How cancer has affected me

This post is going to be hard to write. I can already tell. I’m chock full of emotion already just thinking about it. I apologize now if it doesn’t quite flow correctly, but it’s what you get. There’s almost 25 years of thought in this 500 word post…so pay attention and do what’s right.

Twenty-five years ago I was 6 years old. I had a younger brother Robert who was two and a half…and that was as old as he would ever get. I remember that cold Winnipeg winter day on February 14, 1985 (yes Valentine’s Day) when I was taken home from elementary school, like it happened yesterday. Walking home with my grandparents who were in from out of town visiting. As I came around the corner I could see my house and the cars that lined the road way. I knew something was drastically wrong. I ran like I’ve never run before and flew through the door of my parents house. It was then I realized just what had happened. Robert had been sick almost since he was born and spent a lot of time at the hospital. I even spent a lot of time at the hospital but nothing like my parents did. Having an amazing daughter of my own now, I have no clue how they did it. They were so strong and for that alone I am blessed. Luckily we had good close family friends I could stay with. As a six year-old it was fun going to sleepovers at first. After weeks of sleepovers though, they became less and less fun.

Since losing Robert to Medulloblastoma, I’ve lost two grandparents, a great uncle, two great aunts and several family friends. I have friends who have battled and survived. Even friends who have beaten it multiple-times and still lost the battle one final time. There’s no doubt in my mind how much of an impact cancer has had on my life…and I’ve been fortunate enough to never have had it.

Honestly, I remember the good times and great impact these people have had on my life. It’s because of these people and even those whom I’ve never met, nor may have the opportunity to meet, that Tight ‘n Bright is around. It’s a reason to party. A reason to raise funds and awareness. Most importantly though, it is a reason to celebrate life! A life we are each fortunate to currently have and the lives of those who we’ve lost. As with our first Tight ‘n Bright party in 2009, our goal for this annual event is to raise funds in excess of $20,000 to go directly to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. We, myself and the team involved, would like you to join us for a fun filled, theme evening on Saturday, March 20, 2010 for the Second Annual Tight ‘n Bright – it’s where a party can help find a cure.

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Forget @Starbucks – 4 steps to a Toblerone Americano

What can I say? I’m a huge lover of Toblerone. You know the triangles of Swiss chocolate and yummy nugget. Add to that my love for coffee and it’s easy to see how I arrived at the idea for my Toblerone Americano.

Below you’ll see my pictorial guide and how to duplicate the awesomeness.

Step 1: Time to shave. I happened to have a nice big 750g Toblerone bar available for use. I grabbed my Henkel cleaver to start shaving away at one of the pyramids of the Gods chocolate. The photo shows about 1/3 of a shaved pyramid. It’s all I used the first time I made a Toblerone Americano…it wasn’t enough. The second time was better. Use at least 50% of a Toblerone pyramid.

Step 2: Pull those shots of fresh ground bean. In this case I’m using 100% pure Kona coffee whole bean that I grind myself. Water is purified from the tap and all done using the Breville we have on the counter. Make it a double of course. You want to ensure that your efforts maximize the caffeine result.

Step 3: Mix it all together. Now you need to pay careful attention to the order in which the components are mixed as it has been known to impact the flavor. First take your shaved Toblerone and place it into a mug of your choosing. In this case I chose a thermal travel mug from a Starbucks in Hawaii (you can probably make the Kona coffee connection now). Add the two hot espresso shots to the mug. At this point either agitate the mug in a circular motion, or mix the chocolate and espresso with a spoon. Then add in almost boiling hot water to the top of the mug and stir with a spoon. If you don’t stir it, you’re likely to enjoy a burning hot moutful of hot water on your first sip…speaking from experience.

Step 4: Enjoy it. Sit back and relax while you enjoy your custom created Toblerone Americano. You did after all take a lot of manual work to get it done. As a bonus tip, be sure to agitate the beverage before taking sips every so often. This ensures that the chocolate and nugget are mixed into the espresso.

Myself I normally take my coffee with milk and sweetener. In the Tim Horton’s world of coffee (if you can call it that) it would be a double-double for sure. The only downside, if you can call it that, to Toblerone Americano is that on occasion the nugget doesn’t get a chance to completely dissolve when you take the last sip. This really, is about the only time your coffee should ever crunch.

I hope that you enjoy making your own and let me know how it turns out. If you’ve got something else you think I should mix in my coffee, let me know. I’m game for eating a lot of strange things but I will only try things that will make coffee tastier.

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Discovering Google Apps with @sarahstanley

Today I had a brief chat on Twitter with the ever amazing Sarah Stanley surrounding a technical piece of her website. Most of it took place behind the scenes through direct message, but in the end I believe it was of assistance.

You see part of what Sarah is looking for are Inspire Ambassadors (act quickly by sending an email to if you’d like to be one). What got me thinking was that there was a domain name intact already, but she was essentially promoting Gmail. Many businesses do this, and I just don’t understand why – whether it’s Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or their internet provider. The list goes on. With domain names starting out so cheap now from a place like there’s no excuse to NOT have a company branded domain name. In addition to that, even though does hosting, you can easily get your email handled for FREE through Google Apps.

