Friday Two Cents: Friday the 13th Origins


 

‘Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.’ Plato

 

Today is Friday the 13th and in many western cultures, including Canada, we see this day a being unlucky.   Many people believe in this superstition yet they do not know where it came from. Therefore I decided to look up this superstition and see where it’s origins came from.

One possible origin story can related to the Code of Hammurabi. It is one of the world’s oldest legal documents, which may or may not have superstitiously omitted a 13th rule from its list. Others claim that the ancient Sumerians, who considered the number 12 a “perfect” number, considered the one that followed it decidedly as non-perfect.
One of the most popular theories, links Friday the 13th with the downfall of legendary warriors known as the Knights Templar. Founded around 1118 as a monastic military order was devoted to the protection of pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land following the Christian capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. The Knights Templar quickly became one of the richest and most influential groups of the Middle Ages, thanks to the generous donations by the crowned heads of Europe, keen on being in the Knights good graces. Yet by the turn of the 14th century, the Templars had established a system of castles, churches and banks throughout Western Europe, their vast wealth caught the eye of several ambitious and greed men.
It all began in the early morning hours of Friday, October 13, 1307.
Throughout France, secret documents had been sent by couriers a month earlier. The papers included sensational details and rumors of black magic, devil worship and shocking sexual rituals. They were sent by King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V. King Philip was a greedy monarch who in the preceding years had launched attacks on the Lombards (a powerful banking group) and France’s Jews (who he had expelled so he could confiscate their property for his depleted coffers).  Clement also issued a papal bull ordering the western kings to arrest Templars living in their lands. 
On that day and the days and weeks to followed, over 600 Templars were arrested, burnt at the stake and executed in numerous ways. Even the grandmaster Grand Master Jacques de Molay was captured and eventually burnt at the stake. Just before he died Jacques de Molay cursed King Philip’s line and the Pope. Within 13 year King Philips’ sons and grandson were all dead. Pope Clement V died about a year after Jacques de Molay yet while his body lay in state in a church, a thunderbolt struck the church and subsequently burnt with such intensity that after the fire was put out the Pope’s body was nearly completely destroyed.

Maltese Knight – The Knights Hospitaller

Talk about bad luck for the Knights Templar, King Philip and Pope Clement V. No wonder Friday the 13th is seen as bad luck.

 

Source: Maranzani B., (Oct, 2017) “Why Friday the 13th Spelled Doom for the Knights Templar”, The History Cannel.

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Friday Two Cents: Discovering More Through Play


This week and next I will be working in a kindergarten class where the teacher has asked me to present a lesson centred on math. Math has always been my favourite subject second only to art and when given the opportunity, I raised to the challenge.

It is the beginning if the year and I know that these students are new to counting, especially in French. So I decided to begin by seeing how much do they know when it comes to counting. I came up with several activities to help them and the teacher assess where the students are in their math skills.
I began with some activities with the students using 10 frames, rekenreks, printing the numbers and a bingo game with snap cubes. I noticed a few things that made me see that no matter where I go and with whom I work with, children learn a lot though play. Several of the activities are centred on a play base system. Yes they are doing their work by learning to count in French and they are printing the numbers but to get to those numbers they have to use a spinner like you would use in a game. And the more I and the teacher played / participated in the activity, the more the students, 1) appeared to enjoy it, 2) hopefully learn something from the experience and 3) we learned where each student is in their counting.  
Every time I enter a classroom I always have this quote from Plato in the back of my mind…

 

‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.’ Plato

 

These activities I did with the students are a clear indication that Plato’s words ring true.

 

 

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Friday Two Cents: The Power Of George


 

This week I was fortunate to some supply teach in a kindergarten class. It was a class full of junior kindergarten children. Many people would run in the other direction at the prospect of being in a classroom of 27 three to four-year olds, but not me. I adore kindergarten children, they are so open and honest; something we all lose, as we grow older. Mind you, it did not start off as a bed of roses.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

