Tag Archives: Fact About Me

Enough with the Chit-Chat

I recently read an article about cutting out the small talk at networking events. The author even mentions well-publicised events in which small talk was banned and eventually lead to the foundation of a No Small Talk dinners business in Hong Kong.

The concept is simple: whatever group has gathered for whatever reason can’t speak about the usual mundane topics that tend to float around at such things. Sometimes hosts will provide a list of prompts for people to discuss, sometimes the format is more formalized (such as a Jefferson Dinner) but in every case, the basic rule is the same. Cut the chit-chat. Let’s have an actual conversation.

This article I read ended with thirteen questions that could be asked in place of the usual, “So, where are you from?” and, “What do you do for a living?” These are more geared to networking events where there might be a lot of people comingling who don’t necessarily know each other, but I quite liked them and thought that they might be a good icebreaker for the blog.

With that in mind, since I don’t know who you are (beyond what my Google Analytics tells me) and you only get to see of me what I put out into the world to view, here are the thirteen questions along with the most straightforward answers I can provide. For what it’s worth, I’m resisting the very powerful urge to be a smart-ass.

These are supposed to be conversation starters, so please don’t hesitate to comment if you want to know more. Also, I’d love to read YOUR answers to the above questions. If comments aren’t your thing, shoot me an email: potatochipmath [at] gmail [dot] com

  1. What’s your story?
    • It’s a pretty good one. I was born in Toronto and moved just a city block north of Toronto proper to the suburb of Thornhill. I played hockey growing up and had a bevy of jobs growing up: paperboy, busboy, video store clerk, summer camp counselor, and food guy in between the 9th and 10th holes at a country club. I graduated high school and made it into the University of Waterloo’s Applied Physics cooperative education program where I would meet my future wife. I was not a model student, academically speaking, but I did manage to eek out a General Science degree. Jobs during that portion of my life included a short stint as a plant maintenance guy for a place that painted spoilers for the Chevy Cavalier, night crew at Canadian Tire, statistician at a steering wheel production company (Chrysler, I think), math learning assistant at Mohawk College, Physics Club Treasurer (unpaid), campus safety van driver, and waiter. I graduated and got a gig as a computer programmer and spent a few years doing that before switching companies and getting into software testing. I married my university girlfriend four years after we started dating and six years after we met. We bought a house had a kid and then moved across the province where we had another kid, moved across town, and then eventually back to where we live now (literally 500 meters away from where we were when we left). I started playing around with writing by blogging back in 2005 and even read some screenwriting books and took a screenwriting class. I wrote some content for this home trivia video game system that was a pretty neat gig. After moving back I met a few writers on Twitter and I started taking it more seriously. In 2011 I tried NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – write a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days) and failed miserably. I succeeded in four of the following five years and released my first novel, a non-fiction account of my family’s journey with my daughter’s scoliosis diagnosis, surgery and recovery, was released in January of this year. I have been with the same day-job company for almost nine years and in a variation of the job I’m currently doing (program manager) for almost six. My first fiction novel releases later this year and the first in a series of five fiction novels should hit stores late in 2019 or early 2020. I like golf, baseball, and NHL playoffs. I am a firm supporter of science, equality, and the Oxford comma.
  2. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever stolen?
    • Heh. I’m not sure I’d be asking this question to anyone ever. Thankfully for me, I don’t have much of a track record of stealing stuff. That said, I am an imperfect human but I’m also not a fan of self-incrimination so I’m taking a pass on this one.  
  3. What is your present state of mind?
    • Tired. That’s pretty much my constant state of mind. I’m also in between novels at the moment. Well, I should be writing the next one but am avoiding it right now, because I can’t seem to find my mojo. It’s probably close to 90% done, 80% at the worst, and I just can’t seem to find the stuff required to finish the damn thing. So that has me frustrated as well as a little depressed. The more I write (or try to) the more I am beginning to understand why Hemingway enjoyed the drink as much as he did. 
  4. What absolutely excites you right now? 
    • Writing. I know I just mentioned how I’m short on mojo and it has me depressed and frustrated, but there are those moments when the muse graces me with her presence and magic happens. Those moments excite me. When the words flow effortlessly everything is better.

