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For Granted

Not only did my trip to Sri Lanka this summer serve as a much needed vacation, but also as a much needed reminder of the dangers lurking in not staying present and mindful throughout life. Now this may start to sound like the beginnings of an amazing yoga practice, but yogis and yoginis are not wrong to remind their students to stay present because as I have come to realize, staying present is not easy. We often blunder through life blinded by routine, to do lists, and social obligations. I feel that because of the daily hubbub of life, it is only natural that we take everything good around us for granted. So instead of rambling on, I have compiled a list of things that I took for granted while traveling:

  1. Drinking straight from the tap: Even though more and more people in Canada swear by bottled or filtered water, at least we can drink straight from the tap here (maybe not in BC right now)
  2. Having freshly ground coffee beans and a french press at my finger tips
  3. Getting in my car and running errands on my own because I can
  4. Not constantly sweating: It just makes daily interactions so much harder; however, it was such a great way to detox!
  5. Hearing a constant barrage of honking on the roads
  6. Locking up EVERYTHING – you seriously live in an impenetrable forte

As I re-read my list forged in complete honesty, I cannot help but laugh! I am sure that if family and friends in Sri Lanka read this, I will be perceived as the tourist from now on! In that being said, there was so much I enjoyed while uprooted in Sri Lanka! So, in the spirit of list making…

  1. Meeting so many interesting people, this time making it a personal goal to actually keep in touch.
  2. Stuffing my face with delicious, local foods (in my standards anyway)
  3. Traveling around Colombo in a tuk-tuk
  4. Viewing the beautiful design aesthetic of the architecture, with hints of colonial British times, but earthy in nature
  5. Shopping! But more importantly, not paying a ridiculous amount of money for clothes made from real material
Tuk Tuk
I present one of the cheapest modes of transportation in Sri Lanka, the tuk-tuk. You just have to be careful, they might take you round and round!
The Independence Arcade Square, a beautiful hangout spot with shops and restaurants! I say beautiful because of the water features, glass topped koi pond, and manicured gardens!
The Independence Arcade Square, a beautiful hangout spot with shops and restaurants! I say beautiful because of the water features, glass topped koi pond, and manicured gardens!

Just like with everything in life, there will always be the good and the bad, the things you will enjoy and the things you wish would change. So I will end with this: Is it too bold to say that without travel, we become complacent and distant, lost in our daily routine of sleeping, eating, working, paying bills, etc? Are we always due for an annual uprooting from normalcy to rediscover that which we take for granted?

 

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“The Dog Ate my Homework”

It has been too long, but trust me when I say that I have been absolutely craving the eventuality of blogging. Alright, back on topic. I’m currently reading through a drab textbook about communication and the following phrase just sparked my curiosity: “Excuses place your messages – even your failures – in a more favourable light” (p. 183). See, this is a bit problematic for me. I mean sure, having a reason behind a blunder does instill some empathy towards your plight, but it is not just as cut and dry as this text claims with this phrase.

The nature of our society is one of a constant go-go-go, work-more-and-play-less type, which leaves little wiggle room for excuses to work as effectively, even if it may be genuine. In such downtrodden times, there’s no room for error and frequent excuses because there’s always another solution… always. It’s terrible, it’s horrible, and unfortunately it’s life.

So what now? Should we be content with our current culture? I am not going to lie, I do love being busy with so much on my plate. However, what happens when all empathy and sympathy is stripped and only product is valued?

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Reference:
Clark, D., Devito, A., J., & Shimoni, R.. (2012). Messages: Building Interpersonal Communication Skills 4ed. Pearson Canada Inc. Toronto, Ontario.

Those Smarty Plants!

Have you ever wondered about plants?

I know, weird question.

It actually all started with stumbling upon David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” video segment entitled “Smarty Plants”. While watching this video, I began to give these seemingly docile creatures a little bit more thought. I mean, they are everywhere and yet we pay them very little attention. But, what if they are smarter than we humans had thought? What if they “talk, forage, wage war and protect their kin” (CBC Television, 2012)? If you watched the video, what did you think? Did they display a higher consciousness akin to us OR was it simply mechanisms set in place “in favour of selection”, as one commenter pointed out?

Well, hopefully following the lead scientist and ecologist, Cahill, helped solve that question for you. His quest to find these “smarty plants” definitely uncovered some plants that blew my mind, such as the dodder vine favouring its victims based on their biochemistry. Another aspect discussed that intrigued me was how plants let out “chemical screams” to repel certain species of animal and insect, or attract the higher-ups on the food chain to avenge that specific plant from the unwanted invaders. Suzuki even points out that the smell of freshly cut grass is actually the grass letting out their “chemical scream”… to whom? … Now that’s a good question isn’t it. To whom indeed.

So, this entire video got me thinking… is it too bold to conclude that the grass might be formulating the right “scream” to get rid of us?

What do you think?

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Source:

Smarty Plants: Uncovering the Secret World of Plant Behaviour. (September 27, 2012). CBC Television. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/smarty-plants-uncovering-the-secret-world-of-plant-behaviour.html

Change for the Better… right?

What is the allure of sitting in a coffee shop, writing down ideas in a sophisticated notebook, catching up on the latest and must-reads, or spending hours upon hours on your laptop? Is it the preconceived romance behind this notion? I’ll tell you this much, it is a costly habit that I have come to know.  So why do people still do it?

I can see one of the factors being the overwhelming allure of the swanky ambience.  For example, take the layout of Starbucks.  It is most definitely alluring and inviting with their comfortable couches, soft lighting, and a friendly and classy atmosphere.  But like I said, it is expensive.  Even though there are plenty of expensive coffee shops propped all about the city, there are cheaper solutions that most of the population go for, like Tim Hortons.  This establishment offers good hot drinks and food for the fraction of the price. Even though it is not as decoratively inviting as Starbucks (well according to my aesthetic taste), there is a strong following of loyal customers.

However, it seems that Tim Hortons and McDonalds are attempting to slowly change. I was recently introduced to an article about the revamp plans that Tim Hortons has for their stores, which include features like soft lighting, wi-fi, and leather seats.  I joked saying that they are targeting people like me, but make no mistake… they are.  However, as a friend pointed out, they really have no need to ensnare a new genre of customers as they already have their faithful ones.  But Paul House (executive chairman, president and CEO of Tim Hortons) has other plans, wanting to “encourage customers to come inside, sit and perhaps spend a little more money, rather than zooming through the drive through”.  He goes further by stating that he isn’t afraid of alienating their core customers.  They claim that they are just “reacting to the evolving tastes of Canadian coffee drinkers”, but what do you think?  On one hand, yes the menu prices might increase.  But, they will still be offering cheaper prices than their expensive competitors.  Take, for example, their espresso based beverages will be “40% cheaper than Starbucks”.

I honestly don’t know what to think.  I love swanky coffee shops.  However, as my dad frequently says, why fix something that isn’t broken?

Source:  “Upscale Time Hortons ‘ambient’ revamp planned”.  The Canadian Press. Nov 20, 2011

That Smell of Rain…

Even though rain is seen as a curse, destroying any plans made of being outdoors, there is just something romantic about it.  Imagine, without the rain, life would not be able to survive as precious water would not be recycled.  I personally love the rain (albeit not stuck outside when it does rain).  I love the sound each droplet makes as they hit the ground, each a naturally occurring percussion instrument creating a wonderful melody.  What I love most about it, however, is the smell.  Does anyone know what I’m talking about?  That rich, earthy smell.  Well, thanks to OMGFacts on Twitter, I found out what that smell really is!  It is actually called Petrichor.  What is this, petrichor you ask?  It is the oil that exudes from plants, which soaks into the dry soil or clay.  When it rains, this oil and another compound geosmin is released in the air, causing that smell.  Bear and Thomas, two Australian researchers coined the term in 1964 in an article in the journal Nature.  The name “petrichor” is actually Greek, derived from “petra” meaning “stone” and “ichor” which means the “fluid that flows in the veins of the Gods”.  Kind of neat isn’t it?

Source: Wikipedia