#Eminent2016: Why Bob? Why Now?

My goal is to try and stick to some sort of chronological ordering of the aging of Dylan in the images used in the creation of this project. Hence, this young shot of Dylan in his Greenwich Village folk days here at the outset of the project, moving toward his more current iterations as the study progresses.

Image courtesy of Rolling Stone.

After almost ten years at the helm of the TALONS annual Eminent Person Study, I decided to conduct my own study alongside this year’s classes. These posts will be collected here. 

Why Bob?

They say everything can be replaced

That every distance is not near

So I remember every face

Of every man that brought me here. 1

For a brief moment when I first thought that I would take on the Eminent Person Study, I initially declared my intentions to study Bruce Springsteen. In recent years my musical tastes and affection has leaned heavily toward the Boss, and I would relish the opportunity to delve deeper into his life and rock catalogue. But with Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize win I’ve been hearing a lot more Bob, reading various responses to his inclusion as the first musician to be awarded with the literary honour, and been coming reacquainted with my first true love (and one of Bruce’s, to boot).

Before Bruce, and Josh, and even Gabriel Garcia Marquez, there was always only Bob.

Why Now?

Image courtesy of Consequence of Sound

An artist has to be careful never to really arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at somewhere. You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming, and as long as you’re in that realm, you’ll sort of be all right. 2

Back when I was in an older version of our district’s gifted program – the forerunner to TALONS that operated at Dr. Charles Best Junior High back as far as the late-nineteen seventies – our teachers would occasionally participate in the major projects with us: studying eminent people, or engaging in-depth studies to sing or sew, and creating their own inquiries, findings and meaning alongside us. This always seemed an exceptional example to me of what life might be as an adult: that we might go on, continuing to strive, and learn, and change markedly into our middle and advanced ages. But we haven’t much made or had the time to engage in these sorts of pursuits as TALONS teachers in recent years.

It’s true, two of us have completed advanced degrees, a PhD and an MEd between us, and we regularly share our personal and professional struggles and triumphs in blog posts and classroom conversations about the nature of lifelong learning and aspiration. But engage in a project directly alongside our students, we have not.

Additionally, TALONS seems to stand somewhat perched at a crossroads in its continued evolution. Having doubled a few years into our run as a two-teacher, twenty eight student cohort, there are now four teachers and nearly sixty students these days, two of them new to the program this fall; we’ve added courses in the senior grades, and are breaking new trails in Adventure Trips, and other aspects of our learning and organization all the time.

As well, I find myself nearly ten years into my career, with just shy of that time spent facilitating the TALONS learning across a variety of subjects. And with so much change arriving in the TALONS world, I feel compelled this year to strike out a little beyond my own comfort zone as an act of solidarity not only with my grade nine and ten students, but my new teaching partners. Our program is a place where adults as well as adolescents are challenged to grow and develop beyond what they may have previously thought  possible, and to be joining such a juggernaut of an ecosystem as ours must be an intimidating prospect.

Hopefully some of this process extends an invitation to them to join the ranks of public learning that makes our program unique, both for what it teaches the young people among us as well as those of us beyond the school.

But… why Bob?

It’s not a good idea and it’s bad luck to look for life’s guidance to popular entertainers. 3 

Around the time I was graduating from university, I had begun to play guitar with the idea that I might be able to expand the scope of my expressive capabilities into music. I would be earning my degree in Creative Writing (with a minor in French and an additional honours thesis on civil society and ideology around a Boy Scout summer camp that I had spent two summers interning for), and had written a roughshod novel during school, along with hundreds of other essays, newspaper columns, letters, and stories. But like Kurt Vonnegut wrote once, “virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician,” I had always been drawn to music, to the images and melodies that lit fires in undiscovered places in myself. And so I set about exploring my existing taste and experience in music through a borrowed acoustic guitar; when I moved home to Vancouver I bought my own and started unpacking the history of popular music from Elvis on forward.

I listened to the Beatles incessantly, and in chronological order. I watched the Anthology documentaries and began to untangle the thread of blues and rock that ran through Elvis, and Chuck Berry, and Johnny Cash. I began to see the tightly woven threads of the culture that connected Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg to Jim Morrison, and back to Robert Johnson. I’d had some experience with each of these threads in isolation: I’d studied the Beats ravenously as an undergraduate; that hasty youthful novel written in my third year bore an inscription from one of Jim Morrison’s poems; and I could talk for hours about the complimentary and divergent aspects of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones’ early aesthetics.


Then my dad bought the Martin Scorsese documentary on Dylan, No Direction Home, and everything became obsolete. Here was the Rosetta Stone to synthesize and decode the American spirit that unified the story I’d been untangling for years. Here was an artist who defied category or classification, who by the time you had decided what to call him had morphed into something else entirely, who seemed to know his own voice and gifts so well for never claiming to understand them so much as he would never cease to explore their potential. With Dylan there were no lines, no titles, no boundaries, and I wanted that for myself.

I wanted, as I still do, to find what my vision and voice can see and say: to expand beyond what I’ve previously thought possible, and to create new ways of being for others to follow, which is Why Bob, Why Now.

  1.  “I Shall Be Released”
  2. No Direction Home
  3. Songwriters on Songwriting

Ranges, Dynamics, and Exams – In Depth 2016

Okay, so not to freak any one out, but you really should be, cause IN DEPTH IS ONLY A MONTH AWAY (Well for those of you who are very technical, a month and 1 day)!!! I am constantly trying to stay calm and think rationally, but its so crazy to think that we started this whole process 4 months ago, cause time has literally just flown by. But back onto my In Depth project, I have made so much progress in these past couple of weeks, that I’m going to try to cover it all. However, I am going to try to make this post a bit shorter, keep it quick, keep it brief, or KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).


The target from when I shot the pistol for the very 1st time!

