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Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

Pet Shop Boys and Nietsche?!?!

In Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 15, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Comments on the Pet Shop Boys

Brikena Ribaj Comments on the Pet Shop Boys

By Brikena Ribaj

I often refer to the music-loving Socrates as Nietzsche portrays him in his work Birth of Tragedy. Music is the best form of language, per Socrates. And I concur fully not just because it is Socrates’ attitude per Nietzsche but because I happen to share the same attitude experientially. So, those who get mad over not getting showered with attention when music is playing an active part in the discourse need to, well, find other ways to cope.

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The Radio Call

In Education, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, travel, Writing (all kinds) on February 14, 2017 at 3:00 AM
When It Comes To AIDS, It Is Better to Light A Candle - Photo Courtesy of StockExpert

When It Comes To AIDS, It Is Better to Light A Candle – Photo Courtesy of StockExpert

It was a Saturday afternoon and the radio was on. I was living in Uganda in the fall of 1996 and the winter of 1997. The radio was calling out a list of names. I could not understand why.

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Creating Things: Profile of Roger McTair (Originally Published on Impowerage.com)

In book reviews, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on February 13, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Roger McTair Creates Magic - Photo Courtesy of Seneca College's Website

Roger McTair Creates Magic – Photo Courtesy of Seneca College’s Website

Roger McTair is a director, poet, professor and writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. He has had short stories air on CBC Radio and BBC Radio.

He was born in Trinidad and Tobago on October 7, 1943. Not having much to do while growing up galvanized his love of creating things.

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Study Finds New Technology For Fossil Fuels Can Cut CO2

In Business, Culture, Education, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on February 12, 2017 at 12:00 PM
EPRI Did a Revealing Study on Electricity - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

EPRI Did a Revealing Study on Electricity – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

A study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has found the replacement of fossil fuels technology with electric ones would result in energy savings. The energy savings are as high as 71.7 quadrillion BTUs.

These savings would cut CO2 by 4,400 million tons between 2009 and 2030.

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Rookies

In Business, Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Sports, Writing (all kinds) on February 11, 2017 at 3:00 AM
A Rookie's Story is Told by Rachel Muenz - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

A Rookie’s Story is Told by Rachel Muenz – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

By Rachel Muenz

Jo Henday, Sister:

I should be proud of you but I’m not. Not of a single shot.

Your first goal came off my stick, remember? The puck was pinned to the boards by a couple pairs of skates and there were five of us from both teams working at it in a clatter of wood. Some kid kept cross-checking me in the back – no penalty – but I fought my way through the press of jerseys and dug the puck out. I flung it towards the net because I knew you were there.

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PAINT FOR A CAUSE

In Beauty, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on February 10, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Sico Flat for Ceilings - Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman and Indira Tarachandra

Sico Flat for Ceilings – Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman and Indira Tarachandra

by Gail Bergman and Indira Tarachandra

Sico to Donate a Portion of Ceiling Paint Sales to Breast Cancer Research

Longueuil, Quebec – July 20, 2009 – Think pink. That’s the message Sico is sending to Canadians this fall with the announcement that it will donate a portion of sales of its disappearing-pink Flat for Ceilings paint to support lifesaving breast cancer research.

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Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation

In Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 9, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Comments on Lost in Translation - Photo Courtesy of IMB

Brikena Ribaj Comments on Lost in Translation – Photo Courtesy of IMDB

By Brikena Ribaj

Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) is another good Fall title for me. It takes place in Tokyo and the most relatable bits in the film are Charlotte and Bob, the two main characters, exploring the busy, urban streets of Tokyo together, thus sharing their isolated togetherness and bonding in a place where the leading currency is utter linguistic unfamiliarity and unequivocal confusion.

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Ist Brüno In oder Aus? Ish sage Aus!

In Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 8, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Movie Bruno

Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Movie Bruno

By Brikena Ribaj

A screening of Brüno (2009) in a German-speaking setting is one thing. A screening of it somewhere else is something else.

I explain.

As a German speaker, I have a healthy list of reasons as to why this film vexed my ears. The whole grammar thing does a number on me. File it under occupational hazard.

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The Inkwell – Selection from Upcoming Book Stories in Red and Yellow

In Beauty, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 7, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Larenz Tate is the Star of the Movie The Inkwell

Larenz Tate is the Star of the Movie The Inkwell – Photo Courtesy of Starpulse.com

Set in 1976, this movie features the staple afros, braids and other various styles of Black hair at that time. The interesting thing of note is that the family of Drew Tate, the main character in the movie, are depicted as working class and activist.

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Listen`in (Defunct Proposal to the CBC) – Selections from Upcoming Book Stories in Red and Yellow

In Business, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on February 6, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Paul da Silva and Donna Kakonge Worked on a Creative Concept Called Listen'in - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Paul da Silva and Donna Kakonge Worked on a Creative Concept Called Listen’in – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

A proposal for a thirteen part series exploring issues of race,

culture, and identity. The series will provide a forum for discussions on these topical issues through a Documentary approach as well as through discussions in an informal, and relaxed setting amongst people who are both well informed and passionate about these issues. The setting could be in a community, a cultural setting.

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Suggestions for Ethnic Newspapers – Selections from Upcoming book Stories in Red and Yellow

In Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on February 5, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Ethnic Newspapers Can Help You to Discover Many Things - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Ethnic Newspapers Can Help You to Discover Many Things – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Suggested Publications

*Aboriginal Voices
$45/2 years
-geared towards examining Native North American culture

*Atin Ito
$30/year
-Filipino publication has one of the highest circulations

*First Perspective
$24.95 – $26.70
-a national newspaper highligting a variety of events concerning Aboriginal
people
-also notes political events and issues

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BC Woman Loves Shea Butter Market Products

In Beauty, Business, Culture, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM
BC Woman's Favourite Shea Butter Market Product - Photo Courtesy of Shea Butter Market.com

BC Woman’s Favourite Shea Butter Market Product – Photo Courtesy of Shea Butter Market.com

A 71-year-old woman in British Columbia (who preferred not be named) loves the Shea Butter Market products that Gifty Serbeh-Dunn owns. “I love them,” she says. “I’ve used pretty well everything that she’s had out. First of all I’ve used her shea butter and the moisturizing cream and the body lotion and the foot cream.”

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Blue Death: A five-part series by the Teeny Tracer on how protestors are destroying money and lives at Dump Site 52

In Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 3, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Does a Parody on a Dumpsite - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Rachel Muenz Does a Parody on a Dumpsite – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

The plight of North Comise garbage: Part one of a five-part series

By Zema Luncher

In homes across North Comise County, the garbage bag is kept hidden from sight in cupboards or garages, unable to socialize with the families it lives with and treated as less than the family dog. After a week, it is stuffed into a bin and left for hours until it is hurled into a truck for a long, crowded journey to an even more crowded landfill. Here, it is dumped in piles with thousands of other bags, left to be torn apart by seagulls, crows and other scavengers, never knowing the taste of clean water or the smell of fresh air.

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Ottawa Woman Loves Shea Butter Market Products

In Beauty, Culture, Education, Environment, Health, Living, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on February 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Citrus is Just One of the Many Flavours of the Shea Butter Market Lip Balm Products - Photo Courtesy of SheaButterMarket.com

Citrus is Just One of the Many Flavours of the Shea Butter Market Lip Balm Products – Photo Courtesy of SheaButterMarket.com

Christen Bennett, in her early 30s, is a family friend of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn, owner of the Shea Butter Market company. For a time while in Ottawa, Serbeh-Dunn lived with Bennett’s family. Out of friendship and a deep belief in shea butter, Bennett tries to promote the Shea Butter Market products in the Ottawa region.

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Kiddie Card Whiz (Originally Aired on CJOH-TV)

In Business, Creative Writing, Education, Living, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on January 30, 2017 at 12:00 PM

This story aired back in 1993 with CJOH-TV in Ottawa, Canada while I was doing my undergraduate work in journalism at Carleton University. I was on internship there and found out about a 7-year-old at the time who had his own business:

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Financial degradation at Site 52 puts species at risk: Part three of a five-part series

In Business, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on January 29, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Rachel Muenz Continues With Part Three of Her Series on Garbage - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

Rachel Muenz Continues With Part Three of Her Series on Garbage – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

By Zema Luncher

Protests at Site 52 are putting a severe strain on the financial ecosystem, damaging the habitats of taxpayers and politicians, says Comise County Warden Tom Gudgeon.

Blockades at the proposed dump site in Teeny Township are not only harming these species but the protestors as well, he added.

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Brainwashed by Site 52 protestors: Part four of a five-part series

In Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on January 28, 2017 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Writes About a Character That Loves Garbage in Part Four of Her Series - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

Rachel Muenz Writes About a Character That Loves Garbage in Part Four of Her Series – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert.com

By Zema Luncher

Charlene Rawston used to love garbage. Instead of keeping it in bins or in the garage, she kept the bags in the living room where she could talk to them and share stories. When Site 52 was first proposed she wholeheartedly supported it, happy that other bags like her close friends would finally have a proper home. But then the protestors came and everything changed.

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Horrific violence at Site 52 shocks county: Part two of a five-part series

In Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Living, Writing (all kinds) on January 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Protests Rock the Small Township Over Garbage - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Protests Rock the Small Township Over Garbage – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

By Zema Luncher

Local politicians are starting to fear for their lives as protests to the dump site in Teeny Township heat up.

Comise County Warden Tom Gudgeon said people have been sending more and more letters of concern about the dump every day.

“My email inbox is always full so other important messages aren’t getting through,” Gudgeon said. “It’s also very painful on my eyes to read them all.

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Camille Nelson’s Album First Words, Why I Love It

In Beauty, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 30, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Musical Work of Camille Nelson

Brikena Ribaj Reviews the Musical Work of Camille Nelson

By Brikena Ribaj

This is Camille Nelson, my very good friend.

Camille Nelson is one of my all-time favorite people. Among so many other things, she is also an artist par excellence. Camille is also the one who patiently taught me how to play the guitar, the one with whom I’ve had many an adventure over the years, and the one who simply excels at all she does. And she manages to do it all by being unapologetically good and quintessentially Camille.

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SHEA BUTTER MARKET – BRINGING GIFTS TO THE MASSES

In Beauty, Business, Culture, Health, Living, Media Writing, Pets, Writing (all kinds) on November 26, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Shea Butter Market is the Brainchild of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn

Shea Butter Market is the Brainchild of Gifty Serbeh-Dunn

I CALLED GIFTY SERBEH-DUNN AS SHE WAS FEEDING HER CAT. HER BOYS WALKED BY THE CAT WITHOUT FEEDING HER. HER BIG BOY IS HER HUSBAND WAYNE DUNN WHO HAS A BUSINESS DEGREE FROM STANFORD. HER SMALL 7-YEAR-OLD BOY IS HER SON KABORÉ. SERBEH-DUNN HAS MANY THINGS TO DO SUCH AS FEEDING HER CAT AND RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS SHEA BUTTER MARKET.

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Bicycle Time

In Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Pets, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 25, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Explores Bicycle Time in a Short Story - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Rachel Muenz Explores Bicycle Time in a Short Story - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Rachel Muenz

The road unrolls before him, cracked and purple-grey. The pavement is worn but good, better than that behind him, cratered and half-repaired with uneven disks of tar. On either side, trees slide past the corners of his eyes, their branches reaching for his arms. Beyond the trees, the hunched forms of hills, shadowed and filmed with pale green, rise and fall. He feels the hum of the tires in his chest, right through to his heart. It is pure joy.

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Hard Work

In Health, Living, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 23, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Does Not Want Stress to Rule His Life - Photo: MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin Does Not Want Stress to Rule His Life – Photo: MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

Hard work. Sometimes I feel that I know the definition of it. Truly, I do not. I have the vision of where I want to be with my successes. This is what sets the tone for how hard I must work. Lately I am coming to discover just how much work is involved with reaching your goals. Endless efforts.

My plan is to stay organized. I am able to think a lot more clearly if everything around me in my life is taken care of. However, it is impossible to live a completely stress-free life. When you are meticulous, little things can throw you off. When you are careless, things build up and the stress is there in an overwhelming sense. It will be there. The only thing you can do is accepting the bad with the good.

So, before I get sucked into my little world of computer graphics and illustrations I plan to make sure my life is in order and organized. If I do this, getting down to business will feel more like a privilege as well as I will have a clear focus when I am ready to crack down on the task(s) at hand.

There are lots to keep a busy person motivated. I think the true challenge is being able to focus on “the now” and still feel motivated by the prize at the end of the road. I see people around me feeling overwhelmed by their work and I sometimes doubt their approach. I have faith in their ability to eventually overcome their state of distress and of course I admire their strength to not quit. The art of working hard and living stress-free is something I will continue to try and understand as well as master.

Ode to Silence

In Beauty, Culture, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 20, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Loves Portland, Oregon - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

Brikena Ribaj Loves Portland, Oregon - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

By Brikena Ribaj

One of the reasons I love Portland, OR, well, other than it being home to the best bookstore I have seen in North America, Powell’s, is how quiet it is.

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Franz Ferdinand Concert Report

In Culture, Entertainment, Events, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 16, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Franz Ferdinand Concert - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

Franz Ferdinand Concert - Photo by Brikena Ribaj

Franz Ferdinand is on tour promoting their new album Tonight with Franz Ferdinand. We saw them in concert last night and I am happy to report that they delivered. They performed for one and a half hours and the energy of the band was in harmonious synch with that of the crowd.

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Taylor Swift?! Uh-huh!

In Beauty, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 12, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Brikena Ribaj Rocks to Taylor Swift

Brikena Ribaj Rocks to Taylor Swift

By Brikena Ribaj

Today I rocked to country.

Yes. I did.

I rocked to country music.

The reason I say this twice is because, well, for lack of a better phrase, I don’t do country. I don’t know why. I just can’t. I am not attracted to it. I never was. While I’m sure that country music feeds many people, it doesn’t manage to feed me in any way. Not even with carbs. It’s a preference issue, you see. For example, I love Verdi, Wagner, Beethoven, and Mozart but I don’t care for Schumann. I love Indie rock but basically everything about Grunge bothers me. And, yes, Nirvana is an exception. Kurt Cobain is bigger than any genre. And I loved him. Very much. I still do. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” continues to be a high-frequency track. It’s not grunge, it’s classic. So there are exceptions within certain genres, of course.

