April, 2006

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strong. proud. today’s canadian forces.

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

I don’t know how governments create spaces or messages that are so traditional and majestic… but I dig their abilities.  There’s this sense of grandeur or even this sacred element to government initiatives that demands respect and reverence.  Canada is particularly good at this skill. 

 

Seriously, whether it’s the man or the woman who saying “A message from the government of Canada� or seeing the Canada logo with a flag draping off of the “d�, I get excited.  Even the bilingual plaques everywhere excite me.  You probably could have guessed that when you see me out for the weekend wearing my CBC exploding pizza t-shirt.

The National Parks are even able to make that barfy army green colour seem cool.  It’s like some psychology genius was able to give a persona and an emotion to a country that is basically a really long (and cold) strip that follows the TransCanada with the odd speckle that deviates from that strip like darts that missed their mark.

This summer I plan to take French.  No word of a lie, part of the appeal is learning our country’s second national language.  After doing the Forum for Young Canadians in Grade 12 and learning that Canada wasn’t just a magnified Alberta, I came to appreciate Canada for its diversity, its underlying mood, and its uniqueness.  I really feel that learning French and continuing to explore this country of ours will help me appreciate it even more.

 

Beyond governmental efforts to have a ‘presence’, Canada’s inhabitants continue to impress me with their ability to have a ‘vibe’ that I really dig… even within the Canadian media. So that brings me to the CBC.  I’m a fan.  Not even a closet fan, but an actual fan of both CBC Television and CBC Radio One.  I even get miffed when either one changes.  (Like when on the radio they ditched the funky “big pictureâ€? spiel every hour and the good ol’ seven-note jingly tune that introduced the news turned into the five-note trumpet sound… and then later both the five-note trumpet sound AND the seven-note jingly tune. Grrrrr…)

 

It’s no secret that once-upon-a-time I dated an up-and-coming CBC reporter, so now I feel like I’m branded for being obsessed with the network (and all geeky things Canadian) because of that.  Really I was roped in during the days of the Friendly Green Giant, and Harriet’s Magic Hats, and Mr. Dress-up.

 

I conclude with my Top 5 A-List members of the CBC Elite: promo girl, mary walsh, wendy mesley, jian ghomeshi, & rick mercer.  Oh/O, Canada… you rock, rock.

Lessons I learned today.

Monday, April 24th, 2006

1.  If you yell out in anguish “I HATE MARKING!!!” your roommate, Mark, will come out of his room asking if you’ve called him.  “No, Mark.  I don’t hate you and I wasn’t calling.”

2.  Peanut Buster Parfaits are only good for the first 3 bites.

3.  The saying does not go “for all intensive purposes.”  It is actually “For all intents and purposes.”  I confirmed my suspicions today via google after conferring with some people late last week.  Who knew?

4.  Coffee with ex’s, running into ex’s, reading about yourself on ex’s blogs… it’s all weird.  I think if it’s less weird for the other person than for you that just means you have a more gentle, non-indimidating personality… right?  Comes with being an older spirit I guess.

5.  If you search for ‘Massage’ and ‘Calgary’ at school looking for a massage place to go to a bunch of sex links and escort links will pop up as search results.  If you have a screen the size of Texas and kids with unending curiosities about your life that is bad news.  Shouldn’t the CBE have a blocker that blocks these things sooner?

we got spirit… ya ya… we got spirit…

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

i’ve been told a few times i might be an old spirit.

three times maybe.  not saying i believe in reincarnation but if i did, that would mean that i’ve been around the block a few times… and some of the advice i give could be well-warranted.  i kind of hope i am an old spirit and there is some truth to the whole idea.

i really like it when people say i have good intuition, or when i get recognized for saying something that is very “wise” for my age, or when people listen to me in general… you know the saying “a maturity well beyond his years.”

at school i tried to pick out the students, once, who could possibly be old spirits.  i couldn’t.  my circle of friends, same thing.  i couldn’t.  i don’t really know what i’m looking for.  i wonder if there’s some kind of flow chart for picking out this kind of thing. 

all i know is that i’ve heard that the feel of some peoples’ spirits is too old for most people to understand.  that idea is kind of intriguing.  sometimes people don’t understand me or seem to be going in circle after circle.  maybe that’s because *wait for it* on a universal level they’re not as far along as me.  it’s always nice feeling on the advanced side of the bell curve… so it’d be cool if i was.  god knows that wasn’t always the case in university.

although maybe i’m sitting here with this huge ego related to all this and “old spirit” is really just an euphemism for “boring”. hmmmmm… food for thought.

…where’s the love??

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

(1) normally when I don’t blog for awhile i get little snippy comments like “where are you?”, “why no new post?”, “i was expecting you to write about when we had so much fun…”  April is almost over and I’ve only posted 3 times.  Well, this is my fourth.  Am I really getting away with this so easily?  *tap mic* “is this thing on?”

(2) last few days i’ve had moments of uncontrollable sleepiness.  it’s wierd weird… out of the blue (much like these points) and intense.  it’s one of those things that you know how tired you look to other people, too.  what’s that all about?  i have a few theories… one is i need to slow down a bit and just have days that i tell people i’m doing nothing certain days.  the other is that it’s some form of scurvy… i’m not really eating tons of greens these days.

(3) i’m feeling too acountable to too many people these days.  shouldn’t i be past my rebelous phase?  montreal for three weeks is looking like a probability rather than just a pipe-dream.  part of the appeal is just to have myself to answer to for a portion of my year.

(4) i dreamt about epcot centre yesterday.  i think i really dig contemporary, art-deco, modern, futuristic style things.  expo 67 stuff really intrigues me.   i saw a t-shirt of a geodesic (sp?) dome the other day and i was really tempted to make it my own.  even those boxy little houses make me a little excited.  if i ever went on trading spaces secretly i’d hope for something in the style of “the future that never really was”

(5)  you know how from your own point-of-view you have a normal life?  will tom cruise’s baby really think, throughout his existance, that his life is normal?  could you imagine?  why does ed always talk about tom cruise on his blog?  when i watch tom cruise on tv i always feel like i’m watching some busker on whyte ave. tweeked out with a good shot of crazy making sure his “crowd” never disappears…

(6) i think we should all make a commitment to go to random people’s blogs and type random comments on them that have nothing to do with anything being said like, “i agree that banana’s are best when they aren’t too rype… it’s like the saying ‘when in rome’ except different in some ways.”  then let’s all giggle and share the results on this blog.

Pardon my French

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

I hereby give myself the diagnosis of O.C.D.; I think I am well beyond Obsessive Compulsive tendancies and behaviours looking back at the Disordor line with fond memories of life on the other side.
At some random point in my day today I decided that I need to learn French.  It was not unlike when I randomly decide I’m missing a piece of paper, or T-shirt, or DVD and my entire life and ability to function as a regular person stops until I make headway. 

I have wanted to learn French before… mostly because I was dating some one French and everyone at the parties we were going to was speaking French the whole time… or the next time mostly because I was Montreal-bound.  This time I just want to learn French for the sake of learning our country’s official second language.
So what does one do when the desire to learn a language becomes overwhelming.  Well… one (alongside the classroom teacher accross the hall) e-mails 17 people about possible programs for Teachers in FSL… including the Minister of Education.

Hello,

I’m an elementary teacher with the CBE seeking opportunities to learn French as a second language.

I am aware of the Summer Language Bursary Program for students and Individual Teacher Bursary for teachers currently involved in FSL instruction.  My situation meets neither of these criteria as an Elementary Generalist in a temporary teaching contract.  I am wondering if there are programs for young people or teaching professionals who are no longer students but would like to further their French Language abilities, especially in the context of summer programs.

Any information you could provide would be greatly valued including other resource agencies I could get in touch with.

Thank-you in advance for your assistance in my French Language pursuits.

Travis Robertson B.Ed.”

Then one spends some time on the Rosetta Stone website deciding whether or not to buy in.  Then one looks for the book/CD-set they bought this summer and haven’t cracked… and puts off starting it until a scribbler has been designated for said book/CD’s activities.  Then one looks into Registering for courses in Calgary either cheap and basic because they’re run by my school board and I get a discount or expensive and ritzy becasue they’re run in some limestone building downtown and e-mails them too.

I’m tired or fatiguee without even really starting this whole endevour.  Story of my life.  If I could find a program I could do for part of my summer in Quebec my boat would be significantly rocked.  Ug.. It’s been 6 years since I took my French 30.  Is there value to learning French?  Is it going to be as fun and rewarding as I think it will?  Am I just in a phase?  Am I nuts?  garcon-oh-garcon!!??!!!

…all rise as Travis gets on his soap box…

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

This summer I watched the movie, What the Bleep Do we Know?. The movie “plunges you into a world where quantum uncertainty is demonstrated – where everything is alive, and reality is changed by every thought.â€? The movie explores the “neurological process and perceptual shifts.” Basically, the movie demonstrates how emotions and decisions literally change physical matter both in a cellular sense and otherwise.

 This summer I also went to a ‘storytelling concert’. It was at the conclusion of a national ‘storytelling conference’. I was blown away. One storyteller, a harpist actually, started and ended his story by saying, “Our stories are in the physical. They travel through blood and bone. They nourish the soul.� Actually, he might have said “nourish the heart�… I wish I could remember. He seemed to agree that our experiences change our body, our reality, and our world.

If you buy into that, the idea that our stories… our experiences… our interactions literally change the world that we experience, then I have been very privileged. My life has been composed of some amazing stories. I would say I that buy in. I think it’s fairly conventional for people to believe that, as humans, we perceive something, respond to it, a gland gets triggered, and on a hormonal level our body chemistry gets changed… but I think I believe that our stories impact our world on a larger level than that.

Collectively as a world, we have a bit of a dark story. We’ve been ignoring certain people… well… to death. A reality has been created accordingly. This dark story is also in the physical and it’s not nourishing the heart or the soul; it’s disarming it. I was reminded of this dark story at the “United Nations Association in Canada Regional Forum on Youth and HIV/AIDS� here in Calgary.

I was at the conference all of Friday night and all day Saturday. Someone dies of HIV/AIDS related illnesses every eight seconds. While anyone can get HIV/AIDS it tends to kick people who are already down, and down in more than the proverbial sense. Basically any demographic that collectively we have told to get out of sight because they are “less thans� stands as a particular risk. The social determinants of who exactly tends to be the person living with HIV/AIDS are the exact same determinants of those who need us most… with or without the virus. It’s gut wrenching. What’s worse is that millions of people are suffering on fire and we are standing idly by with water in our hands.

Do we really want this to be our legacy? Millions died, and while they did we did nothing? No. We didn’t do nothing… we attached blame and stigma to their suffering and then did nothing. Oh, I believe that HIV/AIDS is exposing a very twisted moral climate but only in the sense that our response has been slow, and reluctant, and full of judgment… there we stand: exposed. What could be worse than that? While we have so much, including technology and wealth, we still don’t have the will to get out of our bubbles. It’s crazy.

I can’t say I’ve been terribly committed to reacting to this pandemic, myself. I am, however, ready to change that. I’ll start with these words to you:

You are important to me.

It’s important to me that you don’t get infected.

Don’t have sex. If you do, have sex within the context of a monogamous relationship. If you do, have sex with a barrier… i.e. a condom.

Don’t do intravenous drugs. If you must, don’t share needles.

If you’re here with me in Calgary the STD Clinic is on 8th and 8th downtown in the southwest. Information can be found here. I hear that they aren’t terribly scary.

