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The world is my oyster.

Oysters at The Saint.

That’s a photo that I recently posted on albumatic after having oysters at The Saint in Toronto. Albumatic is a new social networking app that lets you upload photos into the same album as some friends who are at the same event as you. Instead of the hassle of “emailing” the photos, you can simply all “join” the same album and post them simultaneously while at the event.

This post isn’t about oysters (although The Saint’s oysters tasted great). It’s about graduating. Finally!

The first question people ask when you say you are graduating is: “so what’s next?”

That question seems to echo into a vast and empty space and really yield no answers. Makes me feel like a wayfarer in the middle of a long and arduous journey. Holding only a long stick with a handkerchief attached to it. Somewhat Huckleberry Finnesque. Looking out into the distance, wondering, “where am I going?” (more…)

Teaching what you’ve learned.

There’s no better way to put what you’ve learned into practice (after or during grad school) than teaching. Lecturing on a topic that you’re passionate about can serve as a type of practicum to test the theories that you’ve based your research on, or that you’re starting to develop with the help of different professors.

Do they make sense in real life? How do your students understand them? Do they really work? Or are they just that: theories.

Depending on the type of course you’re teaching (whether more theoretical or more practical), you may find that you have a platform to set up a problem-based, constructivist learning environment. I’m wondering what other Grad Life Bloggers experience is.

Have you taught a course?
Have you TA’d?
What did you learn?

Can I pique your interest in some Pinterest?

It’s been a while since I’ve had my last grad life update. That’s because grad life can be *just that busy.* No explanation required.

But, in the meantime, I’ve taken up — what I can only refer to as my new hobby — pinning. What’s pinning? Well, it’s not blogging, and it’s not quite social networking. It’s actually kind of just a way of “liking” things and “collecting” them the way that the Little Mermaid (Ariel) did in her bedroom (that part where she sings ‘I want more’). It’s not necessarily a wish-list of items you want to purchase or wish you could, but, rather board where you put up everything you like and are interested in. The “pins” are links, but come out as pictures. So you end up with this board of pictures, representing your likes.

There, I think I did a good job of describing it.

Now, what it’s made me realize is that I have an interest in things that I didn’t realize I’m interested in. Such as interior design, event planning, fashion blogging, fashion critiquing and, oddly enough, mens’ fashions. It’s unlike any other social networking tool, because the “network” is not all about just showing off YOU and YOUR stuff. It’s more about ‘recommending’ things, or a type of ‘show-and-tell’ of things that you noticed.

What makes it comfortable is that it isn’t heavily me-centered. It actually allows you to look at other peoples’ pins and to “repin” them without feeling guilty as though you’re stealing their idea. All pins are meant to be repinned, and in fact, it’s nice when others repin your pins — it shows that others agree with your tastes!

There is also not much communication between users. No one really comments on things, and there are very few “negative” types of comments. It’s just a happy little community where people are pinning pictures of pretty things. And it’s very female-dominated. I would say that the majority of users are young women.

It’s not as liberating as writing a good poem. It isn’t as gratifying as doing humanitarian work. Nor is it as relaxing as lying on a beach. But there is something therapeutic and distracting about Pinterest that I just can’t pinpoint. It just allows me to use another part of my brain, albeit not creatively, but simply to explore and develop my tastes and to give me ideas for projects.

Although Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram still have their place in my heart, I’ve started to wonder if I could repin some of the things I see on those websites.

Boss Nova, an alternative to white noise.

As grad students we are always looking for the perfect writing, reading, studying spot. The perfect spaces, places, and contexts in which to have our “aha” moments and get inspired. I’m one who likes change. I need transition. Sometimes I like a lot of white noise in the background. Sometimes I want absolute silence. Sometimes I need constant refills of coffee and snacks. Montreal — as well as McGill – provides all of these locations, a brief walk (underground) or metro stop away from each other, for every student’s taste. Whether  you need a 24 hour café or a lounge with couches, plugs, and wifi during the day, Montreal has it. Just for you. (more…)

From both sides now…

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Summer summer summertime….

I’ve had a slight blogging delay due to certain reasons which I won’t go into detail about. Certain things are new to me this summer of 2012. (Well, summer technically hasn’t commenced, but you’d think it has with the humidex and the weather today. Unbelievably hot!) I’m not sure if they’ll stay that way….but I’ve observed a few things.

