The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Lau Tzu
Pokemon Go - A Step in the Right Direction

Pokemon Go - A Step in the Right Direction

Posted by martin.parnell |

Recently, Sue and I headed over to Sudbury, Ontario, to spend some time with our grandchildren, Autumn aged 12, Nathan aged 7 and Matthew Connor aged 2. They are full of energy and had us on the go for most of the time. I was also pleasantly surprised to see daughter Kristina out and about so much. Now, don’t get me wrong Kris is a busy young women with the kids, a full time job and participates in “Amtgard”, a live-action, fantasy, roleplaying activity. However, she seemed to be taking more walks than usual. Then I realised what was going on. She had signed up for Pokémon Go.

Now, I have a somewhat love – hate relationship with video games. Back in the dark ages the first game I played was “Pong”. Two paddles and a puck and away we went. Next up was Space Invaders, Centipede and Pac-Man. Then I got a job. Years went by and games came and went. I would go to a party and everyone wanted to play “Guitar Hero”, why not? I even outscored Kristina on “Dance Dance Revolution”. She’s never forgiven me. Most recently it was Wii golf. I was just as bad at that as I was at real golf.

With regards to Pokémon Go, I didn’t want to judge too quickly, so I asked Kristina how it worked. She explained that an app had been created based on the classic Pokémon game, whereby you can walk, run or bike and, using GPS, find little Pokémon creatures and catch them. The cool thing is that they will appear on the screen of your cell phone and it seems as if they are really there. Apparently, this is called “augmented reality”.

Also, during our stay, Kristina really surprised me. She said she wanted to join me in a 5 km race. On the Sunday before I left, we got up bright and early and headed off to Massey, a small town 120 kms south west of Sudbury. Every year, this town of 3,000 people, puts on a marathon, half marathon and 10 km race. This year they had added a 5 km event. We waited at the race start line for five minutes and at exactly 5.45am the gun went off. This was Kristina’s first 5 km and she set off like a bullet. Over the next few kilometers she slowed down, but as we approached the end, she got very excited. There was a ”weedle”, one of the smaller Pokémon characters, sitting on the finish line. We both started to sprint and Kris pipped me by 0.1 of a second.

On the way back, Kris snoozed in the passenger seat and I reflected on the fact that, finally, there was a video game that got people off the couch, enjoying the outdoors and interacting with each other. Go Pokémon Go!

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The writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.

Dr. Seuss

How to Edit your Life and Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

Over the past few weeks, I have been busy revising the manuscript, of my next book RUNNING TO THE EDGE. I could call it editing, but my publisher has a professional to do that for me. It’s a peculiar process, removing parts that you no longer think are relevant, and having your memory jogged into adding something you missed, first, or even second time around. 

Getting sections back from the editor is strange, too. She will ask questions about things that, as the writer, you may think are obvious, but have to be explained in more detail in order that your potential reader can properly follow a train of thought or recounting of an incident. Things that you might think are relevant can be totally removed and yet parts that you might have been pondering over whether to include, or not, can become, from someone else’s perspective, essential to the text. 

It’s a bit like life.  We’ve all experienced incidents that, at the time might appear to have a huge effect on your well-being, your standing within your group, your job, family etc.

Yet, in the grand scheme of things are actually rather trivial and you have probably spent too much time and effort dwelling on them. I looked at the work some editors carry out and it’s interesting to see the role they play, in various areas of the process:

A copy/ manuscript editor ensures that the manuscript meets in-house style standards and checks facts. We might look to ensure that our standards meet those of our employer or someone engaging our skills. We should always check that the facts we present are accurate, in order to make ourselves credible. 

A developmental editor helps the idea stage through to the final draft. We should formulate and plan our ideas and what strategies we will use to implement them. 

A substantive editor helps the writer focus on story elements, plot characterization, dialogue, scenes and multiple other aspects that could improve the strength of a manuscript and, in non- fiction ensures that there is consistency and flow, with events flowing logically. They examine both the big picture and the finer details. These are all skills we need to engage if we are to see a project through, successfully, from start to finish.

Basically, an editor is an enhancer, polishing and refining, directing focus and essentially removes what does not fit, what has no bearing on the finished article and draws attention to areas where the audience should focus. 

These are all skills we can use to tackle tasks and provide positive, rewarding outcomes in the way we approach life and business. 

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Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.

John Lennon

Lost for Words and Filling in the Blanks

Posted by martin.parnell |

I’m struggling.

It’s been a busy week, for me, with lots of meetings and other activities scheduled and I suddenly realised that today’s the only day I have the time to sit and write my next blog. But, I’ve drawn a blank – nothing- not one idea has entered my head that I feel compelled or even remotely inspired to write about.

This is hard to accept. Usually, my head is buzzing with ideas, reflections and thoughts I want to share. I have considered commenting on recent topics in the news. The Olympics immediately springs to mind and you’d think that with my interest in sports I could come up with an angle on that, but no.

I thought about things I’ve done this week that are slightly out of the ordinary, but shifting 11 cubic yards of mulch from my driveway onto my garden isn’t going to give me 400+ words. Being British, by birth, you’d think I could, at least make some profound comment about the state of the weather, but, living in Alberta, that particular topic only leaves me bemused.

I have to accept that for most of us, most of the time, life is pretty ordinary, and that it’s not necessary to be constantly looking outside of our own private world with the need to take a stance or comment on every little thing that’s going on. Sometimes, we just have to bask in the joy of having nothing in particular to do and even less of a need to say something.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Instead of fretting over not knowing what to write, trawling through news sites for inspiration, agonising over how many “How to....”s or  “Ways to........”, I’m going to make a coffee, grab a good book and settle down for an hour and just enjoy some downtime. These moments in our day, whether it be an hour or just 5 minutes should be cherished.

These are the times when we can withdraw from the world and do what we want to do, just for us. It may be reading, going for a walk, watching TV or even catching up on the latest cat videos on You Tube, Who cares? It’s your time, you don’t have to be anywhere, or doing any particular thing and, in this day and age, those times can be very precious.

If you suddenly find you have a few minutes and honestly can’t think of what to do with them you might like to pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to, in a while. You’ll feel great for doing it and imagine how happy you could make someone else. Whatever you choose to do in those times, I want to thank you for when you have a few moments to spare and you choose to spend them reading my blogs

Hopefully, by next week, I’ll have something more stimulating to share.

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Climb every mountain, search high and low.

Julie Andrews, Sound of Music
King of the Mountain-Taking on Cochrane's BigHill

King of the Mountain-Taking on Cochrane's BigHill

Posted by martin.parnell |


The biggest sporting event that no-one seems to know about is coming to Cochrane on Friday September 2nd. The Tour of Alberta is a bike race along the lines of the Tour de France, in this case the riders will be completing 5 stages instead of 21. 

The first stage, on September 1st, is being held in Lethbridge Then its stage 2, Kananaskis to Olds. This is how the Tour of Alberta website describe this section: Departing in an area known as “Alberta’s Mountain Playground” with over 50 interconnected provincial parks and recreation areas, the peloton will begin Stage 2 at the Pomeroy Inn & Suites at the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis before embarking on their 182 kilometre quest. This stage includes the biggest climb of the 2016 Tour, “Big Hill” in Cochrane, before the peloton encounters predominately rolling and flat terrain through Mountain View County, nestled against the picturesque foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Upon making their way to one of Alberta’s esteemed college-towns, Olds, the race will feature three exciting finishing circuits in what is expected to be a thrilling mass sprint finish. On September 3rd Stage 3 is from Drayton valley to Rocky Mountain House and Stages 4 and 5 are in Edmonton. 

There are 13 teams competing, with a total of over 100 participants. Riders include defending champion Bauke Mollema and Canadian Superstar Ryder Hesjedal both from USA Team Trek-Segafredo. Other teams include USA based Cannondale, UnitedHealthCare, Rally and Jelly Belly; Dubai based Skydive; Ukraine based Amore / Vita-Selle and Canadian based Silber, H & R Block and Team Canada. 

How big is this event I hear you ask? To put this in context, the Grey Cup draws a viewership of 5m and the Stanley Cup 14m. The Tour of Alberta is watched by 47m people around the world and between 1.30pm and 2.30pm next Friday those eyes will be on Big Hill in Cochrane where the “King of the Mountain” section will be contested.

Now we know there’s going to be traffic issues on Friday afternoon with rolling road closures. The riders will be flying along the 1A crossing Hw 22 then up Big Hill before hitting junction 766 and heading north. So instead of getting frustrated why not take the afternoon off, leave the car at home and head up to Big Hill. 

So let’s make this a “Big Hill Party”. Students are out of school early that day so kids why not head up to the “King of the Mountain” section. I’m going to be on the hill at 1.30pm wearing my Canada Moose bike shirt and cowboy hat and, clanging my cow bell. Let’s give these athletes a hug cheer as the flash by and show the World what a real “Cochrane Welcome” looks like.


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