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Excerpt from Spiderwoman

In book reviews, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 11, 2016 at 3:00 AM
This is the Cover Art for the Book Spiderwoman - Photo From Dreamstime.com

This is the Cover Art for the Book Spiderwoman - Photo From Dreamstime.com

Spiderwoman is the third book that I officially published, actually the fourth if you include the short story I did for Headlight Anthology. This book was a long process that started with stories I did in a Carleton University creative writing class with Tom Henighan. You can buy the book at: http://stores.lulu.com/kakonged.

Garbage Strike

In Culture, Environment, Health, Living, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 10, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Comments on Toronto's Garbage Strike - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Nick Goodwin Comments on Toronto's Garbage Strike - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Nick Goodwin

Okay, so Toronto’s morale doesn’t seem to be out of whack at all. Maybe a little unfocused but somehow people are remaining happy even with the increasingly gross trails of garbage leading from overflowing containments. Are we to improvise and use our creative minds to construct this trash into something we can all gawk at? We need to come up with something.

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It’s A Great Deal

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Religion, Restaurant Reviews, Technology, travel, Uncategorized, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 8, 2016 at 3:00 AM
This is the Cover Art for the Book The Write Heart - Photo From Dreamstime.com

This is the Cover Art for the Book The Write Heart - Photo From Dreamstime.com

Can you imagine that I am offering free life coaching on any of your life’s challenges for the low, low cost of one book sale from you? Yes – this is not a gimmick – it is true.

We can do the life coaching through email if you are long distance, or we could do it over the phone if you are local. We can also use such services as MSN and Yahoo Messenger if you prefer a more instant approach to the life coaching. I look forward to hearing from you. Make your dreams come true!

Books You Can Buy With Free Life Coaching

In book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Education, Events, Health, Living, Writing (all kinds) on November 7, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Cover Art for Story Ideas - Help For Writer's Block by Donna Kakonge - Photo from Dreamstime.com

Cover Art for Story Ideas - Help For Writer's Block by Donna Kakonge - Photo from Dreamstime.com

Donna Kakonge has written 25 books that you can choose from along with FREE  life coaching for your challenges in life. You can contact her at: dkakonge@sympatico.ca to find out more.

Muttluks to the rescue!

In Culture, Education, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Pets, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 6, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Writes About Muttlucks for Dogs - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Rachel Muenz Writes About Muttlucks for Dogs - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Rachel Muenz

They protect your feet from extreme cold when playing in the snow. Military personnel use them to keep the pads of their feet from burning up on the hot ground of Afghanistan. Broken glass and other hazards won’t hurt you because of these boots. You are a dog, after all, and you don’t always pay attention to where you’re walking whether you’re just fooling around or saving lives.

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Happy Fourth of July!

In Events, Living, Writing (all kinds) on November 5, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Happy Fourth of July! - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Happy Fourth of July! - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Happy Fourth of July! Have a prosperous, healthy and happy year!

Simply People Festival to Celebrate Disabilities

In Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Writing (all kinds) on November 4, 2016 at 3:00 AM
The Simply People Festival is Happening on July 21st - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

The Simply People Festival is Happening on July 21st - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Simply people was formed about five years ago after forming CANWAPPS. CANWAPPS stands for Canada-wide Accessibility for Post-secondary Students. This is a national non-profit organization that is geared towards increasing accessibility and inclusion for post-secondary students with disabilities.

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My Brother

In Education, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 3, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Pays Tribute to His Brother - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Nick Goodwin Pays Tribute to His Brother - Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

By Nick Goodwin

I don’t see as much of my brother as I would like to, however, we got together for my aunt’s wedding and Father’s Day the day after. He’s busy working all summer. It has been weird being away from home. It has been especially weird since when I do visit home I notice the changes. My brother going away to school and then away working hard. My younger brother, I had considered the day we would both leave home but I was never ready for it.

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Shoes of mass destruction

In Education, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 2, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Some People Will Do Anything to Blow Things Up - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Some People Will Do Anything to Blow Things Up - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

By Rachel Muenz

It begins with a flash of light just below the windows of the aircraft. Then, the fuselage buckles outward and bursts into thousands of pieces which flutter to the ground like shreds of paper. A cloud of thick smoke engulfs half the plane. A shot from inside shows the craft rocking to one side as the floor begins to disintegrate, the camera lens going black as everything is destroyed.

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Happy Canada Day! – Every Day

In Culture, Events, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 1, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Have a Great Canadian Day - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Have a Great Canadian Day - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Happy Canada Day Everyone!

Hopeton Interview

In Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Music, Writing (all kinds) on October 31, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Interviews Hopeton LaTouche From the Remix Project - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin Interviews Hopeton LaTouche From the Remix Project - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

I recently interviewed another participant in “The Remix Project”. His name is Hopeton.

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The Shelter

In Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 30, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Transformed His Life With the Help of a Shelter - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin Transformed His Life With the Help of a Shelter – Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

I’ve come a long way from being kicked out of my house. My parents and I have managed to rekindle our relationship and these days we see eye-to-eye better than we ever have.

You could say that my first two years out of high school were my least productive. I was definitely a lost individual. High school wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, or more over, was too much park walking if you catch my drift. There were some rough times and I lost a few people close to me in those days.

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“All Bagged-Up, With Nowhere To Go”

In Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 27, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Kirk Verner Writes about Garbage in Toronto - Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime.com

By: Kirk Verner

As the first week of summer drifts through Toronto like a lost locomotive, my nose hairs tingle from the smell of rubble. Toronto’s trash is all bagged-up, with nowhere to go. Soon to be towering high over our heads, our trash will have to sit and decompose in our garages, alleys, and on our street corners until yet another city strike is settled.

As this strike rots its way into “Week 2” I decide to roam the streets in the city’s core, seeking the most unsightly of trash heaps.

I find a bus shelter that has been transformed into a wonderful compost pile. Equipped with blackened banana peels, mustard stained napkins, and more rodent droppings than you could find in any grain elevator, this inner-city glass shelter can now become an impeccable greenhouse…how innovative.

A short journey through the alleys of Chinatown reminds me of why I was warned to steer clear of this area of the city during this garbage strike. The smell of rancid sweet and sour ribs hovers in the air. The stench sticks to the graffiti that has been crudely spray-painted on the brick walls. Dead pigeons rest in peace and are clean of maggots due to the endless menu options for the squirming fly larva. The alley reminds me of photos I have seen illustrating the garbage dumps in Rio de Janeiro.

In my own garage, the problem worsens. Although horrid, the smell is not the concern. It is the sight of all I want to rid that really bothers me. It’s the garbage that reminds me of what I once loved, but now want nothing to do with. An old Playboy, the Farrah Fawcett issue, sits menacingly amidst plastic and Styrofoam; photos I will never again be able to look at due to her passing. A “Thriller” album I bought as a joke from a yard sale sits cracked and faded on the ever-growing pile a junk. A Michael Jackson bobble-head with the word “pedophile” finely painted across its chest frightens me every time I open the sliding door. Please take my garbage away!

The strike, I believe, should be a test for Canada’s largest city. Toronto needs to seriously start recycling more in order to tackle this heap of an environmental issue. Why is it always about money? At least a third of the ruin I come across resting on the city streets is most certainly recyclable. What are we going to do about it?

Toronto…a world-class city with third-world garbage issues!?

No country for shoe schools

In Beauty, Education, Living, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 26, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Has Discovered There Are No Shoe Schools in Canada - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Rachel Muenz Has Discovered There Are No Shoe Schools in Canada - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

By Rachel Muenz

There are no shoe design schools in Canada and you can blame that on our climate.

Because of our ever-changing weather, Canadians tend to put function over fashion, according to Sarah Beam-Borg, the assistant curator at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum. “North Americans, traditionally, haven’t been sticklers for beautiful manufacture in footwear also because we need so many different kinds of shoes for our climate,” she says.

There’s a saying at the Bata Shoe Museum, Beam-Borg adds. The average Italian is willing to spend up to $500 for a single pair of beautiful shoes and they’ll have about 10 pairs of shoes in their closet.

The average North American will spend about $70 for a fashionable pair of shoes but they’ll have 30 or 40 pairs in their closet.

Canadians need winter boots, summer sandals, footwear for wet weather, shoes for work, and shoes for play. Paying $500 for each pair would put most people in the poorhouse.
As a result, we don’t worry about style so much and Canada has never gained a reputation for fashion.

“We have our own Fashion Week but Canada isn’t really a fashion centre on the world stage,” says Beam-Borg. “It isn’t known for its footwear design or manufacture and never has been.”

Most shoe manufacture is done in China where labour is cheapest and most of the design is done in Italy, seen as one of the major fashion centres of Europe, Beam-Borg says.
There’s also been little interest in shoe design programs here.
Beam-Borg has worked with the Ryerson University fashion department for the last six or seven years doing shoe design competitions with the students. When the competitions were mandatory, 150 students would show up, but as soon as shoe design was made optional, only nine came to compete.
“Unless it’s a course requirement, students aren’t seeking it out,” she says.

As far as Beam-Borg knows, no one has tried to establish a shoe design school or program in Canada and she doubts anyone ever will.

Greg Flood also says no one has tried setting one up in Ontario.

Flood, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, says if post-secondary schools in Ontario saw shoe design as necessary, they would submit curriculum and criteria for a shoe program to the ministry for funding.

No such submission has been put forward.

“I’m not aware at the present time about a university or college that has identified shoe design as a need within the province of Ontario,” he says.

But, there is one program that focuses on shoes in Canada and it fits perfectly with the North American desire for needs over style.

It is the post-graduate program in pedorthics at Western University.

Pedorthics involves the making of special shoes and inserts for people with foot injuries or ailments. Those who practice it are called pedorthists.

All aspiring pedorthists must take this program.

“Anybody new now entering into this field must graduate and get a diploma through Western,” says Linda Deschamps, a certified pedorthist and kinesiologist who’s also an instructor in the program.

Before, students did an apprenticeship program which involved three years of work to get certified. Deschamps says the new program is better because it is more objective and faster to finish, taking only one year to complete.

With Canada’s aging population, you would think a single program wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the demand for pedorthists’ skills, but Deschamps says this isn’t so.

“If it was just pedorthists that were dealing with the aging feet, it would not be enough,” she says from her clinic in Kingston, Ontario. “But there are other Allied Health Professionals who also deal with the feet.”

Orthotists, who make custom inserts for shoes, chiropodists, who treat foot diseases and deformities, and podiatrists who also care for the foot, are some of the other professionals helping to deal with the increasing foot problems that come with age.

The program at Western is also open to people all across Canada because the courses are offered online with three work terms in between that can be taken almost anywhere in the country.

It was started by one of the first Canadian certified pedorthists, the late Howard Fiegel, and is in its fifth year. Only about 20 students are accepted and around 12 to 20 graduate each year. But, there are advantages to staying small.

“They’re not high numbers from our course but these are very strong students who help another clinic along the way and eventually open up their own,” Deschamps says. “We could take more but those are the numbers that appear to be good candidates.”

She says the program is growing slowly because pedorthics is not a well-known field, having only been in Canada for about 30 years. There are now around 400 pedorthists registered with the Pedorthic Association of Canada.
This slow growth does have its positives though.

“In some ways it’s a very good thing because we have control over the students that come through and the product that leaves in the end,” Deschamps says.

She expects the program will expand to another university in the future, possibly in western Canada, but says it probably won’t get bigger than that.

Also, a second program isn’t likely to open soon.
“There’s only one program because of numbers, because of financing, because of the need at this point,” says the pedorthist, who was certified 17 years ago through an apprenticeship. “We’ve looked into it, [. . . ] but at this point, numbers are only dictating the need for one.”
There are negatives to those low numbers as well.
“If we had larger numbers applying, of course, it would allow us to open more doors and offer more because, financially, we would be more feasible as well,” Deschamps says.
Overall, she says the program is a great one to be in.
“It’s a very strong, young program,” Deschamps says.
As for Canadians interested in the fashion side, there are still options.

Beam-Borg says people usually go to schools in other countries, such as Cordwainers, a shoe design school in London, England.

“You go where the best education is and [. . .], Canada’s never been a traditional place for shoe design or shoe manufacture,” she says.

But she agrees it is difficult for people who don’t have a lot of money to afford the cost of a foreign education. The one-year, post-graduate shoe design program at the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing in California costs $30,000 in tuition.

“If you can’t afford to go then perhaps you can’t be a shoe designer, which sociologically is a problem, absolutely,” Beam-Borg says. “But I think if you have the skill, a lot of people also get bursaries and grants.”

Many people could also take a fashion illustrations program in Canada and then get into shoe design by gaining experience at a fashion house or shoe design company in the U.S. or Europe, Beam-Borg says. There are three such programs in Toronto at Seneca College, Humber College, and Ryerson.

“If you want to do shoe design, fashion illustration seems to be the quickest way to get into that vein,” Beam-Borg says. “If shoes catch your fancy, odds are really good if you can draw a shirt, you can draw a shoe.”

For the People

In Culture, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 22, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Watched Sesame Street as a Child - Photo: MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin Watched Sesame Street as a Child - Photo: MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

I wonder if it’s strange that I relate my childhood to movies that I watched as a kid. Or children’s show such as Sesame Street. I guess it’s a good thing. I turned out to be polite, kind, respectful and considerate. Perhaps the creators of these shows had some of our best
interests in mind. It’s the least I could hope for.

I found it interesting the other day when I picked up a plastic bag full of carrots and read the side of the bag. There was an ingredients section listed on this bag of carrots and I wanted to know what
on earth could be added to a bag of carrots so I read in deeper. I was relieved to discover that the only ingredient listed was, of course, carrots. Kind of scary though, that so many of our foods are manmade. Some kids in the world might think that pasta trees or Cheerios plants exist somewhere in the galaxy. Assume not and count out no possibility, on both counts.

I’m 20 years old and at this point in life, the least I can do is try and set an example for people. To live by a code of respect and decency is the least I can do. Truly, it’s the least that all of us can do. Beyond making a living and feeding a family. Beyond politics and laws. People aren’t born to be hostile creatures. You don’t see us with fangs or claws. We weren’t given the tools to be predators. We were given the tools to consider.

We were given the privilege to be opinionated and to build our own stories. Each individual person with a story, a position, an opinion, an up bringing, and a direction.

Courses Offered at New Opportunties Learning Centre

In Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Education, Entertainment, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on October 21, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Starting July 5, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Isabella and Church Streets in Toronto, I will be offering a writing course costing $40.00 for nine weeks. This special course will also include elements of self-publishing.  If you would like to attend the nine-week course, please contact me at: dkakonge@sympatico.ca ASAP. Space is limited to the first 10 registrants.

Michael Jackson

In Entertainment, Health, Living, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 19, 2016 at 3:00 AM

I have most of his albums and he is one of the only performers where I actually had a picture of him up on my wall when I was young. That being…Michael Jackson.

Apparently he suffered a cardiac arrest at 12:20 p.m. this afternoon. I certainly hope he is OK.

I can only imagine the media stir that is going to be created around something like this. I hope rumours do not fly and all kinds of suspicions as to what caused the attack. Let the doctors decide and whether he remains dead or alive – let him rest in peace regardless.

Chaos

In Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on October 18, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Nick Goodwin Has a Makeshift Curtain - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

Nick Goodwin Has a Makeshift Curtain - Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile.com

By Nick Goodwin

I’m sitting in my house listening to music and lightning. I’m listening to old school hip hop. I really like the “old school” stuff. I can hear it raining a bit in between songs and the lightning is chiming in
whenever it feels like it.

Last night it was extremely hot in the house. It probably did not help that I boiled a pot of water. It was so hot that I got up from my bed in a sweaty haze to try and pry open my uncooperative window. In the heat of the moment I managed to accidentally rip down my makeshift curtain. The window then began giving me trouble. I woke up this morning to a scene of clothes thrown, furniture moved, and a surprising decrease in temperature! I made a huge mess trying to get my window to cooperate. I ended up saying forget it and sleeping through the heat.

I’m starting to develop some personal goals for the future. My nature is ambitious, however, I am really not a goals-oriented individual. I know what I want and I go for it; not always with a plan.

My mother always criticized me for behaving this way. I often find it easier to write the blueprint as you go rather than before you engage in an experience that will have unpredictable occurrences.

I suppose my theory is more relative to short-term planning. I’m starting to think a little more long-term in my potential goals. If I develop some personal long-term goals that will add to my motivation to be a successful freelance artist as well as provide me with some focus.

Need help? Just give me a call with tobacco

In Business, Culture, Education, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on October 17, 2016 at 3:00 AM
Rachel Muenz Writes About Tobacco - Photo: MorgueFile.com

Rachel Muenz Writes About Tobacco - Photo: MorgueFile.com

By: Rachel Muenz

Before I climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I thought tobacco was bad. But now I know that it can be good, depending on how you use it. Tobacco can help students like me get the confidence they need to make their dreams soar.

It is here at the University of Toronto’s First Nations House where I meet Grafton Antone, one of two Aboriginal elders there, to talk about the work he does with students at U of T. In exchange for that information, I must give him a tiny packet of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.

Antone explains tobacco is sacred in Aboriginal culture because it is how natives communicate with Creator, their supreme being, when they need guidance.

“The smoke carries our prayers up to Creator and Creator said, ‘if you want anything, just give me a call and here’s my telephone,’ says Antone, holding up a piece of dried tobacco and laughing. This is why elders are given tobacco in exchange for information and counselling. It’s a way of asking for help.
Students can also bring the elders other gifts. Antone shows me the large block of pink salt stone he got from a student earlier that day who told him it came from Pakistan. He turns it in his hands so I can see the hole in the top where a candle can be put inside and lit to make the stone glow.

Just like lighting the salt stone, Antone helps feed the fires of students’ dreams with his booming laugh and encouraging words so they can shine with success.

“I work with people’s dreams and make them happen,” says Antone, who’s been an elder at First Nations House since about the year 2000.

Antone shows me how he does this by asking students questions and learning what their dreams are. Knowing a bit more about students, he can then bounce ideas off them for how they can go about achieving those dreams.

“That’s where we build; we build on our relationship,” Antone says. “We build on our conversations and that’s what I do. I dialogue with you and in dialoguing with you I’m able to work with you.”

But there’s only so much Antone can do to help a student. Overall, the student needs to have a goal and has to want to achieve that goal in order for Antone to give them guidance.
“A bird needs to have a dream to fly,” he says.

Kathy Marsden agrees. She’s been the native counsellor at the Aboriginal Resource Centre at Georgian College in Barrie for the past 12 years.

“If they’re [the students] not internally motivated, nobody can motivate them to change,” Marsden says. “The support services are about empowering, helping them to work things through themselves, not doing things for them.”

Like Antone, Marsden also uses Aboriginal teachings to help native students at the college. Her main way of helping students is by using what she calls “the medicine wheel approach.”

The medicine wheel is another important symbol of most First Nations, though it differs from group to group. It is a wheel divided into four sections: red, black, white, and yellow. The wheel stands for many different things, but Marsden’s counselling methods focus on the four parts of the self the wheel symbolizes: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.
Marsden mostly deals with the emotional part in her counselling but she says the four areas overlap.

“If someone’s under emotional stress, it’s affecting them in all those other areas,” she says. “It’s affecting them mentally, so they can’t concentrate on their academics. It’s affecting them physically; oftentimes they can’t sleep, so I don’t just deal with the emotional part.”

Balance is the aim of Marsden’s approach. She has students fill out a medicine wheel chart to show which of the four areas they need to work on. Eating well and getting enough exercise are some of the things she might help a student with in the physical part, while self-confidence issues could be a part of both the emotional and spiritual sections of the wheel.
“Depending on how lengthy the sessions are we may just deal with one specific aspect,” Marsden says. “But that’s OK. If it helps them get on with their lives, then that’s great.”

Helping students with those emotional problems can be hard.
Antone says that every single student that comes to see him is a difficult case in its own way, but it’s especially hard when the student is angry. Surprisingly, to help students get past their anger, he eggs them on to make them angrier.

“Sometimes when people are angry, it sometimes requires you to get a little bit more angry ‘til you realize that maybe that’s not really the right thing,” he says. “They catch themselves, they calm down and then I’m able to talk to them and maybe bring them down the good path.” The good path can mean forgiving people and treating them better instead of being mad, Antone adds.

Marsden agrees that anger shouldn’t be ignored even though most people see it as a negative emotion.

“The way we look at it is, all our emotions are given to us by Creator so we have to honour all those emotions and it’s how we deal with them that counts,” she says.

Smudging ceremonies are also a way that elders and native counsellors might help students deal with stress and other problems.

In his tiny office at First Nations House with the window open a crack, Antone shows me how smudging is done.

He takes a large shell from a table at the back of the room and sprinkles some grey-white sage leaves into it. He lights them on fire and smoke begins to curl up to the ceiling. I sweep the smoke over myself with my hands three or four times as Antone says for me to do. It has a spicy sweet smell and, as Antone says, “it makes you want to start cooking turkey.”

Aboriginals believe everyone has an energy surrounding them. The smoke from the sage or other plants First Nations use in smudging, such as sweetgrass, works like a shower to wash away negative energy, Antone says.

“What it does is it works with the thinking. It’s good for people and it’s supposed to bring understanding and it’s supposed to clear your mind,” he says. “And in the clearing of the mind it gives a new space, a new time, a new beginning for you to be able to walk the future.”

I feel calmer after bathing myself in the sage smoke and wish I had known about smudging during my last set of assignments.
But smudging doesn’t work for everybody.

“You only get out of it what you put into it,” Antone says.
He adds that postsecondary education is a kind of smudging, because by gaining knowledge, the energy around people changes too.

Learning about the Aboriginal worldview helps students with their personal growth, says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, an Aboriginal studies professor at the University of Toronto.
Unlike mainstream society, the native viewpoint focuses on the success of everyone as a group rather than the success of one person, Wesley-Esquimaux says.

“When it’s all about you and all you’re concerned about is getting to the top of the game, then you don’t care who you step on,” she says. “Whereas with the Aboriginal worldview it’s not like that, it’s not competitive, it’s about trying to help each other get to a good place.”

By thinking of helping other people instead of just themselves, students not only become better people, they also become part of a community, Wesley-Esquimaux adds. Because of this, they avoid the loneliness and homesickness students often experience when they first get to university or college. Taking part in native community activities like potlucks and feasts means that students gain the support of many people and aren’t left on their own to deal with the transition to university or college.

“They [the students] seem to enjoy the inclusive nature of it. They like being involved in putting together feasts and spending a lot of time with each other,” she says. “They like that part. They don’t feel so isolated.”

Marsden says this idea of community and getting students involved is important at Georgian College as well. Though her counselling services are just for native students, the Aboriginal Resource Centre, like First Nations House, also has events and activities for all students and they have an elder on campus who everyone can visit for help.

“We’re not exclusive, we’re inclusive and that’s a huge factor,” Marsden says.

Changing students’ ways of thinking either through seeing an elder or learning more about Aboriginal culture can help them overcome seemingly impossible challenges at school, Antone says.

“It is not impossible, it’s only the space that you’re sitting in or the environment that you’re engulfed in . . . if we move you over just that much,” he says, holding his hands about an inch apart, “All of a sudden you say, ‘Oh I can see it, I understand it now.”

With a bit of nudging, students see solutions to problems that they were blind to before.

Talking with students and hearing their stories is what Antone enjoys most about working at First Nations House.
“I like to listen to people and I hear their stories. That’s how I can get a story.”

But it also makes him happy when he sees students carrying on what he’s taught them by performing various First Nations ceremonies themselves.

Passing on knowledge is what he really seems to love.
“I changed you,” he says with a laugh. “I smudged you. You’re no longer the same person as you were when you came in here.

You now have an access to the Aboriginal understanding.”
It’s true.

When I first climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I was nervous and scared. I didn’t know what First Nations culture was, though I’d read a lot about it.
Now I know a little something, and as I walk away from First Nations House, up the dreary wet street, I’m happy and confident. I know more about who I am.

All because of a little bundle of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.

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