February 29, 2008

Bitch is the New Black

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

February 28, 2008


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 clich├ęd 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."


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.