Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Forgive me Maynard for I have sinned.
It has been about 11 years since my last "confession" and now I come forward to purge my sins in hopes of dissolving the heavy burden fallen upon my conscience.

In all fairness, my last "confession" occurred while driving towards Castlegar in my heterolifepartner's Datsun station wagon. It was actually a double whammy in the sin-confessing department since we both confessed to each other on that fateful day. Here is how the conversation went down:

Her - "I have something to tell you."
Me - "What's up?"
Her - "I don't hate the new N'SYNC album."
Me - "I don't hate it either!!!"
Her - "And I kind of love them and listen to them secretly in my car and at home in my room."
Me - "ME TOO!"
(You have to keep in mind that this was 2001 and the two of us were heavily listening to bands such as Limp Bizkit, Good Charlotte, Eminem and so forth).

I'm also pretty sure this was when we officially sealed the deal on our eternal love for one another.

Anyway, confessing the love of a band that, by our standards sucked the big one, was a pretty big deal and we didn't share our mutual feelings with other people.  It's not easy for most people to admit their faults and while curiosity supposedly killed the proverbial cat, my curiosity recently got the best of me.  So that is why today I have to admit to the world of something that I did a few days ago that will rock the foundation of what you think about me and what I thought about myself.

Alright. Here I go.

I got a copy of Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience album.

That's not even by far the worst of it.

I also go Miley Cyrus's new album Bangerz.

......No wait. There's more.

I like Miley's album way more than JT's.

There! I said it! I feel so filthy!

I began by first admitting to JT's album because that one isn't that big of a deal. He's come out with some pretty great songs in his time so when I fell in love with "Mirrors" and didn't mind the other released single, I couldn't help but take a peek at the rest of the album to see what was going on there.

But the Miley album....my excuses are pretty thin. I saw her on Ellen a week or so ago and listened to her sing that "Wrecking Ball" song of hers. What captured me about her performance is that she didn't sound like shit. The girl has some decent chops on her and while her style of music DOES NOT fit anywhere on my grid of music that I would ever listen to, I was intrigued. If she had some songs that actually displayed her singing ability and not all of the media propaganda that surrounds her name, the album might be worth looking into.

So I listened to both albums beginning to end (while skipping some songs that made me cringe and I could not make through even though I wanted to legitimately try my best to), I have come to a couple small personal conclusions about them

JT's is alright. A couple of his songs are catchy but there is a lot of repetition of lyrics in his songs which drives me a bit bonkers. In my opinion, the album has some highlights but overall the lyrics just fall short. Sorry JT...but you're sure nice to look at.

Miley's is also alright and actually drives me less bonkers than JT's. Unfortunately the girl can't seem to make a song without help from a featured artist (aka, 6 unimportant lines per song performed by a rapper) and she caters to the young audience by throwing in a decent amount of swearing and sexual references. However, while there are some songs that I can't even try to listen to because they are so bad, she has a couple songs that I actually like. For example, FU is pretty hilarious! It's a great screaming in the car song.

So there we go. The truth is out and I hope no one thinks less of me for any of this. To make up for it I will only listen to heavy metal for the next month in hopes of cleansing my soul of this temporary lapse of sanity.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Foggy Day on Salt Spring Island

I've been really stressed out at work lately so I decided to take a loner mental health day and go to Salt Spring Island for the day. Salt Spring Island is part of the Gulf Islands, is on the east side of Vancouver Island and you can get there in only 35 minutes via ferry from Swartz Bay. The entire island has only a population of about 10,000 people and I believe that there may be more sheep than people inhabiting the island. OK, that may not be true, but there are a lot of sheep. Since moving here I have wanted to check out the Saturday Farmer's Market and explore the little hippie island that people around here tell me that I would appreciate.

So my plan today was to take the 9am ferry, check out the market and the little communities on the island, then hike to the top of Mt. Maxwell for the famously amazing view that I heard so much about. Unfortunately the weather did not really work in my favour. The Weather Network said it would be sunny and semi-warm, but it ended up being very cool and extremely foggy. I went to the island anyway hoping that the temperature would increase and the fog would lift. I drove around enjoying nature, the market, the towns and the very friendly people who were eager to ask questions about where I was from and recommend things for me to do while visiting for the day. Unfortunately they all recommended me to skip the hike due to the fog and the conditions of the road to the trail head. Apparently unless you have a 4x4 or something equally helpful to dodge massive potholes and crumbling roads, it's not worth the trip for short stature vehicles (like my little Honda). Plus the fog would make the view from the top non-existent.

A foggy afternoon by the water

I killed some time by driving around, checking out some of the art studios, tourist attractions and beaches, all in hopes of the weather lifting so that I could conquer the hike.

What I loved about the island is that it reminded me so much of Nelson BC. People living off of the land, producing their products themselves and enjoying a laid back kind of lifestyle. The population consists hugely of artists, musicians and farmers who are all involved in contributing to the community. Organic, natural, home-made, home-grown and "made with love" were the kinds of products you see on the tables at the markets and on the shelves at the stores. As you drive along the windy roads throughout the island, every minute or so you come across a stand at the end of a family farm driveway with a product for sale, such as fresh eggs, vegetables, jams/jellies or lavender. All of these stands are based on the "honour system", meaning that you take the product and leave money behind. Honestly, every turn and bend had one of these stands full of products for people passing by to take a look at and purchase if desired. I love that there are places in the world that still have honourable people inhabiting communities that can follow a system such as this.

Eventually I decided to give up waiting for the weather and headed back to my larger and busier island. Luckily on the way back towards the ferry I saw a sign saying "Brewery" and took a sharp right up a farm road and went to check out Salt Spring Island Ales brewery. When I pulled up to the building, I could not help but produce an ear-to-ear smile.

It was perfect.

It was exactly what the brewery on the island should have looked like.

Small, old, semi-dilapidated and hidden in amongst the trees and mountains that make BC as wonderful as it is.

The brewery is just an old barn with two big tanks in the back and a natural spring running beside it (which is the water they use to make the beer with). The organic hops for the beer are grown just up the road and all of the beer production happens on the island. After a minute of trying to figure out where the shop was to purchase the beer, I found the narrow staircase heading to the top of the barn/brewery which lead me to a small room with one counter, a keg, a beer fridge and a very friendly woman who explained to me everything there was to know about the product and brewery. We chatted for some time, talked about beer, travel and PEI and I left with 3 bottles of delicious ale to take back with me.

So even though I didn't get to hike a mountain today, I still got to experience Salt Spring Island and enjoy my day away from my worries. I know that since I went in the middle of October that I missed out on the true Saturday market (a lot of vendors aren't around this late in season) and the outdoorsy experiences that one gets in the warm summer months. But I got some amazing local coffee, beer, spices and body lotions to remind me of the lovely little island nestled up close to Vancouver Island. I'll definitely head back to the cozy and colourful island when the weather warms up again and I'll see the view from the top of Mt. Maxwell.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Just A Hop, Jump and Skip to Fitness!

No I did not carve this but I wanted to put up
a picture of an AMAZING pumpkin carving. 
For as long as I can remember, I have loved carving pumpkins. When I was a kid and living at home, the number of pumpkins that mom grew had a direct relationship on my happiness. The more pumpkins that were produced meant increased levels of happiness on my part. So every Halloween I look forward to my annual pumpkin carving with great anticipation. However, the one thing that I am always missing is a good pumpkin carving knife. I have always wanted a nice carving kit but have been unable to find one that suits my needs. And by this I mean a knife that doesn’t bend or break in half the minute I try to saw open a pumpkin.

So I went out of my way to go to every kitchen and specialty store that I could find in an attempt to search for a carving knife or kit that would satisfy me. But I couldn’t find one! So I ventured online in my search and ended up choosing Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool from Zombie Pumpkins. As soon as it came in the mail I had to take it for a for a spin, so yesterday I went out, bought a pumpkin and busted open my newest carving toy.

And here is my creation!

I took multiple pictures of it lit up but they all turned out blurry! No matter what setting I tried it always came out blurry, so I gave up.

SEE! Very frustrating.

It was my first attempt at trying to do a carving of not cutting all the way through to get the “shaded” effect. And it worked alright. It’s not as clean as I would like but I need some kind of pumpkin chisel to get the smoothness that I crave. 

Mental note, find a chisel.

The knife worked fairly decently. It’s sharp and sturdy and easy to use. Plus the blades are a tiny bit bendy which helps when making a curve in the cut. In a couple weeks I am going to try to do a more intricate carving so we’ll see how the knife stands up to the real test.

On another note, I think that I have started a new fitness trend at the gym! Jump rope! Wait… that didn’t sound right. I’m not saying that I introduced the gym to jump rope because that would be a blatant lie and I can’t even begin to take the glory for the creation of jumping rope. But in the 8ish months that I have been attending my gym I have never seen another person jump rope. In the past month I have become slightly obsessed with ending my workouts with at least 10-20 minutes of skipping (and my ass and calves are thanking me for it). And now for the past 3 days I have seen other women skipping! Maybe I have inspired these people to pull out their jump ropes from the dark corners of their closets, wipe off the dust and go back to a youthful form of exercise that has been forgotten by most people.

Or maybe I have a big ego and imagination and I want to take the credit for this jump rope awakening.

But now that I am on the subject, I highly recommend mixing up your fitness routine and busting out your old jump rope for a nice little cardio session. Skipping is an inexpensive form of exercise which tones muscles, increases your cardiovascular health and burns just as many calories, actually probably quite a few more, than some cardio machine.  When I first started skipping I struggled to get through 10 minutes of non-stop jumping. Now I am up to a solid 20 minutes of fairly skilled skipping and I am always looking for new moves and going faster each time.

Remember doing the Jump Rope for Heart in elementary school? Remember how awesome that was?

While looking for some new moves to spruce up my skipping routine, today I found this video and was impressed with myself to learn that I already am doing a majority of the moves. Scissors, high knees, side to side, forward and back, running on the spot, double hops, butt kicks, one foot hops and two at a time are on my “DONE” list. However, the criss-cross, heel to toe, short sprints and one foot side to side on my “TO DO” list. But the heel jumps and up & over look brutal and frighten me! Maybe in time I will attempt these moves without fear of getting tangled in the rope and falling on my butt and/or face. Wouldn’t that be a pretty picture? Ouch.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Breaking Bad - The End.

With a combination of busyness and absentmindedness, I have somehow neglected to put up this post even though it has been fully written in my brain for the past 6 days. This is quite surprising considering the personal importance of the near-and-dear subject. And that subject is ----the series finale of Breaking Bad.

If you have never watched Breaking Bad and have randomly stumbled upon this blog post, please take the time to go to your nearest computer and immediately find all 5 seasons of this legendary television series. I was hooked after watching the first episode.

The storyline is as follows. A man with a genius brain for chemistry and science is stuck working as a high-school chemistry teacher and part-time at a car wash. He has a teenage son with cerebral palsy, a younger wife who is pregnant, and he finds out that he has terminal lung cancer. He’s a total straight and narrow guy who has never smoked a day in his life or even thought about breaking any kind of laws. In fear of not being able to provide for his family after he is gone, he decides the quickest way to make a lot of money in a short period of time is to cook highly potent methamphetamine with a local drug-dealer (who was once his student). Oh, and his brother in law is a DEA agent.

There were 2 main things that I loved about this show.

Better Call Saul!
1) The acting. The acting was just awesome in every way. Every single actor in the show completely owned their role and was completely believable. You loved who you were supposed to love and hated who you were supposed to hate.

2) The characters/writing. This is hard to describe… there was so much depth written into the story line and the character,s and this made it so that you became attached to the each character. At least I did anyway. The writers knew the strengths and weaknesses of every character and made sure to take full advantage of that at every opportunity.

Breaking Bad is definitely in my top 3 of all-time favourite shows (along with House and Dexter) and could possibly rank at either #1 or #2. The show has a lot of violence and is non-stop criminal activity (obviously) and even if this kind of stuff bothers you, I still recommend trying to watch it because it truly is a captivating story.

Plus it’s impossible not to fall in love with Jessie.

So as I mentioned, after watching this show with complete devotion for 5 seasons, Sunday was the series finale. The second half of season 5 was excruciatingly suspenseful (they split season 5 into two parts which nearly killed me) so wondering how it was going to end was one everyone’s mind. Would they do an ending which left us hanging in horror or would they bring it to a neat and tidy end?

SPOILER ALERT! I am going to talk about how Breaking Bad ended now. As with my posting about Dexter’s finale, you have been adequately warned and I hold no responsibility of you knowing how it ends.

The one word that came to mind when that finale episode ended was Depressing. As the music ended the scene and the credits popped up on the screen, I just sat there is sadness. Considering the dark story line and unsettling scenarios, it’s not as though the show could have ended happily without being completely bogus. We all knew that bad things were going to happen; we just didn’t know if anyone would actually survive at the end of it all.

What I loved about how they ended the show. By the time the finale scene came to an end, we all know that it was done. Complete closure. No bits were left unattended to and you weren’t asking yourself any questions about anyone or anything. It was over and that was that. All of the bad people were taken care of, the one good character that we were all cheering for got away and Walter White died in the place that started him along his path of self-destruction – a meth lab.

Plus they brought back Badger and Skinny Pete one last time. That made me happy!

Something I really enjoyed about the final episode is that they found a way to make us not hate Walter White anymore. I think that it is safe to say that most of the Breaking Bad fans were hating Walt because he became such a power-hungry, money-obsessed asshole who would take out anyone who got in his way. By the time the episode ended, we were all back in Walter’s side as he brought justice to the men who screwed him, Jessie, Hank and Gomez over.

My favourite part about the whole final episode was the final conversation that Walter had with Skylar in her kitchen. Throughout the entire 5 seasons, Walter is trying to convince everyone around him that he is doing all of these horrible things for the sake of his family and to make sure that they would be OK financially when the cancer eventually takes him. When he says that he did it all for himself, it was a great admittance for the character to reveal to his wife and to the fans watching. Walter not being able to say goodbye to Walt Jr. was sad, but the whole episode was heart wrenching so no surprise there!

Oh no wait! The best part was when Walt took out an entire room of Nazis with a machine gun. Awwwww yeeeeaaahhh!

I could write about this show forever, but I will leave it at that. So long Breaking Bad. You were awesomely awesome with a side of wonderful.

PS. Mad stacks yo!!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lucky Leftie?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love science? If not, I friggin’ love science! It makes me happy knowing that people out there are constantly doing research to learn more about why we are the way we are and how we have evolved over time.

I recently found an article from Northwestern University to be particularly interesting. It is about the relationship between your levels of cooperation and competitiveness and how that can be related to your handedness (whether you are right or left handed). This study that the article discusses revolves around the idea that as human beings evolved and survived, there was a great need for high levels of cooperation. This meant that being the same played a huge part in survival because being similar made life easier. To coordinate hunting expeditions and build safe living structures meant that we had to work together to make them successful. Items such as weapons and tools needed to work for everyone so survival of the fittest made us mostly all right handed to accommodate this.

The 10:1 ratio of righties to lefties in the general population hasn’t changed in the past 5,000 years and it doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to make any adjustments. But now these researchers are finding that the more competitive a group of people to be, that the number of left handed people within that group dramatically increases. Left-handed people seem to have an edge when it comes to being competitive because they have to approach challenge/life a bit differently. Lefties have been shown to use more areas of the brain than right handed people because they have been living in a right-handed world their entire lives and have to adapt to survive within it.

It appears that it works in our advantage though! When everyone else is ducking one way, we’re throwing you off by ducking the opposite way and coming in for the win. This study found that in some sports, particularly professional baseball players and boxers, that the ratio of righties to lefties is up in the 1:1 margin. That’s quite a significant change from 1:10.

Random Trivia Factoid: Did you realize that 5 out of the last 7 American Presidents have been left handed? What does that tell us? This hugely competitive job is seemingly being slowly taken over by left-handed people.

I’ve been talking to some people about this topic and have now heard from a couple people that they know left-handed people who seem to be very lucky individuals (simply meaning that they have good luck.) You know, the kind of people who find money on the street or score the last brownie in the lunch room. That kind of luck. Are lefties lucky?

So I have been sitting back for a few days and allowing this information sink into my brain. Many years ago while waiting in chiropractor’s office, I read this super interesting article about lucky people. There are many theories as to why some people are luckier than others, such as good timing and personality traits such as seizing the opportunity when it presents itself. But there are two things that I distinctly remember reading in this article. The first is that people who seem luckier than the rest of us tend to do things “differently”, meaning that they are more likely to take different driving routes home or order something different every time they go to a restaurant. Lucky people don’t live monotonous lives and don’t always go with the regular flow of society. Shouldn’t this mean that left handed people have a better chance at having higher levels of luck than the rest of society since “going with the flow” doesn’t really work a lot of the time when you're a leftie? Plus we’re apparently extra competitive so one might think that this would ante up our luck levels at least marginally.

The second thing was that lucky people are more likely to be willing to lose or fail than miss out on the opportunity of trying. Meaning, lucky people are risk-takers. Sounds a bit strange, but if you relate that to left handed people you have to keep in mind that we are always ready to fail! We pick up every pair of sewing scissors just waiting for the inability to cut through a piece of paper. We know that there is a huge change that we’re going to smudge the ink when we write something and the chain attached to pens at the bank are never (ever) long enough to let us write anything anyway! Even if the chain is long enough and the ink doesn’t smudge, it’s basically impossible to write anything if the paper is within a binder. We’ve been set up for failure since birth!

Then I came to another simple hypothesis. It’s been proven that left handed people are more likely to have higher IQs than those who are right handed (once again because of the different way the brain is used). Wouldn’t any kind of “luck” be simply connected to the increased intelligence? Successful people aren’t successful based on luck. They are successful based on being intelligent and coming up with ideas that are useful to society and thus making them rich and powerful.  Some people are useless (c’mon…they are) and these people seem to be the ones saying, “I just have no luck when it comes to…(jobs, women, men, cars, gambling...etc).” Maybe luck is more based on making good decisions. 

But then again, left-handed people also are more prone to getting scared more easily, PTSD, anger, embarrassment and becoming alcoholics. Perhaps we’re just constantly carefully calculating ways to avoid these things so that we do not become useless members of society. No one likes a scared alcoholic who throws a pair of scissors across the room in uncontrollable anger.