12 December 2012


I feel like I should say something about this.

It's kind of cool, woohoo, but it's also based on an arbitrary date system, so a wee bit less so. But that's okay. Still the last time it will happen for a while!

Here are some pictures of 12 week old animals, because I really have no other ideas:

And a twelve year old penguin, Pugwash!
(I couldn't find any good pictures of twelve week old penguins!)

05 December 2012

Thankful Tuesdays

I am thankful that I'm done with three of my classes. Three to go.

27 November 2012

Thankful Tuesdays!

Here it goes again!

November 21st: I am thankful for people who go above and beyond to make people's days a little better. Little things can make such a difference
November 22nd: I am thankful for food in abundance.

Butter tarts. Yummy!

November 23rd: I am thankful for old friends and new friends and old friends that are new again.
November 24th: I am thankful for modern medical care and for laughter.
November 25th: I am thankful for modern transportation. It's pretty amazing when you think back to horse and wagon days!
November 26th: I am thankful for public libraries. Holy cow, they do a lot!
November 27th: I am thankful for computers, especially word processing, and that I have one at my disposal and that I know how to use for (at least to the extent that I need to do so). And also for snow. Because that happened.

20 November 2012

Thankful Tuesdays!

I am still feeling grateful! Here we go!
(I am sorry that there aren't pictures. Blogger keeps telling me NO!)

14th November: I am thankful for an unexpected free evening and time with my sister.
15th November: I am thankful for walks with with friends, even at unlikely times.
16th November: I am thankful for fireworks and cupcakes!
17th November: I am thankful for perspective and advice that I gain from those around me.
18th November: I am thankful for holiday spirit and cheer (and decorations)!
19th November: I am thankful for the many forms that music takes in my life.
20th November: I am thankful that I am able to make a difference in the lives of others.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it, and have a beautiful week to everyone!

13 November 2012

Thankful Tuesdays!

Here we go again!

7th November: I am thankful that people didn't seem to get too nasty over the election results (here, at least) and that some even maintained a sense of humour.
8th November: I am thankful for the colours of sunshine, blue skies, and autumn leaves (what few remain, at least).
9th November: I am thankful for all of the cultural opportunities available to me.

The NY Metro Pipe Band!

10th November: I am thankful for bagpipes! In general, I am thankful that many traditions are being revived and revitalised so they can continue to survive.
11th November: I am thankful for those who have served their country to protect those whom and that which they love.

Even the crocuses like this weather!

12th November: I am thankful for beautiful weather and lovely places to walk.
13th November: I am thankful for dogs. They love unconditionally and can brighten your day so quickly.

06 November 2012

Thankful Tuesdays

It's November, the month of Thanksgiving! Because of this, and because I think that everyone needs to count their blessings, I am instituting Thankful Tuesdays.
(Okay, Thankful Thursdays would sound better but I actually have time on Tuesdays.)

So, today's the 6th, so here's a thing for each day so far this month; they're related to my activities of that day.

(I watched bad movies a few days this month already and couldn't decide where to put it. Since there are WAY more than enough things for other days, I'll just say it: I am thankful for hilariously awful movies! This is from Shark Attack 3: Megalodon)

1st November: I am thankful for the opportunity to get an incredible education, even if it feels miserable and stressful sometimes.
2nd November: I am thankful for tea. During Sandy's reign of damp and cold, I was averaging 1.75 pots of tea a day.
3rd November: I am thankful for a wonderful family. We enjoy being around each other, we do things for each other, and everyone's loving and supportive. I'm so grateful for that.
4th November: I am thankful for living in a city with opportunities to experience other cultures.
5th November: I am thankful for chocolate. When it has been a stock example of "one of those days," chocolate's a great help.
6th November: I am thankful for the ability to express my political opinion without fear of retribution. I voted, did you?

(Picture from here)

What has made you feel thankful today?

17 October 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Happy Autumn, everyone!

(Note: I'm going to try to do some Wordless Wednesdays for y'all so that I can get regular updates; I have a bunch of half finished posts but I also have an incredible number of papers to write for school. I'll probably also refer to my Wordless Wednesday pictures in future tips posts.)

18 September 2012

Photography Tips (FaMH) #3

This entry is for improving your artistic eye. Setting up a shot is half the battle and being able to objectively picture what would make a good photograph is a super important skill. (It's nice to be able to subjectively imagine what would make a good photograph, but I'm going for universal appeal for now.) It's also useful when you're picking out what photographs to display--you want people to see your best work!