You have to remember that it is only the second week of school, a Monday to boot and many of these students have never been in any type of organized school setting. So to say that there were a few tears would be an understatement. It was more of a river, yet I did something that got their minds off their separation anxiety. I brought out my trusty friend, George. If you do not know who is George he is my purple monster/dragon that sounds like Goofy and helps me read stories, sing songs and introduce lessons to the students.  
Once I brought him out and introduced him as my little friend that helps me in the class, the students were mesmerized and many of the tears began to go away. I even had a couple of little girls, “shadows”, beside me for the rest of the day. At one point the art teacher came into the room and I had to leave to go to the washroom and do some work in the office, one of them didn’t want me to leave. I told her that I would be back but she wanted to come with me. I told here I had to go to the washroom but it was the big boys washroom and she kind of understood. She asked several times if I would be back and I reassured her that I would. At the end of the art lesson I returned and the little girls saw me and I said to them “I told you I would be back.” and one even smiled.
The rest of the day went well and George helped with a few songs and a couple of stories. As the day progressed everyone was engaged in the activities in the class and many of the students were wearing smiles when it was time to go home.  
It was an amazing day and George was a big part of it. I have had George for many years and I have brought him into countless classrooms and even after all that, I am astounded at the power of his presence with the students. The morning could have been a disaster but just bring out George helped to calm things down and I was able to connect with the students much quicker. I guess children are all the same, no matter where you go.

George, you have some power that makes people feel at ease. Not only the little kindergarteners, but me too, Thank you little buddy.

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Friday Two Cents: Inspirational Beginnings


 

Wisdom begins in wonder. Socrates

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

 

With students and teachers returning to school it is a perfect opportunity to make fresh starts all around. Every year I always try to pass on a few words of wisdom to help inspire others. I like to give teachers these quotes to help inspire them in their daily run with the students. Below you can see a couple of examples. Many of these quotes inspire me, perhaps they can inspire you too.

 

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.  Mother Teresa

 

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. Plato

 

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Friday Two Cents: Canada 150 Ottawa Trip – Ottawa & Gatineau


I had the opportunity to visit the Ottawa area to take in some Canadian 150 celebration. Once there I did a lot of sight seeing in the usual places like the museums, the mint and the ByWard Market. However there was a new attraction in Gatineau that was unique that celebrated the diversity of Canada and its sheer beauty. It was the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017.

Jacques-Cartier Park Gatineau hosted the biggest horticultural event in Canada, the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017. Mosaiculture is a most spectacular horticultural technique that combines the following different art forms:
  • Sculpture for the structure,
  • Paint for the palette of colours, and
  • Horticulture as the means of creating living and changing artworks with plants.
The theme of the exhibit reflected on the 150 years of history, values, culture and arts in Canada, represented by more than 40 different arrangements. Admission to the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017 exhibit in Jacques-Cartier Park is free and it was a spectacular site to see.
After the garden exhibit I enjoyed a unique exhibition at the History Museum that happened to be right across the street from Jacques-Cartier Park. The exhibit is called “Hockey”, what’s more Canadian then that. It was an exploration of Canada’s game for the very beginning, through the creation of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Olympics and other international games all from a distinctly Canadian point of view.
If you are going to Ottawa one place you need to visit is the ByWard Market. It is a great place to get anything from fresh fruit and vegetables to any little nick-knack. They also have a wide variety of restaurants, bakeries and cafés. One was even visited by former President Obama where he bought a beaver tail and some cookies for his daughters.
Yet the day was topped off by a wonderful light presentation at the Parliament buildings. It is a sound and light show that journeys through Canada’s history. It shows Canadian stories of nation building, partnership, discovery, valour, pride and vision for a country. Key figures, events and achievements from Canadian history are brought to life using five distinct artistic styles. All are presented in spectacular detail, with a bilingual narration and an amazing music score that is projected on the Parliament builds, Centre Block and Peace Tower. There where times during the presentation where I felt myself tear up as a swell of national pride came over me. If you go to Ottawa just for this show it is well worth the trip. It truly was an amazing sight to see and I was lucky enough to find a copy of the show on YouTube. It is about 30 minutes but it is time well spent.

Going to Ottawa has always been a treat for me and I have been there on numerous occasions. Yet every time I go I cannot help be filled with pride and love for my birth country. The history, the accomplishments and vision of Canada have always been an inspiration to me. This trip has only deepened my love for Canada and I can proudly shout out for the entire world to hear…

“I AM CANADIAN!!”

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Art Inspiration: Canada 150 Ottawa Trip – National Gallery Of Canada


 

Last week I made my way back to Ottawa for a mini vacation to do some things that celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday. During my stay there I made it a point to visit the National Gallery of Canada. Surprisingly I have been to Ottawa on numerous occasions but this was my first visit to the gallery. I went there because they have a large selection of Canadian artists’ works on display to help celebrate Canada’s 150 and perhaps inspire me. I was not disappointed.

In the gallery you can see may examples of Canadian artists’ works, from indigenous works to traditional to the Group of Seven up to the present. I also enjoyed viewing some international pieces from Europe and the US but my focus was Canadian artists. There were so many pieces to explore but I will limit this post to three that truly inspired and touched my soul.

