the spot where I lay.

3:00 – 4:00 am:
Gave up, turned on my side, got as comfortable as I could. Fell asleep for fifteen minutes or so. Woke up, turned to other side, got maybe another half hour’s sleep.

4:00 – 5:00 am:
Got cold. Dreamed of my warm leather jacket, sitting not a hundred yards from where I lay, locked in my truck. Pulled my button down shirt off the chair and draped it over me. Watched the time go by in ten minute increments. Amused myself by counting to six hundred to see if I could accurately predict ten minutes. Nope. Had the Canadian comedians MacLean & MacLean’s song running through my head. Whaddya do on a rainy night in Toronto? Though their answers were funny, mine were just sad. Lose a car. Lose my keys. Lay awake on a floor. Curse the world that allows parking garages to close too early.

I can’t express the precise toll sleeping on a hard, cold, malodorous floor will take on you. How badly it stresses you to want to sleep, to need to sleep, to beg to sleep, but sleep doesn’t come. Instead, the night is spent staring up at a small green light on the smoke detector, the only point of interest in an otherwise dark room. The thoughts, every time the time is checked, of, That’s XX less minutes of sleep. I have to get up in XX hours. And too soon, that last thought changes to I have to get up in XX minutes. And finally, pushing up off the floor, tired, depressed, frustrated, and feeling two decades older than four hours before.

Though I’d originally planned to get up at 5:30, boredom and my bladder got me vertical at 5:00.

Called a cab company. The cab that should have been there in five minutes took more like fifteen. The cabbie called me to ask me where the hotel was. He later admitted he was a little concerned about picking someone up in Scarborough (he normally worked the western end of Toronto).

He finally found me, and by 5:30, I was on my way back to Pat’s car.

$75.00 later, he dropped me in front of the despicable 1075 Bay Street location right at 6:00 and I walked in, ready to drop a can of whupass on whoever happened to be working that morning.

There was no one. The entire place was automated.

Tell me again why a parking garage with no humans, only automated systems, needs to be closed at fucking 7:00 pm?

Found the car, pulled up to the exit, plugged in the ticket. Wasn’t surprised to see the daily maximum of $12.00 had, of course, been doubled. Why shouldn’t they hold your car hostage overnight, then bill you $24.00 for the privilege?

At this point, as I pulled out my credit card, I could only laugh. I stopped at the exact same Tim’s and ordered a big, fat coffee. Because, you know, there’s always time for Tim Horton’s.

I drove back to the hotel in Scarborough, got there about 6:30. Parked Pat’s car, snagged my keys, took her keys back to her, then got back in my truck and, bone weary, headed home.

Got home about 7:00. Got my son up for school, walked the dog, had a shower, ironed a new shirt and headed back out to spend a full day standing in the Oshawa Centre to observe how one of my company’s stores run.

The next time I get invited to an event in Toronto, I’m still going to say yes, but I’ll be goddamned if I’ll park at 1075 Bay Street.

And it will turn out to be something better to do on a rainy night in Toronto.

Cruising to Fifty, part four: Corfu cats, Christ and classic rock

This is the fourth part of a series of blogs about the cruise the Wife and I went on last October. You can read the others here:
part one | part two | part three

A quick set up:

I turned 50 on October 6, 2012. My wife surprised me about three weeks before, during a particular low spot in my life with a piece of paper. “Happy birthday,” she said. I opened the paper and quickly scanned it.

“We’re going on a cruise?” I said, and my mind kind of shut down with happiness after that. In fact, it wasn’t until several minutes later, as I was refolding the paper, that I saw the word “Greece” and just about shit. This is the story of what happened on that trip, taken almost exclusively from the diary I kept along the way.


Someone is waiting just for you
spinning wheel is spinning true
Drop all your troubles, by the river side
Catch a painted pony
On the spinning wheel ride

Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat & Tears

October 8

Today, we left Italy and landed in Greece. Corfu, to be exact. Beautiful country, beautiful scenery, amazing mountains, cliffs, water.

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We left the ship and clambered on the bus for a trip to two different places in Corfu.

On the bus

On the bus

I had high expectations for our tour guide after Frederica yesterday. Today’s tour guide was an older woman, I’m going to guess 55-60, who seemed to amuse herself long before anyone else. As we drove to our first destination, she took frequent pauses to laugh at her own jokes or anecdotes.

Yeah. She wasn’t funny.

Okay, well, that’s sort of a lie. I’d say she wasn’t consciously funny. She did, however, have this habit of getting pissed if it looked like rain, which it did off and on all through the tour.  So, she’d exclaim “JESUS CHRIST” out of nowhere.  As an example, she might be pointing out a mountain, so the accompanying dialogue would be something like, “And over there is a beautiful mountain and JESUS CHRIST it better not rain!”

I can’t do it justice, but trust me, everyone on the bus chuckled every time she did it. She did it a lot over the four hours we spent with her.

The first place we visited was at the top of a mountain–with one hell of a ride up and down it. There were long, curving sections with honest-to-God hairpin turns…think about that for one second. Take one of those big comfortable buses designed for travel. Now, put it on the side of a mountain. Now, give it a super tight hairpin turn. Repeat. A lot. Now, add in a “JESUS CHRIST!” every time we encounter one.

The entrance to the Achilleon

The entrance to the Achilleon

We eventually made it up this crazy mountain to a half-castle, half-mansion, known as the Achilleon built  by the estranged Empress of Bavaria Elisabeth, better known as Sisi (or Sissi, depending on which spelling you prefer). Apparently she travelled throughout Europe avoiding her husband, eventually finding a home in Corfu.

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Catching ourselves in a mirror

Catching ourselves in a mirror

For anyone local to me that reads this blog, imagine Robert McLaughlin’s Parkwood Estate, but built up on a mountain.

Rubbing for luck...why does every tourist attraction have one of these?

Rubbing for luck…why does every tourist attraction have one of these?

Karen checks out an ass...

Karen checks out an ass…

...and she likes it!

…and she likes it!

We spent a solid hour or so there, and everywhere you turned, there was another beautiful section to discover. Really, the place was absolutely stunning. Then to imagine everything being hauled up this mountain and built with the technology of 1890…it boggles the mind.

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After the Achilleon, we got back in the bus for our next destination. Kissing for luck before we fall off the road and roll down the mountainThis involved a harrowing ride back down the mountain and through all those damn hairpin turns again. There were times when I looked out the window of the bus and could not even see the edge of the road, just a long drop to the ocean below. Got the blood racing, let me tell you. JESUS CHRIST!

Once we were down on more level land, we headed to the northern area of Corfu. The old tour guide droned on. I mean, you can only handle so much of:

“As we pass troo dis cahn-tree, don’ t’ink. Don’ t’ink, juss breede in all in, fill your lungs wit all de byoo-tee aroun’ you. Juss let it fill you and calm you and make you ‘appy.”

I have to admit, she put me to sleep for a bit.

We headed to a small monastery, also built on a mountain, but nowhere near the crazy trip we just experienced.

Outside the monastery

Outside the monastery

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I’ve decided, having forgotten the real name of the monastery, to rename it the Greek Church of the Holy Felines. Seriously, there was more cats than I’d ever seen collected in a single place, ever. Cats in the hallways. Cats in the gardens. Cats on ledges. Cats in flowerpots. Cats in boxes. Cats just hanging around. Chillin’ cats.

To be honest, I lost interest in the monastery and became completely fascinated with the cats…as you’ll be able to see from the pictures.

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Back on the bus, back down the mountain and tour guide did point out one thing that absolutely fascinated me. We passed a small inlet that had a large outcropping of rock rising from the waves. Apparently this was where Ulysses landed after his experience with both the Trojan War (as chronicled in Homer’s The Iliad) and his adventure-filled return home (as chronicled in The Odyssey). That outcropping of rock? That was supposedly the petrified remains of his ship. It totally captured my imagination and drove home how much history lived in these mountains and valleys.

We had a very quick stop in “old town” then back to the bus one last time and back on the ship.

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Loved that, whoever this guy was, now he was a bird perch.

Loved that, whoever this guy was, now he was a bird perch.

In the end, we got incredibly lucky, passing through at least two major rainstorms, but seeing only sun whenever we got out of the bus.Whether it was Jesus Christ or the Greek Gods smiling down on us, I’ll never know.

Our ship, the Splendour of the Seas

Our ship, the Splendour of the Seas

In front of our ship

In front of our ship

We grabbed a late lunch and then sat out on the balcony and watched as the ship left the Corfu harbour.

The light blue waves are the water stirred up from the ship turnig 180 degrees before leaving port

The light blue waves are the water stirred up from the ship turnig 180 degrees before leaving port

Heading out of port

Heading out of port

Then, once at sea again, had a nap. Hey, I’m old. I’m allowed.

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Woke up and got all dolled up for the first (and, though we didn’t know it yet, last) formal night. We sat with a nice couple from England and an older couple from Ottawa along with their son, which was a cool surprise. Even cooler, the mother knew people from Killaloe, the town not far from Barry’s Bay where I went to high school.

The Ottawa couple were taking their son on a cruise as a celebration for him gaining his MBA from Rotman. Turns out he works for PriceWaterhouseCooper, very close to one of the offices I work out of in Toronto. Even four thousand miles away…

After dinner, we scooted over to the Top Hat bar for a game. Now, I’m the first one to admit I’m not much of a game guy. But when you advertise Classic Rock Trivia, dude, I’m there.

