What Do You Do?

When we meet someone new this is often the first question that is exchanged – “What Do You Do?”.  In many ways it helps to form an understanding about the person we’re talking to.  I’ve always felt a bit awkward answering this question – I don’t really feel like my occupation defines me very well.  Maybe you feel this way too?  I’m also not really one to talk a lot about my interests and the things that are most important to me, so I thought maybe I’d make a list. Perhaps I should make up a business card that has a link to this post 🙂

The Stuff About Me List (in no particular order)

  • handyman – When I met my spouse she kept being told that “I’m a handy guy to have around”.  I think that’s true – I like building and fixing things – I’ve built more decks in my lifetime than I can remember at this point, as well as renovating houses, tinkering with electronics, fixing and building all sorts of contraptions.
  • creative person – I get inspiration for new ideas fairly regularly and keep a notebook of things that I think are interesting.  Some of them turn into actual things – many are ideas that may have a future sometime, or that someone else has also come up with and put into action.  For the record, somewhere in my notes is something that looks kinda similar to what we now know as social media – just saying 😉
  • reiki energy healer – This is a fairly recent addition but one that I’m feeling more and more is an important part of my life.  I first experienced reiki over 10 years ago and now, after taking the first 2 levels of reiki training, I’m able to channel the energy myself and learning a lot as I go.  I plan to complete the master course next year.
  • artist – I am a continual student of the arts.  I have done acrylic painting for a number of years now (mostly abstract) and I read and study a fair bit about art/colour/composition etc.
  • scotch – I’m a bit of a beginner scotch enthusiast. Not that I just started enjoying scotch, it’s just that I don’t consider myself much of an expert on it.  I just enjoy it and like exploring the different types and tastes.  I follow this blog written by someone who knows a ton more about scotch than me.
  • beer – Same goes for beer.  I have an app I use to keep track of beers I’ve tried and that number has gotten up pretty high over the couple of years since starting to log it.
  • musician – I love music and enjoy playing music.  I play at the guitar, hack away at the piano/keyboard and enjoy music composition.  I haven’t done as much with music as I’d like – I think there will be more to come – someday.
  • father/husband – I am both and I think I do a pretty good job at it. My family is very important to me and we often do many of the other things I’ve listed here together.
  • cars – I’ve always been interested in cars and know a fair bit about different makes/models.  I can often barely remember the names of people I’ve met but I could tell you the make and model of many vehicles just by looking at the tail lights.  This year I finally got to drive a Lamborghini – which has been a dream of mine since I was a kid.  I’ve also been fascinated with the idea of autonomous vehicles since I first heard about the concept, probably 20 years ago now.
  • outdoors – I love nature and the outdoors.  This includes hiking, camping, kayaking, boating, atving, gardening etc.  Exploring different parks/forests/trails/waterfalls/lakes around Ontario is lots of fun.  My favourite place in the world is still our family cottage on Basswood Lake.
  • photography – I have a lot to learn when it comes to photography but it’s something I dabble in and enjoy.  I take a lot of photos (and video) – with my Canon Digital SLR, GoPro Hero5 and the plain old smart phone.  The GoPro is a fairly recent addition and I’ve experimented a bit with underwater and body/bike mounted action video.
  • dj – This one has lain dormant for many years now, but back in the day I used to dj a bit – some dances, a couple weddings, house parties etc.  I’m afraid (or thankful?) that my taste in music and collection hasn’t much kept up with the times.  In many ways I never really moved past the 90s grunge era 🙂  Oh, and my favourite musician of all time is Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
  • softball – For the last 2 summers I’ve been playing in a small softball league here in the Soo.  I hadn’t played in years before that and it’s been nice to get back into it, get some fresh air and meet some nice people.

So there you go, a bit more comprehensive understanding than what you might get from my intro as “web programmer at the Canadian Wildlife Federation”.

Listening: Chris Derksen

The other day while I was driving into work I was listening to Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean.  One of my favourite parts of that show is the Canadian indie music that is included in every episode.  The episode that was on that morning was featuring Indigenous musicians from Canada.

I was blown away by a number of the artists featured but was particularly enthralled by the music of Chris Derksen.  Derksen is a trained cellist and weaves orchestral music around contemporary powwow music.  The unexpected combination of these two genres is unlike anything I have ever heard before – but is amazing.  It’s inspiring to hear a new form of music that is creating something completely different and unique.

Derksen’s third studio album Orchestral Powwow was nominated for a the Instrumental Album of the Year Juno in 2016.  Take a listen to her music – the only way I can describe it is mind-blowing. Derksen is also one of the individuals I hope to help create a Wikipedia page for during the upcoming Rewriting Wikipedia event focused on Indigenous women.

Choir Reflections and the North Channel Community Singers

Dress Rehearsal for Spring Concert.

Dress Rehearsal for Spring Concert.

This past week the local community choir which I’ve been part of for the past number of years held their Spring concerts.  Based in Thessalon the North Channel Community Singers is a fun, non-competitive choir that invites participation from anyone with a love of music.  Though the average age of the choir’s members is much older than me they have been extremely welcoming from the start.  Members have repeatedly insisted that no exceptional musical skill is required and anyone who wants to join is welcome.  Despite this seemingly free-for-all I am constantly surprised by the quality of the music put on by the choir.

As our Spring choir concerts approached I had flashbacks to the church choir, children’s choir, and youth choir I was part of in my younger years.  Sensible rules like only using pencil to mark your music, the need to memorize music, and similar songs we sang were some of the things that came to mind.  I was also reminded of the guidelines around uniform dress, performance hair, and avoiding dairy products before concerts.  A drastic change to a community choir where memorization isn’t required and everyone’s performance clothes look slightly different.

I’ve enjoyed participating in this range of choirs – church, community, and competitive.  All come with different expectations, highlights, and downsides.  Though in all cases I still insist that altos have more fun. The small alto section of the North Channel Community Singers has repeatedly been a pick me up on Tuesday nights and a great source of laughter.

Music Finds: Sarah MacDougall

One of my favourite things is when you discover a new band or musician.  It’s often like you’ve just learned this amazing secret or unearthed a whole world of possibilities. I also have a soft spot for lesser known Canadian artists.

Recently while listening to Vinyl Cafe I was treated to the music of Sarah MacDougall.  I immediately made a note to learn more and find more of her music to listen to.  Born in Sweden she now calls Canada home and her music is a great mixture of folk and roots.  Take a listen: