Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Toronto Blue Jays Jersey

I bought this jersey a couple of days after Alex Rios was traded from the Blue Jays to the Chicago White Sox.  I was never a fan of Rios, so it kinda sucked that I had to get his name on the back.  But I really wanted a Blue Jays jersey, especially a Jays jersey in vintage powder blue.  The jersey is made by Majestic, a company that has made quality MLB jersey’s for years.  I love this jersey because it’s a pullover jersey without any buttons.  It is made from thick polyester, and the logos are ironed on and then stitched.  This feature is great because it is built to last.  I’m glad I picked this jersey up and hope to add a 90’s version of the Blue Jays jersey to my collection one day.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Unexpected Guest

This morning I went to go drop off a friend at work, and on the way home I noticed that the Remax hot air balloon was flying up above. Then I looked to the other side of the sky and noticed that a Mr. Peanut balloon was also in the air. This hot air balloon looked so awesome in the sky and I really wanted to take a picture but didn’t have my camera with me in the car. Luckily by the time I made it home the Mr. Peanut balloon was heading my way. I ran to go get my camera and by the time I went outside to take a picture, the balloon was landing in a field across my house. Though most people hate guests that show up unannounced, this was one guest that I will always welcome; he made my morning.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


This year I finally achieved a goal I have wanted to do for many years now, which was invest in the stock market.  I first became interested in investing after a high school teacher spoke to the class about it one day.  He said that realistically investing was the only way we could achieve a happy life without money problems.  Like most teenagers, I always assumed that after university I would be making thousands and wouldn’t care about saving for the future.  But that talk the teacher made really hit home, and I looked at my future differently.  Shortly after I started a savings account at my bank, and started to read books about investing.  As the years passed I did keep to a well managed credit balance on my savings and credit cards, but I never invested in the stock market.  The reason for this was because I was too intimidated to do anything.  I felt I didn’t have enough money to invest, or I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to know where to being.

Over time, the years passed and I kept feeling awful that I never did anything.  Then this year I told myself that I needed to get off my butt and finally jump in head first, and learn about investing along the way through trial and error.  I booked an appointment with a bank consultant, and she helped me with my questions and doubts.  That meeting led me to finally invest in my favourite company, NKE (nike).  I chose Nike because I know it’s a company that is run well, that has room to grow, and that is always on a buy list.  Now that it’s been a few months since I bought my stocks, I am finally getting annual reports from this company as a shareholder (booklet pictured).  This was exactly how I wanted to learn about investing, because it being Nike keeps me involved in my investments because I am interested enough to read everything about this company and how it works.  My advice for anyone else who is also interested in investing is to invest in a company that will get you motivated enough to want to know everything about that company so that you’ll always be involved with your investments.
Nike Biz:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Story of Nike

Title: The Story of Nike (Spirit of Success)
Author: Scott Hays
Publisher: Creative Education
This is a children’s book that comes in a hard cover that I really liked because it is very easy to read and it gives a real quick overview story of how Nike was started.  What I really liked the most about this book was most of the photographs it has from Nike. Some of my favorites include pictures of Steve Prefontaine running for Oregon (in Nikes), Michael Jordan in the early days, Phil Knight in his office, Phil with his wife (Penny), and an over head view of Nike headquarters in Beaverton.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Alcoholic

Title: The Alcoholic
Writer: Jonathan Ames
Art Work: Dean Haspiel
Publisher: Vertigo
The Alcoholic is a graphic novel about a man that considers himself an alcoholic.  I picked this book up because I am interested in stories that are mature, sad, melancholy and dark.  I like to read these sorts of books because I find that I can relate to them better than other books.  But what I am looking for the most in these sorts of novels is a solution, a solution on how to escape the dark side and enter the light.  Nobody reads a novel about a person in a dark situation and hopes they never get out of it.  I think we are all optimistic and hoping for a way out.
The story is about Jonathan Ames, a New York City writer and is written in the first person perspective.  It starts off in the year 2001 when Jonathan wakes up in a strange car with a strange old woman that wants to cuddle with him.  Jonathan then starts talking about how he got to that point; beginning since high school.  Overall he deals with the same problems that most teenagers had to deal with, and blames alcohol for most of his problems.  Yet at some point in the story, Jonathan admits that he was never good at drinking and that getting drunk always caused him to vomit.  In fact most of the story is about him dealing with tragedies or self imposed depressions that are common in life, like parents dying, best friends moving away, and girlfriends dumping you.
However all these problems aren’t caused by his drinking, instead he looks to alcohol to escape from these problems, which is common for many alcoholics.  For some reason I just didn’t like this book because it never really showed the dark side of his drinking.  It wasn’t like he lost friendships or went broke because of his drinking.  When I think of how bad addiction to alcohol can be I just picture Nicolas Cage in the movie Leaving Las Vegas, where he loses everything he has in life to alcohol and eventually dies.  Alcoholism in The Alcoholic simply was not a central theme to the novel.  While the artwork is appropriate for the theme of the book, I would have preferred much more dark shades and gritty pictures.  Over all, the book is an amusing story and I wish Jonathan success in life.