The first thing that happened, that I was very excited about, was I got to go to the range! In the past month, I have gone to the range twice, both for 3 hours each. I mainly practised with the CZ75 Pistol, AR-15, and Ruger 10/22, and did standing practice with all three, then also practised seated with the two rifles. I went to the Port Coquitlam District Fishing and Hunting Range, as it had more options that i needed to practice, and that I am already familiar with their facility. My first practice session was on Saturday April 2nd,  from 08:00h – 11:00h with my mentor and my father. So for those of you who value weekends, you’re probably wondering “Why would you go anywhere that early on a Saturday? Couldn’t you have even gone a little later to get more sleep?”. The answer is yes, I could have, but the range gets busy very quickly, so if you want a shooting space, you will want to go early so you get a spot, and can put your targets up and prepare. So after having to get up early, I went to the range and perfect timing, because there were still a couple of spots left! I started with Ruger 10/22, and went through all the safety steps and procedures, then Mr. Couper helped me on a couple of points when coming to my form. After that I focused on the pistol, which I was very excited about, since that would be what I use if I am able to go into policing/law enforcement. What was really interesting about it, was how different it really was, from the aiming to body position. With the pistol, it is really easy for your arms to get tired, especially when aiming, because your trying to hold it steady, but even breathing can really throw you off. Finally I used the AR-15, which I noticed didn’t have as much recoil as I thought it would have, but it just made a very large bang (which was a bit startling at first). I had so much fun that day, and had already learned so much, but the best part about it, was when the toughest range warden (The person who monitors the shooters, makes sure that they are shooting safely) complimented my safety and procedure! It made me so happy, words can hardly explain, because all the work I had done leading up to know paid off!!! I then went again on the 15th of April, which was a Pro-D, so I ended up going in the afternoon, however we were lucky cause it wasn’t that busy. I mainly practised the exact same things again, just trying to improve on my accuracy and formation, while still continuing to be an extremely safe shooter.


Case sheet, card, and badge

The next very exciting milestone that occurred for this project, is I got my C.A.S.E. card!!! With the help of my mentor, I got to attend a Shooting Day, because I was helping them with paperwork, but its also where I was able to do the test and get the card. C.A.S.E. stands for “Competency and Safety Exam”, and means that I have been tested, and passed a safety test. The test consisted of an oral part, and an actual physical component which I though was very cool. The oral part was having to state the 4 main rules of firearm safety that I learned so many moons ago, which personally, was really easy. However, the physical was the most challenging, was having to complete a dynamic course with no penalties, and follow all safety procedures. I was extremely nervous when I went up, but I thought about all the things I have learnt about over the past few months and I went and did it, and passed!!! It was such a good feeling, and so relieving, because now I know what I can accomplish, and it also gave me a chance to practice my dynamic shooting skills, which I will be continuing to work on.

So that’s it for this weeks post! I tried to keep is as short as possible, but I still wanted it to be detailed and explain some things. One of the things that I haven’t talked about in this post is what my plan is for my presentation for In-Depth night, which is because I actually already talked about it before in my 4th post, which can be read here! However just a summary of what my vision is, is a presentation consisting of me talking about the process of my In Depth for a little bit, then showing a video of me shooting. I’ve started also planning out how I want my video part to go, so figuring out more costuming, equipment, and story boarding. So that’s the progress I’ve made in the past month, we only have a month left, so lets power through and finish strong!!!

Stances, Positioning, and Breathing- In Depth 2016

There is only 2 months left t ill In-Depth night and it is approaching very quickly. Spring break was a great time to kick back, relax, and “Netflix and chill” by myself; but it was also a really good opportunity to get things done for this year’s In-Depth. These two weeks provided some time to reflect, go over and learn more about shooting with my mentor Mr. Couper.

So in these past couple of weeks, a lot has happened since I met up with my mentor Mr. Couper again. I have reviewed safety again, learned the range commands, learned how to deal with a jam, decided on a range and gotten my dry training done.

First, is the review of safety. I completed safety a while back, and as I did everything correctly at the time, my mentor wanted to challenge me to see how much I had remembered. First he asked me to list the 4 main rules of gun safety, which are: Treat all guns as they’re loaded, keep your finger off the trigger, keep the muzzle pointed away from non-targets, and know what your target is & what’s beyond. Then he asked me to clear 5 different types of firearms: Pump action, lever action, bolt action, semi-automatic rifle and semi-automatic pistol. Clearing a firearm is the act of seeing or making sure that the rifle is not loaded, and therefore not dangerous. A challenge I’ve noticed is that it is much harder to clear a firearm with small hands, as most of the firearms are proportionate to a full grown man….which I am not.

Next for the new things I learned, starting with range commands and what they mean. Range commands, are a series of orders that tell the shooters at a range what to do. The first is going to be something along the lines of “Load”, meaning they can insert the magazine into the rifle, or load the firearm. The next is “Ready weapon”, meaning they can prepare the firearm, or charge it. The last step is “Fire when ready”, meaning you can now safely shoot your firearm down range.

The next thing I got to learn from my mentor, was what to do if your firearm jams, meaning you pull the trigger to shoot, but nothing happens. There are three different kinds of jams, but the first step to every one, is to turn it to the side and see if action is open. The first is, if it is all the way back and you can see the chamber, then it means the magazine is empty. That is very simple fix, as you just replace the magazine with one with ammunition. The second is if the action is all the way forward, which means that a round wasn’t loaded into the chamber. What you want to do then it “Tap and Rack”, meaning tap the magazine to make sure its all the way in, and ready it again. The last one is if the action is half open, half closed. What you want to do then is remove the magazine, rack it several times to get any empty cartridges out, then re-load and shoot.

I didn’t get the chance to talk about my dry training much in my last post, so I am going to go over that next. I practised with 2 different firearms, the Ruger 10/22 and the CZ75 pistol, and I learned/practised my positioning and stances. I started with the draw for the pistol, as with it, you can point it in a unsafe direction very easily, so my mentor and I spent a good chunk of time making sure I wasn’t, and just drawing that into my muscle memory. After that I then practised my standing stance, focusing on my arm positioning and breathing, which is an important part of shooting accurately. Next I practised my standing stance with the rifle, but I also practised kneeling and lying down stance. Now while practising all of these, Mr. Couper used a interesting trick to see if I was holding the firearm steady. He put a dime on the top of the barrel of the firearm, so if it fell off, that would be cause it wasn’t steady.

The next part of my dry training was the most fun and exciting part of this process so far, and actually ties in with all the questions we’re supposed to talk about in this post!!! So this part of my dry training was shooting with an Airsoft, which is essentially a toy firearm that shoots bb pellets. Thanks to my mentor, I got to simulate shooting a gun, without actually shooting one. My mentor had set up a mini area for me to practice with a target and everything which was super cool and exciting!!! I was able to take all the skills I had learnt previously and put them to use, and was able to simulate what shooting is going to really feel like at the range . I would go through all of the steps to clear the firearm, then he would call the range commands, I would follow and then “shoot”. When I would shoot, I would apply the new things I had just learnt, so the stance (standing, kneeling, lying down), arm positioning, and breathing, making sure the barrel is steady. It was an extremely good way to prepare, and a good preparation exercise to do before going to the range to shoot. I really appreciate how my mentor thought that far ahead, to think about what he could do to help and better my learning, by being able to get some hand on experience before going the whole way. It really shows how well I am able to communicate with him, and able to address any positive things or concerns, so I can improve my learning, as well as him teaching (As he has never took a specific teaching course). As I get further and further into this years In Depth, I am really learning that no matter what it is, if you practice and try, you will eventually be able to do it. Some people may be naturally brilliant at something, but like my mentor, I am having to work and learn extra hard to make sure I get the results and end goal that I envision myself achieving.

So that has been all of my progress over the last couple of weeks, that I am personally very proud and and satisfied with. At the very beginning of this post I mentioned I decided on a range, and I chose the Port Coquitlam District Fishing and Hunting Club!!! The biggest reason really had to be that I could try many types of firearms there, as well as rifles, not just pistols, because without that there wouldn’t be much variety in what I was learning. So in the very near future, I will be getting to go up and shoot which I am very excited about!!! (As you can probably tell from the number of exclamation points).



Storyboarding, Filming, and Editing- In Depth 2016

In Depth! Am I right? I have honeslty run out of creative ways to introduce my blog posts. Like I’ve done how many blog posts now? For Eminent twice, In Depth now twice, and other Socials and Leadership posts, and I’ve just run out of ideas.

So the last time I met up with my mentor, there were a bunch of things and ideas flying around that I had to cover. First, I started some of my dry training, which I was really excited about. Then we also discussed about what sort of vision I have for my final project/presentation, and what kind of work and preparation needs to go into that.

First of all, I got to briefly try some dry training. Dry training is basically practising lifting the firearm up and aiming, but not pulling the trigger. All it’s really meant to do, is help develop muscle memory, and make sure its the safe way. The main goal when doing dry training is to make sure that I’m following all of the rules revolving around safety, which are:

  1. Treat all fire arms as if they’re loaded
  2. Always keep the muzzle pointed away from non-targets
  3. Always keep the finger off the trigger
  4. Know what your target is, and what’s beyond

Secondly, we focused more on the game plan for the next short while, and about what I was planning to do next. We also talked and brainstormed about some possible ideas and my vision for the end goal to be. First of all, I’d have to go to the range to start practising live shooting before doing any filming, as well as my dynamic training. My options for ranges at the moment, are the Port Coquitlam District Fishing and Hunting Club, and DVC Ventures Indoor Gun Range. On Thursday, I was able to go and visit the DVC Indoor Gun range in person to see what the facility was like. Since I have already been to the Poco Club, I was able to compare both ranges on a personal level. I am still currently in the process of deciding which to go with, as both of them have the following advantages and disadvantages.

Port Coquitlam District Fishing and Hunting Club:


  • I have a membership
  • It has a long range
  • I can use shotguns as well as pistols


  • It is only open till 4:30 on weekdays
  • Weekends are always very busy
  • It is a bit of a drive

DVC Ventures Indoor Gun Range:


  •  Very close
  • Open till 10pm on most nights (Good hours)
  • Is the same price for a membership at Poco


  • Only pistol shooting, no shotgun
  • Smaller area –> Not as many people can shoot at once
  • Echoes a lot, by that I mean the room echoes a lot, which I don’t really like, which is a personal preference.

We then started by talking about what my vision was for the final outcome to be, which is a presentation with a video that I can present at In Depth. I envision it to have a small informative presentation to quickly go over some of the big ideas from my presentation, then show the video. What I imagined the video to be like, is of me completing a dynamic shooting course, with the camera “following” me, to give more of a “In the moment” feel. As I navigate the course, I would probably have some high-energy music playing along with the video to help give it an “action packed” vibe and make it more exciting and captivating for the audience. However in regards to the filming of the video itself, i need to plan things like the cameras, location and costuming. Essentially, I’m making a mini movie so I need to think about all the small things that go into the making of it, from the location and storyboarding. Something very exciting and that I am looking forward to though, is that my mentor, Mr.Couper has offered to help me film my end video as he has some GoPro‘s, which I could use to film. The GoPro’s unique and versatile filming abilities, will hopefully allow me to capture those kinds of action packed moments.

As for difficult challenges, there aren’t that many really big challenges. The only one is not being to shoot yet, but there are many factors to why I have not yet. This entire project is a big process, and I need to follow the process for maximum learning and to do everything properly. However, in a matter of a couple of weeks this will no longer be a challenge, because the time will have come for myself to be able to shoot.

But for the bad, there is always more good! In my case, the good is that my mentoring and learning is really good, if I may say so myself. My schedule is working really well, I feel like iv’e set realistic and manageable deadlines for all the tasks that need to me completed, as well as just good organization.

However for what could be better, I also don’t have many complaints here. One thing that could be better though, is actually in terms of myself. I just wish I knew more about filming, editing, and movie making, for my final video. Since Mr.Couper has some experience filming, he was able to give me a couple tips on how to create my storyboard, which is a frame by frame picture or description in a scene.  One tip that was surprisingly useful, was to just watch movies. Now not just any movie, but action movies that I could model my video after, like “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”, which I did end up watching for inspiration. This week I discovered, that inspiration can be hidden anywhere, including Tom Cruise standing on blocks to make himself look taller…

Anyways, that’s about it for this weeks blog post! I am very happy with the progress iv’e made in the short amount of time, and can’t wait for what’s just around the corner!


Singing Taylor Swift Songs

Introductions, Gender, and Amplification

Every year in #introguitar (an open online guitar class I teach at my school, and which you should totally enrol in as a non-credit participant) I ask my students and our open learners to introduce themselves and their intentions to the group in a brief video. And rather than rehash a template video of my own from ages ago, I appreciate the opportunity as a student of music to focus my learning about guitar from semester to semester in new video introductions.

In past years I’ve worked to learn skills and techniques around lead playing, band-leading, and performing, documenting my growth in subsequent videos and reflections throughout the year.

This year, I’m taking my work in guitar in a direction slightly away from the guitar itself, and toward the conversation about gender, inequality, and diversity in the wider culture of popular music; I’ve resolved to only play songs written by women.

A while back I read about journalist Anil Dash’s experiment to only ReTweet women for a year, an experience that made him more mindful of the voices he amplified on social media:

Based on my experiences, my recommendation to others is simple: Give it a try. If you’re inclined, try being mindful of whose voices you share, amplify, validate and promote to others. For me, it was giving a platform to women where I wasn’t able to mansplain the things they were already saying, but instead just sharing out their own thoughts in their own words. It may be by issue, or by identity, or by community, or some other consideration.

Troubadours and Teen Idols

Caption courtesy of RadioTexasLive.com

Along with inspiring the mournful western aesthetic of my university days, Ryan Adams wrote some of the first songs I learned on guitar (he also inspired the bad versions of Wonderwall I still play around campfires), and has been an artist that I’ve grown alongside for more than ten years as we’ve each experimented with bands, folk music, and life beyond our devil-may-care early twenties. His work of late has been especially sharp, I think, too; “Gimme Something Good,” and the rest of his self-titled album last year contain layers of guitar excellence and timeless hooks that are among his best.

Last year, word began to spread that Adams had set to recording a cover of Taylor Swift’s recent blockbuster, 1989; my worlds were colliding.

As a guitar teacher in a high school the last six years, I’ve been no stranger to the evolving songwriting career of Ms. Swift. Seldom in my tenure in #introguitar have I walked past an interesting turn of phrase, guitar riff, or chord progression to not be told upon inquiring, “That’s Taylor Swift.” Around campfires and in the park behind my parents house during the summer, the choruses of “Love Story,” and “You Belong with Me” have become generational anthems that are tattooed on suburban boys and girls alike.

There is doubtless something there.

Exhibit A in why I want to start calling #introguitar “Campfire Practice”

A video posted by Bryan Jackson (@bryanjack) on

Pronouns and Performing Gender

As long as I’ve enjoyed Taylor Swift’s tunes – and I have quite earnestly enjoyed them, making them a staple of class guitar playing and pieces to deconstruct as exemplars of composition – I’ve never truly played or performed any on my own. There have always been reasons for this, but I can’t say as though very many are very good.

Sometimes the key is too high, or the melody too…something. Sometimes the dance beat is too difficult to recreate on a single guitar. Sometimes they’re written too explicitly from a female or feminine perspective. None of which in itself is a big deal, but contributes to enough awkwardness that I don’t wind up learning the songs to a degree where I play them for other people.

Historically this has been true nearly across the board, with a few pop songs by female artists making ironic appearances alongside Notorious BIG covers once it’s late enough into the night or the jam. The list of songs written by women that are part of my repertoire is pretty weak, if not non-existant.

On a certain level, this is a matter of taste, sure. Why shouldn’t I play what I like to play? What’s easy to play? That feels like me? However, on another, I share the songs I play with a lot of people; I teach young people about the culture of musicianship, songwriting, and developing one’s own voice, both as an interpreter of other people’s songs, and a writer of originals. To present only my own perspective, or one which makes me comfortable, seems unfair to the myriad ways my students perceive and approach the world, and their music.

This is why I’ve decided to spend my time playing music for school this semester playing and performing songs written by women. I’m not play it ironically, insulating myself from whatever vulnerabilities arise in the performances with humour or distance.

And I’m going to leave the pronouns the same, because if it makes me uncomfortable to sing about Taylor’s “Stephen,” or about “his hands [being] in my hair,” I do enjoy the ability (one might say privilege) of challenging that discomfort so that it’s more acceptable for young men who know all the words to Taylor Swift, or Beyonce, or Lady Gaga’s songs to take the stage and belt it out.

Because these songs weren’t written as larks, or trivial, or silly: they were and are manifestations of tone,  character, and theme. They are expressions of an aesthetic in the tradition of songsmiths, where male voices have been disproportionately taken seriously as a matter of course by virtue of arising from male mouths.

Even Taylor Swift’s own songs became more highly regarded by critics once Mr. Adams had sung them. Ian Crouch at the New Yorker (which reviewed Adams’ record, but not Swift’s) wrote:

If anything, Adams’s version of “1989” is more earnest and, in its way, sincere and sentimental than the original.

There are a bunch of men’s songs I’ve shared and performed and taught the class in the past, and no doubt there will be in future semesters. But not because they’re any more sincere, authentic, or otherwise superior to any woman’s music.

And if that’s the case, I’d like to work to balance my catalogue of songs accordingly.

Always, Always, is Safety – In Depth 2016

For this week, I had planned to have Operations and Mechanics, Theory, and Safety all done and checked off the list, which all together is just a big jumbled mush of knowledge. The reason I had decided to do all of them together was because they all relate to one another. Safety has do with Theory, and it also has to do with Operation and Mechanics, as you need to know how to safely operate everything. So basically, I was taking on a lot of knowledge in a short period of time, and I thought to myself that that was insane and I could never do it. Well, I did it.

I once again met up with my mentor Mr.Couper, and we started by going over what I had learned last time which was the history and general knowledge of firearms. Then we started with the theory. I learned about the 3 main parts to a firearm: The barrel, trigger mechanism, and body receiver. The barrel is where the the bullet/projectile itself comes out from the chamber, then out the barrel to then hit the target. But moving on to the trigger, and triggering, is the fact that a firearm could go off any time, which is why there are many important rules around safety. Most firearms will also have a button, lever or switch for safety to hold back the triggering mechanism from going off, but the absolute safest way of making sure it doesn’t go off accidentally is to not have a bullet/round in the chamber. Since the safety button is just a mechanical device, it’s not perfect, which is why there are the following rules that are enforced everywhere.


  1. Treat all fire arms as if they’re loaded:
    1. It doesn’t matter when, where, why, how,  or what situation your in, always treat your firearm as if its loaded, even if it isn’t. This is a very important rule, as that you could think your firearm was not loaded, when it was, and if improperly handled, it could potentially hurt someone.
  2. Always keep the muzzle pointed away from non-targets:
    1. The term that the military and police call it, is “lazing”, which basically means as your holding your firearm, imagine a lazer coming out from the barrel. As you move the firearm, if the “lazer” were to hit anyone, or anything that wasn’t a target, you put them in momentary danger, because your firearm could have gone off.
  3. Always keep the finger off the trigger:
    1. Your finger should never be on the trigger when it doesn’t need to be. By having it on, you never know what could startle you, that could cause you to accidentally pull it, causing it to fire, and therefore putting people around you in danger once again.
  4. Know what your target is, and what’s beyond:
    1. At most gun ranges, this shouldn’t be a problem, however if you were to use hunting as an example, you need to make sure there’s nothing behind your intended target that could get shot. If there was a man walking behind a deer that you were about to shoot, you wouldn’t, because of the chance that your could harm the man.
  5. Any other range safety rules:
    1. Rules can vary by which range you go to, however no matter where you go, you must be aware and follow all of their rules, for the safety of others and yourself.
  6. Safe Storage:
    1. If you are an owner of firearms, then you must store them safely and properly, by the use of a heavy duty and well made Firearm Safe. Having firearms lying around a house is extremely dangerous, for a chance that if your house got robbed for example, and is not allowed, therefore must be stored properly.
  7. Safe Transportation:
    1. When transporting firearm, you have to have always put a trigger lock on the firearm. What a trigger lock is, its a lock that goes on the trigger, which prevents it from being pulled, so if you someone got a hold of your firearm while transporting it, they wouldn’t be able to use, since they cant unlock the lock with the key.

Another part of safety, is that every discharge (term for every round shot) should be intentional, because when it isn’t that’s when people could get hurt. However, there are two other kinds of discharges, that aren’t intentional: Accidental and Negligent discharge. Accidental discharge is when you pulled the trigger thinking it was empty, when it wasn’t, causing to fire a round. Negligent discharge is any other discharge that’s not intentional or accidental, when a firearm was shot with the knowledge of their being a round in the chamber. Then of course there’s 3 main groups of unsafe firearm users: Uneducated, impaired, or children. Uneducated is quite simple, as it is just untrained people using firearms, which is quite dangerous. Impaired being anyone who is intoxicated or under the influence or any sort of substance or alcohol. Then children should obviously not be allowed to use firearms without a properly trained adult supervising them.

What I was able to do next, was what went particularly well this past session. As well as learning all the rules, I also had to learn how to properly unload a firearm, which I did and is part of Operation & Mechanics. I learned how to unload a pump action, bolt action, semi-automatic, and lever action, and I got to actually try to do it, and it went really well. Each one was slightly different since they were all different actions, but they all consisted of the same ideas. You have to check the chamber to make sure it’s empty, and if its not then you need to remove the bullet. The semi-automatic for example, you first had to unload the magazine then open up the chamber and apply the safety button to hold it in place. From there you check, then double check the chamber, then remove the bullet if needed. All of the information really stuck with me, because I was actually able to practice setting it up and checking the chamber, without any bullet in it of course. But just being able to practice, and start to develop that kind of muscle memory, worked really well this session.

While there are many things that worked well, there are still some challenges, like I haven’t been able to shoot yet. However, these kinds of things, this topic in particular, requires patience which I understand. I need to learn and practice then I can start to shoot for real, but with each blog post, I get closer and closer to being able to achieve that. I am getting there, and I am glad that I’m am taking the time beforehand to learn about all the aspects and not rushing into everything.

Finally, at times I get the feeling that I’m not completely understanding something, or my mentor and I are understanding each other, which is where one of my goals comes in, to make sure we are understanding each other. If that gets better, the learning, teaching and mentor-mentee relationship will improve greatly, and will become stronger. Another part of that is to ask clarifying questions as much as possible, which seems to be a flaw for talons. By asking questions, it improves the communication which will help with my and his understanding of each other. Finally, I would like to just continue to meet on a regular basis, to keep the information fresh in my head, and be able to move forward with all of my learning. By doing all of these things, I believe many things will improve, and ill be able to be shooting for real in no time.

I’m very pleased and happy with what I had to report for this week about my progress and learning, and can’t wait for what lays in the near future!

PS: I am also watching a few recommended YouTube videos on how to safely unload the firearms, which are linked in the 5th paragraph :)

Pistols, Bolt Actions, and Bullet Cartridges – In Depth 2016

This is the beginning! In depth post #2, and time is just flying by! We’ve successfully made it through all of semester 1, however were just getting started with semester 2. However, this will hopefully give us all a chance to be able to re-focus onto in-depth, and start making some progress!


In my last post I talked about what I decided to do for In Depth this year, which is shooting. My main goals for the project are to learn about and preform the 5 main elements of shooting, which are: History, Safety, Operation & Mechanics, Theory, and Practical Skill. So naturally, to coincide with my learning, I created a timeline for myself so I can stay on top of and keep up with my learning.

This is my timeline I created: 

  • January 9th to January 16th: History
  • January 17th to February 10th: Operation & Mechanics, Theory, and Safety
  • February 11th to February 29th: Dry Training
  • March 1st to March 26th: Live Training
  • March 27th to April 9th: Dynamic training
  • April 10th to May 14th: Filming and Video Editing
  • May 30th: Present at In Depth

As of the moment I have already completed the first task, when I met up with my mentor, Mr. Dylan Couper, last week. The first task was learning the history of firearms, which dates all the way back to China in the 13th century. Right away, he started teaching and talking about the history of firearms, and I was scribbling and jotting notes down furiously, because of the volume of information I had to take in. The information I learned about firearms varied from where it originated (China), to its progression throughout time, to the different kinds of actions (Bolt, lever, etc.), to kinds of cartridges (Powder, Bullet, etc.), and to categories of firearms (Pistol, Shotgun, etc.). With each topic and subject, also came an detailed explanation about how it works. At the very end, Mr. Couper gave me a pop quiz. Now he gave me a couple minutes or so, to read over my many notes and what I had just learned, but I didn’t feel ready at all, even though it wasn’t for marks. In the end, I aced it! There were a couple questions that took a bit longer for me to answer, but I felt very accomplished to have done it!

Now some of you may be thinking why I’m learning the history of firearms and shooting, couldn’t I just go straight to shooting? The answer is, I could. I could just simply learn how to shoot, and only do that. But having 5 months to do this study, gives me a tiny bit of flexibility to go more in-depth, so why not? My mentor knows what he’s talking about, and I have planned and scheduled things to make it work in the timetable, so I decided to do it. By having the knowledge of it’s history, I get a better understanding of shooting, its evolution, and making me a more knowledgeable shooter.

Moving onto a different subject though, Mr. Couper is the example of the kind of person who learned and grew through experience. He has spent 15 years of his entire life, learning the different firearms and how to shoot, because its not something that you can learn in one day. So much of shooting is about muscle memory, practice in general, like any other skill, that applies to everyone, myself, Mr. Couper and Olympian level shooters included. Which, in my opinion is probably the most enriching and rewarding way to learn. It also ties in with my project, because that is ultimately one of the biggest concepts about In-Depth, to grow through experience. You could sit around and read and study all you can about shooting, but you will never know if you’re any good or not, if you don’t go out and practice holding the firearm, standing properly, and firing. Don’t get me wrong, learning the knowledge (Safety and History in my case), is still very important, but being able to preform the skill is what were really trying to get after. He’s also mentioned that its perfectly natural to not be amazing right away, and that’s what this whole learning process is about, because practice makes perfect. So by having a mentor who learned the same way I will be, is beneficial, because he will know what I am experiencing.

I am very pleased with my progress so far, and hope to keep on top of my schedule to learn as much as possible! I will be meeting with my mentor again soon, to go over the next step in my plan. And this brings me closer and closer to being able to actually shoot! I’m looking forward to what I will learn next!

Till next time :)

Something New, Something Exciting, Something Original – In Depth 2016

Ruger 10/22. Dry training. Immediate action drills. These are just a few of the many names and terms I’ll be learning over the course of the next 5 months, as part of In-Depth 2016, Shooting.

My winter break wasn’t exactly relaxing.

I mean, sure it was nice getting to sleep in, and do nothing all day, but it was still stressful somehow. There was this tiny little voice in my head constantly nagging me about what to do for In-depth.  It would go “Merry Christmas!!! What should I do for in-depth?” or “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year!!! Really though, In-Depth?” This little goblin that was constantly saying “What are you going to do for in-depth this year? Are you going to be able to find a mentor? You have to top last year’s presentation, if not, your going to fail! Mwahahhahaha!!!” (She’s not a very nice goblin). Nevertheless, the hardest part of In-Depth had been coming up with a topic and idea of what to do. Since this year is going to be my last year doing In-Depth, I wanted to try something new, something exciting, something original. I considered some of my options from last year that I didn’t do, and some new ones as well. Some of the options were Wedding/Event Planning to Ballroom Dancing to even Kick boxing, but none of them seemed right. I wanted a topic that I almost felt a connection with, which is an odd way of putting it, but I don’t know how to describe it any other way, but I hadn’t felt that connection with any of the other topics. That’s when it finally hit me, and I chose shooting.

Now Mira, why would you choose shooting? Most people wonder why I chose this particular topic. Part of the reason I chose to do it, is because it’s a skill I know is going to be useful in my life, and the other is because it’s always been something that interested me, which I never got a chance to pursue. Since I would still like to continue to pursue my long term goal of having a career in law enforcement, part of that training involves shooting. Like last year, I had done self defense, which can also be tied in with shooting when being put in a life or death situation, all related to law enforcement as well. But then it is also interesting because there are many different components that make shooting what it is. From its rich history to the actual shooting portion, that is something I’d like to experience and learn about.

As soon I decided I wanted to do shooting, I immediately went on a mentor hunt, because that is one of the most important and difficult factors of In-Depth. That’s when I came across Mr.Dylan Couper. A government certified shooter, with over 15 years of experience under his belt, and who’s qualified for the use of all pistols, shotguns and rifles. While also doing some competitive shooting, he also practices firearm repairs, modifications, updates and historical knowledge of firearms. I plan to be able to meet with him as often as possible, most likely a bi-weekly basis, as he his schedule permits, because he has a busy schedule.

After doing some research, I was able to break down what I want and need to learn in the next 5 months, into 5 main elements: History, Safety, Operation & Mechanics, Theory, and Practical Skill. I will also be doing each of these steps with 3 different firearms I’ve chosen: CZ75 PistolAR-15Ruger 10/22. I will be starting off with history, which will be learning some of the basics to give me a better understanding of firearms and shooting. Then I’ll be learning about Safety, which is the most important element of them all. It is stressed so much in the shooting community, even in the military everyone is required to pass a standard safety test which you must get 100% on, if not you are a danger and risk, and will not be allowed to operate a firearm. Learning the safe procedure of shooting, loading, and everything in between, is something in which I will be learning at the begging, but then will be applying the skills throughout the entire project. Next will be Operation and Mechanics, which is the understanding of how the firearm works itself. Part of this will require me to know how to take apart and reassemble each kind of firearm I use. The theory portion is the “how to”. How to shoot the gun, how to accurately aim, how to get a good grouping, which I will learn, then apply to the final part, the practical shooting, which I’ve also broken down into three parts. First is Dry training, Shooting and dynamic training. Dry training is practising all the main points of shooting, without shooting real bullets. It’s a good way to practice techniques, safe shooting and build muscle memory for when I move on to the next part which is shooting. Then the final portion is dynamic training which is shooting while moving through a course, while integrating immediate action drills, which are quickly reacting to any problems that arise. Instead of sitting/standing in a single position, I would be imitating more of what law enforcement & the military does, by being more dynamic and putting myself into a more realistic situation.

By the end of this project, I would like to be an accurate and safe shooter who is knowledgeable about all the different aspects of shooting, both theoretical and practical. I would also like to be able to take apart and reassemble a firearm with ease, as well as complete a dynamic course with speed, agility and accuracy.

I’m extremely excited to see what I will accomplish and learn in the next 5 months, and can’t wait to experience the journey of In-Depth 2016!!!

Let the learning begin!!!

(PS: There are links to images of the firearms I will will be using in paragraph 4 after the line)


As I bow into the Octagon…

We made it! Our last ever Night of the Notables, and it was pretty amazing. Not saying that they’re weren’t points where i was stressed to the maximum, or having a mental breakdown right before my speech (some of y’alls know of that too well), not at all. Grade 10 NOTN certainly lived up to its reputation of stressful craziness. But once you get past that, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, cause for that one night, i got to be Ronda Rousey.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015: 

The day started off with waking up at 5am!  Here’s the thing, some people planned everything out so they were asleep and resting by 11pm on the Tuesday, i was not one of those people. I was up till 1:30, then had to get up at 5. So you may ask yourself, “Why Mira, why would you only get 4 hours of sleep, wake up at 5, when you know your going to be at school till at least 10pm?”. Just putting this out there, 4 hours of sleep was not my choice. If some of you may recall, my learning centre was pretty big with everything in 2 additional large boxes amongst other things, which requires for a large vehicle to transport: My mom’s mini van. Which meant i had to leave with her early enough to get to Gleneagle to drop everything off, and her to still get to work on time, thus the 5am. So i get to school, before Ms.Mulder (that’s when you know your early), and once the TALONS room opened, i hauled everything into the back room.


This is what the sky looks like at 5am. Crazy right?

Rest of the day goes about normally (more or less). I got to be in the honoured presence of watching Elyssa Bingham straighten her hair. Block 3, i got ready and “transformed” into Ronda Rousey (well a 5’4 Ronda Rousey with red hair). Then we block 4 and practising our speeches. Only i would present my speech, it being perfectly fine, then decide to cut out and change a part on NOTN. It ended up working fine, but still, i don’t recommend it.


Squad getting ready

MPR and lighting set up happened. And thus the stress commenced. I had a very big, very large, and complex learning centre, that needed as much time as possible for set up. So my panic when the back room in the TALONS room was locked, Mr.Jackson and his keys were nowhere to be found. Luckily, we found them 10 minutes later, and i was successfully able to set up, thanks to my assistant helper Matt.

So what does it take to set up a learning centre, that’s half an octagon, in a study area? Help, preparation, and no fear of getting scratched. The octagon was 6ft tall, and 10ft wide, so bit of an interesting challenge setting it up. First was to reconnect all the ABS piping that i used for the frame, once that was done we could stand it up and make adjustments to the netting. After that, just started to set up all of my information and the rest of my display, from collages to gi’s (the white and blue uniform that judoka’s wear). Also set up two side tables, with additional information/stuff on them. Originally for my interactive activity, i was going to have a gripping game using belts which is a Judo game. But thanks to Oliver (so nice, he let me use one of the Gleneagle Rugby pads) I was able to get people to punch/strike the pad instead, for candy.


Squad 1

Ft. Lady Gaga, Ronda Rousey, Anne Bonny, Mairi Chisholm, and Dr.Kathy Reichs

The rush of adrenaline, nervousness, excitement and fear that you get leading up to presenting your speech is like nothing other. I can’t even describe it. The fear of every possible situation gone runs through your head, but then also the one where you get up there and kill it. I’m really glad that i was third, because i get super anxious backstage and if i have to wait too late things generally don’t work out too well. Get it done and over with, that was my original mindset about speeches. But after hearing Jackson give us the little pep talk about how presenting our speeches is an experience we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives, it made me think, he’s right. That split second right as you walk onto the stage and your “blinded by flashing lights”, is where your thinking “too late to go back now…”. But once you step out and say your first sentence, all the nervousness disappears, because for the next 2 minutes, all eyes are on you. But it all went by so quickly, one second I’m bowing onto the stage, and the next thing i know I’m jumping off the stage sprinting down the middle aisle, up the stairs to the balcony, hearing the applause of people forgetting that your not supposed to clap. I quietly made my way backstage doing a happy dance that i did it! Getting to then hear, and watch the rest of the amazing speeches was, well… amazing.

photo 2 (2)

Gettin’ ready to fight

photo 4

Group one!








