Friday, July 31, 2015

Learning! Police Body Cameras Work

Photo Source: Wikimedia

I confess: I think body cameras for police officers are a great idea.  They protect the officer against erroneous claims of abuse or mistreatment, and they protect the public when there has been misconduct.  They take away the "my word versus yours" of police altercations.  Win-win-win!

There hasn't been much research on police body cameras yet, but one study has come out of Rialto, California where they implemented the cameras.  They found that complaints against officers went down from .7 per 1,000 interactions (still very good if you ask me) to .07 per 1,000 interactions.

It looks from the research that not only did having cameras create more awareness on the part of the officers, but that the knowledge they were being filmed helped the public act in a more responsible, helpful way as well.  Awesome!

Source.

Learning! Twins with Two Fathers


File this one somewhere between a scrapped episode of the X-Files, Jenny Jones, and a spin-off series to I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant: there are pairs of twins out there who have two separate fathers.

Turns out this isn't nearly as uncommon as you probably thought (since you probably thought the frequency was zero).  One in 13,000 twins are estimated to be born with two different biological fathers, and one out of every TWELVE sets of fraternal twins are estimated to have come from separate sexual encounters within a woman's fertile period (these two encounters can easily be with the same partner).

Readers of Sex at Dawn will remember some hunter gatherer societies' belief that a woman should have sex with multiple men who have various characteristics she hopes for her baby to have, as they believed each man contributed to the pregnancy of that woman.  I realize this is different, but two men contributing to one pregnancy sure feels like a tie-in to me!

Source

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Personal Challenge Debrief: Writing down your life


At the beginning of this month I started a new personal challenge.  I wanted to know where all the time was going in my life, so I followed the advice of someone who writes for Lifehacker (as we do) and spent two weeks writing down everything I spent my time on.

HERE'S WHAT I DID

I created my own version of a personal agenda (partially because I didn't want to go out and buy something for a two week challenge, and partially because I had a very specific layout I wanted).  Each page was for one day.  A column on one side was divided into 1 hour timeslots that were tall enough to fit 30 (and even squish 15) minute increments.  There was a large space on the side where I could write other reflections.

My idea was to not only account for all my time during the day, but to spend a little time each evening reflecting: what gave me life that day, what was life-sucking, what I wanted to do more often, what I did because I had to, anything I had planned to do or wanted to do that didn't make it in and why, that kind of thing.  That way not only would I have a record of how my time was spent, but what I wanted to be doing.

Sadly, my agenda, while fulfilling the requirements I wanted in terms of layout, turned out really ugly.

See how ugly?  Would you want to write in this?


HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED

Oh my goodness, I hated doing it.  Stopping throughout the day to record things almost never happened, so at the end of the day (or perhaps a day or two later) I would sit down and fill it in.  I am impressed at how few gaps there are, considering this.

Since my life is so scheduled as it is, I have a strong inner resistance to adding anything that makes it feel more regulated, and writing things down (even if it was after the fact) definitely made me feel that way.

There were swaths of time that were difficult to account for: "computer time" where I would do a mixture of work-stuff, writing, catching up on emails, getting sucked into Facebook, scanning my Feedly - some of that was work, some leisure, some productive, some a waste, and it was all intermingled together.  Part of what I wanted to do was identify where time was being wasted or lost, and I had these chunks of messy, pseudo-productive time to account for.  Very tricky.

Oh, and those personal reflections I was going to do?  Not once did I write them down.  Although I did find myself thinking about them throughout the days more, so there was some self-reflection going on.

HERE'S WHAT I LEARNED

I learned that mostly my time gets eaten up in the ways I would have expected: scheduled activities with friends, work, meetings.  Half the time it felt pointless to write it all down because everything I had done that day was in my calendar already.  This shows me (once again) that I can't sneak my way to having more time without actually giving something up. 

I realized that I have a lot of guilt associated with certain social activities - sometimes I feel keenly aware that I'm letting someone down or not giving them enough time or attention.  When that happened my whole day, and possibly the day leading up to it, was tinged with nasty guilt feelings.

Those chunks of pseudo-productive time?  I would have hoped that the mere act of having to account for my time would have motivated me to be more on top of separating them out.  Clearly, it did not.  I wonder if it's a terrible thing, though.  Sure, relaxation is better when you just relax, and we are more productive when we just work on a set task, but maybe I need these wishy-washy periods where I'm kind of doing stuff and kind of not.  Maybe that's good for me.  Or at least I don't need to stress about it.

I learned that when I come home and don't have something I need to do right away, I sit down and look at my phone for a minute and that minute usually turns into 45.  This surprised me.  It shows that I often need to decompress at the end of the day, and that perhaps I could find a better way to do that, like meditating or stretching or lying in savasana for 5 minutes when I come home.  Down time is important, but poking my phone for the better part of an hour isn't exactly life-giving.

IF I WERE TO DO IT AGAIN

Writing everything down in a notebook as it happened (or a day later) felt way too clunky for me.  Perhaps if I worked from home that would be practical, but since I was often in and out quite a bit, it was awkward.  I also had to think about it too much as I was doing it.

Here's how I would make the whole thing work better if I were to do it again:

Make it pretty.  I made the mistake of deciding it shouldn't matter that my notebook was ugly and unpleasant to use, which is silly.  If it's unpleasant to use, you won't want to use it.  Make it pretty - whatever that means for you.

Streamline the whole process.  Sadly, for me this probably means using technology instead of a paper and pen.  I love the feel of paper and pen, but these days it is almost always quicker and easier to do things using a phone or computer.  I need to accept the fact that paper and pen really is only good for me when it comes to brainstorming, and that's about it.

Also, I was often stuck trying to put my activities into words.  Stopping and describing was a surprising barrier.  So instead of tracking actual activities, I would track categories.  Social, work, home puttering, errands, that kind of thing.  Each time slot could have a colour for the general category, and then "flavour" to give a bit more detail: an icon to show if I had Netflix on in the background the whole time, the names of the people I was with, some kind of rating system for how meaningful the activity was, that kind of thing.  Then, instead of thinking of the right word to describe what I was doing, I just pick a category and a few pre-determined descriptors.  Easy.

For practices like these to work, they have to fit into your life without feeling like a chore.  Discipline is great, but we only have so much capacity for forcing ourselves to do things, and it might be better to save that for things that really matter, not an exercise that's ultimately meant to support your life's activities.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Inspiration! Independence Day Clothing

Every once and a while, someone invents something that makes everyone else go "Oh my goodness, yes.  How has this not existed forever?"

Here's a new one to add to that list: Independence Day Clothing.  These clothes are designed with no buttons, zippers, tags, or lace.  They are all soft and comfortable, reversible, GPS tracker-friendly, and fashionable.


If you are the parent of a child with autism or a sensory integration disorder, you probably just let out a huge sigh of relief.  Yes, an answer to the trauma of getting your child dressed every morning finally exists!

If you do not have someone in your life with a cognitive or physical disability that makes getting dressed hard, then think about your clothes for a second: they all have a front and a back, an inside and an outside.  There are a lot of ways you could put them on wrong if you have trouble telling those apart.  They also probably have buttons, zippers, tags, or other embellishments that rub against your skin.  You barely notice, but for someone with a sensory integration disorder, these small irritations are intolerable.

The GPS tracker probably sounded creepy at first, but if you've got a child with a cognitive disorder who is prone to wander, it could save their life and will certainly save your sanity.

I am so excited to know that Independence Day Clothing exists!  This transforms mornings for kids and adults with these disorders from a long, emotional, defeating battle to a positive and quick experience.  They can pick out their clothes, put them on, feel good, and get on with their days.  Something most of us take for granted.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to Win at Life


Life is about the small victories, right?  Here are some of the little things that make me feel like I am winning at life.

1) Flossing my teeth

I do this almost every single night (really it only doesn't happen when I'm not sleeping at home), and man does it make me feel like I'm a winner!  I think this has something to do with the fact that flossing is something we all know that we should do, but most of us can barely bring ourselves to do it in the week leading up to our dentist appointments.  

2) When my cat drinks out of the right dish

Cat owners know this weird frustration: cats barely ever drink water and when they do they just never drink out of their dish!  You lay out a nice bowl full of fresh water for them and they ignore it in favour of dirty shower puddles or toilet water or the water you poured for yourself to drink.  

Well, I wanted my cat to not die of dehydration, and I didn't want her to be a toilet-drinking cat.  So I cracked her code.  Her preferred water source seemed to be the glass of water I put beside my bed while I slept, so instead of fighting her, I gave in.  She now has her own mug that goes on my bedside table.  And she drinks out of it!  Regularly!  Sometimes she tries to drink out of mine and I gently redirect her, but it totally works.  I am a cat whisperer!  I have solved my cat's hydration problems!

Every time she drinks out of her little mug, I thrill with the victory of being a winner.

3) Taking out the trash

I hate hate hate taking out the trash, so whenever I do it, I feel like I have accomplished something incredible.

4) Spending a whole evening by myself without looking at screens

Most evenings if I get home from work and don't have other plans, I putter around the house, cleaning, taking out the trash (victory!), doing laundry, stretching/exercising, cooking, and generally doing all that life stuff that is hard to get done when you're out most days from 8am-10pm.  I like background noise, and my current default is to put Netflix on to some comedy (because comedies don't tend to have intricate subtleties that you need to be sitting down and paying attention to get) and then go about my business.  

Sometimes, however, I put on a podcast or talk radio instead.  Technically it involves a screen to set the thing up, but then I don't spend any time looking at it the rest of the evening (except maybe to load the next episode), and I am left feeling all intellectual and superior to my usual self.  It's pretty winner-ish.

Other times I don't even do any of that.  Other times I just sit down and read a good book and leave my phone on the other side of the room and put on non-obtrusive music in the background (because silence is oppressive and will steal my soul and force my soul to kill my body).  At some point I might get up and do some yoga and then I might sit back down and read some more.  Then at some later point that is much earlier than usual, I get sleepy and go to bed.  It's a quiet, lovely evening.  I feel like a winner, but in a totally serene, calm, rested kind of way.  Like the person who is all "winning or losing doesn't really matter, but I just showed up and did my thing and whatever was meant to happen, happened, and that just happened to be me coming in first but really I was just being true to my spirit."

5) When I figure out a web programming thing

I have to manage a website for my work, and while I have some basic HTML knowledge, I am no programmer.  Every once and a while something goes funny on our website and, to avoid paying someone who actually charges what their time is worth, I spend some time trying to figure it out.  If I do - BLAMMO!  I'm a winner!  I have defeated the internet!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cute! Artist Kitty

The other day I passed a kitty, sitting next to her artwork on display.  She's quite good, don't you think?  Kind of post modern, showing you the process as a part of the product.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Singalong! Bitch I'm Madonna by Madonna

Folks!  Madonna has a new song out.  It's called "Bitch I'm Madonna" and it's kind of sad.  Fifty-something year old Madge trying desperately to come off as a young, bad, sexually liberated party girl.  I mean, don't get me wrong, this has been Madonna's schtick throughout her career, and she doesn't need to start singing about tea cozies and going to bed early now that she's a demi-centennarian, but this just seems a little... desperate.  You don't need to try so dang hard, Madonna!  Be secure enough in your Madonna-hood that you don't need to remind us that your "a bad bitch" and say "bitch I'm Madonna" over and over again.

That said, I think it's pretty fun how many celebrities she has in her music video.  Everyone is Madonna!


BITCH I'M MADONNA
by Madonna
ft. Nicki Minaj

Ooooooooooh
Ooooooooooh
(You're gonna love this)
Ooooooooooh
(You can't touch this)
Ooooooooooh
(Cuz I'm a bad bitch)

We hit the elevator right up to the rooftop
The bass is pumping make me wanna screw the top off
Yeah, we'll be drinking and nobody's gonna stop us
And we'll be kissing anybody that's around us

I just wanna have fun tonight (blow up this shit tonight)
Put me under the flashing light
Ohhhhh, let me blow up this house tonight
(Gonna blow up!)

We go hard or we go home
We gon do this all night long
We get freaky if you want
Na nana na na na
We go hard or we go home
We gon do this all night long
We get freaky if you want
Bitch, I'm Madonna
(Bitch bitch, I'm Madonna)
(Bitch bitch, I'm Madonna)

We're jumping in the pool and swimmin' with our clothes on
I poured a beer into my shoe and got my freak on
The neighbor's pissed and says he's gonna call the Five-O
If they show up then we are gonna give a good show

I just wanna go out tonight
Put me under the flashing light
Ohhhhh, let me blow up this house tonight
(Gonna blow up!)

(B-b-bitch move)

We go hard or we go home
We gon do this all night long
We get freaky if you want
Na nana na na na
We go hard or we go home
We gon do this all night long
We get freaky if you want
Bitch, I'm Madonna
(Bitch, I'm Madonna)
(Bitch bitch, I'm Madonna)
(Bitch, I'm Madonna [repeat])

Who do you think you are?
You can't mess with this lucky star
Ohhhhh, who do you think you are?

Nicki Minaj:
Uh!
Poured up with my nose up
And that rosé up in that thinga
I'm froze up with my stove up
Cuz he eatin' like it's his dinner
I run shit, I don't fall back
Cuz I'm on track, I'm a sprinter
I'm bossed up, I got 'em awestruck
It's not a toss up, I'm the winner
Be-b-b-beep-beep, bitch, move
Before I bang-bang with that uzz
That's Miu Miu on my shoes
Ain't got a thing left for me to prove
It's that bottle service all night
It's that pop and urban just right
It's that "go hard or go home" zone
Bitch, I'm Madonna, these hoes know

We go hard or we go home
We gon do this all night long
We get freaky if you want
Na nana na na na
We go hard or we go home
We gon do this all night long
We get freaky if you want
Bitch, I'm Madonna

Ooooooooooh
(We do it like this)
Ooooooooooh
(You're gonna love this)
Ooooooooooh
(You can't touch this)
Ooooooooooh
(Cuz I'm a bad bitch)

Who do you think you are?
(Cuz I'm a bad bitch)
Who do you think you are?
(Cuz I'm a bad bitch)
Who do you think you are?
(Cuz I'm a bad bitch)
Who do you think you are?

"Go hard or go home" zone, bitch
I'm Madonna, these hoes know

Friday, July 24, 2015

I Want It: Rotating Dome House for the Price of a Vancouver Crack Shack

Context #1: In my hometown of Vancouver, housing prices are constantly in the news.  An average free-standing house costs at least a million bucks these days, even if it's tiny and falling apart.  There are websites like Crack Shack or Mansion where pictures of 1 million dollar Vancouver homes are interspersed with crack shacks and you get to vote on which is which.  You'll probably be wrong a lot.

Context #2: I have always had a weird dream of living in a circular house.  When I was a kid, I would imagine it all the time.  I have no idea why, I cannot explain the logic to it.  It doesn't make a lot of sense because you get a lot of awkwardly-shaped rooms and kind of waste a bunch of space.  But I would draw floor plans of what my circular house would look like all the time.

Then I came across this, a $950K rotating dome house, 90 minutes outside of New York City.  It's beautiful.  It's way better than anything I designed as a kid (surprise, right?).  The exposed wood beams are gorgeous.  And it's on the edge of a nature preserve.  And it costs less than the average Vancouver home!  Ugh.  I want to live there.  Except I want to live there, but here.  Transplant what is there over to here.  Can I do that?  Let's do that.  Oh wait, can I also have $950K to buy it?  Thanks.

Photo by Douglas Elliman

Via Curbed.  (Go there for more amazing photos!)

Learning! A different kind of facial recognition software.


It seems weird to most of us to think that some people straight-up don't recognize basic facial expressions or social cues, but the fact is that a good number of people who engage in antisocial or violent behaviour from a young age seem to lack that ability.

So here's a simple solution: train young offenders to recognize fear, sadness, and anger.

It works!  In the UK they developed a computer program that trains young offenders to recognize these key emotions (and a few more).  The result?  Those who received the training were less likely to reoffend, and when they did, it was less likely to be a violent crime (opting, for example, for petty theft instead of aggression).

So promising for the future treatment of aggressive behaviour!

Source.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

THIS JUST HAPPENED: A Teenager Found Photos of Her Dad Playing With Kurt Cobain in Nirvana's First Concert Ever

When I was a kid, I used to watch movies about young girls who suddenly found out they were princesses and be very sad that my family was so regular. Not just regular in that we are regular people, but regular in that we are boring and boring in that neither my parents nor my grandparents went off and had illicit affairs with European royalty before returning to their everyday lives with little babies secretly forming in their uteri. Sure, coming from a totally stable family environment was great for my sense of security and ability to love and trust others, but it meant I would never be plucked out of my everyday life and have this amazing reality thrust upon me!

The little teenager inside me had a similar twinge seeing this photo posted by young @Maggs.

Not only was Maggs' dad a rocker in Seattle in the 90s who played with Nirvana in their early days (already jealous), but he was on stage with Kurt Cobain AND played with them at their first show. Ever. Turns out what she thought was just a cool pick of her dad and Kurt Cobain was actually the only known photographic evidence of their first concert.

Meanwhile, up in Abbotsford in the 90s, my dad worked in agriculture and my mom was a nurse and I was taking ballet lessons once a week after school. So. Ordinary. (PS: Mom and dad, I love you lots and I would never trade you for anyone, even that guy who played with Kurt Cobain. Thanks for the ballet lessons.)


Via Rolling Stone.

Me & Ryan Gosling On a Roof

Rooftop BBQs are great, but sometimes it's a little chilly. Here Ryan and I are hanging on my friend's rooftop patio, but me and some of the girls got cold.  He was happy to help us stay warm!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Inspiration! If you earn less, pay less


Here's a daring new way to draw attention to the pay gap for women (who earn, on average 77 cents for each dollar earned by their male counterparts in the same roles): charge women less to buy goods.

I absolutely love this!  First of all, it actually evens the playing field, basically elevating the value of women's paycheques to make them equal in their purchasing power.  Second, it sends a very very clear message.  If your first reaction was like mine, you might be thinking something like, "well that's not really fair - it's not like most men can help the fact that they get paid more."

Of course, that is exactly the point.  Most women can't help the fact that they are paid less - purely based on their gender.  So if they get 77 cents for every dollar a man gets, maybe their 77 cents should be worth a dollar.

Is this a long term solution?  Of course not.  It is, however, a great way to support those who earn less.

Source.

*I do realize that there are plenty of other groups who earn less and would benefit from this kind of deal.  It would be great to see strides made for all discriminated-against groups.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Club: Introducing Ender's Game


I'm in a book club!  We used to meet once a month, and lately have backslid to every other month-ish,  but we've been going for several years now, which blows my mind.  We call ourselves the Book Sluts, because we like to read a lot of different kinds of books, as many as possible, sometimes multiple at the same time if we feel we can manage it.

I thought it might be fun to share the books that we're reading!

This month(ish) we are reading Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card*!  (Note: my book club has a major slant towards the sci fi/fantasy side of things.)

Here's what I knew about Ender's Game before we picked it:
  • It is a well-known and beloved sci fi novel that gets talked about a lot
  • A movie has been made of the book that got very little attention except for some people protesting it
  • The writer is, I think, some kind of horrible homophobe or sexist or something which is why some people protested the movie even though they may have loved the books
  • Ender is the name of a person, not a reference to a type of game that I had imagined to be something akin to a zero-sum game
  • It was probably set in the future, as is the case with most sci fi books
So far I'm just a couple chapters in and loving it!  Ender is showing hints of being a reluctant hero who is naturally good at everything.  It makes him less complex as a character, but is still fun to read.

*My mind keeps accidentally turning his name into Scott Orson Wells - a little fantasy author mash up!

Post Script: I'll probably share other books I'm reading in the Book Club feature, and maybe even past books I have read that I want the world to know about, so let's not get too hung up on the actual reading timeline of the Book Sluts, okay?

Taking care of business: how do you manage your coffee shop bladder?

Last week I asked the question that has been burning in my mind and Mindy Kaling's for ages: how do you ladies hang around your home without worrying about... excreting... stuff?  Joyously, I got an answer!  Towels!  Like all solutions, it was wonderfully simple.

So now I bring you another question that I have never quite solved: when you decide to get some work done in a coffee shop and have your laptop and everything with you, how do you manage the whole going to the bathroom thing?

Complicated life questions spawned from a simple little laptop.

Just to be clear, I'm not asking how you go to the bathroom - I mastered that in my youth and only improve my skills with age - I'm asking how you manage the safety and security of your belongings (specifically your precious internet-machine), as well as the importance holding your sweet table and not seeming too weird while you go take care of business.

As far as I can tell, there are six options that I have tried at various points in my coffee-shop-working-career:

1) Leave everything there and hope nothing gets stolen.

Risk Factor: The Highest.  This option assumes that most people are honest and that if you come back quickly enough your things probably won't get stolen.  While this is technically true (most people probably wouldn't just steal a laptop off a table in front of other people, even if they could), it's also true that it only takes one opportunistic thief to steal your stuff, and then you'll feel like a huge idiot when you tell people why you have to buy a new computer and lost all of your precious documents and cat photos.

The Upside: Simplicity.  By risking losing the most expensive thing you own, you are released from the inconvenience of packing up your stuff as well as potentially losing your table!  Unless, of course, someone steals all your stuff and then someone else comes along and sits at the table.  Then you've lost everything.

2) Take smaller, easier to steal, things with you (cell phone, wallet) but leave larger things that are slightly harder/more obvious to steal (large books, laptop).

The "logic" here being that a wallet and cell phone are small and easy to nab without being noticed.  A person would need to be a more brazen kind of thief to steal your laptop.  Especially if you close it and cleverly disguise it by putting a book on top.  Of course, you're still left in the "feeling really stupid" category if your stuff does get stolen, because you still just left it exposed to the world.

This technique has the same "pros" as the last one - less inconvenience of packing up all your things.

As a sub-point of this particular method, I have also been known to take my wallet, cell phone, and laptop with me to the bathroom, leaving behind whatever other bags/books I have to show that the table is still being used.  This ups the security factor, but it just feels weird.  Bringing just a few things with me seems strange.  Then there's the question of what you do with your laptop once in there?  Awkward scenarios are bound to ensue.

3) Take everything with you but leave your cup/food and hope that it doesn't get cleared while you're in the bathroom and you don't lose your table and/or food/drink.

This is risky in a different way.  Sure, your precious belongings and all the intellectual property squirrelled away inside them will be safe, but the half-finished tea that you've been nursing and were planning on getting topped up with more hot water so you don't have to spend more money?  That could disappear in a flash if it looks like it was abandoned on the table!  Depending on how busy the coffee shop is and how proactive the staff are, you could wind up with nowhere to sit, or no drink to sip, negating the whole point of being there in the first place.

Here the question is: would you rather risk feeling like an idiot for basically handing your laptop to a robber, if there is a robber present, or would you rather risk feeling like an idiot by standing around awkwardly with all your stuff hastily gathered into your arms looking at the table you once occupied and realizing there is no where left for you to sit.  Of course, since you are fascinating and important, everyone is also paying attention to you and will notice this and inwardly judge you.

4) Ask someone nearby to watch your stuff while you go to the bathroom.  

So theoretically this is one of the best options but I always feel bad doing it - bad for bothering the other person, and also for the obvious profiling I do determining who seems like they might be a thief and who might not.  (Hint: it's a scruff-based profile.  In my mind there are no clean thieves.)  Instead of diffusing my trust to humanity in general, I am now trusting one individual person, which in some ways seems scarier.

In the plus column, I don't have to awkwardly carry anything to the bathroom, I don't have to do a panicked rush to get back as quickly as possible, and I don't risk losing my table.  Except I still kind of risk losing everything and still kind of have to rush because I don't want the person to get distracted/bored/annoyed and stop caring about my things.

5) Ask a staff person to keep an eye on it for you.

This feels presumptuous and horrible - they are working and have things to do that don't include staring at your things and letting out menacing growls when others dare walk past.  Maybe if the coffee shop is pretty dead and they seem friendly.  Maybe if it's a place I go a lot and I kind of know the staff (or if I am actually friends with someone who works there).  But you know that the second it gets busy in there, they will be occupied doing their job and your laptop will be once again sitting on a pedestal with a spotlight shining on it saying "take me home!  I'm lonely!"

6) Wait until you have to go so badly you might pee yourself right there, and then make that the end of your work time.

This is the option I usually choose, squirming like a five year old in my seat until I can't take it anymore, packing up like a mad woman, and then jetting into the bathroom, and then out the door.  The downside here is that I can get maybe two hours of work done before I just can't wait anymore.  Probably less.  I have to pee a lot.

Ugh!  Life is so hard!  Why can't there be perfect solutions for everything?  What do you do?  How do you balance your bladder with laptop security?  Is there a perfect seventh option that I didn't even think of?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cute! Window kitties say hello

My friend has a momma and son pair of kitties, and they were sitting on the window in the cutest way the other day.  Then the little baby went over to say hello to his momma!



Full disclosure: they actually don't really get along at all and made some unpleasant noises at each other after this picture was taken.  But it still looks cute and lovely, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Singalong! Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman

It's just a really good song, right guys?


GIVE ME ONE REASON
by Tracy Chapman

Give me one reason to stay here
And I'll turn right back around
Give me one reason to stay here
And I'll turn right back around
Because I don't want leave you lonely
But you got to make me change my mind

Baby I got your number and I know that you got mine
But you know that I called you, I called too many times
You can call me baby, you can call me anytime
But you got to call me

Give me one reason to stay here
And I'll turn right back around
Give me one reason to stay here
And I'll turn right back around
Because I don't want leave you lonely
But you got to make me change my mind

I don't want no one to squeeze me, they might take away my life
I don't want no one to squeeze me, they might take away my life
I just want someone to hold me and rock me through the night

This youthful heart can love you and give you what you need
This youthful heart can love you and give you what you need
But I'm too old to go chasing you around
Wasting my precious energy

Give me one reason to stay here
And I'll turn right back around
Give me one reason to stay here
And I'll turn right back around
Because I don't want leave you lonely
But you got to make me change my mind

Baby just give me one reason, Give me just one reason why
Baby just give me one reason, Give me just one reason why I should stay
Because I told you that I loved you
And there ain't no more to say

Friday, July 17, 2015

Learning! Nobody is special.


You know how we like to think that we're special?  I don't mean as individuals, where the wisdom "if everyone is special than nobody is special" is technically true, but as a species.  Like how humans like to think that we are somehow better than the rest of nature because of our impressive brains and opposable thumbs that have lead to an incredible capacity for [insert your pet theory on what makes humans unique here].

Well, turns out we're probably not special at all.

Here are some of the things you might think are unique to humans that other animals can do:

Apes have individual personalities and make tools; chimps and humans use the same muscles to smile; chimps and monkeys can read others' facial expressions at least as well as humans can; chimps have a strong sense of morality, friendship, and altruism; chimps will also set aside their general competitive ways when it comes to food gathering in times when cooperation is more beneficial; capuchin monkeys understand fairness and repayment; chimps and other monkeys have been shown to be helpful to each other and other species, opening doors, picking up dropped objects, and the like; rats are altruistic too, saving a friend from getting soaked by water and getting soaked themselves.

So basically, not only do these animals have complex social hierarchies and behaviours, but they have personalities that are at times moral (described as altruistic, helpful, and fair) and at times selfish, just like humans!

Great Apes even seem to have their own version of theory of mind!  (Theory of mind being the ability of babies to learn that other people have their own minds and recognize their mental states.)  Of course, knowing the mental state of others requires conscious awareness of yourself as well - something humans share with many other animals including elephants!

There's more.  Read about it at BBC Earth!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Inspiration! 101-year old woman walks down a building.

I love love love finding stories about centenarians (and other elderly) who don't let their age hold them back.  Maybe it's a bit patronizing (sort or like when magazines get all, "OMG, did you notice that this model isn't a size ZERO?? Can you believe how amazing she is for being brave enough to be in this magazine???  And also how incredible we are for having her???), but at this point I think we're still deep into the beginning stages of battling stereotypes for old people, both for them and for us.  Just because the headline "80 awesome people over 80" doesn't sound as kicky as the "21 under 21" lists doesn't mean that your life is over!

That's why I find this lady (named Doris) so dang inspiring!  A 101 year-old woman who lowered herself down a building for charity.  Even better: she took up the sport of abseiling when she was 85!  Even better: she plans on doing it again next year!  Go Doris!

Photo: Mashable/AP
Source.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mindy Kaling and I want to know about the reality of hanging around your home naked

I just finished reading Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, a book that made me laugh out loud and both want to hang out with her and think that we probably couldn't work together (sounds like she oscillates between yelling a lot in the writer's room and being scared and doing nothing - in between writing hilarious things, obviously).  In honour of this, I am creating a Me & Mindy Kaling photo (why limit my weird celebrity photo sharing to just my guy Ry Ry?)

Mindy wasn't ready for the picture.  She was also a bit
upset that we didn't wait for her to get ice cream.

In her chapter on being afraid of one night stands because you might get murdered, she finally voices the question I have always wondered but been afraid to ask.  This question is directed to women who like to hang around naked in their homes: don't you, you know, excrete?

I've never understood!  It just seems messy!  I don't want to have to panic and deal with that all of a sudden when underwear would have made it a non-issue!  Do some women just never ... excrete?  Do they just not care?  Is excrete not suddenly the grossest word ever?  Has me asking this question suddenly forever changed your opinion of all vaginas?  Of just my vagina?  Oh no, what's wrong with my vagina?  How many times should I say vagina in a row right now?  It's been four.  Four vaginas.  Now five.  And I still don't know the logistics of this question.

These are the things that run through my head pretty much every time a reference is made to a woman who likes to hang out in the buff, except that I could never pin down the best word to use to describe it.  The word that my new BFF Mindy expertly nailed down as "excretion".  Super gross.  Super accurate.

So, nudies of the world!  Explain your freedom to me, please!  I don't know if I'll ever be a joyful nude, but heck, this would at least take some of the mystery out of it.

It's at moments like this that I wish I had a massive, Bloggess-sized readership and this question would actually get answered.

Sigh.

Monday, July 13, 2015

STOP THE PRESSES! BSB and 'N Sync are making a MOVIE?

You heard me.  And it gets better.

Nick Carter is writing, directing, and starring in a Western zombie movie featuring fellow Backstreet Boy AJ and (drumroll)... Joey Fatone from 'N Sync!!!!

A photo posted by Nick Carter (@nickcarter) on


Don't let the description pass you by: this is a Western zombie movie!  Cowboy zombies, guys!

It gets even better: this film is being created with the help of the team behind Sharknado.  Remember Sharknado?  Of course you do.  Not only was it one of the most ridiculous of the ridiculous natural disaster/monster movies ever to be made, it also featured astoundingly terrible use of stock footage (after a close up shot of our heroes driving in a car being pounded by rain, there would be a wide shot of the beach with ... no rain?)

So if I've got things right, here is the equation we're looking at:


Source.

CUTE!!!! ROYAL BABY PHOTOS!!!

Can't help it.  Too cute.  I am one of the swooning masses:


PS: I also recognize that this is old news for the internet. But adorable babies are never too far gone. Relive this moment with me!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Singalong! Lucky One by Au Revoir Simone

I don't remember exactly when or how I discovered Au Revoir Simone. It was definitely in university, and it may have been from some early version of those online music suggestion websites. This was, of course, before the days of streaming online radio sites like Last FM or Pandora or Songza or Apple Music or KillerSweetTunz or whatever is coming next. The site I used looked like a brainstorming web. You would put in an artist you liked, and then the bubbles around it would populate with a bunch of similar artists. Then you could click on one of those, and the web would grow with artists similar to the one you clicked. On it would go, filling bubbles with names of artists, until you realized that it had a very limited number of musicians in its bank and so you very quickly knew all of the recommendations and then were forced to move on with your life.

Anyways, Au Revoir Simone would have been one of those early-days internet discoveries that I quickly fell in love with. The little chimes at the beginning of this song just sound like nostalgic, slightly sad happiness, don't they?


THE LUCKY ONE
by Au Revoir Simone

A dream of togetherness
Turned into a brighter mess
A faint sign my spoken best
Now, now

Make way for the simple hours
No finding the time its ours
A fate or it's a desire
I know

So I was the lucky one
Reading letters, not writing them
Taking pictures of anyone
I know

So let the sunshine
So let the sunshine
So let the sunshine let it come
To show us that tomorrow is eventual
We know it when the day is done

Friday, July 10, 2015

Learning! How to trick yourself into remembering workouts fondly.


I like being active, but I am really bad at pushing myself and don't really like "working out". I am a certified yoga instructor (which means I enjoyed yoga so much I wanted to spend every weekend doing it for 12 weeks so I could spend even more time doing yoga) and I even avoid doing that sometimes if it seems like it's going to be hard.

That's why I'm stoked to discover this new trick! According to research, we generally remember two things from every workout: the hardest part, and the end. If our memory of the end is full of endorphin-laden, sweaty, happiness, then it will seem, in retrospect, like the hardest part was totally worth it.  Especially if you make the hardest part less hard.

So here's what you do: structure your workout so that your favourite part that makes you feel that "workout high" is at the very end. Whether that means sprinting to the finish line (ugh) or a sweet, slow cool down where you hang out with your legs up the wall for 10 minutes (that's more like it), get your peak happiness at the end.

