Category Archives: Fun Fact Friday!

There’s Nothing Worse Than Getting What You Want

Life lesson time…

(Because I don’t have kids to instil this valuable knowledge into…and my dog doesn’t really seem interested.)

Noting my credentials as your friendly local Blogger, I would seriously ask you to reconsider making a living (or a small fraction of one in my case) off of what you like doing most. Your hobbies, your favourite things to escape into. Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT aspire to make it your day job.

Some arbitrary examples that in no way refer to things I’ve done in the past:

Say you’re around twenty one years old, and you really REALLY love books. Like…not just reading them, but searching them out, smelling them, particularly the old yellowing pages of volumes once loved by someone else for years. Your heart flutters at the feel of fraying bindings, and the rough texture of a hardcover that’s lived an exciting life. You think, “Gosh, I’d be infinitely happy if only I could be surrounded by these ageing bodies of wisdom and knowledge all day every day…My dream job would be to work in that there local used bookstore.”


Bookshelf

All sounds fine and dandy as you dream about blowing the dust off of boxes of linguistic treasure, finding a new home for these magical collections of life stories, scientific texts and fiction that challenges the literary genius of Nabokov or Tolstoy. Then one day, you are made aware of an opening at said local used bookstore for part time work. This news makes your day. The friend of yours who worked there was moving on, which left a vacancy that you are tickled pink to have the chance to fill. She puts in a good word for you. Because why wouldn’t they want to hire you, you are vastly overqualified in both formal education and general knowledge of worldly things. And of course…you “Absolutely adore books” which is said at least twice during the interview that you are over the moon to receive. Regardless of the terrible hours and lack of government approved pay rate, you are happy to start your life as a clever purveyor of books, and  feel also like you are preforming an important social service, helping those in need find the words they are looking for that will change their life.

You start by shelving the ‘new intakes’, and a quick look at the box reveals that they are all absolute fluff. One hundred percent old lady porn. Romance novels all bent along the spine where the dirty bits are. You quickly learn that this particular shop specializes in a lending library sort of system where old books are bought and sold back to the store by old ladies who get their kicks reading about unrealistic love affairs between knights and princesses, long haired Fabio types and fragile female characters who can’t think for themselves. Hundreds come in and out every day. The other half of business is divided up between mystery novels, Sci-Fi, Grisham and Patterson type Fiction and whatever new releases you manage to get in. Which is approximately ten. Because no one sells their brand new books right away. There is a respite in the depressing Non-Fiction section in the back, but it unfortunately looks like a bomb went off and the dust only just settled. Stacks of DIY and irrelevant biographies lay everywhere and you better have a winning lottery ticket in your pocket if you’re looking for a specific book back there.

You learn your boss lives in the back room with his cat, and is not exactly the friendly, eccentric old bookstore owner that you imagined. But an angry easily perturbed man in the crisis point of his life, who takes groups fishing for too much money when the weather is nice. After being in charge of the store when a customer accidentally broke a lamp, and to then have a strip torn off you by the boss for it, you feel like maybe this five dollar an hour business isn’t exactly worth it.

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Say you’re around twenty four years old, after months of applying for jobs in this new city you moved to nearly a year ago, and after a terrible bout working as a cashier at a grocery superstore which made you want to choke people with different kinds of produce, you get a chance to work at the Holy Grail of National book companies. The holder of the literary monopoly from Sea to shining Sea, the keeper of all that is new and exciting in the world of the precious book! Of course you’re going to say yes to a position at the helm of this (arguably, sinking) industry! Or at least you figure close to the helm, as who interviews you seems like they’re in charge (Spoiler: You are wrong). You agree to a minimum wage start, because it sounds like there is lots of opportunity for raise and promotion.

new bookstore

What they don’t tell you, is, you will get all of the worst shifts, be called in last minute nearly weekly and be criticized and humiliated if ‘heaven forbid’ you have plans on your day off. The person in charge is a megalomaniac from the BIG city who apparently only knows Business 101 Buzzwords like ” Our Process” and “Streamline” or “Zeitgeist”, “Paradigm Shift”, “Bundling”, “Synergy” and “Efficiency” which translate to “We will work you like a mule for hardly any pay,  until your soul pours out your nostrils and we can keep it in a jar in the office until you don’t recall you ever had one”.

They “forget” your six month review and hold off your first precious ten cent raise for months, they neglect to define your role so they can make anything “your job” on a whim and criticize you for not doing it. You get reamed out daily for not “Collecting (Re: Begging) enough cash Donations” which the company uses to a) look like a charitable organization and b) bestow as gift certificates that sell product at the regular horrifyingly marked up price. You eventually stop trying to get as many unsuspecting customers as possible to sign up for the loyalty program that tracks their purchases and encourages more thoughtless buying through annoying daily emails.

You stop believing that this was once a good place, where people could enjoy life and find a book to escape into, and you only see it as a place where someone can come up to beg you for a discount on a softcover you saw them deliberately rip the cover off of, they throw a fit and get the deal from a manager anyway, who made you look like a fool in front of them for talking a stand. You start to dread the day they might eventually ask you to sneak up behind unsuspecting customers and steal their wallets or car keys. You decide you need out. You need freed from the corporate mentality where you are just a number, a peon, 100% replaceable, which you are. Once your enthusiasm for useless products is gone, once you’ve been thoroughly disillusioned and realize it’s not a bookstore anymore and just a sanctuary for brightly coloured, cheap, useless crap, they the pick a fresh crop of smiling faces, ready and eager to have their soul extracted in the name of “A love for books”. They didn’t care if you knew a thing about books, as long as you could sell them. No measly 30% discount is worth that kind of mental torture. And you’re not even mentioning the Special HELL that is Christmas at the Mall.

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Say you’re around twenty five years old, and after the spirit crushing experience with corporate Canada, you are offered a part time gig at a local independent cafe’ downtown. Hallelujah! You say! Finally the quaint and cozy job serving people hot cups of caffienated love day in and out. Happy people who are glad you drew a face in their latte’, couldn’t be happier you added an extra carrot on their sandwich plate, working for a person who’s face you see on a daily basis. That’s the life! And by god! Tips! You’ll make extra money! What a concept… It all looks like it will work out just fine!

bdc3480faa92530a9629bf95569207ab

You are trained on a gruelling schedule requiring memorizing more than you needed to in your four year University Science program. The assistant manager is an anal French perfectionist who is surprisingly terrible with customers, harbouring a strangely successful hate-hate relationship with them. You only see the Owner when you’re getting reprimanded for putting the napkins in upside-down and opening your mouth and talking to someone who wasn’t a customer, or when getting paid in cash which feels more like a drug deal then an exchange of services for fair wages. The latter event seems to happen less and less often, getting pushed weeks behind because he neglects to show up while you’re working. Your hours are cut back to less than the legal shift length, or cancelled all together an hour or two before you’re supposed to start. You’re not paid for the last half hour of your night shift because you only get paid half an hour after close, but there is still more work that needs done and it better be done the next morning or there will be a big scary French Cafe’-Nazi on your ass.

You exhaust yourself daily trying to find things to do to look busy when it’s slow or they will send you home and you won’t make enough to justify the travel costs to work. Free coffee doesn’t pay the rent, and the latte’ you get per shift is starting to lose it’s lustre’.  Getting to work with espresso eventually doesn’t make up for all of the foul smelling tuna and egg salad sandwiches you have to make for the daily regulars who somehow manage to have less of a social life than you. Regulars that are not happy about the extra carrot on their plate, and violently complain when it is no longer there. You go home smelling like pickles, coffee and sweat and the tips you made didn’t pay for the bus ride home, which you waited 45 minutes for in minus thirty degree weather, on a dodgy city street at midnight. You stepped over a puddle of human blood to get here…is this what you really want?

