Cute! Awkward Tongue Stretch

I love it when I catch Gertie sticking her tongue out.  And stretching!  It all looks so darn... awkward.

Singalong! Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears

I've featured Tears for Fears before - there is something about them, don't you think? The epitome of 80's synth and deceptively frivolous, but their lyrics are sort of epic in the scope of their meaning. What more could you want?

by Tears for Fears

Welcome to your life
There's no turning back
Even while we sleep
We will find you

Acting on your best behaviour
Turn your back on mother nature
Everybody wants to rule the world

It's my own design
It's my own remorse
Help me to decide
Help me make the most

Of freedom and of pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

There's a room where the light won't find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do I'll be right behind you

So glad we've almost made it
So sad they had to fade it
Everybody wants to rule the world

I can't stand this indecision
Married with a lack of vision
Everybody wants to rule the world
Say that you'll never never never never need it
One headline why believe it ?
Everybody wants to rule the world

All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

Learning! How to Be a Better Writer

I just finished reading Stephen King's On Writing.  I've never read any of his other books, what with my inability to handle scary things, but I respect that the guy must be a good storyteller.  In On Writing he gives a whole whack of tips on being a better writer, and aside from the most obvious (write a lot, read a lot), he rails on a lot of bad writing habits.  I don't recall him calling out overuse of the word "very", but I feel like it would have fit in well alongside his intense hatred for adverbs.

Speaking of "very", here are a bunch of other words you can use instead:

Source: Writers Write.

Inspiration! The World, as Seen in Toronto

This is a super cool project.  Photographer Colin Boyd Shafer is trying to photograph a Torontonian from every part of the world. He takes a shot of them in a place that feels like "home" to them, another of them holding an object that reminds them of the country they came from, and tells a piece of their story. What better way to humanize diversity? I love it!

Screen Shot of Emile's story preview. 

Cosmopolitan Toronto.

Cute! Love From a Distance

This picture of my dear Gertie gazing longingly at the cat across the way makes me think of that Dave Matthews song "The Space Between"...

Singalong! Got to Give It Up by Marvin Gaye

Most people don't know that, like most modern dance hits, Robin Thicke's unfortunate hit Blurred Lines is ripped off from an older song. In this case, Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up". Since most people defend the song based only on its danceable beat, why don't we just groove to Marvin's song that, oh I don't know, isn't about rape?  And hey, it's still a little scandalous, just in a far less terrible way.

by Marvin Gay

I used to go out to parties
And stand around
'cause I was too nervous
To really get down
But my body yearned to be free
So I got up on the floor and found
Someone to choose me
No more standin' there beside the walls
I done got myself together baby
And now I'm havin' a ball

As long as you're groovin'
There's always a chance
Somebody watches
Might wanna make romance
Move your body, ooo baby, you dance all night
To the groove and feel alright

Everybody's groovin' on like a fool
But if you see me spread out and let me in
Baby just party high and low
Let me step into your erotic zone
Move it up
Turn it 'round
Ooo Shake it down

You can love me when you want to babe
This is such a groovy party baby
We're here face to face
Everybody's swingin'
This is such a groovy place
All the young ladies are so fine!
You're movin your body easy with no doubts
I know what you thinkin' baby
You wanna turn me out
Think I'm gonna let you do it babe

Keep on dancin'
You got to get it
Got to give it up
(repeat until end)

Learning! Haters Gonna ... Do a Better Job?

We already know that haters (aka, grumpy people) are predisposed to think negatively about things.  That's why they "gonna hate", right?  Well how about this: a new study shows that people who are predisposed to think negatively think about fewer things overall.  They spend more time doing less things than us cheery folk.

What does this mean?  Well, aside from the fact that they are less likely to schedule yoga, a coffee date, and a party all in one night, it might also mean that they are better at those few tasks that they choose to focus on.  Because, you know, doing fifty things for five minutes each apparently means you have less time to learn them well than if you do five things for fifty minutes each.

Makes sense - positive people are going to have positive feelings towards more things and thus want to do them all.  Negative people are all choosy and thus might perform better at their jobs along with other fun-type hobbies.

So there you go, the one and only benefit to being a hater.

SOURCE: Science Daily

Inspiration! I'm Not Fancy by The Girls With Glasses

I just want this to be everything.

I'm Not Fancy by The Girls With Glasses.

Also, in a sad revelation of targeted advertising, here is a screen shot of the ad that came up on YouTube while I was watching this clever and entertaining video by two clearly super-smart ladies. Thanks, YouTube.

Cute! Bookish Cat

Maybe this is revealing more about my cat lady status than I'd like, but heck, I think this is cute.  Gertie and a bunch of books!  What more could you want?

Cute! Reverse Scuba with Poorly Drawn Lines

I've featured Poorly Drawn Lines before because their comics are just so darn awesome.  For whatever reason the non-sensical whimsy of this one really does make the bubbles of cute happiness burst out of my heart.

Poorly Drawn Lines

Singalong! Hideaway by Kiesza

This one came to me thanks to Andrea Warner (someone you should definitely be following on Twitter, by the by) and now I feel like my day is empty if I don't listen to it.  My only question is, how on earth do you say Kiesza without it sounding like you're mispronouncing Kesha?

Anyways, you're welcome.

by Kiesza

Taking me higher than I've ever been before
I'm holding it back, just want to shout out, give me more

You're just a hideaway, you're just a feeling
You let my heart escape, beyond the meaning
Not even I can't find a way to stop the storm
Oh baby, it's out of my control, it's going home
But you're just a chance I take to keep on dreaming
You're just another day that keeps me breathing
Baby, I love the way that there's nothing sure
Baby, don't stop me, hideaway with me some more

Ooh, aah, aah, ooh, ooh, aah, aah, ooh, ooh, aah, aah, ooh, ooh, aah, aah, ooh

You send me the shiver and the spine that might overflow
You're bringing me closer to the edge, I'm letting go
You're just a hideaway, you're just a feeling
You let my heart escape, beyond the meaning
Putting my head into the clouds I'm floating home
When you can be going I can't find a way to stop
You're just a chance I take to keep on dreaming
You're just another day that keeps me breathing

Ooh, aah, aah, ooh, ooh, aah, aah, ooh

Baby, I love the way that there's nothing sure
Baby, don't stop me, hideaway with me some more
Hideaway with me some more

Bringing me higher than I've ever been before
I'm holding it back, just want to shout it, give me more

You're just a hideaway, you're just a feeling
You let my heart escape, beyond the meaning
Not even I can find a way to stop the storm
Oh baby, it's out of my control what's going on
You're just a chance I take to keep on dreaming
You're just another day, that keeps me breathing
You're a day that keeps me dreaming

Ooh, aah, aah, ooh, ooh, aah, aah, ooh

Baby, I love the way that there's nothing sure
Baby, don't stop me, hide away with me some more
Hideaway with me some more

Learning! Lost Science

Sad news for science: up to 90% of raw data from past scientific studies may be lost, according to this Smithsonian article.

How so? Well, scientists are pretty much in charge of keeping their own data. Think about how data storage has changed over the years: from typewritten pages shoved in a filing cabinet to 3.5 inch floppies to hard drives. A lot of people just don't know where their old data is stored anymore.

Funnily enough, however, a lot of the data may still be there, but we can't access it because nobody can get ahold of the scientists who created it. Old studies are published with now-defunct email addresses and no other contact information, and in the age of Google, these people can't necessarily be tracked down.

Basically, it's like when you moved, changed your laptop, and forgot to transfer over all your old pictures. Except worse because it's science. Scientific study relies heavily on replication and variation of past studies, so we kind of need access to the raw data to confirm and deny the validity of past studies and know what we actually know.

Of course, this won't change until we get some better system for storing data. Now some scientific journals are making people submit raw data with their papers, which spreads it out a bit at least. But this puts the absent-minded professor in a whole new light!

Moral of the story: back up your data!

#yesallwomen... Now What? (Or, 4 Things You Can Do To Make the World a Safer Place for Women)

By now I'm pretty sure everyone on the internet knows about the #YesAllWomen movement?  If you haven't, it's basically the best use of hashtag out there.  Women sharing their stories of harassment, assault, fear, and objectification, making the point that every woman faces these things in her life, and that maybe we should see this as a problem.  (If you don't know and want to know more, check out the hashtag, this Guardian article, the super-cool Felicia Day's post, this image that's been tweeted around, and these two excellent responses by men.)

I was planning on adding my own stories to the mix, trying to decide which story to choose ("do I go for the worst one or the one that happens most often?"), but have been thinking a lot about the "next step" of this movement.  Yes, women sharing their stories is a great and important thing, but how do we take a step towards change and keep this from the usual "hashtag activism" pitfall?

So here's what I'm going to share: some advice to the dudes out there who, instead of getting defensive or angry back at us for sharing the our experiences, want to be a part of the solution.  Because we have spent a lot of time teaching women self defence and very little teaching men about what they can do.

I imagine that some of men out there are reading the stories and being rather upset to learn what has been happening all around you, and maybe even more upset to realize that you may have unintentionally been the cause of some stories yourself.  Well, here are some things you can do from now on to help the women around you both BE and FEEL safer.  Yes, it means that you might sometimes go out of your way, put your neck on the line, or not do something that you want to do, but it means you'll be making the world a better, safer place.

1) Intervene Earlier

I'm sure most of you would stop outright physical assault if you saw it.  However, I also know from experience (my own and my friends') that many of you would not step in until it got to that point.  If you are, say, on a bus or at a party and witness guys making lewd, objectifying comments about a girl who is clearly not into it, know that these comments are not trivial or flattering.  They are often scary, hurtful, and dehumanizing -- especially if we are in a situation where we can't get away from it.

All you have to do is say a few words: a simple "back off", "leave her alone", or "that's not cool" will make the point.

Doing this achieves two things: one, it relieves the girl of the harassment and lets her know she has an ally.  Two, it helps teach the guy that this kind of thing is not okay.  We all know that me saying "leave me alone" -- if I feel safe enough to do so -- isn't going to teach the jerks of the world what they're doing wrong, but hearing it from another guy might make a dent.

And hey, when you're hanging out with just a bunch of guys and they start this kind of talk, you're sure doing everyone a favour if you say something there, too.

2) Cross the Street

If you're walking down the street at night, alone or with a group, and there is a woman walking by herself coming towards you, chances are good that she is mentally calculating the likelihood that you might assault her and what she will do if that happens.  While you can't control that response, there is one thing you can do: you can cross to the other side of the street so she knows that she's safe.

Yes, it puts you out of your way and it's technically unnecessary if you know you aren't going to do anything, but if you want to help her feel safe until we live in a world where women aren't instructed to be afraid of walking alone at night, it is an easy step to take.

I understand that this isn't a perfect solution to street violence or the perception of danger, but it is a relatively easy stop-gap measure until we women stop having to hold our keys like a weapon.

Also, if you try to interact with a woman walking by herself at night for any reason, know that if she stonewalls you, she might not be a bitch.  She might just have been cornered or followed by the last guy she responded to and is trying to protect herself.

3) Consider Your Compliments

Okay, now let's talk compliments for a second.  I can imagine that all this talk makes it seem like you can never safely flirt with or compliment a girl again.  Well, it's good that you're aware of the potential impact of your words, but also true that not every comment is a scary, terrible thing.

There are extremes: compare the guy who said "great hair flip" when I took off my bike helmet outside the grocery store (and then kept walking after we shared a laugh) and the guy who shouted "I'll have you for dinner and you for dessert" to my friend and I as we walked down the street.

Okay, so it's easy to spot the extremes, but where is the line?  I don't know if I can say precisely where things morph from a nice exchange to harassment, but here are some considerations:
  • Complimenting someone's appearance and clothing is not the same as complimenting someone as a person.  If your'e trying to do the latter, don't do the former.
  • If you feel the impulse to give a hit-and-run compliment to a stranger, check if it's sexual, objectifying, or lewd in any way, and if so, keep it to yourself.
  • If your compliment is none of the above but is based purely on her appearance, consider if it's really necessary.  It might make her feel good, but it also might make her feel "on display", reinforce that her value comes from her appearance, and wonder if the situation will escalate if she responds.
  • If you just want to say something nice, I bet that if you think for a few more seconds you can think of something that doesn't have to do with her appearance.
  • If your hit-and-run compliment is just a nice thing to say, consider the "run" portion and ask yourself if the person could feel trapped in an ongoing interaction with you, should they not be interested in it.
  • Are there any strings attached to your compliment?  Chances are she'll be able to feel the difference, and that might negate any nice feeling the compliment provided.
Just remember, there are a lot of ways to get a conversation going or compliment someone without making it physical.  If you're just wanting to say something nice, then take the extra seconds to think of something that doesn't have to do with her body.  And really do consider the time and place, even if your intentions are the best.  Just because you want to say something doesn't mean it needs to be heard.

4) Watch the Touchiness

Here's one of my biggest beefs: escalating physical contact from a guy I don't really know.  It happens on a date, at a party, or anywhere, really.

It's an old technique: first you touch the arm, then the shoulder, then the back, then the leg, then if there hasn't been a barrier yet, maybe go in for a kiss, and so on, getting closer and closer until the girl puts on the brakes. (But hopefully not, because then you have tricked us into letting you close enough to maybe have sex!)

I hope it's obvious what a terrible position this puts us in.  What you are really doing is testing how uncomfortable we have to be before we'll say something (or, more likely, find an excuse to get away and then try to avoid you after that).  Best case scenario, what?  You're hoping that even though we wouldn't have wanted to sleep with you normally, we'll go for it because we've lost our sense of personal space?

I feel like this needs special mention for the club scene.  Just because there is loud music, alcohol, and dancing involved doesn't mean you can start getting all handsy without consent.

I do understand, however, that nobody asks "is it okay if I put my hand on your back?" when talking to someone they're interested in.  That would probably make it seem even creepier.  Remember, instead, that constant touching is not the only way to show your interest, nor is it necessarily the best way.  Good conversation, some laughs, and -- here's an idea -- saying something about how you like her, will communicate the exact same thing.

At the very least, pay close attention to whether she's reciprocating/leaning in/actually into it, or just allowing it to happen until she is able to get away.

This is, of course, a part of the whole "woman as sexual gatekeeper" thing, which could take up a whole series of posts, and just sucks in general for everyone involved.

It sure would be nice if walking here alone wasn't
understood to be a scary thing to do.

So there you go, guys.  A few things you can do to help make the world a safer place for us females.

I'm sure that people will disagree on some of these points being necessary - let me be clear.  I am not saying that you HAVE to do any of this or that you CAN'T do whatever you want.  You don't HAVE to do anything.  If you are concerned about the frequency of harassment and fear in a woman's life, however, these are my suggestions for how you could help.

Please add any other suggestions I may have missed!

Cute! Stalker Cat

Gertie stalks me at night sometimes.