Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Letters: Better Than Email

See, not everyone can get emails. Some people live far away. In bamboo huts. And don't have very good computers. Or plumbing.

So it's kind of a necessity to write a letter to someone in that situation.

Problem is, it's HARD to write a letter when you're used to slamming off an email in like 5 minutes.

That's why I haven't gotten in touch with the Quimchiguango family like I should have. They are a family that live in Otavalo in Ecuador. I was very close to them for a while, but lost touch through my own laziness and procrastination. Without facebook and email, I find that I really don't talk to them at all.

Today, I wrote a letter. A letter I've been meaning to write for about four years now. And it feels great to have done that.

It's kind of like we've all become this incredibly connected web of people that have probably way more information that we could ever need on anyone we want. Right now. For the people who are not connected to this web, however, it's like they don't even exist. They don't know what's going on in our lives. They don't read this blog. They don't see your facebook page. They don't have an email account.

You may have realized by now that I'm not just talking about the Quimchiguango family.

I'm talking about your Grandma. Your Grandpa. The friend that for some strange reason doesn't have an email account. And I'm talking about the people who do have an email account.

A letter is so much more than an email. It says, "Hey, I care enough to spend some real time jotting this down for you to read!" It tells people that you hold them in a priority over surfing the internet for funny cat pictures. (Btw, for great funny cat pictures, check out imgur.)

So send a letter today! Send one to your Grams, or Granps, or to your girlfriend or spouse (not both). It feels good, and is a great way to spend time with someone who is out of your reach.

I added a picture of my letter to prove that I actually did it.
I made my letter by using "paper" and "a pen". You can find these things at Staples.
Just ask a customer service agent to help you.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Your Help Needed.

I bet you're wondering why I didn't use ALL in the title. I'm done with that. It's time to move on to bigger and better titles.

It's on the conclusion of a fantastic weekend in Canmore that I am left thinking about my tactics in getting to know people. Thus far a large portion of the people we have spent time with have been on the platform of boardgames. This is all well and good, but it is a little selfish of me. I'm expecting people to come and join me in one of my interests. This must change. Along with the titles.

And so after 1 month of getting to know people we are going to try and branch out a little. Instead of constantly having people over to do what we normally do, we`re going to go out of our comfort zone a little. We want to come and do what you want to do. We`d like to tag along with you. Pretty much everyone has something that they do that is interesting. We want to do that too.

Most people who read things like this will disregard the next sentence, as if it wasn`t meant for them, I want to be clear in saying that it is meant for you. Get in touch with me, and let`s do something together. We`ll tag along almost anywhere. We don`t care what it is, we just want to come along with you and get to know you in the process.

Don`t think you are too old. Don`t think you are too young. Don`t think you are too dumb (your not). Don`t think you are too smart (your not). Don`t think you don`t know us well enough to do something together, because that`s kind of the point. Don`t say that you`ll do it later, get in touch now. Drop me a line on facebook right now. Or send me an email at RyleyTolman@gmail.com. We`ll hammer out the details later. We can go skydiving. We can watch your favorite movie. We can do improv. We can cook or paint our toenails or whatever. We`re open to everything here.

After this great weekend we now have many more friends than we thought we`d have going in. All of the people we met up here have been great, and our lives are better for knowing them. I thought about singling someone out from the Canmore gaming weekend of retreatedness, but we simply met too many cool people. Pete, Bill(y), Nathalie, and Jordan to name a few, but I simply do not have the space to go into depth on each of these great people. Sufficeth to say, it was great.

p.s. If you haven`t sent me a line to do something together yet, do it now. Figure out what makes you unique and let`s do it.

I`m going to end off with some of the various pics of Canmore.

Trish getting her Qwirkle on. We now own it. Come play.

Jim Drinkle throwing down a bomb in Tichu. Tracy, Ben, and Greg pretend that this wasn`t a staged photo.

Hawaii, yet to get it`s engrish rerease. 

Close up of Dungeon Petz. Meh...

Intense Puerto Rico play. I got my money on number 91.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Laugh Hard ALL The Time!

Tibia is a guy who laughs. Hard. All. The. Time.

This is a very good thing, as I'm personally of the opinion that most of us don't laugh enough (myself included). I'm constantly trying to think up something clever to say, and so often miss the complete effect of other people's very clever comments. Tibia does not have this problem.

First of all, his name's not actually Tibia, that's just what I call him now. Before Tibia we called him Shin, the lay man's term for Tibia. Shin derives from Shinobin, the name that he wishes he had. Shinobin is the cover for Princeton, his given name. So you can see how it all checks out. Next time I see him I'll change his name to Bones. For now we'll just call him Shin. Try to keep up.


Every conversation needs several elements. In a great conversation of oh, say, 4 people, each dynamic will present.

1) A comedian (Storyteller)
2) A thoughful commenter
3) A listener
4) A laugher.

Really. Ever feel like a conversation is dragging? It's likely because something in there is lacking.

Problem is, everybody usually wants to be a 1. They want to tell the jokes. They want to get the laughs. But I found out something interesting this week by using my brain to solve a problem.

I like to fancy myself a 1. I like to tell stories. I like to tell jokes. Granted, we all have some elements of each in us, but each of us have a dominant trait.

I noticed that even though I think that I'm a 1, not every conversation I'm involved with is bursting with laughter and euphoricismness. I'm supposed to make people laugh! Every conversation that I am in should be great!

They're not.

Many are boring and drag. I did notice something though. Every conversation that Shin was involved in was ALWAYS one where people had tears in their eyes. AND SHIN'S A BLOODY 4! This should not be happen!

I've realized why. The world needs the 4s much more than it needs the 1s. Laughter breeds laughter, not stories. Shin laughs hard at anyone who tries to be funny, because he appreciates the sentiment behind it. Result: He always has a good time.

I resolve to be more 4 and less 1. The 4s are the silent warriors of conversation. They battle lag and awkwardness by bursting forth in mighty laughter. If you're ever looking for a good time, grab some 4s, ditch the 1s.

2s and 3s don't hurt.

I won't tell you which one Shin is, try to guess from the pictures.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Congregate ALL The Geeks!

