It's a trick!

Everything about this fills me with joy.

Why don't people give out more tricks at Halloween? I mean, really? Fire spiders!
Source: Anything Comic

Happy Halloween, kiddos!

(Psssst! This is a funny comic, read more of it at

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Cute! Roundup: Duck alarm clocks, kitty mail carriers, and back scratching

A little while back I went out of town for the weekend. As I left, I had this little face staring at me. How did I ever leave????

Other Cuteness:

The best alarm clock in the WORLD!

A kitty mail carrier assistant.

Some animals scratch their own backs.

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Singalong! Spit on a Stranger by Kathryn Williams

I'm not going to lie: I don't really get this song. Is it a love song or a hate song? Something in between? Two people who are a perfect match but also bitter strangers who spit on each other? I don't quite know, but I like the way it uses tropes of love songs ("I can see the sunshine in your eyes") while speaking dark thoughts. If you understand it better than me, please explain!

by Kathryn Williams (originally by Pavement)

However you feel, whatever it takes
Whenever it's real, whatever awaits
Whatever you need, however so slight
Whenever it's real, whenever it's right

I'll be thinking long and hard
About the things you said to me
Like a bitter stranger
Now I see the long and short
The middle and what's in between

I could spit on a stranger
You're a bitter stranger

Whatever you feel, whatever it takes
Whenever it's real, whatever awaits me
Whatever you need, however so slight
Wherever it leads, whenever it's right

Honey, I'm a prize and you're a catch
And we're a perfect match
Like two bitter strangers
And now I see the long and short of it
And I could make it last

I could spit on a stranger
You're a bitter stranger
Well, I could spit on a stranger
You're a bitter stranger

I see the sunshine in your eyes
I'll try the things you'll never try
I'll be the one that leaves you high

Sing along with Kathryn Williams' Spit on a Stranger, originally by Pavement
Source: Kathryn Williams on the Wikimedia Commons

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Learning! Roundup: Seaweed saves the day, Dollar Street, monkey tools, conformity, and more!

Learning! Roundup: Seaweed saves the day, check the implications of wealth on Dollar Street, the Asch Conformity Experiments, and more!

Seaweed + Cows = Less Greenhouse Gasses?

While I am very suspect of any suggestion that we feed animals anything other than the food they evolved to eat, this is at least an interesting development: adding a small amount of seaweed to a cow's diet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 99%.

Dollar Street

Want to better understand the lives of people all over the world, from the poorest to the richest? Dollar Street visited 200 homes in 50 countries, documenting the homes and lives of the families that lived there, and then lining them up by income. It's an interesting tour of the world, wealth, culture, and people.

A New Meaning to the Monkey Wrench

You know how humans are the best because we made tools first? Welllllllll... Turns out that some of the tools early humans used may have actually been first invented by monkeys. Yup, we may have started out our tool-making careers by playing with the tools that monkeys dropped out of trees.

Walking for Happiness

I love a good placebo effect, but it's possible that I love even more when something works despite its potential placebo effects. Take, for example, this new study showing that peoples' moods lift after walking. This effect was shown regardless of where the person walked, and whether they expected the walk to be positive or not (the condition that primed them to expect a negative outcome was called "walking dread" - ha! Scientists are funny!)


Listen, we all like to think that we're lone wolves of individual, unique, valour who follow our hearts and minds above all. We're totally not. We are a bunch of sheeple, packing together as we roam the countryside.

There is a classic psych experiment that proves this: the Asch Conformity Experiment. In this experiment, a subject is shown a series of lines of different lengths and asked to identify the one that matches the example. Pretty straightforward. And yet, when in the presence of confederates that give wrong answers, most people conform and give the obviously wrong answer.

I came across this great exploration of the Asch experiments, and explanations on why we so easily conform (it's really not entirely stupid of us). Read and learn!

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Maleficent will suffer no fool, and neither will I

Addendum: I came across this gif and literally came up with this post just for an excuse to use it.

Drama queens shout for fun, amiright?

People who I want to shout "Fools!" at with multicoloured lighting crashing around me:

People who jog on the road instead of on the sidewalk. What are you trying to prove? Now we all have to worry about running into you with cars and bikes. (FOOLS!)

Anyone who pays so much for something that it is only a demonstration of status, as the product peaked in quality two decimal places ago. (FOOLS!)

Those who dislike Harry Potter. Why??? Who has been threatening you? (FOOLS!)

People who voluntarily don't eat cheese. (Sorry to my vegan friends - I officially respect your life choices, but when it comes to cheese, I just... I don't get.. It's too good... I... FOOLS!)

Climate change deniers. (FOOLS!)

Really anyone who ignores logical evidence in favour of their feelings. (WE ARE ALL FOOLS!)

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Me & Ryan Gosling having some Halloween fun

Ryan and I just love Halloween, and in honour of the creepiest holiday of the year, here is our creepiest photo yet. You'll notice that Ry Ry is a master of posing and working the light, whereas I just get too close to it and look all washed out. Alas! We can't all have a lifetime of experience finding our light on set. Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Inspiration! Roundup: Native American ballerinas, loopy creatures, welfare food budgets, and more

Inspiration! Roundup: Native American ballerina Yvonne Chouteau, loopy creatures, welfare budgets, Elizabeth Gilbert, and more
This Week's "I Want to Go to There":
A cabin in the woods. Maybe without that pesky snow around.

Native American Ballerinas

I truly loved watching this interview with Yvonne Chouteau, Native American ballerina. First of all, I confess that I honestly held an expectation that Indigenous people wouldn't be interested in ballet -- it is such a bourgeois, European art form. Second, in many ways I am still a little ballerina at heart and so I always get a little teary hearing dancers talk about their work.

She is one of five Native American ballerinas featured in this Hyperallergic article.

Fake it until you make it.

Well. If this is what it takes to be a skateboarder, I'm in.

But seriously, it's hilarious and a kind of awesome example of just going for it.


"I've never seen a life transformation that didn't begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit."
-Elizabeth Gilbert

Loopy Creatures

How entrancing/adorable/funny/weird/fascinating are these gritty animations by artist Ori Toor?

A video posted by Ori Toor (@oritoor) on

A video posted by Ori Toor (@oritoor) on

See more on his Tumblr or Instagram.

Alana's Welfare Food Challenge

The Welfare Food Challenge is an annual event here in BC, to draw attention to the meager food allowances available to those living on income assistance. I have sort of heard of it in the past, but never fully encountered it. Thanks to Facebook, I have seen that a friend of a friend of mine is participating this year. Her blog is a useful insight into both the challenges of living on income assistance as well as the challenges of reaching outside of a privileged life.

For the record, a person living on income assistance would be lucky to be left with $18 a week to spend on their food, and that is absolutely horrible.

Be Careful Where You Find Yourself

This quote could be just as much encouraging as it could be terrifying:

"Pledges and promises have power, as do uniforms and parades. Remember in the absence of extrinsic rewards you will seek out or create intrinsic ones. Take into account that the higher the price you pay for your decisions the more you value them. See that ambivalence becomes certainty with time. Realize that lukewarm feelings become stronger once you commit to a group, club, or product. Be wary of the roles you play and the acts you put on, because you tend to fulfill the labels you accept. Above all, remember that the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel. The more kindness you express, the more you come to love those who you help."

In light of this, let's all pause and ask ourselves some questions: where do I find myself committing time and energy? What sacrifices am I making to be there? Where am I ambivalent, but present? What role am I playing? What if this ambivalence did grow to love? What if I became just like those around me? What if I became the person I am pretending to be? Would this be a good thing?

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Beware of empowertising!

Beware of empowertising, when companies use feminist imagery to sell their products.

A while ago I posted my big love for this H&M commercial. You know, the one featuring happy women who eat french fries, have bodies that differ in shape and size, body hair, and varying private parts. Hooray! Women!

Then I came across the article Don't Fall for the New H&M Campaign, and realized that in my gushing about the ad itself, I neglected to mention my deep ambivalence towards H&M as a company and the fact that I generally don't shop there.

Right. So. Let's address this, shall we?

Empowertising. It's a thing: it's when companies use feminism to help sell their products. Think the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty or the Always "Like a Girl" ads that promote empowering ideals, sometimes with little or no mention of actual products.

This would be all well and good, except that these companies aren't necessarily actually good for women.

Take H&M: the aforementioned article details evidence for all sorts of complaints against the company, from exploiting its supply staff to firing women because they are pregnant. Plus, there's the deep hypocrisy of a company with such body positive ads barely stocking larger sized clothing. That's right: not all the women in the ad could even buy clothes at H&M. Then there are the non-women-specific environmental issues and the impact of the "fast fashion" movement on waste and factory workers' conditions.

So what now? 

On one hand, these companies are clearly just capitalizing on the feminist zeitgeist. It's currently popular to look like you care about women, so they are advertising as if they do. They aren't actually changing any of their policies or products to reflect meaningful empowerment in the lives of women: they are tricking us into associating them with feminism. That's it.

On the other hand, every single company is going to advertise their wares, and while I would rather a company that advertises itself based on feminist principles actually be feminist in its operations, I would also rather see more feminist imagery out there than continued objectification and subjugation.

I believe that what we see in our general culture shapes our expectations of the world: the people and situations we see reflected to us over and over again become seen as the norm. On a psychological level, this checks out. The more easily we can remember something the more prevalent or true we think it is. This is why we all think there are more mass murderers out there than there really are: we can easily remember stories (fictional and non) about horrific mass murders.

So these companies, these terrible, hypocritical companies, are actually doing something helpful. By creating mainstream advertising based on principles of body positivity, acceptance, empowerment, and diversity, they are shifting our cultural perception of what is normal for women.

Still, that doesn't mean we have to give them our money. Just because H&M made a killer ad doesn't mean we should buy their clothes. We could write them a letter saying how much we appreciated the ad, and how disappointing it is that those values aren't reflected in their stores and practices, though.


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Cute! Roundup: A dramatic exit, a confused child, and a taco cat

This Monday, Gertie has an invitation for you. An invitation to cuddle and to never stop cuddling, because look how sweet and furry and warm she looks???

Other Cuteness:

No pictures, please. We're cuddling.

Exit stage left.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Swimming sloth.

The internet wins a Taco Cat.

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Singalong! Chasing Shadows by Santigold

Okay, I literally just heard this song for the first time a week ago. Santigold was on a Spotify playlist I was listening to, and I clicked through to listen to her page. This girl is awesome! Generally I post songs I already know and love to sing along to on here, but this is an aspirational singalong.

by Santigold

Being dizzy, fell in love, I'm getting through the day
365 loved and counted to the day
I'm thinking what I did, everything that I've said, that the year got the best of me
One thing about time it waits for nobody, you told me, isn't that what they say
Been banged against it and you know where
Just raised ain't got nothin' to say to nobody
Little lady better get in line, I'm talking this to myself
Better getting on down with the program, sell your life all over
Broke dream in the sun
If you fall like Tom Petty waiting on his rodeo, too old
I'm breaking my rules, do it my way, oh got still stung like a bee

We raced the glow
Shakin' on the floor
I'm trouble, you know
You find us where we fall
We're chasing shadows
We raced the glow
Shakin' on the floor
I'm trouble, you know
You find us where we fall
We're chasing shadows