 

I decided to take a tour and one of the first paintings I say was by Robert Harris entitled “The Meeting of the School Trustees” 1885. When I saw it I immediately recognized it from an old Heritage Minute vignette. It was amazing to see this painting in person considering I have seen it on television in commercials as a child.

 

“The Meeting of the School Trustees” Robert Harris 1885

 

The next piece was not a painting but a sculpture by Elizabeth Wyn Wood entitled “Passing Rain” carved 1929. When I entered the room I immediately was drawn to it. It was very familiar and I learned from the tour that she was inspired by the Group of Seven depictions of the Canada’s natural landscapes and created something similar yet unique. When I saw it, it reminded me of the Art Deco style of straight lines and smooth cures. It truly is an inspiring piece.

 

“Passing Rain” Elizabeth Wyn Wood, carved 1929

The third is actually two paints created by Christine Pflug entitled ‘Kitchen Door in Winter II’ 1964 and “Kitchen Door and Esther” 1965. These two painting were painted a year apart and was not meant to be a pair. Yet when I saw the first painting of the African doll and all the imagery around it being cold, dead and outside, I could not help but think of the civil rights movement. Some how this doll represents the African community being left outside, having barriers to overcome to come inside. Then in contrast the second shows a little Caucasian girl reading a book in a warm green open environment. I could not help but see that the artist painted the image with small clues of openness all around the painting. The opening in the trees to reveal the sky, the open book, the open door and the open cabinet door to the upper left. It almost suggests that this little girl has more opportunities that the other African doll would have. That society is more open for her. Experts don’t think that these paintings were meant as messages about the civil rights movement. Yet considering the imagery and they were painted in 1964 and 1965, right the middle of the movement, an argument can be made.

 

 

There were so many different and inspiring pieces that I cannot comment on all of them, however, I was able to take pictures.   Below you can see some other spectacular examples of both Canadian and international artists that is on display at the National Gallery of Canada that can entice the soul and inspire the mind.

 

 

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Friday Two Cents: Canada 150 Ottawa Trip – The Royal Canadian Mint


 

This past week I visited a familiar place that I love going to over and over again; our nation’s capital Ottawa.

I have been to Ottawa many times but every time I go there I am filled with patriotism and pride for my birth country Canada. I have been to most, if not all, of the museums the city has to offer like the War Museum and Parliament Hill. One of the places I visited was Royal Canadian Mint.

The Royal Canadian Mint

At the mint I was able to go for a tour, yet you cannot take pictures inside because even though the outside looks like a castle, inside it is a working factory. Once inside they showed us the process of transforming bricks of gold, silver and platinum into investment and collector coins. They have a forge that melts down the metal, presses, cuts, weights, inspects and stamps the coins. It was a very informative tour and an impressive process.
However, I also learned a lot about the mint that I had not known before. I found out that the mint also produces coins for other countries. They estimated that they have produced coins for over 60 countries. Not only coins but the mint also created the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympics and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Para Pan Am Medals. They had examples of the Olympic medals on display and I learned that each medal has a part of a larger image. If you place all the medals beside each other they create an aboriginal artwork of an orca and the Paralympic medals of a raven. Not only that but the medal are in a wavy shape to represent the mountain range in British Columbia. Inspiring!

The 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games Medals

They also told us about their purity of the gold. Most gold in the world is pure to 99.99 (99.99%) or four 9s. But the Royal Canadian Mint can get a purity of five 9s or 99.999. They showed us the largest, purest gold coin in the world. It has a face value of $1,000,000 CAD. The Australians have a larger gold coin but theirs’ is only 99.99 pure. The Canadian coin is 99.999 pure and they made only 5 coins, which a few individuals and companies bought them. But because they are also collectors’ coins their value has gone up to be worth about $4 million and it keeps going up in value. One was stolen from a Berlin museum in March and its whereabouts are currently unknown. Another one of the owners is a billionaire from Saudi Arabia. They say he uses is as a coffee table. Must be nice to have money eh.

Canadian 1Million dollar Gold Coin

After the tour I was even able to lift a bar of gold. Mind you it was chained to the platform and a security guard was right beside it. If you ever get a chance to lift a bar of gold, try it. The first thing that I noticed was that the gold was soft to the touch like lead or hard clay but metallic. Also it was extremely heavy. One bar of gold weights 28 pounds and with the price of gold I was holding about $725,000 CAD or $575,000 US in my hands. I can now say that I have held over a half a million dollars in my hands, WWWOOO what a rush. Gold rush, that is.
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