It sounds like I’m being condescending towards you but on a foundational level these are good things to know and tangible steps that can be taken. I’m ready to go a step further and look into how I can support global efforts related to HIV/AIDS. I say that because I had my eyes opened this weekend. If you are too, you have my utmost praise and respect. I think it’s time this story changed… and became one of hope and commitment and love and recognition- a story where the world rose right out of its stasis and became the world it speaks of being… this would be a cool story to travel through blood and bone nourishing hearts and souls… so far, the typing of Travis.

Travis’ Spring Break in Florida FAQ’s

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

General Inquiries: 

How was the trip?? 

            One word: amazing.  From beginning to end it was a total blast.  I kept having to remind myself I was actually back in Florida… the whole thing was very surreal.  IMHO we couldn’t have planned anything better. 

What does IMHO stand for? 

            In my humble opinion. 

And you’re favourite attractions?? 

          Well, there’s different classes of attractions kind of.  You can’t compare apples to oranges.  Here they are: 

Coaster: Sheikra @ Busch Gardens 

Dark ride: Spiderman @ Universal Islands of Adventure 

Show: Mickey’s PhilharMagic @ Disney’s Magic Kingdom it was new since my last trip. 

Cheesy Nostalgic Ride: Ah… good ol’ Splash Mountain @ Disney’s Magic Kingdom  

Did you wait in tons of lines?? 

                Actually… no.  Our longest wait was probably just over 20 minutes.  That was for The Mummy at Universal Orlando.  We just stopped briefly at that park on the first night because we got that pass for free.  All the other parks we had MAJOR strategies for so that we could make the most of our time.  At Islands of Adventure we bought a Express Plus Pass which meant we could go to an “exclusive� line while other people waited over an hour.  At Busch Gardens we had Joilee (I’ll explain later).  At WDW we had… well… me (someone with an above average Disney IQ). 

How was the weather?? 

             Amazing.  No rain, ever.  Every night was nice and warm too.  We could eat on patios… walk around comfortably… and even get some colour in the sun.  

Did you get me anything?? 

              Chances are… no.  Unless you are one of my students (who get something tiny) or in my immediate family my souvenir to you will have to be a drink/dessert out while I tell you all about the trip.   

Pictures?? 

             The second they’re developed, I’ll post ‘em. 

Day-by-day Inquiries: 

I heard you held up the entire plane for an hour.  How is this possible? 

            Ah, the good old Airport Transfer.  In Newark, NJ (where we could see New York) our plane was a bit late. i.e. we had less than 15 minutes to make our next flight.  We barely made it, get in, hear the safety spiel… *pause*… announcement: “sorry for the delay folks.  We had a transfer from Cal..gr.. Canada and their luggage needs clearance before we can take off.�  Everyone is super angry because we literally are in the plane for an hour.  They’re like, “let’s go… they can get their luggage later.�  Quietly we are thankful that this won’t be the case.  We weren’t the only two from Calgary, though. 

So, you did Universal the first day.  How was it? 

            So so so great.  For 95% of the day we were on the Islands of Adventure side of the park.  Express Plus passes are totally worth it.  We wouldn’t have been able to do all the attractions we did without it.  Allan’s incredible friend, Tricia, was a hostess with the mostess.  We conquered the park.  Right from our first coaster: The Hulk the day was a total blast.  Super warm.  Tons of screaming.  I will definitely be back!  

You were a V.I.P.?  You had 12 to 14 year old girls swooning all over you all day?  How did you become such a big deal at Busch Gardens? 

            Our day at Busch in Tampa was nuts.  We ended up buying [we being Allan] tickets for a V.I.P. Adventure Thrill Tour.  It was not cheap but something I’ll remember for a long long time.  Basically we are in a park with no alternative to long lines (no FastPass / Express Line system).  We, as tour participants, get escorted to the very front of the line [via the exits] and have our choice of seats on each and every attraction.  I literally felt like a celebrity going into a night club.  We had to practice not making eye contact with the people waiting well over an hour.  On the tour we had total choice on what attractions we wanted to do… this park is jam packed with some big big big coasters.  We did all the major ones multiple times: in the very front!!  It was AWESOME.   

            There were about half a dozen junior high girls on our tour.  At first, they were a bit “too much� for me.  They talked super fast and super loud and super constantly.  Next thing I know they are like our best friends.  Allan had them hanging on every word (so basically they were swooning over him mostly).  We taught them all about Canada.  We took pictures together… and had a very sentimental good-bye.  I gave them a the address for this blog so if you’re reading this and are from Oscano, FL be sure to post!! 

I hear you are a Walt Disney World drill sergeant?  Any truth to that? 

            In short, “yes�.  It runs in the family.  We did the Magic Kingdom at WDW and doing the Magic Kingdom means you need to know how to rise above the sheep.  At WDW we met up with my best friend David and his friend, Ricardo… so there were four of us.  Knowing how I like to do Disney Parks I was a bit worried about the other three but I will say that they did very well.  In fact, throughout the day they thanked me for my tireless leadership saying they wouldn’t have been able to figure out the logistics without me.  : ) 

             We were there from Open to Close.  (9am to 10pm).  We did all the major rides, Mountains and all, fireworks, and of course, the good ol’ SpectroMagic nighttime parade.  If you want to picture how ‘die hard’ we were you need to understand the FastPass system.  Basically you make appointments for attractions about an hour ahead of time.  You are only allowed to have one appointment at a time, or one appointment every two hours (whichever amount of time is less).  So not only was I dictating which rides we were doing ‘next’ I was dictating which appointments we were making one, two, and three rides after each attraction and when lunch/snacks/shopping would fit into that.  For supper we took the monorail to the Contemporary Resort which was a nice break from the crowds and logistics. 

Did you see anyone so drunk that they nearly drown, and then when they “came-to� they decided to run around the beach naked? 

           OMG [G= gosh not God] it was crazy.  Thursday was our Sanity Day.  We did outlet shopped… went downtown to Orlando… then went to Cocoa Beach so I could stick my toe in the Atlantic for the first time.  At Cocoa Beach we see this guy passed out in the water.  He’s not doing well.  His friend needs help getting him out of the water.  Two minutes later he’s this fat man running around naked with everyone in disbelief.  Some people should not be allowed in public. 

There’s a ski resort in Florida, really? 

             There was supposed to be.  Florida got snow but it ended up being very short term… so what was going to be Florida’s first Ski Resort ended up getting turned into a waterpark.  Disney’s Blizzard Beach was awesome.  We caught some sun, did some slides, cruised in a tube down a creek.  I love this waterpark.  I will point out also that TWICE I won the toboggan race (out of eight people).

What’s a Serk Newbie? 

           It’s spelled Cirque as in Cirque du Soleil.  It was my first time.  We watched La Nouba.  Man this is an intense show.  It’s like the choreographer kept saying, “No, not hard enough… we need to make this more impossible and add  34 more elements on top of this�.  From start to finish I was spellbound.  In the end I even got a clown nose that I will wear with pride. 

Tired?  What kept you going?  

           Friday we had a VERY early flight.  The whole trip was jam packed with so much.  We are lucky we aren’t comatose.  I slept most of the flight and most of the day afterwards.  I don’t think we could have fit in any more than we did into this week.  Amazing food (and short breaks) were the secret to our success.  We ate at some really really great places.  Most noteworthy were probably Seasons 52 (Thanks Tony for that one!!!), Wolfgang Pucks (where we even got a free appetizer after a few serving errors which NEVER happens to me), and the Contemporary Resort (where we had a super-duper server) who told me she wasn’t my bi*** (affectionately which is still very un-Disney.)  Even breakfast was covered each day because our hotel had a Contiental Breakfast that was quite impressive (it even had make-them-yourself waffles which baffled me a bit requiring some assistance from Allan).  The only food less-than-good was our food at the World’s Biggest McDonalds.  Ick.  The food wasn’t bad but the place was super trashy.  They had weird food too like Seafood Pasta.  It was trying to be too much.

You’d do it again? 

          IN A HEARTBEAT!!!