Author Archive

The past several days have been filled with wondrous and blissful moments spent at the cottage. 

The cottage. 

Nestled far away from the daily, chaotic city life that’s seemingly another world entirely.  A desolate place that doesn’t feel like loneliness, but rather one that brings peace and a sense of spiritual cleansing.  A rejuvenation of sorts that reminds you how beautiful the world can be when surrounded by its natural wonders.  The fresh air, pure of any city pollution that makes the night-time sky a beauty to behold with all its shiny white freckles; the indescribable smell of the forest and the innumerable sounds of nature that bring a smile to my face; gathering around the fire pit on a chilly night with smores on hand and good friends to share a laugh with.  It really does feel like you’re living in serenity and being a part of nothing short of a miracle.  

I wanted to share these sentiments with you, along with some pictures to support my adoration for the cottage life.  See you soon!

Welcome to the wild

Paddle Time!

Paddle Time!

Fire Pit And The Night Sky

Just Gorgeous

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

-Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow Of The Wind

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a novel that presents the reader with a fascinating premise: the young protagonist, Susie Salmon, has been raped and murdered.  She tells the reader her story from heaven, as she watches events unfold in the world she still longs to be a part of. 

She observes intently as her parents’ marriage is shattered by the tragedy of her death.  Her mother, retreating to a solitary world with locked and confused emotions; her father, on the relentless pursuit to find her murderer.  Truly, the dynamic of relationships were evidently affected and altered by Susie’s death. 

The reader will be particularly interested in the chilling parts that detail Susie’s killer, Mr. Harvey (that isn’t a spoiler since we know this from the beginning of the book).  While Harvey is certainly creepy, Sebold paints him with too many clichés (loner, socially awkward, strange hobbies) that regrettably limit some potentially interesting character development. 

The book started off with a lot of promise.  Tugging at the heart-strings and evoking a wide range of emotions; there were moments of suspense, comedy, sadness and even joy.  I particularly loved the author’s unique perspective on heaven and thoroughly enjoyed these descriptive episodes throughout the book. 

However, despite a great start, the book started to loosen its grip on me midway through.  Apathy –one emotion that should not be felt with this type of story– made its presence known.  I started to feel as empty as the mother in the story.  I mentioned cliché earlier when describing Mr. Harvey…it turns out most of the characters are showered in cliché after cliché.  Susie’s dialogue was mostly unbelievable and the writing overall, was poorly executed; strange sentences attempting to convey poetry, filled with metaphors that make absolutely no sense.  I was particularly put off by a scene near the end of the story, that has Susie “live” out a fantasy — it felt like the book suffered from an identity crisis at that moment and I was reading something out of a sci-fi novel. 

I am giving it a favourable rating of 3 stars because despite its many flaws, Sebold did a fantastic job of displaying raw human emotions in the face of tragedy.  I would have given it a higher rating if she had capitalized on that and ventured into a more profound territory (with the characters) and stronger writing. 

3 Out Of 5

Mom, I Love You!

Posted: May 8, 2011 in Miscellaneous
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It’s Mother’s Day so I just wanted to say that I love my mother dearly!  She has been an ever-present, never faltering source of support for me since birth.  The best way I can show my gratitude is to continue being the good person she raised me to be.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mommies and nurturers our there!  We’re lost without you.

My Mom

In these difficult days of economic struggle, I am fortunate enough and blessed to have a full-time job.  It may not be the best job, but it is reliable and handles my expenses – most of them.

However, the ever-increasing cost of daily living has me on the prowl for a new job that offers something more on the financial stability front.  The cost of gas and car insurance on the rise along with every other form of inflation imaginable is reason enough to sharpen up the resume and sell myself to the few worthwhile, potential employers out there.

I’ve been doing just that and it finally seems like the effort is paying off.  I have a great government job lined up, but the competition for the available positions is downright ridiculous.  Out of over 1,000 applicants, 500 were called back for the testing phase, with an undetermined number eagerly awaiting a call back for an interview.  The grand total to be hired after interviews?  20!  I’m keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not banking on luck because I think I did badly on the testing portion of the hiring process.  On the contrary, I walked out of that test with my head held high and the firm belief that I’ve scored near perfect on it.  My real problem –and it has plagued me my entire working life— is the interview.  The dreaded, awful, sweat-inducing interview.  THE INTERVIEW.  I shudder at the words as if it were the name of an upcoming horror flick.  The thought alone makes me want to go to the bathroom; no need to pay for ex-lax anymore.

Interviews have always been my “Achilles Heel”, especially ones that are of a panel setting format.  Isn’t it already bad enough to have a face to face with someone who is scrutinizing you and evaluating everything you say and do, from the moment you walk through the door?  Nope, let’s just throw in 3 more suits to interrogate you, Oscar!  Sure, go for it, and cure me of any pending constipation problems for the rest of my life, thank you very much!

Comedy aside, I just don’t know why my nerves take center stage in an interview setting.  I’m a generally confident –borderline cocky— individual with a great attitude and common sense, but none of that comes through when I’m being interviewed.  I turn into a completely different person and I walk out red-faced and angry with myself every single time.  The questions they ask make sense, they register, and I normally know the answer but whatever intellectual response I’ve conjured up in my mind gets lost the moment my vocal cords flex their muscles.  Instead, what comes out is some silly, basic, irrational, short response that wouldn’t get me a job at McDonald’s let alone an upscale government position.  It is a real problem because I’ve lost out on some great opportunities as a result of this phobia.