Always knew I'd be international, no fear of flyin'
Limits is been keepin' apart, just when I'm on an island
Watching through a window, the flashing light on the bed
Neon sign goes red
"You are here" it says, well, at least someone knows where I am

Maybe I won't get it wrong, no patience for myself
Only is, idea's come old, I'm living on the shelf
I will follow in thinkin' the long way if my standards hold me up
Why they eatin' they idols up?
Now, why they eatin' they idols up? Dammit
I give my heart away so that they remember me
I leave em alone in time they'll wanna smother what I say
Around another year I wonder did I go some place
I'ma buckle this one down, this one right here won't walk away

We raced the glow
Shakin' on the floor
I'm trouble, you know
You find us where we fall
We're chasing shadows
We raced the glow
Shakin' on the floor
I'm trouble, you know
You find us where we fall
We're chasing shadows

Always knew I'd be international, no fear of flyin'
Limits is been keepin' apart, just when I'm on an island
Watching through a window, the flashing light on the bed
Neon sign goes red

"You are here" it says, well, at least someone knows where I am
"You are here" it says, well, at least someone knows where I am

Santiguad has got it going on

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Learning! Roundup: The spiders are listening, jokes matter, carbon dioxide transforms, and more!

Full Disclosure: I couldn't bring myself to post a photo of an actual spider. Too scary!

The Spiders Are Listening

Okay, not everything, but spiders hear through the wiggling of the little hairs on their legs, and they can hear you walking and talking up to 5 meters away! (Previously it was assumed they could only hear a few centimetres away.) Obviously this means they are all tracking my movements to plot my eventual capture and death.

Maybe someone who isn't deathly afraid of these creatures will just see this as interesting information.

Just a Joke?

One of the reasons I hate it when people say that something is "just a joke" is that it completely undermines comedy. Comedy isn't ineffectual and pointless. It's hilarious because it's true, most of the time, and comics can be the best people to point out our foibles because when we're laughing we don't see it coming.

That's why sexist (and racist and homophobic) jokes actually matter. A recent study backs this up: showing that sexist jokes can make men think sexism is normal.

Transforming Carbon Dioxide

As scientists madly scramble to try to find ways to stop our terrifying destruction of the planet earth, they come up with some pretty cool things. Most recently, scientists have figured out how to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol.

The best part? It was an accident! I mean, they were trying to transform carbon dioxide by reversing the combustion process, but they didn't think it would happen so easily. Go science!

More Generational Mumbo Jumbo

People who dislike millennials really like to talk about the work ethic of baby boomers and how much better it is/was. New research shows that baby boomers don't work any harder than millennials.

Turn 30, Ditch Your Friends

Speaking of millennials, apparently it's not only normal, but healthy to ditch half your friends when you turn 30. I know I did a terrible job of this - how are you supposed to cut your friendship circle down when you keep meeting awesome people???

Body Disconnection

A new study scanning the brains of trans people showed that trans people are more mentally "disconnected" from the parts of their body they don't identify with. This study involved people with female bodies, half of which identified as male and strongly desired male anatomy, while the other half identified as female. When tapped on the breast (pause for a moment to enjoy the awkward phrasing of an advertisement for such a study: "Wanted: People with female bodies who want their breasts tapped"), the trans group had lower activity in their somatosensory cortex as well as the supramarginal gyrus than the cis participants. The latter area of the brain is responsible for sensing touch, while the former for a sense of ownership.

This, of course, doesn't explain anything outright: perhaps people have less mental connection to body parts that they simply wish they didn't have. However, it certainly helps reveal the different relationship trans people have with their bodies.

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Me & Ryan Gosling in Tofino

A little while back the Prime Minister of Canada was photographed shirtless a bunch in Tofino. (Tofino, for the none-Canadians, is basically as far west as you can possibly go in our country, right at the end of Vancouver Island, it's a surfing getaway spot). A couple of weeks later, Ryan and I headed out for a friend's wedding, and he kept his shirt on most of the time. Ry Ry is classy like that.

Documenting my totally real, lifelong relationship with Ryan Gosling

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Inspiration! Roundup: Cry it out, favourite cats, morning motivation, and more!

This Week's "I Want to Go to There":
I kind of just want to chill and watch a bunch of TV for a while. Is that so bad?

Cry it Out

Most of the time I am a weepy giraffe. It takes so so little to get me crying. So I really liked Mayim Bialik's video about being sensitive.

I honestly never thought about it this way - people who are upset with us teary-eyed folks for crying are really just upset because they don't want to feel the feelings. We're showing them a deeper response to what's happening around us.

Also, I think it's both hilarious and annoying that someone might say "I can't tell you anything because you get too emotional" - as if a genuine emotional response is so horrifying they can't bear it. Believe it or not, my tears do not mean you "can't tell me things" - I am fine with the fact that I am always crying. If you aren't, then that's your problem!

A few of my favourite things

No point in pretending that it's anything but kittens, am I right?

By Rubyetc

Just to be clear: I posted this in the Inspiration! roundup and not the Cute! roundup because I find it kind of inspirational and great to revel in the silly things that we love.

Do it Right

This sexually enlightened R&B song has been making the rounds, and it's obvious why. Sure, it's funny, but it's also kind of a damning indictment of what we should be already doing.

The Earth Moves

Okay, well we already knew that the earth moves, by spinning in circles over and over again, but what about the stuff on the earth that's also moving? This map of the globe shows wind, weather, and ocean conditions, and is completely hypnotic to look at.

Morning Warm Up

Another video! This dad does the best possible motivational speech with his daughter in the morning.

“…It’s really powerful to vocalize what’s going on inside your head to someone who you know is listening to you and to know that it’s a safe enough space that you can test out dumb ideas or mistakes, and analyze them, and they’re not going to hold them against you.”
-The Quiet Leadership Institute

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Happy "You Count as a Person" Day, Canadian Women!

Did you know that this month is Women's History Month in Canada? Me neither! And I live here!

Specifically, today is the day that we "celebrate" (quotations because nobody knows about it) the day in 1929 when women were declared persons under the law.

(Okay, sappy mcsapperface over here got all teary-eyed watching the cheesy historical re-enactment. What are you looking at? I'm not crying, you're crying! Heritage Minutes might be cheesy, but they are beautiful, okay?)

Women are people! Isn't that exciting?

Fixed forever, right?

Hahahaha! Haha! Hahahahaaahahahaahhhaaaa!

I'll admit that as happy as I am to have been born at a time when I am already considered a person, sometimes I'm envious of past feminists who got to fight for these really clear, definable things like being a legal person or being able to vote.

Now we're left with systemic nuances like expectations of beauty and pressure to rock a work AND home life to perfection. I mean, okay, I'll fight the good fight, but it's so much harder to know when we should be sharing high fives, you know?

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Book Club: Dietland by Sarai Walker

The Receptionist Blog Book Club: Reading Dietland by Sarai Walker and wondering what would happen if "Jennifer" came to the real world?

I had no idea what to expect when I started reading Dietland. It was in a stack of feminist literature my friend was lending me for some (light) summer reading, including Shrill, Bad Feminist, and All the Single Ladies. This was the only fiction in the pile, and I'd never heard of it, but I thought, what the heck? I'll try it out!

As someone who has mainly been reading sci fi/fantasy fiction lately, Dietland has reminded me how awesome straightforward narrative can be.

Dietland tells the story of a girl (Plum) who is overweight. She hates the word "fat", so I won't use it either. She leads a very quiet life, trying to keep herself as unobtrusive as possible. She has tried various diets her entire life and is finally planning on getting a gastro-bypass surgery. After this, she will be thin and can start to lead a normal life.

Before Plum can get her surgery, however, she meets a group of women who live their lives differently than the rest of us and, as one might expect, goes on a transformative journey.

(SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERS! This is the line where spoilers will begin.)

I have never found a transformative journey to self-acceptance so relatable and interesting. I assume it's because, while I've never struggled with weight the way Plum does, I have certainly hated myself. Her journey also felt more real to me than the usual "Fairy Godmother imparts wisdom, suddenly everything is okay and the protagonist finds a boyfriend" structure.

Sure, there's a touch of Deus Ex Machina in how Verena (the closest thing to a Fairy Godmother in the story) shows up in her life, but it's more than that, because her bizarre methods are also kind of legit. Plum goes through actual hard experiences that help her to see herself differently.

Alongside her story, is another fascinating plot line: a group of militant feminists, calling themselves "Jennifer", go on a terrorist mission to topple the patriarchy. They kidnap and dramatically murder rapists. They blackmail businesses into replacing scantily clad women with scantily clad men. They publish a Penis Blacklist of powerful men who have made their livings off of exploiting women and car bomb people who publicly disregard it.

To be clear: it's not a revenge fantasy. It is a simple imagining of what would actually happen in the world if such an organization developed.

I love that Sarai Walker simply made this a backdrop to Plum's self-discovery instead of the focal point of the story. That as she learns to accept herself as a woman, the world is being violently confronted with its hatred for women. For Plum, there is a sense of wholeness at the end - for the world? I don't know. Probably back to normal.

Questions and thoughts raised by Dietland:

Verena's treatment of Plum is legit, but also manipulative and a bit nutty? Is Plum an experiment? A project? Would she have supported and cared for her if the results had been different?

If Jennifer were to strike in the real world, who would the targets be? How would world leaders react? CEOs? The stock market? The military? Who would die, who would rally together into a vigilante support group, and who would be a suspect?

Admission time: I felt some pleasure at the feminist terrorist storyline. I would never ever ever want that to happen in real life, but it's sort of like how in movies we feel satisfied when bad guys "get theirs." We know full well that one head splattered in a helicopter blade does nothing to undo the horror that came before. It's bad. It only creates more heartache and death. It doesn't fix anything. Yet it provides some temporary satisfaction to our inner darkness and anger at the original wrongdoing.

Is it possible that a violent upheaval is necessary to truly change our patriarchal structure?

Would that violent upheaval even work, or would it just drive us further into factions and end with the dystopian future-style dictatorship of a young adult fantasy novel?

I love how Plum's journey to self-acceptance includes full swings before it settles: she doesn't just realize she loves herself and then become a happy, healthy person. She swings far in the other direction first: she eats uncontrollably, nests, acts out her anger through petty theft, and dances with violence. Then, eventually, she settles into a place of purpose and comfort.

Could it be possible for her, or any of the women in this story, to do their work and enjoy their callings and self-acceptance if they also had to work for a living? It helps that they were funded and housed by a millionaire.

Is the Calliope House a paradise or a bizarre cult?

What event am I waiting for so that my life can "begin"? Am I expecting some transformation? How can I live as though it's already happened?

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Cute! Roundup: A baby chameleon is born, a tiny kitty learns to walk, and more!

Happy Monday and let's look at some cuteness, starting with my sweet sweet Gertie, dipping her toes into the invisible waters of life.

More Cuteness:

Baby chameleon hatches.

Tiny kitty learns to walk.

Peek-a-boo kitty!

Poor mouse doesn't quite fit.