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The fantastical idea of all of these different positions is in theory wonderful. All are appealing and have a way of attracting themselves to you by including something you love already, old books, new books, coffee. But now and forever these aspects of life will tainted by the experience of doing it for a living. Going for a hot drink at a local cafe’ will always come with a cringe and feeling of empathy towards the poor barista getting scolded for too much foam on a latte. A trip to the bookstore will be a horror or horrors, completely unenjoyable, watching mindless moneybags shop like toddlers throwing tantrums for things they really don’t need. And the used bookstore becomes a pit of old books no one wants anymore. A hole where the unwanted fall and rot for years collecting dust, and anything worth buying is lost on a shelf behind thousands of other volumes by no-name authors from the eighties.

I’m not saying you should stay away from being employed at these types of places, because everyone extracts what they want and need from each kind of situation. What I’m saying is try to avoid taking a job that has little merit other than it being something you enjoy doing in your free time. The niceties and pleasure you get from that activity will be changed forever, and if that job has no other merits, such as pay or pleasant people to work with, you may be in for a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Hailey Jane

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My Two Cents: Star Trek, Into Darkness

This one is a quick and out of character post that reveals the deep seeded level of nerdiness I covet. I will say straight out that I am traditionally a Star Wars fan. Though now I have nightmares about what Disney will do to my precious space adventures in the next few years, the originals will always be special to me. I watched and loved the first trilogy when I was a child, and as the ‘New’ trilogy was released I enjoyed them for what they were as well. I had some of the books (not all of them, there are way too many of those things), the posters, a blue plastic lightsaber and my brother went as a very convincing, albeit miniature, Darth Maul one Halloween. *I will even tell you all a lovely little secret, that when Revenge of the Sith came out in theatres when I was 17, I lined up to go to the midnight opening dressed up as Queen Amidala, then proceeded to see it again twice more while it was playing.*

*…* This is a Judge free zone…just so you know…

In lieu of all of my Star Wars history,  I am currently not-so-patiently awaiting the release of the new Star Trek film by J.J. Abrams; Action/Sci-fi Producer Extraordinaire, entitled “Into Darkness’. I think I might have found a new love for the world of the USS Enterprise; make a seat Doctor Who, I see it making itself quite comfortable on the bus that is my repertoire of entertainment.

Man Candy #1

Not only does this new action-packed sequel star enough man-candy to feed a horde of hungry supermodels, but it has left its characters (well..just the one, really..) completely in the dark from the view of the public.  Although I encourage a healthy appetite for curiosity in the production of film, with things like working titles and stiff contracts about what can and can’t be discussed, I think going this far is reminiscent of a medieval device used for the quite opposite purpose.

benedict-cumberbatch-star-trek-into-darkness-empire-cover-462x600

Man Candy #2

The villain of this chapter in the Star Trek legacy, played by manically beautiful Benedict Cumberbatch, has been rumoured to be a number of things ranging from Khan, a genetically engineered superhuman, to Kirk’s own Evil brother John Harrison who to me sounds like he should have just been a Beatle. And where Kirk’s brother would have picked up that sexy English accent I’ll never know. At first I just held a passing curiosity on the matter, but now I swear I’d kill a baby to find out.

Benny was said to have leaked the name John Harrison in an interview, but he’s a clever bloke and I wouldn’t put it past him just to be fucking with all of us…Not that I’d mind one bit. So this is where I sit now. Waiting until May 17th to find out for sure, and then enjoy the violent over stimulation that will no doubt be supplied by Mr. Abrams once again, with lots of shiny white and blue lights.

Man Candy #3

So if you’re all lucky I’ll do a review once I see it. I just hope it keeps it’s over dramatic, tounge-in-cheek type of humour and character dynamic that was done so well in the first one. I want them to feel like they go together, and are part of this, quite literally, new dimension of Star Trek story.

Hooray for alternate universes!

-Miss Hailey Jane

 


Fun Fact Friday: Star Wars Day Special!

