August 28, 2009

Charts for the Masses

Think you can't read graphs and charts? Think that graphs and charts are irrelevant to your life?

Think again.


from graphjam

August 27, 2009

Injustice

Not a super cheerful way to start the day, but this video (I saw it here) is powerful.



With the Olympics heading to Vancouver in six months, I wish there was a profound and simple solution (the reality is that with the Olympics comes a spike in sex-trafficking for all the tourists, athletes, and other workers in town).

I don't have much. But I'm excited that some friends from way back are doing something, and starting somewhere.

August 25, 2009

Today's Tune

Need a little cheering up on a dreary Tuesday?

This is my recommendation: Stars sing "Today Will Be Better, I Swear"


There isn't video, so just hit play and then listen while you go about your work.

A Ramble on Controversy & Principles

I think this is one of those entries that has to start with a disclaimer. So here it is:

These are my own, personal thoughts. Although they pertain to work, in that they stemmed from a conversation with a coworker, they are not representative of my employer or my employer's views. Nor are they in any way intended to put down those whose views differ from mine.

A friend, and relatively new coworker, sent me an email today in which she commented on the stress she feels with regards to the oh-so-controversial issue of "the role of women." She asked me, "Beth! What is my role as a woman on staff!"

This makes me cringe. This, and the Calvinism-Arminianism debate.

I should clarify. Neither of these issues in and of themselves make me angry. I actually think they are good discussions to have. But I consider both of them as non-essentials. That is, the stance someone takes in either area is not of that much importance. In the big picture.

Which is why I cringe. When this becomes a source of stress and fear for people who fully love Jesus, it is out of its proper place. When it is the issue that is readily associated with a specific person, or a group of people, it is out of its proper place. As people who love Jesus, we should be known for that. What I want people to know of me, is that I love Jesus. After that, I want to be known as someone who loves people.

So I advised my friend: a) your role on staff is to help ladies (AND men) fall more in love with Jesus, and equip them to be faithful evangelists & discipler
b) egalitarianism doesn't equal the end of our faith, just like evolution doesn't mean the cross was just a symbol.

c) Jesus isn't going to burn you with a flame if complete complimentarianism is true and yet you teach at a weekly meeting, because God looks at the heart.

d) don't let fear of man hold you back from what God says to you. That goes for people inside and outside of work.

e) (final point) God will show you, over time, what your convictions are. It may take years (it is for me). Don't stress that you have to know tomorrow. Or yesterday. And don't let stress rule your heart. Let peace, and the knowledge that, at the end of the day, God loves you dearly and will use you as you faithfully seek Him, give you great joy in all you do.

I have felt stress about both of these things, and the fact that my actions and beliefs stemmed predominantly from culture and not from conviction. I remember the conversation that first introduced me to the reality that there was a frame of view other than Calvinist within the Christian faith. And now, I have thoughts and opinions - I wouldn't yet say convictions.

To be honest, I sometimes feel unable to ask people (on both sides of both debates) their thoughts, because I know how strongly their opinions are held. I've been in conversations that have spoken poorly of "the other side" and let myself be thought of as being on the "same side" when I should have spoken up. It makes me sad. I have been complicit in it, and I want out.

I want people, myself included, to have the freedom to be uncertain, to know love is not dependent on their opinions, and that what matters most is what God convicts them of. Recently, I've been mulling over the verse, "anything that does not come from faith is sin." Which is really a profound and simple truth.

August 24, 2009

Mmm, Candy...Computers?!

This commercial makes me hungry for candy, happy I own a Dell, and prone to singing its oh-so-catchy tune. I would say, a successful advertisement.

Week in Review

Things that made me happy this week:

  1. Seeing my family. Special shout-outs to my brother and sister-in-law for hosting a great ool party (as he says, "no p in the pool!").
  2. Catching up with some of my favourite people whom I don't see often enough. Eating ice cream with them. Talking.
  3. The rewards of a job well done. Helping people learn and getting to meet tangible needs.
  4. Good conversations with my boss/friend. I have been fortunate to have boss/friends for the last few years.
  5. Reading Gilead. I recommend it, although it is meandering.
  6. Getting to tell people my plane got hit by lightning. True story. We were still on the tarmack.
  7. Helping my friends' wedding go off with as few hitches as possible. I like being "damage control." If I were to change careers, I would seriously consider wedding coordinating/executing.
  8. Dancing at said wedding, outdoors, under a lantern, strings of lights, and the wide-open sky. Beside the ocean.
  9. Realizing again what lovely and precious friends I have here. They would be there for me in an instant.
  10. Singing along to Vampire Weekend at Benny's while eating a delicious bagel and stealing food from my friends.
  11. Knowing I have a car for this coming week.

August 17, 2009

Movies on Planes

Entertainment on flights is always a hit-and-miss sort of thing. Sometimes they strike out completely, and sometimes they hit the ball out of the park. Even with the handy-dandy seat back system, there are failures.

But today was a success.

The Soloist
is a movie about an LA Times reporter and a schizophrenic homeless musician with Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx. Given the actors, I was pleasantly surprised. It was beautiful. Beautiful soundtrack, beautifully realistic, and beautifully hopeful.

I recommend.

August 14, 2009

Just Say No (to Children)

The new trend: choosing to be childless.

Good for population control? Helpful to the environment?
Further evidence of humanity's selfishness? Child-haters?

At the very least, this fascinating article from Macleans on couples choosing not to have children provides thought-provoking insight into our cultural view & value of parenthood.

(It garnered so much attention that they published a follow-up article.)

Today

  • Slept past my alarm.
  • Worked.
  • Skype date with Heather. Love Heather. It was too short, but I'll see her next week. Can't forget her birthday gift!!
  • Worked.
  • Dan phoned; we're asking our landlords to fix some things before we sign our (overdue) lease.
  • Lunch with a friend from my crazy creative writing class last fall. I love the realization that a friendship is real and mutually desired. Great cultural & creative thoughts.
  • Coffee shop to work again. Not feeling productive. Did I make any progress today? Added to my plate, definitely.
  • The gym. The elliptical. The personal TV. An hour of goodness.
  • Home again. Leftovers. Check email. Season premiere of America's Best Dance Crew.
  • Skype date with Wendy. Love Wendy. Love webcams when they don't freeze into awkward faces. Dan comes up and it is mass chaos and fun.
  • Work-ish. Distraction. TV. Vacation planning (flights booked).
  • Bones. I love Bones. Love Booth. I am rooting for them - they better get together this fall. They will.
  • Need to finish two things, then it's an early bedtime...and an early start tomorrow.

August 13, 2009

More Music Thursday

(if you have a reader & wonder why I reposted this, watch the videos on this entry, not the first one. I failed to screen one of them well the first time around...)


Sometimes, I just crave more music. These are some of the songs & artists that are making me happy today, as I work from home in the rain.

Paolo Nutini. His new album is out and he's coming to Vancouver next month. I'm going (again).

New Shoes:


Last Request:


Headwater. A great (and great-looking) folk band out of Vancouver. Saw them play on a ferry.

Freight Train:


Angels & Airwaves. Steph set me up with this song. I think I'd like the rest of their music, especially after seeing their drummer's sweet acoustic skillz.

Good Day:

Two Lists

Things I Find Creepy:
  1. Criminal Minds. I'm not watching that show anymore.
  2. The fact that I can see in my neighbour's bathroom window while sitting on my toilet. Who designed these houses!?
  3. Being alone in my house at night (thankfully it was short-lived tonight). This is probably due, in part, to #1. Possibly also #2.
  4. Older men with younger women. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether they are together or just together.
  5. The woods. Nighttime, and sometimes during the day. It depends.

Occupations I Think I Could Succeed In That Aren't My Own (Right Now):
  1. Nanny.
  2. Photographer.
  3. Book critic.
  4. Wedding planner.
  5. Novelist.
  6. Professor.
  7. Actuary.





Just kidding on that last one, folks. The same guidance counselor that told me I should go straight through and get my PhD by the time I was 27 told my sister she should be an actuary. I think both of us are fairly happy with the way our lives have gone, albeit somewhat differently than suggested.

August 11, 2009

Lunchtime Philosophy

I went for lunch today with a friend. Our conversations always leave my head spinning, just a little. They're big, they're philosophical, they're personal. Sometimes they go around in circles and I forget where we came from or where we were headed.

But I'm always glad for them, because they make me think. They challenge me to ask why I believe the things that I do, and to consider the myriad of views that disagree with my own.*

After we moved on from philosophy to computers (we always get distracted) and I bought a netbook, I am left with two over-arching areas of thought:

a) There are days that I fear that I am essentially a child who is convinced of the existence of Santa Claus. As rational as my beliefs about Jesus seem to me, I sometimes find myself wondering if the wool is being pulled over my eyes. Do I sound as ridiculous to secularists as I would find a believer in the big red Christmas man? Am I oblivious to some obvious fact that would bring my Jenga tower toppling down?

Yet at the end of the day, despite my fears of how I am perceived or whether I am slightly deluded, when I stop and look at what and why I believe, I come back to Peter, who said to Jesus, "Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life."

b) My friend's main barrier to faith (not specifically faith in Jesus, but faith in any religious system) has to do with intuition, logic, and submission. My attempt at a concise summary would be: If we choose a religious system based on our logical thought & intuitive processes, what do we do when those same processes come into conflict with the authority we've chosen to submit ourselves to? If we trusted them enough to choose our worldview, we must continue to trust them and therefore reject this worldview. If we choose instead to accept that the authority is right and we are wrong, we are denying the very thing which led us to accept the authority in the first place. So we're left with the question, do we trust our intuition or not? Can we trust it sometimes, but not others? Why/why not?

I hope that made sense to you. It makes sense to me (assuming I'm recalling it correctly), and I am not sure what the answer is. Any thoughts out there?


And in a step that will only result in more spinning-brain-syndrome, complex discussions, and a (hopefully) more thoroughly self-examined life, I began reading Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanual Kant, as lent to me by my philosophical friend.


*I also tend to laugh in these conversations. Today, it was because I was compared to both Lewis Carroll and a Marxist...

Buy-ology

I am reading a book called Buy-ology. It is by Martin Lindstrom, who is apparently "one of the world's most respected marketing gurus."

Having never heard of Lindstrom before, he seems slightly self-inflated. Although perhaps he really is one of the world's best marketing minds. (A quick wiki search shows that Time listed him in their Top 100 influencers this past spring...) His ego aside, I'm finding the book fascinating. Not particularly surprising, but fascinating none the less.

In essence, it is a look at how our brains respond to brands & advertising of various sorts. Not how we respond consciously (as in a survey), but how our brain and therefore our subconscious responds.

What has surprised me so far is the assumption - or maybe reality - that we as consumers are largely unaware of the influence exerted on us. Personally, I feel hyper-aware of the brands that pull me in. I know that Apple has me convinced that if I use a Mac or an iPod, I will be more chic, more urban, more cool and with it. When I pick my toilet paper brand, I sometimes choose specifically against my "instinct." Walking down a street, I can smell (and crave) Tim Hortons without even seeing it's bright red sign. I know these things happen.

Am I the odd one out? Or am I more oblivious than I think? Maybe the reality is that we all live in the midst of this, but shrug it off on a routine basis, without the energy to consistently ask ourselves why? Why do I want a doughnut right now? Why would I pay $90 for a pair of jeans? Why do I care if I drink Pepsi over Coke?

Why? (I'm always sucked in by these three little letters. Maybe I should have gone into psychology...the human mind intrigues and mystifies me.)

Conclusion: I recommend this book. It doesn't hurt to be a bit more savvy to the ways that companies seek to influence us. It's touching on where we're headed in the future, and it's based on a three-year study that cost $7 million. It's gotta be accurate, right?

August 8, 2009

Waiting for 8pm to Check What's on TV

1. I love reading Postsecret. It fascinates, saddens, and shocks me (warning: I give it a 14A rating). My heart breaks every Saturday evening.

2. I realized today that Emily Deschanel of Bones is Zooey Deschanel's sister. I can see it so clearly now. Love them both. They are quirky, beautiful, and seem to have good heads on their shoulders.

3. I don't know how to share things via Google Reader. I would like to. I even searched the FAQs to find out how. But because I can't find a "share icon" anywhere within my browser, my 28 followers (didn't know I had so many, or what that even means) will remain disappointed by my lack of sharing.

4. I have not yet purchased Coldplay's Viva la Vida. I have it on my iPod, but not my computer. I love it.

5. I don't like Starbucks all that much. I try. I want to be cool and yuppie (despite my often-rebellious nature). I thought I liked it after reading It's Not About the Coffee. But I think it's Howard I like. When it comes to coffee (technically tea), baked goodies & somewhere to work, I really do prefer the independent or local chains.

6. Today, I joined a gym. I think this could possibly change my life in a very good way. So long as I follow through. I am turning into a yuppie. Ahhhhhhhh, this frightens me.

August 7, 2009

I Love (& Hate) Shakespeare

In my undergrad, I took great pride in the fact that I avoided taking a Shakespeare class. For most students, fulfilling our "Early Modern" requirements obviously included a course in the Great One's plays. But I refused on principle. I believed (and still do) that it is possible to have a well-rounded English Literature degree without studying Shakespeare. He may be great, but he is not the be-all and end-all of literary history. In essence, my "hatred" (too mild to even be called that) of Shakespeare lies in his immense popularity & influence, and my little rebellious self saying, Psshht.

Oh, and his tragedies are depressing. As tragedies ought to be. But I usually favour the happy endings.

My love of Shakespeare is that he is highly entertaining, and really quite brilliant. The fact that over four hundred years later, people laugh and cry at his words is... something.



This is all an unnecessarily long intro to my review of Comedy of Errors, performed by Bard on the Beach last night. To be succinct, these are my thoughts:

  1. Ryan Beil makes me laugh like no one else. I don't know why, but he does.
  2. Anachronisms, adaptations and additions to Shakespeare don't bother me - but a failure to keep the added dialogue Elizabethan does.
  3. I often forget that Shakespeare is quite crude at times.
  4. Live theatre makes me giddy.
  5. Standing ovations should be saved for the rarest of occasions. Otherwise, they lose their meaning.

August 6, 2009

Enjoyable & Depressing

So the concert last night was fantastic. Steph & Manny & Jonathan are excellent concert companions. Manny, because she knows her stuff. Steph, because we have similar tastes (she also knows her stuff). Jonathan because he's my brother and it was his first-ever concert.

The opening band, Vedera - meh. Not bad.

Jack's Mannequin - insane amounts of energy, amazing piano skills and an overall fantastic persona. Highly enjoyable, although difficult to understand any of his words, even when speaking. Yet somehow, the f-bomb always manages to be audible...

Listening to The Fray was exactly like listening to their album, only live and better. If that makes sense. I loved it. Enjoyed the lighting, liked the flow...like Steph, my only setlist regret is that they didn't play Look After You, which is pretty much my favourite of all times. Their cover of Kanye's Heartless is pretty fantastic though.

I didn't know that Over My Head (Cable Car) is about the lead singer's relationship with his brother. Tragic. Several of their songs are gut-wrenching, and when I came home, I looked up all the lyrics from their new album.

They're all heart-breaking.

Every single one. It's like Green Day's American Idiot album. Brilliant. Lyrical genius. And insanely depressing when you put it all together.

The thing that makes me even more sad (I actually had trouble falling asleep thinking about it all last night), is that I think some of The Fray love Jesus. And I wonder how that fits in - their are little tiny hints of it in their music, but never overt. And while their lyrics regarding God and faith are totally honest (Happiness and You Found Me), they fall more on the side of lament and frustration. Which makes me wonder, do they feel hope? And if they do, could they bring it into their music?

I'm not meaning to be critical...I'm just really curious about how it works for them. Or if it works.


*photos on Facebook.

August 5, 2009

"You're Great, But..."

What happened: Someone left a comment the other morning on an old entry (don't bother trying to find it) that referenced my singleness. They encouraged me ("on behalf of the men") that I am "a catch" and that many guys would be "ecstatic" to meet someone like me, and that someday ("soon") I'll meet a guy who will be "lucky to have found" me.

Personal Note to Anonymous: I want to say two things before I go further:
a) Your comment was a pleasant surprise and a great way to start my day. I felt encouraged. I truly did, and I hope that the criticisms/frustrations I'm about to share don't dissuade you otherwise.
b) I have no idea who you are and I think it is best (in light of the rest of my thoughts) that it stay that way. I tried briefly to deduce who you are, but once I realized there are nearly infinite possibilities, I decided it's best if I don't try too hard.

Caveat: I have been mulling it all over for the last day and a half. I'm not sure how linear I can make my thoughts, but I do want to try to unpack it - for you, for me, and to generate discussion. All of the following thoughts are tentative, in process, and I reserve the complete right to change my mind.


Thought #1: Anonymity works for and against you in compliments. For you, in obvious ways - lack of risk, freedom to be honest, etc. Against you, because (from my end), who you are really affects the weight and value of the words. While flattered, I don't know at what level or in what ways I should interpret what you've said (and being the over-analyzer that I am, don't doubt that I'll be trying to interpret this for weeks).

For example, if you are:
  1. family - then your words are placating. Well-intended, perhaps, but carry no weight.
  2. female - you can't speak on behalf of men. And it would be weird to deceive me like that to encourage me.
  3. married - it seems creepy that you'd say this anonymously on my blog. To the married guy friends I do have, I'd feel really honoured if you said this to my face, but this seems secretive, which I strongly dislike. If you don't feel you could say this to me in front of your wife, you shouldn't say it at all.
  4. someone I have already rejected - then your words are kind, but misplaced. Anonymity may protect your identity in the moment, but if I found out at a later time that you wrote this, it wouldn't help build our friendship.
  5. single, but feel I'm "out of your league" - I probably am. Just kidding. Probably, I'm not - most guys underestimate how high their "league" goes. (Although it does seem that it's the same guys who do jump out of their league over and over and over...)
  6. single, no buts - I don't understand why you would do this...

In writing the last few lines, I've realized the two key issues that rub me the wrong way here.


Key Issue #1: I'm a say-it-to-my-face kind of girl. Compliments or criticism both need to happen face-to-face, or at least in as personal a context as possible. This allows discussion, clarity, and response or reciprocation where appropriate. If you can't say it to my face...please don't say it at all. And if you're not saying it to my face because you're scared of me...I'm sorry. I come across as intimidating more frequently than I'd like. I'm working on it...but please just talk to me.

Key Issue #2: I am tired of hearing people (men and women) tell me that I'm great, ask me why I'm still single, etc, etc, etc.*** Because it's so rarely accompanied by action - on their part or on the part of anyone else. I realized, back in the spring, that the message I hear most loudly from men (sometimes unintentionally, sometimes almost verbatim) is, "You're great, but..."

"You're great - I'm so glad we're friends."
"You're great - you should date so-and-so."
"You're great - you know I'm into what's-her-face, right?"
"You're great - but I don't like you like that."
"You're great - but I don't like you anymore."

And in all honesty, sometimes it leaves me wanting to yell, "But WHAT!? What needs to change so there are no more buts!?"

Now, I'm not saying that this is the only thing men say to me. Or even what men intend to say to me. It's just the thing that filters through the loudest. I'll very much share the blame for my poor man-interpreting skills. (This is leading into a whole lot of further thoughts, which I will save for later - because if you're still reading, I'm quite impressed.)


Conclusion:
What it comes down to, for me, is this: if you are a single guy, don't tell me, in plain-spoken words, that I am great. Unless you are then going to ask me out. If you don't like me like that, there are other ways to show that we are friends.


Discuss.


***someone recently wrote on a Facebook photo of me: "Beth is such a looker now! When's she getting married?" I am still laughing at all that is wrong with that comment...

August 4, 2009

Magical Music Mondays

These songs...

1. Be Here Now - Ray LaMontagne. I first heard it while watching 27 Dresses. So achingly lovely, although this video is nonsensical. What's up with the random chubby tummies??


2. Do You Realize - The Flaming Lips. Not sure when I first heard it, but identified it as this song while in Karen's car on Sunday. I love a good love song, and this is one.


3. The Name of the Game - ABBA. Listening to Mamma Mia in the car today, I realized that not only are their tunes catchy, but their lyrics are timeless. (check out the AMAZING original music video here)


4. Swim- Jack's Mannequin. I think I'm in love. Can't WAIT to see this live in two days.

August 1, 2009

Stay-cation

Stay-cations are all the rage now - that is, a vacation where you stay at home... since I'm such a trend-follower, I've decided to do the same thing. It is going to be a fantastic week. Here's my schedule at a glance:

Today: Karen is visiting. Fireworks (possibly)

Sunday:
Church & an evening visit to the Spirit of the Sea Festival to watch my roommate perform.

Monday:
Say goodbye to Andrew (sadness), paint the dining room with Lynsey & friends and talk with my family.

Tuesday:
Finish the dining room makeover after a trip to IKEA

Wednesday:
Hang out with my brother - surprise him with tickets to see The Fray for his birthday...(don't worry, I'm 95% sure he doesn't read my blog). Jack's Mannequin are opening for them.* If anyone in the area wants to come, I have one more ticket.

Thursday:
Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors at Bard on the Beach starring Ryan Beil, who is the funniest person I've ever seen perform (at the Granville Island Theatresports) and who is also in the current set of A&W commercials.

Friday: Recover from my crazy week. Talk with no one. Sleep and read.

Saturday: More of the same. As little as possible.