My 10 Most Played Songs and What They Say About Me


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WARNING: PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED!

This isn’t 1998 where I used to play DMX’s It’s Dark and Hell is Hot on low volume so my parents wouldn’t hear all the cussing — I’ve been consuming hip-hop for a very long time, and if you’re easily offended, I’ve refrain from playing the YouTube videos in this post.

But now that that’s out of the way, please enjoy!


One thing you’ll rarely see me without is my iPod (well, except that one time I forgot to pack it if or a week-long stay in Vegas). I grew up with music as a core part of my life with my Dad loving his soul and reggae, and investing in solid stereo systems to listen to it all. I dabbled in piano, viola and choir, and tried my hand at rap for a good while.

Music keeps me going. Music keeps me sane. And I find that the more we explore our musical tastes, the more patterns emerge, and the more our collections speak to who we are. Our tastes will always evolve, but there will always be foundational cues that draw us to one song over another.

In today’s post, I wanted to give you a little insight into what music has stuck with me the most, and maybe give some points where we can relate to each other.

I hope you enjoy it!

#10 — Justin Timberlake — Don’t Hold the Wall (395 plays)

The 20/20 Experience is to Futuresex/Lovesounds what The Dark Knight Rises is to The Dark Knight — it’s good, but it’s lacking. There was a whole heap of expectation leading up to it, and when it came out there was a collective “eh” that could be heard the world ’round.

But it can grow on you, and that’s precisely what “Don’t Hold the Wall” did to me.

While not strictly a party song, Justin still manages to make a song about getting your ass on the dance floor sexy and club-worthy, with its popping percussion and thumping bass.

It’s a perfect blend between Timbaland wanting to make you shake what your mama gave you and JT wanting to get you to take off whatever’s covering it.

#9 — 田中公平 / 浜口史郎 — 3つの塔 [Kohei Tanaka — “Tower of Three” from the Original Soundtrack for One Piece Movie 3] (407 plays)

If you expected to see this list without one anime-related entry, you don’t know Case.

One Piece is hands down one of the best manga that Japan has ever offered (it might be the best-selling manga it’s ever had, but sources differ between One Piece and Dragon Ball as the one that reigns supreme). Over 700 issues and 600 22-minutes episodes deep, it’s the story of teenage pirate Luffy D. Monkey and the crew he assembles in his quest to become the Pirate King. They undergo a ton of adventures and challenges to work their way there, and the series is still ongoing — they’ve a ways to go yet!

Why should you care about One Piece?

The Japanese have excelled at storytelling for centuries. Where we water down messages and themes for our younger audiences, the Japanese are all about story purity, doing everything possible to deliver the best story that they can — otherwise, in a highly competitive manga industry, they’re simply not going to sell!

One Piece is one of those stories that actually gets you to care about the characters. Unexpected deaths, epic battles, difficult choices, sociopolitical issues and emotional turmoil — Eiichiro Oda spares no expense at making sure you know that no one is invincible, and if they want to succeed, they’d better be willing to work their ass off to do it!

Think of it like Game of Thrones, though Oda isn’t nearly as much of a jerk as George R. R. Martin. I haven’t wanted to hurt Oda yet! (Martin, I’ll find out where you live. Red Wedding my ass.)

The anime was only made better by getting Kohei Tanaka to compose its music — the track you hear above is the music used to recap events at the beginning of each episode and get you pumped for what’s ahead. Check One Piece out. It’s worth the investment!

#8 — Kendrick Lamar — Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe (419 plays)

Whenever I’m feeling worn out, this is a song that can get me moving again. Track 2 on Kendrick’s 2012 good kid, m.A.A.d. city release, this song is a hand to the face to anyone trying to bring down what Kendrick’s trying to accomplish. I said it before it came out, I said it when it came out and I’m saying it now — gkmc was one of the best albums that 2012 had to offer, and if you haven’t given it a listen, do so immediately. You’ll hear the expertly woven tale of how Kendrick got to where he is now, and when you respect that, you respect why this song is wholly appropriate.

#7 — J. Cole — Power Trip (featuring Miguel) (421 plays)

I remember when this just got  released and I instantly fell in love with the smoothness of the song for a while.

“Got me open all night / All I’m singing is love songs.”

Some songs are simply hypnotic to me, and while this would eventually be released on a sub-par album (which ended up being okay — J. Cole decided to release Born Sinner the same day that Kanye West did Yeezus, an album that just confused the hell out of everybody), I think it’ll still get some play in the Palmer household in the near future.

