Job Updates

Second Last Day: Away from Ann Arbor

Hi :) Before I go on about myself and my adventures with the One-Week Job Program, I want to take a minute and talk about the One-Week Job Project.

Many of You know that Sean released a book in May. Soon to follow is a sure-to-be-hit of a movie, One-Week Job - The Documentary. For the movie to be 100% ready, Sean and Ian need some extra support. Even if I weren't a participant in this Program, my stance on the movie would be unchanged:

This movie is important for all of us.

The One-Week Job Project has already done so much for the future of our existence by asking questions that many people wouldn't think or dare to ask.

How are You spending your days on Earth? Are You slaving away, working 80 hours a week only to get your reward in Your last years? Why not reward Yourself now, by searching for what You love, and LIVING IT? You'll live happier, and You'll probably live longer. Think about it. Even if just for a second.

This is what we need in our lives, friends. We need to be challenged so we can give ourselves that personal freedom we ALL deserve. So please, give something novel a chance, and give a little somethin'-somethin' to the One-Week Job documentary! You are NOT giving away money to another person looking only for personal gain. You're giving love and support for the betterment of us. The betterment of us. Okay, (DONATE!!!!!!!) done with that.


Early Friday morning, Alli took me to the Arboretum, which was a breath-taking experience. We then went for Washtenaw Dairy doughnuts. If You ever find yourself in Ann Arbor, GO TO Washtenaw Dairy. This was my second trip, and I got six doughnuts...I wanted to make sure I got my fill! I just don't understand why everything that tastes good has to be fried. It's bothersome, really.

The outreach show Friday night was approximately an hour away in Lansing, Michigan. I'm terribly uneducated about environmental issues, but in hearing/reading the presentation from the Stewardship Network, I learned a little. Once more, passion was displayed. It was obvious how dedicated all the staff members were to the environmental cause. The way they talked about certain issues, their facial expressions full of focus and sincerity. It made me want to take time to research and make efforts to become more conscious of the nature around us, which is how POSITIVE passion works. It makes others pay attention, and want to know what You're about. Beautiful.

The show was great as expected, but it was a bittersweet event. Collin didn't show up because he had a family

event to attend, and Noah and Mel ended up leaving afterward to go see family members as well. In a way, this last show of the week was an ending point for my interaction with some of the members. I was extremely camera-happy on this day, and I think it was because I was desperate to capture memories before I left. This one-week thing can be hard at times!

After we got back to Ann Arbor, we went out for an hour or so around midnight-thirty. I know everyone was tired, so it was so kind of Phil, Brandon, Julie and Alli to take me out. It was probably because I had mentioned my love for dancing every hour on the hour since I had come into town. Upon surveying the crowd at the club, the diversity shocked me. Top 40 "boom booms" (this is what the group calls dance music...I'm going to try this term out in another state and see what reaction I get) were playing and people of different dressing styles, different ages, and MANY different ethnicities were focused on gettin' down. The scene made  me so, SO happy. I felt so comfortable being around so many new people. I know it's only been one week, but I might end up falling in love with traveling.

The night out ended around 2am, and we all went right to sleep.

Saturday morning, most of the members left to go on different errands at different times, so I had to say goodbye one by one. Julie took me to the bus stop, so she was the last person I saw. Leaving Ann Arbor around 6pm, I was at peace with the end of my second one-week job. Endings can be good if we make them. After all, my time was spent very well. I can see myself in Ann Arbor again. I hope it's sometime soon.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job? Why?

There were times that I felt as if I was not useful, and that was extremely hard for me. Not being a trained musician, my knowledge of the equipment was limited, so I wasn't much help in crunch time. This is a downside to only being in a job for week, and I knew that coming in. Experiencing it is a different story though.

What did you like about the job? Why?

I loved getting to listen to music being made every day. The happiness I got from this just re-confirmed how important music is to me, and that whatever I do will have to incorporate it in some way.

I liked being a part of such a close group that was able to work together so well, separating personal issues and business issues. There weren't any cliques, and I was quickly accepted as part of the group. I could tell their actions were genuine because I was exposed to a heavy spectrum of each person's personality, haha. I got to witness joy, fatigue, stress, and so many other emotions with this job. The healthy camaraderie was refreshing, and so was seeing how integral each member was to the success of the entire show. You get a little confidence with your contribution, and you get some love and support because you need the help of another. Good combination.

I also enjoyed the idea of having more than one job, maybe two. One is your primary interest or love, and another is a job that doesn't drain you, but still keeps you challenged because you don't necessarily love it as much as the first. In other words, the second job makes you appreciate the job you love or the time spent on what you love more. I could see myself employing this technique.

What lessons did you learn from being a producer-roadie-rock star-mostly-rock-star?