Then there's one more thing to do to really trick yourself: reduce the awfulness of the hardest part as much as possible. Again, it's your call as to how that would work: do you space out the big, tricky part more throughout your workout with little easy breaks?  Do you just work harder overall?  Do something so the misery fades a bit in your memory.

Bam! There you go! Now you, too, can use the power of psychology to trick your brain into thinking you like working out.

Watch out though: it is a slippery slope to actually liking working out and becoming one of those people that suggests "going for a run" as a fun hang out activity, wears work out gear all the time as if they were regular clothes, and posts their exercise stats on Facebook alongside a gym selfie (is it grossly sweaty after-the-fact, or a pre-workout cute one? Your call, weirdo).

Side note: I'm pretty sure hikers and outdoorsy-type people have somehow tricked themselves into forgetting the actual end of their hike (the long, tedious walk down the mountain) and only remember some of the climb and the peak with all the pretty views.  Because if they actually only remembered the hardest part (misery) and the end (walking down the mountain on a path they just walked up, continually remarking that they thought they would be done by now), they would maybe never go again.

Source.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Me & Ryan Gosling With a Dog

Ryan and I are more cat people, but he has an image to maintain and part of that image is a dudely dude who has scruffy dogs and wears plaid coats. Okay, he genuinely loves the plaid coats, and who doesn't love a scruffy dog? Here we are being very serious with one such dog.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yowza! Racy politicians!

Advertisers and politicians have known for a long time that people like things they find familiar. That's why they plaster every available surface with their name and logo (coming soon to Canada, with election season right around the corner). In Denmark, apparently, the competition is a bit more fierce, and it seems one politician wanted to be sure he would stand out. Like, really stand out.

Photo credit: CapaMag

Heyo!

Apparently no one on the internet is sure whether the posters themselves are blurred out or just the photos that are going around.

I can only hope that Canada's politicians do not follow suit this fall.

Inspiration! The iron fish that saves lives


Iron deficiency is a huge problem in a lot of countries.  In Cambodia, researchers have found a wonderful, inspiring solution!  It's a Lucky Iron Fish!

What is it?  A simple fish made of iron.  Just put it in water or soup and boil it for about 10 minutes, maybe with a pinch of lemon to help release more iron.  Bam.  You've got iron in your system, baby!

Why is this inspiring?  It's a simple health problem solved not only with a cheap (and thus implementable) design, but it taps into Cambodian cultural values.  Fish are a sign of luck for Cambodians, making it way more appealing for them to adopt it.  Plus, it really could be seen as lucky, so it's not a lie!  A little fish that provides an entire family with 75% of their required iron?  That will not only get rid of the physical and mental sluggishness that low iron causes, but prevent haemorrhage in childbirth and injury?  How lucky is that???

You can buy a "school of fish" and send them over to five families for only $25!

Source: PFSK.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Brilliance! The Straight White Man's Guide to the 21st Century


I have conversations now and again with my male friends who feel like they "just can't say anything" or "don't know what the heck they are supposed to do anymore."

To be honest, I only sort of get it, because to me it's not that hard: don't say things that reinforce negative stereotypes or support oppression, unless you agree with said oppression and want everyone to know that.  Or rather, say whatever you want, but be ready for the fact that if you're saying something offensive about another group of people, you might get your rear end torn off and handed to you.  Because, you know, saying mean things about other people reveals a certain unfortunate truth about you, as a person and people are entitled to their reaction.

It doesn't really matter if you know you're "not sexist" or "not racist" or "not homophobic".  Does your audience know that?  Does your remark reinforce that fact in their minds, or provide evidence to the contrary?  If it is potentially hurtful, why do you want to say it so badly, anyways?  What do you want others to see of you and your values, if anything?

To that end, check out BuzzFeed's latest (okay, not actually their latest, because they pump new and "new" content out every five seconds in each time zone): The Straight White Man's Guide to the 21st Century.  It's a brilliant little piece of advice for men who are unsure of how to comport themselves in this day and age.

There are so many good bits in this one, I started to pull each of them out when I realized I was basically turning this article into a bullet-pointed list, in which case, you should just read the original piece.  And you should.  Just click here and do that now.  Or here.  Or maybe click here.  All links in this post go to the same place.

I will, however, share my two favourite quotes that, incidentally, apply to everyone:
"Who among us could not be better?  Liars, that's who!"

"Being adversarial is not an opinion, it’s the opposite of one! Taking a position for opposite’s sake is the fastest way to out yourself as tiresome and a bore. Devil’s Advocate is a motion picture starring Keanu Reeves. Best to leave it that way."
Read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Cute? Exploding Kittens!

Okay, I'm not sure how cute I actually think this is, but it involves kitties and I want it: Exploding Kittens, the card game! To be perfectly honest, I don't find the illustration-style for The Oatmeal (co-creator of this game), but I do love the wit and humour of The Oatmeal.  I also love games, and simple games that you can whip out and play with a group of people to pass a small amount of time are great.


Want to buy me a present?  Buy me Exploding Kittens, please!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Singalong! Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips

This song is just great. It's so light and fun and it's about a young girl who trains and takes vitamins so that she's strong enough to battle robots who threaten her city.  She will save us all.  Thank you, Yoshimi!


YOSHIMI BATTLES THE PINK ROBOTS
by The Flaming Lips

Her name is Yoshimi - she's a black belt in karate
Working for the city - she has to discipline her body -
Cause she knows that it's demanding to defeat these
Evil machines - I know she can beat them -

Oh Yoshimi
They don't believe me
But you won't let those
Robots defeat me
Oh Yoshimi
They don't believe me
But you won't let those
Robots eat me

Those evil natured robots - they're programmed to
Destroy us - She's gotta be strong to fight them -
So she's taking lots of vitamins - cause she knows that
It'd be tragic if those evil robots win - I know
She can beat them -

Friday, July 3, 2015

As If! A Clueless Musical!

Normally hearing about yet another popular teen movie-turned Broadway musical gets my eyes rolling, big time.  I mean, really?  I know that nobody seems to have the guts to come up with a new story idea these days, but do we really need a musical based on a movie that was based on a play?

In the case of Clueless, of course, it will be a musical based on a movie that was based on a book that also inspired other movies and plays.

Plus, I think Clueless was just a really smart teen comedy and I love it.

So, pretty much, I'm excited about this.

Check out Mashable's list of potential songs - they all get snaps from me.

Then enjoy these gifs from the movie.  Nostalgia, everyone!





Learning! Inject your electronics


If tapping away at your computer and smart phone screen isn't enough electronic contact for you, then you're in luck!  Science has now found a way to inject electronics right into your brain.

No, we're not looking at thought-controlled social networks (yet), but scientists at Harvard have found a way to inject nano-scale electronic scaffolds into peoples' bodies that can then go into your brain and mess around.  So far, they're looking at the good kind of messing - imitating tissues, monitoring neural activities, or regenerate neutrons - all things that can treat neurological decay and other such conditions.

Of course, anyone who has read or watched any sci fi story in their entire lives knows what's next: hacking peoples' brains to create an unfeeling but physically and mentally perfect army.


PS: I do appreciate the juxtaposition of this post following so closely after Wednesday's inspiration post on turning off the internet to save yourself from your technological addiction.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How to Use Dance Floor Jams for the Greater Good


People say that they don't like to be told what to do.  I say I don't like to be told what to do.  Unfortunately, people like Beyonce, Daft Punk, Fergie, Ludacris, and even S Club 7, have shown that we are all liars.

Go to any dance floor, any day, and watch people act like a bunch of sheeple (that's punk teen-code combining the word "sheep" with the word "people", implying that the people are just a bunch of sheep-like followers, in case you weren't a pseudo-punk teen in the 90's and didn't catch that), doing whatever the singer is telling them to do.

They tell us to wave our hands in the air and most people obediently wave their arms side to side over their heads, like they are at a very unconventional youth worship conference.

They instruct us ladies in the specific ways we should shake different parts of their bodies, and again, we are more than happy to oblige.

Luckily, we don't take the commands too literally.  When told to wave our hands in the air "like we just don't care", we generally keep the waving to a youth conference-level of extremity, because we all care about not getting hit in the face.

After I realized this great power the singers of dance hits have over us, it occurred to me that these people could actually change the world for the better and influence positive social change.  So here are some of my suggestions on new things that the singers of Dance Hits 2016 could tell us to do:

Instead Of... How About...
Fatman Scoop singing "You got a twenty dollar bill, put your hands up!"... "You gonna donate twenty to a meaningful cause, put your hands up!"
Daft Punk's repetition of "Put your hands up in the air" over and over and over again.... Repeating "Forgiveness is the key", instead.
Ludacris' simple cry of "Hands up!" in Get Back... "Arms out!" (and then everyone hugs their neighbour.)
Beyonce saying "Now put your hands up!" in Single Ladies... "Now communicate! (With your partner about your true needs and expectations for the relationship.)"
Luke Bryan's demand that country girls "Shake it for [him]" "Country girl, ride your horse as an alternate to driving and consuming more fossil fuels."
Outkast's famous command to "Shake it like a polaroid picture" as a reward to the male singers for doing their job and playing music... "Enjoy life and love your neighbour!"
"Shak[ing] your body from side to side" as S Club 7 orders... "Look a problem from someone else's side."

One that should stay just the way it is: when Nelly calls out "If you ever loved somebody put your hands up!"

Sing it, Nelly!  Celebrate love!

As a slight feminist postscript, I wish that more ladies sang songs commanding that the men shake for them.  Not only would it even things out a bit more, which is always a nice thing to do, but it would maybe motivate more dudes to learn how to shake their booties with more gusto, which is fun for everyone.  Equality of shaking body parts!  Shaking body parts for all!

UPDATE: My friend Brian sent me this amazing video that made by (of course) Lonely Islands ft. Robyn. They demonstrate that I was not the first person in the world to observe the "lemmings on the dance floor" phenomenon:

Me & Ryan Gosling When He Surprised Me In Portland

I've posted a few shots from a trip I took to Portland a few years back, the one that Ryan just couldn't help but crash. Here's another! Fun fact: I didn't even know he was there yet, but he walked up from behind right at the moment my friend was taking this picture of me. Ryan's got fantastic timing!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Inspiration! Kill the Internet


Now here's an idea to help deal with your smart phone addiction: there is a luxury hotel in Germany with a button to turn off the internet in your room. So when you're, say, going to bed and want to remove temptation to stare at your phone for 30 mins, just kill the internet. If you're away for personal reflection, to rekindle a romance, or anything where having the internet on all the time isn't necessary, kill the internet and revive it when you actually need it.

This could be an excellent idea for those of us who struggle with using our devices too much. We all think we need to have the internet available at all times and that our self-control is enough to avoid staring at our screens too much. This is, of course, bullocks. Social media, Netflix, email, and whatever else you look at compulsively, are straight-up psychological addictions. We know that nothing has changed in the last 2 minutes (heck, we likely will get notified if anything does), but we still wander back over to Facebook - just one more time - all the time.

So why not give our self-control a boost? One night a week, or an hour before bed, go unplug your router and force yourself to pass the time some other way than letting Netflix queue up the next episode of 30 Rock that we've already watched 10 times.

Source.