Saturday, December 31, 2016

Singalong! A Long December by Counting Crows

I already posted my all-time favourite New Year's Eve song, So This is the New Year by Death Cab for Cutie, and so I guess I have to think of a different one. How about some depressing-yet-hopeful melancholy? That seems fitting for the end of 2016. After all, we can only hope that maybe this year will be better than the last.


A LONG DECEMBER
by Counting Crows

A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin'
Now the days go by so fast

And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven I wish you would

The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl

And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California I think you should

Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her

And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean I guess I should
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah


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Friday, December 30, 2016

Best of 2016: Best of the Best of Lists

The best "best of 2016" lists around!

I LOVE YEAR-END LISTS! Give me all your best of ____ lists and I will be a HAPPY LADY well into the new year!

Here are some of my favourite Best of 2016 lists I've come across so far:

Year-End Film Fest

My boss is a movie NUT who loves spreadsheets and can actually list you his top five movies of all time, in order. Every year he shares a list that consolidates all the top movie of the year lists into one, and then shares his favourites.

30 of the Most Important Articles by People of Colour in 2016

This is important reading for us all.

The Best Infographics of 2016

I love infographics! Infographics for everything! Infographics help us all understand things! Apologies for the fact that this list is in annoying slideshow format.

21 Incredible Innovations That Improved the World in 2016

It's so tempting to write off 2016 as a bunch of pigeon poop that just fell on all of our heads while we were on our way to a job interview. Well, some good things happened this year too, guys!

25 Best Comedians of 2016

I have been getting more into comedy lately, and I didn't even know all of these people EXISTED! Here's to starting the year with a laugh!

Best Memes of 2016

If you're like me, you're getting into old-and-behind-the-times territory, where you (actually) make Snapchat jokes where you suggest snapping your fingers at people (groan, why do I say things). Keep up with what the hip kids are talking about, only a year late with this collection of popular memes from the past year. (Note: anyone who's actually cool will not only know about these as they happen, but know of a whole bunch of things that never made the list).  Apologies for another slideshow, you can look at it de-slided here.

5 Painters You'll Be Hearing About in 2017

Get ahead of the curve on the fine art front. Also, there is a Kimye/Titanic mash up in here you've got to see.

22 Podcasts You Should Subscribe to in 2016

Okay, so there's still a couple of days left to be part of the club on these. Bonus: they are divided topically! I want to beef up my science, history, and comedy genres, so this works out well.

Time Magazine's Top 10 Everything of 2016

Finally, spend a solid hour perusing Time Magazine's collection of top ten lists, from novels to plays to the worst songs of the year.


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Learning! Roundup: Christmas history, busyness, movies, a crow's ear, and more

Learning! Roundup: The pagan, drunken history of Christmas, stay busy, stay important, what a crow's ear looks like, free movies, and more

The Drunken, Pagan History of Christmas

Most people know by this point that December 25th is probably not actually the day Baby Jesus emerged dramatically into a stable. The entire history of the holiday is pretty fascinating, though. Watch and learn!


Stay Busy, Seem Important

It's been clear for a while that the new social currency is busyness. As a member of the generation that can never get ahead, we don't have wealth, cars, families, and houses to mark our social growth. Instead, we can just get busier and busier. The more we're doing, the more our lives are advancing, right?

New research has shown that the busier someone is, the more important they are perceived to be. So it's working, guys! We are stressing ourselves into the appearance of a life with social capital. Who cares if we're too busy to enjoy it?

Movie Night!

By now most people have their go-to places to watch movies online, but in case you needed another option, Reddit has come to the rescue! Go to r/fullmoviesonvimeo for full movies (uploaded onto Vimeo, I guess).

A Crow's Ear

Have you ever wondered what a crow's ear looks like? Me neither! But now we can both know!

Also, I feel like the term "a crow's ear" should become slang. Example sentence: "I don't give a crow's ear what you say you did! There are feathers all over the kitchen!"

Depression and Rewards

There are lots of things in a depressed brain that work differently than a non-depressed brain. Depressed people, for example, feel uncomfortable when receiving compliments, whereas those without depression feel good when they are told something good about themselves.

A new study uncovers similar effects in young children to show that depressed children react differently to rewards than their non-depressed counterparts. Instead of experiencing joy and a motivation to continue to work towards a new reward, depressed kids have a blunted response that could impact their future motivation in work and life.

Home Alone Kills

Home Alone is one of my favourite Christmas movies of all time. Not only is it a fun and festive romp through childhood and The True Meaning of Christmas (in this case: family), but it is a great way to measure your true age. I knew I was getting older when I started to worry that those burglars were actually being brutally murdered over and over again by a sadistic 7 year-old kid.

Here's a fun animation to show you just how damaging Kevin was with that paint can.

Immunity and Psychosis

It's possible that psychosis is an immune disorder. A percentage of those experiencing psychosis in adulthood were revealed to have their immune system attacking specific neuroreceptors.


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Thursday, December 29, 2016

So this is the New Year...

We're going to be talking about the new year here, so I suggest you listen to my favourite Death Cab for Cutie song, The New Year, while reading.


Okay, folks. We've just spent a month wallowing in all forms of consumerism, and now it's time for us to start imagining how we will be better people.

Maybe you're a person who likes to feel lofty and above it all (aka "better") because you are always growing and changing and don't need something arbitrary like a new year to motivate you to improve yourself. Well, good for you. I like to take opportunities to reflect and what better time to consider the bigger picture of your life than a new year.

I am going to start by asking myself some questions:

What am I grateful for this past year?

What am I grateful for in the sense that hard things make you stronger so I guess I'll say I'm grateful because I learned and grew even though it was actually sucky?

Where did I feel stuck?

Where did I feel possibility?

