feature image Photo Credit: James McCullough


August 15, 2015

The Call Of Silence

I think of my reading as drawing water from some bottomless, timeless well. In goes the bucket. The rope slides through my hands. I’m sitting on the couch in the living room, the French press on the coffee table, a book open in my lap, a chipped mug balanced on my knee. The city is asleep all around me. The sun is asleep beyond the earth’s curve. And now up comes a cherry tree in blossom, the tolling of a distant bell, a burning stick of incense, a small man in a wooden boat on a perfectly calm lake at dusk. The images are plain and clear, refreshing. I drink deeply, then lower the bucket for more.

Leath Tonino, A Quiet Subversion | Tricycle

The past month, I have become acutely aware of how much silence there is in my life. Being an introvert has helped me not become too bothered by it, but it is there. It's become unavoidable. My daughter has been spending more time with her mother this month and it's left a void in my home. Gone are the countless questions and her insatiable curiously about what I am doing and whether she can help. Gone are the sounds of her favourite shows playing on Netflix1 that normally play while I prepare meals or we wait for our swimming pool to warm in the sun. All that's left is silence.

My hiking activities the past few months have taken me to less travelled parts of Kelowna. Partly focused on improving my fitness levels, partly to discover new sights and sounds, these hikes have put me in situations where I need to be more alert about wild life. Because of the potential run-ins with black bears or cougars, my headphones have been left out of my ears. Moving away from my car and the roadways brings me to places where sounds are infrequent. No cars, no people talking, and hardly any sounds from birds or squirrels. Just silence.

In those moments at home or out hiking, I recognize the silence and enjoy it for what it is: a time to reconnect with my body. I can hear my heart beating in my chest while breathing heavily after climbing up a steep hill. I can hear myself yawn deeply when waking up or my stomach rumbling with hunger. I don't feel the need to fill that space with noise, whether it'd be the television or music, but instead I take it in and appreciate it.

But on the other hand, I'm also becoming more aware of what isn't there. My daughter, obviously, but also the lack of notifications buzzing from my phone or noise coming from the pool area or hallways. I'm left to my own devices to choose how that absence of sound is to be filled rather than struggling to block out, filter, or add to the layers of sound. I almost always choose to keep the silence- quietly wishing my phone would buzz more often.

At home, I eventually cave and replace the aural silence with visual noise, however. Scanning over news feeds, Twitter, Instagram, and so forth, I keep my brain stimulated on a modern loop of information, a constant bounce between apps and sites. Not to ensure I don't miss something, but to keep something there. In my visual field, in my head.

Until now, that loop has been operating fine. What changed, I don't know, but there's a growing restlessness and unhappiness with this current loop. I couldn't pinpoint the problem until I started to browse through Tricycle, the Zen Buddhist publishing site, and found Leath Tonino's piece.

He starts each day in silence, reading ancient Chinese poetry while having a cup of coffee. He doesn't read news sites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. When he asked himself whether he was in the loop with current events, his response made me pause.

[Reading poetry is] a bigger loop, an older loop, a far more stable and enduring loop. Dating back 3,200 years, the Chinese poetic tradition represents the longest continuous literary movement in world history.

Am I in the wrong loop? Is it that important for me to be aware of what is happening instead of discovering the older, wiser texts that are out there?

He writes that it is not important to seek out the ancient writings, but instead the joy in discovering that, "[you] can choose, at least to some degree, what [you] admit into that special space [you] call [yourself.]"

Choosing to be in silence is the easy part. Choosing what loop I want to allow myself to be involved in during that silence will be an ongoing challenge, but a challenge I hope I can ultimately conquer and enjoy the process of discovering the right loop to be in.

  1. Currently, Peppa Pig.  

July 27, 2015

Summer Of DFW- Depression

Just over a week ago, I began my summer of David Foster Wallace with Infinite Jest. It is definitely a tough book to get into with chapters taking place in different periods of time, with characters that aren't always named. There is a bit of mystery to reading it and discovering who is actually speaking.

Thankfully, David Foster Wallace writes in such a way that you are able to tell who the action is focused around. Each character is surrounded by different style of prose and pacing, which makes it a fascinating read. I am approaching a fifth of the way through the book, and the storyline is just starting to unfold. The language used has been wonderful to read. Every now and then, I find myself reading the book with his voice reading the words. I haven't found any audio of him reading the book himself, but the voice I hear in my head is the one that read This is Water for the commencement speech at Kenyon College.