  5. What book has influenced you the most?
    • This is a really tough question to answer because it’s different depending on the stage of my life I was in when I read it. As a kid, This Can’t Be Happening at McDonald Hall by Gordon Korman or Boy at the Leafs Camp by Scott Young were two that influenced me heavily. As a teenager, I read Anthem by Ayn Rand and it really made an impression on me. In University I started reading complex calculus and applied physics textbooks and didn’t have the urge to pick up a book for pleasure for quite a while. As a parent, the Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth was a life saver. Not sure how it influenced me but it was the only book that mattered for quite a number of years. Then I finally read Animal Farm by George Orwell and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Having not read those books growing up I had no idea what I was missing and both of them have shaped my approach to writing – and life in general in the years since. 
  6. If you could do anything you wanted tonight (anywhere, for any amount of money), what would you do and why?
    • Sleep. LOL. Okay, assuming the question means I actually have to leave the house I would want to go to New York City with my wife. I’ve never been to NYC and I’d love to go see a show with her and then stop in at the Upright Citizens Brigade for some improv and then wander around Times Square taking pictures and holding hands before retiring for the night at a swanky hotel and waking up to fantastic room service. 
  7. If you had the opportunity to meet one person you haven’t met who would it be, why and what would you talk about?
    • My answer to this question has been the same since my first year of physics at the University of Waterloo: Dr. Richard Feynman. If you’ve never heard of him, you should definitely look him up. He was a brilliant physicist and one of the most interesting people who has ever lived. He wrote a book about all the amazing stories that made up his life. Surely, You’re Joking Mr. Feynman is the title and it’s an amazing read. He didn’t just have a brilliant mind, he also had an amazing passion for life and an incredible sense of humour.  
  8. What’s the most important thing I should know about you?
    • I am an emotional person, both in terms of what I put into everything as well as what I pick up from others. That doesn’t mean you have to walk on eggshells around me or suppress your emotions, quite the opposite actually. I’m at my best when the emotions are flowing freely in all directions. It should be noted that even though I’m a very outgoing person, I have my limits when larger groups are involved. It can become a lot to process but I’ll let you know well in advance so you know what’s going on.  
  9. What do you value more, intelligence or common sense?
    • Common sense. I have little patience for ignorant people, but that’s not an accurate representation of intelligence. Neither is education. Though university educated myself, I’ve never put a lot of stock in it. At the end of the day, all the intelligence in the world isn’t worth much if there’s no common sense guiding it.
  10. What movie is your favorite guilty pleasure, and why?
    • I don’t like the way this is phrased. It assumes I should feel guilty about something I enjoy. With the exception of some reprehensible or criminal behavior, I don’t think anyone should have a “guilty” pleasure. That’s bullshit thinking. Love what you love and apologize for none of it. That said, I am supposed to limit my chocolate intake but have a hard time doing that. I also sing along to most old-school Madonna songs when they come on my iPod.
  11. You are stuck on a deserted island, and you can only take three things. What would they be?
    • Let’s get something straight right off the bat. I’m going to die, and probably rather quickly. I’m allergic to shellfish and I can’t start a fire without matches. So, with that in mind, it’s a matter of keeping me as comfortable as possible before death come while maximizing my chances for rescue. So, first up are a box of waterproof matches. Life improves with fire and so do rescue chances. This way I won’t have to expend precious energy rubbing twigs together to make fire. Next up is something I can use to build stuff with (Shelter, spears, etc,) so that means a knife. I’m thinking something very Rambo like.

      After the knife, I’m going to need something to fish with. Since I can’t eat crabs or scallops or any other crustacean on I’m going to need to get protein from eating fish. I could catch fish with a spear, but that seems like a high energy activity. Again, we know I’m going to die, so why make things worth by expending energy where it’s not needed? With that in mind, I’m going to need fish hooks. I can use a number of things as a pole, and I can use thread or fashion something worthy of being fishing line, but I can’t DIY a decent fish hook. I’m sure it can be done, it’s just not a skill I happen to have. So there you have it. Waterproof matches, Rambo knife, fish hooks. If I get to bring a fourth item it would have to be my memory foam mattress topper because I’m certain I’ll be taking a lot of naps. 

