First Liebster Award


Thanks to Deepa for nominating me. I’m always looking for interesting prompts and I enjoyed the questions and am excited to answer yours.

THE OFFICIAL RULES OF THE LIEBSTER AWARD 2018 (as seen on The Global Aussie)

The rules are:

  1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.
  2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger sets you.
  3. Nominate blogs that you think are deserving of the award.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let your nominees know about their nomination!

I’m going to break the rules a little and skip #3 and #5 – I know some of my readers (usually including myself) don’t do these sorts of things so rather than put anyone on the spot: you’re nominated if you’re interested in answering. Answer on your own blog, or answer it in the comments below (no blog needed!)

1) Tell me about yourself in 6 Words

Interesting question – I like Deepa’s 6 word stories so this is an interesting challenge. I have the urge to explain what I mean by the 6 words I have chosen but then that’s more than 6 words, then, isn’t it? So I’ll go with:

“I want to be better than yesterday.”

2) What are the 2 qualities that connect you to someone new?

Another interesting question. It makes me think about how I suspect that to some people I seem very quiet and reserved and to others I am talkative and enthusiastic. I certainly have more fun being that second person so what qualities make that connection possible?

A sense of humour is really important. Above all, it’s how I connect with others. It doesn’t necessarily mean the people I connect with are, themselves, funny. But they have to be able to see the humour in things. This is particularly important when it comes to our own lives. Lots of difficult and stressful things happen day to day – being able to approach them with a bit of laughter is important.

Above all, though: sincerity. I want to know what you care about and it should be really obvious how much you care about it. In great part this is due to my own preferences: I am terrible at small talk and don’t usually get very far in a conversation that stays with the weather, how traffic was on the way over. What makes you happy? What brings meaning to your life?

A runner up is positivity. If our conversations focus almost exclusively on negativity, bad news in the world, how terrible the Toronto transit system is or how bad humans are as a general rule, we probably won’t have a lot to talk about. Or more likely I won’t be all that available to chat.

What is your blog all about?

It’s a mish-mash of things but the central theme is setting myself up for surprises. Mostly they end up being good ones, but they almost always bring good stories. This usually means doing new things or going new places where I might not know what to expect or what’s going on and then winging it. I’m not content with a daily routine that never changes. I’d have been miserable had I been born 100 years ago, doing the same thing every day.

In part it’s also about finding things like that that don’t require epic amounts of money or time off. A few years back I would do a big project – like a 900 mile father/son bike ride and then get to the end and feel a huge letdown. It’s over and I have nothing else exciting to do. And I’d spend weeks in a funk until I figured out the next epic event to plan. In the midst of one of those funks, I thought about my grandfather who spent his entire life working in a factory making wood paneling for walls. His job was the same every day – on the same days at the same hours. He’d do the same thing on the same machine. And I would berate myself for not being happy. He was always happy and didn’t need a 900 mile bike ride or a three week trip to India to do it. And what I realized the more I thought about it is that he wasn’t doing big trips or projects. His income wouldn’t permit it. But what he would do is go exploring in the woods, or he’d have several gardens and grow new vegetables he hadn’t grown before. He would find little adventures here and there. And that’s what I’m trying to do here as well. Yes, of course I want to do big trips and long bike rides (I dream of combining that 1,000 mile bike ride with a trip to India for example, someday) but there are also many little adventures I can have that are equally challenging and fun. Exploring the city library by library, finding ways to love a business trip to somewhere you don’t like, or biking out to a nearby ruined POW camp, for example.

Technology – Is it a boon or a curse? What excites you most about the current advancement of technology and what makes you most wary? Why?

This isn’t an either-or question for me. I’m married because of technology. I keep connected to my family on business trips because of technology, I am able to learn Hindi in great part because of technology.

At the same time it’s a huge distraction. Social media was a big distraction to me until I left most of it behind. (I left Facebook totally, then came back for a bit, but have had enough now, only using Messenger).  Two nights ago we were on the subway and I saw a mother and son riding together. The mom wasn’t paying attention to the son who was watching a video by himself of what appeared to be a family gathering where he was playing with people. It was particularly sad to see. I’m watching how social media is changing our culture and I’m not happy with what I see. Of course every generation has had something to say about how the new generation communicates. People spoke out against writing, the printing press, records, radio, phones, and on and on. I think, though, that there are some aspects of our social media-enabled world in which technology is moving forward faster than our sociology can manage it.

Do you have a memory that follows you still?

I have lots of them, but one fond one that sticks with me a lot because of its dreamlike quality is this one in which we spent an afternoon sitting in a bed hanging from a tree listening to classic jazz.

How did your blogging journey begin?

Back in the day, Sage was one of the first people to have an online journal (the word Blog came much later). The year was 1994 or 1995 and there were only 1-2 online journals around. She had hers for a while and then ended it just before our son was born. Once our son was born and we decided to move to a yurt in the woods, I thought it would be good to document that journey online as well. So in March of 1999, I started that one and kept it up for the entire time and onwards to our immigration to Canada. It’s offline now but may be the source material for a book someday.

What is your favourite food?

Oh man – this changes so often. Some days it’s Thai food – red curry chicken is a favourite, other days it’s Indian food – please don’t make me pick a favourite there – there are so many foods I love.

Instead of a favourite food, I have often thought about what region’s food would I be happiest eating nothing else but. North American food is out – 99% of it is too bland. I rarely if ever eat it even though we live here. Thai is in the short list. Ethiopian food is also in it but I’m fussy about this. I find wheat-based injera not so good but injera made with teff is amazing. In the end, though, if I had to pick one region’s food, it would be South Indian food. There is so much variety and flavour. The food is spicy enough, and even if I never ate meat or fish again I could manage happily.

What do you like about WordPress bloggers?

I like how supportive and mostly positive everyone is. In social media, the communication is short and rapid fire. One sentence is posted, misunderstood (or not), and an angry response often follows and it spirals out of control so quickly – sometimes from the most innocuous things. Here, I rarely see any arguments or negativity – even when sometimes people are discussing really difficult subjects in comment threads. I really appreciate that.

Share something that you like. You can share an experience, a quote or poem or anything that appeals you. The space is all yours!

This year, as I said before, my 30th high school reunion is coming up. With our RSVP (I’m not going, by the way), we were asked to answer a set of questions, one of which was our favourite quote. I couldn’t think of one off the top of my head so I looked at some I’d written down and this one really stood out:


For me this ties to the discussion about negativity versus positivity I had above. I’m far more in to moving toward something than away from it. Even before I knew of this quote, I was following the idea for many years and it has steered me correctly all along.

Do you prefer hard cover books or ebooks? Why?

I love hard cover books best. They are a more full sensory experience with touch and smell in addition to sight. Old books, in particular, smell amazing. But at the same time, for portability on a trip ebooks are great. They’re also perfect for when you haven’t got a book at home you want to read and you need something right now even though it is long past closing time for your local bookstore.

If you want to convey your Thanks or Sorry to someone, you can do it now.

Thanks to Deepa for all of these great questions!

Here are mine – feel free to answer one or all of them in a blog post or in the comments below:

  1. What is your earliest memory?
  2. How many times have you moved in your life? Where to?
  3. You have just been banished from the city, town, or village where you live and have to go somewhere else. Fortunately you’re being given a relocation package so all of your moving expenses, job search, and even immigration paperwork is taken care of for you and your immediate family. Where do you go?
  4. What is your preferred mode of travel? Air, rail, bus, private car, bike, boat, walking, something else?
  5. The time machine is ready and you get to go back and live one day of your life all over again. You can’t change anything, but you get to go back. Where do you go and what is happening there?
  6. Guess what? You get another trip in the time machine to some time in your past. This time you can make a change if you want to. Where do you go and what change do you make?
  7. You just won $1,000,000 but you can’t spend a dime of it on yourself. What do you do with the money?
  8. Now that you’ve been so generous, you get another $1,000,000 – this time it can only be spent on you and nobody else. Where does the money go?
  9. Who was your celebrity crush when you were 13 years old?
  10. Your own 30 year high school reunion is coming up (add 10-20 years to it if it’s already passed!). What do you want your life to look like then?
  11. If you could instantly become an expert in one skill or field, what would it be?

Like I said, I won’t be nominating anyone specifically but if you’re interested in participating, please feel free to answer the questions and link back here. I’m excited to see what your thoughts are. And of course you don’t have to do an entry or even have a blog – comment below.

15 thoughts on “First Liebster Award

  1. Your answers are interesting Todd. I love the way you recalled your grandfather and compared with your lifestyle. The quote was beautiful. On the whole, i loved your answers and the questions are triggering me to answer. Would definitely like to give
    a try in the comments section later. Thanks you for answering and congratulations once again.

  2. Number 9, my celebrity crush. It was a toss up between Ricky Martin when he was in Menudo and River Phoenix. I had posters of both of them all over my walls!

  3. I have been nominated for the same award and it’s interesting to note that you haven’t nominated anybody as I have been thinking of doing exactly the same :)……..
    Nice to read your answers!

    1. Thanks! I love the questions but I don’t want anyone to feel pressured. I will be interested to see your answers!

      1. Yes, same here…I I feel the same way too and enjoy answering the questions :)…that said let me answer two of your questions –
        Ans to Q4: My preferred mode is of travel has to be rail, Indian Railways specifically, I love to watch the green fields, the villages passing by, the livestock, the tall trees, there’s never a dull moment in the train. Alongside comes the vendors selling all kinds of wares, then there are fellow passengers to chit-chit – Oh I love it! Just that I cannot do it a lot due to finite leaves during my travels.
        Ans to Q11: I would like to become an expert in mountaineering and trek and climb through all over the Himalayas 😀

      2. I’m torn, myself. Like you, I love Indian Railways. There is so much to see and so many people to meet. And I’m with you about timing as well. That makes trips to India challenging. The more I go the more people I want to go back and visit again and then there’s fitting in new places to see and all of this in 3 weeks or so with a good week of that spent jet-lagged. But I can’t complain too much – I’m lucky to be able to do it at all!

        But I also love traveling by bicycle for similar reasons. You get to meet so many individuals and see small details you might miss passing by at 90 km/hr. I’m hoping to spend at least a week touring Rajasthan by bike next January which should be amazing!

      3. You know what, I don’t know how to bicycle :(, its a shame but I don’t…though I do plan to learn it soon!
        Biking in Rajasthan will be great! Lucky you are!

  4. Your answers are detailed and interesting! I could connect the most with your favorite food answer, because I love food. And, finally someone said something about North American food! Btw, have you tried Indo-chinese? If you ever get to visit Kolkata, India, try the indo-chinese food there. It’s another level of ecstasy.

    1. Oh yum! Is that also called Hakka Chinese? I’ve had some here in Toronto (we’ve got two restaurants in our neighbourhood – one is really good), and also had some in Mumbai on my last trip. That’s one of my favourites. It’s a little heavy for me to commit to for every meal for eternity but as a treat it’s amazing! Now I want Hakka noodles with lots of the green chili vinegar on it! (But I need to eat a healthy lunch today)

      1. Hakka Noodles is one particular delicacy in the cuisines. In general, it’s just known as Indo-chinese, the Indian version of Chinese food. There are some chinese restaurants in Delhi (Berco’s and Yo China) as well which make the food a lil subtle that can suit every palette. If you try it at roadside hawkers in India, it’s very spicy! Try the honey chilli potato, gobhi manchurian and hakka noodles, these are vegetarian. There’s chilli chicken and chilli fish as well which is quite famous among foodies.

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