Posted by: Jennifer | October 17, 2012

Checking in

I tend to go through spurts when I’m blogging. I’m really faithful and diligent about posting my thoughts for a while, and then I get distracted by bumblebees and flowers and I forget to log in for a few days or weeks or months. I’d like to think that it’s because I’m such a busy person that I have to prioritize my time. The reality is that I’m just really fucking lazy.

I’m checking into this blog today because of a course that I’ve started taking. It’s a free online course through Stanford’s Venture Labs programs — A Crash Course in Creativity. The entire purpose of the course is to teach people ways to awaken those creative brain cells and get them active and working. I suppose that means I’m going to need to start actually practicing what I’m learning.

It’s not that I don’t want to write — I always feel like I have something that needs to be said. The problem that I have is with expressing the thought. I think that I have so many thoughts and ideas running through my brain at all times that it starts to feel like one of those headlines graphics at the bottom of the news screen, where current events just keep flying past too quickly to read them and at the same time you’re trying to focus on what the news anchor at the top of the screen is actually talking about. It gets to be too much for me, so I just ignore the headlines and focus on the bigger picture. It’s great for my concentration, but I think I’m also missing out on a lot.

I don’t want to say that I’m back to stay, or that I’m going to promise to blog X number of days over the next Y months. I’m going to blog when I have something to blog about. But I’m also not going to ignore that headline reel anymore. When something wants to be said, it’s getting noted. I’m not sure if this is going to be a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s going to be a step in some type of direction.

Posted by: Jennifer | November 3, 2011

sugar, sugar

Sometimes, the title of an article really does say it all: Fatty Foods Addictive Like Cocaine. Huh. I could have told them THAT.

A growing body of medical research at leading universities and government laboratories suggests that processed foods and sugary drinks made by the likes of PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) aren’t simply unhealthy. They can hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine and other drugs.

[…]The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists’ radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

[…]“This could change the legal landscape,” said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and a proponent of anti-obesity regulation. “People knew for a long time cigarettes were killing people, but it was only later they learned about nicotine and the intentional manipulation of it.”

I have no problem saying this — I’m overweight. It’s something that I would like to change about myself, but I’m not “ashamed” of it. It’s just a fact. That said, my weakness has always been sweets. Cookies and cupcakes and those blasted Fuzzy Peaches. I eat them all, and even when I’m not hungry and I know that they’re bad for me, I still head for the candy and bakery aisles every time I go to the grocery store.

Has my weakness for sugary foods contributed to my excessive weight? Most definitely. Would I sue the company that makes Fuzzy Peaches for making me fat? Dear God, no. At the end of the day, I’m the one who opened the bag of candy, the same as I’m the one who lights up my cigarette and I’m the one who pours a rum and Coke (more sugar, I might add!). At some point, I am responsible for the choices that I make and no one else should be made to pay for them.

Ten bucks says that the first lawsuit is filed within five minutes of this study becoming scientific fact. And I find that sad.

Posted by: Jennifer | September 11, 2011

ten years

September 11, 2001

8:45 a.m.
• American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York. It had departed from Boston en route to LA with 92 people on board.

9:03 a.m.
• United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the Trade Center, causing a devastating explosion. It had left Boston for LA carrying 65 people.

9:10 a.m.
• President Bush is informed of the attacks by his chief of staff while reading to children in a classroom.

9:29 a.m.
• First reports of casualties start to pour in. More than 50,000 workers are based at the Trade Center.

9:30 a.m.
• US President George Bush declares: “We have had a national tragedy. Two aeroplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.”

9:40 a.m.
• American Airlines Flight 77, carrying 64 people from Washington to Los Angeles, crashes into the Pentagon. The military bee hive bursts into flames and a portion of one side of the building collapses.

9:43 a.m.
• Abu Dhabi television reports it received a call from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claiming responsibility for crashing two planes into the WTC. Leading officials later deny the claim.

9:45 a.m.
• The White House and The Capitol are evacuated amid further threats.

9:50 a.m.
• The south tower of the World Trade Center tower collapses. All airports across the US shut down.

9:58 a.m.
• Emergency dispatcher in Pennsylvania receives a call from a passenger on United Flight 93 who says “We are being hijacked, we are being hijacked!”

10:00 a.m.
• United Airlines Flight 93 crashes 130 kilometres southeast of Pittsburgh. It had been bound for San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey.

10:29 a.m.
• The north tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

1:44 p.m.
• The Pentagon says five battleships and two aircraft carriers will be deployed along the east coast to provide upgraded air defence for the New York and Washington areas.

2:00 p.m.
• All US stock markets are closed for the afternoon. The American Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange remain closed the next day.

2:48 p.m.
• New York’s mayor Rudy Giuliani says the eventual death toll from Tuesday’s attack may be “more than any of us can bear.”

5:20 p.m.
• Forty-seven storey Building Seven, adjacent to the ruins of the World Trade Center, collapses.

8:30 p.m.
• President Bush addresses the nation on TV and hints that at a strong US response against the “terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them.”

Timeline from News1130

Posted by: Jennifer | September 11, 2011

my day in one sentence

The problem with vacation is that it ends.

Posted by: Jennifer | September 7, 2011

Staycation / All I ever wanted

Staycation / Had to get away
Staycation / Meant to be spent alone

Everyone sing along!!

Posted by: Jennifer | August 30, 2011

kids gone wild

Two now-grown children from a suburb of Chicago have tried to sue their mother due to her “bad parenting” which caused severe emotional distress. And what, do you ask, would be an example of this horrible mother’s actions?

The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.

[…]Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was “inappropriate” and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.

You know, my parents call me by my sister’s name ALL THE TIME, and vice versa. I wonder if we have a case on our hands. This has caused severe emotional distress, as well as several identity crises. I guess we have no choice. I’ll have to sue my parents for being human. It’s their own fault. They should have been better parents.

Oh, and you don’t even have to ask — this case was dismissed by the judge. The judge didn’t want to risk opening this particular can of worms. Can you imagine what would happen if you were allowed to sue your mother because she gave you a birthday card that you didn’t like? What’s next? I was chained to the table and made to do my homework when I wanted to play video games? I was forced against my will to do manual labour in the kitchen after dinner, despite the fact that my favourite TV show was on? I was denied access to the car keys because I didn’t have my driver’s license, and my ungrateful and bad mother refused to change her schedule to accommodate the fact that I wanted to go to the mall with my friends? And the bitch didn’t even offer to give me money for shopping to boot?!

What is disturbing is the hidden reasoning for the case. One of the kids’ lawyers, you see, is their dad/the woman’s ex-husband. It kind of makes you wonder how much of this was an asshole trying to get back at his ex-wife for her supposed offenses. Also makes you wonder if there’s the possibility of a countersuit. I would think that if your husband takes you to court to try to show you’re a bad parent due to making your kid wear their seatbelt — there HAS to be some sort of libel case in there.

Posted by: Jennifer | August 25, 2011

employment freebie

Bern Blog has proposed an interesting idea: if you wouldn’t do something for free, what makes you think you would enjoy it more if you were paid to do it?

On May 12, 2009 I read a list of advice my brother-in-law received during graduation from Yale Law:

1) An hour of sleep before midnight is worth two, and an hour of work before noon is worth two.
2) Always pick your kids up from school. That’s when they want to talk.
3) Never let your skill exceed your virtue.
4) Never take less than two weeks off when you have a child or for your honeymoon. Don’t let them talk you down.
5) When you mess up, admit it frankly and quickly, and move on.
6) Always do your very best in your job, but if you don’t like what you’re doing enough that you would do it for free, quit. (This seems extreme, but at the same time mentally liberating.)

This last one hit me like a bolt of lightning. Of course I had heard similar advice, like do what you love and you would never work a day in your life. But this one was different. Would I do it for free? That is a pretty high standard. I enjoyed the job I had. Everything has ups and downs, but generally is was ok. I was doing work that I enjoyed. I was working with technology and finance/accounting- it provided enough of a challenge and the company was growing well. But, I knew that I wouldn’t do it for FREE.

[…]We should only work in something that we would do for free because only then we will have the intrinsic motivation to attempt to achieve mastery- or getting better and better at something that matters. Mastery is something that I found in my process of discovery. Books such as “Drive” by Daniel Pink and “Delivering Happiness” helped me understand that when we are really focused on becoming a expert at something that matters, we cease trying to accomplish things because of the external motivations. For example, when I was in college I had to take a Geology class. I didn’t care about geology and I took the class just for a grade. I don’t remember much from that class. I enjoyed Economics though and I earned a minor in Economics because I enjoyed the theory and enjoyed learning. I never had to worry about getting an A in Economics, because I was mastering the material.

But mastery does not refer to perfect execution and knowledge. As Pink says in his book, “the mastery asymptote is a source of frustration. Why reach for something you can never fully attain? But it’s also a source of allure. Why not reach for it? The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization. In the end, mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.” I believe that we can only pursue mastery of things that we do based on internal motivation. Not if you are there to collect a paycheck.

Would I stay in my current job if I wasn’t being paid to do it? Hell to the no! But my landlady and the power company and the cellphone carrier would probably all have something interesting to say if I tried to quit just because I wasn’t happy. Don’t get me wrong — I fully believe that people should do what they love and that the only path to true happiness to is to find satisfaction and even joy in your work. I just also think that everyone has to do some soul-sucking/degrading/boring/uninteresting/blah work to pay the bills while biding your time towards the Dream Job.

Posted by: Jennifer | August 23, 2011

R.I.P., Jack


Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the new year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: We’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one — a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

(Layton’s letter was published in every Canadian newspaper in circulation today. I got my copy of it from The Toronto Star.)

Posted by: Jennifer | August 21, 2011

three weeks in

Some observations regarding my new life now that I’m three weeks in:

1) Home ownership would be a real pain in the ass. I know that it’s something that I want to do at some point, but I’m thinking that I need some more time before I reach that goal. I like renting. I don’t want to have to be the one to worry about new windows and keeping sidewalks usable and such.

2) I’m not nearly as creative as I thought I was. Or maybe I’m too creative. I’m not sure. All I know is that I have way too many decorating ideas for the small space that I have.

3) I’ve made it three weeks with no cable or phone hookup. At what point to I admit that I don’t need either of these things and get them cancelled? I’m basically paying for something that I can apparently live without.

4) I honestly thought that this move would save me money. I’m hoping that will still be the case, but I don’t think those savings are going to kick in right away. At least, not based on my bank account.

5) I’ve been wanting to get back into running for some time now, but couldn’t really find the motivation to stick with it. Apparently all that I needed was a kick-ass trail steps away from my front door. Hello, Great Outdoors!

Posted by: Jennifer | August 13, 2011

fifty years

There’s one thing that I find European countries do better than North American nations: they make a point of remember the bad along with the good. The goal is to ensure that it never leaves the consciousness of the citizens, in the hopes that it never happens again.

Berlin on Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall started to go up with a memorial service and a minute of silence in memory of those who died trying to flee to the West.

German President Christian Wulff, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in the East, and Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit attended a nationally televised commemoration followed by a ecumenical church service at a chapel built where the Wall stood for 28 years.

Flags flew at half mast on the Reichstag (parliament) and church bells tolled at noon as Germans were called to observe a minute of silence in remembrance of the 136 people who are known to have died in Berlin between 1961 and 1989 while trying to cross the Wall.

Overall figures of those killed while attempting to flee from East to West Germany stand at between 600 and 700.

[…]”The Wall was part of a dictatorial system, an unjust state,” Wowereit said for his part.

“It illustrated the bankrupcy of a system people wanted out of.

“The Wall is now history, but it must not be forgotten.

“It is our responsibility to keep its memory alive and pass it on to future generations . . . so that such injustices never repeat themselves,” he added.

Yeah, the Mayor said it much more eloquently than I ever could, and he’s completely right. It may not be popular thinking and it may be considered horrible or racist or sexist or otherwise discriminatory, but we can never remove the events that we don’t like from our history. All mistakes are learning experiences and if you don’t learn then you will keep making the same mistake over and over again.

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