This is where Sarah and I were at a disconnect. Being that Run Ride Inspire is charity, “every dollar counts” she stated. And I agree. Running a fund raising initiative of my own (I need to update it this week), I know that every penny does truly count. I’ve been using Google Apps with my domain names for a few years now and have been fortunate enough to never spend a dime on the amazing service. In fact I just recently switched two separate clients over to the service. I could go off on why it’s a great choice, but there’s already plenty out there on Google as to why it’s a good choice…and even why it’s not.

I was on my iPhone but determined to help Sarah out I did a quick search in Safari. It started to become clear as to why she didn’t want to use the on Google Apps for fear of having to pay $50 per user per year. Typical marketing. On the initial screen, you’re presented with two options: Business or Education.

Google Apps Signup Screen

Google Apps - the Hidden GoldOn the following screen they present the nice, pretty blue button to begin a free trial. But if you look closely enough, there are some boring text links under the button. This is in fact where the hidden gold is in using Google Apps with your own custom domain name…for FREE.

When comparing the Google Apps Standard Edition (i.e. the FREE version) to the Premiere version, there’s not a lot of difference that the standard, average user would ever want or use. You still get Gmail, Calendar, Docs & Sites. I’m up to about 7GB of storage space in my App Mail account of which I’ve used about 50% over the last few years…and my business handles lots of large files through email. The rest of the ‘business’ features, controls, support and reliability aren’t really required. I use my hosted Gmail with my iPhone without issue. In fact, it works better then my normal Gmail account does…so there!Google Apps Comparison: Premiere vs Standard

As much as I love my Shannon Poole (who yes, does love me), I’m happy that Sarah at least sees some value in me.

So now my question to you is do you use Google Apps and if so, which version? Is Sarah making the right choice by moving (I hope) her email from Gmail to her own domain name? Let me know in the comments.

2 Comments | Filed under Code Development

#smbyyc – now what?

This morning I took the opportunity to head out to the Calgary Social Media Breakfast. I figured it was time that I get out of the house and meet some people. I’ve never had an issue with networking in the past, but today I still didn’t feel like me. Either way it was great seeing presentations from Roger Kondrat of west17media and by Troy Wason of WMS Communications Inc. This was the first event like this that I’ve been to, and I’ll be heading back for sure. I didn’t get a chance to make too many connections, but I made enough for this time around.

That brings me to the “now what” part of the title. I’ve got these business cards in my possession as most other people do as well. What do you do with them? Well it’s been my practice that after any seminar or conference I hit, I head over to LinkedIn and add them right away. It’s really the place that professionals connect. If we missed each other then feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter – these are my two most popular methods to connect.

As a side note, it was great that Ken Guenther of McQ Design Strategies shared the following video with us on the evolution of social media. It’s one that I’ve seen before, but decided that I should post it here. It’s a quick watch, but a great one.

It’s truly interesting to see just how quickly Social Media has evolved in comparison to other mediums. It really does provide a large chance for another post or two around it. I guess I should just ask you a question around the actual post subject. What do you do with your business card collection after a conference?

1 Comment | Filed under Code Development, Twitter

My 2010 goals

As I have mentioned many times, including just the other day, I need to write some goals. Some personal goals for me to focus on and for you to police me on. I’ve determined that goal setting works for me when I’m passionate about it and when I have something to prove…usually to those who don’t think I can. It didn’t take me long to write out my goals. In fact I wrote them down on January 15 in about 10 minutes but I’ve been sick, so haven’t had a chance to post them. But today I’m feeling better. At least good enough to sit down in front of a computer and type out some words, so here goes.

My 2010 personal goals are:

  • Raise $20,000 for the Tom Baker Cancer Centre & Alberta Cancer Foundation through the 2nd Annual Tight ‘n Bright event to be held March 20, 2010.
  • Generate $80,000 through legal online activities like affiliate sales, products & services by September 15, 2010. Roughly 236 days remain, so that would equate to $338.98 per day…if I start making cash NOW!
  • Run a full marathon under 4 hours by December 15, 2010.
  • Launch BlueBinder by March 1, 2010 with full e-comm capabilities.
  • Launch Phase 1 of OoberScoop by February 1, 2010.
  • Launch Workshops Everywhere by February 1, 2010 to the Calgary market as detailed in Phase 1 of the plan.
  • Travel to three new destinations by December 31, 2010.
  • Speak at a minimum of one conference by November 30, 2010.
  • Support and love Monica, Ava and the other members of my family on a daily basis.
  • Help Monica launch her site to the best of my abilities around her timeline.
  • Blog a minimum of five times per week through to June 30, 2010.
  • Live everyday and enjoy and appreciate what I have.

So as you can see I’ve no doubt got to get some things going. Couple the above goals with daily life and there’s not a lot of time left to actually do things…but the goal in the end is to free myself from the day-to-day to allow me to have the time to do those things. All of this will be completed in full by December 31, 2010. I look forward to sharing my success, and no doubt failures, with you along the way.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Do you think I’m completely crazy? Wanna know more about something I’ve put in the list? It’s easy, just leave me a comment below.

Thanks to Lyndon for the inspiration and the graphic.

2 Comments | Filed under Blue Binder, Code Development, Fitness, Life, Travel