Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Batman

It should be no surprise to anyone that knows me that Batman is my favourite hero.  I grew up with Batman on TV and in movies.  Sure Superman has been around too but I never really jumped on the bandwagon for him.  For me it was Batman all the way.

I think part of that appeal was that Bruce Wayne is, in essence, just a man.  He’s not an alien from another world, he hasn’t been exposed to gamma rays, or a spider bite.  He’s a man with a mission and a bit of a chip on his shoulder about his parents being murdered.

I made it most of the way through a 30-day photo challenge a while ago until I got bored with it due to some of the topics for the photos late in the challenge, but one of them was:  A picture of someone who inspires you.

I posted this picture:


Pete noted that he was in awesome company.  I agree, though my feeling is that Batman is in awesome company.  It might sound ridiculous to include a fictional character in a picture of ‘people that inspire you’ but what can I say, The Batman is pretty awesome. The other two dudes have had a far larger influence on my life in general though, when (if) I grow up, I’d like to be a mix of the two I think.

Way back in the summer of 2010 when I began my training programs to build myself to what I am currently I told Jodi, with a straight face, “We’re not creating The Hulk here, we are making Batman.”  She laughed at that, I did after I had said it too, but I was serious.  I didn’t want to loose all the weight I did and do nothing with what was left of me, but I didn’t want to become some huge lumbering muscled beast either.

I knew the types of physical trials I was about to face in going for my black belt grading and if I was to get through them, I’d have to be in peak physical condition.  To that end I worked my butt off and got in shape as I discussed yesterday.  Long before the actual day I had chosen the shirts I would wear at my grading (shirts because I assumed I would sweat through the first one by the end of the warm up.  I was right).

By the mid way point of the grading I changed my shirt and I have continued to wear that shirt ever since under my Gi top at karate.


People get inspiration from different things or people.  And while I never looked down at my shirt and felt ‘I’m Batman!’ at any point It was more what it represented to me.  It represented strong character, fortitude and an unwavering mission.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How I lost 80 pounds

It’s been almost a year now since I realized the importance that I loose a few pounds.  Since I started I’ve had many people, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike ask me how I did it.  I’m going to tell you.  Some have heard this before, some have not, but hopefully, Readers, you can get something out of this.

me march 3 March 3rd 2010

The secret is chocolate.  Loads of it.  Eat so much that you think you will be sick.  Then eat a little bit more.  Then sit and watch TV. Pow, the pounds melt away.*  That’s how simple it really is.  Oh wait, that’s what everyone WANTS me to tell them.  When I get asked how did you lose weight and I don’t answer like that people look at me like I’ve stolen their stuffed toy from when they were five years old.

So how did it all happen? Let me share something with you, an excerpt from my black belt essay, the paragraph that precedes the text I’m about to cite refers to a grading that happened in February of 2010, and how I thought I did not too badly at it….

About a month later Sensei Bowser had a group of the brown and red belts come in for a little test. Just us, a timer, some focus pads and a lot of gasping for air! It wasn’t an elaborate workout, but it was more telling than any other I had endured inside the dojo walls.

There was only one instruction following the session that I can recall. “Work on your cardio.” At that point, drenched in sweat and choking on dust I had vacuumed up from the floor after a mere 10 or 12 minutes of actual work, I could see why that day in September of 2009 had passed by with no event. I was not ready. My body was incapable of handling what would be the hardest test of all at the club.”

That was it, that was the beginning.  There was no long list of instructions, there was no guidance of what to do or how to go about it.  I took that instruction and made it my job.  At the start I went to the gym maybe four times a week, fitting it around school and work and karate and homework.  I had no help at the gym, but I didn’t seek any out either.  I went to the gym and I worked on the elliptical for at the start 20-30 minutes.  I was a big guy then, 230lbs, and that was enough for me to be finished.  Eventually the amount of time I could be on crept upward, and I saw results pretty much every day.

By mid April, a mere month after I had begun I had dropped about 28lbs.  I was at 200 pounds for the first time in about four years.  Originally that had been my goal.  I rewarded myself with a new Canadiens jersey still an XL at the time, because this had been the weight at which previous weight loss attempts had ended before.  Something was different this time around though.  I wasn’t simply starving myself to lose weight, and I wasn’t just losing weight, I was gaining ability.  I could be active longer, I could do more.  This is also around the time my second semester at school was ending and I then made the gym my #1 priority of things to do in a day.  I moved from only doing the elliptical machine to adding a few of the weight lifting machines.  I was really beginning to enjoy my time at the gym, even if an hour on the elliptical was tedious.

100_0973 July 16th 2010

I should mention here that it was not just exercise that made it all happen.  I made a huge shift in diet.  Fast food (besides Subway) was off the menu, cereal was breakfast and a small bowl at that, low calorie yogurt, or an apple or banana was a snack, a sammich and granola bar was lunch and dinner remained the usual types of dinner foods, chicken, steak, pasta, rice potatoes etc. but portions were controlled, and a cup of water before bed so my stomach would be quiet.  I ate about 1400 calories a day, and I was starving for the first few weeks.  After that it was not so bad.

This pattern of not much food and a heck of a lot of exercise continued, for another month and a half.  I was at the gym every single day, doing my own totally uncreative workout, and eating like a Hollywood starlet.

After I had lost 50lbs in all I decided at the start of June to get a trainer at the gym.  June 10th was my first assessment.  It went well and Jodi gave me a full body workout to use.  I did it, and within a few days we moved on to something else.  We changed to an upper body day and a lower body day, and she told me I had to eat more.  Just as I was beginning this workout I started my job at a day care’s summer program, and I had already started working part time at the gas station I had worked at years before. 

This brings me to something I have heard a lot of during the course of my losing weight.  It comes in various forms but let me just put a few of them out there.

“It’s easier because you’re a guy.”
”You don’t have the other things to do like me.”
”You had a trainer, so that must make it easier.”
”It’s easier for you because you don’t have people to look after.”
”I have more commitments than you do.”
”What’s your secret?”

These types of things upset me, some more than others, and some of them more so now than earlier.  Any statement that implies ‘easier’ I’m offended by.  I may not show it outwardly, but it’s offensive.  If there is anyone who thinks what I did was easy, I’d love to give them a week in my weight loss experience and they can find out how ‘easy’ it was.  That I have nothing else to do falls under the same category.  I would say that in the summer was when I had the least amount of other things to do and that list included:

Work 8:30-4:30
Work at least 3 shifts at the gas station
Attend (to teach or learn or both) Karate for all 7+ hours in a week (which I do enjoy, but it is a commitment)
Continue to build my relationship with Amber (even with so much going on with her and myself we found the time most evenings)
Be part of planning wedding things
Do my part around the house
Stay on top of eating right
Go to the gym
Other odds and ends that came up

Not a short list huh?  In the fall I had school full time, tutoring, and the gas station as the work commitments.

I did have a trainer, but what I don’t think a lot of people realize is that I only met (and continue to meet) with Jodi when it was time for a new workout, or to do an assessment.  I don’t answer to her on goals and milestones, she isn’t with me every day that I’m at the gym.  During this whole weight loss and now fitness adventure I was and am answerable to one person.  Me.

By September I was done losing weight, I was actually too light, weighing only about 148lbs at one point, and have since moved to programs that build strength and endurance.

Did I cheat along the way?  No.  I would be at work at the gas station, starving and surrounded by every type of yummy junk food you can think of, but I never had a single chip or chocolate bar.  Did I reward myself?  Yeah, but not with food.  My reward was the results.  It was seeing the timer go longer on the elliptical, it was lifting more weight, it was/ is peeling off my shirt when I’m done a workout and seeing that it’s soaked in sweat, it was playing hockey again in the late summer and not dying for air, and once in a while it was a comic book.  I ate good food, but I planned for it, and made it a part of what I was doing.

And that Readers is how I lost 80 pounds, it’s how I got in shape.  It’s not rocket science, just effort, and commitment, being driven for a goal.  It’s self-control and perseverance, it’s the wisdom to see (finally) what needs to be changed and the courage to make the  necessary changes.

100_3287 Jan 5th 2011

*Credit to Matt for the “more chocolate” solution to weight loss, it would be nice to use it just once in person when someone who I know has no intention of even trying is just trying to chat me up about exercise because they think it’s what I want to hear.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Injuries Part II

Injuries Part I can be found here.

