12.16.2010

Time's Person of the Year - Not to Be Consfused with Time's Man of the Year - Now With More Man!

Congratulations, Mark Zuckerberg, for becoming Time’s esteemed Person of the Year for 2010.

The 26-year old developer of Facebook joins 83 others in accepting the honour, first established in 1927 to recognize those that have been the biggest influencers on the magazine sales planet.

It should be noted that Time’s Person of the Year was formerly known as – shocker – Time’s Man of the Year, but those forward thinking journalists smartly recognized that men are not the only newsmakers or influencers in… 1999.

And then, a scant three years later, they actually named a non-man person of the year!
Congratulations to 2002’s Cynthia Cooper! Oh, and 2002's the FBI. And another woman, Coleen Rowley! Oh, and Enron. Wait! Another woman! Congratulations, 2002’s Sherron Watkins! Oh and here’s another 2002 representative, WorldCom. Collectively, these women… and companies… and government organizations were named person of the year. Only, they weren’t. They were named The Whistleblowers, and three women made up 50% of the title. That’s, let’s see – 16.66% each! Congratulations, women!

Of course, I’m being silly. These were not the first non-men to be honoured by Time. In 1936 they gave Wallis Simpson the prize in a specially re-named Woman of the Year edition. And the next year, China’s Soong May-ling shared the title with her husband, Chiang Kai-shek. So, Time was into gender equality in the pre-WWII years. Good to see, because it would take 15 more years before Queen Elizabeth II took the title, for, I would guess, becoming Queen, a post she obviously worked monumentally hard to achieve. Er, inherit.

We’ll have to fast-forward a few years now, let’s see, in 1966 The Generation 25 and Under (now known as those that will soon bankrupt Social Security/Pension Plans – or maybe just Mom and Dad – the Baby Boomers) got a shout-out; must have been some girl-bits in there… 1969’s Middle America had to have included a few of the ladies… 1971 was Nixon, no surprise, but surely 1972 had to have gone to Israel’s Golda Meir! We remember the Summer Olympics, right? The massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches in Munich and Meir’s Mossad operation to hunt down the killers? Agree or disagree, that was a pretty spectacular year for Meir. Surely she got the nod! Wait, let me take a look to be sure… 1972… Richard Nixon. Again.

But don’t despair. In 1975, American Women took home the gold, represented by 12 esteemed individuals because if they’re not part of a Monarchy, Time only liked to award women as part of a group.

Breakthrough in 1986 with the appointment of Corozan Aquino as Man of the Year, then Time moves safely back into, Do Not Let the Women Go It Alone campaign, with 2002's The Whistleblowers whom I’ve already mentioned, and then the inclusion of Melinda Gates with her husband, and Bono! in 2005, as one third of The Good Samaritans.

So there you have it. 52 Americans, 1 computer, 1 planet, 4 Black men, and 3 women in 84 inductees, including 2010’s Mark Zuckerberg, who, although Facebook has been around since 2004, beat out Sarah Palin – oh wait, she wasn’t on the list. Beat out Michelle Obama – um, no sorry… Oprah? No. Nancy Pelosi? J.K. Rowling? Lady Gaga? (remember, these are supposed to be ‘influencers.’) Any double X chromosomes out there?

There was, in fact, not even a woman on the nomination list, so chances that a woman would have won 2010's Person of The Year title were pretty darn slim.

However, Time for Kids is now in the voting stages of their version of Person of the Year, and on the nom list are Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Lindsey Vonn. Three women on the nomination list? That looks good!

Except we all know that Justin Beiber’s gonna take it.

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12.10.2010

Are We There Yet? Special Crayola Giveaway

**And the winners are... drumroll, please... Mamalooper and Sara! Yay! Congrats, friends, expect your parcels soon :) **

I love spending Christmas with my husband’s family. I love being in their cozy house; I love all of the food; I love staying up late to sit in front of the fire and chat or sit around the table and play games. I love that my kids are surrounded by grandparents and great-grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends.

The only thing that can put a damper on our week of family and Christmas celebrations, is getting there. In good weather, and outside of rush hour, it can take 3 ½ hours to travel to my in-laws. Add the possibility of some bad weather and an increased volume of holiday travelers on the road, and it can take almost twice as long. My kids are used to long drives and are good in the car, but anything I can do to keep peace and patience from disintegrating in the back seat is greatly appreciated.