Every year Trish and I make a special pilgrimage. Late in January, as the sun reaches the perfect arc across the northern sky, the geeks begin to stir.

They come slowly at first, then in groups of 2 or 3, some leaving during the day, and some stealing away in the dead of night. Slowly, they trudge towards their goal, with a single mindedness known only to the most zealous lemmings. Ragged an worn, they all arrive at a set location, to celebrate the one special occasion that has brought them together: Nerdvana.

This ragged group of intrepid geeks gather together in Canmore every year, not only to spend time basking in the presence of each other, but also to perform the most sacred rite known to man: the playing of the board game.

The mountain of board games grows as people arrive...

Ryley concentrating, carefully planning his next move.

This is our second year coming. Our friend, Jasen Robillard, who considers himself a geek, yet grows far to epic a beard to actually be considered one, invites us up for the weekend. He books a block of hotel and allows us to board game away for 3 days straight. There is an atmosphere of openness here, and pretty much anyone can sit down and enjoy a game with anyone they want, whether you know them or not.

Last year we came up hardly knowing anyone. Some of the first people we met were Owen and Sharon, who invited us to sit with them at supper last year. They kinda showed us the ropes here, and we had a great time getting to know them.

This year I wanted to search them out first thing, since we only managed to get one game with them last year. I was able to get a game of Puerto Rico (special edition!) in with Owen this year, and caught up on all the stuff that had happened in between. I only see him once a year.

Owen on the left, (his wife Sharon behind his head), Greg (from Burn ALL The Guests) in front,
Jim back right, and Ryley on the right edge.

In addition to regular board gaming,  Ryley is also a comedian at the table.
And yes,  that's the renowned shocking roulette in the corner.
It has been a big hit here with all the avid gamers...

We're thoroughly enjoying it up here, Canmore is beautiful. So long as we're invited, we plan to make a yearly trip up!

Also, I am gaming by myself this weekend, as Trish has way too much homework to do. Lame.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Cross ALL The Generations!

It seems like as I grow older, the more normal it is to have friends that are much younger or older than I am. I don't know when this started being okay, because I can remember distinctly in grade 6 how it was NOT okay to hand out with the grade 5 kids. I mean, how could you, when they were so much smaller than we were?

Apparently nobody told Trish and her sister Jana this. They have been friends with the Poss family for years and years, since they were kids. The Posses are quite a bit older than these two girls. Like as in several decades older. Yet there was nobody who directed Jana and Trish to befriend the Posses, it was something that they pursued themselves. 

Now, almost 20 years later, they still exchange Christmas and birthday goodies, phone calls, and come over for the occasional visit. When we decided to go down to Cardston on Thursday night, they were at the top of our list to call. 

We managed to get John and Christine Poss over with the promise of  popcorn. Trish's dad makes this world famous kettle corn, and you can get just about anyone to do just about anything if you just promise a bowl of this popped corn will be there too.

They humored us in coming over, and I think the best part of the night was the conversation. I've always found it interesting to note the difference between the conversations we have with younger as compared with more seasoned people. 

We didn't just learn about the Posses personal lives, we learned about the genealogy of everyone present. After the stories started, we almost couldn't keep up with the history lesson we were getting. I managed to break out the iphone when nobody was looking and got some good video of everyone talking about the days gone by (surprise Mom!). Someone's gotta record that stuff. 

What a cool evening, here's to another 20 years of friendship!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Be ALL The Girls On The Team

As much as I hate all the homework that comes with being in school, I do enjoy meeting lots of new people and I've made some new friends too. 

It's not always easy being home all day with the little one. I mean, Grayson is smart and all, and Ryley can do a stellar orangutan impression, but it just doesn't hit all the same triggers as actually getting out and meeting people. 

I don't want people to think that I'm some cooped up mom that's just dying to ditch the family. On the contrary, I think that we do pretty good with getting out and meeting people, and I've found that this is crucial to my sanity. I've also found that it's good for me to have some activities that get me out away from the house, and all the duties of motherhood, even if it's just for a few hours a week.

I actually never met Harmoni Jones until my second year of classes. When she offered me the chance to join her intramural basketball team as the only other girl, I jumped (figuratively) at the opportunity. I played with the team last semester, and was glad to join the group again this semester. We're not the best team in the league, nor does it make a difference to me if we win or not. It's a great way to get my exercise and meet new people at the same time. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Remember ALL The Long Lost Friends! (Different Continent Edition!)

So if I thought I felt apprehensive about calling friends who lived close by, I've found that I'm terrified of calling the ones who live much farther away.

Six years ago I spent 2 years living in Ecuador. I never knew that I would grow to love a country that wasn't my own as much as I did. I loved the Spanish language, I loved the people, I loved the climate, and I loved the Bon Ice. (If you've been there, you know).

I spent a short 6 weeks with someone who grew to be one of my greatest friends. Gabriel Panchana, who was from Ecuador himself, taught me a million things that I needed to learn. Mostly humility. I literally heard him say this several times a week (in Spanish), "Hey Tolman, you sound like a gringo! You shame yourself and your country!" Or something along those lines.

It did help my Spanish improve faster than it ever had. It helped that he was a world-class martial artist, and I could sense his roundhouse leg twitching whenever my subjunctive verb conjugations went awry. FYI, his roundhouse leg is either leg.

I didn't actually fly down there to see him, but I did the next best (and scariest) thing. I called him up.

See, when you're in person you can rely on body language to cover for your rusty Spanish. If the conversation goes poorly you can just run away. You can't run away on the phone, cuz the phone is connected to your ear.

It's been almost seven years since I've spoken with Gabriel, and my Spanish was a lot rustier than his. It would appear that 2nd languages get rusty, while 1st languages stay rather fresh.

In typical latino fashion he was ecstatic to hear my voice. Something I've always admired about the culture is the total lack of inhibitions in regards to telling people how you feel. It is not weird at all for a guy to say to another guy, "Hey, I've missed you a ton!" There isn't that need to hide behind any type of tough guy act. Here we guys can't really miss each other, we can only wonder where other guys have been. Even that is borderline.

We caught up on all the things that seven years has brought. It's brought us both families, careers, and other things that the outside observer would find rather uninteresting. We recalled some of the interesting things we've done together. 4 hour hikes to remote villages, kicking a soccer ball full of rocks by mistake, get chased off of someone's land for stealing oranges and coconuts we thought were fair game, etc etc etc.

Found a pic of Gabriel moments before the trouble went down:

Yes I embarrassed myself with my rusty Spanish, but I finally took the plunge. Calling him back now will be far less daunting a task.

Here's one last picture of us a few days before I left to go back to stupid cold Canada:
He smiles all the time unless it's for a picture.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

See ALL The Bens!

I grew up less than 10 seconds away from Ben.

Meaning that if I called him and said that I was headed over, I could be at his front door in less than 10 seconds.

Now we live about 5 mins away from each other, but if you factor in that Lethbridge is about 1,000,000,000 times bigger than Cardston (where we grew up) then it's comparatively the same distance.

However, now I make the trip far less often.

This here is exactly why we decided to do this project this year. So I live right close by one of my best friends that I've had since childhood, but I see him roughly once every 2 years. Rather silly I think.

We finally made the trek over on Monday, and once again we are left wondering why we take so long to do this kind of thing. What is wrong with us? What is actually stopping us from spending time with people? I think back over the last 2 years, and although I can't recall anything specific that I did when I could've been getting in touch with people like Ben, I know I spent plenty of time watching movies, aimlessly plunking around the internet, or playing games. How is it that I never managed to find even 1 hour to head over and keep in touch with a friend?

Had a fun time, as Ben's son McKye taught Grayson how to do some Kinect Boxing on the Xbox. Grayson now knows that if he gets into a fight, he just has to jump up and down and do rapid jazz hands, and he'll likely TKO his opponent. I'll have some explaining to do after his first schoolyard fight.

Ben fed us 2 desserts, popcorn backed up with ice cream, but we didn't manage to ingest the ice cream. We've basically been doing dessert every night since we started this.

It was good to finally get off my duff and see an old friend. I've got plenty more that I need to go see, some of which I've waited to long to call that I feel pretty apprehensive about doing so. What a weird person I am. Scared of my own friends.

Also, interestingly enough, if it wasn't for Ben, I likely wouldn't have met my wife Trish (though that's a story for another day). So for that and years of great laughs, thanks to you Ben.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Turkey Soup For ALL!

We've lived next door to Sam and Melissa for several years now.

Over the course of these years, we (Trish and I) have been prone to say things like:

"Let's have Sam and Melissa over tonight!"

"Let's have Sam and Melissa over tomorrow!"

and my personal favorite...

"Hey, how come we didn't have Sam and Melissa over like we said we would?"

We assume that Sam and Melissa have a magic mind-reading device that will tell them we are interested in having them over. We must assume that, because we've never called.

Now, the fact that we haven't really spent any time getting to know our own next door neighbors wouldn't be so bad if they were, say, 80 years old. Or horrible people. Or grizzly bears.

Sam and Melissa are none of those things. They are great people who are not only our age, but have a little girl that is Grayson's age. Yes, I am planning an arranged marriage. Melissa may be a bit old for Grayson though.

Getting to know our neighbors: Something we should have done years ago, but better late than never. It was actually even better than we figured it would be, as Melissa taught us that salad can actually taste great, and we found that we are not the only parents who are slightly over-paranoid for our child. We learned also that they share a pretty strong passion for music. We're going to try and hit up a local concert sometime together.

Great night, but it really should have happened a long time ago. Now that I have done it, I can be completely hypocritical and say that everyone should do it. Do you know your neighbors? For SHAME!

Post dinner with Sam and Melissa. They came over even though
they just had a baby, which judging from the size, is still in the womb.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Fondue ALL The Fruits!

Sometimes we eat way too much.

And then sometimes we take it a step further.

Lacey helped us to do just that. Lacey is my cousin, and I'm not exactly sure how I wronged her, but she decided to have us out to her house for dinner. Not only did she make enough lasagna to feed the Vatican (and some of those guys are really fat!) she also made fresh cheese biscuits to go along with it. 

All dinner she kept heaping this goodness onto our plates, with a strange glint in her eye. Lacey knew something we did not.

Lacey knew about the oversized cauldron of fondue that she had been brewing all afternoon. 

We ate it. Of course we did. It was fondue.

I blame the 5 extra pounds on the lasagna, and the heart palpitations on the fondue. Cream puffs, pineapple, strawberries, and banana were all available. Most of these are irrelevant when cream puffs are present.

Lacey's husband Aaron decided that this madness had to stop, and so suggested we play a game. Dominion it was, which Trish tried to hate but kept smiling. Busted. It might have to do with how the scores ended up:

Trish: 53 points
Lacey: 52 points
Aaron: 52 points
Ryley: 29 points

But hey, I'm not mad. I just don't want to talk about it.

It sure was nice to see these guys. They defected to 'Merica a few years ago, but have seen the errors of their ways. Good to have them back. Traitors.

I'd like to tell you more about the night, but I'm having trouble typing, as I put on five pounds yesterday, and most of it went to my fingers. They are now too fat to type.

Aaron is a chiropractor in Fort Macleod, and he's better than your current one.

Aaron, Lacey, Trish, and someone's kids. I'm too fat to fit in the picture.
Playing Dumbinion.

Answer ALL The Questions

Sometimes people get sick. Sometimes people have to work late. Such is life, and the unpredictable nature of it was apparent on Friday. 

Luckily I have a great friend that lives a little ways out of town that didn't mind having me over for a little visit that afternoon, even with short notice. 

I probably haven't seen Kim (Vadnais) Wescott in almost 5 years. We've lived in the same city for that entire time, why hadn't I gotten in touch with her sooner?

Kim and I were best friends in grade 5. The  kind of best friends that would spend multiple hours on the phone, occupying the line before the days of call-waiting. The kind of best friends that spent entire days at each others houses with sleep-overs, and would never go home if it weren't for the pesky Saturday morning chores that your mom called to have you come home to do at 8 o'clock in the morning. I loathed hearing that phone ringing while still in bed, tired from staying up till the wee hours of the night, because I knew it was my mother, and I knew I had no good reasons as to why I should stay later.