I firmly believe there are two types of injuries, and I don’t mean severe and minor.  The two types are Hilarious and Cringe-worthy.  Allow me to demonstrate.


Cringe-worthy: at 0:40 – seriously it’s gross – you’ve been warned

Thankfully none of my injuries have been as gruesome as that guys leg, and really most of them fall into the Hilarious category, especially in hindsight.

The Ankle

One that was definitely not funny was when I snapped my ankle.  It was during my first time through college and I had signed up to play intramural hockey.  I thought it would be a good idea to go to the pay as you play a few times to get a few games under my belt before the Fleming season started, and yes, typically that would have been a great idea.  This day not so much.  Now at the time I had a used pair of skates when I got them and then I had used them for about six years, so these skates were well worn and offered little support to my ankles, which if you’ve read the hockey post you’ll know was a bad thing at the time.

We had played about half the game when Mike and I were dashing towards the opponent’s goal, Me on the right wing and Mike on the left.  I was flying and then screeching to a halt at the mouth of the goal in hopes of a pass to I could tap in a nice goal.  However, on my right foot I lost the edge as I was supposed to be slowing down.  My feet slipped out from under me and I crashed into the boards feet first.  My right ankle didn’t take to this too well and it snapped over to the inside.  I laid on the ice and apologised to the guys standing over me for delaying the game. After a few minutes a couple of the regulars that I knew helped me off and the ambulance came.  I was on crutches for about 3 weeks I think, though at home I chose to crawl around because I had no idea how to use crutches properly and they were hurting me so badly.

Out Cold

I believe I have only been knocked out once, at least for any length of time.  I was when I was in grade five.  At lunch recess one day we were on the swings at school, the swings were fairly large with the big A frame structure.  I was fun at the time to get going really high on the swings and then ‘go twisty’ which is you’d start to leverage the chains in opposite directions so that you’d do all over the place as you sung back and forth.

So I’m doing this and really reefing on the chains and leaning back on the swing, it was awesome, until it was painful.  BAM I smacked the back of my head on the A frame of the swing set.  I was out for a bit at least because I don’t remember hitting the ground, but I do remember everyone crowded around me on the ground. 

I’m pretty sure I got to go home early that day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It Takes The Time That It Takes

Back when I was a computer tech, which somehow seems like a long time ago, the title there is a paraphrase of one of the company phrases thought up by none other than Damion himself.  It was in reference to the fact that we took the time to do things properly so that when your new computer was delivered, or your fixed computer was returned to you it would work just as you expected it to without the need for us to explain things too much other than what we did.

It’s a philosophy really, and a work ethic.  We put in the time to make sure that the machines we touched functioned exactly how they were supposed to.  It’s something that can be applied to a lot of other things as well. For instance, during my time in school we’ve had heaps of homework to do, assignments and whatnot.  Some people without fail wait until the last minute to start, they can not afford at that point to take the time to do it properly, they just have to dash it off.  Our class has gone from a starting number of about 90 students down to about 35-40.  Figure it out.

Another explanation was made to me last night at Karate by Sensei Pete and I think it is really worth sharing.  When you are engaging in something that is a life long journey it’s akin to walking along a road, everyone walks at their own pace, some people choose to stop along the way and observe details.  Some people walk faster than others, sometimes you pass people, and sometimes others pass you.  Others can help point you in the right direction, they may even walk with you for a while, but in the end it is you alone that chooses to follow the road, to stop entirely or to head in the opposite direction of others.

No one walks the entire road alone.  But everyone has to have their own drive to complete the journey.  You have to put in the time that it takes to get things done.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

That’s How You Do That!

The final game of the day was by far the best, both for evenness of play and for the excitement in general.

It was decided at the start of the game that Jeff, Mark and I would not be on a line together.  Jeff and Mark were together and I was on a different line.  The scoring was low, but the chances were numerous for both sides.  Living Hope scored first and the score stay at 1-0 for a long time. with about 20 minutes left in the game Living Hope scored again and made it 2-0.

It was then that we decided on the bench to reunite Jeff Mark and I and that was the catalyst that ignited our team.  After we had a strong shift where we hemmed Living Hope in there in for most of the time Brian, Todd and Logan came on and Brian scored on a beautiful snap shot.

After that the tide turned and Jeff Mark and I dominated most of our shifts after that.  Some hard work by the 3 of us and Mark got the next two goals, the final one with only about 2 minutes remaining in the game.

We won 3-2 in the end and it was a fantastic finish to a great day of hockey!  Thanks to the people that came out to watch the game at the Memorial Centre, apparently it took the whole time we were on the ice to load up all the food that ended up getting donated!

One More Game

I still have one more game to play today.  This one is thankfully not part of the tournament and I’ll be with my usual line mates assuming Mark gets a replacement pair of skates in time.

I always like playing at the Memorial Centre and I am excited that this year we are playing against Living Hope church instead of Ferndale.  Our games against Living Hope are always fast paced and exciting, but best of all clean games too.  I won’t have to worry about blindside hits, punches to the head like I endured last week at hockey.

Bring on game 4 of the day.  It should be the best one yet!

Game 3 done

That didn't go so well, 8-0 I believe the score was. I had the shortest shifts ever, the centre on my line came off before I would even get going so I was not too pleased about that.

Luckily I've come away with no injuries, I had a bit of a scare with my leg getting poked out from behind about 2 feet away from the boards, thankfully I didn't go in too awkwardly and was none the worse for wear.

Mark's skate broke before we even got on the ice too so that didn't help either. Hopefully he'll have skates for this evening at the Memorial Centre, it would be nice to play with my actual line mates on the bigger ice today.

All in all I've had fun here at the tournament, but it would have been to play with my usual line mates.

Sent from Samsung mobile

Game 2

We win 7-0 for us. Todd gets a hat trick, 1A for me. Zach and I had a beautiful penalty kill at the end of the game, we held it in their end for nearly the entire kill. Bring on game 3.

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Game 1 done

Well that was bad. We got smoked like 15-2. I was playing defense and blocked 3 shots but that about all to report about that.

Sent from Samsung mobile

Hockey Tournament

I am up at the ridiculous hour because I am going to play in a hockey tournament in Marmora today.  It will be the first tournament I will have played in since 1998.  Back then I was a terrible hockey player as mentioned here.  I only remember a few things about that tournament, I played defense because there was not way I’d be able to skate hard enough as a forward and keep up with the games for a whole day.  I tore my hockey pants on the latch for the bench door.  I was going out on the ice for my shift and got caught and put a nice big rip in the leg of the pants, luckily they were used when we got them so it wasn’t that huge of a deal. And it was a lot of fun to be there playing hockey with my friends and my dad and spending time in between with my girlfriend at the time.

This time will be a fairly different experience I think.  I’ll be having fun playing with the guys from my usual Saturday night team, but Amber can’t come due to work, and I can actually play well enough to contribute more to the team than simply being a warm body.

I intend to take my phone and do some blogging through the day to keep the masses informed, so that will be kind of fun to be player and reporter.

Also, and this would be totally awesome, the guy that put the tournament together is trying to get some media coverage to be part of Hockey Day in Canada!  If your watching the whole thing today and then mention Marmora, Ontario, look for me!  Our team will be wearing the Living Hope Leafs sweaters so they are blue – I’m going to try and snag #9 to wear.  I pains me to have to wear anything associated with the Leafs in any way.  But for the team I will do it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Menu at Chez Chris

I like food.  Wait scratch that, I LOVE food and one of the hardest things to change when losing weight was my diet.  But I did, and now thankfully that my metabolism is constantly in a higher gear I can eat a few of the things that I had to avoid so strongly while I lost weight.

However I have always liked cooking and so it was kind of fun to learn new things to make that would satisfy my new food intake and to discover that a few of the things I liked to make so much still fit in there, just in smaller portions.

I’ve had 4 or 5 people ask me about what I eat, or what I ate to lose weight so I thought this week’s Friday post would be about what’s typically on the table at home, or if I have the time to cook (which hopefully will be sometime soon).


Typically my breakfast is so simple it’s boring, cereal and then english muffin with PB and jam.  Woo!  it is yummy to be sure, but not that exciting.

Amber makes really good pancakes once in a while, usually I cannot be bothered because it’s so much mess.  One thing I really like for breakfast is Michael Smith’s Breakfast Bake, bread, eggs, cheese and ham or sausage all piled into a casserole dish and baked till golden on top – but Amber and I almost never have breakfast together due to schedules and to make it for one person makes no sense.  So yummy and if eaten in the right proportions pretty good for you too!

My breakfast specialty is something I learned to make while camping and you only have on pan, it’s nothing too amazing, but scrambled eggs with ham and cheese cooked right in with the eggs.  so simple and yet so satisfying, served with toast of course.


Lunch when I am at placement or school is usually a sammich, at home is actually usually a sammich too, but with cottage cheese on the side and a cut up tomato and some sort of dessert type snack thrown in there too.  Sometimes it will be a mini version of what I make for dinners but we’ll get to that.

Other common things for lunch are stirfrys, even though they charge way too much at Fleming for food, I often got the stirfry when it was being sold.  Simply Thai in Peterborough Square makes a mean stirfry and I love it!
Subway is also something I eat a lot of, 6 inch subs and a bag of chips is a pretty tasty lunch (and only about 530 calories)


Dinner is where the real excitement is at our place.  This semester we are not getting to eat together too often because of scheduling, but there are several things that get made at dinner that I really look forward to.

Some of my favourite mains at dinner:

Lamb chops
Pasta with Shrimp, broccoli and Alfredo sauce
Fish (usually salmon) with rice and veggies
Chicken breast, broiled, or cooked in a pan
Burgers, especially during the summer
Amber’s Hawaiian Meatballs

One of the things that pretty much got replaced when I was loosing weight and has seemed to stick was ground beef for ground chicken, it’s about 1/2 the calories and if you are putting lots of other things in with it I find it tastes just as good in a pasta or on a burger, clearly not beef, but still great!

Sides are usually a starch and a veg.  Rice and potatoes are common, corn, mixed frozen veggies, peas, carrots are usually there.  One item we got from watching Hell’s Kitchen is parsnip puree.  It’s so good! Especially with lamb, it has kind of a pepperminty taste that compliments the lamb so well.

I think my favourite dinner is Lamb, parsnip and some other veg.

I think an important thing to note here is that when losing weight I did cut out a lot of dessert type things and snacking, but when it came to meals it was about portion control.  We did drop ground beef almost completely in exchange for ground chicken, but other than that I ate regular dinners, just with controlled sizes (no going back for seconds).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Take Pride In What You Do

Things worth doing take effort.  Real, concerted, substantial, effort.

If things in life all came easy everyone would be a triple university graduate, with millions in their bank accounts and slam dunk basketballs while hitting a home run and scoring on a breakaway.

The effort you put into things is what is required to get the reward at the end.  That reward can be physical, mental, academic or even the high score on Tetris in a long standing back and fourth competition with your dad (that’s a whole other post though).

This premise is even more important I think in a group dynamic where many people are looking to achieve the same end result, possibly at the same time but not necessarily. If everyone is putting in time and effort and one person does not, should it even be plausible that the one gets the same reward in the end?  I think it is unfair to receive the same outcome if I’m not willing, or even able, to put in the same effort as everyone else.  It is an unfair position to put the powers that be in to ask that question, and it is unfair to all the people that are working hard to get to their goal.

I understand that things happen that may in one circumstance or another prevent someone, at no fault of their own, from reaching a goal.  But really how satisfied could you be to be handed something while skipping out on half the work when everyone around you who has achieved the same goal had to do weeks of extra work – the required amount of work really.  And not only that, but to be upset about being denied the possibility of that is hurtful to everyone else that is putting in the effort and commitment.

Take pride in the effort you are putting forward, it is that kind of attitude that gets you places in the end.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Basic Guide to Superheroes Part II

If you have not yet read Part I, do so here.

The Flash


There has been three guys as The Flash as well, the guy I think of when I think of The Flash is Wally West (for others it will be Barry Allen).  I think Wally comes to mind because that’s who was The Flash when he was on the mid-90’s Superman cartoon.  Basically The Flash runs really freaking fast, so fast it causes whirl winds and he can run across water and vibrate his way through solid objects (I think that’s a new power).  Main villains include Gorilla Grod, Mirror Master and The Weather Wizard.

The Green Lantern


There are Many Green Lanterns, from all over the universe (also many other coloured Lanterns it turns out), the Green Lantern of the Title has been a few different guys, but most people think Hal Jordan when they think Green Lantern.  He was a test pilot, found a dying Green Lantern that had crashed on earth and got hold of the Green Lantern ring.  The ring basically gives you the power to make real whatever you imagine through like solid light or something.  Want to beat eggs?  Imagine a blender and there it is, how about deflecting bullets?  Imagine a shield.  Want to take down a girl’s number but there is no writing surface to keep your pen from poking through the only scrap paper you have?  Imagine a desk.

The Green Arrow


Oliver Queen is from Star City and is super rich and inventive like Bruce Wayne is.  Of what I know of the Green Arrow Ollie ended up getting stranded on an island by some corporate pirates or something, he developed his bow shooting skills and athleticism in order to catching things to eat and stay away from predators respectively.  He has all kinda of arrows, ones that explode, ones with nets on them and ones with boxing gloves on them even.  He has a sidekick, Speedy.

Black Canary


I’ve only seen Black Canary on Batman the Brave and the Bold a few times, and I don’t know much other than she yells really loud and that’s her super power. Easy on the eyes too.

Captain Marvel


The whole reason I did these two posts.  The Big Red Cheese was originally a Marvel Comics character and DC was like ‘What the hell? Could you rip off Superman any more?” Lawsuits ensued and now Captain Marvel is a DC guy.  He’s kind of cool though, typically he’s just a boy, Billy Batson, and after meeting a wizard is granted the Abilities of gods when he says a magic word.  SHAZAM. Lightning comes down and strikes him transforming him from a boy to Captain Marvel, he says it again to call down lightning and change back.

S - for the endless wisdom of Solomon
H - for the legendary strength of Hercules
A - for the stamina and might of Atlas
Z - for the overwhelming power of Zeus
A - for the courage and invulnerability of Achilles
M - for the peerless speed and power of flight of the god Mercury

My first introduction to Captain Marvel was in Kingdom Come, a fantastic story.  Totally worth a read.


A Basic Guide to Superheroes Part I

As many people know I am a fan of many different superheroes.  I was wearing a Flash t-shirt the other day that was mistaken for a Captain Marvel logo as the person commented “Shazam!”

Amber often stares at me puzzled as I explain that there have been three different Robins, or describe who the Green Lantern is.

So here is a very basic guide to the superheroes that I like, this information is not to be taken as definitive as I am sure someone is going to comment or email that I have some detail or another wrong due to some mega-comic event.



Batman is my personal favourite.  Billionaire Bruce Wayne, saw his parents gunned down in front of him as a child.  He then vows to be a scourge on crime so that others don’t suffer the same fate.  Years of education, training and general commitment to learning anything and everything enable him to be Batman.  I think I like Batman best because he’s just a guy, with drive and resources.  He’s got a cool car and a penchant for putting “Bat” in front of all his gadgets (Batmobile, batarang, Batplane, Batcave etc…)



Robin is Batman’s sidekick, originally it was Dick Grayson, who the general populace knows as Robin, he was on the old Adam West TV show, and the horrid Joel Schumacher Batman movies (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin).  Eventually Dick grew up and moved on to become Nightwing.  Taking his place as Robin was Jason Todd.  Everyone and their dog hated Jason as Robin.  Fans voted that he should die, and so The Joker killed him, brutally, as is his way.  Then Tim Drake took up being Robin, and finally Robin wore pants.



As mentioned Dick Grayson got tired of playing second fiddle to Batman and became his own superhero.  In the style of Batman he’s a great detective, beats the tar out of people twice his size and is generally awesome.  Dick has even had a few stints being Batman.



Comes from Krypton originally named Kal-El, goes by Clark Kent when not in his long undies, lifts heavy things, flies, punches things.  Seriously, if you don’t know what Superman’s deal is, get out from under your rock.

Some people think Batman and Superman are friends, even Superman.  From what I have read, they are not, Batman actually doesn’t really like Sups and thinks he’s a big tool.

Wonder Woman


Apparently there is going to be a new live action Wonder Woman TV show, that should be nifty, I hope.  Now WW wears a leather jacket and generally looks a bit more threatening.

She’s an Amazon, from Themyscira, an island of only women.  Her powers are magical (which means she can whup Superman if need be), her lasso makes you tell the truth and she has an invisible plane.

Part II later.