  1. If You don't know how to help, clean. First of all, there is always something to be done. Secondly, if you don't believe the first point, know that something is ALWAYS dirty. That should do some convincing. When the group was intensely practicing for their big show on Wednesday, I stayed out of the way so they could prepare efficiently. I was struggling with staying occupied. I then noticed how messy the work room was, and began to clean. I got satisfaction out of being productive, and it turns out that I gave the group significant help. Cleaning is just so darn fulfilling to me. Therapeutic, even.
  2. Friends can work, play, and live together without killing each other...all at the same time. I have a rule against anything but "playing" with my friends, but being with Juice has made me seriously reconsider that rule.
  3. Worry/anxiety isn't necessary. While thinking about my part of the show, I was deciding whether to get nervous. A few of the band members asked me if I was nervous, and I decided to say "no." I figured that whether I worried or not, the show was going to go on. Nothing horrible would happen if I "messed up", and if I got too nervous, I'd just make the experience unenjoyable. So, I made the decision to just rock out. And I had a great time doing it. This mentality can be applied to several scenarios in life. Worrying wastes time, friends.
  4. It's okay to be a photo addict. I was never that girl that said "PHOTO OPP!" every minute, but I may be turning into her. Just a little bit. I always found carrying a camera to be an inconvenience, and taking pictures to be a distraction. However, I was ridiculous on Friday, taking 124 photos. I took nearly 200 photos and 11 videos overall! I realize now that taking pictures is kind of fun, and at the end of all this, I think I'll really appreciate going out of my comfort zone in this way. The One-Week Job Program, growing Michelle yet again.
  5. Smile first. Yep, lesson learned once more. If I left Juice with anything, it may have been with simple encouragement. I tried my best to keep the energy up because I knew the week was stressful and my presence need not be anything but positive. So I brought the smiles and the pump-ups. I think (I hope) it made a difference, for them and for me. :)

Would you do this again, as a more-than-one-week job?

Yes, as a roadie mostly. I could see myself learning more about the equipment, being able to organize it and maybe even becoming a sound technician, helping to set up an actual stage. I'm good at staying calm under serious time pressure, and at getting people pumped up for shows. I got very little exposure on the production company side of things, but I think that is something I could definitely be a part of as my musical exposure/connection. The rock star bit wouldn't hurt either, as a guest! :)

In retrospect, my initial love for Juice did nothing but increase exponentially throughout my time in Michigan. I'm glad I had no expectations because I was pleasantly surprised. To the witty, beautiful, gifted, selfless group Juice -  Noah, Hiro, Mel, Phil, Julie, Brandon, Collin, Erin, and Alli:

Thank you.

You gave me a deeper appreciation for music and memories. I wish You all knew how big of a deal that is. In boldly pursuing your dream, you are all mentors to me. I will miss You all very, very much. I'll be emailing. :)

So What About You?

What is it about music that connects people and brings them together instantly?

For me, I honestly believe that music will play a significant role in bringing about world peace. That's all I really have to say about that. :) As a calming end to this post, enjoy this piece from Friday's performance. Noah of Juice displays his hand-talent with a transformed tank:

Off to watch the World Cup final!


For the last time:

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"I Wanna, I Wanna Rock Right Now"

I wrote this early this morning, but the internet hasn't been working - will update more later! Hi :)

This week has gone by SO. FAST. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that i'll be leaving for my third one-week job tomorrow. Hard to do.

Being a rock star is going well. Here's a run-down of the past few days:

On Wednesday, we rocked out. Somewhere around 2:30pm, we all ended up at the basement (Juice's practice space), and started loading equipment into the truck. The truck turned out to be smaller than expected, so we had to rely on Phil's Tetrus-esque genius to make as many items fit as possible. It was hot and sort of tension-filled, but we got through it. We ended up putting some items in cars, and we were on our way.

After we packed everything and got to the venue, we had to unpack the truck, haha.  That was a lot faster. A lot of people helped us set up for the show, which took about two hours. It was VERY hot, though i was mostly unaffected, being from Texas. The dangerous bit about the heat is that Juice's performance attire is all black: Black shirt, black pants, black shoes. Black. Blackblackblack. In nearly 100-degree weather. I'll say it again: dangerous.

Collin's laptop was needed for one of the pieces, but it was so hot that his laptop overheated. We ended up having to cut the song from the set list. The show began at 6:30pm, and it was awesome. It was a different, exciting experience to watch the group display their skill on a stage in front of a big audience, as opposed to in that tiny basement. They looked rock stars (Glad i'm not overusing these two words), actually. As for me, I got to play the gong and the cymbals. I wasn't too bad! (<-- HUMILITY :D) The show ended after an hour, and we had to hurry to pull everything off stage for the next act. It was really hectic, but as usual, we got the job done efficiently. We packed the truck, went back to the basement, and unloaded the truck. We were all so tired we didn't bother to organize it all.

Thursday was another Tuesday. Not much went on because again, everyone was doing their jobs, making that money for the Juice! The night ended with wedding talk (a few of the members are engaged) and a Harry Potter film.

Today brings another show, but this one's a little different. Juice does what they call "outreach" shows, where they perform for free in support of a good cause. These shows are a little smaller and a little shorter, but with just as much energy. Tonight, they'll be supporting the Stewardship Network, an "organization working to protect, restore, and manage Michigan's natural lands and waters." A few of the members work for this organization, so this event is personal for them.

I want to give some of you out there a break, so I will end here - my shortest post ever! Stay tuned for my Rock Star wrap-up. I'll surely miss Ann Arbor when I leave tomorrow evening. These wonderful people have already become good friends of mine.


"I write to understand as much to be understood."


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“Olive Juice!”- Week #2: Producer-Roadie-Rock Star

Hey from Ann Arbor, Michigan! This week's job has resulted in my first bit of traveling during the One-Week Job Program. i've now gone 2,162 miles by bus! Here's a visual for you:

// The Everlater widget requires javascript to work properly. You can view michelle's One-Week Job Program! or get your own free travel blog.

For all You travelers out there, i strongly suggest using Everlater as a journal for your adventures. It enables to you to blog, upload photos, embed videos, and do it by every stop you mark on the travel map. There's also an iPhone app. Check it out!

This week, i'm working with a 9-person musical percussion variety group called Juice.

