Sunday, July 31, 2011

Before and After: Simple



FACT:

before I do THIS I need to do THIS

It's in two weeks.

Mini vacations do a body and mind good (even one that is doing as good as mine!)

Food for the Mind



I said I wouldn't go back. But I think I lied. My brain has been hungry, so hungry. The schooling that I did at the U of C last year was enough to wet my chompers. Perhaps this next time, I won't stress myself out as much as I did.

I do not need to average 98%...

I'd like to take some kind of Political Science class, I like the idea of that. Even if it ends up being just a study of people's reactions in group situations. It's fascinating and all of it seems like a good thing to know.

Philosophy... everyone should at least learn a little critical thinking.

Psychology. I like people LOVE people. I will never be able to get away from people forever so the more I know about how to be with people, the better off I am. I am a "counselor" when I am not a "teacher" (Myers Briggs tests 101). Ahh... the joys of being an idealist.

I wrote an advisor an email to see if they can take this mumble jumble of learning wants and tell me what I need to do to achieve my goal. I'm noting wanting to take 4 years of school to obtain some kind of paper. I'm looking for further depth for my mind. I've learnt enough to get me by the last little while just from life and the things I encounter but there is more. I know there is. I look at my peers and I am starting to see the divide and I want more. The only person who can give me more is me. The best way I can see this happening is through school, so lets do this!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


"A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there’s no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?"
- Dr. Manhattan

Friday, July 29, 2011

Français d'érudition -- encore!



Oui, I am going to be learning french next week. I have a fancy new teacher who is going to teach me "l'un sur l'un!"( I had to use a translator for that!)

How exciting is that. I'll catch on quickly, I have a pretty good ear. I can read it rather well and understand it when I hear it. Speaking it, I just need the confidence. I can practice it at home because my father is fluent; though in french Canadian but it's all good! That's where the teacher comes in. One I'm all caught up on that and doing pretty good I can get started on Italian and then get my little butt over to Europe for the eating adventure of my life!

Concentrate



Can you concentrate? It’s kind of a silly question until think about it. Because in this wonderful age where every kind of media, every nugget of information, and every last relationship is at our fingertips, our ability to concentrate for any significant stretch of time is being attacked.  With the advent of the laptop, the smartphone, and now the tablet, we literally have access to everything and everyone at all times.  We are never without the ability to consume, absorb, or communicate in almost any way we please.

While most would agree that the world is better because of this, new challenges grow out of the shifting tide. We are under pressure to respond to e-mails not in a matter of days but in a matter of hours. Text messaging is even more socially strenuous: if an hour goes by without a response, the person delivering the message starts to feel slighted by the lack of communication. This is not limited to important matters either; it can be a friendly text about how our day is going or about last night’s big game. We know the communication capabilities and expect the person on the other end to use them to their full potential.

This constant strain attacks our ability to do meaningful work.  Despite the adage that multitasking increases efficiency, multitasking dangers not just our ability to get meaningful things done, but ultimately our sense of self worth. For research will show, time and again, that difficult problems require intense singular focus, not the ability to share focus. And with this much consumption possibility at our fingertips, the temptation to multi-task and side track ourselves increases substantially. I would argue that the ability to concentrate is becoming a true skill, right up there with reading comprehension and quantitative abilities.  The difference is that while reading comprehension and quantitative abilities rely heavily on inherent intelligence, the ability to concentrate is developed through a different place, a place that is quickly rivalling intelligence as the skill most correlated to success.  This place I call integrity.

For me, integrity involves 5 key features:
  1. Learning to put off shallow, short term, gains in favour of sustained long term happiness.
  2. Accomplishing tasks out of appreciation and love instead of gaining status.
  3. Being able to shut out the bullshit when something truly important is at stake.
  4. Acknowledging that we error frequently, and that knowledge is always more fragile than we think.
  5. Making decisions that are true to ourselves and our values, no matter the short term pain or discomfort.
When it comes to concentration, numbers one and three are vital to success. We all know that shallow pang of happiness when somebody comments on our Facebook status or gives us a re-tweet. It’s becoming easier to allow ourselves to fall victim to these short term, fleeting pangs at the expense of sustainable long term relationships and opportunities that reveal themselves only through dedication and sacrifice. It follows from this that shutting out “urgent” bullshit is essential. Life for most people is becoming faster paced. There’s always an immediate emergency to deal with, and these emergencies become addicting to respond to because they give us that small, fleeting sense of satisfaction. They also happen to involve less intense thought. Responding to e-mails, setting up study plans, completing errands, and a host of other “essentials” can take priority in our lives in the blink of an eye because they constitute a crude shortcut to the sought out feeling of accomplishment. They are also virtually risk free; rarely is there an opportunity to fail at busy work. The tasks are simple and safe.

They do not lead to long term happiness, though, and they will not increase our integrity. They keep us inside our shell, never forcing us to venture into unknown, risky territory that may expose us. It is this territory that leads to real happiness and success. This area at the edge of our fears and abilities. We can never get to this area through busy work, only through meaningful work. And meaningful work requires concentration. Mastery requires concentration. If we can’t force ourselves to think intensely about something, to use our brain to its maximum potential for sustained stretches of time, we will not achieve substantive results in our relationships or in our work.
So concentrate on how you concentrate. Do you have the ability to turn off your cell phone for a few hours a day and focus on truly important work, whether it be creating something special or  strengthening an important relationship? Or do you consistently get sidetracked when requirements become too intense? If so, work on increasing your ability to focus; start by turning off the cell phone when you’re studying or working on your most important tasks. It takes integrity and dedication, but you’ll surely need it to accomplish your hopes and dreams.

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory



My friend picked me up at 9:30PM and we headed out to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory off 22X to check the stars, watch some meteors and talk to big brains. He was more interested in the optic scopes and I more interested in what I could see with them. So many big brains, so much awesome. When the sky darkened a bit more we laid on our backs in the grass, watched the sky and talked about ridiculous things like renaming the constellations. Another thing we talked about were lab created diamonds. I finished my gemology schooling in 2001 so I was unfamiliar with any other forms of creating diamonds other than with heat and pressure. He told me that it can be created by using plasma. The control using this method is far more superior then the old fashioned way. I was impressed and kind of excited... it's been a long time since I've been able to talk about stones and minerals. It was a nice night but I didn't get home till late. I'm a little tired this morning. It's taking me a few minutes to get my motor running.

I am always reminded how much I enjoy science and all things associated with "geek". It causes my little head to whirl in a flurry of thoughts and  ideas. Reminds me of the a quote I heard last week:

"Science is the best thing that humanity has ever come up with. And if it isn't, then science will fix it."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Banning Fake




A Lancôme print ad featuring Julia Roberts has been banned in Britain after MP Jo Swinson filed a complaint with U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority, calling it “misleading” because “the flawless skin in the image was the result of digital manipulation, not the product.” The ASA upheld Swinson’s complaint, stating the ad was “not representative of the results the products could achieve” because it had been airbrushed. The ad was found to have breached advertising standards codes 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.11 (Exaggeration). Lancôme admitted the image had been altered using “a soft focus and lower resolution,” but stated in their defense that Julia, 43, is famous for her “naturally healthy and glowing skin.” The ASA requested a copy of the original photo in order to compare it to the one in the ad, but they were denied, as Roberts has a clause in her contract that doesn’t allow the release of untouched photos. The ASA ruled: “On the basis of the evidence we had received, we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post-production techniques. We therefore concluded the ad was misleading."

 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Organic Water and Water Battery




Organic Water? Yes, organic water. What is it? Raised on a farm? Free range? Raised by Amish? It has organ parts in it? No pesticides? Really, it's just water. Silly. Organic has become a marketing term.


Now, combine Graphite and Water and you know what you have? A battery apparently. Using this new material you can apparently recharge the same battery over and over and over in around 2 seconds. Interesting to think about isn't it. Think about how quickly you can charge your Smartphone! Plug it in and in 2 seconds have it be fully charged. That's a game changer to me.

The secret is the graphine which is from graphite (a form of carbon). There is lots of hope in this new material with amazing properties. It's like this weird, semi metal substance which is strong, chemically stable, an excellent conductor of electricity and, importantly, has an extremely high surface area. Though it does it's disadvantages as outlined in this interesting article.

With water, it looks promising.

And that boys and girls is the our water lesson for the day.

Comet Elenin



It was Nostradamus that said "thirst and famine comes with the passing of the comet" which really could pertain to any comet. That being if you believe in the prophecies that were scared by Nostradamus.

Right now, long-period comet Elenin (C/2010 X1) is headed to our inner solar system this fall. When it passes earth it will be 22 million miles away from our atmosphere which is about the same distance as if you were to go from earth to the moon 100 times in a row. An ordinary comet that is going to be difficult to see using even a powerful telescope, from the southern hemisphere at the dark of night is causing such a stir in the "conspiracy world" that I think it's kind of silly how worked up people are getting. This isn't Hale Bopp. This isn't even scary. It's not going to hit earth, it's not even going to come close, it's not going to cause natural or unnatural disaster. We are going to be just fine so please, stop worrying. I would hate to see another Heavens Gate incident becasue that's what it kind of looks like it's leading too.

Here is an article that I found that does a pretty decent job at debunking some of the myths that have been created around this.

Will Comet Elenin Hit Earth?: No, its closest approach is 0.23 AU on Oct 16, 2011, where 1 AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun. To put this in perspective, this is only a little closer than the closest approach of Venus to Earth, and roughly 100 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. This distance is from the latest MPEC ephemeris which is based on over 100 observations from multiple observatories that have been continuously tracking the comet, so it won’t change appreciably.

Surely if Elenin Was Going to Hit the Earth NASA/the Government Would Hush it Up? Which government? The Australian Government, the UK Government? The Italian Government? The South African Government? Amateur astronomers world wide are following this comet and continually talking to each other. The have the programs to work out where the comet is going. If the comet was coming anywhere near us, the amateur community would be first to know, and there is no keeping them quite. Consider how wide spread the information is about Apophis, which is a real, if extremely marginal, hazard.

Will it Cause Earthquakes, Abnormally High Tides or Other Disasters: No, Elenin is a mere 3-5 kilometres across and has less than a billionth of the tidal force of the Moon at closest approach (as well as a negligible magnetic field). If the Moon can’t cause the poles to tip, cause massive tidal floods or earthquakes, Comet 2010 X1 Elenin won’t. We’ve been closer to other comets before with no ill effect.

But What About Mensur Omerbashich’s Paper that Says Elenin is Causing Earthquakes? It shows nothing of the sort, earthquakes are no more common during comet alignments than at any other time.

