Cute! Gertie's new perch

My dear gal has found herself a new place to hang out: on top of the fridge. Gosh darn it, her cuteness just slays me.

Singalong! Waterfalls by TLC

This song falls under the umbrella of songs that are actually really sad but that sound so light-hearted and got so much radio play that pre-teens would be singing along blissfully unaware that they were singing about gang violence and AIDS.

by TLC

A lonely mother gazing out of her window
Staring at a son that she just can't touch
If at any time he's in a jam she'll be by his side
But he doesn't realize he hurts her so much

But all the praying just ain't helping at all
'Cause he can't seem to keep his self out of trouble
So he goes out and he makes his money the best way he knows how
Another body laying cold in the gutter
Listen to me

Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you're moving too fast

Little precious has a natural obsession
For temptation but he just can't see
She gives him loving that his body can't handle
But all he can say is "Baby, it's good to me."

One day he goes and takes a glimpse in the mirror
But he doesn't recognize his own face
His health is fading and he doesn't know why
Three letters took him to his final resting place
Y'all don't hear me

[Chorus (2x)]

Come on

I seen a rainbow yesterday
But too many storms have come and gone
Leavin' a trace of not one God-given ray
Is it because my life is ten shades of gray
I pray all ten fade away
Seldom praise Him for the sunny days

And like His promise is true
Only my faith can undo
The many chances I blew
To bring my life to anew
Clear blue and unconditional skies
Have dried the tears from my eyes
No more lonely cries

My only bleedin' hope
Is for the folk who can't cope
With such an endurin' pain
That it keeps 'em in the pourin' rain
Who's to blame
For tootin' 'caine into your own vein
What a shame
You shoot and aim for someone else's brain
You claim the insane
And name this day in time
For fallin' prey to crime
I say the system got you victim to your own mind
Dreams are hopeless aspirations
In hopes of comin' true
Believe in yourself
The rest is up to me and you


Learning! The Placebo Effect of Indulgence

I love the placebo effect!  It is my favourite psychological phenomena - I love how it demonstrates so clearly the incredible strength of the mind-body connection.  Here's a new twist on it: you can change your metabolism with your mind.  Just not in the way you might expect.


Cute! Kitty in a tent

Last week a friend of mine borrowed my tent to go to the Squamish Music Festival.  I haven't actually used it yet, and got it second hand, so Gertie and I took it out to make sure everything was there before I lent it out.  Gertie, it seems, loves hanging out in tents.  Cute!

Singalong! Stay by Lisa Loeb

Oh my goodness, I used to love Lisa Loeb so much.  Specifically, I owned her Firecracker album (and would sing along with the title track using all the feelings I had in my little melodramatic heart, not quite understanding the connection between tying shoelaces and lighting firecrackers, but thinking it must be really deep), but, like so many of us 90's kids, I always had a special place in my heart for Stay.  I remember once watching the music video on TV with some friends and commenting on how the emotional content was reflected in her actions when it gets all slow and sincere and she kneels down.  One of my friends said "Wow, you should be a music video director!", and I thought, yes.  That sounds about right.

Of course, I am not a music video director, but feel free to pay special attention to that moment and reflect on how brilliant I am.

by Lisa Loeb

you say I only hear what I want to.
you say I talk so all the time so.

and I thought what I felt was simple,
and I thought that I don't belong,
and now that I am leaving,
now I know that I did something wrong 'cause I missed you.
yeah, I missed you.

and you say I only hear what I want to:
I don't listen hard,
I don't pay attention to the distance that you're running
or to anyone, anywhere,
I don't understand if you really care,
I'm only hearing negative: no, no, no.

so I turned the radio on, I turned the radio up,
and this woman was singing my song:
the lover's in love, and the other's run away,
the lover is crying 'cause the other won't stay.

some of us hover when we weep for the other who was
dying since the day they were born.
well, this is not that:
I think that I'm throwing, but I'm thrown.

and I thought I'd live forever, but now I'm not so sure.

you try to tell me that I'm clever,
but that won't take me anyhow, or anywhere with you.

you said that I was naive,
and I thought that I was strong.
I thought, "hey, I can leave, I can leave."
but now I know that I was wrong, 'cause I missed you.

you said, "You caught me 'cause you want me and one day you'll let me go."
"you try to give away a keeper, or keep me 'cause you know you're just so scared to lose.
and you say, "stay."

you say I only hear what I want to.

