Saturday, December 31, 2011

Snowboarding Day 1

Last Christmas I told my Aunt and cousin that I would like to learn how to snowboard.  My brother in law Greg was going to join me and it was to be a legendary adventure possibly involving several broken bones and many trips to the hospital.  I mentioned this to my aunt and cousin as their whole family were avid snowboarders and skiers and I was hoping to score the lending of equipment so that I would not have to go out and buy my own.  They did happily lend the equipment but the idea never really took off because it costs about $100 to go to a ski hill around here and at the time (and even now) that’s a lot of scratch to spend learning to go down a hill quickly, and falling a lot.

Today is the start of a long weekend for me and we just had a lovely amount of snow fall and it’s above freezing today (about 5 or 6 degrees Celsius – about 40 F for my American readers). And so I decided that today would be the day that I learned how to board on snow!

Why you might be asking.  Because if videogames have taught me anything (and they have taught me plenty) snowboarding is awesome.  Observe:

Anyways, I set out to learn to snowboard today and after driving around to find the least populated sledding hill I did a couple of quick runs on the Armour Heights Public School yard where there is a short hill.  I felt I got the hang of that pretty quick and moved on to the hill in front of the courthouse.


The hill is not too steep really, but it’s nice and long and I figured a good training ground for a first time snowboarder.  Turns out I was right and while I fell a number of times on my first few attempts I was able to stay upright for the length of the hill by about the fifth or sixth run.  I could not, and still cannot after probably twenty runs at it, steer very well or gracefully stop.  But considering that the only pointers I got about snowboarding were about a year ago in my Grandma’s living room I feel I did pretty well.  By the end I was asserting that I was only going to do ‘one more run’ about three or four times and during that span landed a small jump and nearly landed a more energetic launch off the same small jump.

As far as Day One is concerned with no outside instruction I’m calling this a success, hopefully tomorrow will yield the same amount of growth, it would be nice to be able to steer and stop!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mario Power Ups

Sometimes I am embarrassed for my wife.

She was born only a few years later than I was, owned a Nintendo Entertainment System, grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and yet I discovered a few Friday nights ago that she did not know that there was such a thing as Raccoon Mario.

See what happened is that Erin and Greg (my brother in law) awesomely gave me a Nintendo wallet and a keychain featuring the new Tanooki Mario from Super Mario 3D Land. Amber was all like “What’s Tanooki Mario?” I just gestured to the keychain, she noted that she figured that that was Racoon Mario and I explained the whole in Super Mario Bros 3 there was a Raccoon Mario that had ears on his cap and a tail, and also Tanooki Mario who has the whole suit. To me, this should simply be common knowledge for anyone between 35 and 27. Super Mario Bros 3 came out in like 1990 I believe. After a quick Google check I am right (!
Over the years there have been so many power ups that it is hard to keep track of them all. Some of them are timeless that everyone does know, some are just awesome, and some I doubt we will ever see again.

The classic items of course show up in almost every Mario game. The super mushroom is in almost every game and was actually the first item Mario ever got in a Super Mario Bros. game. I later learned that that first hit the block then have the mushroom bounce off the pipe and back to you was specifically designed to have it be very very difficult to dodge the first mushroom letting the player know it was ok to touch them in a game were touching almost anything else resulted in death.

The fire flower is another that pretty much everyone should know about even if you don’t play video games, grab it and it gives Mario (or Luigi) the ability to send bounce balls of napalm as whatever is nearby.

The star, or more accurately, Starman. This item has been in every Mario game I can think of off the top of my head and also shown up in a variety of Mario spin off games (Mario Kart comes to mind right away) it makes you invincible, and faster and it changes the music and in Mario Galaxy you turn all rainbowy.

Those are the ones I think everyone is aware of, there are some that I have never played as like Rabbit Mario and some I hated in certain situations like Frog Mario if you are on land. But the one in question of course is Raccoon Mario from one of the best selling games of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3.

This –> is Raccoon Mario is you are about 30 years old and have not seen this picture you must have been covering your eyes to play hide and seek for about two years around 1990. Now only was the game a best seller but there were tie ins with McDonalds and promotional posters and a whole flipping movie, The Wizard, about playing Super Mario Bros. 3. you became Raccoon Mario within 20 seconds of playing the game and he could fly by running fast and wagging his tail. Pretty awesome!

There are of course many more power ups now, and new ones for each game it seems, here is an old chart of all the Mario Power ups that there was at whatever time the chart was made. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fitness Goals For 2012

There I was walking down the street yesterday just about to head into the used game store downtown and I hear my name shouted. “Chris!” the shout came since that is my name and who was it but Matt and Kate who just so happened to be in town.  Coincidence or what?