Kim is a nurse, and I am currently a nursing student. I really should have gotten in touch with her sooner to ask her the many ins and outs of the education journey. Better late than never I guess, and I do appreciate Kim's willingness to help if I'm ever in need.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Grossest Game Of ALL Time!

Define "fun".

See, I've always kind of thought that most of us define it the same way. Usually it involves pleasant activities, such as strolling through a park on a nice summer's day, or eating a fantastic meal in the company of friends. Or perhaps it could involve swimming through a pool that was full of dozing puppies and kittens instead of water, all of them genetically altered to have no teeth or claws, and each has been specially trained to give you little puppy and kitten massages as you slide through them. All of these are fun things. 

Eating baby wipes, in my humble opinion, is not so fun. 

That is why when my cousin Janelle pulled out Bean Boozled, I felt rather hesitant to agree to playing.

Bean Boozled is from the makers of Jelly Bellies, and other fine nutritious snacks. It's a game where there is a bowl full of jelly beans, half of them tasty, half of them foul beyond reason. You spin a spinner and it (the spinner) will tell you which color of Jelly Belly you have to eat. 

But here's the catch.

The coconut flavored beans look exactly like the baby wipes bean. The chocolate pudding bean looks exactly like the canned dog food bean. The licorice bean looks exactly like the skunk spray bean, etc. 

This is us chillin' out before life turned horrible, coincidentally, this was just before we started the game.

I'm not sure what was worse, the moment before you put the bean in your mouth, or the actual sensation of realizing that your bean was of the foul variety. We took some action shots of some of the more unfortunate bean encounters, which I shall now display for you in off-centered montage fashion, as I have seen many trendy and popular blogs do.

Trish trying to cleanse her tongue by scraping with her fingernail. Amateur. 

                                         Janelle making use of the community spitbowl.

Me being way too pleased with myself for getting a tasty bean.
Note the disappointment in Trish's face.

Joel not reacting at all to spicy booger.
The man is a rock.

Actual documentation of the moment of truth.

I now know that Janelle has some interesting ideas on fun. Some fantastically disgusting ideas on fun, and we enjoyed it immensely. I plan to be a part of all these types of ideas from now on. Can't say I laugh this hard every day.

First time to the blog? Click 
here to read more about our endeavor.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Make ALL The Last Minute Plans

Tyson Smith saves the day.

The plans kind of fell through yesterday. I found myself at 8:00 pm thinking of making cookies and forcing my way into a neighbors home to get to know them better. Then maybe I could get to know all of the inmates at the prison after my neighbors called the police.

Fortunately, that didn't happen, Tyson called around 8:00 asking if he could bring a few of his brothers-in-law over for some games. It was a rhetorical question.

I've always wanted to meet one particular Tyson-in-law. It is said that he has a game collection that rivals many of the great geeks of old. It is said that he can play seven simultaneous games blindfolded, yet win none of them. It is said that he will play games until the wee hours of the night. This is my kind of person. He is called Fraser.

Trish rolled her eyes as I managed yet again to set up a game night. I must admit, my success rate has been abnormally high as of late. We didn't get started until around 10:00, but that didn't stop us from playing two long games.

Had a great time playing Powergrid, then Notre Dame. Powergrid is recommendable for people who haven't played many games. If you want to borrow it, just let me know. I can send it almost anywhere. If you live close, I'll even give you a demo of it.

It was great that Tyson helped fill that gap in the schedule. I'm thinking that we are going to have to rely heavily on friends to help us meet their friends. Seriously, if we like you, and they like you, we'll likely like each other. Like the kind of like that really makes you like liking each other. And if they like licking ice cream, we'll likely like licking with them.

What I mean is, bring people by, we'd love to get to know them. I thoroughly enjoyed tonight.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Grumpy ALL The Time!

So I was grumpy yesterday.

Invited my cousin-in-law over for some playing of the games. He's an optometrist at Costco right now (one in training anyway). He didn't get done work until 7:30, so in the end we didn't get started until 8:00 pm.

Sometimes when you play games you lose. Sometimes when you play games you get obliterated. And sometimes, on very special days, the other players wipe out every hint that you ever existed. Your defeat is so complete that anyone who ever knew you starts to lose all memories of you.

This is what made me grumpy.

I'm normally not such a sore loser. I can normally take a smashing with a smile on my face (as my cousin-in-law Joel did), but today was not normal, and I was a big baby.

This blog has been about getting to know people. I had anticipated spending every single day laughing and smiling and getting to know the best parts of 365 different people. I did not anticipate that sometimes, people would get to know the not so fantastic parts of me.

I guess that's the nature of spending every day with people. They get to see all your sides. I was quite embarrassed when the night was over, but then I got to thinking. It was actually kind of liberating to know that Joel didn't get the "facade" version of Ryley. He got the real Ryley, and sometimes, Ryley is a big baby when he loses.

Ryley may be a Paint Wizard, but with a little practice, I may become a Photoshop Wonder. 
p.s. - Those little rain clouds can be nasty little guys!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

"Donairs Are Good On ALL The Days!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

That there is a quote from my buddy Blair.

See, we've got this lunch meetup thing going on now for over a year now. Always at Sam's Donairs, always very tasty. We've found it's best to go in the afternoon, when Sam the man will be there, cuz he doesn't skimp on the... uh... donair stuff that they put in there.

We haven't had a donair day in awhile though. This is mostly because we were going to hang out with Blair a few months ago, and I stood him up (this was before the blog ok?!). Then I felt dumb calling because then I would have to address the fact that I never showed nor called.

Trish decided to join us as well. This impressed me as Trish normally won't ingest anything that gives you a net gain of calories. She mostly just eats exercise equipment.

Me and Blair get there first and order up. Super donair with cheese. As we're chatting Trish shows up at our table. As she opened her donair the blasphemy began.

Twas not a donair at all, but a falafel. I mean, who goes on out for a donair day and brings a fafalaf? Seriously, it would be like going to the front lines of a war armed with a tomato. And not one of those fancy fresh off the vine ones. I'm talking your nasty been-on-the-bottom-of-the-produce-pile-for-several-weeks tomato.

Blair was gracious enough not to say anything, but I could see the way he looked down his nose at her farafahumfal. Good friends don't say anything when your wife makes a scene like that.

We had a good time though. Caught up with Blair, which I haven't been able to do for awhile. Laughed about some good old times. Like the time in highschool that Blair got busted doing something we were both at fault for and never ratted me out. 2 week suspension for Blair. Clean record for Ryley.

I need to do this more. Not only because Trish needs to man up and eat a donair. But because it took no extra time in my day, and made my day a whole lot better. Seriously, if you're reading this, get in touch with a friend you haven't seen in awhile. Meet for lunch, you won't regret it, especially if you get a super donair with cheese.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Visit ALL The Infirm!

Sunday January 15, 2012

Most of the time the best way to improve your relationship with someone is some real face time. This is why I am a big believer that sites such as facebook (or this blog for that matter) are only tools that help to bolster already existing relationships, but they should not, indeed cannot, take the place of real social interaction.

That being said, there are some cases where I believe we can improve our connection with the people around us without spending much time together.

We have some friends who have had incredible luck. Out of their four children, all four have fallen sick, and have been for almost 2 weeks now. We have been wanting to have them over since the beginning of this year, but with the whole contagious sickness, we haven't been able to make it work.

Instead Trish decided to cook up a dinner. White Chicken Chili (aren't all chicken white?) and cornbread. We loaded it up in the car and hustled it over to our friends still piping hot. We probably only chatted for five minutes on the doorstep, and in the end I'm sure that they would have managed just fine without us bringing dinner over. It's not like Trish swept in for the rescue or anything.

Even though it wasn't absolutely crucial that we do this, it was our way of saying thanks to some friends. Thanks for all the help you've given us. Thanks for being wonderful to deal with. 

I think that there is sometimes an opportunity to bring people closer together without spending all afternoon together, and this was one of those times. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Recycle ALL The Christmas Trees!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We're starting to run out of people...

Seriously, 14 days in and it's getting harder to get a solid schedule of people who will put up with us. So I decided to go somewhere where people have to put up with me; because I am volunteering today.

Every year the local Scouts go through the city and pick up everyone's old Christmas trees. They bring 'em on down to a designated lot where they get recycled. Into... smaller wood.

I happen to have a dump truck, and therefore decided that I could be of help this year. 10 AM on a Saturday and we picked up some of the scouts in the truck.

I now know that the bucket on my dump truck can hold precisely 25 Christmas trees. That's almost 3 cubic trees, which is actually the unit that we measure dump truck buckets in.

Had a good time, got to know the scouts. I didn't ask if I could use their names, so we'll just refer to them collectively as "the scouts". Here is the result of our collective work:

Service really is a good way to get to know people. Normally the scouts probably wouldn't give me the time of day, being the washed up old fart that I am. But they had to put up with me, since there aren't many people who own a dump truck that are willing to wake up before 10 AM on a Saturday.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Risk ALL The Cougar Attacks!

Friday January 13, 2012

If Davey Crocket's genetics were somehow mixed with MacGyver's, the result would be people like the Smith's.

Nathan and Gen Smith are the type of people who could survive the Zombie Apocolypse with ease. They have gear and gadgets for EVERY foreseeable situation. Ask Nathan to borrow a can opener, and he'll give you a contraption that will not only open all your cans from 15 feet away, but can also launch a space shuttle.

We decided that because we don't stand defenceless in cougar country enough, that we would go on a snowshoe night hike in Waterton. As a buffer between us and the cougars we brought my parents. If you live in a place where you don't get to snowshoe, just make it full screen and sit in the freezer while you watch this video.

We were all foolish enough to bring normal, run-of-the-mill snowshoes. Nathan and Jen brought snowshoes that would not only stop you from sinking into the snow, but throw up snow all around you as you walk, to create a concealing mist in case of a cougar attack.

Originally, our plan was to hike solely by the light of the full moon. Unfortunately the clouds rolled in, and so we had to use our headlamps in order to navigate the woods safely. Good thing we had them, as many of the bridges were perilously narrow...

It was three kilometers to a camp kitchen, where we set up camp to have a quick bite, and (of course), play a game. Liar's Dice it was, and it turns out that Gen is the biggest liar. Lying Gen brought an incredible chair that hangs from a tree limb and releases ALL your endorphins when you lay in it.

Here is Gen and her relaxing endorphins.

Supper consisted of those packets of dehydrated food that you put boiling water into. I honestly could not believe how good it was! Fettuccine Alfredo, Orange Ginger Chicken, Turkey Something or Other, and Raspberry Crumble for dessert.  I have had worse food at restaurants. Often.

The Smiths are fantastic people; people who know how to have a great time, and enjoy life. You’ll know if you ever come across them at the grocery store. They’ll be the ones with the collapsible shopping cart, that that folds compactly enough to fit in your pocket.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Combine ALL The Birthdays!

I’m fortunate enough to share a birthday with   my mother-in-law. At least I did this year.

Because of the exquisite level of mother-in-law jokes already on the market, I shall not endeavour to make a crack at that particular subject.

Now, normally we celebrate mom-in-law's birthday on its' rightful day, the 10th of January. However, because of an unfortunate amount of snow on the roads, we were unable to do so. Trish decided to combine all the birthdays (mine's on the 12th).

I'm a me person. I like it when I have my own stuff. I like to have my own birthday. I like to have my own bowl of cereal in the morning, and I'll try to cut you with my spoon if you even look at me with your hungry eyes. Stupid cat.

Because I'm normally such a self-centered person, I was not wild about the idea of a combined birthday.  In the name of peace I went along with it. Peace, and continued marriage.

Turns out, combining birthdays is a great  way to celebrate a birthday. Normally I spend the day wondering what I might get for my birthday, but instead, I was more focused on what we'd be doing, and with whom.

We went to the waterslides with the other half of the birthday entourage. It was Grayson's first time on a waterslide, and I'm pretty sure the overwhelming excitement caused him to have a happiness aneurysm at one point.

Point is, we had a great time. Actually, I'm at a loss to remember a better birthday. Why? Because we spent it sharing time (and birthdays) with people we care about. Having a day devoted to you really doesn't make you happy in the end. I mean, every year we devote an entire day to St. Patrick, and he just looks like a grumpy leprechaun.

