School Is Back In Session or How to Survive Re-Learning at Age 43

Every three years, I have to get re-certified as a conductor/switchman. The previous times I did it in my home town area of Vancouver. This time around my company sent me to Winnipeg. This is where the new centralized training center is located.

The CN Campus is huge and modern feeling. We have been treated to unlimited coffee and a cafeteria style lunch. The classroom portion itself is, basically, dry. When learning rules that are important for the safety and service of our industries- it’s difficult to make it entertaining.

At least after those eight hour days we get to go and leave it all behind us for the evening. My coworker and I headed back to the hotel where I enjoyed the pool and sauna while he hit the gym. The 21st floor of our hotel has the pool and views of the city. A few minutes in the hot tub and I was relaxed again.

On to day 2 of the classroom portion. Hopefully my swimsuit will be dry for another evening dip and relaxation afterwards.

Re-String

I learned something new this week from a coworker of mine. How to re-string a guitar. At first I was intimidated by the notion- since I’ve never really had any experience with it. But I knew I could do it with a bit of guidance.

First, we removed the old strings and gave the guitar a wipe down. I learned about using an oil as well on the fretboard to protect the wood. I also learned about how to adjust the neck if required to straighten it out.

I had taken the advice of getting a set of thinner gauge wire for my daughter to use. They will be easier for her hands to help create the sound she will be happier with. I’m looking forward to hearing her play once again.

After learning what needed to be done and the care we should put into the maintenance of the guitar, I’m feeling much more comfortable about doing it myself. It’s not rocket appliances. In fact, next time I will teach my daughter what needs to be done so that she can take it on herself.

Any further advice on care of guitars would be appreciated in your comments!

Dad Learns To Cut Control

Over the weekend I Carved Pumpkins. Our oldest also did her own. Last night, our 14 year old wanted to work on her pumpkin.

For whatever reason, I found this difficult. Part of her design is moderately hard to do. So we started on the easy side. All I wanted to do was carve it myself for her.

I had a tough time relinquishing control. But in the end, I had to let her do it- with some direction. It really should’ve been easier for me to let her do it. I mean honestly- she is taking a Carving Class in her Fine Arts School.

With the first half done, we had to call it a night. The next part will be a bit trickier, but I now know she is fully capable of doing it on her own.

Relearn

At work I’ve been moved around to different locations over the past year or so. Every time, I use my knowledge that I have gained over the years and adapt it. Sometimes I struggle to figure things out.

But sometimes I forget things. Things I should’ve remembered. Mostly because I don’t use that knowledge.

I don’t plan on forgetting computer commands. Or forgetting the processes and rules in place. But when you don’t utilize them, you forget them. It’s like relearning how to ride a bike all over again.

As tough as it is, everyone is patient with my abilities. And willing to help me out. The people and the job are pretty good to me in that aspect. No one wants to see you fail here. It’s very encouraging.

Sharing Knowledge 

I’m a firm believer in educating oneself. That’s why I am constantly challenging my mind and abilities. I also do my best to share my knowledge with others.  Mostly because I don’t want to live in a world of stupid people.


Not only do I share my knowledge, but I try and accept my flaws in order to learn from them. If I can keep an open mind and prevent my biases from blocking the truth, I think I will benefit from nearly everyone I meet.  

Teaching my children to behave like this is my biggest goal.  I want them each to be successful in whatever they choose to do. In order to do this, I have had to learn about piano, cheerleading, and speed skating over the years.  There are plenty of other things that I have learned over the years and been able to share with my children as well.  Such as photography and writing- stuff I learned back in high school.

Always learning, always teaching- keeps me happy.

Tuck Your Balls In

My son is eleven.  Jokes about penises and farts are rampant.  Of course, me being immature, can’t help but laugh.

No idea what this means to my son, but he thinks it’s the funniest thing ever.