  12. Where and when were you happiest in your life?
    • Every period has had its ups and downs. That’s how life works, isn’t it? I am curious how other people would answer this question because I think the tendency would be for people to choose a time from their childhood where the responsibilities were non-existent but the memories still persist. Those were pretty good times for me, for sure, but was I truly happiest then? It seems every milestone in my life was the happiest time, at least if I look at the experiences that surround the milestone as part of the whole. How small of a unit of time are we using to define “when”? I’m interpreting this as an average measurement over several years where more aspects of my life were trending upwards than not. I’m also including the caveat that I had to have majority control over my life. My parents did the lion’s share of the heavy lifting for me until well into my teenage years so I’m not including the younger periods when formulating my response. So, what did I come up with? It was easier than I thought: here and now. My wife and I are nicely settled into our 40’s and the finances are good. My day job challenges me and more than pays the bills and is really flexible in terms of the ever-important work/life balance. My kids are healthy and happy and already starting to make their place in the world. I drive a stick shift. I joined a golf league. My parents are both still alive and well. Same for the inlaws. My writing career is taking off in the right direction and I have contracts to keep me busy for several years. I have a small but fantastic group of “in person” friends and a larger and just as fantastic group of “online” friends. Is life perfect? Not a chance. Life doesn’t give out perfect scores. Is it as close to perfect as it’s ever been? It probably is. 

  13. What do you think is the driving force in your life?
    • The desire to contribute something positive. Whether it’s imparting wisdom to my children and preparing them to be positive additions, or sitting down at my laptop and creating something to put out into the world for people to enjoy, I approach every day with the goal of putting more in than I take out. For me, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about being better. Ending the day with more good karma in the bank than I started with keeps me going. 

So there you have it. No small talk. Hope you enjoyed my responses.

~ Andrew

One Word

One word. 

One word can make all the difference. 

In stark contrast to the more more more approach of National Novel Writing month, I am going to round out December with a post that will focus on summing it the hell up. Here are fifty questions to which I will respond using only one word: 

1. Where is your cell phone? Couch

2. Your significant other? Genius

3. Your hair? Thinning

4. Your mother? Loving

5. Your father? Wise

6. Your favourite? Kids

7. Your dream last night? Obscure

8. Your favourite drink? Grapes

9. Your dream/goal? Retirement

10. What room you are in? Living

11. Your hobby? Lounging

12. Your fear? Drowning

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Happy

14. Where were you last night? Home

15. Something that you are not? Alone

16. Muffins? Sometimes

17. Wish list item? Sleep

18. Where you grew up? Thornhill

19. Last thing you did? Write

20. What are you wearing? Comfort

21. Your TV? Flat

22. Your pets? Annoying

23. Friends? Plethora

24. Your life? Incomparable

25. Your mood? Introspective

26. Missing someone? Yes

27. First Car? Gutless

28. Something you usually wear but aren’t? Watch

29. Your favourite store? Hardware

30. Your favourite colour? Green
31. Best book you’ve ever read? Mockingbird

32. Your hero? Avery

33. When is the last time you laughed? Recently

34. Last time you cried? October

35. Preferred flavor of gum? Mint

36. One place that you go to over and over? Facebook

37. One person who emails you regularly? Spammers

38. Favourite place to eat (cheap)? Mozy’s

39. Favourite place to eat (pricey)? Keg

40. One goal in life? Longevity

41. Favourite movie? Tarantino

42. What is your worst habit? Laziness

43. Desired superpower? Teleportation

44. Your favourite food? Steak

45. Favourite Band/Musician? Watchmen

46. Favourite veggie/fruit? Oranges

47. Your driving style? Bad

48. What is special in your bedroom? Love

49. Own or rent? Own

50. Who will comment on this? Nobody

~ Andrew

Twenty-five Things

Twenty-five things about me:

  1. I am quite fond of art
  2. Red wine is my alcoholic beverage of choice (Malbec, Shiraz, Cab – in that order)
  3. I have only fired a pistol on one occasion and will never own a gun of any kind – ever
  4. I believe intelligent life exists (or existed) elsewhere in the Universe
  5. If I don’t like a book I won’t finish it. Halfway is the tipping point for most
  6. I haven’t had cable in two years but still enjoy watching shows (thank god for Netflix)
  7. I played reasonably competitive hockey until I was 16, but was a third or fourth liner at best (I was a great skater though)
  8. It wasn’t until 2012 that I started to consider myself a writer
  9. I once provided trivia content for a home video game system
  10. My daughter and I were both baptized by the same Anglican minister, at two different churches, 22 years and 100km apart
  11. I am at peace with the fact that there are some questions that seem like they cannot be answered, and encouraged by the fact that it does not stop many others from trying to answer them
  12. In the tenth grade I received an award for achieving the highest Math mark out of 400 students in my year
  13. I can juggle
  14. I accidentally lit myself on fire and ended up in “The Darwin Awards III, Survival of the Fittest” (a dubious distinction, but a distinction none the less)
  15. I was a teacher’s assistant for behavioral English as a Second Language kids between the ages of eight and ten. The teacher spoke seven languages
  16. I used to drive the student safety van at the University of Waterloo
  17. I started smoking in 1987 at age 13, was up to a pack a day by the time I left high school, and quit for good (cold turkey) on March 8th, 1998
  18. For various weddings, I have been a: bus boy, bartender, usher, groomsman, master of ceremonies, and groom
  19. I will not wear a hat when seated at a table for a meal – not even after golf
  20. For three years in school, I played the trumpet (and sucked at it)
  21. I almost failed typing class in high school, but last clocked myself at 80 words per minute
  22. I tend to win a lot of radio contests, with one of the biggest being $500 from best buy and one of the coolest being getting to be “Concert Promoter” for a day and meet Nine Inch Nails and take 7 friends to the show
  23. I enter a lot of hockey pools every year (regular season and playoffs) but have only won money in a few
  24. I received a swimming badge at summer camp – with a full wrist to shoulder cast on my left arm. The duct tape marks (from the garbage bag over-the-cast “solution”) on my shoulder took weeks to heal
  25. March 13, May 19, June 14, and November 6 are days that mean a lot to me
~ Andrew

Brokeback Blogging

Are you obsessed with “analytics”? I am. I was under the impression a lot of people were but I’m not so sure why I would think that. Certainly if you’re selling something I would hope you’re trying to figure out who’s buying, who’s looking, and all the trends that come along with the buyers and the lookers. Sales: now that’s something people love to track.

Me, I’m not selling anything – yet – but I’m positively hooked on knowing more about the people reading my blog. Are you a first time visitor or returning? Do I have a clue what it means when the ratio is skewed one way versus the other?

I’m also really interested in where people are reading my blog. I have had one person from Estonia spend a few minutes perusing, so that was exciting. I’ve had every province in Canada visit, but none of the arctic territories. What about the U.S., you ask? Well I’ve had people from 49 out of the 50 states stop by, which I think is pretty cool. The only one missing? Wyoming. 

What the heck is up with Wyoming? 
It’s been driving me crazy for a while now and I’m beginning to think I’m going about it all wrong. I need to blog about something that Wyomingites want to read, not stuff about the state itself, or just mentioning Wyoming. Right? Wyoming Wyoming Wyoming. What the heck do people in Wyoming want to read anyway? It’s clear I don’t have the foggiest idea.

In looking at that picture above it’s obvious that I have fans in New York, Texas, and California. With some other interested folks in Indiana and Georgia. That’s a good sign and there’s a bit more coverage up into Kansas and Kentucky than I’d expect but hey, I’m not complaining.

For some reason I even care about what browser people are using. I’m not sure if this is because Google has it as a criteria or if I’m trying to somehow justify my own personal choice of browser (it’s probably a little bit of both). Incidentally, #1 on the list has more visits than the next three combined.

Does it matter? Am I too obsessed? Am I not obsessed enough? Should I obsess about different things? What does it all mean?!?

Maybe I should just write and not worry about it – until I have a book to sell 😉

~ Andrew

P.S. Wyoming 

Hey Mikey, I Think He Likes It

So my wife and I took the kids to see The Croods today. If you’re not sure what this is it’s an animated movie featuring a caveman family who, to this point in the story, has survived by spending as much time as possible huddled in a cave. The father’s favourite saying is “Never Not Be Afraid” and he makes a point of showing them over and over (and over) again that anything new is to be feared. Now, I won’t spoil the movie for you, but suffice it to say that this notion is to be challenged and the family may or may not experience something new and may or may not live happily ever after.

