Comic Strips: Hpy Valentine’s Day?


February the month when many search their heart to express how they feel about that someone special.  Yet in this digital world are we getting away with expressing ourselves only through a LED screen?  Do we truly know how to express ourselves without our phones?  With this in mind, it gave me plenty of material to think about for this month’s The Craziest Things.  

In many cases, people cannot live without their phones.  They call, text, surf and play endless games with it.  But has our obsession with our phones come to the point when it replaces our face-to-face interaction with others. How far with this go?  Only time will tell.  

I hope you enjoy February’s The Craziest Things: Hpy Valentine’s Day?

February The Craziest Things
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Friday Two Cents: A Problem Solving Model


In it there are four levels to achieve your goal to solve a problem.  The great thing is that you can use this problem-solving model not just for mathematical problems but also other problems in you may face in your life.  Here is my break down of the model…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote several posts about resolutions and making plans to help you beat the winter blues.  I have always thought that planning out things helps to solve the problems that I face on a daily basis, yet I have wanted something tangible that I can see in black and white to help me explain it to others.  I did find such a piece when I took a mathematics additional qualification course a couple of years ago.  It was in the Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised) document of all places. It is on page 13, figure 1: Problem Solving Model.  

Understand the Problem (the exploratory stage)

This stage should be self-evident.  I cannot tell you how many times I would have students come up to me and say, “I don’t get it.”  Then I would ask, “Did you read the question?”  Most of them would say ‘Ahhh no.’  ‘READ THE QUESTION’ I would say and then look in the question for the pieces you need to answer it.  Others I would rephrase the question to emphasize the important information they may need.  Basically what is the question asking of you: what is the problem?  The best advise I say to people is talk to someone about the problem so you can see it for different angles, especially after you read it several times.  

Make A Plan

Is there another situation that you may have seen a similar problem?  I tell students don’t try and reinvent the wheel.  Or in other words don’t start from scratch look at another situations where you solved a similar problem and try and rework it for this situation.  In essence, “Make a Plan”, think of a strategy you used before and use that plan.  Tweak the plan to fit your needs.  

Carry Out the Plan

Put you plan into motion.  Draw, write, use objects to help you visualize the plan and then implement it. Use different tools to make you plan work, monitor it and make adjustments when needed.  If you planned for something and you don’t need it, don’t use it. Why waste time and energy when you do not need it. 

Look Back at the Solution

Check you results, go back to the question to make sure that it actually answers it.  Does it make sense?  You have to go through the process again from the beginning to refine you answer or correct any mistakes you may have seen.  Could you get the same result another way, perhaps and easier way? This way you can use that revised plan in the future.  

I created this visual to help myself and others try and visualize how to solve a problem.  Maybe it will inspire other teachers and students to think more about how any problem can be solved so long as you have the tools and desire to make the effort in trying.  Remember what Napoleon Hill once said …

‘Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.’ Napoleon Hill

A Problem Solving Model

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2005). The Ontario curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised). Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/math18curr.pdf

Art Inspiration: Art That Comes Alive As A Tattoo


 I have been asked to create different pieces of art for people on a number of subjects and themes.  Some for professional reasons like a magazine layout or a background for a school play.  For others because they wanted me to show them how something looks like in a drawing like a cartoon character or a student request like drawing a pig.  But nothing is as personal until someone asked me to draw him or her a tattoo.   To be honest I am honoured to be asked to create a tattoo for them.  I created a few other tattoos, mostly for family or family friends yet this person is a colleague and some one whom I respect and consider a friend.   

Kelpies
I have drawn another tattoo for her of her Chinese zodiac animal however this second tattoo was inspired by my resent trip to Scotland with her and others. The land, people and stories so inspired me that I painted and drew many images of this experience.  One such legend or story were about the Kelpies in Scottish lore.  I had the fortune to visit the Kelpies near Falkirk and they were impressive.  They truly are a sight to behold in person. These 30-metre high horse heads rising out of the ground, illuminated in different colours were simply spectacular to behold.  They inspired me to create my version of the legendary creatures.  
This past summer I drew and painted the Kelpies and another Scottish mythical creature, the Unicorn over and over again.  My friend saw the images and asked if I could draw her a tattoo with these legendary creatures.   So I set off drawing and showing her my progress.  We went through several changes and suggestions but they were all worth it.  
The final image has a unicorn rearing on its hind legs with a kelpie in front of it.  The kelpie is modeled after a Thoroughbred horse.  I wanted to show and use a bred of horse that is known for its swiftness. I drew it looking down with a malevolent look, as if looking for it next victim.  The tail is similar to a mermaid but I wanted the look of the tail to have an almost wing like look with ribs along the inside for extra power. 
James IV Coats of Arms
With the unicorn I wanted to show its power and strength.  In Scottish lore it is seen as a powerful creature something a king, nobility or warrior would want.  James IV so wanted to show his strength that he incorporated the unicorn into his coat of arms.  With this in mind I thought of a Scottish warhorse and what better then the famous Clydesdale horses.  They are known for their strength and I love the feathering hair on their legs, which I think is a great touch for a unicorn.   They are also used in British and Scottish Calvary units up into the present. I have him rearing up to show its strength with a tough military look on his face.  I created mains for both creatures to represent flames.  I wanted the creatures to have a swift fiery look about them.  I continued the look into the unicorn’s horn as well.  

Unicorn and Kelpie Tattoo
This was a labour of love for me and when my friend wanted to use is as a tattoo, I cannot tell you how honoured I felt. They remind me of a culture I truly enjoyed and had the good fortune to experience.  Going to Scotland, touching the ground, the plants, the water, breathing in the air inspired me to create. These creatures, this drawing is the culmination of hours of imagining and drawing, trying to bring these noble creatures to life. Having my friend wear them as a tattoo only enhances my love for them even more.  To my friend I say, Thank you.  Thank you, for helping to inspire this and for bringing it to life.   
Inspiration comes to life

Friday Two Cents: Positive Thoughts For The New Year


‘I do expect a lot from myself, but it’s also a balance of being… positive and also pushing yourself.’ Venus Williams

With the beginning of the New Year many people make resolutions to improve themselves in some way.  Many plan to get physically fit, eat better or others to do something they have always wanted to do.  I for one have never made any resolutions because I know I will not follow through on these empty wishes.  I know that true change takes discipline, determination and most important time. Several years ago I came to a realization that I needed to lose weight and have a healthier lifestyle.  I took discipline, determination and time to make them a reality and to be honest I am still working on them. 

Many people forget their resolutions by the time Super Bowl arrives.  That is usually the first weekend of February for those of you who are not into football. If you are one of those people I have found something that just might help you make some long-term changes in your life that is more effective than a spur of the moment resolution.  These tips come from Dr. Joan Borysenko – author of Inner Peace for Busy People: 52 Simple Strategies for Transforming Your Life. 
Take a few hours to envision your life.  A good way to do this is to imagine yourself at 90 looking back at your life and taking stock.  Then ask yourself these questions:
  • What matters most to me?
  • What did I learn in my life?
  • How do I want to be remembered?
  • Are there things I wish I’d done but never got around to?
From these write down your answers in 6 major groups relating to; family, friends, faith, finances, fitness and work. One example in the area of fitness, when you are 90 you won’t care that you have strong leg muscles but you will care that you can walk to couple of blocks down the street to the store. 
They say use a real notebook instead of typing these down in a computer.  This way you can look back at the answers and keep tabs for the year.  Also for most people when you write things down they become more real.  Think about it.  When someone tells you a phone number you retain it more if you write it down. 
Then one final tip is to find ways to use your talents to help others.  If you are a good storyteller, read to children at the hospital.  Make a positive influence in someone’s life. One of the best ways to increase your health and happiness is to make a positive difference in the world.   Sometimes it starts with your way of thinking.  

Which type of person are you?

As Willie Nelson once said …

‘Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.’ Willie Nelson

Friday Two Cents: A New Experience In Niagara


Christmas week for many people is a busy week.  Meeting with family and friends, preparing special meals and of course eating too much.  As a supply teacher this week is a welcome respite from the daily grind of working with students.  Not only teachers enjoy the time off, but also I have observed that students as young as kindergarten age needing this break in their routines. 

On that note I decided to get out of Toronto for a couple of days to help centre myself.  One of my favourite places to go to simply “get away from it all” is the Niagara region. They have many different diversions yet my favourite of them is visiting the local wineries.  I have been to a great many and this year I discovered a new winery that recently opened last year.  

At Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery

Opened in June 2017, Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery is in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.  When you arrive you can see a modern building based on the design of a regional barn.  Inside though is a modern layout wonderfully decorated with photos of Wayne Gretzky’s hockey career.  Yet what impressed me was the skating rink just outside and behind the building. Beside the rink is a patio with a bar and a place to rent skates for both adults and children.  It was amazing to see parents and children skating around the rink while others sat at the outdoor patio bar with a hot chocolate. 
This is where the tour began and we were treated to home-made hot chocolate but with a special shot of cream whiskey that they make on the premises. It was delicious and a wonderful way to start the tour.  Nothing screams Canada more than hot chocolate outside in winter, beside a skating rink.  I know a lot about the wine making process, yet the tour was informative about how they make whisky and I learned a great deal. 
I asked the question, “Why do we spell whisky with a ‘y’ and others spell it with an ‘ey’?”  His answer was countries without and ‘e’ in their name use ‘y’ and those with use ‘ey’. Examples include Canada & Scotland ‘whisky’; United States & Ireland ‘whiskey’.  Yet another also mentioned that it might have something to do with immigration. This by the way is my theory when I asked the question.  Many Scottish people migrated to Canada and thereby we use whisky like them. Alternately a lot of Irish migrated to the USA who uses whiskey. 
Whatever the reason you cannot deny the results.  I am more of a wine and scotch drinker but I do enjoy a good Canadian whisky, which Wayne Gretzky’s whisky is up there with the best of them. If you are ever in the Niagara region I recommend a visit and of course, ‘a wee dram’, you know for the vitamins.  Enjoy!!

 

Friday Two Cent: Kindness During Christmas 


In the past couple of weeks I was able to supply in several different classrooms. With the Christmas season upon us it was a great opportunity to read my favourite Christmas story,  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas By Dr. Seuss

If you are not aware of the story I strongly recommend you read it or more importantly share it with a young person in your life. It tells a tail of a person “The Grinch” who hates Christmas and in the end decides to steal it from the town near his home. He thinks that if he takes all the decorations, the food and presents that he will have stopped Christmas from coming. Yet the town’s people still celebrate Christmas without any of the stuff associated with it. The Grinch realizes that Christmas is not about the material gifts, food or decorations. That there is something more about this holiday, more than all the hype and acquisition of stuff. Perhaps this holiday is about being with family and people we love and care about; it’s about something more.
I have always enjoyed this story at Christmas because for me the giving and receiving of presents, is not what Christmas is all about. Even at a young age I thought that Christmas has become too materialistic, too commercial. I read this story every year and it helps me to remember the important parts of Christmas. It is about being with people I care about and the good feelings that are shared with them. It is about my traditions and faith that comes from my family and friends. No matter how upset I am during this time of year, I try to see that there are others out there worse off and I thank God for the blessings that I do have.  It is not always easy. I have had Christmas’s were I was downright miserable. But I try to see past these troubles, to see the joy and positive aspects of the season. 
This year I was out shopping for my family and the malls were full of people looking for stuff.  Many seem to be fixated with getting things. Even the students in the school appear to be focused on the material aspects of Christmas.  Everywhere I go there are ads and commercials wanting you to buy stuff.  That if you get more stuff the world will be better.  One perfect example is the “Ugly Sweaters”.  People buy these ugly seasonal sweaters just to say they have one but I say “No Thanks”.  This one example of widespread commercialism that is simply about having stuff.  It looks like this feeling of rampant commercialism appears to be spreading everywhere and sucking the joy out of the Christmas season.  Yet something as simple as an act of kindness happened that renewed my hope in people and the season. 
I was sitting in the food court of the mall having lunch one day, observing all the people rushing this way and that.  One person walked by and dropped a $20 bill near by.  A person at the next table rushed over, picked up the bill and quickly gave it to the person who dropped it.  They were extremely grateful to the person and some nice words were exchanged between the two.  That simple act of kindness not only made the person who dropped the money happy but also the person who helped.  To be honest I too felt good about that gesture and from what I observed of the other people around the area who witnessed the exchange, many of them had smiles too. 
Maybe there is still hope for people in this world.  I should keep in mind, the quote;

 

‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Aesop

 

During that this time of year every act of kindness can have the same effect as ripples from a pebble being tossed into a pond.  So small at first but look how they grow. 

Comic Strips: A Compassionate Benefactor


 

  With the Christmas season in full gear I thought I would throw in a bit of a Christmas twist to the latest comic strip, The Craziest Things.  Many ideas for the comic come from situations that I observe from the students and this month’s is no different.

  There is a wonderful student in the older grade five class who is full of opinions and has no compunction in offering her point of view, especially when it come to politics.  I told her on many occasions that I may disagree with some of her points of view but I love that she has a passion for these issues.  I told her to question everything and do her research so she can be well-informed when stating her opinions, but never stop questioning everything.

  The situation in the comic is a direct result from her conversions and passion for the subject matter.  I hope you enjoy December’s The Craziest Things: A Compassionate Benefactor.

CrazyComicsDec2018

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