My biggest tip for learning how to set up and judge shots: look at other people's work. As in, a lot. Go to photography exhibits. Get out the National Geographic or coffee table books (or whatever prints photographs of the genre you most enjoy) and page through it. You don't want to copy or steal from them, but it will help you decide what you like and don't like. Next, figure out why you like what you do like and why you don't like what you don't like. Is it the angles? The subjects?  Look at your own pictures as well. Make a list of things you like, things you dislike, things you did right, and things you did wrong (drawing from both your own work and the work of others). And then set out to work on each skill. Practice each thing individually. You discovered that you like 3/4 view portraits? Okay, go take a TON of 3/4 view portraits (and then re-examine them when you're done to keep tweaking). You also like shots where the person is only half smiling? Okay, on a different occasion, hone that skill. You can put them together afterward, but work individually first.

Judging your own photographs after you've taken them is hard. Having a personal investment can really mess with your objectivity. This goes double if the pictures are of people/places/things that you love. You have to decide whether that photo is wonderful because it's well set up and artistic or if it's because you love the people in it and the memories that go with it. It helps to have other people judge your work on occasions like these but if you can learn to do so it will be invaluable. I suggest picking about ten pictures that you like and then have other people look through them and choose what they like and why (a good way to do this is through facebook). Seeing what they like in your photography is a good way to know what you've gotten right and this is a nice way, as well, to see if your opinions overlap with those of the general public.

Most of all, just practice and look. Go through your pictures after you've taken them. Practice things you like and don't like. And most of all, enjoy yourself.

13 September 2012

Photography Tips (from a Mediocre Hobbyist) #2

I'm back and I have more advice! This isn't so much a photography tip as a life tip but it involves cameras and can improve your skills, so bear with me. It's one I've adhered to for years now and my friends and family know it:

Always carry a camera with you. Any camera. I tend to compromise a bit with this by always having my point and shoot with me (rather than my DSLR; if my camera phone were better, I could live with just that) but I don't want to miss a moment. It might be something aesthetically beautiful (a rose just starting to bloom, for example), it might be a set-up to a shot you want to get later (but that you want to stake out now), or it might be your friends or family having a special time that you want to be able to have later on.

Years ago, before I followed this, I was driving somewhere and there was a fawn about two feet from the edge of the road. I stopped to see it, of course, but I would have loved to have captured that moment. I was incredibly disappointed. That was when I started sticking to this.

Since then, I've been grateful for it many times (and so have others). I've captured smiles of family and friends so I could remember and share moments. I've gotten award winning shots on a walk to the store. I've taken pictures of signs with websites to remember. I've taken pictures a friend or family member wanted. I've even taken pictures for strangers that I subsequently emailed to them so they could remember a fun time they had had.

Just think about it and try it for a week. You might find yourself grabbing moments you'll be glad to remember later. And you'll probably take more pictures, which is a great way to improve your skills in general.

31 August 2012

Photography Tips (from a Mediocre Hobbyist) #1

I have a DSLR and I enjoy it. I (mostly) know how to work it and I love taking pictures. Some of them are pretty good, most are just kind of okay. I'm learning, though, about the photography and about the life that goes with it. The tips I'll share with you are probably things you already know but that may not have occurred to you. My target audience is anyone who takes pictures, be it with a fancy camera or just with your camera phone.

So here's tip number one: angles.

For me, this translate to lying on the ground but it may be different for you. Pictures from head on tend to be less exciting and there's a good chance that many others have taken what amounts to basically the exact same photo. If you look at the subject from a different angle, however, this makes it intriguing and gives the viewer more to look at. It makes your photographs (and you) stand out.

With people, pictures taken from the side or above are often much more flattering. I avoid photos from below with people, though, as it's generally an awkward view of nostrils and unattractive chins.

So that's my wisdom (??) for now. Stay tuned for more and feel free to ask questions or suggest things (like your favourite angle or your best tip) in the comments!

18 June 2012


...I've been running into an awful lot of wildlife this summer.

There was a mess of baby foxes...
Teeny tiny toads...

These freaks... (<3)
(Including the lovely author of This is Summer)

And our new beautiful puppy! This is Zoey!

