What I’m up to

I know, I know…most people go away on their weekends and do something fun and different. Whereas I stayed home. Sure, I had options, but sometimes I like just sticking around the homestead. I cleaned the place on Saturday and spent most of Sunday goofing off, then fired up the barbecue. So all in all, a decent time.

It’s nice to live like normal people every once in awhile. Satisfying.

Anyway, while I was pinning down Chet and running the vacuum on him, I had a great idea for an invention.

Oh, I should back up there. For those of you not in the know, Chet and Min are my cats (brother and sister). And yes, I vacuum them every once in awhile when the shedding’s really bad (like right now). Min loves it. I just hold old the vacuum and she rubs up against it. Chet doesn’t love it. Actually, he doesn’t like being brushed at all. So I have to hold him down, which makes him get anxious, which leads to more shedding. It’s an endless cycle that I am destined to lose.

Anyway, this led to a great idea that may or may not have already been invented: a shedding box.

Basically, it’d be a cat-sized box with soft rubber bristles on the inside. You put the cat inside the box and they can rub up against the sides, ridding themselves of excess hair the way they do on my couch, bed, and everything else I own. In addition, one of the sides would be open mesh, and the opposing side would have a hole to attach a vacuum hose. So, you can connect your vacuum, turn it on, and suck up all of the shedded fur. Basically, it’s a clean room for your cat.

I’m writing about it here so that this can serve as my official record of the idea. I was almost motivated to build it this weekend, but then I realized that I have other, more important things to do. So it’s now on my list of things I’d like to build. I suspect it’ll take a few tries to get it working properly.

That aside, let me tell you about something really cool that I’m putting together for this fall. As many of you know, I’m coordinating the Schools Challenge for the City of Waterloo. It’s part of the City’s 150th anniversary, and my job is to get local schools involved in the celebrations. In addition to the tasks I was given (get schools to run their own 150th-related events in October and plan a celebration for secondary students in November), I’ve added something that I’ve always wanted to do. The third part of the Challenge will be a design contest, which I’m calling Create 150.

Working with the Waterloo Community Arts Centre and the Waterloo Chronicle, I’m going to get high-school students to create and submit artwork that will be displayed at the WCAC in October. We’ll have a gallery opening, prizes (as voted by the viewing public), and end up with an archive of artwork created by the students of Waterloo’s 150th year. This way, we’re not just putting together events to recognize the 150th anniversary…we’re creating history that people can look at 150 years down the road.

How cool is that?

I’m really excited to see what we get out of this–I think there’ll be some great stuff produced for the contest. Now I just have to figure out all of the details…

In other, unrelated volunteer news, I attended my first Canstruction meeting this past week. I know, I know…I mentioned that earlier in the week. But seriously, it’s going to be a great event and I’m pleased that I’ll be in on it from the start.

Funny thing, eh? Here I am contributing to some really amazing events, and in a year I might just pick up and move away. Other people I know would fold up the table, figuring there’s no point to doing all of this if they’re not going to be around for the long-term, but I see things diffeently. And for that, I thank my father.

As I’ve written before, one of my dad’s favourite questions is, “what do you want written on your tombstone?” Actually, that used to be the question. Apparently some people found it too morbid, so he changed it to, “what do you want people to say at your retirement?” Same deal, not quite as definite an ending. Either way, it’s about your legacy.

I like the question, but I take things a little differently from my dad. On the surface, a legacy only holds up as long as people remember you. Very few people currently at Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc. know who I am, despite the three-and-a-half years I spent on the board of directors. The Warriors Band has largely forgotten me as well, even though I led the band through one of its most exciting periods.

The people who knew me are gone, and so are the memories. So are the legacies. Quite simply, organizations with lots of turnover have short memories. You have to really stand out and make a mark to be known and remembered.

Am I managing that with my current activities? Will I leave a huge mark on the City and be remembered long after I’m gone? The simple answer is no…most of the people here will never know my name. The better answer is yes…the people whose lives are affected by my actions over the coming year will remember me. They might not know my name or my face, but they’ll remember that something great happened. And that’s good enough for me.

My legacy isn’t reflected by people remembering who I was…it’s reflected in the impact I had on their lives.

That’s why I have to do everything I’m personally capable of doing, and why I don’t have time to build the shedding box.

Although, maybe I should build the shedding box, patent it, make millions of dollars on it, and then spend the rest of my life as a philanthopist. Maybe that’s the great opportunity that’s awaiting me (as per yesterday’s scatterthought).

Somehow, I doubt it.

Russ