Monday, February 7, 2011


How do you become a leader?  When do you become one?  Why?

This is a difficult topic I think as there are many different styles and types of leadership.  Over the last few years I’ve been put into a few roles that have required me to show leadership in a variety of different situations.  Some of these roles are very explicit, meaning whoever I am leading is looking right at me while I do it.  Other times the leadership my be expressed in a more subtle manner.

At karate I was informed of my leadership role long before I sought to have one.  Pete and I were given sampei rank and black stripes on our belts and then stood at the front of class while everyone was told that we were the guys to look up to.  Pressure?  Yeah just a bit and it took me a while to come to terms with that situation and do something about it for myself. 

Why was I put in that position?

I think it has to do with an understanding, that leading is not the same as commanding.  For one to lead, the followers must do so of their own free judgement and not to avoid punishment or work.  A good leader can get others to do work simply because they are convinced they like to do it.  Sure there are exceptions to that, but in general I think it applies very well.  When I am leading something at karate I try to make it fun, fast and informative.

At school is another place I’ve been put in a leadership role, this time around at least.  My first time through school I was not a leader at all.  A lack of experience, confidence and work ethic saw to that.  This time however, through the lessons learned in other life experiences, I am.  During our toddler program in 3rd semester I was put into the role of Team Leader.  It is a delicate position to be put into when you have to critique people that are your friends especially in this case because its all about personal style.  I think I did well providing feedback to my team members.  It was definitely the experiences at Karate that helped me with this.

I think you become a leader when you stop looking for it an just go about doing what you are supposed to be doing effectively and efficiently, offering help to people who need it.  Knowing when to speak up and when to keep quiet helps too.  At karate for sure I never asked when promotions would be, I never even asked to teach, but to paraphrase a friend I just ‘do what I do”.  It’s then that people recognize you are someone worth looking up to, that you get your work done and are willing to help out those that are working hard too.

Not everyone is cut out to be in front of a group leading, it does take a lot of getting used to that is for sure.  But showing leadership isn’t the same for everyone either.  you can lead vocally, or just by example.  Everyone has the capacity to lead in one way or another, it’s just a matter of taking hold of the opportunities.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Best Steak I Ever Ate

This past fall I got married, before the big event my friend Matt took me to dinner in Toronto to a place called Barberian's Steak House.  This was without a doubt the best steak I have ever eaten and likely will remain standing on the top of that list for a very long time.

The restaurant is amazing, the decor and furnishing all very tasteful and classic.  This is not the type of place with loud music, TV's everywhere and table tops you can draw on.  The service was also impeccable, they knew that Matt and I were there to enjoy a meal together and while everything was taken care of with the utmost detail the staff were just a part of the whole scene.

The steak was incredible!  I got rib steak and where so many places you go they cook your steak wrong or you need sauce of some sort or horse radish just to make the meat palatable, this was a thing of beauty.  Cooked perfectly and not requiring so much as a single grain of salt to make it perfect.

It was costly, but this level of cuisine and service makes it worth every cent.  I have been to quite a few steak houses both here in Canada and in the US and even on our last cruise, none of them come even close to the amazing steak I had at Barberian's.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I play hockey.  I have played for quite a while now and I love it.

I love it now more than I used to actually, because now it doesn't kill me to play.

Until I was in grade 6 or so I really paid no attention to hockey.  I had a sweater or two that my dad had gotten me, but I was pretty much unaware of hockey in general.  My dad did have the foresight to attire me in the grab of a winning team as seen here:

Anyway, I only started to like and watch hockey when I was about 11.  It would be another few years before I even played hockey, or in fact even knew how to skate.  We lived near Buckhorn at the time (Quiz: How do you know you live in the middle of nowhere?  You live near Buckhorn) and once we had gotten me some second hand skates we'd go play once a week at the Lakehurst arena. Which was just an outdoor rink.  These games were great, usually 8 or 9 people on each team, some stunk, some where really good.  I was terrible.  I could hardly even skate for starters and stopping was a completely different issue.

I could not stop.  At all.  All I could do was slow down using the snow plow  method or dragging my one foot, even that was poor because I was such an ankle burner.