We had lunch and then a coffee and hot chocolate, I had the hot chocolate.  During the course of the afternoon Kate asked me what my fitness goals for the year are and really I didn’t have much in mind at the time, just maintaining what I have achieved so far I supposed and running in my race, the Warrior Dash.  Oh and lifting things, but I mentioned that as sort of an afterthought.

I’ve had the chance to think about it a bit further and even now I don’t have many goals beyond those few things.  At the gym I would like to be able to bench press my own weight and then two plates (180lbs) by the end of the year.  I have no idea if that is actually great or not.  At the moment I can lift 120lbs (plus the bar – which turns out to be my own weight) which isn’t a lot I guess, but I have not been training for heavy lifting, just fitness for the last two years.  I do my bench press as part of a routine and so I lift that weight 30 times with two varieties of push-ups in between each set of ten lifts.  So it’s not that I want to lift my weight period, I want to be able to lift it 30 times.  So far I have been upping the weight I press each week by 10lbs for the last five weeks or so since I just returned to doing the bench press after my two previous workout plans didn’t have it at all.

Last year I left off running a 5K route in about 23:30 on average, I’d like to get that down under 23 minutes consistently in time for the Warrior Dash.  That will take some doing I am sure, and I’m not certain how to actually go about it other than just run, so we will have to see about that.

As for maintaining what I have achieved so far I think that is quite doable, I have done it now for over a year and fluctuated within five pounds bouncing over 165lbs only after our cruise for about two days.  I’ve also been at my ‘new’ job for six months now and have been able to fit in gym time and such without too much difficulty so all things being equal maintaining my fit and healthy body should not be a huge challenge.

What are your fitness goals?  How to you plan on getting there?

Friday, December 23, 2011


I love my 3DS and lately it just keeps getting better!  I picked mine up on launch day with one game and was blown away by the 3D effect that you did not need to wear glasses to experience.  The trick to it is that generally one holds a hand held device like a portable game system with a certain distance from you face, Nintendo took advantage of that an made their system 3D, it' is very cool.

Recently as you may have seen ads for it on TV Nintendo has been pushing out some pretty awesome games for the system.  Super Mario 3D Land came out early in November and was everything I expected it to be.  Nintendo never fails to amaze me with their ability to make me feel like I am ten years old again discovering a game for the first time.  It is typical Mario, you run, you jump, you die over and over, you smile the entire time because it’s so much fun!

A few weeks later Mario Kart 7 came out and it has not move from my system since that day.  Everyday at lunch I play a couple of races and now that we have wireless at work as well I can play online there and at home!  Again Mario Kart was exactly what I was expecting with a few new twists the game is fun and challenging.  I love the online match up system Nintendo has created for Mario Kart that keeps you playing with player in and around your own level so as to give every one of the (up to) eight players involved a shot at winning.

Last night Nintendo put out another free piece of software for the system that you download from their eshop service called swapnote.  It lets you send messages to other 3DS systems, but you draw them like you would on a sticky note, and can send multiple pages at once.  The really cool thing is you can do it in 3D!  Being able to draw a 3D picture is pretty cool and it makes me wish I knew more people that own a 3DS just so we could trade messages.

If you are thinking about getting one of these systems for someone at Christmas, do it! If you are thinking of getting one for yourself, do that too and then l-ink up with me!  If you already have one, we should swap friend codes, mine is:
0903-2736-8751 post in the comments below if you have one!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Drought Is Over - What Setting Objectives You are In Control Of Can Do For You

Yesterday I was eager to go and play hockey, we were going to be playing a team that typically we do well against and I was hopeful I would be able to score a goal or at least get some shots on net as that is my current objective.  You can not score without shooting so a minimum of three shots on net per game is what I am aiming for.   You see when I was so frustrated a couple of games ago with my lack of ability to find the twine, as they say, I decided to change my mind set. Each Saturday I was going to the rink with the intention of scoring. Scoring involves a lot of things but mainly it requires a shot of mine to get past the goalie. I only have total control over half of that situation. So I decided to focus on my half of it and just try to get shots on net. It was time to put the plan into action.

At about 1pm though, Todd, our Captain, called and asked if I could fill in for our goalie as he would be away.  I agreed of course and began to plan to play our game in net and take my forward gear as well in hopes that I could play the second game out as a winger.

It turns out that it was not just our goalie missing but almost half our team!  Two of our usual defenseman were missing and Mark who usually completes the line with Jeff and I.  So we were a bit outmanned right from the start with only one spare for all the forwards and one spare for defense.  We held up well for about half the game.  At that point I had only allowed one goal and made a couple spectacular saves.  Unfortunately the wheels fell off after that and they began to pick us apart due to our skaters being so tired.  The final for that game was 6-3 and while I usually would not be happy with a score like that (and I am not now even) the deck was stacked against us winning.

As we came off the ice Jeff went and asked if Calvery needed players and got me in on the next game, I stripped off my goalie stuff, packed it up, ran out to the car and then back in with my other hockey bag.  I dressed just in time to skate a couple laps and warm up my skates (they were freezing from sitting in the car since 5:30 (by this time it was 9:30).  I was playing with Jeff and Ron.  Jeff is the guy that usually centres the line Mark and I play on for our team, and I used to play with Ron at centre when I began playing in this league years ago.

The game was fast and I was eager to avenge all those goals scored against me.  I started out the game feeding Jeff a couple of passes but then got a break up my left wing side and sniped a shot 5-hole. What a relief to score a goal on an actual shot!  My last goal seven(!) games ago was a bang in while I flew past the net. My only goal before that was on an actual shot was way back in the first game of the season!  Later on Jeff, Ron and I were set up in their end passing the puck around.  Jeff, from behind the net, got it out to Ron at the right circle who passed it across to me and I shot it in to a wide open net for my second of the night.

While I was ending my goal scoring drought Jeff was simply dominating when he was on the ice!  By the end of the night he had six goals! 6!!  It was pretty unbelievable, Ron got one on the night as well but I was not done either.  Ron had decided that since Jeff is a right shot and I am a left that when we took face-offs on the right side of the ice I should switch from left wing to centre so I could try to win the draw to Jeff and he could fire it in the net.  That was a plan that actually worked perfectly on the first face-off I took, but towards the end of the game it resulted in a broken play that allowed me a shot from right in the slot that zipped by the goalie for my third of the night.

A hat trick.  I didn’t just end the drought I proved to myself that perseverance and setting goals that I am in control of (shots on net instead of scoring as a set objective) will make me successful.  It was a great night and a great game.

We do not play again until after the new year, apparently people like to get together over the holidays instead of playing hockey – ridiculous!  So I was really happy to get the scoring monkey off my back in this game and hopefully now that the gate is open more will follow after the break.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We Have A Winner!

Damion sent in an email after my update post with a whole pile of answers from them trivia contest!

Damion answered all the questions correctly except the 1st stop on the cruise. We went to San Juan.

Congratulations!  I cannot wait to see his blog post!

Friday, December 16, 2011


Hey everyone some updates for you all.

Yesterday I had a view from South Africa, which means that aside from Antarctica I have had at least one read from every continent!  That’s pretty cool!

There was no winner to the contest, no one sent anything in.  Amber said maybe it was too hard, or that the prize sucked.  One day I’ll have something meaningful to give away I promise.  (or all you need it one correct answer to win this one, anyone??)

You can follow me on twitter   @Chrispy47 I know a few of you have.

Sometimes You Just Feel Like Hanging It Up

I left work yesterday feeling pretty defeated, I think that is the most appropriate word to use.  I can not get into particulars obviously, but I just felt  generally like putting the whole ECE thing on the shelf.

I won’t, it is not an option really, I do love my job.  I definitely felt the support from the people I’m supposed to feel support from.  Encouraging words were said and they certainly did help.  I still left feeling that I was not all that good at what I do simply because of being who I am.

I went to the gym after work, mainly because I did not even feeling like following through with that.  I have learned at karate that it is the days when you feel like staying home that you get the most out of things (I wish there had been karate last night honestly).  So I went and I sweated, there is no more honest work than work done completely for yourself.

Today is a new day, I need to give it the opportunity to be a good day instead of carrying the baggage over from the day before or else it will be predestined to failure.  So, here we go!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Got A New Kitty

After losing two cats in ten days back in October and November we decided after a while to get a new kitty.  Cringer I think was a bit lonely and while her immediate reaction is to growl and hiss as the new housemate, she ([pp’;’[

hy[-|||”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””)  <—that was the new kitty saying hi.

will eventually get along with this new tiny, tiny friend.

She is the most high energy thing I have seen.  She’s spent every waking moment playing with anything that moves, and a lot of things that don’t, as well as running back and forth around the house.

You may have noticed that I have yet to mention a name.  That is because we can not agree on a name yet.  Amber has not really given any suggestions other than to say ‘A nice girl cat name’.  While I have given plenty, she just thinks they are no good.

