Category: Interesting (page 1 of 2)

TEDx Toronto Conference 2018

This year’s TEDx Conference was about Identity, what it means to be someone, how we are identified and how we identify ourselves. My good friend Dave Dame was an invited speaker, so it was a great opportunity to attend a conference I had always wanted to go to and to support a friend and his talk.

Overall the conference was good, with the best talks being from Dave and from Dr. Euginia Duodu. Both were engaging and interesting, however Dave’s was the only one that provided an action plan for moving forward.

It’s all about perspective

I’ve battled a fear of heights for most of my life.

It started when I was nine or ten when I was helping my dad in our backyard. He was in construction and has been on top of buildings and working in dangerous situations most of his life.  This particular day he was on top of our roof, leaning over the edge and cleaning the gutters out, almost 4 stories high (around 40 feet or 12 metres). No safety harness, no protective equipment. Just crouched on the edge of the roof leaning over and scooping leaves out of the gutter.

To me, as a child, the only thing I could think was “if he falls off that roof he’s going to die and I will not have a dad anymore”. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. 

Many years later I was speaking with a doctor and he helped me understand something about that situation that I had been practicing for other events in my life but that I didn’t for this one. I could have looked at that event a totally different way.  Instead of fear of losing my dad I could have looked at it as “look how brave/strong he is. That’s nothing to be afraid of. He can do it, so can I.”

The same goes with everything in our lives. We can look at every event through the lens of our own experiences and our mood at the time. Instead of being afraid of heights, I could have taken that experience and realized I could be working up high as well.  Throughout my life I have ‘forced’ myself to go up ladders, shingle roofs, and work on the side of buildings, when I could have not given it a second thought. 


The photo above illustrates how your perception of an event can change depending on your angle or point of view: from the one angle it looks like Prince William is ‘flipping off’ the crowd, but the other angle shows him clearly signalling ‘three’.  Had you only seen the top image you would have an impression or opinion of the Prince that would be very different than if you had only seen the bottom image. 

All of life is the same way. We are only able to see things from our limited perspective at the time, through the filters of experience, education and mood. A person cuts you off in traffic is a jerk or the guy talking on his phone and ignoring you is rude. From a different perspective it may be that the person who cut you off is on the way to the hospital to see their sick relative, or the guy on the phone is talking his wife down from a panic attack. Until you’ve ‘walked a mile in their shoes’ you don’t know what they are going through and what is driving their current behaviour. 

Since my realization I don’t think about going up a ladder, up a rock wall or across a narrow platform. It’s not a problem because my attitude toward heights has changed. Don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy mistrust of heights, but it isn’t a paralyzing fear anymore. Now every time something happens to me I try and see if there is a different interpretation that I can put on it. 

Work Intelligently

A critique of a Demotivational poster

I love this critique. 

When you first look at this poster you think “Yes, that guy IS smarter than the others!”, but then everything the responder says is true. 

Knowing the goal and why we are trying to get there is the most important part of any job. Getting to the finish line fast, or easiest, is not always the way that is the best for the long term. There is no shortcut to learning the piano, no way to become an expert in any field without actually putting in the effort. 

To me, the author of the critique is the real one that is working intelligently. 

A new type of motivational poster

Vegan before 6

I’m trying to lose some weight. According to the BMI studies I’m classified as “Obese” but I don’t feel obese. I know I’m overweight and want to be thinner. **Update: I just checked and I’m not officially “Overweight” and not obese anymore. Barely.

I weigh 215 pounds and I’m 6 feet tall.  If I follow the BMI chart exactly I need to lose 35 pounds to get me to 180 pounds, or I need to grow 6 inches taller.

Weighing less should help with the aches and pains in my back and my knees. It should help extend my life and make me happier. Although I find it hard to believe I can be happier eating salad than a nice poutine. My target for the end of 2017 is to have a “1” at the start of my weight instead of the “2” that has been there for 20 years or more.

I have several problems that I have to face in order to lose this weight. First and foremost is the years of treating food as a salve.  I know that in the past when I have been upset I have turned to food. Bad day at work? Have a chocolate bar. Someone cut you off in traffic? Burger and fries with gravy and a milkshake. No matter what the issue it would be better with food.  I need to change this behaviour, and it will take a while.

The next problem is that I grew up in a household that was filled with fresh baked food. My grandmother and mother both celebrate and console using food. My grandmother would bake a cake or three dozen cookies for no reason at all, my mother would make roast beef dinners because she could. Now my wife has taken up that mantle, and she’s a great cook. I will come home to fresh banana bread, breaded chicken breasts, mashed potatoes and green beans. She likes to show how much she cares by making me things that I like to eat.

The next problem is the quantity of food in the house. I have a young son who always has friends over and they are always hungry. Several bags of chips gone in a sitting. Nutella, chocolate milk, halloween candy and because he has a great mom, freshly made chocolate chip cookies are all available in an instant.  It’s difficult to be surrounded by all of the great comfort foods that I grew up on and love.

