Thursday, December 24, 2015

Day 603

Day 603  December 23rd

2015…a year in review

So I was asked to give my top 5 of 2015 by a fellow geek for his Nerd blog/website and I figured it would be pretty easy.  I grabbed my newest best friend – my idea journal which has become a constant companion for when ideas hit me and I don’t want to lose them, and started jotting down, well, ideas!

Before long I had way more ideas than the 5 for his list so I decided I would do this post up to go along side that one.  It would appear that I had a lot to share about this past year!

2015 was another year of ups and downs good times and not so great times…but that is how life works and as the year is tailing away here to be able to look back happily on it all is the greatest feeling ever!  So I am going to ramble away some of the things that come to my mind about this past year…if you make it through the list I would love to hear some of your highlights for you of this past year!  And for those of you that want to bail…I don’t blame you…it’s going to be a weird ride down the rabbit hole and I do get a bit wanderlost in writing this!  Without further ado…

@  2015 started off on a very strange and down note…not a way I could have ever imagined it being but that is part of how life can work sometimes.  Starting off more at the bottom meant that the only way to go was up…which is exactly how the rest of the year went!  Through all it we have grown stronger as a family as well as individuals and while I wouldn’t wish it on anyone the changes and perspectives we have from it all have really made us better people over all.
@  Something that this year has shown me is how much I truly enjoy being a teacher and even more so how much I love teaching in a small school.  Of course there are challenges to teaching in a smaller school…certain things are not possible but really on a whole I don’t find our school lacking for anything at all and the upsides far outweigh the downsides.  In this setting and environment it is much easier to really get to know not only your co-workers but also your students.  Being able to know your students well is a big part of being a teacher and in a small school setting that is far more possible than not.  To be able to grow that understanding is truly something awesome and helps me feel that I can succeed at my career!  The same can be said for getting along with your coworkers…in our school that is easy because we can really work together as a team much easier.  Another huge aspect of the small school setting is that the parents and community are very involved and helpful as well.  These are all very important aspects to the health and well-being of not only the students but everyone on a whole and I can’t imagine a better place to work!
@  This past year also brought about a real change in my collecting mindset and habits.  Regular followers of this blog will know that for 10 plus years my geek life revolved around Minimates and collecting them.  This was a passion but one that I found was taking over too much of my spare time and money…to the point that it was really limiting my ability to do much else…I was so focused on them it left little room for anything else.  2015 really brought about a change in how I viewed what I was collecting, what I really wanted to do with my collection and collecting habits and some very truthful moments to myself.  The biggest truthful moment came when I could admit to myself that I wasn’t enjoying the Minimates to level I used to and it was time to dial back…and dial back I did!  I still enjoy them for what they are and still pick up the odd one, but no more buying them all, having to have them all, stalking the release dates so that I can plan my hauls and no more cluttering up my space with tons of them, and tons of props for ‘ideas’ that I didn’t have the time or skills to make happen and this would leave me frustrated all the more.  Once I could see that and draw myself out of it things really shifted and I am now getting to the point where I can enjoy seeing the pictures of them but also enjoy the fact that I am not chasing them down all the time.  I am slowly thinning out what I have here and that will continue into 2016 as I reclaim my office space from being just a Minimates pit.
@  Part of my change in collecting ways was a bit of focus on my collection of art based on Starman.  Anyone who knows me knows my love for the Jack Knight character and comic book run…I maintain it is still my favourite comic even after all these years!  This year I added some amazing pieces of art to the collection and am proud of what I have put together so far.  While the sinking Canadian dollar value has brought this to a much slower pace as the year went on I will still enjoy adding to the collection as time goes!
@  Something that came back to me this year was writing, although not in a manner I would have expected.  I have been lamenting the fact that I haven’t written much new poetry for a while now and it kind of bugs me.  A co-worker and fellow poet mentioned that writing, and poetry in particular, can viewed as a voice when you don’t have one.  I love that analogy but it also tells me that maybe I have found some confidence and a ‘voice’ outside of my head so the poems are appearing in other, new ways now.  I did write a few this year and it felt great but I have started dabbling in writing in other ways which will hopefully find itself an avenue to share with everyone in 2016!
@  Star Wars Episode VII.  No way around this one, I was a Star Wars kid growing up, know the original trilogy like the back of my hand and even my kids love it!  To me this movie was a fantastic piece of the saga, fitting in nicely with the originals.  The nay-sayers can nay all they want and try to poke holes in it all day long…to me this was an amazing movie!  Top it off with our small city theatre busting their butts to convince Disney to let them have it for opening weekend, which also allowed me to arrange a field trip for the grades 7-12 students at my school and then going again the next day with my son and this really will be a huge highlight of the year for me!  There is so much I could say about this movie but really unless you have experienced it there is not much more I want to give away beforehand.  Huge props to the film makers for using old school ways of props, sets and costumes instead of modern crutches of CGI and such…really enhanced my enjoyment of it all!
@  Canadian Comics.  I have been a comic book fan for as long as I have been a Star Wars fan and everyone who knows me can see this…I wear it proudly!  Growing up I had the major super heroes from the big two publishers which was all fine and well but I also had a few random issues of a comic called Captain Canuck…totally random but kinda neat.  Then in the 90’s Canada Post put out a stamp series about Canadian superheroes with Superman and Captain Canuck as well as some characters I didn’t know namely Nelvana, Johnny Canuck and Fleur de Lys.  I bought a big collectors pack that had stamps, postcards, a mousepad and an information sheet.  I devoured the info but given where I lived and the fact that the internet was not really what it is now I never had much choice to learn anymore.  Last year a surge started in revitalizing the general knowledge of the history of Canadian comic books and superheroes.  It may have started sooner but last year it really took off and I dug out my Canada Post stuff and decided I was really going to embrace this more.  Reprints of Nelvana, Johnny Canuck, and Brok Windsor from the Canadian ‘Whites’ (the 1940’s) were happening as well as a relaunch of the Captain Canuck character and new takes on classic heroes and new creations as well were all there to greet me in this mission.  I am still learning all the various histories behind the Canadian comic books and I am loving every step of it!