Brandon, one of the members of the group, contacted Sean twice: Once during his 52-week Project, and again before the Program started. When Sean released Brandon's information to us, i responded to the email with one statement after doing my research:

"I love Juice."

i've said before that i'm completely moved by music. i can't read a note of sheet music, but it drives me. It gets me up in the morning, it makes my existence more lively, and it keeps me up at night. A quote by one of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes, sums up how i feel:

"I can listen to music and instantly be anywhere that song is trying to take me. Music activates a certain mental freedom in a way that nothing else can, and that is so empowering. You can call it escapism if you like, but I see it as connecting to a  deeper human feeling than found in the day-to-day is a weird and cosmic thing, its own strange religion for nonbelievers, and what a joy it is to make in any form."

This is a feeling that i know many of us understand.

So i jumped at the the chance to come to Michigan. i thought it fitting for me to be a part of a true musician's world, even better the world of a musical group. I wanted to see all the hard work that goes into writing and performing music - you know, all the stuff we listeners rarely think about. A musical group is a whole different beast in itself. The chance to see how a music act comes together, with the different personalities, stories, and skills, was intriguing to me.

i anticipated that it would be another heavy-shadowing opportunity, much like last week, so i prepared myself and have done my best to take note of every different situation i've been exposed to here. My bus arrived in Ann Arbor 4 hours behind schedule, after a tire blew out 15 minutes from my stop. This was on Sunday. i caught the group at the end of their weekly meeting, located in the building where Brandon and Erin, another member, work another job. In addition to being a musical act, Juice has its own musical productions company, Group Four Entertainment, Inc. Being crazy ambitious, they made the company as a way to legitimize and ease their tour-planning efforts. This is the "producer" part of the job title where I got to hear some talk about marketing, promotions, budgeting. etc. In a way, my job from last week was already helping me understand things!

i had missed most of their activities for the day, but the group took me to their basement practice grounds, another space that is an employer hook-up. i then went grocery shopping with Julie and Phil - their suggestion. Even though i was exhausted from the long bus ride, it was nice to have my own food in a new place right away. One worry that never had to exist. i felt grateful. We then ate some good steak and crab, and watched fireworks in celebration of the holiday.

Later in the night, Mel, a fifth group member, talked to me about the different parts of Michigan, describing Ann Arbor as the more liberal, environmentally-conscious area. It was helpful to get a sociological breakdown. In terms of my accommodation, i'm being spoiled. :) i have my own room for the week! Most of the groupmates live in the same complex, with the girls living in one apartment and the boys living in another. The girls were kind enough to set up an empty room for me, and it's so cute! Being the night owl i am, i stayed up late working on random projects while everyone went to bed the first night.

Monday was promotions day. i went out with Julie and Phil to run errands for different acts for a show that happens to be later today! We also ate some tasty doughnuts. Then, the team broke up into three groups to do what they call "flyering", aka placing promotional flyers for the band's show all around town. i got to go with Erin and Collin, a sixth member around Downtown Ann Arbor. During our time together, we walked through the original Borders bookstore, saw way too many coffee shops within a small distance, ended up on University of Michigan's main campus and the "Law Quad", and got to "spin the cube":

It was "Cool!" After flyering, there was an intense practice that consisted of lots of skill, weird instruments, and sweat. It lasted about 6 hours or so, and was incredible to watch. It made me a little envious that i hadn't received proper music training as a child. Oh! The "Rock Star" part of my job is that i have a few parts in the show! i got a chance to practice my parts as well. Two runs later, everyone went home. It was a tiring but productive Monday. Being a Rock Star isn't as easy as You might think. i slept hard this night.

Tuesday was laid-back for me. The general schedule for Juice is that everyone does Juice stuff Sunday through Tuesday, and then they can do other things for the rest of the week. However, this week is a bit different with shows on Wednesday and Friday, so flexibility is at a high. Yesterday, everyone clocked in at their other, "normal" jobs, including me. From nanny to bartender to salon manager to farmer to environmental non-profit worker, Juice comprises of some serious variety. The group members are so passionate about their music that they take on other jobs to pay the bills so they can keep doing what they love to do. This is in hopes that one day music will be all that they do. Inspiring. At 6pm, equipment touch-ups, dress rehearsals, and equipment take-down (the "Roadie" aspect) took place. The night ended around midnight, after which there was some pizza, talking, and heavy sleep once again.

Today is the big show. We'll be meeting early this afternoon, dressing in all black, to pack all the music equipment into a van, drive to the set, unpack and build, perform, take everything down, pack everything in the truck, drive back to the practice space...well, you get it.

So far, i'm really enjoying Ann Arbor. There are a lot of trees here, which fascinates the child in me. i'm fortunate enough to again be with good, passionate, (and TALENTED) persons who are caring  and fun to be around. Most of the members in Juice recently graduated from college. The group has only been together a year, and that is important to note because they basically started a musical act AFTER college. Most people would be too fearful to do this, believing that it's too late, that life after college is meant strictly for a 9-to-5. Juice had/has a different mentality. They figure that they could use the time that would be spent studying for making Juice even better, so they're doing all that they can do make this happen. Last night, i was talking to a seventh member, Alli. She told me that she was impressed by me. She said that most people my age, especially me, having experienced very little thus far, would take the reliable road:



While i was flattered by her statement, i found it surprising. After all, i'm simply doing what she and the others are doing. Putting all my energy (willingly, of course) into living with meaning, even if i'm not quite sure what that means.

So What about You?

Do You think that as humans we lose our "spark" as we get older? Do You think it's a common belief? Why or Why not?

I'll just let You answer this alone. Let me know.

Please, wish me luck today!


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Just The Beginning...

