What happened to Facebook?

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As an ESL teacher, I am sometimes caught in a time warp. Of course, teaching people younger than I am is always going to expose a generation gap, but actually it is the textbooks that are a bigger culprit.  This is probably because of the pictures they use or topics they use for context in whatever grammar or vocabulary I am tasked with teaching.

In a previous text, the theme of the unit was nostalgia. This is certainly a worthy topic with people my age, but doesn’t seem to make a dent in younger people.  If your world is less than twenty years old, why would you care that a cell phone used to be “the brick”?  With the pace of change, things five years ago are nostalgic for them.  In that span of time, they have probably changed their cell phones three times, gained and lost thousands of “friends”, and shared more pictures than I probably took throughout my entire teenage years.  They have also seen the rise and fall of several social media platforms, and already abandoned them.

I had tasked my students with writing profile paragraphs, and gave them a variety of contexts. Some chose work profiles, and a few chose social media ones.  When I asked them which sites they used, they all answered “Instagram and Twitter.”  I, naively perhaps, asked “What happened to Facebook?” After the snorts of derision calmed down, they explained that they still had it, but couldn’t remember the last time they posted anything there.  They also went on to explain their various “friending” policies on Instagram.  I won’t bore you with any of the responses.  All I can say is that I wish they put that kind of mental effort into their studies.

I can certainly understand the appeal of Instagram for my students. They are travelling and they’ve got lots of pictures to show people at home.  I have used it for that purpose as well and I suppose it is less clunky than other sites.  In the past year, I have started using Instagram and I have to admit that it is nice to see those hearts pop up.  However, I am much happier when I see that it has managed to send viewers to my blog–where my real passion is.

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Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, nostalgia, social media, students, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Your Phone Dies

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Last week, my phone stopped working. While it did affect me from a texting perspective, it didn’t really affect me from a phone perspective because very few people call me.  Actually, few people text me either, but those few people text me often.  It did, however, affect me in other ways.

First and foremost, I couldn’t check my WP stats when I was away from my computer. I have come to really seeing (slight/rare) upticks in my stats when I at work.  I have come to enjoy reading people’s comments even though I don’t have time to respond and wouldn’t relish typing out a thank you or a longer comment on my phone keyboard.

Secondly, there are several work functions that don’t require a smart phone, but are surprisingly much easier on the phone than the computer. These include logging in our work hours and receiving email about students or administrative tasks not done.  Actually, the last one isn’t really that important and can be somewhat badgering, but it is seemingly easier for the office staff to harass us this way than face to face.

Getting a new phone was a more difficult task for me than I had anticipated. It wasn’t a dilemma between the newest iPhone and the latest Galaxy something or other.  I have no real use for a super high-end phone that requires massive data plans.  However, I do seem to agonize over whether I got a good deal or not.  I have a similar dilemma starting to brew as I contemplate replacing my aging computer.  Second guessing anything you have done is so much easier these days.

Oh, and once I activated my new phone, my old one started to work perfectly normal again.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bargain, decisions, dilemma, email, ESL, shopping, smart phone, teaching, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rolling Up the Rim to Support a Friend

roll up2If you’re not Canadian, you may not have heard of the promotion** from one of our most ubiquitous coffee shops called Roll Up The Rim. If you are Canadian, you’ve been inundated with it since February.  Basically, if you buy any size coffee, tea,  or hot chocolate, you can win some nice prizes; like a Jeep, or cash, but most likely will win a free cup of coffee or Timbits.

Being somewhat frugal, having lots of coffee beans from my vacation, and preferring coffee out of my china mug, I do not take part too often in this contest. That is not to say I never do, just that it is infrequent.  Some others live for this event and even keep track of their “winning and losing records”.  At my doctor’s office, they have a whiteboard to keep track.  The fact that this coffee shop is across the parking lot from them probably doesn’t help.

Recently, while at a totally unrelated fast food franchise on my way back from watching We Will Rock You (featuring the music of Queen) at a casino stage, I found one of these winning Roll Up the Rim tags on my table. Having seen no one leave the table, I didn’t really know what to do with it.  I wouldn’t really call it a moral dilemma, but I wasn’t the actual winner.  In the end, I treated it like a found penny.  (Since we no longer use them in Canada, I am not sure that analogy is apt).

Yesterday, a friend was having a bit of a rough day. I was at a bit of a loss as to how to cheer them up.  Then, I remembered the winning slip half-forgottenly tucked into my wallet.  I used it to purchase them a hot chocolate.  I also secretly hoped that the cup would produce a winner for them.  Sadly this was not the case, but the anticipation while unrolling the rim was pretty good.

