I am My Own DJ

December 29, 2011

Okay, seriously now – I just have to express how delighted (and silly) I feel at my recent realization of how to use Youtube to make playlists!

I wish I’d learned this long ago, but I’m glad to have learned it now.

It used to be that I would make epic playlists for things like camping and road trips, birthday parties, summer time capsules and then have friends burn them onto CDs for me (since I didn’t know how to download or burn CDs, not that I’ve really come too far in that department). Then came Katimavik and spending seemingly hours upon hours with Jon and Ken painstakingly recording in Jon’s little notebook all of our ‘Lore’ of songs that we thought were worthy of immortalization (some examples: Wonderwall by Oasis, American Pie by Don McLean, Save Tonight by Eagle-Eye Cherry, Manic Monday by Belinda Carlisle, and Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson, to name just a few).

After Kim left the program, I sent her a working list of all the titles and she (again! thank-you to all who did this for me!) made me 5 CDs with the songs on them, and 3 of them were tailored to our first trimester in the program and we sent them to our first PL, Sarah so she would have something to remember us by.

For my own contribution to my budding DJ skills, I would spend hours making mix tapes (such as ‘Katima-Van Mix Tape’ Volumes I-IV).

Then one beautiful day, I was fortunate enough to get the iPod of my dreams (a 160GB Classic), and I started making playlists from my music collection of my own accord.

But I don’t have all the music I want in this world, because I abstain from downloading, choosing instead to check CDs out from the library or borrowing from friends and relatives and uploading them onto my iPod (though I still buy CDs on occasion that I want to have the liner notes to, and I buy albums on iTunes occasionally that I know I will never find at the library).

Which led me to accept my friend Tara’s invitation to join Grooveshark, where I started making playlists a month or two ago. But…the selection isn’t very good on Grooveshark (like there are only 5 Tristan Prettyman songs, 3 Randy Ponzio songs, and like 4 Jeremy Fisher songs…), which is what took me to Youtube.

And now, let the mixing begin! The musical world is at my fingertips, and set for my ear buds (which I’m pretty sure don’t exist, but I’m pretending they’re like taste buds for my ears, and you can’t stop me).


What’s Goin’ On

December 28, 2011

Christmas was good – and humorous.

Got a shiny new laptop (which I’m typing on now – huzzah!), a dorky hat, and have eaten waaaaay too many sweets in the last week. (Telling Tara to make extra donuts was a bit of a mistake…)

The Christmas tree my Dad and brother liberated from the back woods of my parents’ cabin kept making me think ‘Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.’ Now, this wasn’t because it was scraggly or anything, but I think just more because I’ve never had a real Christmas tree before. Well, and it did keep falling over. Enter humor.

Shortly after putting all the presents under the tree Christmas Eve, said tree decided to topple for the first of several post mortem suicide (oxymoron? or just impossible…) attempts, dousing the gifts below.

So the table became the new tree.

Santa didn’t seem to have a problem finding it.

Cut to the next afternoon, around 2pm with Mom taking her first try at the Wii, and everyone else (Dad, brother, brother’s friend) on a laptop or cell phone, and turkey (not mine, obviously) roasting in the oven.

Suddenly the power started surging, and took its sweet time deciding (teasing us, really) whether or not it would go out for a good 30 seconds of on off action before extinguishing.

And so it stayed, leaving my Tofurky to wait until yesterday for roasting, and my Christmas belly rather hungry since raw tofu isn’t really a dish I subscribe to.

In other news, have I ever told you how much I love Jeremy Fisher?

If you watch this (or any of his videos, really), I’m sure you’ll see why:

Thank you, Universe!

December 22, 2011

This has been a pretty good week, let me tell you.

I’ve been busy taking orders – baking orders, that is!

Today I woke up to a friend asking if she could order a birthday cake from me, and I told her I was already making Pumpkin Cheesecake for another order, so she went for that as well.

Then I called the person who ordered the first cheesecake to check on what else it was he wanted to order, and he wanted his entire Holiday Basket order to be just Pumpkin Banana Loaves and Pumpkin Cheesecake – 10 loaves, and 2 extra cheesecakes, for a total of 3!

Tomorrow (or rather today, as it’s already 1:26am) is Harmless Innovation’s Holiday Basket delivery day, and I don’t think I’m going to be sleeping between now and making our little elf rounds, since I still have Pink Lemonade Cupcakes, Mint Chocolate Fudge, Peanut Butter Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies, another Pumpkin Banana Loaf, and of course icing to make.

Hooo weee! I might regret no longer being a coffee drinker by tomorrow at 7pm – which I just realized is when I’ll get my first chance to go to sleep, since I have a medical appointment at 6pm.

PLUS, I’ve been fortunate enough to not only find $20 (literally) blowing in the wind as I was walking from my car to the bank on Tuesday, but also to get a free Amy’s No Cheese Pizza tonight because it scanned at a higher price than it was supposed to (and this is actually the second time that this has happened to me, at different stores, but the same pizza).

So thank you to the Universe, and to all the little elves who have been helping the Universe help me along this week (including the person in line tonight who pointed out the store policy to me, the man at the dollar store today who let me go ahead of him, and whoever gifted me the $20 – you are all greatly appreciated!).


December 19, 2011

Well, it’s almost that time! (Cliché much?)

Christmas is just sleeps away, and it looks like I’m going to be rather busy in the lead-up.

Tonight I put up my Christmas Tree, it looks something like this:

(I lost my camera, so I have only my cell phone to rely on for photographic preservation at the moment. This is why my blog is lacking in colourful self-captured photography.)

I also made myself a youTube playlist of Christmas songs, so score one for me on my list of things to learn how to do.

This afternoon Tara and I fulfilled our first to go order for Harmless Innovations, and just a little while ago the woman we made it for emailed us to let us know she fed 7 people with what we made for 5, there were left overs, they all loved it and she said everyone wants to be vegan now if that’s how vegan food tastes! (Which is actually one of our goals – to make things taste so good that omnivores will be eager repeat customers and spread the word).

So tomorrow Tara and I will be going grocery shopping (have I ever told you how much I love grocery shopping? It’s my idea of a good time…and a good date) for ingredients to fulfill our Holiday Basket orders on Wednesday when we do all of the baking. We’re delivering on Thursday, so there’s still time to get an order in, so long as we receive it by Wednesday at Noon.

That should keep us busy through Thursday, then on Friday I think we might both be on the Animal Voices Radio Show, so clearly, the fun is just beginning! (And hopefully so is our success!)


December 15, 2011

This is who I used to be
The girl you never got to see
I’m reclaiming a piece
At a time
No more trying to please
Any needs but mine.

(Friday, July 2nd, 2010)


December 15, 2011

Have I ever told you how much I love mail? Well, it’s right up there with the library (which I think everyone should start frequenting much more).

Last night a friend asked for my mailing address to send me a Christmas card, today someone else asked for it for perhaps the same reason (or maybe not, who knows), and I got a wonderful holiday postcard from the lovely Grinches (just kidding!) over at Nice Shoes.

I’m also still waiting on the reply from my third (the first two kind of crapped out of the program, strangely) vegan pen pal, who just so happens to live in one of my destination cities – Nashville, Tennessee.

The pen pal project was originally through the web-based Living Opposed to Exploitation and Violence (L.O.V.E.), but the person (volunteering! and paying for postage and a P.O. Box without accepting donations, if you can believe it!) coordinating the project is going to be on the move for the next six months or so, and has passed things along to another person who also runs a pen pal project.

The project is aimed at pairing new vegans or people who are on the verge of going vegan with someone more experienced who can provide some guidance and speak to some issues that might arise during the transition from omnivore or vegetarian to vegan.

I interviewed Jenna McDavid (who was coordinating the L.O.V.E. Vegan Pen Pals Project) about it on the Animal Voices Radio Show back in June if you’re interested in taking a listen to learn more.

And if you’d like to get yourself a vegan pen pal, you can contact Kaycee at VeganMachine.com to sign up.

(Or, if you’d like to be my pen pal, there’s a chance that could be arranged. I miss the letters I used to frequently trade with several people while I was away volunteering for nine months in Katimavik).

Katimavik Profile

December 14, 2011

The following is what I my interview with Will Ferguson was for (my Research business profile assignment on Katimavik). It’s not perfect, but at least it exists where it didn’t two days ago.

Visionary Jacques Hébert created Katimavik in 1977, intent on unifying Canada by bringing Anglo and Francophone youth together to explore Canadian diversity.

Inuktitut for “meeting place,” Katimavik is Canada’s leading national youth volunteer service program, with each project household consisting of 11 youth aged 17 to 21 chosen as a regional representation of Canadian society.

A project leader oversees each group, sharing living space, meals and experiences with the participants on a daily basis. The project leader liaises with local community projects where each participant holds a fulltime volunteer position, as well as with regional and head offices.

The program is unique in that it covers the cost of most expenses (including program and learning activities, food, housing, and travel), with only a minimal $50 application fee and a $175 fee for accepted participants.

Hébert died in 2007, but said in his 2001 travel book “Katima…What?” that “Katimavik [was] created . . . to wrench the greatest number of young Canadians from a life that’s lousy, selfish, closed to the world, whether they’re sons of the bourgeoisie, or daughters of the unemployed, students lost in the absurd mazes of our education system, or dropouts in the midst of despair, young people who still have ideals, or apprentice drug addicts who no longer believe in anything.”

Willing to die for his cause, Senator Hébert went on a 21-day hunger strike in the lobby of the Canadian senate in 1986 after federal funding was cut to the program. The funding cuts came at a time when the program had just expanded, from about 1000 participants in 1985 to 5000 the following year.

Hébert’s friends Jean Chrétien and Walter Baker came to his rescue, creating a private non-profit corporation to raise the necessary funds to keep the program going, though it would be reduced to an outdoor recreation training program until funding was reinstated in 1994.

Funding for the program continues to be mainly government-supported through the Department of Canadian Heritage, but plans are underway to diversify through corporate and private partnerships after accepting a multi-year financial deal that reduced resources. Downsizing certain aspects of the program followed, including closing two of five regional offices.

Katimavik has seen many changes in its 34 years. Starting with 33 participants its first year, lore has it that early participants had to build their own beds and some even claim to have worked at building their own houses while living in tents.

In just the past decade Katimavik has seen incarnations of seven- and nine-month programs taking participants to three different provinces, and has transformed into four six-month programs geared toward specialized experiences.

Today’s program choices are Cultural Discovery and Civic Engagement, Ecocitizenship and Active Living, Katimavik Horizons (wherein participants tailor the program to their group’s inclination based on Katimavik’s main objectives), and Second Language and Cultural Identity.

All projects seek to engage youth volunteers in experiential learning focused on civic engagement, healthy lifestyle choices, official languages, cultural discovery and environmental stewardship – skills meant to help them adapt and integrate back into their communities as civic participants after the program is complete.

Arguably Katimavik’s most famous past participant, author Will Ferguson completed the program in 1985, just shy of the political hoopla.

“My career path changed dramatically from political science to fine arts,” Ferguson said over the phone from his home in Calgary.

Forgoing his initial intent to pursue politics, which Ferguson almost laughed about today, Katimavik afforded him the chance to travel for the first time and exposure to the Canadian experience outside his small Northern Alberta town. Ferguson soon developed a love for Canada and travel that has since been channeled into several books, including “I Was a Teenage Katima-victim” based on his stint in the program.

“As time goes on and you look at the big picture, it’s a great experience,” he said in contrast of the scathing tone of his Katimavik memoir, which was based on his 19 year-old self’s voice as written in the journals his first project leader urged him to keep.

Ferguson said he still recommends the program to youth, and recently went to dinner with Theresa Mitchell, Katimavik’s Director of Resources Development, to discuss the program’s future.

Will Ferguson is among the 30,000 participants who have gone through the program since its inception, but Katimavik’s impact reaches much further than just its participants. Katimavik has changed countless lives for the better through interaction with work sponsors, community members, billet families, employees, and those who participants have volunteered to serve, whether they realize it or not.