The Loafer(s)


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. suggests some explanations for social loafing:

  • Motivation can play an important role in determining whether social loafing takes place. People who are less motivated by a task are more likely to engage in social loafing when they are part of a group.
  • Diffusion of responsibility also contributes to social loafing. When in groups, people tend to feel less personal accountability and may even feel that their individual efforts have little impact on the outcome. It is this same diffusion of responsibility that influences what is known as the bystander effect, or the tendency to be less likely to help a person in trouble when other people are present. Because people assume that their efforts don't matter and that they are not personally responsible, they also assume that someone else will be the one to take action.
  • Group size also has a serious impact on the effort people put forth in groups. In small groups, people are more likely to feel that their efforts are more important and will therefore contribute more. The larger the group, however, the less individual effort people will extend.
  • Expectations also matter when it comes to group performance. If you expect other people to slack off, you probably will as well since you don't want to get stuck doing all of the work. On the other hand, if you are in a group of high-achievers who seem like they are in control of the group's efforts, you might also be more likely to kick back and let them handle all the work.

There have been times where I have lacked the motivation for the project because I didn't like the people I had been put with, I didn't like the project we were given or other people in the group immediately took on the role of leader so I would step back and keep an eye on the direction of the conversation and project. But I always have the sense of getting the job done and done right whether I like what I'm doing or not because there is a deadline to meet or marks to be earned and I know I won't be working on this project for the rest of my life.

However, not everyone thinks or feels this way.

What I use for motivation is music and movies. Two of my favorites for motivation are "Number 1" by Chaz Jankel in Real Genius (starring Val Kilmner) and "Win in the End" by Mark Safan at the end of the film Teen Wolf (starring Michael J. Fox). What can I say? I have a soft spot for 80s music and movies!

The Pen: A Link to Our Past


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


This project began with this single photo by Victor Garibaldi:


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.


The Goblin Tunnels: Hail to the King (and His Final Moments)

He watched his followers invade the other world. He waited for the last of them to exit the atrium before he withdrew into the Goblin Tunnels.

The Goblin King meandered ponderously into the hallway. His feet were silent against the cold cement floor. After delivering his speech, his blood was beginning to cool, the heat soaked up by the architecture around him.

Wires were a major decoration of the Goblin Tunnels. They snaked the floors, ready to catch the clumsiest of creatures. In some of the smaller hallways, such as this one, there was an abundance of wires hanging down; a couple of them were looped and camouflaged in this rubber jungle so the few creatures who would blindly run through would be caught by the neck thereby thinning out the herd.

The Goblin King pushed aside wire after wire. He knew the locations of all the traps since he had helped build many of the Goblin Tunnels. He was also very curious as to how things worked and he liked being several steps ahead of his enemies as well as those who were not his enemies. The only creature you could trust was yourself.

The Goblin King ascended the staircase and stood before an immense in-ground pool of light. Thin wisps of heat were emitted by the lights, encompassing the Goblin King in a warm fog; he felt shivers slithering across his body.

Normally, he would have gone with his followers to the human world. Normally, the Goblin King enjoyed watching what his words caused his devoted creatures to do in the name of fear and havoc. But on this occasion of the empty Goblin Tunnels, he just wanted to listen to the silence. As he did, the shadows in the corners seemed to grow and the expanse of the room seemed to gradually shrink. With his every breath, the Goblin King had the sense that the room wanted to swallow him and for the first time, the Goblin Tunnels reminded him of a tomb. He hurried out into the hallway, his heart hammering wildly. Looking back into the room, all was as it should be.

Continuing down the hallway at a slow pace, the Goblin King took deep breaths. The path he took twisted and turned. It was for some time he walked and he would have continued on uninterrupted had it not been for a sudden light appearing in the corner of his eye. Turning, he knowingly stared at that portal, remembering the shock and fear. The Goblin King had gone through that portal as a lad. And through that portal were steam pipes.

It had only been a few months since the Goblin Tunnels had acquired him, but he had already grown accustom to his new way of life. The physical and physiological changes had already begun and he had gone through many portals prior to this one. There had been nothing to worry about; however he was alone this time. The young Goblin walked through the faint, pulsating light that signalled the existence of a portal and he was immediately hit with a heat wave.

"That place was welcoming", recalled the Goblin King, "Until those pipes emitted that... sound. That cursèd sound."

The young Goblin had frozen in panic as the piercing, high-pitched whistle blew. The familiarity of the sound had shocked his mind and caused him to flee back into the safety of the Goblin Tunnels. The Goblin King turned abruptly, continuing down the hall for the memory of her voice to return to its grave in the steam pipes.

He entered a storage room with square shelving built into the walls. The Goblin King had been exceptionally proud of this project, for who would have thought to organize chaos? He ran a clawed hand over the glittering green limestone and when he came to a smooth patch, it gave him reason to pause. The Goblin King now had a clear view of his appearance. There was that human face of his staring back. He had never fully turned into a goblin and he never understood why that was, however, he had been accepted despite this abnormality. After several years had passed, he had earned the title of King for his visionary outlook and his service to the Goblin Tunnels.

