Has Technology made Picture Taking any Better?

Part One – The Evolution of Family Photography

How we took pictures Anciently:  Tried not to burn ourselves getting a piece of charcoal out of the fire.  Sketched on a rock.  Left the picture unfinished because we were chased by a bear.

CameraManHow we took pictures Antiquely:   Paid a photographer.  Posed in a bone corset or starched shirt holding your pose long enough for the image to be recorded.  Inhaled toxic chemicals.  Put the picture in a frame on the mantle until it gathered dust and ended up in an antique store.

How we took pictures Old School:  Shot a roll or two of film.  Mailed it away and waited weeks.  Then we shuffled through the prints, mostly blurry and put them in an album or more likely in a shoe box.  Took them out every two years to laugh at our bad hair.  Found our pictures 30 years later on a greeting card.

How we take pictures Today:  Take 20-50 shots.  Have the subject “approve” them.  Forget to delete the bad ones.  Spend 10 hours learning Photoshop.  Spend hours every month uploading them on icloud.  Try to make room for new ones, but give up.  Shake our heads that we still don’t like the way we look.

High School Co-Op Programs – Giving Youth Real Life Experience

Co op programs are standard curriculum in high schools across Canada and I’ve been privileged to intern three students at my business, Fee Fi Fo Fun Costumes, since 2012.  While the program may vary slightly from province to school board and by teacher, the goal is the same – to provide students with life experiences in a working business.  In the contract between myself and the students there was a commitment to a set schedule and a job description, but there was no salary involved unless the student was working for me outside the contract.  The school board handled the insurance while the student was on site.  The attending teachers were rigorous in assessing the location, safety, work and suitability of the student to each job and contact was kept between student-teacher-business to ensure students were on track and that the business was actually teaching them something!


Emma models Japanese Kai Lolita at our Cosplay Photoshoot

My first student, Emma, was 16 years of age, yet an old soul.  Quiet and intuitive, she introduced me to an exciting new world of costuming, pop culture, new forms of literature and social media technology.  She was such an amazing second in command, I thought it would be hard to follow in her footsteps.

In the next go round, I was lucky to take on two students, Remi and Elissa, both 18.  Curious, funny and methodical, Elissa asked provocative questions that required research and thoughtful answers and that really improved my teaching ability.  Remi was energetic, chaotic and talented.  I benefited immensely from her artistic works on my websites and other materials for the company, but it was the conversations about myth, music, film and the macabre that made time pass quickly.

Because I had moved my business from a bricks and mortar store, my husband and I, the school, the students and their parents had to be comfortable working from a home-based business.  Many days were spent in drudgery, as Elissa found out, like organizing the costume and props room.  Punctuated by exciting events like our pop-up store at the Toronto Zombie Walk or being a guest on Rogers Brampton “Today’s Talk” television show.  Most of our time, however, was spent around my dining room table talking, designing or sewing, drawing drawing drawing by Remi, leather and other crafting, and doing computer work.


L-R Elissa, Remi and me, Getting Silly on the Last Day

I jokingly called the girls my slaves and one of the parents commented, “I don’t know how you’d run your business without these  girls.”  It is true.  I am grateful for their help and that they let me into their world, but a lot of the work they do is because of the experience created by me specifically for these students.  Liaising with teachers, designing curriculum, assignments and events takes time.  There were many teen moments of lateness, missing school work, poor quality of work, trash talk, wet boots on the floor, no lunch and falling asleep at the table.

It is becoming more difficult for our children to have meaningful experiences that prepare them for life outside the constructs of heavily structured school and play.  Most students are shocked when employers are not regimenting their days and not praising each and every move.

Even freelancers, home-based and other small businesses can offer a co op program as a reciprocal experience that is fully immersed, challenging and rewarding for the student and business owner.  You can do no better service to our youth than give them a honest look at a day in the life of a Canadian entrepreneur, especially one while keeping home and raising children.

If you think you are up for the challenge, I would start by directly contacting the local public or private high school co-op program teacher.

Zen Children: 20 Ways to Regain Your Childlike State and Live in the Present Moment

I knew I liked this guy when Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, was top on his list of recommended.

Health Room Blog

By Luke Jones. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. 

Last week I sat down with my lovely girlfriend and watched a home video of my 3rd Birthday.

Being the lucky boy that I was, I had a house full of family, a Flintstones themed cake and a load of Duplo to play with. What more can you ask for?

I learnt a few things from watching my younger self:

  • I apparently loved pretending to be a rhino, and roaring like a lion.
  • I was partial to dancing to some Lionel Richie.
  • I liked fighting my older cousin – the martial arts started pretty early.
  • I was brainwashed into being a Chelsea fan, despite liking Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona…
  • My family were and still are lovely, and I liked giving everyone lots of kisses.

