Monday, 23 July 2012

"How embarassing it is to be human" - Kurt Vonnegut

Humans are strange, stupid creatures.  Generally speaking, most of us suck.  I can probably make a pretty long list of people I want to punch in the face right now without thinking too hard.  We are all looking for a life of happiness, fulfillment, meaning, glory, and yet few of us ever figure it out.  This is all very tragic, and yet, the universe remains unaffected and unconcerned about the subject in general. Regardless, I hope to figure out whatever 'it' is before my time on this earth is over, and I have a working theory:

All glory comes from daring to begin. All good things come from being vulnerable: love, happiness innovation, creativity.  This is my theory, anyway.  If you want to be creative, you cannot be afraid of failure; you have to be willing to be wrong a lot if you want to stumble upon something awesome at some point.  Earnest Hemmingway himself said to write drunk; edit sober.   Once you let go of your inhibitions, good things generally happen, or at least memorable ones.   After all, there is a certain beauty in the breakdown, isn't there? 

To succeed at this, you must be courageous because you have to be willing to be silly or stupid or wrong.  Of course this is uncomfortable, which is probably why Hemingway suggests inebriation. Don't we all go through life trying to numb the galling truth of it all?   Still, it's worth it because after you're done being courageous, then you can edit the crappy ideas.  All the greats do this.   The brilliant Bob Dylan used to just write down random sentences on a piece of paper as they came to mind.   Then he would pick the good ones later and create a song.  The smart ones have figured out that you aren't going to fart unicorns and sparkles right away, so you might as well stop trying.  No one just pulls fabulous, perfect ideas right out of their ass.  It's more of a journey full of trial an error, and mistakes will be made.  There is no room for perfectionists in this journey and it isn't for cowards either. 

So, it follows that as far as creativity goes,  there is no point in guarding your thoughts or ideas because no thought or idea is original since we do not live in a vacuum.  Every thought we have has been inspired by something else because our consciousness is based on our reactions to what we perceive as reality.  Every idea is a descendant of another idea.  Everything is a remix.  Everything.  So share, because this will breed more innovation as everything will come full circle.  Forget about competition and just share.  And check out this documentary I found on the subject.  It's creator is Kirby Ferguson, who is a film maker from New York.

Monday, 12 March 2012

On the Importance of Research

Adequate research is very important for any public relations campaign.  Doing your research makes your final product far more credible.  I am not a PR professional yet, or an expert, but I feel as if research should be a huge part of your job if you work in PR.  Also, research ensures that your work is complete and relevant.  For example, if you are doing a PR campaign for an animal shelter, you must do a huge amount of research before even starting anything else, so that you  can do your job well.  You would have to immerse yourself in the environment of the organisation to begin with.  You could talk to employees, customers, volunteers, and the public.  You would also have to research the organisation's past attempts at PR so that you can see how improvements can be made.  Researching what other similar organisations do about their own PR campaigns can also be useful. 

Luckily for me, I really enjoy doing research, and I am good at it.  For me, it's like solving an exciting mystery.  I have lots of experience with doing research because I majored in modern history when I did my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Manitoba.   I feel like I have a good handle on how to do good research, but I am also excited to improve on my skills.  When I wrote history essays for my bachelors degree, I spent more time researching the subject than actually writing the essay itself.  I think that I would employ a similar strategy if I were doing a PR campaign. 

Doing this writing piece reminded me of a conversation that I had with one of my history professors when I was a student at the U of M.  Most of us know about the difference between primary and secondary sources.  A primary source is an original document or artifact.  A secondary source is anything, such as a piece of writing, that builds upon the primary source.  Actually, one could argue that there is no such thing as a primary source!   My professor was saying that it's important to be wary of secondary sources, even those created by other professionals that you know and respect.  This is because one person will interpret a primary source differently than another person.  

Monday, 20 February 2012

Do set designers have inside jokes or is my lamp just a coincidence?

I have a random thought.  I noticed that a lamp in my house frequently turns up in crime dramas!  Weird.  It's usually on someones office desk, and used for soft, dramatic lighting.  I have seen it in the Mentalist, Criminal Minds, CSI New York, and so fourth.   I know it's the same model of lamp because it's a fairly distinctive lamp made of chrome with holes on the shade.  Maybe the set designers have some sort of inside joke going. Or perhaps it's normal to re-use set props and I just haven't noticed.   You know what detectives always say: "there's no such thing as a coincidence.".  My lamp is a glamorous movie star!! Ok so it isn't that exciting. 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Today I learned how to apply lipstick that stays on for a long time...and that it might cause cancer

Did you know that five percent of lipstick (or whatever else you apply to your lips) ends up in your stomach?  Good thing there aren't any harmful chemicals in  it such as lead, D4 and D5 siloxanes, Methylparabens, and other ingredients that have been known to cause health problems and even Cancer.  Oh wait, those ingredients ARE in lipstick and other cosmetics!!   Scientists and cosmetic companies are still debating whether or not the chemicals in cosmetics are in high enough amounts to cause harm.  Apparently we're making progress though; in the middle ages, people used to slather a paste rich in lead on their skin to cover blemishes.  Others slowly poisoned themselves with the high levels of Mercury compound in their lip stains, or blinded themselves by using Belladonna extract to dilate their pupils. 

In this day and age, lipstick is far too much trouble for people to bother with it on a regular basis.  Even so, it's fun to wear every once in a while or on special occasions, particularly a bright and saturated shade.  Ladies (and gentlemen), I have found the secret of long lasting lipstick (from the lady at the cosmetics counter)!  Here is what you will need: 

1. A tube of red lipstick.  I used the very popular Russian Red by MAC.  It's a good colour because it is flattering on many different skin tones and is a true red.
2.  A red lip liner.  I used Brick by MAC.
3. A lipstick brush
4.  Baby powder
5. Kleenex for blotting
6. Petroleum jelly, which is one of the best moisturisers, or your favourite lip balm

The process, goes thusly:  First you need to properly exfoliate your lips.  There are many different ways to do this.  For example you could simply rub your lips with a damp toothbrush.  After that, apply the lip balm so that your lips are very moisturised.  Wait until it sinks into your lips, but don't wait until your lips are dry all over again!  The goal here is to have moisturised lips that aren't slippery with lip balm.  The lip colour must stick to your lip.  Begin by filling in your ENTIRE lip using the sharpened lip pencil.  This prevents bleeding and helps the lipstick adhere to your lip for a longer period of time.  It also defines the edges of your lip.  Refrain from trying to make your lips appear fuller by colouring outside the lines; it will look obvious. 

The next step is to use the lipstick brush to apply your red lipstick of choice.  The key is to use the brush to really press the lipstick onto your lip.  After that, blot with the Kleenex, and then re-apply the lipstick straight from the tube rather than using the lip brush.  Blot again lightly.  This should keep your lipstick on for a long time!!  If you want your lipstick to stay on for an even longer period of time, you should also apply some baby powder onto your lips before adding the final coat of lipstick.  Warning: only apply a TINY bit of baby powder, or it will eliminate any of the moisture on your lips.  If that happens, your lipstick will look terrible, and your lips will feel dry and uncomfortable.

The end result should look something like the following:

If you're still worried about the ingredients in your cosmetics, mosey on over to the following cosmetic database.  It lists all the ingredients for thousands of cosmetics and other toiletries.  Unfortunately Canada doesn't have very good laws regarding ingredient lists or contents for cosmetics, and it's hard to know if the harmful ingredients in them are actually harmful because they are present in small amounts.  Here is the link: .  I just found out that Baby Powder (talcum powder) is a known carcinogen.  Does one ingest enough of it in a lifetime to get cancer from it?  Scientists are still debating it so we don't know yet.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

More Things That I Think are Fabulous

My Flawlessly Crafted Blanket!  It was crocheted by my friend Adrian Farysey.  It is very cozy, and expertly done!  AAAND fashionable!  The picture doesn't really do it justice because the piece is very hard to photograph.  I love it!

Gogol Bordello:  A band that calls their genre 'Gypsy Punk'...I think the music is so bad that it's good!

Traditional Aboriginal Bead work Art:  Here is my attempt at it.  I took a Canadian Aboriginal History course once, and the professor had an artist come to class and teach everyone the craft for a bit. Mine isn't very good, but experienced artists can create amazingly beautiful pieces!! The craft is very relaxing to do, and the history of Aboriginal bead work art is very interesting to read about.

Mickey Mouse Plush Toy from the 1930's!  My parents got me this for Christmas last year because I have always been a fan of Mickey since childhood.  They found it at Nerman's Books and Collectibles on Osborne.  I love that store!  Mickey is seen here sitting on top of my mother's guilty pleasure; her vast collection of The Cat Who... mystery book series lol!