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Singalong! Dinosaur Sex by Emmy the Great

This is going to sound a lot more morbid than I mean it to: I love a good reminder of the fleeting nature of life and human existence. I mean, we all like to walk around pretending that we'll live forever and that the world revolves around us and that we are irreplaceable. We may have sex and make babies and further our species, but the dinosaurs did that, too. This isn't a call to giving up, but rather a call to go as far as our lives will take us, and not worry about going any further.

by Emmy the Great

These roads, they lead as far as they can lead
That's why they're called the ways that make you feed
Cranes are lifting cargo to the sea
They are the size the dinosaurs would be.

Power station shivers, then it leaks
Bleeds onto the fields and kills the wheat
Harvest comes but will we ever eat?
Power station shivers, then it leaks.

And dinosaur sex led to nothing
And maybe we will lead to nothing
And dinosaur sex led to nothing
But we will lead as far as we can lead

These days I watch the screen for what I need
I take my food on trays across my knee
Leaves are always falling from the trees
I think I see my future in the leaves.

And dinosaur sex led to nothing
And maybe I will lead to nothing
And dinosaur sex led to nothing
But I will lead as far as I can lead

I think I see the future when I sleep
The sky splits like an almond under feet
Skin is peeling off of us in sheets
I think I see the future when I sleep

And power stations shiver and they leak
They bleed onto the fields and kill the wheat
A sea of clouds is billowing in heat
Oh, harvest comes and babies born with teeth.
And skin is peeling off of us in sheets
I think I see the future when I sleep.

And dinosaur sex led to nothing
And maybe you will lead to nothing
And dinosaur sex led to nothing
But you will lead as far as you can lead.

And dinosaur sex led to nothing
And maybe you will lead to nothing
And dinosaur sex led to nothing
But you will lead as far as we can lead.

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Learning! Roundup: The good side of selfies, virtual morality, back up plans, and role models

Learning! People who take selfies are happier, role models make a difference

The Good Side to Selfies

Like to make fun of those who take constant selfies? They could be happier than you, so they probably don't care. It's not just selfies making people happy, though! A new study shows that taking and sharing photos has a variety of positive effects. People who took lots of selfies became more confident and happy with their own faces; people who snapped objects that made them happy became more reflective and appreciative; and people taking shots in order to make other people happy became calmer and more connected to their community.

Virtual Morality

Psychology research has a big problem - that problem is ethics. We're not allowed to just put people in situations that are, say, life-threatening, and find out what they do, because that is unethical. Instead, we have to do things like tell them to imagine that they are in a life-threatening situation, and then ask them what they would do. Not quite the same.

Thanks to virtual reality, however, studies can get a lot more exciting! With the ability to actually immerse a person in an experience, we can see how they actually react to various situations. One study has already shown that, despite paper-based experiments showing that most people wouldn't push a person onto train tracks to block a train and save five people, when immersed in the situation, they actually would. Our morality may be a little more pragmatic in the heat of the moment than we like to think.

There is No Back Up

You know how celebrities always say that they had no back up plan, and that's why they were successful? Research now corroborates their claims: having a back up plan reduces the effort a person puts in towards their primary goal.

Role Models Matter

You know how women and people of colour get all excited whenever we see ourselves represented in traditionally white and/or male roles? Turns out we aren't just being silly! A recent study shows that undergraduate women studying STEM fields perform significantly better, and are less likely to drop out, after reading a letter from a female grad student in their field.

In the letters, the female grad student spoke about her feelings of not belonging, the challenges she overcame, and the value of her degree. Think of what could be done with this! Not only could this encourage women to stick it out in prominent, male-dominated fields, but for anyone pursuing work that isn't "typical" to their sex, race, gender-expression, or anything else! And it's so easy - instead of having "poster children" of a particular field be the typical entrant, take someone who bucks the norm. Share their story.

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Me & Ryan Gosling on New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve! It's a time for friends and fun and for my guy Ry Ry to make my friend laugh her face off by doing some sweet dance moves in the background.

Documenting my totally real lifelong relationship with Ryan Gosling, here he is at a New Year's Eve party with me and my friend

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Inspiration! Roundup: Cooking with Salvador Dali, Miyazaki's girls, and more!

This week I am inspired by Amelia Earhart, Salvador Dali's cookbook, Miyazaki's girls, and a really cool wine decanter
This Week's I Want to Go to There:
An artist studio full of the tools of creativity.

Cooking with Dali

Did you know that Salvador Dali always wanted to be a chef? That's right, even great artists have secret dreams! He never did become a chef, but he did release a cookbook, complete with his own artwork and this introduction:
We would like to state clearly that, beginning with the very first recipes, Les Diners de Gala, with its precepts and its illustrations, is uniquely devoted to the pleasures of Taste... If you are a disciple of one of those calorie-counters who turn the joys of eating into a form of punishment, close this book at once; it is too lively, too aggressive, and far too impertinent for you.
Preach, Dali!

Get a peek at the most beautiful cookbook ever here.

A different kind of decanter

Despite having done several wine tastings where wine knowledge was given to me, I have basically only retained the fact that it comes in two colours and it tastes like wine and some of it comes in bottles with fantastic labels. I am also pretty sure that the point of a decanter is to let the wine breathe or something like that.

This means that these incredible wine decanters made to mimic hearts, veins, and root systems, may not serve their intended purpose, but also that who cares, they are stunning and remind me to look at the world in different ways.

The Strange Decanter
Easier Said Than Done
"Decide… whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.”
– Amelia Erhart
(As good advice as this is, "stop worrying" as a motto coming from a woman whose plane disappeared is... a bit cautionary? I mean, theoretically she decided her goal was worth that risk, so it's still valid.)