The game consisted of them playing a three-to-four second snippet of a classic rock song, and then we had to provide the title of the song. Oh come on, this is like taking candy from a baby, I thought.

Turns out three-to-four seconds of a song is a stunningly short amount of time. Damn, this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. And what made it even worse? There was this guy and his wife a couple of seats over that obviously knew the damn songs too. The host would play a snippet, both of them would bop along with it, then immediately go to the sheet and start scribbling. Messed with my mind, I tell you.

Anyway, I got a little jammed on a Led Zeppelin song. I knew it was Led Zep, but I got stuck on remembering only two parts, the “gonna give you my love” part and the “waaaaaaaaay down inside” part. I. Could. Not. Remember. The. Title. JESUS CHRIST!

LedZep

Got a much-needed assist from Karen with another song. I knew it was Blood, Sweat & Tears, and I wrote down What Goes Up. Karen looked at that and said, quietly, bless her soul, “Isn’t that one Spinning Wheel?” When she’s right, she’s right.

He gave us a chance to replay a couple of the riffs, and I had him hit that Led Zep song one more time, and Whole Lotta Love just popped in, just like that.

When it was done, we had to pass our sheets to a neighbouring table to mark. I got a 16 out of 16, with Karen’s assist. Turns out the table that marked ours had a teacher or two, so I had to laugh at the “16/16! Well done!” note at the bottom.

And that other couple, the one I was sweating over? 14/16. Yeah, baby! The Canadians kicked ass! Apparently the host had never seen anyone get a perfect score before. So, we scored two Royal Caribbean umbrellas. As the Boy would say, “Dope!”

Victorious, we came back to our room and ended up chatting with our room guy. He’s the one that decorated the room for my birthday and made sure everything was perfect. Great guy, from Romania, where Dracula’s castle is.

One of the towel animals our room guy left for us

One of the towel animals our room guy left for us

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Karen decided to pull down the birthday decorations down. As she’s doing it, she says, “Isn’t it cool how they got the little Royal Caribbean anchors on these streamers?”

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Yes, it was cool, but when I’d said that the night before when I noticed it, she’d looked at me like I had two heads. Typical woman. Ah well, it was good for a laugh.

And then, I finished up another perfect evening writing  the notes for the day out on the balcony with the distant lights of Greece in the distance, along with the running lights of a couple of other ships at sea with us, and enjoying the warm breeze of the Ionian Sea.

Really, does it get any better than this?

See part five here.

Higher education?

A couple of things have converged on me in the last couple of days that have really made me wonder about the education we provide our kids.  I’m not limiting to just high school or just university.  I’m throwing my arms around all of it.

A couple of weeks back, I sat down with my son’s Grade 10 Mathematics book and taught myself how to factor complex trinomials.  No, I won’t bore you with any examples or throw a pop quiz at you.  But yes, I had to re-teach myself Grade 10 math.

Last night, my daughter came to me and asked me to change the passwords on her Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook accounts.  She was trying to get through her readings for first-year Journalism and didn’t want to be tempted away from the horridly boring texts.

Finally, this morning I opened my work email where I receive a once-weekly email from LinkedIn on the stories they feel I must read to carry my career onward and upward.  One of the stories was titled When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids.  I’ll let you read the article on its own, but the gist is here:

I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

“I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

“It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.

He goes on to say:

If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

Now, I live in Canada, and that’s also where my daughter is attending university, so things are a touch different here in the Great White North.  But not that much different.

So let’s revisit my first scenario…my re-learning Grade 10 math.  In high school, I dug math and science.  They were my things.  My Grade 13 courseload consisted of Algebra, Functions & Relations, Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and English.  What, out of all that do you think I use today?  More than you’d think.  Mostly the English, but I do delve into the others a bit.  For work?  No.  For fun?  No again.  No, I use all my high school learnin’…to help my son and daughter get through their high school years.

There.  I said it.  The only thing I use it for is to perpetuate the same stupid system I went through 30 years earlier.

Do some people use all those equations and formulas?  I’m sure they do.  I’m sure, right now, there’s probably some poor bastard factoring a complex trinomial using only pen and paper.  I couldn’t guess why, but I’m sure somewhere, it may be happening.

But why?  We live in the age of computers that can do a lot of this for us.  I’m not saying we need to forget it.  Far from it.  But I’d like to take a survey of a large metropolitan area…say, Toronto and its surrounding communities.  Survey every single adult out of university and nail down a percentage of them using this information that they had to sweat through in high school.  I can’t imagine how low that number would be, but hell, let’s be generous and say it’s 20%, just for shits and giggles.

Why are we punishing our youth to learn this when a generous one out of five will actually use it?  Instead, in these days of financial crises and mortgage failures, why not teach these kids how to balance a home budget?  Or how to look at a 765 g box of cereal at one price point, and a 400 g box of the same cereal at a different price point and be able to figure out which one is the better deal?

