We learn from our past.  It shapes us. It affects us in ways both good and bad. You might say it makes us who we are.

But it should be a place of memories. Fond or difficult they all came together to make us each who we are, but they should not be a place we live in.

On this day more than most I give myself a little extra time to remember and to reflect and to cherish those memories,  both the good and the bad.

There is no changing the past, but there is learning from it, and keeping memories close to our hearts, but you should never let them rob you of your future or cause you to dwell in them.

It’s been 10 years since my brother was taken from this world, and I choose to remember the good times, and gloss over the bad like the way his life was cut short. Memories keep people alive in our hearts, and need to be shared and that’s what days like this should be about. Look back fondly and look forward with hope.

As always big bro, I’m at your final resting place with my bike. Feel free to join me, but you have to ride bitch, after all it’s my bike.

Ride on bro,

Barkerp

We had to say goodbye today to our beautiful friend and companion of nearly 13 years, Tilley. 

Coming home the first time after a beloved dog moves on is heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter how many other animals are there to greet you, the hole after one dog has left is enormous.


She was the matriarch of our little herd. 

The instigator at times, moreso before her hearing started to go, barking at any noise outside that didn’t seem right to her. 

The referee at times, stepping in between the other dogs when a kerfuffle broke out. 

The ever vigilant watchful eye when outside, making us aware of guests or people passing by.  

The mother at times, helping us to raise the new puppies as they joined our little zoo of animals.  Watchful over them, and putting up with all those puppy quirks, nips, noises, and general misbehavings.

She not only watched over the animals – cat and rabbit as well as the other dogs – but was there for us, her people, always watching over us, happy to see us and be with us, right up to the end when we could see she wanted to be near us although her body was failing her.  A truly wonderful friend and companion and always so sweet no matter what was going on or how she was feeling, and once she knew you, you were a friend for life and one of her flock.

Rainbow bridge has another beautiful soul waiting for us on the other side.  I’m pretty sure she’ll be there keeping all the other animals in line and teaching them manners while she waits.

Rest in peace Tilley.

Barkerp

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves” – Albert Einstein.

Paying attention.  It is the most important thing to practice while driving, and often times hard to do, especially on a long drive, or an overly familiar one where your mind tends to wander.  The laws are trying to encourage it, and enforce it, but we all need to ignore the distractions around us, even the pretty girls.  Sorry Albert.

Technology can help with this, if used properly.

I drive a lot for work, going to new places all the time is one of the perks of the business, (if you like driving and exploring this vast country we live in) and quite often I forget to put the address into my car’s Nav system before leaving the office.  It is still a new-ish toy to me and I forget you can’t add an address once the vehicle is moving, so sometimes I rely on my phone to let me know where to go.  Other times I pull over and key in the address and use the Navigation system.
Today was one of those times I figured I’d just use my iPhone, and as it turns out also my Apple Watch, which I didn’t even know was a feature.  Driving along, I stopped long enough to click on the notification on my phone telling me of the meeting and the address and it launched “Maps” showing me where to go and how long, etc. and headed on my merry way.  Not too far along I felt the now familiar tapping on my wrist from my watch.  Assuming it was just a text message or my watch telling me it was time to stand up I didn’t think much of it.  Then again, as I neared my next turn, same thing.

I glanced over at my watch to see a very simple notification telling me of my upcoming turn, and ETA.  Cool.  The interface is simple enough a glance is all you need.  That is not to say the latest update to the Maps App for iOS is not well laid out itself,  but having the info on your wrist is pretty sweet, and less distracting.

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Watch screen capture

iPhone screen capture

As I said, the watch lets you know when a change in direction is coming up, or as may be, a choice in direction is coming up and the app tells you to keep going the direction you are going.  Sometimes those notifications can be extremely annoying when traveling along a highway and constantly being told to keep going where you were heading like some sort of robotic backseat driver “continue on highway for 3 kms”, but I digress.
When I first thought of getting a smartwatch, honestly I did wonder how much I would use it, and how much I was getting one just because it was cool tech and I didn’t have it.  (seeing the keynote about the Apple Watch Series 2 pretty much hooked me)

I had stopped wearing a regular watch around the same time I started carrying a cell phone in my pocket.  Seemed silly to me to wear something that really only provided one purpose.  Well, two if you include the date function, which by the way, if I ever forget what day it is and I’m not retired already or on vacation, put me out to pasture.  But anyway, having a smartwatch actually makes sense for me, since there are many times my phone is either not in my pocket (at the office for one, around the house for another) or it is in my pocket but not convenient to access, for instance when driving, working outside, or on a job site.  Often the notifications are all that is needed, and no or minimal interaction is required.  Driving is a perfect example of this, and anything that can be done to keep attention on the road is a good thing.  The watch OS does a good job of this, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves, along with how many other ways the minimalistic approach of working with a smaller screen changes how we interact with technology.

Not to mention it is just cool tech, and in my opinion, smartwatches will become as standard as the iPhone has become.  Integrated into our lives so completely that in a couple of years we will wonder how we ever got along without them.

Getting back to good old Albert Einstein, who knew he was such a player.

barkerp

social-media-icon-setI was in the Toronto airport recently and had some time to reflect on how much power, whether good or bad, society has been given by social media. Be it Instagram, FaceBook, Yelp or Twitter, anything you do, anyone you meet, and anywhere you want to go, people have messaged about it and those messages and posts can make or break an event/place/person.

President Obama has been in the news a lot lately discussing truth in news and how FB and Google need to ensure facts are being reported … If we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have serious problems.

To a lesser extent the same is true about the average Joe/Josephine and their use of social media.  How do we filter out the facts from the fiction?  The first thing many people do upon experiencing something new (I am guilty of this myself) is post about it.  More often than not, it is the negatives that get posted.  When you have a problem, you want to complain and think someone, anyone, is listening.  Social media to the rescue.  A platform with no real checks and balances, and more often than not the first place we go to find out what others think of something we are thinking of doing, or to “research” a place we are thinking of going to. (I am guilty of this too, especially when it comes to hotels and restaurants)

So often I have heard the same comments about a place, only to find out, it was because one person experienced it and then everyone else just regurgitated what they read, retweeted, reposted, etc without actually experiencing it themselves.

Take for instance a prime example that just happened this morning in my office.  Restaurant ABC gets a bad review on yelp and is taken as gospel because it had more than one bad rating, and as such the person I was talking to said they would not be trying it out.  Who knows, it could have been a bad day, it could have been an isolated problem, it may have been just not quite what was expected, or the person giving the bad review was just being petty.  Disgruntled worker maybe?  You can learn from others mistakes or experiences, but that doesn’t mean that they will have the same experience as you.  With restaurants especially, the particular cook can make or break a meal, your palate is different from someone else’s, maybe you like salt more than sweet for instance, etc., there are a myriad of possible reasons.  And hey, who knows maybe it does legitimately suck.

Everything you post should be understood and interpreted as “in my limited opinion and experience at this particular time and location” but rarely it is.  A few negative comments can quickly become a tidal wave simply due to our inherent nature of listening and trusting others opinions – It was on yelp/Facebook/Google/Twitter/ etc, so it must be true.  We can’t prevent the rants and negativity but we can learn to take it with a grain of salt and realize it for what it is, free advice.  And as with any advice, you usually get what you paid for.

One final note, getting back to the airport again.  Chef Roger Mooking has a new (or at least new to me) restaurant in Pearson.  Having eaten at another chef’s restaurant there, Massimo Capra’s Boccone, and thoroughly enjoying it we thought we’d try “Twist“.  Lets just say I hope chef Mooking pops in again soon to make sure they are preparing his menu properly since his “not so philly cheesesteak” to use some of his own words when judging on Chopped, is a one note, dry offering, in need of some sauce.  But that is just my opinion, well that and my traveling companion.  So two free opinions.  Take it with a grain of salt, … which wouldn’t have helped this sandwich.

barkerp

 

I mentioned this on FB last night, but a pet deserves more than just a post or mention that typically lasts only a few minutes in this crazy busy world of info overload.

from FB… “Sadly lost our last of the original 3 chickens today, “Pumpkin”. Passed quietly after almost 9 yrs of entertaining and teaching us what having chickens as pets is like. We raised her from 3 days old. She was like a dog, came when called, always nearby when we were outside, liked to dig in the garden with us. All with the added benefit of giving us eggs. So, a little better than a pet dog in some ways. She’ll be missed. Hopefully see her again on rainbow bridge.”

We didn’t really know what we were getting into when deciding to get chickens nearly 9 years ago, sure we’d read a lot on the internet and some books and talked to some people who had them but until you actually have them yourself you really don’t know how much personality and life these little characters have.
Pumpkin, named for the orange head and black body, helped teach us what worked and how tough these little feather friends are. She was one of the original 3, Pumpkin, Ginger and Zena, and lived the longest.  She also helped train each new chicken we brought into the flock.  Taught them not to wander onto the road, (they have full roam of our property with no fence around it, just farmer’s field, and a highway out front) where it was safe to sit and roost, to always come running when we called, to stay close when we were digging to get all the good bugs, etc..

They adjust to the weather, even our cold harsh winters up here. Sure they may not like walking on the snow, but they just stay cooped up (pun intended) for the really harsh weather and come out whenever it is sunny enough and they can see grass, even if it is just a path I cleared thru the snow for them.  Rain, sun or snow, heat or cold, they just endure it.

They are not just dumb animals, they are more than just food.  I hope that me sharing a little piece of her life story makes a few people realize that they are not just meat.  They really are no different than a dog or a cat, they are pets and our lives are better for having known them.

RIP little Pumpy, wait for us on rainbow bridge, there is a good number of our beloved animals there to keep you company.

barkerp