Yummy Puffed Pastry Thingies!!!  OMG YOUR FRIENDS WILL LOVE YOU.  This is one of those recipes that is very easy to do, but the final product is so impressive, that it makes it appear as if you were trained as a pastry chef in some sort of exclusive but not too pretentious small town in France or something.  On a horse. Because isn't that kind of what we all want?  To be loved for superficial attributes, so that our fragile egos stay well fed and our minds stay distracted from the inevitable outcome of life, which is .... death? Anywho, while you ponder the subtle complexities of existential philosophy, you can also make this recipe at the same time.  The process goes thusly:  By the way, you can fill the pastries with anything, but here are some suggestions:  Any type of pie filling (blueberry, strawberry, pumpkin, homemade or store bought), chocolate, lemon custard, whipped cream, ice cream, or any other fillings you can imagine.  I filled mine with lemon custard as well as blueberry pie filling and chocolate. 

As a result, I found that chocolate tastes amazing with blueberries!!  Anyway,I have taken the time to paraphrase the recipe for you.  It's from Freaking Fabulous, by Clinton Kelly.  The method is very easy:  In a sauce pan, boil 1 cup of water and 1 stick of butter.  It will not turn out if you use margarine instead of butter.  Come on now, do you really think that you're being healthier by switching up the butter and margarine in this case?  It's like eating a hamburger at McDonald's, accompanied by a Diet Coke; you're fooling yourself.  Besides, everyone knows that butter makes your baking taste amazing!  Moving right along, when it is simmering, add 1 cup of flour.  Once you are done stirring it, the mixture should form a kind of strange looking blob.    After said blob is cooled to room temperature, add 4 eggs.  Blend everything with an electric mixer until it's all smooth and velvety.  Now use some cooking spray to coat a cookie sheet.  Place the batter onto the cookie sheet in 8 equal sized blobs.  Place the blobs into a 400 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for 45 mins.  You really have to watch that they don't burn, but if they are undercooked, they will just sort of deflate once you try to stuff them afterwards.  The puffs should be kind of hard on the outside.  Anyway, after the puffs are done cooking, stuff them with your chosen stuffing and enjoy being showered with compliments from your friends who now think that you are some sort of closet culinary genius!  These things taste a bit like filled doughnuts.  Here are some pics I managed to take before they got eaten. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

I Can Has Democracy?

Power is a really interesting phenomenon to learn about.  They say that excessive power tends to breed corruption.  One of the most interesting studies on power relations was done in the 1960's by Stanley Milgram, a Yale psychologist.  You can watch a short documentary about the famous Milgram experiments on youtube, below.  Stanley Milgram discovered that people will perform violent acts in obedience to a believable authority figure.  The results are stunning and worrying. 

Also fascinating is the famous Stanford Prison experiment.   The experiment was done by psychologist Philip Zimbardo in 1971.  It was meant to explore power relations between pretend prison guards and their prisoners.  Unexpectedly, the prisoners and guards adopted their roles to such an extent that the experiment had to be stopped after six days.  This experiment has some very interesting and revealing implications regarding power and influence.  Youtube also has a good documentary on the Stanford Prison experiments with some original footage, below.

What about when people use their authority to abuse power and influence?  Do you think that your government, or some governments around the world or throughout history have done this?  I was merrily going about my business this weekend, when I bumped into a friend at the Espresso Junction, at the Forks.  We began chatting and she alerted me of a new piece of legislation that is currently being processed within the Canadian government as well as within various governments worldwide.  She heard about it on the news and it is called ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.)  Apparently it’s been in the works for some time.  I’m a critically thinking kind of gal, so did a little research of my own, and discovered that ACTA appears to be a piece of legislation designed to control the flow of information, particularly on the Internet.  Sound familiar?  It’s pretty easy to feel helpless when your own government seems to want to limit your personal freedoms. 

If you disagree with something your government is doing, whether it is ACTA, or something else, please let them know, and let those around you know as well.   I didn't know how to go about this either, so I looked it up.  I learnt that you should write a handwritten letter to your Member of Parliament, and ask them what their stance on the issue that you are concerned about. Alternatively, you can start an official petition or participate in a peaceful protest.  The following link is a list of the current members of parlament.  You should write to the one who represents your riding.

According to my research, the most effective way to have an effect on a member of parlament, is to make sure your letter is brief and to the point.  Also, you will stand out by handwriting the letter instead of typing it.  If you are really passionate about the issue you are writing about, you should make a follow up phone call to the person you wrote to. 

For extra reading regarding the dynamics of power, I recommend the works of Michel Focault.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Importance of Being Creative

Being creative has become an increasingly crucial skill in today's world.   Here are some of the things we have already learnt in class about being creative, as well as some additional information:
  • If you have writers block, you should practise free writing.  The way to do free writing is to keep typing continuously for 10 minutes without stopping.  It doesn't matter what you write about, as long as you don't stop for 10 minutes.  If you can't think of anything to write at first, then type 'I don't know what to write' repeatedly, until something comes to mind.  Doodling can have a similar application.  If you are trying to think of ideas or solve a problem, you can brainstorm and then  create a word web.
  • Make sure that you are healthy:  get enough sleep, eat well, reduce stress.  If you need to refresh your brain, take a walk outside for a change of scenery, take a break from the problem and then come back to it later, or even try working out the problem in a different room. 
  • Nurture some creative hobbies such as:  drawing or painting, crafting, learning a new instrument, or learning a new language.
  • Experiment, don't discount 'stupid' ideas, and don't be afraid to fail or make mistakes.  Ask others for input.
  • Try some brain exercise.  For example, in class, we tried a fun game called  Tanagrams.  Tanagrams is a puzzle used to increase spatial awareness.  The player receives blocks shaped like triangles and squares, and tries to arrange the shapes in such as way that they look just like a picture that has been provided.  Other such games include Sudoku, crossword puzzles, problem solving scenario games, and other logic games or puzzles. 
  • Another game that we tried in class is to look at a paperclip and try to think of as many alternative uses for it as you can.  This is effective if you want to practise innovation.  If you want more practise with innovation, you should try to think of alternative view points, instead of just your own, when reading or listening to a problem or issue.  It is important to expose yourself to a variety of viewpoints on different issues.
  • Find out what your strengths are, and how you receive and interpret information, using the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.  There are eight categories: Spatial, Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalistic.  Knowing how you interpret the world around you will help you process information better.  There are many different type of intelligence, not just one, as we previously thought.
  • To be creative and stimulate your mind, it is important to try all sorts of new experiences,  expose yourself to all sorts of different viewpoints, and look at different angles for a given problem.   Novel experiences or thoughts create a chemical reactions in your brain that ultimately act to increase your cognitive potential.  Contrary to popular belief, all types of intelligence, including creative intelligence, are at least to some extent, fluid and learnable.  So challenge yourself in all aspects of life.
There are lots more ideas  at
There are lots of free brain and creativity games that are available on on the Internet as well. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Random things that I think are fabulous...

And they're all mine!  Go and get your own!  Just kidding, I can share.   

The Bill Evans Trio

My Glasses

The reigning king of our castle, Harold the cat

Apple and cranberry tea ... it's like a hug in a cup!!


This recipe is from Linda's Low Carb Menus and Recipes

Easy Coffee Icecream

1/2 a cup of brewed coffee
1 cup heavy cream
Liquid Splenda equal to 3/4 of a cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients into a 2 cup glass measuring cup and then freeze into an ice cube tray.  When the ice cubes are frozen, mix in a food processor until smooth and creamy. 

Note: you might need to add a bit of water if the ice cubes are frozen very solid.  It's much easier to process the ice cream cube thingies if you have a good quality blender with a strong motor. 

Here are all the ingredients.  As you can see, I used powdered Splenda instead of Liquid Splenda. 

Below, you can see the type of blade that is in my food processor.  It is very effective for making this recipe. 

The end result


Thursday, 12 January 2012

I'm pretty sure that aliens from other galaxies study us and then feature us on their Discovery Channel Documentaries. We're that level of stupid.

Seriously, aliens are looking at us from space and thinking "WHAT are these bozos doing to each other now?!"  I have some random thoughts, and random thoughts are the best kinds of thoughts in my opinion.  Brains don't seem to like thinking in the form of trains.  Instead, they like randomness. If you let your mind take on a mind of it's very own, and if you think long enough, and if you think hard enough, you will eventually and inevitably ponder what the meaning of life is.  This is a pointless venture, but as curious creatures, this is what we torture ourselves with.  So here are my random thoughts:

Does life have a meaning?  Does it matter? Really, we are just unimportant, unremarkable creatures living on a 4.6 billion year old planet that is spinning around the sun at 100 000 Kilometers per hour. The only thing keeping us from being flung into the vaccum of space is gravity, and a powerfull magnetic field.  Our sun, like any star, is destined to die, and in the process, obliterate our entire galaxy including any evidence of our existence or legacy.   Our galaxy is only one of countless galaxies in our universe.  We are of no real consequence.  On the other hand, life is so precious.  I don't know that people are aware of how incredibly rare it is for a planet to have just the right conditions to support life.  It's even rarer for that planet to sustain the perfect conditions to support life long enough for it to transform from single celled critters, into reasonably intelligent creatures.  You are the result of many, many generations of people who managed to survive long enough to spread their seed.  I learned in seventh grade science class that human beings are literally made of the same things that dinosaurs were made of, when they lived 6.5 million years ago because the planet recycles.   I might literally be made of the same atoms and molecules that once belonged to a tyrannosaurus rex.  These atoms and molecules came from exploding stars that gave off a rich array of chemicals with which planets, and eventually life, where created from. 

Nature is incredible, and the universe is humbling.  Life is beautiful.  Does that mean that life has a meaning?  I don't think it does.  Time is a neutral force, and the universe is neither good or evil;  it just exists.  There is no one driving this ship; there is no one in charge here! We aren't here for a particular reason and technically speaking, literally nothing matters.  This might sound incredibly depressing for some people, but for me it is exhilarating and hopeful!  It means that life doesn't have a purpose, so you get to make up your own purpose, and anything is possible!  Life is literally what you make it.  I absolutely understand that it isn't that simple for lots of people.  Saying that life is what you make it is an incredibly privileged thing to say!  But for those of use who are lucky enough to have agency,  life is what you decide it will be, atleast in some respects.  How do you find out what your own personal meaning is in life? 

Obviously it is easier said than done because it is scary and difficult and I actually have no idea how to go about doing it.  But I'm going to give it a try and I'm pretty sure it has to do with my fave teacher growing up:  MISS FRIZZLE!  You know, "Take chances, get messy, make mistakes!!"  I am fairly sure that making mistakes means you're growing, and growing can't be bad, no? Because trying and then failing is a good tool for growth and exploration.  (Obviously my second fave teacher was Bill Nye the Science Guy but he never had cool dresses, a talking lizzard, and a magic school bus :/ )

In conclusion, making mistakes is HIGHLY underrated!  Also, the folks at hollywood need to make a movie about Miss Frizzle because she was FABULOUS!!!

Final random thought:  Is is just me or does blogging feel way too self indulgent?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

How to Deactivate a Cat...

 This is my cat.  She is crazy.  Most cats are.  She's still a kitten and won't let us cut her claws, which is kind of a problem because then she gets stuck on the screen window like Garfield.  We have tried EVERYTHING... except this.  This is incredible.  The person in this youtube video is scruffing the cat, rendering it seemingly harmless so that it can be examined by the vet.  Crazyness!!! 

Don't worry, I did some research and the cat isn't being hurt.  He freezes because he feels like his mommy is carrying him around by the scruff if his neck just like when he was a kitten.  Awww...

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

How to Spot a Homosexual like a Seasoned Bigot ಠ_ಠ

Oh the 1950’s…you so silly!  This short, 1950's educational film from Youtube, is so offensive that it’s actually hilarious to watch!  The film outlines exactly how to spot a homosexual using extremely un-scientific and ridiculous methods.

The mid century was a strange point in history.  Many  people are caught up in the nostalga of simpler and seemingly more innocent times.  However we can’t forget that this was a time when  a lobotomy was still legal, Aboriginals did not yet have the right to vote because they were not actually considered persons under the law, and housewives drugged themselves with barbiturates in an attempt to find meaning in a male dominated world.  At least the fashion was fabulous, and we can make ourselves feel morally superior by watching the shenanigans of Don Drapper and friends on  Mad Men! 

Edit:  Oh noes!  The Youtube video in the link above, isn't the one I meant to post.   The one I meant to post was even funnier and more offensive, but I posted a similar one by accident, and now I can't find the one I origionaly wanted to post again on Youtube.  Even so, you get the idea.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Detailed instructions from an expert on how to survive disasters? Yes Please!

What if you had to survive a disaster right now?  Unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility.  Would you know what to do?  Learning how to do random things while lounging on your couch isn't a bad way to spend an hour if you ask me...

Randomly watching TV today, I came across Surviving Disaster, a TV series about how to survive disasters such as pandemics, nuclear attacks, earthquakes, and office fires.  Cade Courtley, a former Navy SEAL, teaches viewers how to survive various disaster scenarios.  The series isn't brand new, but it's relevant (if you're paranoid), entertaining, well researched, and informative. 

You can watch all the episodes online at SPIKE.  I recomend the pandemic or earthquake episode first.

Hmmm what's first?

This TED Talk is amazing! Matt Cutts tells us about trying one new thing per month.  For example, the speaker took a photograph every day for one month.  This is a productive way of achieving goals because somehow, it makes you do things you might never do, because you only have to commit to it for one month!  Ok, I think this counts as learning new stuff!  So what should I do for one month, hmmm?  Blogging it is!