19 May 2012

Summer So Far

Working. Second shift. So tired. And physically demanding. There's something satisfying (post facto) in doing physical labour, though, and I work with Janelle, so that's fabulous!
Also doggie! We have a new pup at our house! She likes digging and walks and chewing on things and being silly and we love her. Most of my pictures of her are blurry; she loves moving and, as soon as I get my camera out, she has to come investigate. After I get more pictures, there will be some on here because she is just so precious!
So, yes! Doggie and work. That's life so far, for the most part. They're taking all of my time.

05 May 2012

I'm Baaaaaack!

I can not yet promise that I'll be perfectly regular in my posting, but thanks to my sister blog, This Is Summer, I am back in the game!

I had a great end to the semester (with a few notable exceptions that may come up later) and now I'm ready to relax and play and have fun with my family and friends and those I love!

I'm looking forward to being back on track. I have so many things planned: Psych marathons, attempting to exercise, photography, connecting with friends and family, a job (I hope!), and more. And you poor creatures are stuck hearing about them! So wait and see, because things will sure be getting...interesting around here!

23 January 2012

But only for now

Due to some personal issues that I'm trying to resolve, I'll be taking a break from this for a while.

Not that I think anyone checks it on a daily basis but I did think I'd try to have the courtesy to warn you!

Thanks, everyone.

21 January 2012

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

I appreciate them for sure! There are many that play tag outside my window to make me smile and there's a yellow-tinted one (I kid you not, it looks like someone dunked him in mustard-yellow dye) that lives in the park near here. I call him Rusty and he loves me.

Go visit http://squirrely.wordpress.com/ (I just discovered this website this morning and I love it) for squirrel pictures!

17 January 2012

SOPA and PIPA and Congress

As many sites (including Wikipedia) black out today, I just wanted to point something out.
(And I don't know if anyone will read it but I do feel a need to say it.)

On the 24th of January Congress will be voting on SOPA and PIPA and many of them are in favour of it, as are most big media companies.  The majority of Americans, however, are opposed to it in its current form.
Congress' current approval rating is around 11% -- the lowest it's ever been. (You know those "9 out of 10 dentists recommend ____" commercials? That tenth dentist is the one who approves of what Congress is doing, I think.)

Isn't Congress supposed to be representing the people?  So...not just those who are giving money?
They better watch themselves. We (as a nation) have been grumpy this year.

This is where I would like to say something about the 99% and the Occupy movement but their current lack of publicity is making it difficult for me to get a certain stance on their thoughts, so I'll refrain.  But keep in mind all of their fervour and what they were fighting for as well.

For more information, check out the text of the bills at the Library of Congress (SOPA and PIPA) and Strike against SOPA for more on the protest.


Now, don't get me wrong. I love rain as a concept (washing the world clean and making the flowers grow) and I enjoy it personally sometimes. Summer rains that alleviate the oppressive heat and lend themselves to dancing, for example.

Today is not one of those times.
I'm tired and not thrilled with the world to start with and it's one of those cold, windy rains where you need to be wearing a winter coat and your umbrella will turn itself inside out if you try to use it.
Now, I walk nearly everywhere. Most places I need to go are within a mile of where I live, so it's faster and easier to just walk and I do need the exercise.

This presents a few possible situations when I cross the road in the rain.
One, there may be no cars coming from either direction and I just cross.
Two, there are a few but there are gaps after them that I can clearly use to cross.
Three, there's a straight line of cars and someone makes eye contact and sees that I'm waiting and chooses to keep going anyway.
Four, there's a straight line of cars and someone makes eye contact and sees that I'm waiting and smiles and waves me through.
Five, something else (but this doesn't happen as often and/or I don't notice it as much and is not my point of discussion anyway).

Three and four are what I'm thinking about today. It's amazing, that one little decision can make a huge difference.
If someone sees me standing all miserably in the cold rain and chooses to ignore it, that makes me a bit grumpy and I've got that attitude as my lens for viewing the world for the rest of the day.
If someone sees me standing all miserably and lets me go first, I feel such a sense of...joy isn't quite the right word, but it's the best I can get. That one little thing can make me smile and feel happy through the rest of my day.

That one little thing can make or kill someone's day and I don't think the driver of the car realizes that either way. It doesn't make a huge difference for me physically (I get a tiny bit more wet the first way but I have a long enough walk that it's not noticeable) or for them (I kind of dash across because I don't want to hold people up or get hit by a car) but it can change my point of view.

