Monday, January 31, 2011

Inspirations and Perspirations!

My last 2 postings have seemed kind of negative. So here is a pick me up post for all of you. Lately I have been on a bit of a weight loss kick. I am currently 214 pounds and my end goals are to get to 190 pounds, run a 5k or 10k race, I am not sure which yet, and to run a full marathon by age 40.

In 2004 I had my son. At that time I was about 270-280 pounds. As my newborn sat in my arms I thought to myself, "what if I die of a heart attack one day and my son has no father?"

Now as I see it, I was never fat as a child, in fact, I was quite skinny. I weighed 155 pounds in grade 12 and was very athletic. So where did I go wrong? University I was about 180 and by the time I got married I was well over 230. I guess like getting thin, getting fat doesn't happen overnight. I played slo-pitch during the warm months and other indoor sports in the cold months. I never really realized that the amount of food I ate was the major problem. A doctor told me, it didn't matter how much exercise I did, if I was over-eating, I would never see the results I wanted.

So I took that to heart. I went to the gym every morning. I went on the elliptical for 30 minutes, then I did some light weights for 30 minutes. (I didn't want to be a muscle bound ogre.) I purchased the Dr. Phil books that help with weight loss. One book was all about looking into yourself and determining why a person over eats. I really didn't give a crap, why I was fat, I just wanted to fix it.

So all I did was look at the recipes and used those everyday. Now I ate the same thing every day for about 5 months, from January to May. I had Fibre One and milk for breakfast and 2 pieces of turkey bacon. For lunch I would have canned tuna and crackers. For supper it was chicken or lean steak, and veggies. I was steering clear of starchy carbs like potatoes and bread. I would still eat non-startchy carbs.

In the 5 months of going to the gym and eating right, I went from 280ish down to 211. People really noticed a difference in me, people thought wow Ryan you've lost a lot of weight. I was so proud. By 2010 I had regained about 20 pounds and was 230 pounds when my daughter was born in September. Again I thought I was getting a little out of control weight wise. So I started exercising. I haven't lost the amount of weight I want to, but I am a lot fitter at 215 than I was at 211. I have been running on the treadmill, I have been doing some circuit work, and I have done some goal setting.

My first goal was to learn to wall climb. I always wanted to do it, but I felt fat guys dont wall climb and until I was about 200 pounds, that was out of reach. A very good friend of mine told me that if that was a goal of mine I needed to write it down. So I did, then I told my friend Mark. He is a great friend who is supportive of my endeavors to get fit and active. He is an avid rock climber and his fiancee is also a rock climber. They both took me out to the wall to climb and I failed 2 times.

I am not the type to give up on things easily, one of my positive traits is that when I stick my mind to something, I don't stop till it is achieved. My great friend Lindsay and my beautiful wife Megan both have said that to me, when I want something, I go for it. I jump in, with both feet. I was finally able to climb the wall 2 times after failing 2 times. I was ready to uncharacteristcally quit, not due to frustration, but the sheer exhaustion my arms were feeling from climbing. Mark and Holly both gave me a pep talk, Holly told me I could do it, and Mark being the great male friend he is said we weren't quitting till I made it amd to stop being a sissy. Like I said I made it to the top 2 times after that.

It is people like my wife Megan, my entire family, my friends and so many others who constantly push me, encourage me and make me feel like I am accomplishing things, that are so important in my life. I want to make sure everyone that has helped me along in my life is aware, you are the special people who have made me a better person. I am the sum of all experiences I have had. So if we are great friends, or if I met you at a conference in Olds and we hit it off, or we simply work or play together, you are all very special people to me and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being an inspiration to my perspiration.

I know I rambled a bit there, but I guess my point is: no pill, powder, potion or promise can make you feel great about yourself,* you need the internal motivation, desire and a willingness to change, to make you feel better. If you are feeling down, go to your inspirations, seek the extra pep you need to conquer your Everests, then go do it!
                                            (*mental illnesses may need pills, I get it.)

So my challenge to anyone who reads this is the following: Go out and tell 5 people in your life that they make a difference in your world. It could be as simple as the lady who smiles at you every morning as you get coffee, to your significant other. Just make sure people know you appreciate them, you don't have forever with them.

Friday, January 28, 2011

So Where Do We Go From Here and The Deal is Done

So part 2 of my blog from last night. Where do we go from here? With Ed Stelmach retiring at the next election, we face a leadership election in the PC party. We know many names will be thrust about, one name I talked about last night was Fred Morton, you all know him as Ted. I have already stated my disdain for him and his pompous arrogance. It now appears he was Brutus to Stelmach's Caesar. Leading a revolt from within, Morton seems to have essentially pushed Stelmach from Politics. As the saying goes "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" or "nice guys finish last" seems apropos.
  I was however delighted to see that Dave Hancock (@DaveHancockMLA) has THOUGHT about running. I hope he reads my blog and my tweets, I have stated that he would be a perfect choice for leader. Calm, cool, collected and a veteran of politics. He has been a very good Education Minister. With teachers in his family, he understands teachers. He understands the importance of teachers in developing future doctors, lawyers, nurses, tradespeople. He, like Stelmach, in my mind anyways is a people person. I remember when he came to the ATA Annual Representative Assembly to speak to teachers. He told teachers how important he felt they were, how education cannot be simply pushed to the side if our province was to have a bright future. He has more often than not, put the interests of teachers, students and parents all at the forefront.  He seeks to find common ground amongst all stakeholders and make what he feels is the best choice.
     Now of course, people will point to Bill 44, the controversial bill that states a parent can opt their child out of certain parts of curriculum that the parent deems inappropriate. Really, parents have had this power all along. My parents used to have to sign a form saying I could take sex ed in health. I don't think Bill 44 allows a parent to pull their child out of Math because the parent feels a teacher should not be teaching triangles or fractions. (I could be wrong)
     So I say go for it Minister Hancock. Throw your hat in the ring. I will vote for you as leader. Just one request. Don't make deals with the others who run, I think Stelmach giving Morton a deal cost him in the end.

     While on the subject of Minister Hancock, as of today, the ATA, the ASBA and the Government of Alberta have signed a memorandum stating there will be NO change to the current contract. As such, teachers will get the 4.3% raise.

     With the fall of the king in Alberta, many princes and princesses have stepped forward deeming themselves worthy of the Premiership. One such person is Danielle Smith of the Wildrose Alliance. Now let us first look at the name. Wildrose (provincial flower) Alliance (Hey let's throw that word on the end, it worked when the Canadian Alliance formed up their party.) Why not simply call yourselves the Wildrose Reform Alliance Party. We all know that's what you're gunning for anyways. This is simply a more right than the PC's party, that will simply say anything to get elected. They will tell you they want to hire more nurses, more teachers, more everything, but they don't give a cost analysis of their promises. Re-open hospitals, hospital beds, better health care, better everything. But Danielle, where is the cost analysis. They say they want to keep Alberta deficit free, PST free and Rat free. Well I think everyone wants to have all those things for Alberta, but to keep deficit free, where would the cuts come? You simply cannot give everything and take nothing(taxes). So clearly they can only work on 2 of the 3 issues and even then, there will always be rats in Alberta. (Morton).

The Wildrose Alliance Party has their education policy up as well. Their policy has a few odd things to it.
1) All money follows your child. This is the US Voucher system. Your child has money earmarked to them, then you pick the school you want your child to go to. So Suzy's family picks her school and all goes well until one day something goes awry and Suzy's family has her go to a new school. Does the money get prorated? Sounds like Ms. Smith also closely follows Fraser Institute reports, which rank schools on "how great" they are.
2) Schools should be built where there is need, and not based on politics. Ok Ms. Smith so you think Airdrie needs a new school because one of YOUR MLA's says so, but then maybe my MLA who may not be in your party also deems my city needs a new school, are you going to give money to build both?  All things being equal, I will bet dollars to donuts, YOUR MLA will get their school before mine. How would you even determine that the need was true. Honesty? This is politics, honesty is as rare as a double rainbow....all the way. So what does it all mean?

Well to sum up I think it means, in the next few weeks, Ministers will resign to run for leader, as they should, they will all then distance themselves from Stelmach(because we all know this was ALL his fault)*sarcasm*, then you will see Wildrose state how the PC party is dead and that their party is saviour of Alberta, and that if we vote for them, the world will be a much better place. The Liberals will be stunned as to what to do and the Alberta party will simply...exist.

Who you ally with is up to you. Remember, it is easy to be the quarterback from the armchair. Smoke and mirrors eventually will be seen through and until I see actual numbers on policies, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Teachers, Government, and where do we turn.

I have had access to a blog for many years now. I have actually never written a post. Until now. Recent news has made me feel the need to write my thoughts and feelings. So here goes, my first blog.

1) The Government of Alberta has recently asked the ATA (Alberta Teachers' Association) and the ASBA (Alberta School Boards Association) to re-open the current agreed upon contract that is due to expire in 2012.
     The current contract is a 5 year contract that ties teacher salary increases to the Average Weekly Wage of the province. According to the Government, this is how they give themselves raises. Next year, teachers are slated to earn a 4.3% wage increase. The Government feels this is too much and will seriously hurt the province. Thus they have asked everyone back to the table.
     The rumoured proposal by the Government is to reduce classroom instruction hours, supervision/extra-curricular duty, and more teacher guided professional development. The public already has a pre-concieved notion that teachers are overpaid and underworked. They point to summers off and Christmas/Easter holidays.
     Second, the reduced supervision is a difficult proposition. Someone has to supervise. Who will do it? Volunteers? Not likely. Hire people to supervise? Seems like teachers are already hired.
     Lastly, the increased professional development time. Where will this PD occur? Afterschool? Weekends? Will we have to be out of our classrooms? The latter will lead people to say "Oh those lazy teachers...another day off."
     Now before you get all angry and say, "hey Ryan, how can you turn your back on the province when it is in trouble." Let's look at the other side of the current contract. Teachers voted to accept the 5 yr contract and as such whatever raise was deemed appropriate using the Average Weekly Wage Index. Teachers also agreed not to strike or have a labour disruption for the term. We also agreed that if the wages were 0% or less, we would not get a pay increase. The Government agreed to no pay cut and that the lowest pay increase would be 0%.
So teachers have kept their end of the contract, the ASBA has kept its end of the contract. Now the government has to keep its end up.
     I only wonder what the Government would have said if the tables were reversed and after multiple year of 0% increases, teachers asked to re-open the contract.

My recommendation to teachers is to take the 4.3%. The reason will tie into #2 below.

2) Premier Ed Stelmach has announced he will not seek re-election in the next provincial vote. As such, he is stepping down as leader of the PC party. Many people in the following days and weeks will clamour for his position. MLA Ted Morton has already resigned from cabinet and has put his name in the ring for leader.
     In 2006, Ed Stelmach beat Morton and Jim Dinning to become leader. I voted for Stelmach. Not that I thought he was great, but the Ultra-Right wing views of Morton were not palatable and Dinning saw the leadership race as a pre-disposed coronation.
    Morton is an American. Born in Los Angeles, Lived in Wyoming, moved to Canada. We clearly do not need an American form of ultra-conservatism in this province. I suspect that Morton's ego will again lead to him NOT being leader of the PC Party.

With this uncertainty of who will be the next Premier, it is important that teachers take the 4.3%, because a new premier may seriously impact the teaching profession.