Getting Old

A few years back I got my first grey hair. I found it one day in my long dark-brown mass of hair on my head as I was brushing it. At first I was frightened by it. I wondered if I should dye my hair. I pondered that for a while and decided that I would not dye my hair, but embrace the fact that time continues on and I am getting older.

This August I turned 30. I have to admit that while I didn’t seem phased by it, I think I was affected by this closing of a tumultuous decade of my life. However, I have heard from a lot of people that the 30s are better than the 20s. I look forward to this.

When I saw a recent edition of The Current – Target Women hosted by Sarah Haskins, I knew that I wanted to spread this video around. It is just plain hilarious! Here it is:
You’re Old

Enjoy getting older!

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The Necessary DIY Tool: YouTube!

Last year I bought a house and what comes along with any house are home improvements. They are inherently  part of the whole deal. Last fall I built a fence and it was a bit of a ridiculous scene. There were lots of physical and theoretical road blocks and I wished that I had someone to just come and show me what I needed to do. The fence eventually got built, thanks to a couple of friends that helped me out. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, if there wasn’t an easier way. In fact, I was sure there had to be!

I have noticed lately, though, how many people are using YouTube to find out how to do things like yard improvements. In fact, I just looked up “build a fence,” the cause of so much unnecessary stress for a couple of weeks, and it brought me to this video all about the tools needed and a step-by-step guide to building a fence. It would have been good to know about 8 months ago, but it’s good to know it’s out there anyway! And now I’m sharing it with all of you.

It seems that if you want to do ANYTHING, you can find out how to do it on YouTube. Any songs that I learn on guitar have been from internet sites. However, today I found several videos on how to play “Imagine” by John Lennon. I guess what surprises me the most is not that these videos exist, but how great the quality is! It also seems that people just love to share their knowledge!

I wonder how this will impact the world in general. I mean, if anyone can find out how to do anything from YouTube in step-by-step ways, will it impact construction companies, plumbers, landscapers, or other related industries? It probably won’t because most people have more money than time. In terms of my life, where I have more time than money these days, this new-to-me tool has become extremely handy. Well, I’m off to learn how to shingle my roof!

Move on womyn… HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU!

This post is all about dating. To be honest, there is no way that I could write about all of my dating experiences in one sitting, which is the time it takes for most of my blog postings. However, I have been contemplating a lot about relationships lately. In particular, I have been contemplating the beginning of relationships. Even more specifically, I have been contemplating the concept of “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

I have dated for quite a few years now and while I’m no Carrie Bradshaw (although, really, aren’t all us women a little bit Carrie Bradshaw?), I have “found” men through various scenarios: fix-ups, through mutual friends, randomly, and, most recently, through online dating. Online dating brings a whole new dimension to the world of dating. My latest “round” of online dating (I am a bit of a come-and-goer with the online dating thing) has been a bit different than in the past. My last relationship was one that I thought was going to be “forever” and I have since decided that I would not “settle” for anything less than finding someone who, in the words of a very wise and dear friend, “appreciates me perfectly.” Her exact phrasing was, “It’s not about finding the perfect man, it’s about finding the man who appreciates you perfectly.” It turns out that appreciation is worth a lot to me, as I have also recently discovered.

As my love life has progressed and I have yet to find a man who even remotely appreciates me perfectly, I have discovered that I am, as mentioned in previous blog posts, QuirkyAlone. In other words, I’d rather be single than be in a relationship that does not fulfill me and encourage me to be my own quirky, awesome self. It seems that as I have become pickier, my pickings have become slimmer. I remember a time in my younger days when the red flags didn’t seem to matter. Now, however, a guy has to work pretty hard to get past my initial lines. It’s called self-protection, I suppose.

This brings me to my most recent re-discovery. In my attempt to figure out the “signals” of the aforementioned person from the online dating site that I have went on a couple of dates with, I have become more intrigued by the concept of “he’s just not that into me.” Despite my wishes for otherwise, it seems as though this person is what I like to call a “write-off.” It’s just not worth the effort and energy to dissect his every word and lack of phone call. In the recent past, I would have held out for a glimmer of hope because “he said he’d call.” In the movie brilliantly entitled “He’s Just not that Into You,” the main character (ie. a woman) makes endless excuses as to why a particular guy wouldn’t call or why he would do what he did – this is called bargaining. It all came down to the fact that “he’s just not that into you.” Even a couple of weeks ago, I claimed that this concept was making me “paranoid” and I couldn’t trust myself or my feelings, when in fact it was an actuality. I think that as more women become aware of this concept, dating will be much different.

The truth is that most women are actually very hopeful and positive when seeing a guy as a potential date. We think that there is potential for every guy that we date. With guys it seems to be very different: either he is or he isn’t into me. Apparently it is very easy to spot: essentially, I will know when a guy is into me. The tricky part is knowing when he isn’t into me. Apparently there are no mixed signals and no confused feelings. In the words of Jack Berger from SATC, “If he’s into you, he’s coming up, meeting or no meeting. He’s booking the next date.” In the words of the girls: “Uhhh… no mixed signals?!?” No mixed signals. Wow… brutal. No mixed signals, to repeat myself once more. Even though I have seen that episode about a hundred times and I’ve thought about it, it is hard to let it sink in. So if you are reading this and this concept is new to you, just sit here for a moment and let it sink in. There are no mixed signals. NONE. ZERO. ZILCH.
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just letting it sink in…


All right, so now that we know this, we can move on. As I have already mentioned, the dating world will be much different with this concept out there and accessible to women. Women can now, along with having a job that pays ALMOST as much as a man, not wait at the phone for a man to call. I don’t think I’ve ever actually done that, but I have definitely done the ol’ “pick up phone, check for dial tone to make sure that the phone works, and hang up.” I have also spent more energy asking a fellow girlfriend “Why hasn’t he called?” than I am comfortable with. NO MORE! That energy can be put elsewhere. To men reading this: if you are “kinda” into a girl, but aren’t quite sure about it… you can now be sure that she is not waiting for your call, even though that probably didn’t even occur to you.

I have come to the loose conclusion that online dating is a crap-shoot and it’s definitely not for me. I have had a few experiences with it and my experiences have taught me that online dating perpetuates game-playing and shallow, short-term relationships (even though I do have some friends that have had successful online dating stories). The best way to meet a significant other, in my opinion, is still to meet organically in a place that you hang out, through friends, and even randomly at a bar. At least that way you know that he/she gets out of the house!

Good luck out there.

First Day of Spring

After what has seemed like the longest winter EVER, it is finally the first day of spring! While it was +1C outside today, it seemed extremely dreary. Saskatoon is generally a very sunny place to live. So when dreary days like this happen, it seems to affect people’s moods a lot. I called a friend saying that I was “bored” for lack of a more descriptive word. In reality, I felt lethargic and unmotivated. Granted, I had biked for 3 hours in the morning, had a 2-hour nap, did my taxes and the dishes. So maybe I was just out of energy and didn’t want to do anymore. Or maybe it was just the grey clouded sky that put a damper on my spirits.

The signs of spring to me are not so much a date, but a smell and a feeling. It has started to smell like spring for sure, but it won’t be until the trees start to bud and the snow melts to make water flow in the streets. Being from the farm, I remember spring being a wonderfully fun time. Water would fill the ditches and us kids couldn’t help but play in the water wearing rubber boots and making rafts. We would find frog eggs in the water and watch as the eggs turned into tadpoles and then into frogs. It just seemed so natural that these little clusters of jelly would turn into hopping frogs. Now there is less water in the ditches and the frogs have all but disappeared. And now, as I have become an urbanite, the signs of spring are not nearly as much fun: dirty streets and wet pants and shoes. However, I have to admit that I will be over-joyed in a couple of weeks when I can get out onto the highway for my first road bike ride of the season!

Happy First Day of Spring!

20 Albums that Changed my Life

The instructions:
Think of 20 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dig into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wasu, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean. Then when you finish, tag 20 others, including moi. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now?

My note: This was harder than I thought it was going to be, mostly because it’s all off the top of my head. I’m sure I missed some key albums.

1. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
You know, I JUST got the play on words here! Oh, Billy, you are just so witty. The SP was the first concert I went to as a teenager and it was so great. I wore my SP shirt for years even though my mom hated it. I felt like it “expressed” me.

2. Live – Throwing Copper
My very first CD bought; I bought it before I even had a CD player. That was “back in the day” when BMG was the hot new thing.

3. Tegan and Sara – Under Feet Like Ours
My introduction to indie singer-songwriters. This was from back in the days of Napster!

4. Be Good Tanyas – Blue Horse
I still listen to this album a ridiculous amount. It reminds me of the summer I biked across Canada – definitely a coming-of-age summer in 2001.

5. Veruca Salt – Eight Arms to Hold You
In, like 1997, they opened for BushX or something, but I went for VS. I was a regular on their fan forum for many years after that and made some cool friends from there. I stopped going, though, when there was some drama. I know, I know – internet drama?