The Goblin King ran his eyes all over his reflection in wonderment. He couldn't remember if his eyes had always been two different colors or if his nose had changed shape. Really, all that the Goblin Tunnels had done to him was exaggerate his own features: a few teeth had transformed into fangs, his finger and toe nails had elongated into claws and the hair on his head and chest had grown three times longer from their original length (whatever that had been). As he stared at his unchanged face, the question turned round his mind. As if in defiance, he dragged his claws across his reflection, pleasurably cringing at the sound they made on the stonework before he left the room.

Up another set of stairs and the Goblin King was at the entrance to his throne room. With red walls several stories high standing resolutely before him, pride swelled within him. This was his favorite part of the Goblin Tunnels. He believed that the entrance represented his essence. The Goblin King was a sentinel that would lead his creatures out of the Dark Ages and restore the world the humans had destroyed. As a smirk grew on his face, he entered.

The throne room matched the height of the entrance with a golden throne standing at the farthest end; this was where he granted an audience with his loyal subjects and where all gathered after venturing into the human world. He imagined what they would bring back from this particularly passionate attack. The Goblin King stood at the center of the room, turning his back on his golden throne. He was lost in revelry as he admired all that he had done since his succession.

"So this is where you've been all this time."

The Goblin King's body became rigid. It was the voice from the steam pipes. He turned around with dread and saw a young woman sitting on his throne. She was a woman he remembered all too well; she was a woman he should not have remembered at all.

"You shouldn't be here!" he impulsively shouted.

"Is that how you welcome me to your kingdom?" she asked as she rose. He reluctantly eyed her slender, dark skin as she moved towards him like a tiger in her slinky gold dress. Emotions he had buried long ago began to crawl out of their graves and take hold of him.

"No!" he shouted in rebellion.

She stopped, startled, "But, you promised. You said you'd be mine forever," she showed him her hand that had a ring on one of her fingers, "You're my love, my Da--"

He rushed at her and pointed his clawed finger at her neck.

"That is not my name. Don't ever say that name. I am the Goblin King!" he roared.

"But, Da--"

He struck her across the face, his claws scratching her eye. She fell to the tiled floor and clutched her face. Despite the stabbing pain and blood she felt, the blow had hurt him more.

She began to sob. Without thinking, he knelt down beside her.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Hot tears blinded him as he put his arms around her, "I'm so sorry."

With his head against hers, he rocked back and forth, "I don't know what I am anymore. I was of your world, then this world and now... I don't know anymore," his body shook as he tried to keep everything in.

She raised her bloody hand to his face, mingling his tears with her blood. Looking up at him, she said, "My darling, you see what this world has done to you, but you don't see that inside, you're still human."

"I don't know what to do."

She turned to face him, still encircled by his arms, "Open up your heart to me once more."

They were inches from each other. He could feel the warmth from her body. The memories were coming back to him, bringing him back to life.

"You haven't changed," she said with a small smile despite the pain, "Nothing could ever make you change."

And with that, he pressed his lips to hers with an almost-forgotten passion that overwhelmed him.

* * *

The devoted creatures of the Goblin Tunnels returned victoriously: many were covered in blood, carrying parts to use in the Goblin Tunnels' expansion and others had new, unconscious recruits slung over their shoulders.

They filed through the portals with cheers on their lips or stories of their moments in battle as they headed towards the Goblin King's golden throne. After venturing into the human world, it was there they always gathered to bring their stolen goods before his worthy gaze.

Through this labyrinth of tunnels, they reached his Royal Highness's throne and upon entering were greeted with a shocking sight. They drew near. Seated on his throne was the Goblin King, his arms open and laying on the arm rests and his head resting against his motionless chest. The Goblin King was still in his war uniform, apparently unscathed. Upon further inspection, one of the creatures cried, "He's bleeding!"

They opened his jacket and saw a bloody, gaping hole where his heart should have been.

"The King is dead!"

"The King has been killed!"

"An intruder! An intruder!"

"Find the intruder!"

Like lightening, the cry spread through the immense crowd of creatures returning from battle. They scrambled to find the intruder, all the while in disbelief that such a thing had happened. None of them had bothered to look at the Goblin King's face; although, even if they had, they would never have understood his expression. The creatures understood very little of the human race.

Out into the labyrinth of tunnels they ran and searched and searched and ran, but they would never find the intruder, if there had ever been one. They would never find his heart either, for although the Goblin Tunnels had claimed the Goblin King's body long ago, they would never have his heart.

R.I.P David Bowie


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:

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

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.

As Felix Felicis (@LuckoftheDraw86) on Twitter wrote: "May the Labyrinth guide you home."

