Monday, October 26, 2009

Break-Ups in the Digital Age


Current Mood: I'm doing a good psych job on myself regarding singing tonite. On the bright side, i have my blogging mojo back. Yesss!

Current Song: Something from Echoes by Jagjit Singh.

Today's blog post came to me about half an hour ago. It's partially inspired by Samantha Karol's blog on Brazen today about friendships in the digital age and partially based on watching crappy TV on MTV Canada. I know, I'm always classy.

In one such scenario on said crappy TV show, one girl was asking another whether she speaks to or sees her recent status ex. The breaker-upper replied that she has no contact with her ex and she has blocked him on facebook because she doesn't really want to know what he's up to or any of that.

It got me to thinking about how break-ups have changed since the advent of social media. It's now no longer about having your friend or sibling take his stuff back to his house (or you, should you choose to brave that whole ordeal). It's no longer about walking out never to see the person again, except perhaps by accident on some street in your city.

It's now more complicated to break up sometimes. What are you to do with contact on Facebook? Email? Twitter? Do you keep everything intact and creep around to see what the person's up to (you can all now admit you've totally done this)? God forbid you're members of professional organizations that make the whole thing a bout of admirable emotional calisthenics.

As much as being plugged in has given us access to friends and business contacts that you wouldn't stumble upon walking down the street, it comes with its difficulties. For some folks, these break-ups are easy and everyone can remain friends forever and ever amen. But if you're one of those who had a messy one to contend with, you've got some digital detritus to think about as well. Forget about his Alma Mater t-shirt as your biggest problem.

What say you, readers? Is breaking up in the digital age much harder to do?
picture credit:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Have a Gift and I Know How to Use It!


Current Mood: In emotional recovery.

Current Song: You Can Never Hold Back Spring by Tom Waits

Sorry I've been out for a while folks. I ran out of ideas and then I got in a funk. I should be back now, I think.

Yesterday was a baking day over at my house again. You all know that I have a very talented sister and mother who are avid bakers. You also know that I hate baking but am an avid eater of it. If there was a Department of Ironic Punishments in my version of hell, it would probably involve baking...and gym class (Yes it's Treehouse of Horrors time).

In any case, I stumbled my way through baking, keeping up with my quick and deftly moving mother and finishing a bunch of cake in record time. Just because I dislike something doesn't mean I can't be good at it. Right?
Well. I guess.

This was the result of "dirty icing" the cake (which is essentially a preliminary coating of icing before the good stuff). It looks like it was attacked by wild dogs, but it got the job done. Good.

And this is what I thought of it. Boo-urns indeed!

But in true, introspective Mehnaz style, it did get me thinking about inate gifts. It is evident that I don't have a gift for baking. I find it kind of a little bit boring. My sister and mother however, find the whole ordeal from melting the butter to cleaning the bowl at the end.
My gift? Well I like to write. And I think, I'm not half bad at it. So It's a testament that if you love something, you should just go for it. It's the one time my head goes out the window and I fall in love with what I'm doing. Life is really just too short not to love what you do. We don't know if we only live once. But why risk leaving it until the next lifetime?
In related news, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I don't know what I'll be writing about and I have no idea how this is going to go down, but what have I got to lose? Wish me luck! I'll be updating my progress :)
Curious about the finished cake product? Check out Honey Tops in the next few days ")

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red is my Favourite Colour: October Photo Walk


Current Mood: Tired. very tired.

Current Song: "What is Love" by Haddaway. Nineties anyone?

I have to admit it folks. I don't have a topic to write about this week. But I do have pictures from a photo walk on a glorious fall day. I got some weird looks in the process, but it was worth it :) Also included, shot of pumpkin light we've been putting up for a decade now probably. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change and Tourism


Current Mood: Anticipatory

Current Song: Saviour by Lights

When I was little, my family went on a safari to Mikumi National Park. The safari was basically in the form of a game view, where you drove a car through the floodplains and rather large savannah areas and tried to look for animals. We have pictures too. Most of them are of brownish savannah grasses and single trees, behind which, apparently is an animal. I still have yet to figure some of them out. This was back before the day of automatic zoom lenses and fancy shmancy cameras like I tout these days.

Many many years later I came across tourism again when I did my Master of Arts thesis on pro-poor tourism (which is, the tourism that shows net benefits for the poor). I specifically concentrated on nomadic tribes of Masaai in Tanzania as well as indigenous groups in South Africa. My question basically asked what the private sector can do to promote pro-poor ecotourism is these areas, what works, and what doesn't.

In doing the myriad research that I had to do for this monster paper (oh, the sleepless nights), I read a lot about the impact of climate change of Sub-Saharan Africa, since this is going to be a major issue to contend with in the health of the ecosystem in the future.

Most people in the world are going to have to learn to adapt to the effects of climate change. This will include small agriculture, grazing cattle (which is the livelihood for the Masaai) as well as policy surrounding National Park Maintenance in these areas. We have already seen the impact that climate change has had on South East Asia with the major typhoons such as Ondoy as of late. Sub Saharan Africa faces a different problem with the quick drying up of land, a receding of the major lakes, and the extension of desert land.

So what can we do? Such an intervention needs to be multifaceted with the collaboration of local people, governments, the private sector and international organzations to raise awareness of adaptation technologies. Furthermore, least developed countries need these technologies to stop the further degradation of land, and subsequently to stop the further cycle into poverty as a result. Climate change consequences not only threaten to rob the area of precious natural resources, but a significant amount of revenue (nobody is going to come and see animals if there aren't any).

I would hate that my children (or nieces and nephews) never have a chance to experience what I did, albeit, to six year old eyes, it's a bunch of weird trees.

There is lots of research you can read regarding the impact of climate change on ecotourism in Sub-saharan Africa and there are lots of ways you can support education and conservation efforts. Links below!

International Institute for Environment and Development

The Kesho Trust

The Masaai Wilderness Conservation Trust

The Overseas Development Institute's Pro-poor Tourism Programme

Now you know what I did holed up in the library for all those months :) Enjoy and Happy Blog Action Day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Your Girl Friends Sometimes Give the Worst Relationship Advice


Current Mood: bit headachey. Could be the massive amounts of food I've ingested as of late

Current Song: Worlds Apart by Vedera

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not the raging intellectual that everyone thinks I am. Well, okay, I'm not the raging intellectual all the time. I have my deliciously sinful reality TV addiction. In that vein, while I was making dinner the other day, I was watching an old episode of Laguna Beach. Now if you've ever watched that show, you know that it's mostly about "hooking up" with guys. This time however two girls were discussing if some guy liked one of them. And of course, like most girl friends do, one was offering her advice. She said something to the effect of "Of course he likes you. You can totally tell by the way he looks at you!"

This little episode got me to thinking about my own experiences. We spent most of my grade 12 year dissecting what the boy I liked did for any sign that he fancied me. It was the one guy I ever liked in high school and that was it. Since then, we've spent our time dissecting relationships. And giving each other advice.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my girl friends. But in all honesty, that advice can be dead off because we're always trying to read between the lines for things that might not exist in the first place. It's in our nature and we do it rather without thinking about it. But at the same time, it's not accurate. Just because he texted you "Merry Christmas" does not mean that he wants you to have his babies. I'm just sayin'

I'm pretty sure the world would be a happier place if we all stopped trying to see more than what actually exists. My guy friends will impart such knowledge. As will my married girl friends. They have been there and done that and are willing to share their no-drama ways with you. And my guy friends? It's the only straight advice I can ever get.

Girl friends are great for all sorts of advice and are available post-haste during a break up and to celebrate your milestones with you. They're even good with a little perspective about relationships and telling you that you deserve better. But if you're trying to read between the lines, it's best you don't and go the straight-forward route.

And that's it for me. Signing off. Have a great Thanksgiving, my Canadian Friends :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Every Kid Should Join a Choir


Current Mood: Full from lunch (beans on toast is not daily fare around here for lunch)

Current Song: You Can Never Hold Back Spring by Tom Waits

A couple of weeks ago, I went with some friends, and Zoyo to see the Vancouver Chamber Choir as they prepare for their tour of Asia. Now most of you know, that I sing. And most of you even know that I've been in choirs since we pretty much came to Canada. For a long time, I was with VIMYC and we've had some fab opportunities to sing (including for a peace concert for the Dalai Lama!) Being in a cavernous church listening to a professional choir got me thinking about how much music teaches us about life. People usually exhalt the virtues of having your child join a sports team. I think it's equally valuable to have your child join a choir or an ensemble of some sort.

And no, we're not social outcasts. In fact, every choir I've ever been is is really good looking! Here's what I learned about life and relationships and work from singing with wonderful people.

Communication is key! Whether you're communicating with your conductor as he waves his or her arms around frantically or whether you have to listen to other parts to find where your cue is, communication is absolutely key to performing a piece well emotionally and musically. If you suddenly stop watching the conductor, the whole thing falls apart at the seams.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! There are just too many times when groups or individuals don't come prepared, not having memorized or at the very least read through a piece. This holds everyone else back while we all have to wait for them to play catch up. If you don't want to be called out on it, you have to do your work ahead of time.

If you're going to make a mistake, make it good and loud! Want to screw up? May as well do it royally. It's the only way to learn from your mistakes (that is NOT an A sharp!). One of my conductors said that rather than hiding the fact that you haven't the foggiest about what's going on, ask and it shall be clarified. And finally, sing it wrong, so it can be fixed.

Back up your people. When you're in a choir, you work in a group. If one of yours has a solo, the rest have to sing their parts well, even if they are in the background. We all rely on each other to get things done.

No one part is more important than another. Whether it's sopranos trilling high notes or altos singing colour notes or basses hovering somewhere around the very depths of the bass clef, all parts are equally as important. When one drops out, you feel it. And you need all 4 or 5 or 6 parts to make the machine work.

Choir or orchestra or theatre is about forming relationships that rely on more than just one facet of communication. It's about reading cues, hearing the right moment to enter or exit and elevating relationships to a whole other level.

And this is why every kid should join a choir. And don't worry, they won't nerd out :)

Peace out people!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Admitting is the First Step: Yes! I am a Writer!


Current Mood: Bit on the sleepy side. Long, fun, night.

Current Song: Tidal by Imogen Heap.

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to go and see Margaret Atwood's reading of her new book, The Year of the Flood. I have never been to a reading before, and I'll blog more about it later. I went with a friend, Michael, and one of his lovely friends.

We stopped by a Starbucks afterward for a quick cup, and got to know each other a bit better. In the process, as we talked about writing, and books, I got the question, "Oh! So you're a writer?"

I fumbled. I "um"ed and "ah"ed around. There was a "well, I...uh...." in there somewhere, until Michael spoke up and said, "Yes, she is a writer."

I started thinking about the episode earlier this morning, and was trying to figure out why it is so hard for me to say that I am, in fact, a writer. It's not that I care much about what other people think of me. If you know me well enough, you'll know I've never half cared what people say/think of who I am and what I do. I don't fear boxes either. I live in the boxes, somewhat with my love of all things orderly and alphabetical.

The hardest part is connecting with myself and admitting it to myself. The words feel funny on my tongue..."I am a writer...I am a writer....I am a writer." I am going to have a difficult time with this new acknowledged part of myself that is quickly forming into something of substance. I don't know when it happened, but it's happening.

Admitting is the first step. The rest is just good grammar :)

Hope everyone had a fab weekend. Enjoy the dying sunlight while you can :)