What were the little things that I enjoyed the most? Least?

What people and places made me feel strong/good/powerful/happy/energized/other positive feelings?

What people and places made me feel weak/bad/powerless/unhappy/tired/other negative feelings?

What is the relationship between these different people and places?

Where do I want to grow?

Where do I want to shrink?

How did I mean to spend my time and how did I actually spend my time?

What causes did I contribute to? What causes do I want to contribute to? How?

If someone was observing my life, what goals would they think I was pursuing? What goals do I actually want to pursue?

How the heck am I going to save enough money for the weddings that are coming down the pipeline this year?



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Me & Ryan Gosling measuring how big my face is

Sometimes when you're posing for a group photo with Ryan, he'll decide he wants to measure how big your face is. Hilarious, Ry Ry!

Documenting my totally real, lifelong, ongoing relationship with Ryan Gosling




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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Inspiration! Roundup: Little kids with big dogs, Bhangra in Canada, Miyazaki's nature reserve, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
Cozy socks, a mug of tea, and (not pictured) a book.
And I would be holding the tea in my hands, not with my feet.

Little Kids, Big Dogs

What is it that is so magical about this photo series of little kids with their giant dogs by Andy Seliverstoff?



Bhangra in Canada

Trying to get through winter in Canada? Try a little Bhangra while you shovel snow!


Knitting with Noodles

It's always wonderful to see art created out of unexpected materials. Singaporean artist Cynthia Delaney Suwito has taken to using instant noodles as her source material. She knits them and chemically freezes them, creating new and interesting pieces out of an otherwise overlooked foodstuff.

Miyazaki Nature Reserve

If you've seen the stunning and imaginative films of Hayao Miyazaki, you will instantly be over the moon to know that after retiring from filmmaking, he has devoted himself to creating a nature reserve for children that mirrors his made-up worlds. I KNOW, RIGHT??? If you haven't seen any Miyazaki films, get thee to a movie watching place (I don't think they're on Netflix, so you're on your own with finding them) and watch! Now!

Kalander Wheel

The Kalander burning wheel is pretty spectacular to watch. My friend shared it leading up to the winter solstice, now watch and know that the world is getting brighter. Thank goodness.


We're All Going to Die

With the advent of yet another beloved celebrity death (RIP Carrie Fischer), there's a lot of outpouring of sadness and mourning and "who's next?" happening online. Here is what a friend of mine had to say about it:
EEEK! We're all gonna DIE eeeeeee!
No disrespect intended as I admired
-the celebrity and actor Carrie Fisher too
-and of course I liked George Michaels
-and I adored Leonard Cohen to bits
-and Bowie, I mean of course
*** BUT FOLKS, REALLY!!
Look around at the people around you!!
There are folks, friends, relatives 53 years old like Michaels or 60 like Fisher or older - all around you!!
-spend some time with them
-or honour them,
-or honour yourselves,
-or honour each other,
-or at least @#$*(% pay attention and say hello!
-oh oh oh and maybe tell them you LOVE them (like you LOVE Carrie Fisher and George Michael),
-and find something they do that is awesome or a special story they have from THEIR lives you should hear
(a) if you choose,
(b) at least in addition to,
(c) or just carry on being in a reality warped by celebrityism and things watched on television. (and film and gaming and so on).k
Please pay more attention and FB time on those around you. I want to hear you rave about the "real people" in your life too. Or your own life. I really really DO! and not just icons and your pets. Much as I love pets.
-Leonora Grande
I found this to be a welcome reminder that while it's okay to be sad and mourn the loss of a great artist who changed our inner (and outer) lives, we have a whole community of people around us whose loss would be far far more devastating, and who we need to share our love with.

Here's to finishing 2016 spreading love far and wide!


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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cute! Roundup: Christmas portraits, two-legged cats, bear hugs, and more!

I think this is my last opportunity to share a picture of me and my one true love on Christmas! She looks... not so impressed with the fact that I made her pose for twenty gazillion selfies before I finally got us both in the frame AND worked with the Facebook holiday picture filters. (I spent most of that time trying to make the filter recognize Gertie's face. It never worked.)


Other Cuteness:

Have you SEEN this two-legged cat going down the stairs??? It is both adorable AND an inspiration!

This woman giving a bear a snow bath is sort of terrifying and cute at the same time.

A man and his hummingbird pal.

Giant dogs are the BEST!

Pup swim class.

Mamas take care of their little ones, even (and especially) swan mamas!

Not sure where this one falls on the creepy/cute scale. Probably more creepy. Sorry.



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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Singalong! Baby, It's Cold Outside by She & Him

Like many people these days, I have very mixed feelings about the song Baby, It's Cold Outside. At best, it's an old fashioned song that reinforces damaging gender roles that women must put on a show of resisting while men persist (even through straightforward statements like "the answer is no"). At worst, it's about a woman trying to get away from a date rapist. But because it's got a nice old time jazzy vibe and allows for cute "romantic" duets, it has persisted into our eternal holiday rotations.

That's why I love the She & Him cover so much. They swap out the gender roles and turn the whole thing on its head. So, if you MUST sing along with this somewhat problematic song this Christmas, try following their lead. It's more interesting, it's more fun, and it maybe makes you think a little bit about our expectations regarding gender and sex (and who doesn't want that on Christmas Eve?)


BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE
as performed by She & Him

I really can't stay (but baby, it's cold outside)
I've got to go away (but baby, it's cold outside)

This evening has been (been hoping that you'd drop in)
So very nice (I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice)

My mother will start to worry (beautiful what's your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (listen to the fireplace roar)

So really I'd better scurry (beautiful please don't hurry)
But maybe just a half a drink more (put some records on while I pour)

The neighbors might think (baby, it's bad out there)
Say what's in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)

I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell)

I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)
At least I'm gonna say that I tried (what's the sense in hurtin' my pride?)

I really can't stay (oh baby don't hold out)
But baby, it's cold outside

I simply must go (but baby, it's cold outside)
The answer is no (but baby, it's cold outside)

Your welcome has been (how lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (look out the window at this dawn)

My sister will be suspicious (gosh your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (waves upon the tropical shore)

My maiden aunts mind is vicious (gosh your lips are delicious)
But maybe just a cigarette more (never such a blizzard before)

I've gotta get home(but baby, you'd freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat(it's up to your knees out there)

You've really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)
But don't you see? (how can you do this thing to me?)

There's bound to be talk tomorrow (think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (if you got pnuemonia and died)

I really can't stay (get over that old out)
Baby, it's cold
Baby, it's cold outside


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Friday, December 23, 2016

Learning! Roundup: Glow worm puke traps, sleep disorders and Parkinson's, torture, passive aggression, and more!

Photo by Markrosenrosen

Glow Worm Puke Traps

Ready for today's "gross-cool" discovery? Cave glow-worms vomit long sticky urine threads to catch their prey. Pretty, though, right?

Google Time Lapse

Curious how our landscapes have changed over the years? Google Time Lapse will show you! Here is a collection of BC cities changing over the years, but you can find your own.

Sleep Disorders and Parkinson's

Sleep disorders like Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder (RBD), where people get up and act out their dreams, precede other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's in about 80% of cases. That's huge! New research is starting to unpack the reasons why.

Does Torture Work? (NOPE)

Just in case Trump's claim that torture works really well has convinced you, maybe check the science on torture first. It actually really, really doesn't work. Mostly, it induces false confessions. This is great if all you want is a confession. Terrible if you want to actually find out the truth about a situation.

Passive-Aggressive Branding

Here's a fun relationship game: when you're mad at your partner and are doing the shopping, do you buy your preferred brand, or theirs? If you feel like you are lower in relationship power than your partner, than you are probably going to buy your brand as a way to vent frustration against them. Is this a satisfying way to get back at them for leaving the dishes out again?

Horse Helpers

Who do horses turn to in times of trouble? Humans, it turns out! New research shows that when horses are met with a problem they don't know how to solve, they will take steps to get the attention of humans and "ask" for help. This is kind of nice, since I always feel like humanity is a blight on most of the animal kingdom.


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Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Receptionist's last-minute gift guide

Sometimes you need to get a last-minute gift and you still want it to come off personally - here's how to get a last-minute gift that will come off well and save you money

It's almost Christmas! If you're anything like me, you've barely even taken a moment to consider what gifts you need to get, let alone have purchased or made any. So how do you give a last-minute gift that is still excellent and doesn't stress you out?



If you're rich, no problem! Just go to a store and spend a bunch of money. Done. Heck, if you're rich enough you probably can just send someone to go spend the money for you. Why are you even worried? Buying stuff is literally the easiest thing about being rich.

If you're not rich, then let's talk.

Unfortunately, most last minute gifts that aren't crazy expensive (candles, chocolate, picture frames, chocolate) simply scream "I don't know you that well!" or "I forgot to buy you a gift!" or "Why do we even bother???" These are undesirable things for a gift to scream at someone you care about.

The key to a good last-minute gift is that it's easy to find and is at least moderately personal. Let's examine the options by their most general categories. 

Gift Cards

Some people are anti-gift card. To these people you will send a powerful symbol of indifference with a gift card. Others may seriously appreciate them, so long as you put at least five seconds of thought into what they might want beyond Best Buy or Walmart (puke).

Do they play a lot of video games? Do they love make up? Do they read all the time? Do they like to attend arts and culture events? Could they use a massage? Are they outdoorsy? Do they love baking? There are places to buy all of these things.

Bonus points the more "local" and "thoughtful" the gift card is. Did you get it for their favourite artisanal shop in the hipsteriest neighbourhood? Did you package it up with a growler or in a cool-looking box? Well played, friend.

Subscriptions 

Remember when the cheese of the month club was a running gag on TV shows for impersonal bosses? Well, we have now entered the golden age of subscription services (and I, for one, would LOVE a cheese of the month membership).

Monthly subscriptions have all the ease of gift cards but way way way more Perceived Thoughtfulness Points. What do they like? They can get books (Vellum & Bloom), geekery (Loot Crate), underwear (Me Undies), and, I don't know, a thousand other things. Make up, crafty stuff, booze, whatever. Heck, you could pay their Netflix account for a year.

Oh! And don't forget about magazines! I realize that people are hip with iPads and stuff these days, but you can get magazine subscriptions for under $30. Then you have given your loved one a full year's worth of reading materials to actually read or leave on the coffee table and impress everyone with.

Booze

Oh alcohol, the go-to gift for every occasion. First thing to consider: does this person drink? If they don't, alcohol is going to be a terrible gift. If they do, our task is to turn the most generic gift into something that seems thoughtful. This will not necessarily succeed.

First question: what is their booze of choice? Beer? Wine? Scotch?

If they're into whiskey or other such drinks, any size bottle of a good-quality liquor will be welcome, especially if you accompany it with drinking-related accessories (a cigar, complimentary chocolate, fine drinking glass, cocktail bitters, a fancy simple syrup, etc.)

If it's beer, go craft and local and variety. A sampler pack of local brews, perhaps? 

Wine? I don't know how to make wine not generic. Sorry. Even a crazy expensive bottle is pretty impersonal.

Warm Things

Scarves, gloves, warm socks, slippers. Sure, your 21 year old brosef may not be stoked on a sweater, but there are ways to make them fun.

For example, if you know a Harry Potter fan (cough cough) who still doesn't have their house scarf (cough Ravenclaw cough), then you could certainly get that for them and be met with squeals of delight.

Otherwise, just get a nice warm thing that matches their style (rustic/hipster, fancy/fashionable, geekish) and you'll be covered. The best part? Warm things ABOUND this time of year. Grocery stores are selling scarves, for pete's sake.

Electronic Accessories

Being that we've already established you aren't rich, you probably aren't buying them an actual electronic device. But could they use a portable charger? Some other accessory? (I'm not really into electronics, I don't know, why am I even writing this section?)

Services

If you have a skill that you can offer them as a service for a gift, this could come off very well. UNLESS you would normally just do this thing for them anyways, because you are friends, or it is lame.

If you don't want to come across as a child who made a booklet of coupons for car washes and hugs to their grandparent, you'd better be saving someone time, stress, or money (pick two) and be actually good at the service you are offering.

Packaging

Here is where we separate the wheat from the chaff. The amateurs from the professionals. The lamebrains from the cool cats. This is almost as important - NAY - almost MORE important than the gift itself when it comes to personalizing and special-izing a last-minute gift.

A little polish in the packaging creates the illusion of time investment and pre-emptive care that will really throw a person off the trail. Get thee to Pinterest and spend a few extra minutes picking out your wrapping paper or tying spruce bows to the box.

Done!

Best last-minute gifts that are easy, cheap, and awesome



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Me & Ryan Gosling getting touristy in London

You might think that being a lowly regular human person in a lifelong relationship with someone like Ryan Gosling, means that you're always the one running all over the world, following them from place to place, lest you never see them. Not so! Ry Ry is very devoted and actually comes to me more often than I come to him (he can afford more plane tickets than me, after all). About ten years ago (yikes! Time flies!) I had an extended stopover in London, and my sweet guy came out just to see me! (Awwwww!) Here he is getting distracted by some fans while we paused to take a touristy photo.



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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Inspiration! Roundup: Help Aleppo, disco trucks, Mister Night, and more!

This Week's "I want to go to there":
Curling up in blankets! So warm! So cozy!

Help Aleppo

The news out of Aleppo is heartbreaking and it's easy to feel helpless. Here is a list of seven things you can do to help make a difference, including charities that are on the ground over there and could use your support, protest action, and political persuasion.

At the Disco

Image Source: Colossal

Talk about inserting celebrating into the unlikeliest of places: fancy a cement mixer disco truck (by artist Benedetto Bufalino.)

What Are You Truly Like

“We should spare ourselves the burden of loneliness. We are far from the only ones with this problem. Everyone is more anxious than they are inclined to tell us. Even the tycoon and the couple in love are suffering. We’ve collectively failed to admit to ourselves what we are truly like.”
-Alan de Botton

Time to Reflect

We're coming up on the end of the year, and that means it's time when we're supposed to be reflecting and renewing and resolving. So basically, this time of year is like CANDY for me, because I LOVE a little navel-gazing and self-exploration and learning about who I am and reflecting on what I can be!

Of course, examining one's life can be a bit daunting. Here is a suggestion of three questions you could ask yourself about the past year: what did you do this year that you are really proud of? What have you learned from your mistakes? What are you willing to let go of? (That third question is going to be the death of me.)

Mister Night

Wonder what night would do on a day off?


Self-Taught Artists on Display

The Smithsonian recently acquired a collection of 100 pieces of art by self-taught artists. It includes some pieces by artists who are famous if you know about artists (James Castle and Judith Scott, for example) and others previously unknown. The work is really really lovely, and a wonderful reminder that we can just do a thing if we want to do it.


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Monday, December 19, 2016

Cute! Roundup: Basking in the fake sunshine

My mom got me a "happy light" - one of those sunlight-reproducing lamps. I tested it out at home before bringing it in to the office for all-day joy-inducing brightness, and Gertie was pretty stoked to bask in the simulated sunshine.

As an aside, do you think these sunlight lamps would repel vampires?


Other Cuteness:

Soul mates.

This happy kitten is in camo.

Just in case you were labouring under the illusion that cats are not loving creatures.

Sometimes you just have to put up with a little craziness.


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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Singalong! Old Apartment by The Barenaked Ladies

This song was very popular when I was in grade six. At that time I was convinced I was going to become a mega-famous dancer/singer/songwriter/actress/model/filmmaker/photographer/fashion designer/counselor/interior decorator. I would imagine myself making a music video to this song (don't ask me why I thought I would be singing Barenaked Ladies covers in my glorious fame - I just did), and that I would have gotten together everyone who lived in the neighbourhood to walk through the cut de sac, revisiting our old houses for the video. It brought tears to my eyes, just thinking about how meaningful it would be to us, and, by extension, all my fans.


THE OLD APARTMENT
by The Barenaked Ladies

Broke into the old apartment
This is where we used to live
Broken glass, broke and hungry
Broken hearts and broken bones
This is where we used to live
Why did you paint the walls?
Why did you clean the floor?
Why did you plaster over the hole I punched in the door?

This is where we used to live

Why did you keep the mousetrap?
Why did you keep the dishrack?
These things used to be mine
I guess they still are, I want them back

Broke into the old apartment
Forty-two stairs from the street
Crooked landing, crooked landlord
Narrow laneway filled with crooks
This is where we used to live

Why did they pave the lawn?
Why did they change the locks?
Why did I have to break it, I only came here to talk
This is where we used to live

How is the neighbor downstairs?
How is her temper this year?
I turned up your TV and stomped on the floor just for fun

I know we don't live here anymore
We bought an old house on the Danforth
She loves me and her body keeps me warm
I'm happy there
But this is where we used to live

Broke into the old apartment
Tore the phone out of the wall
Only memories, fading memories
Blending into dull tableaux
I want them back

I want them back
This is where we used to live
I want them back
This is where we used to live
I want them back
This is where we used to live


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Friday, December 16, 2016

Learning! Roundup: Diversity myths and solutions, money and love, writing from someone else's shoes, and more

Learning Roundup: There are myths about diversity, and there are solutions; friends and mental health are better than money for happiness, wally lamb and writing from someone else's perspective, be careful with your pubic hair trimmings

Diversity Myths and Solutions

This article is about four myths about diversity in science, but I think most of these apply to other fields. For example, the myth that not very many people of colour go into science in the first place comes from other implicit biases, not actual data about people graduating from science programs. What biases could exist in your field that you don’t even realize are there, keeping you from seeing different groups of people?

I especially appreciate the practical solutions offered in this article to help people take steps to counteract these myths.

Money Can't Buy (as much happiness as) Love

New research shows that good mental health and relationships makes people happier than doubling their income. This might fall into the "duh" category (it's not surprising that getting my depression under control did a lot more for my happiness than earning more money), still it's a nice reminder. Invest in your relationships and mental health first!

Writing From Someone Else's Shoes

Talk about appropriation of culture and voice have made a lot of writers afraid to step outside of their direct life experience (while others angrily forge ahead, shunning any call for sensitivity, shouting "you can't hold me back!!!"). Novelist Wally Lamb has often written from different perspectives and shares an interesting guide to writing about the "other" without being a jerk.

The short-and-dirty version? Do your homework and get it right; write with real empathy; get feedback from people who know. From reading this, I would say that if writing from the perspective of an "other" doesn't humble you, you probably aren't doing it right.

Viruses Are Actually Harder on Men

New evidence shows that many viruses may have actually evolved to go easy on women symptom-wise. From tuberculosis to HPV to the flu, men actually do experience worse symptoms than women. The explanation that's being floated around on this one is that women make more valuable hosts for the virus, what with the possibility we'll have a baby and pass that virus on down the chain, whereas men will just get sick and die.

Please don't tell any men this.

Will Artificial Intelligence be Sexist?

Right now, it's looking that way. A new paper says that gender biases are being coded into computers. To try to replicate the intuitive connections the human mind can make, coders practice "word-embedding" for various words, images, and concepts, creating maps of meaning that can be put together by a machine mind.

The problem? Right now all our implicit biases based on gender, race, and even the pleasantness of flowers over insects, are being coded into our algorithms, amplifying their impact with the sheen of impartiality that we all assume a computer program will have.

Be Careful with Your Landscaping

By landscaping, of course, I mean "down there." A new study shows that overly-grooming your pubic hair can lead to increased risk of STIs!


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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Me and Ryan Gosling celebrating the royal wedding

Ryan and I are big fans of the Royal Family, so when Will and Kate got married, naturally we had to go for a high tea and celebrate! I surprised him with a replica of Kate's engagement ring, and Ry Ry got so excited about it, he insisted we take a picture. Look at his face, like a kid on Christmas.

Documenting my totally real, lifelong relationship with Ryan Gosling through the photos of our life! Here, we celebrated the royal wedding with a high tea!



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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Inspiration! Roundup: Viola Desmond, 80's punk portraits, surreal wildlife paintings, and more!

Inspiration Roundup includes Viola Desmond on the Canadian $10 bill, 80's punk portraits, surreal wildlife paintings, and more!
This Week's "I want to go to there":
I have had a huge urge lately to get myself tattooed.
What's stopping me? The same thing that keeps me from going back to school
and getting a masters: I have no idea what I want.

Viola Desmond on the $10 Bill

It's so exciting to finally have a woman on currency in Canada (aside from the Queen, of course)! Viola Desmond has been chosen as the first woman to take a place on our cash monies, and she is a pretty inspiring human. First, she was imprisoned for sitting in the whites only section of the movie theatre and refusing to leave when asked. Then, when she was barred from studying hair dressing at any local schools due to her race, she went abroad to learn how to cut hair, coming back to open her own studio AND a school to teach other women of colour the same skills.

The Cozy World of 80's Punk

This series of 80's punk photography by Mark Morrisroe is nostalgic and warm and lovely in a way that I think most people don't associate with the punk movement.

Surreal Wildlife Paintings by Tiffany Bozic

Tiffany Bozic's wildlife art is stunning.

A photo posted by Tiffany Bozic (@t.bozic) on


2016 Gets Some Redemption

It's a common refrain at this point that 2016 was the year that set the world on fire, just to watch it burn. Turns out that this year wasn't all bad. Here's a sweet collection of 17 badass women who did some pretty badass things this year, including a little girl who stares down riot police with the eyes of a hurricane in Chile and the teenage girl who is defiantly riding a bike in Gaza.

If you want more sweet dealings from this past year, check out CNN's Top 10 Heroes of 2016.

Typewriter Orchestra

This is just what it sounds like. I feel like I now live in a world where OF COURSE people have turned absolutely anything into performance, and at the same time, I bow down in wonder to the idea of a typewriter orchestra.



Melting Artwork

An artist is painting murals on ice caps to demonstrate and draw attention to climate change.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Angela Jones is marrying Neville Longbottom and that's fine, but she needs to take me under her wing now

I don't get particularly excited about celebrity in and of itself, what is celebrity except being a person who a lot of people know? Big whoop, am I right?

Yet, I hit fangirl level MAX pretty easily. There are artists and musicians who I respect deeply and who I feel a connection with through their work. Who I know (with zero trace of delusion, obviously), would want to be besties and collaborators, if we only got the opportunity to meet and be bosom friends for life.

