Ban the Niqab, But Don’t Stop There


Photo Credit: JP Moczulski / National Post

Here in Canada there has been much debate about whether women who wear traditional head coverings like the niqab should be forced to uncover their faces in situations like court appearances and citizenship ceremonies.

Zunera Ishaq made news recently by refusing to remove her niqab for her citizenship ceremony and caused all kinds of uproar. There has been much public debate, some of it rather offensive. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even made a statement about how oppressed Ishaq must be to cover her face.

I have just one question.

Why are BEARDS not considered to be face coverings?


Dude, what are you trying to hide?

Is a guy with a beard likely to run into issues with the courts or authorities because his face is obscured by facial hair?

I highly doubt it.


How do I know you are who you say you are? And what’s with the weird sweater?
OMG that’s not a sweater!?

The problem is, women are constantly judged by their choices whether they choose to show their skin or cover themselves up.

Zunera Ishaq has spoken out and explained why wearing a niqab is important to her. It’s unfortunate that her opinion has not been considered important in the ongoing public debates about what was, and is, her personal choice.

Personally, I think a lot of things women wear should be banned, and good riddance.

High Heel Shoes


High heels are not only bad for your balance, they’re bad for your back. As in, they cause your body physical harm when you wear them.

They’re also, when you think about it, extremely dangerous to women’s safety.

They tend to make a lot of noise when you walk, and make it extremely difficult to run. This makes women in heels pretty vulnerable to potential attackers. Considering that 683,000 adult American women are forcibly raped each year, you’d think this would cause some concern.

You’d think someone might even suggest a ban on high heeled shoes in the best interest of women everywhere.

Nope? Okay then, moving on…

Handbags and Clutch Purses


The reason clutch hand bags are considered chic and sexy is because, like high heels, they make women vulnerable.  Unlike more practical purses with straps that can be worn hands-free, little teeny hand-held purses really limit your actions.

You have one less hand to open a door for yourself, carry items or drinks, or grab your keys, or do anything really practical with your handbag hand. This is why they’re considered sexy, and it’s by design.

It’s the same reason mermaid dresses are so glam. They are so restrictive it’s very difficult to even walk normally while wearing one.

Ooh…that’s pretty oppressive. We should ban mermaid dresses for sure.


I mean what if, for some foolish reason, women decided to wear mermaid dresses AND high heel shoes at the same time? The financial costs to our health care system would be enormous!  BAN THAT SH!T.



Don’t even get me started on why piling tons of makeup on your face is not only a waste of time and money (money that could be better spent on tuition, travel, RRSP savings, or pretty much ANYTHING ELSE), it’s a great way to load your skin with all kinds of toxic garbage.

Besides, using makeup can dramatically alter your facial features and therefore misrepresent what you look like.

If only because it can obscure your true identity, we should ban women from wearing makeup at their citizenship ceremonies and when testifying in court.


I can’t not include this one.


Who invented these ridiculous, torturous leg-encasers? Great, my legs look some weird shade of tan and unnaturally shiny, and the rest of me is still pastel ghost white.

Also, I generally expect an article of clothing I spend money on to last more than 1 or 2 wears before the slightest contact with anything sort of pointy causes it to INSTANTLY SHRED TO TATTERS.

Why? So I can look “respectable” in a business environment when I’m rocking my best pencil skirt?

So getting back to my point… Before we as Canadians judge women like Zunera Ishaq for their choices, let’s:

a) hold everyone to the same standard and demand that we all show our true, unmasked faces – no beards, no makeup,


b) be really honest with ourselves about what kind of “oppressive” choices we feel comfortable making before judging other people’s choices.

Yes, there are women who are forced to wear the niqab against their will. There are women here in Canada forced to wear high heels against their will. Neither is okay.

If we aren’t prepared to ban beards, makeup, or high heel shoes, then what right do we have banning the niqab?

Throwback Thursday: Sisters of Mercy and Mother Russia


Okay, so I was a little too young in 1988 to really grasp the political climate.

I didn’t know what the Cold War was, or what “mutually assured destruction” meant. I didn’t understand the constant threat of war or how nervous everyone was about it.

It’s a crazy thing to think about, but I guess every generation has its own reason to fear that the sky is falling. There is always going to be mass anxiety, and much of it for good reason.

What can we do? I guess we just pull together and make the best life we can while we have the chance, look after each other, and try to have faith that most of the people we share the planet with are good and kind and compassionate.

AND we can rock out to 80’s goth rock on YouTube!!

Dominion by Sisters of Mercy

A friend sent me this extended version including the Mother Russia lyrics and clips from DUNE, another 80’s classic. Awesome!

Reblog: Let Him Dance – Protecting Gender-Expansive Youth


I just had to reblog this article by Jonathon Reed.

“Gender is a spectrum. It’s not black and white. There is no ‘opposite’ gender; the binary concept fails to capture the rich variation that exists within gender identity.

Every single young person who is fighting to define themselves — trans kids, queer kids, gender fluid kids — need to be protected. They need to belong.”

As Reed illustrates through examples like Leelah Alcorn and his own experiences of bullying throughout his gender non-conforming childhood, gender identity is more than an issue of opinion or theory.

“Gender identity is a matter of life and death.”

Reed is fundraising for The Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

You can read the full article on, and you can you can support this campaign by making a donation on Jonathon Reed’s IndieGoGo page.


Avoid File Version Hell with Useful File Names


I consider myself pretty organized, but sometimes even the most well-planned filing systems go awry when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.

Even if you know where everything is, what if you have 10 versions of the same document? It’s easy to get confused, especially when you’re collaborating with other people.

Naming your files wisely can make your life a bit easier, and even make the search for that particular photo edit, report draft, or print-ready document a little less maddening.

Here are some file naming tips that I find useful. It’s a bit of extra work now that could save you a world of pain later on.

Trust me

I know you think you’ve got everything under control with your “version1,” “version2″ system, but trust me on this one.

When you’re at version 7.3 and there’s a version for print, a version for web, an English and French version of each, and another version of all of those versions where we changed the word “and” to “or” in the third paragraph, you will thank me.

Use basic characters


Cute emoticon. Terrible file name choice.

If it’s not a letter, number, or dash, please don’t use it. Remove periods, commas, apostrophes, exclamation marks, and SPACES from your file names.

Some programs will either get confused, or throw in a bunch of junk characters to replace the symbols with data it understands. This is messy and annoying for everyone.

If you must, use either “-” or “_” to separate words. Like this: File_Name.jpg
Or better yet, just use capitals. Like this: FileName.jpg

Use descriptive file names

You should have a pretty good idea about what the file is before you open it, based on the file name.

Is it a photo of Susan? Call it Susan.jpg
Is it a photo of Susan smiling? How about SusanSmiling.jpg
Is it a photo of Susan smiling while she’s at the park? SusanSmilingPark.jpg will do.


Susan. Smiling. In the park! (Source)

But why not just create a folder called “Susan” and throw all of my photos of Susan in there? Then I can just call them Smiling.jpg and SmilingPark.jpg without putting Susan’s name on every one, right?

True, and you should definitely have a Susan folder, but once one of the files is out of context the name is going to be useless again. When you attach that file to an email and send it to someone else, the folder won’t be there to identify the subject as Susan.

Keep this in mind, especially when you’re collaborating on a project with others.

For example, if it’s a client project, keep the client name in the file name. Include the project name too. Like this: ABC-Company_ResearchReport.pdf

Is it a work in progress? Use ABC-Company_ResearchReport_DRAFT.pdf
Is it approved and ready for take off? Use ABC-Company_ResearchReport_FINAL.pdf

Are there translations? ABC-Company_ResearchReport_ENG.pdf and ABC-Company_ResearchReport_FR.pdf will help you find the document in English and French.

Include the date


Get in the habit of putting a date in the file name. Like this: FileName_Feb-25-2015.jpg

If you work on the file for more than one day, re-save it with the current date so when you go back you know to open the latest dated file for the most up-to-date version.

It’s also a good idea to include the date on the document itself. Right at the top by the title is a great place. If it’s a working document – especially if it’s a working document – include “UPDATED:” before the date.

Every time there’s an edit or change to the doc, change the date in the text and the file name to today’s date and save it as a new file. If you ever need to reference a previous version, you haven’t lost anything.

Try all of the above

So if you were to follow all of the advice above at the same time you’d end up with a file that looks something like this: ClientNamePrintAd_V7-3_ENG_Feb-25-2015_FINAL.jpg

I know, I know. It’s sooo long. I get that a lot.

