the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Two B.C. heritage homes for sale: $1 a piece

1-house-in-boston-bar

If you’re sick and tired of the absurd property prices in Vancouver, here is your chance to own a little bit of B.C. history for $1.00

Yup, you read that right.

According to the Vancouver Sun:

boston bar

The town of Boston Bar is offering up two historic CP Rail houses for $1 apiece, according to Lloyd Forman, the director for Boston Bar with the Fraser Valley Regional District.

Forman said he’s already had more than four offers, following an interview on CBC radio early Wednesday morning about the unique deal.

The houses, each about 1,100 square feet on 5,000 square feet of land, are in need of much repair, he said, but they are in good enough condition to renovate.

The only requirement for the buyer is that the exterior of the home maintain their historic value…so no McMansions allowed.  The district is hoping that the buyer will be someone who will want to live in Boston Bar and become part of and contribute to the community.

About Boston Barbc-110204-boston-bar-map-306

(from the official Boston Bar website)

Boston Bar and North Bend are located across the Fraser River from one another in the rugged Fraser Canyon, halfway between Yale and Lytton, British Columbia.  About 500 people live in the area, and there is fascinating history and natural beauty shared with both residents and visitors.

Boston Bar and North Bend were “forestry” towns for many years. The closing of the local mill and the loss of active logging have led to a shrinking of our towns in the last decade.  Currently, our towns provide services for travelers on the trans‐Canada highway, and the CN and CP railways maintain bunkhouses and crew switching facilities in Boston Bar and North Bend.  Affordable housing prices and close proximity to stunning nature have resulted in an influx of retirees and summer residents. Outdoor recreation opportunities are numerous, and attract many people to this special little section of the Fraser Canyon!

What would you do with these homes?

Here’s a few ideas I had:

  1. Bed & Breakfast
  2. Recovery centre
  3. BC Historical Museam
  4. Summer Camp for families or kids
  5. Old age home
  6. Communal living compound
  7. Organic farm & petting zoo

What would you do with these homes if you could buy them?   Would you want to live in such a remote area…the price sure is right!!

 

Guest Post: That’s innappropriate! Teaching art vs. objectification to children

Guest post from Marnie Goldenberg (aka The Sexplainer)

Orpheum_1

Last year I went to the Orpheum, the building which houses the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as part of a school field trip with my kids. The google explains that the ‘Orpheum is one of the most beautiful concert halls in North America.‘  I don’t know if that’s true but I know breathtaking when I see it.  Built in 1927 and refurbished in 2009, the Orpheum is something to behold.   All around the theatre, on every floor, are murals, paintings and other art work, decorated wall fabrics, tiling,  gilded mirrors, ironwork,  sconces, tapestries.  There’s even a huge, intricate and beautiful Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier smack dab in the middle of the hall. Makes it hard to want to close your eyes and just let your other senses be filled with the sounds coming from the musicians.

I get that for many among the elementary school set, artistic details may not be particularly noteworthy.  Nonetheless, I expand my role as chaperone to include pointer-outer of the amazing stuff that surrounds them. While I enthusiastically point out this and that to my 8-year old charges, one shocked kid sticks a finger toward the ceiling and declares ‘that’s inappropriate’.

I look where he’s pointing and ask ‘what’s inappropriate?’ to which he replies ‘that girl doesn’t have clothes on’.  I look up and see – gasp – a mural that includes a woman, head and torso, without clothes on.  It is a small part of a larger and very beautiful scene.

I do my best to counter his claim that naked bodies are inappropriate.  I gently challenge his belief and ask a couple questions to him and his friends to provoke a deeper consideration of the image.

The incident absolutely provoked me.  My now nine year old has reached the age where his cognitive functions include a lot more independent thinking and the ability to categorize and classify stuff better.  Where sex(ual imagery) is concerned, I want to help shape his ideas of appropriate and inappropriate.

But this is tough stuff.  And almost never black and white.  When it comes to art and advertising, our young children may see things that they don’t know how to interpret or which set a standard of decency that we may not approve of.  After all, there are many conflicting perspectives on what’s appropriate and inappropriate for our children, any children or adults.

Bodies have been a part of art throughout history and is not limited to our oversexed North American culture. Our kids, at least those not living in a cave, are surrounded by sexualized bodies in a way that is relatively new.  Advertising campaigns habitually feature bodies even when there is no connection between the product being sold and the bodies used to sell it.

I want my kids to have skills to interpret the images of bodies that they encounter in art and advertising.  Our Orpheum visit made it excruciatingly clear to me that it’s time to help them develop those skills.  I don’t want them to consider the human body inappropriate but I also don’t want them to connect every image of partial or full nudity to artistic licence or respect for the human form.  And I don’t want them unconscious, unfeeling and unprovoked.

Instead, I’d like them to be able to assess the purpose of the body being shared publicly, the message they perceive from it and the value of that message (whether perceived or real).  I didn’t have any hard and fast way of doing that until I found this TEDx talk by Caroline Heldman.  Heldman is a Ph.D. in Political Science, and her talk, The Sexy Lie provides a checklist for assessing whether sexual objectification is happening.

Example of inappropriate

Example of inappropriate

Heldman’s test outlines that sexual objectification occurs when:

  • only parts of a body are showing;
  • a person stands in for an object;
  • a person is interchangeable with others;
  • an image affirms the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a person (without consent);
  • the availability of a person is the defining characteristic of the person;
  • an image shows a person as a commodity; or
  • an image treats a person’s body as a canvas.

This criteria helps me and my kids evaluate imagery and rationalize our perspectives around whether an image adds positively to our collective lives or doesn’t. I don’t talk about all of these in one conversation and I shift the language to make it more kid friendly.  For instance, ‘violating the bodily integrity’ becomes ‘hurting’ and ‘commodity’ is ‘something people can buy and sell’.  It’s not a perfect tool but it encourages critical analysis.

Appropriate nudity

Appropriate nudity

While these types of conversations can start happening all the time, I do fear that the overwhelming message will be that depictions of bodies are objectifying.  So I’ve puttogether a list of things that provide opportunities for non-objectifying depictions of the human body to be seen and discussed with our kids.  Try and fit in a few in 2014:

  • Visit Art Galleries and seek out painting and sculptures that depict nudes;
  • Buy some coffee table books of nudes or art books that include the naked form;
  • Point out women who breastfeed in public (but maybe don’t point at them);
  • Visit a nude beach! – It’s a good place to look around.  While I’d encourage my party of beach goers not to stare (it can be interpreted as rude), I would encourage kids to have a look around; To notice how different the bodies are and experience the comfort and acceptance of people without their clothes on.
  • Finally, go to the Orpheum. The chandelier is awesome and you may get a glimpse of the girl without clothes on.

My kids may end up with different values than mine but I know that at this point my values are influential; if I don’t articulate them, they are less so.  As I support critical and independent thinking, my kids may articulate different perspectives than mine.  Art (and advertising) will do that. No checklist can guarantee an agreed upon outcome.  But being provoked can be a good thing.

MG2Marnie Goldenberg (a.k.a. The Sexplainer) is trying to be a sex-positive parent and wants you to be one too. She trained as a lawyer and worked in the voluntary sector including several years at Planned Parenthood of Toronto. Now working full time as a sexual health educator, Marnie takes every opportunity to talk about raising sexually intelligent kids. She was recently featured on Global’s AM/BC. You can find Marnie on her blog (http://sexplainer.com) or on Twitter (@marniegold).

Survey: stay-at-home mom salary should be $113K

According to Salary.com, the work of a stay-at-home-mom is worth over $113,000.

The website surveyed more than 6,000 moms to find out what their top 10 most time-consuming jobs are and how much time per week they spend on each. Then they applied salary data to each job, factored in the number of hours worked including overtime, crunched all the numbers and POOF – an estimate of what mothers would make if they were paid an annual salary.

sahminfo_2013

Working moms were considered also.  The salary for a working mom would be $67K + whatever she is earning at her outside the home job.

workmominfo_2013

I’ll take my payment in cold hard cash please…

Parents quit your whining…celebrities are not supposed to be role models

The Biebs has mass street cred now, yo.

The Biebs has mass street cred now, yo.

So…Justin Bieber went to jail.  I NEVER saw that one coming.  Yet, I can hear the cries of parents around the world. “He’s supposed to be a good example.”  “Why isn’t he thinking of how he’s influencing my kid?” And, my personal favourite, “He has a responsibility.”

I’m so tired of parents looking to celebrities to be role models for their kids.  You could literally write a script for every childhood celebrity out there (Lindsay, Britney, Miley, Macaulay, Amanda…etc).  Cute kid…greedy parents…all aboard the squeaky clean Disney gravy train…kid grows up and wants to shake the angelic image…does what most kids do – rebels.  This is NOT a new phenomenon….only now it is the ones who make it through childhood fame without the epic public fall from grace who are the exception.

Guess what…these kids are like all others.  They screw up…the only difference is that they have access to luxury cars and cocaine instead of mom and dad’s station wagon and shit mix from the liquor cabinet.  So…when they get caught, their failures are amplified.  It happens time and time again…it’s more predictable than Titanic (which, by the way, starred two childhood celebs who don’t seem completely screwed up).  Maybe instead of investing in celebrities as role models for their kids, parents should take a look around themselves.  Perhaps there’s a teenager on your street who does amazing volunteer work?  Maybe your niece is an unbelievably talented musician.  Those kids are REAL role model material…celebrity is fake.  The very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.  So…putting stock in a famous person to be an example to your child is crazy.

My kids have no idea who Justin Bieber is.  My daughter knows the name, but likely couldn’t identify him in a line-up (couldn’t resist). We don’t focus on the person (never mind their private life) in our house when listening to music or watching a movie…we focus on whether we like the song or movie.  I don’t talk to my kids about celebrities.  I just think its a culture that I’d prefer to protect them from for as long as I can…which won’t be much longer (they are 5 & 7).  When the subject does start to creep in I plan on telling them that although these individuals are people just like us…we shouldn’t idolize them.

Next stop for the Beibs…if he’s following the script…is rehab.
What are your thoughts?  Do you expect celebrities to be “good examples” to their young fans?

Absurd Vancouver Property (January 23, 2013)

If you were rich and could afford a $2.2 million dollar house…what would you imagine it to look like?

Maybe it would look like Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher’s old house in Ottawa:

carrie underwood house

A 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom house completely custom built on 11 acres.  Fit for a country music queen and her hockey star king.

Or…perhaps it would look like funny-man, Russel Brand’s new digs in L.A.:

russell brand house

While Katy still tries to sell their matrimonial abode, Brand is kicking back in this grand estate rumoured to have once been owned by fellow Brit, Sir Laurence Olivier.

Or…maybe Miami chic is more your style.  You’d be thrilled with Christian Slater’s new pad, if that’s the case:

christian slater house

With neighbours like LeBron James, Slater is in good company in this four bedroom villa.

But, seriously, in your wildest dreams…you never could have imagined that $2.2 million could buy you this:

$2.2 million vancouver

This must be the specialist effing Vancouver special EVER…

Vancouver…are you f*%king kidding me??!!

Win tickets to hear Barbara Coloroso at PEP Talks in Vancouver

b_PEPlogoI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  As parents we, too, need to check in every once in a while and workshop our skills.  Professional development for parents, if you will.  That’s why I think PEP Talks Vancouver is such and amazing and important initiative.  It’s exactly the kind of parenting professional development that I can get on board with.  2014′s PEP Talks Series brings an exciting mix of world-class speakers to Vancouver; three thought-provoking evenings featuring some of the top thinkers on the issues every parent faces today.

Barbara Coloroso is an international bestselling author, speaker and household name. In her upcoming PEP Talks workshop on February 5th (7:30 – 9 pm.), she shares tools for raising ethically minded children in the face of overwhelming societal messages and actions encouraging the opposite.

She has appeared on Oprah, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and NPR and has been featured in the New York Times, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and other national and international publications.

Her uniquely effective parenting and teaching strategies were developed through her years of training in sociology, special education, and philosophy, as well as field-tested through her experiences as a classroom teacher, laboratory school instructor, university instructor, seminar leader, volunteer in Rwanda, and mother of three grown children.

PEP Talks Series ticket prices are $70 for two speakers, $39 for one speaker, $22 per speaker Student price. Prices include GST and service charges. All net proceeds support the ongoing programs of the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

Pro-D Day for you!

I have two tickets to give away for the February 5th PEP Talk featuring Barbara Coloroso.  To enter, follow the directions in the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Report: Vancouver second least affordable housing in the world

According to an international survey, Vancouver has the second least affordable housing in the world.  For the sixth year in a row, our city has taken one of the top two spots in Demographia’s (a U.S.-based think tank) report.

A recent Deutsch Bank report rated Canada’s housing as the most overvalued among 20 OECD nations. The housing affordability losses were concentrated in Vancouver, which continues to be the most unaffordable metropolitan area except for Hong Kong. – Demographia

Among all markets, housing in Canada was deemed moderately unaffordable.  Canada’s most affordable areas were Moncton (NB), Saint John (NB), Fredericton (NB) and Windsor (ON).  Thunder
Bay (ON), Charlottetown (PEI), and Trois-Rivieres (QC) were also rated affordable.

In addition to Vancouver, the three most unaffordable metropolitan markets were in British Columbia, including Victoria, Kelowna and the Fraser Valley.

Hong Kong, had the most unaffordable housing in the Survey for the fourth straight year. Median home prices there jumped to 14.9 times the median household income — the highest median multiple in the study’s decade-long existence — compared to 13.5 times in last year’s report. Vancouver’s rose to 10.3 times income from 9.5 times.

Ireland has the distinction of having earned the most favorable ranking in the history of the survey.  Although…one could argue that the reason housing is so affordable is because of the huge economic crash that happened there in recent years.

Vancouver bike lanes: we have LOTS of them…so why are you riding in the middle of the road?

Share-Road-Sign-K-42961

Okay…tell me I’m not the only person who has gone through this.

You’re minding your own business, driving along in traffic.  Suddenly, a duo of cyclists pulls onto the road in front of you.  Instead of riding single-file, they ride side by side…chatting as they pedal along.  In the meantime, you are beginning to fume behind the wheel as you have come to a crawl.

This has happened to me multiple times.  It’s also happened where a single rider has pulled in front of my car and continued to ride in the middle of the road for blocks and blocks.  Then…to add insult to injury…when I politely (and if you are from Vancouver, you KNOW it’s politely) toot my horn I get dirty looks and, one time, even the finger from cyclists.

Um…excuse me??  I just don’t understand why there is this sense of entitlement.  Why do many cyclists feel that the road is equally theirs to share with cars?  We have numerous bike routes and lanes in Vancouver...and are building even more infrastructure to accommodate bikes, so I don’t see why cyclists can’t just ride in the designated areas.  I understand that their are circumstances where bikes need to move into the main traffic lane, but this hasn’t been the case in the situations I described above.

I fully support a cycling community in our city…I would love to see more people get out of their cars and onto bikes for commuting purposes. However, I don’t think that bikes and cars should be sharing the same lane of traffic, particularly with a bike riding in front holding things up.

What are your thoughts?  Ever been stuck behind a bicycle and felt the same way??

Absurd Vancouver Property (January 16, 2014)

“Charming character home in prestigious Point Grey area.”

$1.4 million.

point grey3 point grey2 point grey

pointgrey5 pointgrey4

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Vancouver…are you f*%king kidding me??!!

Will Sochi be safe for families?

Photo from Matthew Tichenor on Flickr

Photo from Matthew Tichenor on Flickr

The Sochi Olympic Winter Games are approaching quickly.  Having experienced an Olympics first-hand in 2010, I know just how much there is to do for families during the event.  Without even attending any sporting events, a family can occupy themselves day in and day out.  Between country pavilions, street performers, parades and much more, there is something to occupy, literally, every hour of every day.  Many of these activities are free and, if you are willing to navigate crowds, easy to access.  So…my question is…if given the chance, why would you NOT bring your family to the Olympics??

A friend of mine is currently facing this dilemma.  It looks as though he and his family are going to be offered the chance to head to Sochi to experience all that the Winter Games will have to offer.  Yet…he is hesitating.  Aside from work commitments, which cause time constraints, he is very concerned about safety in Sochi.

In 2007, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave a “national pledge” that Sochi, a Black Sea resort town near the border with Georgia, would be a safe venue for the 2014 Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee believed him, and Russia won the bid. But Sochi, it turns out, is no Vancouver, and on May 26 the credibility of Putin’s promise took a drastic hit. Just before 7:00 p.m., a bomb stuffed with shrapnel was detonated in the nearby city of Stavropol, wounding more than 40 people and killing seven others, including two young girls. – TIME

However, despite widespread media fear-mongering surrounding potential terrorist attacks during the games, the IOC claims that Sochi will be “the safest place in the world” during the Olympics.

http://www.easypolls.net/ext/scripts/emPoll.js?p=52d6f0b5e4b08a14ac5d519f

It seems people are split in their opinions about whether or not Sochi will remain a safe place to be:

Let’s see. The Saudis have already said they would activate Al Qaeda cells to terrorize the Olympics because Russia supports Assad in Syria. One of Al Qaeda’s bosses is Emperor Obama who hates Putin because he made him look like an impotent fool over Syria. Suicidal terrorists with dynamite strapped to their bodies are almost impossible to detect no matter how much security you have. Even if they are spotted, all they have to do is blow themselves up as the cops are grabbing them. All in all, I’d say I would feel much safer just watching the Olympics on tv in my nice warm house. – Geoff King

That kind of stuff can happen anywhere. So, we’re not really stressed out about it and we’re going there to win the gold.Canadian Women’s Hockey team member Melodie Daoust.

Boycott Sochi and anything that has anything to do with Russia. Let them drink their own vodka & drown in their own hatred. If the IOC says they will protect anyone, think Munich 1972. Those athletes thought they were protected too until they were kidnapped/murdered in the Olympic village. – Scott M.

I had planned on going when it first was awarded to Sochi. No one could pay me enough to go now. It isn’t only the terrorism and lack of respect for other humans it also is the disastrous construction that has gone on in the area. There are many articles here how immigrant workers come from outside Russia and have worked with no pay. The structure of the buildings are terrible. The main Olympic area is built in a major flood plain and does not have an adequate sewage system. Large buildings are dangerously built by unskilled labor. Everything about it is a disaster. I feel for the athletes that have trained forever to compete to be in such a contentious Olympics. Watching on TV is more than enough for me. – Sarah

We feel really comfortable with the security measures in place.  We know they’re going to take good care of us. We’re just going to be focused on the Games.Canadian Women’s Curling Team member Jennifer Jones.

I feel like going to Sochi would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience another culture, country and world-class event. On the other hand, perhaps, we’ve been spoiled by the fact that we’ve had an Olympics in our own backyard…and, maybe, the security concerns are truly something to take into consideration.  Finally, many refuse to support these games because of the politics in Russia and their well-publicized homophobic policies.

What do you think?  If you were given the opportunity to bring your family to Sochi for the Olympic Games, would you do it?

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