Now, chocolate doesn’t fix everything. Even completely and truly free chocolate doesn’t fix everything.  I know that.  However, being supportive and listening while drinking the hot chocolate seems like a pretty good thing.  Though the cause may be negative, I won’t even hesitate to call it Today’s Perfect Moment (yesterday).

**As the company now has locations outside of Canada, some of you will have heard of it, but I doubt it has reached the epic proportions it has here.

Posted in anticipation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, contest, music, Tim Hortons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Advice from the Family

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This picture has nothing to with the blog, but since winter hasn’t loosened its grip, I thought I would just include it here as a reminder to myself.

I am not sure how it came up, but my family were talking about my blog. Of course, they weren’t talking to me, but amongst themselves.  While they weren’t being critical, they were expressing their opinion about the topics of my recent blogs.  Thankfully, no one in my family can keep a secret and they will most likely replay these conversations word for word–or what they think they think is word for word (with a bunch of opinion and asides tucked in).  It shouldn’t bother me that sometimes they “mishear” or “misunderstand” each other (No, I will not use the oft-quoted “mis-remembered”).

It seems that my sister thinks I have veered away from Today’s Perfect Moment–a topic which she appreciates. She believes I am writing about other things and that she would like me to get back on message–or she’s just looking forward to me getting back to those positive and uplifting moments that this blog was built on.

When I first heard these comments, I was a bit surprised. If I am writing about it, unless otherwise stated, it is probably Today’s Perfect Moment, or a collection of Perfect Moments.  For example, when I am on vacation, there are likely to be a whole pile of Perfect Moments.  When I am writing about my workday….there might only be one.

Then I started thinking, maybe I haven’t been explicit enough with declaring it Today’s Perfect Moment. I clearly state when it isn’t a Perfect Moment, maybe I haven’t done enough lately to remind everyone that what I am writing about is Today’s Perfect Moment.  I might have let that slip.

A consistent message is more effective than a random one.  If I am looking to build a successful brand, I should take the advice to heart.  Of course, how one defines success is relative.  I used to think that it was the number of followers and the amount of free stuff you could bring.  Now, I define success as the connections made between people and the quality of the writing I can produce.  One comment from a reader goes a long way.  One sentence that I am really proud of goes a long long way.

I should also admit that, at first, in the spirit of true familial competition, I was tempted to throw down the gauntlet and tell my sister that it was My Blog and My Rules! However, based on what I have written above, that position seems rather silly.  I can’t claim to be writing about Today’s Perfect Moments and then tell people that I will do what I want.  I want to write about Today’s Perfect Moments and I want people to find happiness in that.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of being a blogger.

Is your blog following the path you set out for it?  Are you still on the same message, or have you found an even stronger one?

Posted in accomplishment, adapting, adversity, advice, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, branding, building a brand, competitions, compliments, family, growing your blog, increasing blog traffic, opinion, success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rejecting the Predictable

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These days, if you’re hungry and you’re not looking for a fancy sit down meal, it’s pretty easy to succumb to a fast food choice, or maybe a fast casual choice. Its taste will be predictable and there is something comforting about it.  I’ve done it lots of times.  It just isn’t adventurous.

On Friday, on the recommendation of a friend, I ventured somewhere I had never been before. I stopped at a restaurant that offered a variety of sandwiches.  I could tell from the moment I walked in that this wouldn’t be a Subway clone.  It was something totally different.  It wasn’t beautiful, but I could tell that the people working there were passionate about what they were doing.

From the variety of burgers and sandwiches that included tongue and brain, I chose a more pedestrian chicken sandwich. When I caught sight of the size of the buns, I knew I would be full and have no need of any dessert.  I also considered that maybe I wouldn’t finish it all.  Had it been a weekday other than Friday, I would have considered saving half for lunch the next day.

I am not sure that the picture I took can convey how good my sandwich tasted. What I can tell you is that the bread had the right amount of outer crispiness and the inside had the right amount of soak up the sauce and toppings softness.

I was going to conclude the post right there, but I thought I had better explain that I managed to completely devour the sandwich. I wouldn’t want you to think I couldn’t hold my own in an all-you-can-eat situation.  I should also tell you that I am going back to that restaurant….soon.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, delicious, eating, ethnic food, food, food blogging, perspective, restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Remarks on the Passing of Time

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In truth, I have no Perfect Moment for today. As a result, I will have to cling to yesterday’s Perfect Moment that I wasn’t able to write about because I needed a bit more time to process.  Thankfully, it is a pretty good one.

Yesterday, a friend I hadn’t seen for several years was at my workplace. She occasionally drops by in her capacity as assessor, but the last few times I have been on vacation, or circumstances prevented us from meeting.