With that in mind, I am offering two lucky readers a special gift from Crayola, to help keep the kids happy in the backseat and beyond. As a member of the Crayola Mom Advisory Panel, we have tried and tested new Crayola products all year, and these were definitely two of our faves. They are still in regular rotation at home, and both have the added bonus of transitioning really nicely to a travel toy, which is why I specially requested them for a giveaway.


No doubt the kids will be the recipients of lots of great toys this year, but I promise that these will rank high with them. And if you are facing a bit of a journey to get to your holiday celebrations, consider surprising them as you hit the road. You never know – you might even make it all the way there without ever hearing an, ‘Are we there yet?’ uttered from the backseat.

Enter to win one of TWO Crayola prizes:

Color Wonder Sound Studio with expansion pack
The interactive Creative Coloring Pad brings Color Wonder to life – with sounds! Choose from 60 sound effects that play while you color! Create endless sound combinations that play back when you color your picture. Available with a Disney Princess or Pixar Toy Story expansion pack –you choose!

*both my 3- 5-year-old girls love this









Twistables Pencil Sketch n’ Shade

All-inclusive portable set for sketching; twist pencils never need sharpening and are completely erasable. 27 bright, vibrant colour pencils and a 40-page sketchbook, plus PVC-free pouch for handy travel and storage.

*This was better suited to my 5-year-old



To be entered, simply leave a comment with your email address and your preferred prize! Prizes will arrive before Christmas. Contest ends Thursday, December 16.

Sorry, Canadian entries only.

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12.06.2010

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

Still looking for a perfect gift? I'm no Oprah, but here are a few of my favourite things from 2010 that you might want to put on your gift-giving list.

For the Reader: Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod - $19.95

By time I figured out that Alexander MacLeod is not Alistair MacLeod (it’s his son), I was already literary crushing on him. Hard. What is not to love about somebody that can write such hopeless, amazing short stories? My favorite was the story that I considered the most hopeless and amazing, Adult Beginner 1, about swan-diving into the disgusting Detroit River for fun. But maybe you’ll love the hopeless and amazing story about long-distance runners the best. Or the one about the mistakes that parents make or the one about the strange boy down the street, or the one about a horrible accident and forgiveness. Everybody is calling the stories ‘urban,’ and I guess they are, but really, my best comparison is to my very favourite short story ever by Margaret Atwood, Death by Landscape. Light Lifting is the best thing I’ve read in a while. A long while.

For the Hard Worker: Dr. Scholls Rolling Shiatsu Chair Massager - $49.99+

Two things about my husband: he often works from home, and he has bad posture. Put those things together and it makes for a good amount of backache. Being the concerned wife I am, I thoughtfully picked up a chair massager just like this one to help soothe my aching, hardworking husband’s back and make sure he never again has to ask me to take out the garbage because he’s in too much pain ends the day feeling sore.


For the Smug Baker: Breadman Ultimate Breadmaker - $112.99

It is hard not to be smug when you tell people that you bake your own bread. I mean, really? In this day and age, there is nothing easier or more convenient than buying bread. But – BUT – baking your own bread is the shizzle. Dude, you get to bake your own bread! Pioneers bake their own bread! Domestic Goddesses bake their own bread! I really have to encourage the whole make-your-own bread thing. You, and the people around you will be impressed. I promise.

*A link to my favorite bread machine recipe. Write it out on a card and put it in the bread machine pan as a extra touch.




For the Music Lover: Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More - $9.99 iTunes

There is music to buy beyond the Glee soundtracks this season, and this freak-folk outfit from London, England is such a refreshing change from the over-produced, auto-tuned mediocrity that dominates the airwaves. And by refreshing, I mean dirty, risk-taking, rough and rootsy music that fuses the best of the folk tradition – layered vocal harmonies and rich acoustic melodies – with a thoroughly modern sensibility. The lyrics are raw and often brutally frank, sometimes delivered atop of a banjo strumming at break-neck pace with percussion hammering the point home, and sometimes delivered in a manner most vulnerable and gentle. Either way, it's worth a listen. Or 20.



For the Kids: Educo My Backyard BBQ Set - $149.99


 Here’s my gift-giving philosophy when it comes to my kids – one great  wooden toy is way better than a bunch of cheap plastic shit that’s going to end up swirling around in the middle of the ocean one day. So this year, we got my daughter this BBQ for her third birthday, and it has been a total hit. We put away the play kitchen for now, and watch the girls get creative with the BBQ. My little one is partial to taking my order and playing around with the knobs, while my five year old likes to rearrange the skewers into new and interesting dishes for me and manipulate the cooking tools that come with the set. And for this ‘battery-operated’ hating family, the only noise this toy makes is the sound of my kids working out whose turn it is to cook next.



For the Game-Lover: Carcassonne by Rio Grande - $49.99

I always knew I married a geek, but I didn’t know that I was one too! We love board games, and this year we got hooked on Rio Grande games. I know, I’m totally late to the party and people have been playing Rio Grande’s canonical Settlers of Catan for years, but thanks to friends, we now know what all the fuss is about. I’m highlighting Carcassonne, a well thought-out strategy game that changes with every play because it’s a fairly fast game (>30 minutes) that does well with two people. The board is an ever-evolving series of laid tiles, and the goal is to build and lay claim to countryside comprised of towns, roads and farmland. It’s fairly addictive, and like Settlers of Catan and Dominion (another huge favourite), Carcassonne has a seemingly never-ending supply of expansion packs that add new and interesting (and sometimes confounding) new elements to the game.



For You: Naot Imagine Boots - $220


Full disclosure – Naot sends me footwear to test and talk about. But as I have said before, it’s not a challenge and barely an obligation for me to do so. To paraphrase Olivia Newton John, Naot, I honestly love you. These boots seriously rock. They are cute, they are made of the softest leather I’ve ever drooled on worn, they have a cork and latex footbed that is so comfortable, and they have a great tread on them, so you won’t fall on your ass on a slippery subway floor. Did I mention comfortable? For me, these are high heels, and as somebody that trips in flats, I was concerned about staying upright in them. Not a problem. In these heels, I can actually walk without looking like I have a pickle stuck up my ass. Oh, and I have them in Merlot colour, because that’s the kind of girl I am.




For Anybody: Flip Camcorder - $159 +

This was undoubtedly the best swag I have ever received. I love that it’s small, I love that it’s easy to use, I love that it has a built in USB arm that plugs straight into the computer, and I love that it’s mine. You guys already know all about these little beauties. All I can say is that everything you’ve heard is true, and even your mother could use it. Why not talk to your sibs about getting her an awesome group gift?


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12.01.2010

All I Want for Christmas

I started writing a post that was an essentially an anti-post to my last post; a must have list to my previous must not list, but that’s not the post I’m going to write.

Because somewhere in the bottom third of the first paragraph that I was writing, I realized that nobody was going to figure out that I was writing a post about things you should spend your money on. I realized that I give my posts clever little titles that I like, and keep myself on the bottom ranks of search engines thanks to my propensity for clever.

And then I realized how fucking shallow and contrived and not the heart of the matter that SEO practices are for a personal blog. And how fucking shallow and contrived the holidays are. And I devised this clever little comparison about how shallow the holidays are, and how shallow blogging can be:

Presents are to the holidays what SEO is to blogging.

And what I mean by that, in this context, is, go ahead. Put all of your effort and time and energy into shopping for presents or devising ways for search engines to find you.

Then you need to back that shit up.

You need to put some effort into something other than a pretty package, a ribbon, the wrapping. What do I get when I tear the paper off? Do I get something thoughtful? Do I get something meaningful? Am I glad I travelled here? You sure wrapped that present up all pretty; you sure tried to impress me with your fancy ribbons and your keywords.

What else you got?

I’m glad you lined up at 4am in the cold and the dark and went to the effort of sleeping in Walmart so that you could buy a whole ton of shit. I’m glad there will be a ton of presents under a fake tree on December 25.

But once all the presents are opened, I hope there are smiles, and love and lots of good food and traditions and singing and drinking and visits with people you love. I hope there are, and I hope that after you’re finished telling me about all the great loot you got, you’ll tell me about those things.

And I hope that after you come up with a totally contrived headline with the best searchable terms for our demographic according to google, or figuring out what long-tail search terms are or peppering your posts with optimized content, I hope, that you can at least write.

Because I could care less what your stats are. I could care less about what my stats are. If you have been in my reader for 6 years – yes, I’ve been doing this for that long – or if I’m reading you for the first time through a link on twitter, don’t just give me pretty wrapping. Don’t just load your post with words that will bring somebody to your place and then have nothing nourishing for them.

Don’t put a present under a tree for me unless you intend to share a cup of tea and a conversation and some time with me. And don’t spend more time on getting people to your post than you do on making it amazing once we’re there.

Good writing – it’s all I want for Christmas from the blogosphere.

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