Best Blog - Rolling Around in My Head



Casual Cruetly

He was struggling. No question. Struggling. He looked to be a man, once employed doing something he was good at, who is now waiting tables to earn a living, feed his family. I have nothing to base this on except the way he carried himself, how hard he tried, and the way his mistakes caused him a kind of personal pain. He worked his tables as hard as he could and he came across like a nice guy wanting to make sure people had a nice evening. But. He was struggling.

At the table next to us was a table of young people in their early twenties. They were laughing, joking and having a good time. Every now and then some of their conversation floated over our way and it was clear that this was a group who's humour was one part 'unrestrained anonymous comment' and one part 'I'm just kidding, really.' Dangerous ground to be in for a newcomer I'd think, but they seem to be navigating it really well. For me, I was just glad that when they saw me, I didn't become a topic of their 'humour.'

Music was playing. I made a mental note of the song, I know you'd know it. It was one of those hugely successful but immediately forgettable pop songs that come along every now and then. It had a catchy beat and fun lyrics, made to sing along in the car while driving on long trips. I didn't have a piece of paper, I didn't have a pen. I thought I'd commit it to memory. But the thing about immediately forgettable pops songs is that they are, as one would expect, immediately forgettable.

While the song played, the group, mockingly, got musical. Some sang along on the lyrics, some pretend danced in their seats. I was close up, I could see they were dismissive of the song and thought it bad enough to have earned ridicule.

The waiter, trying hard, came by noticed them dancing, singing and laughing, came to check if everything was OK and in doing so said that he'd loved that song when it came out. There was a frosty pause for a moment and then everyone burst out laughing. The fact that he'd been made a fool of hit his face, hard. He held on to his dignity and walked stiffly away from the table. His nickname at the table became 'Mister Music Man.'

Cruelty flowed his way.

I had just decided to do something when another waiter came to their table, said something quietly, and then continued to serve the group. I don't know what the waiter said, but the certainly had no nick name for her. He continued on with us, he seemed more relaxed the last half of the meal. I wonder if it's because he realized that he had a supportive team, that he wasn't in it alone, that the community of waiters supported each other and watched out for each other. I don't know ... but he seemed, different, after that had happened.

Since there is such cruelty in our social environments these days. Since bullying is a cause that people rally around but actually do little about. Since many of us simply don't know what to do in a situation. Maybe we can become small communities that watch out for each other. That confront those that need confrontation. It's not always the victims responsibility to educate those that feel free to bully.

Maybe we need to do what we can to keep those who learn the ways of cruelty from the freedom of anonymous comments contained to words they type in front of a screen - and not have it become a way of interacting when we are anonymous in other social environments.

Casual cruelty ... those two words, together, terrify me. I couldn't act this time. I will the next. It's my pledge to myself and to the fight for a civil society.

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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 7:08 am

Literature and Culture Blog - Perogies and Gyoza



Julia, Child

Julia, Child

Words by: Kyo Maclear

Pictures by: Julie Morstad

Published by: Tundra Books

Published on: July 9, 2014

Ages: 4+









What do you make when you add a love of cooking to a bowl full of friendship and bake with the talent of two of Canada's most loved children's book artisans?

Julia, Child.

Kyo Maclear is the author of two the children's books I love most, Spork and Virginia Wolf. As in these amazing books, her writing in Julia, Child speaks to those of all ages. As in Virginia Wolf, Maclear imagines an episode in the childhood of a famous women. Julia and her friend Simka love butter and baking and French food and wish they could spread their joy to others.

Those who have joy and those who need some are easily differentiated in Morstad's (How To) delightful gouache and ink illustrations. Julie and Simka are adorable, but it's truly the little touches like recipe cards with helpful cooking hints or recipes changed to add more butter that show Morstad's true mastery.

I do love extras in books, and the introduction wrapped as an invitation on the first page, as well as the book description on the cover flaps all add to the joy of reading. Any book which mixes a swooshy rainbow and crying lumberjack has to be formulated to bring smiles to the readers' faces.

Like Julia and Simka, Maclear and Morstad are generous with their talent and sharing this book is sure to bring joy to others.

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Posted on 8 July 2014 | 6:00 pm

Entertainment Blog - Mike's Bloggity Blog



Much’s 30th anniversary ignores much of its history!

For a place that was once known for throwing the coolest parties in Canada, Much’s upcoming 30th anniversary party is surprisingly lame! Remember the awesomeness of parties like annual Christmas Tree Toss, Electric Circus, Much’s SnowJob or the MMVAs (before ...
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Posted on 12 August 2014 | 3:23 pm

Humour Blog - XOXO Jes.....



Rest in Peace Robin Williams

There was a pretty sad announcement made this afternoon when the world found out the Robin Williams had passed away from a suspected suicide. The 63 year old actor's career spanned almost four decades and beloved by...well, pretty much everyone.

A rep for the actor said that he had been struggling with depression. It is no secret that the funny ones are usually a little bit dark on the inside, and I guess that was no different for Robin.

Robin Williams was a comedian, but he also could do drama. He was what Jim Carrey tried to be and what many comedians probably wish they could be. He was in some of the most beloved movies for people of many generations. One of my all time favorites was Dead Poets Society, but he was known for so many others as well.

Robin had most recently been in a couple of small films as well as The Crazy Ones, a sitcom on CBS which was cancelled in May after its first season.

This is truly a sad day for Hollywood. Let's remember how he made us laugh.

XOXO
Jes...



What will your verse be?


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Posted on 12 August 2014 | 1:46 am

Journalist Blog - Commercial Space



Canadian Space Agency Gears up to Fund More Rovers

          by Chuck Black

After spending the month of August funding various Earth imaging applications, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is preparing to fund three rover projects costing $600K, $300K and $3.2Mln CDN.

The Argo J5 Mobility platform being demonstrated at the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies MarsDome facility on February 20th, 2014. Directly behind the orange J5 is a grey JUNO mobility platform (J1) and a J4 Rover, which is currently the basis of the Artemis Jr., the chassis of choice for the proposed NASA Resolve mission. To the left is a second ARGO J5 rover equipped with ODG’s lunar wheel prototype, optimized for harsh conditions.  Both the JUNO and Artemis Jr. Rovers were developed under a series of CSA contracts by New Hamburg based Ontario Drive and Gear (ODG). ODG is considered one of the front runners to receive the next round of Canadian rover funding. Photo c/o author.

As outlined on the Public Works and Government Services Canada BuyandSell.ca website, the three "notices of tender" are as follows:
  • The ExCore small planetary rover platform (9F052-140062/A) - This is a single $600,000 CDN contract disbursed through the CSA's Exploration Core (ExCore) program for a functional, small, four wheeled planetary rover platform with skid-steering, fully passive suspension, which is manually lockable, and has a basic power system along with a power & mechanical interface to accommodate small exploration surface mobility (ESM) payloads. The tender closes on September 4th, 2014 and the period of the contract will extend from December 1st, 2014 to December 1st, 2015, which likely means that the award will be announced later this year.
  • The lunar polar rover night survival strategy (LPRNSS) concept study (9F052-140125/A) - This is a single $300,000 CDN contract, also disbursed through the CSA's ExCore program, to develop alternative heat sources for a lunar rover, with the intention of protecting the rover from the low temperatures which occur during a lunar night in the lunar polar region. This is one of the biggest challenges at the current state of unmanned lunar exploration, although, as outlined in the February 14th, 2014 Space.com article "Has China's Ailing Moon Rover Survived 2nd Lunar Night," others may have developed a solution. This tender will close on September 18th, 2014, but the period of the contract is undefined and only listed as extending from the "date of issue for a period of six (6) months."
  • The lunar rover drive-train prototype (LRPDP) platform (9F052-140053/A) - This is the big project for Canadian rover manufacturers; a $3.25Mln CDN contract, also disbursed through the CSA's ExCore program, to develop a slightly larger, but still functional lunar rover platform & drive train prototype (LRPDP), able to be subjected to rigorous testing. But you'd best hurry to apply for this; the tender closes on August 29th, 2014 and the period of the contract is listed as being from September 22nd, 2014 to December 18th, 2015.
As outlined most recently in the October 20th, 2012 post "Lots and Lots of Rovers Looking for Missions," the last round of funding for the Canadian rover program was part of the 2009 Economic Action Plan, which allocated $110Mln CDN over three years to the CSA for development of the next generation Canadarm (which received $53.1Mln CDN) and for Canadian rovers (which received most of the rest). The CSA funding for the Canadian rovers ran out on March 31st, 2012.


It's unlikely that the latest round of rover funding will be enough to fund a completely new rover. So expect the winner of the current tenders to end up being some of the same organizations which ended up being funded in the last funding round. 

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Posted on 18 August 2014 | 10:25 pm

Religion Blog - Religion Dispatch



Controversial Feminist Theologian Speaks at Nuns’ Final Assembly Without Vatican Oversight

The Outstanding Leadership Award at the LCWR’s last annual assembly without the direct supervision of...

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Posted on 19 August 2014 | 3:54 pm

Art and Crafting Blog - Just a Smidgen



Vegan Cherry Bomb Muffins

♥ Cloudy with a chance of cherries.. plucked and plonked, rain down into a silvery bucket under a crimson sun. ♥ Ruby red shoulders smart stretched on crumpled terrycloth bed while waves lull lull lull into a marooned day’s sleep. ♥ Scarlet snaps capture rosy seconds of blooming love and tender, just three winks three winks before they part. ♥ […]

The post Vegan Cherry Bomb Muffins appeared first on Just a Smidgen.


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Posted on 17 August 2014 | 1:03 pm

Ecology and Social Justice - Facing Autism in New Brunswick



More Science in Support of ABA Effectiveness for Autistic Children


The US Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality Review Therapies for Children  With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Behavioral Interventions Update has found a dramatic increase  in the scientific evidence backing the effectiveness of intensive behavioral therapy for children affected by autism. The report some 519 pages in length has been reviewed on the Autism Speaks Science Digest site:

"We are finding more solid evidence, based on higher quality studies, that these early intensive behavioral interventions can be effective for young children on the autism spectrum, especially related to their cognitive and language skills,” says lead author Amy Weitlauf, a clinical psychologist with the Vanderbilt [University] Kennedy Center. (The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is part of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.)

Dr. Weitlauf and her co-authors are members of the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center. It's one of twelve federally funded centers conducting scientific reviews to help patients, clinicians and policy makers make informed decisions about healthcare services.

Their review updates a 2011 report that noted gaps in the research needed to assure the effectiveness of often-costly autism therapy programs. In particular, they examine new scientific findings on the effectiveness of intensive early intervention therapies based on applied behavioral analysis (ABA). Their update includes 65 studies published since the 2011 report.

“This review speaks to the clear consensus on intensive early intervention,” comments developmental pediatrician Paul Wang, Autism Speaks senior vice president for medical research. “Kids with autism clearly benefit from these behavioral interventions, and we need to make sure that they’re provided.
“In the long run,” Dr. Wang adds, “intensive early intervention saves money by promoting greater independence later in life. Autism Speaks continues to sponsor research to show how we can further enhance intervention methods and their cost-benefits.” 

Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks vice president for state government affairs, notes the importance of the new report for advocacy efforts. “The new Vanderbilt study further reinforces the overwhelming record of evidence supporting the efficacy of Applied Behavior Analysis in treating children with autism,” she says. “In study after study, ABA continues to be confirmed as a beneficial intervention that can vastly improve the lives of kids with autism. And with each study, insurance industry claims that ABA is somehow ‘experimental’ become ever more untenable.”"

Here  in Canada parents have argued for more than 15 years for government provided ABA treatment for autism based on the studies reviewed at different points in time by the US Surgeon General, the MADSEC (Maine) Autism Task Force Report, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Now recent studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (January 2014) and this review by the US Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality Research further strengthen the evidence basis of ABA as an effective autism treatment.  None of this is likely to  matter to strident anti-ABA Advocates but for government service providers and parents of autistic children this further strengthening of the evidence basis in support of ABA for autistic children will provide yet more guidance in how to help autistic children.

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Posted on 14 August 2014 | 12:46 pm

Ex-Pat Blog - The Blog Fodder



No respite for Ukrainian Army

The following is from Ukraine Liveblog Day 183: Ukraine Fights to Retake Ilovaisk. Hromadske TV reports that 150 pieces of Russian military hardware, including tanks, and 1200 troops with Russian uniforms (but lacking chevrons) have broken through to Lugansk today. Dmitry Tymchuk reports that Unfortunately, the fact is confirmed that today, a convoy of military vehicles has broken through to

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Posted on 19 August 2014 | 7:43 pm

Gardening Blog - Canoe Corner



This Wasn't Intended

I got up this morning thinking about weeding the soybeans.  They are engulfed and desperately need some attention.  Would you be surprised if I told you that didn't happen?

While in the bathroom hubby ran in and grabbed some cleaner.  The cat threw up.  Again.  He's getting old, it happens.

10 years and counting
While cleaning up the mess Jody said, wouldn't it be great if we just tore up this carpet, it's disgusting.  And I agreed.  So we did.

This is what it looked like when we started.
I mean, who wants to work in the garden in this heat right?  Ripping up old carpet is so much more fun.  (I am being sarcastic here, hitting up the beach would have been a lot funner)

Ever since we moved into this house we've wanted to tear out the carpets.  They were installed approximately 30 years ago and they look it.  There are indents where furniture used to stand, the colour is washed out and there are stains.  Time and money has been spent on other renovations though and the carpets have been ignored.

We still don't have the money to deal with this issue so we rather hoped the floors underneath would be intact and usable.  The first look at what was underneath was pretty hideous.

Carpet underlay stuck to plywood.  Yuck.
Four hours of scraping and pulling nails ensued.


As we made our way around though we found some spots were perfectly intact.  Yah!  Something salvageable.

This section looks downright nice, except for the missing stain.
So now we have another project on our hands.  Right after I get that weeding done of course.

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Posted on 3 August 2014 | 4:38 pm

Lifetime Achievement Blog - Fit Cyclist



2014 Leadville 100 Race Report, Part 4: I Wait for No Man. Nor Woman, Neither

I had just crossed the turnaround point of the Leadville 100 and — just a few minutes later, before the course turned downhill in earnest — I had come across The Hammer, riding with Rebecca Rusch immediately behind her and with a big smile on her face. She knew how well she was doing. She had [...]

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Posted on 19 August 2014 | 3:04 pm

Travel Blog - Local Traveller



We’ve Moved! Kinda…

Hey LTNS friends! On May 12th, we joined up with a cool new collective called Halifax Bloggers and started posting under the new url of www.thelocaltraveler.ca. If you’ve been hanging around www.thelocaltravelerns.com, this url will start to redirect to our new site in the next few weeks. Over on the new channel, we’ve got a […]

The post We’ve Moved! Kinda… appeared first on The Local Traveler .


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Posted on 17 June 2014 | 11:03 am

Group Blog - Urban Moms



Mom Creates “Ignore No More” App To Force Kids To Return Your Missed Calls

You may or may not be rushing to download this app onto your child’s phone by the time you finish this article… That flashy smartphone your child’s been rocking — we know you didn’t just buy it so they could Snapchat […]

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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 11:45 am

Best New Blog - Frugal Mom Eh



Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast DVD

!cid_4BA880E86D1E40A9B49252525B199AA0@ElizabethFeatures a Special Appearance by Snow White! Plus Four Additional Episodes and a FREE Enchanted Mirror! There’s more than meets the eye when you join Sofia the First for this royally scrumptious adventure! All the monarchs from Enchancia’s neighboring kingdoms have come to watch a dazzling display of magic: First, Cedric will conjure up a […]

The post Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast DVD appeared first on Frugal Mom Eh!.


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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 10:23 am

Personal Blog - Rolling Around in my Head



Casual Cruetly

He was struggling. No question. Struggling. He looked to be a man, once employed doing something he was good at, who is now waiting tables to earn a living, feed his family. I have nothing to base this on except the way he carried himself, how hard he tried, and the way his mistakes caused him a kind of personal pain. He worked his tables as hard as he could and he came across like a nice guy wanting to make sure people had a nice evening. But. He was struggling.

At the table next to us was a table of young people in their early twenties. They were laughing, joking and having a good time. Every now and then some of their conversation floated over our way and it was clear that this was a group who's humour was one part 'unrestrained anonymous comment' and one part 'I'm just kidding, really.' Dangerous ground to be in for a newcomer I'd think, but they seem to be navigating it really well. For me, I was just glad that when they saw me, I didn't become a topic of their 'humour.'

Music was playing. I made a mental note of the song, I know you'd know it. It was one of those hugely successful but immediately forgettable pop songs that come along every now and then. It had a catchy beat and fun lyrics, made to sing along in the car while driving on long trips. I didn't have a piece of paper, I didn't have a pen. I thought I'd commit it to memory. But the thing about immediately forgettable pops songs is that they are, as one would expect, immediately forgettable.

While the song played, the group, mockingly, got musical. Some sang along on the lyrics, some pretend danced in their seats. I was close up, I could see they were dismissive of the song and thought it bad enough to have earned ridicule.

The waiter, trying hard, came by noticed them dancing, singing and laughing, came to check if everything was OK and in doing so said that he'd loved that song when it came out. There was a frosty pause for a moment and then everyone burst out laughing. The fact that he'd been made a fool of hit his face, hard. He held on to his dignity and walked stiffly away from the table. His nickname at the table became 'Mister Music Man.'

Cruelty flowed his way.

I had just decided to do something when another waiter came to their table, said something quietly, and then continued to serve the group. I don't know what the waiter said, but the certainly had no nick name for her. He continued on with us, he seemed more relaxed the last half of the meal. I wonder if it's because he realized that he had a supportive team, that he wasn't in it alone, that the community of waiters supported each other and watched out for each other. I don't know ... but he seemed, different, after that had happened.

Since there is such cruelty in our social environments these days. Since bullying is a cause that people rally around but actually do little about. Since many of us simply don't know what to do in a situation. Maybe we can become small communities that watch out for each other. That confront those that need confrontation. It's not always the victims responsibility to educate those that feel free to bully.

Maybe we need to do what we can to keep those who learn the ways of cruelty from the freedom of anonymous comments contained to words they type in front of a screen - and not have it become a way of interacting when we are anonymous in other social environments.

Casual cruelty ... those two words, together, terrify me. I couldn't act this time. I will the next. It's my pledge to myself and to the fight for a civil society.

Read More

Posted on 20 August 2014 | 7:08 am

Political Blog - Calgary Liberal



The Alberta Liberals’ Biggest Gamble Yet

In life, and in politics, risk normally matches reward. And the Alberta Liberals are throwing a die so far, so long, that it overshadows any risk the party has ever taken on before. And the reward may in fact be massive if all goes well. Today Kent Hehr announced his run for Member of Parliament by […]

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Posted on 17 July 2014 | 3:19 pm

Law Blog - Wise Law Blog



140 Law - Legal Headlines for Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here are the leading legal headlines from Wise Law on Twitter for Wednesday, August 20, 2014:
- Rachel Spence, Law Clerk


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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 9:00 am

Science / Tech Blog - Watts Up With that?



UK flooding tied to proximity of urbanization and population growth

From the University of Southampton , word that mostly increased flooding is a reporting bias due to proximity, much like we have a reporting bias in tornado counts because there are more people to witness them than 50-100 years ago … Continue reading

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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 12:03 am

Sports Blog - Rod Pederson



COHON TO STEP DOWN

TORONTO - Mark Cohon, one of the longest serving and accomplished Commissioners in the history of the Canadian Football League, announced today that he will not seek a renewal of his contract which expires next Spring.

"When I started eight seasons ago, it was my goal to work closely with the Board of Governors to transform the CFL. Together, we have accomplished our goals and much more," Cohon said.

"From our transformative TV deal with Bell Media, to the renaissance in new and remodeled stadiums across the country, to the reintroduction of CFL football in our nation's capital, to the first comprehensive drug policy in CFL history, to a well-structured new CBA with our players, we have achieved so much," he added.

"With the positive work we have done, the time is approaching for me to tackle new opportunities and new ventures, and I have informed our Board of Governors of my decision."

Jim Lawson, Chairman of the Canadian Football League's Board of Governors, said the league has made tremendous strides during Cohon's tenure.

"Mark has vastly improved the league's business model and brought innovation to our game, while at the same time connecting deeply with our broad and growing fan base," Lawson said. "He will always be known as the fans' Commissioner."

Cohon thanked several groups for their contributions to the CFL.

"Football is the ultimate team sport, and all of the league's accomplishments are the product of the vision and work of many people: committed franchise owners and chairs, team presidents and staff, and of course our players, who are elite athletes and even better people," Cohon said.
"But the credit for everything and anything we do ultimately belongs to the people who make everything in the CFL possible: our fans."

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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 6:00 pm

Family Blog - Mom vs the Boys



MAJESTA e-z Flush Test – the results are in! {Giveaway}

Living in a house with three little boys, we’ve had our share of toilet problems due to too much paper in the toilet. It actually freaks the boys right out and it’s not fun for anyone involved, so I was really interested to see how Majesta could help solve that problem!  As a plumber, founder [Read On]

The post MAJESTA e-z Flush Test – the results are in! {Giveaway} appeared first on Mom vs the Boys.


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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 10:57 am

Professional Blog - Product Management



We Don’t Need Another Manifesto

by Saeed Khan First of all, thanks to Tina Turner for inspiration for the title of this post. Secondly, this post is my response to the following tweet by Melissa Perri (@lissijean). I don’t know Melissa, and I have nothing against her in any way, so my post should simply be viewed as a response to the […]

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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 1:10 am

Writing and Literature Blog - The Book Mine Set



The 8th Annual Canadian Book Challenge - August Roundup (Sticky Post— Scroll down for most recent post)


document.write(''); How to add your link:
1. Click on the icon above
2. Add a link to your review. (Please link to your specific review, not an entire webpage.)
3. Add your name and in parentheses the title of the book, such as John Mutford (Anne of Avonlea)
4. In the comment section below, tell me your grand total so far. (ex. "This brings me up to 1/13")

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 11:59 pm

Popular Culture Blog - XOXO - Jes



Taylor Swift finally announces she is deserting Country Music

Taylor Swift confirmed today that she will be releasing her 'first' official pop album on October 27 called 1989.

And country music fans are all like...huh? Did your last album not have dub step in it? We already knew you had gone to the dark side.

Her new single, Shake It Off, was released today and has Taylor white girl rapping, shaking her butt with some black girls (cause you know they know how to shake their booties the best), holding a ghetto blaster that plays tapes (WHAT TAPE IS IN THERE? Does Pop-Up Video still exist? Get on it.), 'participating in' every type of dance they could think of and wearing giant hipster glasses.

Is Taylor Swift cool enough for you now world?

It's safe to say, Taylor will do just fine in the pop music scene - but, she has a while to go before she reaches the pop levels of Gaga, Perry and Britney. Like...a long while.

XOXO
Jes...

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Posted on 18 August 2014 | 9:50 pm

Place Blog - Kitsilano



Kitsilano Summer Bucket List

It seems like only yesterday that we were anticipating the warm weather and long lazy evenings of summer, and now we are already being bombarded with back to school deals and rainy afternoons. But instead of looking too far ahead and dreading the gray skies looming around the corner, let’s...
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Posted on 18 August 2014 | 10:00 am

Best Written - Cheaty Monkey



The Flood: Collapsing the Foundation So We Can Gradually Rebuild

The funny thing is, the day before we came home from our holiday, I’d happened on this poster. It was posted on Facebook by Dr. Wayne Dyer (who’s work I’ve never been into), and shared by someone I follow. I thought it was cool but disregarded it and moved on. And it just stuck with […]

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Posted on 1 February 2014 | 4:19 pm

Fashion and Style - Lou Lou's Views



Back To School With Pottery Barn Kids (And A Giveaway!)

Pottery Barn is my favourite store for home inspiration—I love stocking up on items for the home whenever I can. I get most of my decor ideas from Pottery Barn, and I try to make our home look as cosy and comfortable as they do in a Pottery Barn catalogue or showroom.

Within two days of walking into Pottery Barn Kids for the first time, I found out I was pregnant. I am convinced that the store has magical powers, and since then, I have shopped religiously in PBK for my boys. From bedding to shelves and accessories for their rooms, to the must-have back-to-school gear, including backpacks, lunch bags, and food storage containers, it's my go-to place to get all the things they'll need to start the school year off on the right foot.

The Mackenzie backpacks are my personal favourite—they last throughout the years, and my boys have even used the same backpack two years in a row. They could use them even longer than that, but I like to buy new backpacks for them, because PBK always has such cute designs. They've gone through the Mackenzie Star Wars themed backpacks, the Batman backpacks, and the cute soccer ball backpacks, too. This year, we are trying out the Gray Gecko large backpack for back to school.






The backpacks are made from rugged, water-resistant material and even after an entire school year, the backpacks remain in almost perfect condition. The backpacks have adjustable straps that are contoured and padded to make carrying more comfortable, and the exterior straps can even hold a Mackenzie lunch bag, securely in place. (You can fit the lunch bag inside the bag, too, along with library books, shoes, and a few notebooks—it's very roomy!)

The exterior side pockets are especially handy—the kids always keep their water bottle there for easy access throughout the day.

I love the Gray Gecko backpack, and my boys give the bags two thumbs up, too.

My six year old even said: "They are awesome for back to school!" These are perfect for any child, I think, and I'm happy to be giving one away to one of my readers, thanks to my friends at Pottery Barn Kids!




I'll be showing the backpacks on-air next Wednesday when I talk about getting ready for back-to-school on CTV Ottawa Morning Live, so you can see for yourself how great they are.

In the meantime,  I'd love for you to enter my giveaway for a Gray Gecko Mackenzie backpack from Pottery Barn Kids! The contest will run until Thursday, August 28th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck, friends!


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Posted on 19 August 2014 | 9:31 am

Feminist - Gender Focus



Round-Up: Aug. 19, 2014

A lot of us can’t stop thinking about the ongoing injustice in Ferguson. The Root has a great round-up of articles and tweets that get to the heart of the issues at play. And at Ms., Jennifer Williams talks about why racist police brutality is a feminist issue. Media Matters has put together a quick video showing […]

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Posted on 19 August 2014 | 8:22 am

Food and Drink - well fed, flat broke



Shameful sangria.

Hello! How are you? How has your summer been? I hope it’s warm and dry where you are, and that you’re finding the time to read books in the sunshine with cold beverages. Please tell me you’ve been enjoying long, warmly lit evenings of leisure because I need to live vicariously through you. I have been […]

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Posted on 2 August 2014 | 5:31 pm

Fashion - Go Fug Yourself



9021Fug: Jessica Lowndes

Jessica Lowndes attends the Los Angeles Premiere Of Lionsgate Films 'The Prince' at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre in Los Angeles 
I have to confess, I never thought it would be Jessica Lowndes who took our collective hands and dragged us back into 2006. I guess that means we need to stay on the alert for sincerely crazy celebrity behavior including but not limited to: driving the wrong way down the freeway; “accidentally” flashing of bits; Read More ...

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Posted on 19 August 2014 | 5:00 pm

Parenting - Snarky Mommy



And the winner is…

Pam Myers, your home will soon be covered in glitter and the rooms will be ringing with the sounds of “Let It Go!” Thanks to everyone who entered and left reviews for “Yes Mommy” — it’s the very best support you can offer an author in the current bookselling climate!

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Posted on 4 August 2014 | 1:34 pm

Gossip - TMZ



Brooke Mueller -- Assistant Claims He Was a 'Drug Mule'

Brooke Mueller's former assistant has filed a lawsuit against her ... claiming she turned him into a "drug mule" to fuel her out-of-control habit.Lior Masaphor wants her to pay unpaid wages, but he makes claims going way beyond that.  He says…


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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 9:17 pm

Entertainment - i09



A Rare Chunk Of Giant Asteroid Vesta Has Been Stolen

A Rare Chunk Of Giant Asteroid Vesta Has Been Stolen

Giant asteroid Vesta is the second-biggest object in our solar system's asteroid belt, and the origin of an estimated 5% of Earth's meteorites. Yesterday, an especially rare chunk of Vesta recovered from the Netherlands in 1925 was reported stolen from the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory in Utrecht, Netherlands.

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Posted on 20 August 2014 | 3:26 pm

Music - Indie Music Filter



“Black Lemon” by Generationals

Indie Music Filter

Here's another new track from Generationals, "Black Lemon" off the album "Alix".

“Black Lemon” by Generationals


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Posted on 19 August 2014 | 11:36 am