Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Queen of Versailles

So I just watched this documentary yesterday and it was honestly so good and so sad. I heard about this movie a couple months ago and it's been receiving amazing reviews. It follows one of America's richest families, the Siegels, and how they basically lost everything after the financial crisis of 2008. They started building the largest house in America (90,000 square feet) and took out a mortgage against it (it was all paid in cash) to finance their business, and the house is now in foreclosure.

One of the most depressing things about this movie is that it shows the process of how Westgate (David Siegel's timeshare business) sell these timeshares to people on vacations. They take a minimum downpayment when these people have hardly any money to their name. The goal of their business is to just sell as much as possible through offering 80% discounts on these properties. It was actually so sad to watch the mindset behind the employees at Westgate, and they're fed the idea that they're "saving lives" by letting people take vacations. And then everyone was laid off because the business collapsed.

Also as if this wasn't already a widely accepted fact, this movie really shows that money doesn't buy happiness. This family is so dysfunctional even before they lost all their money ... I would not wish for their lives in my wildest dreams. No one in this family seems happy. So sad.

Here's the trailer and I seriously recommend it, it's a great look into the mindset of America before the crisis:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My goal for November is to try to be more mindful. A professor I have keeps talking about how in general, most people we encounter aren't living in the present. This is definitely true for me - most of the time I'm thinking about the past or the future. Even when he mentions this in class and it pulls me into the present, I find my mind drifting off a few moments later, thinking about things I have to do!

"Only this moment is real and tangible and workable." - Deepak Sethi

Apparently meditation is a good way to improve focus but I'm not really sure how to meditate. I'm going to think of some way to make this a specific goal for November and see how I do!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kingston's Original Haunted Walk!

Kingston City Hall, just before our tour started
This week, for Halloween, my housemates and I decided to do the Original Haunted Walk in Kingston! It was actually spookier than I expected. At one point the guide was telling a story about a ghost who haunts females who come to play this organ in a church on Barrie St. and then a bunch of girls screamed from a house just down the road! Turns out their power went out and that's why they screamed.

We also thought that there was a light on in the old jail (that is currently unoccupied), which also freaked us out but it turned out to be a reflection or something. So everything was fine.

So it was really fun! And we're hoping to do the Ottawa Haunted Walk since that's where we're planning on going for Halloween weekend. Hopefully it's just as spooooky...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Do I Want to Do?

We had a big family event over the weekend full of speeches and special moments. At one point, my grandmother asked all the grandchildren what we wanted to do in our lives...not realistically, but what we dreamed of doing.

And I really didn't know! We've been spending so much time lately planning for the future and being practical that I've had no time to think about the endless possibilities that exist right now.

Being a young twenty-something is both very difficult and very exciting these days - it's practically impossible to find jobs the way our parents did, but at the same time, if we want to drop everything and go try to live our dream, we can. I can only speak for myself, but really there's nothing to lose and nothing really tying me down. I have no one who depends on me (i.e. a husband, kids) and no real obligations (like maybe a job).

Maybe if I don't find a job this year I'll get my parents to invest in a little startup business run by me.

Haha just kidding. Maybe.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Muskoka Wildlife Centre

My family is renting a cottage in Muskoka this week as they do every year and I was fortunate to be able to join them for the weekend! We stayed in Port Stanton, which my grandfather's relatives founded. I hadn't been there in about four years and it was great to be back. 

We also got to visit the Muskoka Wildlife Centre, which is a sort of sanctuary for wild animals native to Ontario. People bring injured animals there and they are nursed back to health. The ones who can't be re-released into the wild get to stay and help encourage visitors, who then enable the centre to keep running! They have a bobcat and lynx, a cougar, some wolves, and even a pair of ravens! Here are some pictures I took at the centre:

Bald eagle


Black bear

It was a great weekend and I wish I had more pictures, but I was very glad I got to go!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blue Jays Player's Gay Slur

Last week, Toronto Blue Jays player Yunel Escobar came out to play a game with a Spanish phrase painted in white over his eye black. The phrase, when translated, is widely interpreted as being an anti-gay slur. As a result, he was suspended for three games.

The interesting part is that there is now a debate over whether his suspension was too excessive, or not excessive enough. The Huffington Post has done a segment debating this issue here.

Apparently, while the phrase does come across as homophobic, it is also a very common phrase to be heard behind the scenes in major league sports.

Ultimately, though, as a high-profile sports player (who many kids in Canada look up to), I think you should be held to a higher standard of behaviour. I think that this suspension probably was not long enough - Brett Lawrie was suspended for four games for accidentally throwing down his helmet and it bouncing up and hitting the umpire. Are these two acts equal? I really don't think so. One was most likely an accident (who could intentionally get a helmet to bounce a certain way to hit someone?), while Escobar's was completely deliberate. Although, I won't get into Brett Lawrie here...

I should note that Escobar has apologized and is also taking part in community service that is aimed to promote "tolerance to others based on their sexual orientation."