And I'm working really hard to keep that in mind when I do things.  Because really, if you can make someone's day brighter, why on earth wouldn't you?

How about you? Is there a tiny thing someone can do that makes a real difference to you? And how do you feel about the rain?

15 January 2012

Constitutional Amendment Pick-Up Lines

"Why are we doing this and why are we so good at it?!"

As I was sitting with some friends and my mother, the subject of constitutional amendments came up. Because of who we are and the mood we were in, pick-up lines started flowing to the point where we decided to make pick-up lines based on ALL of the amendments.

Some are a stretch, some focus on the piddling bits of the amendment rather than the overall theme, some parts have (many) more than one. Some are sleazy, some are cheesy, all are...well, interesting. We had fun, though, and I found myself wishing that I had this list available to me back in school when I had to memorise all of the amendments for exams.

Please do keep in mind that this is us being silly and having fun, not trying to be politically accurate or at all serious. Do comment with any more you dream up and feel free to ask questions about our line of thought!

So, without delay and with no further ado, I present to you pick-up lines of the U.S. Constitutional Amendments.

  1.  I’m glad there’s freedom of religion ‘cause I worship you.
    • Tonight I will be exercising my freedom of assembly…outside your bedroom window.
    • Let me press myself against you, you can’t stop me…it’s my constitutional right.
    • You have the right to protest but I don’t think you’ll want to.
    • I’ll have you exercising your right to free speech all night long
  2. The government gives you the right to bare your arms but I give you the right to bare everything else.
  3. The gov’ment can quarter you in my house any time, soldja’
  4. You don’t need a permit to search my pants and seize whatever you find.
  5. If you ask me if I love you I’ll have to plead the 5th.  Don’t want to incriminate myself.
    • Because of my rights related to eminent domain, you have to compensate me for stealing my heart.
    • The grand jury in my pants is waiting to try you.
    • You put my heart in double jeopardy
    • There’s too much power in my pants that needs to be balanced.  Will you help me release it?
    • We’ll have a balance on powers. You can be on top.
    • I’ll do your process.
    • The powers of the federal government aren’t the only things that need separated.
  6. Hey baby, are you ready for your trial?  I’m afraid it has to be a speedy one.
    • I’d try to give you a fair trial but you have no peers.
  7. Wanna meet the foreman of my jury?
  8. I’m arresting you for breaking the 8th amendment because you...are excessively fine!
  9. When we get back to my place I’m going to do everything to you that your government can’t.
  10. The Constitution limits the powers of the government but the powers of my pants are unlimited!
  11. If you declare me sovereign of your pants I promise I can do no wrong.
  12. You can be my mate but we won’t be doing any running.  ;)
  13. I’ll be your slave, it’s okay, it’s not involuntary.
  14. I’m a man without a country.  Can I be a citizen of you?
  15. The 15th Amendment gives the right to vote to anyone with a penis…I’ll loan you mine.
  16. You forgot to pay your income tax so I’m coming to seize your ASSets.
  17. I’ve been directly elected to fill the vacancy in your senate!
  18. They can prohibit my alcohol, you intoxicate me enough.
  19. Now you don’t need a penis to vote…but you can still borrow mine.
  20. The inauguration of the new president may come quickly but I won’t!
  21. Hey the alcohol’s back!  Now let’s get drunk and screw.
    • Let’ put the screw back in screwdriver.
    • Whooo! Party like it’s 1933!!!!
  22. Baby I can last for waaaayyyy more than 2 terms.
  23. I have a district that has been underrepresented in Congress with you, but the 23rd Amendment now says I need to be let in.
  24. You can pay the poll tax personally with me.
  25. I wish I were the Speaker of the House and you the President Pro Temp of the Senate so I could be above you in the “order of succession.”
    • You don’t have to wait for succession, you’re first in line for me.
    • If you’re incapacitated can I have a list of you next 3 hottest friends?
    • Well now at least we know who’s above who.
    • Do you have a little sister?
  26. 18 year olds can exercise their rights in government and on me!
    • The government is okay with 18 year olds and so am I!
  27. You don’t need to wait until the next session, you can give me a raise any time.

12 January 2012

I'm a psych major

...and as such, I've learned some things and gained a ton of pet peeves.
(And before you say anything else, I'm a psych major because it's what I want to do in my life, not just because it sounded cool. Yes, I plan on going to grad school, yes, I have schools picked out, and yes, I know I'm not going to be rich. I do not want to do research or clinical cases. Anything else?)

Let's look at some of these pet peeves, shall we?

Not all psychologists think Freud is the best thing ever ("We all love Freud. Best coke addict in history.") but not all hate him either. I fall somewhere in between. While he was a misogynistic twerp who took advantage of a lot of situations and whose theories don't quite pan out, he did do a lot for psychology as a field. This includes getting people to consider childhood important to mental development, understanding that each person is different, and even just getting psychology some much needed attention.

I personally think psychology is a science, at least in the research department. Psychologists follow the same scientific methods used in other fields (such as biology), often with even more rigor (because they really want to be taken seriously) but they get a lot of flack because they're studying behavior rather than chemical reactions. They use measurable facts (fMRIs, heart rate, skin conductance, etc.) but some people still think it's just a silly game of make believe.

Therapy is useful. So is medication. Both of them have separate effects but neither is a panacea and neither works instantaneously. You have to work with your mental health provider to get the right treatment for you. And not all therapy is just talking about your feelings, nor do all psychologists/psychiatrists use the Rorschach inkblot test or ask you about your dreams.

You won't necessarily get a diagnosis your first trip to the psychologist/psychiatrist even if you do have a mental disorder (many refuse to do so as a general rule). Keep this in mind when a five minute quiz, a well-meaning stranger, or some other person or thing indicates you have a mental illness.

If someone really does have a mental illness, telling them to suck it up or ignore it won't help (and can, in fact, make it worse). It's a real problem and it's not just going to go away or get better.

The internet is not the place to go if you want to know if you're mentally ill. Go to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional.

And on a related note, random mood swings are NOT always the same thing as bipolar disorder. Just because you were angry and hyper this morning but feel depressed now does not mean you necessarily need a diagnosis.

Similarly, having rituals that you do (not stepping on cracks, for example) does not always equal OCD. And what people tend to refer to as OCD is actually closer to OCPD.

While I'm on this chain, schizophrenia is not the same thing as multiple personality disorder/dissociative identity disorder.

Movies and TV shows are not (generally) accurate portrayals of mental illness or the treatment thereof. So please don't use them as evidence or arguments.

I'm a student. I cannot/will not tell you that you're mentally ill or give you real therapy. I am more than willing to sit and listen and support you in any way possible other than that. Also, I'm not in psych mode all the time. I can't read your mind, I'm not psychoanalyzing you as we speak (well, actually, now that you've brought it up...), I don't understand everything about you and why you act the way you do, and I'm not diagnosing you with disorders constantly. (Yes, these are comments I've actually gotten and yes, I'm tempted to have fun with it sometimes.)

Those facebook tests that try and tell you about your personality? They're fun, but please don't stress out about them. They're not scientific. They can't actually tell you anything for sure about your personality, nor can they diagnose or treat any illnesses.

No two cases are exactly the same. People with the same disorder may have completely different symptoms and behaviors. This means a ton of things. Treatments will be different, for one thing, and you can't use someone with a diagnosis to diagnose someone else for another.

Think I'm crazy? Have some pet peeves of your own?  Have a psych-related question (other than "am I/my friend/my relative/etc. mentally ill?")? Speak up!

09 January 2012

The internet

Can be wonderful or horrid. It delivers news both good at bad, it can frustrate you or make you smile, it can suck you in and take your life or it can improve your day.

I've been feeling down for the last few days for a myriad of reasons and I popped onto the forums of a site that I read daily. Now, I comment on posts occasionally and had only been in the forum once or twice before but when I posted about feeling sad, there was an outpouring of both support and attempts to cheer me up. People talked about how they'd be in a similar situation and gotten through it, they told me to hang in there, they sent pictures of adorable animals and generally hilarious pictures and videos.

I had never really spoken to any of these people, I don't have a connection with them, necessarily but they were still there.
And that speaks a lot for the goodness of people, I think (and a major supporting point for the internet). We hear about kids getting bullied and the stereotype of internet commenters being rude to the point of cruelty, but that's not all that it is.

It's something much, much better.

05 January 2012

I want to know...

What does Snookie keep in her hair?
It can't just stay that unnaturally high by itself. What keeps it so elevated?!

Cupcakes? Live squirrels? Ping pong balls?

I know those can't be right. Any better ideas?