Rebuilding and moving forward…

Sometimes your life can be rolling along in the way that you had planned and expected it to go that way forever. Unfortunately, sometimes the universe has other plans for you. Mistakes, accidents, poor decisions, changing health, changing relationships and/or tragic circumstances can shatter your world as you know it. One of my mother’s best sayings, that I always shared with my classes on the first day of each semester, is, “Choose to be happy.” Obviously, that can be more difficult in certain situations but the only thing we can truly control in this life is how we CHOOSE to react to what happens around us. She certainly does not mean that you should be happy in the face of tragedy but the main lesson behind it is that we can make decisions that allow us live a mostly happy life. To a certain degree I always saw this as a guiding principal in how you can regroup after bad things happen. 

I don’t believe that all things happen for a reason but I do believe that good came come from bad. It may not happen quickly and doesn’t have to mean that it “makes up” for what is changed or lost. Obviously, the loss of a loved one, the suffering of a major illness or injury, the end of a marriage, being forced to rebuild a career, etc will never be fully erased but the power of the human spirit is such that we CAN move forward, rebuild and have a fulfilling life. 

I am personally in the process of rebuilding my life after circumstances forced me to move on from teaching and relocate. It has not been an easy or fast process and it is far from complete. However, despite some recent unexpected changes, there is a bright optimistic light at the end of the tunnel. Obviously, there are no guarantees but I am excited at the business opportunities that my business partner and I are working towards. We are very close to being able to “ship it” (means fully open up our company for full service). 

While working for myself wasn’t my initial long-term goal – I thought I’d teach “forever” – it has been exciting, rewarding, offers great opportunity to be creative and has tremendous potential for financial reward. Ultimately, from a financial stand point, I will be extremely happy if it allows me to be comfortable…I don’t need to become the next Steve Jobs. 

One thing I personally needed to do (and occasionally affirm) is to remind myself that I am not my biggest mistake. That cannot and will not define me. I accept and take responsibility for the errors I have made in my life but I know that I am way more than that and I know that I had a positive impact as a teacher and coach for the time I had the privilege to do both.

Wish me luck…

 

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Canadian Justice System…

The mantra of the Canadian Justice System under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has been “tough on crime.” What does that actually mean in practice? The main results of this approach seems to be longer sentences for nearly all criminal offences, less sentencing control by judges due to mandatory minimums and the removal of enhanced credit for pre-sentencing time served or “dead time”, and an increasing over-zealousness by the police and prosecutors to press as many charges as possible and send all suspects to jail respectively.

The practice of increasing sentences for crimes is more of a smoke and mirror show that is used by the government to create an illusion that the general public is safer. The problem is that harsher sentences really have not been found effective in acting as a deterrent to crime that it claims to create. Also, if our main principle guiding the Canadian Corrections System is truly rehabilitation how is increasing punishment working towards that end? As jails get more and more over-crowded due to convicts staying in jail longer providing proper programs to aid in rehabilitation becomes more costly and more difficult. The building of Super Jails and the increased use of segregation at the jail and penitentiary level work to actually make the convict worse off when he/she entered custody than when they came in.

Mandatory minimums have come into law for many of the laws found in the Criminal Code of Canada. This means that criminal laws which hold a mandatory minimum require the judge to include a custodial element (usually 14 or 45 days depending on the seriousness of the crime) to his/her sentencing. This also takes a Conditional Sentence (house arrest, curfew, etc) off the table. Again, this fills the jail with more people. Secondly, the removal of enhanced credit for pre-sentencing time served has removed another tool from the judiciary to take into account the conditions a person has to deal with prior to any conviction or acquittal. Often charged individuals must live in over-crowded jails and sleep on the floor. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Another disturbing trend in the Canadian Justice System is that the police and prosecutors are becoming more and more over-zealous in their pursuit of “justice”. Growing up my understanding of the Justice System was that its goal was to find out the “truth”. However, having seen and experienced the system firsthand I now know that “truth” is a relative term and, unfortunately, open to interpretation and revision. It appears as though the police are willing to charge a person with a large number of charges per incident knowing full well that many of them are irrelevant and will be dropped. Another common practice is the writing up of witness and suspect testimony with changes in the phrasing and wording to more completely meets their needs. Is this the seeking of justice or the chasing of quotas? The Crown Attourneys are along for this ride as they appear to encourage this practice of over-charging as a means to assist in their plea-bargaining. It also seems like Crown Attourneys are pushing more and more for longer sentences and jail time for more crimes. Again, what happened to representing the people in finding the truth?

Overall, we have a system in Canada that has a stated purpose of protecting society and it is better than many systems throughout the world. However, we should expect more from our system than “better than most.” We should expect our Justice System to reflect our values. I don’t think we value locking people up in cages for longer and longer sentences. I don’t think we value taking the power away from our judges and put it into the hands of people who rely on elections. And finally, I doubt we really want a society that allows the police and Crown Attourneys to skim over the truth in order to get a conviction. Lets not be blind and allow this to go on right in front of us. We shouldn’t take joy in seeing things like “Mr. Smith jailed” or “John Smith sentenced to 20 years” without fully knowing the truth.

Panasonic Lumix GH3

Our company has recently purchased the new Panasonic Lumix GH3. It is BY FAR the best camera I have had the pleasure of using. It contains hardware and firmware that used to available only to professionals. We have been able to take stunning pictures and outstanding cinema quality film.

We are a multimedia group of companies that includes Web Design, Corporate Messaging, Online Reputation Management, Wedding photography and video, and Private School Social Media Yearbooks. Through each of these companies we produce videos for use on the Internet (through You Tube and Vimeo), private use saved on DVDs and for use at Corporate Events.

We used to use a Canon which was a very good but was not even in the same ballpark as this new piece of technology. We absolute recommend switching to this camera at your first convenience.

Chris McLister
Co-Founder
Enhanced Imagination

Education System

I was a high school teacher and coach for over 10 years but I have moved on to work on my own. While I certainly enjoyed working with students and coaching football, I am disillusioned with the education system. Unfortunately, education seems to be a slow moving system and is not adapting to the new paradigm. The school system is still based on the needs of the Industrial Age.

The Information Age is well upon us and through rapid technological advancement is constantly changing the way we do things from our day to day activities to our communication with friends and family to what is required of us in the workforce.

Despite what Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! says, it is not required that all workers be together in one place in order to work collaboratively. Video conferencing, file sharing, etc. has allowed for virtual meetings. Therefore, is it necessary or desirable to require young people training to enter the new workforce to sit all together in a classroom for hours on end?

Another issue I have always had with the education system is that it promotes a love of achievement over a love of learning. This creates at least two major problems. Firstly, it stifles creativity by encouraging students to figure out exactly what the teacher wants then reproduce it. Without the rare innovative teacher a perpetuation of the status quo is inevitable. Secondly, a student who really doesn’t value marks as the be all end all of life (myself included) can be left behind as he/she prefers to spend time learning new things that is of interest to them.

Finally, from a curriculum stand point, the current one developed by the Ontario Ministry of Education is very content driven at a time where information is free and easy to access. Therefore, what is the point of testing students on their knowledge of “facts.” Not that content is unnecessary but it should be used to drive skill development.

I am not sure how we go about changing the Education System but it is obvious to this former teacher that the time has come to make drastic changes.

Netflix

Loving Netflix. It is so cool to be able to watch all the episodes of South Park and Arrested Development. I am so excited to see the Arrested Development new episodes and then the movie. It is too bad that viewers didn’t take to Arrested Development like they should have.

Of course, South Park is one of the best shows ever to grace tv. I love the satire. Anyone who ever had me as a teacher knows how much I love it and how good I am at justifying it be used as part of my curriculum. 🙂

BlackBerry vs. iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy SIII

Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on something because I still use BlackBerry. I have a very good Bold with OS7.1 and really like the keyboard over the touch screens of iPhone and Galaxy. I am sure I would get used to the touch screen keyboard but I’m not sure if I’d ever like it as much as the BB keyboard. Also, I like the fact that RIM is Canadian and I’d like to see them rebound. Unfortunately, I just don’t like the BlackBerry PlayBook…it’s too small. I’m holding out on the tablet thing because of the stupid touch screen keyboard too.

Stick with BlackBerry or get and iPhone 5 or 4S? Galaxy S III? Pros/Cons?

Should I get the iPad3+, iPad3, iPad2 or iPad mini? Skip tablets all together?

Has anyone used Mac Mini to develop apps for Apple? Is there any money in developing apps for Apple? How about developing apps for the new Windows 8 format?

Coaching Football

Fall is my favourite time of the year. However, it hasn’t been the same the past 4 years because I haven’t coached football. I coached high school football for 11 seasons (4 as the head coach) and I miss it so much. It became a huge part of who I am. Circumstances have kept me away but I hope that we will be able to get this new company rolling soon so that I can quit the restaurant industry for good and schedule my time so that I can coach again. I would love to coach at the senior high school level again but would be interested in young men’s or men’s level too.

My old team at SCITS finally broke out of years of futility this season with a 2-2 record, a third place finish and their first playoff birth since 2005. I am happy for the school but am disappointed to not have been the coach to bring them back to respectability. I really believe I could have built a strong program there starting in 2009 (the first season I missed). They play my other former school, St. Christopher Cyclones, in the semi-finals. Good luck to both…really miss coaching the Cyclones too.

Big weekend for my favourite football teams. Michigan plays Michigan State and the Chicago Bears play the Detroit Lions…#goblue! #gobears!

Chris