Monthly Archives: September 2017

If this blog were a band, this post would be it’s self-titled album.

A good friend of mine, Jeremy Ellis, is the unwitting source of the name for my blog. Back in 2012 when I created this space to host my writing, I was living with Jer and two other buddies on Cole Road in Guelph. We were all in the last year of our degrees, and the house got along pretty well (other than one memorable tirade about dishes, that went something like this definitely NSFW (Not Safe For Work) piece of work from Washington Capital’s coach Bruce Boudreau, but that was an aberration).

One morning, when I asked Jer what he was getting up to that day as he walked out the door, he responded: “Oh, you know. Different sorts of things.” And he left.

That’s quintessential Jer. Short and to the point, didn’t really care that he hadn’t answered the question at all, and most of all, hilarious.

Later, when I was looking for a name for my new blog, this phrase crossed my mind. As the FAQ section still says, I didn’t really have a specific reason for starting a blog (a theme that continues to this day). So I thought that I’d better title the blog something broad enough to cover whatever I might end up doing in the space. At the same time, I didn’t want to choose something boring and then have to change it down the road. When “Different Sorts of Things” came to mind, I stopped looking – that was the one. At the time, I just thought that it was kind of funny – it reminded me of Jer, and was whimsical enough to adequately fill the space at the top of my new blog.

As time has passed (whoa, 6+ years now…) I’ve given a bit more thought to “Different Sorts of Things” as a title. And I’m still really glad that I chose it.

I think it does a good job of conveying a part of my personal philosophy – that it is important to be a well-rounded person. To read about, to engage in, and to do different sorts of things (interesting things!). It’s easy to get caught up in what we do for work, in our one favourite hobby or genre of music/movie/TV show, or in reading only the same few publications over and over. Routines are important, but it’s just as important to build variation into that routine.

I think the name also does a good job of not taking itself too seriously. The Roman philosopher Seneca, in the 1st century AD, wrote on the question of “How to live?”, that one should give up the pursuit of wealth or high office, and instead spend one’s days philosophizing. This perspective was brought to my attention in an article in The Guardian (which I listened to on their Long Reads Podcast), discussing the cult of time management, pervasive today around the world. To me, doing different sorts of things represents that philosophizing.

In a global economic climate where there is so much concern for efficiency, productivity, and getting (and staying) ahead, this philosophizing is vital to keeping one foot firmly planted in the reality that all the hustle and bustle of big city life isn’t all that there is to our existence.

So thanks, Jerry, for the inspiration. You’ll call BS when I say this, but you continue to inspire me every day.

Jerry's Cigar Bar and Ellis Burgers in Bruges, Belgium.

This post is the ninth installment in my month-long project, #500in28. For the next 28 days, I’ll be spending 28 minutes a day writing 500 words. See here for my first post explaining the project.




When I started this daily writing project, I had it in my mind that difficulties would spring up along the way. While I had plenty of topics ready to go, and figured that I could pretty easily carve out a half hour per day to write about them (the 28 minutes of writing, plus 2 minutes to grab a snack before starting), I also knew that it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. My mom put it this way: “It’s a great idea, but… why right now?”

My mom was right. I’m now into the second week of the Bachelor of Education program at UOIT, and as such, I have lots of new tasks and routines to get used to. Returning to school for the first time in a while, with the goal of becoming the best teacher I can be, is a lot of work. So she’s right, it maybe isn’t the best time to take on a daily project like this – and looking back over the past 10 days or so, it’s obvious that I haven’t been able to keep to my desired daily schedule.

So this is a mea culpa, of sorts. An admission of the need to recalibrate.

From the outset, the goal of the project was to provide an avenue for self-improvement in the areas of motivation and self-discipline. I am working to develop the routines of a person who wakes up early in the morning, laser-focused on a ever-evolving and curated priority list, working quickly and efficiently to knock off tasks from the top down. I have always known it to be the case that this goal is one that is never truly attained – that striving for efficiency and constant prioritization in life will always be a work-in-progress. However, falling behind with this specific task has demonstrated that truth to me in bold. And it is a clear indication that I still have pleeeennnnty of room for improvement in my two targeted fields.

My point with this short update is to say (of course, to everyone who has been so kind to read my writing thus far, but most importantly, to myself) that this project will continue. Whether it returns to being daily remains to be seen – with the daily goal, I may have stretched myself a bit too far. But I can say that it will continue to be prioritized near the top of my list. Furthermore, I can also say with certainty that it is my intention that the days where I don’t publish only come about due to a surplus of higher priorities, rather than a deficit of motivation and hard work.

The meaning of “#500in28” still stands. I am still aiming to write 500 words in 28 minutes. The dual meaning of twenty-eight (doing so for 28 consecutive days) has now been blowed up good. But I will continue nonetheless.

UOIT Faculty of Ed.

This post is the eighth installment in my month-long project, #500in28. For the next 28 days, I’ll be spending 28 minutes a day writing 500 words. See here for my first post explaining the project.

This is the second of a series of a few posts on my experiences visiting the historical sites of The Great War in France and Belgium in the summer of 2017. For the first post, please click here.

One piece of information about Vimy that I learned, and that has stuck with me, is the manner in which Canadians prepared for the battle.