Miyazaki's Girls

One of my dearest friends is a HUGE Miyazaki fan. I have always appreciated his work, but haven't actually watched that much of it. This gives me yet another reason to check it out.

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Book Club: All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

Single ladies are doing pretty well, but also not that well? Here's my book club response to Rebecca Traitor's All the Single Ladies

Fun fact to start off this post: my computer wanted to autocorrect Rebecca Traister to Rebecca Traitor. So, for all those of you who think that encouraging ladies to stay single, should they so desire it, is destroying society, my computer agrees with you.

All The Single Ladies is a non-fiction book about single women, both during the turn of the 20th century when first-wave feminism was getting itself going, and today. Traister researched and interviewed a host of women to see what life is like for single women, addressing everything from family to loneliness to work to romance.

Thoughts and Questions:

One of my biggest takeaways is that the lives of single ladies and peoples' attitudes towards single ladies has both changed a ton since the early feminists and not much at all.

Not much at all: there are STILL articles being written about the breakdown of civil society that is, apparently, both actually happening and caused by unmarried people. Specifically, this is the fault of women who don't get married, because apparently men have no say in the matter and haven't been complaining about getting "tied down" in sitcoms since the dawn of television. (Dudes, you can't saddle us with the responsibility for maintaining civil society while treating us like we're incompetent sillies. It just doesn't fly.)

Not much at all: women are still encouraged to marry as a way to ensure a stable, economically sound, and happy life, as if any marriage itself is the answer and not, you know, community, self-sufficiency, and finding a good partner.

Changed a ton: women have the option of getting really good jobs now that are actually interesting.

Changed a ton: when I talk to people, even one generation older than me, they talk about getting married and having kids as "just the thing you did", without putting that much thought into it. Now we put a lot of thought into it. That's pretty huge.

Changed a ton: while single parenthood has always been a thing, it is more acceptable and supported than ever before. Of course, this "acceptability" mostly lies with wealthy, white women who are choosing to become mothers on their own. It seems our collective view of minorities and young single mothers is just as low as it's ever been.

Not much at all: speaking of our view of minorities, the advancement of women, in general, still applies mainly to white, middle- to upper-class women. This advancement tends to occur on the backs of the labour of poor women and women of colour being paid low wages to do the less-glamorous jobs.

As a whole, the book was really fantastic. It was incredibly interesting, funny, empowering, and infuriating, all at once. It motivated me to think more about my life as a whole.

It is also quite repetitive. Because it is split up by topic (work, babies, friendships, illness, etc.), it basically went like this: women used to have no choices; some very awesome women in the past started making different choices and being public about it; now women have more choices, which has its benefits and pitfalls. Repeat.

Here's one nit-picky nit I'll pick with Traister: she refers constantly to women choosing to delay (or reject) marriage. While I appreciate her empowering use of the word "choice", I actually don't think it usually is a choice. Sure, Beyoncé decided she wouldn't consider getting married before the age of 25, and some women don't want to ever partner up. For them, this is an active choice. I would argue, though, that for most women who are single, the simple answer is that we haven't yet met people who we want to marry and who also want to marry us. The choice, if there is one, is to not marry the next available person because we had to. In the meantime, we continue to live our lives.

Which is really what this book is about: how women continue to live their lives, with or without husbands.

In the meantime, let's have some pizza.

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Cute! Roundup: Bats can be cute?

Every time I see Gertie all cozy like this I just want to curl up with her forever. Forever! But that would make it hard for me to keep blogging, so I set my priorities straight.

Other cute things:

Bats can be cute! Who knew?

What's a Glaucus Atlanticus? This. It's tiny and cute. And pretty.

Mama cat introduces her baby to the rest of the family.

Lying in a bed of chicks.

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Singalong! Too Much by the Spice Girls

I bet you never would have expected to find deep wisdom in a Spice Girls song, would you? And yet. "Too much of something is bad enough... too much of nothing is just as tough." Guys. I am both making fun of it and learning from it at the same time.

by the Spice Girls

Love is blind, as far as the eye can see
Deep and meaningless, words to me
Easy lover, I need a friend
Road to nowhere, twist and turns but will this never end

Well my dear you'll know that he pleases me (eases me)
But short term solution ain't no resolution
There ain't no release for me
Too much of something is bad enough
But something's coming over me to make me wonder (ooh)
Too much of nothing is just as tough
I need to know the way to feel to keep me satisfied (ooh)

Unwrap yourself from around my finger
Hold me too tight or left to linger
Something fine built to last
Slipped up there I guess we're running out of time too fast

Yes my dear you know he soothes me (moves me)
There's no complication there's no explanation
It's just a groove in me
Too much of something is bad enough (bad enough)
But something's coming over me to make me wonder (ooh)
Too much of nothing is just as tough (just as tough)
I need to know the way to feel to keep me satisfied (ooh)

What part of no don't you understand (understand, understand)
I want a man not a boy who thinks he can
Boy who thinks he can

Too much of something is bad enough
But something's coming over me to make me wonder (ooh)
Too much of nothing is just as tough
I need to know the way to feel to keep me satisfied (ooh)
Too much of nothing so why don't we give it a try
Too much of something we're gonna be living a lie
Too much of nothing so why don't we give it a try
Too much of something we're gonna be living a lie
Too much of nothing so why don't we give it a try
Too much of something we're gonna be living a lie

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Learning! Roundup: Yoga alignment, maternal regret, caffeine, and pole dancing

Photo by Jemasty. Wikimedia Commons.

Yoga Alignment Lessons

If you've taken more than a couple of yoga classes and have paid attention to the various teachers' alignment cues, you're probably already a little confused about what you should be doing with your body. Here is a roundup of common yoga alignment errors, along with explanations as to why.

Legitimizing Maternal Regret

Anyone with a uterus knows the story: woman gets pregnant, by choice or not (earlier than planned, not with the right guy, feels like she "should", whatever), has the baby, and baby gives her life all new meaning. Probably the story is the same for dudes, except they suddenly find out they've contributed to a pregnancy and while they are uncertain, they rise to the occasion and also find that their life has new meaning.

The problem is that this is not the case for everyone. Some people just wish they hadn't become parents. This is a concept that we are absolutely terrified to talk about, but studies and books are starting to emerge documenting the cases of maternal regret. This article in The Science of Us gives an intro to parental regret, and it's worth a read, if nothing else to learn about what the experience of parenthood is like for some people.

More Caffeine Confusion

Adding to the ongoing list of what is good and bad about caffeine is the fact that it is linked with lower levels of dementia in women. This falls squarely in the "correlation does not equal causation" camp, but if you're looking for an excuse to jack up your caffeine intake, you've got one.

More Parenting!

Whether or not parents regret their choice of having kids, they are, on average, spending more time with the little ones. In the 60's, moms spent about 54 minutes a day with their kids, and in 2012 it was over 100 minutes. For dads, it's even more pronounced (although still uneven): from 16 minutes a day in the 60's to 59 minutes in 2012.

Pole Dancing Men

Like many things that are now considered feminine, pole dancing was originally performed by men. (Other things that women were originally banned from that are now "for girls": ballet, yoga, and being a flight attendant.)

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Bridget Jones' Baby: Reactions

On Monday a few friends and I went to the Church of Bridget. We truly thought the theatre would be almost empty, but it turns out that everyone wants to go to the Church of Bridget, because Bridget is the Grand and Accidental Leader of her own cult.

Bridget Jones' Baby is, of course, the conclusion to the Bridget Jones series, wherein (SPOILER! STOP READING NOW IF YOU WILL BE SURPRISED BY THE ENDING OF A ROMANTIC COMEDY!) she marries Mark Darcy. I presume this makes it a conclusion, because what kind of wacky adventures could a woman have after getting married and having a baby? None, obviously.

Thoughts, feelings, and reactions wherein I use actor and character names interchangeably:

I love Colin Firth as much as any other human person (so all the amounts of love), yet... Patrick Dempsey was just far far better. Sort of. I will explain why not in a moment, but to start with the good, I will point out that on top of his obviously perfect face and body, he is an upbeat, friendly person. He shows her affection and is actually emotionally available to her.

Bridget thinks that Patrick is not the best one for her because she keeps loving Mark, but that's not the real reason. The real reason is that Mark will love her and the baby, even if the baby is not his. Patrick will only love her and baby if the baby is his.

Bridget standing there awkwardly while Patrick (Jack? Is that his character's name?) does this condensed multi-date thing to try to woo her is the perfect demonstration of how romantic gestures are cute in theory and very weird to experience in reality. (So I assume.)

The difference between men and women's experience in the world: a strange woman wanders into a man's yurt, drunk and talking about how badly she needs to get laid, and he is more than happy to oblige. A strange man wanders into a woman's yurt, drunk and talking about how badly he needs to get laid? Even if she would be up for some sweet random action, she will most likely immediately fear for her life and wonder if she should just let him bang her so he doesn't get mad and kill her instead. Reality is a bummer.

There are a couple of flashbacks to the first movie, and OH BOY! They look so young in the first movie! They are babies! And I think I'm basically the age she was in the first movie so... I'm a baby? Sweet!

Look at Baby Bridget!

Can we stop romanticizing men who are emotionally distant and can't decide to love us until the very last possible second?

I'm not sure what I thought of the scene where Mark Darcy picks Bridget up to carry her to the hospital because a women's rights march gets in their way. The juxtaposed imagery is - confusing?

I cried, because I'm the sappiest of the saps, BUT! I did NOT cry at the romantic things. I cried at the scenes where her friends got excited and supportive about her going into labour. It's just so lovely seeing all the unbridled support of a community of friends! (I definitely promise I did not get all teary-eyed writing that. Or again when I re-read this paragraph.)

I don't know about you, but if I left my purse and phone and keys and everything in a bank vestibule, I wouldn't walk home and sit on the ground outside my apartment in the pouring rain. I would wait by the bank for someone to come by who is also a member of the bank and ask them to open the door for me. Or, you know, ask to borrow a phone and call the security company or something.

I kind of wish it hadn't ended with the wedding. I mean, it's great that she got married, but did it have to end with her little monologue about being a singleton no more? Like that was the crowning achievement of the life where she just learned to be independent and enjoy her career and stand up for her values and stuff? Did it HAVE to?

They did this whole Romeo and Juliet thing where her and Mark looked at each other from across a party while she wore angel wings. I'm not sure they want to invite a comparison to two horny teenagers who both kill themselves due to melodrama and miscommunication, it doesn't bode well. Unless that's the secret message of this movie? That marriage is suicide? I mean, I was a bit disappointed with the wedding as the big-ultimate-experience-to-end-all-experiences, but this is a bit of a dark overcompensation.

Whatever, the friendships are lovely.

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Me & Ryan Gosling playing California kick ball

Ryan is really into team sport activities, so years ago when my friend was doing a California kick ball party for her birthday party, he was all over it. Turns out, for Ry Ry, being "all over" a sporting event means standing on the sidelines and looking adorable, while the rest of us play the game, but you know what? He's really good at it.

Ryan Gosling is in an obviously real lifelong relationship with me, and here we are playing California kick ball at a friend's birthday. Ryan loves sports.

