Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton (July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011)

R.I.P. abbr.
Origin: Latin requiēscant in pāce
1. may he or she rest in peace
2. may they rest in peace

Early this morning, NDP leader Jack Layton died, succumbing to cancer. He was 61.

Below is a copy of the open letter that he wrote to Canadians on Saturday August 20th, 2011:

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world.

There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you.

My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

RIP Jack Layton, you will be missed.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Are You Smarter Than An 1895 8th Grader

im·pos·si·ble –adjective
1. unable to be done, performed, effected

My grandfather forwarded this email to me the other day. Typically I immediately delete forwards without reading them, but my grandfather is a pretty good screener and will only forward emails of interest. So without further adieu, here is what it said:

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA ... It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam:
Salina, KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph.
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,' 'play,' and 'run'.
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet Long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs, what is it worth at 50 cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs for tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent per annum.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft long at $20 per metre?
8... Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

HUH??? Are they kidding??? This is hard to believe....
Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

Gives the saying 'he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!
Also shows you how our education system has changed and, NO, I don't have the answers!

Although the document in question is real, it is not actually known if this examination was intended for 8th graders. I'm not even going to try to answer these questions, but if you would like to, here are the unconfirmed answers.

If you like impossible tests, you may also like to try the Impossible Quiz.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Free Things To Do In Ottawa This Summer

free –adjective
1. provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment

On an ever pursuit of saving a buck or two, I have decided to share with you my list of FREE things to do in Ottawa this summer:



International Museum Day - although I wasn't able to find which Ottawa museums are participating, May 18th is International Museum Day and admission should be FREE.

Canadian Tulip Festival is FREE until May 23rd.

The Great Glebe Garage Sale it's FREE to walk around, but will cost ya to buy someone else's junk and takes place on May 28th.


Orleans Festival, yup, that’s right, Orleans has its own festival, and it's FREE. If you want to drive all the way out there, it runs from June 3rd to June 4th.

Bicycle Rodeo - I'm not really sure what it is, but it is on June 4th and it's FREE.

Auto Classic in the ByWard Market - Sunday, June 5th and the admission is FREE.

Westfest is a FREE multidisciplinary art festival, which runs from June 10th to June 12th.

Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival is a celebration of everything aboritiginal. Admission is free and the event takes place from June 17th to June 19th.

The Ottawa Fringe Theatre and Arts Festival provides some FREE shows and takes place this summer between June 16th to June 26th.

The Community Cup is a FREE one-day multicultural event that takes place on June 26th.


Canada Day at the Parliament Hill it's FREE and if you don't know already, it's on July 1st.

Ottawa International Jazz Festival offers some FREE shows and takes place June 23rd to July 3rd.


Ottawa GreekFest is annual event that features live Greek music and traditional Greek cuisine. The event is FREE and runs from August 11th to the 22nd.

Colonel By Day is a free heritage festival that celebrates the founding of Ottawa and the construction of the Rideau Canal. There event runs on On August 1st, 2011, between 11am - 4pm and will feature live music, such as the local FiddleGround and Heritage Hands Ottawa Drum Club, and performances by Scottish dancers, step dancers, English country dancers, and local story teller Ruthanne Edward. There is also free admission to the Bytown Museum.

Ongoing Events

Parliament Hill Tours are offered FREE everyday of the year.

Jane's Walk, a festival of free neighbourhood walking tours that runs throughout the summer and the service is offered FREE.

Mosaika, Sound and Light Show is offered for FREE every evening from July 6th to September 11th, on Parliament Hill.

Supreme Court of Canada provides FREE guided tours daily.

Music Under the Stars is a FREE event every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm, which takes place June 16th to July 21th.

The Great Outdoors

Gatineau Park is always FREE and you can explore such sites as the Lusk Caves, Pink Lake and the Eardley Escarpment.


National Gallery of Canada - FREE admission every Thursday after 5 pm.

Canadian Museum of Civilization - FREE admission every Thursday from 4 pm to 8 pm.

Canadian Warm Museum - FREE admission every Thursday from 4 pm to 8 pm and all day on Canada Day.

Bytown Museum- FREE admission every Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm.

The Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada - Admission to the Museum, including its programs, activities and guided tours are always FREE.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Stable - Admission is FREE between May and August, seven days a week from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

The Canada Aviation Museum - FREE admission between 4 pm and 5 pm every day.

Canadian Museum of Nature - FREE admission every Thursday from 5 pm to 8 pm


Art is offering a series of workshops this summer, and best of all they are FEEE.


The city actually has free parking, can you believe it? FREE parking is offered every weekend at the The World Exchange Plaza.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Ottawa Music Listings Guide Found

list –noun
1. a series of names or other items written or printed together in a meaningful grouping or sequence
If you remember a previous post about my favourite resource for live music in Ottawa, then you may be as sad as I was to find out that has been shutdown.

