Art or science?

4 10 2012

National Geographic is promoting the “new fanged dwarf dinosaur”.
Photo credit: National Geographic

The new “parrot-porcupine” being heralded as the latest in dinosaur discoveries is definitely an eye-catcher.  With a small beak-like nose, a collection of long quills and frighteningly sharp fangs, this small but unusual dino is truly a work of art. But is that all it is: art?

Truth or imagination?

How much creative license should scientists be allowed to take? Usually paleontologists find only bones or even fragments of bones. Rarely is a whole skeleton of some long forgotten beast found. And yet, detailed and colourful images of dinosaurs and other extinct creatures cover the pages of children’s stories and textbooks. Sure it makes for a beautiful illustration and fun science but what about truth?

The video shown on National Geographic website makes this point clear. They had to add a lot to this little critter’s skull in order to come up with the fearsome image they are projecting.

Lucy, the ape-woman

Lucy exhibit at Kentucky creation museum: same skull, different faces!
Photo credit: AiG

The Creation Museum  in Kentucky has a whole exhibit highlighting “Lucy” that explains how simple changes to skin colour, hair and expression can create a completely different image, sometimes a different species. It is important to always be critical of every “new” discovery and to look foremost at the facts. Be sure not to be swept away in the intrigue and excitement and in the process, forget to think about the other side.


A Nature Shortage

2 10 2012

Are children out of touch with nature? Are they mentally, socially, and physically hindered by their lack of outdoor experiences?

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, will answer these questions with a definitive, “YES!” He coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” which describes how todays children and adolescents are completely disconnected with nature and the potential ramifications of such a disconnect.

A common alternative to outdoor play, kids are spending more and more time playing video games or other electronic devices

No one can deny that with the growth of technology such as the computer and internet, video games and television, staying indoors has become easy, entertaining and in some ways, natural. Parents even feel that their kids are not necessarily safe out-of-doors and so encourage their children to find ways to play inside. Furthermore, in some areas, finding an untouched “natural” environment is next to impossible. But are the problems that can come from too much indoor play worth keeping kids in the easier, “safer” environment?

Effects of Nature Deficit Disorder:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • obesity
  • attention problems
  • health problems (asthma, cardiovascular issues, etc.)

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) has been linked to a deficiency in outdoor exposure with several treatments suggesting that kids need to spend time outside. Some studies conclude that getting to use all of the senses in a natural, peaceful environment can be very helpful in reducing ADD symptoms.

toddler picking blackberries

Getting outside gives kids a chance to use all their senses

toddler eating blackberries

Munching on freshly picked berries is just one of the many activities that young kids love.

Being outside not only helps kids to avoid the problems mentioned above but it can truly help children grow into healthy, responsible, and intelligent adults.

Benefits to interacting outside with nature:

  • better overall health, lower blood pressure, reduced stress
  • decrease in aggressive tendencies
  • better immune system
  • higher sense of self-worth
  • improved attention span
  • more responsible when it comes to environmental interaction (littering, sustainability)

How do we make a change?

Louv suggests that parents don’t try to force their kids outside but rather foster a love for nature through their own habits. Encourage children to join you in your walk about the park or takes your kids fishing or on a hike. Give kids the freedom to explore, even if it’s simply the discovery of bugs when turning over a large rock. You won’t be sorry you got outside a bit yourself and your kids will thank you in the years to come. Join the Children and Nature Network to join thousands of others in the effort to connect kids to nature.

Grand Teton National Park

There is a beautiful world outside waiting to be explored. (Grand Teton National Park, WY)

To be hipster…or not to be hipster…

1 10 2012

A quick #hipster search on Twitter will reveal it is a popular trend. An Instagram search of the same hashtag will give you over 1.1 million results and that’s not including the thousands of other photos tagged under various similar names “hipsters” or “hipsterfashion” or, amusingly, the common misspelling: “hispter”.

Being a hipster is about “looking like you aren’t trying”.
Photo credit: stefan.erschwendner on flickr

What is a “hipster”?

What is this trend sweeping the nation? According to WikiHow, “it’s that, ‘I can’t be bothered’ look that actually takes some planning until you get into the habit”. WikiHow tells the hipster wanna-be that they can’t take themselves too seriously and that the goal is to look like you aren’t trying.

For someone who is most definitely NOT hipster and not into the whole “hipster” scene, I’ll admit, it’s hard to understand. I hear that it’s about being non-mainstream, non-matching patterns, shopping at thrift stores, growing your own food, being vegetarian, looking vintage, hanging out in the right places – with the right people and yet… not trying. Sounds like a whole lot of work to me.

The affects of being “hipster”

And is all that work really worth it? Do people choose to be hipster because it is “cool” or because it really defines them? The “not trying” attitude of the hipster culture is not very attractive to the rest of the world. How do you expect to find an employer when you give off the impression that you don’t like to try? And if that negative attitude starts to influence your relationships, how do you expect to keep your friends?

“ironic” T-shirts are a great choice for any hipster wardrobe.
Photo credit: juplife on flickr

And what happens when it becomes mainstream to be hipster? Then what? What happens when it becomes mainstream to be non-mainstream?

I suppose this trend will come and go like the rest, but until then the #hipster will continue to flood the social media and the streets of our cities.

I love the diversity of our world, the freedom we have in our country to display our personalities and quirks, the beauty of multi-culturalism and unique tastes. There is always something new to learn about the people around us.

If you consider yourself hipster, or have more insight into the hipster world, please enlighten me with your comments. I love to hear your take on the trend.

Top five drinks for fall

30 09 2012

Autumn officially arrived on the 22nd of this month but it is only just starting to really feel like it’s here. Along with the clouds, changing colours, and cooler temperatures fall re-ignites a craving for hot drinks! Whether you frequent the local Starbucks, a quaint quiet cafe, or you prefer a homemade beverage, with the change of season comes a change in drink preferences.

As the colours change and temperatures drop, everyone is eager for a warm cup of their favourite beverage

I have my own list of the best hot beverages for fall and where I like to get them; perhaps you have similar favourites or maybe my list will inspire you to try something new.

1. Chai Tea Latte. Where to get it: City Blends, Mission. This is by far my favourite drink right now. City Blends makes this classic drink something special that will keep you coming back. This exciting blend of sweet spices tickles your noise and dances across your tongue. Each taste is a delight.

2. London Fog. Where to get it: House of James Coffeeshop, Abbotsford. London fog equals comfort in my mind. I personally enjoy House of James because they don’t water down the beverage to much and its always thick and creamy with a perfect hint of vanilla.

Starbucks is a common place for people to warm up during the fall season

3. Double Caramel Macchiato. Where to get it: Starbucks. Whenever I need a good caffeine fix with a shot of sweetness swirled in, this drink is my pick. And of course you never have to go far to find a convenient Starbucks location.

4. Hazelnut Mocha. I don’t have a preference on where to get this drink. I like mixing it up on my own and adding sprinkles to spice it up. You can never go wrong with a perfect blending of hazelnut, chocolate and coffee!

5. Pumpkin Spice Latte. Where to get it: Starbucks. Now, the pumpkin spice latte isn’t actually one of my favourite drinks but I have to put it on the list because it is definitely a crowd favourite. Just a quick search on Twitter will reveal how much of following this drink has. For many, fall = pumpkin spice.

Twitter proves that people love the pumpkin spice latte in the fall.

What are your favourite drinks for the season?

If the unborn are people…

27 09 2012

On Wednesday Motion 312, put forward by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, was defeated 203-91 in the House of Commons. Woodworth’s proposed twelve-man committee, dedicated to the study of when human life begins, won’t have a chance to commence the research and we may never know what they would have discovered.

We know who, what, where, when…but why?

Claiming the motion was purely scientific, Woodworth insisted the bill was not about criminalizing abortion.

But that’s how everyone saw it.

Stephen Harper votes against Motion 312
Photo credit: Vancouver Sun


Prime Minister Stephen Harper, hands tied due to his promises during the election, voted against the motion but allowed his caucus to vote freely. But no one expected the bill to pass, in fact its very presence in the house enraged a large majority of the public due to its supposed connections to the abortion debate.

If the motion was so doomed to failure, why the uproar?

Why the almost 20, 000 signatures on a petition against the bill?

