A Tribute

There are relationships in our lives that are so asymmetrical, so imbalanced, that no matter how hard we try, we can never pay the other back, never set the scales aright. Nowhere is this more true than with our parents. So it is, that in return for years of comfort and caring, nudging and nurturing, all I have to offer up in return are these few paltry words …

A week ago this morning, that call I I had expected for some time finally came. And just as I had always imagined, it came in the middle of the night – 3:30 a.m. My sister called to say that my mom had passed away. Quietly. In her sleep.

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Just Let Me Hate One Thing at a Time, Please

We live in an age of instantaneous outrage, in which we can no longer express displeasure with one reprehensible act unless we express equal displeasure with ALL morally reprehensible acts. We – particularly those of us in the Twitterverse – pounce on injustice like Boss Hogg on a honey-glazed ham. Then others pounce on us because we chose the ham and not their pet object of derision and moral outrage. Continue reading

The Marshmallow Test

Working with wood has its pluses and minuses. Wood doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t question the direction you take. It doesn’t ask you how much this project is worth, how long it’s going to take, or when it’s due.

On the other hand, wood doesn’t laugh at your jokes, make you laugh, or light up when it gets where you’re headed with an idea. There are fewer surprises with wood – good and bad.

But if you treat it with care and attention, handle it with respect, in a few weeks or months you it gives you the gift of a finished project, something to admire and maybe take a little pride in. As the creator, you will always see the flaws, but you can also see the overall effect and that the beauty far outweighs those minute blemishes.

That distance between the ardour of the labour and the joy of the finished product, we call delayed gratification.

Working with people is entirely different. Certainly there are the immediate rewards: the laughter, a twinkle of recognition. But so much is never known. I’ve likened it to sending messages through a space/time warp, never knowing if those messages are ever read, or if read, understood.

Today I received this message from a student I have not seen or communicated with for 25 years:

“Mr. Deobald,
I saw your page on a comment and decided to message you. Just wanted you to know that you had a profound effect on my life and I remember you as a great teacher. I hope life is treating you well and you are still inspiring young people.
Thanks Again”

When you work with people, this is what qualifies as delayed gratification.

We are ALL Immigrants

I should know better. Just read the news, dumbass. Don’t read the comments. But a couple of days ago, while reading an article on a visit by a Turkish Minister to Saskatchewan, my eyes fell on this comment: “I would prefer the Sask Party government work with the other provinces to address any worker shortage first before going overseas. Even then it would be better to see if some of our US or British cousins would be willing to move first.”

And I saw red. Just why, exactly, would immigrants from the U.S. or Great Britain be preferable to Turkish immigrants? Well, we all know the answer to that one, don’t we? Continue reading

Can We Just Listen Once? Hallelujah!

The other night, NBC’s The Voice opened with a stirring tribute to the fallen innocents of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre. As each contestant and judge held the name of one of those tragic souls, the judges took turns singing the moving stanzas, and the entire group joined in for the chorus. As usual, when I hear that song, I choked up. It is a powerful piece of music, and juxtaposing it with the memories of slain children amplified that power immensely. I have little doubt the producers of the show knew that. That’s what they were aiming for. This is television after all.

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Dialogue is Hard

I truly believe that engaging in dialogue is a better solution than standing on opposite sides of the fence throwing stones at one another. But dialogue is hard. I think it’s the “di” part of dialogue that makes it so tough. You know, as in, “It takes two to tango.”

Anyway, here’s a Twitter exchange I was stupid enough to engage in today. Man, I really have to pick my dance partners more carefully in the future.

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On Flippant Analogies and Gun Control

In the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, I’ve spent much of the past 48 hours angry, angry at the senselessness of the event itself, angry at the media’s handling of the coverage, and angry at idiotic reactions like this one, “Blaming things like this on guns is like blaming spoons for making you fat.”

Yes, in case you’ve missed it, this is International Dipshit Analogy Week. Just chemically lobotomize yourself if you want to participate. It was one such analogy in a comment on a friend’s Facebook post that sparked the conversation below.

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Mi Casa es Su Casa – Bounce with Me

This startling research recently received way more press attention than it deserved.

OK, here’s a news flash for researchers: when kids actively play, sometimes they get hurt. Unless we really want them to grow up in a cocoon of bubble wrap or spend their entire day sitting in front of a game console, let’s just learn to accept the odd booboo as a natural consequence of an active lifestyle.

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