Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Inspiration! Hug it out.

Advice to remember from the folks at Grist: everyone needs a hug!

I know the winter gift-giving season officially ends tonight (I'm pretty sure all the holidays included in "happy holidays" are done by tonight or tomorrow), but that doesn't mean it's not useful to remember that everyone loves a hug! Especially the T-Rex. Nuzzle right in below those fierce jaws to reach her stubby lil' arms and give her a hug.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cute! Raccoon Cat

Once again I did some cat sitting, and once again the main thing I did was sit around taking pictures of my friends' cat. Isn't he pretty with his long raccoon tail?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Learning! Are Microwaves Actually Killing Us?


I am one of those annoying people who doesn't have a microwave.  It's half tiny kitchen-syndrome, and half believing-the-hype-about-subtle-poisons.  I figure that until I have the time to look up all the research, or maybe run a properly-controlled experiment myself, I should just abstain.  Besides, food usually tastes better when it's not microwaved, and I don't miss it.  However, I've always meant to look into it.

First of all, this is in no way definitive research.  This is google, for pete's sake, so let's take it with a grain of salt.  Here is what I have uncovered from both sides of the debate:

Hypothesis: Microwaves are dangerous.

Argument #1: Burns

Early on people realized that when foods are heated in a microwave, they become what we call "superheated", where the container doesn't seem too hot, but the food is scalding.  It can also suddenly explode when disturbed after microwaving.  This is because the microwave heats liquids so quickly, they don't turn to steam and the steam gets trapped inside the liquid instead.  Because of this, you are never, ever supposed to microwave milk or formula for a baby in the bottle, because you won't necessarily be able to tell how hot it is.  Don't burn your baby!

The burning issue has been replicated, and has reached the level of something that is "just known" to most people.  

Argument #2: Blood Transfusions that Kill

Apparently in 1991 a woman was given a blood transfusion that had been warmed in the microwave and then died.  The only possible explanation, of course, is that the microwave altered the blood in some way and it killed her.  Not that she was already sick or there was already something going on with that blood.  The article describing this event also says that blood transfusions are microwaved all the time, and we don't hear about people dying from them all the time, so this isolated incident might not be great evidence.

Argument #3: A "Scientific Experiment"

There has been one experiment, that is cited on all claims of the dangers of microwaves, by a man named Hans Hertel where he and 7 other participants (red flag alert: scientists are never participants in their own experiments) holed themselves away in a hotel for 8 weeks eating a rotating diet of raw vegetables, conventionally cooked vegetables, and microwaved vegetables.  Same with milk.  Blood samples were taken before eating and then at regular intervals after eating.  The claim is that after consuming microwaved foods the men saw an increase of "bad" cholesterol, as well as a decrease in white blood cells and cells that demonstrated the initial stages of cancerous developments.

Unfortunately, the study was never published in a peer-reviewed journal, the sample size was eight, the researcher participated, the raw data was never shared, no one ever got sick, and the study has never been replicated.

Argument #4: The Plant Study

Another infamous study is the child's science experiment watering plants, where microwaved water kills the plant.  Here is an article responding to this experiment, including a proper, blind study attempting (and failing) to replicate the results.

Argument #5: Vitamin Loss

There's no real evidence I've found of this, but people argue that microwaving reduces the vitamins in foods.  The first consideration here is that some vitamins break down in any heat, like Vitamin C, so microwaving is not the exception.  Replicated studies, however, show that microwaves do not do any more damage than conventional cooking.

How Microwaves Actually Work

People talk a lot about microwaves getting radiation into your food, or leaking radiation into your home.  Microwaves are a low frequency wave on the electromagnetic spectrum, above radio waves and below visible light.  They are not powerful enough to transfer radioactivity to other substances, while they do carry radiation.

When applied in intense doses, what microwaves do is cause polarized molecules to rotate, and the friction creates heat, which warms your food.

If you are like me and didn't take more than the minimum requirements for sciences, that might sound a bit scary.  Further reading, however, has informed me that it might actually be safer than other forms of heating food.

You see, the argument that microwaves change the molecular make up of food doesn't really hold, because all cooking has the potential to do this.  For example, when frying meats, the high temperature can cause hydrocyclic amines (HCAs) to form, which have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.

Conclusion

I can only conclude from my brief googling that I have been silly.

It seems that there are two potential dangers to microwaved foods: one, that they will be too hot and burn me.  The second is that they might contain elements of a plastic container, if they were microwaved in one.  This isn't so much because microwaves are terrible, but because plastic breaks down really easily and can leech into food.  You wouldn't cook with plastic in the oven, don't do it in a microwave.  Especially those flimsy little Ziplock containers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Inspiration! The Paintings of Chagall

Chagall has been coming up in my life lately, and it's making me want to take steps to make sure he comes up in my life all the time.  I don't know what it is about his work, but it just freaking transports me!





Monday, December 22, 2014

Cute! Incognito Cat

Bet you can't find the cat I this picture. Bet you're just wondering,"what's cute about a paper bag?" And sighing loudly in your mind.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Singalong! O Come O Come Emmanuel

I have always had a special love for the traditional Christmas songs, and since we're still coming up on the big day, I feel entirely justified posting another yule-related singalong.  To keep my hip edge (ha!) though, I present you with Sufjan Stevens' version of O Come O Come Emmanuel.  Not quite as epic as it could be, but still dang beautiful. Oh, and it's worth noting that this is technically more of an advent song than a Christmas song, if you're into that kind of thing.


O COME O COME EMMANUEL
by Sufjan Stevens

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Learning! Your parents have more sex than you.


Despite all the Tindering, sexting, full-frontal nudity on TV, and acceptance of every kink under the sun, it turns out that this generation is having less actual sex than those that came before.  And we're generally enjoying it less.  Ouch.

The reasons given: stress, depression, and anxiety.

There's more to the story, of course, but what a juicy headline!  Check out the details in this article in The Guardian.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Inspiration! The Thief of Joy

Beautiful beautiful hand-drawn typographic quotes by Sean Tulgetske remind us of good things.  Like the fact that envy is a thief - of joy and anything else good.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Cute! Piano Cat

Expect so many pictures of Gertie on my piano.  BECAUSE I NOW HAVE A PIANO!!!  Isn't it a gem?  It was my family piano growing up and I just love it.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Singalong! All I Want for Christmas is You

This appears to be one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time.  Pretty much every time it comes on I perk up, clutch my hand to my heart, and start singing alone with an excess of emotion.  Oh Mariah, how do you do what you do?


ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU
Mariah Carey

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you, yeah.

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
And I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I don't need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a toy on Christmas Day

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you
You, baby

Oh, I won't ask for much this Christmas
I won't even wish for snow
And I'm just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe

I won't make a list and send it
To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won't even stay awake to
Hear those magic reindeer click

'Cause I just want you here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
What more can I do?
Baby, all I want for Christmas is you
You, baby

Oh, all the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children's
Laughter fills the air

And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa, won't you bring me the one I really need?
Won't you please bring my baby to me?

Oh, I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see my baby
Standing right outside my door

Oh, I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby, all I want for Christmas is you
You, baby

All I want for Christmas is you, baby

Friday, December 12, 2014

Learning! Kwanzaa 101

'Tis the season for "holiday greetings", and in my office the other day we all realized that none of us knew anything about Kwanzaa. So I did a quick google search to rectify the situation, and I figured there might be more people out there embarrassed to admit that they don't know about the origins or practices of Kwanzaa.


Kwanzaa is a celebration of African heritage in African-American culture from December 26-January 1. It was first celebrated in 1966-67 and was started by Maulana Karenga (professor of African Studies). Originally an African-American holiday, it has spread throughout other nations with African diaspora and was intended to help African Americans reconnect with their African heritage. It was also originally intended to be an alternative to Christmas, until Karenga realized that a lot of practicing Christians still wanted to take part in the festival.

A few more fun facts:

Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" (fruits of the harvest)

There are seven principles of Kwanzaa:
Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

1.6% of Americans celebrate Kwanzaa (about 4.7 million people!)

Celebration includes decorating one's home with African art and kinaras (a candle holder symbolic of African roots), wearing kaftans and eating fresh fruits. The week-long celebration ends in gift-giving and some delicious food.

Check out the Official Kwanzaa Website for more information!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Singalong! I'll Be There for You by The Remembrandts

I just moved into a new place and went through a few harrowing days without internet.  Since my go-to background noise while puttering around the house (or, say, slogging through the incessant job of unpacking and setting up a home) is streaming some kind of TV show on Netflix, I had to revert to the olden days and crack open a DVD box set.  Luckily I have an old enough laptop that it has a DVD drive and never got rid of my DVDs!  I launched in with Friends and just watched Ross and Rachel finally get together for the first(ish) time and have been listening to the Rememrandts intro song a lot.  It's actually pretty solid!  The lyrics are lovely and uplifting and perfectly captures the weird reality of suddenly being old enough to be an adult but not feeling adult at all.  Plus, it's always funny to listen to a song made famous off a TV show and then get all weirded out when they go into the second verse.


I'LL BE THERE FOR YOU
by The Remembrandts

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A.
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but

I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
('Cause you're there for me too)

You're still in bed at ten and work began at eight
You've burned your breakfast, so far things are going great
Your mother warned you there'd be days like these
But she didn't tell you when the world has brought you down to your knees and

I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
('Cause you're there for me too)

No one could ever know me
No one could ever see me
Seems you're the only one who knows what it's like to be me
Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with
Someone I'll always laugh with
Even at my worst, I'm best with you, Yeah!

It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year

I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
('Cause you're there for me too)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Learning! "Mean Girls" are actually boys


Another psych study came out recently that gets filed into the "counterintuitive" folder: looks like boys are actually more likely to engage in social bullying than girls.  Most people assume and accept that boys will beat each other up (and then forget about whatever was bothering them in the first place) and girls will slowly destroy someone's life through spreading rumours and excluding each other.

A longitudinal study at the University of Georgia, however, followed boys and girls through middle and high school and found that boys were actually more likely to engage in this kind of behaviour than girls.

The point of this isn't that boys are worse than girls, but that we've been focusing a lot of resources on getting girls to stop doing these mean things, and not paying any attention to the boys.  Time to get them into the picture!

Source: Science Daily

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Inspiration! Everything Worth Doing

What? I am inspired by a Seth Godin quote? That never happens!


"Everything worth doing is done to excess, poorly, immorally, inefficiently, by someone. But that doesn't change the fact that the very same thing done right is worth doing."
-Seth Godin

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cute! The Cat Packs Herself

I moved this weekend! Gertie really got into the packing spirit and jumped right into one of the boxes.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Singalong! Move Over by The Spice Girls

I'm moving this weekend!  So my singalong is all about moving over... to a new home, 'cause I'm ready to fly and I'm ready to go!  Okay, technically this song is about advertising for Pepsi, but I've always liked it.  So, good job marketing execs and professional songwriting team!


MOVE OVER
by The Spice Girls

Generation next, generation next
(Ah, generation next)
Generation next, generation next
(Generation)
Generation next, generation next
(Generation yeah)
Generation next, generation next

Let me tell you 'bout a thing, gotta put it to the test,
It's a celebration, motivation generation next
Well sow me the seed, every colour every creed,
Teach never preach, listen up take heed
Take the heat, feel the flow
Cause you're ready to fly and we're ready to go
Take the heat, feel the flow
Cause you're ready to fly and we're ready to go

Move over yeah, don't do it over
(Yeah yeah yeah)
Cause it's over (yeah yeah yeah)
Move over, don't do it over (yeah yeah yeah)
Cause it's over yeah yeah yeah
(Don't do it over)
Generation next
(yeah yeah a generation yeah)
Next phase, next stage, next grade, next wave

Let me tell you 'bout a thing, gotta put it to the test,
It's a celebration, motivation generation next
Well sow me the seed, every colour every creed,
Teach never preach, listen up take heed
Hold it down, feel the noise
Let me know if it's a fight, pick it up it's alive
Hold it down, feel the noise
Let me know if it's a fight, pick it up it's alive
Move over yeah, don't do it over
(Yeah yeah yeah)
Cause it's over (yeah yeah yeah)
Move over, don't do it over (yeah yeah yeah)
Cause it's over yeah yeah yeah
(Don't do it over)
Generation next

Dedication, celebration, anonimation, good vibration,
Motivation, domination, baby nation, recreation,
imagination, crazy nation

Move over yeah, don't do it over
(Yeah yeah yeah)
Cause it's over yeah yeah yeah
(Don't do it over)
Move over, don't do it over (yeah)
Cause it's over yeah yeah yeah
Generation next, generation next
(Ah, generation next)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Learning! When Your Age Makes You Go Running


If you're anything like me, the answer to the question "when will you run your first marathon" is simply "never."  I mean, I guess technically we can never say never but I will say that it's pretty darn unlikely that I will ever run for anything other than saving my life or catching a bus.

However, if I were to run a marathon, research shows that I am most likely to do it when I'm at an age that ends in 9.

Makes sense - as a recent 30-year-old, with many friends also in the 29-31 age range, I have noticed a sudden uptick in making things happen, trying new things, and personal challenges in myself and my friends.  This is because even though the difference between 29 and 30 are minimal, changing of decades feels like a significant milestone.  The first number in your age changes, after all!  So we reflect on our lives, what we want, what we're doing, what we've accomplished, and we decide, "daggum it, I'm going to run a marathon!"

Or, maybe you do.  I have no desire to run anything except a dishwasher.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Inspiration! Working Dogs of New Zealand Photo Series


I was originally going to post this under "Cute!", but then I had to stop myself. Sure, these are dogs and dogs are animals and animals are generally pretty freaking adorable. But there's something else to these dogs... they look proud. Fierce. On top of it. These are working dogs and they are kind of inspirational to look at, especially as they appear to be the dons of New Zealand's epic landscapes.

See the series of photographs taken by Andrew Fladeboe on Feature Shoot.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cute! This Purring Cat Will Warm Your Heart


I've already posted about the health benefits of a purring cat, and while you won't get the healing vibrations through this video, you will get the sweet relaxation of the sound of a happy cat purring her heart out.

The video itself isn't great quality - my phone had a hard time focusing on Gertie's furry face (and she didn't stay still), but the sound is all that matters here!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Singalong! In My Life by The Beatles

I've mentioned before how I have a mini-catalogue of songs in my mind that at one point or another I've thought "that would be a nice song to dance to at a wedding." This is one of them. While it might be considered ill-advised or unromantic to reference past lovers, I kind of love how this song is about recognizing and accepting your past, while choosing to love someone. The whole song is such a simple and pure statement of love, it wins me over every time I hear it.


IN MY LIFE
by The Beatles

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Friday, November 21, 2014

Learning! People Are Online

Ever wonder how many people are on the internet right now?  Like, how many internet users are there in the entire world?  And what countries they come from?  Well, now you can know!