Friday, August 12, 2011

National Gallery of Canada: Caravaggio

Besides going to Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill, this year I also went because the National Gallery of Canada had a Caravaggio exhibit.  I have been a huge fan of Caravaggio for years, ever since high school when I took art history.  I love his painting style because he makes people look so real and life-like, and because of the dark and light contrast (creating unspoken emotions).  This baroque style never ceases to amaze me, because I can stare at a painting for hours and still be puzzled at how it looks so real.  I also love how he pulls off such impossible to reproduce bodily poses on canvas.  So when I heard his art work would be on display at the art gallery I knew I had to go.
The National Gallery of Canada is located just a few blocks from Parliament Hill, and has an amazing view of Ottawa from all sides of the building.  On the front of the gallery there is a massive giant spider to greet you as you walk in.  My friend who I went to the exhibit with, told me that there were mixed reactions towards this piece when it was first installed.  I honestly liked the spider because the gallery building seems so serious and intimidating, and the spider adds a spice of imagination towards the area.  Art galleries are meant to be different, abstract, and especially provide you with something to talk about.  I also believe that all art takes a while before we get used to it and find the beauty in it.  I’m sure artists such as van Gogh and Claude Monet must have faced criticism when they first displayed their pieces as well.
Entrance into the Caravaggio exhibit was $15, and it also allowed me to visit the rest of the art gallery.  Unfortunately I was unable to take any pictures and videos of the paintings because of copyright issues.  However I wasn’t totally disappointed because once you see these masterpieces up close and personal, there really isn’t any way else to describe how beautiful they are; you simply need to see them in person.  I was amazed at how close I got to these paintings because I thought they would be behind glass, but they weren’t.  Instead I was able to get so close to them I was able to inspect the brush strokes of Caravaggio.  To me an artist’s brush stroke is as distinctive as a person’s signature, and I was amazed at how such a simple stroke could create such a piece of beauty.  Up close you could see a stroke going one way with a certain colour, and then another way with a different colour; and yet when you move back you see it is a hand or a face that is highly realistic.  Among all those art pieces I felt inspired and I began to understand how the power of art can move a person.
The paintings I remember seeing at the exhibit are as follows:

The Fortune Teller
The Musician
The Lute Player
Boy Bitten by a Lizard
Martha and Mary Magdalene
Sacrifice of Isaac
Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy
St Francis in Meditation

Please excuse me if I left out a painting in this list.  The paintings that weren’t at the exhibit that I would have loved to have seen are ‘Supper at Emmaus’, ‘The Calling of St Matthew’, ‘The Taking of Christ’, and ‘Conversion on the Way to Damascus’ (which is a fresco).  Overall the exhibit is amazing and I would like to thank the National Gallery of Canada for bringing these pieces over.  The exhibit of ‘Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome’ will run from June 17 to September 11, 2011.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa:
Caravaggio Wiki:

Ottawa: Parliament Hill

I grew up in Toronto; Canada’s biggest city.  Unfortunately, my mindset growing up was that the rest of Canada must be boring.  This was because I always watched American television and thought the US was much more exciting.  I was especially attracted to New York City, and any downtown industrial area.  But as I grew up and would visit the US, I started to appreciate Canada more.  I guess it took leaving it for a while, for me to appreciate how much I loved it.  So for the past few years I decided to enjoy my home country more by trying to do as much as I can in it.  I began to garden outside, go skating in the winter, visit museums and galleries, and go to farms to buy locally grown and made products.
However the one thing I still never did was travel around the country.  I guess it was because of lack of funds, and also I didn’t have any friends I could visit.  The only place I did visit when I was younger was Niagara Falls.  That place was beautiful, but I would only go for the day and come back.  So in my mind I still never really travelled anywhere.  But as life goes on and friends move away, I soon started to get friends asking me to visiting them all over the country.  I never took them up on their offers because I always felt mentally paralyzed to travel.  Then this year my friend asked me again to visit her in Ottawa.  I told her I was broke, and she said it didn’t matter because I could crash on her couch.  I then started thinking that there really wasn’t any other excuse for me not to go, and so I bought a train ticket to visit.
I decided to travel on Via Rail because I felt a train would be faster, and I would get to see more of the country side.  I was also hoping to make a video of my train travel experience, from Toronto to Ottawa.  Unfortunately when I boarded the train I sat in an aisle seat and was unable to film anything.  Luckily that was the only misfortune about my trip because everything else turned out perfect.  The weather in Ottawa was nice and sunny, and I didn’t think it was as humid as Toronto.  The people are very friendly and easy to talk to, especially since my friend has a dog that brought me a lot of attention when I walked it.  The city is pretty much the same as in Toronto, except the downtown core has a lot less people, and not many tall buildings. Other great features about Ottawa are Parliament Hill and the rivers and canals.  It must be nice to live there and see that every day.
Besides visiting my friend, I also went to Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill.  Again growing up in Toronto I never really cared about Government, but then I took a Canadian politics class in high school and I became interested.  I like Parliamentary Government because it seems easy to understand (compared to US government) and to do things, and because I found previous Prime Minister’s fascinating and admirable.  So before I went there I decided to do some research about visiting.  I became very excited to learn that tours of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court are provided free of charge, and that in the summer there is a Changing of the Guard ceremony.  Both the tours and the Guard ceremony are amazing to watch, and are very educational.
As if that weren’t enough there are tons of other things to do in the surrounding areas such as visit the museums and galleries, spend a night at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier and enjoy the view, walk around or take a boat ride on the Rideau Canal, or just have a great meal in a trendy area known as ByWard Market.  The Market was one of my favourite places because of the atmosphere; with amazing restaurants, great little boutiques, and a farmer’s market featuring a variety of products.  This was a trip I will never forget and I’m sure I will visit again in the future.  I would also encourage every Canadian and tourist to plan a visit to Ottawa as well.
Parliament of Canada:
Parliament Hill wiki:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Starry Night

A while back, I was planning to go visit a friend of mine for a couple of days who lives in a different city.  However I didn’t have a clue what gift I could bring her.  She’s the type that really doesn’t care about material things, so of course jewellery was out of the question.  She’s more into sentimental things, so I decided to make her a gift.  This idea came to me while I was cleaning out a closet and found a box of paint supplies.  I opened it up and instantly remembered she once bought me those acrylic paints.  So I then decided to paint her a picture.  The only problem was I hadn’t painted in over a decade and had lost most of my skills.
That didn’t deter me though because I was thoroughly motivated.  In the back of my mind I thought I was going to paint her a masterpiece.  Yet when paint touched canvas, reality hit and it said I sucked.  I just couldn’t express what I wanted, the way I had imagined it.  But again my motivation didn’t weaken considering the fact that my intentions were good.  I just thought of the positive things my friend had brought into my life; and I realized that what she loved most about me was who I was and not who I was trying to be.  So I decided to start fresh and think of a style that I loved and could imitate.
While I would have preferred to have been original, I felt painting a tribute painting was just as good as making a CD for a person you care about.  In that, the songs are better able to express your feelings than you are capable of.  My paint style of choice was van Gogh’s post-impressionist style; which combined bright or solid colors, with harsh brush strokes, and thick paint applications.  I felt at ease and liberated with this style and decided to take on one of his most famous paintings, The Starry Night.  Unfortunately I’m not rich so I had to settle with painting supplies (brushes and canvas) from the Dollar Store.  Yet to my amazement once I had finished the project, the painting came out better than expected and my friend really loved it.  I now hope to carry on this re-found hobby and start off with tribute paintings, and maybe one day create my own style.  I also hope to give them out as presents to all my friends.
Vincent van Gogh Wiki: