We have a great team here at Yellow Pencil. And you may have had an opportunity to work with some of us, to know a bit about us, and you may have even had a pint (or two).
We seldom talk about our people on our blog and often focus on work, processes, and the business challenges our clients face and how they can overcome those. A few weeks back I had the idea to do a post about our “most interesting possessions.” It was inspired by a new site I stumbled upon called Minimums where people are asked about their most favourite possessions and share a bit of a story behind them. What people own, acquire, and treasure is an interesting lens. It can tell you a lot about them, such as their values, interests, passions, and influences, and I’ve been a regular reader since.
I hope you enjoy this little lens into our team here at Yellow Pencil. It’s a great group.
A house without flowers is a house without life. It’s like seeing the world all black and white. Tulips and orchids are my favorite. I always have at least two orchid pots in my apartment. Unfortunately, tulips don’t last long in hot weather. (I took this picture last winter with my iPhone)
Nespresso machine and Aeroccino milk frother
Have you seen my Instagram account? You will see many pictures of lattes. I’m often having my lattes in coffee shops, but when I’m home I use my Nespresso machine and the electric milk frother. It’s so handy and practical that it takes my almond milk latte to the next level.
Batman comic figure
I’m a fan of Batman because unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any superpower. He’s intelligent and has an investigative mind. I was looking for a nice comic figure for months and then I found this one on my last vacation in Los Angeles. It’s not the perfect Batman, but it’s pretty cool and intimidating. P.S. His new desert batsuit presented in the most recent movie trailer is awesome!
My husband and I got married on my parents’ elk farm in August last year. On the morning of the wedding I was delivered a box, from my husband, with a pocket knife in it. While it’s not the most common or typical gift someone would give their bride-to-be, it totally makes sense coming from my husband (he’s never been one for jewelry!). Now I am reminded of our wedding day every time I cut open a box!
Anyone who knows me, even if it’s purely through social media, should know that I have a weird love for lawn gnomes. I’ve been interested in them since middle school. In fact, my first ever email address contained the word “gnome” (I would divulge the rest but as many first email addresses go, it’s pretty embarrassing). I would love to say it’s what all the kids were into at that time, but sadly it wasn’t. Anyway, in grade 6 or 7 my best friend gave me a lawn gnome for my birthday. This marked the first gnome in my collection, which has since grown to include the one I have tattooed on my leg. I have managed to hold onto that gnome through many moves and homes with no lawns, and it continues to be my favourite gnome in the eclectic collection I have built over the years.
My mother was raised in the Yukon, so naturally, her family has a unique love for gold nuggets. If you are from the Yukon or know someone who is, you probably understand this. My grandmother held onto very few pieces of jewelry throughout her lifetime but one thing she managed to keep was a pair of clip-on, flower earrings with gold nuggets in the centres. Before she passed, I was gifted these earrings. There is nothing overly spectacular about the earrings themselves, but I am a sucker for antiques, and I love the idea of wearing jewelry that my grandmother wore when she was my age.
Ibanez Concord 12-string acoustic guitar
This was the first guitar I bought when I was about 15 and living in Hong Kong. I bought it second hand through a classified ad and I remember the meeting the owner outside his apartment building in the pitch black, even though it was only about 7 p.m.
This guitar has travelled with me to three continents, and even though it’s a 12 string, I’ve only ever used it as a six string — keeping 12 strings in tune was way more work than it was worth.
This guitar is significant me because it represents the joy of music and creativity for its own sake. I’ve never had grand ambitions when it came to music, even though I loved performing and playing for people.
Wenger Swiss Army knife
I was given this Swiss Army knife on my first Father’s Day. For me, it’s a reminder of all the Boy Scout lessons I learned, and a symbol of being able to fix things and solve problems with whatever is at hand. Be prepared, after all.
It also reminds me of being a child and the magic of being given my first pocket knife and all the mischief it helped me get in and out of.
LEGO 924 Space Transporter
Lego has been a theme throughout much of my life. As a kid it was all toys rolled into one. it symbolizes creativity and the joy of being able to build anything you want.
This set was my favourite set as a kid the LEGO 924 Space Transporter. I still have a ton of my original Lego bricks from my childhood (thanks Mom!) which are now part of my six-year-old son’s collection. It is amazing how well they have held up and how little the way he plays with them has changed from all those years ago.
Canon 40D camera with 85mm f1.8 lens
This was my first foray into the DSLR world, and I left the world of film because of it. I’ve had this beauty get me through many live event shoots. The combination of speed from the camera and the lens has been perfect for high-speed games like competitive badminton, to portrait shoots out in the wild. I still carry this guy when I’m out travelling, much to my wife’s chagrin.