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!

So, in honour of such an excellent day, I’m going to share a few fun facts about the films and their making. I’m sure most of you awesome people out there will already know them, but it’s for the good of the many.

FACT: The setting of Tatooine was filmed in  the deserts of Tunisia (Africa, for the geografically impaired). It’s a popular tourist destination to this day, and still houses the sets from 1977, including Uncle Ben and Ant Beru’s home.

FACT: Chewbacca’s character name is inspired from a city in Tunisia called Chebika City.

FACT: During the asteroid scene in The Empire Strikes Back, one of the asteroids is actually a potato.

FACT: In the same film, Episode V, it only took Alec Guinness six hours to shoot all of his scenes.

FACT: In 1996, 37% of all toys sold in the U.S. were Star Wars products.

FACT: The actor who plays C-3PO, Anthony Daniels, makes a gold suit-less cameo in Episode 2. Anthony is also the only actor to be present in all six of the films.

There he is!

FACT: After the first trilogy was released, there were rumours circulating about the content of the prequels (where Vader came from etc.). These also alluded to how Han Solo might have been present prior to the events in A New Hope, as a Correllian Cabin Boy. Many are glad this plot line and back story was not used.

FACT: I want to visit Tunisia and live in a mud house for a while, running around pretending to be a Jawa or shoot Sand People.

FACT: When Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005, I saw it in theatres three times, once was the Premier Midnight Showing (where we got excellent seats!) and I dressed up as Queen Amidala. But, before you say anything…I’m not as ridiculous as the guy who ran around the theatre in a white dress with cinnamon buns taped to his ears. 😛

May the fourth be with you!

-Miss Hailey Jane


Fun Fact Friday: DINOSAURS!

Hello there, guess what! It’s time for another instalment of Fun Fact Friday! And this week, it’s about my favourite thing since…well before sliced bread that’s for sure. It’s DINOSAURS! Yay!

A Tyrannosaur at the ROM in Toronto. Courtesy of my Sony DSC-S700

FACT: The site location for the Parthanon at the Acropolis in Athens, had to be cleared of several dinosaur bones before construction (600-500 BC), which were then called “Giants’ Bones”.

FACT: Approximately 220 million years ago, in the Late Triassic era, the fist dinosaurs evolved. They were small and ate bugs. One of these dinosaurs is called Eoraptor

FACT: Dinosaurs are distinguished between two groups, saurischian (“lizard-hipped”) and ornithiscian (“bird-hipped”) dinosaurs. Saurischian dinosaurs include carnivorous theropods and herbivorous sauropods, while ornithischians account for the remainder of plant eaters, including hadrosaurs, ornithopods and ceratopsians, among others. Oddly enough, birds evolved from “lizard-hipped,” rather than “bird-hipped,” dinosaurs.

A Deinonychus at the ROM in Toronto. A 'lizard-hipped' therapod! Courtesy of my Sony DSC-S700

FACT: Pterosaurs (flying reptiles) and aquatic reptiles like mosasaurs, icthyosaurs and plesiosaurs weren’t technically dinosaurs. 😦 But they’re still pretty awesome. SEE: Liopleurodon and Quetzalcoatlus

FACT: Birds are (pretty much) dinosaurs. They are the only living descendants of the Coelurosauria Therapods, which all had hollow bones, three toed feet and a wishbone (or furcula). There is also conclusive evidence of feathered Therapods, as well as egg brooding behaviour.

FACT: John ‘Jack’ R. Horner, American Palaeontologist, firmly believes we can reverse engineer/evolve a dinosaur out of a bird embryo by chemically shutting of certain genes in the development process. Shutting off these inhibitor genes would allow things like tail growth, tooth growth and other “Dinosaur-like’ phenotypes to present themselves! HOW AWESOME IS THAT! I WANT A DINOSAUR! (If anyone doesn’t know what to get me for my birthday, just reverse engineer me a therapod from a chicken embryo and I’ll love you forever. We can call him Stu…)

FACT: Tyrannosaurus Rex is an awesome singer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ige2YBBJeh4

Many thanks to my brain for being full of this gobbledegook and The Symphony of Science for being amazing!

http://www.symphonyofscience.com/

Also for reference if you like prehistoric entertainment:

BBC: Walking with Dinosaurs/ Allosaurus / Walking with Monsters/ Walking with Prehistoric Beasts/ Walking with Cavemen

BBC: Prehistoric Park or Sea Monsters, With Nigel Marven

DK Publishing: Prehistoric Life (Book…or more like a tome)

And if you’re looking for a good read try “How to Build a Dinosaur” by Mr. Horner!

-Miss Hailey Jane


Fun Fact Friday: Complete Randomness!

Hi there, it’s that time again! Time for me to unload some of the useless knowledge that has accumulated in my brain over the last little while. There’s no theme this week, but I don’t think that will be much of a problem. So grab a hot cup of love, and open your brain up for some unadulterated learning!

FACT: The current state of what used to be Hitler’s famous bunker in Berlin is now nothing more than a car park with a sign containing the facts. This sign is one of the very few in Berlin with Hitler’s photo on it.

 

The Car Park where the bunker used to be. Berlin, Germany.

Hitler (Left) at his bunker in Berlin.

FACT: The word for our common weed, ’dandelion’ comes from the French ‘dents de lion’ which means ‘teeth of the lion’. I have no idea what those Frenchies were thinking, dandelions look nothing like lion teeth….

FACT: Only 8-10 people in the world know the exact recipe for Heinz Ketchup. The recipe also slightly varies from country to country. For example, Canadians like their Ketchup sweeter than Americans and Mainland Europeans who like it spicier. Ketchup really isn’t all that interesting come to think of it…you can forget this one if you like.

 

FACT: The Island of Tortuga is a real island just off of Haiti. It was actually a pirate stronghold in the 17th century.

 

Tortuga: Ile de la Tortue in French.

FACT: Steve Jobs, Ben Affleck, Woody Allen, Hans Christian Anderson, Dan Ackroyd, Kate Beckinsale, James Cameron, and Mark Zuckerberg were all college dropouts.

 

FACT: A high I.Q. is linked to dream frequency.

FACT: Newborn babies always have blue eyes. Melanin (a common pigment found in nature, derived from the amino acid tyrosine) and UV light are required to reveal the colour an individual’s eyes will be for the majority of its life.

 

FACT: Spiders are one of the few groups of species in which Melanin cannot be detected. I also hate spiders with a fiery passion and think they should all die a long slow painful death.  Albinism is the result of a lack of Melanin production in the body.

 

Albino Squirrel

FACT: The vestigial human tail is called the Coccyx. Commonly called the tailbone, it is fused to the dorsal end of the sacrum, a bone comprised of a series of fused vertebrae. As a side note, when people call the coccyx a tailbone, or the clavicle a collarbone, it drives me mad.

 

Sacrum with Coccyx

FACT: Males have an undeveloped female reproductive organ that hangs on one side of the prostate gland.  If his fetus were to develop into a female, this would become the uterus.  It is called the Prostatic Utricle.

And on that lovely note…we reach the end of another Fun Fact Friday!

 

Prostatic Utricles for everyone! Except girls….we’ve got enough plumbing to deal with as it is. Does everyone else get that strange feeling when they learn about things existing and going on inside them that they didn’t already know about? I know I do. We should be given a big book on anatomy and body functions the day we’re born as a first Birthday present from the doctor that caught us. Just saying.

 

Courtesy of Dave.

-Miss Hailey Jane


Fun Fact Friday: Tea!

I’d like to start today by thanking everyone who’s come out to check on “Coffee and Turtlenecks” every once in a while. It makes me happier than you can imagine, really. Secondly, those of you who made an effort to post a comment and subscribe via email and sent me your mailing address, I have great news for you. Your surprise snail mail is on its way as of this morning! So I hope you enjoy!

Today is Fun Fact Friday, and today’s theme is Tea! I love tea, so this is going to be quick but great. I’d like to start off with a quick story about how I came to drink and then love the strange and historically recent drink.

I hated tea…thought it was vile. But all my friends drank it and it was a big part of how we socialized. So one day I sat down, brewed a whole pot of tea at home and systematically tried every type of milk/sugar/honey/lemon combination I could think of. The end results were slightly boring, and as it turns out I preferred my tea black and have ever since. That was about eight years ago now…and I am starting to almost like milk in it. But something about it seems wrong. Good, properly brewed black tea is about the best thing ever and can make you feel better even if you’re not upset and “in need of a hot beverage”.

FACT: Tea leaves are from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

FACT/TIP: When brewing higher quality green tea, the lower the temperature the better. A higher temperature will produce a bitter flavour.

Tea Leaves

FACT: The word ‘Tea’ originates from the Fugian Province of Tiwan, (Note: was a major European port) where they called it ‘Te’ and it has thus been assimilated to English European language as ‘Tea’ in the 17th Century. Chai, an alternately used word for Tea, is from the Persian language ‘chay’ and before that the word originated in the Mandarin language as ‘cha’.

FACT: The exact origins of tea drinking is unknown, but the first recorded drinking of the beverage is in China.

FACT: The smaller the leaves the more expensive the tea.

Perfectly manicured Tea fields below Mt. Fugi.

FACT: The only difference between green and black tea is the black leaves are left to wilt, turn darker and partially oxidize. Green tea leaves are dried immediately after picking. White tea is in the middle, and left to wilt but not oxidize.

FACT: Tiny cakes go great with tea!

La Fin!

-Miss Hailey Jane


Fun Fact Friday: The History of Turtlenecks

Hello again, and welcome to Friday, the Fun Fact kind! I was originally going to write a post about the Amish (again, the result of spending too much time with PBS) but I decided that they can keep their secrets for at least another week in lieu of the dire need for something about turtlenecks to grace the pages of a site named after them. So, this week will be about the history of Turtlenecks! (I’m kind of excited, I’m not going to lie).

And, as a salute to the occasion, I am wearing my burgundy Ralph Lauren turtleneck, and feel distinguished.

Alright, let’s get started.

FACT: Turtlenecks date back to at least the 15th century AD.

FACT: They are called ‘Polo necks’ in the UK and ‘skivvy’s’ in Australia.

FACT: They were popularized in the late 19th century, where they were originally worn by menial workers, navy sailors or officers, and athletes.  But into the 20th century they became associated with academics, philosophers, intellectuals and artists.

Should have been wearing a turtleneck.

FACT: In the 50’s the black turtleneck became a distinctive mark of an existentialist, and also became a way to rebel against traditional formal wear (ie. Black tie).

FACT: Women adopted the look and feminized it after the 50’s, and eventually it became a marker of preppy tidiness among students.

FACT: The look has been watered down since then and is now common among all classes in society and types of fashion.

And for your enjoyment, here are some awesome people who sport turtlenecks!

The 'Always Classy' Audrey Hepburn

The 'Scratch-Pie Making' Carl Sagan!

The 'Floofy Haired' Barry Manilow

Italian Film Star Marcello Mastroianni

The 'Though I don't believe in Apple products' Steve Jobs.

Oh wait..that's me...

Vladimir Putin, when he's not busy killing wildlife.

The Gorgeous Miss Marilyn Monroe

The Lonely Island

And for you younger readers, the fictional Draco Malfoy.

My apologies, I may have gotten a little carried away with the pictures, but Turtlenecks are fun and awesome, so it clearly doesn’t matter.

Again, I hope you learned something interesting. Interesting things that you can bring up at the next family reunion to baffle the people with whom you share genetics, using your wealth of useless knowledge!

Bye for now! And Happy Friday!

-Miss Hailey Jane