Then there are fantastical worlds that I just wrap myself up in and never want to leave and I get very excited about anything to do with those words (cough - Harry Potter - cough) and would maybe die if I encountered them in a real way, because WHY AREN'T THEY REAL???

The few opportunities I have had to meet artists I love and respect, I have imagined somehow being able to start a conversation with them where they realize that we are kindred spirits and invite me to hang out with them on tour for a year while we create integrative art/theatre projects that will blow everyone's minds (or whatever, you know, I'm easy).

Launching a best-friendship with a famous (or semi-famous) person you're meeting in a fan-type situation is tricky. There's an essential balance where you have to seem cool and not too excited and interesting and show that you like their work and have a connection to it without gushing because then they'll just think of you as a "fan" and not "their new soul sister."

The best I've managed so far is to play it so cool they wonder why the heck I'm even there OR to say something like, "I really enjoy your work," while staring at them with eyes that communicate the lifelong union of our souls and are definitely the creepiest thing ever.

This is why I need to take Angela Jones out for a drink. This gal managed to snag NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM (aka Matthew Lewis, I guess he has a real name)! They are engaged! You know how it happened? They met at a Wizarding World event in Orlando. SHE MET NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM AT A FAN EVENT AND IS NOW MARRYING HIM.

Okay, so it helps that she is perfectly beautiful in the classic sense that apparently makes boys turn into me when I'm trying to talk to Amy Grant (don't judge, I grew up on her music and she is basically family - in my heart, not reality) and so he probably was the one stuttering and trying to figure out how to play it cool while still showing interest (seriously, how do people do this???).

But still. She was at a fan-bait event and talking to someone from Harry Potter and managed to be normal and interesting enough that they not only talked again, but a LOT more and are now getting married?

This gal needs to teach lessons.




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This Week in Church: Sentimentality and The Magnificat


As many of you may have sorted out from my past church-related posts, I am a church-going-type person. This is an awkward thing to admit, because, like so many millennials (or whatever, I guess I have to be in this generation even though I'm 32 and don't like Snapchat and had to use Google to learn that PSL stands for Pumpkin Spice Latte), I resist such labels and want to immediately crush you with stipulations what that this does and doesn't mean for my morals and values and lifestyle.

Anyways. I go to church, but lately I haven't really been feeling it. "It" being that special something, spiritual connection, feel good connection and warmth that makes spiritual stuff ring true in my gut. But I'm still going. I have also long thought that there are things to be learned in a church service that can be good for everyone, no matter what their religious practice. So, in order to help myself connect better to the goodness that church can offer, with or without a spiritual connection, I'm going to start sharing my church take-aways.

This week in church, we talked about sentimentality.

Sentimentality is something that churches could be accused of mining and using to great effect: "Feel these feelings, a mingling of guilt and relief and love and fear and hold onto that sweet, weird mixture and don't let go. Revel in the feelings, wonder which is more prominent at what time, attempt to manipulate them and attribute them to different sources and all the while think how wonderful and terrible it is to be human and have this capacity for emotion. Glory in the depths to which you can feel and imagine what these feelings must be connecting you to."

Hmmmmm... and here I am complaining that I'm not really "feeling it" at church. That's interesting.

This week in church, we talked about The Magnificat.

The Magnificat is the song written by Mary when she learned she was carrying little baby Jesus and realized the weight of her role as the mother of God.

Among other things, the song describes God "pulling the mighty down" and "sending the rich away empty handed" while feeding the hungry and exalting the weak.

The question this raises is, where do I fall on that spectrum? I like to see where I am weak and lowly, where I am hungry and in need of help. But compared to what? Compared to whom? Where am I rich? Where am I mighty? Where am I standing on the back of someone else?

What an unpleasant thing to consider.


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Monday, December 12, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Singalong! Figures by Jessie Reyez

It's been a while since I came across a new artist who grabbed me. Jessie Reyez, you're that artist! Check out her incredible song, Figures, learn the words, sing along. I love the sentiment she shares of wishing so badly there was some way you could get back at the person who hurt you (despite whatever notions you might have that you're better than that), but you know that there's just no way to do it. Been there, felt that.


FIGURES
by Jessie Reyez

Figures
I gave you ride or die and you gave me games
Love figures
I know I'm crying cause you just won't change
Love figures
I gave it all and you gave me shit
Love figures
I wish I could do exactly what you did

I wish I could hurt you back
Love, what would you do if you couldn't get me back
You're the one who's gonna lose
Something so special, something so real
Tell me boy, how in the fuck would you feel?
If you couldn't get me back
That's what I wish that I could do to you, you
To you, you

Figures
I'm the bad guy cause I can't learn to trust
Love figures
You say sorry once and you think it's enough
I got a lineup of girls and a lineup of guys
Begging for me just to give 'em a try
Figures
I'm willing to stay
Cause I'm sick for your love

I wish I could hurt you back
Love, what would you do if you couldn't get me back
You're the one who's gonna lose
Something so special, something so real
Tell me boy, how in the fuck would you feel?
If you couldn't get me back
That's what I wish that I could do to you, you
To you, you



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Friday, December 9, 2016

Learning! Roundup: Space farming, dino tail feathers, parkinson's, and privilege

Learning! Roundup: science and research news on farming in space, dinosaur tail feathers, parkinson's and gut bacteria, and more understanding of white privilege
Photo Source: Image Catalogue
Space Farming

First of all, did you know that farming in space is actually a thing??? I sure didn't! They are growing red romain lettuce, dubbed "Outredgeous", in the International Space Station. So far they've solved the problems of growing produce in zero gravity (like how to make sure it gets enough water), and are now working on sustainable harvesting and regrowing techniques.


Shake Your (Dino) Tail Feather

Get ready for a more scientifically accurate Jurassic Park! They have found a piece of a dinosaur tail in a chunk of amber! The big news? It's got feathers. So far they have found evidence of feathered dinosaurs through fossil impression and the discovery of dinosaur-era feathers, but this is the first time some have turned up well-preserved actually attached to a dinosaur fragment.

Gut Bacteria and Parkinson's

New research shows that gut bacteria could be a contributing factor to Parkinson's disease, the cause of which has been unknown to date. Since about 70% of neurons in the peripheral nervous system are located in the intestines, and these are all connected to the spinal column through the vagus nerve, there is a logical connection between gut bacteria and a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson's.

Understanding Privilege

Some people are really sick of hearing about White Privilege - mostly, I think, white people. Sure, maybe part of the problem is that the term is now being thrown around like candy (perhaps because it is even more pervasive than candy in our society), but also because we misunderstand the term. "Privilege" makes us think of having some kind of sweet, cushy life. Since very few of us feel like our lives are privileged, it's hard to connect with the term.

Here's another great piece unpacking White Privilege and what it really refers to. Basically, it's the absence of stereotypes put on you due to your race. What judgements they put on you and how you are held accountable, or not, for the actions of other people who look like you. How likely they are to want to help you (like, for example, the recent study of 6,500 US professors showing that white male students asking for help regrind future opportunities receive more favourable responses.)


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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Me & Ryan Gosling, that time he crashed a stagette

The first time you have a friend getting married is pretty exciting! You even get to plan your first stagette ever! Ry Ry was so excited about the occasion, he insisted on coming along. No matter how many times I used the words "girls' night", he was not dissuaded, so finally we compromised: he crashed the party for a quick photo op with the bride, and then we moved on. It worked! Party on.

Ryan Gosling crashed my friend's stagette! For real. Totally real. As a part of my equally real lifelong relationship with Ryan Gosling.



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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Inspiration! Roundup: Protectors win one, Miss Senior America, no more stolen sisters, and more

This week's "I want to go to there":
Sunny road trips with a VW Van.
This might have something to do with the SNOW we just got in Vancouver.

No DAPL... Wins?

WHAT IS HAPPENING???? I have to admit, everyone, as much as I am a protester-type person, I am also very cynical about the power of protest. When my boyfriend and I saw the news that the Dakota Access Pipeline had stopped construction and will be re-routed, we were in shock. This is so encouraging!

Let's not forget, of course, the immense sacrifice on the part of the Water Protectors to make this happen - this wasn't just a march in the streets. This was months of giving up their lives and receiving violence.

Freedom
“The really important kind of freedom involves awareness, and attention, and discipline, and effort and caring for other people, over and over in myriad petty little unsexy ways everyday.”
-David Foster Wallace
Miss Senior America

Okay, I am firmly opposed to beauty pageants as a ridiculous, antiquated, and generally sexist thing that happens. So why, then, am I kind of excited and bewitched by the Miss Senior America pageant? Probably it has something to do with the fact that we assume seniors would be incapable of doing any of the things that beauty pageant contestants do, and the fact that recognizing the beauty and talent of a senior woman is actually a bit countercultural, even if it is born out of a ridiculous tradition of objectifying women.


What ELSE Can We Do?

We’re in the world and its chaos:
we can change the way we think about things
we can imagine
we can find new ways of doing and being
we can see other perspectives
we can consider
we can think and make and discuss critically
we can question
we can fail and fail better
we can privilege ideas
we can dream
we can succeed

Okay, this came from a sponsored post on Hyperallergic for an art school called Transart. But I don't care. Sometimes advertisers are inspiring, aren't they?

No More Stolen Sisters

This stunning dance by A Tribe Called Red uses holographic technology and video to dance honouring the memory of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. It's beautiful and haunting.

Note: I have realized that videos embedded from Facebook don't always show up in RSS feed readers. So you may want to click through to the blog to see the video.


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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Gilmore Girls - Fall frustration and freak outs

Okay, I finally watched the last episode of the Gilmore Girls. I took two notes during the entire show (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS ALL THE SPOILERS):

Photo Credit: jeffmason

Note #1: The Life and Death Brigade passes their time walking in front of storefronts and posing on rooftops now, do they? A little dull compared to leaping off buildings.

Note #2: Rory gets a house handed to her. Of course she does.

Guys. I was not a Gilmore Girls fanatic when the show was on, but I have a great fondness for Stars Hollow, and while it was glorious to be back there, this season (and by season I mean series of episodes, not the "Fall" episode) really magnified everything that I found ludicrous about the show in the first place.

Ludicrosities:

  • They always have money to do things, including flying across the ocean and/or country on whims, buying all the outdoorsy stuff (this is very expensive), and eating out every meal all the time. I know this is a common TV thing, but it especially sticks out in their reality.
  • The eating. The food. It's just kind of offensive. I know it's supposed to be a part of the charm of the show that they love to eat so much and eat so unhealthily, but it's actually ridiculous. Especially combined with the fat shaming.
  • The fat shaming. These two women who spend all their time doing nothing but consume junk food and never exercise and then maintain magically tiny bodies make fun of others with larger bodies. Badly done.
  • The whiteness. I know Stars Hollow is a small town in middle America, a magical place we all imagine to be full of white people with American flags that never touch the ground, but how are there still only three non-white characters on the show? Well, more if you count Mrs. Kim's brow-beaten Korean choir, but they are more props than characters.
  • The complete lack of fortitude on Rory's part. Lorelei doesn't have a ton of fortitude either, but I'm going to give her more grace for having been a teen mother, which might have used up a lot of her fortitude.

Then there's those last four words.

I didn't take any notes on those because, well, what am I supposed to note?

That it's the most stupid, idiotic ending ever?

That, oh, great, now everything has come full circle and Rory is going to be the next unwed mother and undoubtably have another daughter with a distant, rich father? (I'm assuming the father is Logan, but I really hope it's that Wookie Man and then she has to track him down and finds out that he's actually a really awesome dude who she unfairly judged for dressing like a wookie, and then she falls for him but it's too late because he's seen that she's shallow and terrible and he'll be a good dad but otherwise uninvolved.)

For those of you saying, "well, they'll be a sequel now", NOPE. This is how the creator always envisioned ending the story. With this stupid like mother, like daughter, it all comes around, nobody learns or grows or anything changes, ending. Fine. Great. Whatever.

OH! And Rory's book! Does anyone else hate it when a movie or TV show or play ends with the character having written the story of the play/movie/TV show? As soon as Jess told Rory to write about her life and relationship with her mom, my eyes started rolling and the eye roll reached its peak when Lorelei told her to drop the "The" in the title - "Just, Gilmore Girls. It's cleaner." UGH. EYES. ROLLING. ALL. OVER. THE. FLOOR.

ALSO, THEY NEVER RESOLVED THE LETTER! The letter that Emily claims Lorelei left her that she will never forgive her for that Lorelei is adamant she didn't write. Did she? Who is lying and/or mistaken? What could be so terrible in that letter? This is an unacceptable hanging thread.


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Monday, December 5, 2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Singalong! Where Have All the Good People Gone? by Sam Roberts

Guys, doesn't it sometimes feel like we've run out of good people in the world? I know that we haven't, but dang if the news would make us think otherwise. Let's take a moment to complain about it with Sam Roberts and then go out and help someone who needs a hand.


WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD PEOPLE GONE?
by Sam Roberts

Oh, the Milky Way has gone a little sour
The leaves dried and the flower fell away
I've been sitting, waiting for a sign
Inhuman beings taking up all of my time

Want to leave but I've got to stay
And I'm wondering more everyday
Montreal to Hong Kong
Where have all the good people gone?
Traffic jam but I'm on the shoulder
Took ten cops to pull me over
Bangkok to Babylon
Where have all the good people gone?

I haven't met a friend in a long, long while
They don't check my head but they, they check my style
The modern world is a cold, cold world
And all I meet are cold, cold girls

Want to leave but I've got to stay
And I'm wondering more everyday
Montreal to Hong Kong
Where have all the good people gone?
Traffic jam but I'm on the shoulder
Took ten cops to pull me over
Bangkok to Babylon
Where have all the good people gone?

And it's always the same, we just turn away
We are stealing from ourselves, we are feeding off ourselves

But we were born in flame
We need a cool breeze and a summer rain
We are stealing from ourselves, we are feeding off ourselves

Oh, the Milky Way has gone a little sour
The leaves dried and the flower fell away

Want to leave but I've got to stay
And I'm wondering more everyday
Montreal to Hong Kong
Where have all the good people gone?
Traffic jam but I'm on the shoulder
Took ten cops to pull me over
Bangkok to Babylon
Where have all the good people gone?

Want to leave but I've got to stay
And I'm wondering more everyday
Montreal to Hong Kong
Where have all the good people gone?
Traffic jam but I'm on the shoulder


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Friday, December 2, 2016

Learning! Roundup: Family traditions, twitter bots, observable evolution, and more!


Family Rituals Boost Happiness

There is new evidence showing that families with rituals or traditions tend to be happier and feel closer to each other. Of course, this is a correlational study, so it could be that families that are closer tend to have more traditions, or that the alien Zorg is sending energy rays to random households that both increase happiness and a propensity to enact collective ritual. However, traditions are nice, and there is some logic to the idea that doing thing together will increase a sense of togetherness.

Something to think about as we get into the holidays, the perfect time to get a tradition going!

Bots Against Racism

Here's a fun and heartening experiment: a researcher decided to try creating Twitter bots to help fight racist rhetoric online. He created four different twitter accounts that were either representative of a white or black user, and that were either high influence (over 500 followers) or low influence (few followers). He then programmed the bots to simply reply to those who used racist language saying something like "Hey man, just remember there are real people you hurt when you harass them with that kind of language."

It worked! Sort of. Some of the time. So the heartening part is that, in some conditions, the person used less racist language following the "reminder" tweet. If the tweet came from a white person (in-group, as the majority of those using this language were white men) with high status, it resulted in a decrease in language use. Unfortunately, when it came from a black person (out-group) with low status, it actually increased the use of racial slurs.

This is a great piece of evidence to show that when allies stand up to their peers, it can make actual change!

Observable Evolution

You know how evolution sounds great and all, but it takes forever and you never get to actually witness it happening and that's a total bummer? Not anymore! Biologists have now been able to observe the evolution of a new species in a laboratory flask. Cool!

Know Your Cephalopods

You know when you look something up and realize you know absolutely NOTHING about it? My friend posted this adorable and informative graphic called "Know Your Cephalopods", and, while I could deduce what a cephalopod probably is from the context, I realized I didn't really know what it meant. Google told me that a cephalopod is "any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda", forcing me to face more ignorance and look up molluscs, and on it went... Anyways, basically they are invertebrates that live in the water, and cephalopods have symmetrical bodies with prominent heads and tentacles/arms/wavey bits. Like this:

Posted by the American Malacological Society. Artwork by Ketrina Yim.

The Nighttime Thirsties

As someone who HAS to have a glass of water next to the bed while she sleeps (I get so thirsty!) I now feel scientifically validated: new research shows that mice get thirsty before they sleep, to replace fluids that will be lost throughout the night.

Me and the mice, regulating body fluids night and day.

Gender and Class Bias in Hiring

Yep, it's still a thing, and there's more research to show that it's true: men from higher social classes will get more responses from job applications to men with lower social classes or women from any class with identical credentials.


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