I know that I should probably be telling him not to say those things or act that way.  But that’s not really what the world is about.  The real world is full of NSFW memes and quick witted jokes. So instead, I’m trying to teach him when it’s appropriate to say or act a certain way in polite society.  This is proving to be more of a challenge.

He is also trying to work in sarcasm on a regular basis.  It’s too bad that 80% of the time he just sounds like he’s being an asshole. Usually it’s directed towards his sisters, but once in a while he tries it out on my wife and I.  It’s hard to not want to punish him… he hears my wife and I joke with each other frequently.  He just needs to finesse his delivery and timing. There’s so much left to teach him still.


Hopefully by the time he makes it to high school, I’ll have helped him develop his personality.  And hopefully that personality is respectful with just a hint of douchieness- like his old man.

Turning Japanese 

I mentioned briefly in a previous post about wanting to travel to Tokyo to see Disneyland.  More like I wrote numerous blog posts about our adventure.  I also mentioned that I wanted to learn Japanese before we go.  Maybe I only mentioned it on my Facebook, but hey those are most of my readership anyways.

So I first went on a search to find some classes nearby.  No real success.  Next I decided to search online for advice on learning Japanese.  Many sites recommended numerous apps.  This lead me to downloading one that seemed perfect for my beginner brain.


And because I downloaded it on my Apple ITunes account, it is now shared with my children on their devices.  Now the competition to learn is on!  We began with the basics of numbers and pronounciations.  The other night at the dinner table we were yelling numbers at each other in English and Japanese.

For a free app it has brought us such joy.  So I decided to pay for the full app.  Not only did it unlock the Japanese lessons, but now we can learn the basics of other languages as well.    Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Mandarin are all included for the low price of $27.99.  That is essentially the cost of a text book.

This is going to be beneficial for our trip.  My children and I are going to each learn a language.  Firstly, we are having fun with Japanese and my kids are beating me at their knowledge retention on the numbers alone.  


What I am going to do over the next few months is to take each lesson and try to learn it the way I remember being taught how to learn French in school.  Start with numbers, months, greetings, etc… just to learn the basics.  I’m hoping that this will give me a strong foundation to survive a few days in another country.

Plus, you’re never too old to learn something new.  I’m going to keep working on making myself a better person as I continue to age.

Adapt or be left behind

I mentioned a few months ago that I love Technology.  Sometimes I absolutely loathe it.  Today is a prime example.  I was ready to kill my printer much like in the scene from Office Space.  But, it wasn’t the printer’s fault.  It was my lack of understanding of what was miscommunicating inside my home computer.


Simply put: I had used an older program to create labels for my wife a couple of years back.  I tried to run it on the original program.  I couldn’t open said program because my Windows operating system had updated and I was on my wife’s user not knowing where she kept anything.  Finally finding the “Label File”  I loaded it into the old program.  Seemed ok so far minus a hiccup or two opening the file.  Time to click print.  And…

Our printer was now showing an error on its tiny little screen telling me that it needed an alignment.  What?  Since when did it suddenly need an alignment?  I asked my wife if this was why she needed me to print the labels.  She said she printed something earlier with no issues.  Great.  Now it’s my inability to print.  

Off goes the printer.  On goes the printer.  

Still needs an alignment, but a computer prompt showed up allowing me to bypass it.  Ok.  Time to print.  Buzz, whir, click, printing has commenced.

For f***s sake!

The image isn’t anywhere near being aligned to the sticker labels.  ARGH!  Ok.  Wait a sec… I see the problem.  No it wasn’t that the printer needed an alignment.  I just needed to open the image in yet another program.  A few moments of the computer calculating and bringing up the right program.  Ah.  This looks better.  Print attempt number 3.

Holy crap.  The image is now too dark.

Better walk away Josef.  Walk away.

*************

Ok.  Took a poop, now back to the computer.  Ah, here we go.  Edit background image to 75% transparency.  Print attempt number 4.