As I write this the number is 3,012,668,191 and growing.


That means that I am currently connected to about half the world's population.  This number is staggering in two ways: one because that's a lot of people.  Two, because that's a lot of people who aren't on the internet.  From the perspective of a privileged westerner who doesn't know anyone who doesn't have access to the internet (except maybe my grandma, except that's by choice and we show her things online all the time), it's bizarre to realize that more than half the people in the world are not connected to this thing I carry around with me almost 24 hours a day.

Find out how many people are online now at Internet Live Stats.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Inspiration! Bad Jokes by Kids


Comedy is a difficult art to master.  Ask any comedian and they'll tell you, it's a lot of work.  A big part of comedy is setting up an expectation and then twisting it.  Then there's another genre of comedy: the "this doesn't make any sense and you think it's funny which makes it funny" genre.  That's an even more difficult line to walk.

Enter Bad Kids Jokes.  An editor for a kids jokes website takes the jokes that are unpublishable, for whatever reason, and posts them on his Tumblr.  The result is a sort of abstract, dadaist expression of comedy.  Basically, unbeknownst to them, these children have walked the line of "this doesn't make any sense and you think it's funny which makes it funny" expertly.

Here are some samples:

This one has a solid understanding of vegetarianism, but maybe not free choice:
crocodiles might be vegitarians because when they open their mouths, we could easily put in vegetables!
This child understands the connection between existence and humour:
have you seen a red zebra

they do not exist
This kid understands subtle differences:
Q:What do you call a dog that can walk?

A:A HUMAN.
This author may be a future filmmaker:
why did the cow go to the movies?

because movies
This one is just kind of creepy:
well well well. your JUST IN TIME
This one could be a future debater:
is hermione in harry potter hot?
no
yes she is
This child shows a strong understanding of both math and the ingredients of a joke:
5+5=6
-5+6=-12
10+10=200

no joke
This kid could be having an existential crisis:
HOW DO YOU MAKE NOTHING

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Me & Ryan Gosling being economical with chairs

A couple years ago my roommate had a birthday party.  Our tiny little basement suite didn't have enough chairs, but luckily Ryan and I were able to share.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Cute! A Cat-tastic Homecoming

I was gone for the weekend, and coming home to this gal was so very sweet.  She purrs like the dickens.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Singalong! Don't Dream it's Over by Crowded House

I like this song.


DON'T DREAM IT'S OVER
by Crowded House

There is freedom within
there is freedom without
Try to catch a deluge in a paper cup
There's a battle ahead
many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're traveling with me

[CHORUS]
Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win

Now I'm towing my car
there's a hole in the roof
my possessions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof
in the paper today
tales of war and of waste
but you turn right over to the T.V. page

[CHORUS]
Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win

Now I'm walking again
to the beat of a drum
And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart
Only shadows ahead
barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief

Hey now, Hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, Hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
You know they won't win

Don't let them win
Hey now, Hey now

Hey now, Hey now

Friday, November 14, 2014

Learning! Cross-Cultural Idioms

Now here is a FUN FACT if I ever saw one! Or, more accurately, a series of fun facts. In the form of graphics. What could be better?

Okay, so what these actually are: a series of graphics representing idiomatic expressions from around the world, created by Matt Lindey of Hotel Club.


My favourite is the French expression for a mid-life crisis: to have a midday demon. Also Germany's katzensprung, or "a cat's jump" (indicating a short distance). Partially because the word is just so fun to say, and partially because you know and I know that cats are glorious.

It's well worth clicking through to the source at Hotel Club, they have broken each one down with a little explanation of the cultural background.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Inspiration! A Real, Live Superhuman

Oh my word. This woman should be radioactive! Watch this and then scoff at any superhero who requires fancy tools or spider bites to climb buildings or fling themselves across alleys.



The caption on this video is "Real Girl Power" which, while true, is too narrow a point. This is real HUMAN power. It's incredible!

Excuse me while I go try to scale a building and then fall. Don't worry, I won't get nearly high enough to hurt anything.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cute! Lap-Sitting Dogs

I don't feature puppies very often on my blog, mostly because I have a cat and so I have steady access to an adorable creature to take pictures of, but don't be fooled: I think dogs are super great. Like this one. This is my friend Marc's dog Mocha and every time I come over he runs around like crazy for a few minutes and then plops himself down on my lap. SO CUTE!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Singalong! Shake it Off by Taylor Swift

Yes, I am one of those people playing Shake it Off all the time.  To the point where I was standing on a corner with my hood up in the rain by myself, singing it in alternating falsetto and super-deep-chest-voice, when the light turned and I realized that I wasn't alone.  People had been standing behind me that whole time.  So now I am making this my singlaong of the week, partially because I am still riding the T-Swift Train and partially because my friend thought she was saying "bakers gotta bake bake bake bake bake", and so we need a public education in the actual lyrics.

Once you're done with the song, you might enjoy this SNL video to help you deal with your sudden love for young Taylor.


SHAKE IT OFF
by Taylor Swift

I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain
That's what people say, mmm-mmm
That's what people say, mmm-mmm

I go on too many dates [chuckle]
But I can't make them stay
At least that's what people say, mmm-mmm
That's what people say, mmm-mmm

But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop moving
It's like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I never miss a beat
I'm lightning on my feet
And that's what they don't see, mmm-mmm
That's what they don't see, mmm-mmm

I'm dancing on my own (dancing on my own)
I make the moves up as I go (moves up as I go)
And that's what they don't know, mmm-mmm
That's what they don't know, mmm-mmm

But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop grooving
It's like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Hey, hey, hey
Just think while you've been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world,
You could've been getting down to this sick beat.

My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She's like "Oh, my god!" but I'm just gonna shake.
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won't you come on over, baby? We can shake, shake, shake

Yeah ohhh

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (haters gonna hate)
I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break (mmmm)
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake (and fake, and fake, and fake)
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Friday, November 7, 2014

Leaning! Back to the Future: How Asimov Imagined 2014 in 1964


Isaac Asimov is known to nerds as one of the "big three" science fiction authors who got the genre going.  He was also a scientist.  In 1964 he wrote predictions of what life would be like in 2014, and hey!  It's 2014.  Sure, he predicted the old chestnut that we were all disappointed to do without: hover cars.  But he also predicted driverless cars (we're on our way), "glowing walls" in public spaces where "electroluminescent panels" would glow softly and change colours (hello, LED everywhere), robots, not in "common order", but existing (yep), online education, and automation of jobs.

Overall, the guy was pretty accurate in his predictions!

Read them all, accompanied by fun, retro graphics, here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Inspiration! Something out of nothing.

Some weeks I have a hard time coming up with something that inspires me. Not because I'm feeling down or hating life, but because I'm busy and distracted and nothing has cropped up that week that was particularly inspiring. This is one of those weeks. I am posting not only at the eleventh hour, but at the eleven-and-a-half-th hour, because I just couldn't really think of something to post about.

So that's this week's inspiration: honesty. Instead of searching for something and posting for the sake of it, I'm going to be honest about where I'm at. Not uninspired. Not down. Not bleh or sad or anything negative. Just not able to think of something inspiring to post about at the moment.

Of course, now that I've had this moment of honesty, some things are popping into my head: this afternoon I hosted my first Kraft Dinner Wednesday lunch with my coworkers and it was awesome, which makes me think of nostalgia and the joy of sharing; I just saw a really funny musical (Urinetown at the Firehall, check it out) the expertly parodies the genre and had some truly awesome choreography, which makes me think of dancing more myself and gave me a funny idea for a script; my cat is really cute, which just makes me feel good; I took my Mom's car in to get serviced today and the dealership shuttled me home and then picked me up again when it was done and that was awesome and convenient and considerate, which makes me think of ways I could help my place of work offer those feelings to customers; I just turned and saw and awesome hooch bottle my friend made for me sitting on a shelf among my sewing supplies and other memorabilia, which makes me think of imagination, craftiness, and generosity.

So there you go, I am still inspired after all!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

More Responding: iHateVan takes me down a peg


A while back I posted a rebuttal of positivity to the #ihatevan Tumblr, and realized recently that he actually responded.  Besides dismissing the things I like with snarky comments, which I expected him to do (as if people aren't allowed to like different things than he does), here's his final shot:
This shit is about “me, me, me” and your want for creature comforts to make your apparently OK life even more OK. This blog’s hate is pointed at all the systematic bull shit that is buried right underneath the surface of Vannie culture. While you touch on some of these issues as basically a bit of an apology, your dismissal of anger towards these issues as non-productive IS SERIOUSLY PRIVILEGED.
Dang it.  I think he's got a point.

My first response was basic defensiveness: "I was not being privileged! That's not what I was trying to do!"

Then I remembered a simple fact: what a person tries to do and what a person actually does are two very different things. The fact is, I am privileged. This isn't a new revelation. I was raised middle class by parents who love me. I am white, able bodied, educated, decent-looking, and work in my chosen field, which is the arts. All of these are things that lead to, or are the result of, privilege in our society.

As a woman, I feel unsafe more often than a person should, and if there's one thing I learned from #yesallwomen, it's that I'd like men to listen and believe women when we say there's a problem. So maybe I should also listen and believe other people when they say there's a problem.

So, the guy's got a point. While don't really feel bad about bringing positivity to the fore, by doing so and glossing over the real problems, I also shoved them under a rug.  Something I got to do because I'm lucky and don't generally have to face those issues.

What I thought I was doing/was trying to do:

I saw the posts about Vancouver's racism and other systemic issues as likely valid, and so I figured they could stand on their own.  At the time I wrote my post, however, the majority of posts were attacking people for not being fashionable enough or spending enough on their jeans or eating meat or going on dates with him or having enough parties.

There were also a lot of blanket statements about the basic character of the humans of Vancouver, which will always get me on the defense.  He claims Vancouverites lack curiosity, generosity, empathy, and senses of humour, and that's just not what I've seen, so I wanted to defend the good people I know and love.

Finally, he claimed that no one ever responds by showing them "why it's not shit" or offering to change things. Since the majority of the complaints up to that point appeared superficial, I wasn't going to offer to stop being a vegetarian or whip Vancouverites into dressing to his particular fashion sense. So I thought I'd respond by offering some evidence for why I think Vancouver is "not shit." I expected them to get shot down, and they were.

What I actually did:

I did do what I thought I was doing - I spouted some positivity and watched it get shut down. I defended the character of the Vancouverites I know and love. HOWEVER, I also demonstrated a lot of privilege.

Since I thought the racism claims were likely valid, on the whole, or at the very least recognized that I don't have the experience to comment on them, I just let them be. I figured that by not engaging with them I was letting them stand on their own. What I did instead was ignore them and by ignoring them, I shut them down. I just did the happy version of what he did - he shut me down with anger, I shut him down with positive glossiness.

Ignoring the unpleasant parts of the system is very much a privileged thing to do, and doing it made me part of the problem.

So here's the back and forth where I have an imaginary conversation with myself:

The generalized anger and wide-ranging vitriol shut me down and put me on the defensive. I am low-hanging-fruit on this one and would have responded better to the issues being posed more openly, with questions and an invitation for dialogue.

However, expecting his issues to be phrased in a way that I like is pretty freaking privileged.

But when you shut people down you kill dialogue.

Yeah, but was I really engaging in dialogue either?

But there was so much focus on the surface - sure, people probably shouldn't spend $100 on yoga pants, but is it fair to claim they should spend $100 on jeans either and write them off as human beings because they don't understand fashion even though they were buying clothes that are sold in stores generally considered fashionable and featured in fashion magazines? That's privilege.

Maybe, but we're all at least a little bit hypocritical from time to time.  So this guy is a snob about fashion and judges vegetarians.  I'm an artsy fartsy know-it-all.  Also, if someone has a spare $100 to spend on pants, it's a fair point that they should just invest that money in actual pants and not yoga tights.

Or maybe they should spend that money on something useful to the world.

Maybe, but they probably won't.

What about the arrogance of assuming you know someone else's motives for their behaviour and pigeon-holing/writing them off based on one or two traits?

That's pretty much exactly what I did.

Oh, right. Dang it.

I still love Vancouver, but am also open to talking about the things that could make it better for everyone.

UPDATE: I just realized I never actually apologized, which was my intention. I am sorry for ignoring the wider issues because of my privilege. It was a crappy thing to do. I'll try to listen better next time. 

PS: If you must know, YES, a thriving arts scene does mean that people occasionally produce "lame boring shit", because when people take risks in art it's a freaking RISK and they don't know how it's going to turn out until they do it.  Sometimes it's amazing and sometimes it's wanky and lame but it's worth it because they tried something and will probably learn to make it better next time or inspire someone else to do something awesome.  And Vancouver is NOT like New York in the 50's.  It's bloody well like Vancouver in the 2010's.  We're not trying to be New York.  There's no need, we are doing our own thing, and it's awesome. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cute! Havana is the Prettiest of all Pretty Cats

Meet Havana. Havana is my friend's cat, who just happens to be constantly posing like a fashion cat. Isn't she CUTE?


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Me & Ryan Gosling that time I ate half a donut in Portland

This is another one from our trip to Portland. I was sad because my Voodoo Donuts donut was almost all gone, and he mourned with me.  What a guy.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

No Fun November 2014: Booze and Junk Food


It's happening again!  No Fun November is upon us.  Or, upon me anyways.  Last year I gave up sugar and alcohol (alcohol reinstated halfway through the month due to break ups).  This year I am going back off alcohol, and this time instead of sugar I am shunning packaged junk food.

Packaged junk food is defined in the obvious way: chips, candy, chocolate bars.  Basically manufactured happiness in a wrapper.

This hiatus will take a leave the weekend of my staff retreat, because I want it to.

Singalong! Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen

I have to admit, I first heard this song in the Gap ad circa 2000.  I still kind of love the dancing in the ad, but also love the song.  And Queen.  I had no idea that they were actually so awesome until embarrassingly late in life (I blame my childhood diet of Amy Grant and Sandi Patti - glorious on their own, but somewhat incomplete).


CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE
by Queen

This thing called love I just can't handle it
this thing called love I must get round to it
I ain't ready
Crazy little thing called love
This (This Thing) called love
(Called Love)
It cries (Like a baby)
In a cradle all night
It swings (Woo Woo)
It jives (Woo Woo)
It shakes all over like a jelly fish,
I kinda like it
Crazy little thing called love

There goes my baby
She knows how to Rock n' roll
She drives me crazy
She gives me hot and cold fever
Then she leaves me in a cool cool sweat

I gotta be cool relax, get hip
Get on my track's
Take a back seat, hitch-hike
And take a long ride on my motor bike
Until I'm ready
Crazy little thing called love

I gotta be cool relax, get hip
Get on my track's
Take a back seat, hitch-hike
And take a long ride on my motor bike
Until I'm ready (Ready Freddie)
Crazy little thing called love

This thing called love I just can't handle it
this thing called love I must get round to it
I ain't ready
Crazy little thing called love

Friday, October 31, 2014

Learning! Attack of the Emotionally Smart Delinquent Girls


File this one under C for Counterintuitive: turns out that teen girls with higher emotional intelligence have an increased likelihood of delinquent behaviour.  For boys, not so much.

Emotional Intelligence refers to a person's empathy towards the emotions of others and control over their own, so you would think it would calm a person down, right?  After all, we assume the delinquent behaviour comes from a desire for attention, validation, or simply sensation-seeking.  So a person who's in tune with their emotions should be less needy for these things, right?

Turns out, for girls, that's not the case.

The best reason the researchers could come up with is that teen girls are more likely than boys to engage in social/subtle forms of bullying that require more emotional intelligence to execute well, and that girls who like to get their bully on might also like to get their drink on or their staying-out-way-too-late-with-boys on.

Ultimately, though, that's just a guess, the research was purely correlational.

Source: BPS Research Digest

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inspiration! 99 famous movie quotes as graphics

This is a fun little/big graphic representation of 99 famous movie quotes made by Flowing Data. Definitely worth looking at it in its original context here.  You can even order it as a poster for your wall!


I love how clever graphics help us see familiar things in a new way!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cute! Cats and Dogs Can Be Friends

A couple of weeks ago I introduced Gertie to my friend's dog, Benji. I'm not going to say that they became friends... yet. This time we got them into a state of co-existence. Next time, who knows? I smell slumber parties!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Singalong! May Queen by Kate Nash

I like Kate Nash a lot. I learned about her years and years ago when I was searching for Kate Bush music and somehow came across her. I remember a badly-recorded EP that was playing on Myspace and it captured my heart, but I don't even remember what it was. I have since purchased her Death Proof EP and truly enjoyed the mix of punky alt grrrrl rock and nice folksiness. This is the softer song on that album, and it gives me feelings.


MAY QUEEN
by Kate Nash

I'm no May Queen
I'm no day dream
Validate me
Please take me

I'm no May Queen
I'm no day dream
Validate me
Please take me

Touch, touch, touch, touching
Touch, touch, touching each other
Touch, touch, touch, touching
Touch, touch, touching each other

Bird is on
Don't tell me
Smell, face, mouth

I'm no May Queen
I'm no day dream
Validate me
Please take me

I'm no May Queen
I'm no day dream
Validate me
Please take me

Touch, touch, touch, touching
Touch, touch, touching each other
Touch, touch, touch, touching
Touch, touch, touching each other

Bird is on
Don't tell me
Smell, face, mouth
Mouth

Friday, October 24, 2014

Learning! Zooooombies (and science)

A scientific exploration of how zombies might work, including parasites that mind-control their hosts, through the lens of the TV show Walking Dead. While this may be talking about something (currently) fictional, he brings some real science and public health into the mix. Hence, it's a post for Learning!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Inspiration! You don't get to decide the truth


"You don't get to decide the truth." -Frank Chimera

Remember? We are not the centre of the universe? Not even close.

Such a relief!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cute! Cat Sitting for Pharaoh

Last week I got to do some cat sitting for my friend and did my usual trick of photographing their cat the entire time I was there. He's just so darn cute! Here's Pharaoh, all curled up on his retro green chair.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Singalong! She Don't Use Jelly by The Flaming Lips

This song is just funny. I suspect they had a grand ol' time while writing it, and I have a grand ol' time listening to it.



SHE DON'T USE JELLY
by The Flaming Lips

I know a girl who thinks of ghosts
She'll make ya breakfast
She'll make ya toast
She don't use butter
She don't use cheese
She don't use jelly
Or any of these
She uses vaseline
Vaseline
Vaseline

I know a guy who goes to shows
When he's at home and he blows his nose
He don't use tissues or his sleeve
He don't use napkins or any of these
He uses magazines
Magazines
Magazines
Magazines
Magazines

I know a girl who reminds me of cher
She's always changing
The colour of her hair
She don't use nothing
That ya buy at the store
She likes her hair to be real orange
She uses tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines
Tangerines

Friday, October 17, 2014

Learning! Objectification vs. Appreciation


Objectification is a word that gets thrown around a lot from time to time, and I think a lot of people don't quite know what it refers to.  It has to do with sex, usually.  It usually gets talked about in the context of women and their bodies and advertising or pornography.  It's definitely a bad thing.  But what exactly is it?  What's the difference between objectification and appreciation of a person's physical beauty?  How do you know which is being done to you?

This is a great article in The World of Psychology that breaks down what objectification really is and how to tell if it's happening to you in a real-life.

I've gathered a few take-away quotes, in case you are not into reading entire articles.  All emphasis was added by me.

On objectification in general:

"A new study shows that objectification can be linked to sexual coercion in romantic relationships. This is not surprising, for several reasons. More alarmingly, objectification is also statistically linked to sexual violence. This is also not surprising."

"A man or a woman who sees another individual as an object is seeing them through the lens of being able to satisfy a particular need — period. They do not have the capacity to think about the whole person or consequently a healthy, mature relationship — especially a romantic or sexual one."

Signs of objectification in relationships:

"A healthy attraction does not tend to focus overwhelmingly on a body part or a specific look, for instance a specific outfit."

"A mature individual will reflect back to you their attraction to subtleties or abstract qualities and less exclusively on concrete details that can be experienced as separate from the whole personality."

"A mature individual will also talk about other people as whole individuals. They will not tend to see the world in black or white."

"Someone who objectifies will tend to have a lesser capacity for true empathy."

"Objectified pleasure does not extend into true appreciation that can lead to appreciation and pleasure in the subtler dimensions of your body or an intimate experience."

Read more detail in the original article here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspiration! Yes Means Yes


Now THIS is inspiring!  California is the first US state, and possibly first place ever, to adopt a "yes means yes" law.  That means that if you don't get a clear "yes" for sexy times, you don't have sexy times.

The difference between "yes means yes" and "no means no" in consent may seem nit-picky, but it's actually huge.  If the law states that you have to stop if a person says "no" and the person you're with is, for some reason, incapable of saying "no", it becomes a legal grey area where the aggressor is much more likely to have zero consequences for their actions.

A law that instead requires "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity", means that you can't argue that "they were into it" when they were passed out or too afraid to push you away.  It puts the onus on the pursuer to get consent first, not to go until someone says stop.  BIG difference.  As this article in The Guardian puts it, "silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent."

I am so happy and inspired to see politicians stepping in to protect victims of sexual assault.  Let's all take a cue from them.

Read more about it here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Me & Ryan Gosling when he got jealous of me hugging someone else

Ryan's a pretty secure guy, but once and a while he gets kind of jealous. Like this one time, when I was doing a show with my friend Stuart.  As you can see there are a lot of dynamics in this photo: Stuart has his arms crossed in front of him, as if to close off from the hug I am giving him, but his face is pleasant.  I am actively hugging him, but my face looks unpleasant.  Ryan is sneaking in along the side and looks pretty unimpressed with everything.


So what's the story? Easy:

Stuart was posing for a photo all on his own, trying to look broody and artistic with his arms crossed in front of him.  I swooped in for a hug and was smiling, but then Ryan edged in there and I got a little annoyed that he was stealing our moment.  I mean, come on Ryan, I know you were having an insecure night but I can still hug another man!  (Sometimes we squabble, but we sorted it out that night.  Don't worry, our relationship is not on the rocks.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cute! Tiny Baby Feet and Hands

My good friends Christie and Derek just had a baby.  He is the cutest little thing and I am so excited to have met him.  I won't post photos of his face because I'm too lazy to ask their permission, but look at his tiny little feet and hands!  LOOK AT HOW CUTE AND TINY THEY ARE!


Also, it's Thanksgiving!  So give thanks for something that makes you feel all warm and squishy inside, like holding this little guy with his tiny hands and feet did for me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Singalong! Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Annie Lennox and Al Green

The first encounter I had with Annie Lennox (that I know of) was with her song No More I Love Yous. It would show up in those commercials for Time Warner music compilations and they would have a clip of the music video with the ballerinas and their hairy armpits. Not yet being liberated from the shackles of gender expectations, my sister, cousin, and I found them endlessly hilarious. Now I no longer think it's hilarious to have hairy armpits, should that be your choice, and I like Annie Lennox's sweet tunes. Despite this entire introduction being about No More I Love Yous, I actually want to sing along to Put a Little Love in Your Heart today, continuing the positivity train from earlier this week with my love-on for Vancouver.


PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART
Annie Lennox and Al Green

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart
You see it's getting late
Oh, please don't hesitate
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Another day goes by
And still the children cry
Put a little love in your heart
If you want the world to know
We won't let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see, wait and see

Take a good look around
And if you're lookin' down
Put a little love in your heart
And I hope when you decide
Kindness will be your guide
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see
Put a little love in your heart
Each and every day
Put a little love in your heart
There's got to be a better way
Put a little love in your heart
Don't you think it's time we start
Put a little love in your heart

Friday, October 10, 2014

Learning! How Sugar Affects the Brain

I've been considering going on another No Sugar November, and at the same time came across this video on the affect sugar has on our brains.  It breaks it down pretty well, if you ask me.  Of course, I could use a little more on the impact of sugar on our bodies as well (I know it's basically poison, at least in the amounts we consume it, but that's about it).


If you don't like watching videos (I hear you, friend), the basic is this: sugar releases dopamine in the brain. That's why it feels so good. We also get dopamine released when we eat a healthy, balanced meal, but that dopamine is dependent on novelty. If we're eating the same healthy food, the dopamine levels fade over time. Sugar, on the other hand, remains constant. So we never get sick of it. Wooooo! Delicious poison.

Oh, and if you're wondering, "umami" is savoury. I may have had to look that up.