Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Mundane Travel Blog #1 - The Fridge

As some of you may know, I have done a little bit of travel and a little bit of travel blogging. I have been some pretty cool places and seen some pretty cool things, but I want take some time to note other things in life, the little things. So, I've start a Mundane Travel Blog.

The Fridge

I recently found myself in need of a vacation the other day. Right around lunch time I was sitting at my computer when my stomach seemed to feel off. I recalled that same feeling (earlier that morning) before breakfast which was resolved by a fine meal of eggs and toast. I have very fond memories of the fridge so I decided to take that trek one more time.

I was filled with anticipation as I made my journey; I had no idea what adventures would be awaiting me. Perhaps there was a half of a sandwich, or a cake-like desert. I saw on the fridge's website that it was a pretty cool place to hang out and that it really knows how to keep things fresh.

Upon my arrival, I opened the door to all of the possibilities behind it. I rediscovered the fridge's three shelves, set up with dual vegetable crisps below and plenty of extra storage on the door. The fridge, although a modest size, was fairly large, or perhaps seemed large as it was filled with a most mysterious light bulb which may or may not always stay on.

High point of the trip was when I discovered I still had a little bit of Mum's homemade strawberry jam left in a jar she gave me awhile back, with a special mention to the left over donair sauce from a pizza I had last week. Although the highs were huge, I was disappointed with the lack of a rack for cans on the inside of the door; with some fridges, you can fit a full case of beer on one of those door can racks.

Overall, I would totally suggest trying out a trip to the fridge! Next time you check it out, be sure to pick me up a beer- there may be a rack designed for cans on the door; however, if there are no cans on the door, be sure to examine the middle or bottom shelf, both popular spaces for storage.


Monday, 6 October 2014


I'm not speaking about the book by William Bridges or a design textbook.

It's September and at the beginning of the month, universities were welcoming a whole new group of frosh and as I am now living in the city in which I attended university, I was getting nostalgic. Then I was listening to the radio and they were speaking about the transition to university. First year students in Nova Scotia were given a pamphlet called Transitions. It is being used as a how-to guide of going from high school to university.

I'd been thinking about that transition when I came across a couple of television programs (on Netflix), called Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. If you haven't seen either, please allow me to explain why these shows are a must-watch, particularly at this time of year.

Freaks and Geeks follows the story of a brother/sister combo of Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam Weir (John Francis Daley) and their adventures through high school. At first I was a little put off by the predictable story lines and high school cliches but I stuck it out because (I forgot to mention) James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel also play leading roles. I continued watching and discovered that the show was set up like an after school special; however, I quickly discovered there are no morals pushed on the audience at the end of each episode. The show really doesn't have a moral compass at all; the characters make mistakes and regardless of their mistakes or how hard they try to learn from them, no lessons are learned in the end.

Undeclared is the story of Steven Karp's (Jay Baruchel) first year of university. Steven is an extremely average student facing his first year of college. He is put in common situations that most first year students encounter: making new friends, living away from home, working towards tuition payments, family troubles, parties, etc. Compared to my experiences as a first year university student and working as a university residence coordinator, Undeclared is one of the best depictions of university life I've seen. Oh, and Seth Rogen and Jason Segel are both on this show as well.

So where was I going with this?

I guess the transition from high school to university is hard, and if it isn't, then you are lucky (or probably still live at home). A transition booklet would not be complete without the mention of these great shows so you probably should watch them. And lets face it, you're not actually studying in first year anyway; go ahead and Netflix binge!

If you are like me and have already graduated from both high school and university, these are great nostalgia shows. You should probably watch.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Never Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Story

Before I start, you have to understand a couple of things: 1 - I love radio and 2 - I work with kids.

More specifically I love the radio for the stories. There is something inherently better about stories when someone tells them to you; the stories breathe and have life where they don't if you are reading them. The person telling you the story brings with them all the experiences they have and emotions they feel when telling that story.

I discovered a radio station called The Moth. The moth is an organization of story tellers who put on shows around the United States. They record their stories and put them on the radio. The show quickly became a favorite of mine. With each episode, I was guaranteed three things: I would laugh out loud, something would make me cry, and I would learn something. The Moth has two rules: the stories have to be true, and you have to tell them from memory (no notes are allowed on stage).

The Moth lead me to the PRX (the Public Radio Exchange) and more so, the PRX remix app. The app brings you the best from PRX and the best thing is you can listen to up to an hour of content off line. 

On my way to work one day, I listened to a story from a mountain climber who was involved in an accident which lead to the amputation of both legs. The story stuck with me and when one of the kids said something that reminded me of that story, I told it to them. The longer the story went, more and more kids gathered around to listen. By the time I was done, there were 10 (maybe 15) kids around me waiting to hear how it ended.

Ever since that day, I have brought the kids a story and through that experience, I learned a few things.

First off, don't do comedy. In most cases, the things I find funny aren't funny to the kids and more importantly, it's hard to tell a funny story that didn't happen to you. Secondly, there has to be a risk. Nobody has to die or get hurt (in fact the best stories are the ones where everyone walks away), but there has to be some risk involved to heighten the stakes or the kids wont be engaged. Thirdly, the time between the climax of the story and the end of the story should be no longer that 50 word (10-15 seconds). Any longer than 50 words, the kids start to think there will be more action that happens. And finally and most importantly, NEVER LET THE TRUTH GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY! The stories I tell the kids are all true stories I heard on the radio, but if there is something I know will keep the kids active in the story, I add it. Or if the ending of the story doesn't work, I change it. I tell the kids, "Every story I tell you is routed in truth, but these are second hand stories and all I can do is try to portray the honesty to which they were told to me." 

I do my best to craft stories as they were told on The Moth, but regardless of how big the audience is, they should want to laugh, cry and learn something.