December 10, 2008

Blog Blah

The semester is over and this blog has seen a good five posts at most. I could blame the lack of posting on homework, intense course loads or our newly acquired TV...but when it comes down to it I spend way more time viewing other peoples blogs then working on my own. In fact, I spend a considerable amount of time, so much so that it's become a full blown addiction. There are of worse things I could be addicted to... like reality TV, cheese bagels or crack. But instead I choose blogs, linking from one to the next and adding to my ever expanding favourite’s folder. The verdict is still out on whether or not this is acceptable or just plain creepy. But I’ve made a promise to myself, no, a challenge, to channel all my blogging inspiration and continue to work on my own. My first new years resolution (yes I’m already going there) is to resurrect west meets east. This may be an affirmation for my own satisfaction, but I do know that some people read this bad boy and Miss VanDenBoomen is getting annoyed! So, if I don’t post from now until the new year, know that I have not forgotten or moved on, only preparing to start again.

November 18, 2008

They'll Still Come Home

Burning Cars and breakfast keggers could become a distant memory. Queen's University has decided to cancel homecoming for the next two years. In what seems like their last attempt, university officials have decided to move the celebration from fall to...May? Homecoming, which was intended for the Universities alumni, has turned into a weekend long booze fest attracting students from all across the province. There’s a big football game and I’m sure that’s part of the draw. But, I’m also sure that the only sober people in attendance are the players, and even then, can we really be sure? This desperate attempt to quell the party doesn’t leave me with much confidence. I’ve been to the celebration. I’ve experienced the drama, hilarity and ridiculousness of it all. I don’t really think a little change of date will be enough to keep people from vomiting on Aberdeen St. The party will go on...I predict a riot!

November 16, 2008

Say It Aint So

Remember, oh, two years back when scientists discovered that Pluto was not a planet...but merely a dwarf planet that brought our solar systems total down to eight. Textbook's had to be re-written, ironic t-shirts were worn and one began to question all that their grade three teachers had taught them...it's happened again.

You know that handy map which outlines the sections of your tongue. Highlighting which areas respond to different tastes --sour on the side, sweet at the tip, bitter at the back, yeah that one...it's wrong.
Scientist’s don’t know much yet about the various taste receptors, but they know enough. That map has become absolute.

Turns out there is actually way more receptors lurking on our tongue. Including ones that identify with a more savory taste, specificly soya sauce...excellent! Anyways, I have yet to see a facebook group entitled, "I remember when the tongue map was still in use..." but, I know those ironic t-shirts are coming.

October 17, 2008

This Is All Old News

I've been accumulating a long list of blog ideas and none seem to have left the post-it they're written on. Everyone's busy so I wont bother emphasizing what's been taking up my spare time. However, if I don’t use some of them they will all become SO out-dated that it would be futile to even consider writing about them.

Firstly, Dominions, more affectionately known as Doms is no longer. The chain of Ontario grocery stores that scream first year to those who dwelled in Pitman Hall or the ILLC has been taken over. The signs have been changed and consumers across the city can now battle the lines
at Metro. After some brainstorming amidst the roomies we found a suitable abbreviation for the new chain and have settled on calling it Tro. While the name is yet to resonate just like Doms, the Tro offers no noticeable differences in the over-all shopping experience. The Quebec company behind the take-over however has not committed to Dominions trademark promise of being fresh obsessed...leaving my overall impression of the store slightly wilted.

Secondly, Nuit Blanche graced the streets of Toronto some two weeks ago and left Romany and I in awe. From sun-down Saturday night till sun-up Sunday morning the contemporary art showcase stretched across the city and left many questioning the validity of what they saw. Was it really art? Or, did they just not understand? It seemed upon noon the next day that the negative reviews greatly outweighed the positive --but I got it. From the first installment on campus, to the ridiculous didgeridoo performer outside Eaton Center…from the musical lightshow at City Hall to actually getting to see Josh Raskin's I Met the Walrus, I appreciated and loved every minute of it. Of course nothing could have topped the night of better then a zombie inspired visit to College Park's fountain. People were play fighting and frolicking in the middle of the water when the roar of the crowd turned my attention to the ass naked streaker running across the pond. To my surprise it was our good friend Luke, bearing all in front of the 2000+ audience. While not exactly an art installation per say, it was the perfect ending to an epic night out.

Thirdly, after being out east for almost three years I finally made my trek up to Montreal. This past Thanksgiving weekend the roommates and I ventured to the city that was so close to being my home. After almost missing our early morning train, we arrived and nothing about the place disappointed. We had amazing weather, ate very good food and stayed up all night at new watering holes. The culture of the city fueled my desire to get out of Canada. It also inspired me to drudge out the ol French notebooks at home and remember how to sort of know the language. Monday came too soon, but Im already planning my escape back...if only for more maple candy.


Half-way through October, more then half-way through first semester...hopefully I can post again before it all becomes way too irrelevant.

October 14, 2008

Vote!

You can kiss those annoying Conservative party commercials goodbye! Today the federal election polls are open to vote. Regardless of your political affiliations get out there and effect change.

If your attention has been predominantly tuned into Barack vs. McCain banter, focus it back up North.

Your voice, despite what you may feel, matters. And whether you support the Liberals, NDPs, Greens or Conservatives you will have no place to criticize those leading Canada if you don’t participate.

For more information on where to vote or what you need to bring, check out Elections Canada’s website. See you at the polls.

September 28, 2008

The Good Life

Insight into the first month out east....

roomies in action
katie sandwich

pretending to like each other

at the watering hole

transportation

balcony view

living the life

Missing is photos from half a dozen bike adventures, all day shopping excursions, living room dance parties and countless Weeds marathons.
September went by way too fast.

September 15, 2008

Back When

It’s like summer begun yesterday and we had all just finished grade ten. The math exam was over and we ran home to plan our next two months of freedom. No one had jobs except the older boys, who we probably shouldn’t have been hanging out with anyway. Family vacations were almost passé and the most commitments any of us had were each other.

Then four years whiz past without reflection and you’re no longer teenagers. You are half way through your undergraduate degree and you’re living three provinces away from home with your boyfriend.

Way to grow up.

April 30, 2008

Eco-friendly oil?

The production of oil is heavily criticized by environmentalists world wide. The list of damages the process creates is lengthy and environmentally devastating, but I wont get into those right now. Interestingly enough though, it seems the increase in attention on sustainable practices and green conscious standards has led Alberta’s Syncrude oil to spend $25 million on a campaign that attempts to promote the greener side of the Alberta tar sands. However, when a flock of Maillard Ducks landed on one of the companies tailing ponds this past Monday the outcome was anything but eco-friendly…The Globe and Mail has the story.

April 13, 2008



The Good Times Are Killing Me

More appropriately, the lack of being able to enjoy these good times MAY in fact kill me. Modest Mouse makes an appearance at Deer Lake Park at the end of May and it is very vital that I attend. Regardless of company, you will find me there. However, anyone wishing to enjoy the concert with me is more then welcome to join. They are coming with REM...an added incentive for any fans of Man on the Moon and Losing My Religion.


If you have yet to enjoy a concert at Deer Lake Park I really recommend you try too this summer. If you’re not down for seeing Modest Mouse, Cyndi Lauper and the B52's are coming in July, and Calgary's finest --Feist will be there in August.
Home Time

Last essay, last feature, last project, last presentation...done. An exam to go and my second year of university has come to an abrupt end. Where does the time go? Cliché --maybe, but looking back on this year I feel as if yesterday could be September. As quickly as the year went by I can’t help but feel this summer is long over due...

Regardless, packing is not fun. I sort of feel stupid at the amount of clothes I think is necessary to pack for my four month return to the West. However, vacuum bags and strategically rolled sweaters fill my suitcases and if all goes according to plan, I arrive in Vancouver around 8 this Wednesday night.

Summer 2008 is already highly anticipated. Days spent sipping bucks, driving top down while blasting tunes and lying on the mossy hill. Along with nights spent cheering at the Main, eating ice-cream while chatting at Rocky Point and endless 20th parties are expected. Hopefully working like crazy somewhere in-between the fun too –it’s all too exciting.

So, good-bye white washed apartment. Good-bye all night pre-drinks and the ladies that make them entertaining. And good-bye busy city…see you this fall, sun tanned, fresh and ready for round three.

April 9, 2008

[FAT]

My roommate Rom auditioned too model in Toronto's Alternative Arts and Fashion week a month back and she got the job. She is one of the 50 models who made the open casting call and it's pretty damn exciting. [FAT] –as the show is affectionately called --starts today and runs until Friday, showcasing the many talented artists, musicians and of course designers that Toronto has to offer.

What is even MORE exciting however, is that Rom is featured on the She Does the City website in the special [FAT] section. The section on the site features a select few models, designers, artists and musicians who are taking part in the shows this week…and Rom happens to be one of them. Scope out what she has to say about being a part of the show here. Congrats Rom!

If you’re in Toronto this week and are looking for something to do in the evening, head down to the Distillery District and support [FAT]. Tickets are $20 at the door, for more info head to the
[FAT] website.

April 7, 2008

Un-Broken

When I came to Ryerson it was the end of eighteen years in the same home. All I knew was Coquitlam. I had spent endless nights roaming the streets of my city, hanging out and growing up with my close group of friends, hating and loving the small extended network of everything familiar. Then I moved three provinces away.

In hindsight, coming to Toronto was similar to finding a new guy –the beginning is always the sweetest. It was fresh and more then exciting to be somewhere so unlike home. I was beyond overwhelmed when I first stepped foot onto Yonge Street. It was humid, and overcast and just past four in the afternoon on the Saturday before the last week of August. And I will never forget walking through Dundas Square with my Mom and fretting slightly at the immensity of the city around me.

It was like I had just laid eyes on the ideal man. Each time I stepped into the sunshine that fall I got a fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had so much to learn about my new home, so much to get acquainted with. With every new person I met and every new place I discovered I was falling more and more in love with my east coast world.

And then…came winter. Winter in Toronto was nothing like winter on Harbour Drive. The cold blasts of air and white washed streets were not a magical snowy wonderland like I had hoped. The honeymoon stage was over. The city and I had become far too comfortable with each other and I started to notice things I had dizzyingly overlooked in the beginning. I was getting cold feet, figuratively and literally.

This past winter was the worst. Even though it was only my second in the town, it was a record maker even by Ontario standards. I was heart broken. What happened to the Toronto I had fallen for? Where did the always exciting town that had captivated my attention and delayed my yearnings for the west go? With the constant drifting of snow came my ever-growing uncertainty for the future of my relationship with the TO. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this place.

And then came last weekend. The dearly missed sun showed her face again and the temperature was not the only thing warming. My broken heart began to mend as I realized just why I liked Toronto when we first met those short years ago. The chirping of birds walking through the quad at school, the patios coming out of hibernation and the discovery of new faces and places while strolling at midnight –it all came back.

But of course, as always, it’s bittersweet. Just when you think things can go back to how they once were, they don’t. They never do. I return to Vancouver in a mere 9 days. And while my time left is short and sweet, it will be enough. Enough to make me thankful for making the trek two short years ago and enough to make me anticipate my return next fall.

Thank you Toronto…we’re not finished yet.

April 4, 2008

April Showers

The difference between weather in Vancouver and weather in Toronto is insane. For starters, Toronto does not see nearly as much precipitation as Vancouver does. Instead Toronto's weather flips from un-bearably cold, too ridiculously windy, to way too humid for my sweating issues. Vancouver on the other hand, never experiences these extremes. Instead west coasters get rain –lots and lots of rain. Sometimes whole months pass by without any stoppage of falling droplets from the sky. And it is evident that Vancouverites are more then used to their wet climate.

Torontonians on the other hand are not. After grueling through the long winter that was these last four months, one would assume it wouldn’t be a big deal to see a little rain. Oh how wrong you are.

At the slightest indication of those falling droplets, the people of Toronto instinctively pull out their umbrellas and run for cover under the overhangs of store fronts and apartment buildings. I have never seen people walk faster then when it starts to rain in downtown Toronto. They will bare the negative temperatures and howling wind, but heaven forbid they endure a little precipitation.

I should also mention that the “rainstorm” Toronto is experiencing today, would be more appropriately classified as a light mist. I just walked about ten minutes from class, without a jacket, without an umbrella, and I was instantly dry upon entering the building’s elevator.

However, had I been walking down Robson St. during a “rainstorm” in Vancouver, my hair would no longer be straight and I would look similar to a bathed kitten. The reality is, while anyone and everyone uses umbrellas in TO, it’s only the soccer mom's watching Sunday games that use them in Van-city.

My dear Toronto neighbours, do not fear the rain. Lets be thankful it's not a couple degrees cooler and snowing right now. Put your rainboots on, find your spring time trench and embrace the slightly wetter streets. To quote my strict English pre-school teacher, “you’re not sugar cubes…you won’t melt.”

April 3, 2008

Peace On Earth --animal style

My Grandma sent me this video clip. Cuteness aside, I think it is worth sharing and keeping in context when we are faced with the task of just all getting along with eachother.


March 29, 2008

Today!




At 8 o'clock, where ever you are in the world, turn off your lights for one hour, and do your part to help bring awarness to the growing concerns of climate change. Bust out the flashlights, enojy a candle lit dinner, go for a walk outside, do anything. As long as you make sure you've turned off every light in the house, why not enjoy the darkness for what its worth!

March 17, 2008

Dear couple sitting next to me in the library....

Hi there. You definitely don't know who I am, actually, despite the fact that I have been sitting next to you both for almost two hours, I'm almost positive you wouldn't even know the colour of my hair. That’s ok. You’re too busy making out.

I'm just the girl who chose to work on the 9th floor because I thought it was a designated “quiet zone.” While you’re not shouting, I think it would almost be easier to work through that then have to listen to your lips smack incessantly. And you're right, it would also be very annoying to hear you yell into your cell phones, however, not more annoying then having to sit here and listen to you whisper and giggle with one another.

No no, I get it, you’re in love. You're in the cant keep your hands and obviously lips off of one another stage. I actually know this because you have chosen to ignore the divider between the cubicles and are now sitting on top of each other. I guess that makes studying for impending exams that much easier. It’s ok, continue to stare longingly into one anothers eyes right beside me, I actually find it helps me to concentrate.

Nothing you're doing right now could possibly be any more inconsiderate so by all means, go for it. You keep up your public displays of affection because HEY you sure don’t seem to care whose watching. I would move to another spot but this place is filled and I don’t know if I would be able to find one.

So happy couple –enjoy your blissful study session. Pay no mind to the others struggling to finish essays or cramming for exams around you. Keep on doing what you're doing, I’m glad you find yourselves cute.

March 11, 2008

Green Thoughts

Daily I peruse various online newspapers from across the continent, as a student of Journalism I feel a certain responsibility to do so. I start with the Globe, move onto the more local Toronto Star or Vancouver Sun depending on the news, and finish up with the NY Times and the Christian Science Monitor. I do not read each paper in length, and regularly skip whole sections, but without fail I make a note to look at my favourite areas, one unsurprisingly being the environment.

While each paper tackles the topic of the environment differently –albeit some much better then others— I have come across a lot of really cool information, websites and case studies from my daily searching’s, and I want to pass along some of them. They all deserve the attention of an independent post, but crunch time has fallen upon me and school has become a literal vortex for the hours in my day.

1) Earth Friendly Schools -- schools across Canada and specifically the United States, are taking action against the growing concern of climate change by instituting sustainable building's and greener policies. A really good example is
Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, D.C. While Hillcrest, my old middle school, did have a fish pond I'm pretty sure it could take some notes from Sidwell to reduce its own environmental impact.

2) Conscious Companies -- a website has been developed under the umbrella of Stonyfield Farm INC, that helps consumers like you and me make climate conscious choices when shopping. The idea behind this non-profit is that the power to affect climate change globally lies within major corporations, and subsequently consumers. Climatecounts.org has come up with a point system that ranks various companies on their current level of environmental action. Those which are working towards reducing their climate footprints receive better scores then others who are still failing to jump on the eco-wagon. Scope out companies like CBS, Apple, Motorola and Nike, you may be surprised to find out exactly just who is making a positive difference.

3) Worlds Greenest Museum -- San Francisco, long an environmental haven, and currently ranked 2nd to Portland as America's greenest city, now has another green title to add to its belt –world’s greenest museum. The California Academy of Sciences could possibly the coolest building on earth. [Insert eco-crazy bias here]. Seriously speaking though, the building will house everything from a natural-history museum, to a rainforest with free-flying birds, to an aquarium filled with saltwater pumped in from the Pacific Ocean, all under a green roof that spans 2.5 acres and blends into the local park surrounding it. Dubbed the “Living Museum” this Californian wonder is filled with multiple sustainable features and popsci.com has a
photo album for an inside look at a few of them. If your ever in San-Fran, nature lover or not, stop on by I can guarentee you will be impressed.



*note: all bold faced words are links --this is not a note to suggest incomptence, meerly a helpful hint as it took me far to long when reading blogs to notice this.

March 10, 2008

Learn To Hunt
...in elementary school

Law makers in West Virginia recently gave approval to a bill allowing state funded hunting education classes in all schools –Great. Hunting in the United States has lost its popularity as of late, with participation numbers falling from 19.1 million in 1975 to 12.5 million in 2006. And some states are not pleased. Many like, Utah, South Carolina and Nebraska have lowered the minimum age required for hunting. And some have completely eliminated it altogether. Wonderful. Because all we need are eight-year-olds wielding rifles.
The state sponsored hunting education classes will be available for every school that has at least 20 students showing interest. Classes will promote hunting to its participants by suggesting it as an alternate form of exercise and an excellent source for gun safety education. The main driving force behind it though is "preserving culture," a gun lobbyist’s favourite saying.
The argument in support of these new classes is lame. Hunting as being safer then biking and swimming...A needed activity to control the deer population...A way to exercise and enjoy nature simultaneously. I’m not buying it.
Perhaps my common sense is skewed, but please tell me exactly how entering a wooded area in camouflage, with known big game and animals wondering about, and an un-known number of six to ten-year-olds carrying guns is safe? Safer then jumping into your local pool, playing Marco Polo and swimming lengths, under the supervision of at least two trained lifeguards. They must do it differently in West Virginia.
Also, a hunter who claims that what they are doing is an incredibly useful controlling aide for the environment is ignorant. Perhaps if they had not over-hunted the various predators within the region the impending deer population would not have reached such soaring heights. The predator prey relationship in an ecological system relies on natural predators, not just conservatives with rifles.
As for hunting as a form of simultaneous exercise and nature appreciation...HA! If you want to appreciate the beauty of nature while exercising go for a run, or a hike, or a leisurely stroll amidst the forest. Don't stake out atop a platform and kill the very wildlife you’re attempting to admire.
I appreciate the notion of hunting as a pastime for many people living in the United States and Canada. While I do not support or condone it, I'm not naive enough to believe it will cease to exist altogether. However, I do not support the idea of promoting guns within the classroom. Accessibility to firearms is not something to play around with and having them in schools, even for educational purposes, is a grave risk. It only takes one careless mistake around guns before the inevitable will happen and is the classroom really an appropriate arena to house this threat?

March 7, 2008

Yowzaa...

A woman pulls on her husbands underwear in attempts to keep him from participating in a rally denouncing Samsung in Korea.

Come on man just listen to your wife...does that not really hurt?!





March 4, 2008



Cate & Leo
...similar to Kate & Leopold that really bad movie with Meg Ryan, only BETTER.

After watching Todd Haynes confusing yet wildly creative I’m Not There last night, a movie about the multiple personas of the great Bob Dylan, I realized the genius that is Cate Blanchett. It wasn't a grande epiphany as I have always been a fan of her work, but the realization of her unique devotion to acting the roles of many different major characters. Over her career she has played a multitude of prominent figures, namely, Queen Elizabeth I...Katherine Hepburn...Queen Galadriel in Lord of the Rings and Jude Quinn (aka Bob Dylan). And she's done this well. I mean, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is not a movie you really stay awake watching while flying home from Toronto, but her desperate and humane qualities kept me engaged. And for anyone who has not seen I’m Not There, you may as well rent it on her performance alone. The total embodiment of her character and acute attention to detail makes me wish I went to theatre school and could attempt to replicate it with a third of her talent. Apparently I'm not the only one in awe of her work as she is well decorated in the award department, and was nominated for Oscars in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories at this year’s Academy Awards. While a select many of today's actresses have given notable performances within their careers, few are able to consistently maintain such a high level of credibility, like Cate.


While not an actress, it is fair to say Leonardo DiCaprio also consistently provides a distinct level of performance. And while I admittedly am charmed by the fact that he is “really really ridiculously good looking,” as well as an outspoken advocate for the environment, his acting says it all. It was two years ago, but i still say "yea yea" in a mock South African accent similar to his as Danny Archer in the acclaimed Blood Diamond, One of, if not the best, of his most recent acting roles. Scorsese’ protégée, he definitely solidified himself in the upper echelons of the acting world with repeatedly brilliant work in Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator and The Departed. Similar to Cate Blanchett, he deals with each of his roles with a definite level of intensity. It's hard to watch one of his films without being drawn to his level of detail infused character acting. And yes I realize he was in Titanic, which I have only seen once. And therefore the great love affair of Jack and Rose has not lost any of its magic for me...no matter how corny. Leo has had a long and colourful career in the acting world, and luckily for me it is not coming to a halt any time soon.


As a major fan of motion pictures, and an increasing critic of the direction they may be taking, it's a refreshing reminder to know two celebrities are using their talent to provide elevated levels of good entertainment.

February 29, 2008

Bitch is the New Black

SNL returned from the writers strike last Saturday and opened with this...enjoy!

February 28, 2008

Facecrack

Sex, interested in, relationship status, birthday, political views, religious views....offered to you without even having to move your mouse. Its true Facebook provides ample room to share a mini biography with some 64 million users, but does nobody keep anything to themselves anymore? Scroll down and you can type for lengths about your personal interests, favourite pastimes and most listened to tunes. And by the time you read to the end of a profile you are an expert on what Johnny likes doing on the weekend, where he went to high-school, and whether or not he enjoys listening to Led Zeppelin. In a world inundated with web culture and social networking sites, is people’s privacy being threatened?

When Facebook was created only four brief years ago it was intended as a networking site only for students at Harvard University. It quickly grew to surrounding Ivy League schools and since September 2006 anyone over the age of 13 has been able to join. The craze behind the Facebook phenom shows no signs of slowing. New applications are added daily and constant upgrades serve to benefit the millions of user’s world wide. And with more and more user’s joining daily, the access to your seemingly personal information becomes absolute.


Granted you do have options to control who is allowed to see what on your profile, it begins to become hard to manage your contacts as friends or randoms. Sure, you know that guy who just added you from your English tutorial, but do you really want him to see pictures of you from you summer vacation with the family? And what about the girl you went to high school with but never really talked to. Is it necessary for her to have access to your latest educational endeavors? It becomes overwhelming to think about just exactly who has access to your info online.

So you decide to delete you account, boycott the whole site and move on with your now Facebook free life. Now what? You'll have to deal with not receiving a
Facebook invite to your friend’s 19th b-day. You'll have to forever be behind in the latest in's and out's of people's relationships, because you know if it's on Facebook it has GOT to be true. And the worst being un-aware of the hideous photo's still circulating un-tagged of you at last night’s karaoke shin dig.

It's a lose-lose scenario. Either be aware of your publicly broadcasted life, or exist naive to the cult of Facebook that you will always be a part of....whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

February 27, 2008

Beautiful British Columbia

After trekking back to the home province for a brief mid-winter vacation, I come back to Toronto with a new found confidence in BC's beauty. Yes, I'm extremely biased. However after spending two EPIC days skiing up at Whistler, I can safely say that there is no arguing with the pristine views offered up the mountain. For those who are yet to make the trip out west, I leave you with these...





February 10, 2008

Working Out, Winter Style

While the weather outside is still -unfortunately- frightful, it has come to my attention that the excess of snow and slush may have multiple benefits for your body. If the frigid temperatures and un-desirable driving conditions have forced you to put your new year’s resolutions on hold, fear not! Hear are four simple things you can do when winter weather strikes the GTA.

1) While walking to school, the subway or work, take the back alleys. A usually frowned upon area of travel, these alleys serve as an excellent forum to attain your daily cardio blast. Typically un-plowed and uneven with snow, the open space is perfect for faking an in the city cross country ski path. Simply bend your knees, place your feet flat on the slippery surface below and slide your way to the other end of the alley. To increase your calorie burn, pump your arms in opposition of your feet as you slip along. Don’t be discouraged if people cast un-approving glances your way. Instead visualize their bodies as trees surrounding your snowy cross country skiing trail, and smile knowing your taking full advantage of the winter wonderland around you.

2) If driving anywhere is out of the question. Utilize the variety of public transportation options available to you. Now I know you will not be the only one who decides to bus down to their local TTC subway station, and the over crowding of people on board may be more frustrating then convenient. However, instead of scowling at those who continue to inch into your bubble of personal space, use this time to tone up your abs. Just as the subway doors close, slightly bend your knees, let go of any system of support, relax your arms by your side, and ENGAGE those abs. When the momentum begins to slow as the subway resumes its regular speed, bend your knees further, all the while pulling your belly button towards your back and bracing yourself against the bodies desire to lurch forward. Continue this balancing game at each subway stop until you reach your final one, and your abs and thighs will thank you in the long run.

3) When crossing the street at an intersection, take the path less traveled. See that four foot high snow embankment beside the nicely plowed sidewalk entrance. Climb it. Depending on the height, you could even work in a couple lunges to the top, before having to contract your abs and thighs to safely come down the opposite side. No matter how steep or small these piles of snow are, walking up and then down them, gives your legs the chance to tone up, and gets your heart rate pumping. Repeat several times throughout the day and become one of the few people who don’t curse city workers for un-shoveled city sidewalks.

4) A trip to the local Dominions can be a lengthy excursion when the wintry weather hits Toronto. I always find that for some reason I'm not the only genius who decided to take advantage of the brief halt in snowfall to venture out and pick up some much needed items. But do not begin to tap your feet in impatience when standing in line to pay; instead use the time to firm up your arms. That’s right, evenly distribute your heavier items of purchase in each hand and begin those bicep curls. Depending on the weight, keep your reps to about 10-15 per side, and repeat three times. If the line is still backed once you’re done, take those same items and lift your arms straight up at your sides, holding the weights horizontally in line with your shoulders. Make sure to keep a slight bend in your knees, contracted abs, and shoulders pressed down and back. Hold the weights out for about 10 seconds and repeat three times. Make sure you have adequate space before doing this, as hitting the elderly women next you in line is generally frowned upon.

Voila! In one day you have turned your weather woes around and used the chilly city as an outdoor gym for your bod. Perhaps this winter weather is not as inconvenient as I thought? Never mind, it’s currently -10 with a wind-chill of -22 and an impending snow fall warning, how many days till spring again?

February 5, 2008

Conscious Cupid

Valentines Day is just around the corner. Whether you're spending the night with a significant other, bitching with girlfriends, or boycotting the deemed 'hallmark tradition' altogether, you can safely bet florists across the country will be scrambling to get their orders out.

Giving flowers on February 14th may be as clichéd as giving chocolates and teddy bears, but it's a last minute staple, and in my case, a well received token of admiration. But have you ever thought of the footprint your vase of roses and babies breath may leave on the environment?

The growing and farming of flowers is a major environmental concern, one that many people are un-aware of. Not only are the farming practices pesticide and toxin rich, the working conditions and safety regulations for employees are unregulated and harsh. The majority of the world’s cut flowers come from severely poor countries in Africa and Central and South America. And often, employees of these farms are forced to work in less than desirable conditions in order to support their families and remain living in their native country.

Amy Stewart, author of "Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers," calls attention to both the environmental and labour practices of the flower industry. After spending time traveling to flower farms around the world, Stewart documents the sometimes not so pretty world of cut flowers. She draws attention to various scientists that are searching for way's to create an authentic blue rose, and manipulate colour strains of gerberas. Which mirrors the consumer obsessed western world, and its constant quest for the better and more beautiful, in this case --flower. Stewart’s book illustrates the impact this quest continues to have on the global environment. She also comments on the business of flowers, and its turn from nostalgic memories of romantic gestures, to a hybrid race of technology and nature, ultimately leaving the reader to question the beauty of the bouquet beside them.

So where does this leave the conscious consumer who still wishes to indulge themselves in the luxury of fresh cut flowers? Next time you pop into the local florist, check the labels of your desired flora. If it reads FLP or certified by Max Havelaar farms, you know that it has been grown on a farm set up by organizations devoted to fair trade. If you are shopping within the United States, look for labels with Fair Trade and VeriFlora on them. These are both organizations that enforce environmental and labour standards. If you’re shopping in the Toronto area, go online to Eco Flora, a company dedicated to sustainable flower practices. Or if you’re in the Vancouver area, check out Amoda Flowers, a florist that prepares organic and fair trade floral arrangements.

Whether or not you decide to buy flowers this Valentines day, keep in mind the array of eco-conscious and socially-conscious options available to you.

February 2, 2008


You May Say That I'm A Dreamer...

It’s only fitting that I begin my blogging process with a tribute to a true legend, a peaceful visionary and 1/4th of my favourite band of all time --John Lennon.

Realistically I just love this photo and wanted an excuse to include it in here, but UK magazine
Uncut did recently compose a list of all time favourite Lennon songs, voted by a panel of famous musicians in the bizz. The list features everyone from Brian Wilson to Liam Gallagher, all weighing in on the Beatles best work. It has got me thinking about my personal Lennon fav.

It's no secret to those who know me that 'Hey Jude' is hands down not only my favourite Beatles tune, but my favourite song of all time. A McCartney/Lennon collaboration, it was written by McCartney for Lennon's son Julian.

But what’s the ultimate Lennon song? I could not begin to choose. His most internationally acclaimed record is obviously 'Imagine.' An anthem for peace worldwide, the song has become synonymous with his name. However it often overshadows other worthy mentions, including Jealous Guy, Working Class Hero and Love.


Regardless of your personal favourite, or lack there of, Lennon's iconic presence is not losing momentum anytime soon...and with that I leave you with a favourtie I can settle on.

"You are all geniuses and you are all beautiful. You don't need anyone to tell you who you are, you are what you are. So, get out there and get peace. Think peace, live peace and breathe peace. You'll get it as soon as you like."

-Lennon



Happy Six More Weeks of FREAKIN Winter!


That’s right, Punxsutawney Phil the pride of Groundhogs everywhere, scurried out of his hole (cage) this morning down in Pennsylvania too see his stupid little shadow. And in case you don't already know what that means, save putting away the parkas and toques cause winter's here to stay.

For those of us living here in TO....yesterdays snow storm turned the city streets into a maze of puddles, valleys of slush and enough scattered salt to ruin every last inch of your new boots. Listening to the wind howl through the balcony's each night doesn't exactly make waking up any easier. I know Vancouver has seen its fair share of snow over the past weeks, but something about the picturesque mountain views and considerably warmer temperatures does not make me feel bad.

How long must we wait for the days of flip flops, BBQ's and no coat-check? The days where lying on hills, acquiring freckles and listening to country is considered more then acceptable. As I look out my window the mere thought of being able to take a casual stroll down the road or enjoy a drink patio side is enough to plunge me right into the winter blues. Perhaps February will breeze past rather un-noticed, and before we know it I'll be complaining about sweating through the heat. But until then a prediction of more winter to come leaves my optimism wounded.

January 31, 2008

Citizen Journalism...

Like many of you who will probably read this blog, I have been thrashed over the head with various fellow classmates opinions on whether or not citizen journalism is a credible source of information for the past two weeks now. Great.
Now I understand to some this is a relatively new concept, myself included. But from what I gather this is the consensus of the argument:

We live in an age of technology. New products are released daily, products that allow many people of the western world access to snap photos at a whim, record sound and footage in the moment, and upload all of them onto the world wide web in a matter of seconds. Thus, people are more frequently breaking stories, with albiet shaky footage, of natural disasters, crime and punishment, chaos and riots and brit-brit's latest fiasco.
So where does that leave the "real" journalists. You know, the ones who pay the big bucks to go through j-skool, the big whigs who have climbed the career ladder of the news room down at CBC, the ones who bite each and every nail twice to meet deadline? What about them? Insert various high and low brow banter here.

So, where do I stand? Do I even care? Well...to be completley honest I think its grand that everyone wants to be involved in the media process. Look at the world we live in. People have opinions, people have ideas, people are continuously becoming more and more educated, they too needs outlets to voice themselves. If major news corporations wish to provide these, then by all means, allow the people to contribute their stories!

That being said, the level of ignorance many of these citizen contributers uphold, is slightly concerning. And can we really call somone with a camera phone, who has the sheer luck of being in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time a journalist?

These are obviously questions that are still fueling the citizen journalism debate. However, being a second year journalism student, I choose to remain optimistic. The future holds many answers, and I'd be rich if I knew them. So until then, i'm holding out for a compromise between the various levels of journalism. Because, when it comes down to it --who are we to supress peoples opinions?