Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

things for granted

I grew up without a lot. I’m not saying we were poor, but like most of the people I knew back then, we didn’t have much more than we needed. Even then though, if was rare you would find yourself thinking “at least we have power, and shelter, and food”. Unlike the generation before us, and much different from the one after us.

Those before us had to worry about being bombed out of their homes, had to deal with food rationing, war, canned food, food stamps, etc.  That was all common place, and affected how many of them tried to raise their kids.  Making a life that was better than theirs growing up.  And after all, Isn’t that what we all are still trying to do?
As for the ones after us, there seems to be a real disconnect between the younger generation and where money comes from. It seems that in our attempt to give them a better life than ours, we’ve forgotten to instil in them appreciation of what they have and what it takes to get those material things, let alone life’s necessities.  And by necessities, I am not referring to the latest gadgets and tech, although I think that the definition of that word “necessities” may have changed in our kids’ minds.  I know I am guilty of it, and enable as well as reinforce the “wants” more so than making my kids earn their own way.

Christmas always brings that idea home for me when I see how much gets spent on kids these days.  Days, or weeks of planning and shopping which all culminates in about an hour of ripping open of gifts, most of which don’t change the quality of life at all, but just reinforce the fact we are the haves.   Not many kids get essentials in their stockings or under the tree.  You are not likely to hear “woohoo, the new socks I wanted”, for the most part the gifts all fall under the “wants” category.  Speaking of wants, most of us don’t want for anything, at least not anything that matters.  Food, shelter, clothing, a job, transportation, these are the needs, everything else is gravy.  But to me, it seems the gravy has become part of the main meal now.

Stop, look around, and think.  There are many people in this world who would love to have what most of us have, so don’t take it for granted, and try to find a way to make sure the next generation has a better quality of life and appreciation of it, not just amasses more stuff.

barkerp

winter-yearendEvery year I set goals, make lists, and plans, then spend most of my time wondering how to get them done, or sometimes if they are even possible.

One task I set for myself was the migration of my old blog/website “thatcomputerguy.ca” to its new home here, as I mentioned in a previous post.  Another nail in that coffin today as I deleted the old email address associated with that website from the servers on the hosting company and also from my MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad.  It’s a scary thing doing that, but I had been planning it for nearly a year.  Alerting everyone I could think of of the change to my email address, and auto-responding to any emails that went to that soon to be defunct address, trying to catch-all the subscriptions I had signed up for using that email addy, etc., etc., etc..  Still though, its like closing off a chunk of my life, closing the book so to speak.

But life is all about change, growing and taking chances, no matter no big or small, change is what keeps things fresh.  And what better time to make a change than this time of year, closing up, winterizing, finalizing things, looking forward to a new year, a new beginning, full of possibilities and promise.

So I say unto you, take that leap, start off the year with something new, something that scares you a little, fight back those fears of failure or doubt and just do it – embrace whatever it is with the wonderment and excitement of a child.  And make sure you stick with it, don’t just make a new year’s resolution, make it a life resolution.

I wish you all the best of the season:  Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah/Hannukah/Hanukkah (why are there so many spellings?), winter solstice, Kwanzaa, or for you east-coasters, Mummering.  Whatever you celebrate I raise a glass to you, hope you enjoy it, and return refreshed in the new year.

cheers,

barkerp

laptop-deathknell“So you must have got the 5, how do you like it?”
I looked on confused for a moment,… “Oh, the iPhone 5, yeah I did.”
In a world where tech moves so quickly being asked about a product I’d been using for more than a couple of weeks caught me off guard. (at least that’s my story and not that I’m getting old).
My response, once I got my head around the meaning or the question was simple. “I love it”.
That’s the short answer anyway. The long answer isn’t much different though, all in all a very positive experience. As with anything new if you delve in and immerse yourself in it you can pick it up fast and the subtle changes to the iPhone are such that I hardly notice them until I pick up a 4s or 4 and look at the screen. Where did the extra line of apps go?

I’m getting a little off topic, but bear with me, it’s a short trip down a sidetrack eventually leading to the point.

I am typing this on my iPad, because as I said the world of tech moves quickly. I did a post about that new toy recently (here) so I won’t get into that again, but suffice to say, between the iPad and iPhone 5, my laptop is getting lonely I think, and in reality, the iPhone is being put down more often now in favour of the iPad because I can see more of what I am typing, etc.  (again, not because I’m getting old and my eyes are failing) Sure it’s no 60 words a minute but its a pretty good keyboard all things considered, maybe not as good as an actual tactile keyboard but definitely easier to use and transport around when space is limited.

From where I sit, typing away on my iPad or iPhone more than I do on my laptop, I think Microsoft is onto something with their latest foray into the tablet market, the “Surface“.  Sure, they are late to the game, but they may be the one pushing the tablet in the direction it needs to go.  A replacement for traditional laptops.