How about giving these kids some damn life skills?

And then there’s my second point.  My daughter’s boring readings.  The fact that virtually anything is more exciting than the homework assignments she’s getting.  And remember, this is at a post-secondary institution that’s costing better than $20K a year.  This, by the way, is in the same world where someone out there can create a video game that will suck my kid’s attention for hours at a time.

On that same track, though, I can also remember a few years back where, in the course of three days, I was helping my daughter with two different high school assignments.  One was on our Canadian government at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.  We went over the stuff and I happened to be driving with her later that day and quizzed her on the election signs we passed.  Yes, we were in the throes of an election at the time.  And you know what?

She didn’t know.

At no point did the teacher…teaching children about municipal government…ever mention that there was currently an election happening.

The other assignment my daughter worked on was in geography and had to do with the various cloud formations.  There were lovely drawings in her texts and in handouts.  I took her to the patio and pointed at a cloud and asked her what kind of formation it was.  Again, she flabbergasted me by not knowing…because she’d only ever been shown drawings.  The teacher never took them to a damn window in the classroom.

My son said to me a couple of weeks back (during the trinomials), “You know, it’s pretty sad that you can teach this stuff better than my math teacher.”  He wasn’t being sarcastic.  He sounded almost saddened.  You could almost hear his worldview shifting.

Bear in mind, my kids’ high school is actually a good one.  They do a lot of good things, and they have some of the best teachers I’ve ever seen and I don’t want to paint all of them with the same brush.  There definitely are some brave souls–those teachers who are teaching for the right reasons–who push the envelope and challenge the norms.  But they’re so damn few and far between…

So my point of all this is, here we are staring down the barrel of 2012 and we’re still teaching kids like it’s 1950.  Oh sure, now we have smartboards and computers and the handouts don’t get you high when you sniff them like the old photostats did, but overall, really, what’s changed in over half a frigging century?

We teach stuff they’ll likely never use.

We don’t teach them stuff they need to survive the first few years post high school.

We don’t equate in-class learnings to real-world situations.

And, we seem intent on making the education they do get as boring and unengaging as humanly possible.

Why?

The news is…

I’m now an official writer for Examiner.com, which is kinda cool.  And kinda scary.

It’s cool because my “beat” or area of “examination” is Toronto and the GTA and anything to do with books or writing or anything else I can cram in there.  You can check out my first article here.

To be honest, this first one, at least to me, is a little underwhelming.  Which leads me into the scary part.  Let’s do the roundabout route to that, shall we?

Somewhere in my travels, I started reading a regular series of articles by Michelle Kerns.  Didn’t much pay attention to anything other than her funny and insightful content.

Then, about a month ago, for some reason when I read her latest article, I poked around the site a bit more.  Turns out that site was Examiner.com.  Then I noticed a
“Become an Examiner” section and clicked the link.

First there was an area where you could choose a topic and location.  Toronto.  Books.  Huh, works for me.

From there, I moved into the application section, where I had to tell a little more about myself, provide a bio, provide a case as to why I would be a good choice to write on this particular topic and provide a sample of my writing.  I chose the blog I did on Jack Ketchum a while back as my sample.

Then I kind of forgot all about it, to be honest.

A couple of days ago, they got back to me.  Apparently either they aren’t that picky, or I caught them on a good day, either way, they felt I’d be a good fit and asked for a picture of me.  Which is a real pain in the ass, as I truly hate pics of myself so I try to avoid the camera or, it that proves impossible, I make an unfit-to-print face.  So there’s very few good pics of me.

Anyway, I jumped that hurdle.

Then they set up a space for me to submit my first article and a link to a short “Examiner University” series of flash videos.  I must say, they’re ridiculously well organized.  It really helps your confidence.

But, and here’s where the scary comes back around, the next step was for me to write my first piece for them.  And, for the first time in a long time, I blanked.  It was supposed to be on writing, or books or something, but it was also to have a local flavour.  And they specifically ask you NOT to start with a “here I am!” piece.  Don’t talk about what you will write about…just start writing about it.

And there’s the added pressure of completing it, submitting it, then waiting for their approval of the first piece.  Once that one’s okayed, then you’re good to go, you can toss articles up as often as you please.

But that first one…jeez.  I started on one topic and, very unlike me, gave up on it.  Wasn’t working.  Started a second one.  Same thing.  The third one’s the one that made it.

They okayed it.

I’m not happy with it.

I promise they’ll be better going forward.

Anyway, suffer though the first one, won’t you?  I promise it will at least be more fun that watching an old Rick Astley video.

Comment on it (good or bad, I’ll just be happy for comments, even if they rip me to shreds).  And subscribe if you so desire.

So, I’m officially Someone that Someone Else Chose to Publish.

So, there’s that, huh?