Sunday, 30 September 2012

My Longest Relationship: Music

Music and I have been an item for years, roughly 18 years to be exact. My earliest memories involving music is singing along to funk, R&B, and soul greats such as Parliament, CommorforesEarth, Wind and Fire and the late Marvin Gaye. The aforementioned artists were my parent’s favourites, not musicians I cherished. There is nothing wrong with enjoying sounds of the older generation, I just wanted to find something, anything, I could call my own.  At age 12 I discovered EDM and immediately fell in love.

Electronic Dance Music or EDM is an umbrella term where various genres, sub-genres and styles of music are produced using electronic instruments, such as the Roland TR-808 bass drum.Without Robert Moog and  the commercial success of the Moog synthesizer, EDM would not have the ease to create electronic sounds as it does today.

Robert Moog and synthesizers 

The aspect I love most about EDM is its evolution. Genres and sub-genres are fused together, tempos are slowed down or sped up and new creations are formed simply by tweaking a basic element. One evolution of EDM which I adore is dubstep.

Yes, I admit it. I love dubstep. From the mellow beginnings, to the more aggressive, mainstream direction we see today, to its unforeseeable future, this genre has taken a hold of my mind for the past five years thanks in part to Dubstep Warz and programming on BBC Radio 1

I listen to one particular internet radio site almost on a constant basis: This site features hundreds of podcasts from 2006 with several live shows currently on its line up. This site is constantly playing, the only time my speakers are quiet is when I am asleep. logo

Want to know more about the history of EDM such as where it originated and why the styles, genres and sub-genres we have today are around, I strongly suggest you check out Iskur's Guide to Electronic Music.

Are you interested in hearing EDM live and do not know the first place to look? Trance Addict has a forum where many events are taking place around the GTA in the future. 
Happy listening.

Volunteering at The King East Design District

This weekend was my first time volunteering in a couple of years, and I realized how fulfilling volunteering was. I was exhausted and my feet killed after every night, but I got to meet and talk to some amazing people. It was intimidating due to the hour long street car ride I had to take to get to the King East Design District. And I was in million dollar show rooms with rich and respectable people, so you better not mess up. Starting with my trip, I am new to Toronto and even though the trip was straight forward, literally, I managed to still become flustered. I got off at  King street west and had to run to get back on the street car and continue on to King street east. Thursday night was the VIP event where I was the greeter and worked coat check. I got to talk to some amazing people, and see some big names in the design world.
 The guests included:
  •  publisher of house and homes magazine Lynda Reeves,
  •  chef David Rocco, 
  •  Neil Hetherington CEO of Habitat for Humanity Toronto

       The VIP event went smoothly, and on the weekend I was at Kiosk and Cambria, in which I was set up at a table by the front doors handing out passports to those who made donations to Habitat for Humanity. Kiosk had a beagle who kept me company (I love beagles), and the employees at Cambria were really nice. I also got the chance to meet Rob Campbell who is a blogger at smojoe who wrote an article about the event It was a good volunteer experience I was happy to partake in, I am looking forward to my next volunteer opportunity, what events are you volunteering for? 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Thousands have stopped using it and you should too

The notorious “r” word is a word that pollutes the ears and vocabulary of people of all assorted ages. The “r” word being the slang term of retardation or retard has no longer been acceptable in federal health, education and labour policy. So why does the word still exist? The word 'retard' exists as a derogatory term to classify something as being any variation of dumb or stupid. Medically, the word was used to define an impaired person but now is being replaced by “individual with an intellectual disability”.
For a kid growing up in the 90’s, I often heard the word ‘retard’ from friends on the schoolyard in
elementary school. My mind subconsciously accepted the idea of the word existing only to remain as something to say when I reacted irrationally to something that upset me. Unfortunately I made the mistake of saying it before I knew the definition around my mother who was a developmental service worker. With that being said, we had a nice sit down where she put it into a perspective I could understand:

Following that conversation I gained a better understanding of having respect for individuals with disabilities and refrained from using the word ever again.

Rosa’s family who helped introduce the bill to the senate 
That was back then, this is now. In the 21st century, governments are able to crumble at the hands of a social net-worker and colored people are voted into presidency which is a pretty good statement that says how far the human race has come in terms of equality. In 2009, two college students decided to focus on the word after interning at the Special Olympics. They decided to run pledge drives which had an impressive turnout of 30 schools running pledges in different ways.  This later developed into the signing of “Rosa’s law” which was passed in 2010 by President Barack Obama to abolish the word being used in federal lexicon.
So where do you stand? Do you believe such actions should be taken to abolish one word? If you do, join the movement and PLEDGE to end that one word.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Fall to Remember

I live for hockey.  There is nothing better in the fall than the hockey season starting up, nor anything I look forward to more (except perhaps Christmas).  So much anticipation- so many questions, so many that I fear will not be answered this year. 

As many of you know, the NHL and its players union, the NHLPA are locked in a bitter stalemate over contract negotiations. As a result the commissioner of the league, Gary Bettman and the owners of the 30 NHL teams have locked the players out. 

What is a lockout?

You shall not pass.

Let’s clarify something.  A lockout and a strike are two entirely different things.  A strike is brought on by the union body saying that it will no longer go to work until they get a new contract.  A lockout is the owners refusing to let the players into their rinks to play.  Many NHL players have already said they would be fine playing the start of their season even if a new contract hadn’t been signed.

Why should I care?

Unless you’re a fan of hockey why should you take a stance? After all, this is a case of billionaires arguing with millionaires. We all have better things to do than hear about hockey players refusing to take a revenue cut from their $20 million contracts.

Pictured above: How much the NHL owners and Comissioner care.

Think about it. There are many people affected by the lockout.  Concessions stand workers; the people who make merchandise, custodial staff at hockey rinks nationwide and the cities themselves which suffer from not having an influx of hockey fans.  In an already struggling hockey community, such as Columbus or Phoenix, such things can be deadly to hockey’s lifeline.  

Hockey is a business-granted.  But hockey is more.  It is a way of life for some. For many of us fans, hockey is an identity.  It is part of who we are. For a sport to shut its doors on millions of fans is a testament to the mindset of the owners, and Bettman.

All that may be true, but what can I do?

We have no input on the decisions of these elite few.  What we can do is be heard.  Start a petition, educate others around you.  With social media such as Facebook and Twitter you can hear directly from the players, about their reactions to the lockout, and their advice to hockey fans across the world.

Be active! The league and the owners win, when fans stay silent and allow ourselves to go unheard.  As hockey fans we should stand united.  United against the closed doors and empty rinks.  United against greedy owners who despite last year’s record breaking revenue numbers, still demand salary cuts for their players.   United not just for us, but for everyone affected by the lockout. Remember, apathy is the glove into which Gary Bettman slips his hand. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

That puppy in the window..

 Ever since I was a kid, I have been obsessed with animals. Maybe it came from my mother; always taking in strays and unwanted animals, or maybe I was one in a past life. 

Either way, all my dreams came true in the last week when I was finally able to adopt and save kittens. So first, one would wonder in this world of abundant unwanted animals, where do you start?!

Let's talk local pet stores. We have all at one point been walking through the mall and seen that display of cute puppies and kittens shoved in a window for us to "aww" and "ouuu" at. But where do those animals come from? All I had to do was ask friends and a simple Google search, and I had my answer.  I had read horror story upon horror story about the use of diseased animals mass produced in puppy mills, and also uplifting stories of protest in which people were trying to make a change. Needless to say that option was, well.. not an option. 

Option # 2?  the local Humane Society.  By following the local shelter on Facebook, you can recieve up to date information on new animals or animals that are desperately in need of a home that are being put down within a week. A quick search on Tumblr shows all the success stories and people talking about the pets they love.


Knowing that it is not possible to save every animal, atleast giving them some love gives me a little peace of mind. I had gone 2-3 times a week and really started to fall in love with a few of the cats. I would go back continuously to really get to know them and make sure they were a good fit for me. 

So one night I walked in and said "I WANT THOSE TWO!" and boy was I in for a surprise. 
I figured, since they knew who I was and knew my commitment, I could just walk in there and pick up the cats, sign a paper and be on my way, right? Wrong!

First, I had to fill out an application, atleast 6 or 7 pages. It asked me everything from who I lived with to where the litter box would go. Okay, so easy peasy right?  I still wasnt approved. The next day I had to bring each and every person in the house for a "meet and greet" with the kittens I wanted. Needless to say I was getting pretty frustrated, couldnt they just TELL I was a good person?


I had to be interviewed, sat down and go through the cats medical history, go through each and every expense for a kitten in the next year (times two!) It was a lot of work, nearly 4.5 hours!

You know what this boiled down to? They care. They dont just send off their animals to any person who walks in the building with money, they take the time to suit every single animal to the right home, regardless of how overwhelmed and overcrowded a shelter may be. 

And everything was worth waking up to these beautiful, cuddly kittens...

So the question is, which would you prefer? Pet store or Humane Society? Have you ever adopted an animal, taken in a stray or bought a puppy from a store? Agree or disagree with shelter policies?

If you have, or are thinking about adopting a pet, just make sure you do your research!

Freeze! Step Away From The Cell Phone!

How many of you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is check your cell phone? How many times have you been out to dinner with a friend and they are on their phones the whole night instead of talking to you? Whether its texting or checking our social media profiles, people in today’s society are constantly connected. People are able to be in contact anytime, anyplace. Most of us I’m sure have woken up mid sleep to find themselves having a nightmare about misplacing their cell phones. 

But what if we lived in a world disconnected from technology?

I know! It seems impossible, right?

To be honest, it almost is impossible. Especially with most jobs requiring its employees to always be available. Regardless, I think it’s important to take a step back from society and social media. We need to be able to recharge and spend some quality time with good ol’ nature.

If any of you have heard the story of Christopher McCandless or even seen the film Into the Wild you know the extreme lengths some people take in order to disconnect. If you haven’t seen the film or read the book however, I definitely recommend that you watch it.

It’s no secret that constant social interaction can sometimes be tiresome and the pressures of today’s society regarding being connected can make people feel stressed. I recently found an article relating to stress and the pressures of social media which you can read here

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a breather.

I’m not advising that everyone go to the same extreme as Christopher McCandless, but I do recommended spending some time away from the hustle and bustle of citylife. Going camping is a great way to relax and recoup. Plan a trip with your friends and see what Canada really has to offer.

Check out this list of Canada’s top 5 camping destinations for your outing from The Vancouver Sun.

The Emotional Stress of Being Hipster

Hipsters... I knew xxxx before it was cool.

For anyone not familiar with the term, urban dictionary gives us a great definition of what a hipster really is by describing them as a “subculture of men and women … that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.” For the full definition, please click here.

Now, I only half consider myself a hipster. I don't follow politics, nor do I believe that consumerism is destroying our culture.But I do however follow trends when they suit my current style and I do love all things art and underground. My taste in music is very "hipster". I listen to bands you’ve probably never even heard of— wait, maybe you have. Please stop me if any of these bands sound familiar. Imagine Dragons? Ghost Beach? Peachcake? Stepdad?

No? Well brace yourselves because you’re in for a treat. Thanks to social media, these unknown bands are now becoming more and more popular. Websites such as, and are a great place for these bands to gain exposure. These three websites revolve around the same idea, make an account, upload some of your favourite indie bands and share it with everyone else. This is an incredible tool for these bands and artists to gain a larger fan base and to test out new music. Artists with maybe just a couple hundred fans can post their music online, and in a matter of minutes can be exposed to thousands of people.

Stereotypically, hipsters tend to want to know bands before they get too famous in fear of that band becoming mainstream or top 40. And maybe they’ve got it figured out. The more exposure an artist or band gets, the worse the music tends to be. I’m not saying this is true to all bands but we do need to consider which songs are getting the most air time on radios and which songs are topping the iTunes charts. Most songs seem to revolve around sex or getting drunk and contain no lyrical substance whatsoever.

This is where the hipster soul struggles. As much as we hipsters want to see our favourite bands succeed and gain a larger fan base, we’d like to keep them sheltered to preserve the quality of the music. The struggle for us is that we don’t want to share our music with others but in my case, I wouldn’t have found out about the incredible bands listed above if it weren’t for those three sites named earlier. I’m torn in half. Half of me celebrates when I hear an indie band on the radio and I’ll cheer them on in my head. Good for them, they’re doing well for themselves. The other half of me dies. Here we go, now everyone will like them and jump on the bandwagon even though I’ve been a fan for years.

As much as this pains me to do this, I would love to share with you one of my all time favourite Toronto based bands.Everyone, this is Nightbox. Nightbox, welcome to the world of mainstream.

TO ALL YOU MAINSTREAMERS, KEEP YOUR DIRTY PAWS OFF THEM! (but don't because I really want them to succeed!)

Oh, the emotional stress of being a hipster.