I was hoping this was going to be a self-help/tips type of entry, but it really isn’t.  I have no answers that would aid me to become a better interviewee because I can’t seem to pinpoint the origin of the problem.  I’m not a MENSA member, but I consider myself an intelligent person.  I’m not looking to strike conversations with random strangers, but I’m most definitely not socially awkward.  So what do I do?  What can I do?  Where am I going wrong and how do I improve?

I understand the need for an interview as a tool to evaluate an individual, but sometimes it isn’t exactly an accurate depiction of how someone will perform on the job.  Maybe I will let them know exactly that the next time I find myself in the cross-examination room.  If I can just find the words to say it in the heat of the moment remains to be seen.

UFC 129 LIVE

Posted: April 30, 2011 in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized
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Sorry no chance to do a proper blog today folks. Been a busy past couple of days with the UFC in Toronto. Yesterday was an eventful day with the MMA Expo and today I’m sitting at the live event, blogging this quickie in-between fights. Hope everyone is having a weekend as good as mine! See you soon.

Hi, my name is Oscar.  And I’m an addict.

My drug of choice is a wonderful little device known as a Blackberry.  Or a “Crackberry”, which is the more appropriate term for the case of this addict.  If you’re a proud owner of a Blackberry as well, you may very well know exactly what I’m talking about.  Oh yes, you know damn well what I’m talking about!

Let me just say that I used to frown at the idea of these so-called smartphones; maybe I’m old fashioned but I was one to say that a cell-phone is just that…a phone!  Why on earth would I need a fancy gadget with all these useless tools, when all I really want to do is just make a phone call?!  Besides, I’m not in the mood to read the in-depth novel that is the instruction manual.  Who wants a steep learning curve when all I really need to do is punch in a few numbers…a simple phone will do just fine.  And screw text messaging!  Boy, was I wrong.

I was introduced to Veronica, my “Blackberry Torch” (yes, I named it…don’t you judge me), in December of last year and we’ve been an inseparable item ever since.  My jealous girlfriend will attest to that fact (ironic because it was a gift from her); she seems to think I neglect her and spend more time on the phone than I do with her.  Silly, right?  Ok, so maybe she isn’t so wrong, but it’s just so pretty, shiny, sleek and sexy…and did I say pretty? 

All joking aside (for now), even though I’m not a techy-nerd, this apparatus is extremely useful!  In an attempt to justify my enamor and infatuation, I’ve highlighted some great reasons for my endless praises:

  1. An organized existence: Need to make and appointment?  Don’t have a calendar handy?  How about alerts to remind you of those pending engagements, meetings or important days?  Well, with a few clicks of your phone, you can do that all and you will never forget your girlfriend’s birthday or anniversary again!  That comes in handy, trust me.
  2. Stay in the social loop/What’s APPening?: If you’re a Facebook and Twitter addict, just download the applications and keep in touch with your circle of friends 24/7.  I happen to love the WordPress application, which allows me to blog directly from the device.
  3. You have mail: Don’t have a computer handy?  No problem!  A Blackberry pushes all your emails thru and notifies you in real-time when you receive new messages – and those annoying forwards.  Sending e-mails is just as easy.
  4. Let’s chit chat: No longer is text messaging the hottest trend.  With a Blackberry, you are part of an elite and exclusive club that comes with its own chatting platform known as Blackberry Messenger, or BBM.  Maybe this one is not that important, but it’s pretty cool to have a phone that comes with a unique identification number and barcode utilized for adding other Blackberry users to your BBM.  Exclusivity is the appeal here folks!
  5. Type away: The “QWERTY” keyboard is a personal preference for anyone that is a Blackberry lover.  I’ve tried phones that are strictly touch keyboard and I find that typos are abundant (and I don’t even have fat fingers).  There is something great about feeling those physical keys and pushing down on them to type out messages.  There is a slight learning curve, but I can type almost as fast as I do on a regular keyboard now.
  6. Real men don’t ask for directions: The Blackberry comes with a very useful built-in map that can get you out of any dead-end!  Who needs to ask for directions or resort to Mapquest when you have a personal GPS right in your phone?  I’m particularly fond of this one because my sense of direction is worse than that of a blind person in the middle of the Sahara.
  7. Say cheese: I used to think that camera phones were over-rated.  Until I realized that most people don’t walk around with their digital cameras; cell-phones on the other hand, are almost always on your person.  I will never miss a spontaneous “Kodak moment” again thanks to my trusty Blackberry!

So there you have it!  It’s not only a material possession; it really does have its useful perks. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to her.  I’m getting withdrawals…

I’ve just discovered this wonderful, quaint, charming village called Giethoorn – known as the Venice of Holland.  Practically all transport, with the exception of a bike trail, is done by water throughout one of its many canals.  Seeing the beautiful pictures is enough to convince me that this is a must see place before I die so I had to share.  Has anyone been?  If so, tell me about it!