Grand Prix weekend wasn’t at all what it used to be. (more…)

My best profs…

I had a recent moment of reflection about teaching techniques that are effective. There are several profs whose courses I took…and never liked. I mean, not that I didn’t like the courses (well, in some cases the courses were difficult as well), but it was more the professors themselves that gave me a hard time for one reason or another. Actually, now that I think about it — there were some teachers in this category as well. (more…)

Spring equinox takes us for a ride in the Delorean into mid-July.

The Delorean, from the movie Back To the Future. Source: http://k26.kn3.net/taringa/1/1/5/8/6/6/81/urbano_seven/4C5.jpg

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Graduate nirvana.

I found it.

Paradise city.

Amidst the wreckage of undergraduates leaving their coats and laptops alone at McGill computers (oh, in case you didn’t know: that’s code for — I’m using that computer don’t go near it. That, and also just logging in and ‘forgetting’ to log out are supposed to be clues that someone is already sitting there and that you should not sit there…anyway, I’m glad there are library help desks and security officers in place for this reason) for hours at a time, and the stuffy, smelly ‘feel’ of library mid-term madness, I cannot find anywhere sane to do my work. All that I see are awful sweatpants, big backpacks that shouldn’t be worn beyond sixth grade, big hipster-wannabe eyeglasses, some books and papers, and hunched backs with eyes staring into laptop screens plastered with Facebook profiles for hours and hours and hours on end. (more…)

Love. Whitney. Valentine’s Day. An academic perspective.

She had an unparalleled voice, and although near the end she was starting to sound like the equally unparalleled Dionne, her voice will always be remembered. The non-fans will often only remember her 1993 hit “I will always love you” — and neglect her (pretty much) entire career when she rose to stardom in the 80s. They will also have some vague recollection of what took place between her and Bobby Brown, and probably pin her as a drug addict. To me, she’ll always be the Whitney she was in the 80s. Young. Vibrant. Wearing bright colours. A superstar. Hit after hit of 80s dance music.

Although her remake of Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m every woman’ makes her seem like a feminist, many of her songs actually succumb to the Diana Rossesque type of crooning about lost love and being ‘the other woman’. Not exactly empowering or making any advancements in the world of women. Where do broken hearts go? Can they find their way home? She asks. Well, what she’s left us with is a broken heart. And there is no way home. (more…)

*Stuff* Montrealers Say.

You’ve seen all of them. The good ones all go viral, and the not-so-good ones usually don’t. The point is….they’re catchy. Why? Because we can relate to them! Because they’re funny. Is there stuff that Montrealers say that any one Montrealer can relate to? Or will that promote stereotypes toward Montrealers? Well, some people think they do (promote stereotypes). I disagree. I think these videos are funny and that’s it. If anything, they fight stereotypes. I don’t think anyone is going around thinking: “oh, I think I’m going to start discriminating against New Yorkers because in the video they are shown talking about Urban Outfitters” — if anything, we, as Montrealers, are jealous of the fact that they can openly talk about Urban Outfitters because the website has been banned in Montreal.

So, what do we say? (more…)

Remembering the 90s.

The 90s. That’s what I resonate with the most.

Not because I like to say “rad”, “gnarly”, and “tubular”…

But… because I took the early evening commuter train the other day. I board the train and I’m overtaken by fatigue — inexplicably. Boredum reigns. Everyone is dressed in beiges, greys, and blacks. Buried in their newspapers and momentarily using their blackberries. Hair in shades of grey, beige, and dark brown. No blowouts, no curls, no brushing. Just a lot of dishevelled hair. Matching their clothing. Ladies wearing distasteful boots and men in scrunched loafers. Sordid faces tired from long days at work. Seems like just a little over eight hours — and they are beat. An eery silence fills the train, and every time the door slides open and someone walks on or passes by, eyes stare upward from the paper they’re perusing to see if the passer-by is anything visually noteworthy. Eyes are glazed over, distressed. It feels like the Great Depression. Or perhaps it’s just me — who is greatly depressed — by the over 50s who are riding this train with me. I feel stifled. I feel like I’m breathing too loudly. Is anyone else breathing? Maybe it’s because I’m the only colour to enter this sea of black and white. I sit uncomfortably on the 30-minute ride feeling increasingly relieved at every stop with more people exiting. At least it opens up space in this crowded train car rolling into the depths of gloomy suburbia — whence they’ve all emerged.

