Random thoughts for those who travel. Ridiculous thoughts for those who dont. Until you know me, it might not make sense.HA.

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MY LIFE in 36 Pounds…….how not getting caught up in Columbia House allowed me to go to Colombia.

06 April 2013

The first time I was ever given proper credit was sometime in the 80’s at the exact moment I received my eight carefully selected tapes from Columbia music company. Six to eight weeks previously I was tearing apart postage stamp representations of music albums, licking them on to a selection sheet, and getting involved in the wonderful interdependent worlds of consumption and consumerism.  After hand writing the application (re: name and address), and the envelope, I walked off to the mail and sent in my very first credit application. Beuf!

Original offer sheet from Colombia House circa 1989.

Original offer sheet from Colombia House circa 1989.

Wetting the appetite of the young consumer this credit purchasing trend did not cease with the advent of the CD, although Colombia Music House succumbed, but rather increased and manifested its self into every aspect of our everyday lives. When I started college there were very few people holding their own credit cards, but by the time I walked down the aisle for graduation, you couldn’t get through the school year without being approached by dozens of credit card companies vying to sign you up.  If the free mug or “something U” tshirt or flannel uni pants didnt entice you to sign up as you walked the hallways of higher education, then maybe the allure of having a photo of your alma matter on that little piece of plastic – with a little visa or mastercard logo in the corner – would…..or eventually did.

With credit being king, suddenly a lack of fluid cash did not cease our purchasing power.  In fact, credit increased our ability to buy goods and we did so at an ever increasing rate.  We were inundated with phrases like “don’t pay a cent”, “do not pay till the year 2005”, and “no money down” until they became context of this new popular culture.  As a group we were dealt a wonderful hand of increased tuition and cost of living, lower wages, higher unemployment, and larger debt load.  This didn’t phase us however as we had access to credit, and companies were offering this credit to us at an alarming rate and with increasing frequency.  We bit and we bought.  And we bought and we bought.

We don’t need to look much further than our own debt loads and credit problems to know the rest of the story.  More and more people are struggling to make even minimum payments and the interest rates are astronomical. 

A recent FB status update from a friend who captioned "credit cards are getting a work out today!"

A recent FB status photo update from a friend who captioned this:  “credit cards are getting a work out today!”

Taking solace in the vast amounts of goods contained in our homes, garages, closets, and basements and finally making their way to the land fill – the debt continues its stranglehold.  Strangely enough, a frequently used “feel good” remedy is the purchase of an Iphone, even throwing out the old one and lining up for an hour for the opportunity to spend $500 on a new one (re: more credit, and signing up for a 3 year contract)  because then the phone is free right?.  Smart isn’t it?  Not really……but it feels good in that moment, so I’m told, or so it appears.

And there it is, we have stuff and we have debt and we live with it.  Some people are even comfortable with it, wouldn’t know what to do without it, the new normal. Gather those airmiles, but never take flight.  For me conversely it’s the flight I’m looking for, and for what I like to take.

I am able to do this because I don’t have debt (re:things) that create the debt and thus keep one grounded in one spot for a long long time.  This new world normalcy for many, is for myself, so foreign.  Debt controls us, strangles us, and holds us like a bear hug we want to get out of but in some sense we like – and are used to, not like we have any other choice. 

When packing for my recent 3 month trip to Colombia I took all of what I needed, but what some might call the bare essentials.  My entire life for 90 days on the road was folded up into a backpack that weighed 36 pounds at the airport check in.  That is all.  My entire living existence was contained in one bag slung on my back and really, this is all I needed. 

Although I was introduced to consumerism, credit and consumption by Columbia Music House some twenty five years ago, I did not get caught up in this culture as most did.  For some reason (maybe years of living day to day during and after university with a strict accounting dad holding the reins), I paid off my debt and never returned.  I clearly remember the day I became 100% debt free, it was the first time I actually felt free…..and it was a great feeling .  A better feeling than I received from anything Ive ever bought.  Suddenly I was empowered and able to make choices in life based on what I wanted to do not what I had to do.  Happiness and mobility increased, working hand in hand like a secret formula we were never taught or shown.  I continue to challenge myself to work with what Ive got and not extend myself beyond my means.  Its fairly easy when travelling in second and third world countries but understandably harder whenever I return home for more than a week or two.  With that said, each time I purchase a plane ticket Im reminded why I don’t want an Iphone or new living room set or the latest kicks, and why I just laugh at people who’s local grocery store is Costco (re: you never leave there without spending a couple hundred bucks).

In essence,

Not getting caught up in Columbia Music House, has allowed me the opportunity to travel COLOMBIA! 

For the interested, here is a complete list of what thirty six pounds of goods in a backpack adds up to:

Colombia Packing list:

-2 pairs of jeans

-1 pair light weight hiking pants

-1cargo shorts

-1 swim shorts

-5 underwear

-3 pairs socks, 1 pair wool socks

-5 t-shirts

-1 long sleeve T shirt

-3 button down shirts

-1 pull over fleece

-1 rash guard

-1 hoodie

-1 winter hat

-1 hat

-1 rain coat

-1 pair lightweight hiking shoes

-1 pair flip flops

-head lamp, sewing kit, bottle of camp soap, flashlight, toiletries, sunscreen, sleeping bag, travel pillow, quick dry towel, snorkelling gear, 2 books, note pad, bag of band aids, swiss army knife,

-(in my carry-on not incl in the 36lbs). laptop, speakers, iPod, earphones, usb stick, camera, cell phone, chargers.

Things I didn’t use, or were lost or stolen on trip:

-2 button down t-shirts (not used)

-winter hat (not used)

-sewing kit (not used)

-1 book (not read)

-cell phone (stolen)

 

Foot Note: An interesting article about how Colombia House was able to make money through their sales scheme in the 80’s and 90’s

http://mentalfloss.com/article/28036/its-steal-how-columbia-house-made-money-giving-away-music

Colombia Music House Logo.colombia flag

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Argos Admirals. social media team

Argos Admirals

29 Aug 12

Well now that the CFL season is well underway and things are moving along towards the labour day classics and fall weather football, its about time to introduce the Argos Admirals.

Consisting of a group of around a dozen Toronto Argonaut fans, we have been brought on board to contribute content – about the team and the league – to the various social media outlets available today.  Having been hired in early June, this group of enthusiasts have been writing and uploading and tweeting and talking and yelling (while at the games), in all forms and fashion about the Toronto Argonauts.  Being a big supporter of the club myself, it was natural to get involved and I was one of the lucky hires of this group.

We will be working all the way towards and through the 100th edition of the Grey Cup to be played in Toronto this coming November.

You can find information, details, events, contests, and all things Argos via facebook, our website, the Argos official website and twitter…..simply search ARGOS ADMIRALS.

Having been a fan for my entire life it is certainly welcoming to get involved with the club in this fashion.  We work out of the head offices on King st in Toronto in a room called M31, and on game days we are in the press box and in the stands at the dome.  Anything going on in Argoland or regarding the Grey Cup will come right through our channels via the club.

argosadmirals.com Great articles with player interviews, summaries, predictions, and stories from the past.

Admirals on official Argos website With links to twitter, pintrest and reddit.

Facebook page with lots photos, video, and banter.


….and the painting continued.

13 June 2012

Amongst other things going on, there was another painting job on the horizon, but really though, it did come out of the blue.

A friend requested some help doing some inside rooms and hallways, walls and trim…….ceilings as well.

Stayed over a couple of times.  Worked during the day and connected online doing other work also…..stay connected.

One job always turns into the next, Im supposed to go back on Monday.

The work is turning out well.  In the mean time, I feel like Picasso.


Irons in the fire??…….then youre painting your buddies place.

Without any big explanation, Ive been painting my friends place over the past week.  Nice to do outdoors and with the good weather lately.  Returning to a trade I left some years ago (meaning: painting for cash on the side), it actually has been quite nice to be working on a project for a few runs in the sun.

I wished I took a picture of the before and after but alas I didnt.  It is coming together and looks good. Spent 3 days on trim and prep, 2 days on painting………using a sprayer – and thus the skill for which I landed the gig. Last, shutters and door, and done in the next day or two.

While working, something I gained appreciation for: CBC 99.1 morning radio.

Something on radio that upset me: Edge 102 playing the same list of 102 “best ever” songs each day….SamE! SongS! each day….and that meant OurladyPeace 5 times in the playlist (thanks Canadian Content)…..hip 5 songs as well, which was fine with me.

How to turn your effort to your advantage: have wifi avaialable and have a look on a break or lunch.  Send a couple emails or quotes and youre essentially working from anywhere.  Balance two or three things at once……it means youre never not working………but then again, maybe youre never really working….but for sure at least youre enjoying it.

On to the next one.  I looked at the neighbours place next door…..it could certainly use the work as well………it would look tip top with a bit of effort, with me doing it.  Projects like these I like to spin into another…….it really is a nice gig.


Afternoon drive in Niagara with good tunes (video)

Trying my hand at uploading some video to be able to start to add some to my posts.  I just enjoy listening to the City and Colour song on this one. 

Hitch driving and Corporate along for the ride as well.


Pressing the reset button…..on the path to least resistance.

It was years ago, driving to a concert or a football game (it would only be one of the two), with my buddy crazy Dave (now known simply as David unless we really want to see his alter ego), that we got into an argument about something stupid – for example where to park, or which road to turn down.  This argument went through the general steps they normally do and went from heated conversation to silence and then not speaking.

Not knowing what to do at this point……Crazy Dave suddenly reaches across the dashboard of my cool Ford Focus (see: sarcasm) and presses the hazard light button.  At that moment he said “Ok, RESET”

….of course, the button and the argument having nothing to do with one another, but in some strange way everything to do with one another in an illustrated sense.

The result was the dropping of an argument and just simply, going on from there.  Ive thought about that incident various times over the years and with my buddies (see: male friends not female friends), this has continued to work.  At first we had to be in a car, because of course, you could only reset by pressing the hazard light button.  But eventually this transcended figuratively into simply saying RESET when there was an incident or problem without proper resolve but which had to be dropped.  Its a great way to let go, be free and get on with it, and it has worked like a charm ever since.

Yesterday without knowing it I pressed the reset button on myself. I wasnt driving or arguing in my head but somehow I told myself that its time for me to reset…..again, figuratively.

Im not a horoscope guy or into signs or anything of the sort – unless she happens to be (see: keeping up small talk on a cheesy date) going on about this sort of thing. Its is mildly interesting but not gospel to me what so ever.  None the less, my horoscope in the Sunday paper reading this, prompted my reaction.

“The path to least resistance.  That’s what we all tend to follow in the end.  Even if we set out along some other road, it is only a matter of time before inertia sets in.  Why keep doing whats difficult? We all prefer whatever is (or at least seems to be) easiest. There are times though, when even the trains that run on the straightest of tracks have to change direction at the points.  You can now make a brave decision about where you want your emotional and personal life to go next.  The cosmos are ready. Are you?”

So here I am, about 24 hrs after pressing my personal rest button.  It felt great yesterday but not so great today.  In short, its tough for us to change direction and let go of what we know and what we think we want.  Sometimes there is a big inspirational moment that indicates this and other times never ending complacency brings this decision upon us.

There is a big lead up to this which gained momentum over my three years on the road living, travelling and working abroad.  Everything worked so well and slow and in that lifestyle it was normal and expected to not know where the next step maybe.  Having returned to the land of SUVs and Ipads and things Ive never heard of like BBM’s and inserting your credit card and pin number vs. swiping and signing……things have come to a head.  The two different worlds Ive known colliding in an fashion and force that I expected, but then again didnt expect.  It would be easiest to simply get on a plane and get back out there but thats not the point.  You cant chase under the disguise of exploration. You cant expect the world to act the way you want it to with all the external factors pressing upon you and me.  And you cant expect more from people and places than youve given…..even when you do give as much as you can, the expectation of everything working the exact way you want is unfortunately an unrealistic expectation. Even when the stars align, life wont give you this pleasure.  So if the stars wont align for me, Ill run with them…..as the horoscope says, “the cosmos are ready, Are you?”


Getting the groove on…..whats going on with my time?

Right now, well, writing.

Resume was the first thing, writing was the second.

Having a good time doing so and relentless hours putting up some content.  At least thats my goal.  Might turn into an everything small blog about stuff….or alot of stuff about stuff big blog, or maybe somehere in between.  Im not sure which way this one is going to go but so far has been fun.

If youve read this far, hope you enjoy the reading.

Below is night one. 10 April 2012