Category Archives: The Internet

Life: A Cautionary Tale

Joshua ReynoldsRecovery from Sickness, an Allegory

On the eve of International Women’s Day, I present you, ladies and gentlemen, a cautionary tale of how to get, and stay, sick.

Look at yourself. Look at your life. Look at the people who surround you. Look at the food that you eat, the drinks that you drink, the smoke that you smoke, the air that you breathe. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? How much of it can you have? How much is too much? You’d be surprised by how subtle the difference can be and how sick it can make you.

I was sick for so long. Longer than it would even appear. And I am not healthy to this day (I still have a chill in my feet as I write this), but I get closer and closer to the picture of perfect health as I can with each passing day. I may never reach it, but I can always strive.

What I said and what I did when I was sick might have been because I was sick. Does that sound familiar to you? Think of the malice and greed and discontent that you see in the world and the Internet. Is it maybe just because you’re reading or hearing the words or seeing the actions of a sick person? They may not even know they’re sick. The Internet sure as shit doesn’t know it’s sick, but it is. It needs to get better and maybe it will or maybe there will still be cancerous cells floating around in the system, but the only thing we can do is try. Because, dear reader,  you might be surprised to know but, the Internet is us. It is our collective unconscious made form into an interconnected network of digital synapses. We are in each others’ brains every day. And that can be exhausting. I bet you’re exhausted just reading this.

The trick is to know the space between wellness and sickness. How close are you to the one over the latter? Do not fear either because you might not even feel particularly sick if you are. And if you do, I sincerely wish you the speediest and fastest and completest return to wellness. And, please, if you see a sick person say something sick on the internet, feel free to say something about it but, for the love of God, be kind.

Happy International Women’s Day 2017, 2016, 2013, 2010



Time heals. Time takes forever. Time requires patience, a virtue I’ve only just begun to build a relationship with, so maybe that requires time, too.

Not too long ago I remembered that the Wayback Machine has archives of all sorts. It’s recorded Internet time since, well… a long time ago. You know, relatively speaking. The Internet isn’t that old, after all.

So I went back in time to see what kind of a person I was five, ten years ago. Turns out I was an impatient person. But not the kind of impatient person who would do something. No, I just mostly complained. And then glossed over some of the biggest moments in my life. Like meeting my first boyfriend… Or breaking up with him. Or moving into my first apartment solo (shortly after the breaking up part.) Or adopting an orange tabby cat and subsequently naming him Trotsky because I studied a lot of twentieth century European history and wanted to give him a name with Historical Importance. Is it a coincidence he lives in exile now?

How about learning to sing? That’s been documented here a few times. I think I’d categorize those moments as the beginning of my relationship with patience. Although when Patience and I first met, it was a rocky relationship. I couldn’t wait to do things; Patience liked to check me a lot.

Most of the things I wrote back then are now of such little importance now. Most are meaningless in my life. Why didn’t I mention any of the Big Things? Why were they only hinted at?

Am I doing the same with this blog post? Perhaps.

I’ve only written a few things this year. Most of them are pretty meaningless.

I’ve never mentioned that I took a course in early Spring called the Neighbourhood Leadership Institute. The NLI is a leadership and skillbuilding program with three different streams, resident, professional, and youth. Because you needed a partner to participate, I contacted the NLI and was connected with a wonderful partner. Through the NLI you incubate a community project. My partner Sheila’s idea is a self-directed learning group called Partners in Learning Hamilton.

PIL is a weekly meetup group, mainly meant for senior citizens who’d like to socialize through meaningful conversation. We held our first pilot session in July, and we’re working on putting together the first five week session around the theme of Wellness, starting in late-September.

The idea of Partners in Learning Hamilton came from the original Partners in Learning group, of which Sheila was a member, in Grand Bend, ON.

The NLI was a unique experience. I met a lot of people from different parts of the city. I got to explore areas of Hamilton I’d never been to before, including the McQuesten Urban Farm, and Honouring the Circle, the Native Women’s Centre tucked away on the Mountain Brow.