Danforth FestivalMy 52 weeks have come to an end - What an adventure! I think back to January 2007 when One Week Job was simply an idea and I wasn't entirely sure whether or not I could go through with it.

It's incredible to see how far it has come since then.

Though it was a lot of work and wasn't always easy, I am extremely glad that I decided to take the leap. It will no doubt be an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

animal-hospitalNow that it is over, I am excited to take some time and reflect on my experience. It was difficult to do so while on the road as I was constantly on the move: organizing what would be the next job, how we would get there, and where to stay once there.

As one week finished, I was grateful it happened, then it was quickly time to move on to the next. It will be nice to stay in one place for a bit and not have to continually make new plans.

Week Fifteen - Sauvers Sauvage 003Some people ask, "Sean did you ever foresee this growing to such an extent as it has?" Early on I realized it was something that resonated with many people and I soon felt that I was a part of something much bigger than myself. What has been remarkable is to envision these plans in your mind, and then to see them come to fruition as you imagined.

One thing I could not have foreseen was the kindness and willingness of others to get involved. Sean after his trainingI was so lucky to meet some amazing people over the past year and it would not have been possible without them.

Complete strangers on Monday morning became close friends by the end of the week. Wherever I do end up, I'll be sure to have a nice guest room because I expect to have many visitors!

I have learned that if you are able to articulate what it is you are trying to achieve, the majority of people will do what they can to help you take that one step closer.

Week 48 - Cowboy 018Thank you so much to all of my past employers, people who let me stay at their house, those who picked me up when I was standing with my thumb at the side of the road, and to everyone who sent emails or left comments on the site with positive messages of encouragement. You are what made this experience memorable - I am so grateful to all of you!

I also owe a big thank you to <a target="new" href="" who believed in the project from the early stages and were willing to come on board as a sponsor to help with travel expenses.

aquarium-jumpshotI don't think I have officially announced it on the website, though I will be writing a book about my past year that will be published Spring 2009 by Penguin Books in Canada and Random House in the USA (if you live outside North America, I'll keep you posted).

It will be the story of my experience; from graduating college with no clue what I wanted to do and scared of all the responsibilities that lay ahead, to starting One Week Job with all my adventures throughout the year and what I learned a long the way.

IMG_5916We are also looking to create a documentary with all of the footage that Ian shot.

Targeted for High School and Post Secondary Students, the documentary will use my unique experience to provide an entertaining, yet educational and inspiring exploration into the question, "What should I do with my life?"

We are currently seeking sponsors who would be willing to sponsor the documentary, so if you or anyone you know would be interested, please contact us.

Week 51 - Air Force 055If you would like to receive email updates about One Week Job, what I am up to, and progress on the book/documentary, there is a sign up on the homepage.

I am often asked if I would recommend that others in the same situation as myself try 52 jobs in 52 weeks?

I believe the more we know and understand about ourselves, the better idea of what type of career situation we need to have in order to be happy. How you go about doing that is your choice.

Week One - WB photos 031The important thing is that it be a situation in which you are challenged to learn something new and forced to step outside of your comfort zone. When you do, I promise you will be amazed what can happen and what you are capable of.

In the past whenever I heard people say things like, "You can do anything you set your mind to," or "Believe in yourself and anything is possible," I was always quick to dismiss them. Over time, they tend to lose meaning; they become cliché.

One thing I have come to realize is that cliches become cliché for a reason - it's because they're true. Everyday people realize their dreams. And their journey then shared with others.

I hope you enjoyed my journey and in the process found inspiration to set out on your own!


The Politics Of Building A City

20080403 076My week as Mayor of Port Moody has come to an end. Although I wasn't able to pass a bylaw requiring every Port Moody resident to simultaneously try out a completely unrelated profession for one week each year, I still enjoyed the experience. I have such a love for the city, that I found it really interesting to be involved in discussions that will impact its future growth and direction. I felt as if I was "in the know."

I think a common misconception is the extent of the Mayor's authority on decision making. I previously thought that it was the Mayor who made final decisions based on recommendations from City Council. I was surprised to learn that the Mayor simply has one vote. Though, if things happen to go wrong, he is generally the one that gets the blame in the newspapers.

It's a difficult position to be in. On one hand, you want to keep everyone happy and make choices you feel will benefit the city. Though on the other, tough decisions have to be made and your opinion will undoubtedly differ from those of some in the community.

20080403 056As Mayor Trasolini told me, "you must have a sense of humour in this profession."

As we place ourselves in a position that is more accessible to a wider audience, you open yourself up to criticism. I experienced this over the past year and received some advice just over half-way through:

In anything that we do, there will always be critics - a third of people are going to love what you do, a third will hate it, and another third won't care.

(In an elected position, I guess you only hope that a third will be enough to give you the majority vote!)

I could definitely see myself (at some point down the road) running for Mayor or City Council. Then again, after this past year I have realized I could see myself doing many things!


New Perspective Of My Own Backyard

Mayor Trasolini and SeanIt's a different experience doing a One Week Job in my hometown of Port Moody. Usually my current job incorporates exploring the city; I am a working tourist experiencing the city for the first time. This week, there is a real sense of familiarity. I simply drive down the hill to go to work, I can run home for lunch, and I don't need directions getting anywhere.

I have always held so much pride for the city of Port Moody. It's a beautiful place and I have seen it grow tremendously since I was young.

I have enjoyed experiencing the city from a different perspective this week. The Mayors job is quite comprehensive and encompasses a bit of everything that goes on in the city. As such, we have been moving around quite a bit, attending different openings, committee meetings, unveiling's, etc. Monday night we paid a visit to the local Scouts who were excited to have us and asked some interesting questions about my past year.