Now to explain, naming a pet I think is the perfect opportunity to express yourself.  That is why my first cat ever (and the one we have now) was named Cringer.  Cringer was the name of Prince Adam’s big tiger on He-Man, who when Prince Adam became He-Man the tiger became Battle Cat.  When we had brought that cat home she was a barn cat and was afraid of everything (just like Cringer on the show) but when she got mad she would tear your face off (as on of the children my mom babysat many years later learned the hard way).  Years later Daisy came into my house and was so named because of Princess Daisy from Super Mario Bros (the obvious choice of Princess Peach was overruled).

So far names that have been rejected are:

  • Peach
  • Zelda
  • Panthor
  • Isis
  • Battle Cat
  • Kurbio
  • Yoshi
  • Toad
  • Fangs
  • Optimus Prime
  • Megatron
  • Kimeer
  • Meow – then she would be able to say her own name!

and after looking at a list of cat names online my new personal favourite:

  • Dr. Applesauce.

So, you know a bit of her nature, and here are some pictures:

2011-12-14 17.27.052011-12-14 17.38.48[5]2011-12-14 17.39.12[3]2011-12-14 17.42.09[0]

Name suggestions anyone?

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Running Is A Bad Friend

I got off work early yesterday, which was good because I was quite tired due to being out at work on Sunday having breakfast with Santa at 8am.  With this time off I decided I would go to the gym since I could be done at the gym at the same time I would be done work.  It was not the most relaxing choice, but since I skipped the gym Sunday to go do the breakfast with Santa I figured it was the universe’s way of paying me back the time.

I got to the gym and noted how few cars there was in the parking lot and thought I would have no problems doing the things I needed to do for my leg day.  Apparently fewer cars in the afternoon does not mean fewer people, I guess because people walk over from the college nearby or take the bus.  I got my leg presses done, and my hamstring exercises.  Then it was time to use the rack to do squats and such, but some due was busy pretending to use the one where the bar is free, and someone was actually using the one where the bar is guided on rails.

I thought to myself, I’m not waiting around for these guys, especially dude that is doing more stretching than actually working.  I have not run in a while, I’ll do that.  So I wrote on my sheet, in place of where I would check off the six different exercises I had left, 5k run.  No problem I figured, I could run 5k in about 23 minutes the last time I did it (back before hockey started) that was only two and a half months ago. 

You know how you have those friends that you can go months and months without seeing them and just pick up where you left off?   Like my friend Matt is one of those guys, we’ll go quite a while without hanging out, but then we do and it’s like we’ve been together every weekend for our whole lives.  Yeah, running is not a friend like that.  Running is the friend that when you visit after two months, complains about how you don’t call or make time for them.  I’m sure it didn’t help too much that I had just done a bunch of legs presses and hamstring curls, but I could not run 5k straight, or at a pace I was happy with.

I did complete it in just over 25 minutes, but I had to have a little bit of a walk about half way through.  When I was done, I of course sprinted the last minute or so, I was so dead.  My legs were alright, but my head was wobbly and I knew I needed a Gatorade or something.  In short I learned that after more than two months and some about 20 minutes of leg exercises I can’t just expect run 5k in a time comparable to my best runs.  Go figure.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Trees

On Tuesday night Amber and I went and bought our Christmas tree from a lot a few blocks over.  As we brought it in the house and needle fell all over the floor she commented that for someone that wanted a real Christmas tree I was doing a lot of complaining.  It was at this point that I told her that I was complaining because we in fact did not have a real Christmas tree, we had areal, fake tree.

The tree we brought home has been cut for at least a few days already if not a week or so, it was farmed as well in some field perfectly spaced from other trees to allow sun from all sides and so on.  Yes it is a real tree in the sense that it is not a plastic or metal tree, but it is like some tree from the matrix or something.

In my childhood we went and got real trees, usually on Christmas eve.  My dad and I would go out into the woods (we lived in the woods) in search of a great tree.  Within fifteen minutes we would see a tree or two that looked ok, but there must be something better so we would keep walking.  Eventually we would be cold and snow would be in our boots and anything resembling a tall green thing would be up for consideration. 

A tree would of course be found and we would drag it back home.  It would be put up in the stand and then have to be turned to show the best side of it away from the wall.  This was key, because since it was a real tree there was a ‘best side’ because usually the side deemed ‘not best’ would have a huge gap in branches and such.  Typically then we would have to use some twine to tie the tree up to the ceiling.  If we did not do this step it was usually the case where the tree we had selected could not bear it’s own weight, I think this was partly due to the fact that until dad made his own we must have had the worst tree stand in history.

I have been known to go out into the woods and get my own tree in my adulthood as well, following almost the exact same plan as my dad, but this year we were a bit rushed since Amber’s mom is coming tonight to do the whole Christmas thing and going out in the dark to find a tree would be pointless.

Next year we are getting a real, real tree. For now, this will have to do.

2011-12-09 06.18.21

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


On Sunday I bought Mario Kart 7 for my 3DS.  It is just another example of how Nintendo can make a long running series of games with each one being a hit.  It also shows how they know their fan base and can turn out products that please them.  Another example of this would be that just a couple of weeks about I bought Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword which I have talked about already, and just also in the last few weeks I’ve bought Super Mario 3D Land.

Each of these games are unique from each other and indeed unique from the rest of the games on the market.  Yes there are other kart racing games, but Mario Kart did it first, and it always does it better than a game that is trying to imitate it’s success.

I think it is funny that Amber actually refers to playing video games at all as “Playing Nintendo” if I am using the TV to do it.  I have an Xbox 360 and that is actually something I thought I would never get was a non-Nintendo gaming system, eventually it became essential since just a few really amazing games where not done quite right by third party developers on the Wii, or simply not done at all (the NHL series, Rock Band, Portal and the new Batman games).

It is quite interesting to look at me game collection actually I think as I only have a handful of Xbox games, basically those mentioned above and a couple of downloaded ones.  As for my Wii, DS and 3DS games I’d say about 95% of them are Nintendo made which is considerable since I have had each of those system since the day they came out.

I think somewhere along the line I missed the day where I was supposed to love games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto.  I would rather play the original Super Mario Bros. than either of those series of games.  If I want to shoot things I have Metroid to do it with, if I want and adventure I have so many versions of Legend of Zelda to do that too, if I want to race I have Mario Kart and if I want to just have some fun I have Super Mario.

I’ve always been a Nintendo guy, and always will be I think, they just make so many games I love, and that I can share with anyone!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Thanks to we have another Friend Making Monday, take part do your own, post the link in my comments section and over at, get readers, have fun!

1. I am good at… Karate, being sarcastic, finding time for the gym.

2. I am happy when…most of the time actually, but specifically when I’m with friends.

3. I am working on…getting better at playing guitar, now that I have been shown an easier F chord I hope to learn some new songs.

4. I am interested in…taking trips and learning new things.

5. I am always…looking to improve my abilities.

6. I am enjoying…all the new video games I have gotten lately!  Batman Arkham City, Super Mario 3D Land, Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword and Mario Kart 7!!

7. I am in…My PJs, at home, in the living room, in Peterborough, Ontario Canada.

8. I am reading…The Batman Files, very interesting, written like a cross between a diary and a scrapbook.

9. I am concerned about…my Grandma that is in the hospital, nothing too serious but concerning nonetheless and what fun things I will do at work this week.

10. I am looking forward to…Hockey tonight, My wife’s birthday next week and then Christmas!

Now it’s your turn! Don’t forget to come back and share a link to your blog in the comments! Happy Monday my friends!

Friday, December 2, 2011

What I Notice About Professional Development

I went to another Professional Development session last night and got to see a couple friends from school yay!  Oh yeah but I also learned something great about doing learning stories, far more useful than what we learned about learning stories in college.  I enjoy PD sessions, it’s nice to be in that type of learning setting again.  However, I do wish people would speak up!

Last night there was eight of us there, everyone knew at least one other person and yet it was still like pulling teeth to get responses from the crowd when the facilitator asked a question.  It was like being in the first year of college all over again.We all know that everyone there had good thoughts and ideas, I know for sure that at least half of us were college graduates, and everyone works each day in the same field (some folks were school age staff).  Why go to PD if you have no intention of taking part?

I get singled out enough as it is at things like this because I’m a guy.  In fact in a company of more than 150 employees I’m the only male ECE, and just one of two guys that works for the company!  So to pipe up with a response or answer first on each open question the facilitator gives makes me a little on edge I guess (I’m so glad Keri had things to say first only a few questions in a couple of times!).

It is not about appearing smart or trying to be right, it is about moving the whole process along.  I do not want to give up my evening to spend a quarter of it sitting in silence waiting for someone to be brave enough to give a response, just say what you have got to say. 

In school I truly believe that it was my early ridiculous answers or actions that gave some of the other members of the class the ability to speak up without worrying about being wrong.  I mean after a college instructor asks a group of students how you can effectively discipline a child and I make a backhand motion in plain view of that instructor and get a “Chris! You can’t do that!”  Any answer is a good answer and folks say what’s on their mind.

Take part in your own learning, speak up, be unafraid to say what’s on your mind.  The whole learning process is much more enjoyable that way.  And it moves along a heck of a lot faster!