Tag Archives: Holiday

Why Love Actually is a Good Christmas Movie

While Christmas happened a few days ago now, I wanted to write a quick note on Love Actually. You may or may not have heard of this Christmas movie. It was first released about a decade ago, but many people seem to want to watch it when Christmas rolls around. I didn’t realize just how popular this movie had become at Christmas time (my wife and I have watched it just about every Christmas since we’ve been married) until I started seeing notes about the movie in my twitter feed.

That is, there were some folks who were vehemently against Love Actually as a “good” romantic comedy. In fact, one person wrote:

The fundamental problem with Love Actually is that it presents romance as either absurdly easy—something that strikes you like a thunderclap and requires only a single grand gesture in order to be fulfilled—or all but impossible. Notably absent is the idea that love might ever be worth a little sustained effort: some mutual exploration and discovery, a bit of care and nurture, maybe even the overcoming of an obstacle or two. Indeed, it’s hard to shake the sense that what is “classic” about Love Actually is not that it shows us anything about how people fall in love, but that it so conspicuously declines even to try.

But there are also those folks who feel quite the opposite. That is, they think the film is actually quite good:

More than anything, Love Actually is a movie by people who get it. That get that the holidays are about love and loss and memories. It’s about new beginnings and it’s about endings. It’s about family and second chances, and sometimes it’s about the same old, same old. It’s love, in its many, many forms, lighting the way through the coldest season.

Then, there are those who are trying to figure out whether the movie should actually qualify as a classic (over 80% of voters on this CBC website think that it should be).

I can stipulate that Love Actually might not be promoting the “best” version of love, but I would say that with a level of maturity and understanding that some of what’s being portrayed is actually tongue-in-cheek (do all British men really think that their accent is enough to get American women to sleep with them?) the movie can be quite heartwarming. Putting that aside for a moment, one of the best aspects of the movie for me is the message of truth-telling. On a number of occasions we hear the characters saying something to the effect of, “It’s Christmas, so I wanted to tell the truth,” (or “tell you,” or “check with you,”).

To me, this is great. I enjoy that there’s this subtle albeit noticeable message that it’s important that we tell the truth with people we care about and/or are interested in spending time with on a regular basis. So, if you do decide to watch Love Actually at Christmas time or any time for that matter, maybe pay less attention to the “fake love” parts and pay more attention to the “truth” parts.

Still Looking for a Christmas Present? Try These Projects on Kickstarter Canada

It’s the last weekend before Christmas, so there’s a good chance that a lot of you out there are out in the hustle and bustle trying to find last-minute gifts for friends and family. If the weather forecasts are to be believed, some of you might not be able to make it out into the madness that is last-minute shopping before Christmas. That’s great! Why? Well, that means that you’ll have to be a bit more creative with your gift ideas.

So, why don’t you make someone’s day (in addition to the person who you’re giving the gif to) by making a donation in their name to one of these projects on Kickstarter Canada. Also, you could just donate to them anyways — and not make the donation on behalf of someone else: it could be on behalf of you!

Note: I’ve only included projects that — at the time of writing this post — hadn’t reached their goal.

NASH: The Movie

“You may have heard of Steve Nash, the NBA superstar and multiple MVP winner. You may also know that he’s Canadian. A Vancouver documentary crew secured unparalleled access to Nash, and they’re in the middle of raising money for production and editing costs for the final film. Unlike many film projects, tiers of this project include a physical and digital copy of the final product, which gives potential backers a tangible reward for their donation.” (Source)

Stratus Watch

“The concept is as simple as it is unprecedented; a titanium wristwatch with a face that you can choose. You can choose from dozens of patterns and colours from the manufacturer, or design your own and submit it to them. The watches exude a clean, straightforward charm, and even the lowest funding tier gifts you one of them.” (Source)

