The 10 worst things about Facebook

Facebook is not longer a novelty.

For many, it’s become as much a part of life as television, coffee and cell phones.

It’s proven to be a great means for us to keep in touch with friends, without the inconvenience of face-to-face interaction. Yet for all it’s upsides, there are an abundance or aggravations still plaguing the world’s most popular social network.

Here is my most up-to-date Top 10 list of Facebook annoyances:

10. Chain status posts

These are the Facebook equivalent of the old email chain letters than cluttered our inboxes through the early 2000s. Apparently, chain statuses are enormously popular with the pre-teen crowd, which is why I do my best to keep my own Facebook account clear of pre-teen friends.

Here’s a recent example:

“SORRY BUT I’M DELETING YOU FROM MY LIFE! • click delete • LOADING. ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ 99% ERROR! It Is Impossible To Delete Our Friendship. You Mean Soooooooo Much To Me. Send This To 10 People Who You Never Want To Lose. If You Get 3 Back, You’re An Amazing Friend!”

9. Shameless career/hobby promotion

We all have a Facebook friend or two trying to use Facebook as a launch pad for a career in music, photography, etc… These are the people that spam us with desperate pleas to visit their blogs and websites or attend gigs at various coffee shops.

Occasional career updates are fine — say, once a month or so. Daily and weekly bulletins are irritating and force me to eventually ignore you altogether.

As a dear Facebook friend, I support you and wish you all the best in your endeavours, but the road to fame and fortune does not begin with relentless Facebook spamming.

8. Random group, game and page requests

Almost daily, I am asked to join a Facebook group that has absolutely no relevance to my life.

No, I don’t want to join ‘Discount Donairs in Winnipeg.’

No, I don’t want to like the page ‘Volkswagen Owners of Istanbul.’

No, I don’t want to play Vampire Wars.

Where do these stupid things come from and how did I make the invite list?

Ignore! Ignore! Ignore!

7. Public displays of affection

Few things on Earth disgust me more than couples displaying their affection through-wall-to-wall messages with the obvious intent of convincing all their friends how madly in love they are.

Mary:

“Hey snookie cookie! I can’t want to see you tonight! I am gonna eskimo kiss your nose off!!!!!!!!”

Mike:

“Hey babe! Been thinking about you ALLLLL day! Missin’ your kissin’! Smoochie smoochie!”

OK! You’re in love. I believe you. Now get a room.

6. Attention-seeking wall posts and updates

“Meagan is feeling soooo emotional and needs to know who her true friends are…”

The Facebook news feed is every drama queen’s dream come true. Posts like the example above are an effective method of garnering an outpouring of pity. Poor, depressed Meagan is certain to get at least 27 supportive replies like:

“AWWWW! I’m alwayz hear 4 ya BUDZ! LUVYALOTS! text me K? ;)”

5. Gross-out pictures

A friend of yours has just posted a new album titled ‘Katy’s Awesome Weekend 12.’ Naturally, you’re a bit curious to see what shenanigans ol’Katy was up to, so you begin clicking through the album.

First, a picture of Katy and Co. partying it up at a night club.

Second, a picture of Katy chowing down on some late-night pizza back at her apartment.

Then BAM, you’re ambushed with a closeup colour photo of Katy barfing her pizza into a pillow case while people point and laugh in the background.

At moments like that, several questions arise, such as — why was this photo taken? Who is the photographer who deemed this event photo-worthy? And why has Katy posted this photo of herself and tagged it?!

4. Facebook Places

‘Mike just checked in The Adult Movie Warehouse!’

This controversial new feature allows people to broadcast their exact location to all their Facebook friends via their cellphone or other mobile device. Is it really necessary that 450 people know where you are at all times? I don’t know where to begin pointing out all the things that are wrong about this concept, but I suppose Places will be embraced by the burglars and stalkers of the world.

3. Personal public showdowns

Public battles made my list of the most annoying things on Facebook, but they can also be one of those most entertaining. It’s a rare event, but every so often two people (or more) will engage in an all out war of words for all to see. If you encounter such an event, it’s important to read the whole comment string quickly, before cooler heads prevail and the combatants start removing the harshest insults and accusations.

2. Minute-by-minute life updates

There are way too many people on Facebook who drastically overestimate the intrigue of their own daily routines.

9:02 a.m.

“Yaaaawn! I hate alarm clocks! GRRRRR!”

9:07 a.m..

“MMMMMMMmmm… coffee!”

9:09 a.m.

“MMMMMMMmmm… toast with peanut butter!”

9:17 a.m,

“Shower time! Might even shave my legs today! LOL! JK! ;>”

9:35 a.m.

“I love the feeling of fresh socks in the morning! :)”

Not even your own mother is interested. Kindly stop clogging my News Feed with this inane garbage.

1. Explicit parenting anecdotes

“Awww! Baby Tyson just poo-pooed all over the front of my shirt. Shouldn’t have fed him carrots this morning. LOL! yucky!”

In my mind, the ‘icky’ facts of parenting are not suitable for Facebook broadcasting. Yes, your baby is adorable, so don’t spoil that cutesy image I have in my mind by chronicling every eruption of vomit, feces or urine on Facebook.

Despite the horror stories and grisly media reports, I’ve long defended Mexico as a great place to take a holiday.

Not anymore.

For the past three winters, we’ve taken one-week vacations to Mexico. It’s not that we had a particular attachment to the place, but consistently cheap flights and hotel rates make it an attractive option for the budget-minded traveller.

During our trips, we embarked on many outings away from the resorts and never felt like we were in any kind of danger. In fact, we’ve had very positive experiences every time, which is why I stubbornly refused to buy into the recent fear-mongering about how dangerous the country had become for tourists.

However, the threat of violence and death has simply become too real to ignore, which is why my wife and I aren’t likely to visit again any time soon.

Earlier this week, I caught part of a Dr. Phil episode where a young American woman named Tiffany Hartley described how her husband David was brutally gunned down last September. David was shot in the head while the couple was out riding Sea-Doos on Falcon Lake, a large body of water that spans the U.S.-Mexico border. Tiffany was forced to leave her husband behind while a boat full of armed men chased her to back to shore.

Watching Tiffany share her ordeal, Amanda and I exchanged fearful glances, both of thinking the same thing — “What if that happened to us?”

David Hartley’s murder is being blamed on the infamous Los Zetas drug cartel, which are known to use Falcon Lake as a drug-trafficking highway.

The search for his body was suspended after a Mexican investigator’s severed head was delivered in a suitcase to a Mexican military post.

Also making headlines recently is the death of Canadian businessman Daniel Dion, 51, whose body was found in the trunk of his burned-out rental car in a sparsely populated part of Guerrero state on Friday. Authorities have said they believe Dion was kidnapped after a dinner in Acapulco on Oct. 23. Dion’s niece, Shanny Bouldoc, believes her uncle’s death was related to some of the powerful contacts he had.

“He was about to have some serious breakthroughs for business in Mexico,” Bouldoc told The Canadian Press. “He probably stepped on the wrong feet or was a problem to someone.”

There’s also the well-known and still-unsolved case of Domenic and Nancy Ianiero of Woodbridge, Ont., who were found in their hotel suite on the Mayan Riviera with their throats slashed in 2006.

Of course, these are just a handful of well-documented examples.

CNN reports that drug cartel violence has claimed more than 28,000 lives in Mexico since 2006 — yet in 2009, a record 1,222,739 Canadians visited the country and almost one million Canadians went there in the first half of 2010 alone.

Mexican police, soldiers, politicians and other authority figures are being murdered in gruesome fashion by gangs eager to send a message that they are in control. With each passing month, Mexico’s drug war is reaching new heights and foreigners are getting caught in the crossfire.

To make matters worse, Mexican authorities seem unco-operative when tragedy strikes, in most cases opting to shift blame or hide vital information from victims’ families.

The Mexican government needs to take drastic action to regain control. It seems an all-out military campaign is necessary to combat the powerful cartels, which may mean calling in reinforcements from other nations.

For those still travelling to Mexico, the odds are still on your side. You’ll probably have a pleasant vacation and arrive home safe and sound.

But maybe you won’t.

We, as a country, can send a powerful message of our own and boycott travel to Mexico altogether — deny them our tourist dollars until the Mexican government wakes up and starts making a serious effort to stop the bloodshed.

I acknowledge that a grown man such as myself probably shouldn’t be getting too excited about Halloween anymore.

But I just can’t help it.

I must admit, Halloween still holds a childish thrill for me. Seeing all the candy and costumes out on store shelves takes me back to my childhood — going door-to-door in my home-made Garfield costume and hording a pillow case of candy for months afterward.

In our hometown of Chauvin, there is a humble little establishment known as Shakers Tavern. Like most small-town bars, it’s part of a 100-year-old hotel that is in dire need of maintenance. It’s small, smelly and decorated by dozens of stolen oilfield signs. The bathrooms have holes in the walls, the carpet is stained 16 different colours and the chairs wobble almost as much as the regular patrons who sit in them.

But for just one night each year, the action at Shakers rivals that of any Edmonton or Calgary nightclub.

The annual Shakers Tavern Halloween party has become one of Chauvin’s longest-standing traditions, drawing former Chauvinites from far and wide. They show up to party in some of the most creative and hilarious costumes you’ll ever see. An air of mystery adds to the fun, as everybody keeps their costume ideas top secret until the big night.

Last time I attended, I saw a devil in revealing spandex, the Jolly Green Giant, Superman, a six-foot-tall male organ — and there are always a few authenic-looking vampires and monsters. Most of the costumes are hilarious, but some of them can be downright frightening.

There’s something indescribably bizarre about watching a grotesque zombie singing karaoke with a shirtless guy in a diaper.

A couple years ago, my younger sister Brenna glued hundreds of tiny frosted Mini Wheats together to create a giant Mini Wheat costume. Predictably, she was eventually forced to ditch the costume as hungry partygoers began aggressively feasting on the Mini Wheats like hyenas on a wildebeest carcass.

The trouble with all these great costume ideas is that every year the ante gets raised and we’re forced to invest more effort and creativity into our costumes. This year, I’ve got something pretty special in the works, but it’s already consumed way too much of my time, and I’m starting to stress out about finishing it by Friday.

At then end of the night, the best costume usually walks away with a free case of beer or maybe a few bucks off their bar tab, so I suppose it’s mostly about bragging rights.

So, if it’s weird for a grown man to spend countless hours in his garage building a Halloween costume, then so be it.

The 2010 Shakers Tavern costume contest will be mine!

As a student, I was a constant disappointment to teachers.

My report cards frequently carried comments like, “Leo is capable of much better work…” or “Leo has potential, but lacks focus.”

I recall being pretty eager early on, but things kind of came off the rails sometime around Grade 4 or 5.

For whatever reason, I just got bored.

Rather than following along with the lessons happening on the chalkboard, I day-dreamed, wrote silly stories and doodled crude stick-man comics in my loose-leaf binder.

I continued to do well in English class, but came to dread math, science and social studies.

And my lack of interest became painfully obvious at test time.

Grade 6 and 7 were especially rough. More than once I was threatened with being held back a grade if my study habits didn’t improve.

As a teenager, falling behind in school can be humiliating and extremely stressful. I can vividly recall that gut-wrenching terror I felt when a teacher would summon me up solve an equation on the chalkboard. Most times, I didn’t even know where to start.

Some teachers seem to think struggling students can be motivated by failure and embarrassment. For me, it was the exact opposite. I pretty much gave up on school altogether, applying myself just enough to squeak by.

While my friends discussed homework and compared grades, I did my best to stay invisible.

In Grade 8, I started producing my own satirical newsletter, which lampooned teachers and exposed phony conspiracies happening in our school (I worked on my story ideas while the rest of the class was learning biology and proper typing technique).

‘Exposed’ was an instant hit in the student lounge. The humour was edgy, but the staff came to enjoy my little publication as much as the student body did. The principal even requested that I deliver a copy of each new edition to his office.

When I hit high school, my English teacher encouraged me to apply my passion for writing through a work-experience program at a local newspaper. Fortunately, I tried it out and enjoyed the experience tremendously. I was given a weekly column called ‘Locker Talk’ which was essentially a more truth-based version of my old newsletter.

Writing became my thing and provided a dose of much-needed confidence in my intellectual abilities. As I delved more into writing, my grades started to improve in other areas. I was paying more attention in class, studying for tests and actually taking homework home.

By the time high-school graduation rolled around, I began to think maybe I was worthy of going to college and earning a good job — which I eventually did.

No doubt keeping students motivated to learn is the single biggest challenge our teachers face.

I firmly believe every student — no matter how lazy or disinterested they might seem — has a knack and a passion for something. The trick is for teachers and parents to identify and ignite that passion in the short window of influence they’re given.

All struggles aside, I consider myself lucky to have found my calling and I’m forever grateful to those who kept faith and pushed me to pursue journalism as a career.

A new school year begins in just a week. All formerly frustrated students and teachers alike should seize the opportunity for a fresh start.

In the summer of 2006, my live-in girlfriend decided we should have a puppy.

I resisted for months, citing a lack of space and unwanted responsibility. I hadn’t yet learned this girl — who has now been my wife for a year — always gets her way in the end.

After weeks of her pleading, my resolve began to weaken and one day Amanda walked in the door with a wriggling brown furball in her arms.

“He’s mini dachshund!” she exclaimed.

All manliness aside — it was the friggin’ cutest puppy I’d ever seen.

I was stretched out on the couch, so she laid the soft mass of floppy ears and giant feet on my chest so we could get acquainted.

He promptly peed all over me.

For the next year or so, we endured the unimaginable horrors of The Puppy Stage.

He peed, pooped and barfed on just about every piece of furniture we owned. He chewed shoes, carpet, electrical cords and howled like a wounded sea lion every time we left the house.

Training seemed hopeless at times, so it was a moment of rejoice the first time he went outside unescorted, did his business and promptly returned to the house. He even got accustomed to sleeping in his own kennel and ceased his sorrowful whining when we left him alone.

Eventually, the three of us found a balance and cohabiting became a more peaceful affair.

There’s something inexplicably wonderful about the adoring companionship of a dog. Whether he’s tromping around the house showing off his squeaky toys, or quietly cuddling on the couch, we always appreciate his presence. Amanda and I often work different hours, so Yogi provides much-needed company when the other is away.

A couple of years ago, we noticed some problems with our precious pup’s vision. The local vet was unable to identify the cause, but suggested that Yogi probably suffered from a degenerating eye condition common to smaller dog breeds. We had the option to try seeing a specialist in Calgary, but chose not to pursue that route.

Yogi can still see a little, but frequently walks into walls, feet and furniture. His sight has been steadily worsening for the past couple of years and it’s likely he’ll soon be completely blind.

Visitors who see Yogi bonking and tripping his way around our house for the first time often express great pity.

“Poor little guy,” is the most common reaction.

But Yogi doesn’t feel sorry for himself.

As long as we don’t got re-arranging furniture too much, he gets around OK. He still frolics with his stuffed animals, chases bees around the backyard, and begs for scraps at the supper table. He frequently challenges me to wrestling matches or tug of wars and battles me with the same zeal he did as a puppy.

While out on walks, he follows the sound of our footsteps, and when it’s supper time he zeroes in on the chiming of kibble hitting his glass bowl.

At first, we felt sad and helpless watching our boy gradually lose his sight at such a young age, but we came to realize that Yogi has never felt sorry for himself.

He doesn’t know what a raw deal he got. He doesn’t even know that being blind is a handicap. Self-pity seems to be an exclusively human condition.

He just continues on living life as it comes, happily bonking his way around the house and soaking up all the attention he can get.

Over the past four years, Yogi has taught us plenty about patience and responsibility — and it seems he’s now teaching us a little something about coping with adversity as well.

When beavers attack

Red Deer’s now-infamous beavers may have drawn first blood, but they’re likely not going to win this battle.