My stopping revelation would not come until I was 16!  I made a rink in the back yard at home, much to the protest of my mom who was certain it would ruin what little grass we had.  It was something that had to be done however.  My friend Phil went to a church that had a group of guys that would go play every other Saturday (at the time) and I wanted to be in on that.  So I made this rink which took days to get the ice thick enough that it was skate-able and on the very first time I was on it, bam, I learned to stop.  It was either that or go cartwheeling across the snowy lawn.

Since then I have played hockey in some form almost every year.  But I would say that this year is the first year I would actually consider myself to be a hockey player.  Why?  Because it used to put me in agony to play.  I would go play Saturday nights have the shortest shifts I possibly could and come to the bench gasping for air each time.  My back would kill me for days after and I would have to convince myself to go and play.

I was a big guy.  And though I enjoyed the idea of playing hockey, most of my body rebelled when I made it go through with it. One of the side benefits of losing a bunch of weight was that all these physical things I like to do became so much easier.  The picture above was March 2010.  The one below is August 2010.

I had the opportunity to play the last few games of a summer men's league.  It was fantastic to discover what I was then capable of doing. Still now in February 2011 I can do that much more even its great.  I love going to play hockey, that I can skate as fast or faster than anyone on my team, that I no longer die a little each time I reach the bench after a shift.

This year, next week in fact, I'll be playing in a tournament, minimum of 3 games on Saturday (plus our regularly scheduled game Saturday night - but at the Memorial Centre - you should come, bring a can of food for admission) which at this time last year would have been impossible.  I am excited.  Really excited about the whole idea.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An Update

Hello Blog Readers,

Noticed how I put your name with capitals?  Doesn't that make you feel important?  It should!

I have a couple of updates for you which I am sure you may have noticed.

There are ads on the sides of the blog now.  Click them if they interest you!  I get money for it, real honest money, how cool would that be to be able to use this space to fund more adventures to write about?  It would be very cool, so please click the ads, and let the page load up.  Thanks.

Also I hope I have made it easier to leave comments, something weird about this site you have to submit your comment like 10 times before it goes through, or it used to anyways, I turned off pretty much every safety on the comments section so maybe it will be easier to leave comments.  You don't have to be registered or anything anymore.  I like reading comments so please leave some!

And now to your regularly scheduled postings.

The Management

PS - Click the ads, leave a comment!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What I Learned From Getting Kicked In The Face

Back in the summer of 2007 I think it was we sparred at karate a lot!  At the time Pete and I were Sempais and with insurance rules allowing it at the time we ran a bit of a sparring session every other Saturday.  It was quite a bit of fun actually and we did it for almost a year I think.

During the time we spent sparring there were days when the level of contact, commitment to techniques and competitiveness would rise.  These are the days when I learned the most, because they would be invariably the days when I got hit a few more times than usual.  Shots to the body were fairly common, hard blocks were as well, I enjoyed that aspect quite a bit really, I knew I had made contact, or had been hit well.  I took a few punches to the head as well but with the gloves on it took a real hit to know you had your bell rung.

And then there are a few notable times where I got kicked in the face.  What was important about these instances was that I bled.  The first time it happened I was stunned, blood leaking from my nose we called a halt to the match and I went to the bathroom to stuff some kleenex up my nose to stop the bleeding.  The second time it happened we kept on sparring until we had no choice but to stop since I was getting blood all over the place.

What was different?  It certainly wasn't a gentler kick, and it wasn't about placement of the strike, both clipped my nose.  Was I tougher?  Was I more inclined to show that it didn't hurt?  I don't believe so.  I think it had much more to do with that it had happened before and I was therefore less impacted by the event at the time.

I learned that I can still continue when struck, I learned about how I would handle myself in a situation where another person has hit me hard enough with good placement to make me bleed in front of others.  Did it make me any worse in the eyes of the people observing?  I doubt it.  Even the first time when we stopped sparring when it happened I'm pretty sure no-one was like 'Oh Chris is bleeding, what a wuss.'

Getting hit comes with the territory when learning a physical art.  Over the time I've been at karate I've been head-butted in the nose, kicked in the crotch and elbowed in the head by students of various ranks, some lower than mine, some higher.  The thing I have learned from those events is how I'm going to react to them, not only from a physical standpoint, but from a mental one, from an instructor view as well.  Getting hit and dealing with it appropriately builds character.