Unveiling some new city artworkCity Council controls the overall direction of the city; they are the decision makers behind it all. It's a big role and after having seen it from this perspective, I wish more citizens would get involved and voice an opinion. The reality is so much goes on in the city that we have no idea about as we are busy living our own lives. Then, we see buildings go up, people move in, landscapes change.

The goal is that City Council makes these decisions based on the wants, needs, and best interests of it's citizens. I have always tried to please everyone, though I can respect in a position like this, that can be a difficult task to say the least.

Today, there are elementary school students coming in for a visit and tour followed by the Mayor's open office hours. There has been some tough decisions as of late with the budget due by May 15th... could make the open office hours quite interesting. Tonight is the opening ceremony of the Chengdu Artist Exhibition followed by a reception and live performance which should be fun. If you are in the area, come on by!


Week #52 Announced - Mayor

IMG_7479Week #52! It's difficult for me to grasp that I have already held 51 different professions over the past year. Since I am always on the road continually thinking about the following week, I haven't yet had the chance to reflect on the experience. When I take a moment to stop and think about it, I realize, wow, I have done quite a lot of stuff this year.

This week I have returned to my home town, Port Moody, British Columbia, where I will be the Mayor. I have lived in Port Moody my whole life, and so it's only fitting that my journey ends here.

It's a busy schedule this week, filled with the swearing-in of Police Constables, a visit with the Port Moody Scouts, a few committee meetings, Shoreline Art Unveiling, Chengdu China Artists' Exhibition/Reception, and the Port Moody Arts Festival Opening. Every Thursday between 2pm - 5pm, the Mayor has an open door where any citizen is welcome to come and discuss any issues. If you're in town, feel free to stop by and say hello!

So what's next week you ask? I have another five days yet to figure that out, as for now it's time to clean up the town!

The Many Facets Of The Military

Week 51 - Air Force 006My mom would be pleased to hear that I didn't jump out a plane this week. Without a tandem jump master currently on base, there was no one qualified to take me. I would have loved the opportunity, but I must admit a small part of me was slightly relieved.

Going into the week I think I was more concerned with how my hair would be received in a military environment typically known for their clean cut hair styles. I hoped they had spent some time on the website, know what I look like, and so are aware of what they are getting themselves into.

Luckily they were fully aware and I somehow managed to come out of the week hair still intact (Though I definitely got my fair share of inquisitive looks). It's not everyday, well actually I should say ‘any day' that you see a guy with long blond dreadlocks fully suited in combat gear walking around CFB Trenton.

Love For Acronyms

Week 51 - Air Force 055I thought that I was accustomed to the use of acronyms after I spent last week with TSAE in Austin, Texas.

I learned this week that the military's' love of acronyms and short form makes the acronyms of associations seem like a walk in the park. An example: "At 8AMS, I met a mech eng, two years out of RMC, now an LT at CFB Trenton. Then in the aft I helped config a flight sim at 426 TTS."

At times it's as if they are speaking a different language.

Although I didn't jump out of a plane, there was no shortage of excitement this week and I realize just how lucky I am to have had such an amazing opportunity.

Out In The Field

Immediately after arriving, I got fitted in my combat gear, then met with the big boss on base, 8 Wing Commander Colonel Mike Hood, one of the many responsible for bringing me to Trenton. Then, it was time to head out into the field.

Week 51 - Air Force 048I visited several squadrons over the course of the week. My first stop was with 8ACCS, Air Communication and Control System with a primary mission to support Canadian air operations.

I participated in a simulation as an Air Traffic Controller bringing an aircraft in to land and visited the mobile air traffic control towers. It's amazing how they can transport all that equipment and have great communication signals even in the most remote areas of the world.

Later in the week, it was interesting to see the actual ATCs at work. I was even allowed to speak to a few aircrafts giving them instructions on how to proceed. One of the pilots must have thought I was crazy because I accidentally held onto the call button while speaking with a co-worker a few desks away. Oops!

Simulating Real Flight

With the crew at 8AMS (Air Maintenance Squadron), I helped re-fuel an aircraft heading overseas, turned some wrenches with the maintenance guys, and assisted a start up.

Over at 426 Transport Training Squadron, I spent some time in the flight simulator to see if I had what it takes to be a pilot.

It was incredible how realistic it was. The cock pit is an exact model of what you would see on the C-130 Hercules, everything looks, feels, and reacts the same.

Although not really something to be proud of, I can now say that I have crashed a plane in Hong Kong, Paris, Toronto, Alert, and in Thule, Greenland.

Week 51 - Air Force 028At the 424 Search and Rescue/Transport Squadron, I arrived in the morning and 20 minutes later was riding in the front seat of a Griffin Helicopter.

I have never been in a helicopter before and it was an awesome experience. The pilot let me try my hand at hovering and take control of the stick when we headed back to the base in Trenton.

I didn't realize how difficult it would be to keep the helicopter in one stable position. This is an important skill to master as many times the pilot will have to remain hovering as search and rescue technicians rappel out to the victim.

Adding to the level of difficulty, the weather and terrain will most likely not be cooperating in a rescue type situation.

After we landed, I wasn't exactly sure what the plan was. The helicopter is really loud and so difficult to communicate without the radio. I got out of the front seat, then was escorted into the back seat.

Within five minutes we were off again with two different pilots and a couple of Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs). We headed out to a nearby field for a training rescue. The two SAR Techs rappelled to the ground followed by a stretcher. The helicopter then lowered and I was able to get onto the ground to get an amazing view from underneath.

I always knew that helicopters generate a lot of wind, but I was surprised to experience just how powerful it really is. I had to drop to my knees in order to not be blown over and even then I had to brace myself.

Delivering Cargo

As we arrived back at the base, I left the Griffin Helicopter and was escorted directly across the tarmac to the C-130 Hercules, a military transport aircraft. I put on a different helmet, a harness, and walked up the ramp at the back of plane into the cargo storage area.

Week 51 - Air Force 029With several SAR Tech guys on board, we buckled up and away we went.

Once we hit our cruising altitude, I got harnessed in and helped open the side doors as well as the back ramp. It felt just like the movies. Flying in a military aircraft, the back fully extended open, standing near the edge looking down at the houses and trees that appear as mere specs on the ground far below.

The SAR Techs were unable to jump due to high winds, but I was given the opportunity to make three drops - basically throwing items off the back of the plane when given the order so as to hit the mark below.

Another highlight of the week was working with the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit within 8AMS. Basically, they get to blow stuff up. I got to blow a stick of C4 as well as about a dozen phosphorus bombs which explodes when contacted by oxygen. The guys were a lot of fun and it was a really cool experience.

A Range Of Opportunity

Week 51 - Air Force 038Before this week, I never realized the number of different professions available on the base.

When many think of the military, we tend to think immediately of fighter pilots, weapons, infantry... After only a few days within the military and seeing all the different challenges, opportunities, and dynamic activities it encompasses, I quickly saw the vastness and variation of positions offered.

Whatever you may be interested in, whether it be policing, photography, engineering, teaching, you name it and I guarantee that you can find something that matches it in one of the squadrons in the Canadian Forces.

Thanks so much to everyone who made my experience such a positive one. I really enjoyed my time at the base and appreciated all the patience and willingness to share your trade. I have the deepest respect for all of you!


Week #51 Announced - Canadian Air Force

CF-18 HornetThis week I am working with the Canadian Air Force in Trenton, Ontario. I will be stationed at 8 Wing Trenton which is the biggest Air Force Wing in Canada. I will get to see many facets of the Air Force throughout the week as each day I am scheduled to experience a different department.

I am really excited about the opportunity to see what working with the Canadian Forces is like. It is a profession I don't think many seriously consider as a career option coming out of school.

In the email with my schedule for the week, a post script note written by the Major caught my attention. It was addressed to the Sky Hawk Captain and asked if a tandem jump could be arranged. Yikes! I jumped off a bridge way back in Week 1, so I guess it makes sense to jump out of a plane as we approach Week 52.

Discovering The Land Of Associations

Week 50 - Association Professional 007If only I had a dollar every time I heard the word ‘association' this week. Being new to the world of associations, I admit I was most likely more aware of it, though I could have sworn that in each conversation I had, the word ‘association' was used at least five times. On my first day at the Texas Society of Association Executives (TSAE), I probably spent the first half wrapping my head around the intricacies of association life and the vast acronyms that prevail.

So if I thought the idea of an "association made up of associations" was intriguing, check this one out: There is a national association called Alliance. This is an association for presidents of associations of associations.

That's how they roll in the Association world.

I must admit, once I drew an organizational tree and got my committees, boards, chairs, co-chairs, and sub-committees sorted out, all the semantics started to become justifiable and actually made sense.

Week 50 - Association Professional 008As Beth often said, "there are associations for everything." And she's right.

Driving downtown, she would point out all the different buildings of where various associations were located. Previously, I would have paid no attention to such landmarks, now with a tuned eye I was suddenly spotting them everywhere.

I had the opportunity to visit a few and spend time with some of the association executives to learn about the particular association.

A Commitment To Members

A large part of associations is about networking through social events and providing meaningful seminars to it's members. Which is kind of fun when you think about it, each month there are a couple of party's to attend where you are bound to meet some interesting people.

An association is only as strong as the commitment of its' members. It would not be able to exist without their active involvement and willingness to volunteer in order for everything to run smoothly.

Beth and her team at TSAE could organize the best seminars and events possible, though if nobody shows up or there are no volunteers to help bring everything together, it wouldn't work.

I sat in on the meeting with the committee that produces the bi-monthly magazine. I thought it was great that these individuals would take a few hours out of their day in order to bring something together they feel is important and will benefit their co-members.

A Texas Sized BBQ

Week 50 - Association Professional 003Back at the office, Beth, Alaina, Sonnia, and Marc were all great to take the time to explain their roles with TSAE to me.

I was told that a visit to Texas wouldn't be complete without trying out famous Texas BBQ. When I was in Georgia I had BBQ, though I was informed that BBQ in Georgia is generally pork, whereas Texas BBQ is usually associated with beef.

Well that's one distinction, the other one of course being that Texas BBQ is "bigger and better."

Inside The Board Meeting

Every quarter the board members of the TSAE meet. This happened to be this week, so I got to attend as a special guest and observe the proceedings.

In all honesty, it was not the most stimulating three hours, though I enjoyed watching the dynamic between individuals, the various communication techniques used, and learn about the overall structure of a board meeting.

Afterwards we went for lunch with several of the board members before heading out to The Renaissance Hotel for the tour a Meeting Planner would take when organizing a conference. It's a beautiful facility and the Pastry Chef was kind enough to send me home with some goodies!

I have gotten very accustomed to staying at new peoples' homes. I can feel right at home surprisingly quickly. It was even easier this week as Beth, her husband David, and son Matthew, warmly welcomed me into their home and showed me some great southern hospitality.

Sean Aiken at WA2 006David is a Professional Speaker and a member of the local chapter of Toastmasters (a group that meets to build confidence with public speaking skills).