During this first section of the book, one of the characters we meet is struggling with depression. She has a nice monologue with the doctor who is treating her that I thought was worth sharing. I am sure I will find other little snippets like this as I continue reading.

When people call it [depression] I always get pissed off because I always think depression sounds like you just get like really sad, you get quiet and melancholy and just like sit quietly by the window sighing or just lying around. A state of not caring about anything. A kind of blue kind of peaceful state. Well this isn’t a state. This is a feeling. I feel it all over. In my arms and legs.

All over. My head, throat, butt. In my stomach. It’s all over everywhere. I don’t know what I could call it. It’s like I can’t get enough outside it to call it anything. It’s like horror more than sadness. It’s more like horror. It’s like something horrible is about to happen, the most horrible thing you can imagine - no, worse than you can imagine because there’s the feeling that there’s something you have to do right away to stop it but you don’t know what it is you have to do, and then it’s happening, too, the whole horrible time, it’s about to happen and also it’s happening, all at the same time.

Everything gets horrible. Everything you see gets ugly. Lurid is the word. Doctor Garton said lurid, one time. That’s the right word for it. And everything sounds harsh, spiny and harsh-sounding, like every sound you hear all of a sudden has teeth. And smelling like I smell bad even after I just out of the shower. It’s like what’s the point of washing if everything smells like I need another shower.

-- Kate Gompert, Infinite Jest1

  1. Page 73, but the monologue is broken up with other exposition and dialogue with the doctor.  

July 20, 2015

Getting Out Of Jail

Often, the psychological turbulence of those first days or weeks is so debilitating that recently incarcerated people can’t even navigate public transportation; they’re too frightened of crowds, too intimidated or mystified by the transit cards that have replaced cash and tokens. In a recent study, the Harvard sociologist Bruce Western describes a woman who ‘‘frequently forgot to eat breakfast or lunch for several months because she was used to being called to meals in prison.’’ I met one man who explained that, after serving 15 years, he found himself convinced that parked cars would somehow switch on and run him over. So many years inside can leave people vulnerable in almost incomprehensibly idiosyncratic ways, sometimes bordering on helplessness: ‘‘Like that little bird, getting his wings’’ is how one man described himself on Day 1.

NY Times, You Just Got Out Of Jail, Now What?

When I was riding the Greyhound from Syracuse, NY to Chicago, I had a layover in Cleveland late at night. I found a spot with my two large duffle bags and laptop, and just waited quietly. It was loud and quite busy at that hour. Close by me, there was a man trying to use an ATM to withdraw money and was struggling with it. He asked for my assistance, so I went over to see what the problem was.

He was wearing a plain white T-shirt, grey sweatpants, and generic sneakers. Nothing special or unusual at this hour, as most people were a little underdressed for their overnight bus rides. What did stand out for me was the stack of banker boxes behind him with just a small bag. After I helped him out withdrawing the money, he started to explain to me why he was struggling so much. He was fresh out of jail, having spent a dozen years at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, and the boxes contained everything he owned, mainly legal documents.

The name of the prison stood out for me, because my maternal grandmother grew up in Chillicothe1, so I've heard the name countless times over the years. I looked it up, and it had actually opened well after she had departed the town.

I only talked to the man for maybe ten minutes, because I had to go catch my bus. What I was able to glean from him was that he was in there for financial fraud from his wife, not any violent crimes. This was 2005, so he entered in 1992 when I was just barely a teenager. Paying for water was new to him, as were ATMs, Discmans, the internet, cellphones, how prevalent computers were, and more. It was incredibly stressful for him to just buy something to eat at the bus terminal.

I helped him withdraw money from the ATM, bought him something to eat and drink with my money, and then wished him luck as I headed off. A ten minute encounter that has stuck in my mind for over ten years now.

The NY Times story is a long read about two men who help men like the one I met on a regular basis, taking them out for lunch, buying them clothes, and doing anything they can to help them adjust to a completely different world than the one they left behind. It's an incredible story and well worth taking the time to read.

  1. Chillicothe was actually the first capital of Ohio in the 1800s. The things you learn from Wikipedia. 

July 18, 2015

A Summer of David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace has been an indirect influence on my writing for as long as I have been writing a blog. He was and still is a major influence on some of my favourite writers, primarily Bill Simmons and Jason Kottke, with how they phrased things and their generous usage of footnotes. 1 The unfortunate thing for me has been a lack of reading the original source.

The options to read his work are not limited to a few books. David Foster Wallace was a prolific writer, covering all aspects of life with his pieces in magazines such as Rolling Stone, Harper’s, and The Atlantic Monthly, writing about subjects as varied as cruise ships, the US Open, and a lobster festival in Maine. Several of these essays I have read before. In the case of the US Open piece, I have read it almost annually since I discovered it several years ago.

Even with all the essay reading I have done, his novels have eluded me. They are not small tomes, not exactly easy reads either. The highlight of his career was a massive novel, Infinite Jest, which weighs in at over 1000 pages. “This book changes people after being read,” is the refrain I keep hearing when someone mentions the novel. His last novel, The Pale King, was published after David Foster Wallace’s suicide in 2008. It was an unfinished manuscript that was pieced together through the various drafts and notes left behind. His last published words from what I understand.

Both of these books now rest on my desk to be read over the remainder of the summer. Why now and not previous summers? Mainly because there is a movie coming out soon that follows David Foster Wallace on a book tour after Infinite Jest is published. The End of the Tour trailer looks quite interesting, but I don’t want my first in-depth experience with him to be through a movie. I want to get a better understanding of his writing and the man behind the words before watching a movie about his life, much like I have done with Steve Jobs, having read some of his biographies. (Becoming Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs)

The best way to do so is, of course, to read his works. I purchased the two novels listed above to absorb over the coming months. Cracking open Infinite Jest to start with, I find the words of Dave Eggers in the Foreword to be quite promising and whet my appetite for what I am about to discover:

When you exit these pages after that month of reading, you are a better person. It’s insane, but also hard to deny. Your brain is stronger because it’s been given a monthlong workout, and more importantly, your heart is sturdier, for there has scarcely been written a more moving account of desperation, depression, addiction, generational stasis and yearning, or the obsession with human expectations, with artistic and athletic and intellectual possibility. The themes here are big, and the emotions (guarded as they are) are very real, and the cumulative effect of the book is, you could say, seismic. It would be very unlikely that you would find a reader who, after finishing the book, would shrug and say, “Eh.”

Holding this book in my hands feels great. It is heavy, dense with words, and I can’t wait to dive deep into one of my generation’s greatest writers. And, so begins my summer of David Foster Wallace, turning the page to begin, Infinite Jest, and read:

I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies. My posture is consciously congruent to the shape of my hard chair. This is a cold room in University Administration, wood-walled, Remington-hung, double-windowed against the November heat, insulated from Administrative sounds by the reception area outside, at which Uncle Charles, Mr. deLint and I were lately received.

I am in here.

A selection of my favourite pieces of David Foster Wallace:

End of the Tour - the trailer for the movie following David Foster Wallace during his book tour to promote Infinite Jest. Movie comes out at the end of July.

Infinite Jest:

A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the pursuit of happiness in America. Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.

Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.

The Pale King:

The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has.

The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions--questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society--through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time.

  1. Obligatory footnote. 

June 16, 2015

Exit The Queen

You are going to die in an hour and a half.

You are going to die at the end of the play.

-- Queen Marguerite, Exit the King

My real introduction to theatre1 began with Eugene Ionesco's, Exit the King. It was a small production at The Guild, in the early part of 1997, in Whitehorse, Yukon. I remember the time and year distinctly, because it was one of the first assignments to be done for my first semester in the MAD program.

MAD stands for Music, Art, and Drama, a school-within-a-school program at my high school, where a group of students were separated from the main system to study in a more focused way. In my first semester of MAD, that meant that my classes for the semester took place at the Yukon Arts Centre, an impressive and relatively new building at the time. During our four months in this building, we performed a variety show, a series of one act plays, and then a big musical at the end. I had entered the program, because of several of my friends having switched to it, with a focus on music; I left with a greater appreciation for the arts that has lived long past my time there.

Exit the King, in hindsight, is a rather odd introduction to theatre for a teenager. A French absurdist playwright, Eugene Ionesco, wrote it as a lesson on death. The King is in denial that he is dying and refuses to give up his power over his kingdom. Through the play, with the assistance of the Queen and the Doctor, he begins to understand and accept that his life is fading. As a teenager, you identify with the King since he, like you, is invincible, ready to take on all the challenges of the world, and believes that life will never end. And yet, it reminds you that life is a constant flirtation with death, and that, ultimately, you will give in to her ways.

This production has remained memorable for me nearly twenty years later, because it is a fantastic play, but also because Queen Marguerite was played by my drama teacher, Mary Sloan.

June 15 happened to be her last day of teaching the senior groups of MAD2.

As her final major musical production closed for the school a month ago, I found myself thinking about the impact she and her teaching partner, Jeff Nordlund, have had on me, and about all the other lives they have touched through their MAD program. The MAD program did what regular high school fails to do on a regular basis: it prepared us for life.

The MAD program was less about music, art, and drama, and more about taking a group of 25 teenagers from all walks of life, putting them together and learning how to make something out of nothing. The regular high school amplifies the separation of the student body and creates the cliques for you through how people dress, their grades, or their school activities outside the classroom. MAD basically destroyed a lot of those cliques.3 From the first day of that semester, you learned that you will have to work with everyone in the group, that you will be put into situations you aren't comfortable with, and that everyone is equal. If you couldn't accept those challenges, you were better off leaving and returning to the regular school. The acceptance of others' abilities and appearance was as important as working on improving your own abilities.

A dedication and respect of the work was equally important. You had to show up on time, to do the work that allowed you to learn your lines ahead of schedule or be able to do that one dance move properly. To do otherwise, showed disrespect to the rest of the group. The consequences were as extreme as being stripped of a part or being kicked out of MAD. There was no discussion with a principal and hoping to resolve your differences. Change was made for the better of the group, not a single person.

Of course, this wasn't a military setting where we were being grilled for every wrong doing. This was a setting where we were routinely setup to fail, to laugh at our failures, to learn from our failures, and to grow together. More often than not, we conquered those failures and the fear of failing. MAD allowed me to get over my fear of public speaking to such a degree that I went from having small roles on stage in my first year, to being able to pull off this performance with a good friend the following year:

Incredibly, we nailed it.4 There is no bigger rush than being on stage with one other person, in front of 400 critical teens, and hearing them burst into laughter. The entire time, we both knew that one minor slip-up could throw off the entire bit, but we both thrived under that pressure and ignored our fear of failure to make people laugh. And the fact that these kids were laughing at a routine done 50 years before, that they had likely never even heard of (pre-YouTube), made it that much better.

The lessons we learned in those incredibly long, stressful, fun-filled days did more for my mental health than any time I spent sitting in a desk surrounded by other students. I found the work on the productions rewarding enough that it pushed me to attempt to make a career of it. Much of what I learned in the final years of high school in the MAD program, allowed me to make the adjustment to University life much better than I could have imagined. Although I no longer work in theatre,5 I still utilize these skills in my current career path in the hospitality industry, and also as a father.

Being tired and not feeling like doing something is an excuse found throughout life. It isn't one you find in the performing arts world, nor in parenthood. You have to wake up and do the work without resisting. Afterwards, the reward is more gratifying than anything money can buy.

Like the King, it took me a long time to fully realize the importance of the lessons that were taught to me those days. 17 years later. I don't think I could give enough credit to the MAD program for helping me discover who I was and what I was passionate about in life. Mary and Jeff believed in each and every one of us, treated us as friends as much as students. I am sure I echo the sentiments of all those students that they have touched through the years when I say, "Thank you."

Sometimes you have a dream. And you get involved, you believe in it, you love it. In the morning when you open your eyes, the two worlds are still confused. The brilliance of the light blurs the faces of the night. You’d like to remember, you’d like to hold them back. But they slip between your fingers, the brutal reality of day drives them away. What did I dream about, you ask yourself? What was it happened? Who was I kissing? Who did I love? What was I saying and what was I told? That you find you’re left with a vague regret for all those things that were or seemed to have been. You no longer know what it was that was there all around you.

Queen Marguerite, Exit the King

  1. The first production that I remember seeing was Dancing At Lughnasa. The only real memory of it was that it was performed at the United Church in Whitehorse, and that I was completely lost by the performance, likely because I was too young to appreciate it. Afterwards, there was a performance of Fried Green Tomatoes done by the MAD program when I was in junior high, but I don't remember much about it either. 

  2. She will officially be done next January, after another semester of teaching Grade 9/10s. 

  3. That being said, we were still high school students, and drama was to be had.  

  4. The same performance didn't go too well when we first tried it on the local radio station. Sorry, Robin. 

  5. A story to be told someday. 

May 14, 2015

Origins of the Mad Men Theme Song

Mad Men, the television show on AMC, has been one of my favourite TV shows the past ten years. Discovered through Netflix, I have devoured the every season since I first discovered it five years ago. The theme song is instantly recognizable, to lovers of the show and likely to non-viewers of the show.

The story behind its creation is not something I had looked up before. It was by chance after browsing through Spotify’s new albums when I came across the artist RJD2. One of his latest songs, Doin’ It Right, had a good vibe to it and I went to find a version of it on YouTube. When I searched for it, I came across RJD2 performing a song titled, “A Beautiful Mine,” which had the subtitle of being the theme from Mad Men.

A quick Google search later brought me to this post by Tom Barnes, The Strange Origins of the 'Mad Men' Theme Song:

But one fateful day, Weiner was driving listening to Marketplace on NPR when he heard an instrumental version of RJD2's song playing as a segue between two stories. He immediately called his assistant who helped him identify the song. “We listened to it, and it had everything to it: Big old movie quality to it, and updated beat to it, it had drama. I just loved it." 

The original song is not an instrumental, but a rap song with the rapper Aceyalone rapping overtop of the noticeable beats. Interestingly enough, it is the story of a man.

Something outa nothing

Oh, what a far cry

More than a hard tribe

Pointed out the start guide

Made love, made hate

Saved sake

Nothing left the crate but fate

The series finale airs on Sunday, so it is fitting that I come across the story of that theme song at the very end of its lifespan.

April 19, 2015

The Pause That Refreshes at Sparkling Hill

You need the practice of mindfulness to bring your mind back to the body and establish yourself in the moment…

Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh

Springtime is the best time to renew your energies. I was feeling on the verge of collapse mentally and physically with everything happening in my life when I came across a simple phrase:

The pause that refreshes

It comes from Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. The short section talks about becoming more aware of how certain events can preoccupy your mind and letting go to be in the moment. The work/life balance is the main focus of it, which is difficult for me to relate to since I have no clear separation between the two (I work from home, not in an environment outside of the house.) Working on that separation between the negative events in one area not effecting the other area, made me realize that I needed something more. Not neccessarily a vacation, but some kind of break.

I thought about trying to find a place to escape through AirBnB. There were quite a variety of places to choose from that were secluded or in a town I had only driven through. Many of them were quite appealing, but time was a factor as well. Do I want to be sitting in a car for three or more hours to reach my destination? Instead, I turned my interest to a place more local, that I had been to before, and that just happened to send me an email announcing a great deal for locals.

Sparkling Hill Resort is a place that words have a hard time describing. Reading back through my first experience there over four years ago, Beautiful Sparkling Hill, I was as impressed now as I was then. I found myself looking forward to rediscovering the little gems hidden around the complex, as much as I was looking forward to relaxing in the saunas.

Located a short 30 minute drive from Kelowna, it’s a convenient getaway for locals. Its location high up in the hills overlooking the surround lakes make it the perfect retreat - away from the busy city centres, but close enough if you’re needing somewhere else to explore during the daytime.

After hustling through Friday afternoon traffic and checking in, I put on my running shoes to get geared up for a hike in the hills. A few kilometres through the woods, a relatively steep incline over granite rock faces, brings you to a gorgeous view of the Okanagan valley.

I was fortunate enough to time the hike so I reached the peak shortly before a storm started to blow through. The winds were howling when I was standing at the peak, dark clouds rolling in. I was thankful that the descent through the hills was covered by thick woods, followed by a quick walk back up to the sanctuary. An hour and a half in the hills was more than enough to get me ready to have a meal and retreat to the saunas to recover.

The saunas1 were more memorable to me this time. I remembered several of them from before, but I had forgotten or never had a chance to experience some of the other ones. There are seven saunas to enjoy, ranging from a high and dry heat (90C with 10% humidity) to extremely humid saunas that have you dripping in sweat after a few seconds. An hour of alternating between the saunas, the outdoor infinity pool, and the hot tub, had my body melting away. It was wonderful to sit in there and not think, about work or life.