SUCCESS


People in IT: thank you for doing a wonderful job.  However, when I am at home and ready to kill anyone within ten feet of me, computers can truly irk me.

The good old days of computing.


Don’t even get me started on iOS 10 for my iPhone.  It’s one of those things that always seems to happen.  You get used to an operating system, set it all up nicely the way you like it, and…. UPDATE.  I’m all for moving forward.  I used to live for the newest versions of Windows ever since ’95.  


What happened you ask?  Well, I have grown up and don’t have as much downtime to relearn each and every new software upgrade.  I am now picking and choosing when and what I need to learn.  I am afraid that one day, I’ll be left behind in the technological department.  

But hey, that’s probably when I’ll be taking regular naps and recounting the old days and talk about how wonderful they were in my blog.  

Crap.  That day is now upon me.

Teach and learn

This past weekend it dawned on me that I have achieved my goal as a parent.


We were playing Settlers of Catan as a family and our middle child won.  It wasn’t one of those “Let her win” moments either.  She legitimately kicked everyone’s butt.  My favorite part of the experience was that she was a gracious winner.  No yelling “IN YO’ FACE!” And prancing around gloating.  She won, we congratulated her, we cleaned up.  


After our dinner, my daughters and I were practice shooting with the bow and arrow set we picked up last year.  This time, my oldest daughter proved to be better than the rest of us.  We had set up a bale of hay and some lawn flamingos as targets.  Our oldest daughter was hitting her target almost every time.  One flamingo was obliterated into nothing more than some plastic shards.

In both instances, I had taught them the basic skills to achieve their goals.  With the tabletop game I had explained the rules previously and offer some tactics to help them out.  With the archery I explained the dynamics of how to hold the bow, how an arrow flies, and how to aim.  

Now I know I said at the beginning that I’ve achieved my goal as a parent.  Mostly this is true.  I always want to see my children succeed.  I pass on my knowledge or help them in gaining the knowledge required.  For example, all three of my kids are amazing at piano.  They have gone on to do RCM exams and pass with honors.  My oldest has even written a few compositions this past year for Grade 8.  I can play the beginning of “Jingle Bells” with my right hand.

I have much more to offer my children.  At some point, they will start to teach me.

Suffering is Optional 

“Suffering is optional.” 

I was 25 when I first heard this phrase at a training course I took back in 2001.  It was the only rule the teacher had for the class.  He said that if we needed to use the washroom, to get up and go.  If we were getting stiff just sitting around, we should stand up and stretch.  If something was confusing or we didn’t understand the lesson, we should ask.  Above all, if we didn’t like the course, we could just leave.  There was no point in having miserable people filling a room and wasting everyone else’s time.

Is it?



“Suffering is optional.”

This simple phrase means so much to me these days.  There’s no need to be stuck in a crappy job just because you need a paycheck.  Go out and get a new job.  Why keep friends around who make you feel worthless?  Get closer with the ones who put the same value on your friendship as you do with theirs.  You feel a pain somewhere in your body that you’ve never had before?  Go see a doctor- we are all getting older and our bodies need maintenance too.

“Suffering is optional.”

I have found that over the years, if I’m not happy with what’s going on in my life, something needs to change.  I don’t like feeling miserable.  I don’t want people around me who feel that if they are suffering, everyone else should as well.  I also know that I’m not going to be the best at everything I try to accomplish.  Hard work and perseverance don’t mean the end result is worth achieving if you’re miserable along the way.  I’m not saying give up because something isn’t easy.  I’m saying that it’s how you deal with pain or frustration is what matters.  Everyone is dealt a raw deal from time to time, but it’s how you overcome these obstacles that matter.  Sitting in a corner, feeling sorry for yourself and stewing over all the things you could have done differently is a natural reaction.  At some point though, you need to stand up and face the challenge or walk away and stop suffering.  The choice is all yours.

 

“Suffering is optional.”