In 1990, David's speaking career got a kick start when he won the World Championships of public speaking competing against 30,000 other Toastmaster members world wide. This local chapter meets each Thursday morning, so I went a long this week and got in on the action myself speaking to the group about my experience over the past year.

The TSAE annual summit is next September in Texas and Beth has already been asking me what will it take for me to come. I would love to. Though at this point I have difficulty committing to anything two weeks in advance let alone six months from now.

I guess you could say I like keeping my options open.


Week #50 - Association Professional

Executive HandshakeThis week I am in Austin, Texas working with the Texas Society of Association Executives (TSAE) as an Association Professional. What exactly is an Association Professional? That's a good question.

When President/CEO Beth Brooks first contacted me about coming to Texas to work with TSAE, I had a difficult time wrapping my head around what they do.

"So, you are an association?" I asked. Beth replied, "Well yes, though we are the association of associations."

While I was intrigued simply by the fact this actually existed, I didn't give it much thought and put it on the back burner.

Over the past year of job offers, Beth was probably one of the most persistent people. She made a great case to come to Austin.

There are 24,000 associations in the US, 1,600 of which are in Texas. TSAE is the association of associations - meaning they provide educational training for the professionals who work for all the associations in Texas.

The land of associations sounds like a unique world in itself - I am looking forward to discovering it.

The Man Behind The Mascot

Week 49 - Mascot 001I left Wyoming early morning and arrived a few hours later at the Salt Lake City airport with plenty of time for my flight to Washington DC. Hours before I was scheduled to leave, my name was called over the intercom stating that my plane was boarding. Curious, I quickly went to the gate.

When I got there, they told me my transferring flight through Chicago was running late, therefore I would miss the connection and not be able to get to Washington that night. The alternative was to hop on a different flight to Baltimore, about 45 minutes north of Washington.

I took it and was promised my checked luggage would be joining me once I arrived.

Well, that didn't quite happen.

When I met Joe, the marketing director of the Capitals, he probably thought, "Wow, what did we get ourselves into? This guy looks like he can't take care of himself - scruffy facial hair and no luggage, yet carrying a distinct odor that can only be attributed to a week spent on a farm."

Fortunately he didn't put me on the next flight out of town. My bags came the next day and I was able to clean up before heading to my first day on the job.

Life of a Mascot

Week 49 - Mascot 014I then entered the world of Professional Mascots. Most people probably think it's an easy job. All mascots seem to do is show up, dance around for a bit, give some high fives, start the wave and make people laugh.

I quickly found out it's a full-time job. Many make a great living doing it, and they take their role very seriously. When it's not a game day, there is other stuff to do: schedule appearances in the community and private functions, take care of the suit, maintain good physical fitness...

I was surprised to find out how much actually goes into it.

I also realized how much goes on behind-the-scenes at a sporting event. As a member of the audience, you grab your seat and expect to be entertained. That truth is that everything is planned down to the minute: when they will do different promotions, run certain contests, play a particular segment.

I was able to attend the pre-game operations meeting and go through the detailed script for the night which was cool.

Getting A Handle

Week 49 - Mascot 006During the game, I followed Slapshot around as his handler, helping with his straps, getting his jersey on. With all the various parts it can be a little challenging. It was great to see the man in action so I could pick up a few pointers before it would be my turn.

At the end of the game, I was given the opportunity to go onto the ice and use the "Pucker Chucker." It's a gun that shoots pucks up into the crowd.

Turns out I would be the third consecutive victim of the Pucker Chucker.

After they announced the three stars of the game, I started firing. The first two came out no problem, but on the third, the compartment that holds the extra pucks exploded - sending the pucks all over the ice (let's not forget this is in an arena filled with about 17, 000 fans).

Luckily I was well warned beforehand that this might happen, so I didn't feel too embarrassed and simply picked up the pucks and starting throwing them into the crowd.

Ice Ice Baby

Being on the ice is an awesome experience. Looking up into the stands, hoping that you don't slip, fall, and make a fool of yourself, you are suddenly everyones best friend.

Why? Because you got free stuff, and for some reason everyone loves free stuff.

It doesn't matter what the random item may be or even though they know when they get home it will just go into a drawer until it's Secret Santa time again next Christmas - the fans still want it.

Week 49 - Mascot 021Yesterday, Slapshot grew several inches when I suited up and went to the Kids Open Skate. I had a lot of fun and the kids responded well.

It is great to see the different reactions. It reminded me of my days as a Pre-school Teacher at Nature's Childcare in Boise, Idaho - everyone is always happy to see you when you walk in the door.

Afterwards we headed to downtown DC. I had a great time interacting with all the people, playing jokes, goofing around, and just making people smile.

Today is another game day - Next up the Boston Bruins. Let's go Caps!!


Week #49 Announced - Mascot

SlapshotThis week I am working in Washington D.C as the Mascot for the Washington Capitals. For those of you that don't know, The Washington Capitals is an NHL team. I will also get to help out with promotions and in-game entertainment (you know, those people that wear tracksuits at games, are always smiling handing out free stuff, making sure everyone is having a good time) I will first learn the ropes of what it's like to be the Capitals Mascot "Slapshot" by helping out during a game as his handler, then I will get a chance to suit up as "Slapshot" at a Kids Open Skate. It should be interesting wearing a cumbersome costume with limited visibility while a mob of kids run at you.

I will also be spending sometime outside the arena in the downtown Washington D.C area interacting with fans and getting the city excited about the team and upcoming playoff run.

Being that I am from Vancouver, I am lucky that they're not playing the Vancouver Canucks.

Go Caps Go!

Save A Horse, Ride Like A Cowboy

Save a HorseI caught a flight to Salt Lake City last Sunday morning, a few hours away from La Barge, Wyoming where I would be working on a ranch with a cowboy named Chet. Chet's wife, Billy, picked me up from the airport. We then drove about an hour to a neighboring town where we met Chet and his friend Cody. I was quickly immersed into the Cowboy lifestyle.

About 15 minutes into our drive, Billy explained, "Sean, we're going to throw you right into it - we're going to a roping today!"

I had no idea what that meant, but I was excited nonetheless. It's not everyday your reality changes so drastically. Only several hours earlier I had woken up before sunrise in a Los Angeles suburb, now I found myself on route to a 'roping' in rural Wyoming.

Learning the Ropes

Week 48 - Cowboy 063The roping was organized in teams of three. Each goes out into the enclosed area with about 10 calves. The judge announces one of the calves numbers and the team of three cowboys has to successfully rope the front and back legs of the assigned calf in the shortest time possible. (I won't tell you how I did).

Afterwards we made our way to the ranch where Chet and Billy currently work. The ranch is located in a a beautiful setting - a valley surrounded on both sides by steep rock faced mountains. A green river flows from the nearby mountains through the ranch splitting at one point to create a small island.

For some reason I forgot that it would be cold this time of year in Wyoming, though the thin layer of snow simply added to the picturesque scene. I can imagine the landscape must be equally impressive with the change of season.

tagging a calfIt is calving season at the ranch - for the next couple of months everyday they are new arrivals. Chet's main priority is to make sure everything is going smoothly, that there are no complications with the birth, the calf is feeding properly, and each one must be tagged.

It's an around the clock job, Chet would wake up a couple times a night to go check on the heifers (female cows that have yet to give birth for the first time, usually around 2 years old) to make sure that everything was okay.

I didn't realize this until my last night there, so I was able spend my nights sleeping soundly.

Riding Into The Sunset

Week 48 - Cowboy 089I enjoyed many things about this week: the beautiful scenery, working with animals, great people, and not to mention good home cooked meals. But most of all, I enjoyed my time on a horse.

My horse for the week was named "Hiccup." He was very gentle, though in his old days he has become a bit lazy and somewhat stubborn. He was the boss, he walked as fast as he wanted, when he wanted, where he wanted... he managed to comply just enough so you couldn't really get mad at him.

One thing that I have always wanted to do is gallop on a horse. Good ol' Hiccup helped me out in small bursts.

I didn't have much control of where we were going, but we were going, and going there fast. The power and sheer strength of horses is something that has always amazed me.

Speaking Cowboy

Week 48 - Cowboy 093Chet and Billy found my random calling out "Yeehaw" amusing and I managed to debunk a few myths associated with Cowboy talk.

Unfortunately, Chet never says "yeehaw" or "giddy-up," not even "heyah" when he wants his horse to go faster. I guess I wasn't all that surprised. These sayings have been so ingrained through pop culture that it's hard not to whip them out when you are in such a setting.

I found myself giving ol' Hiccup a good John Wayne style "heyah" when I wanted to gallop and certain no one was in ear shot.

I had a great week as Cowboy. Chet and Billy were a lot of fun and I was able to do many activities I had never done before: go to a roping, visit Wyoming, gallop on a horse, tag calves, sort bulls, ride a tractor to feed cows...

During the summer months I was told it's a different experience. For the most part the cows will graze on government owned undeveloped land in their natural environment and a Cowboy will ride out to meet them and check on them daily.

I hope someday I will be able to return.


Pseudo-Update from the Ranch

Horses at sunsetIan here, (the project videographer) filling in for Sean. I'm currently in our hometown Vancouver, while he's in the middle of Wyoming working as a Cowboy. When we last parted ways, he said he'd be somewhere remote, and likely not have internet access. Well, he was right.

So instead of waiting until the end of the week for Sean to update, I thought I'd write a pseudo-update, imagining all the things Sean may (or may not) be doing at this very moment.

See! Sean spending his time suiting up in cowboy gear (chaps, spurs, the whole bit) and swinging his leg up and over a saddle. See! Sean pat the horse and tip is hat down low. See! The stalk of wheat protruding from his lips as he gazes out at the cattle and engages in cowboy conversation with his mentor Chet. I imagine they're saying things like, "Yup" "I reckin" and the classic "Uh-huh."

That wasn't so hard right?

Now, I could in fact be wrong.

It could be that the life of a cowboy is no longer about beans from a can, campfires under the stars, and a life lived in heroic solitude. It could be that a cowboy lives in a nice home, with cable TV, and drives around in a big truck instead of taming stallions.

It could be a lot of things. But I guess we'll have to wait until Sean emerges from his digital silence with a real update, won't we?

Until next time,

- Ian

Week #48 Announced - Cowboy

CowboyThis week I will be working as a Cowboy at a ranch near La Barge, Wyoming. I have no idea what to expect. When I think of a Cowboy, a cliche of images come to mind. The infamous Cowboy hat, boots, jacket, horse, piece of hay in the mouth, accent, riding in open fields for miles and miles.

But all stereotypes aside, what exactly is it that a Cowboy does? Is it possible to be employed as a full-time Cowboy?

I didn't need much information before making the decision to head towards Wyoming - I would be working at a ranch located outside a small town in Wyoming with a Cowboy named Chet. What more did I need?

It was Chet's brother who first contacted me a while back. When I finally spoke to Chet last week, he sounded excited about the idea of me coming. I still don't know what to expect, though he did mention something about calving.

Whatever that means, I am sure that I will soon to find out!