#6 — Rich Kidd — Beautiful Day (429 plays)

SHOUT-OUT TO SAUGA CITY!!!

The Toronto music scene is horribly underrated. Kardinal Offishall’s been in the rap game for years and didn’t get international acclaim ’til he jumped the border to work for Akon; Drake lost the wheelchair-bound persona and fled south of the border long ago to become Drizzy and somehow convince the world that he’s a badass — but there’s so much talent that’s still here.

Back in the early 2000s, I used to draw. A lot. The stuff I was working on caught a rapper’s eye — Junia-T — who was then working in a collective of 8 called 3-5 Playa in a basement over on Ridgeway Drive in Mississauga’s west end. (I even did some cover art for one of their mixtapes once upon a time!)

Years would pass and one of the producers Junia would work with was Rich Kidd, hailing from the same part of town. The man has a ridiculously prodigious body of work, but one of my favourites is his more recent “Beautiful Day”, where he’s down in California recording, but thinking on his days growing up in Mississauga — my hometown.

Every city has its ode that honours it — this one’s one of the closest that Mississauga’s ever gotten.

#5 — Chris Brown — Fine China (454 plays)

I’ll admit — I got Chris Browned on this one. To quote myself:

Chris Browned (phrase) — to hear a song on the radio and enjoy it, only to discover that it’s by Chris Brown.

Also see: Love the music, hate the artist; Bobby Brown; R. Kelly

I heard this for the first time when playing a game of Race for the Galaxy with Sarah in our den and loved how it flowed. My eyes bugged out when I looked at the Shazam result, but it was too late — the damage had already been done.

I’d been Chris Browned.

And on a side note — how does a dude who used to krump have such a stiff-ass fight scene???

#4 — Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep: Fate of the Unknown (as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra) (479 plays)

I grew up in a Mississaugan home with two working parents in the 80s and 90s, so video games and TV played a huge role in my upbringing — it recently shocked me when a friend and I were recalling stage music from Mega Man I – V from memory. So when I saw that the London Philharmonic Orchestra had performed a series of video game tunes, I was on it.

While much of it was from an era past my gamer days, one caught my attention — what turned out to be the background music for the final hidden scene in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep!

One day, I’d love to make an animated film, and if I ever do, this is what the music for one of the battle scene will sound like!

SO GOOD.

#3 — Kendrick Lamar — Poe Man Dreams (His Vice) (featuring GLC) (532 plays)

Before good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Kendrick Lamar made another attempt to tell the tale of life in Compton with Section.80.

A solid album in its own right, Section.80 covers topics on everything from living a life of crime, the dangers of prostitution, the ills of promiscuity and its effects on relationships — there’s so much it covers, but doesn’t have the narrative packaging you find in gkmc.

But it’s still a great album.

“Poe Mans Dreams” may be the most positive song on the album, with an ethereal beat that puts the listener in the right frame of mind to understand the dreams Kendrick outlines from the vantage point of poverty. All anyone in that situation wants is the ability to “smoke good, eat good, live good”, and while Kendrick realizes that most of his people can’t do so now, he does what he does so that they eventually can.

After removing the song’s layers, it’s inspiring to see the degree of one man’s hustle to make it.

#2 — Jamiroquai — World That He Wants (733 plays)

I’ve loved Jamiroquai’s work ever since I stumbled across the “Virtual Insanity” video in 1997. But the Jamiroquai I knew was the dance party Jamiroquai with jams like “Love Foolosophy”, “Canned Heat” and “Alright” — when I heard “World That He Wants” for the first time, it completely caught me off-guard. Why did it sound so tortured? Is it some introspective look at humanity? Are we saying that God’s abandoned us? And why is the music only coming out of my left speaker???

“World That He Wants” is hauntingly beautiful, and gives you a completely different idea of what the band is capable of. It took them 13 years to get to this point, but the song is worth every second.

#1 — Kendrick Lamar — Money Trees (featuring Jay Rock) (769 plays)

I was caught in Jamiroquai’s throes for a while, but it wouldn’t last. The 10 most-played songs in my iTunes library are undoubtedly Kendrick Lamar-heavy, but before I bought gkmc, before I even knew the story behind the album, there was one beat that burrowed its way deep into my audio cortex and wouldn’t leave. I’d only heard a 90-second snippet, but it was looping in my head and wasn’t going anywhere until I’d heard it in full on the album.

That song is “Money Trees”.

What makes Kendrick so unique is that he isn’t running around talking about all the things he’s got or glorifying life in the hood. He’s a conscious rapper, analyzing everything that he’s been exposed to in his environment and portraying it in a way that draws the casual listener into his world. But unlike the conscious rappers of yesteryear who preached messages but couldn’t package them for mass consumption, Kendrick’s managed to combine amazing beats, killer flow and complex lyrics into a body of work that lets anyone realize that hip-hop is far from dead.

Kendrick is very likely the man holding the torch that lights the way for the future of hip-hop. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

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So there you have it. My top 10 most played songs in my iTunes library and why they beat 10,000+ other songs to get there.

But enough about me — what are your top 10 songs? How many times have you played them? What do they say about you? Are there any on there that you wish didn’t make the cut?

Looking forward to seeing what makes you tick!

HYFR and YOLO,

–case p.

THE GREAT SOCIAL MEDIA STORY: Stay Thirsty

“You can see that my city found me then put me on stages

To me that’s amazing

To you that’s a quick check with all disrespect let me say this”

— Kendrick Lamar, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”, good kid, m.A.A.d. city

Thirsty. That’s the word I’d use to describe some of the social medialites I’ve come across in Toronto: “thirsty”. There’re more than enough people out there who’d love to piggyback off of the fame and reputation of the people who’ve “made it” to make a name for themselves — but when it comes to how long the fame will last from who you’re associated with, it takes real talent to get you to a point where you’ll matter — it’s just like the difference between a candle and a sparkler.

Burning Bright

Ever since humankind started its journey to walk upright, we’ve been drawn to flames. That flicker in the night that gets noticed, bring hopes and unless it spirals out of control, benefits everyone around it with its warmth, heat to prepare sustenance and light.

Fame’s a lot like that. There’re certain people we’re automatically drawn to, who just seem to glow and stand out in a crowd. You don’t quite know what it is, but there’s something about them that just makes them different. Maybe they’re really good at telling jokes. Maybe people gravitate to them because they make them feel safe. Whatever it is, that’s stuff you can’t fake. Someone who has your best interests at heart — that’s part of who they are. How they operate. It’s coded into their DNA! To me, these people burn like candles, their glow lasting a long time, and might eventually burn out (especially if they overextend themselves — a candle can only illuminate so much of a room, after all), but the glow — albeit dull — lasts far longer than their contemporary: the sparkler.

The first time I’d gotten a birthday cake with a sparkler on it, I remember that my eyes grew wide in wonder at the sheer brightness I was seeing. The glow overwhelmed everything around it , and no matter where you were in the room, you knew it was there to get noticed!

But after a minute or so, the sparkler died out, and I was left with a charred stick and a bunch of smoke.

Thirsty for that Fame

Thirsty social medialites may have an endgame in mind, but more often they’re after fame for the sake of fame. They want to be seen. They want the world to know that they exist. They want a quick way to reach the top of the lists and recognized for being amazing.

Which is exactly how a fad works.

Sure, you might be popular for a moment and have people flocking to you because your name’s on the tip of everyone’s tongues, but if you’re not giving anything back to the world you live in, it’s only so long before you don’t matter anymore. You can only take from the world without giving back for so long before people tire of you. Before they abandon you. Be parasitic long enough, and the same people who once had your back will be feeding you to the wolves.

So what’s the lesson? The lesson here is to be as valuable as possible. Say nice things. Offer your seat on the subway. See how you can help others before you help yourself. Be generous. Let someone go ahead of you in traffic. Stand for something. Think before you speak. Genuinely care about the welfare of others. Help those who can’t help themselves. Make the world you want to live in. If you can live a life focused on giving positivity to the world, it’ll be contagious and you’ll be one of the candles, helping to keep the world bright, warm and hopeful.

However, if you read this post and thought that I’m too naïve, too optimistic and don’t have the chops I need to deal with the real world; if you read this and immediately thought that only the strong survive and that stomping on others is all in the name of the game; if taking care of numero uno is the only thing that matters to you, I only have two words for you:

Stay thirsty.

–case p.

 

Don’t Judge a Map by its Googleness

Last night I learned a good lesson in relying too much on technology.

To keep fit, I play sports. I’ve never enjoyed staying still in a gym — I need to run around to enjoy myself, so it was fortunate that I joined an intramural mixed sports team 5 years ago. Since then, I’ve moved on to a regular Ultimate Frisbee team and haven’t looked back.

One of the quirky things about these intramural leagues is that the game locations often change every week, so you need to know where you’re supposed to be and at what time. Fortunately, some leagues like the Toronto Ultimate Club offer an iCal option so I can stay on top of my games — I just imported it into my Google Calendar, which syncs to my phone.

Normally, this is a perfect set-up for me — that is, unless the map’s not quite right.

Relating with Christopher Columbus

This is the map my phone gave me for my game:

Horrible map to 275 Unwin Ave

So to translate that, I expected a 5-minute walk,10-minute bus ride, and then another 15-minute walk — BOOM! I’m at the game. Couldn’t be easier, right?

But that map was a goddamn lie.

Here’s what the map should’ve looked like:

Better map to 275 Unwin Ave, aka the Cherry Beach Sports Fields

So a few things to put this in context for everyone:

  1. I’d slept in from a nap and was already late — I didn’t even reach the end of the first map until 7:20 for a 7 PM game!
  2. This was another 15-minute walk on top of the 15 I’d just power walked, which would’ve been fine if I’d stuck to the road and taken a straight line there, but noooo I had to try the waterfront trail and take a nice nature walk to get even more lost. What the hell. Also, one of the reasons why I play Ultimate well is because of my speed, and I didn’t want to run with sore legs, making me absolutely useless to the team. Oy.

    Unwin Avenue and the Waterfront Trail
    It’s a lot more confusing in person, TRUST ME.

The Ultimate Trek to an Ultimate Game

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YO. WE PLAYIN' ULTIMATE, MAAAAAAN!!!

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I mean, all’s well that ends well — I eventually wound up at my game (a mere 45 minutes late) and ended up playing one of my best games ever. I guess all that cardio and walking must’ve gotten me limber and ready for some power plays! But I learn a very important lesson:

Technology isn’t perfect.

We rely on tech for everything, but remember less now than our predecessors. Everything’s a quick Google search away, and we trust so much of what we see online without questioning it.

This could be a problem.

So remember to question what the Internet tells you, if even only a little. Nothing’s perfect in the digital age, and the more you can store in your head, the less often you’ll find yourself wandering across isolated train tracks on a hot summer day, wondering how it all went so wrong so quickly.

–case p.

WHAT YOU MISSED (Vegas Edition) — Being a #BiSC-uit: A Weekend That Changes EVERYTHING

A whole group of BiSC-uits dressed up for the White Party at BiSC 2013!
Photo courtesy of San.

Sometimes you just won’t recognize something that’s been missing in your life until you experience it.

I’ve been back in Toronto a few days now after almost a week spent in the crazy of Las Vegas — but I haven’t blogged. I haven’t felt the urge to get back in the mix and put my blood, sweat and tears into my content… not unless I was ready to chance everything and start to write stuff that lives up to my potential. That week in Vegas — much of it spent at Bloggers in Sin City (BiSC) — returned something to me that I didn’t know I was missing. It gave me something that makes me look at the world around me in a different way, and changes what I’m trying to accomplish with everything I do.

It gave me hope.

Tragedy and a Lesson in Moving On — The Boston Marathon Bombings

The now-famous video frame that shows one of the bombs detonating at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Source: Stringer/Reuters

What do we do in the face of tragedy? Do we stop everything we do to remember the victims, or do we work even harder to honour them?

The answer, it turns out, isn’t so simple.

Do We Move On or Do We Remember?

Ever since the Boston Marathon bombings a few days back, I haven’t been overly keen to blog. I’d written a post about blogging — about how people choose to sacrifice quality for quantity when it comes to blogging and why they needed to change the entire idea of how we blog. I’d actually written all weekend, on topics like my February trip to Las Vegas, a look at the future, and a number of the events I’ve been to as of late.

But none of it felt right. None of it felt like the stuff I should be blogging about, considering that others had it so much worse off than I did. It felt — empty, maybe. Like the things I planned to blog about didn’t hold enough meaning to share them with others. Much of what I’d planned to blog about suddenly felt tasteless. The things I was passionate about moments before didn’t interest me anymore.

And so, I slowed down for a bit. For the second time in as many weeks, I found myself in a state of self-analysis, trying to figure out why it is that I do what I do.

We all respond to tragedies in different ways. Some of us internalize that pain, empathize and cope with it by ourselves. Some of us work hard to prove that we’re still alive and won’t let the ills of the world get us down. There’re any of a multitude of coping mechanisms we use to try to get past acts like this, but there’s something it gives you, if even for the briefest of moments — perspective. A tragedy like this gives everyone the chance to reflect on what’s actually important.

Problems Without Solutions

I’m a problem solver — I like to look at a situation and try to figure out what the best possible outcome is, and I’ve gotten pretty decent at it. But the problems that really matter in this world are bigger than any one person: hunger, greed, war, disease, violence… it feels at times like the world is sinking and there’s no purchase for us to climb out of the pit.

I’m a problem solver. When someone has an issue come up in their lives, my first reaction is to try to come up with a solution (much to Sarah’s chagrin when she just wants to vent). My brain works a mile a minute, trying to connect dots and figure out what I can do to make things better.

But some problems are too big to easily find their solutions. Things like war, hunger, poverty — or yes, senseless acts of violence — are things that have been around for generations, and one should not expect to find a solution for them overnight. We can share ideas, volunteer and donate — but many of these are Band-Aid solutions that don’t address the real issues that allow these things to keep happening:

Ourselves and our attitudes toward the world we live in.

So I took to my notebook and tried to rationalize what was going on. I started writing what you’re reading now — what the things I’ve seen and read about these past few days has me thinking about. Processing the negative and trying to turn it into something positive. Something to make this world a little better — even if only for a moment.

Pulling the Band-Aid Off

In the end, I decided it was due time to get back to the grind and do what I do best. We can’t stop our lives for every tragedy that happens or we’d never get anything done. At the same time, we should never forget that these tragedies happened, nor forget the victims that endured them. The world’s a big place — and it’s not all good. Many of us are simply going through the motions day by day as we try to make sense of it all and find our place. And while we still need to solve the equation for world peace, what I do know is this — we won’t find it without waking up, caring a little more about each other, and choosing more actions that benefit our communities and not just ourselves.

From ABC News: “A runner tapes a sign combining a Boston Red Sox logo with a yellow ribbon on a corner street post where Massachusetts Street intersects another roadway, April 15, 2013, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)”

Make the world you want to live in.

–case p.

THE GREAT SOCIAL MEDIA STORY: Man in the Mirror

“Brrrrrrrr. What happened to that boy?”

–Birdman (featuring The Clipse), “What Happened to that Boy?”, Birdman, 2002

I decided to stay away from blogging until I had something worthwhile to say. I’m not just an event blogger. I don’t just take photos of food and share stories from my past.

I used to draw. I used to write novels. I used to spend months on projects instead of trying to crank content out to keep — what, relevant? Popular? To show how good I am at social media?

Whatever the reason, I was lost. I was blogging out of control with no end in sight.

This wasn’t the way it meant to be.

An Epiphany

After two solid years of spending the lion’s share of my time on social media and events related to it, I’ve figured out that I’m far happier investing time in creating quality projects than I am doing lots of little things daily to keep fresh in everyone’s mind. I wasn’t doing anything for myself anymore — I was starting to do things because of so many other obligations, and not simply because I could. It was like being 16 all over again.

We might be the sum of our experiences, but we are measured by the sum of what we put out into the world around us — and if we put stuff out that we can’t always stand behind, then what does that add up to?

Christine recently asked me a question that caught me dead in my tracks. It was so alarmingly simple that I’m surprised I hadn’t thought on it before, but the more I thought on it, the more I realized that I’d lost my way and needed to stop figure out what exactly I was doing. It was only four words, but they captured much of what I’ve felt lately — and that question is this:

“What are your goals?”

Why Am I Doing This?

I usually start things for one reason: because they’re interesting. When I started blogging on LiveJournal in 2002, it was because it gave me an outlet to express myself through all the emotional turmoil and confusion that was my transition from high school to university. When I started doomsdayblaze.com and Fish ‘n’ Chimps in 2003, I was looking to develop my coding skills even further and put a regular webcomic out about the characters I’d grown to love. I started using Facebook in 2005 because it was “cool” and gave me a better place to represent myself than I would anonymously on other sites like AsianAvenue or BlackPlanet.

I start things because they interest me, and social media was no different. When I started with a Twitter account in ’08, I barely used it, and no one was listening to me. That would change when I finally started meeting people at tweetups by the end of 2010 and building a network of peers, friends and business associates to work with.

But there lies the problem — work at something enough, and it reaches a tipping point where what was fun and interesting suddenly becomes serious. You become marketable. That thing you dabbled in suddenly becomes work.

LiveJournal became less important to keep up as my life became more routine and I found less wonder in each day — forcing myself to write about myself became an uphill battle that I didn’t want to fight. With school, work and a social life, I found myself at home less and less often, which meant my art suffered from my absence, and my content for doomsdayblaze.com with it. And while I still use Facebook and connect with my friends, I’ve stopped broadcasting my every thought like I used to and started sharing — almost instinctively — the ideas which I think others would actually respond to.

But social media took that tipping point to an entirely new level.

Blogging Outta Control

I’ve changed a lot over the years of social media, blogging attempts and general Internet consumption… but is it for the better?

Okay, let’s be real — for the most part, bloggers don’t know what the heck they’re doing. They like to party, they like to get free stuff and they like to feel important — but why are they blogging? Ask a blogger what their goals are for their blog and wait to see if they have an answer. What story are they trying to tell? Who is their audience? Does it make them happy?

When I hit that first tweetup a little over two years ago, it was an amazing experience for someone who thrives off of the energy level in a room — I met dozens of new people, tried new places — it was a rush.

My calendar would fill with more and more of these events, like HoHoTO shortly afterwards — one of the craziest parties I’d hit up in a while; TwestivalTO and DefineTO which merged dancing, drinking and competitive karaoke; or even the upcoming Bloggers in Sin City, an unconference specifically for bloggers which I wouldn’t have considered investing in during those earlier days.

Twitter’s very likely been one of the last steps in my transition to becoming a complete adult from the big kid I’ve always been. I’ve held jobs pretty steadily for the last 15 years, but never in any of them did I have to work on being a brand. I was given tasks and I did them — but that’s a heck of a lot simpler than doing things while trying to stand out from a crowd. Or trying to develop your own personal signature or way of doing things. Working a job and trying to do things for a boss is simple cause and effect — but social media sees a lot of effort going toward cause… but without the effects being as obvious when you fire things out into the ether, it’s not the same at all.

The Art of Selling Out

Back in the early days of my social media journey, there were others I looked up to with what was almost a reverence, wondering how they managed to make a name for themselves. The Zaighams, the Jos, the Craigs and the Casies of the world – the people I saw out there with thousands of followers; everyone knew their names, and they just seemed to exist on an entirely different level.

The years go by, though, and you see that everyone else is just as human as you are. Everyone else might have some idea of what they’re doing, but they’re not working any less than you are. They’re not any luckier than you are. Oftentimes, that person you’re envying is probably who you could be if you were willing to put the years of work, network building and sheer effort needed to get there.

I’ve learned that nothing comes easy, but in that quest for the best, you can lose sight of who you are. Of what you’re supposed to do. Of why you’re doing it.

Waking Up

So, social media, my eyes are open and I’m awake for the first time in a good while. There’s a lot I need to do, but you know what?

I have all the time in the world to get it done.

Until the next post,

–case p.

The Scintilla Project Day Ten — Young Casey Casano-no

The Scintilla Project

1. Sometimes we wish we could hit the rewind button. Talk about an experience that you would do over if you could.

2. Write about spending time with a baby or child under the age of two. The challenge: if you’re a parent, do not talk about your own child.

— The Scintilla Project’s Day 10 prompts

I did not handle things well with girls at all when I was young. I always kept insanely busy and sucked at letting anyone in, so relationships were kept pretty low-tier on my list of priorities. It all ended well after those years of screw-ups, but if I could have do-overs, I’d:

  • not have ditched that girl on her prom just because I’d broken the garage door and was broke; I’d have found a way to make it work;
  • have asked that girl out; especially after later discovering she would’ve said yes;
  • kissed that girl when the perfect opportunity arose, but I chose logic over feelings;
  • have kept talking to that girl despite my friends thinking she was weird; and
  • taken more chances with the girls who made it obvious that they were interested.

Subtlety is key. Casey Palmer with a Dating for Dummies toolkit.

There were also idiotic things I did in the name of trying to get with a girl, like:

  • the time I went to a party at university with no way home thinking I’d hook up, but the only thing I got hooked up with was an $80 cab ride home;
  • the time I got involved in an online relationship with a cocaine addict who lived in California;
  • the time I got involved in another online relationship with someone who was actually my then-buddies having some very elaborate (and extremely creepy) fun with me; or
  • the mix CDs I’d spent my time making for girls… to give to other guys.

Get your game on!

You live and you learn. We all make idiotic mistakes — but it’s all part of growing. I wouldn’t be who I am today without having been burned so many times, but even if I could change it, I’m happy enough with who I am today that being anyone else simply isn’t an option.

–case p.

The Scintilla Project Day Six — Being Human

The Scintilla Project

1. Describe a time when the content of your character was tested.

2. Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.

The Scintilla Project Day 6 prompts

When it comes to me, some people catch a case of “He’s too good to be true.” Too nice. Too gentlemanly. Too eager to help. He must be hiding something. He must be trying to get something from you. There’s no way he’s doing this from the goodness of his heart!

Somewhere along the line the standard for being human fell. We’ve become skeptical and expect everyone to try to stab us in the back at their earliest opportunity, so we harden ourselves pre-emptively, knowing that the other shoe must eventually drop. No one is out for your best interests. No one can succeed without you failing. There isn’t enough of anything for everyone to get a share.

But that’s simply not the case.

You Can Only Get Out of the World What You Put Into It

I’m of the mind that personal success and the success of my “competition” are not mutually exclusive. If another blogger and I choose to compete against each other, we might become very successful individually if we’re lucky — but if we work together, we increase the odds for our success, not to mention that we’ve both gained another potential 24 hours of effort per day apiece by having someone else to rely on in reaching a common goal.

Call it karma, call it cosmic balance, call it whatever you want — but the more you put into the world, the more of it you’ll get right back. Positive people will find others willing to help them reach their goals and take burdens off of their shoulders, while the negative ones will find the world consistently dumping right on their heads, and I’m sure that they’ll have a complaint to share about it, too!

But it’s simple math — the more people who’re willing to just give in and help others, the more positive examples we’ll have to learn from. In turn, those turn into more people who can potentially learn from these examples, and from there the cycle just repeats.

So why not try be an agent of good in a world of bad when it simply makes sense?

A Simple Question of Wrong and Right

I’ve been stabbed in the back before. I’ve had friends choose sides in battles that didn’t have me on them. I’ve had people lie to me, cheat me and steal from me — and after all that, I’d only ask them one question:

“Was it worth it?”

Was your short-term gain worth the hit to your reputation? Was the material wealth worth the relationships you severed to get it? The things we get through questionable means are rarely the ones we get to hang on to in the long run, so why play the dangerous game with fate?

That’s why every time someone questions my character — every time someone wants to hate and accuse me of rigging contests, befriending people for popularity or anything else that’s come my way in my life so far, I just remember who I am and what I do. I gotta do me and let haters be haters — may they one day see the light.

–case p.

The Scintilla Project Day Three — Silence Says EVERYTHING

The Scintilla Project

1. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Write about a time you taught someone a lesson you didn’t want to teach.

2. Talk about a time when you were driving and you sang in the car, all alone. Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?

— The Scintilla Project Day 3 prompt

One thing you get to know about me pretty quickly is that it takes a lot to bring out my bad side. I have a ton of patience and let a lot of things slide off my back that’d probably drive other people insane.

But even though it’s rare — even though I can count the times I’ve yelled at someone outside of my immediate family on one hand — once you do bring my anger out, there’s one thing and only one that you should do:

LOOK OUT.

My TD Canadas Trust business card, back when.
You came asking’, I got to bankin’!!!

After my restaurant days, unlikely circumstances led to a job in banking where I’d spend 6 years climbing ladders (or more accurately, being hoisted up them) and helping our clientele. I was one of the best we had at what we did, and prided myself in giving the best customer service possible, every. Single. Time.

Which is why I was livid when I got accused for making a mistake that I know I didn’t make.

Banker Blues

Me dress for success and ready to impress
You don’t mess… with the best.

As a sales rep, it was my job to keep a portfolio of clients and make sure that their financial interests were looked after. It involved many long hours of paperwork, follow-up calls and lending an ear to the things going on in their lives, but it was all worth it to make sure that they were all getting where they wanted to.

No sales rep can do their job alone, though — on top of the relationship you build and business you drum up yourself, you rely on the bank tellers to refer new clients to you. You’re not licensed to sell mortgages or trade stocks, so you refer business up to the financial advisors when the opportunity comes along.

But nobody’s perfect. No one.

Your Number’s Up

Pride can get in the way of honesty all too often.

One night, a customer cane in with a complex set of transactions, and I was one of the few reps my bosses would trust to do it. After at least 45 minutes of opening account, writing mortgage transfer papers and preparing some investments, I knew that I’d done one of my best jobs ever. The customer was happy, my bosses were happy and it was completely clean. I called it a great night!

Too bad I couldn’t say the same about the next morning.

Seems that someone had made a huge mistake in processing the customer’s mortgage transfer the night before, and they were out to lose tens of thousands of dollars if it wasn’t fixed — and everyone swore that I did it.

I’m confident in my skills. I know what I can do and what my potential is. But I’m not cocky — if I make a mistake, I’ll be the first to admit it and try to get it fixed.

And this wasn’t my mistake.

In the End, it All Adds Up

Me posing in my bank uniform on the south end of Mississauga
That’s RIGHT!!!

After getting chewed out and lectured by management, they decided that my punishment was to get on the phone with the mortgage centre, other banks and whoever it took to fix the problem, and to do it for as long as I had to.

Hours later, it was done and so was I. I flat-out refused to work until they got their heads out of their asses and got the real story. I went up to the lunch room and sat.

No one had ever seen me that silent before, and they were worried.

After they got an investigation done on the transactions, it turned out that the financial advisor who I’d referred my customer to had made the mistake, pulled the seniority card and tried to pin the blame on me.

How d’you like them apples???

In the end, they did apologize and they learned that I wasn’t a force to be reckoned with, but I didn’t end up working there much longer as a different career path would soon open up with new experiences, new opportunities and far better pay.

But that’s another story for another day.

–case p.

Paying Dues — Stand for Something or Fall for Anything

Sign: "I'm lost. I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait."
Sometimes you must step outside of yourself to really see what you’re doing.

“Everybody wanna be a star, don’t wanna be who they are.”

— Beanie Sigel, “Everybody Wanna Be A Star”, The Truth (2000)

You can get sucked into the game faster than you can blink.

Build an audience and people will start knocking at your door. Brands, would-be collaborators, haters — making yourself visible for all to see will make you a target for all sorts of attention, like it or not.

But never forget what they came for in the first place.

We’re Bringin’ Blogging Back — YUP!!!

The blogger brand’s diluted. Everyone’s fighting for the same piece of pie and many bloggers are more than happy to do whatever it takes to stand out and go home with the biggest morsels. Some of us fight to keep our integrity, but often feel like integrity doesn’t pay. Commissions pay. Sponsored and affiliate posts pay. But at the same time, if you don’t do it right, they can take away from your brand  and everything that you stand for.

Many of us follow the same formula. Sure, we might tweak it — add a personal touch here, an amusing anecdote there — but ultimately, there’s a finite number of opportunities for a finite number of players, all who’re learning from each other how to keep those opportunities coming.

It’s all too easy to lose your way. I love a good event — the chance to practice photography with interesting subjects and to experience things that I wouldn’t otherwise. When brands send me on experiences because they want to see my words and understand my take on it, I’m honoured and flattered. But if I don’t keep a balance between event/product reviews and posts about what I’m really thinking, not only am I alienating my audience, I’m not being true to myself.

So where’s the sweet spot between integrity, relevancy and profitability?

Why Blog If You Can’t Keep It Real?

Cheryl Lynn had it right back in the 70s — “Got to be real!” And in keeping it real — it’s not easy to feed mouths from blogging alone. People are skeptical — selling stuff to people over the Internet takes an insane amount of charisma and influences; not just anyone can separate people from their hard-earned dollars. And being even more real, what incentive do many bloggers out there offer brands to trust them with the products and images that they’ve poured millions into? The idea of free labour and an engaged audience might seem like an attractive package to offer from a blogger’s perspective, but your following of a few thousand is nothing compared to the millions consuming TV, magazines, movies, etc.

If you don’t stand for anything — if all you do is parroting what other bloggers are doing and hoping to get the same success, you’ll soon find that first impression are the only ones to make impressions — you can’t pull the same stunt twice on the Internet and expect it to stick; people are always looking for the next thing. You are not the next social media darling. You are not the next big-time blogger. You’re the next you — what is it that you can do that no one else can?

 Going Back to Myself

In the end, this is my promise. I will stand for a higher standard. I will work to stand out from the crowd not through elitism, but through telling a story and sharing thoughts that improve the world, not simply beat to the rhythm it already has. I will challenge things and ask the hard questions. I will be a blogger — and not just a mouthpiece.

Stand for something or fall for anything. The world’s waiting for you to be yourself — why be the next whoever or act like everybody else? Show us what makes you different, and the world might start paying attention!

–case p.