Earlier this week, the Advocate published an article detailing beaver-related violence at Red Deer’s popular off-leash dog park known as Three Mile Bend. Officials say there have been at least five reports of a beavers attacking dogs at the park — one of these incidents resulted in the death of a dog.

The story is almost laughable in that these typically timid buck-toothed creatures are striking fear into the hearts of local dog owners.

Media outlets across the country have picked up the bizarre story and the issue has generated plenty of discussion about the best way to address Red Deer’s bad-ass beaver problem.

Some want the beavers killed. Some want the dogs killed. Others say to just leave well enough alone and let it work itself out.

One commenter on RedDeerAdvocate.com states: “It’d be nice to see the dogs trapped and removed from places like MacKenzie Park where leash laws apply, but dog owners still let their dogs run wild and harass wildlife, cyclists, and other patrons.”

Another argues: “Yet another ongoing case of short-sighted insanity from those people running the show trying to appease some ignorant dog owners who haven’t the ability to recognize it is THEY who are the ones that put their pets in danger by dragging them to that particular park, as though there are no other places to walk the dog.”

Municipal enforcement supervisor Don Elliot says the city plans to trap and relocate the beavers.

By most accounts, relocation is certainly preferable to elimination, but it’s always a touch tragic to see animals lose out whenever man intrudes into their natural habitat. In all likelihood, the beavers at Three Mile Bend were merely protecting nearby young from snoopy, reckless dogs.

During a recent visit to Bower Ponds, I saw a lone beaver waddling around near the pond adjacent to Cronquist House. We had our chubby little dachshund on leash and I remember saying out loud ‘Man, that beaver would make short work of you Yogi.’

I wasn’t exactly seized by terror. In fact, it was nice to see a little wildlife in the park. Common sense dictated that I should guide Yogi far away from the potential danger and we managed to escape without incident.

As our city continues to sprawl, there are bound to be more clashes between man and nature. But we don’t go out and relocate all the deer every time a car smokes one on the highway.

In this circumstance, the only action required is a little more caution on the part of dog owners visiting Three Mile Bend.

I recently came across an interesting blog entry by one Werner Patels of Calgary — a self-proclaimed ‘translator, interpreter, writer, pundit and thinker,’ according to his Twitter biography.

In this blog, Werner argued that professional websites (ie: newspapers) should hold online commentary to the same standard as Letters to the Editor — requiring verified identities behind each post.

Werner concluded his blog by stating some changes to his own website — lifetwopointoh.com.

“And since my sites are not blogs (blogging is what amateurs do), but online editorials, opinion columns and essays, the “letter-to-the-editor” rule will be in effect now and for all time.”

As a big believer in unobstructed online discussion, I posted my viewpoint while attempting to adhere to Werner’s new letter standard.

Werener’s article can be found at this URL: http://www.lifetwopointoh.com/2010/06/professional-sites-must-stop-trolls.html

•••

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dear WP,

As an online editor for a popular Alberta news website, I agree that anonymous online trolls are a great annoyance and should be eliminated at every opportunity.

I disagree, however, with the notion that online comments should be held to a ‘Letters to the Editor’ standard. Here’s why…

Online comments made below news stories are typically made casually, with little thought or preparation and should be handled as such.

As the web continues to alter print media’s role, newspaper editors have had a hard time accepting the idea of free, open discussion on articles without verified identity.

Anonymous online comments can be outrageous and difficult to take for a writer or an editor. As a columnist and blogger, I’ve faced my fair share of asinine commentary on my own articles. When we encounter these nasty negative comments, our first instinct is to block, ban and shut down the discussion.

But I’ve come to believe in another strategy.

At reddeeradvocate.com, we’ve tried to police our comment threads with minimal intrusion. Our policy forbids allowing comments on stories relating to court proceedings, child crime, and other sensitive matters, but for the most part, we just let people have at it.

Of course we still have the trolls who hurl profanity and slander without cause, and those users are quickly dealt with. In many cases, I’ve sent email to the offending parties to try and handle the problem personally.

I’ve also built informal partnerships with some our frequent and trustworthy commenters who are quick to report any flagrant violations.

As a result of our firm but tolerant approach to online discussion over the past three years, we now have very little difficulty policing our site and the quality of discussion and debate has risen dramatically.

The Internet has forever altered the way we receive and circulate news — it’s also changed our ability to respond and interact.

As writers and editors, we might be tempted to plug our ears and ignore some of the disagreeable commentary posted to our stories, columns and blogs — or we could put egos aside and to let people say what’s really on their minds.

There are always going to be jerks who sling mindless insults and accusations from the comfort of anonymity, but online readers have learned to take stupid comments for what they’re worth.

Perhaps more website administrators should be doing the same.

Sincerely,

Leo Paré
Online editor
reddeeradvocate.com

I’m not usually one to complain about law enforcement, but something has been weighing on my mind.

The source of my irritation is the yellow $57 ticket sitting in my glove box, issued to me recently for illegal window tint.

The unfortunate incident occurred when my wife and I were attending a family event in Provost in early May. After our group had lunch together at a restaurant, Amanda and I hopped in the truck and headed for yet another nearby get-together.

Amanda wanted to change into something more casual, so she jumped in the backseat to hide out while she swapped shirts.

On the way, we passed by an RCMP cruiser parked along a service road near the outskirts. I smiled and waved to the officer as I drove by. The officer stared suspiciously, no doubt curious why somebody was flailing around in the back seat.

I had a bad feeling as we passed, and sure enough, the blue-and-reds lit up and the cruiser veered out behind us. I pulled over right away as Amanda scrambled to pull a shirt on before the officer got to the window.

When he approached, I handed him my licence and registration and was about to begin explaining why my wife was dressing in the backseat when he cut me off abruptly.

“So, the reason I pulled you over today is for your window film,” he said.

Caught off guard, I had no quick reply. I rolled up my window an inch to see for myself. To my surprise, the officer was right. There was a subtle layer of window tint — which is illegal in Alberta.

Having purchased the truck second-hand, I’d never noticed the window film before. I’d driven around Red Deer for more than two years and never had a problem.

The officer walked back to his car and returned to my window a few minutes later with a bright yellow ticket for $57. He offered a lengthy explanation of Alberta’s laws regarding window film, and how he was within his rights to have me towed on the spot.

As he handed me the ticket, he told me to ‘have a good day’ and that was it.

So before I start complaining, I will go on record as saying the officer conducted himself very professionally. He wasn’t rude. He didn’t waste my time. I even got the impression he would have preferred not to issue me a ticket at all.

Did my truck have illegal window film? Yes. Guilty as charged.

My grievance isn’t with the officer. It’s with this particular detachment’s apparent priorities in law enforcement.

To be nailed for such a petty infraction is frustrating and disappointing when you consider the bounty of more serious matters police should be addressing. There are drug dealers, wife-beaters, thieves, murderers and rapists out there roaming our towns and cities. So I’m a bit confused as to why any RCMP detachment would place such great priority on ticketing the honest, taxpaying, law-abiding citizens for trivial transgressions like lightly shaded window film.

If police have nothing better to do in their respective communities than hunt for motorists with tinted windows, perhaps the government that employs them should be re-examining its priorities as well.

Learning to play a musical instrument has to be one of life’s most humbling experiences.

As a kid, I took a few years of piano lessons and picked up enough to play some basic pieces.

Suffering a terribly short attention span, I dreaded the boredom of music lessons and rarely did the homework my teacher assigned.

I was blessed with the ability to play by ear and music came easily, considering my sad lack of effort, so it frustrated my parents that I didn’t give piano more of a chance.

When I turned teenager, my interests turned to sports and socializing, and piano lessons pretty much came to end.

Although I still tinkered on the piano occasionally, I didn’t take music seriously again until Grandpa Leo Paré passed away in 2005.

In his younger years, Grandpa was known as a great fiddle player, providing entertainment at town-hall dances and festivals. I have faint childhood memories of him playing for the family on special occasions, but as age and arthritis slowed his once-nimble fingers, he became less comfortable playing for an audience.

Whatever the reason, Grandpa’s passing inspired me to buy a fiddle of my own and start taking lessons. With plenty of fresh inspiration, I was confident I’d become a fiddling pro in no time.