I tried going full vegan and did lose some weight. I have been listening Penn Jillette talk about his diet, how he lost a hundred pounds, and it seemed like something I could try. It works fantastic, until I come home.  In order to keep domestic sanity I am now a “vegan before 6”.

When I get up and all throughout the day I eat a strict vegan diet, sometimes even going further and not having any processed grains either. Then when I get home I will eat whatever amazing meal my wife has lovingly prepared for me, but eat the meat portion in moderation, taking less than what she takes herself instead of my usual massive quantity.

I’ll update this later to let you know how that works out and if I’m able to get my weight down.


(This has been published in the Globe and Mail:

When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses? It’s cliche and trite,but the message holds more meaning than just bombarding your olfactory senses with a wonderful smell.

Going for a walk anywhere these days is a practice in dodging distracted people. Headsets in and eyes lowered, people are walking about without paying any attention to what is going on around them. It is amusing to watch two techno-zombies bump into each other, upset with being interrupted from their screen. Just the other day I saw two heads-down people try to avoid each other, fail by bumping into each other, and, then, still with their eyes glued to their devices, both try to go the same direction and collide again.

The distraction doesn’t just impact in a harmless way either. Three of the last four years have set records for the number of pedestrian fatalities, and it is possible that it is a combination of distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians that have led to this increase.

My grandmother used to call the television the ‘idiot box’ but I think we may have a new contender for that moniker. People are so focused on the tiny screen in front of them that they are not taking the time to look around, pay attention to their surroundings or enjoy the moment they are in.

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment, where you are and what you are doing. It is a chance to look at the people, the scenery, the world around you. When you are with friends, be with them. Not paying attention to the world around you has consequences not only for you but for others as well.

A friend related a story about his most recent subway adventure; a mom with her face immersed in her device rushed off the train and left her toddler behind. Whatever was on the phone was more important than her child! Fortunately, my friend recognized the situation and got off at the next stop with the little guy and brought him to the subway agent. The agent told him that this is not the first time she had seen this happen!

How often have you been at a dinner where the people you are eating with are on their screens instead of conversing and connecting with the others at the table? Is it more important to brag about the fun time you are having as opposed to actually having a fun time? Do we really need a play-by-play of time you are spending with others while we are not there?

The purpose of all the devices in our lives are to allow us to respond from any where at any time, yet we use them to respond ALL the time. Far from making things easier, they have taken away the easy aspects and replaced them with stress. “I need to respond to this right now”, “What did that person post today?”, “Just let me read this one thing” are all demands on your time at this instant. This need for instant gratification and connection has even manifested into a new psychological phenomenon: “Phantom vibration syndrome”, the feeling that your device is vibrating in your pocket even when it isn’t there.

The best part of the mindfulness practice is the peace of mind you get from it. Once you learn to leave the device alone, or to only check it at certain times, you will naturally be more present and relaxed. Over the past several months I have stopped checking my phone all the time and have started to be more in the moment, I have put the electronics away and spent time with people. My stress level has decreased and my happiness has increased.

Multitasking really isn’t. It’s doing several things poorly instead of one thing really well. People mistakenly believe that they can multitask effectively, but study after study has shown that the human brain is simply not able to. I’ve been in far too many meetings where one, or several, people are typing away on their computer or fiddling on their device and they grind the meeting to a halt when asked a question: “Sorry, can you repeat that?”, “I didn’t quite get what you are saying”, or “Wait, what?” Instead of the honest thing they should say “Sorry I wasn’t paying any attention to what you were talking about because I was distracted with something I think is more important than all of you, so please indulge me and repeat everything you have been saying again while I waste even more time.”.

When I first started my mindful practice I thought it was going to be some jive hippy stuff, or some pseudo religious ceremony, but it really wasn’t either of those things. Taking some time each day to be in the moment was actually more freeing than I had expected. We hall have busy lives juggling work, family, friends, health, commuting, goals, sports, hobbies and a myriad of other tasks, so how can you find time to be mindful? It turns out that you can be mindful while you are doing other things, or you can focus 5 to 10 minutes just as you wake up or go to sleep. Being mindful, truly in the moment, helps you be the best you can be and allows you to be part of the world around you.

So you don’t have to stop and smell the roses, but you can at least notice that they are there.

Happy Melly Exploration Day!

Very happy to be involved with this program.  I will be co-MC’ing the event with Jeff Kosciejew!  We promise there will be MAGIC!




Get your tickets here:


Master versus beginner

Master versus Beginner

Oh how I wish I was related


Elliott Electronic Computer, delivered in 1950.

We now regularly carry more power in our pocket, and some people on their wrist, than this entire computer.

having your computer delivered in 1950

You need to learn this in order to grow professionally, as well as personally.


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