Most of what we do when mobile is word processing, gaming or content consumption, and the heavy lifting is done on other devices. As tablets become more and more powerful, the line between them and the traditional laptop fades. Really, the main difference between my iPad and my MacBook Air is the size of the hard drive. If I could get an iPad with a 250 gb drive in it I’d be as happy as a…. well, you know how that expression goes.

Whether its Microsoft’s way with a connectable keyboard, or taking Apple’s route of using bluetooth connected keyboards, the end result is the same, we are quickly heading towards a real shake up in the mobile computing world.  Tablet sales are climbing at a crazy rate, seemingly at the expense of laptop sales.  Desktop computers settled into their place in the world some time back and will always have their place in the work environment.  I don’t see them going away for a while, maybe a shift in the way people use them though, becoming more like a server and storage area for our mobile devices.

As for which tablet will become king? At this point, Apple has a good lead, but Microsoft has its own army of followers that are pretty loyal and will quickly either jump on that train as their first tablet or switch from the Apple one.  Either way, the sales will come at the expense of the laptop.  Their time is limited as people as well as the business world keep adopting the even more portable tablet.  Especially when it comes to travelling, I rarely see laptops being used in airports anymore, it is mostly tablets, and mostly iPads .  Sure many people will still keep using laptops, but more as a replacement for a bulky desktop computer than a portable device they carry with them.  As with phones, when it comes to tablets, you hitch yourself to an engine and hope you are on the right track, but thankfully another train will be coming along shortly so you can easily switch if you find yourself going the wrong way so their really is no wrong choice.

What’s with all the train references you may ask? Well, its Christmas time and I keep looking at the tree with the battery operated Christmas train slowly making circles around it, between the presents over and over again, the little chiming of Christmas tunes ringing out from the engine.  A stark contrast to the laptop’s death knell I’m hearing in my head.

barkerp

Fans at the London Knights game at the JLC set a new record last night with the latest Teddy Bear Toss.  The crowd helped out with 9851 stuffed animals thrown on the ice after the first goal was scored by the Knights, which was also the first goal of the game.

It was something to see, with the tossing of the stuffed animals lasting almost as long as the cleanup of them. Boxes full of the stuffed toys being gathered, a truck and van on the ice packed full with bags full of the donated stuffed toys, as the crowds kept tossing them onto the ice, volunteers scrambling trying to pick them up, skating off the ice with bags full of the toys.  The game stopped dead it its tracks for about 10 minutes.

It was one of those moments that  make you proud to be from London (or London area).  Being able to help out by giving a stuffed animal so that many kids who wouldn’t have gotten a toy at Christmas have something to open on Christmas morning, and doing it in such a fun way. I tried to capture it on my iPhone, but the video doesn’t really do it justice, you kinda need to be there to really feel the outpouring of spirit.


teddybeartoss

(click image to play video)

Kudos Knights fans, everyone at the JLC, and all their sponsors for making this happen.

tcg

We missed the lighting of the lights at Victoria Park this year, but headed down a few days later to take them in.  (used that new fave iPhone app of mine PhotoSynth for the photo above to try and capture them all) Another part of our family holiday traditions I guess you would say.  Along with buying a real tree on the first weekend in December, picking up a pound of eggnog coffee beans from the coffee shop in the mall, and getting the kids advent calendars (always a few days late forcing me to eat all the days that have already passed).

Tradition.  Its what Christmas is all about.

These traditions, along with all the other quirky ones we’ve developed over the years are what help to enhance the Christmas spirit around our house.  From the way the trees are trimmed (yes, plural), to the color of the lights on those trees, even the placement of certain decorations, there is a certain level of comfort and nostalgia even though it may make things seem a little routine in nature.  They are our traditions and we cherish and enjoy them.

Another tradition this time of year is the annual clearing out, cleaning out, or purging.  Out-with-the-old before the in-with-the-new on Christmas day.  Going thru the clothes and toys to determine which is no longer needed by us, but may be a welcome addition to another family.  That is one of the great things about this time of year is that there is no shortage of places out there to make it easier for you to help out the less fortunate.  Whether its donating used clothes, an unwrapped toy, supporting a local food drive, or adding a meal voucher at the grocery store checkout, there are so many ways we can all do a little more to help out.  Instead of that $4 coffee/mocha/latte thingy, buy a regular coffee and donate the difference to charity.  I bet that regular coffee tastes even better when you do, it always does for me.

Lets face it.  If you are reading this you are probably one of the haves.  Sure, some days you may not feel like it, especially when it comes to having your car breakdown, or your washing machine break, unexpected bills, etc, but to someone without a home or a job, or struggling just to keep food on the table, you are probably living like those infamous ladies on those “The Housewives of (insert city name here)” shows my wife is always trying to get me to watch.

This Christmas, embrace the Christmas spirit and give to someone you don’t know.  Those sometimes faceless people who rely on the food banks and the kindness of others to make their lives a little more livable.  We all have it in us to be Santa, so why not make it part of your Christmas traditions to give more than you get.

You may be surprised though, because sometimes the getting for you in return is a huge heart full of Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas to all, especially all the Santas out there,

tcg