Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Little pleasures

Man, stuff sucks. Here you are at university when all you want to do is slap on your clubbing clothes and party. To make things worse, you have a couple midterms in the next two weeks, and a silly essay due tomorrow that you haven’t even started thinking about. It’s also about to be February, literally the worst month of the entire year, just like the other eleven months. Your shoes are soaked. Your boyfriend/girlfriend is thinking of dumping you; you just haven’t figured it out yet.

I don’t want to sound like a benevolent uncle, or some didactic happiness fairy. Your life actually does suck. But I’d like to encourage you to think of the small ways in which it isn’t insufferable. Here are the small pleasures you can still get from UTSC.

The shawarmas in the H-wing Market Place are surprisingly authentic and are undeniably delicious. I’ve had them for lunch for several days straight, and I still find myself craving them at odd hours.

The sinks in the bathrooms just outside the windy tunnel are very cool; very space-agey. It feels like you’re washing your hands in a pig trough. No really, it’s better than it sounds

The exhibits in the Doris McCarthy gallery are usually very nice. You can just waltz right in and look at pretty things, and the curators don’t even bite.

Lecture rooms in the newer buildings, like MW, have outlets on every table. Right there, waiting for you to use it. It’s so convenient! You can go on Facebook the whole lecture without having to worry about your battery.

The library is now a place where you can actually study. Seriously, try it. It’s a revelation. You might find yourself being able to read in a library.

The little counter on the water refill stations telling you how many plastic bottles were saved, especially when it goes really high because you weren’t paying attention to how full your bottle was and half the water goes down the drain.

The IC building during sunset, a somehow life-reaffirming sight.

Your favourite cute waiter at Rex’s Den.

Watching Dr Phil while on the treadmill in the Athletic Centre, which reinforces your sense of smug superiority because you’re exercising and changing your life instead of being overweight and crying about how your daughter is a prostitute.

Being able to tell your siblings or your friends, “Aha, because of what I learned in my behaviour analysis class, I know you’re actually an idiot!” This, I feel, is what the university experience is all about.

5 ways to slow down the 'going broke' process

So the beginning of the semester is good news for many of us. 'Why?' you ask. How could the commencement of yet another grueling, course-filled four months be good news? Well first off, here’s hoping y’all have friends because they usually make life a little better. University is no place to be eating your lunch in the toilet stall, time to leave the safe zone and let life begin.

ANYWAY BACK TO MY ORIGINAL POINT. Why is the beginning of the semester great for many of us?
One word: OSAP
Or is that four letters? I don’t know. Or maybe even, one word: RESP. Obviously this  'one word’ endeavor has failed spectacularly.

Then there are those like moi, who don’t have the monstrously dangerous benevolence of OSAP in our lives. For me, the new semester brings with it a whole new cornucopia of the anxiety and panic that define my existence. More specifically, I am blessed enough to be reminded by a cute ‘lil webpage that I AM POOR.  To be honest, there is nothing more depressing than online banking. At least in the olden days, you could put off going to the bank and just delude yourself into thinking life wasn’t crashing around you. This whole one-click-away crap has definitely spiked depression rates amongst kiddos like me. Maybe I’ll conduct a study of some sort.

I HAVE STRAYED YET AGAIN.  Anyhoo, the realization that my finances are in shambles usually motivates me to make some sort of really colourful chart detailing my expenditures. It’s a vicious cycle since often, I venture out to the store to buy MORE stationery for purposes outlined above. Then I get to write THOSE new expenditures on my chart with my colourful new pens! Since not all of you can benefit from the pure, undiluted genius that inhabits my brain, I will share with you, 5 tips for saving money in college.

DISCLAIMER: Like every other ‘list’ I make, this too, contains information you already know, but if I can’t make writing material out of your delusions and escapism...What am I to do?

Please, mum.


     Don’t buy textbooks until at least the 3rd week. Most Profs (unless they are angels from above) will encourage you to buy the book. Then you will realize that 80-120 bucks you wasted on a text you have barely touched. It’s better to screen these things before pooling your moollah into them.

      AVOID VENDING MACHINES. Yes, I know they’re right there and it’s so easy to just pop a coin in and get whatever pop or unacceptably sketchy sandwich you want. But facts are facts people; you may for a 2 litre bottle of pop, what you would for a 591ml one at a vending machine.  I know what you’re thinking, “How the hell am I supposed to carry a 2 litre bottle of pop to class?” You don’t have to; a carton of cans is ALSO about 70% cheaper than the same number of cans bought individually at a vending machine. These costs accumulate. Your little pocket of change will be completely depleted in a day if you continue to buy from vending machines unless you absolutely HAVE to.

      STOP BUYING TEA AT TIM HORTONS. They put a teabag in water dude. You can do that yourself. You’ll probably find some cool lucrative way to do it that makes the tea taste better somehow. Where you pay between $1.20 – 2.00 on tea at these campus stores, you could spend the same money on an entire pack of tea bags and make tea every day at home or on campus. Invest in a hot mug or even just a regular one and drink hot tea as many times a day as you want. We have microwaves, you can keep reheating it. The same goes for coffee, you can just buy coffee beans at your favorite place and make those at home. Also, it’ll reduce the amount of time you spend in that ridiculously long line.

Whole box vs one measly cup?

      Share books with friends. If you’re in a course with a friend, which you likely will be in your upper years. Then go halfsies on textbooks. Not only will it greatly reduce your costs (especially if you buy a used book), having one book will motivate you to study together as opposed to alone. You can push each other!
Maybe be more friendly when sharing books with the pals

      Keep your receipts. Every ATM on this campus is littered with the carcass of the many receipts students discard. Most of us don’t even really look at them. It’s why we develop misconceptions about our finances. You have to TORTURE yourself and scrutinize them, watch as the figures go further down with every purchase and FEEL the poverty creeping up on you. The next time you spend $10 bucks on a meal that you aren’t hungry enough for, the haunting image of that tiny chit of paper will salvage whatever remains in your wallet.

Every single time I look at my receipt.

                        G'day to you all !

Friday, January 25, 2013

When in doubt, send it out

OK guys, guyettes, etc. I know what you're thinking, "Seriously another post by this schmuck!? I thought they got rid of him. I was already yelling 'good riddance' and counting my blessings, etc.! How come he gets to publish his work at UTSC every week and I don't? I'll show him."

Well here's what I'm thinking, "Oh you wanna show me, eh? Prove you got the stuff, huh? Well go ahead, I dare ya, send some stuff to Scarborough Fair. IF YOU'VE GOT THE GUTS."

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "Scarborough Fair, what's that? Is it nearly as cool or really cool as the UTSC:Pulse student blog?"

Well let me tell you one more time what I'm thinking: "Look, PUNK. This annual journal is going to get distributed into around one thousand, five hundred hungry little hands starving for UTSC's creative juices. Literally dying to see what you're made of. Just imagine, each of these people will go through the book, find your work, get immediately blown away, and they'll have to show it to one other person (or they'll die, seriously). Someone will walk by in the hallway, see that person looking into Scarborough Fair, see your work (absorb the entirety of it's awe-some-ness in less than half a second), and fall to their knees, grovelling to the book. They'll let out a yell that will thunder through lecture halls everywhere, "We're not worthy!" See? That's at least three thousand people's voices praising your name if you submit. DO YOU THINK YOU'RE READY?. 

Oh, you make visual art? Paintings? Digital art? You have photos of your cool sculptures? You write Poetry? Short stories? Literary Essays?  etc.!? Who cares! YOU GOTTA SHOW OFF YOUR POWER FOR IT TO MEAN ANYTHING. What, are you worried you're not gonna get accepted? I'm gonna submit this picture, just to show you it doesn't matter if you don't think you're good enough.

I swore an oath that I'd never reveal who helped me make my magnum opus.
Seriously, the editors are gonna look at this and wanna quit their jobs, right? YOU CAN BEAT THIS. YOU WILL GET IN. PEOPLE WILL FINALLY APPRECIATE YOU AND NOT JUST WANT YOU GONE FROM THEIR LIFE. In short, I'm challenging you to a duel. 

Don't make gifs at gifsoup. I do not endorse that watermark.
Deadline for submitting written work is February 1st. February 8th for visual art. See website for details. Also be sure to check out the past issue to see what it's like!

PS. If you don't get in they're just str8 h8rs, keep on twerkin' your stuff. EXAMPLE: My art, as seen above, always gets rejected for some dang reason.
PPS. I still keep submitting the same piece of perfection every year, regardless.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

CSIP - Campus Student Investigative Profiling

Hello all!

As I sat around reading all my fellow bloggers posts and admiring their work I had a realization. Suddenly I felt like they were all so creative and eloquent and I was dragging me feet in the halls of creative writing. Thus I decided to cut the writing bit down and instead draw for you all!

WALLA! Week 1 of 'Zarish-Drawing-in-a-desperate-attempt-to-make-use-of-her-studio-art-degree-valid' commences!

This week I have compiled some rather stereotypical characteristics of art vs. management vs. science students. Bearing in mind people are individuals and not everyone is subject to this heavily artistically licensed sketches...

Not that we have the disclaimer out of the way I bring you!!

ps. forgive the sub-standard scans the scanner at st.g couldn't handle my 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft sketchbook (sigh)





Next week will be the special UTSC edition! Keep your eyes out and comment if you have a specific 'type' you'd like me to cartoonify.

Till then.....

<3 Z

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Videogames, motivation, and university

Everyone likes videogames. They’re an escape from the doldrums of real life. They offer challenge, reward, and a feeling of mastery. Many of the most addictive ones use every Psychology 101 trick in the skinner box to keep you playing, and do so well that videogame addiction has become a legitimate public concern. Whether on your smartphone or your gaming PC, games are a constant, gnawing distraction, and exploit the psychology of motivation to powerful effect.

Even when they cease being fun, games still motivate players to keep playing (e.g. “grinding” in an MMO). Many, many games, from Farmville to World of Warcraft include grinding (repetitive tasks in the game for in-game rewards). In other words, games still engage even when they feel like work. People will still play them even if there is no real-life reward for their efforts. If they knew this, parents around the world would be asking “So why aren’t you doing real work?” Clearly, real work has a lot to learn from videogames.

Grinding in MMOs shows gamers continuing to play a game, even after it starts to feel like work

Thankfully, the real world is catching on. “Gamifying” the workplace is a growing practice in firms, and involves injecting elements from videogames into otherwise boring jobs to make them more rewarding. Tech-industry research company Gartner estimates that by 2014, 70% of of large companies will have used gamification techniques in some way or another to motivate their employees. For example, at IBM employees earn Kudos Badges (sort of Xbox Live Achievements or Playstation Trophies) for completing certain tasks, that show up on their company profile. By earning a set number of Kudos points, they rise in rank from a virtual status of Rookie, Pro, Veteran, etc. At Xerox, employees in management training complete on-the-job Quests, and their completion is ranked on a company-wide leaderboard, adding some friendly competition into the workplace. So far, gamification is an effective and popular way to drive up the performance of employees.

IBM's Kudos system takes cues from Xbox Live

And yet, somehow, school has been left behind, despite a rapidly changing student populace. “Traditional instruction methods lack the motivational incentives needed to keep today’s students engaged in the instructional content,” writes Petkov and Rogers in the paper Using Gaming to Motivate Today’s Technology-Dependent Students. “Today’s world and today’s students are vastly different than the way they were a few decades ago. Educational methods that have worked on past generations of students are not as effective for today’s technology-dependent generation.”