I would share every birthday from now on. I think everyone else had a better time as well. There was twice the reason to celebrate. So we spent the day with Trish's parents. Granted, not the first time we've spent time with them. Although it was the first time we shared a birthday, and I couldn't have picked a better mother-in-law to spend it with!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Be ALL Little Boys!

So I've got my brother Matt down for a few days, and we went to lunch at a local restaurant. By chance we bumped into a long lost friend of Matt's. Turns out he's not that long and only slightly lost.

His name is Tony, and Matt hasn't seen him in quite some time. We invited this character over to the house tonight, along with several other friends.

We've been playing board games an awful lot lately, so I figured that we would do something different tonight. We'd play a different board game. We'd play something that Tony would never forget.

This is not just any board game. This one is the mother of all board games. It is, perhaps, the single greatest feat of human engineering and ingenuity since my first hairy ancestor discovered the secrets of fire. Not all of my ancestors were hairy, but that one was.

As Tony comes in the door he spies my wife Trish. He says, "I used to babysit you when you were four. I was good friends with your brother."

Now this is strange because he came over to actually hang out with me and my brother. Turns out he lived next door to Trish until he was 7 years old. He didn't actually know that me and Trish were married. It's just kinda funny how small the world can be sometimes.

So Tony comes over and we break out the game. I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I do. I mean, I don't blame them. None of them fully understood the amount of sheer exultation that would result from this game. I didn't worry about their skeptical remarks, as I knew that none of their lives would ever be the same.

The game is called Loopin' Louie, and it's for ages 3 and up.

It's for 4 players, and we had five, so whenever a player was eliminated, the other player would take his place. By this method we managed to play a non-stop game of Loopin' Louie for almost 2 hours. Tony managed to squeak out the win.

Trish kept laughing at us. I dunno, something about 5 men running and screaming at the top of their lungs seemed to strike her as funny. Maybe it was because it was a child's game. Someday soon though, she too will experience the joy of 5 player Loopin' Louie, and on that glorious day, the laughter will stop.

At least the condescending laughter that we heard from her last night.

If you have kids, do yourself a favor. Buy Loopin' Louie If you have an overgrown middle-aged kid in your  house, get 3 copies. He'll wear them out in no time.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Shock ALL The Fingers!

And the truth comes out... The other week when Ryley told me he came home at 2:30 am, it was actually 3:30 am! I wish I could be angry, but I didn't hear any whining the next day about being tired. However, in Grayson's reality, daddy would be deemed a turkey and shall suffer the consequences thereof: a 3 year-old's wet raspberry and voluntary feet tickling.

So Ryley's got his game group together again tonight. With three plates of different candy and goodies, I was tempted to stay, except I can't be staying up till the wee hours of the night playing my sleep away. Nor does the novelty of "shocking roulette" appeal to me. I'll let Ryley explain. (that is, if games don't go all night...)

Shocking Roulette: Players all place fingers into a device that randomly decides which player will receive an electric shock. We use it to determine player order when playing games. I have learned that everyone I play games with are huge pansies.

Gorged ourselves on pop and goodies last night.  Great time. Only thing is, I've now highlighted every member of my weekly gaming group. That means that next week I'll either have to get someone new to come, or else I have to find someone to connect with beforehand. (I'd say after but APPARENTLY Trish doesn't like me hanging out until 3:30 am).

So I highlight Reece Honour. Player of guitars. Listener of good music. Gamer of great board games. Speaker of Old Entish. Receiver of finger shocks.

I really need to start getting to bed sooner.

Shatter ALL The Preconceptions

January 9, 2010

Originally, Ryley and I planned on making this blog about meeting complete strangers. We're only 9 days in now, and I'm starting to realize that first I have a few things to take care of.

Like the people who matter to me. One such person is my oldest sister, Vicki, who is a full 21 years older than I am. By the time I was born, Vicki was already out of the house and married, so  I unfortunately have never actually lived in the same house as my own sister for any length of time.

Today we originally were planning on spending time with some of Ryley's cousins, who just happen to be good friends as well as family. However, their little boy has turned up sick, so instead of risking exposure, we decided to reschedule. 

That left us with the need to find someone different to spend time with before the end of the day. According to our own rules, that meant it could not be someone we previously had spent time with. Fortunately, only 9 days in, the list is fairly short thus far. 

I'm currently in school for nursing, finishing my second year at the college. Sometimes during breaks between classes, I stop by my sister Vicki's office, who is the Chair of Media & Design. She is just down the hall from some of my classes, so I try to find the time to get down and see her. Sometimes she's out in meetings or away on business trips, so it's not always guaranteed that she'll be available.

Today was in my favor, and I was able to sit with her and chat over a quick lunch. Even though she eventually had to go to a meeting, I tagged along to walk her there. 

It's funny, every time I do something like this (get in touch with an old friend, or sister. Or both.) I always find myself wondering why I don't do this more often. I feel embarrassed that I let myself take so long to drop by my sister's office. Even after only a week of our challenge, I'm getting excited about other people I should get back in touch with.

But by the time I get around to actually doing it, I feel just as timid as the last time. 

Maybe it's just part of human nature, or maybe it's just part of my nature, either way I should just learn to get over it. If anything is going to help me come out of my shell, this year will be it!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Wear ALL The Ugly Pajamas!

I think you mean AWESOME pajamas...

No, I really do mean ugly. Proof:

Whatever, anything with a bum flap is AWESOME...

So Trish has her friend Bernie over for an ugly pajama party. Her real name is Brittany, but Grayson decided that Brittany was too hard to say. 

So Bernie comes over dressed in p.j.'s. I'm not sure that she fully embraced the "ugly pajama" theme as well as Trish did, but she does get points for trying. After deliberating for precisely 10 minutes longer than my attention span they settled on some Netflix pick. 

Bernie knows how to eat popcorn. So do I. Trish is getting there. Slowly she's learning that for something to be considered a "treat", it must contain x amount of fat, where x is greater than or equal to the number of years you wish to live (in imperial cups of butter). The two of us (Bernie and I) outvoted her and there was much rejoicing. 

I didn't really join in, as my version of bedtime attire is somewhat less... glamorous. 