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This Week's I Want To Go To There: Can I just hang out in bed all day
and call it a protest? (Also, Bed Peace.)
Photo by Nationaal Archief

The Lady Parts Justice League

If you told me that a women's rights advocacy group is out there using language like "Legis-hatin'" and "Abortion Schmabortion", I don't think I would have believed you. I would have been oh so wrong.

These ladies have got it going on with rights advocacy AND hilarity. Example text, introducing what they call the "goon squad": "meet some of the total losers who have dedicated their lives to going medieval on your ass. And all your other sexy parts for that matter."

Which leads to one very important question: why on earth do we think we have to turn into stodgy button-ups when we want to advocate for something? I mean, the answer is actually really straightforward, and it's that we are advocating to a bunch of stodgy button-ups and they listen better to people who are like them. But still. This is awesome.

Pay a visit to the Lady Parts Justice League.

Visual Size Comparisons

There is something stunning (and occasionally incredibly creepy) about artist Kevin Wisbith's series putting large things next to each other to give us a better sense of their scale.

Kevin Wisbith: The 2.6 Trillion Dollar Rock

Do Nothing

“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world.”
— Oscar Wilde

Gratitude Prompts

Okay, I'll admit: I am a big fan of gratitude journalling. Not that I do it these days, but back when I was struggling with depression and major self-worth issues, I did, and it's one of the biggest item in my (imaginary) "things that saved me" word cloud.

Sometimes it's hard to find things to be grateful for, though. Here is a super-cheesy list of gratitude prompts. They are lame, yes. But some of the best things in life are lame. They're also just prompts - they are only there to get you started, not to be the super-cool conclusion.

Compare and Contrast: Geel vs. Bedlam

Generally our reaction to mental illness is to send people away. In Geel, Belgium, the tradition is different. They take the mentally ill into their homes and care for them as regular members of society, referring to them only as "boarders".

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Go away, autumn! No one likes you.

Fall is the worst time of year, and everyone knows it, they just don't know that they know it. Here is why autumn is the worst!

There is one thing I have never understood about everyone else: this love affair with stupid, stupid autumn. I have to assume it is a coping mechanism for the deep emptiness of losing summer, otherwise why on earth would anyone consider it a good thing to lose early sunrises, late sunsets, air that is warm enough to preclude layers, and the general carefree attitude that accompanies summer?

So while everyone is all "sweaters!", "pumpkin spice lattes!", and that's it because apparently those two things are worth celebrating the symbolic (and actual) slow death of the world, I will let you now the cold, hard facts of what autumn is really like.

WET PANTS. This one only really applies if you live in the Pacific Northwest (and probably other parts of the world that rain a lot, if I wasn't so geo-centric in my thinking), but September means that it's raining all the time which means that your pants are just going to be wet. Even if you wear rain boots and a rain jacket, you still have a patch of leg that is exposed, and even if you stay technically dry, you're still just going to be damp. Moist, even. Yeah. Moist. Gross. (VERDICT: TERRIBLE.)

FRIZZY HAIR. This is also relates to the rain and gross damp moistness. Also, I hear from girls who wear make up that rain makes that harder, too. (VERDICT: TERRIBLE.)

DARK MORNINGS. Oh, great, now it's dark when I wake up and I suddenly get to ponder whether existence is even worth it at all instead of waking up with light streaming through my window and into my heart. (VERDICT: TERRIBLE.)

DARK EVENINGS. The darkness also slowly closes in on us at the end of the day. There is no good reason for this, except to remind us that everyone dies one day and so we might as well go home, not talk to anyone, drink something hot, and never leave our homes again. (VERDICT: TERRIBLE.)

COLOURFUL TREES. Okay, the colourful trees are nice to look at and provide something new for everyone to Instagram. But! They are only nice for those of us that can see the colours. Thanks for excluding the colourblind, nature. (VERDICT: LOVELY, FOR SOME PEOPLE.)

IT'S GETTING COLD. Yeah, sweaters. Great. Now instead of just putting on the clothes I want to wear and leaving the house, I have to think through how cold it is and how many layers I need and should there be a scarf involved? Gloves? Will it rain or does it just look like it will rain and then will I wind up wearing my rain boots all day like a chump? And then I get inside and it's warm inside and I'm wearing a sweater and I'm TOO WARM because the sweater was for the cold weather outside! Speaking of warm insides, everyone turns on the heat in autumn and that uses more energy and that's bad for the environment. Autumn is bad for the environment. (VERDICT: TERRIBLE.)

PUMPKIN SPICE. Suddenly everything is flavoured like pumpkin spice. I do not like pumpkin spice that much. It is not worth putting in everything. I just want a scone or a beer or an oreo or vodka or kale chips or chocolate without all the freaking cinnamon and nutmeg that we put into pumpkin to make it palatable! (VERDICT: VARIES BETWEEN TERRIBLE AND EYE-ROLL-INDUCING, DEPENDING ON UBIQUITY.)

EVERYTHING IS SLOWLY DYING. All autumn does is remind us that everything dies. We watch, helpless, as the world curls into itself, drying up like a husk (that then gets all gross and soggy in the rain - a soggy dried husk. Gross.), and dies. Autumn is the long, drawn-out death rattle of the world. (Winter being the cold body that we decorate with coloured lights to distract from the death, Weekend at Bernie's style.) (VERDICT: TERRIBLE.)

So basically, there are SIX terrible things about fall, ONE partially terrible/partially annoying thing, and only ONE lovely thing. And that thing isn't even lovely for everyone!

Go away, autumn. I know you've given everyone else Stockholm Syndrome and they think they love you, but they are wrong. I will be the lone speaker of truth into this sad world that thinks it is happy and ruin it for everyone!

From September to November, the world dies in fall.

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