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42 days ago

I’ve been wrestling with myself about whether or not I’d write something about Steve Jobs… everyone else is doing it, people must be getting tired of it by now… but I really, really…. really wanted to say this.

I am not a “fanboi”, as they’re called… meaning I’ve never stood in line to buy an Apple product, I have only ever had a couple of Apple products in my life. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t see the impact that Apple, and of course, Steve Jobs, has had on just about every aspect of our current lives.

Especially being in the Autism community where the Apple ipad inadvertently opened up the world of Autism to a whole new way of thinking.

But this is not a post about Steve Jobs or his products.

The answer to life, the universe and everything

If you’ve never read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I have to explain this to you because it’s a bit of a very interesting coincidence.

In the book, some super beings ask a supercomputer for “Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything“, it calculates for 7.5 million years before reaching the final answer…. 42.

Why is this a coincidence?

The number of days between Steve Jobs retiring as Apple’s CEO and his death? 42

Working Living until the very end

steve jobs

by Lea Suzuki of the San Francisco Chronicle

The reason that his death came as such a shock to people is that, just a month ago, he was still at Apple, steering the ship.

That just doesn’t happen. You see, people tend to leave work once they get sick. They find out that they have months or even years left, they’re weak… so they step away and make the most of the life they have left.

Not Steve Jobs.

When I first thought about it, I admired how he worked right up until the very end.. or at least, a whole lot closer to the very end than most others would ever do.

I quickly corrected myself though, because the very fact that he was there until the very end was indication enough that to Steve, it wasn’t work. We already knew that though, in that he always professed to love what he did and told others to do what they love. And he proved it all the time.

Some would say that he was a natural at giving his presentations and a marketing genius… I think he just genuinely loved his work. He was proud. That sort of enthusiasm and excitement can’t be faked.

If all of that isn’t proof enough that he loved what he did… 42 will forever be proof enough for me.

He was there because he really was making the most of the life that he had left.

Do not do, be

In the short time since his death (less than 18 hours ago now from the time of my writing this), there has been a constant stream across all social networks of inspiring thoughts, phrases, paragraphs and even entire speeches of his and it’s truly great to see.

But all of these great things he said, he didn’t just say them, he didn’t just do some of the things he said… as many of us will try to do, he was those things. He lived it.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish” is how he finished his speech at Stanford in 2005. Inspiring words, great thought… but how many of us will live that way from here on out?

He did.

There are a LOT of very wise and inspiring quotes of his that I could list out here, the fact is… none of them will do you any good unless you live them. Don’t just agree with him, don’t just believe the words he says… live them.

Here is the video of that speech, please watch:

Here’s to the crazy ones

This commercial from 1997 was never aired. It was narrated by Steve Jobs and has the tagline “Think Different”. If this doesn’t give you a sense of how Steve Jobs’ mind worked… nothing will:

Why did Steve Jobs identify with the people in that commercial so well? Why did he deserve to be included with that list of people?

Because he lived it. He didn’t just say the words. He didn’t just believe it. He lived it.

Impacted our lives

I see a lot of people writing about how his products have impacted our lives, how his thinking has impacted our lives… what I truly love reading are the posts from Silicon Valley from people who became great people in their own right, because of how Steve Jobs impacted their lives far more than a new iPhone ever could.

I don’t need his products to feel his impact. And that’s the beauty of what he was able to accomplish and the true testament to who he was.

I want to live my life as he lived his… doing what I love. I want to do what I enjoy doing until my 42 comes.

More so than that, I want the same for my children. You see, Autism or not, I want my children to find what makes them happy and then to do it. But as a parent of a child with Autism, it’s even more paramount as one of the defining characteristics of Autism is that autistics can excel quite profoundly so long as they’re able to do what it is that they love.

Trying to force someone to conform, in other words, to put a square peg into a round hole, simply does not work. Not with Autism, not without Autism.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs

His products changed the world.
His innovations improved our lives.
His lessons inspire us to carry that forward.

The man did not die.. he became legend.


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Conversations with the boys today

I thought I’d share a couple of examples of what conversations are like with my boys… both of these examples happened just this morning.

Conversation #1 – I want to be the grown up

While watching cartoons, Cameron saw an episode where the kids wanted to be the parents and the parents had to be the kids. As you can expect, it didn’t go so well. However, this idea intrigued Cameron enough for him to want to try it… his top priority, video game time!

Cameron: “Dad, we’re going to be the grown ups and you and mom will be the kids, ok?”

Me: “Ok, so you’re going to work all day long then?”

Cameron: “Yup, and you go to school… but then I get to play video games.”

Me: “No you don’t. After work, you have to make supper for everyone.”

Cameron: “but then I play video games?”

Me: “No, after supper the kids get to play video games… that’s me.”

Cameron: “but then I get games?”

Me: “No, after that, you have to give the kids a bath and then bed time.”

Cameron: “And then I get games right?”

Me: “No, then you have to do dishes, clean up and do more work and then go to bed.”

Cameron: “oh… ”

Me: “You might want to reconsider being the grown ups Cameron. Trust me, you get way more video game time than I do.”

Cameron: “ok ok ok… we’ll keep being the kids.”

Conversation #2 – Which colour is your favourite?

Tyler wanted to play trains with me after Cameron got on the bus, so he got a train he wanted and then wanted to be the big helper by getting me a train as well. Holding the blue train in his hand, he looks over at me….

Tyler: “uh.. Dad? What’s your favourite colour? Blue or…. red?”

Me: “Red.”

Tyler looks through the trains, can’t find a red one. Comes back to me…

Tyler: “uh… Dad? What’s your favourite colour? Blue or… orange?”

Me: “Orange.”

Tyler looks through the trains, can’t find an orange one. Comes back to me…

Tyler: “Dad? What’s your favourite colour? Blue or… purple?”

Me: “Purple.”

Tyler turns to the trains, gives it a quick glance and then comes back to me.

Tyler: “Uhmm… what’s your favourite colour? Blue or… pink?”

Me: “Blue”

Tyler: “No, sorry… you can’t have blue, this is my train!”

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A little about me, what you didn’t know

The lovely @savvymum4 from The Trials and Tribulations of the Sav-ettes tagged me in her meme post here.

As such, I am to write 7 things about me that you may not know but I figured I’d open it up to Twitter/Facebook and see if there was anything specific you’d like to know.. so here are some of those questions. Sorry if yours got left out, I am only to use seven.

1. I have a college diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Radio Broadcasting. I have the voice for it, I have the talent for it but it wasn’t meant to be. Radio, by the way, turned out to be the most fun I’ve ever had a job as well. However, facing down many many years at minimum wage in small towns before even having a shot at getting a big break was not appealing so I abandoned it.

2. The first Christmas break of my 2 year program in college, I devoted my week to learning HTML so that I could learn the basics of making a website. After completing college, and a year at a radio station, I moved back to the city to take up a job as a full time web developer. I guess I really did learn all I needed to know in college because I’m still a web developer to this day.

3. I’ve travelled to most places in Canada between Quebec City, Quebec and Victoria, British Columbia. I’ve also been down to Florida, Pheonix, L.A., Las Vegas, Tijuana and most recently, Singapore and Bangkok Thailand. I would love to do so much more travelling as I really loved being to all of these places but family life has a way of tying you down.
For some pictures of Singapore/Thailand, visit here.

4. I spent the better part of my youth at my grandparent’s hunting and fishing lodge. Being a family business in the remote northern forests, certain laws weren’t always ‘necessary’.. for example, I was serving alcohol (sometimes) when I was 9, I could drive before I was 11, I was the supervisor of the trailer park by the time I was 15 and was awake and working from 10am to 3am almost every day.
My childhood dream was to work with a computer, no more manual labour… now that I am chained to my computer, I kind of miss that old lodge.

5. In grade 4, I took the CAT (Canadian Achievement Test) and scored a 100%. The top 5 students that year had to take an advanced test which I scored a 97.5% on. The top student was forced to go to a private school… it was not me. My friend, at the time, scored higher. However, because I had also scored high, I was given the choice to go as well.
This scared me… I didn’t want to be taken off to some school that would be really strict, really hard, really… scary. And so I declined and my mother respected my decision. From that day forward I was never able to study for a test again.
In fact, in college (the radio program I mentioned in #1), I finally decided that I had to put away my 4th grade self and really buckle down and study for the one big test that made up most of the class’s final grade…
it was the only test that I had ever failed.

duncan6. A typical day in the Duncan household is not really typical, almost every day is different lately, thanks to the additions of a new puppy, a new part time job for my wife and just the random dynamics that a family tends to have but, generally speaking, it goes something like this…
I wake up with my boys, any time between 5am and 7am.. why so wide a range? I don’t know. But my boys average it around around 6, it’s not too bad. I get up with them and feed them breakfast, get Cameron’s lunch cooking and put on their favourite television shows.

Around 7, I wake up my wife who picks out Cameron’s clothes and gathers up the rest of Cameron’s lunch (snacks and drinks)… then either one of us will help Cameron get dressed altho he does a lot of it himself now (he’s 5).

At 8am, I take Cameron out to the road to wait for his bus… when I come back in, my wife usually goes back to bed until 9:30, when I start work. If I didn’t get much sleep or if it’s been a long week, sometimes I’ll go back to sleep instead. The one that doesn’t sleep gets to play games with Tyler (3 year old) for an hour and a half.

At 9:30, I work until 5:30 while my wife plays games, does arts and crafts and other activities with Tyler… he usually naps around 1pm for an hour.

At 3:15, Cameron gets home.. I go out to the bus and bring in Cameron, talking to him about his day. When he gets in, he usually immediately wants to play video games but that’s up to his mom… I go back to work.

At 5:30, we all sit down for family dinner.. no tv, no living room even.. we sit at the table together. Afterwards, either the boys have a bath or we all gather in the living room to play a board game or just play.

Then at 7pm, the boys go to bed. They get a cup of soy chocolate milk, a bed time story and hugs and kisses.

After that, I choose between watching a movie, playing a video game or going back to work. Usually it’s back to work.

Then I go back to bed at 10… although lately it’s been closer to 12, due to work.

7. How my wife and I met…  not nearly as excited as how we “got together”… but here it is.

I’ve known Natalie since I was 14, working back at that family lodge. Her family stayed in the trailer park. They stayed there for quite a long time so I got to know them all quite well. She would often babysit for my uncle and even help out around the lodge any time any of us needed her. They were all good friends of my entire family.

When I turned 18, I moved out to Vancouver to finish school and begin my life.. the lodge was sold and most everyone went their separate ways. I continued to stay in touch with her though via email and instant messenger online.

It wasn’t until 10 years later that I finally convinced her to come go out to Vancouver to visit… you see, she’s a big nature buff, having her career in tourism for Northern Ontario… so when she agreed to finally come and see how beautiful Vancouver is, I told her to fly to Calgary instead.

The reason for this is that the highway between Vancouver and Calgary is considered one of the most beautiful highways in the world, going up and down the Rocky Mountains… at one point you can be quite warm, in the valley and the next minute you’re in clouds with snow on the side of the road.

I had a big breakfast and hit the road. It took me 10.5 hours of solid driving to get from one end of the mountains to the other where I filled up with gas, she got into the passenger seat and I turned around and drove back.

She spent a week in Vancouver where I took her on a horse carriage ride around Stanley Park, up Grouse Mountain, to the Aquarium, to the suspension bridge and so much more. I loved right down town on the beach… so each night was met with sunsets and seafood dinners.

By the way, until then, salmon was her favourite food ever but after a paddle boat dinner cruise around the city with fresh salmon caught that day… she doesn’t want to eat it anymore because it’ll just never compare.

She flew back home, we continued to stay in touch… and a few months later, my grandfather took a turn for the worse with cancer. I went back to Ontario to visit him and ended up staying with Natalie… literally. I never did go back to Vancouver!

I had a friend take care of my cat, I had another friend pack all my belongings and ship them to me! And Natalie and I have been together ever since (7 years ago).

I thought I’d include a few pictures of the drive and the first night sunset.

That’s a lot… but hey, you asked for it, some of it anyway.

Now its my turn to tag, these are some of my favourite people on twitter:

@bigdaddyautism blogs at

@autismarmymom blogs at

@ihave7monsters blogs at

@amandabroadfoot blogs at

@Lost_and_Tired blogs at

If you have any other questions, info you’d like to know about me, don’t hesitate to ask.. but also don’t expect that I’ll answer everything.

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I can’t believe I’ve become the “When I was your age” guy

This Christmas was pretty amazing.. we had virtually no money and yet our children ended up waking up to their own hand held video games and a new Xbox 360 Kinect, all of which had multiple games.

I, myself, got a WD Live Media Player… it is essentially a little box that sits next to my tv and plays blu-ray quality movies straight off my computer that is in my office. My computer, by the way, currently holds over 70 movies for us (parents) and 50 movies for the kids. So turning on this new media box and being able to flip through over 100 movies is kinda nice. Plus, it also does Youtube and stuff, right on the tv… high quality.

What does all this mean? It means that I found myself sitting in my chair thinking to myself… “When I was you age…. ”


Cutting edge techology

I mean, seriously… I’m 34. When I was 5, the newest game to hit the market was the Atari, which featured stick figure characters and a range of about 6 different synthesized sounds. This was the big step up from what I had when I was 4, which was a small coffee table sized unit with a knob on each end. That’s right, it had Pong on it.

Also, we were nearing the end of an epic movie media battle between VHS and Beta. Ahh… VHS. You had to press play, then hit fast forward for several minutes to skip all the previews, then press play again to watch the film. Then you had to rewind it when it was done so that you wouldn’t have to rewind it before watching it next time (or returning it to the store and being charged extra).

When a movie got to be old (like, a few months), the sound would start to get wonky and if you’re really lucky, the tape would get stuck in the machine and get chewed up.

Then they had new players… they called them “Hi-Fi”. We thought the picture was amazing!

You know what we did during car rides? We stared out the window.

Alright alright…  now fast forward to current times, where I have 2 children that have it a little different.

The video games today feature life like animations and features, stunning image quality, days of play time, real world environments, open ended style play and most amazingly… a space aged camera that makes your entire body the controller.

Not only that, but they can now play games in their hands that are far better quality than what I had when I was a teenager. How did hand held units get so much better than what the top systems had to offer on my television? So much for staring out the window on those long car rides.

VHS is all but non existent these days with DVD having replaced them but even that is almost out the door as Blu-Ray is quickly taking it’s place. Watching movies in Blu-Ray is truly an amazing experience all on it’s own but what I failed to mention earlier was how crappy our televisions were. I mean, when your tv has a knob that you must physically get up to walk to and crank to change the channels.. that’s crappy.

But today, my boys get to watch 1080P movies on a 46″ plasma television… pretty darn swanky!!

Plus they get to play those controllerless, life like detail games on that plasma tv too.

Oh, another nice little perk… is my cell phone. Yes, my phone. When we’re out at a restaurant and the boys are getting restless, I can pop on a game or video or even a full length movie right onto my phone and presto, they’re entertained. I mean, in the palm of their hand they have more than I had in my entire bedroom at their age.

So yes, I’ve become a “When I was your age” guy, rather envious of my boys for all that they have compared to what I had but at the same time, rather proud.

I mean, we really are your normal family, living paycheck to paycheck, not much to spare on much of anything really, but with a purchase here, a purchase there… over the course of a few years, my boys really don’t have it so bad!

By the end of my jealousy induced memory flash backs, I was actually quite proud of what I’ve been able to provide for my family. No, I didn’t invent this new technology for them, but I’ve been able to provide them with it.

All in all, that’s really not so bad. And one day, when they’re in their 30’s and thinking about how bad they had it as kids, hopefully they’ll appreciate the fact that despite it being so crappy in comparison, it still was the top of the line, and their parents had it for them.

I think I’ll call my mom tonight just to say thanks.

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Bullying: A real problem, some answers

I haven’t written about bullying because I’ve been fortunate enough to have not encountered it yet with my children and even if I had, I certainly wouldn’t know much about what to do… so I’m definitely not an authority.

But today, on #SpiritDay (October 20th, 2010), we wear purple to put an end to Anti-LGBT bullying and bullying in general. So I figured today is a great day to do more than just wear purple.

It’s time to get some information.

Sonia Sharp, an expert on bullying, said in a speech for Brighton and Hove Education Authority

  • 1 in 2 students experience occasional bullying during any school term
  • 1 in 4 students in primary school are bullied more than once or twice at least in any term (so they are more than twice as likely to be bullied as those in secondary schools)
  • 1 in 10 in secondary school are bullied more than once or twice at least in any term (some research says one third of secondary students are bullied during the course of the school year)
  • 1 in 10 primary aged students are persistently and frequently bullied – possibly every day

Some facts from other experts:

  • Between 15 and 25 children every year commit suicide because they are being bullied (there may be more we don’t know about, and many more than this attempt it because bullying has made them so unhappy.
  • More than a quarter of students get threats of violence whilst at school, and half of these threats have been carried out.
  • Attacks on boys accounts for 75% of these incidents.
  • Around 10% of children have missed school because of the violence.
  • Up to 40% of secondary school students feel that their teachers are unaware of the bullying which goes on.
  • About 17% of calls to ChildLine are about bullying. For five years running it’s been the most common reason people call
  • More 12 year olds call ChildLine about bullying than any other age group

Source: CoastKid

Bullying comes in various different forms. It doesn’t just happen at school, it happens in the workplace, social settings in general and even online.
The worst is racial, discriminatory and of course, in the case of the Anti-LGBT movement today, bullying based on sexual preference.

Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons.” He defines negative action as “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways.”

I don’t have the answers, but I know that sitting around saying that I don’t have the answers is certainly not helping. So instead, I found some great sources and am sharing them now.

Bully Free Zone

This is a Bully Free Zone!



  • 1-800-4CHILD
  • 1-800-273-talk

Please share these resources and for goodness sakes, please USE these resources if you need to. Bullying can happen to anyone, it’s not your fault if it happens to you. Recent stats puts unreported bullying at over 2/3 of cases. That’s tragic.

What is more tragic is when bullying leads to depression or worse, suicide.

You are not a victim so stop being one. And don’t let people you know be the victim either. Pick up the phone or a keyboard and get some help. It can be stopped but you have to stand up and take a stand for that to happen… and you’re worth it.

PS, if you have more resources for your country or just in general, please feel free to include them as a comment to this article. The more information the better.

PPS, please don’t shy away from blogging about bullying today, even if you don’t know much about it. It’s an important issue that people need to talk about. Only then can it come to an end.

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