First time to the blog? Click here to read more about our endeavor.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Burn ALL The Guests!

Celebrate a birthday: Check

Light a guest on fire: Check

I normally don't go to events that I get invited to through facebook. I usually like to respond to the invitation with a "maybe". "That should keep them off of my back," I think to myself. It's so much easier than saying no.

We got invited up to Calgary for a "houswarming" for Greg and Tracy, as well as celebrate her birthday. They only moved over here from the U.K. a few years ago, but have managed to attract a huge gaggle of friends. I didn't know how to say "maybe" in British, so we ended up going.

Spent the evening in good conversation, good company, and being instructed about the difficulties of finding quality cheese in Canada. It was during one such conversation, that one party guest managed to spontaneously combust.

At least that's the way it seemed to me. From my viewpoint all I saw was a seemingly innocent conversationalist suddenly burst into bright, hungry flames. I managed to resist the urge to duck behind my wife for comfort, and good thing, since it turned out that the hapless partygoer was not erupting into flame from the inside out, but rather she had had the misfortune of standing next to a lit candle.

Ponytail alight, she suddenly became distinctly aware that all eyes were on her. All eyes, and all hands as well, as the lot of us practically beat her senseless trying to put out the flames. When all was said and done the only casualties were some burnt hair and her shirt. Yup, it burnt right through her shirt.

I have now made a sign that I'm going to get Greg and Tracy to post in their house. Framed nicely, I think that  it will make a good housewarming gift.

So the housewarming almost turned into a houseburning, but it did provide a conversation piece. Best birthday ever? I think so.

Happy Birthday Tracy! 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Cure ALL The Diseases!

Had our friends, Cara and Justin over, which was a big feat in and of itself.

While we enjoy having them over immensely, it always seems that the universe conspires against our hanging out. At one point Trish and Cara spent 3 months trying to get our schedules to agree just to spend an evening together.

I used to tell myself that this was because I am a very busy person with many "important" things to do. We're only a week in on this New Year, and I'm already starting to realize that I have enough time to do whatever is important, I just need to realize what is actually important, and what is daily fluff. Like the laundry, who needs clean clothes anyway?

In the end we all hunkered down for a (board) game of Pandemic. It's a game where all players work together to cure various diseases before the world is brought to ruin. We lost miserably, even though we cheated constantly. Shoulda known, "Cheaters never prosper. Or cure diseases." Isn't that what they say?

Trish decided to make a platter of something called "vegetables". We poked at it to humor her, but no one really knew what to make of it.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Game ALL The Night!

Thursday has been Ryley's weekly gaming night with his buddies, and this week is no different. The boys usually play late, even with good intentions to make it home and to bed at a decent hour at the end of the night. Nevertheless, the I know the odds are against them, in more ways than one: 

First, that the games take way longer to play than they anticipate. 

Second, they finish playing at a good hour, and  think they are oh so clever, so they try to sqeeeeeeze in one more game, that inevitably takes too long to play. 

And third, the games finish in good time and then they talk like girls for a few more hours. 

Their track record has not been so great. For instance, last week Ryley rolled into bed at 2:30 am! But for all I know, it could have been later because I was sound asleep. I've been assured that tonight he's gonna wrap it up a little earlier, allowing time to write the rest of this entry, yet I'm left to be a skeptic. I'll believe it when I see it. 

Well, I DID manage to get into bed by 1:00 AM, so I think I did pretty good.

Had my buddy Jordan Walker over for some intellectual stimulation in the form of a gentleman's tabletop duel. Or as Trish calls it "nerdy board games."

Tried out the ipad version of one of our favorite games, Smallworld.

As you can see on the back wall there, I do enjoy myself a good board game, anytime anyone feels like playing or learning a new one, give me a call. I even lend them out. It's kinda my go-to activity in the winter.

Day 5! Done and done.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Vietnamese ALL The Foods!

Day 4 has brought us much joy.

Much joy, and much soup.

There are special moments in everyone's lives. The birth of a child. Your wedding day. The day you got promoted. The day Call of Duty 4 came out.

For us, one such day was the day we ordered number 71 off the menu at the Saigonese restaurant.

I went out to dinner with a group of my brother's friends (who have since adopted me as a stand-in since my brother moved away). We went to the Saigonese Restaurant, and everyone ordered. Jared Scott (one of the friends) told me to try some of his soup. I was on my way out to meet Trish, and we were moving up to Calgary.

From the moment the heavenly broth hit my tongue my entire world changed. Colors were more vibrant. Music, more beautiful. I attribute the fact that I have only vague memories of the next two years to the fact that I must have spent most of my waking moments dreaming of the sacred soup.

So it's really very good soup.

When we moved to Lethbridge again, the first thing we did was come back to the Saigonese Restaurant and phone Jared, so he could tell me what number that soup was. It didn't surprise me that he remembered. Everyone who has tasted can never forget. Sometimes I think we all (those who have tasted) need to make a secret handshake to identify each other in public.

Since it was Jared who helped us to become among the "tasted", we felt it only appropriate that we go back together to partake. Here we are:

It was good to be there with someone who appreciates the finer things in life. Someone who also appreciates the subtle flavor of a broth made from a thousand unknown spices, mixed with water melted from the highest peaks of the himilayas, and simmered over the flames of a young couple's burning love. Add in the beef from cows fed purely on mana from heaven, and stirred with the hand of Zeus himself, and you have number 71 at the Saigonese Restuarant in Lethbridge.

Join us. Become one of the "tasted". You'll wonder how you ever lived in this dreary world before.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Tichu ALL The Games!

Day 3!

Went out to Tyson and Teale Smith's house, where we were fed ridiculously good chicken with rice. Of course Grayson chooses this night to decide that he has deep-seated paranoia of the sight of chicken. Trish and I ended up being on the losing side of the haggling as Grayson was eventually excused after eating only 1 bite.

As usual when anyone is naive enough to let me into their house, I showed up with an armload of board and card games. The four kids played Looping Louie and Toc Toc Woodman, and although plenty of tears were shed, it never actually came down to physical violence, so we chalked it up as a win for everyone.

