Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas 2006 has come and gone, and a good time was had by all. Joan and I got over to the Island and back safely with a little help from the Christmas angels to get us on the ferry. I am posting some pictures of Joan and I, one in front of the tree in Vancouver, and the other in front of the tree in Port Alberni.

Now it is back to work for a couple days, and then our second New Year's together here in Vancouver.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

Joan and I will be heading over to the island later today to spend Christmas with her dad in Port Alberni. We'll be thinking of all our friends and family celebrating wherever they may be.

We did a Christmas light tour here in Vancouver the other night, and there were some beautiful displays. The newspaper printed a list of the most spectacular places, so we used that as our guide! The radio has been tuned to the all-Christmas-music-all-the-time station for the past few days and we are really getting into the holiday spirit! I hope you are all able to find your share of the spirit as well!

Monday, December 11, 2006

“How did you know that?” is a question that I hear so often when playing games that involve a trivia component. I never really thought of it as anything outstanding, in fact, I always assumed that most of those questions fell under the category of “general knowledge,” but the more I get asked that the more I realize that perhaps the knowledge is not so general after all.

Now I am no Ken Jennings, in fact I am quite sure that in a game of Jeopardy I would lose quite handily to my old friend Matt Hobbs who I recall routinely got every question right before the contestants ever had a chance to ring in. That being said, I do seem to have some peculiar talent when it comes to trivia. I think one key element to this is that I am genetically blessed with an excellent memory. There seems to be a special compartment in my brain to house all of the trivial “when will I ever need this?” type of knowledge. For this I obviously have to thank my ancestors.

My closest ancestors, my parents, contributed a great deal as well. From an early age they laid the foundation on top of which everything I know has been built. My mom would read to me every night, and as far back as I can remember my dad and I would play the occasional game of chess (well, I think we started with Smess).

As I thought about this, things started coming together, but the question remained, where did all the trivial facts that are stuck in my head come from? As I reflected on a number of my more astonishing trivia responses, I realized the source of so much of this “useless” knowledge.

If you had asked me in high school if I thought I was wasting my time, the answer likely would have been a resounding yes. I would have much rather been dialing into the local BBSes or following the hockey Axemen at that time. If you would have asked me which courses in particular I considered unworthy of my attention, English would have almost certainly topped the list (sorry mom). Who would have ever though that the seemingly tedious pedagogical methods of Jim Fetty would lead me to a lifetime of dominance in games of trivia?

At the time, learning 200 new vocabulary words each year truly seemed like a waste of time. Surely if I needed these words, I could find them in a dictionary or a thesaurus! Studying affixes and roots and etymology seemed as amusing as watching paint dry. Learning the history of English and other languages (like Esperanto, whatever that is) seemed like squandering precious brain cells. I wondered about when I would ever need to know what a dipthong was, or a portmanteau word, or onomatopoeia?

Yet now, more than ten years later, scarcely a day goes by that I don’t draw on something I learned in those classes. How I have managed to retain so much of it is beyond me. I recall Mr. Fetty feeling “shortchanged by my efforts,” according to one report card, but I am sure if went back and wrote one of his tests today I would do as well as I did way back in grade 11.

I have had many other influential teachers in my life, but I can say with confidence that few have prepared me for trivia challenges quite as well as Mr. Fetty. Thinking back I still have no idea how some of it fit into the 11th grade English curriculum, but at least now I will not be caught with my pants down when the subject of merkins comes up in a game of trivia!

Monday, December 04, 2006

You may have noticed a bunch of spam comments in my blog of late. I have been deleting them as I notice them, but I have decided to change the way comments are submitted so that I will have to approve them before they are posted. That means your comments will not appear as soon as you post them, but instead they will show up once I approve them. Sorry for the inconvenience, but it is easier than having to constantly monitor and delete spam.