But it’s bigger than Jupiter! No, that’s the coma , the thin haze of gas and dust that surrounds the comet nucleus. The nucleus of C/2010 X1 Elenin is roughly 3-4 Km in diameter and Elenin has a coma around 50,000 km wide at the time of writing (which is a third of the diameter of Jupiter). The average density of the coma is about the same as the density of the atmosphere on the Moon. A coma is a feature of all comets that approach the Sun closely, for example comet 81P Wild (nucleus 4 Km diameter) had a coma of 50,000 Km and 103P Hartley had a coma of 150,000 Km. The Great Comet of 1811 had a nucleus of around 30km in diameter and had a coma nearly as big as the Sun. Comet Halley is 6×15 km and had a coma 100,000 km wide when it last approached Earth. We survived them all (and 103P Hartley came nearly twice as close as Elenin will), and we will survive Elenin without incident.

But I Can See a Picture of it in WikiSky, it’s HUGE! That is the carbon star CW Leonis.

Is Elenin a Moon of a Brown Dwarf Star? No.

But Brown Dwarf Stars are so Cold, you Can’t See Them. No, coldest detected so far is ~370K (about the temperature of a hot cup of tea), the the warmest are around 2200 K, and most range between 500-1000 K. They may not produce much visible light, but they reflect light. Jupiter has a composition similar to those of Brown Dwarf stars. Jupiter’s cloud tops are a chilly 128 K and it reflects light just fine. Any Brown Dwarf in the inner solar system would be painfully obvious.

Will Going Through the Comets Tail Affect Us? No, should the rather small tail of Elenin actually pass over us, it’s doing a pretty good imitation of a vacuum (about 100 atoms per cm3). We have been through bigger and denser comet tails before with no effect whatsoever (especially the Great Comet of 1861).

Why isn’t Comet Elenin in the News? For the same reason that the other 16 comets discovered in 2010 didn’t get in the news, or the 5 comets discovered in 2011. They are all dim. The News is only interested in comets that are spectacular, readily visible to the unaided eye or are being visited by spacecraft. Comet 2009 P1 will be as bright, if not brighter than C/2010 X1 Elenin, but that’s not in the news either. Amateur and professional astronomers are watching comet Elenin and others avidly, but the news channels don’t care about our obsessions with faint fuzzies.

Why Can’t I Find Information of Elenin at the NASA Website? Because NASA is not the arbiter of all things astronomical. You won’t find information on C/2009 P1, C/2011 C1 or any of the faint comets discovered during 2010 and 2011. NASA does have information of comets that its spacecraft have visited, or are interesting in some other way, but it’s not an exhaustive comet site like Cometography or Aerith.

(editor’s note, NASA and JPL’s Near Earth Object Office did publish an article about Comet Elenin in May, 2011, which can be found at this link, confirming it will safely fly past Earth.)

I Saw Comet Elenin Near the Sun in August 2010/Now: In August 2010 only really powerful telescopes could see Elenin. You saw Venus. If you are seeing something bright near the Sun in the morning sky now, it’s Venus.

How Can I Tell What IS in the Sky and Avoid The Venus Confusion? For freeware standalone programs there is Cartes du Ciel and Stellarium (my favourite). For Web based solutions Skyview Cafe, Sky-Map and GoogleEarth (KMZ file here) all work.

Where Can I Find Orbital Elements for Celestia or Stellarium? Here.

Where Can I Find Images of Elenin? Here, and here and a nice image of C/2010 X1 near to NGC 3376 is here.

I have Photographed/ Seen a Photograph of a Double Sun, is this Elenin? It’s lens flare.
Other Good Links:

Leonid Elenin calculates what would happen to planets if a Brown Dwarf was in the inner solar system.




See this original post by Ian Musgrave on Astroblog

**

I'm always open to other peoples opinions and for some reason I think that I might have an unpopular one on this subject which is... interesting to me. My intention is not to offend, only to express what I think is obvious. I imagine that some of my friends and readers will disagree with me. I'm okay with that. It's nothing personal, I promise.

And with that, I'll enter back into fluffy thought. Love you! XOX


Homemade Pasta


I have this memory that isn't my own, it's actually my mum's. I never knew my great italian grandmother Corradetti but she used to make her own pasta. My mum would come home from school, work or playing outside to fresh pasta drying over the backs of chairs, on tea towels across the bed and when the weather conditions were mild... even on the laundry line in the back yard. When I was growing up, my parents made it every Sunday. I used to eat the raw strands and they dried on the kitchen counters. Mostly they were whole wheat (my mother was a health nut). It was always my fathers job to work the machine and my mothers job to make the sauce. I'd always help my dad. I still remember that sweet, doughy smell and remember the feeling of an early afternoon sun on my face.

For Christmas a few years ago I got a pasta machine, not one that did all the work for me but one of those classic, metal creations that you feed the dough through and turn the crank yourself.

It's so easy to make your own, I don't know why anyone wouldn't.

Homemade pasta
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄2 teaspoon coarse salt

Mound flour on work surface and make well in centre. Add eggs and salt to well. With fork, gently draw in flour to centre, making sure not to break the circle. Knead remaining flour with your hands to form soft dough. If hands get too sticky, add more flour. Knead 8 to 10 minutes. Place in bowl and cover with cloth and let stand 1 hour.
Divide dough into 4 pieces, then flatten each piece into rough rectangle. Set rollers of pasta machine on widest setting. Lightly dust dough and feed through machine. The dough will start to stretch. Continue changing setting to next number. Repeat until dough is smooth and long. Lay sheets on lightly dusted baking sheet and dry 15 minutes.

Attach blade to machine (check manufacturer’s instructions). Feed one end of a sheet into blades and catch strips from underneath machine before sheet goes completely through rollers. Gather strips and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Let pasta dry 10 minutes prior to cooking. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 day.

For cooking, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm. Toss with your favourite sauce.

Serves 4 to 6.

Tip: Try adding wine to the water while you boil the pasta. There are a lot of variations on this trip but it can add an interesting flavor and color to the pasta. Here is one suggestion - Tuscan Spaghetti cooked in Wine

Crash Course on Loving Calgary

OX A Crash Course on Loving Calgary - "How To" from Sharon Stevens on Vimeo.


I admint, I love and hate this city all at once. It's a kind of fickle love.. probaliby the most fickle I've ever had. But I do love it and though it has it's challange I've enjoyed every moment expoloring every nook and cranny. With the car I'll have in August I plan to explore even more.

When I was writing my last post about Ox and Angela I went searching for images and came across the "Ox" one I used. Along with that image came this blog dedicated to people sharing their favorite spots in the city.

OX: A Crash Course on Loving Calgary is about sharing love for our City and great places to see through a down-loadable walking audio tour.

OX is a project to motivate and mobilize people to go out and capture the love of our City using participatory media art. It is an interactive, community mapping, down-loadable audio tour that will showcase Calgary OX spots as seen through the eyes and ears of Calgarians. Erecting the OX flag, citizens are recording their ideal spot of Calgary.

The project began in March of 2009, the Chinese Zodiac Year of the OX with a motto of “I persevere”.

Through this website, you can pick an OX you’d like to explore, download the audio and go out to hear about Calgary and what there is to love according to the contributors.


I enjoyed the shared enthusiasm in the city. It's not like we live in a small town, it's grown into a decent sized city that showcases many interesting gems; obvious or not so obvious. If I were to pick my favorite place it would have to be the park I've been spending my days reading in. I haven't had a chance recently to enjoy it I plan to this weekend. Maybe, if the weather is clear, I'll head over after work and make a dent in the book I've been reading.

Ox and Angela


I've been stalking this new resturant which is opening up in my back alley. Ox and Angela. From the creators of UNA (oh, and I also gushed over here). So excited. Latin food to go with my new latin dance moves.
1, 2, cha-cha-cha! 3, 4, cha-cha-cha!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Married

I found this video in my travels and thought it was sweet:


That a Yes? from Maxine Denver Photo+Video on Vimeo.


Kelly, above, tells the story: "After dating for four years, we had just moved to Oregon. We drove out to take pictures in my favorite giant field, and Paul spontaneously asked me at sunset. He didn't have a ring or anything--he just suddenly felt like it was the right time and place. It's not the most glamorous proposal, but it was so heartfelt, and I can't imagine a sweeter way. We got married three months later."


I'm just a big ol' suck. It's not the grand gestures that are the best ones, it's the real gestures that are the best.

What to Say...




I'm a big fan of honesty. Ideally, the best balance is an honest person that knows when to keep their mouth shut. There is an art to it... but if I had to settled, I'd rather be with someone who was brutally honest then with someone who sugar coats every little thing. Fact.

Honesty is usually challenged in times of emotional charge which can be uncomfortable for everyone involved. We are either looking for a way to make others or ourselves feel better about these things that lay so awkwardly in our hearts. Such as sickness.

I came across this article titled "What to Say to Someone Who's Sick" which goes into detail about the things you should and shouldn't say.

As I've learnt in my own life, it's not about how you say what you say. Life isn't like a movie and you don't need to say things that are ornamental. What you do need to say is what's in your heart. Simple and direct. It's the rule and root to all communication.

Perogies with potato and Gruyère


4 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled
1⁄4 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup milk
1⁄2 cup cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
Butter for frying
1 red onion, finely sliced


Make filling: Place potatoes, 1⁄4 cup milk, cheese, salt, and pepper into a bowl and mash. Set aside.

Place 1 cup milk, cream, egg, salt, and flour into the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook and mix until a soft dough forms. Turn onto lightly floured surface and roll to 1⁄8 -inch thickness. With a cookie cutter, cut into 3-inch rounds and spoon 1 tablespoon filling onto each round. Fold each piece over and pinch edges together to seal.


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place perogies into pot. Boil for about 3 minutes, or until perogies rise to top. Remove with slotted spoon and drain. Fry perogies in butter on both sides until golden brown. Sauté onions in butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until translucent. Serve perogies hot with onions and sour cream.


Makes 8 servings.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Confession: I'm a Tarpie but I'm Nice




Mike Bloggity is a fantastic blogger who is always on the ball about all the hottest events in the city. It was no surprise to me that he would be reposting on Folk Fest. It's a life changing event every year (no, I am not exaggerating). The days are spent wandering around from side stage to side stage, enjoyed all the talent. The nights are always spent at your tarp set up in the main feild to enjoy some of the bigger names in the festival. Your spot is marked by your tarp and the quality of the spot all depends on how early you get up and how determined you are. People usually camp out at the gates Friday to Saturday and Saturday to Sunday.

On Thursday... I had a moment. A nice half hour long moment of mad and crazy bitch. It's my duty on Thursday and Fridays to stand in line with the rest of the "tarpies" and find a close to ideal spot to watch the main stage. There are specific guidelines to participate in this practice. First of all... the front gate only allows so many people in first. Second, you are not allowed to run. Third, you have to pack up your tarp at the end of the night only to do it all over again in the morning. Your chair must be short (beach size. If you can roll a basketball under it, it's too big.) and your tarp must be smallish. 6 feet by 8 feet I think. Because the whole main stage field it covered in these tarps, it can be hard to maneuver around. Care should be taken though NOT to walk across them.

This is where my inner bitch came into play. We had set up our tarp on Thursday night in the same area that we always set up. It's fun because you see all your usual regulars who come back every year. We are after all creatures of habit. The first night I was beyond excited, I am not kidding when I say that I had tears flowing from my eyes because I was overwhelmed with joy as I sat, waiting for the gates to open. When I got in and put down the tarps, I looked around-- pleased. This was going to be a great year. We had new neighbors, a guy named Claude from Winnipeg. He just moved here 6 months ago. Some nice people sitting behind us. As the night went on and we got closer and closer to the final act. A group called City and Color, more and more people started walking over my tarp. Some when as far as to move my chair and walk directly across with their muddy feet. The annoying thing was, there was a path about 6 feet away. They didn't need to walk on the tarp. Wanting to create more room we rolled up our one tarp when the others had gone home and moved everything onto one. This steady stream of City and Color fans would not get off as I started rolling-up. I finally had to yell at them. I felt like a crotchy old man as I waved my hands and lectured them on patience and manners.

"It's rude to walk across the tarps. Stop it. If you would have a little patience for a moment I will toll this up so you can get to where you need to go." I know, doesn't sound that ferocious now but it was then. I commanded my respect and got it.

The next day I saw this post by Mike:


Which I can relate too. Some of the people with the tarps are kind of rude. Too big tarps with no one on them for the whole main stage event. It's a waste of space. People with tall chairs. People who fight over spots. It's folk fest. Share. It's community people. Check your entitlement at the door.

I am all about sharing my space. I have done so every year I've gone. With friends and strangers. The only thing I ask is you help me eat my food, you keep the tarp clean and you don't smoke or talk too much loudness during shows. If you have loud kids that won't sit down, sit near the back or the sides. And watch them. That's all I ask, in turn you can share my space and be my friend.

For the people who don't want to sit on my tarp or have one of their own either leave your shoes off when you tarp hope OR keep your shoes on and walk along the edges while making the "I'm sorry, I'm really trying to be respectful of you space" face. Is that too much to ask? If you are going to stand, do so on the sides OR when everyone else is doing so. It's that easy. Is that too much to ask?

We can exist. As a tarpie, I am proud of my spot and will enjoy it all through the night. I waited a long time to get this spot and really, this spot isn't that good. Haha. I'm not that hard core. Depends on the act to be honest.

As a trap crasher, always ask. Don't just plunk your butt down with your muddy feet on my tarp.

The end!

Picture borrowed from Mike's Tarpie post

It's been 1, 2, 3, 4, long years...


After 4 long years this super fan has been waiting with bated breath for my most favorite songstress to come out of hiding and release some new sounds. When her Reminder album came out I was disappointed. Most of the material was old to me. Things I had heard in concerts or off of bootlegged albums years prior to the release. One song I have been waiting for is one called Anti-Pioneer. Well, my wish has been granted. Due out in the fall, Feist has an album coming out called Metals featuring a remastered version of Anti-Pioneer. Oh yeeeeeah!

To go along with her new album there is a new and remastered website as well as some coy teaser videos.



She's back and I'm excited. That means a tour and hopefully a return to Calgary Folk Fest. This is her home town. (hint hint Leslie Feist)

Article about Feist's return in Spin Magazine along with a review of a few of the tracks included on Metals.

October is so long away.... *sigh

This Driving Thing

I kick ass... I've had this life goal to deal with my driving thing... and well, I did it. Saturday. I'm golden. 100% golden. Go me!

Now... I just... well, I don't really know what to do next. All that's ahead of me is open road. I need to reassess my life goals and start on the next one.

Wooohoooooo!! Go me!

Going Back to Black

14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011

One can not forget the talents and gifts a person possess just as a result of their personal conflict. A well written, simply put, tribute to Ms. Winehouse by The Clever Pup.



27 Club
image credits

Easy Lemon Pasta




1 package spaghetti
1⁄2 cup lemon zest
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 cup parsley, chopped
1⁄4 cup butter
1⁄2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1⁄2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper


Cook spaghetti according to package directions. In a large bowl combine lemon zest, oil, parsley and butter. Place strained spaghetti into bowl and toss together. Top with Parmesan, feta cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper to serve. Serves 4.

Tops well with chicken or Seafood.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sad Music for Happy People

Another year has come & gone. It's always a sad moment when you cut
your wristband off at the end of Folk Fest. An interesting year full
of good music, good laughs, good friends, good food, good drinks &
just an over all good time.

I'm such a lucky girl. Thanks life. xox

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Best Friends

Photo Caps of the last few years with my BFF:







When you have a best friend "sister by choice" no one can ever compare. It's something special. A connection that I'll have for the rest of my life. Sometimes, people don't understand it... they don't "get" how two people can be so close. How two people can be so a like. How two people can be around each other and not even talk and know exactly what the other person needs. Sometimes, people are threatened by this but they don't need to be. We are more than friends, we are family. By choice.

That's what happens when you are close with someone for half your life. When you spend every day together for years and years and years. When you both have so much in common but also learn so much from each other. Lives change, people change and relationships pull people closer together and sometimes further apart. To have that person that you can go to no matter what and know that nothing changes, it's special. It's important. As we get older, different things come into play but we are always connected. The same. Even if months go by and I haven't seen her we always pick up from where we left off. I share her with those who are important to me in my life. I share with her the things that I love. And she does the same.


Who else is going to cry with me when I'm sad and laugh with me when I'm happy. She will and she does. I love my best friend Laura. I'm lucky to have such a good friend in my life. Boys come and go but friends are here forever. Now, you'll have to excuse me... I have some serious folk festing that needs to be done with her (and her new little family!).

Folk Fest 2011: Begin



I'm beyond excited today. It's the first night of Folk Fest and I am so excited that I was late to work. I was late because I was dancing like an maniac when I should have been getting dressed. I cut my toe nails, exfoliated my heals, waxed my eyebrows, applied a little bronzer, bought new lipstick ( I haven't bought lipstick in 2 years.. I hardly wear the stuff), did some yoga, danced, baked, stocked my fridge and cupboards, cleaned and vacuumed, bought 2 different types of bug sprays and 4 different types of Sun screens. I bought a backpack cooler. I ever have an overnight guest on Saturday who gets to use my couch. I am ready and so excited.

Plus, not only am I excited about Folk Fest but Atlantis landed today and that was pretty cool too so I have double reason to be jumping off the walls.

I plan to dance, eat, laugh and have as much fun as possible. Then on Monday I get my hair done. I was supposed to get it done last night but my stylist's girlfriend was in town, he hasn't seen her for 3 whole days, so I changed my appointment. Who am I to stand in the way of love? It's just hair and it's not like it's going to make or break my life having it done.

Do's and Do Not's of Folk Fest

DO
  • Bring sunscreen and avoid the public mocking that comes with looking like a boiled lobster.
  • Bring bug spray. The lush greenery of Prince's Island is a haven for mosquitoes.
  • Channel your inner child. Play. Nap. Leave worry and stress on the otherside of the gate
  • Bring rainwear. Remember, we're in Calgary. A sunny, 25 C day can quickly turn into ferocious, monsoon conditions.
  • Talk to strangers.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle. In its commitment to be more environmentally responsible, the Calgary Folk Fest is no longer selling any bottled water on site. But water-filling stations will be available.
  • Check out the workshop stages and concerts by artists you may have never heard of. Who knows? You might discover your new favourite band.
  • Make a tarp marker, mine is a giant fish stuck in the stop of a torch with tassels hanging off of it. Every year we add something new to it.
Bring your own food and have a picnic.
  • Have a partner in crime. Fun is more fun when there are two + of you getting in trouble.
  • bring your boke, they have a space for you to park it and it's safe.
  • Log onto www.calgaryfolkfest.com for schedule and artist info.
DON'T
  • Spend all day in the beer garden. Yes, it's fun and they make a mean sangria, but it's not worth missing out on all the great performances around the island.
  • Bring camping chairs. If you can roll a basketball under it, it's too tall. Buy a festical chair or just chill on a tarp or blanket. Otherwise, you'll get told...
  • Bring your dog, cat, ferrit, money, pet... it's not allowed. Kids yes, pets no.
  • Dress like a skank. It's the Folk Fest, not the Stampede.
  • Act like a douchebag. It's the Folk Fest, not the Stampede.
(do's and don'ts borrowed from The Calgary Sun and my own experience)

and most importantly... HAVE FUN! See you there

DIY Cheese Kits



Yes, this is for real. Do It Yourself Cheese Kit... EXCITING!!

Claudia Lucero started pickling her own vegetables and making cheese when she moved to Portland in search of a slower life. Now she runs an etsy shop with DIY cheese kits! You can make the fresh cheeses in your kitchen in under an hour with just a gallon of milk.


Wouldn't you just love to try these??

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

fiori di zucca


She sits there learning Italian from an attractive Italian man. Eyes look down onto her plate as she presses her cutlery into the untouched dish in front of her. A waft of steam and a slip of cream spill out for the pierce mark she makes with her fork. Suddenly the man in front no longer holds her attention. It's all about this food adventure.


If you don’t grow zucchini yourself, zucchini blossoms – or fiori di zucca, as they are known in Italian – can be hard to find. They are highly perishable.

The best way to eat zucchini flowers is to coat them in a light tempura batter, fry briefly in hot oil, sprinkle with salt and devour – right there in the kitchen, waiting for the next ones to come out of the pan.

The secret is to go easy on the batter and make sure the oil is very hot. If the oil is not hot enough, the beignets will soak up too much of it and be soggy.


Zucchini Flower Beignets
Makes 16
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sparkling bottled water
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 16 zucchini blossoms
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Sea salt, for serving

Method:
To make batter, pour sparkling water into a medium-size shallow bowl. Sift flour, cornstarch and salt together, then gradually sift into the sparkling water, using a fork to incorporate. (The batter should be the consistency of buttermilk.) Refrigerate for half an hour.

Prepare the zucchini blossoms by cutting a slit in each flower and snapping off the pistil or stamen inside. Line a platter with several layers of paper towel and set aside.

Pour about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of oil in a deep pan or deep fryer. Heat over high heat until oil is very hot but not smoking, about 375F (190C). Drop a bit of batter in oil to test that it’s hot enough; you’ll know it is if the batter bubbles as soon as it hits the oil.

Dip each zucchini flower into the batter to coat well, then wipe against the side of the bowl to remove excess. Fry several beignets at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, until they are crisp and golden on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the beignets and continue cooking until the other side is coloured, about one minute.

Lift each beignet from the pan or deep fryer with tongs, letting the excess oil drip off. Remove to the paper-lined platter, sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately. Repeat for remaining flowers, making sure the oil returns to the right temperature between batches.

Variation:
Blossoms can be stuffed with small cubes of mozzarella, ricotta, or halloumi cheese before being coated in batter.

Google+



Dear Google+
What is your point? You are really just another site that I have to check. Another site I have to go through the process of adding friends and basically creating a home. It's like moving to a new school or a new city. I have to start fresh and I don't really feel like doing that.

But you have potential. And it would be nice if I could stream all my social networking sites through you. As well as my blog.

I have to wait for my friends to want to play but until then, I will wonder... is it possible to replace Facebook?

Lots of Love,

B.



The Big Deal

Monday, July 18, 2011

Calgary Folk Fest 2011



Stampede (AKA: Cowboy Halloween) is DONE and the 2011 Calgary Folk Fest is on the way. If you have been following my blog for at least a year you will know that I love live music and I love Folk Fest. It's amazing food, stellar music, Sangria in the beer garden, afternoons playing with bubbles, meeting people young and old, sharing tarps, dancing barefoot in the grass, hula hooping in the field, it's being a hippy and holding hands and making peace with the Oil Sands executive sitting beside you. It's community, it's fellowship, it's a city team building event that repairs all the damage that Stampede does to the good nature of people. It's like Harry Potter and Dumbledores Army just came into town Wednesday and started casting enchantments all around Princes Island so by Thursday, when the festival opens up everyone is feeling safe, protected and kind. It's like a village within a city. People camp out at Folk Fest lounge out front (run by super hipster Duck Man - he walks around making duck face all day long), it's the safest place I've ever been. This year I have no idea what most of the music is about, but I always find something new to love. Matt Andersen will be there, I'm excited to see him!

This transient community starts with smiles and ends Sunday night with a feeling full of heart and new members in your circle of friends. Not even friends, you have new members in your family.

My friend ZT will be working at Stage 6 (as he did last year) so I always go for a visit over there. Last year stage 6 was my favorite. They have Hill Country Revue jamming with Debashish Bhattacharya (an Indian artist who played sitar on a table), Konono no°1 and Etran Finatawa from Niger. It was all sides of the earth together as one making some damn funky music (that's right, I used the word "damn" and "funky") that was so good I danced like a crazy women for a whole hour. By myself. At 11AM in the morning.

So excited for my favorite weekend of July.


Katy Perry




The tickets were free, they got me into the Stampede Grounds for free. I sat in the Telus box and drank free drinks, ate free food and enjoyed all the company. I don't think I own anything by Katy Perry or about Katy Perry. I know more about her husband then I do about her. OH! The only thing I like about Katy Perry are her pajama's! I've seen a lot of live music but I've never been to see a Top 40 artist from my generation (all those 60's and 70's artists were big before I was even born. Before I was even a twinkle in my daddies eye!). Actually, I've been to award ceremonies but even that was nothing like this concert.

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I have NEVER in all my life been to a spectacle like that before. There were lasers, not just pew-pew-pew lasers but it actually created a hologram effect. There was glitter and other pretty things falling from the roof, there was foam being sprayed and bubbles being blown and fireworks being shot off INSIDE and beach balls and other inflatable animals and 25 different costume changes and goodies being thrown into the audience and flying trapeze and candy money and cotton candy. Some of the BEST cotton candy I have ever had. There were glowing sticks and glowing hats and the whole thing was amazing. Vegas meets Disney. It was unreal.

And people were actually standing and dancing. FINALLY. I behaved because I was a guest in a high end company box but I still got up and wiggled my butt and danced the night away.


Reason why Katy Perry was great:

1. Live.  Do you know how many pop acts can sing and dance and still live nowadays?  Not very many.  The fact that Katy really sang throughout the entire show, was impressive, which is really a sad statement on today’s entertainment, but that’s something Rolling Stone can write about.  For me, it was amazing to hear that she actually has a great voice that was all too often drowned out by the huge production numbers. There were moments when she wasn't singing her hits, when she was delighting the audience with karaoke versions of Rebecca Black and that Friday Song that you could hear just how good her voice is.

2. Theatrics. Speaking of the big production numbers, the set was like a giant Candy Land game.  (Not that I’ve ever played Candy Land….) I can only describe it being as like a show on Broadway but with thousands of people screaming, yelling, dancing and taking photos. Rarely did we sit, mostly because we were having too much fun, with my short attention span, that my friends is a miracle. It was amazing. I can't begin to recreate what it was like to see something like his. The pictures don't even do the experience justice.

3. Fans. One thing that Katy Perry loves are her fans and it shows.  It’s no secret that the music industry is in trouble, people don’t have to buy music anymore, so if you don’t love and support your fans, why should they support you.  The show was filled with special moments just for Katy’s admirers.  Calling up a “hot cowboy” or instigating an impromptu dance party with dozens of fans on stage, are moments that many who saw the show won’t ever forget. She floated on a cloud made of cotton candy and went past her stage and sang to audience members who were in cheaper seats. This concert was for her fans. I can't even begin to imagine how amazing it would have been for people who love her music. The concert started at 7:30 and went all the way to 11:30. That's getting your moneys worth that's for sure.

For years I had mistakenly put Katy Perry in the same crowd as Lady Gaga, but now I see how wrong I was.  While Gaga relies on shock value to keep your interest, Katy Perry does it by just being herself. An interesting night to say the lease.


AND on a side note, I also go to see Janelle Monae live WOW, now that is a performer! Stunning voice, amazing songs, dance moves to put James Brown to shame. She was a stunner and I plan to buy everything she's put out. Mind you, the recorded stuff is often not as good as live but I'll take a listen. I'm sure it's amazing.

Meat Club


That's right, meat club. Goal accomplished and it was all kinds of wrong.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Boy who Lived




It was 2001 and for Christmas I received the first 4 books of Harry Potter from my parents. I was unfamiliar with it as I looked down on an illustration of a boy with round, black rimmed spectacles. "this is a kids book" I said to myself as I flipped it over "My parents still think I'm so young.." I smiled, delighted with the thought and thanked them muchly for the gift. The movie had come out the month before and I wasn't that interested but I'd read anything. I remember one time being so starved for words I read the wrapping on the toilet paper roll. I like to read.

The first book was thin, the skinniest of all 7 books. It was sweet and magical. I was addicted within moments. I had just finished a series of books in regards to the life of a boy named  David Pelzer as well as some Tory Hayden books. I was interested in understanding children's psychology and was working with troubled teens at the time even though I was just a young adult myself. The book started out sadly with Harry basically being victim to child abuse that reminded me of people I had read about in Tory Hayden's books as well as David Pelzer himself but then on a whim all revenge was taken and Harry's worlds turned from horrific to magical. I was captivated. I would sit on the heat registered by the front door of my parents house and wait for PB (my boyfriend at the time) to come pick-me up so we could play. He picked me up every day, from work or from home. I saw him every day. During this time Harry Potter was glued to my hands. I read out loud in the car so I could still continue on with the story but I wanted PB to be involved as well. I remember just flying through all 4 books in a matter of weeks. I would stay up all night reading them, bring them to work and read them on my lunch, leave work read them in the car with PB, go home and read them all night again. The 4th book which was by far the darkest of all them by that point was so exciting near the end I couldn't even read it fast enough. My eyes skimmed across the page at such a rate I'm sure I missed most of the story but I couldn't help it. I couldn't wait for the nano second it took for my eyes and mind to absorb the word. I had to find out what was next. At one point I put the book down and sat on it. PB looked up from his model ships and asked me what was wrong
"I don't want the book to end, it's too good. I can't let it end. I have to stop reading it." He smiled and told me to keep reading. So I did. Finished it. Cried and I reread it again that night.

I was obsessed.

2003, the 5th book came out. I bought it on my way out of the city. I was moving out to the west coast for a while. I remember picking it up the day before I left, I clung on to it as I said goodbye to PB. I was off to meet my friend Brian in Vancouver. I had loads of luggage, I remember telling Brian about Harry Potter in the taxi to the ferry terminal in Nanaimo. Walking onto the ferry I saw another man standing in front of me in the foot passenger area. This was when I met my friend David who to this day keeps me challenged and in check of myself honesty. This would be the last time I would hold this book for some time because Brian would start reading it that night. He read it feverishly the whole time we were on that little island. I think I finally read it a year later in preparation for the 6th book which was due out the following year.

2005 and book 6 was out. I don't remember reading it or even buying it. It was a weird time in my life. My whole life had changed by this point. I funny to me that I can't place the book in my life back then. I might have taken a while to buy it then it may have sat by my bed for some time. I may have taken it to Mexico with me too. I don't remember reading it but it's obvious that I did. WAIT! I have one memory, sitting in Maximes and reading the book. My coworker next to me said to me "Dumbledore dies at the end of it, I read the end while you were drawing up that ring for your client". I quiet shortly after and started managing the goldsmiths at Birks. That may have been the last straw at that place.

2007 the 7th and final book. I'm standing at midnight among thousands of people dressed as Hogwarts Students, witches, wizards, muggles and house elves. I had a plastic Harry Potter wand in my hand and my best friend by my side. We had a pint at the Leaky Cauldron and waited patiently with the other wizarding folk. I was there to buy my book. This book I savored. I read it slowly and with intention. I would sit by the river in my swim suit and read till the sun would go down. MS, my boyfriend at the time had found the whole collection of Harry Potter audio books and given them to me. I've listened to them many times. I have a memory of sitting in the kitchen with my roommate in front of me cutting veggies. He looked at me and said "Just so you know, ***** dies at the end" I stared at him in disbelief, he had read about it on Wikipedia.

In less than a decade I have experienced almost a decades of Harry life, at Hogwarts and saving the world. If you have only seen the movies you are missing the enchantment that is J.K. Rowling. Though the stories are enduring, it's her writing that makes it so. It's a kind of magic all its own. If you're read them or even listened to the audio books (which, by the way is the same narrator who did Pushing Daisy's, I flipped my lid when I heard his voice on that show for the first time) you'll know what I mean.

It would be unfair for there to be more stories of Harry. He's lived a hard life filled with angst and death. To bring him out of his retirement wouldn't be right. It's not sad to move past Harry Potter. Like other books which were loved during their time (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Narnia, Shakespeare -- just to list a few) they never die. There is a satisfaction that comes at the end of the saga. It doesn't leave you in the lurch about anything. It's perfect so just let it be. Let it be.