The Loafer(s)

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I'm sure many of you have been stuck working with people who rely upon the rest of the group to get the project done and all through the project, you can feel that the morale is down and people are frustrated with having to do extra work because of this one person. I've been there countless times and will probably be there again in the future; it is inescapable because jobs often involve teamwork.

I was reading a book on organizational behavior and I came across the term "social loafing". It refers to a group member who contributes very little (or nothing at all) of their time, effort or any other resource to the group. To think that there has been a word out there to descibe those annoying group members! And, I would never have guessed that "loafing" would be an official term.

The Pen: A Link to Our Past

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hand writing quill.jpgToday, everyone has two methods of committing one's thoughts to paper: physically or electronically. I have always preferred writing things down rather than typing them up, however, it depends on the situation. If I'm working on my own projects, like short stories and poems, I write them out and type them up later. If I find a project complicated, like essay writing, I'll type everything on the computer including my primary thoughts.

I prefer the act of writing for its:

  • physicality (I love the sense of freedom it provides as the pen (or any other writing instrument) glides over the paper)
  • intimacy (the words we write contain our emotions and personalities, making the words all the more powerful)
  • opportunity (it's practically the only time I get to use cursive handwriting; I love the fluid strokes that lend the words a fancy appearance and I don't use cursive fonts very often for clarity purposes)

I like typing for its:

  • rapidity (I don't always have the patience or time to write in cursive and typing saves me the time and effort of writing out each letter)
  • clarity (for most documents, fonts that contain block letters, like Times New Roman, are used so as not to distract or confuse the reader)
  • efficiency (I can highlight, copy/paste and delete a large amount of text faster than in reality)
  • storage (I can save multple copies of a document in different places without adding to the clutter of my desk which may lead to the document's potential disappearance, especially if it's a loose sheet of paper)

I didn't grow up in an environment that was dependent upon computers and I didn't have the luxury of having portable electronic devices. Because I don't have any portable electronic devices, I keep a notebook with me and whenever inspiration strikes, I write. My travel time is rather long so I spend my time writing out stories, poems and, of course, blog posts.

When I was at the bus depot waiting for my bus, I was writing a poem when suddenly this young guy--I'd said he was a senor in high school--asked me what I was doing. I told him I was writing a poem and he replied, "You don't see that anymore." He even said he thought poetry was dead! I gave him a confused look and said, "No," and continued writing before I lost my thoughts.

I've included this Ted Talk which helped me write this blog post. I hope you enjoy it as much I did:

The Goblin Tunnels Series

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This project began with this single photo by Victor Garibaldi:

Huge

And is continually explored by Éric Soucy (aka FI3200) and myself (aka The (Only) Red Wolf).

The Goblin Tunnels are underground portals belonging to another dimension. Different creatures live in them and they enter our world to cause havoc and to bring things, and people, back into the Goblin Tunnels.

To see past installments, click here and here. Victor and Éric produce the mind-blowing photographs and I provide them with the occasional written piece (poetry and stories).


Warning: Here is the latest installment but to better understand the following story, please read "Resurgence" first.

IN MEMORY OF DAVID BOWIE: 1947-2016

R.I.P David Bowie

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Bowie wallpaper.jpgMy eulogy to David Bowie:

Last week when David Bowie's latest, (and now last), album Blackstar came out, I watched the video he did for his song "Blackstar" and I found that the video was jam-packed with religious symbolism; this was odd even for Bowie, in my opinion, because I have listened to a wide range of Bowie's music and observed his changing styles and themes and his consistent ones and felt that something was off. I wondered, why is there so much of this theme? And as I listened to his other songs on the album, my suspicions and questions grew. Why are there so many repetitions of death and death-reated things like tombstones and heaven? Watching Bowie himself in his video of "Blackstar" also made me wonder why he looked so much older.

It was only this morning when I heard news of his passing and his 18 months of battling cancer and I was deeply saddened. ANd as I played his various albums to personally commemorate his achievements, a thought struck me: "Black. Star. Black often means death and star is a synonym for a celebrity. Was his album connected to his illness?" and like a flash, I went onto the internet and immediately found this article that matched my train-of-thought:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2016/jan/11/was-david-bowie-saying-goodbye-on-blackstar


And it is confirmed that Blackstar was his "parting gift":

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/12092542/Bowies-last-album-was-parting-gift-for-fans-in-carefully-planned-finale.html

We all say "thank you" to you, David Bowie, David Jones. He was a brilliant writer to whom I shall always turn to help me write, to help me stay true to myself and to comfort me in my sadness.

The Fog Descends

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It got me. After weeks of hearing people cough, running away from people sneezing and washing my hands constantly, the cold somehow got a hold on me.

After several days of having a cold, my mind is eventually swept under waves of confusion, repetition and forgetfulness. Out of these three types of waves, the one I hate the most is repetition. Things said, seen or heard will repeat endlessly in my mind and I lack the energy to push it away and focus on something else. It's as if my mind cannot absorb the usual information it receives so everything seeps in at an extremely slow pace. Being only the third day of having a cold, I mostly have clarity, however, the want to stare at a wall all day is tempting right now as well as going back to bed.

I wonder if it's best to have a cold as school recommences since there aren't any projects yet, heavy studying or exams to complete.

Colds turn writing into very long chores because thinking is difficult enough without having to focus on what it is you have to write about. And when I'm finally finished writing and I go back over my work, I'm not even sure I'm making any sense. Reading is equally arduous; the mind wanders constantly before you realize you're still holding the book without a clue as to what it says.

Unfortunaltely, colds are an occupational hazard for us writers. And students.

Here's to your health!

Daily Doses of Creativity

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Everyone needs to do something creative each day. I don't mean you have to write a book or do a painting each day. Simply writing diary entries, messing about on design apps or reading is enough; it's whatever outlet you feel you need to use in order to feel like yourself.

Restraining your creative impulses only creates a build-up of negative energy that leads to destruction of yourself or of relationships with those around you. Creativity is as important as exercise. It must be done a little each day.

We all need to do activities that help us escape, either mentally or physically, our present life. That's why we create in the first place. We need a place where we can go to cope with sorrow and anger or to celebrate our happiness. I have several creative activities that I do depending on my mood or the amount of free time I have. Among other things, I birdwatch. Here are some of my snapshots:

P1020873 fixed.JPG

American Goldfinch

P1020644 brighter.JPGCedar Waxwings

I also write poetry and short stories. And, of course, blogging is another one of my creative activities.

So, keep creatiing!

The Ongoing Battle of English vs. French

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In high school, one of the many assignments we had to do was write a story about living in Montreal and dealing with the fighting languages of English and French. Here is my short story about a girl who breaks away from her mother's way of thinking in order to begin living her life to the fullest extent.

L'irruption into Freedom

The words flowed well. The drums were powerful; the guitar electrifying. The rhythm helped her feel stronger even though she knew it was only temporary. She understood the meaningful lyrics despite her oblivion to the entire language. As the song ended, her strength slowly drained from her and she was brought back to her problem. A problem which she faced daily ever since she could remember.

Véronique sat in the booth alone with her Walkman. She finished her fries and replaced her Walkman in her bag, zipping it shut. Nearby, Véronique could hear a group of teens talking. They were speaking English, she knew. She knew because she often listened to English music behind her mother's back. Véronique wanted to join in the conversation but couldn't because of the boundaries her mother had set ever since Véronique had begun to speak. She lived in Quebec and could not fathom why the French will not accept any other language.

After dumping her trash, she walked home. The weather was frosty and bleak. The wind blew against her. As soon as Véronique arrived home, the phone rang.

-- Véronique ? C'est Michelle. C'que tu veux aller au Centre Ville 'vec moi et André ?

-- Euh... je...j'peux pas.

-- Ah, OK. Ben, bonne journée, Roni !

-- Oui. Toi 'si.

The phone's dial tone rang in her ear. Véronique wanted to go downtown but her mother forbad her because she believed English was the only language spoken there. Véronique felt the weight of the house's emptiness. Her father was at work and her mother was probably running errands.

"Make Good Art"

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If ever you feel inadequate as a writer or you're trying to stay true to yourself, then I recommend talking to a good friend or searching the internet for motivational videos and/or music. The writer Neil Gaiman delievered an inspirational speech in 2012 to university graduates. Writers and fellow artists, lend your ears to this video:

Travel Journals

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I have not travelled as much as I would like. I have been to Ottawa twice and Boston once, but those were school trips and although the trips held some interest for me, I was not allowed to go where my heart desired. On these trips, I brought with me a journal (I collect them) and recorded my thoughts. My favorite type of journal is the oversized one made by Peter Pauper Press which the bookstores Indigo and Chapters also sell.

What inspired me to bring a journal on my travels were the Nancy Drew mystery games made by Herinteractive. In most of the games, the mystery begins with Nancy reading a letter she has written to her friends, father, housekeeper or boyfriend and in later games, she has a journal which gamers can refer to for observations, phones numbers and the like. In the Herinteractive Merchandise store, you can even purchase a Nancy Drew-themed journal which, of course, I had to have! I long to fill my journals with my travels to Ireland, England, Denmark, New York, Venice, Australia...the list continues. That's another reason why I am so in love with those Nancy Drew games; with their combination of music and graphics, the countries Nancy visits fuel my want to travel.

Are Books a Thing of the Past?

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Yes, they are--but that's what's so great about them! Books are from the past, and since everyone is born at one point in time and dies at another, who better to teach us about what we aren't around to see than books?


Books have been around for about five thousand years and in many different forms. They were in the form of portable clay tablets that were used by Mesopotamians; Egyptians used papyrus scrolls; then parchment was the preferred material used for bookmaking all over Europe.

People use books everyday. Books are our teachers, our entertainers. They are the key to the past and a window into the minds of others. Books contain stories and knowledge. And "knowledge is power" (Sir Francis Bacon).









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