Why Not to Hate Valentines Day

Valentines Day is equally as loathed as it is loved. There are movies about people who hate Valentines Day and parties for people who hate Valentines Day. People will tell you things like, Valentines Day is just another consumer cash grab or that Valentines Day is only for people who are in disgusting love or that it sucks to be single on Valentines Day.

These people are all wrong. Unless you are entirely alone and lonely, meaning you have no friends and will see no humans or even dogs on Valentines Day (in which case I am very sorry for you and I wish someone would just find you in your hole and give you a cookie and lick your face) then there is no good reason to hate this day of chocolates and flowers when the colours red and pink are happiest together.

 

  1. You will get a treat. Kids like Valentines day because it means chocolate! That stands no matter how old or alone you may be. People carry around chocolates and cookies and candies and it’s almost a given that you will get your hands on at least one of them at some point during the day.
  2. It is an opportunity to tell your friends and family that you think they are awesome.  It is a fallacy that you need a hot date to have a Valentine. Mom’s make great Valentines too.
  3. Saying the word happy over and over has good effects psychologically.
  4. You don’t need to buy any presents but you can if you want.  Home made presents like brownies and pop-up cards are equally as awesome as boxes of chocolates and store bought valentines with pictures of trains saying things like “I choo-choo-choose you”.
  5. It is the punniest holiday of all. See train quote above.
  6. If for some reason this day does make you feel sad, you at least have a good excuse to treat yourself!

    My Punny Valentine

Some Ideas for Making Valentines.

How to make a pop-up card:

Take a piece of  paper. Fold it in half.

Take another piece of paper. Fold it in half. While it is folded, cut a few straight lines about an inch long at the fold. Open up the paper to 90 degrees. Push the little cut bits out so they fold the opposite direction. Glue the cut paper inside the other folded paper with the cut bits ‘popping out’.

 

Fold another piece of paper in half. Cut a fish-hook shape beginning and ending the cut on the folded edge. Unfold to make a heart shape, or cut out whatever other shape you like. My favorite pop up card had a Snakes on a Plane theme.

 

Glue this shape onto the “popping out” bits on the inside of the card. This will make the shape pop out from the rest of the card in 3D!

 

Voila!  Add your own super cheesy message and pass it on to see the look of joy on another persons face.

Happy Valentines Day.

Masthead photo courtesy of @damoward

 

It’s kind of a funny story…

Last night was a weird and wonderful one. So, I arrive home – chatting on the phone – to find my lovely wife, Michelle Burtnyk-Horn, in the living room working away on her computer. I hang up, give her a kiss, and she says, “I got bread on the way home.” (We’re super-romantic, by the way). And I reply, “Oh, that’s funny, because I got bread yesterday.” Michelle chuckles and says, “Where is it?” And I said, “In the freezer.” And then all I hear is laughter.

Here’s why:

Coincidence, connection or conspiracy? You decide!

Oh, it got funnier. We also bought delicious Apple Fig Bars, too – they’re a delectable impulse purchase at the counter of Kea Foods on Main Street.

Long story short, we each bought the same thing at totally different times without talking to each other about it.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

The Facts:

FACT: I bought Uprisings sourdough light rye bread and a package of apple fig bars from Kea Foods at 6:17pm on January 3, 2012.

FACT: I purchased the apple fig bars at the checkout counter because I know that Michelle likes them a lot.

FACT: I originally stopped at Kea Foods for mushrooms and I knew we also needed bread (for the weekend, though, not that night).

FACT: Michelle bought Uprisings sourdough light rye bread and a package of apple fig bars from Kea Foods at 5:58pm on January 4, 2012.

FACT: Michelle bought apple fig bars at the checkout counter because they are delicious. And she was hungry and wanted to eat one on the way home.

FACT: She ate more than one.

FACT: Michelle had no idea that I bought these items the day before. The bread went in the freezer. The apple fig bars went in the cheese-drawer. And I cooked dinner, so I was the only one in the fridge on the evening of Tuesday, January 3, 2012.

FACT: Michelle and I rarely shop at KEA Foods.

Testimonials:

 

“We just laughed and laughed and laughed. And then we hugged and jumped around a bit, you know, because we’re huge nerds. I mean, in our lives, this is pretty exciting stuff! It’s weird how it all came together, though, because neither of us said anything about it to the other – not an ‘I’m gonna get bread’ or anything. Like I said, weird. I guess it’s just our loving superconnection!”

- John Horn

“Despite the fact that neither of us routinely shop at KEA foods or purchase those items, it – oddly enough – didn’t seem that odd that we had purchased the exact same items. I mean, as John said, we do have a super awesome love superconnection! That being said, this occurance definitely warranted jumping, laughing, and examination on a world-renowned blog*”

- Michelle Burtnyk-Horn

Theories:

  • The Great Minds, Deep Love Theory:
    • Everything is connected. We all consist of protons and electrons and stuff.
    • Michelle and I have an uncanny mental connection.
    • Our minds, like our connected hearts and souls, work as one.
    • Each of our brains simultaneously informs the other of our intentions, thus, periodically, creating “double-up” anomolies wherein each person carries out the same thought independently of the other person.
  • The Boring Routine Theory:
    • We do the same thing so friggin’ often that our stale routine (unlike the delicious sourdough light rye) has trapped us in an inescapable rut.
    • Saying we need to “shake things up” is an understatement.
  • The “Big Sourdough” Conspiracy Theory:
    • It’s simple. The Sourdough Industrialists are controlling our minds with their delicious, delicious product. They have a plan. And it involves enslaving the world.
    • Bakers are merely the minions of this unstoppable doughy juggernaut of a world domination scheme.
  • The Total Coincidence Theory:
    • The universe is random and cruel hilarious and bestows wonderful surprises of bread and figs upon its inhabitants!
  • The Hidden Meaning Theory:
    • There’s something more to this than we know…like Michelle and I are going to have twins…or two sets of twins.

So, what’s your theory?

Whatever the case, this is just another story that shows how important it is for people to appreciate the little things in life. After all, such a silly moment of joy was a marvelous muse for the evening!

*This claim refers, of course, to The Daily Gumboot. “World-renowned” claim according to John Horn, Kurt Heinrich, and their parents

 

Love, Equality and a Small Island

There’s a little place right down the bottom of Australia called Tasmania. It’s the tiny island that everyone always forgets about when they draw a map of Australia, and it’s the state that Australians love to publicly ridicule for being a little bit backwards when it comes to, well, everything.

But this week, Tasmania surprised us all when it became the first Australian state to have parliament formally pass a motion in support of same-sex marriage. Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim summed up the motion by eloquently stating “we should value difference and diversity, and devalue discrimination”. Not a bad motto to live by.

There’s absolutely no legislative force behind the motion, primarily because marriage is legislated by the federal government in Australia, but it is arguably a very important gesture. To put the motion into context, homosexuality in Tasmania was only decriminalised in 1997. That’s right, 1997.

The same-sex marriage debate has saturated the Australian media and political debate for most of the year, and there has been an outpouring of commentary on the issue encompassing everything from the ridiculously detailed to just plain ridiculous.

The debate has illustrated that despite a considerable amount of Australian law mandating that there should be no discrimination against sexual or gender minorities, there is still considerable political reluctance to afford same-sex couples the same symbolic rights as heterosexual couples.

Recent polls have shown that up to 68 per cent of Australians are in favour of formalising same-sex unions, which is a pretty good indicator that the politicians are (shock-horror) out of step with the will of the Australian community.

I’d say that most of the 68 per cent of Australians that support marriage equality understand that the debate is not about religion or the institution of marriage, it’s actually about community and our democratic choices.

In a democratic secular society, if we are all going to participate equally in the community, then we all need to be able to exercise the same choices. And the choice to get married to someone that you love regardless of gender seems like a pretty damn important choice to me.

On Helping: the Story of a Wedding Community

So I just returned from my sister’s wedding on Gabriola Island (thanks for the masthead photo, Yorick_R), which was a gorgeous event and a true celebration of community. Because everybody helped.

I’ve been to potluck-style, informal, hippie, semi-communist, and mostly-anarchist weddings before – this event presented some characteristics of the formerly mentioned weddings; however, it was truly a day (more like a weekend) that warrants its own description. I just threw you a “schema” – a jumping-off-point or frame of reference – for you to better ‘get it’.

Moving on…

As brides and grooms do, my sister and current brother-in-law set the helping tone by doing everything from growing food for the big day to managing rides to and from the island and, most importantly, putting me in charge of Wedding Operations for the big day [Editor's note: I'm totally mostly totally joking about this part, but the development of my people skills and talent for volunteer management had been, my sister told me, in preparation for this moment].

The helping also began with the bride and groom’s parents, who have spent – I exaggerate not – the better part of the past year planning the catering, daily operations and transportation logistics for the weekend wedding. Their helping list included, but was not limited to, the following:

  • Procuring delicious wild salmon
  • Packing their kitchen into their trailer
  • Brewing and bottling delicious beer
  • Brewing and bottling delicious wine
  • Harvesting fresh fruit and veggies
  • Creating from scratch a delicious pancake breakfast
  • And tapping their extensive social network.

Speaking of our family’s social network, it includes a woman named Pam, who is my family’s former doctor and our very good friend. And this wedding had her stamp all over it. From the home-shot/cured bear sausage to the chocolate thank-yous to managing the entire dinner service for 70 people, Pam was an absolute hero for the weekend.

And there many other heroes, too. One of the bridesmaids – with some help from her mom – created all of the gorgeous flower arrangement (many of the flowers came from my parents’ friends’ places in the Comox Valley). A task force of logistical tactitians with impeccable spacial awareness set up tables, chairs, lights, kegs, wine, glasses, dishes, appetizers, and flower arrangements. The majority of guests even pitched in to wash dishes. And, of course, everybody helped to eat the food and drink the drinks. And some did a much better job of this than others.

It was a beautiful thing.

Kim and Ian. You inspired many things on your most special of special days. From heartfelt words to delicious food to inspiring collaboration, your wedding was a true example of how to build community.

Thanks for the memories!

Finding a Job is Just Like Dating – Part 2

The cover photo of the September 2010 issue of Job Postings Magazine

Summary of Where We Are

Recently, friend and colleague Kimberley Rawes and I delivered the first chapter of a two-part series on Your Career as Dating. It was an amazing experience and positive reviews, speaking offers and various other accolades continue to roll in. So, after reading the first part of this two-part series, you have used a fantastic pickup line to get a date (or maybe more) and have been offered an exclusive relationship. So what should you do next?

Exactly.

The First 90 Days

This is the make-or-break period for romantic and professional relationships alike. It’s a lot easier to fake it on a date than it is to fake it in a committed, monogamous relationship. Bad habits are revealed. Personality defects rear their ugly head(s). Idiot friends come out of the woodwork. And your Facebook status updates get you in trouble. Here are some helpful hints that will make the first 90 days at work – or at work in a relationship – go smoothly:

  • Secure early wins. While you shouldn’t be making your boss gourmet dinners or planning romantic picnics in romantically secluded romantic places, the non-romantic above-and-beyond mentality of “capturing positive attention” is a must-have for the first 90 Days on the job or in a relationship.
  • Don’t assume anything. You’ll make an ass out of yourself. You need to navigate the department or the office and ask a thousand questions.
  • Keep your head down. Make it about work. If your buddies are buddies they’ll still be around in 91 days. Come in early. Stay late. Don’t go near the Interweb unless it’s part of your job or evening together. Clean gutters or do the dishes. Basically, go above and beyond and showcase the best version of you (thus implying that it’ll be the you that’s around forever).
  • Cross-departmental collaboration. Let’s face it, you are only one part of your partner’s, um, work.  S/he most likely has other “units” of friends and family out there. So, get interdisciplinary and cross-pollinate (not literally, guys) with his/her other stakeholders – discover your team’s pleasure zones. Forming solid relationships with them means creating powerful and influential alliances that will help you in everything from Sunday Night Settlers of Catan games to planning your three year anniversary holiday.
  • Never say no. That’s right, you heard us. For 90 days take this word out of your vocabulary (within reason, folks) and take on as many projects, romantic comedies, monster truck pulls, and family dinners as you can. It will set a precedent, sure, but it will also establish credibility that can be used later for, um, negotiations.

But, even if you do all these things spectacularly, the relationship might not be a good fit, and you break up.

Worst of all are the break ups just after the first commitment. There is all of that “relationship” potential. I mean – you thought that person was “the-one” (maybe at least for now). When you accept an offer and then abruptly leave a company before your start date or a few months in, you don’t leave with the most positive impression. While there may be valid reasons for your early departure, do your best to minimize the damage and avoid these situations in the future.

Getting Promoted…for Life

No other single relationship is more important, you need to figure out how to build a productive romantic relationship with your new special someone as well as manage his or her expectations. This means carefully planning for a series of critical conversations about the situation, expectations, style, resources, and your personal – and mutual – development as a couple. Crucially, it means developing and gaining consensus on where your relationship is going.

But luck and opportunity has a lot to do with your promotion, too. According to Fast Company magazine’s Bill Breen, “A promotion’s context, it turns out, is just as important as the job’s content. Some people are promoted because they’re available — an operation is phased out, a job ends prematurely and the company creates another position. Others (perhaps with more talent) also have the skills but can’t make an immediate move.” Breen’s lesson: opportunity plays a critical role in promotions. Just like with dating. I mean, meeting the right person at the wrong time (like when s/he’s married) is just wrong for everyone!

So, execute spectacularly in the first 90 days of your semi-serious, semi-committed relationship, but also keep in mind that, for everything to happen according to plan, you need to realize that no plan will ever work. Most of the time, relationships of every kind are built by chance. Do you feel lucky?

“But Humans Aren’t Monogamous”

This might very well be true – according to the Recent Findings Institute (and Softpedia), just 3 to 5% of the about 5,000 species of mammals form lifelong, monogamous bonds. As hard as many of us try, we are not penguins or swans or other animals that mate for life. In fact, recent findings from Brainstorm Consulting’s From Learning to Work report show that college and university graduates in Canada expect to have between 7-10 different jobs in their lifetime. Other sources show that the majority of post-secondary graduates will have at least 10 jobs by the time they’re 40! But here’s the funny thing: according to Brainstorm, 53% of post-secondary students want to work at one company for their entire life. Even funnier is this line from Brainstorm’s executive summary of the report: “loyalty is not [the students'] problem, but it might be their employers.” Like pirates, new employees today will leave their ship for a better one without hesitation. In fact, the From Learning to Work report found that 40% of students expect to leave their first job in five years or less. And 70% of ‘em – while hungry for lifelong professional monogamy – have no idea where to look for that relationship. Just like with dating…

So, even if we’re not hardwired to commit for life, we still do our best to force professionally monogamous relationships upon ourselves. According to Devra G. Kleiman, author of “Monogamy in Mammals“, “an emotional bond is a requirement for monogamy.” Whether it’s a relationship with work or pleasure, it seems that people need to care about it/him/her if they’re to stay forever.

In Conclusion

So there it is. From pick-up lines to lifelong commitment, we’ve explored how finding a job is just like dating your way to finding a husband/wife/life-partner. Or Kimberley and I just screwed up your moral compass and you keep making dinner for your boss and spreadsheets for your wife. If that’s the case, we apologize and hope that this powerful metaphor is eventually gotten by you and job seekers everywhere.

Stay classy job seekers.

- Kimberley Rawes and John Horn

Death Metal, Karaoke and a Gong: A Wedding for the Ages

Here comes the bride, BAH BAH NAH NAAAAH! (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Landucci)

It’s been one hell of a wedding season. Not only did our fearless leader, John Horn, marry the sassy and adorable Michelle Burtnyk; pretty much everyone I know either got hitched, participated in some capacity in a hitchin’, or complained about the lack of potential hitch in their life. It was an exciting and, frankly, exhausting time.

While I would never, on pain of social demise, commend any one of my friends’ nuptials over another, there was a featured event in Weddingmania 2010 that struck a chord in my community-oriented heart.

My very good and very unique friends Jenn Van Elk and David Barnes were married over the Labour Day weekend in Duncan, BC. Jenn and David are the kind of couple Gumbooters get really excited about: they’re natural community builders with the ultimate open-door policy. They are generous, down-to-earth, and two of the funniest people I’ve met.

They also have a knack for flying in the face of tradition.

To demonstrate: the festivities featured 11 bridesmaids – each in a dress completely of her choosing – and a mere 3 frightened groomsmen. The bride wore a $50 wedding dress, purchased from a thrift shop, measuring 50 square feet (approx.). She rode to the end of the aisle on her horse. When she gracefully slid off of said horse, the soothing melody that had welcomed the wedding party ceased and the wedding march began. It was, of course, a death metal rendition.

The Karaoke Gods were pleased that night. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Landucci)

During the ceremony the bride and groom had the Justice of the Peace laughing so hard she couldn’t remember her script. After the ceremony, the couple skipped formal photo-taking in order to spend more time with their guests.

The dinner? A potluck. The speeches? Cut short, if necessary, by a gong. The after-dinner entertainment? Some of the best and most painful karaoke I’ve ever experienced. Did I mention that all of the guests were camping on-site, and that the event was held at a 21-acre horse farm? Because they were, and it was.

From start to finish, the event was a testament to the individuals – all of the individuals – involved. Which makes a lot of sense, really.

The Black Swan, site of countless historical karaoke massacres, proudly hosted the Barnes-Van Elk Stag-and-Doe free of charge. (Photo courtesy of Devon Dobson)

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire… wait for it… community to nurture most relationships. We compliment the love we feel from and for our partners with equally strong friendships, and those friendships serve as pillars of support when our relationships grow cloudy. A strong community will rally around a relationship in need, and reflect all of the positive, beautiful things about a couple. And a good couple, much like Jenn and David, form the cornerstone of any strong community.

Instead of adhering to strict traditions that often prove tedious to all parties, the Barnes-Van Elk tribe chose to serve their desires and those of their community.

Camping and a toonie bar kept the cost low for guests, while the potluck made things manageable for the couple. Eleven bridesmaids lightened the load of preparation, but no unflattering bridesmaid dresses were forced upon us. Friends volunteered to DJ, while still more friends sacrificed their dignity on the alter of karaoke. We all gracefully accepted the audible assault of death metal during the ceremony to humour the groom, who spent the better part of his 20s screaming into a microphone.

And, looming over the festivities, symbolic for all of the reasons you’re likely imagining, the gong greatly benefitted us all.

A Hot ‘n’ Sexual Post: Yeow!

“Sexual health is hot this summer!”

Taking care of your sexual health is sexy. That’s the message being promoted as Options for Sexual Health, Canada’s largest non-profit provider of sexual health services, unveils its new ad campaign.

Throughout the summer, you will see the advertisement below (see picture – perhaps squint a little).

Opt’s 1 800 SEX SENSE Line, a toll?free in BC phone and email service, is positioned as a great way to hook up with a clinic or ask a burning sexual health question.

“We wanted an ad that embodies Opt’s whole vision,” says Jessica Peart, Opt’s Manager of
Communications & Governance. “Sexual health is really central to everyone’s life. And we know that
being healthy means a lot more than only the treatment and prevention of disease. Our vision is for a
society that celebrates healthy sexuality, and understands that pleasure is a part that. And when it comes to young people, the ‘just say no’ messages just don’t work.”

To make the excitement over the ad campaign contagious, Opt and Hello Cool World are combining forces
to launch a “Sexy Summer Kissing Contest.” The contest invites people in BC to submit photos of
themselves kissing and promoting sexual health in public places to show just how hot taking care of
yourself and your partner can be. There will be draws throughout the summer for sexy prizes, including a
year’s supply of condoms and lube! Contest info at www.optbc.org; contest submissions can be sent to
contest@optbc.org. A short video about the contest and the making of the ad can be viewed by following this link.

Kissing Means Community!

John and Michelle Bornk! show the BC Community what a healthy, sexy and classy kiss looks like!

Everything about this campaign screams community – creative community! After all, what better way to demonstrate your affection for the favourite person – or, yeow, people – in your life than with a big, wet, sexy kiss? Because, as a wise, apparently-anonymous, person once said, “happiness is like a kiss – it feels best when you give it to someone else.

So, people, find a partner, lover, open-minded-friends, a curious stranger, a pet (we here at the Daily Gumboot are fiercely accepting of all community-minded ideas and viewpoints), or your favourite symbol of Mother Nature and make out hardcore! And, hey, please make sure that both parties want to partake in the kiss. Finally – and most importantly – be safe out there.

In order to get your mojo moving even faster, here are some superawesome quotations about kissing:

  • “The decision to kiss for the first time is the most crucial in any love story. It changes the relationship of two people much more strongly than even the final surrender; because this kiss already has within it that surrender.” (Emil Ludwig)
  • “Kissing is like drinking salted water: you drink and your thirst increases.” (Chinese proverb)
  • “I never thought that love could feel like this – then you changed my world with just one kiss.” (N’Sync)
  • “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” (Albert Einstein)
  • “Soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

So there it is. Now get kissing. And have fun with it!

- JCH