I have written a fanfiction based on Bowie's Labyinth character Jared the Gobin King and I have included him in another project I am collaborating on with Éric Soucy called the Goblin Tunnels:

Fanfiction Pt 1:

Fanfiction Pt 2:

The Goblin Tunnels:

The Fog Descends


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


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


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.

Véronique relaxed in her room before going to work the late shift at La Cache boutique. Originally, she had wanted to work at Simons or The Bay but most of Véronique's preferred stores had English names for which her mother held a grudge.

She left the house and arrived at work punctually. Véronique's colleagues were already there, getting ready for their shifts.

After running the cash for awhile, she went on the floor to fix the clothing racks. Véronique ran into one of her guy friends.

-- Salut, Roni ! She turned upon hearing her name.

-- Rémi ! Qu'est c'que tu fais ici?

Véronique had a crush on Rémi. His sleek, long black hair and dark eyes gave him a mysterious allure. It took her breath away.

-- Ma mère cherche des nouveaux draps de lit. Et, toi ?

-- Ben, je travaille ici. Ça fait quelques mois. She smiled.

-- Tu sais, ça fait un long bout d' temps qu'on s'connaît, n'est-ce-pas ?

-- Ben...oui.

Véronique wasn't sure what Rémi was trying to say. It was a struggle for him to get the words out, at first.

-- Veux-tu... venir 'vec moi ....après ton shift?

Véronique was about to accept his offer when she heard a horrible sound.

"Remy? Oh, there you are! I've found some sheets," Remy's mother saw Véronique, "Is this a friend from school?"

"Yes, this is Véronique."

-- Véronique, ma mère.

Before she knew what she was saying, Véronique blurted out, "Hi."

She didn't know what had happened. All she could think about was her mother's horrified expression because she spoke a different language.

"Hello," she smiled before turning to Remy, "I'll be at the cash, okay?"

"Alright," His mother walked away.

-- Tu parles...anglais ?

-- Ouais. Alors... le souper ?

-- Oui ...euh, non...oui...j'ai aucune idée.

-- J'comprend pas.

-- Est-c'que j'peux te téléphoner demain ?

-- Euh, ouais.

-- D'accord. Faut que j'range les vêtements.

Véronique turned and walked away, broken-hearted and confused. If her mother ever found out that she was friends with someone English... Véronique stopped. She wanted to be with Rémi and she was not going to let a little thing like language get in her way. After sixteen years of not crossing her mother's line, Véronique had had enough.

When she arrived home from work, her mother, Janelle, was already there. Janelle was a short woman with good taste in jewellery and clothes, but not in make-up. She wore too much rouge. It clashed with her hair color which was also a shade of red. Véronique was more like her father.

-- Véronique, qu'est ce que tu veux manger ce soir?

Véronique took a deep breath...and answered:

"I want to have pizza for supper."

Her mother froze; her face ghostly pale.

-- QUOI!?

Véronique stood firm. She boldly repeated her response and without a translation.

Janelle pointed a finger at her.

-- Ici, dans cette maison et dans ce pays, on parle le FRAAAN. ÇAIS !

-- Mais ça pas d'bon sens ! On utilise le smoking, le week-end, une pizza. Pourquoi pas toute la langue ?

-- Parce que c'est comme ça. Point finale.

Janelle opened a cabinet to retrieve the dishes.

-- Non. Je parlerai c'que je veux...

Janelle looked at her daughter and parted her thick red lips to speak, but Véronique plowed on.

-- Et j'me tiendrais 'vec les gens qui me plaît. She walked towards her room.

-- AIE ! Tu restes ici, Véronique !!

Véronique whirled around to face her mother.

"You can't stop me. C'est fini, Ma, pour toujours!" Véronique went to her room and shut the door.

"Make Good Art"


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


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?



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).

Books can speak to individuals and help them cope with their problems or simply show them that they are not alone. They can bring people together who share the same loves and interests by drawing them out of themselves to become part of a community, whether it's in a local capacity (like a book club) or, globally (in the publishing world). But the one thing books always do is inspire.

Books are also our guides to life's obstacles and curve-balls. Jesse Lee Bennett said, "Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life." Not only are they educators, they reveal many of life's wonders. Books reveal the mystical stories behind the stars, the greatness of Abraham Lincoln and Socrates. Books show us the strangeness of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales and reveal the
the world's scientific discoveries like Marie Curie's work with radioactivity. Books let us experience the blazing hot sands of the Sahara desert and the majestic beauty of the Amazon forest. But the best part about books is that they let our imaginations run rampant.

Although I am more of a brick-and-mortar type of person when it comes to books, I like e-books because they allow even more people the chance to read because so many now have electronic devices and don't always fancy carrying a brick-like book on their back or shoulder.

I read Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird and in it, the characters say that mockingbirds don't do anything except sing melodious notes. Her book made me think about books in general and that it would be sad if books ever became extinct because they do nothing but enlighten us and help us pass the time. If books ever disappeared... then it would be like shooting a mockingbird.

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