Maybe I’m sentimental, but I’ve had this tool since I was a teen. It reminds me of my camping days as a Boy Scout: the beautiful smell of fresh pine and the resulting campfire I’d build using this tool. There’s something about surviving in the nature with only one or two tools that really calls to me. This has helped me get through many rainy days and I still keep it on me everyday.
Yonex badminton racquets (Ti-10, Nanospeed 7700, Muscle Power 21)
Badminton has been a big part of my life, especially while I lived in Ontario. I went from a novice to a semi-competitive player while I was there, and these racquets remind me of it. These three racquets represent my progression as a player since it shows my change in play style. The feel of the grip in my hand is a comforting feeling for me. Even though I haven’t played much since moving back to Vancouver, I still find myself bringing my racquets out for a couple swings just to feel their weight.
My kitchen tools
These are a few of my kitchen tools. Some are old and some are new. They all do many things very well. Most of them can share roles, but they all do something better than the other.
I will have these knives for the rest of my life, and I will most certainly add to this collection. Knives will last for a long time as long as you treat them with the respect that they deserve. After all, they can kill you with one quick slice. From a vegetable peeler to a 12-inch chef knife, these are all very important to me. Not sure if you would find my tools very interesting, but they all have a story and have been through a lot with me. Not only are these interesting but they are all very important to me.
I honestly don’t value possessions. All the stuff I own is practical, such as clothes, house for shelter, etc.
My tungsten carbide replica of the “One Ring” from Lord of the Rings
Aside from the obvious cool factor of having a nerdy LotR replica, that’s not the reason I wear it. This ring was given to me by my wife the day that I proposed to her — she had kept this ring on her for months, so that the day I eventually proposed she could give me a ring of my own. I’ve been wearing this ring ever since (coming up on three years) as a pseudo engagement ring in addition to my actual wedding band.
My Black belt in Tae Kwon Do
This black belt is not just a belt I got a long time ago representing years of hard work, but it actually represents a whole phase of my life to me. I trained in martial arts for more than 10 years, from Tae Kwon Do to Brazilian Jujitsu, and this belt is something I keep to remind myself of those times. Even though I don’t train now, martial arts is still a major part of who I am, and I can’t wait to pick it up again when my son is old enough to start taking classes.
My collection of stretched canvas comic book covers
These are something I am proud of having in the main living area of my home. I’m a huge believer in being proud of what you love and not shying away from that as you grow older. This collection of art is a prized possession of mine and represents the fact that I like to let my geek flag fly!
My horse, Zia
My best friends introduced me to riding at a young age, and we’ve all been riding ever since. Growing up, I rode my best friend’s mom’s (aka my second mom’s) horse named Shyztyna until just before I went into university. Afterwards, my friend and I just leased various horses since we no longer had our “own.” Eventually came a summer when we had a hard time finding horses for lease and decided, “why don’t we just buy?”
We both just happened to find horses we were interested in in Rimbey (though the two barns couldn’t be more different). And we both found a new pony to bring home. It was exciting! I probably jumped the gun a bit since Zia reminded me a lot of Shyztyna, but I couldn’t help but love her.
It’s been a challenging few years on my barely trained horse, but we’ve come a long way since I first got her. We have a great understanding of each other now, and while some days she can be real sassy, I still appreciate having a horse of my own.
My dog, Reggibald Furball Bison (aka, Reggie)
Having never had a dog as a child, upon reaching adulthood I really, really, wanted a dog. It was a tough sell to my hubby who I spammed daily for about a year with dog ads and photos of dogs available for adoption. Eventually, I saw a picture of Reggie and sent it to my husband with a note: “How about this one for realz???” He told me to make an executive decision, and so I drove to Innisfail to pick up Reggie, and he’s been a wonderful companion and amazing dog! We both love him so much! We can’t imagine our lives without him now. Plus he is so adorable. SO ADORABLE.
I like weird pillows. I have three fish pillows, a giant pink heart, a corn pillow, and a Tootsie Roll pillow. Two of my fish pillows came from Florida when I was about four or five years old. My clownfish has seemingly gone missing over time, but my rainbow trout still has a place on my bed every night. Unfortunately… as a 23-year old pillow goes, it’s not got a lot of life left. It may be time to send ol’ rainbow trout to the great pillow beyond. That being said, one of my best friends who knows my fondness for weird and fishy pillows recently sent me a surprise giant sea bass pillow! Some day I will have a room full of fish- and food-related pillows. It will be great. And comfortable.
A longtime friend of mine went on a tour to Afghanistan a few years ago. I asked him to bring me back a relic from his travels and he brought me back a +1 enchanted dagger from an local magic shop (market). He also brought back one for himself, with a +2 enchantment…
Chris Haffey Remedy’z
Back in my high school days, extreme sports were the fad, and I was obsessed with aggressive inline skating. I took it pretty seriously, and eventually was skating in competitions, belonged to a crew, was in a couple videos, and had some minor sponsors. These are the last pair of skates I bought, and they are still kicking around in the garage. Even at my advanced age, I can still rock a buttery smooth alley-oop soul.
