Monthly Archives: May 2009

Our National Blood Sport

A while ago I wrote a post about Canada’s fight culture and how it is reflected in our national game.  click here  

This month’s Maclean’s magazine has an article by Jonathan Gatehouse written along the same lines. This is my favourite quote from the article:

In most sports, a rule is a rule. Only Canada’s national obsession seems to work differently. Regulations are selectively enforced, depending on the offender and the game-time circumstance. Frontier justice—hockey’s mythic cycle of revenge and retribution—isn’t just tolerated, but encouraged. Think of another sport where injuries are only euphemistically described as upper or lower body. Or one where the game’s most popular commentator can object to a star player’s on-ice antics, and be seen as “defending” the game when he declares, “I’m predicting somebody’s gonna get him, and get him good.” 

The full article is worth a read. You can check it out here.

I’m glad this issue is rising to the surface once again in the media. 









Here’s How it is

Well on Friday my current contract is ending and it will not be renewed.  I know this sounds bad, but really it’s OK.  In fact, I am very pleased with how this whole thing turned out.  I was hired originally for a one month contract and managed to turn it into a nine months of employment.  Right now, I feel as though I have sucked all the goodness I can out of this opportunity and it is time to move on to new adventures. I have gained a lot from this experience and I am leaving on good terms with: a letter of reference, a stronger resume, and some excellent contacts.

Though now that my time of employment can be numbered in a handful of days I find myself having to comes to terms with “The Fear.” What is the Fear?  It is a middle/working class fear, which stems from a belief that if you are not working than you are of little value to society.  It constantly whispers into your ear that uncertainty should be avoided at all costs and that financial security trumps all other concerns.

To those suffering under the influence of this neurosis unemployment is a very scary thing. Intentionally taking a couple months off to pursue personal projects appears as either folly or selfishness.  The Fear is a very pervasive thing and I am not immune to its clutches.

Meanwhile, the rich and powerful really don’t seem to suffer from this affliction.   Other people work “for” them or their money works for them. In fact, they don’t work that much at all.  Their self worth is not determined by how they spend their day toiling. Yet, these people (who do very little) are admired by society.  There is a contradiction here.

So why is the one class so desperate to find and hold onto a job (any job really) while the other class is unconcerned by this and is instead looking for opportunities to expand their influence and wealth even further while working as little as possible?

I suspect it is because The Fear at some point in our history was created by the wealthy to keep the serfs inline.  If the serfs began thinking about better ways to create wealth (in all senses of the word) and pursued them they would be a threat to the Elite in two ways:

1. There would either be no sheep farmers, blacksmiths, retail workers, and Tim Horton’s employees or they would have to be paid higher salaries.

2. A new elite might be created, which would replace the old (as has happened many times in our history).

How do you battle The Fear? The key is in how you define yourself and in getting others to accept that definition. You need an answer to the question “What do you do?” because it is this answer, which will determine your place in the greater social order.  Saying you are unemployed is a mistake.  Instead define yourself by your activities.  By this definition, I am a writer, a communications expert, and an investor.  I am also a musician and I am considering becoming a director.  Knowing when and with who to use what label is also important.

 The Fear tries to box you in so you stop looking at new possibilities.  It also tries to convince you that certain professions or individuals are smarter or better than you. This is all a lie. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Catherine the Great, etc. are/were not at all exceptional.  They are just like you.  Define yourself accordingly.



Having Something to Fall Back On

As a young man, I was briefly considering a career as an actor.  The worst advice I think I was given during this period was: “make sure you have something to fall back on”.  This is advice that I’m sure many of you heard during your youth and it can basically be translated into “Go to university or college kid and get a job.”  I went into Journalism and then transferred to English before finally settling into a job at a music store at $9.50 an hour.  At least I had something to fall back on. Retail!

 Admittedly, while I think advising teenagers to finish High School is sound advice I think rushing kids into post-secondary education is nothing less than a colossal mistake.  This is especially true if they are expressing an interest in an alternative activity.  It makes way more sense to pursue arts, entrepreneurial efforts, or philanthropic world saving projects when you are young and willing to tolerate an income at the poverty line.  

 My advice to anyone in a similar situation now would be: The best way to do anything is to launch yourself into it. The lessons learned undertaking these activities will be incredibly useful even if you only try it for a year or two. Move on to something else if it doesn’t work out.  There is no rule that says you have to complete University in your 20’s.  I almost feel there should be a rule against it.

 I was 30 when I went back to school to complete my fourth year. I ended up getting a Masters degree. My attitude had shifted completely and I got way more out of the experience the second time around. It was also fun to basically have an extension of my twenties (which seems to be continuing post-graduation).

 Also the only way you will ever make it at anything is to try it and dedicate yourself towards the activity.  While people occasionally get lucky and stumble into success, it is way better to create your own luck.  This takes a tremendous amount of work and I feel certain that after a year of investing this kind of time and effort into a project, like making it as an actor in New York, school will seem much easier.

 In the end, I got bored with acting. By the end of third year  I realized I was losing interest in it even as a hobby. Nonetheless I would not have been harmed in any way by actually trying to make a go of it when I was 18. I think I would have actually been much better off.

 Any thoughts?

Jay’s Mural Is Complete

Congratulations Jay on a job well done! The photos of the complete work are actually too numerous to post here.  Clearly Jay was influenced by Michaelangelo and the sheer amount of characters and scenery in this mural is astounding.  Here are a couple images, which will give you a taste.  Like the Cistern Chapel in Rome, I’m sure to get a real impression of the work, you will have to experience it in person.   In the meantime this will have to do:




Seven Card Stud

I really enjoy games (games of all kinds really) and today I’m going to talk about 7 card stud. Why? Well for some of you this will probably reveal yet another of Wayne’s many faces 🙂

 For nine months I played poker (7 card stud) professionally.  That’s a broad statement so I feel it should be qualified.  This was not at the luxurious Bellagio in Vegas (home to the highest stakes poker games in the world) or  in one of those illegal underground clubs with the slot in the door at eye level.

 My poker room was a virtual one, and I spent most of my time playing while wearing my pyjamas.  I started playing just for fun.  After playing for awhile,  I began reading about 7 card stud and applying the theory to my small stakes games.  I soon discovered that I could actually make money doing this activity. This excited me.  I spend a lot of times playing games of all kinds and here was a way to actually make some money playing a game! It then became a part time job and gave me a way to earn money for beer while I was attending Grad. School.  I drink a lot of beer 🙂

 I never really made a lot of money doing this; however, I tracked my results and ultimately I was able to make $12 an hour consistently playing 7 card stud.  Needless to say, I make way more in the Public Service. In all honesty, when I tried playing poker “full time” I became less interested and it felt less like a game and more like data entry.

While I still play, I do so much less frequently;  nevertheless, there was a period in my life in which all my income was solely generated from a card game.