After we got kids in bed, it was time for the adults to engage in a potentially-marraige-ruining game of cards. Tichu (trick taking card game similar to Rook, only better) was the nominated choice.

Tichu involves passing your partner cards at the beginning of the game. If you are confident that your partner has good card skills and will likely win the game, you'll pass them a great card. If however, you want to place a permanent rift between your partner and yourself, as well as insinuating that you would be happier if your partner was a fence post, and that you'd likely spit on their ancestor's graves if you could, you'd pass your partner a crummy card.

I won't say who passed what. All I'll say is that I want everyone to remember that a great way to keep a doghouse warm in winter is to run an extension cord with a small space heater. Tyson, you can get those here.

We had a blast, and although we already count Teale and Tyson as among our great friends, we haven't actually spent an evening at their house before. This evening was really the whole idea of what we are trying to accomplish this year. We took some friends who were already important to us, and made a better and deeper connection, and some of us even learned why you should always pass your wife good cards.

The kids enjoying a game of Looping Louie while I ramble on about one of my many tangents.

Thanks for the great night!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Pain In ALL The Muscles!

Day 2 done! That means that whereas yesterday we were 1/365 done, now we are 1/182.5 done. If we keep it up at this rate we'll be done in no time!

Spent the day in Waterton Lakes National Park with none other than my parents, Linda "Super Gramma" Tolman, and Shayne "Granpoo" Tolman. Grayson has a knack for making unforgettable nicknames.

As my parents are big believers in our movement, we felt it was a good way for one of our first attempts. Rather than do what we normally do, we decided to do something none of us had done before (hey, we can't get to know someone better without doing something out of the ordinary right?)

Why sober people choose to go cross-country skiing is really beyond me. We spent most of the day crashing into each other and falling over, with the exception of Granpoo, who actually managed to fall over by himself multiple times.

I was hooked up to a sled like a common mule and given orders by my wife to pull our three year old the 3 km to the lake. After mommy left, Grayson informed me that I was no longer a man hooked up to sled, or a mule for that matter. I was now a rocket, and after a speech-impediment-laden countdown I was expected to blast off with the force of dual propelled rocket boosters.

I soon found it was easier to simply be a rocket than to beg my son to turn me into something less... rockety.

Obviously, we made record time to our destination at the lake. We did not build the snowman, although Super Gramma did make some unmentionable "improvements" after the cameras were turned off.

The trek back to base camp was less eventful, and I didn't really see to much of the scenery since every time I dropped below the speed of light Grayson would encourage me onward with a fresh countdown. 

Post-ski dinner consisted of ham sandwiches rewarmed over a camp kitchen fire, washed down with hot chocolate from a shared thermos for most of us, and melted snow for Granpoo, who was slow on the draw. I might add that the sandwiches were made on Super Gramma's incredible homemade bread, which I will try and get permission to post. If I can't convince her, I know a three year old who likely will.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Trick ALL The Cousins!

I'm making a new rule for this blog...

RULE # 1
The first post about getting to know people cannot be about my cousin who I tricked into coming to my house to eat food.

Since this is a new rule, it won't apply to this blog, but it's a good one to keep in mind should we ever endeavor to do the exact same experiment under a different blog name.

So I tricked my cousin into coming to me house. I say "me house" because my cousin's name is Shaimus, and that just makes me want to talk like a little Irish dude.

I manage a drywall contracting company in town, and Shaimus is working for us as a subcontractor. I ran over today to give him a hand in finishing up a little basement that was kind of a rush to get done. We blasted some Mumford and Sons (which you can check out here. Push play on the top left music player for a pleasing sensation in thine ears). Finishing up around 7 pm, I told him I needed him to run over to my house before going home in order to pick up some stuff.


I gave him supper and made him part of my experiment. Yeah, ok, it wasn't an incredible start, but I got to know my cousin better, and he got some supper. Chili with ranchandcheesebread fresh out of the oven (thanks Trish!) I have decided that he is a pretty rad dude and give him eight thumbs up out of nine.

So that's day 1! However, I now have another new rule for this blog.

RULE # 2
We can spend time with people we already know, but only if we get to know them better, and then rate them with an arbitrary rating system. We can never repeat people.

Y'know, we've actually decided to change this idea ever so slightly. Since this is about making good quality connections to people who matter, we're not going to make it so much meeting someone new every day (although that may still happen alot). I'm still sticking by never repeating people, unless they bring new people to spend some time and get to know. I realized that if we ignore the people we already know, we'll lose touch with the people who matter most to us, so that really defeats the whole purpose. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Know ALL The People!

Ever get that feeling like the days just sort of run together and life is slipping through your fingers?

I do. ALL the time.

It leaves that sick feeling in your stomach. It gives you that awareness that you are growing older every day, and that you are probably missing out on the things that you'll wish you would have done when you're an old washed up geezer talking about all the things you almost did.

I've come to realize the reason that the days can start to run together.

We don't socialize like we need to.

We're human. We evolved to live in groups. Our brain is built to allow us to interact meaningfully with those around us. It is to our benefit to do so.

But we don't.

Whereas people used to live in groups and depend on that group for support, religion, safety, etc., now we are able to live very independent lives. This has many benefits.

And one serious downside.

Most of us wake up in the morning before our kids. We get into the car (parked in our garage -- an extension of our house) and drive to our work, where we go up to our cubicle/office/desk, and work mostly by ourselves until we drive back to our little house extensions to be home with our family. And then we watch TV.

It's all good though! Because on Friday we'll have people over! Then together we will... umm.... watch TV.

I think the reason that we feel empty, the reason why there is that little nagging HOLE that we can only feel when the world quiets down, is because we are letting the social part of our brains go dormant. That is why this year we as a family have a different sort of resolution.

We're going to spend time with 365 different people over the next 365 days. We're going to blog about it, and we're going to enjoy our lives a little more. Or maybe a lot more, if my thesis is true.

So let's not call it a resolution. It's a movement, a REVOLUTION. There we go, a social revolution. Let's take back the good life that most of our grandparents lived. Let's fill it with people, and meaning.

This is the Tolman family at the outset of this project. Awww, so cute and naive, they have no idea how hard the next 365 days will be...

Did I mention I'm a Paint wizard?