How to Work Remotely

Welcome to the Global Plague of 2020, courtesy of COVID-19. The world has not seen something like this in a century, even the polio, cholera, and various influenzas that have struck since then haven’t created the worldwide need for isolation and restriction that we’re currently seeing.

One major kink in all that is the need for businesses to, somehow, keep operating. Everyone is worried about the effects to the economy, a faceless pseudo-entity that doesn’t provide anything more than an indicator of wealth, forcing businesses to attempt to remain operating, potentially affecting (and infecting) the very employees upon whom they rely to make the business operate.

The COVID-19 epidemic comes at a watershed point in human history. Never before in our developed world (I count the planet, here, not specific countries) have we had the capacity to conduct our operations apart from one another at scale. We have the technology to continue … but there’s a little more to it than that.

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The Story Is Key

Years ago, I started blogging because I had moved away from home and wanted those I knew and loved to know what I was up to, things I’d done, and that I was, in fact, okay. (The grand irony in that belief is that I wasn’t, in fact, okay, and that this blog made that pretty clear to everyone but me.)

In the years that followed, these stories started to give way to my “professional” life, and the need to publicize my own wisdom and knowledge and bla bla bla. Yeah, I soapboxed a lot. Most of it, when I read it now, makes me feel ill. Because that’s not what I really wanted to do — I did it because I felt I had to.

It’s high time to get back to story-telling.

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My Hip Stories

In two days, I’m going to see The Tragically Hip play at the Saddledome. I will freely admit that, somewhat stereotypically Canadian of me, The Hip is my favourite band. So I will also state that I’m excited to see them play. However, I’m also somewhat dreading it, too. It’ll be the last time I see them live, in person. It’s their final tour.
Not all Canadians care. I don’t know how many do (I’ll optimistically suggest 40%), but a few of us are more passionate. But it’s not because we’re that passionate about the band per se, it’s more about how The Tragically Hip have affected our lives (past and/or present), to the point where we have defined stories that involve or revolve around them.
Here’s mine…
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I need your help to be an author

[UPDATE: 7 February 2016]
On the advice of a more experienced and wiser friend and author, I dug deeper into the terms and conditions of both the contest and Inkshares standard contracts with authors. And … well, I didn’t read them closely enough, it seems. I got caught up in the potential of being associated with Nerdist, and not enough in protecting my own creation.
Basically, between Inkshares and Nerdist, I end up losing control of my own creation. It took me long enough to get it out of my head and into a stable form without someone else being able to decide what “derivative works” are suitable without my direct say-so, or be able to publish in whatever languages without any involvement from me.
This is my creation, and I want say in what happens to it.
So I’m pulling out of the contest, and won’t be using Inkshares in the future. I don’t know what I’ll do yet, but I know this path isn’t for me. I do appreciate the support received, as it’s really validated that I can do this. I just need another avenue.
Hi friends!
So here’s the deal: I’ve been writing a book for about seven years. I’m not kidding. It’s taken me that long to write down the ideas, write the actual book, edit it, get feedback, and so forth. (A lot of that was trying to find the time to write, but that’s another story…)
Anyway, the Nerdist and Inkshares is putting on a contest whereby the novel/idea with the most pre-orders might be … [drum roll here] … published!
Needless to say, I’m game for this one. And I’m hoping I might be able to ask you for help. Here’s all that I’m asking:
Go to [URL REMOVED] and pre-order the book. There’s no commitment — if I don’t win, there’s no sale. And given that I’ve had a few people read the book now, the feedback is fairly positive. Is it award-winning material? Don’t make me laugh. But I can also assure you that Hollywood repeatable puts out far worse that you pay twice as much to see…
Thank you in advance for any support you get. And I apologize in advance for how annoying I’m about to be for the next couple of months.

A new year, a new car

Today, Alex and I picked up our new car. And it’s new, not a previously-enjoyed vehicle. It’s a 2016 Honda CR-V. Yes, it’s an SUV, the very thing I often rail against. It’s not even our first. (More on both of those in a bit.) It was not a decision taken lightly, I assure you.
It’s a bit of a weird feeling having such an expensive new toy, even though it is still (kind of) the Christmas season. It’s also weird trying to talk myself out of going for drives, as all I really want to do is get in the car and drive around. Given that I spend most of my travel time in busses and trains, feeling the urge to drive is definitely a change for me.
It’s a good change. And a bit overdue.
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Rudolph the red-nosed, genetically-altered, reindeer subspecies

We all know the song. We’ve all seen the 1964 Rankin-Bass television special. In our Western culture, we have a story of an underdog, recognized one foggy Christmas Eve for a trait that only he possessed, which saved Christmas as we know it. And thus Rudy the Red-Beaked Reindeer went down in history.
But we live in an enlightened age. We like to know why things happened, not just how. And if you listen to that story — even if you take the Bumble and such into account — there’s just too darned much that we’ve missed. Where’s the reality check, huh? Oh, you’re going to throw that Santa thing at me? Sure, okay, now you’re just being dismissive. We have to face facts, folks. There’s more to this song. Way more.
Rudolph wasn’t a hero. He was a convenient freak of nature.
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Things I have missed about summer in Ontario

I’m currently in Ontario, taking the opportunity to visit with my family. It’s always a strange feeling to come back here: it’s where I was born and grew up, but I’ve been gone for over 15 years. A lot has changed. You really can’t go home again.
That’s not to say that I entirely like or dislike the way things currently are. I’m a bit indifferent, I guess. This is now some place for me to go to, to visit, but not where I feel particularly rooted. That’s what change does to you, I suppose.
That said, there are some things that I do miss.

How to fix the Calgary Board of Education

I’ve been wrestling with the Calgary Board of Education for a couple of years, now. And it’s not for anything complicated. To be honest, all I have is a simple hope: to have my children go to a school where they don’t have to worry about if they’re staying in the school, or if there will be a school at all. Note that this is a “hope”, not anything more concrete…
Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to realize a few nasty things about how the public education system works in this city. The internals of the CBE are highly secretive (finding out who is actually in charge of certain things is about as easy as learning the inner workings of CSIS), and so intensely political that decisions appear to be made utterly at random, against student interests. None of this seems to go through check-and-balance because … well, there’s no accountability to anyone, nor does anyone take responsibility.
As a result the CBE, as a whole, is failing. And that needs to change.
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What Canadian politicians have forgotten

[It should go without saying that this is an opinion piece: my opinion. It may not be yours. Politically, I’ve been centre most of my life. Today? I genuinely don’t know.]

Alberta has entered another provincial election, our fifth since the beginning of the millennium (that’s every three years, on average). And in Alberta, a province of wealth and entitlement, that means the old guard fending off competitors who dare lay siege to the castle, replete with feces-slinging (we’re well past mere mud), ethically-laden promises, and scare tactics, from all sides.

Canada is also heading down the road to a federal election, which by schedule we will see this fall. We will likely see the same slinging and fearmongering, not only because the same mentalities are at play, but because we’ve been witnessing the preamble for several months, now.

And all of it has shown one thing: that our politicians have forgotten about Canadians.

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20 Years a Web Developer

Twenty years ago this month — and very possibly this week, though I’m not 100% certain of that — I entered into the very nascent industry of digital marketing. At the time, the project had been little more than a simple idea, something to possibly prove my own abilities, a problem that sort of needed solving. And yet, little did I know at the time, it would send me down a long and sometimes disturbingly windy path.
It’s also a milestone where one does need to consider … well, everything. Honestly, a bit of reflection and introspection is needed from time to time, but the decade markers seem to have a certain extra amount of importance. Though to be honest, that’s just a perceived thing; there’s no legal or social reason that I’m aware of. It’s more about having a well-defined chunk of time to really take that step back and say:
“Ye gods I’m getting old…”
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