Archive for the ‘random’ Category

English: Water drop. Español: Gota de agua.

English: Water drop. Español: Gota de agua. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a 100 day experiment. My last one was pre-Yelp, where I went 100 days without using an exclamation point.

This time around, I’m tired of going without something. So, I’m adding something in instead!

Like many, I don’t drink enough water in a day. I do, however, consume plenty of other fluids. Namely, coffee, beer and cocktails (and I wonder why my pants aren’t fitting all that well!). While I could do a challenge where I’m cutting one or all of those out completely, the easier route I think would be to drink MORE.

More? Yes! It’s the solution to everything! For real, I think it just might be. At the end of 100 days I’ll let you know what I’ve found!

Here’s what I’m challenging myself with:

For 100 days, I will drink an equal quantity of water to my desired other beverage of choice. The glass of water must be consumed before consuming the other beverage. It must be done on a 1:1 ratio of water to other liquids. The ratio may be larger than 1:1 of water to other liquids, but may never exceed 1:1 for other liquids to water. There is no water substitute. So, drinking tea still counts as an “other” liquid. My inventive brain wants to say that gin and tonic or a vodka soda is another workaround. But no! Those also count as “other” beverages and require a glass of water prior to enjoying. Gatorade? Still an “other” drink. You get the picture!

Wish me luck! I start now, though August 14th will officially be day 1!

When you become an expert adventurer (oh snap… am I claiming to have expertise on a subject? Sure am!), having everything served up to you on a silver platter by way of online recommendations gets a little stale. I miss the surprise injections of ideas and stimuli from parties outside my social circles. Surfing through Facebook, flipping through photos on Instagram, aimlessly watching Twitter feeds waiting for something interesting to pop out and catch my eye… in moments, most of my connections seem to be talking about the same topic, taking photos of the same subject matter and so on. My only saving grace is the odd witty caption, joke or sarcastic remark from a few people who are known for such. I’m understanding why many of you only chose to follow a dozen or so highly entertaining people.

My world is about digging up what others know little about. And while online tools still help me do this, it’s now become more like rummaging through the piles that most people would pass by in order to find those little golden nuggets. What I once loved about the interwebs was that most of it was unknown. We were still pioneering it. And it was a haven from the relatively ridiculous and mundane  behaviours that had taken over things like email (Forward this to 15 people on your list or you’ll have bad sex for a year!). Now it’s getting to a point where it’s becoming a civilized place to live. We’re appointing sheriffs and local law enforcement to keep the peace so we can all co-exist. But in that, if it means tolerating the overwhelmingly useless dribble or spending hours putting the right filters into place to weed it out… quite frankly, I think I’d rather just go elsewhere.

It turns out, elsewhere is “offline.” What? Seriously… hitting the streets, walking through doors I’ve never opened without having looked it up online, picking up books to read based solely on the cover (or off the recommendation of the staff in the bookstore who can’t ever shut up about the last insane book they read)… yes, finding the real nerds. Social networks are making the world too big. And when it gets too big, it loses its value for me. It’s harder to connect, harder to have genuinely interesting conversations. So, see you later interwebs. I’ll be back to use you for writing and publishing and the sort, but as far as supporting my adventuring pastimes, you just aren’t bringing me what I need. Expect an exodus of the nerds in the coming months. Surely, I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Friday, 4:24pm. All day the only thing on my mind was how much I didn’t want to go anywhere on a rainy day like this one. Then, as if by magic, the clouds parted as I saw a tweet from Mark Hopkins about Audio Mob YYC 2. What’s a girl to do? Follow the signs. Audio Mob it was!

You don’t find me participating in many flash mobs in Calgary. Honestly, I find most of them to be a little cheesy… or promotey. Either way, most of them miss the point of the flash mob in the first place – random, silly fun with no ulterior motive. Well, unless the ulterior motive is learning a bit more about the city you live in.

Audio Mob YYC does just this. Exactly one week before the event opened, an mp3 file was made available on the website. If you can figure out how to download a link and load it onto your iPod or mp3 player, those are the only tech skills you need to participate. I just happened to download mine at 4:25pm. It took a few minutes, but a quick sync of my iPhone and I was on my way!

We met in the Courthouse Park at the intersection of 4th St SW and 6th Ave SW. Recognizable by our blue, red or yellow shirts and a smattering of balloons, we waited for our clocks to strike 5:00pm and for the mob to begin. Described as “one part flash mob, one part decentralized dance party, and one part Simon Says,” it ends up being a hilarious way to spend the better part of an hour.

Audio Mob YYC 2 – The headphones strike back!