Honouring the Circle Native Women's Centre

Honouring the Circle Native Women’s Centre

Prior to the NLI, I participated in the Women’s March here in Hamilton. The night before the march, a few of us gathered together at a friend’s place and we made signs and masks. The next day we gathered in front of City Hall to stand together and chant, sing, and be together. According to French sociologist Émile Durkheim when humans gather in a crowd, it creates a “collective effervescence,” a “glowy, giddy feeling where your sense of self slackens, yielding to a connection with your fellow, synchronized humans.”


Women’s March protestors or the world’s best girl group?


Cynthia looking pensive in the crowd. Photo: John Rennison/The Hamilton Spectator

You can see the effervescence on my face here:


You can see the effervescence on both mine and N’s face here!

Or how about the fact that I got a new car this year? Haven’t mentioned that at all, have I?


Her name is Joni. Because Joni Mitchell wrote “Blue,” one of my favourite songs.

I’m reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime right now. It’s the first time I’m reading a memoir written by a contemporary. I have to keep reminding myself that his stories of life in South Africa happened the same time I was growing up here in Canada. Our realities are a stark difference. In one story he recounts how his life changed after his friend Andrew gifts him a CD writer. At this point, he’s already running a flourishing bootleg CD business, but when Andrew gives him a CD writer, his whole life changes because he has the means to go further and he recognizes that without it, his life could have been stuck much like a lot of his friends who remain in South Africa.

He’s better able to explain it but essentially it amounts to this: that old adage that you can give a man a fish and he’ll eat for one day, but if you teach a man to fish he’ll eat for the rest of his life is all well and good. But how about giving the man a fishing rod, too? That’s the essential difference for some people, especially South African blacks. So many of them already know how to fish, but they haven’t got a fishing rod. It took a friend to give Trevor his first “fishing rod”.

All this to say, I would not have this car without the assistance of a friend. And maybe it’s too soon to tell what this car can do for me, other than haul my butt from my office to the home (for now.) Actually I think it’s definitely too soon to tell what this car can do for me, but I know that it will help me in my life. Maybe it’s my fishing rod?

It’s hard, you know. Hard to tell what you’re looking at when it comes to time. Because so often we’ve got our noses pressed so hard to the glass that everything just looks blurry. All you’re seeing are shades of colours rather than anything fully formed. And maybe that’s why I’ve written so little about what now look like bigger things in my life now that they’ve come and gone. Even so, as the years continue to stretch out and I get a clearer idea of the picture my life is turning into, they could just be minor blips in the bigger picture.

But at least I’m noting them down. And maybe the Wayback Machine will one day spit out this blog post to remind me that these things happened and I’ll be grateful for the reminder.

How Not to Ask for Help

Part of my job as a freelance digital marketer is to scour the internet looking for work. Hustlas gotta hustle.

And basically that amounts to me being on Craiglist several times an hour/day/week/month. It can be a bit undignified at times. There’s no shortage of shitty job postings. You have to wade through the scores of ads looking for adult models, actors and private massages. Plus all of the commission-based sales gigs. You get pretty good at reading between the lines to determine whether something is legitimate or complete bullshit.

And sometimes, occasionally, you get to see real gems too.

This week I, and the majority of Toronto’s literary scene, came across this post and had a good LOLZ about it:


I’m not sure what’s worse — the fact that this poster wants someone else to think of an idea for him, or that he gets angry towards the end of the post at the very people who he’s seeking to get help from.

It’s no secret that being a writer pays you peanuts. If you’re going on pure royalties alone, and your book happens to defy the odds to become a bestseller, you’re likely to make around $6k, according to one source. So yeah, even if you’re a bestselling author, chances are you’re still going to look for extra work.

So why you gotta hate, hater? One individual on Facebook posted it with this in mind:


Whether it’s true or not, you have to wonder what kind of an individual has the balls to post such an offending affront to anyone struggling to be creative and original in a world that is rife with cultural misappropriation, hodge-podge homages and blatant plagiarism.

On the plus side, it’s given Canada a little boost of Internet popularity. Yay?


Chuck Wendig is highly influential on the Internet writing scene. I relish the response this post will get now that it’s hit viral status.

What do you think? Is this blatant trolling or a genuine request? I almost wonder if it was created by someone we all know testing out the lit scene’s ability to handle “humour”.

We could all be like the Doctor

Times are hard right now. It feels like there’s a great separation between men and women. The Jian Ghomeshi scandal. Gamergate. It’s hard to see the good for the bad, so when I came across this Facebook post last night I had to share it because it gives me hope. I hope it does the same for you.

Heather writes,

I finish my job at the Y After School Program tomorrow. This year I was lucky to have a fellow Whovian under my care. Throughout the past two months he has shared his fears of being viewed as different or weird by his classmates. Anybody who knew me as a child knows that I had some of the exact same issues, and I shared my own stories with him, hoping to encourage him and show him that it gets better. Simon Pegg said it best – “Being a geek… Means never having to play it cool about how much you love something”. He wrote that in his agenda so he would see it every day.

Today, as he was leaving, he came to me with a card and this necklace. He hugged me, cried a little bit, and gathered his things. I was upset to see him so sad, but his mother reassured me that I needn’t be. “He’s proud of who he is now. He’s not afraid to wear his Doctor Who stuff, and tell people about this thing he loves so much. And I attribute that entirely to you… You’ve shown him that he doesn’t need to be afraid to be himself. He’s told me he wants to help people just like you helped him”.

Now, because of this, Whovian has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Now, it’s a helper. And a reminder to keep helping people. Just like the doctor.



When we share our experiences with others we help them understand that they are not alone. Through mentorship and support he was able to realize that he is not strange and there are other people who share his experiences. Who knows what will become to the little Whovian, but I believe he’ll be okay and he will pass that same feeling on to someone else in the future. Can you imagine how powerful that is? Let’s all be Whovians, whether or not we watch the Doctor. It’s not about the fandom, it’s about helping one another. Why else do we band together anyway?

Between a Rock and a Like Button


Lately there have been arguments for and against the like button on Facebook. Mat Honan decided that all he would do is press the like button in I Liked Everything on Facebook, Here’s What it Did To Me. And after several days of doing so the algorithms had changed his newsfeed into nothing but advertising. Advertising that he didn’t request. Dun, dun, dun!

Then shortly thereafter Elan “Schmutzie” Morgan said, “Oh, yeah? Well, I’m just not gonna use it (for two weeks)!”

In I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity we get “a hopeful look at what happens when you quit the Like”. His conclusion: he felt more connected and possibly started some debates.

We needed someone to identify these extreme ends of the spectrum to understand online social graces. For if we didn’t have these two practices separated and broken down into their simple tasks, we wouldn’t know how they worked together.

At the end of the day, liking someone’s picture or meme or status is not a bad thing. It won’t make a dead dog pop up on your newsfeed, a grim reminder that this is still the Internet and these things still exist. But leaving a comment every now and then is more meaningful. Trust me, there are times when I, in my own experiment of only doing the comment-thing, could think of nothing but empty platitudes when I struggled to connect with a newsfeed item that I merely liked and didn’t feel necessary to comment on.

Perhaps this is why the like button was created in the first place.

So when should you use the comment feature?

When your mom figures out a way to upload photographs to Facebook with her new smartphone.

This is Trotsky steadily giving no one a selfie.

This is Trotsky steadily giving no one a selfie.

When your friend is showing you how awesome what they’re about to eat looks like. Only if you like it though. Don’t be mean when it looks kind of weird. Just go to and get your schadenfreude out there.


Phill made this and then I ate it.

When someone you’ve had on your feed just announces an engagement, pregnancy, wedding, birthday, mitzvah, whatever. This one’s kind of at your discretion since you’re the one who decides what is a happy occasion and what is not.

At the end of the day, sometimes all you need is the like button. Sometimes you need more. It’s your judgement call. Don’t let anyone dictate to you what you should and shouldn’t do online, but keep in mind that living your life on the extreme ends of the spectrum may teach you a few lessons, but it won’t solve all your problems.


I was born at the beginning of the Millennium generation. How do I know that? My parents bought us a computer when I was eight years old.

Go on, laugh you younger Millennials. I won’t even tell you what it looked like or how many bytes of RAM it had (not a lot.) You can look it up on Wikipedia anyway.

Everyone from my generation onwards has some sort of relationship with video games. Those who don’t live under rocks. Curiously, mine has always been a more observational role rather than participatory. I’ll explain why.

As a child, I had an IBM personal computer 2. The elementary school where I attended had a computer teacher who took a shining to my sister and I and he provided us with quite a few games for our own machine. Our collection of floppy disks was pretty impressive.

These crazy robots would scare the bejesus out of me.

These crazy robots scared the bejesus out of me.

The games we’d play were often educational, since he was a teacher after all. I remember being particuarly fond of Mixed-Up Mother Goose when I was really young, then transitioning to Where in the World (or Time) is Carmen Sandiego?, the Super Solvers series like Midnight Rescue, and Operation Neptune, which was a math game that frustrated me at first until I began to understand concepts.

But what I really wanted was a Nintendo.

Specifically a Super Nintendo, so I could play Super Mario World. I would do anything to play it and often overstayed my welcome in many a friend’s house because of it. But, for whatever reason, be it financial or idealogical, I was never granted full access to SNES by becoming the proud owner of one. And trust me, I’m pretty sure it was both a financial and idealogical reason for me not to have my own.

I remember hearing my mother calling these types of games “stupid”. I certainly didn’t agree, but there was little in my control over that situation. She held the purse strings after all. To be fair, my mom also thought The Simpsons was a dumb TV show. And to her ears and eyes it did look stupid. Her command of English is not as strong as my own. To her these were just weird, yellow characters saying stupid things in loud, obnoxious voices. What I picked up on very quickly was the wordplay, which I had begun to already learn through the various computer video games I’d been granted access to. Thanks Mama!


I still kill myself laughing over my Simpsons quote board on Pinterest.

I digress.

When it did become financially feasible for me to get my greedy paws on a system, the video game world had actually moved onto bigger and better things. My first console was actually a Playstation 2.

I was excited to get it. My current boyfriend at the time offered it to me when he upgraded to the next system and I accepted readily, imagining days and nights spent in front of the tube catching up on all the gametime I’ve been missing all these years. But when I fired it up, I was surprised to find that none of the games I had were capable of holding my attention. Even worse, I wasn’t enjoying the play time.

So I quickly dropped it. I think I threw out the system after the break-up. Sorry Gord.

Here’s the funny thing: I love video games. I still don’t play them unless I’m coerced and I’m pliable enough to acquiesce. But I love to watch them. Video games are that pleasurable distraction, but I like the ones with a bit of substance. I’d never thought I’d ever say this but GTA 5 is one of my favourite games. To watch. And sometimes attempt to drive in. I’m better at driving in person. The wonderful part of GTA is that the online world is constantly adapting and so the game continues to change, thus keeping a lot of people interested. And let me be clear, I don’t sit in front of the TV slavishly while my boyfriend plays. It’s a source of relaxation for him and a great bit of background noise for me that I can choose whether I want to pay attention to or not.

And as for video games that I’m actually playing? I continue to be horribly boring. My latest obsession is 2048. Built by a 20 year-old Italian, born well into the Millennium generation. I bet he likes video games too.

Rob Ford Doesn’t Like Homosexuals

Well, if he didn’t make it clear when he said he doesn’t want to attend the Gay Pride Parade–the World Gay Pride Parade, which is being held in Toronto this year, he certainly did when he decided he didn’t want the gay flay to fly in Toronto’s city hall.

Perhaps he is that insensitive and he doesn’t really think a gay flag–the international symbol for inclusivity–belongs in Toronto. Perhaps he thinks it’s not Toronto’s business. Obviously a lot of people disagree with him, but that’s neither the point.

These hilarious images resulted out of the outrage that came from some Torontonians.


Source: Patrick Weir

Source: Patrick Weir

These two gems were derived from this particular piece of pastiche:



Which, in turn, was created from Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe:


I love how one begets the next, especially the final images, which are just perfect examples of how one can mock an authority figure with style and panache. They may be crude, but they are spot on.