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Vincent Van Gogh – Google it January 31, 2013

Posted by jaboak in jaboak.
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Hey Sade,You mentioned the other day that you liked “The Starry Night”, the painting you had seen on the laptop.  “Starry Night” was painted by Vincent van Gogh, you should “google” him. (You could also google the noun “google” and see if its in the dictionary as a verb yet!}

Try to go to http://images.google.ca – from there search for him and see what comes up.

If you search for his name from the site http://www.google.com, what is the first site that comes up?

Enjoy kido, and be sure to watch for the names of other painters that we can start to check out.

Salvador Dali is another good name to try 😉


2011 Election – Fiscal Prudenc, Moral Bankruptcy April 16, 2011

Posted by jaboak in jaboak, Uncategorized.
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I once heard a saying… “If you’re not a communist by the time you’re 20 you don’t have a heart. If you’re not a capitalist by the time your thirty you don’t have a brain.” I am reaching an age where I’m surrendering some of my ideals to realities. In spite of this part of my reality is that I live in one of the greatest socialist countries on the planet. A country that is not simply a winner take all – whoever has the gold makes the rules society, but one that fosters and promotes moral character, or “heart”.
The realist in me, or the capitalist, is sure that Canada is off to a great start steering through potentially hard economic times under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. How much credit lies with the politicians, and how much belongs to Canada’s fiscally prudent banking system is a distinction that is rarely made. Even Harper’s Economic Action Plan has been essential in spurring our economy in the right direction; but fiscal stimulus in times of recession or economic depression is obvious to anyone who snoozed through Macro-Economics 101 and recalls the name John Maynard Keynes.
But I will not cast my ballot for the Conservatives. I will not vote for a party without heart. Twice Stephen Harper has turned tail and prorogued parliament to avoid tough situations (a potential vote of non-confidence in 2008[1] and questioning over the treatment of Afghan detainees in 2010[2]). He lied about not making appointments to the Canadian senate. He hung former cabinet minister Helena Guergis out to dry for reasons that we can only begin to guess. During the leaders debate he repeatedly denied that they were corporate tax reductions in effect. He had us on a technicality there – the changes were legislated in 2007[3]. In Harper’s mind the fact that the tax cuts are rolling out between then and 2012 means they aren’t actually happening right now.
I am going to cast my ballot with a view to future elections. I am going to vote for the Green party. I encourage anyone who would put the environment first in their politics to do the same. You are not throwing away your vote. If the Green Party is able to show a larger and larger total percentage of Canadian votes they will necessarily gain credibility as a political alternative in this vacuum of viable political choice. And another mainstream party in Canada will encourage coalition governments by further dividing our votes, which inherently promotes the multitude of views our population represents (I don’t care if that’s mean more elections in which I get to exercise my rights – I like democracy). I’m not afraid of coalitions – they help many other countries realize multiple political paradigms at once. And/or a stronger Green party will help us to realize the fairness of proportional representation – where a percentage of votes equals a percentage of seats, hence the population’s proclivities are embodied in our house of representatives.

[1] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2008/12/04/harper-jean.html

[2] http://www.economist.com/node/15213212?story_id=15213212

[3] http://ipolitics.ca/2011/01/29/corporate-taxes-at-the-house-returnsa-primer-that-cuts-through-the-spin/

My First Challenge January 8, 2011

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This is challenge going to be easy right, we don’t buy a lot of stuff anyways…. Or will it be so easy?

Yesterday while traveling I heard a really cool song, quickly I grabbed my smartphone (which somehow seems to go against the spirit of our challenge… but we love those things) and I was able to use an app to determine the title and artist (what a world we live in! We could seriously start  a discussion about the horizons of technology, and technology for technologies sake)

I love the song and I knew my wife would too.  I felt that the radio was speaking to me, that the challenge was coming out over the airwaves.

I resolved right then and there to buy it when I returned home from work!

That the last statement was in stark contradiction with our challenge never even occurred to me.