Learning! How to Join Girls on the Dance Floor

I love dancing.  I also kind of hate clubs.  Every once and a while, my love for dancing will outweigh my hate for clubs and I'll go to a club and try to ignore all the things I hate about being there so I can dance because dancing is the best.  Generally I dance like a bit of a crazy person so the number one annoyance of clubbing (guys grinding up on you out of nowhere) is not a big issue for me.  Guys are, I suspect, a little bit too afraid to grind up on the girl who is flailing her arms all over the place on the dance floor.

Still, there is a conundrum often at play for dudes who have hit the club: they want to dance with a girl, but don't know how to break into her little circle without risking the ever-terrifying rejection.

There are a few tactics that I have observed: hovering awkwardly around the outside of her circle, right beside her, so that if she even turns around a little bit she'll be accidentally dancing with him; grabbing her from behind and grinding his junk on her, hoping she'll be all like, "oh yes, stranger, please rub yourself all over me"; or stepping up to her, extending a hand with a questioning expression on his face, as if to say "may I have this dance?"  So far, my favourite is the third, but I know it's also the scariest.  

Turns out, there is another way!  Youtuber (is that how you spell it when you talk about a person who makes Youtube videos?) Howcast has an instructional video on how to join girls dancing.  It's great!  Watch and learn!

She also has a ton more videos with dancing tips, so let the training montage ensue as you clumsily follow along and then emerge like a sexy dancing butterfly on the other side.

Inspiration! Fluid Art

I just love these dancing droplets, a little bit of art that comes from the varying surface tensions of different food colourings.

Source. (Go here to see more gifs and learn a bit about how it works!)

Cute! The most beautiful dog

The other day I was working outside a coffee shop, and look at the beautiful creature who came over to say hello! He was so sweet and friendly, he made for an excellent distraction.

Singalong! Such Great Heights by The Postal Service

I love this song! Especially this, the Postal Service original. No offence to Iron and Wine, your cover is great and all, but it's just so freaking sad and the song really isn't sad!  It's probably one of the sweetest, funnest, cutest love songs out there.  I love how it encapsulates that joyful infatuation when little things (like freckles) are signs of how "meant to be" you are and you feel like you're just a bit elevated all the time because you are so great together.

The Postal Service

I am thinking it's a sign
That the freckles in our eyes
Are mirror images and when
We kiss they're perfectly aligned

And I have to speculate
That God himself did make
Us into corresponding shapes
Like puzzle pieces from the clay

And true, it may seem like a stretch,
But its thoughts like this that catch
My troubled head when you're away
When I am missing you to death

When you are out there on the road
For several weeks of shows
And when you scan the radio,
I hope this song will guide you home

They will see us waving from such great heights,
"Come down now," they'll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
"Come down now," but we'll stay...

I tried my best to leave
This all on your machine
But the persistent beat it sounded thin
Upon listening

And that frankly will not fly.
You will hear the shrillest highs
And lowest lows with the windows down
When this is guiding you home

They will see us waving from such great heights,
"Come down now," they'll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
"Come down now," but we'll stay...

Learning! Laughter Helps People Open Up

There's a reason why we have a tendency to use humour to break the ice in a new situation.  A new study has shown that after laughing, people are more likely to share personal information with you.  This is useful for dates, interviews, and, of course, blackmail.  Get some jokes under your belt and then begin the interrogation!

Me & Ryan Gosling: Childhood camping with the family

Look at this old gem I found!  Ryan and my family clearly went camping together all the time when we were younger.  That's me and my Grandpa when I was a little wee one, with Ryan being a goof in the background!

Book Club: Ender's Game Review

Confession: it's actually been a couple of weeks since I finished reading Ender's Game, but I'm only now getting around to reporting on it.  My sincerest apologies!

SPOILER ALERT!  This post will contain spoilers!  There are some big surprises in this book, and I'm going to talk about them.  If you haven't read it yet I would advice just stopping right now.

Image Source: Goodreads
Overall Impression:

For the most part I really liked the story, as did the others in my book club.  It's a fun fantasy novel with a great lead character who provides a lot in terms of inner turmoil: he is brilliant (probably too brilliant) and super compassionate but gets forced into situations where he must act violently.  He is pushed into a leadership role that he excels at and he is pushed to fight but feels for his enemies.

Sure, Ender seemed like a bit too much of a genius at times - he is just sort of was brilliant at everything he touches - but that is kind of the whole point.  He is the genius who will save humanity, so yeah, he is really smart and good at stuff.  That's why they picked him.

The Plot:

I found the ending incredibly anti-climactic.  Apparently I am the only one who found this to be the case, no one in my book club felt the same way, nor did other friends of mine who have read the book.

My issue is that the entire plot is structured towards the final battle with Ender leading the human army against the buggers.  Along the way, there are also some exciting hints that perhaps the buggers aren't even real, and perhaps there is a conspiracy and the real enemy is the grown ups.  (Believable, since they are taking 6 year-old boys from their homes and training them to be killing machines.)

With that in mind, we were lead to expect Ender to go from training into war where either he would battle the buggers and (let's be honest), win.  The alternate option seemed to be that he would get high enough in the ranks to learn or figure out that this was indeed a conspiracy, and then something exciting would happen with that information.  I was hoping for the latter, because it seemed like more fun.

What actually happened?  They tricked him (and us) into thinking he was in training when he actually was leading the human army in battle with the buggers.  The story just sort of takes a turn, saying, "oh, that thing you thought we were building up towards?  It's happened and you didn't even realize it.  Now we're going to have a really really long denouement."

Within the world of the story it makes perfect sense that they would do this to Ender.  In a world where you're having a story told to you, it's super disappointing.

Plus, the actual ending of the book is just sort of blah.  Ender and Valentine go off to explore the universe, and he brings the bugger larvae with him, hoping to find somewhere safe to let it grow, and "He looked a long time."

What the eff kind of last sentence is that?

The Characters:

It was really easy to forget that Ender is supposed to be 6-12 years old in this story.  Every once and a while (usually while he was doing something really violent) I would remind myself that this was a 6 year old boy beating another boy to death and it would become way creepier.  Sure, he didn't realize that he was beating him all the way to point of death, but still.  Pretty gruesome to see at any age, terrifying to see in a child.  Luckily he usually spoke and thought like an adult so it was pretty easy to avoid that image.

I loved the side characters of Peter and Valentine.  Their trajectories were incredibly interesting - Peter's need for power that started him out as a psychopathic, torturous tyrant, and then transformed when he gained actual power, actually ruling the planet into a place of peace.  Valentine was brilliant, but unfortunately came off more as just a supporting character - there to protect Ender and then help Peter - but she has some moments where her independent intelligence comes through, which is nice.

The Author:

Speaking of Valentine as a supporting character, because I had heard about how terribly homophobic/racist/sexist Orson Scott Card is in advance, I did read it looking for hints of his prejudice.  While there was the regular sexism of almost all stories in the fact that only two of the characters we got to know were female (and both were supporting), other than that I saw no homophobia, no racism.  That was a nice relief.

Final Thought:

I totally get why this book is so popular.  It's a really fascinating story with an interesting and complex lead character.  While structurally I didn't love what Card did with the story in the end, they were really realistic choices for the world he created.  I would definitely recommend it.

Bic's campaign of accidentally being totally sexist continues!

Bic, the company that brought us pens "designed for women" - which means pink and purple - has struck again!  On National Women's Day in South Africa they posted this doozie on their Facebook page:

I was going to break down the ridiculousness of this, but instead I'm just going to let it stand on its own and let you take care of the commentary in your own mind.

Sure, Bic has apologized for their gaff - sort of.  First they blamed a women's business website where they got the quote, and then when that didn't mollify their angry mob, they deleted that post and replaced it with one that just says they are sorry and that "the feedback you have given us will help ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that."

Something tells me the geniuses at Bic aren't going to be able to ensure anything.

Instead of getting angry though, let's just laugh.  May I present you with Ellen, as she makes excellent sport of Bic's last fumble.

Inspiration! Math Geeks Are Sexy Too

Okay, let's be honest, we already knew that math geeks can be sexy.  I recommend a quick google image search of mathematician and you'll see some dapper gents doing math, or thinking really hard about math.  (No women though, because, ovaries.  Oh wait, except this one woman who's in the video I'm sharing.  Okay, she's the only one according to the internet.)

The point here is that you can use math to find love and to keep love!  Check out this awesome TED Talk where she describes how just a few math principles will save you from perma-loneliness.

Cute! Reinforcing bad behaviour in my cat

I know I shouldn't let Gertie on the table... but she's just so cute when she's sleeping, I don't want to disturb her.

Singalong! Five Years' Time by Noah and the Whale

This song is so cute and sweet and fun and then all of a sudden kind of sad and real but still cute and okay. It's sort of optimistically pessimistic, like "hey, we're super happy now and in five years we might still be happy, but in five years we might not have spoken for four years and won't even know each other anymore. Either way, there will be love in our lives. In one hand, it makes me sad, because falling out of love is sad and also because it always makes me a bit sad when people are all cool and "whatever" about the possibility of falling out of love, but it also makes me happy to know that people can be okay with life.

by Noah and the Whale

Oh well in five years time we could be walking round a zoo
With the sun shining down over me and you
And there'll be love in the bodies of the elephants too
And I'll put my hands over your eyes, but you'll peep through

And there'll be sun sun sun all over our bodies
And sun sun sun all down our necks
And sun sun sun all over our faces
And sun sun sun -so what the heck!

Cos I'll be laughing at all your silly little jokes
And we'll be laughing about how we used to smoke
All those stupid little cigarettes and drink stupid wine
Cos it's what we needed to have a good time

And it was fun fun fun when we were drinking
It was fun fun fun when we were drunk
And it was fun fun fun when we were laughing
It was fun fun fun, oh it was fun

Oh well I look at you and say
It's the happiest that I've ever been
And I'll say I no longer feel I have to be James Dean
And she'll say
"Yah well I feel all pretty happy too"
And I'm always pretty happy when I'm just kicking back with you

And it'll be love love love all through our bodies
And love love love all through our minds
And it be Love love love all over her face
And Love love love all over mine

Although maybe all these moments are just in my head
I'll be thinking ‘bout them as I'm lying in bed
And all that I believe, it might not even come true
But in my mind I'm havin' a pretty good time with you

In five years time I might not know you
In five years time we might not speak
In five years time we might not get along
In five years time you might just prove me wrong

Oh there'll be love love love
Wherever you go
There'll be love

What if the US defunds Planned Parenthood?

Photo by Tom Morris/Wikimedia Commons

It's time for politics!  The Canadian election has officially begun, and last night we had our first leaders debate at the same time as the Republican Party of the US held a debate for (I believe) the top ten candidates for party leadership.

First of all - wow - this is the beginning of an exhausting procedure in the States, and if one thing is clear, it's that Donald Trump is going to do everything he can to insult Mexico as many times as possible from the standpoint of "Presidential Hopeful".

One of the things coming up a lot in American politics is Planned Parenthood.  People like Jeb Bush seem to think is a great idea is defunding Planned Parenthood.  Question is, what would that actually do?

Here is a great article in Pacific Standard detailing what would happen if Planned Parenthood lost its funding.  The main takeaway?  Poor people would have less access to reproductive health options and information.  And that's just what we want, right?  Poor people to have even less.

A useful reminder: while Planned Parenthood does provide abortion, the main thing they provide is birth control, STI testing/treatment, help with getting pregnant/fertility, general health care for those without family doctors, and counselling in relationship and sexual health.  Lots and lots of good things that a lot of people in America could not otherwise access.

Learning! Get Happier By Using Your Body to Get to Work

New research at McGill University shows that people who bike or walk to work are happier with their commute than people who drive, even if their commute takes longer.  And you know what they say: happy commute, happy pursuit (of the good life).

(Okay, I was going for a riff of the "happy wife, happy life" maxim, and failed miserably.  Can we all move on?)

(Just for fun, here are some of the words that do rhyme with commute: lounge suit, dried fruit, square root, uproot, trade boot, compute, acute, impute, astute, beirut, and even pollute.)


Manifesto of a Silly, Entitled "Wild Girl"

A friend of mine just posted this Elite Daily article, I'm Not Just Looking for Love, I'm Looking For Someone Who Can Keep Up, on her Facebook page.

All due respect to the friend who posted it, but oh my WORD I hate these kinds of articles so MUCH!

There are two things that get my goat about these articles:

1) The intense judgement of "other girls" or "regular people" or "the norm" or anything that doesn't fit their definition of "wild" and "adventurous".

2) The incredibly overblown "I am so different and special" statements liberally thrown around.

The root of these two factors?  If you ask me, it's an incredibly powerful fear of the "regular" driven by deep-seeded insecurity that verges on self-loathing.

Those are strong words.  How can I make such statements?  Because that used to be me.

I had to be unique and I had to prove that I was unique at every turn because otherwise I would have to confront myself for who I actually am and be comfortable with that, and I was far from comfortable with myself.  I separated things into categories of cool/adventurous/exciting/awesome or lame/boring/stifling/normal based purely on superficial. external characteristics like living in the suburbs or hair colour or how much a person travelled and whether they visited resorts or stayed in dingy hostels in the scary part of town.

That's all these articles do.  They take every single human being's deep need for love and being accepted for who you are, change some of the superficial dressing, and call it revolutionary, counter-cultural, rebellious, and crazy.

So let's turn this article into an example, examine some typical quotes, and then point out the fundamental problems with them.  Because then I get to feel like a know-it-all, and that's one of my favourite things.

As girls, we are told to view love as an impossibly pretty image of a white picket fence in an affluent suburb. There are supposed to be visions of business suits and perfectly coiffed children in our heads... Girls are supposed to go weak in the knees at the simple thought of a sparkling diamond ring that will forever bind them to another entity for the rest of their lives.
I agree that this has historically been what girls are expected to look for in life, and if you're only just starting realize that this isn't what you want or that you don't have to conform to these old expectations, then GOOD FOR YOU!

Sure, women are still defined in many ways by the presence of a romantic partner in our lives, but if Sex and the City did anything in this life, it's show us that there are at least four different approaches to womanhood that are equally valid.  Nobody said you have to be a Charlotte.

What if you don’t care for diamond rings? What if you instead prefer dangerously deep water blue sapphires? What if you look better in the color black than you do in the color white?
Here it is!  Your first big statement of how dangerously unique you are.  "IF I deigned to get married, it would be in a rebellious black dress and I would have a sapphire ring!"

If you want to be a Gwen Stefani (got married in a white-to-fuschia ombre dress)/Kate Middleton (sapphire ring)/Drew Barrymore (slip dress and combat boots) hybrid, go for it.  No one cares what you wear, what kind of ring you get, or really if you marry at all.  Making big statements about it just shows your insecurity that someone else might think you're (horrors!) normal.

Don't misinterpret me - I'm not telling you nobody cares to be mean.  I'm telling you nobody cares because it is so freeing to realize that other people really don't care that much about how you dress or what you do.  If they know you and love you, they just want you to be happy and loved.  If they don't know you or don't love you, then what do they matter unless you are manufacturing an image?

Also, if my intensely regular, Mennonite family could include a couple that got married in sun dresses and jean shorts, exchanging string bracelets instead of rings so that they wouldn't get attached to material possessions, then the world can handle you.

We are the untamable ladies who have a visceral reaction to the idea of playing house until the end of time. We are longing for real stability and true companionship — but on our own terms.
I get it, you're different!  You're special!  You, like Miley Cyrus, cannot be tamed! Thank you for helping me see that any woman who gets married and has babies has immediately been "tamed" and certainly isn't doing anything "on her own terms".  Apparently there is no room for adventure when "playing house".  You can't do things like (to draw on things that members of my super normal, boring, stable family have done once more), take your kids on a year-long trip around the world or anything.

This is the start of the "I want all the good parts of a secure relationship without ever making compromises" arguments these articles always make, asking for real stability and true companionship without allowing for the possibility that you might have to let go of your ability to run away from life at a moment's notice to have that.  Your visceral reaction isn't a sign of how free you are.  It's a sign of fear and insecurity and superficial judgements you've placed on the visible markers of life choices that are different from your own.

My greatest fear is that I will stop growing. I never want anything to put a screeching halt on my personal progression.
If you could wave a bigger flag for your fear of standing still and finding out what kind of person you actually are, I don't know what it could look like.  Nothing puts a screeching halt on your personal progression except for you.

The external trappings of the boring life you hate - marriage, material possessions, children, pre-planned meals - these aren't what makes people stagnate.  People stagnate when they refuse to learn, grow, experience, or be honest with themselves.  You can do all those things if you are married with a baby on each boob planning the week's meals, or if you are flitting around South East Asia having intense, month-beach affairs that you abandon before anything gets too comfortable.

While I crave the feelings of being comfortable with another human being, of letting my guard down and attaining intimacy — I don’t want that comfortability to metamorphose into complacency. I want to be with a person who wants to perpetually move through life, not just remain forever still, stuck in the shackles of a mundane, safe routine.
Again - this is on you, not on someone else.  YOU decide whether you will move through life with an open heart and mind, learning and growing, or if you'll get sucked into some dark abyss of floating through existence.  Don't put that responsibility on your partner - that is not fair to them.

I don't think anyone starts out a relationship saying, "I would like to be stuck in the shackles of a mundane, safe routine", anymore than anyone starts out their life saying, "I would like spend my life avoiding from real intimacy and instead have a series of intense but shallow connections that always leave room for me to flee."  It's in the choices you and your partner make along the way.


This is the part of the article where she lists the various things she does and doesn't want, as the adventurous, unique spirit that she is.  Here they are, represented in an easy-to-read table:

Unique awesome adventurous girls DON'T want someone who...Unique awesome adventurous girls DO want someone who...
Will just let her win an argument to make life easier.Thinks she is "worth fighting for!"
Will clean her up.Recognizes her for the "beautiful mess" that she is.
Merely hears her.Truly listens to her - with their whole heart.
Is exactly like her.Brings out something new in her.
Will settle down with her.Go on wild adventures with her.

Again, we see here the desire to be loved and accepted for who you are, to be listened to and appreciated and to be with someone who helps her learn and grow and challenges her.  This is simply the search for a healthy partner in life.

Mixed in, of course, are some stereotype-based fears.  Someone who thinks you're worth fighting for is different than someone who wants to fight with you all the time.  Fighting all the time doesn't mean you are passionate, it means you disagree a lot.

Settling down doesn't take away opportunities for adventure, nor does routine have to be devoid of passion.  For some people, having a routine sets them free to live their passion and adventure more fully.

"Settling" doesn't have to be a dirty word.  It doesn't have to mean accepting something less than you deserve.  It can also just mean that you relax, let your guard down, and find the freedom in not constantly pushing against something in life.  That you let the people in your life see you and know you without worrying about what kind of person they are seeing.  That you just be with them and see what happens.  It is so freeing to just let go of your need to be different and just live your life.

Of course, if you are genuinely a bit of a weird, rebellious freak, then you will still be different and special and stand out in one way or another.  You will also be comfortable and known for who you are and not the image you so desperately wanted to project.

A simpler manifesto.

Here's the thing: I'm not arguing against finding a partner who shares your values and spirit and pace of life.  Certainly you want someone whose life goals move generally in the same direction as yours.

If your partner is obsessed with big, fancy weddings, business suits, dressing their children in designer clothes, and advancing in a stressful career to get all those things, whereas you would rather live and love in a hippie commune, then you will butt heads a lot and it probably won't be a good relationship.

What I'm arguing against is manifestos that pit "adventurous" girls agains "regular" girls and that pitch being accepted for who you are is a revolutionary concept.  I'm arguing against rallying cries demanding all the joy of intimacy without any sacrifice or compromise and that use superficial judgements and material trappings as indications of a person's passion, adventure, personal growth, and love.  I'm arguing against them because they are manifestos of fear, insecurity, and image-crafting, as opposed to manifestos of genuine love and acceptance.

So go forth.  Live your adventurous life however you see fit, and by all means, look for a partner who will share your goals and love and accept you for who you are.  Let go, be yourself, accept and even like yourself, invest in the people and things that matter to you, compromise, be kind, let go of expectations, forget about categorizing yourself or others, and don't worry about external, superficial markers of life.

Jack the Ripper or Women's History?

News came out of London last week that a museum intended to be a museum of women's history is actually a museum devoted to a man who murdered a bunch of women: Jack the Ripper!

Now, I'm not going to lie, I am fascinated by the whole Jack the Ripper thing and would totally go to his museum.  I would probably feel a bit more excited about that than a museum of women's history, despite the fact that it would be a way more valuable experience.

Still, if you're going to sell a museum as one telling the stories of East End women in London and then turn around and make it about the guy who brutally murdered and dismembered East End women in London, there's something a little fishy about that.


Inspiration! Opportunity First, Passion Later

A great tidbit of advice from Lifehacker (yes, I read that site a lot):

Follow your opportunity first, then apply passion later.

I like this advice for a few reasons:

1) Most of us aren't trust fund kids who can sit around waiting for the perfect opportunity that we are instantly passionate about.

And even if we were trust fund kids, that can only buy so much.  You have to start somewhere, and most of us need to earn some money in the meantime.

2) Our first passion tends to be something really obvious, and it's not always the right thing.  

For example, many people that work in theatre (my field of choice) started out wanting to be actors before going on to be different kinds of theatre artists, technicians, or administrators.  Now, that doesn't mean we're all failed actors.  It means that we first experienced theatre by watching actors work their magic on stage and knew we wanted to be a part of it.  Starting out, the only job we knew about was acting.  It wasn't until we started pursuing it that we realized that actors are just the most visible part of the equation - there are a whole host of people who make magic happen in theatre, and perhaps we would rather be one of them.

3) We might not even know what our passion is.  

Everyone is supposed to "follow their passion", but what if you just have some things you're good at and want to live a decent life?  The passion quest can almost seem shaming.  Follow an opportunity, find out what gets you the most excited about it, and see where it leads you.  You might 

4) There are so many hidden opportunities.  

Like in the theatre example, each industry has a ton of jobs that you don't even know exist until you start exploring.  The best way to explore is to say yes to an opportunity and see what happens.  It might not be the flashiest or most impressive job, and it might not even be in the industry you dreamt of, but it will uncover a whole host of other opportunities you never would have discovered if you hadn't started moving down that path.

Once you start moving, you start learning things: what are the actually responsibilities of this job?  Are you surprisingly good at something you didn't expect?  Is the part you thought would be the most satisfying kind of lacklustre?  What motivates you to do your best work?  Who are you working with?  What do those people do?  Does another industry have a similar opportunity that your skills could transfer over to?

Anton Chekhov's 8 Tips to Avoid Turdliness

Some old fashioned-looking dudes who could be eligible to be "cultured"

Anton Chekhov wrote some of the most long-winded plays about messed up families since Shakespeare.  He also wrote a list of 8 characteristics of cultured people that was recently uncovered by Brainpickings.  While none of them include writing (or attending) really long plays about messed up families, they do include some good principles for life that could basically be renamed "Avoiding Douchebaggery With Anton Chekhov: 8 Rules for Not Being a Turd".

Aside from the obvious assumption in this writing that only men count as "cultured people", as well as a slight leaning towards "all work and no play or sleep or eating or anything else but working until you drive yourself mad and write really really long plays about messed up families makes Anton a cultured boy", I would suggest that there is advice to be followed here.

Just to prove that there's nothing new under the sun, it even applies directly to the most annoying things people do on Facebook.

Without further ado, here is how Chekhov suggests you be a decent person.

1) They respect human personality, and therefore they are always kind, gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others. They do not make a row because of a hammer or a lost piece of india-rubber; if they live with anyone they do not regard it as a favour and, going away, they do not say “nobody can live with you.” They forgive noise and cold and dried-up meat and witticisms and the presence of strangers in their homes.

So basically, you are not a gift to everyone around you so don't be a jerk; if someone accidentally loses/breaks your things (especially that india-rubber), be nice about it; share.

2) They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone. Their heart aches for what the eye does not see…. They sit up at night in order to help …., to pay for brothers at the University, and to buy clothes for their mother.

So basically, take care of everyone - friends, the poor, and your sweet old mother.

3) They respect the property of others, and therefor pay their debts.

So basically, don't steal or mooch.

4) They are sincere, and dread lying like fire. They don’t lie even in small things. A lie is insulting to the listener and puts him in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker. They do not pose, they behave in the street as they do at home, they do not show off before their humbler comrades. They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others. Out of respect for other people’s ears they more often keep silent than talk.

So basically, tell the truth, but try to avoid cornering people at parties or on airplanes and spewing out your life story.

5) They do not disparage themselves to rouse compassion. They do not play on the strings of other people’s hearts so that they may sigh and make much of them. They do not say “I am misunderstood,” or “I have become second-rate,” because all this is striving after cheap effect, is vulgar, stale, false….

So basically, Facebook updates should be reserved for actual updates, not vague "I am unhappy with myself" comments so that people feel obligated to say nice things to you.

6) They have no shallow vanity. They do not care for such false diamonds as knowing celebrities, shaking hands with the drunken P., [Translator’s Note: Probably Palmin, a minor poet.] listening to the raptures of a stray spectator in a picture show, being renowned in the taverns…. If they do a pennyworth they do not strut about as though they had done a hundred roubles’ worth, and do not brag of having the entry where others are not admitted…. The truly talented always keep in obscurity among the crowd, as far as possible from advertisement…. Even Krylov has said that an empty barrel echoes more loudly than a full one.

So basically, stop with the name-dropping and Facebook updates that make your tiniest good deed sound like you could have put Mother Teresa out of business.

7) If they have a talent they respect it. They sacrifice to it rest, women, wine, vanity…. They are proud of their talent…. Besides, they are fastidious.

So basically, work hard. And, you know, never sleep or drink or be happy, only work hard.

8) They develop the aesthetic feeling in themselves. They cannot go to sleep in their clothes, see cracks full of bugs on the walls, breathe bad air, walk on a floor that has been spat upon, cook their meals over an oil stove. They seek as far as possible to restrain and ennoble the sexual instinct…. What they want in a woman is not a bed-fellow … They do not ask for the cleverness which shows itself in continual lying. They want especially, if they are artists, freshness, elegance, humanity, the capacity for motherhood…. They do not swill vodka at all hours of the day and night, do not sniff at cupboards, for they are not pigs and know they are not. They drink only when they are free, on occasion…. For they want mens sana in corpore sano [a healthy mind in a healthy body].

So basically, be a clean and take care of your stuff, perhaps to the point of slight prissiness; don't look at women as mere sex objects but also as baby-making objects (okay, okay, and freshness, elegance, and humanity, which sounds like some kind of respect for her entire self); avoid getting drunk too much and don't think of yourself as a pig.

Singalong! Turning Tables by Adele

I just happened to go through the most brutal break up of my life right when Adele had multiple singles rotating constantly everywhere you went. So I would be browsing in Shoppers, just barely holding it together, and suddenly one of her songs would come on. With the most raw, honest heartbreak I've ever heard in music permeating pretty much every one of her songs, it was too much for me. I unchecked her entire album in my iTunes so it would never come on, turned off the radio the second I heard the first few notes of any of her songs, and generally tried to avoid her as much as possible. Even after my own heartbreak had begun to dull, Adele's voice was a direct line back to the worst part of that pain.

But! I am happy to report that this no longer happens. I can now listen to some of the saddest of Adele's songs and not only do I not have to choke down full-body wracking sobs, but I can sing along and enjoy the beauty of her music! Of course, they're still really sad songs, so I barely ever listen to them, but it's nice to have the option.

Here's the one that was the worst for me at the time:

by Adele

Close enough to start a war
All that I have is on the floor
God only knows what we're fighting for
All that I say, you always say more

I can't keep up with your turning tables
Under your thumb I can't breathe

So, I won't let you close enough to hurt me
No, I won't rescue you to just desert me
I can't give you the heart you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables
To turning tables

Under haunted skies I see you (ooh)
Where love is lost your ghost is found
I braved a hundred storms to leave you
As hard as you try, no, I will never be knocked down, whoa

I can't keep up with your turning tables
Under your thumb I can't breathe

So, I won't let you close enough to hurt me,
No, I won't rescue you to just desert me
I can't give you the heart you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables
Turning tables

Next time I'll be braver
I'll be my own savior
When the thunder calls for me
Next time I'll be braver
I'll be my own savior
Standing on my own two feet

I won't let you close enough to hurt me,
No, I won't rescue you to just desert me
I can't give you the heart you think you gave me
It's time to say goodbye to turning tables
To turning tables
Turning tables, yeah
Turning, oh