Fast forward a couple hundred thousand years and here we are. We have evolved quite remarkably in that span of time and yet there are still so many traits, mannerisms, or instincts that we possess that hearken back to those cave dwelling days. Fight or flight immediately springs to mind. The overwhelming need for the male of the species to impress the female is another one. Sadly, men did not evolve in a similar fashion to their feathered friends and become adorned with colourful plumage.

Stolen from Wikipedia
If you’re anything like myself you’ve also hung on to a little bit of the Crood father as well. Things that are the same are safe and things that are different are not. Change is bad. Now, I’m no Luddite by any stretch, but I am most comfortable in my routine and have a healthy appreciation for the way things are. So when it was time to discuss the possibility of an e-reader I was far from comfortable. 
I’ve tried reading on my iPhone and on my laptop and I’m not a fan. An e-reader is different I am told. An e-reader is just like reading on a book, but better! My father, who probably hasn’t been on the Internet for a decade (since I showed him how to use Google to look at boobs find sports scores), switched over to an e-reader more than a year ago and he loves it. He has no idea how to get books onto it (the neighbour does it for him), but he loves it. 
My daughter reads a book about every three or four days. It may take her a week if she has a few of them on the go at once. She’s getting an e-reader for her birthday whether she likes it or not. I will soon run out of storage space for all her books and will probably wear out a path to the library as well. My wife figured that a good way to test out this gift would be to get one for me and then I could put it through the paces and we could let our daughter try it out. I did the research and decided that I wanted a more “traditional” e-reader. I would not enjoy reading on something with a shiny screen that also played HD video. I needed something that most resembled an actual book. I settled on the Kobo Glo, and lo and behold my wife gave me one for my birthday.
I loaded up some books I’ve been meaning to read and picked up a “book maintenance” program that allows me to keep a consolidated library of all my ebooks in all their formats (and convert them to Kobo format too, if I want). I loaded a couple new books for the future on there as well and I started reading Caramel and Magnolias by my friend Tess Thompson. I read in daylight, at night, low light, lots of light, direct sunlight, morning, afternoon, and evening for a week. I used all the features I could think of on the device and I gave it a solid test drive. 
The verdict? It’s just like reading a book, but better! 

So there you have it. It is possible for me to embrace and accept something new. Believe me, I am just as surprised as you are. Now, I wonder what’s next?

The Big Reveal

Well the guesses are in and we have a winner!
 
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to have a read and congratulations to Stephanie Fuller for correctly picking out which one of these was a complete and total lie. Stephanie, just send me an email with the pictures you want (up to 10) from Andrew’s Alphabet and I’ll get them to you right away.
 
Of course, because I’m sneaky (or just a jerk – you decide) I’ve decided not to directly reveal which answer is bunk. Instead, I’ve made all the choices clickable and upon doing so, the choice will expand to reveal a brief story about the item. The false one will be appropriately labelled (and in red text).
 
Of course, if you want to just go back to the original post and check to see which one Stephanie picked you can do that too 🙂
 
Without further delay. Here are the facts (and one lie):
  1. I have scored a game winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens
  2. I have assisted Penn & Teller on stage with one of their tricks (Mofo the Psychic Gorilla)
  3. I have been paid as a freelance writer to provide original content to a video game
  4. I have had a 1 minute conversation and spoken five scripted words on a nationally broadcasted television show (US and Canada) 
    1. The episode aired more than once and I have been recognized by at least one complete stranger for this appearance
    2. It was 20 years before I saw it
  5. I have played, and won, hockey games on both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic hockey rinks in Lake Placid New York 
  6. I have had a 500 word anecdote selected for inclusion in a Darwin Awards book
    1. In the first printing (hard cover) they incorrectly spelled my name
  7. I have stood in the room where Winston Churchill was born
  8. One summer in Europe was spent working as a groundskeeper for a Canadian embassy
  9. I have had a 5000 word short story selected for inclusion (and soon to be published) in an anthology
  10. I have appeared as a street fighting bum in a rap music video
  11. I have eaten snake soup
  12. I was once qualified to instruct both flat water canoeing and small vessel sailing
  13. I once stayed awake for over 100 consecutive hours
  14. I have appeared in a TV commercial for a financial institution (singing & texting – but no talking)
  15. I have been a teacher’s assistant for English as a Second Language children (ages 6-10) with behavioural problems
    1. This job was a block away from the most crime riddled area of Canada’s largest city
  16. I have broken or cracked the following bones: toe beside the big one on the left foot, left foot, left ankle, left tibia, left arm (radius AND ulna), left pinky and middle fingers (separate breaks), several ribs, right ankle, right wrist, right pinky finger, nose, head (stiches), and brain (more than 4 concussions)
  17. I have driven my car to the publicized geographic longitudinal centre of Canada
  18. Last year of high school I did not take notes or use anything but a pencil to write assignments/tests in calculus.  I got 94%.  Last year of university I studied more for my Calculus 3 course than any other subject.  I got 51%
    1. In school, we covered in 3 lectures (9 hours) what took Isaac Newton over 20 years to uncover and write down (granted, he had other things going on).
~ Andrew
 

One of These Facts is Actually a Lie

Update:
You can go to The Big Reveal post to find out who our winner is. Congratulations and thanks to everyone for playing along.


I think this is a good time for you to get to know me a little bit. Though instead of doing a Q&A or blather on about myself I thought I’d do something different. Here are 18 main points and 5 sub-points that are all facts about me – except one.

To make it interesting I am asking you to guess which one of these is a complete lie. Until 23:59:59 on March 31st I will be accepting guesses, and if at that time I have 10 or more guesses I will reveal the lie and someone will win stuff!
First, the prize: 
  • (Up to) 10 digital downloads from Andrew’s Alphabet
    • Free for you to use however you want, as many times as you want (provided you do not resell them or use them for any commercial purposes). 
    • I will also include the story behind each image. One paragraph per picture about how I came to get the picture in my collection.
Next, the rules:
  • In the section below enter your email and other relevant information (it will NEVER be given out to anyone or seen by anyone but myself)
  • For your comment simply put down the number (and sub-number, if applicable) of the statement you think is FALSE (e.g. #4-2 or #7 or #18-1). Feel free to actually comment too!
  • You may only guess once
  • You may only pick one statement (i.e. if you select #4 you have picked that statement and not all the statements below it)
  • On April 1st if I have received at least 10 guesses…
    • …and one person has guessed correctly – I will award them the prize
    • …and more than one person guessed correctly – I will award the prize using a random draw including just the correct guessers
    • …and no one has guessed correctly – I will award the prize using a random draw including everyone who has guessed
  • Once the winner is declared they will have until April 15th to visit Andrew’s Alphabet and select up to 10 letters. I will send you an email and you can just reply with your choices and I will send you the images (Note: all images are suitable for printing in 4×6, many will print much larger)

Those who know me (or who have been paying attention) will know for certain some of the truths. Don’t spoil it for others! Just comment with your guess and see what some other people think 🙂

Without further delay. Here are the facts (and one lie):
  1. I have scored a game winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens
  2. I have assisted Penn & Teller on stage with one of their tricks (Mofo the Psychic Gorilla)
  3. I have been paid as a freelance writer to provide original content to a video game
  4. I have had a 1 minute conversation and spoken five scripted words on a nationally broadcasted television show (US and Canada) 
    1. The episode aired more than once and I have been recognized by at least one complete stranger for this appearance
    2. It was 20 years before I saw it
  5. I have played, and won, hockey games on both the 1932 and 1980 Olympic hockey rinks in Lake Placid New York 
  6. I have had a 500 word anecdote selected for inclusion in a Darwin Awards book
    1. In the first printing (hard cover) they incorrectly spelled my name
  7. I have stood in the room where Winston Churchill was born
  8. One summer in Europe was spent working as a groundskeeper for a Canadian embassy
  9. I have had a 5000 word short story selected for inclusion (and soon to be published) in an anthology
  10. I have appeared as a street fighting bum in a rap music video
  11. I have eaten snake soup
  12. I was once qualified to instruct both flat water canoeing and small vessel sailing
  13. I once stayed awake for over 100 consecutive hours
  14. I have appeared in a TV commercial for a financial institution (singing & texting – but no talking)
  15. I have been a teacher’s assistant for English as a Second Language children (ages 6-10) with behavioural problems
    1. This job was a block away from the most crime riddled area of Canada’s largest city
  16. I have broken or cracked the following bones: toe beside the big one on the left foot, left foot, left ankle, left tibia, left arm (radius AND ulna), left pinky and middle fingers (separate breaks), several ribs, right ankle, right wrist, right pinky finger, nose, head (stiches), and brain (more than 4 concussions)
  17. I have driven my car to the publicized geographic longitudinal center of Canada
  18. Last year of high school I did not take notes or use anything but a pencil to write assignments/tests in Calculus.  I got 94%.  Last year of university I studied more for my Calculus 3 course than any other subject.  I got 51%
    1. In school, we covered in 3 lectures (9 hours) what took Isaac Newton over 20 years to uncover and write down (granted, he had other things going on).