For weeks I was at a loss as to where to find a good listing of local live music. I would search all the popular venue's websites each and every weekend looking to see what was happening in Capital City. It became tedious, and I thought 'Hey, if now one else is going to compile all these listings then I guess the task is up to me.'

And that, Dear Reader, is how My Ottawa Show Listings was born.

Recently My Ottawa Show Listings made it to the 2nd round of CBC Radio3's Searchlight Contest for Best Canadian Music Website. It made the first cut from over 100 sites down to 60. However it did not make the third round cut that cut the list down to the top 30 sites, which happened just a few hours ago.

Oh well, better luck next time My Ottawa Show Listings.

If you like live music and find the resource useful, please share My Ottawa Show Listings with all your friends. Also, if anyone would like to help keep the site up-to-date I could really use the help.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Easy Way To Double Your Reward Points

loop·hole –noun
1. a means or opportunity of evading a rule, law, etc.
Now this may be painfully obvious to some, but it only occurred to me just yesterday. The easiest way to double your reward points, like Air Miles, Aeroplan, Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Bonus Points or any other reward programs that are out there, is to first purchase a gift card.

For a personal example: I used a credit card, which gains WestJet Dollars, to purchase a $100 gift card at a local grocery store that is part of the Air Miles reward program. Then when I use the gift card to purchase my groceries, I once again can collect Air Miles on those purchases. For the same $100 worth of groceries I can collect double the amount of points!

So the question to you, Dear Reader, is with all these extra travel points where should Chasing Distractions fly to for the next distraction?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Best. Phone. Ever.

in·de·struct·i·ble –adjective
1. incapable of being destroyed; very durable
Sony Ericcson Vivaz Pro U8 Unlocked Cell Phone with 5.1 MP Camera and FM Radio with RDS--International Version with Warranty (White)
Just before Christmas I decided it was time to upgrade my technology and cash in some Fido Dollars for a sweet new cell phone. After much deliberation I opted for the Sony Ericsson Vivaz pro. It took a little bit of getting used to; the touch screen was new to me, as was the full qwerty keyboard, but just as I was getting the hang of it, my phone went AWOL.

December 26th, Boxing Day. A thick fog blanketed the valley as a light rain fell, turning what little snow that had acquired into a soupy, slushy mess. The temperature was hovering in the negative single digits as I arrived at Vorlage to attend another day of one-hill training. I had recently become a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol and was excited about earning my jacket. That excitement, coupled with my late arrival, led to the escape of my phone.

It would seem that in my haste I had forgotten that the phone was sitting on my lap. Once I arrived in the slush filled parking lot of Vorlage I bounded out of my vehicle without concern and rushed into the patrol hut. I would come to the realization that my phone was missing much later in the day. In fact, I had arrived home and was just beginning to dry off when I realized that my phone was most likely lying in a puddle somewhere in that slush covered parking lot.

I returned to Vorlage that night at 6pm, and with my headlights shining down on the dark parking lot, proceeded to kick around the slush, snow and ice in an attempt to find my phone. It was pouring rain so my search had to be called off after 30 minutes.

To my surprise my phone continued to ring for three days until the battery finally gave out. It was a good sign that my phone was not in fact in the parking lot, but must be in a warm a dry place, like the patrol hut. I returned one week later, and to my disappointment could not find my phone.

On the first day of 2011, the temperature was unseasonably warm. So much so that what snow and ice covered the parking lot soon melted away. And lo and behold there was my cell phone, right where I had dropped it. After a quick 2 hour charge the phone was as good as new. It even looks brand new.

As of today there does not appear to be anything wrong with it at all.

I have to repeat: Best. Phone. Ever.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - Best. Year. Ever.

New Year's Eve –noun
[noo yeers eev]
1. the night of December 31, often celebrated with merrymaking to usher in the new year at midnight
From volunteering at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, to seeing many great shows and music festivals, as well as inventing a new music festival device and becoming a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol, 2010 has easily been the Best. Year. Ever.

Sure there were a few lows along the way, but the highs have definitely outweighed any lows that I have encountered. I've become a better and stronger person and will be able to tackle any challenges that present themselves in 2011 with confidence and clarity.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve and are happy and content with the outcome of 2010. Just remember, things are never as bad as they seem. Patience and persistence will see you through any challenge.