Game Release Plaques
In a former life I worked as a product manager for BioWare – A Division of Electronic Arts. Whenever a game was released that I worked on, the studio would give me a plaque with one of the actual release candidate discs. This one is for the game, Dragon Age 2. These were pretty cool and thoughtful gifts!
Most of the books I read are digital these days, but I still collect paper books. I’ve got a small collection at my house, and if I read a book that I thoroughly enjoy or that makes an impact on my thinking, I track down an interesting edition or order a physical copy. There’s something really grounding to me to stand in front of my bookshelf on occasion and look at the spines of the books. Just looking at the spine, I can reflect on the ideas in the book, and remember what made it meaningful to me. That’s much harder to do with digital books.
One type of physical book I like collecting is word books. I’ve got an early copy of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (the first dictionary ever created) a second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (the whole OED is too much space for my shelves) and a copy of The Sailor’s Word-Book. The Sailor’s Word-Book is great, it’s fully of words that sailors use, from salty sample to serene descriptions of the sea.
While I’m a big fan of plain language and simple word choice in writing, I do love knowing how wide the English language is, and the varieties of words people add in as they speak and write.
I’ve got a problem. It’s not a terrible problem, or really a problem at all in my mind, but if you ask my wife, I’ve got too many bikes. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, which is a great town to own a car in. We have a lot of space, and it’s a northern prairie town (with a lovely river valley running through) so we put buildings, shops, and schools far apart. And then there’s the winter. It’s bitter, cold and long. So a good city to have a car in. But our family has only one car, and I have bikes. So it makes sense to me that I’d have more than one bike.
Five may be too many though, and that’s why I think I may have a problem. However, I can easily justify the reason for each bike. I have a mountain bike for trails, and road bike for riding on the road (fast), and a steel single-speed bike for commuting. There are also days when I’m not in a hurry, or going for a ride with my kids, and a beach cruiser is just the right speed. Then there’s that second road bike I’m having trouble rationalizing.
My Roubaix road bike is great for long rides (I do a couple of 200-plus-km one-day rides every year), but for getting to work I love my steel Surly single speed. It was lovingly assembled by the fine folks at Redbike, and for the past eight years I’ve commuted to work on that ride more often than any other. The bike seat is made by Brooks, which started making bike seats in 1882, pretty much when bikes were first invented. They still make their The bike seats are still made with leather and steel, and the more you ride, the more the seat fits the contours of your body. It’s a pretty comfortable way to get to work.
I think it may be time to get rid of one of my bikes. I don’t ride my Opus road bike very much any more, which means there may be an opening in my garage soon for a new entry…
I have a serious addiction to eyewear. It started a few years ago when I had some leftover money in my benefits. I had been humming and hawing about getting a new pair of glasses and ended up with two. Then it turned into a bit of fun finds thing – vintage frames, unique craftsmanship or materials. I have a pair made out of wood; another from bone; a vintage pair from Japan that my wife hates because they are so bold, odd shaped, and large; and even a pair that are the same ones Martin Scorsese wears. I love how a simple change to what I put on my face can alter my mood or how others perceive me.
I used to work in book publishing before I got into the web. I ran bookstores, did marketing, worked for some publishers, and have always been a crazy reader. When you have access to books at a discount you read even more and I soon became a collector too. A couple of my favourites in my collection are a limited, numbered special printing of Sinclair Ross’ As For Me and My House; a signed galley (pre-release) copy of Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, and a signed limited edition box set of Malcolm Gladwell’s three big books: Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers. I also have a couple books I read when I need a pick-me-up. This tiny book, How to Get Rich, still makes me laugh each time I read it. It’s so not how to get or be rich.
I got this when I was a kid, but can’t remember when. Somewhere along the way I acquired this great old leather case for it. It’s supposed to go on your belt loop (so nerdy). This knife has been on picnics in France (opened a great bottle of wine and ate some bread and pâté with my soon-to-be wife), camping trips, has been used around the house, and also carved a branch or two. It’s an odd treasure that’s simple, reliable, and filled with memories.
I bought a Kammok Roo hammock the day it came out. It’s an amazing product, super portable, and easy to pack. I’ve brought it on holidays, hikes, and use it often in the yard. The python straps make it a cinch to hang almost anywhere and you can hang it from any tree, rock, post, or anchor point capable of bearing your weight. I’ve since bought the Glider topper; it’s nice on rainy days and also collects rainwater for drinking should you need it. I also like that Kammok Roo is a certified B Corp and cognizant of its corporate impact.