Apart from reinforcing the fact that my head has always been a bit a mixed…

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Spicy Savoury and Sweet Thai Taco Recipe

Spicy Savory & Sweet

Spicy Savory & SweetPC Memories of Thailand and lots of Garlic and Onions

We were out of the requisite sweet plum sauce to balance the spicy chili flakes, so I reached instead for PC’s Memories of Thailand. Bazinga! Even my 24 year old son went nuts for new twist of flavours.

PC Memories of Thailand and lots of Garlic and Onions

Saute well one sweet yellow onion in sunflower oil.
Add copious amounts of pressed garlic and chopped red and yellow peppers.
Add 2 t chili powder, 1 t paprika, 1/2 t cumin, 1/2 oregano and a touch of cayenne and salt. Stir till fragrant and peppers are just start to soften.
Reserve veggies to the side.
Add more oil and bite sized pieces of chicken.
Just when the pink is gone, coat the meat in PC marinade.
Add back the reserved veggies and just enough chicken stock to moisten.
Serve with fresh guacamole and hot sauce in a large tortilla wrap, or in my case, a lettuce leaf!

Options: You can substitute chicken with a white fish or without any meat at all. Serve with a rice and black beans or refried beans.

Gluten Alert: Because I have cœliac disease, I usually make my own sauces and spice mixtures.  This marinade does list modified corn starch in the ingredients, but I had no problems tolerating it.

Golfing with Grampa – Guest Blog by Marius

ImageI asked my 23 year old son his opinion on what grandparents could do to stay engaged with kids his age.  I got a blank stare.  I then asked, well tell me what do you do with your grandparents.  He paused and said, “I go to their house.  I hug them.  I eat with them, maybe watch T.V.  I hug them again and then I leave.”

I was taken aback, and then remembered my own relationship with grandparents was not so different.  Ambivalence of your teen or young adult grandchild is not anti-social, nor does it mean that you are not close to or loved by your grandchildren.

I pressed Marius then just share a memory about his grandfather and this is what he wrote.  Marius says … About once a year, I’ll visit my grandparents in Calgary.  It’s a great feeling to be loved unconditionally.  I used to go to Calgary every summer for a couple weeks and bring my disassembled mountain bike with me.  At their house, I would quickly unpack and start to build my bike back to life.  Of course, my grandpa a retired auto-mechanic would help me.  They would love watching me doing wheelies down the length of street and were fascinated by my bike and my abilities.

When I wasn’t biking, I would ask grandpa what else he wanted to do besides watch me.  He said we could go golfing.   I loved the idea.   So I called up an old Calgary friend, Mike, and grandpa called a buddy — fuck I forget his name … anyways, off we went to the golf course and had a bite and were rolling before you knew it. I always get super excited to drive the golf carts, because I didn’t have a license.

I just wanted to get up to the tee and whack the ball, whereas grandpa would always take his time.  Grampa’s balls went a good distance in a nice clean shot and me, I started the day with 20 balls and went home with zero.  He never lectured, just laughed it off.   His golfing buddy was just priceless.  They were both seventy something in age, yet still interested in playing golf and keeping up with two 14 year olds.  Like a scene from Caddyshack, his friend would try so hard to hit the ball, but it would go only 15 feet or less every time.  It was hilarious and endearing and made my day.   It was the first time that I was present, in a fit teen body, about aging and sports.

The golf course was surrounded by ranches with all these beautiful cows roaming the grassy fields ands the Rocky Mountains in the background.  I ran over to the wood fence and was mesmerized by the cows so blissful in their natural environment.  Grandpa walked over and was asking what I was looking at.  I said the cows, they are amazing!  He hadn’t realized that what is common for him, cows, was big deal for me.  He reminisces about this story on a regular basis.   We had a such a great day golfing that even today at age 23 and grampa in his early 80’s we still try to get out every time I am in town.

My grandpa is a great man, genuine and strong hearted.   He had it hard growing up in rural Saskatchewan and had to work for everything he got.  I mean everything.  He told me about how he got his first pair of leather gloves when he was 13.  For a farmer next door he helped install their picket fence in minus twenty degrees , but he had no gloves.  Having finished the job, he had earned enough money to buy his first pair.  It was shocking for me to realize that every time I needed a pair of gloves it was always provided for me.

I don’t believe a thing was given to him, but good health and a great head of white hair.  I’ll always appreciate the time I spend with my grandparents and even more so because I know that they are closer to the end of their lives.

Alison speaking … I would love it if my kids spent more time with their grandparents,  I am sure that some do, but working on this piece with my son brings me back to reality.  When my Nanny, my mother’s mom, died in 1979, I can’t say there we were close.  I was busy with my own life, yet when after she died I was heartbroken for my mother and myself.  So heartbroken that I made myself ill with remorse that I had not tried to get to know her better.   My mother, however, never nagged, bribed or cajoled me about my grandparents – I think she trusted and knew that all relationships have their own rhythm.