Monday, April 28, 2008

The strike is over!

Thank goodness the strike is over. I was seriously thinking of getting one of these snazzy little chairs as a mode of transportation...

This is my favorite shot. I call it, "Camouflage" or "Incognito".

What a beautiful holder!!! Perfect for Moleskines and pens and such!

'The Bookinist' is part of the Sitzmöbel collection by Nils Holger Moorman. The Bookinist is a portable chair that comes with all of the bells and whistles to make your reading experience more enjoyable (and if affixed with the proper motor, could make a very interesting ride). Giddyup, mein Freund.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's on

'A hopeful transit user waits for the Queen streetcar at 12:01 am, April 26, 2008'. (Courtesy Tony Bok/Toronto Star)

Lastnight, J& I were were surprised to discover that there would be a TTC strike in the morning. It seemed to come out of nowhere since the last strike vote had been averted, recently. The TTC is really powerful and they know it. Without them, the city would be paralyzed.

[Sorry this is so short but I have to run and make a survival pack right now. Later.]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Carry a survival pack

A strike deadline has been set for Sunday afternoon at 4pm. If a deal has not been reached by that time, TTC workers will be told to stay home. (Yes, a dreaded strike). It is estimated that 1.5 million people rely on the TTC every day (including, yours truly). I know from previous experience, even when a subway line has been disrupted for just a few hours, it gets pretty crazy. I can just imagine how insane it will be on Monday if the deal doesn't go through.

In the meantime, I received an email with the following contents:

Transit Strike Travel Tips for Commuters
Below are a few tips to help individuals and families manage day-to-day activities and routines, during a disruption in transit service:

Have a family meeting. Identify what activities must be completed and make plans to postpone non-urgent activities that can wait. Make sure everyone understands the changes that are taking place and the new schedule. Post the new day-to-day activities on a calendar and place it in an open area where everyone can easily refer to it.

Have back up plans in place. Negotiate a back up plan in the event that you are delayed arriving to, or from, a particular daily activity. For example, ask a friend or family member to be ‘on call’ in the event that you are delayed picking up the children after school or daycare. Having these extra resources available will help ensure routines are disrupted as little as possible, and keep anxiety and stress levels at a minimum for you and your family.

Cook meals ahead of time. Prepare meals in advance as much as possible. You can pre-make complete meals or just main dishes. Having these readily available for you and your family will help reduce stress during mealtime preparation and keep daily routines on track. You can also plan quick and easy, but nutritious, snacks that are easily accessible to family members of all ages.

Allow for extra time. Start your morning routines earlier and allow for extra travel time home. This will help avoid feelings of being ‘rushed’ and keep stress levels at a minimum for you and your family.

Create a travel action plan. How can you get to work if you use the TTC presently? Are friends, co–workers, or family members able to support your commute? Reach out and talk to individuals who may be able to help. And, if possible, consider this an opportunity to improve your fitness routine, through walking, or reconnect with family and friends during a shared car drive home.

Plan for the walk. Wear sensible shoes: good walking shoes will make the commute much more pleasant and blister free! Travel light by avoiding heavy bags that can strain your neck or shoulders. But remember to carry an umbrella, rainwear or extra light clothing to accommodate changes in weather. You can also make the trip more interesting by choosing scenic routes to travel.

Plan for the drive. If you are driving to and from work, recognize that traffic will be challenging. Listening to local news stations that provide up-to-the minute traffic reports will help you plan your route better and prevent any last-minute traffic delays. As well, check out parking options before you drive: some streets may be designated as ‘no parking zones’ to accommodate the strike. Most of all remember to keep your cool while driving: Traffic delays can be a stressful experience for both you and your fellow commuters.

Plan for the cycle. To enjoy a safe ride to and from work, remember to follow the traffic signs and flow of the traffic. Appropriate lights and reflectors will also ensure that you’re as visible as possible to other commuters. If you are commuting with a group, keep your bicycles in a single file. You may also want to scope out bicycle paths that are available in your community to avoid heavy traffic.

Carry a survival pack. Whether you are walking or driving, there are various things you can do to keep the commute as pleasant as possible for everyone. Calming music, extra bottled water or juice, and nutritious snacks, can help nourish and relax the body and mind.

[I am definitely going to carry a survival pack]

I called my husband to book an Autoshare vehicle for Monday morning...just in case.

Can you please pass the...tortoise?

I came across a crazy article the other day that was published on February 25th, 2008 for the Daily Mail. Apparently, there is a woman (Shirley Neely) who runs a Jersey-based tortoise sanctuary in the UK. Her tortoises hibernate for three months (December - March) and require a steady temperature between 3 - 8 degrees. Fridges were set up for the tortoises because of the particularly mild weather that was being experienced.

'The 75 tortoises were given three weeks without food, allowed to complete their toilet needs (tortoises must empty their digestive system before hibernating), then bathed, weighed, wrapped and put to bed - with the odd bottle-of wine or jar of mayonnaise for company. '

If you're wondering if there is any confusion with regards to people going into the wrong fridge, it does happen. Recently, a guest was shocked to find the hibernating tortoises when asked to fetch a bottle of wine. Neely claims that she occasionally keeps a bottle in the fridge to regulate the temperature within.

Last month, Neely began waking the tortoises out of their slumber. Below, a photograph captures the reunion of Neely and one of her borders.

Lastnight, J & I went to the Rue Morgue screening of L'interieur - a French horror flick that has been described as a 'mini maniacal masterpiece' by Scott Weinberg (a reviewer for the TIFF premiere of the film).

First of all, the event itself was quite a show. Before the movie began, there was a performance which reminded me of a traveling circus side-show. One man was screaming out into the audience while another was hovering around a large gong. In between them stood an actor playing a young pregnant girl. I won't go into too much detail about what happened next but suffice it to say, the scene involved a large bowl and some gross red gooey stuff. There were also prizes given away to those who answered movie trivia questions (of course, the film nerds annihilated us regular movie-going folk).

L'interieur is a disturbing film and definitely, not for the weak of heart (or those with strong gag reflexes). The gore was over-the-top and he bloodletting would make a phlebotomist proud. It was an intense, 85 minute rollercoaster ride which had me clinging to J and covering my face, simultaneously. While I know very little about cinematography, the film 'looks' really great. The scenes are quite dense - each shot dimly-lit, with shadows and haze that seem to make it ever more forebooding. Props to Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury who are first time directors. (Alexandre is also the writer of the screenplay.) Beatrice Dalle and Alysson Paradis are the amazing lead actresses. My favorite part about the movie was its score. It was both industrial and beautiful. I especially loved the static-like effects. François Eudes is the composer of the score and has worked on films such as Haute Tension, Qui a tué Bambi? and the Hills Have Eyes.

If you love gore and horror flicks, then this is a must-see. However, if you are squeamish, have a photographic memory and are prone to nightmares, I don't recommend it.

[Case in point - I dreamt that J kept showing me a dead rat in a bucket last night and I was constantly running away]

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sketchbook series

I stumbled upon the above blog ( and wanted to share it with everyone. It's such a wonderful place to find inspiration, as well as provide insight into the amazing artists who are behind all of the beautiful imagery. Thanks so much, Julia Rothman, for creating this source of inspiration!

The sketchbook series is my favorite. Here is a preview:

[Each profile includes a short Q&A and a sneak peak at the artist's lovely illustrations!]

Monday, April 7, 2008

This is dedicated to someone special (you know who you are!).

Gee, something else to purchase in Japan...

This article appeared online at this morning:

Japan's 'geisha guys' the latest accessory

By Kyung Lah

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- At first glance, the man and woman at the nightclub look like any other couple on a date. He flirts and pours champagne. She looks at him and laughs.

This isn't a date, though. It's business.

The woman, a successful executive, has joined a growing number of professional women in Japan in forking out from $1,000 to $50,000 a night for male companionship.

They meet their "hosts" in hundreds of clubs that have sprung up around Tokyo - the industry says only compliments are exchanged. The women pay for a man to lavish them with undivided attention.

"There's nothing wrong with a woman paying to be entertained by a man," one female client says. "It's just another step in equality."

It's a dizzying reversal of traditional gender roles in a country long known for geishas pampering male clients with conversation, singing and dancing. Now a new breed of entertainer has cropped up -- think of them as male geishas.

"I give women things that men normally don't do, like complimenting their appearance," says one host, 24-year-old Yunosuke, who only goes by his single host name. "I make women happy."

And they make him happy: Yunosuke says he earned more than $200,000 last year, enough to let him visit a salon once a day to have his hair dyed and blow-dried.

"Women see us as one of their accessories," he says. "They like to wear nice things, so I try to look prettier for them all the time."

What drives the business boom is an increase in the earning power of Japanese women, according to Air Group, a company that owns a chain of "host" clubs.

"Japanese women are now working hard and making more money," says Yuko Takeyama, a woman in her early 30s who manages Air Group. "They see this as a way to de-stress."

Women love being treated well without the pressures that come with dating, she says.

Yunosuke's customer from the nightclub agrees.

"This is a gift for myself," she says. "It's the same as spending money on a trip or buying something."

Businesswomen in Japan pay up to $50,000 a night for male companionship from "hosts" like Yunosuke.

[My only question is: Do you have to pay extra for that coy-pouty look that Yunosuke is sporting?]

Friday, April 4, 2008


This article appeared online for The Toronto Star:

Pregnant man tells Oprah about 'miracle'
Wife used donor sperm to inseminate husband, who was born female

Apr 04, 2008 04:30 AM
Michael Conlon
Reuters News Agency

CHICAGO–A transgendered man who is six months pregnant said in an interview aired by Oprah Winfrey yesterday he always wanted to have a child and considers it a miracle.

"It's not a male or female desire to have a child. It's a human desire," a thinly bearded Thomas Beatie said. "I have a very stable male identity," he added, saying that pregnancy neither defines him nor makes him feel feminine.

Beatie, 34, who lives in Oregon, was born a woman but decided to become a man 10 years ago. He began taking testosterone treatments and had breast surgery to remove glands and flatten his chest.

"I opted not to do anything with my reproductive organs because I wanted to have a child one day," he told the talk show host.

Beatie's wife Nancy said she inseminated him with a syringe using sperm purchased from a bank.

Now, he said, his size 32 jeans are a bit tight and his shirts are stretched.

Nancy, to whom he has been married for five years and who has two grown daughters by a previous marriage, also appeared on the show, saying the couple's roles will not change once the baby is born.

"He's going to be the father and I'm going to be the mother," she said. Their marriage is legal and he is recognized under state law as a man.

The couple was shown on video provided by People magazine, which collaborated with Winfrey on the show.

"I can't believe it. I can't believe she's inside me," Beatie said while having an ultrasound that was filmed. "We see her as our little miracle."

Beatie stopped taking testosterone two years ago and his levels of the hormone are normal, said his obstetrician, Dr. Kimberly James.

Arnold Schwarzeneggar once gave a stunning performance in a movie very reminiscent of the story above. Perhaps, you'll remember his poignant performance in the following: