Happy, Sad, Up and Down with The Crazy Old Guy

Happy, Sad, Up and Down with The Crazy Old Guy, blog stories for the week that was.

Often, when most needed, a bit of happy news drops right onto your lap, and yesterday while on the bus home from work, I got a great phone call. How I am not going to share all the details of the story, due to the sensitive nature of it, but will say that someone that I have tried to help motivate a bit, through positive conversations and support over the last 3 or 4 years, came to the end of a long fought journey, and has emerged from the ordeal, a much, much stronger person.

It’s funny how several conversations I have had this week involved this same theme. The idea that you have to have the bad with the good, and it’s how we deal and regroup and get out of it, that tells a true tale of our inner person. I told the person on the phone that I would raise a glass to celebrate their great news and I will do so, not only for them, but also to usher what I think will be the great rising of the positive tide.

Crazy old guy
As a teacher I am proud to have made some connections with students over the years. I count among friends, many of my grads that have stayed in touch. I follow their lives, on Facebook, like some kind of a voyeuristic crazy old guy. I’ve watched as they have married and have had kids. I’ve “liked” their selfie portraits and shared their pet photos and cat videos. I have had two different sets of former students, marry and go on to make beautiful children, and it all just makes me just a little bit emotional. Just the thought that I have been, even just a small blip on their full life radar, makes me swell with pride.

One of the hardest things I had to learn, as a teacher was that not all the students approach not only production and sound, with the same excitement and energy that I do, but also they put different weight on most elements in their life in general. Coming to the realization that that was OK was a hard lesson. Knowing that many of my grads would not actually pursue Broadcasting hurt at first, but became so much more powerful the more I thought about what I do. Yes I teach commercial production, mic placement and recording techniques, but I also teach the power of positive thinking, self-evaluation and time management. It was this realization that allowed me to be a better teacher, and for that I thank my students.

Ron and I at his retirement party in 2004

Ron Lowe
This week we had a memorial celebration for a man that made a big difference in my life. I don’t think I can over sell this, but a man who without, I am sure I would not be doing what it is I am doing today. I first met Ron as my teacher in RTV111. I loved his passion and energy and his commitment to his students. His patience, was unwavering. I only learned many years later that he was not a fan of teaching that particular course. I would have never seen that in the studio class. Meticulously covering step by step, the fundamentals of the audio console and basic commercial production and the dreaded 15-minute radio show.

3 semesters later, I was back in his classroom as a bit of a TA and he could see that I had the ability to teach, even before I did. I graduated, and a couple of months after, he called me up and asked if I was interested in teaching the technical part of the first semester production class. I laughed and kind of joked with him about being crazy, and he suggested I would regret it if I didn’t at least give it a shot. “Try it for a semester and we will see how you do!” he said. And just like that I was hooked. I have been so blessed to have had some wonderful teachers in my college life, but with this latest loss, the number that are gone is tragically far too high now.

Over the last few years I don’t think I have done as good as a job as I should have, in staying connected with those, who in the past have made differences in my life. People like Ron. So, as a way of acknowledging it, and perhaps a way to teach me a lesson about following my own advice, I am going to challenge you the reader to take 5 minutes and touch base with someone in your life that may have made an impact. Maybe it was a teacher or a family friend or a relative that helped with a good piece of advice over your life. Do yourself a favour AND make that person feel great, say thank you today.
Thank you Ron for being an inspiration, for giving me my career and for teaching me the importance of helping others.

Things that make you…
You ever overhear something that makes you go, ummm? I take the GO bus, and love the ease of the mode of travel One day this week, I was walking to my particular bus gate, and passed a driver having a conversation with a passenger, standing outside her bus. The prospective passenger, making small talk says, “How are you doing today?” Now, first you have to understand I am a big fan of calling the answerer of just such a question, on their lying, made up, only saying fine, cause I know you don’t really care, answer. I do it all the time. “Are you sure?” I will say after hearing the casher say, “fine”.

But, back to the bus platform this week, the driver was honest and said, “Well, to tell you the truth, I am very tired today, didn’t sleep well last night.” Ummm… Ok so, now you want me to get on this bus, knowing that you haven’t had a full 8 hours of sleep, driving an 11-ton, deadly weapon? I guess there are sometimes, a simple, “doing swell, thanks” is called for.

In closing
It would seem this week the blog is a little heady and thought provoking, so time to end with a little 12-year-old sass. Nathalie took the girls out for dinner on Thursday and I laughed at the conversation they had, when Nathalie sent me a transcript via text. I guess Nathalie was eating some bread and a crumb went, “down the river” as we say. Nathalie fumbled a little and pulled it out of her cleavage and Julia watched the whole thing, shaking her head she says, “You just HAD put your hand down there?” Nathalie says, “I was getting a crumb!” and she says, “Sure Sure!”

Well, heading to see if I can find my own crumbs!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week.

Friends, Blogging and Life Lessons Learned

Friends, blogging and life lessons learned, stories from the Carr family while on the 9-month journey to today.


Her beauty Just makes me happy!

This is not the first time I have started a blog with some kind of apology or reasoning, for being a few months behind, on what started as a weekly look behind the Carr family curtain. I can honestly say that I miss it. I miss the open-eyed awareness I approached day-to-day life with, while I was always looking for something to write about. It has been more than 9 months since I have written a blog, so it’s time. Time to lift the curtain. Plus there have been a few people on my list of supporters that have been dropping hints and pretty much giving me a hard time about not doing it. So, here we go!

Family is important. But, you can’t pick them. They are yours whether you want them or not. But, friends however, you are completely in control of. Over the years, Nathalie and I have been very lucky in this regard. Blessed with many great connections and people that have breezed into our lives, for whatever reason, making lasting impressions. Some have breezed out, but the truth is that we could still drop ourselves on a deserted island with any of them and be right back where we were.

I like to think that it’s an “us” thing, as in we are the cool ones, and there may be truth to it, but I think the fact steams from us being pretty much the same, no drama, easy going people we have been most of our lives. We can be loud and fun and we can laugh or cry with the best of them, but we are always true to us.

The realization I have come to this week, thanks to a conversation with one of the true friends, is that we do have a finite amount of time in life, and it would make the most sense to maximize the amount of time you spend with the people that most reflect this thinking. It may even have some kind of time warping, life extending friendship powers, I am not sure, but finding people to hang around with that approach life like this somehow makes the time you spend, that much more rewarding.

The Vase
One of my favourite stories from the past few months involves Julia, our Chief Household Comedic Relief Officer. We have been power watching a number of popular shows this summer. Son’s of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black and Mad Men for short, and it was during one of the Mad Men episodes that Julia had something to say. Now the show is set in the 60’ and the 70’s and aside from the very interesting look into the world of advertising, it is also a look at an era that I am fascinated with.

In this particular episode, a newly married husband and wife are talking about the husband NOT getting the promotion he wanted, and that she wouldn’t understand what it was like, to not get something that you have wanted for a long time. The wife, one of the very strong female leads, gave up her career and life to be his wife, so proceeded to illustrate this point by grabbing a vase, and whacking him over the head. Julia sees this and says, “What did she do that for?” Nathalie explains, “The Husband said something stupid and was being an idiot and she wanted to make the point clear to him”.   Without missing a beat, Julia says, “Quick hide all the vases in here… I am just protecting you Daddy!” Glad to know she’s looking out for me!

So school has started, and for both girls they are settling into their new classrooms and new educational eco systems. Julia got the grade 7 teacher she wanted to have this term and had for at least a few days all the people she wanted in her class. After the day 10 adjustments, she lost a couple of people that she liked, but was, in true Julia fashion more concerned that those friends at least had some other friends to hang with in their new assignments.

Jordyn in grade 10, was excited to see her friends again, and happy with her classes and teachers. Well… mostly happy. Her only comment was that in her second period class has more than 20 boys and only her. “Even the teacher is a boy Daddy!” she said with a shake the head disgust that made me smile. Now, I’m a bit on the fence whether I think this is a good thing or not, but in the end it may just teach her some valuable life lessons. Like hopefully that 15-year-old boys are silly and she should just stay away from them? Is that too much to ask?

In closing
The last couple of weeks have been filled with some highs and lows. It is always hard around this time of year for us, but more than the beginning of a semester and start of school, and the end of the summer and the season change and the anniversary of my Mom’s death, this year, I have had to deal with a few new things that emphasize change. A couple of weeks ago, one of the most inspiring retired faculty members I have known passed away. I will be writing more on Ron Lowe in coming weeks. This week, one of the guys I have been working with the longest at the College had his retirement party. However, nothing illustrated change and the fact that it is gonna happen whether I want it to or not this week more than a texting conversation I had with Jordyn, so today I close the blog with an edited transcript:

Daughter, “Dad if I dait a gut how many years apart do we have to be 2 or 1”
Dad, “What??? Please ask again, I don’t understand what you are saying”
Daughter, “If I dated a guy how many years apart do we have to be 2 years apart or 1 year apart?”
Dad, “80000 years apart you have to be.”
Daughter, “I don’t know what that means”
Dad, “That means. I don’t want you to date. Ever… But, you asked the wrong parent… Jordyn, you don’t have to be any years apart. It would be better if I guy is a little older than you. But it doesn’t matter. What’s the age of the guy you are interested in? (Always asking the hard questions!)
Daughter, “17”

Dad, “I don’t know. Ask your Mother.”

Now, off to find a quiet corner to curl up and rock myself to sanity.

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!


A vote, a nickname, and some names from the past

A vote, a nickname, and some names from the past, the week 40 weekend wrap up is now named “done”!

A vote
In Ontario, the college teachers are currently without a contract, and as a result have been in a bit of a labour issue over the last several months. I thought that this was the week we would see an end to the dispute, because the Professors were at last, given the opportunity to vote on the management’s final offer but I was wrong. The little problem was that the outcome was not as much of a clear victory for either side as we would have liked with only a little more then 200 ballots separating both sides. Yes, that was 200 more votes to accept the contract then reject, but the issue is, there are more then 300 outstanding mailed in votes yet to be counted, so it is possible for the outcome to swing.

The frustrating part is that many people, including myself are in this unavoidable holding pattern and there is not a thing we can do about it. Here is the life lesson I guess, when the outcome of a situation is out of your control, like watching a vase, tipping off a table 20 feet from you, you can only hold your breath, and perhaps go look for the broom, because either way, you will likely have to do some cleaning up.

Moo Moo
Not sure what it was that got us on the topic in the car this week, but we talked about cheese. Specifically the kind in the little cellophane roll with the cow on the label. Yes the Laughing Cow cheese. The girls thought it was a very funny name for a cheese, and in true Carr girl performance fashion, they busted into little cow voices and started to fill the car with an enormous amount of at some point uncontrollable laughing and that on its own would have been something, but it was the fact that it was Laughing Cow Laughing, complete with MOO after MOO after MOO.

True Confession
I was a good teacher this week. Normally I am a great teacher but this week, I felt a little out of sorts, and not my usual self, and as a result, think I could have done much better in the classroom this week. This kind of self awareness comes only after years of teaching, and having so many people from my teaching past that I look up and that I can call on when I need to do better and I am putting it in print, and committing it to words, so that I can remind myself that I am only human and sometimes I can have a bad day, and the best thing to do is come back and do better the next time. So that is the plan. Next week I am going to channel the great ones from my life past, and come out swinging at school. I am going to pull a Big John, and a Michael. You might even see a Ron or a Peter in the class this week, and I can only say that my students will be the better for it.

Happy Family Day! This is a long weekend in Ontario with the addition of the “Family Day” holiday, a couple of years ago. Not sure what we have planned to this point, but I do know it will involve spending time with a great family! Here is hoping you will have the time you want to hang out with your family too!

In Closing
Like many parents, we have cute little names we call the girls, and some just happened and some are modifications of other ones. One of the early ones for Jordyn was Moo-moo, then we shortened it to just Moom and she has allowed it for the most part, and is not a big fan of Jordie, Jordina or Jordina-Fina, some other we have used. Julia has been a B-G-B, Boolia, Buglia and Buggsy and is ok with just about anything we use to call her, but like anyone I guess would rather their actual name. Unless it is their full name, including the middle ones, like the one or two times this week (for both girls).

Have a great and safe week and thanks for reading!

James Fredrick, Jr Carr III (aka, Jim or Jimbo!)