In some situations this would be total overkill, but in some other situations it could be really handy.

Tuck away old versions

Congratulations! Version 8 of the English web document has just been approved and we don’t expect any more edits for at least a day or two…

To avoid confusion, for you and for anyone else looking for the right document, go into your messy file folder of document versions and create a new folder called “DRAFTS”.

In fact, why not add a message for your coworkers into the folder name like “DRAFTS – DO NOT LOOK SO SCARY OMG.”

Select all of those old versions, from FINAL1 to FINAL7, and even that FINAL FINAL one you thought was the real deal. Move them all over into to the DRAFTS folder and forget they ever happened.

Whatever you do, don’t delete them. That will be the time when someone decides they liked Version 5 the best.

Now you can search for files

If you’ve done all of the above, and you misplace a file, the great thing is you have a better chance of digging it up with a quick search. Search the folder, or your whole drive if you’re really stumped, by the project name, date, or any of the other useful info you’ve included in your file names.

You’re going to be soooo happy when you type “Susan” into the search box, and all of those photos from your trip to the park with Susan pop up. There’s Susan.jpg, SusanSmiling.jpg, and SusanSmilingPark.jpg!

Good thing you don’t name all of your photos “Photo1″ or “Photo2″ because that would be a huge headache.

I hope you find my super nerdy advice helpful. My main goal is really to break the internet with impossibly long file names, but if I can help you get organized along the way then that’s super.

Remedies for Cold & Flu Season

Illustration by Penelope Bagieu

Illustration by Penelope Bagieu

There have been some nasty flu bugs flying around this winter. Pretty much EVERYONE I know has had the same flu. They all said it was horrible and they were right – of course I got it too.

Ever wondered why cold and flu season coincides with the wintertime? Apparently nobody really knows for sure. According to the wiki on flu season, influenza cases increase “roughly tenfold or more” during winter months and there are a few theories about why this happens, but no solid answer.

One study found that the flu virus has a “butter-like coating” that protects it as it makes its way to your body. The theory is that in the summertime the coating is more likely to melt away before the virus hits your respiratory tract, killing the virus. In colder weather the coating turns into a hard shell making the virus more hardy and able to survive for longer periods outside of the body. (Source)

I suffer from asthma and when I get sick it tends to hit me hard, so I do what I can to prevent getting sick in the first place.

Here are a couple of things that I keep handy during cold and flu season that can help ward off the sickies, or can at least shorten the time you’re sick. They also taste good, which is a nice bonus when you’re already miserable!

Hot Lemon & Honey


This is a simple recipe my mom used to make me when I was sick as a kid. Unlike NeoCitran, it doesn’t contain any drugs, it tastes really nice, and it won’t cause any side-effects except maybe the warm cozies.

You’ll need:

Lemon juice – fresh or bottled, doesn’t matter.
Honey – raw organic is best.
Boiling water

Now do this:

Pour a small amount of lemon juice into a mug. Pour until it’s about 1-2 CM from the bottom. Then pour boiling water into the mug, leaving some extra room for about 3 TBSP of honey. Just keep adding honey until it tastes more sweet than sour. Curl up in a blanket and enjoy.

The lemon gives you a nice big shot of vitamin C. The honey, especially good quality honey that isn’t too highly processed, has wonderful antiviral properties, helps soothe your throat, and will give you a little boost of energy.

Rosehip Herbal Tea


This is another standby hot drink that packs a lot of vitamin C.

I used to haverosehiptea-imported a hard time finding rosehip tea, and had to hunt for it at health food stores and European grocers, but in recent years I’ve been able to find it at the supermarket more often.

It’s often combined with hibiscus. The tea has a nice reddish colour and fruity flavour.

Brew yourself a big mugful and add honey to taste. Again, the vitamin C and honey combo will do you good and it tastes a lot better than over the counter medicine.

Ricola Lozenges


This brand may be known here in Canada for its unintentionally goofy ads, but I’ve found that Ricola’s cough drops are very effective.

I never believed that a cough drop could do much more than soothe your throat and maybe give you a blast of menthol to make you FEEL like you’re breathing better, but whether there’s data to back it up or not I’ve found that Ricola drops do relieve sore throats and even help me cough less.

They’re made with a Swiss recipe of herbal ingredients and, as far as I can tell from the Ricola company website, contain no medicinal ingredients other than herbs. The sugar-free versions of their drops do contain aspartame though.

