Mo Sistas Soiree

What do you get when you mix Movember, great wine and Mo Sistas? You get Mo-tini Wishes & Mi-Mo-Sa Soiree. The soiree was a charity kick-off for Movember, which raises money and awareness for prostate cancer.

For me it was a chance to meet new people. I confess I feel really uncomfortable in crowds, and especially when I know next to no one. Yet I was able to strike up conversation with a few ladies nonetheless. Beyond that, the appetizers were delicious, the raffle was fun and the wine was good.

Meeting Ryan Jespersen and Kari Skelton last night was great; what a great couple! Both are welcoming, smart and hardworking and that’s not just on the clock! I was fortunate enough to speak to them both individually about journalism, and my dream of entering into the noble profession of journalist.,

J’lyn Nye was gorgeous as always and gracious to speak with for a moment. Others I had met before, that were there, were Brittney Le Blanc, and Debra Ward. It was great seeing them there as well.

I believe I read on Twitter last night, the Soiree raised $1500 for Movember. So all in all, I had fun, met some great new people and money was raised for a great cause. It’s a cliché but, let’s help make all cancers history.

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Lessons Learned at Twenty Five

I’ve been twenty-five years old for eleven days now. Have I learned anything new, with the extra year on me? I’d have to say; I most definitely have. Some lessons have been easy to come by and were relatively painless, yet others have come with some serious pains.

For one, just the day after my birthday I learned to always make sure the saucepan is on the burner you intend on using. My burns from this lesson have been healing nicely, but one in particular is still rather evident on my hand.

Another lesson I have learned at a quarter of a century, is to never leave your cell phone in a car to freeze and allow the battery to drain. I was out last night, and felt really kind of bare without it.

One last lesson I have learned in the past eleven days, that I’ll mention in this blog, is great things will come to you, when you least expect them. Yes seeking out opportunity can be a good thing, but opportunities could present themselves out of the blue too.

So life is full of experiences and life lessons both good and bad. Some lessons can be quite easy to learn and others seem to nearly steamroll you before they sink in. I have plenty more lessons to learn in my life, and I’ll just let things play out as they’re meant to.

Interview with a Journalist – Terry McConnell

I had an idea recently for an interview. I thought “wouldn’t it be interesting to interview a journalist?”
Mr. McConnell, columnist from the Edmonton Journal, very graciously granted my request.

1. Let’s begin where it all started in Tilbury, Ontario. You used to work at the family newspaper pulling newspapers from a folding machine as a boy. Do you think those childhood experiences influenced you into a career in journalism later in life?

Oh, I don’t think so. Growing up, I wanted to do a lot of things: be a fighter pilot, a disc jockey, a lawyer, a politician, even at one time a minister. When I was working for my dad, I was just “working for my dad.”

2. After studying journalism in Hamilton, Ontario you bought the two
newspapers your father ran, and launched another. What’s happened to the
family newspaper business now? What about the newspaper you helped launch?

They’re still going —  though times are tough in the newspaper business and they certainly aren’t thriving the way they once did. The one I launched, Tecumseh, is probably doing the best of all of them. That one and the one in Belle River are both now distributed once a week with the daily Windsor Star. The third, the one in Tilbury — my father’s first paper — still stands alone.

3. You were a sportswriter in the 70s. Did you have a favourite sport to report on?
What were your favourite sports teams at the time?

In the early 1970s, I was a sportswriter in Dundas. I probably enjoyed reporting and photographing baseball the most. It can be a very visual sport if you know where to anticipate the action. And somehow writing about baseball was fun, reporting on how the drama played out. Growing up in Ontario, the Toronto Maple Leafs were my favourite hockey team; the Ottawa Rough Riders my favourite football team. Growing up so close to Detroit meant the Detroit Tigers were my favourite baseball team.

4. Looking back at all the awards and various other achievements both
professionally and personally, is there anything you would have liked to
have done differently?

If I could have done anything differently, I would not have returned to my hometown to work for my father’s newspapers and eventually buy them. I would have stayed in the Hamilton area longer, perhaps get into publishing there, or pursue other newsroom opportunities in Central Ontario. That was the plan I had for myself when my father called one day and asked for me to come back. My first instinct was to say no, but my wife at the time wanted to go and I knew it would fulfill my father’s dream. I spent the next 20 years there, living someone else’s dream. Still, it was still a good experience, and there were many good things that came from it, including meeting my second wife.