Why the immediate reaction of fear from the Pro Choice supporters of Canada and the anger of women’s rights groups?


People had a legitimate fear of what the study would have discovered.

As reported by the Vancouver Sun “if the legal definition of when one becomes a human being were to be adjusted so that a fetus is declared to be a legal person at some earlier state of gestation, then the homicide laws would apply [to abortion]” (Conservative whip Gordon O’Connor)

This is true. If the study changed the definition of when human life begins, everything would change. It would have to. So pro-abortionists do have a reason to hate this bill.

But what if our criminal code is wrong? What if the study did find that a baby, at every stage of its growth, is human, a legal person (a view defended by Christian apologetics organization Answers in Genesis) ? Does the enourmous backlash generated by this bill reveal our true colours? Deep down do we question our current policy of abortion?

And if the unborn are people…

This raises an even more important question: if we do surmise that a fetus is in fact human…how can we allow our country go on killing unborn children?

I am not attacking women and their rights, but I am standing firm on every human’s right to life. Yes there are many unfortunate instances that could be seemingly solved by destroying the problem or getting rid of the evidence, but challenges are part of our world. Overcoming these challenges rather than avoiding them, helps us to grow and learn.

Who gives you the right to choose life or death for another, even if he or she is not yet walking the street beside you?

Could Canadians make America better?

25 09 2012

Let’s be honest. As Canadians, we are generally a happy group (in fact a new study ranks us second-happiest people in the world!). We are happy to laugh at ourselves and to laugh at others. We aren’t known for patriotism, military, or media but we don’t really mind all that much. We’re usually pretty content with who we are. Don’t get me wrong, we can get pretty fired up over things…and I don’t just mean hockey.

I find that one of the biggest topics of passionate discussion up here in the north is…the politics of our southern neighbours. Ask any Canadian about current political news in Canada and they will likely give you a blank stare but ask them about their views of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney and most citizens can give you an earful.

the “Canada Party” proposes to take over the American government and fix all their problems. Credit:

Why is this? Perhaps it is simply because our government issues are so tragically uninteresting whereas the scandal and inadequacies of the United States are so much more fun to expound upon. In our country it’s just the same old, same old – but in America! There is always some new bit of juicy news.

I think if any one of us would take a few steps back we would realize that we are being completely ridiculous. I constantly hear people rant and rave over their perceptions of American politics; we read biased news articles bashing this politician or another; our bored minds eagerly lap up the humorous criticisms portrayed in clever America-slamming comics or YouTube videos but what do we really know? And why do we care anyways?

I’m beginning to wonder if we “care” simply because it doesn’t cost us anything. Perhaps the root of all the raving is actually laziness. We investigate and probe into the depths of American problems all the while completely ignoring the state of our own country. We remain uneducated on the issues facing our country and its government all the while proposing “obvious” solutions to save our friends across the border.

Come on Canada. Wake up. Put some energy into things you can actually DO rather than just talk about. No matter how great all your opinions are regarding the upcoming US elections, you still can’t vote in them.

Van Dongen: MLA Watchdog

23 09 2012

Watch dog: fighting for integrity and competence
Photo credit: Abbynews

John van Dongen, Abbotsford representative since 1995, has switched political tracks yet again. From Liberal to Conservative and now running as an independent, some might say van Dongen’s track record illuminates the opportunist for what he is. Is he forever to be known for jilting political parties as the Georgia Straight portrays him? Or perhaps he will be repeatedly quoted for choosing “the highway” as the Abbynews reports.

The question remains. How does the popular, longstanding MLA hope to be reelected when he hasn’t given voters any assurance of his political stance? Or has he?

From his own webpage, van Dongen makes it clear that integrity in the government is of utmost concern to him. He acknowledges that the public has lost confidence in their leaders and states that it is his job to be a “watch dog”. He vows to fight for political leaders to exhibit “integrity, competence, and have a true commitment to public service”. His recent resignation from the BC Conservatives only solidifies his statement. This is an MLA that truly believes in his views and is not afraid to act on them. Voters can have confidence that John van Dongen will not sit back and watch; he will not go with the flow. He will stand for the issues he cares about and fight against the incompetence he perceives.

Whether his views and perceptions align with yours is a whole different story.