For myself the New Year will be a year of some pretty big changes and as apprehensive as I may be I'm still excited to see where this new adventure will take me.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Chasing Distractions' Bucket List

buck·et list –noun
[buhk-it list]
1. a series of things you would like to accomplish before you die. Comes from the term "kicked the bucket".
I recently stumbled across a show on MTV that is about four young guys travelling around North America ticking off things on their Bucket List. The show is called the Buried Life and is produced my MTV. I didn't watch the entire episode, but I did take the time to look them up on the internet. Here is what Wikipedia had to say about the show:

The series focuses on four friends (Ben, Jonnie, Duncan, and Dave) as they travel across North America in a purple transit bus they named "Penelope" to complete a list of "100 things to do before you die." For every item they try to complete on their list, they help a stranger achieve one of their dreams and encourage others to go after their own lists. Everywhere they go they ask the question: "What do you want to do before you die?"

I'm not sure I can come up with '100 things to do before I die' right now, but I thought I would start my list anyway. In no particular order here it is:

1. Adopt a puppy
2. Become fluent in at least one other language
3. Build a house
4. Build an igloo
5. Discover Nunavut
6. Discover an underwater shipwreck
7. Do a tour of the Galapagos Islands
8. Do an over night horse back riding adventure
9. Do Chuck Palahniuk's tour of Portland, Oregon, visiting sites from his novel Fugitives and Refugees
10. Experience Manitoba  - check! - (Sept. 2011)
11. Explore the Northwest Territories
12. Go white water kayaking - check! - (June 2011)
13. Get married
14. Go whale watching
15. Grow my own food
16. Hike up to Machu-Picchu
17. Learn to fly a helicopter
18. Learn to play guitar
19. Learn to play the trumpet
20. Learn to scuba dive
21. Learn to sing
22. Learn to surf
23. Live with a local nomadic family in Mongolia for at least one season
24. Live in Thailand for at least 1 year
25. Live in a cabin in the woods
26. Make babies
27. Pay off my debt - check! - (Back In Black! Jan. 2013)
28. Perform a song in front of a live audience live - check! (well if karaoke counts that is)
29. Rent a really fast car and drive across the desert
30. Survive a zombie apocalypse
31. Swim with the dolphins
32. Take a ride in a hot air balloon
33. Take an adventure in the Yukon
34. Travel around Saskatchewan - check! - (Sept. 2011)
35. Travel into space
36. Visit Newfoundland
37. Visit Iceland and swim in the Blue Lagoon
38. Volunteer my services to impoverished areas
39. Walk along the Great Wall of China
40. Win big in the lottery
41. Work on a fishing boat for at least one day
42. Write a novel and have it published
43. Write a song
44. Act in a commercial
45. Be an extra in a movie - check! (Ming - 2012)
46. Drive across the country - check! (Ottawa to PEI 2008 & Ottawa to Victoria, BC 2011)

Well 46 things to do before I die isn't a bad start, and since I plan on living forever I guess I'll have time to add to the list.

What are some of the things that are on your list?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Canadian Ski Patrol

first aid –noun
[furst eyd]
1. emergency aid or treatment given to someone injured, suddenly ill, etc., before regular Medical services arrive or can be reached
My newest distraction to chase is training to become a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol. For approximately 9 weeks I will be learning all the ins and outs of the human body and the techniques to keep it alive long enough for EMS to arrive.

This is really the personal challenge of all personal challenges for me.

I'm very squeamish when it comes to the inner workings of the body. I much prefer to pretend that inside us all is this fire that burns. Eating fuels these flames and as we get older the flame slowly diminishes until it is snuffed out and we die. Learning about how vulnerable we are makes me feel weak. In fact I never lasted through a whole health class in high school and came close to fainting many times. I don't think I will have a problem seeing 'it' or dealing with 'it', it's more just hearing about 'it'. I have an overactive imagination and learning about our insides just freaks me out.

But what's a personal challenge unless you really challenge yourself?

Speaking of personal challenges, today is the last day of Sober September. Another successful year, but the most challenging to date, this September I attended a wedding and a bachelor party. I managed to survive the temptation so as a award for a job well done I will be attending the Oktoberfest celebrations at the Beau's Brewery this weekend.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A New Quit Smoking Aid

big house –noun
[big hou-ziz]
1. Slang a penitentiary
I've considered myself a casual smoker for years - too many years to mention *cough-cough*. In an attempt to curb this filthy habit I thought I would take some insight from those unfortunate souls that find them self in the Big House. Well at least what I know of it from books and movies.

In the Big House the common currency is cigarettes. The current exchange rate for a cigarette is 50¢; from this day forward I will think in terms of cigarettes. For example:

If I want to order that tasty sandwich from the place around the corner it's going to cost me 13 cigarettes.

My car just went in for repairs; it's likely going to cost me 3000 cigarettes.

When this year's Sober September ends that first frosty pint of Guinness is likely to cost me 14 cigarettes plus another two for tip.

It costs me just over 1000 cigarettes a month for rent… hmm I wonder if my landlord will be up for that exchange.

Hopefully thinking in terms of cigarettes will help me to quit. For every dollar I spend that's two smokes I can't have.