5.  If you could go back to earlier times is there anything
you wish you had known then that you know now, whether about journalism or
life in general?

Yes.

6.  Where did the idea for The Venting and Telescope come from?
Telescope came at the behest of the Journal’s editor in chief at that time, Murdoch Davis. He was developing a new section for the paper to be called the Sunday Reader and he wanted an unusual column for page 2. He wasn’t sure what it was supposed to look like or what was supposed to be in it, but figured he’d know it when he saw it and asked me to take a week and put together some samples for him. So I did. He liked what he saw, decided to call it Telescope, and it’s been running ever since. That was 11 years ago.

Venting was different. I’ve only ever seen something similar in one other newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This was three years after the start of Telescope and by then, the editor in chief was a fellow by the name of Giles Gherson. He was planning several changes to the paper and I pitched him the idea of a reader-driven column, but not one that was a free-for-all like most of them tends to be. Rather it would  be edited into pithy and bite-sized entries that would be assembled in a way that would make it easy to read, funny and occasionally provocative. Gherson liked the idea right away. He gave the column its name. That was in 2002. The rest is history.

7. Switching gears a bit now. I’ve observed you have a bit of a soft
spot for your pets. Did you have a pet growing up as a boy as well? Or did
that not come until later in life?

Oh yeah. I think anyone who has an affinity for animals grew up around them. I know my first wife, for instance, never had a pet at home. She and I always did, because I love pets, but she would have nothing to do with them. She didn’t even like them in the house. On the other hand, both my mother and my second wife always had dogs and cats in the house growing up, so we did, too. My father was like my first wife, though, not a cat person. When I was growing up, we had a cocker spaniel named Frosty, who was two years older than me. He died when I was eight, and I was heartbroken. After that we had a standard poodle named Pierre who died the day after I left for college. In my married life, I’ve had Pookie, Patty, Gretchen, Dave, and right now, two dogs: a shih-tzu/cocker spaniel cross named Pepper and a Jack Russell terrier named Jenny. We’ve always had cats, too.

I’ll tell you an interesting story. When I was growing up, our cat was a calico named Tina. She was the mother and grandmother of all the other cats we had. She died when I was 11. Then 32 years later, my wife and I brought home a calico kitten for our daughter, who was then five. She had never heard the story about my cat growing up, but she had a name for this one: Tina. How on earth? I have no idea, but it is 14 years later and Tina is still with us.

8. Final question. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement
to date?

This may be a pat answer, but it is nevertheless true. My greatest achievement would be my five children and the wonderful young people they have grown to be. Professionally, I suppose my highlight would be the publishing of my first book last fall. That same book comes out in paperback next week.

Thank you to Terry McConnell for taking the time out of a hectic schedule for this interview.

Quarter of a Century

This past Saturday was my party, but yesterday was my actual birthday. As such I was taken out for a birthday dinner; a tradition in the family whenever someone is having a birthday. First though, we went to vote. My brother was still in the city so my mom; dad and I went to the nearest polling station and did our civic duty. Then my dad called my brother on his cell phone, and I was asked to speak to him.

Joking around with my brother about going to Red Lobster, to my surprise he put his foot down. If I wanted to go to Red Lobster, we would go. My brother kept stressing that it was my 25th after all.

My goodness the food was delicious! My mom and I both ordered never ending shrimp and it was so good. We chatted a bit while we ate, and the waiters were very courteous, both wishing me a happy birthday as we left after our appetites were satisfied.

Now I ponder on the events of yesterday. Waking up an hour earlier than I usually do, I already had my email inbox filled with birthday wishes. I received an email from a local radio station telling me that since I was one of their loyal listeners, I was to go to their station office and pick up birthday gifts from their sponsors. Seriously, just being there will be a dream for me!

Amid all the birthday wishes, the emails, and the beautiful necklace my mother bought me, I wonder. How does one get to be a quarter of a century old? We all start off as these howling, helpless beings but things change fast. Soon we learn to walk, to talk and then before anyone knows what’s happening we’re hanging out with friends and engaging in conversations about the opposite sex.

Then comes wanting to borrow the car keys from our parents.  Now I’m awaiting word from a University if they’ll accept me into their institution. Growing up can be near impossible at times; there’s a lot of heart break and life lessons involved, but in looking back I wonder. Where did the time go? It all seems to have gone by so quickly now.

Well at any rate, here’s to my 30th, only five years away.