~ Andrew

So I Stopped Wearing Socks

Two weeks ago I was talking about the birth of ideas. Strangely enough, in a perfect example of how some of my ideas form, I was working on a post about motivation and another idea popped into my head. It went something like this:

  • I wrote that I hoped there would be “more ideas to come” and I knocked on wood.
  • That made me think of superstitions.
  • That made me think of Friday the 13th, which happens to be the day on which I turned 13.
  • That made me think of my birthday in general, which falls on the 13th of March every year.
  • Which reminded me that my brother-in-law died on my 35th birthday, which was also a Friday the 13th.
  • At the time of his death I was living in Ottawa and for some reason I wasn’t participating in the City of Ottawa Bonspiel (I had played the two previous years).
  • This year I am curling in that event and I fly out the day after my birthday.
  • That made me think of the tournament schedule, which in curling parlance is referred to as a “draw”.
  • That made me think of the phrase “the luck of the draw”.
  • That made me think of superstitions again.
  • And that’s why I’m on this oil rig.1

This all happened in a fraction of a second, which speaks to the immense processing power of the human mind (and to the fact that I should probably still be in therapy).

I grew up playing baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter. I would guess that hockey players probably having more superstitious tendencies than everyone else in the world combined. Add onto that turning 13 on Friday the 13th and what you end up with is one seriously superstitious kid (it doesn’t hurt that I’m slightly obsessive compulsive). My skates always went on right foot first, then left, then I tied the left, then I tied the right. I removed the little shiny sticker at the base of my stick (on the shaft just before the heel – back when sticks were actually made of wood) and replaced it with a strip on black hockey tape. Don’t even get me started on the laundry schedule for certain items during a winning or points streak (neither of which occurred too frequently).

Those are just a few personal examples – there are literally millions of others that people are carrying around with them every day. Most seem to be centred around sports, but they definitely exist for writers as well. I know people that write with their lucky pens, or in specific patterns in specific notebooks, under a favourite tree, or even facing a specific direction (East). Some will chalk it up to being a “creature of habit” and others insist it’s simply a matter of comfort.

I’m superstitious to the point where you’d think that I think it actually matters, and you’d be more right than you are wrong. You can’t have one of the greatest days of your childhood (Friday, March 13, 1987) and twenty-two years later have the worst day of your life (Friday, March 13, 2009) and not think that there’s something bigger going on – that there’s not some sort of connection, or some mystical force of the cosmos working to balance everything out.

Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the Universe”, and as a matter of fact he didn’t believe in God – at least not as the Mover of All Things. He felt that everything was governed by a grand unified formula in which all matter, and its behaviour, was connected (indeed, even Einstein saw some of the merits of modern Quantum theory). Well, it turns out Einstein was right about more than a few things in his lifetime and I’m left to wonder if maybe what we see as superstitions he would see as just ordered variables of a grand equation.

I’m also left to wonder if there was something more behind his desire to not wear socks.

~ Andrew

P.S. Apologies to bartender Brianna at ski lessons. Had I just sat in the same place as before maybe she would have won on her Tim Horton’s Roll Up The Rim cup today.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQaxDTKsb6s?rel=0]