I soon learned that fiddling is one of the most difficult, frustrating and embarrassing endeavours a grown man can attempt.

For the first few weeks, I squeaked and screeched my way through one simple beginner song assigned by my very-patient teacher. Unfortunately, my meager piano experience had no helpful carryover whatsoever and in the early stages just bowing a single note that didn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard was considered a tremendous victory.

Did I mention I lived in a small house with four roommates at the time?

The guys were often heard to describe my early fiddling as sounding like “a cat in heat” or “a car with worn out brakes.”

To shut them up, I’d just hand them the fiddle and give them the opportunity to do better.

With a little practice every day, I gradually got better. The hair-curling squeaks became less frequent and I started producing notes that sounded a little like a musical harmony.

Although my practice schedule has been kind of hit-and-miss for the past five years, I’ve stuck with the fiddle and am slowly continuing to improve. It’s tough, and I’m still hard-pressed to get through an entire song without error, but I’m getting there. One of these days, I may even get up the courage to play for an audience.

I’ve also picked up the acoustic guitar recently and made great progress with the help of some how-to videos and Internet tutorials.

As adults, we often hesitate to tackle new challenges for fear of looking silly, only to look back years later and think ‘I wish I would have…’

But wishing won’t get you anywhere.

If you want to learn a new language, take a class. Yes, you’ll feel stupid at times, but sooner or later you’ll get it.

If you’ve always wanted to play hockey, join a team and learn to skate. Sure, you’ll suck at first, but you’ll get better.

Don’t deny yourself the chance to learn new skills and enrich your life simply because you’re afraid to feel a little ridiculous.

Falcon Cam the ultimate reality show

I’ve developed a mild obsession recently.

Over the past week, I’ve taken in so much information on peregrine falcons that I’ve started to forget other stuff.

In March, we at the Advocate newsroom heard about the Red Deer River Naturalist’s ambitious plans to place a webcam in the famous falcon nest in the Highland Green Telus tower.

From the moment the cam went live in mid April, my colleagues and I were hooked.

For days, I checked in every hour or so but only saw an empty bed of gravel.

I began to worry that maybe the falcons weren’t going to come.

Maybe something happened to them? Maybe all the camera gear scared them away?

But then, on April 26, I checked the camera feed and boom! There it was — a real-live peregrine falcon, staring curiously into the camera lens.

I was so excited I nearly fell out of my office chair.

Since that day, I’ve kept the falcon-cam feed running on my computer throughout my workdays, observing the majestic birds of prey come and go.

Don’t worry boss. I’m still getting my work done, for the most part.

There’s just something so ultra-cool about falcons. I like to think of them as the “fighter jets” of the avian kingdom — maybe because they are the fastest creature on the planet, capable of reaching 320 km/h in a dive.

It’s sickening to think these incredible birds were nearly wiped out by the use of DDT pesticides in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Thankfully, they are on the comeback now — which makes them all-the-more fascinating in my eyes.

There have been some great webcam moments early on, such as the day a falcon returned from a hunting expedition with a fresh kill. And, of course, the falcon-cam faithful shared a moment of elation when Mama laid the first bright red egg (she’s since laid two more).

Last week brought a bit of drama as a freak spring storm pounded the city. Hundreds of viewers watched nervously as the mother tried to keep the eggs warm through the wind, snow and sub-zero temperatures.

I’ve been told the gestation period for peregrine falcons is about 30-33 days, so I’ll be watching anxiously for the next few weeks as the falcon pair continue to fend for themselves and protect their fragile young.

The RDRN have done a great and admirable thing by providing this webcam and deserve all the praise and recognition now pouring in.

The opportunity to observe Red Deer’s falcon family has affected me in ways I’d never expected. I feel strangely connected to the falcon couple and their three little eggs. I’m now emotionally invested in their quest to raise their little family, and I think many people here in Red Deer share my sentiment.

If you haven’t checked out the Falcon Cam yet, be sure to check out this link — http://bit.ly/ay7phy (Warning: Falcon Cam may be addictive)