6. Metric – Old World Underground Where Are You Now?
Just way too good!

7. The Beatles – The White Album
Arguably one of the best albums of all time.

8. Janis Joplin – Pearl (with Full Tilt Boogie)
My dad was a huge Janis fan and we both still love her. I believe my middle name to be a tribute to both this woman and my aunt who passed away just before I was born. I feel a spiritual connection to both of these women because of this.

9. Feist – The Reminder
This album is so good that sometimes it’s hard to listen to!

10. Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope
This album really does give me hope for the future of the world. If music this amazing can be created, then the world can surely be salvaged.

11. Arcarde Fire – Funeral
Easily my most spun album from 2004 – present. Even though I still listen to it all the time I think to myself every time, “This is such a good album!”

12. Stars – Set Yourself on Fire
So sappy and great.

13. The Black Keys – Magic Potion
It just kicks me in the pants every time I hear it!

14. Jann Arden – Living Under June
This album had “Good Mother” on it, which meant a lot to me when this album came out because my mom was undergoing treatment for cancer that summer.

15. Beck – Odelay
There really is no explanation for this album. It speaks for itself.

16. Radiohead – OK Computer
It was hard to pick just one from Radiohead.

17. Elliott Smith – Figure 8
There is nothing like listening to Elliott when you’re feeling really depressed. Especially, now that we can even be sad because he’s not around to make the beautiful music anymore.

18. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
How is it possible that this album gets so much radio play on mainstream radio and is so amazing at the same time.

19. Travis – The Invisible Band
I listened to this album on my walkman in 2001 almost every day when I biked across Canada.

20. Blitzen Trapper – Furr
My top album of 2008.

A Recipe for Awesome: music, book launch, and beer

Tonight in the loft of a local pub in Saskatoon called Lydia’s, there is going to be a great event happening. Turning the Tide bookstore is launching a book by a semi-local artist named Jan Guenther Braun (she’s from Osler). It is a story about a homosexual girl in a Mennonite community. Seemingly, it is a story about adventures and coming-of-age. All the while, an amazing musical talent will be playing as well! Kirby Criddle is going to play some of her sweet music to woo us all. This will be my first time listening to this awesome talent and wonderful person live. If any of you are in Saskatoon, come out and support all this local talent and a great bookstore that is helping to make it all happen!

V-day

Today is the day of one of my least favorite holidays: Valentine’s Day. It is a day around which hearts, roses, pink and related colours, and unethical chocolate makes its seemingly unending presence in stores, streets, and everywhere one looks. There are endless gifts and gadgets to buy your loved one to show them that you really care by purchasing “the perfect gift.”

I think I dislike Valentine’s Day mostly because of its high-pressure nature. I feel sorry for people who can’t show their love and affection for 364 days the way that they are “supposed” to show their love and affection on this day. I like to show my love and affection for the people in my life a more even amount. Actually, I think birthdays are a perfect time to show someone just how much they mean to you. As a Leo, I truly love my birthday. Plus, it’s your day (and anyone else born on the same day) and is special just for that.

What I also dislike about V-day is that it really causes a lot of people sadness. This is also a big reason why I don’t like Christmas or New Year’s Eve either (I’m more a fan of the shoulder-season holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving). Any holiday that is so high-pressure to make people feel a certain way (ie. in love) creates a lot of disappointment and lackluster attempts to make it happen. Tonight I went to dinner with some friends and many of the couples at the restaurant looked fairly unhappy. I remember being in an unhappy couple and “having” to go for supper with my significant other on Valentine’s Day because that’s just what we had to do. It was not so much fun. Now I treat it like any other day, even when in a couple relationship. Although, I have to admit that I bought a sad, dying V-Day cyclamen for myself at the store today because it was discounted and I wanted to see if I could revive it.

Today I looked up the history of “Saint Valentine,” who this day is named after. Apparently, there was not one Saint Valentine, but many. February 14th was actually a Christian holiday about some “saints” (yeah, I doubt that) and their feast. I thought it was strange that there was no talk about love or romance. Here is a blurb from Wikipedia about Saint Valentine:

Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name “Valentine”, derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14.

In 1969, the Catholic church stopped recognizing it as a holiday. I guess that’s when Hallmark and Nestle thought it would be a fantastic idea to take it over. I can’t help but wonder if they realized that it is actually a pagan holiday. According to About.com:

The Romans celebrated a holiday on February 14th to honor Juno Fructifier, Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses as well as goddess of marriage. In one ritual, women would submit their names to a common box and men would each draw one out. These two would be a couple for the duration of the festival (and at times for the entire following year). Both rituals were designed to promote not only fertility, but also life generally….

In 469, emperor Gelasius declared February 14th a holy day in honor of Valentinus instead of the pagan god Lupercus. This allowed Christianity to take over some of the celebrations of love and fertility which had perviously occurred in the context of paganism. Pagan celebrations were reworked to fit the martyr theme — Christianity did not approve of rituals that encouraged sexuality. Instead of pulling girls’ names from boxes, both boys and girls chose the names of martyred saints from a box.

At some point, the holiday went back to being about love and voila! it became the commercial holiday it is today. I think I’ll just stick to loving the people in my life on my own time, at my own intensity with no expectations of anyone. Actually, today, I have shown a lot of love to myself and I cuddled with my puppy. Happy V-day, to QuirkyAlone me!

Consumption, the driver of capitalism


A friend of mine recently diverted my attention to an article that was written about things that were invented just to make people buy things. The article entitled “5 Beloved Traditions Invented to Make You Buy Stuff” written in the Mental_Floss blog. It was reading it with a sideways interest until I got to #3: Diamond Engagement Rings. As many of my personal friends know, I am not a big fan of the institution of marriage and I’m even less of a fan of weddings. However, this article almost put me over the edge when I read:

In addition to diamond engagement rings, De Beers also promoted surprise proposals. The company learned that when women were involved in the selection process, they picked cheaper rings. By encouraging surprise proposals, De Beers shifted the purchasing power to men, the less-cautious spenders.

Wow. Brutal. Seriously, I have no words for what I think of this. I already have not been a fan of DeBeers and their “A Diamond is Forever” bullshit, but to know that they use people like this is just over-the-top wrong. One has to wonder why stuff like this is not reported on in our mainstream media? I have my suspicions, but I’ll just keep those to myself. I had better cool off before I get myself  in trouble on my own blog.

Just Twittering Around

After my heavy post about coffee that I wrote last night, that had actually been stewing inside my brain for a couple of weeks, I thought that it might be good to talk about my new internet addiction-adventure – Twitter. I have been a “blogger” since 2001 – I thought I was so cool when I got a blog and a no one even knew what a “blog” was. In fact, I didn’t even know it was called a blog! Back in “those days” it was called an “internet journal.” Anyway, so on my internet journal blog, I saw that people were posting “Twitter” updates. It was weird and I didn’t quite get it.

Over a year later, I see on a local triathlon forum that Lance Armstrong has a Twitter account. That was enough for me! “Uhh… where do I sign up? ” I asked. Why, at Twitter.com of course! After a mere 5 minutes of knowing about Lance on Twitter, I was signed up and had made my first “update,” thus became my addiction of Twitter and Lance Armstrong.

It is partially due to Twitter and Lance that I have gotten on my bike trainer more this winter than I have the past three winters PUT TOGETHER. Yes, I’m a bad triathlete. I guess I just needed an extra “push” or something and watching Lance update about his training for his comeback to the Tour de France was the exact right push. Now my Twitter is full of professional cyclists that Lance has gotten addicted to Twitter. It’s pretty awesome. Lance even puts pictures up of his sessions sometimes. What a stand-up guy, Lance is! He just seems so genuinely wonderful… I’m smitten. Who needs a boyfriend when you can have a fantasy about the most prestigious athlete in the world?!? Ahhh…. The fantasty, of course, includes a lot of bikes and some great riding ON BICYCLES. What I would give to follow the Tour this year like I have dreamed about for the past 5 years or so. It would be LEGENDARY! (Heehee… Barney, I love you too!)

Oh yeah, Lance’s Twitter is here if you want to take the plunge into Twitter-land. Mine is linked on the sidebar, over there.
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Coffee: my analysis of our caffeinated society

When I was in high school, my relationship with coffee was used as a way of filling my time. “Let’s go for coffee” sounded so grown-up and helped pass the time as a teenager when time was to be wasted. When I was a child, I loved the taste of coffee, but my mom wouldn’t let us have coffee. “It will stunt your growth!” she would say. Grandma used to let me sneek a cup here and there. At 4’11”, a lot of good not drinking coffee did me!

As a university student, I just didn’t bother to drink coffee. This was before Tim Hortons had taken over the campus and I really couldn’t be bothered to drink it. After all, I was a natural morning person – I didn’t need it! As my peers becamse caffeine-addicted, I avoided the whole situation. It seemed unnecessary for me and an extra cost, which student loans didn’t cover and I definitely didn’t need it. Also, it took more time to make it and my time was as precious then as it is now.

One day a friend of mine showed up to an event on campus and I was shocked. She looked like crap! I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she was doing a cleanse of some sort and was in caffeine withdrawl. I had no idea such a thing existed! Sure enough, it did. So when my mom called me a couple of years after that and was telling me about how she had developed a terrible headache since she had started a cleanse that she was doing. I asked her if she had cut out coffee and she said that she had. I told her she was in withdrawl. Yes, this is what addicition feels like – headaches, shakiness, inability to concentrate, nausea, and more. As a health-conscious person, I knew that I never wanted to start something that could make me feel that crummy!

Now that I work as a “professional,” I notice that everyone around me drinks coffee. I am generally a person that doesn’t go along with things just to make my life easier, but the pressure that I feel to drink coffee is heavier than ever before and my absense from it all makes me even more of an outcast. After all,”81% of Canadians drink coffee occasionally and over 63% of Canadians over the age of 18 drink coffee on a daily basis making coffee the #1 beverage choice of adult Canadians.” At best, I am in the 27% minority of adult Canadians, but am actually in the 19% of Canadians that never drink coffee.

My reasons for not drinking coffee are really quite simple: caffeine makes me kind of crazy. I remember going out with a friend and drinking coffee at a shop… by the end of our time there, I wasn’t making sense, I couldn’t keep track of what I was saying, and I was generally jabbering on about nothing. Afterward, I could hardly remember the conversation. It was worse than having a few beer at the local pub! It was that moment that I made a concerted effort to avoid caffeine, mostly in the form of coffee.

It was at this point in my life that I had also accumulated a political edge. Thanks to organizations like Oxfam, I learned about the terrible coffee industry that had taken over the greedy Western world. According to Oxfam, often less than 10% of what consumers pay for a cup of java actually reaches the farmer who grows the beans. Granted, this isn’t a lot less than the Saskatchewan grain farmer that grows wheat for bread. However, there are about 15 million small farmers that must sell their crops to mid-level traders for a tiny price. Is it a coincidence that the biggest coffee producing countries are also the poorest? Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Guatemala, Mexico, Ethiopia, Uganada, and the Ivory Coast make up the top 10 coffee-producing countries. Big companies like Kraft, Procter and Gamble, and Nestle control over 60% of the total green coffee bean volume, accoridng to Responsible Shopper.

Coffee is a “cash crop” for these countries and farmers. A lot of the people who farm the coffee crops don’t actually own their land, which raises another issue of supporting that undemocratic system. The owners and farmers of the land are encouraged to grow coffee instead of food crops, thus increasing their income, but not feeding their families or the people of their country. Cash crops are dependent on market prices, which are always volatile. The coffee market is dependent on the farmers working for an unsustainable wage by growing an unsustainable crop. Even when Fair Trade coffee is available, I still cannot justify supporting an industry and “encourages” farmers to grow a cash crop as opposed to a food crop.

In addition to the “politics” of coffee, heavy caffeine use has been shown to have detrimental effects on the physical and psychological health of people. I mean, can anything that can cause withdrawal symptoms similar to hard drugs be good for you? There are many studies about how caffeine is not good for people. Not to mention how drinking coffee generally means that you consume less of other good-for-you beverages like water or juice. Our society, however, does not promote a healthy lifestyle. The fast-paced nature of our society and urbanization has increased sleep deprivation. From my observation, needing a “perk-up” in the morning and again in the afternoon is a big reason why people drink coffee – habit and socialization are probably not far behind. However, with 74% of Americans not getting enough sleep each night, it’s no wonder people need coffee to function in this pressure-filled society!

I try very hard not to judge people for drinking their cups of coffee everyday, but I have a hard time with the pressure that goes along with it. I have to admit that I tend not to talk about it at all, unless probed as to “why [I] don’t drink coffee.” In all honesty, nothing wakes me up better than a brisk walk or a swim in the pool or a run. It has never been more clear to me as it is now that I am in the minority as a non-coffee-drinker. I always think about what I put in my body, to the point of borderline obsessive, and am very concerned for my health on a daily basis. As a pro-active person, I  actually do what is best for me [most of the time], that I know of, and try to reduce my unhealthy behaviors. And while I “never say never” anymore, I won’t lie and say that I will “never” drink coffee, but I am pretty certain that I won’t be consuming it on a daily or even semi-regular basis. There are a lot better ways to wake up in the morning,  starting with getting enough sleep the night before and regular daily exercise!

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