Modern university education is still strangely reliant on didactic “learn through listening” education instead of “learn through doing,” and still almost exclusively relies on extrinsic motivation to get its students to study and pass, instead of the more effective intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation is formed based on the external rewards you get that motivate you to complete a task, such as money and getting a good grade. Intrinsic motivation is the inherent pleasure you get from doing something, which naturally motivates you to continue. So far, universities rely almost entirely on extrinsic motivation to get you to do the work and pass your courses—if you do, you’ll get a good grade and get your degree and get a good job and you won’t be a waiter for the rest of your life.

The problem with extrinsic motivation is that it stifles the intrinsic pleasure you get from an activity. Say you like to play the piano, so you keep playing piano whenever you get home from school. Your parents love the fact that you’re playing piano and so they give you $5 every time you do. This is a mistake. Now, somehow, you lose your motivation to play the piano when your parents don’t pay you. You come to rely on that extrinsic reward. Your intrinsic motivation has been erased. Your parents stop paying you, and the chances significantly decrease of you ever playing the piano again.

It’s the same thing with university. The whole purpose is to teach you how to learn, to make you want to learn, and keep learning, for the rest of your life. They keep you studying because of that extrinsic motivation—your grades—but what happens when that extrinsic motivation goes away? I think for most people their motivation to study significantly decreases. Universities raise generations of adults who become much less curious as soon as they leave school.

The pervasiveness of electronic distractions in class shows that universities need serious help in engaging the tech generation

But what if universities raised generations of adults who loved learning just for learning's sake? If they’re motivated to learn because university taught them that learning is fun? The same people (97 percent of young people, according to recent data) who play games for pleasure would eagerly learn in new, interactive ways because of the same reasons that they game. And what if universities downplayed the role of extrinsic rewards like grades, instead trusting that they educated a group of smart, motivated adults who are curious about the world?

Assassin's Creed's Jerusalem is vast and historically accurate

Imagine a history class where you played Assassin’s Creed or another historical game; not just having a professor talk your ear off but feeling like you’re actually there—a history that you can immerse yourself in and interact with. Imagine a leaderboard for high test scores, or achievement medals for completing certain classes or doing certain tasks reading a particular book. Imagine a university where learning is not only interactive and fun, but full of a sense of accomplishment because of micro-rewards and an increased social and competitive aspect. Instead of playing Angry Birds on your phone, maybe you’ll complete some calculus problems (for points!) instead.

In a world of exponential technological progress, universities have to adapt to capture the attention of the tech generation. If IBM is capable, so is U of T.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The most taxing moment of my January has to have been two weeks ago: the time I opened blackboard and downloaded my first course syllabus for the semester. Looking at that depressingly familiar header, the name of the professor, office hours, lecture room etc., I was hit by an unfamiliar wave of nausea. It was a chilling to the bone experience of complete exhaustion at the thought of having to take what feels like my millionth course here. It got me thinking (well, more so than the usual garbage relentlessly circulating in my mind), about my education here, the tens of thousands of dollars that have pooled collectively towards a plethora of lectures, tutorials, discussions, headaches, names and faces. All of which have managed to merge together to form a paradoxical monster in front of me, one that stares down unblinkingly and expects me to blurt out some completely prophetic culmination of the knowledge I have obtained here in a way that will make me sound ... REALLY EDUCATED.

This is a rant. I am officially ranting. Not a passive aggressive disapproval of the global education system, but a slap-in-the-face to every second of confusion that we all go through when we realize that while we may know a lot, we don’t actually KNOW anything. After having taken countless environmental science courses, why can I not accurately describe the exact cause of humid fog in south eastern Nepal? I assume I should know that sort of thing like the back of my hand, but I’d much rather talk about the long gun registry. Maybe I should have majored in it. Then I would have had to take some course in Canadian politics and I still would've felt completely devoid of true knowledge. Hell, I doubt I would have stayed awake in class at all. It’s difficult to teach politics and avoid droning on. Much appreciation for the Liberal Arts majors of the world, you are all Gandhi.

When did ‘organized education’ begin to make us feel so disorganized? The first years are grappling to find a way in this unfamiliar competitive atmosphere. Suddenly York is looking pretty good. The 2nd years are optimistic. “This is the year I’ll really get into my major.”
The 3rd years are desperately trying to boost or maintain a GPA. “Grad schools only focus on the last 10 credits.” Why are you repeating that to yourself over and over again under your breath?

Then there are the veterans, the 4th, 5th, 6th, and bless your soul if you've managed to survive this long: 7th years.  We feel like we've grown up an immense amount, we've dealt with club executive drama, roommate issues, landlord issues, the registrar, the SCSU, our irritating best friends, the TTC, the family, those annoying people at the gym who kick you out if your towel isn't the size of a tennis net and so many others. Somewhere along the road, we began to feel more mature, maybe even more emotionally stable. People gained weight and confidence, lost their virginity and religious convictions. Some combination that pushed us to ‘grow up’, but it was never a course, or a class that seemed to do it. I've heard a lot of “ This course is complete bull****" but not a lot of “My birthday’s in July, but naw man naw, XYZC15  lecture 5, THAT’S when I really turned 21."

This is a rant. It has no ground to stand on and no real argument, but it comes from a place of genuine exasperation. This may very well be one of many rants about THE BIG BANG of education. The courses may be coming to an end, but the confusion might hang around for a lot longer. It seems like the more credits I earn, and the closer I get towards obtaining that honours undergraduate degree, I find myself at a loss. If only it were the age-old question about what one does after college. Is it time to immediately begin the job hunt? Go to rehab? Dump the tool you've been dating for way too long? Go to the ends of the earth to meet Noam Chomsky and BEG him to unveil the truth? 
NO. The true question is, “What have I been doing all these years?” “What have I learnt," and:

 “What do I know?”
It so happens, that I don’t know.


Friday, January 18, 2013

The 'Talk' - reality strikes back

Dear friends, fellow students, countrymen.

These last 2 weeks have been a roller coaster ride for me. I had course conflicts, club activities and homework all within the first 24 hours of setting foot on campus. Now that everything has been resolved and I have braved the stormy water I would like to share the lessons I have learned with you all.

First lesson I learned was that the prep I had done for the semester in the holidays totally paid off. Becoming more organized and recognizing that I would have to sacrifice my 'free' time to pull off all my plans has been the key to not having already had a mental breakdown, sort of.

I met a slew of amazing people this week. A UTSC alumni that quit his job and started his own company (Brandon Chu from Tunezy woot). Brandon had a full time job and a family within a few years of graduating but risked it all. His reasoning: you have to do what you want, take a chance and put yourself out of your comfort zone or  you will never learn anything. I know this is true but hearing it from someone who is following their dreams doing well shone that ray of light into my stormy week.

Lesson 1: If you invest in something you feel strongly about, there will be a pot of gold waiting for you at the end of that rainbow.

Next I had the return to my club. The team goes through a lot of struggles. Any group with limited funding, volunteers and real responsibility would. However when I see the amazing potential and efforts my team puts into our work it makes me believe in what I'm doing.

Lesson 2: Be around people you like or it will feel like time wasted even if it isn't. Birds of a feather flock together? You are the company you keep? Does Zarish know any more cliches? Maybe?

After I managed to sort out my course conflict dilemma my program supervisor who solved my situation asked me, 'What are you doing with your life?' This completely threw me off my game. I sat around being emo for a good couple of hours evaluating my life and trying to figure out what to do with it. What am I doing? Why are my activities so diverse? Why couldn't I just be a doctor/engineer/lawyer? Am I a lost soul destined to be included in the unemployed statistic of recent grads? Then I talked to a friend (and mentor). She asked me if my self esteem was really low enough to allow anyone to make me doubt myself that easily. She had a point.

Lesson 3: (Bradon also mentioned this) If you don't have your life completely figured out yet it is not the end of the world. You will find your path. Just put yourself out there.

I hope this helped someone out there. Main reason I wanted to go over all this with you guys was because I've made a lot of these mistakes and questioned a lot of my choices over the last few years.

C'est la vie.


If you want to know more about Brandon or the group that set up the speaker event:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moiz's most anticipated movies of 2013

It's my first blog of 2013 and we're already two weeks in! Boy, that was fast. Let's hope we're keeping to all the goals we made at the beginning of the year and even if we're not let's hope we learned something from them. I personally am not a fan of New Year resolutions because I don't think you'd need an excuse of a new year to make goals for yourself; you should start right away at any time during the year. But hey, if it's helping people set goals and become better within themselves, you can't really argue with that. 

For today's blog, I figured since I'm a movie-head and 2012 was a wonderful year for movies I'd look at my list of most anticipated movies for 2013. I was going to do a top 10 but after I made a list I figured that limiting the list to 10 would be flat out heartbreaking. Therefore, I just made a master list of every movie I plan to watch this year. Let me know which one's you're planning to see in the comments below!

PS. I starred the one's that I am particularity excited for.  

Post-Apocalyptic Action

Oblivion: Tom Cruise finds out Earth isn’t quite as devoid of human life as everyone believes. But who’s keeping that knowledge secret? And why? (April 19)

**After Earth: Will and Jaden Smith play a father and son who crash land on a planet that’s been evacuated of human life 1,000 years ago. They must now survive the wildlife that’s rampant across the planet. I mean who doesn't want to see another Will and Jaden Smith movie? (June 7)

World War Z: Brad Pitt leads the fight against the zombie apocalypse in this adaptation of the best-selling novel. This one is packed with heart-pounding action. (June 21)

Super Heroes

Iron Man 3/Thor: The Dark World: Phase 2 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe kicks off as two Avengers get sequels, with Iron Man facing off against The Mandarin and Thor going up against Malekith and his Dark Elves. (May 3, November 8)

**Man of Steel: Superman gets another starting point courtesy of director Zack Snyder, this time with Henry Cavill playing the orphaned alien who sets out to protect Earth. Produced by the maker of the most recent Batman Trilogy. (June 14)

The Wolverine: Logan (once again played by Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan for some samurai action in this latest installment of the X-Men franchise. (July 26)


** Anchorman 2: No word on whether Baxter will be returning for this sequel but I'm still pretty excited. (December 20)

The Hangover Part III: All bets are off as the Wolf Pack is on a road trip once again. (May 24)


**The Place Beyond the Pines: This one is starred only because of Ryan Gosling and I can't wait to see all the new tumblr gifs this movie will produce. (March 20)

**The Great Gatsby: Probably my most favourite book ever being turned into a movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio... Enough said.  (May 10)

Action Adventure

The Lone Ranger: Two words, Johnny Depp.  (July 3)

A Good Day To Die Hard: Jai Courtney plays the son of John McClane, a role once again reprised by Bruce Willis, as the two of them avert a nuclear heist in Russia. (February 14)

Fast & Furious 6: More drag racing and other action that’s both fast and furious. (May 24)

G.I. Joe: Retaliation: Sequel to the original that came out a couple years ago. If you need more incentive, Channing Tatum. (March 29)

Family Flicks

*** Monsters University: A SEQUEL TO MONSTERS INC. 90's kids, rejoice. (June 21)

*** Despicable Me 2: Can't go wrong with those cute minions, Definitely a favourite. (July 3)

Jack the Giant Slayer: Bryan Singer directs this modern day fairy tale about a young boy who climbs the beanstalk to face the giant and rescue the princess. (March 1)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Shamelessly pushing weird onto UTSC

Remember when you were soooooo random XD growing up?

Remember when Ice Age came out1 in middle school and nobody could hold you back when, in the middle of a conversation between some friends slightly more interesting than yourself2, you would yell SQUIRREL! and quickly whip your head away from everyone? Not paying attention while your eyes dried out in the collective sighs of everybody who had already seen that movie a month before you?

Remember when you had to do WHATEVER IT TOOK to show your parents you were sooooo rebellious? You came home and your hands and face are 100% covered in bright green highlighter “JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO BE GREEN MOM, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.”

Wait, was that just me?

Well, after spending years of our lives trying to find ourselves, after the metaphorical, “momma’s #1 cutie” shirt from Zellers didn’t fit any more, and the lone bumper sticker on our parents' minivan says, “My childwasis going to beisan honour student”, we have all found our way here to UTSC. We’re living relatively independent lives3, many of us living on our own now, struggling to do our laundry, eat well, uh…function?

Ok, so we’re TECHNICALLY adults now and we should do the whole 1 Corinthians 13:11 thing4 and “put the ways of a child behind [us].”

Yeah, that’s important right. I mean, you don’t want to be forty years old and not know how to cook your own food so you eat the same flavour of hot pockets5 for lunch every day in the super-office communal future-wave. Wondering why everyone avoids you, sitting in the same smelly mustard stained dress shirt and Bart Simpson coffee mug you’ve had and never washed6 since you were twenty.

Most of you should try to straighten your life out as much as you can while you’re here, I’m sure many of you are working part time now, pursuing some hobbies to your utmost ability whenever you can7, learning how to interact properly with people of the same and opposite sex so they’ll stop making fun of you8. I’m sure you’re already trying to work through your ‘quirks’ through various New Years Resolutions.

However, for the good of the character of the school, your own happiness, and for the joy of those around you, I hope you choose to embrace your weird this year. Don’t abandon it so it only lives on in some untagged childhood Facebook photo you’ll never see again because you deleted that creepy dude9 who took the picture anyway.

I beg you, don’t tuck away your small, very common and, for some reason, embarrassing behaviours to the recesses of an anonymous post on the internet that you laughed at. Live the experience and be proud of it. Sing or hum in the hallways when you’ve got a good song going in your head, if you’re walking and think of something funny and laugh about it, or try not to laugh about it, don’t try to hide the fact that it happened, share your joke while it’s still fresh and while it’s still good enough to laugh at. If you put together an outfit but it seems almost OUTRAGEOUS, someone’s going to think that’s the best thing they’ve seen all day, so don’t put it away.

Embrace your eccentricities this year, show them off, share them with people. It’s important, I think, not only because so many of the weird little things you do make you happy, but because they can easily be shared and make others happy. If you make someone smile, they might hold the door for you, and maybe even the next person they meet at the top of the stairs, and so, spread the joy.

I hope, while you grow older and wiser this year, and embrace what CS Lewis, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” Just think of how weird and happy little kids are, and then think about how much people love weird things10.

1. To all of you who only became familiar with the franchise after all the mindless sequels nobody older than nine cared about1.1, I’m sorry.
1.1 i.e. Though not in the cool Land Before Time way, sorry.
2. Remember, this is back when a person’s character could be equally correlated to how cool their Beyblades were. If you had crappy Beyblades growing up, I'm sorry.
3. Children of needy helicopter parents that have never flown away, I’m sorry.
4. If having someone mention a bible passage in a non-religious context offends you, I’m sorry.
5. Imagine though, 20 years in the future, what kind of amazing hot pockets flavours they’ll have? I swear we’ll be able to eat lab-grown genetically engineered unicorn meat that will taste so good that if you eat more than just one bite you’ll be so overloaded with OMG DELICIOUS you’ll be in agonizing pain, but only because your brain thinks you’re UNWORTHY of having such a sensory experience more than once every 24 hours. Imagine a cross between pizza, ice cream, brownies, poutine, but ONLY the goodness of each. Does that sound gross? I’m sorry.
6. There will probably be rare moments where a roommate would clean them out of pity, or by accident, so it won’t be as bad as you imagine.Though it'd never be me, sorry.
7. Never give up on your dreams! One day you can reach the top of that Indie game’s leaderboard. Unless I hack the game and take your spot, sorry.
8. Forever_Alone.jpg

9. Creepy_dude_not_sorry.jpg

10. Case in Point

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to be happy, even though it's January

Speaking of painful dichotomies, that’s what it felt like when I returned from vacationing in Orlando, Florida to the second day of classes at UTSC. The sparkly, magical collages of castles and anthropomorphic mice and wands and pumpkin carriages that filled my dreams turned into the dry, grey doldrums of university life. This is what heartbreak feels like.

Winter sucks. We all know it. It overstays its welcome past about New Year’s, like your friend who wants to stay over while he finds a new place. It’s fun for the first few weeks, and then, you know. The cheery Christmas lights are taken down and replaced by slush and brown snow, and the cold and the dimness become so oppressive that they sort of penetrate your subconscious, casting a mild but noticeable gloom over your every thought. Then by March, winter is promising to move out any day now, and in the meantime he’s leaving puddles of slipped milk in the fridge and burning holes in your ironing board. His influence never truly leaves until mid- or late-April, when your raincoat finally dries.

I suffer, I think, from a weak form of seasonal affective disorder, a depressive state brought about by the low light of winter months. I’m sure that this is pretty common. Have you ever felt a surge of sudden optimism in your life in the first bright sunny day at the end of winter, a feeling that everything is going to be OK, a lifting of some dark smog that’s been clouding your mind, a renewing of the pleasure you get from banal things like studying? If not, I, and all the other people with the winter blues, envy you.

Here are my tips for coping during the worst months of the year.

1. Get light
Light therapy is a genuine treatment for seasonal affective disorder. You, basically, shine light from a lamp at your face as often as necessary, which in theory makes up for the lost sunlight experienced during winter. UV light can cause skin and eye damage, however, so you can use special light boxes made for seasonal affective disorder that filter out the UV light.

2. Wake Up Early
Benjamin Franklin said that “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” I’m not sure about that, but it increases your exposure to genuine sunlight, which is much more effective for improving mood than artificial light is. It’ll also make you feel more productive—finishing all your work with the sun still up is a good feeling.

3. Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins, which bring you pleasure. It can also make you, cocooned in your bulky coats and sweaters for months, feel good about your body.

4. Escape
Great entertainers and writers for thousands of years have recognized the necessity and nobility of a temporary escape, whether by playing a great videogame, reading a great book, or watching a great television show. Facebook doesn’t count; find something that captures your full attention. If you find yourself feeling low, sink into a new hobby—you’ll emerge contented and perhaps enriched with something that will help you tackle real life.

Goodbye Santa, hello UTSC

Hello again UTSC!

It's that time of the year. Presents are memories, late mornings are history and the delightful lack of deadlines a distant recess. It's school time again! Now there are some of you wide-eyed school-loving nerds out there who are genuinely glad to be back in your happy place. All I can say I wish I was you. For the rest of us I shall use the most appropriate gif Tumblr has.

Well that's the bad news. Now on to the good news! You are half way through the school year! *Enter dancing monkey circus troupe of joy*. 

For all the first years out there who feel overwhelmed, it will be ok. You have learnt a few things and hopefully those bad decisions, like choosing to play video games and stuff your face with that $5 pizza that delivers for free (seriously why did I find out about this in 4TH YEAR?!), the night before your exam, are behind you. If you were one of those goody-two-shoes kids that U of T is apparently famous for, with their A+s and perfect attendance, I salute you. The next semester will be a walk through the park for you. 

For the second- and third-year student, the bad news is you have lots of work to do and most of its in the most depressing months of the year (January and February). Word of advice, stock up on some vitamin D and cod liver oil tablets to keep those blues and coughs at bay. Now for the good news! We will actually get a reading week this semester! This means trips to Montreal, NYC or for the brokest of us downtown? Regardless it will be a mini-holiday and I would highly recommend planning ahead. 

Dear all the fourth/final-year students out there. Give yourself a hug! Its almost over! Run, run towards the light at the end of the tunnel and don't look back! Your future lies ahead! One last stretch of academic battle, laced with the promise of sweet freedom! Think not of your failings but of the glory of making it through one of the toughest universities in the world. 

        Like a sir. 

Anyone got any pointers? Advice? Lessons you learnt? Share! We'd love to hear from you and conveniently have a comment section to provide rant space. 

Here is to hoping everyone had a great vacation or at least got some sleep. 

Let the games begin!