Our time was brief, but it was amazing how much we reconnected in that short time. At the same time, it made me realize just how much time had passed.  We remembered so much about each other, but so much had changed.  We had quite a bit of updating to do.

The thing about my job is that many people come and go. There is a whole world to teach English to and so many places to explore.  Some of these people return frequently, some at odd intervals, and others just disappear completely.  I used to find it odd, but now I kind of embrace it and look forward to it.  Oddly enough, the ones that reappear at odd intervals interest me the most.

Of course, many of the conversations I get into with these returnees are less about teaching methodology and more about other people we know or might have crossed paths with in the interim–even if these paths are halfway around the world. For ESL teachers, it really is a small world.

Posted in adapting, adventure, adversity, appreciation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, friends, friendship, passion, teaching, time | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drinkable Souvenirs

IMG_20190305_101329947I cannot decide whether it is merely luck or a subconscious design on my part, but every region I have visited in the past two years (granted, it hasn’t been that many) produces some fantastic coffee. As a result, besides stamps or art, the souvenirs I have chosen have been bags of coffee beans.  Obviously, I can’t keep them forever, so they might not be an ideal souvenir from that perspective.  However, they do make a nice treat for me.

This morning, I decided to make myself some coffee from my latest trip to Costa Rica. I haven’t been back for that long, but looking at the photographs, seeing the group posts on Whatsapp, and seeing some fantastic pictures on Instagram again made me feel nostalgic.  The only solution was to brew up a cup or three.

Posted in art, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beverages, coffee, Costa Rica, drinks, memories, memory, souvenirs, stamp collecting, stamps | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Well Done Everyone

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It was a great surprise to me, but perhaps not to most of you,  but yesterday’s post on editing and errors generated a lot of great comments.  I had believed that I alone had the inability to easily spot and correct my errors.  I thought that it was only I who had that maddening blind spot.

This post, which is not officially Today’s Perfect Moment, though it certainly could be, is written in thanks to all of you who took the time to read the post and comment. I appreciate it.  It is quite reassuring that I am not alone in this.

Thank you.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, editing, growing your blog, help, increasing blog traffic, knowledge, mistakes, positive comments, starting a blog, thanks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Typing Through the Typos

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Dear readers and members of the WordPress community, I need your help.

Let me explain. As of late, a friend has been pointing out the numerous typos and errors that I have been making while writing these posts.  Sometimes I am informed early enough that few readers are affected.  However, sometimes, I cannot get back to the post to correct the horrible mistakes early enough and my readers are exposed to my brutal butchery of the English language.

I don’t know whether I am making more mistakes lately, or if my friend is getting better at spotting my mistakes. Neither answer will leave me particularly satisfied, so let’s shelve it for a moment.

Being aware that my work has come under increased scrutiny, and genuinely wanting to be better, I tried hard to do a better job on the second most recent post. Instead of hitting “publish” quickly after I finished the last post, I let it “rest” for an hour before I went back over it.  I thought that this would be similar to “fresh eyes” on the task, or at least a more thorough look.  I had hoped this would do the trick. I hoped I would be able to look at the words as an objective reader.  Sadly, the result was not any better and I had to go back and fix my typos after it had already been published.

So, I am asking you your secret. How do you avoid making mistakes with your writing?  How do you edit your work?  Is there a way for you to look at your work as if it wasn’t your work?  Any tips or tricks, any helpful advice would be appreciated.

I’ve looked over this work, but I suspect my readers will find mistakes that I have made.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, editing, growing your blog, mistakes, travel writing, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Following Through

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I am not sure there is anything more disappointing than a person who promises something and then doesn’t follow through on it. Okay, there are lots of other disappointing things.  Your sports team doesn’t win.  You miss the bus……I could go on.  However, being disappointed by false promises is somehow more irksome.  Luckily, my friends are not at all like this.

The truth is, though, that this kind of disappointment happens often enough that we build up some immunity towards it. We somehow shrug it off, regardless of how much it hurts us.  Later, in quiet hours, we might lament it, but we’ve come to expect it.

Today’s Perfect Moment celebrates the opposite. Today’s Perfect Moment celebrates those rare times when people actually do what they say.  Does it restore my faith in all of humanity?  Sadly, no.  However, it does help.

One of my students from France promised to bring some kind of chocolate bread they serve for breakfast at his residence for all his classmates (and presumably the teacher).  He mentioned this, but my calloused soul did not expect him to follow through.  My hardened soul expected no treats and no explanation or apology.

Surprised is how I would describe myself when he unveiled a heap of these things just as break time started.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, breakfast, chocolate, comfort food, delicious, ESL, food, food blogging, promises, students, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments