Bite an aluminum fruit or paint a robot green?

Ready, set, go! iOS or Android? Apple or Google? Snickers or Mars? Okay, that last one wasn't supposed to be in there.

No, at Things De Jour we have appreciation for simplicity, therefore answering any of those questions in a definitive way is the last thing we'll ask from you. Instead we want to share something that will hopefully help you decide which door it is you'd like to open.

You may not care about smartphones. You especially may not care about what software they are running. To you, you may prefer a mobile phone that works fast and is smooth in everything it does. So in our current day and age, if we take a look at things on a global scale, there are two companies people tend to prefer when it comes to smartphones; Google and Apple. It used to be RIM and Nokia as well, but we will go into those on a different post. So in essence, it's a battle of iPhone vs Android.

How do you know whether to go iPhone or Android? It comes down to what it is you plan on doing with your most used device on daily basis. Let's lay it out in a very common, comprehensible way.

Design options: How important is the look of a smartphone to you? Google's Android is open source, meaning world's largest manufacturers produce phones that run Android like LG, Samsung, HTC, and even Google itself. All of these phones are different in design, so you have plenty to choose from. Apple releases one iPhone per year on a strict basis therefore narrowing down your option to only one model. However, in credit to taking its time, iPhone is guaranteed to offer one of the most premium looking phones on the market.

User Interface: Apple's iOS 6 (latest software) offers a highly organized and simplistic approach. Navigating throughout the interface and getting where you need to get is as easy as it gets. Android's 4.1 (latest software also known as Jelly Bean) focus is on a more custom and a flexible approach in that you have more freedom to change things around, if you so choose, or maintain a minimalist approach.

Speed: With the latest version of each software, iOS 6 from Apple, and Android 4.1 from Google, both offer incredibly sharp and snappy performance. You won't have any trouble scrolling through apps, swiping through user interface, or just in general use of software.

Apps: Whether Android or iOS, you're guaranteed to have a huge selection of apps in each ecosystem's respective application store patched in with software. In Android's case, the app store is called 'Google Play' and its advantage is that Android offers more free apps than that of iOS. On iOS the generic term app store applies to its online application hub, known as 'App Store'. While Android offers a larger amount of free applications, iOS offers more apps in its App Store than does Android in its Google Play as a whole, in fact by quiet a margin (albeit that lead is quickly shrinking).

Your social integration: Both iOS 6 and Android 4.1 offer a quick, and a convenient way to update your social media, micro-blogging etc. on the go. iOS does have a slight advantage here as iOS 6 is tightly integrated with Twitter and Facebook, which allows you to post updates right from your home screen, without having to go into an app.

Artificial Intelligence: Alright, we're not exactly there yet, but we're sure on our way there with virtual assistants on both Android and iOS. Android 4.1 offers a feature called 'Google Now' which is a smart software assistant that helps you out in many different ways. For instance, tell Google Now to show you pictures of Sydney, Australia, and it will do so instantly. Ask Google Now who the current prime minister of Japan is, and it will reply instantly. Moreover, Google Now improves the already superior Google search on your Android smartphone by using your search and navigation history to tell you "what you need to know and when you want to know it." As a quick example Google Now will suggest alternate routes of your commute or even tell you when your next train is coming. iOS 6 from Apple delivers on the same virtual assistant front with a software known as 'Siri'. Siri is arguably more human and charming in its sound than Google's iteration of Google Now, and it also offers a lot of compelling features. Siri can answer most of your question on some of the most random topics, bring you sports scores, reserve restaurants, post directly into Twitter or Facebook, launch apps, and show movie reviews. In essence, both Google Now and Siri are tremendously helpful, and highly efficient.

Hardware & Specs: It's hardly a secret that most consumers buy a smartphone by how well its advertised on the hardware or specs front. In this department, if you want all bells and whistles, such as a quad-core CPU phone, with a 13MP camera, you go Android. Android phones have been traditionally known to pack superior specs and hardware than iOS-based iPhones. However, this is hardly a decisive victory for Android. While packing less punch under the hood, iPhones have always performed in a way you could have sworn they also packed the same monster specs as their rival Androids. This just goes to show that it's not about how strong a smartphone's specs are, it's about how well and efficient a phone integrates its hardware with its software for a satisfying user experience. When it comes down to delivering raw power however, Android takes the cake.

Pricing: This is a difficult category to talk about, as it really depends on where your location is. Generally speaking, if you're plunking down for a contract with a carrier, it will be the same fixed price whether iPhone or Android. However, and a big however here, Android offers a huge selection of mid-range budget-friendly phones where you get a good smartphone experience at a price that won't hurt your wallet. On the other hand, the advantage you have with an iPhone (particularly if it's a newer model) is that it has a fantastic resale value.

Punch line: While I won't declare a winner, as there isn't one (different strokes for different folks), I will bring some K.Os....or attempts, since phones don't have gloves. Or fists. Sadly. Actually happily.
iPhone: Beautiful, intuitive, solidly engineered and assembled. A true definition of a high-quality consumer electronics manufacturing. Simple to operate on the software front, and offers top-notch security so you don't have to worry about malware. Perhaps one of its biggest advantages: it's brand. It's the cool phone to have.
Android: Big (new Android handsets pack serious size), powerful, thin, versatile. A true definition of letting you, the user, have all the control you want of your smartphone. Yes, restrictions are gone here, baby. With the most free apps, top-notch hardware (up to 13MP cameras on upcoming phones), and freedom to customize, hack, and tinker while having the best from Google, it's a love affair.


This season on Big Brother 14...

I don't normally watch TV, but when I do, I watch Big Brother.

Yes, I watched all most of the seasons, but you won't hear me whine about how sucky the current season is comparing to all the rest. I don't get attached to players, except maybe Ian because he is my soul-mate (Those glasses and that brain make my heart skip a beat every time).

One thing I've always wondered though -- how is it that most of these people claim to be die-hard fans and then come on the show and COMPLETELY SUCK??? I personally learned a lot watching 10 seasons, but I am sure it's not as easy as it looks. Nevertheless, if I was a house-guest, I'd impress everyone with my useless knowledge on health supplements and red wine -- as in, I wouldn't impress anyone at all. And that could be my super-duper-special-game-play! HA! Fly under da radar!



So, here is what I think about this season's players. Yes, they are always fun to make fun of...and it doesn't mean that I don't love this season.

Joe: Clearly has no clue how to play the game...and cooking for people won't do it. After all, a good meal is a way to a man's heart and there are also ladies in the house. Also, it's about time Joe practices that whispering technique, because he YELLS A FRICKEN' LOT!!! Maybe the dairy room camera brings out Joe's anxiety?

Frank & Boogie: Annoying and arrogant. Chill-town needs to retire and Frank needs to show us what is hiding under all those orange curls...and get a new t-shirt without Julie Chen's name on it. If anything, she is Dan's homegirl.

Janelle: I have a personal pet peeve with parents calling their children "kid" or "baby," as if they are a THING. Doesn't your "kid/baby" have a name? Don't you love them? Also, flashdance is so 1983.

Dan: One of my favorite players but exactly what kind of strategy did he have by taking the two dumbest and hottest girls on his team? Seriously...no, seriously. I would kind of see it if he wasn't married and completely in love, but Dan needs to stop playing that I-am-a-weak-competitor game, because the rest of the house watched him in a previous season and caught on to it before he even quit the coach team.

Brittney: Okay, best diary room sessions, hands down. Also, worst diet ever.

Ashley: Hahahahahahaha. Whatever Ashley is on...she needs to share it with the rest of America-land, because that would prevent all wars, resolve poverty and put the tobacco and liquor industry out of business.

Danielle: Nurse vs. kindergarten teacher? Seriously? If you were my nurse, I wouldn't trust you to put a band-aid on me with the amount of brain cells (and game-play) you have.

Shane: "The fifteen year old girl called -- she wants her hot-pink tank top back" -- zing bot

Wil: One of the most confusing game-plays of the season, but I am thoroughly jealous of your hair. Like Joe said, if you were sitting at the bar with your back towards me, I would think that you are one hot chick.

Ian: Please tell me about the forces of gravity. AND TAKE THAT DAMN VACATION NEXT TIME.

Willie: I'm glad that you were kicked out and arrested afterwards. You belong in jailz and are not safe to the community.

The rest of the houseguests this season: Who? What? Where?

On a final note,

Laters, hamsters.


What I really think about Anastasia Steele from "Fifty Shades of Grey"

Wow! It's been nearly a month since our last post. We must truly apologize to our readers. The writers of this blog are going through some major changes in their lives! Promise we will be back on track soon.

Now, to my post.

Warning: depending on what you call a spoiler, this post may or may not contain such.

So, about a month ago, I was strolling through Chapters. I came upon "Fifty Shades of Grey" by complete accident, without reading the part at the back that states that the book is modern erotica, and without realizing that I just set myself up for my first-ever-badly-written-fan-crazy-book-turned-movie-trilogy like "Hunger Games" and "Twilight" (I apologize if you found any of these stories exciting).


And I shouldn't complain. I'm on the second book, hooked on I don't know what. And it's not the porn. I never thought I'd get tired of reading porn, actually. But there is an overwhelming amount of it, so I basically just skip those pages at this point.

Anyway, perhaps I'm on the second book because I've been trying to give the storyline and Anastasia Steele a chance. I'm a very forgiving reader, believe me. But nope, it's not happening. There is nothing more to the story other than condoms, handcuffs, whips, chains, ties...and erections.

OKAY, NO MORE ERECTIONS, PLEASE!!! (On a side note, how the hell does Christian Grey get these 20 times a day with 5 minute breaks in between? I know this is fiction, but really???)

Also, Anastasia Steele is an extraordinarily boring and annoying girl. Anastasia not only doesn't possess a mind of her own, but her vocabulary is also sickeningly limited to Jeez! Wow! Holy shit!..and...That's so hot!


Anastasia Steele has the IQ of a seven year old, something that they have the audacity to call humor, and she gives strong, independent women a bad rep. Because she isn't one. (On another side note, how the hell does a virgin know what's HOT in bed if she has been living in a dungeon without technology or boyfriends, like Anastasia Steele?)

I shall say no more. And I will not speak about Christian Grey. Quite frankly, I wish that the book was written from his perspective about how annoying Anastasia Steele is. He seems to be the only character in the book that comes close to the definition of normal or interesting. And she calls him fucked up?


I rate "Fifty Shades of Grey" 1.5/10 (0.5 because it's at least suitable for my cardio reading), immense amounts of drugs and all the feminists rolling over in their graves.


BlackBerry to be reborn?

We've got a new toddler in town. Get ready to show him full respect or he might just feel hopeless and cry. No, no folks, it isn't quiet as dramatic (or painful) as that. I'm talking BlackBerry.

As you may or may not have heard BlackBerry is strongly focusing on BlackBerry 10, its next mobile operating system which will incorporate tablet & smartphone devices. This is a very critical and a quiet frankly responsible update since it will most likely either rise RIM's BlackBerry influence & sales and the otherwise "hanging by a thread" sort of scenario the company is facing, or it will be the end of BlackBerry as we know it. Yes, it is that serious. While the new Research In Motion (RIM) CEO Thorsten Heins did some significant cleaning up (many high-ranked, important individuals were fired) most people feel that for RIM it is simply now or never due to how dramatically and quickly the once immensely popular company has pummeled down.

While RIM still has a very strong hold of the business and the government customer base, the failure to manipulate the general market caused the company to sink to where it is now. Which is not a pretty place. Thus, the company is looking to make a bold move by going with touchscreen portfolio when BlackBerry 10 hits. One of the reasons BlackBerry failed to penetrate the general customer market was due to its continuous outdated software and hardware. This is the vital point that RIM looks to change with BlackBerry 10. The message seems to be clear, tactile keyboard devices will not be the driving force. In order to regain its strength and in hopes to ever compete with the big boys iOS and Android, RIM's focus is now to aggressively shift gears into a modern smartphone design, software, and hardware implementation. To prove this is indeed happening, consider this recently leaked BlackBerry 10 development device below:

Now you have to remember, this is only a purported device that the developers will get their hands on very soon, before the actual BlackBerry 10 premiers in October where we can get a much more ideal, and precise information regarding what's to be in store for us. Although RIM is taking a long time to transition into what we can only hope is its answer for the modern, sophisticated mobile market, let's keep in mind that patience is a virtue, as much as it is truly hurting RIM (yup those quarter & year by year income results don't lie, boys and girls). Personally, I do think and still believe that RIM can recover and re-enter the world stage again, but only if all the right strings are pulled. First of all, RIM has to run-and-gun a true new, refreshing, and a modern handheld lineup, with hardware and OS on par or uniquely better than competition, for instance NFC and cloud, both new, but quickly growing consumer interests. Second of all, RIM absolutely has to keep up with the pace of new innovation and technology, something they have failed to do in the past in turn leading the company into the demise they are in right now. Finally, third of all, while aiming for success in the general market, RIM should never shy away from its one strongest asset: enterprise. This means that completely killing off tactile keyboard devices would be a bad move being that they are heavily favored among government customers and the general business sphere.

The only question that's left is, will the new German-native, Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins lead BlackBerry out of the dark tunnel and into the light? We're waiting Thorsten....the clock is ticking, and it's not friendly.


To all women on a hunt for "the one"

Oh, the beauty of being a writer. I can dish out about my dating life to you, and nobody can stop me. Not even that one crazy ex. Ha!

Jokes aside, I will never use the term "the one" ever again, simply because I don't believe in it. Dating is like getting an entry-level job, you just can't be too picky unless you are a Marilyn Monroe (you have to compromise sometimes). However, I've learned from the worst and the best, and have a few simple tips for you. Now, before you disregard this post and say that my type is most likely different from your type, let me reassure you that this post isn't about types. There are just certain characteristics the man you date should have, because these characteristics determine whether your relationship will be healthy or unhealthy. Now, you don't necessarily need to carry a notebook with check marks or find someone who fulfills all of the below characteristics. Just keep them in mind, because they are obvious.

1. Being with him is easy. This is something you won't determine on the first five dates. But you should have a good sense of whether he is a manipulative and/or insecure idiot, or whether he is an easy-going person who will only compliment the ambitious person in you. When you are with the manipulative and/or insecure idiot, you feel as though he guards you like you are his one and only, probably hating on your girlfriends and asking for your Facebook password because he just won't trust you. Result: you feel like you are in prison. When you are with an easy-going person, your career flourishes, you see your friends as often as you did before you starting dating, and you just feel lighter. Result: heavens.

2. He has a definite hobby. Nothing is worse than a man whose hobby is lying on the couch, sipping a beer and watching TV every night. There is nothing wrong with being a couch potato once in a while, of course. But, you want someone who has a life that doesn't involve you, unless you share the same passion for tennis or something. Someone who plays some sport, or does photography or web design on the side, whatever. If I were to add my own kick to this point, I would say, make sure his hobby isn't video games or that serious computer disease (where he stays up all night staring at the screen). But, who cares, a hobby is a hobby at the end of the day.

3. He is not a mama's boy. If his mama still does his laundry/pays for his rent, if he still asks her about small and big decisions in life, and if he texts her "good night," yup, he is a mama's boy. RUN. Because you will never, ever, ever break that bond and you will never, ever, ever replace his mama. Nuff said.

4. He has a sister. Of course, you can't disqualify a potential partner just because he has no siblings or because he has a brother instead of a sister. However, if your potential SO has a sister, you probably found yourself a good one. When a man grows up with a sister, he is well prepared for all those womanly things men find weird, or at least pretend to find weird. He has seen it all and won't act like a clown when you leave that tampon on the sink counter. A sister is also kind of like his first girlfriend...go ahead and say "ewww." But in reality, she is. From her, he learns how to be around a woman and what to expect from one.

5. He doesn't forget his friends and family. Let's face it, spending every second of your life with your SO seems cute in theory, but not healthy in reality. Basically, you are aiming for that "good with you and good without you" routine. He shouldn't ditch his friends or his family for you, just like he probably shouldn't merge his hobbies with yours. Otherwise, your cute wine conversations will become very boring very fast. Trust me.


Opinion: modern women, sex and opression

I am aware that men serve as “market niches” through video games, car branding and sports attire. Men also suffer from the beauty myth (introduced by Naomi Wolf), which ventures more muscle, cleanliness, manliness and other related bullshit. However, I would like to speak about women (oh, how ironic!).

After reading some Naomi Klein, I am faced with the reality of women’s history and culture. History records that suffragettes fought against prejudices, against the role of women as heir-making machines and flower-like creatures. Women were unable to make any substantial pay or contribute to political opinion for centuries. Noble women had to work hard to give birth to a baby boy in order to deliver a heir to the throne. Working class women also had to work hard to give birth to a baby boy in order to have someone continue a father’s business. Basically, both types of women fought for representation.

But, does the new, free world recreate powerless women?

I think that women are still very much heir-making machines and flower-like creatures. To take the pressure off the gender stereotype of a man as the job holder and the woman as the child bearer, women are now exploited as sexual objects. This means that they are still only good for sexually pleasing purposes.

Women are on the cover of porn magazines and are the fixed frame of any pornography film, women get slimmer and spend more money on looking good, women consume birth control like it is the end of the world. Some women still look at pregnancy as a way to fix a marriage.

Today, it seems that the only body women are fighting with is their own body, their own self (mentally and physically). The Hollywood industry, along with the diet and makeup industry, takes advantage of this and  persuades women to find something wrong with themselves, so that they can spend money. And so we have identity politics.

What women (and men to a certain degree) are currently facing is a mono-culture of beauty and body image, where insecurities are a market share. The culture industry manages to find newer ways to promote beauty and health products. Brands of “all natural” products hit the shelves, still filled with the same wrinkle-reducing or wrinkle-covering chemicals. Appetite suppressants, after causing some heart attacks and other illnesses, are finally doomed ineffective and are re-introduced in the form of at-home yoga training videos and pole-dancing hype. Fat-free dressings and sweeteners, full of aspartame and sucralose (likely found to cause cancer), only re-enforce hunger instead of suppressing it.

Symbols of feminine radicalism aren’t up for sale at DrugMart or Walmart. What will women do without lingerie, revealing dresses, sex toys, contraception and lip botox? Aren’t these symbols only still alienating women as fragile, sexual, pretty objects?

All of these components seem to make a modern woman. A modern woman is funky, she does not need a man to pleasure her, or to compliment her, or to make money for her. The modern woman has a car, a house and education. However, the modern woman doesn't leave her house without make up and jewellery (and a new outfit) and doesn’t spend a day not feeling “fat” or “ugly” at one point or another.

The bottom line is that women are as oppressed as ever and are suffering from some sort of oppression nostalgia. Maybe the world was better for a peasant woman, who used beets for makeup and was too poor to care for a diet when all that was available was bread. Maybe the world was better for a princess with favoured servants and carriages and not much else to do than gossip, drink tea and offer her body to the king whenever he wanted it. Women fit into tight and oppressed spaces then, but don’t they fit into similar spaces now, too?

The difference is that these spaces are now more creative, more imaginary and more expensive. They must utilize the money women now make more efficiently. But, how much different is a life-long fight for votes among our grandmothers and the life-long fight with body image issues and sexual performance insecurities among girls of this generation? A successful woman is still assumed to be sleeping with her boss, a thin girl is assumed to be sexually attractive and living a good sex life, and an unattractive woman is probably deemed a virgin, or at least carries the label of “unwanted”.

Everything ties back to sex and baby-making; the delicacy and fragility of women’s culture.

Furthermore, some women are still put into work spaces and do duties that are labelled feminine, much like the women who sewed uniforms or worked as nurses during the two world wars.

Do lounges hire male servers? No, because they sell sex through short skirts and breast-revealing tops. Do modeling houses hire curvy models? Not often, because clothes don’t sell on bulging fat. And if they do, its a REVELATION! Would a higher-end pornography company hire an overweight or ethnic woman? It surely happens, but it does not happen often, because such women don’t fit the American beauty stereotype and don’t appeal to the standardized fantasy men and women are taught to have. Does being homosexual serve to be as socially acceptable for a woman as being homosexual for a man? Likely, but homosexuality in women is highly glamourized and appeals to some sort of modern polygamous fantasy.

Of course, there are always exceptions to all of the statements made in this blog post. Through evolution, or some other cause, women have grown to be naturally thinner and maybe even taller. There are also many women whose looks have nothing to do with their success.

However, women need to recognize the changes between the old world and the new world. Before, they might have been oppression by men, but now, they are oppressed by more beautiful women.


Why do we drink coffee?

Whether I am yawning or completely awake, I cannot start my day without a cup of coffee. In a way, this addiction is very much like cigarette smoking, because I associate coffee with my morning routine. But could there be some sort of a scientific explanation for this?

Coffee has various addicting characteristics, never mind the caffeine drug. It is physically warm or cold and can either make us feel warmer during the winter, or cool us down during the summer. It also has a crisp, burnt smell, which triggers instantaneous alertness (or at least makes us think that we are alert). Plus, it tastes good and does not necessarily need to be paired with any food.

Some relevant research: 
1) Some researchers say that coffee is a carcinogen, which (translated into normal language) means that it is capable of causing cancer due to disruption of certain metabolic processes. For example, acids and oils in coffee can irritate the stomach lining.

2) High heat is produced during coffee roasting and chemicals like creosote (wood preservative), pymdine (solvent, present in coal tar) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (atmospheric pollutants) are added to coffee. Caffeine consumption also triggers higher levels of adrenaline, causing the brain to go from calm to awake. The jolt happens because caffeine directly impacts the central nervous system and triggers stress hormones in the body (muscle tension, heart rate, breathing etc.).

3)Most doctors say that coffee is a a source of fatigue due to its withdrawal symptoms. So, our coffee consumption kind of ironic, because coffee only provides a temporary boost in energy.

But, this post isn't a quit coffee because it is bad for you campaign. In fact, I won't lose sleep over this research and I will not quit drinking coffee. Sure, coffee might have chemicals, but it was surely found to have health benefits as well. Either way, the real problem (if you consider it that) is that we are addicted to coffee. 

Why? Because we have withdrawal symptoms. Because the more we consume, the more tolerant we become to it. And this could very much be due to coffee's ability to stimulate our neuron activity, making us feel that we are finally ready to start the day. After coffee wears off, we may go for another cup, making us think that we need it in order to continue the day on the same high that we started it. It could all just be mental, because we are pretty good at fooling our brains into thinking whatever we want to think.

So, why do you drink coffee?

Personally, I think that coffee-drinking is a cultural habit. Many cultures down coffee in the morning, before school and before work, at lunch, during business meetings, and etc., because the society says it is necessary/cool/proper to do so. U.S. might be the most notorious for culturally-induced caffeine consumption (25% of its residents consume more than 10 cups a day!). Plus, chains like Starbucks and careful marketing campaigns ensure for a pretty long-lasting, loyal-to-the-brand addiction.


Québec City est magnifique

Before I begin here, I would like to thank all of our new TDJ followers. You guys have inspired us so much! We want to write more and more. So, thank you!

Now, I haven't done a picture or a travel blog in awhile, so here we go. Over the Easter weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting a really beautiful city in CanadaQuébec City. If you live in Canada or at the border of U.S. and Canada, you should visit. But go with your significant other, because the city is very French and romantique! My boyfriend and I definitely had an amazing time and can't wait to go back. It is different from Montreal, where most tourists go. Québec City is quieter and isn`t a party central like Montreal, but it has more historic sites and cuter bakeries for your petit dejeuner.

Here are some pictures I took.

1. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac: is currently a beautiful hotel with 3,000 rooms. It was built in late 19th century. The Quebec Conference of 1943, at which Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt discussed strategy for World War II, was held here. The film I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock) was also filmed here.

2. Université Laval:  is one of the top ten Canadian universities. It is also the oldest centre of education in Canada (founded 1668).

3. Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral: is a National Historic Site of Canada. It has been in place since 1647 and was destroyed several times by fire, so it has been renovated and restored throughout the centuries.

And here are some other random pictures:

4. Savini Lounge: has an amazing wine selection, live DJ and a great crowd. One of the best lounges I've been to.

5. Dagobert Club: has really great Euro music (if you are into that) and is one of the top bars among tourists.

6. Café-boulangerie Paillard: is an amazing bakery for breakfast and lunch.

7. Petit Champlain: is a neighborhood with the cutest streets and boutiques! This is also where Quebec City's oldest and famous stairway, Breakneck Stairs, is located.


World At War: Robots vs Apples

Duck down! There's a war being fought out there!

Alright, now that you've looked out of your window and made sure your street was still alive and standing, let's get right to the point: do you own a smartphone? Chances are, you do (or at least someone you know does, heck it's 2012!). Now to the real question, which phone? Today you will almost always get an answer that is either 'Android' or 'iPhone'. Yes, shocking, I know. The immensely fast uprising of the green robots from Mountain View collided with the hugely popular fruit melting people's hearts and emptying wallets from Cupertino.

As Android and iOS skyrocketed in usage , leaving RIM's BlackBerry in dust, a natural, competitive war broke out. As you are perfectly aware, the "fanboy" battles between iOS and Android users only escalate day by day as both continue gradual growth among consumer interest. However, this competitive dislike is found in just about any consumer, whether a geek, average user, or a person that simply uses a smartphone to make phone calls (yeah..there are those).

Of course this is all a natural reaction, and is by no means illogical, just like any two sports franchises that happen to be the biggest rivals. The real problem that ensues in this kind of competitive reaction is false information and stereotypical claims that give new consumers that are looking into jumping on an Android or an iOS boat a sour time. What's more, they are likely to end up on the regretful side of things after plucking down for something that doesn't fit them.

Of course you could say, do your research, it's your own fault. However, you'd be surprised at just how many 'average users' make up the smartphone chart, which are generally individuals that don't have much knowledge/nor care to know about the phone's specs, abilities, strengths, weaknesses and so forth. Just think about how many decisions are being made by the newcomers in terms of which phone to settle down for in credit to the massive flaming wars/ arguments/ accusations etc. between Android and iOS users.

Personally, I enjoy both platforms and I try to encourage to all of my readers to do the same, or at least to try to see a benefit in using each OS. If you are indeed interested in joining either the iOS or the Android party, or perhaps if you're jumping from one to another, my best advice to you of course would be to do a simple research to see just how different these two are because it will show you what kind of a user you really are, thereby defining your needs. More importantly however, my best advice for you would be to actually go in a retail store, for whichever provider you're with or whichever offers the best flagship phone offers, and to get your hands-on with Android and iOS. Folks, nothing beats your own opinion and likability, and while many people out there claim they know what's best for you, they really don't.

Quick tips:


When it comes to choosing Android, make sure to handle devices that are rocking Ice Cream Sandwich OS or ones that are guaranteed to get OTAd (over the air download) to this latest OS, as Android is known to have a very slow upgrading process among its devices, causing fragmentation. Take note, many latest, most powerful Android handsets are equipped with LTE & HSPA+ which are meant to give you very fast browsing/downloading speeds. These will be supported on select carriers only, however in US & Canada the big boys AT&T, Verizon, Bell, Rogers, Telus, Sprint will welcome it. In Europe things get tricky, it's up to you to clear it up with your provider.


When it comes to choosing iOS make sure all the warranties are cleared up upon (i.e AppleCare) since many reception problems have been known to plague even the latest "new" iPad and iPhone 4S, as well as weird, abnormal screen contrast etc. Also do keep in mind, the new iPhone 4S is advertised as having HSPA+ giving you really fast browsing/downloading speeds, however this is only supported with providers that have HSPA+ frequency support, which shouldn't be a problem in Canada and US but gets tricky once you find yourself living in Europe as it will be 3G for the most part on the Euro shores.


Be a better writer: why and how

Here is a quote from The Business Style Handbook (a book with tips from Communication Experts at the Fortune 500): "In today's wired business environment, everyone writes for a living."

What does this mean?

This means that almost every job description involes some sort of writing: emails, memos, reports, letters, proposals, etc. Major companies like Nike, AT&T and Wal-Mart voted for good writing skills. In fact, good writing skills are associated with career growth in such companies. Writing is the art of communication and it is hard to write well.

Guess what happens when you write badly?

Your credibility suffers: "Inaccuracy, error, inconsistency, jargon and carelessness riddle a written document and you put your credibility on the line (BSH)."

Many of the graduating students face this problem. We declare that we can write essays and that "we suck at writing." True, colleges and universities do not teach us punctuation or good sentence structure. They do not teach us how to write conscisely, consistenly and clearly for the business world. We realize that wordiness and improper grammar and punctuation won't do, and yet, we choose not to do anything about it.
I am always amazed by the number of fellow graduates who write horribly messy and embarassing emails to professionals. Then, they put "good communication skills" on their resumes. NO!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Pick up a grammar book. You need one. Whether you are a professional or a student. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes by Jane Straus is a good choice. You can purchase it from Amazon for $10.

2. Write in the active voice. When you write in the present tense, your writing screams ACTION/get things done. When you write in the past tense, you writing screams I AM BORING. Avoid wordy present tense by incorporating short sentences and active verbs into your writing in order to communicate exactly what you want to communicate. For example, seize vs. grasp vs. catch (all synonymous to grab but mean different things). Use an online Thesaurus for this.

3. Avoid buzzwords. These are sort of like the pick-up lines of the business world. About half of communication professionals at the Fortune 500 confirmed that they "hated" buzzwords.  If you are to use them, here are a few effective ones: value-added, input, impact (as a verb), broadband, synergies, bottom line, robust, leverage, proactive, paradigm shift, incentivize and corporatespeak.

4. Write as you speak. Nobody is impressed with a vocabulary that nobody knows. So, write as you would normally speak—conscisely, consistently and clearly. Simplicity can go a long way and you can incorporate extra creativity and complexity into the actual structure of what you are writing. This could include audience research and/or point of view, paragraphing, sentence structure and choosing the right medium for your writing.

5. Proof words that others often misspell. Although you should proof and double-proof every single piece of writing, pay extra attention to words others tend to misspell. These are words like acknowledgment (not acknowledgement), adviser (not advisor, unless you are British), afterward (not afterwards), dependent (not dependant), etc.

Hope that this helps. Good luck fellow writers!


What we can learn from men

Sometimes I like to travel to Mars, step back, and appreciate what men do and have to offer. The following observation isn't meant to depict a good man, rather it is meant to reflect on what quite a few men do.

Lesson 1: Keep it to yourself
When women face a problem, or a moment of excitement, they go and surround themselves with girlfriends, gossip and Facebook/text messaging. It usually ends up in some sort of a newspaper headline: "Best friend Debbie discovers a cute guy and makes eye contact at a coffee shop." Of course, this is something women do because it is in their nature to surround themselves with other women and relieve their stresses in such a way. However, we never see men do this and it is quite fascinating. Men don't brag unless they have that job/girlfriend/vacation ticket in their pocket. Not only do they NOT walk everyone and their mother through every cycle of their dirty laundry, but they also appear significantly mysterious and headstrong.

Lesson 2: Solutions vs. Emotions
It is natural for women to look for sympathy and this goes in hand with the previous observation. When women face a problem, or a moment of excitement, emotions run high. This is actually how women tend to solve problems  women let emotions confuse the heck out of them until there is a solution. For example, if I were to fail a class, I would probably cry for a few days and then come to terms with it. A man would deal with this differently by keeping cool and by coming up with various solutions to the problem on the spot. Of course, men and women are socialized differently and it may be hard to act like a lady and think like a man.

Men and women tend to have this miscommunication in relationships, especially when a woman complains to her significant other and he (quite annoyingly) tells her what to do, without realizing that she is actually looking for sympathy/something comforting, and not for a solution. But, when I consider these two different approaches, it is clear which one is more logical and can solve the problem more efficiently.

Lesson 3: Eat an elephant for breakfast
I clearly noticed this good habit while hanging around various men and living with one. I will pick at my breakfast or skip it altogether while he will eat an elephant (not literally). Because of this, women may overeat at lunch and dinner while men may maintain a consistent diet throughout the day because they filled up at breakfast. BUT, it might take serious training (for me) to wake up with this kind of man hunger.

Lesson 4: Soap is good for everything
While women have various bath products (shampoo, body wash, face wash, etc.), men really only rely on one —  BAR SOAP.  Of course, there are many high-maintenance men out there with more beauty products than I will ever own, but that is another story I wish not to get into.

The soap idea appears crazy to me. But really, all of the bath products have the same chemicals in them and not much changes between one product and the next. So, it's actually quite smart to replace everything with just one type of product. After all, our ancestors did it and still had nice hair and skin.


Why is rice white and what is the hype with it?

First cultivated by Asian farmers in 3000 BC, rice is a hot commodity and one grain that requires real mass production. An average North American consumes 22 pounds a year, while residents in some Asian countries consume as much as 300 pounds a year!

If rice was on the hotness scale, it would definitely be a 10. Why? Because wandering around the grocery store, you will find shelves filled with rice. All types of rice: long-grain, medium-grain, small-grain, white, brown, basmati and wild, among others (To be more specific, there are actually over 40,000 varieties of rice in the world).

But as someone who spends quite a bit of time at restaurants, the type of rice that I come across most often is white rice. On many occasions I find myself asking "What is the hype with it?"

When rice is harvested, it goes through a process of milling, which removes the outer grain husks. Brown rice only has the outer grain husks removed while white rice has the husk, bran and germ removed. Not only does white rice take additional steps to this preparation process, it also seems less healthy and less environmentally friendly. Not to mention, it is polished with talc and glucose after. Due to this, even more nutrients are lost, so to fix the issue, white rice is then sprayed with nutrients and advertised as "enriched." It was rich in the first place!

One explanation for the popularity of white rice could be that it is traditional. Classic. Staple. The other explanation is that white rice stores longer and is faster to cook, and this is important because rice feeds more people in the world than any other grain. Oh I get it...in the case of an apocalyptic event, it won't be brown rice that saves us.
One more (amateur) explanation is that white rice doesn't have much flavor and is easier to mix with other food.

While the rice question is (somewhat) answered, I am now wondering about white bread and pasta. But that will have to wait until next time, dear readers.


The Siren: why art thou so complicated?

Did you have your Caffè Americano? Perhaps you wanted to caramel your morning and settled down for a Macchiato? Or maybe, just maybe you share the same preference as me and went with a Vanilla Latte? Only you can tell.

Not just you, however, your wallet as well. Your phone too, if you complete your Starbucks purchases through your handset (iPhone & Android), in which case you win an extra point from me.

You’re perfectly aware that the green Siren on your white cup came at a higher price than many other coffee companies, yet you’ve chosen its temptation. Why? Is it the incomparable taste that gets you running back for more? Is it because it’s socially considered more attractive than any of its competitors? Is it because it gives you that extra boost of higher class materialistic confidence? Once again, only you can tell.

What becomes an issue however is when Starbucks becomes generally praised as being overrated amongst the general public. There are many reasons as to why Starbucks consumers and more specifically its non-consumers feel this way, so your daily dose of TDJ is about to break it down nicely and easily for ya.

When people say “Starbucks is so overrated” they often confuse two words: overrated and overpriced. Yes, this is indeed the case especially when you begin to question them as to why they feel this way. People of all kind, aliens from many light years away (or here on our planet, dammit stop messing with my Wi-Fi), animals that ravage through food, stop for a second. Breathe slowly and read the following. When something is overrated it is appraised, overestimated, or rated too highly. Thus, when you say Starbucks is overrated what you’re saying is the quality of their coffee & food & other consumable products are below that of what is a normal standard, or simply underwhelming offering for what’s offered elsewhere. Mind you, it is perfectly okay to think and reason this way but let’s make some sense of it shall we?

These people (and there are many, many of them) go around saying Starbucks is overrated, which should mean there is a wide variety of established/upcoming/unknown coffee companies that offer a much better quality in their menus. Great, however there is a reason Starbucks has been featured in just about any movie, seen in many people’s hands on daily average, piled to the max with no free seats, and generally speaking highly preferred among consumers worldwide. You may argue it’s all in the brand, but it isn’t. If the quality of coffee in Starbucks was that bad, and the hype around the company was that high, there is no way people would pluck down their hard, earned cash for it much longer.

You’ve got to understand consumer trends and how insanely quickly they can change in a matter of weeks. Exhibition A: take a look at how Android overtook iOS in preference and usage on the mobile front. It happened nearly all too quickly. Thus, despite the fact that it is a well-known brand, it doesn’t mean that it gets strong consumer sales just because of its name. In another example, take a look at RIM’s BlackBerry. Is it a widely known brand? Absolutely. Is it selling phones like hotcakes? Absolutely not. BlackBerry was a top vendor of mobile handsets at one point in time, but its consumer interest has dropped colossally. The brand is still there, but are people buying it? Nope, not much anymore. At some point you’ve got to stop and really understand that a brand will indeed play its game when the product being offered is of high quality and preference among average consumers. People enjoy their Starbucks coffee + people buy more of it + the brand becomes confident and popular = winning profit.

In turn, what many of these folks really mean is that Starbucks is overpriced. That, my good friends, is what is really meant when people brag about this coffee company being overrated. Come to think of it, overpriced it certainly is. While generally offering good quality of coffee for such a large worldwide chain, the prices seen on the menus are assuredly too high for what’s being offered. You can certainly feel this when getting a grande Vanilla Latte (yes my favorite) which is nearly $5 in United States & Canada (depending on your location it may be a little high or lower), but the real pain can be felt in Europe where the same latte comes up to nearly €5 (also depending on location, but generally speaking true) meaning you’re basically paying $7 for a medium cup of coffee.

Oh green siren, why art thou so overrated? Just kidding, I meant to say overpriced.

What’s your personal take on this? Sound off in the poll above (right-hand corner).


Why We Love & Hate Valentine's Day

As we know, Valentine's Day started off with a Christian legend. Once upon a time, there was a boy with a bow and an arrow...

just kidding!

Basically, Mr. Valentine (whoever he was) was 'beheaded' on February 14 and the world decided to celebrate love.

On February 15, Ancient Roman priests created Lupercalia celebration and established its customs which involved a  (Lupercal) cave and the sacrificing of a goat and a dog. After the sacrificing, noble youth went about the town with goatskin thongs as these were sacred to good child bearing. The thongs were called februa and februatio, which is also where the month "February" gets its name. The celebration was likely established in the hopes of good crops.

After Paganism became frowned upon, certain festivals like Lupercalia were given Christian names. "St. Valentine's Day" was born and became a celebration of mating in light of springtime and fertility. The celebration quickly spread and various cultures adapted the tradition with some variations to its customs.

Now, Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate consumerism. No longer a festival in its old, cheerful  and sacred form, it is now a day many people come to hate. Of course, consumerism plasters love all over everything and anything. In the process, consumerism takes all the fun out of love and makes us think of the fact that love should exist all the time and not just on the one day. Of course, we don't argue over the idea that a celebration is usually meant to be sort of a spotlight or a snapshot to an ongoing thing. And so we go all out.

Celebration of Valentine's Day becomes a chore, hence all of the anti-Valentine's Day bitterness going around. I personally like to claim that the things people now do on Valentine's Day, they should practice daily/weekly. But apparently some couples actually don't get this idea or don't love each other enough to get cheesy more often.

Then we get people who are not in relationships and feel lonely even if they don't necessarily want to be spending the day with someone. Seeing every other couple prance around, even if they look like they completely hate each other, tends to bring that emotion. And let's not forget mating. That shit comes in the form of overbooking every single hotel in the city and going at it all at once.

Now that's a celebration!

Of course, if we look at it in that way, Valentine's Day is kind of...nasty.

So, what ruined Valentine's Day for us? Consumerism. The second we let everyone else make money off of us, they jumped at the chance just like they do around Christmas time and any other hot holiday. I would do the same, wouldn't you? And let's not forget the crazy girlfriends who threaten to break up with their significant others if they don't receive candy, flowers and teddy-bears from them. I am serious, this is 53% of women according to a U.S census.


So, really. We create the hype and then complain that we suffer from it.

Anyways, I am going to go mate drink love potion. Not because it's Valentine's Day but because it is my Anniversary. Yes, we couldn't pick a better date. There is reasoning behind my irony - I am like a guy and I don't really remember important dates. In order to help both of us, I rounded it to a holiday we could both remember.

PS: Don't propose to your woman today or I will personally come to your house. And you won't like me when I'm angry.


One fruit that never goes bad

Stop me if you've seen that white, shining fruit before. Yup, chances are you see it several times a day.

Apple. You either love it or hate it. For the most part, that's how it is today. What you can't deny however, is that Apple has become one of the most influential brands of our time, and moreover has developed into something greater than just a brand - it became a culture.

On its successful road Apple manages to fulfill 3 seemingly easy categories : 1) visual 2) simplistic 3) marketable


Take a gander at the above iPhone 4S. First thing (or one of the first things) you notice is how attractive and precise the design of this handset is. This has been the golden spoon for Apple in all of their successful products ever since the iPod Nano. It may seem a little stupid to you but think for a second, how does a tech company win over so many people's minds? It sure as heck is not gonna be listing all of its boring specs to many people who otherwise have no clue what a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU is. Sure, there may be many tech-savvy folks but for the most part what really draws all the attention of all age groups and genders is what's visually cooking. Ranging from all the available products Apple offers today, you will always find a beautiful looking MacBook Air, iPad 2, iMac and so forth. It is the exact implementation of the right classical colors and carefully thought out hardware where you'll find a visual appeal and you'll know exactly what it is: an Apple product.

Simple & Easy:

When did anyone ever think of Apple's software as something on par with rocket science? The answer would be never, of course. You know what they say, simple does it. Simplicity accounts for big success in many aspects, as many people seem to forget that. Just take a look at immensely popular web services like Facebook and Google. While they have many tweaks to them, in the overall picture it is something any person can understand and navigate through with ease. Well, that is just the exact same thing with Apple. Its software is constructed in a way that make things faster, snappier, easier, and quiet frankly requiring little effort of mind. This is a huge bonus if you think about it, as simplicity particularly attracts the non techies who just want a computer or a phone that is very easy to handle. Generally speaking, the one thing everyone loves about Apple products is how snappy and fast everything works. While Apple does include some very respectable specs to run their products this way, from an average consumer's point of view, the software just sings along the hardware giving you here, now, easy, understandable, and fast.


Let's face it, where would Apple be without its tremendous marketing and advertising skills today? Every time you see an ad from Apple it screams of the two things I've talked about thus far: great visual, simple as ABC. Nearly any time Apple advertises a certain product they put in a few clever words, no more. The main object is always at the center of your attention, while the headers serve as a little tease of what's "awaiting for you" if you choose to pluck down your cash for what's being advertised. At times it's not even clever or unique, it's just words put in such a short mannered way and context, that it really gets you almost believing that you can't possibly go wrong when you go with this product. We all know how Apple loves to mix up some pleasant, upbeat music in their commercials where nearly everything is white but the product being presented. I guess one easy way to summarize Apple's advertising policy is to "keep them in focus".

In conclusion, what the aluminum fruit really thrives on is your appetite for "easy does it". While Apple products are by no means meant for dummies or for people that know nothing about technology (in fact far from it), they do manage to be the #1 preference of consumer choice among many average folks.


Freshman versus Graduate

Sometimes the Uber Frosh or the Sheltered College Freshman memes do your first year in college no justice.

As a graduating student, one of my current favourite hobbies is to poeticize about my last few years in university (okay, not really). Basically, university was a general waste of time if I were to analyze the career from my freshman mindset - college didn't get me a job or make me any smarter. From my graduating student perspective, university allowed me to gain experiential learning, gain professional experience and contacts, meet people who changed my life, and discover opportunities that are beyond anything that I expected.

Here is a gist of the differences in a chart. Click to see in its original size.


Why you shouldn't read sexy magazines

Dear TDJ, your expert in love-o-logy is back and is about to put certain sexy headlines to shame in an open letter.

Just to put it out there, I haven't picked up any sort of magazine for maybe over a year. Even when I would waste money on that type of stuff (usually to appear cool on the beach or to cut out some pictures for my room), I never took anything to heart and only followed my intuition and past experiences. But, I feel that it is time to take some of these things to heart.

Example 1 - Cosmo: 
Cosmo tells me that when my man is stressed I should fix him up with a bowl of chips and a fruity cocktail. No, I'm not kidding. That is what Cosmo says!

Dear Cosmo, when MY man is stressed, the best thing that I can do for him is to leave him the f#@k alone! Because HE, like any other man, needs his cave to figure stuff out. He definitely does not need a fruity cocktail. I need that when I'm stressed. Did a girl write that advice?

Example 2 - Ask Men
Ask Men magazine writes on what women consider to be good sex: something with vibrators, cuddling and women being a "knob" versus a "switch" (aka not always ready for it like men are).

Dear Ask Men, first of all, I mind your wording. It comes across as if all women consider this to be good sex. Next thing you know, a man goes ahead and pulls out vibrators and sprawls out all sweaty on top of me afterwards. Gross. Maybe a shower first and maybe stop advertising cuddling cause it totally sounds stupid by now? Second, not all women use vibrators. In fact, not many at all. Third, women are just as much of a switch as men are. Yes, they are probably moodier but it is a proven fact that women want sex more often than men do. Don't break your beak wooing me now, dear.

Example 3 - Cosmo #2
Cosmo ignites fumes in me by telling me that the perfect age to get married is 29-30, because these are "great positions to have a happy, stable marriage" due to stabilized money and completed education.

Dear Cosmo, it is because of propaganda like this that both men and women run around in their 20's and early 30's chasing the perfect career or the perfect marks, and then settle for whatever just to get married at the "right age." If for half of your life you made sure to stay away from commitment you will A. not know what commitment is at this proposed golden age, and B. enter a relationship for a wrong reason (just to get married). I can assure you that I made it through school with the highest marks in most of my classes, with professional experience, and wait for it... while being in the best relationship I could ask for.

Example 4 - Men's Health
Men's Health magazine encourages men to find "the one." Here is some proposed judgement criteria: she buys you shaving cream when you are all out, she initiates sex while cooking, and she works out.

Dear Men's Health, before I get to your lame tips, I would like to request that you stop telling men to look for "the one." That is why we get those creepy douchebags throwing around pick up lines like they just got some sort of a disease that limits their vocabulary.  And in terms of the criteria you propose, there isn't a check-mark type of thing in dating. When you really fall in love, you don't test that person's performance and you learn to compromise if things get sour. Also, the only time I will buy MY man new shaving cream is when I am buying myself new shaving cream. Otherwise, he isn't a baby and is perfectly capable of doing it himself. That's how men get spoiled. 

This list could go on endless.

Ladies and gentlemen, you don't need me to tell you that sexy magazines are lame and in many cases, provide totally wrong advice. Trust me, Bob and Joe don't know what you should do with your sex life.

Cheers mates.


Why do men like beer?

Believe it or not, this question has not been answered concretely. My suggestions do not measure up as an answer, but I can assure you that this habit has nothing to do with gender or any type of beer-loving-gene.

Every time I visit a bar or a pub, I see a few bros drinking the fizzy drink. Of course, I've also seen business partners (and the like) share a bottle of wine. However, these wine drinkers are normally dressed in suits while sharing this romantic beverage. So, that must be the thing: men drink beer because everything and everyone tells them that it is the manly thing to do (without having to wear a suit every time).

I've inquired why men like beer so much and they gave me some lame responses, such as: "it is the most hydrating" or "it is what we do when we watch games." Obviously. The answer they are avoiding is: beer is a socially accepted standard between men; and they are simply afraid to appear less masculine (men will never admit fear).

Based on this preliminary observation, I propose that men drink beer because...

1) Men are conditioned to do it: ever since they are boys, they are exposed to advertisements all over the place in the same way that girls are exposed to thin thighs and Kim Kardashian's boobs. These ads showcase beer half the time and contribute to the man's internalization of cultural meanings, interpretations and values. Porno can also fall under this category and probably cologne as well.

2) It is easy to drink and because men also like to drive cars, beer allows them to slow down the pace of their drinking. As we know, beer normally comes in super-size-me jugs.

3) It is the "bro" thing to do and because a man's identity revolves around his money and how manly he dresses, smells and feels, beer naturally falls into his 'top 10 cocktails.'

4) Beer is kind of good for doing business (and men love doing business!). When you meet with your  boss, you won't order vodka shots. But you will order a beer to, ironically, look more professional.

5) It allows men to get into debates over whether Heineken or Stella tastes better and to try to figure out what their current beer of choice says about them (kind of like how women match their misfortunes to Cosmo horoscopes).  A(n) enlightening piece of research declares that if you drink Corona, you are a partier... or a college freshman.

6) Beer is good to marinate meat with and to have with chicken wings. Because men, being the cave-like creatures that they are, love red meat, it is only normal that beer is paired with animal slaying. Beer is also good for passing kidney stones and washing hair. Just and FYI.

7) When men need to "talk" they don't say "let's go out for coffee." Beer makes all men problems better.

Taking all these things into consideration, it is now more clear as to why men have such an attitude towards beer drinking. Eventually, having a beer becomes a normal habit and a staple for bro-gathering and at-home relaxation.

Cheers, bros.


How to live, love and work like a superstar Part I

Here are a few starting tips to help you boost your work ethics, re-think your approach to relationships and gain peace in life. This is not research based but they say experience and observation can go a long way.

Save Energy: I'm not talking about Earth Hour. I mean YOUR energy. Whether you are at work or with your partner or looking for a place to rent. I will give you an example: penguins waddle because it is the most efficient way for them to move around with short legs and big feet. Like the penguins utilize their nature to cut their losses, you can utilize your habits to cut your losses in energy. There are smarter ways to doing anything if you know your habits. The first part will be learning a bit about your habits if you haven't paid attention to them already, and the second part will entail figuring out a way through which you can stop obsessing over details and working/loving/living smarter. For example, if you habitually bicker with your husband over the fact that he forgot to lock the door or switch off the lights before bed, you can save some quality sleep by pushing it out of your mind for the night, and then figuring out a creative way to remind him by writing a nice/funny note or a text message in the afternoon (not the morning). Or don't remind him and just check the door yourself next time. Pay less attention to details that are not significant to bettering your life.

Sleep on it: You know how they always tell you to sleep on a decision? Well, I am reinstating that it is one of the best things you can do in a relationship or at work. This relates to my motto: "don't make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions." Before you get tangled up in a project, decide on a salary or decide that you want to take a love break, sleep on it. Another thing you can do is keep a dream journal and write down your question in the journal before bed. In the morning, you will wake up with a clearer head and will be better prepared in your decision. You might even discard that decision altogether. If one night's rest does not help, try two or three nights by asking the same question in your journal.

Discover originality: Not all ways have been exhausted in the world and will likely never be exhausted. But, creativity is currently the selling factor. There is something that you can discover within yourself or in your office or in your bedroom. Spend ten minutes innovating something on a small scale. Plan a brunch every Sunday, throw a pub night with co-workers, organize a game or play with PhotoShop. Working your brain and switching up your routine is essential to good mental health.

Find a coffee shop: We often complain about our daily routine but seem to not do anything about it. If you are tired of working from your school library or are tired of always going home after work, go somewhere else. Find a coffee shop or a different library or a park.

Fall in love with failure: Do you have "detail-oriented" and "perfectionist" written all over you (and likely your resume)? Many of us do, but it is not necessarily working in your favor. Finding an opportunity in life's greatest misfortunes is legitimately a winning moment. So you just got fired and fell into a depression and debt. Maybe this is an opportunity to discover some freelancing opportunities, to network with new people or to spend more time with your friends. On a side note, people pleasers and perfectionists tend to be unhealthy people because they give into social pressures and do things like overeat.

Vent in a journal not on Twitter: You don't need me to tell you that everything you post online is out there for the rest of your life, even with the fancy privacy and security settings you enabled onto your account. Unless your tweet or facebook status is truly funny in its venting abilities, don't spill your heart out. Pick up a cheap journal and freestyle whenever you feel like you want to explode.

To be contd in Part II.


Being critical 101: academics, aliens and media.

What does being critical mean and what does it entail?

The not-so-secret secret I learned from a few of my university professors is that the academic institution makes one weighty promise to the Canadian government. That promise is to teach students critical thinking. Just like that, like it is so easy to learn in the four years of their undergraduate studies.

Unfortunately, academic essays and assessment rubrics do not scratch the surfaces of critical thinking. Critical thinking is a belief system: a matter of understanding what you are NOT thinking about, what you are disclosing, what you are NOT defining in concrete evidence, and what you personally have vested in the issue, among other generic definers. Critical thinking has a sort of worldly idea behind it; it is a matter of considering perspectives beyond their points of reference. It is a matter of navigating in a world of enclosed spaces and a matter of opening sealed envelopes.

So you have a way of thinking, a newfound belief system or a pre-existing one. Some people believe in God, some in fate and higher-not-quite-God power, and some in science. They find an explanation for reality and for their purpose in life through these various belief systems. What is the reason for this? It is a natural human instinct to want to know where we come from and what we are doing here.

Being critical means not believing in sugar-coated stuff. Being critical means doubting our natural ways of thinking. Going against the fibres of nature and leaving unpredictability in the hands of feasible systems that can provide concrete equations. Being critical should not be a war between science and God and should not be about rejecting the idea of God. Being critical should be about rejecting one-sided ideas, narrowness of the belief, passivity, and the inability to question what is in place. Critical thinking can be achieved beyond the walls of religion, culture and society. It is just a matter of leaving the comfort behind.

What we do not realize is that we are all natural critics and skeptics and are all guilty of criticizing (the negative connotation of this). Some of us just get criticism right, and others apply it in the wrong contexts. No wonder. The comforts of modern middle-class life, globalization and the growing entertainment industry leave us little time to get detached from the computer screen or the magazine spread. Media provides us with a rigid system of conditioning that replaces active thinking with pleasure.

We shut off, without questioning and donate ourselves to those who mold the popular opinion. After all, aliens are not at war with us but we are at war with ourselves and the imaginary force that has something against us. Recognizing the war with ourselves is sure as hell discomforting.


Chinese herbal medicines ruled out by Europe

Nature, the international weekly journal of science, reports that there is a growing dependence on herbal medicines within the Western populations. These are medicines which are considered tradtional within Eastern populations and have existed for hundreds of years.

For example, we use echinacea for colds, St John's wort for depression and anxiety, and feverfew for migraines.In US, herbal products are labeled as dietary supplements and are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration. In Europe, herbal products must be registred as "traditional-use products with the regulatory agency in every EU member state in which the product is to be sold." European nations have some of the strictest regulations in the world and may be simply missing out on Eastern herbal products.

What is the the reason for this?

Back in 1990's thousands of women attending a weight loss clinic in Belgium recieved a toxic Chinese herb for weight loss instead of an intended anti-inflammatory one. Over a hundred kidney failures were reported and later, cases of cancer in the urinary system.

The problem was that the Western practioners were confused with how some of the Chinese herbal medicine is labeled and with its traditional practice. This resulted in the new regulations from the European Medicines Agency:

Herbal medicines are only eligible for licence in Europe if they provided treatment towards a certain health complaint for at least 30 years, including 15 years in  Europe.

The question in place is whether after the 1990's incident and similiar incidents, Westerners are capable of regulating medicines developed in Eastern traditions. Supporters of herbal medicines worry that strict European rules may ban certain Asian herbal medicines.

A new European regulatory framework for herbal medicines has not yet been developed.

More research needs to be invested into tradtional Asian medicines. Asian medicines "could provide important new avenues for treatment." Such avenues for treatment can be lost if political, cultural and scientific changes are not made and if Eastern and Western medical traditions do not meet accordingly.

Source:  "Regulations: Herbal medicine rule book." Nature. 2011.


The better and underrated perfumes on the market

While I was wandering around the shop with drugs (Drug Mart, what did you think I was talking about?), I was seduced by powders, lipsticks and pretty bottles of perfume and cologne. Perhaps, this is why it goes by the name of Drug Mart. For people who are outside of Canada, this is your pharmacy/snack/beauty superstore.

I came in with no intention to buy anything. I came out with no purchases (surprisingly) but with an idea for this post. I am typically not an avid user of perfume because I can never find one that I can have a long term relationship with. You know, until the contents are empty and we divorce or renew our marriage vows. Well, that is one reason. I also feel like I am depriving myself of fresh air. But anyway, below are some of my finds (collected over several trips to several stores) of the better and underrated perfumes on the market.


"Candy" by Prada is extremely sensuous and makes you hungry: Don't judge the book by its cover with this one. It looks girly and generally lame, but I think that the scent can be both young and grownup. Recently released in the spring of 2011, this one is a real heart breaker. "Candy" is warm, spicy and sweet with caramel, vanilla and Laotian Benzoin (a tree resin that smells like root beer). YUM!

"Nina" by Nina Ricci is a sexy little secret: Nina Ricci might have some of the best fragrances out in the market, but "Nina" is her original and the most tempting. This scent is very feminine with a touch of soft floral notes, yet also very seductive with hints of light woods and citrus. This is the type of scent people wonder about as you walk by them.

"Poppy Flower" by Coach is perfect for drawing compliments at anytime of the day: This one is very light and versatile (good for any occasion and for any time of the day). With grapefruit, lychee, jasmine, rose, apricot, amber and ivy, you can just imagine how good it smells. "Poppy Flower" is chic and playful.


"L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme" by Issey Miyake is SEXY, SEXY, SEXY: Buy it for your blonde boyfriend (or someone with lighter features), and that is all I have to say. "L'Eau" is light and fresh with a herb-infused scent. This cologne still carries the manly smell but it is very zesty. I will never get over this scent.

"Versace Pour Homme" by Versace is strong like Sparta: Buy it for your brunette or blonde boyfriend. This one is not the manliest one of them all, but it is still masculine in its unique aromas of weird stuff like bitter orange leaves,  orange blossom flower, geranium, sage and tonka bean (which smells like vanilla, cinnamon and almond). Despite all the fruit medley, this cologne is very crsip and very strong. Strong like bull!

"John Varvatos Vintage" by John Varvatos is either for Jersey Shore or for the classiest of them all:  Buy it for your brunette boyfriend. Yes, I can't decide on this one. It is either meant for a muscle-bulging, fist-pumping hulk or for a very sophisticated man in a suit. The reason why I say this is because "John Varvatos" smells VERY masculine, yet in a distinctive smooth type of way. Basically, this is a classic for a well groomed man. The type that makes you wish that the elevator would just get stuck. Enjoy notes of  suede, tobacco leaf and oak together with cinnamon and rhubarb. Awesome.