@  Canadian Corps.  Speaking of Canadian comic books this is one that hit me last year.  An independent title coming from Winnipeg’s Andrew Lorenz and his September 17 (S17) independent publishing company, this is a comic about a Canadian team of superheroes from all parts of the country.  Another great part is that it is set in various parts of Canada as well!  I really was looking forward to this books for several reasons – obviously the fact that it is Canadian had a huge appeal, next the artist was Justin Shauf, a Saskatchewan based artist who was fast becoming a good friend and one of my favourite comic book artists.  Finally I had picked up Andrews other releases to date and rather enjoyed his writing so Canadian Corps was a high entry on anticipated releases for this year.  There was a very successful Kickstarter for the book which I happily contributed to and spread the word far and wide for and the first issue launched at this Septembers Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo, which is basically my home away from home con!  I got to meet Andrew and the colourist Donovan Yaciuk and hang out with them as well as Justin at the show.  Having the book physically in hand was so cool I ended up buying a bunch of extra copies and handing them out to other guests at the show…so people like Gail Simone went home with a copy to check out.  I am eagerly awaiting issue #2 as well as the other parts of the Kickstarter rewards for this amazing series! 
@  Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo.  Seems this would be the best time to bring this show into the list.  As previously mentioned this is my home away from home con and this year it was fantastic!  Being a relatively new show and a smaller city compared to others I love seeming how it grows every year.  The media guests this year were great again including William Shatner and Billy Boyd and on the comic creator end they had the likes of Gail Simone, Ed Brisson, Cary Nord and Francis Manupaul.  There were tons of amazing sights and people there, it was fantastic!  I spent day one dressed as Gandalf and people loved the costume….many pictures were taken and I was even interviewed and ended up on tv!  After day one back at the hotel my con crew were in full relax mode which also included some time hanging with Andrew and Justin from Canadian Corps!  I added to my Starman art collection and a few other things as well as buying some gifts for others…all in all another great weekend at this show!
@  The support of local organizations/community members.  While Humboldt may not be a giant metropolis with tons of avenues for geeks to explore their passions there are aspects of that culture here and like anywhere else, like-minded people that enjoy it.  There is a growing trend globally in the acceptance of geek culture and this opened many doors for me in Humboldt this year.  My summer job with the City of Humboldt’s Kids Summer Fun Camp has given me the chance to bring a tiny taste of what comic cons or maybe more appropriately fan fests are like to the people here.  Having kids able to get comics to check out and to meet and talk with artists is a fantastic experience that has produced a lot of positive reviews for it, both from parents and community members as well as from the artists that take part.  This allowed for my shoulder to be tapped to add a similar styled event to the second annual Streetfest in downtown Humboldt at the end of the summer.  Again this was something new and different to the people organizing the larger event and they thought it had potential to add something to their event.  Another area I enjoy working in is the cosplaying for good causes aspect and while it hasn’t really caught on in Humboldt yet there is a growing awareness.  My team – the Justice Society of Humboldt, did get to partner up with our local chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters during their mentor sign up drive which was a lot of fun!  All of these piece tie together to work in giving something that I am good at back to the community so that kids here can have access and opportunities that were not around when I was a kid.  I have been tapped for another event for Humboldt in 2016 and I am currently working on several projects alongside of it to really make it something big for the city as a whole next year!
@  Social Media.  This might seem like an odd choice for this list but buckle up as I will do my best to explain it in a way for it to make sense…maybe.  Modern society is an increasingly global community thanks to technology and social media.  As I am typing this on my laptop I have my headphones plugged into my iPad listening to music and my iPhone is running Facebook and Twitter nearby…yes I am a bit of a techno junkie in that way, always have been, and the upside is that it really allows me to enjoy where I live a lot more.  I love being able to pick up any of these devices – all of which are so far more advanced than my first computer and when I bought that I thought it was something amazing!  So yeah… I am an oddity in that I love living in a smaller community in the middle of the prairies…it has some drawbacks for the geek side of me like a lack of comic shops, not a whole lot of geek related events happening and the distance to said events can be restrictive.  This is where social media kicks in and takes away a lot of those walls.  With social media not only am I able to keep up with news and other things that relate to my passions but I am able to talk to friends from all around the world that share these passions!  I can carry on meaningful conversations about all topics and even get the inside scoop on stuff that is happening with my favourite creators – both independent as well as people that have made their mark in the industry.  There is nothing quite like being able to talk to your favourite comic book artist on a first name basis, have his wife message you personally to share stories, be able to get one of the creators of your favourite toy line send you artwork he did of your favourite comic book character done in the style of that toy line, being able to collaborate with like-minded teachers from various parts of the world to better enhance lessons I am using in the classroom…these are just some very minor examples of some of the things that social media has brought into my life.  So while there are drawbacks to social media, as with anything really, I am all for the use of it as it allows me to find that balance between my enjoyment of small community living and being connected to the larger communities of the world outside!
@  Auroraman.  Yes I do realize this is a long list and if your reading this thanks for sticking it out! I couldn’t leave this list without mentioning this name…it is a name that was brought to me by one friend and then as the year progressed another friend latched onto the idea and now in 2016 it is really going to become something so much more and is taking me on a new adventure that I could have never imagined before!