The next morning was a continuation of Friday evening. Woke up with the sun shining through the window early in the morning. I generally sleep in on the weekends when I don’t have my daughter, but that day, I was up and downstairs for breakfast by 7:30 am feeling quite refreshed. A full breakfast buffet is included in the room rate and offers everyone what they need to start their day.

Afterwards, I retreated to the saunas once more. They were slightly busier than the night before as people tried to relax more before departing. I took a moment afterwards to lay down in the Tea Room, a relaxation room, enjoying the sun, the view and a cup of jasmine tea.

One night is more than enough time for me to recharge myself and be better prepared for the coming weeks/months. This will definitely not be the last time I take a break at Sparkling Hill, though I will make sure I go there a little more frequently than once every four years. My one night there was a reminder of how good it feels to take a break, not look at my phone or other device, and do nothing. Absolutely nothing.

How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterwards

Sparkling Hill Resort

  1. Images of the sauna and relaxation room are from their website. No cameras are allowed in the spa area, partly because of all the moisture in the air, but also because after 9pm is a European hour - clothing optional. 

April 03, 2015

An Afternoon in Fintry BC

Old Manor

Serene He stands among the flowers And only marks life’s sunny hours For him dark days do not exist The brazen-faced old Optimist

— George Allison1

In preparation for the coming summer season, I have been taking some time to explore the Okanagan more. Partially to satisfy my own natural curiousity about the historical background of the region, but also to provide ideas of things to do for the guests of the vacation rental. When I first arrived in the valley five years ago, I thought the history was to be fairly basic: the valley was discovered to be a perfect climate to grow apples, peaches, and other fruit, and then slowly grew up to be a bustling city based on tourism and the environment.

Nothing is ever quite that simple. Dispersed through the region you will hear stories of the characters that helped build the area from the ground up. On this particular day, I went to explore the waterfalls of Fintry.

Farm Buildings

Fintry is a small town located on the western shores of the Okanagan, between West Kelowna and Vernon, to the North. A windy road leads you to Fintry from either direction, full of mule deer and bighorn sheep. Another windy road leads down from the highway into the delta that the town of Fintry is built near. Fintry itself is almost exclusively a residential town. Across Shorts Creek is the Fintry Provincial Park, the real highlight of the area.

When I parked the car to hike up to the waterfall, I was greeted by a sight that I wasn’t prepared for. Wide open fields that were used for farming in the past, and several large farming buildings built in the 1910s. The Provincial Park is actually the original estate of Captain Thomas Shorts, who purchased the land in 1882. He operated a business of rowing cargo and people up and down the Okanagan Lake, 125 km in length. When paddle-wheelers started showing up on the lake, he was put out of business in 1893.

James Cameron Dun-Waters came onto the property in 1908 and started to transform the property from nothing into a bustling farm. His history is rather fascinating. A young man from Scotland, he inherited a sizeable inheritance when he was only 22. He spent his early years traveling the world hunting before he came across the Okanagan and fell in love.


The farm buildings are mainly untouched and slowly crumbling to the ground. It was a quiet day, so I was able to freely walk around to take some time to marvel at the old construction. I was really drawn to the lines of the buildings, the colours of the bricks stuck in the ground, and the rusted iron poking out. Something new to discover at each step.



Behind the farm yard, is the trail leading up to the waterfalls. Dun-Waters harnessed the power of the falls to power a small sawmill, have running water through his property, and even electricity to power a private phone system between the buildings. 400 steps lead up the waterfalls - the same creek cascading down three separate times, progressively more impressive as you climb up. To hear the rush of water falling down 200’ and then turning your head to catch the sun lighting up the blue waters of the Okanagan Lake is quite wonderful.


After descending the stairs, I began to explore the rest of the estate. The area is quite large and hosts a provincial campground now, with a boat launch and beach. On the rest of the estate, there is an old packing house on the shoreline, a lighthouse, and the Victorian manor house that Dun-Waters built for his wife (picture at the beginning). Granite was taken from the cliff walls behind the house, and all the antiques inside were transported by paddle-wheeler to his property. Tours are available for the house in the summertime.

The packing house is all shuttered, which is a shame, because the view looking out from it is incredible. Naturally, a large, empty space that is locked up has been broken into, creating a new layer on top of the old wood.


Fintry is a neat afternoon adventure to take. I look forward to returning there in the summertime to view the inside of the manor house and exploring the buildings a little more closely.

  1. This poem is on sun dials around the world, but I couldn’t find anything about the original publishing source. The only George Allison I could find reference to was a journalist and football manager in London around the turn of the nineteenth century.  

February 21, 2015

Alto’s Adventure

Alto’s Adventure

Ever since purchasing my new iPhone, I’ve been discovering that playing games on the larger screen is a much better experience.

Alto’s Adventure came out this week for iPhone. It’s an endless snowboarding game1, meaning the level only finishes when you crash. The game play is incredibly simple: a tap is a jump, pressing down causes you to flip. That’s it.

Alto’s Adventure

What sells me on the game is how beautiful it is. During the game, the light changes from sunlight to sunset to moonlight, making it a little more difficult as it gets darker.

It is only $2.00 on the App Store, so check it out:

In Canada


  1. See also Desert Golfing 

February 14, 2015

My Problems With Dating

We don’t commit now. We don’t see the point. They’ve always said there are so many fish in the sea, but never before has that sea of fish been right at our fingertips on OkCupid, Tinder, Grindr, Dattch, take your pick. We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless. We think intimacy lies in a perfectly-executed string of emoji. We think effort is a “good morning” text. We say romance is dead, because maybe it is, but maybe we just need to reinvent it. Maybe romance in our modern age is putting the phone down long enough to look in each other’s eyes at dinner. Maybe romance is deleting Tinder off your phone after an incredible first date with someone. Maybe romance is still there, we just don’t know what it looks like now.

Jamie Varon, This is How We Date Now

My problems with dating have always been two-fold:

  1. Impossible for me to stand out from the thousands of guys on the dating sites.
  2. Extremely difficult for me to get that second date.

The first one is something I can never conquer myself, without investing some money to be highlighted on the various dating sites. That strategy seems like a complete waste of money, because the only thing that will stand out is, “This guy knows how to use a credit card.” Nothing about being highlighted signifies that the guy should be more appealing than any other guy on the site.

The second is rather puzzling for me. I meet the woman, things seem to be going really well, and they tell you they want to see me again. The next morning, I get the dreaded text message: “I’m sorry, I don’t think I’m quite ready for a relationship right now.”

Part of me wants to believe those messages, that the person really isn’t ready. The doubt almost always sets in that I was misled after a while. Some women have let it slip in conversations with me that they were a serial dater, going out to meet with men mainly to take advantage of the free meal and drinks, hopeful they would actually connect with the person but thankful for the freebies.

The more it happens to me, the more cynical it makes me. After each failed date, I start to think that the majority of women on these dating sites are out to take advantage of guys like me.

I am sure there are a lot of decent women on these sites, and they do have honest intentions. Jamie is right, though, in how easy it is to find the next great date. There is no compromise in finding a partner these days and then trying to make things work. People go on these first dates with a mental checklist of what they would like. At the first sign of something that contradicts an item on that list, no matter how major or minor, the Eject button is mentally pressed and the end of the date is imminent.

And I wanna kiss you, make you feel alright

I'm just so tired to share my nights

I wanna cry and I wanna love

But all my tears have been used up

Tom Odell, Another Love

It is a cycle.

Finding someone to go out with, being rejected or ejecting myself out of date, and then starting all over again is mentally exhausting. It is even worse when I am still battling some inner demons trying to recover from a previous relationship. I read those messages of rejection and wonder about what needs to change in order for me to find someone that I connect with. I can never ask that person why they weren’t completely sold on me, because there is likely nothing wrong with me at all.

I am always going to be myself.

That is a big problem. My words and actions that are purely genuine, coming from my heart, being shared with someone of interest, can easily be read as a prepared message that was copy-and-pasted and sent to multiple women in quick succession. Every urge I have to send a, “How are you?” message is balanced with a moment of hesitation, wondering, “How many other men have asked her that tonight?”

That hesitation leads to more missed connections. Every message not sent, words not spoken, is a chance lost to reach out and make an impression. Without taking those chances, I will never know whether something may happen or not.

Having patience and continuing to take those minor risks more are all I have to work with right now. Eventually, I will find that deep connection that I desire.

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