Shot Time

“In what could easily be the ruin of many a young soul, this is a shot glass that measures the amount of liquor consumed over a period of time; a potent mix of a stopwatch and a case of acute alcohol poisoning. The consequences of such a device are best left to the imagination, but if it meets its funding goals, the consequences may become very real, very quickly. Hooray for progress?” (Source)

Canadian Black Garlic

“Exactly what it says on the tin; backers are funding the creation and shipping of various black-garlic-based condiments and seasonings. The majority of the project’s funding goal will go to securing a large batch of Canadian-grown garlic, and the rest will go into the blackening and production/packaging process. Is there anything more Canadian than authentic Northern delicacies?” (Source)


“Like the mirror universe version of the Shot Time, the SpecShot is a two-in-one system that scans your drinking water for contaminants and then posts the results online. This process could be equal parts fascinating and harrowing, depending on your results, but the ultimate goal is to spread awareness through hard data, and hopefully inspire some change to our water quality standards.” (Source)

No-Vacation Nation: What Kind of Balance Do You Want?

Way back in February, I wrote a post about a 25-hour workweek that used data from the OECD. This data showed the paid vacation and paid holidays for OECD nations. In particular, this data showed the requirements for paid vacations and paid holidays for some of the OECD countries. There’s been an update to the data, so I’ve included the graphic below:

You may notice a couple of things. First, it looks very similar to the first one that I embedded back in February. The second thing you may notice… the United States continues its perseverance in not mandating paid vacation. Every time I see data like this, I’m astonished that one of the wealthiest countries in the history of the world doesn’t see fit to require that its people are required to have vacation. Of course, the lack of vacation probably contributed to the US becoming one of the wealthiest countries in the history of the world, but what good is all that wealth if you can’t enjoy it? What good is money if you’re took sick to spend it?

The declining state of health probably had something to do with the separation of one’s mental health from one’s body’s health, but the lack of vacation has probably accelerated it. Of course, just because vacation isn’t mandated by the government doesn’t mean that companies don’t offer it. In order to stay competitive, companies have to offer their employees vacation or they’ll work elsewhere. That being said, there’s a pervasive culture of overworking yourself in the US. Not only on a national-level (lack of holidays), but also at the employee-level.

Take a peak inside a big firm and you’ll often hear about employees who participate in the game of one-upmanship in trying to see who’s worked more in a given week. “I worked 60 hours last week trying to get this report finished for a client.” “Yeah, well I worked 65 hours last week finishing a report…”


At first, one may say that this is putting people and the culture way out of balance. Well, one would be wrong. Balance has a way of maintaining an equilibrium. That is, balance will always be balance. Confused? Think about it like this: stand up from your chair. Are you standing? Good. Right now, you’re balanced. You have some of your weight on your left foot and some of your weight on your right foot. Balanced. Now, shift your weight to right. You’ll notice that you didn’t fall over, right? You simply have more weight on your right side than on your left side. Balanced. Now, lift your left foot off the ground. All of your weight is currently on your right foot. You’re still balanced, right? Now, begin to bend at the waist to outstretch your right arm forwards… while stretching your left leg backwards. At some point, you may fall over in attempting to do this. That’s okay because I’m sure you get the picture by now.

At each stage of this exercise, you’re body was balanced. You were balanced when you were standing straight, you were balanced when your weight was on your right foot, you were balanced when you lifted your left foot, and you would have been balanced had you been able to outstretch your right arm and left foot. It’s simply a question of what kind of balance do you want. Do you prefer the balance where you’re standing comfortable with both feet on the ground? How about the balance where you’re lifting one foot off of the ground?

While the lack of mandated vacation in the US may seem like there’s no balance, there has to be. It just might be manifesting itself in different ways. You have a choice — what kind of balance do you want?


Note: if you’re looking for a creative way to add more vacation days to the US, how about making every religious holiday a national holiday?

What the Heck is Boxing Day, Anyway?

Seeing as though today’s Boxing Day, I thought I’d offer up an explanation as to the meaning of Boxing Day. Growing up in Canada, I grew to know Boxing Day as the day when all the good sales would happen at stores. For many Americans, this may sound strange. Although, think of it like Black Friday — Boxing Day is much the same — in that stores increasingly compete with each other to open sooner and sooner to have better sales.

So, when I was younger, my thought that Boxing Day got its name because of all the boxes. To a young person, that makes sense. With all the day after Christmas shopping, there’s bound to be lots of boxes! Somewhere along the way, I remember someone telling me, ‘oh no, that’s not it. It’s because there was a big boxing match back in the day.’ Well that sounds plausible, too. Although, after having searched the internet, I don’t seem to find any solid references to a boxing match on “Boxing Day,” leading to the day getting its name.

Regardless of the etymology, Boxing Day is most certainly a holiday in Canada (and some other Commonwealth countries) and that’s because it derives from European tradition. It does seem, though, that there isn’t any one definitive answer. According to Wikipedia (and many other places I found in researching for this post):

The exact etymology of the term “boxing” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.

One of those competing theories has it that the lord of the manor would “pay” its servants with boxes of practical goods (food, clothes, etc.). This starts to make more sense when we realize that a “Christmas Box” is like saying “Christmas Present.” So, it’s almost as if “Boxing Day” was the day that the bourgeoisie would “exchange” gifts with the proletariat. That may be taking a bit too far, but it certainly seems like it.

So… while I can’t give you a definitive answer, some of the things out there on the internet certainly seem plausible as to why it’s called “Boxing Day.” One thing it seems we can say for sure — it wasn’t because of a big “boxing match.”

Five Years, Five Christmases: You Never Know Where You’ll Be…

As 2012 draws closer to its end, I find myself reflecting on the past. Not the distant past, but the recent past. In fact, with Christmas here today, I found myself reflecting on the last 5 Christmases and just how much things have changed for me over those 5 Christmases. Let’s journey back, shall we?


At Christmas in 2008, I was on reprieve between quarters of the first year of my PhD in clinical psychology (obviously, I didn’t continue with that route). For that Christmas, I left the balmy shores of San Francisco for a flight home to visit my family in Toronto and Detroit. It was a great time.


In 2009, I was in Victoria, British Columbia living on a floathome. My partner and I had just recently come back from New Zealand and decided to spend some time living in the floathome that we had for sale. For that Christmas, my partner and I accepted an invitation to have Christmas dinner with some of the folks living on the Wharf. This particular family had invited a bunch of folks over, so there were like 20+ people inside of this one floathome having Christmas dinner!


The Christmas of 2010 was one that I won’t soon forget, partly because I was just recently married, but probably more so because I spent it on one of the top 10 beaches in the world — on the island of Kauai (in Hawaii). My wife and I got up early on Christmas morning and we went down to Hanalei Bay. The exquisite backdrop of the mountains paired with the sound of the gentle waves kissing the shore… amazing.


In 2011, my wife and I drove up to visit our families in Ottawa/Toronto. If I recall correctly, we spent Christmas in Ottawa visiting with family and friends. It was a rocking good time and makes me consider Ottawa as a place that I might like to live.


And now, 2012. This year, my wife and I have decided to *stay* in Fairfax, VA. I wrote stay like that because it’s not as if we’ve lived in Fairfax for very long (only since August), but we have been in the DC area for over a year now, with me finishing up an MBA.


If you would have asked me in 2008 about any of the subsequent Christmases, I almost assuredly wouldn’t have been able to guess how any of them turned out. Victoria!? HAWAII!? FAIRFAX!!? Who knows where I’ll be for Christmas in 2013. Wherever I am, I hope I’m happy and surrounded by people that I love.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

The Most Unifying Global Event: New Year’s Eve & Day

Is there a more unifying global event than New Year’s Eve & Day?

There have been some rather unifying global events in recent memory, but they usually involve some sort of catastrophe (think: tsunamis). In the US, series finales used to be watched by whole lots of people, but with the further development of individual niche markets, even that has tailed off. There likely won’t ever be a TV show that comes close to touching of over 100 million viewers and close to 80% of households watching.

was a pretty well-liked show, (so I’m told), and its series finale only came in at 54th on the same list. TV is ‘nice,’ but it’s not that I would want unifying the globe. Of course, there are exceptions. If everyone were watching a TV that was commemorating world peace or the end of world hunger, then sure, I’m in.


As I sat and thought about the various global events that have happened, I wondered if there were a night/day more filled with hope and love than New Year’s Eve/Day. Some may cite holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter, but those kinds of holidays can be seen as country-specific or denominational. While there are probably lots of people who celebrate these days regardless of their country and/or religion, I was looking for something with a wider scope.

We could go back in time to the , but again, that was country-specific. Of course, the Soviet Union was interested in the event, but I don’t know that it’s fair to say every country was as enveloped with the event. There’s nothing quite like a ‘new year,’ though, is there? All the potential, the hope, the possibility, the dreams.

I think that New Year’s Eve & Day will be, for quite some time, the most unifying global event. Why? Because this event can be completely different things for everyone. Some people can see it as the end of the “old year,” and some people can focus on the beginning of the “new year.” Some folks can use it as a way to springboard to a motivational state that allows them to achieve their goals/dreams, while others just see it as another day. New Year’s is, in a sense, the perfect event to whatever we want onto it.

Earth Day is Every Day

Forty some odd years ago, United States Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental to be held on April 22nd, 1970. During that year, over 20 million people participated. Many great things happen each year on Earth Day, most of which all have to do with the Earth in some way. It is estimated that over . I think it’s great that we have a ‘day’ dedicated to the Earth, but shouldn’t everyday be Earth Day?

In doing some research for this post, I found something rather interesting that speaks to humans being . When Earth Day was first organized in 1970, it coincided with the centenary of , who established the world’s first officially socialist state. In some of the news reports after the event, Time has a quote from a delegate from Mississippi of the Daughters of the American Revolution: “” How off-the-wall is that? “…Live in an environment that is good for them…” Oh, the humanity, right? It just goes to show that people searching for a conspiracy will always find a conspiracy.

Given that it was Earth Day, I decided to go and take the to see what my carbon footprint was like. I remember doing this several years ago in a globalization class I took during my time as an undergraduate. I was a little disappointed to see that the number of Earths it takes to live my lifestyle has gone up (even slightly) and I would rate myself on the low-end of most Americans, in part, because I live in Hawaii.

When was the last time you ? I haven’t planted a tree since I was in grade school and that’s a little embarrassing coming from someone who prides himself on “loving” the Earth. If you haven’t planted a tree, have you done something else for the Earth today? When I used to live in a city, I would often pick up trash that I saw circling the streets. I know, it’s not much, but it was my way of contributing to the health of the planet. More than that, if I saw something that was recyclable on the top of the garbage pile, I would pick it up and place it into the proper bin, (which was usually a few steps away). I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Independence Day near the beginning of the film where one of the protagonists is an environmental buff who keeps finding one of his co-worker’s coke cans in the garbage when the recycling bin was a few steps away.

Today’s post has been a bit of a potpourri of thoughts about Earth Day. I wanted to end this post with a “hat tip” of sorts to a quote that I always remember when someone tells me that “today is Earth Day.” To my knowledge, every day is Earth Day. We just happen to celebrate it this one day out of the year. I think it’s great that there is a whole day dedicated to the Earth, (there’s also , and a whole , too), but I really think we need to remember that we should “celebrate” Earth Day every day. Buy the product that has “greener” packaging; pick-up a product that is healthier for the environment; hang dry your clothes; take the bus; walk; use the dishwasher; recycle; reuse! There are so many things we can do, every day, to ‘befriend’ the earth.