Monday, March 23, 2009

Adolescent Time Warp

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Current Mood: Sneezy (it's allergy season folks!)

Current Song: All the Songs from Marasim (meaning Relations) by Jagjit Singh

Happy Belated Navroz to everyone! Hope it was a good one if you celebrated. I love having two new years. If I screw up somewhere between January and March, I get a do-over. For some reason, this Navroz felt a bit more important than others. Perhaps because of my exitential crisis.
How goes the crisis you ask? Well I think I figured it out. Not really, but I did gain some insight. My generation (Gen Y) seems to be stuck in a timewarp. We have a prolonged adolescence, where we can act like idiots without truly growing up (If you're at a club at the age of 32, you know that there is a problem), and then there's the pressure to "grow up" and get settled. I'm stuck somewhere in the middle of that. I've come to terms with getting older. That's never my problem. At this point in time, I finally feel like my chronological age is catching up with my mental age. It's kind of nice to have people who finally understand you in your life, and to be proud of who you are internally.

What I'm struggling with is exactly where on the trajectory of adulthood I'm supposed to be. The marriage wagon is a few years away. I'm trying to figure out where this career is going, and consequently how it's going to define me.

I finally got around to doing some reading on the topic of the Quarter Life Crisis yesterday. Thanks to the Gen Y bloggers on the Brazen Careerist, I feel a lot better. I'm not cured, but I'm not beating myself up either. I learned that everyone goes through an existential crisis at some point. Some of my friends are in the same position at the moment. We're all in the same boat. Hopefully it takes off. Any nuggets of advice would be much appreciated.
Okay, some pictures from Navroz. We're doing artsy shots of Henna today :) Henna provided by my very talented sister!
Enjoy!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Least Favourite Cereal? Credit Crunch!

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Current Mood: I think I'm getting sick. Fevery and such


Current Song: Riding a Cloud by Ryan Scott


So word on the street is that we're in some kind of a recession. Kidding. Of course we are. That's all anyone talks about these days. The flailing economy has done nobody any good. Times are tough.


I think in some ways we made our bed, and now we need to lay in it. According to a lot economists and people who track this type of thing, we forgot our roots and starting wanting more and more. Most of the world appears to be catching on to this consumerist trend, and all good sense of living within your means seems to go out of the window. I think that this a good time for people to re-evaluate their stuff. Money doesn't bring happiness. There are more important things out there. Or so I hear.


I was inspired to write this post when I was perusing through The Big Picture's Scenes from the Recession. There are some good snapshots of the real effects of this recession. Have a look.


But don't panic. We recover from these things (unless this time we're going to crash into extinction. In which case, it was nice to know you). If anyone has read Daniel Yergin's "The Prize", you'll see that ups and downs in commodity markets, crashes and peaks are all normal. It's happened since the beginning of time. It's in the very least hopeful. In the meanwhile, there is some consensus to start living within your means. I'm no expert at riding these things out, but I know how to live within my means, So here are my top 5 ways to ride out the recession.


1. Learn to Cook - A lot of people eat out more than once or twice a week. For what two people would pay for a meal at a decent restaurant (we're not talking Hart House here), you could probably feed about 4 or 5. Get your kids involved. Try some new recipes. This way, you'll save some money, and on top of that, you'll actually know what's going into your food. Cool eh?


2. Give - Give stuff away. It's a tough time for everyone. If you can, give some clothes to a local charity, donate some food to your local food banks (they're in for a rough year). In the very least, donate your time to a worthy cause.


3. Spend Less than you make - Horridly large credit card charges are not cool. If you don't make $6,000 a month, stop acting like you do. Nobody really cares that your jacket is expensive. You're the only one. Keep your self in check, accessorize rather than buy all new outfits, rent movies, go to the library instead of the bookstore. Basically, cheap out.


4. Pool resources - If you're like me, birthday season is right around the corner. Pool up with a good friend or family member and buy 1 gift. Pitch in for some tickets to a show. Take someone out to dinner as a birthday present (better yet, cook for them at home!). My family has decided to do only one present. I've expressly stated it for my birthday. I shall be disappointed if that's not the case.


5. Be a Cheap Thrill - No I don't mean it like that. There is plenty you can do in your city with family and friends. Saturday nights don't necessarily need to be spent at a club with a bazillion dollars on drinks. Go for a picnic. Window-shop with a girlfriend. Hit a local trail or a mountain. Go on a photography expedition around the city. Bring back games night.


There's lots of ways to be creative. Remember that this is a good time to be supporting each other. Until we are back in good standing financially. And until the credit crunch ends. Keep your eyes on the prize people.

Okay, so that's the end of didactic. I shall write again soon! ciao for niao!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

So Much to Complain About, So Little Time

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Current Mood: overstimulated

Current Song: Strawberry Swing by Coldplay

Okay, so before I write about anything at all, I want to tell you that I totally scored tickets to Coldplay Live in Vancouver! YAY! You probably know from previous posts that I'm a HUGE fan. I was so choked when they came to Pemberton, and I couldn't go and then when they cancelled their West Coast Tour. But they're back, and I'm going to be overexcited until June (I apologize in advance).

I think I'm finally having that existential crisis that is supposed to come along with a quarter-life. I had a great 25th and 26th birthday, and thought I was out of the woods. It started with a mild fashion crisis. I turn 27 next month and I haven't quite figured out what to do with myself. People say I've done a lot, but time seems to be going faster than I can actually accomplish anything. Is this normal? On top of that, my fashion sense has gone out the window. I finally enlisted the help of my younger sister to help me in my time of need. Seriously. It was starting to look dire. I'm sure she thinks I'm a complete Whackadoo. Oh well. Time to acknowledge that those thirties are coming up sooner than anticipated and time to start getting things done.
Okay picture time. We're stuck with more snow. I don't know what to do. It was supposed to rain. And now, we have snow. Hello mother nature, this is not Toronto! Sigh! Anyway, time to get on with it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Guest Post On Social Media

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Hey Folks. Today, I have the pleasure of posting up a guest post written by fellow blogger Karim on social media. I know that in my three-ish years of blogging, I'm starting to ask the question, "what the heck is this social media business?" Luckily, we have people like KK who can help us with that question and what works and what doesn't in the world of social media. Enjoy! (Thanks again, KK)

Song: Dreamer, Fatima, Wavin' Flag by K'naan (all 3 are sooo good!!)

Mood: I can conquer the world!!

Google social media. I'm talking about the verb google and not the company Google. Are you confused already? If you're not good. If you are, good.

Social media is a tool and not the be all and end all of life as we know it. So, don't worry if you still don't have a Facebook profile. And don't sweat the small stuff if all your friends are tweeting while you're doing all the talking.

Friends. That's how all of this social networking/media got started. But are all friends created equal? Are your Facebook friends really friends? Are people who follow you on Twitter or tag you on Tagged really that interested in you? Yes they are. Seriously!

Now you may be wondering about those 739 Facebook friends: Are they really your friends? Well, at least one of you wants to be friends. Think about it. You or he/she would not have requested you be friends if there was no intention to develop some sort of relationship beyond an electronic connection. Maybe you know people in common, went to the same public school or have a similar distaste for Toronto. You have SOMETHING in common. Now here's the catch: Develop these relationships. Talk/chat with them. Send them an email asking how life is. Nothing has changed, yet everything has changed. Just because technology has made it easier to keep in touch does not mean that it is easier to start relationships.

But it is possible. There are two case studies to point to. The first stars a New York Times Magazine columnist. He invited over 700 people from his friend's list on Facebook to a local pub. Only one person showed up. You can read about it HERE and HERE. The question isn't are people on his list friends. The question is does Facebook really allow a person to properly engage in a conversation with a group of people? No. You can have a one on one conversation but a group one via an event invitation is no way to throw a party. Think about this: If you're gonna have a wedding, you send out the invitations and also call the same people. Why? Because we all need a reminder. (Hint: That's why McDonald's still advertises!)

Twitter, on the other hand, engages followers with each other. What is Twitter? Watch this YouTube video and then come back: Twitter in Plain English. Simple, eh?

So, check this out: An event was held a few weeks ago around the world to raise money for a charity. The event was called Twestival. In Toronto, a few people jumped on the bandwagon and created an event called TwestivalTO. More than 400 people showed up in Toronto and helped to raise over $10,000. Not bad considering they planned the event in less than 3 weeks and promoted it through Facebook and Twitter and a website. I remember getting an invite through Facebook. I remember ignoring it. It was only via a person on Twitter that I really found out about the event and decided to attend. Why the difference in response? The Facebook invite was "souless". The Tweets back and forth by real people was full of excitement!

Here's my point. You don't need social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. However, if you choose to use them remember this:

We like to talk, listen, touch and feel. So be human.

Cheers!

Karim Kanji
Twitter "handle": @karimkanji
http://InspirationByKarim.blogspot.com

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's a Woman's World

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Current Mood: Pretty Mellow

Current Song: California Dreaming by the Beatles (Yuck. Save me!)

This week I seem to have my development hat on a bit. I watched a great piece on Hardtalk (a BBC World News show) about Aid in the time of recession. It's always nice to think in that manner when I've been out of the development field for what seems to me to be forever. It's not really forever. I'm just biding my time. In the meanwhile I'm trying to keep my brain active.

As many of you will probably know, this Sunday is International Women's Day. So I thought it might be nice to provide a couple of links where you can read about the developmental impacts on women. So here are my top 5 links to learn about women (not in the "He's Just Not That Into You" sense of the word)

1. Governance Village - doing a special feature on gender mainstreaming in development, and women's rights.

2. Care Canada - has some of the most specialized work on women's development, including economic development projects.

3. AWID - a feminist organization that keeps tabs on women's development around the world.

4. UNIFEM - The UN's branch for women's development. Nuf said.

5. Women Thrive Worldwide - a US based group that focuses specifically on economic development.

So why the sudden interest in women? Well because we make up a good part of the world actually. I'm not a feminist, but having been raised by a woman most of my life, I do have a certain inclination to think that women should have the opportunity to better their lot, no matter where they come from in the world. For the most part I consider myself lucky to have grown up in North America, where nobody really questions my rights for the most part. I think it's up to us to educate ourselves about some of the issues that women are still struggling with around the world. Afterall, what would you do without us eh?

Okay boys and girls, you have your homework. Now go read and report back to me about what you've learned! (okay I'm kidding about the reporting bit, but you really should have a look).

Happy International Women's Day!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mad as a March Hare

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Current Mood: written out! So much writing in the last few days, I don't know what to do!

Current Song: Out of Time by Oasis.

It's been a bit of a busy week again. Lots of small things occupying my time. I'm glad February is over. For some reason, it's never a good month. Not sure exactly why that might be. Maybe it's because it's the month where there are no holidays and it's cold and dark. Who knows. We're this close to spring! and so I'm excited about it.

I do want to let you know that I will be silent for most of Thursday and Friday. Why you ask? Because I'm taking the vow of silence for Free the Children. Check it out. Basically you can be silent however you see fit. If I'm writing, I may not take the written bit of my day out. Perhaps only the vocal (which likely will bring me to the edge because I won't be able to sing all day. Ak!)

It's worth doing, and you should all look into donating to this great cause :)

So last week, we had a freak snow storm. It lasted one day really, but it probably serves me right for bragging. I call this series of shots "What happened to you February? you used to be cool" You can see the signs of spring though, which is always a comforting thought. Allergy season here we come!