After the Birthday Bash

Well my birthday’s not for another day but yesterday I got together with some close friends to celebrate early. Maybe bowling and dinner doesn’t qualify as a “birthday bash” but it was still fun.

A girl’s night out there were adult jokes made aimed at men on the way to Ed’s Rec Room in West Edmonton Mall (sorry guys, all in good fun!).  The place was already hopping by the time we got there, but there were two other guests that were coming in their own vehicle, so we waited a few minutes for them.

While we waited, we sat and chatted, and I opened a gift that was given to me. As I write this, I am still wearing my beautiful necklace that was given to me. We joked about, and tried taking some photos with my camera although it unfortunately was acting pernickety so I’d have to go back and see which if any photos were taken. After only a few short minutes wait, the whole gang was there and I immediately had another present given to me.

I was given a card with twenty dollars, and a book on events, etc. that occurred in 1985. Did you know Colour Purple came out in 1985? Definitely one of my all-time favourite movies!

Then…. bowling!! How I got two strikes in the course of one game, I will never know but in a word: COOL!! (Yes, yes I’m a dork). We played one game, and man I love cosmic bowling now. Then we packed up and walked to Bourbon Street for dinner.

As luck would have it though, it was a wait to get in to Old Spaghetti Factory so we decided to walk over to Winners as my mother wanted to buy a hat for one of my guests. (I had been given a hat as a present en route to the Mall, and at least two others in our entourage had hats on, so yea there was a theme going apparently…).

After about an hour of that we walked back to Bourbon Street, and sat in the restaurant for a table to be ready. Dinner, in a single word, was fabulous! Since it was my birthday dinner, the waiters and waitresses came over and served everyone, at our table, ice cream. I also ordered the torte and oh my god that was FABULOUS! Chocolate is yum!

While we ate we sat joking, and chatting. The Oilers game was on, so we watched that a bit too. I received a gift of a Breast Cancer bear, a small bag of jelly beans and pledge money as I’m going into the Hair Massacure early next year.

A perfect evening and one I won’t soon forget. Great friends, great food, lots of laughs and hey the bowling was well, cosmic!

Including People with Disabilities in Democratic Process

I was watching CTV Edmonton this morning, and heard about a machine that was being used to better enable people with disabilities to cast their votes in this year’s municipal election in Edmonton. What a great idea! Yet, as good as this technology’s and the City of Edmonton’s intention I have to wonder. What about people whose disabilities that prevent them from getting to the polls? I.E. Cannot drive and aren’t regular passengers of D.A.T.S. Yes I realize there are ETS buses that are wheelchair accessible, etc., but not everyone is keen to ride the city buses right? To have my question answered I went to the City of Edmonton’s website.

Upon a quick search for what I was looking for, I found out that the City of Edmonton offers Special Ballots that can be delivered by mail or picked up, and then dropped off. I had also asked about the possibility of volunteers driving people with disabilities to the polls, to ensure their voice is heard in their vote. The answer to that was that, that service is left up to the individual candidates and not offered by the city.

Now I wonder though, what if any candidates provide that service or would think to provide it in the future? That’s for another blog post. Happy voting Edmonton and area; go out and make your voice heard!

 

Technology Connects World to Chile As Miners are Rescued

Stuck below ground for more than a month; the miners of the recent accident that occurred at San Jose mine in Chile are reunited with loved ones and breathing fresh air tonight. For the past 69 days the world has watched, waiting with bated breath for a possible rescue attempt to be made. That moment started last night and ended tonight.

While each miner was placed inside a capsule, and hoisted up to safety various news sources all over the world reported on the happenings at the mine. Some news sources even went so far as broadcasting live feeds of the rescue in progress. News stations like Global National, CNN, and CBS gave viewers an active visual of how the rescue was made.

As someone who watched via two of those live feeds (first watched one and then switched to try another), I marvel at how far technology has become. Sure there’s been broadcast news since the very early 1900s but it wasn’t until the TV that people could see events unfolding as they happened. A key example of this is 1961 when Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.

Now with the internet, people are given another opportunity to witness history in the making. I’m a very visual and auditory person, so seeing these events and hearing them, seems to make them more real to me. Seeing is believing and this certainly is no exception.  So from the first radio signal in 1896, to the first TV news broadcast in 1928, and now the internet age, technology is changing and giving people new and exciting ways to see, hear, and be a part of, the news.

The rescue of the 33 Chilean miners yesterday and today, was thrilling to watch. I’m glad technology has made it possible that we can partake in witnessing these events.

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