This year, we made a human bullseye, argued loudly like lawyers about whose colour shirt was superior, danced down Stephen Avenue, stared at patio patrons like they were zoo animals (because “patios are for people watching, right?”), chased cookie monster and his two friendly cookies and even had a Mexican standoff. We even learned a few points about the businesses and buildings along the way. Like:

  • There are 6 different natural land forms found in the Calgary Courthouse Park that are native to Alberta.
  • The first original courthouse was built in 1888.
  • Stephen Ave is named after the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, George Stephen.
  • Most of the original wood buildings along Stephen Ave burnt down in the Calgary fire of 1886. They were built from sandstone after that to stop them from burning down again.
  • Flames Central is the last surviving example of a palace-style cinema in Western Canada.
  • And, a fact you should all be well aware of by now, that Calgary is the 2012 Cultural Capital of Canada.

See you next year at Audio Mob YYC 3! Or if y’all come up with an interesting mob idea of your own… let me know!

Savvy. Competent. Knowledgeable. Well-versed. Polished. Credible. Expert. Proficient. Finesse. Prowess. None of these things come without time or without practice. You can build your level of competency at something by taking a course, but it still doesn’t mean you’re competent.

I’m starting a 10 week Biggest Loser competition tomorrow and it got me thinking about all of the other weight loss attempts I’ve made in my life. My first successful attempt was with Weight Watchers back somewhere around 2002/2003. Following their points system, I dropped about 35 lbs. Through the return of my old eating habits and some not-so-pleasant life experiences, it crept back on. I figured I’d try Herbal Magic next. This was 2004. I had some success there, but kept expecting their magical pills to do more of the work than I was willing to do at the time. Now, there’s no magic pills, there’s no points systems. There’s just me and my eating and exercise habits. Why? Because I know what to do. I just haven’t done it yet.

Stay with me, I do have a point. How many times have you gone to a conference or taken a course to find your world is blown away with all the brand new info and knowledge you’ve just gained? If it’s your first time seeing the material, probably a ton. If it’s a conference for the industry you’re employed in, I’m willing to bet you’re happy if you can even pick up 3 new takeaways. More often than not, we sit there thinking, “Yeah, yeah. I KNOW this stuff already.” Sure you know it. But have you applied it yet?

I know all of the steps I should be taking to fit into my old jeans again. You can sure bet I haven’t been doing them. How can you tell? Well… I’d be wearing my old jeans. But just because I “know” what I “should” be doing, doesn’t mean I’m knowledgeable in the subject. Again, how can you tell? I’m not wearing my old jeans. I haven’t put it to practice… yet.

Watch for people claiming any of the words I’ve listed above. Especially if you know nothing about whatever it is they’re trying to teach you or sell you on. There are plenty of folks out there who aren’t walking the talk, but are happy to be leaving with your moolah anyway. Ask what kind of results they’ve had. Long term results. You should be confident that whatever they will be teaching you is sustainable over the long-term. We all know how well fad diets work. Whether it’s a course on business or marketing (particularly social marketing), a new skill you’re trying to pick up, techniques to improve your performance (mind in gutter or not), do yourself a favour and do your due diligence. Question their savviness, competency, knowledge, well-versedness, polishing, credibility, expertise, proficiency, finesse and/or prowess. And, if it’s something you already “know,” don’t waste their time. Get your butt in gear, apply what you know first and then head back for help. Who knows? With all that practice, maybe you’ll be the one at the head of the class.

 

Income tax

Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

I don’t ever write about politics.  Mostly because they don’t interest me.  I don’t often write about the way things are either.  Especially not went it comes to mundane topics, like taxes.  Those don’t interest me either.  But what does interest me are ideas, especially ones that are a bit out there.  They push the envelope, they make people think, they help us innovate.

I’ve just had an idea.  And it has to do with (of all things) taxes.  More specifically, it has to do with how it would engage me more and feel like I actually had an impact (and a choice).

My idea is not a new one. In fact, I’m borrowing it from the fundraising sector.  But it’s always been one of my favourites.

Many non profits have a system for allowing a donor to allocate their funds for a specific use.  For example, when I was fundraising as a student at the University of Alberta, alumni could request that their donation be directed to a specific fund or scholarship or even project.  Do you see where I’m going yet?

I want to be able to direct my taxes to areas that are important to me, or at least a portion of them.  If my benefits at work are flexible, my donation dollars can go where I want, why not my tax dollars?

Give me that much of a direct impact on how my dollars are used, even if it’s only 10% of my total tax contribution, and you’ll have me hooked.  You’ll also have me trying to convince every Jane, Dick and Harry to put their portion towards my cause because it’s important to them too.  It’s a whole new level of influence.  Flex taxes (not the amount, just the allocation) and social influence.  I’m in.