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!