Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bully: The Movie

I watched the movie Bully recently. It's a movie that I've been wanting to see ever since it came out in 2011. Directed by Lee Hirsch it's a documentary about peer to peer bullying in the American public school system. I'm sure what happened there can be extrapolated to include most schools worldwide.

While the subject of bullying isn't new it's still very painful to watch. The film follows a number of young students around and documents the abuse they endure each time the set foot outside their homes.

Kids are picked on (to an alarming degree) both physically and mentally because they are smaller, skinnier, look different or because of their sexual orientation. They are ostracized, put down and tormented constantly. Sometimes they manage to cope with help from their family or close friends. But, tragically, some find suicide their only escape.

I believe part of the problem (at least in this movie) lies with the school and the school board. They're either ignorant about the problem or they don't care enough to do anything about it. They say things like, "Kids will be kids." as if that's a valid excuse to ignore bullying. Of course, Kids will be kids. But, sometimes they have trouble grasping how damaging their taunting can be. As educators it's your job to teach them.

As well, intolerance is bred into some communities. There are so-called "Christian" communities in the U.S. (and elsewhere I'm sure) which preach hatred. Young people who don't fit in (i.e. gay or lesbian) are shunned. And it goes even further. Not only are they shunned, but their families are too. It's disgraceful. I suppose this is a worldwide problem.

One scene that infuriated me was when the principal at one school takes a young bullying victim aside after recess and asks him how he's doing. He's upset and tells her that this fellow has been bullying him. It's something that's been going on for awhile. The principal sees the bully and calls him over and tells the two of them (victim and bully) to shake hands as if this will magically mend fences. The victim refuses and is admonished by the principal. She tells him he's as bad as the bully for not shaking his hand (which is pretty f**k'd up if you ask me). He already feels like sh*t and you're making him feel even worse. Good job, you moron. The victim tells her the bully doesn't mean it and is just going through the motions, but the principal doesn't seem to understand. She seems to believe all the children under her stead are gentle, harmless souls without any fault.

One of the saddest moments was when one young boy (who was probably around 8 or 9) helped carry the casket of one of his friends (similar age) at his funeral. This was after he committed suicide due to being excessively bullied. It was heartbreaking. He (the boy who helped carry the casket) was once a bully himself, but realized the error of his ways and befriended this young lad. Still, this friendship wasn't enough to suppress the immense pain this lad felt and keep him from taking his own life.

I think this movie is a must see for anyone 8-years-old and up. It's such a valuable teaching tool and is sure to have a positive impact on anyone who watches it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reflections: Self-Identity

I picked up a book from the library on the weekend by DW Gibson called Not Working. In it he interviews people (I believe Americans) who've recently lost their jobs (from 2007-2011).

I have to say I've only just started it. So I won't have anything to say about the book per se until later (though one thing I can say right now is that I found an error right off the bat. They spelt President Ronald Reagan's name incorrectly twice as "Regan" on page four).

Anyway, the book got me thinking about how much of our identity and even self-worth is based upon what we do for work. At times it's as much or even more of a determinant than our relationship with our friends or family. When we introduce ourselves to strangers one of the first things discussed is what one does for work.

You may say to yourself, "Wow, I'm a lawyer. I'm so successful. I feel great."

Or, just the opposite, "I'm 45-years-old and work at Walmart stocking shelves. I feel so ashamed."

I know people like this. And from some of the interviews I've had a chance to read in the book, others feel the same way too. It's like they've gone to university and got this degree and that degree and they expect a certain level of employment when they enter the workforce.

But, in these trying times, options are limited. You're faced with the decision of swallowing your pride and taking a job serving vanilla lattes to spoiled exchange students to earn money to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. That, or lining up at the food bank every week and couch surfing at your friends' apartments while fretting about how to pay back your massive student loan. It can be quite the dilemma.

It's strange... but we really do seem to care about what other think of us/how they see us. It's like we need the approval of others to feel like we're of worth. Perhaps that's why fame is so sought after by some. For me, I'm not sure I can fully understand why that is.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hosu with the OOTC Gang

Last Sunday I rounded up a few of my fellow dishwashing buddies from the Out of the Cold program at Knox church for lunch. We went to Hosu on Queen (and John). They serve Japanese and Korean fare.

In the photo are Di, Young-Wha and Joe. Joe has been helping at Knox for  about 3 years. In his second year I recruited him to help me wash dishes. He's been a great asset.

Di and Young-Wha started helping this year. They're invaluable cogs in our machine. Without them we wouldn't get anything done. They're so efficient in putting away the dishes that Joe and I wash. I'm so thankful for all of them.

There are a couple of other helpers who couldn't make it this time - Sam and Angela. Hopefully they'll make it out the next time we meet up.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rancho Relaxo, again

I went to Rancho Relaxo again for dinner with my friend. We had another $40 voucher. Unfortunately you can't buy any alcoholic beverages with it so we stuck with food items. Last time we had two entrées and dessert. This time we thought we'd try three entrées instead.

I have to say whenever I have a favorite dish at a particular type of restaurant I usually stick with it. I don't know if it's not being adventurous rather than sticking with what I really enjoy. When I go Mexican I usually order steak Enchiladas. Last time we ate here my friend had the Pescado de Corona (which is Atlantic grouper with a smooth avocado mousse). To hit our $40 spending limit we added a chicken Quesadilla. Steak, chicken and fish... yummm. Each dish was rounded off with salad, refried beans and rice.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to Unclog your Sink

Over time gunk builds up in everyone's household drains I'm sure. It happened to me with my ensuite sink recently. Hair and other bits of glop make their way into the drain and slowly begin to block the flow of water from exiting.

At first I began trying to pick the stuff out with a Q-tip. That didn't work very well. So I moved onto a screwdriver and a pair of pliers which didn't fare much better. The space was just too tight.

Being the impatient guy that I am I decided instead of trying to pull the stuff out, I'd push it through the drain and just get it over with. Well, that didn't quite work. For all my effort I just ended up completely clogging the drain. That was a dumb move.

My next bright idea was to unbend a coat hanger and force it down the drain to remove the obstruction. That didn't work either. The coat hanger was too stiff. It wouldn't bend at the elbow part of the drain pipe, so I couldn't push the blockage any further.

I then remembered seeing an ad on TV for a can of pressurized air or something that you could put over the opening of the drain and release the gas and it would clear the obstruction. Since I didn't have that handy I decided to make my own.

I looked around my place and found an empty Keri hand lotion bottle. I unscrewed the top and filled it with water. Next I half filled the sink with water and quickly flipped the bottle upside down into the drain and squeezed forcing the water out. After a few more squeezes the blockage was completely removed and the sink drained as if it were completely new.

Now I don't know if this technique will work in all cases. Perhaps if the blockage isn't too severe it has a chance. I can say it's probably safe because it's a low pressure technique. So it most likely won't damage your pipes.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Floor Hockey Champs

Our Cornerstone Sports Night team, The Atomic Green Beans, capped off an undefeated seven weeks of floor hockey last Monday. I believe we were the only team to have ever done this since Cornerstone Sports Night was started many years ago. It was an unbelievable run that may not ever be duplicated. Along with our 22 regular season wins we had 5 ties leading into the one day playoff.

Our first playoff game was against Hollis and Chung-Yen's orange team. Surprisingly, they ended up in last, a scant 2 points behind 5th place Blue (Josh's team). Team Orange has given us trouble before tying us one game. This game wouldn't be a walk in the park. And, as it turned out, they tied us again. Not a good start for us.

Next we played Rupert's White Team. We did well against them. That was the end of the round robin part of the playoffs. We would play Josh's Blue team in the next round.

The game against Josh's team wasn't very close. We scored a lot of goals against them. In the middle part of the season they were another team that tied us. But, later on we pretty much scored at will on them. Sometimes they can be overly aggressive leaving themselves open defensively which we capitalized on. Our team is good as moving the ball with accurate passes to one another.

The win over Blue catapulted us into the finals against Alan Ho's Black team. They've given us the most trouble overall with at least a couple of ties in the regular season. They have a good player who was rumoured to have played on the Thai national hockey team (for what that's worth).

For the finals they brought in their "ringer", Benson, to play goal. Benson had been away for most of the season doing his studies. But, I guess he made an exception to come out for the finals. Now we have a girl, Freda, in net. That frees up an extra guy for us to play out. That can be a big advantage as long as we limit the shots our opponents get on net.

One big disadvantage we faced on the night of the finals was our best girl (who plays out), Holly, was missing. She had damaged her ACL (or MCL possibly) skiing the day or two before our game and would likely be out the rest of the season (European Handball was next).

Holly was great at scoring goals for us. We planted her right beside the opponent's net and fed her the ball and she regularly scored. She just had that hand-eye coordination that was required.

Nevertheless, our team sucked it up and played hard earning a two or three goal victory over Black. I think the score was either 3-1 or 4-1. Our team was really happy. Hopefully we'll do alright at European Handball as well.