And, it gets me thinking….. (more…)

Think before you type.

Here are some snippits of a video that I directed (shot/edited by someone else). There are some interesting reflections on the part of the teens in the video, that adults can use to guide their online interactions and posts.

 

Disconnected.

I did it. I had to. It was too much. It’s the best distraction from any task at hand. Early this morning, I unplugged. Despite Facebook’s desperate plea before my departure about how all of my friends will miss me. Well, if they really miss me, they can call! So, how was life before Facebook? I could pose comfortably for photos, knowing that they wouldn’t be posted within the next 24 hours. I could go about my day without knowing what everyone else was doing at every moment of theirs. I had some privacy. I used email. I didn’t feel the need to post everything ‘interesting’ on Facebook. I wasn’t addicted to an endless stream of status updates, unrealistic pictures of fabulous occasions, mobile uploads, likes, and comments. I was not constantly posting updates and pictures of myself – in a narcissistic way. (more…)

Three days of talking about digital crimes in the countryside.

With Gilles Ouimet (left) and Gervais Ouellet (right). We make up the CyberStop team (cyberstop.ca).

Last year I was invited to present at the Colloque Francopol sur la Cybercriminalité. Which I did. It was an awesome and unique experience. Not only because of the subject matter, but of course, for the networking that ensued from that event. Last year’s conference was held in Boucherville, much closer to home, so it was attended by over 300 people, I’d say. Most of them were police, and some were youth workers, government employees, and owners of businesses related to cyber crime. IBM was there as well, promoting a product that served as a visual identity tracker. This year, however, the conference was held out at the École National de Police in Nicolet, Quebec. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Montreal and can house only a limited number of people; which is why this year they could only accept up to 250 registrations. It was a great opportunity to network, once again, with people who attended my workshop as well as others whose workshops and talks I attended. (more…)

Fall fashion 101

Let’s take a break from studying. What do you study in?

Photo credit: Garance Doré

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The more you know…

It was that really short public service announcement by NBC that kept popping up before, during, and after The Cosby Show that made me want to get educated. I mean I didn’t really understand why I was learning my multiplication tables until I started having to do calculations in my head when buying Big Bopper magazine at Coles. But now so far down the line I realize how important it is to have knowledge to be able to survive – and work. In fact it’s the essential thing for us as adults to have some knowledge, because little kids are smarter and smarter. They ask more and more difficult questions and we should, technically, be able to answer them. After all, isn’t that the point of being an adult? To be able to answer little kids’ questions? (more…)

Janet Jackson’s Number Ones tour kicks off in Montreal August 1st.

Ms. Jackson, I’ve been waiting to see you forever. As a child I’ve loved Janet Jackson until now. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I love her more than Michael – but definitely comparable. I even adore the Control album. Tonight was the first Janet Jackson concert I’ve ever been to. It was held at the Montreal Bell Centre. Only half of the theatre was open, as it was supposed to be an “intimate” show. Intimate, it was. With about 10,000 fans – that’s about as intimate as it gets with Janet Jackson. The tour is called #1s – so she plays 35 of her hits and it’s “all for you” – all for the fans.

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Looking out on the morning rain, I used to feel so uninspired…

Censorship.

That’s what’s on my mind. I don’t feel uninspired; however, the Internet is tricky. You (and I mean a general “you”) can’t exactly say whatever you want to say and expect that the world will applaud you. You have to watch what you say to a certain extent. Freedom of speech has its limits. Blogging has its rules. And so does chatting. And emailing. Everything you do on the net is permanently archived. It can also be read in any tone that the person whose reading it currently has in their head. This, for me, is a challenge of blogging. Blogs aren’t supposed to be rehearsed, edited, articles or pieces of literary journalism. They are supposed to be web “logs” – which, to me are the Captain’s daily diary entry. Gone public.

I’ll explain why. (more…)

Empathy and cyberbullying: What’s the connection?

Is the Internet making us less empathic? asks UCLA researcher Gary Small. And then you have Jean Twenge who talks about a new generation called Generation Me.

With all of these blanket statements in magazine articles and books, it’s hard to discern the truth at some point.  Sifting through all of this information can often cloud one’s own view of reality.  Are youth really narcissistic?  Is it really because of Facebook? MySpace? YouTube? Because they have me-centered titles? (more…)

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