Whether from history class, or from a Canadian Heritage minute, most people know about the creeping barrage tactic, whereby the advancing troops were shielded from the view of the Germans by a rolling curtain of artillery fire. The shells hid the soldiers’ movements, and kept the German infantry sheltering in their bunkers and trenches, so that when the barrage suddenly lifted at the synchronized time, the advancing Allied forces were right on top of the sheltering Germans – an advantageous position for an attacker.

However, the information that I referenced in the beginning has to do with the specific preparations for the attack. This Heritage Minute clip does a good job of touching on most of them:



It references the tunnels that Canadian troops emerged from. These tunnels were part of an extensive and extended campaign of underground warfare, involving the use of mines against enemy targets both above and below ground, and with horrific fighting taking place in the tunnels on occasions when opposing groups of tunnelers dug into each others’ space under ground.

The main point I would like to make when it comes to the tunnels relates to the men who occupied them on the morning of April 9th, 1917. Overnight, thousands of soldiers sat in the cold, damp, dark silence, waiting for the explosion of the thousands of pounds of explosive mines buried underground that would destroy German positions, create advantageous craters and trenches on the surface, and most importantly signify the commencement of the attack.

Later this summer, after returning to Canada, we went with my mom and my brother to see the Soulpepper production, VIMY. The story is incredible, and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in Canadian history. The moment from the show that struck me most intensely was the moment where the soldiers are waiting, about to attack. They’re waiting for the mines to blow, for the artillery to let it rip, and to emerge from the tunnels to traverse no-man’s-land.

Up until this moment, the production had portrayed the soldiers as champing at the bit to get involved in the war. But VIMY so poignantly made clear that in the lull before the attack, some of the men must have begun to wonder whether the impending battle would be as glorious as they’d hoped.

Knowing how their story ends, even knowing that this battle was one of the best outcomes for the Allies in the entire war, is still to know that thousands of men would have their lives altered forever. Even those who escaped with no physical harm done would forever remember their friends and fellow soldiers who hadn’t been so lucky.

In the moment in VIMY where the battle is about to begin, I honestly started to cry and thought to myself – what if we could go back and just call it all off?


This post is the seventh installment in my month-long project, #500in28. For the next 28 days, I’ll be spending 28 minutes a day writing 500 words. See here for my first post explaining the project.

This week, I will be writing about Vimy Ridge.

In June of this year, I had the good fortune of being able to visit the fabled French locale. For my girlfriend and I, it was part of a 2-month trip that took us from India and Nepal to Western Europe. The several days that we (along with her mom and her mom’s partner) spent in Belgium and France are what I’d like to talk about, and in doing so I will be using Vimy and the Battle of Vimy Ridge as a focus and jumping off point.

Prior to the planning of this trip, I knew about Vimy through the same means and lens that I suspect most Canadians do. Grade 10 history class, Remembrance Day speeches, Canadian Heritage Minutes, and CBC Documentaries. I’d been taught, like most of us, that Vimy was a foundational moment – perhaps the foundational moment – for Canada. The moment that we graduated from colony to country. In some ways, this is true. However, in doing some research and preparing for this trip, I gained an incredible appreciation for the breadth and depth of this long Canadian moment.


“The Spirit of Sacrifice”

Off the top, I have to say that it is true that the Canadians were the ones who were able to take the ridge, following a multitude of previous attempts from the French, British, and Allies. As an indication of how instrumental Canadians were to the capture of the ridge, 250 acres of land on top of the ridge was ceded to Canada, and thus the territory is now Canadian land. This is one of two sites that were given such treatment by the French – I will discuss the other later this week.

In this discussion of some other aspects of Vimy, I do not mean to diminish the contributions of Canada to the War effort. Nor do I mean to attack any person or institution that touts the bravery and ingenuity of the Canadians at Vimy as central to their identity. My great-grandfather fought, and was wounded, at Vimy. I am grateful that he returned to Canada (as without that, the three most-recent generations of my family would never have existed), and ever-mindful of the sacrifice of so many. The sacrifice of those who lived a more-difficult life after having experienced the horrors of war, and the ultimate sacrifice of those who never even got the chance to do so. In discussing Vimy, I simply mean to bring up some of the subtleties about which I learned while there.

The main source of this deeper understanding was an excellent episode of Paul Kennedy’s “Ideas” on CBC Radio, entitled “Vimy at 100: Myth vs. Reality”. In the episode, historian Tim Cook discusses the historical evolution of the manner in which Vimy has been presented to Canadians and used to manipulate the passions of citizens. One example of the changing profile of Vimy in the minds of Canadians is the simple fact that the dramatic and stunning memorial monument that stands atop the ridge was originally meant to be built elsewhere. In the immediate years following the War, Vimy was not necessarily thought of as a place of such importance that it begged for a beautiful piece of art.

The other big point that made an impression on me was that once the ridge was won, the Battle of Arras of which it was a part continued on. And on. And on. This story was brand new to me. I had previously thought that this had been a win, full stop. But the Ridge was simply one objective in a long and bitter advance – a trait typical of most battles in The Great War. While this does not diminish the achievement of the objective, it does provide greater context to the overall horrific meaninglessness that soldiers may have felt while endlessly advancing into enemy fire.

That wraps things up for this week. I look forward to delving further into Vimy in the coming days.

Thanks, as always, for reading.


This post is the sixth installment in my month-long project, “500 in 28”. For the next 28 days, I’ll be spending 28 minutes a day writing 500 words. See here for my first post explaining the project #500in28.