I didn’t take long for my dear wife to dash the excitement I felt welling from within (I get pretty pumped about collecting new albums) over the harsh reality of the challenge.

To be fair I can get the album within the rules of the challenge, but I have to find some means other than my regular income to raise the funds to purchase the music.

My wife graciously offered to buy the album for me with money she had garnered from some cloth diapers she had recently sold, and the proceeds from dish cloths she had crocheted.  That didn’t fly with me, my wife doesn’t use her money by me things!!  (I can see this leading to deeper exploration of my relationship with my wife and our roles in the family.  I’m desperately going to need her to buy me things this year unless I can come up with a way, outside of my 9-5, to get some cash.)

I am the first person I ever met that used Napster, and I continued to get my music for free some quite some time after I downloaded my first song.  However,  I guess as the challenge had been building in us over the last few years I had decided that entertainment has real value to me. And although I don’t think that money is the best way to measure value in most situations,  capitalism has pervaded our modern world. And assigning dollar values to things is capitalism’s essence. So a few years back I decided that I was going to pay for music and get some of my dollars through to support the artist.

Boy do I ever regret that decision today!  It was actually a friend who had suggested that if we aren’t going to buy things I could just go and “napster” my music.  But I cannot deny the value of an artist’s work. And as yet I haven’t started bartering for anything, let alone with artist for their crafts.  (I’m going to try that this year!!!!   Maybe my burgeoning marketing skills can be of some use to an artist starting out somewhere.)

I suppose their is two things that come out of this post.  1)  This is going to harder than I thought.  Though we have been discussing this challenge for sometime and I thought I had steeled myself to it, it’s going to be a challenge to live by the rules we’ve set forth.

2)  I’m not saying we would be better off as communists when I poke at capitalism (and in reality socialism prevails) but we do need to examine the dollar value vs. the real value of things.  We need to look at how things are “commodified”. How real things like a persons time, or the environmental impacts of producing and using things are so rarely included in the dollar value of things that companies assign, markets bear, and hence we pay.

My wife crocheted 6 dish cloths in about 3 hours to sell for $15.00 CAD.  My wife’s time is worth much more than $5.00 per hour (and that doesn’t even include input costs!)  Yet a cloth made with virtually no electricity, no large scale manufacturing facilities, virtually no transportation costs etc. is likely worth about $2.50 in reality.

What do you think the real value is of the cloths you get for less than a dollar?


P.S.  For now youtube will suffice as my music collection.  Enjoy Simone White, and her song The great imperialist state

Full Disclosure January 8, 2011

Posted by jaboak in Introduction, jaboak.
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I want to start off my blogging on ‘boaktree’ with complete honesty.

We are trying to share our ideas and explorations through a year, and likely our lifetime while trying to leave a smaller ecological ‘footprint’ on the earth.

So in the interest of full disclosure…  my job title is “marketing coordinator”.  The purpose of my job is sell more stuff. Stuff being our buzz word for the excess material wealth that we believe North American’s inundate ourselves with and in most cases put a net drag on our environment with.

By environment I mean the ecosytem around us, the homes we live in, and the bio-systems that are us.  To me this connection is at the heart of the “challenge”.  It is the admonition that we (not just humans, but me, my wife, our children) are apart of, and can impact our environment.  And that very environment we live in has enormous impacts on us.

Our family, the “boaktree” is not exempt from having more things than we need; but thanks to my diligent, stuff hating wife (I love you DW), we try to keep things of need, quality, and that bring us enjoyment.

I won’t contribute nearly as many practical things to our blog as my wife. She is the main labourer and manager of our busy home, and hence experiences, and applies real world solutions that have a less negative impact on our environment.  Solutions to living life that are sometimes innovative, sometimes time honoured, and often a combination of the two.

And though I won’t contribute any green recipes that emphasize the ethical treatment of food (those won’t really even come from my wife, unless she gets into explaining why she chooses not to eat meat) I hope that I will be able to contribute some ideas that become food for thought.