I guess everyone has their own stand-by cure for colds and flu. Of course there’s chicken soup. Some people swear by hot peppers, and for others it’s garlic, ginger or zinc. For some it’s a hefty swig of NyQuil followed by a loooong nap.

What works for you?

Love Your Body, Love Your Self


There are plenty of reasons we’re supposed to hate our bodies and millions of products sold to help us battle these insecurities. There are weight loss products, hair dyes, wrinkle creams, supplements, and surgical procedures designed to help us get over the feeling that our bodies are disgusting.

In fact, just having a body seems to be something that’s generally frowned upon.

There are some basic assumptions we’ve made as a culture in order for these attitudes to thrive, but that’s a whole other blog post. Instead, let’s look at how unfair we can be to our bodies, and why they deserve to be celebrated instead.


Every body has fat. And we’re so mean to fat.

Everybody knows all about how bad fat is supposed to be. Burn it off, starve it off, carve it out, avoid it altogether, put it in your breasts, butt, lips, or in the garbage, just don’t let it get the upper hand.

But fat is our friend. It really just wants to to protect your vital organs and take care of you when you can’t nourish yourself. It wants to envelop you in a warm hug on a cold day. It makes babies even cuter. And it’s just kind of fun and silly and wants to jiggle along when you giggle.

Be nice to your fat.

greyhairModel: Yasmina Rossi

Every body has hair. And we’re so mean to hair.

It’s okay to have hair, but only in certain acceptable places. Otherwise shave it off, wax it, tweeze it, rip it out, burn it, or zap it with a laser. Have some on your head, but only if you’re prepared to process the hell out of it. Strip off all the nice natural oils with detergents, coat it in synthetic lubricants, and then spend 3 hours loading it with more products, fry it with heat, burn it with chemical dyes, and then try to fix all of the damage you’ve done with even more “repair” products.

Hair has its own personality, and it doesn’t mean to argue with you, it’s just got to do its own thing. It would rather dance around in the wind, wild and unruly, than hear about your hairstyle plans. It might want to be big, or flat, or whirl around your scalp in all different directions. It does not care what colour is “in” this season, it joyfully changes its own colour; it glows in the sun, and in time it shifts into grey, silver and white.

Be nice to your hair.

interwovenhandsPhoto credit: alejandroplesch

Every body has skin. And we’re so mean to skin.

It’s never quite what we want. It’s too dry, too oily, too freckly, too wrinkly, too thin, too light, too dark, too saggy, too uneven, too blotchy, too blemished, too scarred. Scrub it, douse it with chemicals, cover it with makeup, screw up its natural balance and then lube it up with petroleum, strip it with acid, sandblast it with “microbeads,” fry it in the sun or bake it under the sickly glow of a tanning bed.

Your skin is your soft, sensitive bodyguard.  It’s cautious and protective, but ready to face any threat first without question. It will warn you when something’s not right and will become more resilient if abused. It’s a warm place for loved ones to find comfort. It’s your connection to the world, and the medium of your intention.

Be nice to your skin.


Every body has veins. And we’re so mean to veins.

At some some point in your life you will be told that your veins are an unsightly problem. Whether it’s that vein that pops out of your forehead when you laugh, or the spider veins and varicose veins creeping over your legs, or whichever ones happen to show when you put on your bathing suit. You’ll be told to cover them up, squash them with socks, zap them or wish them away.

Your veins and arteries are magnificent, and they lovingly help to nourish every part of you. They do the bidding of your heart, and guide your blood on its journey through every cell in your body, making every breath you take another miraculous extension of your life. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Be nice to your veins.


Every body has breath…

I predict that this will be the next completely normal, natural thing that will someday be considered a disgusting aspect of our bodies that needs to be regulated and controlled.

I mean besides breath mints and mouthwash and all of that. If I’m right, some day you are going to have to avoid breathing too much in front of people.

There will be advertisements for products that ask questions like,

“Tired of that nasty hot air coming out of your nose and mouth?”

“Are you embarrassed that your breathing is bothering people around you?”

People will wear masks, or filters, or some product to make the completely normal and natural act of breathing more socially acceptable, and we will all start being really mean to our breathing.

Sound ridiculous? It is, but so are all of the other ways we demean and subjugate our physical selves.