Then after sprinting back to our learning centres, once speeches were done, built up to another rush of excitement. This was when you get to show and prove how much you’ve learned about your eminent person. Last year, i was kind of scared, when it came to presenting to strangers. This year was completely different, i wanted them to come, to stop, to look, to participate in my learning centre. My learning centre consisted of half an octagon, with mats on the floor, and a timeline of information along the side, with posters and collages. As well as 2 gi’s (one white, one blue), some medals, a mini replica of the UFC championship belt. Then in the centre (my interactive activity), a punching bag with boxing gloves for people to try punching/striking that Ronda Rousey trains and uses in her fighting. I also had a stereo with a upbeat/girl-power/Ronda Rousey fight music playlist playing in the background for some energy and lighten the mood (Her official walk-out song is “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett by the way!). Finally Nut-Free trail mix on one side with the candy (the reward for the activity), and Ronda Rousey’s book with a description and a framed picture on the other.


photo 2 (1)

photo 3

photo 1 (1)

At first it was kind of slow, a couple people walked by and i chatted with them, they punched the bag a couple times. Then all of the sudden, just massive waves of people were coming by and were all standing around looking, and punching the bag while other people were talking to me. I was just in such an excited shock and a bit flattered of how many people were interested in my learning centre, and wanted to talk to me or do my interactive activity. Thanks to everyone who participated my interactive activity of punching/striking! Some of the familiar names to do so: “Oprah” (Emma MacDonald.), Kim Venn, Cassidy Stahr, Sara Knowles, Vanessa Felice, Jaime Fajber, Jessica Seemann and many many more! (I feel like an infomercial…)Time just flew by, next thing i knew it was already 10pm, and everyone was starting to take down their learning centres.

photo 2 (3)

Ft. Vanessa Felice

Learning Centre- Oprah

Ft. Oprah (Emma MacDonald)








I think i can speak for all of the 10’s, that we were all kind of sad at closing circle, it being our last Night of the Notables. This is it. This is going to be my very last blog post relating to Eminent and Night of the Notables, that’s crazy. It feels just like yesterday that i was writing my (super short compared to this years) Grade 9 NOTN Reflection, where my first line was “WE ARE DONE WITH EMINENT!!!! Well until next year…….but now we can ‘breath'”. I think back to how i did last year, compared to this year, and i know i met my goals. I can see my growth from last year, and as a group how much we’ve all accomplished, and now i can say, we can all “breath” (well, until In-Depth…). Now that its done, and over for good, i almost going miss it in a way, but I’m really proud of what i did. I have no regrets with Night of the Notables 2015.


We’ve officially made it!!!


HUGE Thanks to the following people who are just some of the many that helped me with Eminent this year :) :

*Elyssa and Jordan for dealing with my mental breakdowns

*Oliver for letting me use some of Gleneagle’s Rugby equipment

*Christine for straightening my hair (it’s really hard okay…)

*The universe for not letting me trip and fall as i jumped off the stage with a bad ankle

*Chris Marsh for letting me choose the lighting for my speech, to prevent me from dying trying to jump off the stage

*Kurt and Matt for putting up with me and helping me build, set up, and take down my Octagon

*Kristi Roots for letting me Interview her to gain some insight about competing at high level competitions

*My lovely Mother and Father for not making me do the dishes during the week of NOTN

*And last but not least: Mr.Jackson, Ms.Mulder, and Mr.Albright for providing us with this amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience that none of us will ever forget :) !!!



Waiting… Lots of Waiting… (Eminent #3)

Oh dear.

These two words, I feel, near perfectly describe the interview process for me.

I think it’d be wise to start from the beginning, so from the beginning we shall start!

My first approach to attaining an interview for this project was originally planned towards contacting my actual eminent person, and to hopefully gather some information about his inspirations to create the YouTube videos, music, and poetry while addressing the topics he does. So naturally, I composed an email (which took me forever by the way – lots of proofreading and help from my mom):

Now after talking to other people who had also emailed their own eminent people, the odds didn’t look to good for an immediate reply. However, I was extremely pleasantly surprised when Humble’s manager actually replied to me the following morning!

So at this point, I proceeded to email Carolyn back with the actual questions I was interested in my eminent person answering:

After having sent this email, I waited a few days… then a week… and this was the moment when I realized this was going to be a problem.

Obviously I know my eminent person was and is very busy, but as I was hoping for some answers, as well as looking forward to a response, I figured I might as well wait a bit more to see if he would respond, even after my speech and learning centre were over with.

Eventually I waited a bit too long, and still wasn’t able to interview him in the end. In came plan B), whom I had honestly thought of as my original interview person, but I guess I was a bit preoccupied in the thought that I might be able to actually interview my eminent person himself that I set this option to the side. This person is a good friend of my mom’s, and I knew he’d be a good person to get some insight from, even if it is just involved in widening my learning experience and understanding of my person’s work, after all the presentation were done.

I got to talking on the phone with Faisal, and was able to set up an interview with him via email that I do believe gives me a valuable point of view on the same concepts and ideas my eminent person, Humble the Poet, works with.

The questions I asked, as well as his answers to them are as stated:

My original intentions for this interview were obviously scrapped as things hadn’t gone as originally planned, however, I’m still proud to say that it was a learning experience most definitely. Not only did I learn that maybe it’s wise to go ahead and act upon first instinct (a.k.a. actually emailing Faisal and Humble both at first to see what responses I would get), but also, I was able to get an interesting point of view on some of the questions I was wondering about myself, from someone who wasn’t my actual eminent person, which I believe was a nice touch to final insights and thoughts from this project, and challenged me to really be creative and go off what I had with my speech and learning centre.

I am lucky to know a person such as Faisal personally, as he was not only eager to answer some of my burning questions, but I do feel that his answers were concise, yet meaningful. I think the answer that surprised me (for a lack of better term) the most was the answer to question 4, on the topic of wisdom being gained from lack of innocence. This one mainly intrigued me, as I have just recently written a poem about wisdom and innocence for an English assignment, and I hadn’t even thought of his take on the concept when initially working with it.

Another thing that I honestly just admire about both Humble the Poet and Faisal, is the passion they hold for what they do. I’ve known Faisal for around two or three years now, and since I met him it was clear how passionate he was for his work of guiding and encouraging youth to live happier lives, and that passion was developed mainly through personal struggles and experience. This is the same with Humble; both have experienced struggles and hardships that allowed them to not only become the kind of knowledgeable and wise people they are today, but that led them to pursuing careers that make them feel fulfilled with how they’re contributing to the growth of the people around them.

I guess in short, you could say I genuinely find both of these people past admirable.

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