1
This is an inside joke from a long time ago. Back in 1993 a bunch of us were watching TV in a dorm room at the University of Waterloo and the guy whose room we were in happened to be a bit of a channel surfer. We were all talking and not paying much attention and he hopped to a channel where there was this funny looking British dude in the middle of the ocean and he said, “And that’s why I’m on this oil rig!” Well if we all didn’t think that was the funniest thing we’ve ever heard. After that, any time someone said something even remotely out of context someone else would say, “And that’s why I’m on this oil rig!”. Fast forward to 1996 and I’m living in an apartment with a fellow physics student. He was obsessed with the show Connections. In summary, it was a show where this guy would take an everyday something like a garden hose and he would walk you though a fabulous series of “connections” starting with the first discovery or invention that kicked off the whole chain of events. It’s an amazing show if you have any interest at all in why we end up with some of the things we have today. Anyway, one day we’re eating lunch and watching this show and wouldn’t you know it, the host jumps to a new “connection” and he standing on a platform in the middle of the ocean and says, “And that’s why I’m on this oil rig!”. I just about choked on my sandwich I was laughing so hard.

Super Dave Update!

[2011/03/06]

“C.B.” at http://shelleyberman.com has sent me the clip! Now here, in all its glory, is a gangly soft spoken kid wearing running shoes, pants too short and too tight for television, and in dire need of a haircut, speaking the words you all want to hear “Take it away Mike Walden!”
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVTyFwsKDBI]

My recollection of the evening’s events are a little disjointed but a few things stand out. 

  • It took 4 or 5 takes. 
  • The first one he asked if Montreal was my favourite team (presumably because of my shirt). I froze on answering – because it wasn’t really my favourite team (the Leafs were at the time, more on that another day). I was just trying to impress a girl (#FAIL). 
  • The second take he asked about my favourite hockey player. When I said Wayne Gretzky he cut the take because he didn’t think anyone in the U.S. (where this aired) would know who that was (this was right after Gretzky was traded). 
  • Then I burned a couple of takes trying to come up with a stunt I liked without repeating “um” or “uh” every 2 seconds (still uh, a problem, um, sometimes). 
  • I remember after the second last take Super Dave threatened he’d pick someone else if I screwed up the next one. As always, when pressed with a deadline I pulled through (at least adequately) at the last second.

I have to say, that was probably the beginning of me and stage fright. Once you see that camera pointed right at you, with all the people in the audience, and that red light on top of the camera mocking you with it’s calm brilliance… more than a bit terrifying!


So in my last post I put a call out to The World to see if anyone out there would be able to find my lost 15 minutes (seconds) of fame: footage of me on stage at the Super Dave Osborne show.

Some incredibly kind person apparently has a ton of Super Dave stuff and sent me a message asking for some details and within a few minutes, they emailed me a screen capture:

Yes, that is a 15 year old me, looking like he could use a nap, a haircut, a tan, puberty, and a serious smack in the chops for ever wearing a Montreal Canadiens shirt.

[As an aside, my father worked with the aunt of one of the players on the team at the time. So getting signed stuff happened from time to time. There was also this really cute girl a year behind me in high school (little sister of a guy in my class) and she was a HUGE Canadiens fan. So, teenage boys being what teenage boys are I donned the “CH” in an attempt to woo her. I did not. Never actually got the nerve to tell her I liked her.]

So now I have asked the wonderful person who found The Lost Super Dave Footage if there is any way I could get a video capture of my “performance”. I haven’t heard back yet, but suffice it to say I’m extremely excited over this new development.

Next up:

Seeing if Penn & Teller have any of their old shows recorded and if somewhere in their archives there’s video of me on stage at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto (1991) assisting with the trick “Mofo the Psychic Gorilla”. It’s true!

It’s True

When I was in high school I got to see the filming of a bunch of studio segments of the Super Dave Osborne Show.

 

I was also fortunate enough to see live performances by Colin James, En Vogue, the legendary (and I mean absolutely legendary) Ray Charles, and that calypso band that knows “plenty songs” but only plays Copacabana.

One night, when only a hundred or so people stuck it out to watch filming for the season wrap, I was picked to go up on stage and spend a second talking with Super Dave before muttering the 5 words I thought were sure to make me famous: Take it away Mike Walden!

The good news is that 6 or 7 years later I was at The Bombshelter (an on-campus pub) and some guy rand up to me and said that he had just seen me on Super Dave the night before. For the rest of the night he and his buddies bought me drinks and treated me like a king. I failed my exam the next day, but it was completely worth it.

To this day I have not seen the clip and would very much like it if I could get a copy. If anyone out there has old Super Dave episodes on tape, I’ll gladly pay to have the one I’m in copied and mailed to me.