Tag Archives: greater toronto area

The Time I Saw Nelson Mandela and the Earth Quaked

Nelson Mandela at the SkydomeWhen I was in elementary school, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to see Nelson Mandela in person — at the Skydome. It was a very impactful experience for me and it’s one of my shiniest memories. It happened about 15 years ago when Mandela came to launch the Canadian Friends of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. I was in a Kindergarten to Grade 8 elementary school and two students (one male and one female) from each grade were getting the opportunity to go to the event at the Skydome. I don’t quite recall how I got picked, but at the time, I remember thinking that it was pretty cool I was going to get part of the day off from school to go see Nelson Mandela.

Early I said it was one of my shiniest memories and it was an impactful experience. I don’t really remember many of the different events that happened that day, but a few things are quite clear in my mind. On a side note, it seems I wasn’t the only person who doesn’t remember everything from that day. One of the things that I remember clearly is the song or at least one of the songs. After some brief searching, I was able to find it on YouTube. You can hear it in the beginning of this video:

Those singers continuously repeating his name and then when he makes an appearance by way of a golf cart. I remember that. Also, when he made his entrance, I remember this roar overcoming the crowd. I remember that in our section, we were banging our feet on the stands to add to that excitement in the crowd. I’d been to baseball games at the Skydome before, but I didn’t remember ever hearing the crowd become so loud. That whole experience, I remembering being a bit awestruck. I was a bit young to really comprehend everything that was part of what happened to Mandela, but I suppose part of me knew it on a visceral level and that’s what made the event so impactful.

On the topic of crowd loudness, when we got back to school later that day, in the playground, I remember folks asking me if we felt the earthquake. Earthquake, I thought. They continued on by saying that there was an earthquake (!) while we were at the Skydome seeing Nelson Mandela. This, along with that song, are the two things that really stick out in mind about this event. I had thought that the crowd was just “that” loud to Nelson Mandela, but maybe part of our loudness was amplified by some sort of rumble in the Earth.

So, whenever I think about Nelson Mandela, I remember that song and the joy that we all had singing his name. I also remember that the first time I saw Nelson Mandela, the Earth moved.

Every Child is Gifted: Why Nurturing is so Important

I came across an op-ed in the NYT from September arguing that, in America, there is too much focus on raising the floor (of education) and not enough focus on raising the ceiling. Meaning, there’s more focus on bringing up the “weaker” kids and not much focus on the “stronger” kids. I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area, so during my formative years, I was in school in Ontario (Canadian education, from what I remember, is known for being better than American education).

The op-ed goes on to describe how it is for those young students who are really smart, but because they go to public school, are prevented from getting the kind of education that will challenge/inspire them. Again, I didn’t do my K-12 education the US, so all I’ve got to go on is what I’ve heard/read. I do remember seeing Waiting for Superman and that painted a rather dire picture for some States).

The op-ed’s main thesis is that there needs to be a focus on these high-potential kids. Because their parents didn’t have the funds to afford private education doesn’t mean they should be prevented from getting a solid education.

I think that’s an argument that most people would agree with — to some extent. I’d like to make a different point, though.

It might seem a bit clichéd to say that, “every child is gifted,” but this is something that I truly believe. How? We are all gifted in a different way. Some folks may be more talented in kinesthetic activities and some may be more talented in musical activities. I certainly think that we all have the capacity to develop these talents, but I also think that some folks are born with a predisposition to certain talents. (I don’t know that I agree with it fully, but Gardner’s multiple intelligences is a good starter for what I’m talking about.)

So, if we’ve got all of these predispositions to talents, how come they don’t necessarily show up? Well, I would argue that it’s nurturing. Parenting is a monumental responsibility. Caring for and nurturing a little being is one of the noblest things one can do. I won’t go too deep into parenting philosophy in this post, but suffice to say, I think a great deal of responsibility falls on the parents to nurture those talents within their kids (major caveat: like there are predispositions to talents, I don’t doubt that there are also predispositions to “non”-talents that might make nurturing a bit more difficult). I’m not here to criticize how some people parent, but I do want to emphasize that all children are talented. It may just take a little extra effort to ferret out those talents, if the child had not been nurtured in a way that allows the child to be comfortable/confident in those talents.

Confessions of a Toronto Blue Jays Fan: So This is what it Feels Like to be a Yankees or Red Sox Fan

This past week has been momentous. Absolutely momentous. Okay, maybe I’m being a tad hyperbolic, but it’s been an exciting week for the Toronto Blue Jays (and their fans). This past week, the Toronto Blue Jays made the biggest trade in franchise history:

Going to the Miami Marlins

Coming to the Toronto Blue Jays

  • Josh Johnson (SP)
  • Mark Buehrle (SP)
  • José Reyes (SS)
  • Emilio Bonifacio (UT)
  • John Buck (C)
  • $4 million

This was a huge deal. Not only did a number of players change hands, but a number of marquee players. Reyes is a 4-time all-star and NL batting champion from 2011. Buehrle is a 4-time all-star. Johnson is a 2-time all-star. Buck is a 1-time all-star. Both Alvarez and Hechavarria are two prospects that were expected to lead the Blue Jays over the next decade. This trade will certainly solidify the Blue Jays’ prospects of making the playoffs in 2013.

Not only did the Blue Jays make a splash with this huge deal, they also signed a couple of players to fill a few holes. They signed Macier Izturis who can play all the infield positions and Melky Cabrera who was an all-star this year and the all-star MVP this year.

There are a ton of things going well for Toronto Blue Jays’ fans. Having been born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area, I’ve certainly followed the Blue Jays quite a bit, especially because growing up, baseball was my favorite sport. I loved the game, so naturally, I was interested in watching the professionals, too. I can remember back to 1992/1993 (when the Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series) — it was glorious. Those two teams were stacked with talent. In fact, leading up to the 1992 season, the Blue Jays made a very big trade to acquire to cornerstones of those championship teams. Many are comparing the trade I described above to that trade.

The number of deals (and the size of the deals, with regard to money), are not something that you usually see from the Blue Jays in the offseason. The Blue Jays usually have a very low-key offseason, picking up a few players here and there. I always remember the Blue Jays taking a more “Moneyball” approach. Part of this has to do with the size of the payroll. The only time I can remember the Jays spending a great deal of money in the offseason was during those two World Series years I described above.

There is no salary cap in baseball, so teams are allowed to spend as much as they want. As a result, you find the bigger marquee teams (like the Yankees and the Red Sox) able to spend more. (Though, there might be a chicken and egg problem here.) That’s why I’ve titled this post the way that I have. There haven’t been many times in Blue Jays’ history when they’ve spent this much in the offseason. As a result, I would imagine that this is what it feels like to be a Red Sox fan or a Yankees fan. Fans of these teams — I suspect — have become accustomed to their team spending a great deal of money in the offseason to keep them competitive.

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Only time will tell if the success of the Reyes, Johnson, and Buehrle can equal the sucess of Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. I, and most of Canada, most certainly hope that it will.