Recent updates

So we were invited to lohri (a South Asian celebration of end of winter) in Mississauga. Not sure why we celebrate it here in January. That’s smack in the middle of winter of Canada. Thankfully the weather cooperated (thank you El Niño!!) and we were able to spend a few minutes outside.

image

Yes this was happening in the garage. Don’t worry the doors were open and I was told fire extinguishers were close by.

image

Rhea had fun.

image

Lots of singing of traditional songs

image

Jolly bhaiyya (a close family friend in purple jersey) was in total “entertainment” form. Leading the singing.

image

Our gracious co-hosts.

Advertisements

Running (4th Jan – 10th Jan)

Running last week was mostly a treadmill affair. I have a love hate relationship with the dread-mill. I love the controlled runs on the machine. I hate the controlled runs on the machine.

Total 18.10km for the week.

My treadmill of 14 years is finally showing signs of old age. I am debating on getting a new one. Or maybe go to the gym which will force me to stick to a schedule.

What do you think?

My Top 10, 2015 Albums

Here we go!!

10)  Elvyn (Valley Of The Kilowatt Hour)

A very CSN&Y like sound guarantees you will instantly like this band. Each song is a hit in my books. Here is one of my favourite “AM” (if you dont have Google Play then hopefully they will let you sample) :

Elvyn – AM

 

9) Sufijan Stevens (Carrie and Lowell)

What a sad, sad album. His pain on his relationship with  his mother just sprinkled all over. The, mostly, first person account of this very intimate album is difficultl to go through but it is very rewarding. This song showcases the album very nicely “John, My Beloved”

 

8) Ryley Walker (Primrose Green)

Van Morrison is back!! In the form of Ryley Walker. Some albums just walk into your life without you paying much attention to it and then later you listen and wonder why you did not welcome it with open arms.

The guitar work is astounding on this album. He proved it again by releasing an instrumental album with Bill MacKay.

Here is a the title track from Primrose Green :

7) Torres  (Sprinter)

Another album that is very intimate on my top 10. Her voice ranges from the soft and sweet to vicious and full of rage. Beautiful album! Here is the most powerful of the songs from the album ” Strange Hellos”

6) Public Service Broadcasting (The Race For Space)

Excellent concept album from the British duo. One of the few albums that I switched on and did not stop until the album ended. The album essentially details the race for space from Sputnik to the landing on the moon. I love this album because growing up, the space race to an Indian kid with zero outlets, was just fascinating.

Here is a song about one of my heroes Yuri Gagarin.

5) Thee Oh Sees (Mutilator Defeated At Last)

Have always loved this band and have taken their eclectic and dissonance and their inexplicable sounds in stride. However, this new album took me by surprise. Tight, excellent production value and loud! Loved it!

4) Faith Healer (Cosmic Troubles)

The first thing I really liked about the album was the way the vocals remind me of a lazy river. Soft, luscious and faint ripples in pitch here are there. The music and the production on this album are spot on. My favourite song is Cannonised but let’s play “No Car”, the hit.

3) Coutney Barnett

Man, this woman will never able t live down this album. What a debut! Courtney is the female version of Lou Reed, albeit a funnier version. I was hooked from “Pedestrian At Best”. However, that song has been played to death, so lets listen to “Dead Fox”

2) Girl Pool (Before The World Was Big)

What can two really young girls with only a guitar and bass create? An absurd sound that means nothing? Nope. Sublime music that clearly states to the world that they are two young women and on the precipice of adulthood. It’s right there in the title of the album. A really short album (22 minutes) but a powerful one. I keep telling my daughter that I hope that she grows to have such a sound. She ignored my plea, she is still into Taylor Swift. This Tiny Desk Concert of Girlpool is really good. Give it a listen.

1) Waxahatchee (Ivy Tripp)

The first time I heard this album I knew it would be one that I would be going back to again and again. This album has everything, emotions, intensity, soundscapes that range from soft to jangle to hard. The album seems to represent her stance and her emotions in the face of an unknown future. My favourite album of the year. Well done Waxahatchee.

 

 

Running And Me

Running in my life is constant. As in :

– Constantly telling myself to run a bit longer.

– Constantly telling myself to run faster.

– Constantly ignoring my running while drinking beer.

These weeks I am averaging 20KM a week. Way down down from around 40KM a month ago. Don’t know what happened. Just slumped.

Treats from the neighbours do not help. Look at this plate of deliciousness.

image

Yes. That is a bottle of wine. One of the many consumed that night.

I think it’s a lack of discipline. And lack of will power.

Got to fix it.

These are the days to run here in Ontario before everything turns to white. Look at this picture from one of the trails I took.

image

And this.

image

So, I plan to record my running here. I am making a spreadsheet (why? Because i am a project manager and that’s all I know) and put it here to record it more formerly.

I am a big fan of dailymile.com but the data was very bland. I will go back there again because the social element is amazing!!

Have bought a nice new toy (Garmin 220) and plan to use it as much as possible.

Anyway, here is what I did last week.

Monday (12-October) : 6.6 km
Tuesday (13-October) : had to go to downtown
Wednesday (14-October) : 6.2 Km
Thursday (15-October) : 5.2 km
Friday (16-October) : Oktoberfest!!! Had a blast!
Saturday (17-October) : recovery day but managed 6.1 km
Sunday (18-October) : 11.59 km

Total : 35.69 km

Wait, that’s more than 20km. Woo hoo!

Let’s see what happens this week.

Ontario’s Health and Physical Education Curriculum

Hello my 2 or 3 followers. How have you been? Here is my upteenth atempt and upping my follower count to at least 5.

So there has been a lot of noise lately about the newly introduced Health and Physical Education in the province of Ontario. I had ignored it up till today. Considering that my daughter will be directly impacted, I thought let me look into this issue.

My main concern is the reason behind the change. Why was it done?

Turns out the previous curriculum  has been in place since 1998 (elementary schools).  That’s not too recent right? Actually, it is far too old. Do you know what has happened since 1998? Digital revolution!

  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Myspace
  • Myspace died
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • On and on and on.

Man, I bet you have upgraded your car twice since 1998.

Well, turns out the government thinks so too. So our civil service did what any “civil” service would do, research the hell out of it. The research culminated in April 2010 (link) but it’s finding were quickly quashed and key sections relating to health and sex were blown away :

In April 2010, after misinformation was used to attack the Human Development and Sexual Health section of the elementary health and physical education (H&PE) curriculum, the Ministry of Education withdrew that portion of the document. A few months later, they also backed away from releasing the secondary H&PE curriculum. Ever since, teachers have been using all or part of a 15-year-old document 1998 (elementary) and 1999/2000 (secondary) to teach sexual health and all other components of the grades 9-12 H&PE curriculum which is now out-of-date and well behind the standards set in other provinces.

After much deliberation (read : political haggling) on 23-Feb-2015, the government revealed the new Health and Physical Education curriculum. The idea behind the new curriculum was to update it for “today’s child”. The key aspects of it are <Link> :

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 10.59.45 PM

Benign so far!

Well, as it turns out, the civil service/government and scientists and public health agencies and studies from WHO and studies from UN and parents and students have produced sufficient evidence that Ontario is severely lagging in the area of sex education (Link).

Here is a quick comparison with other provinces under Sexual Diversity.

Given that all students, including those from families with same-sex parents, should see themselves reflected in what they learn at school, references to families with same-sex parents or sexual orientation and gender identity were included in expectations, examples and/or prompts at all divisions (primary, junior and intermediate). In subjects across provincial curricula, diversity, mutual understanding and empathy are encouraged and celebrated.

Ontario’s 1998 Curriculum Grade 8 : distinguish the similarities and differences between themselves and others (e.g., in terms of body size or gender)

2010 Revised Ontario Curriculum (now part of the 2015 curriculum) requires students in grade 3 to describe how visible and invisible differences make each person unique (including sexual orientation) and identify ways of showing respect for differences in others.

Notice how in the new curriculum, it is in grade 3 that students should identify the differences in sexual orientation. While in the older curriculum, this was taught in grade 8? This is astonishing. My daughter, a 12 year old, would be taught now that there are people out there with different sexual identity. A fact that she has already learnt from books/tv/talking to peers. Utter bullshit.

This is but one example. Another one that really scares me is that although teen pregnancy has dropped significantly, STIs have increased 79% in from 2001 to 2011 (link). This is really scary. So children and teens are careful not to get pregnant but are not careful enough to avoid STIs. This is a simple WTF. It was found out that kids and teens are regularly indulging in oral and anal sex as a misguided attempt at not getting pregnant. This is crazy. Thankfully, that gap will be closed by teaching the kids in grade 8 the dangers of this kind of thinking.

So why are some citizens up in arms about the new curriculum?

Their core argument boils down to : let kids be kids. But there is no mistake. This is a fight between research based curriculum and religious dogma.

The people protesting are headed by Campaign Life Coalition (a rabid anti-abortion group). And heavily helped by conservatives in the society.

I would urge you to spend 30 minutes and read this document (link) which clearly lists down what is being taught and why.

To me the idea behind the change is to bring the Physical and Health education standard upto to 21 century where kids experiment with sex no matter what the parent say. It is better to prepare them for the consequences in a classroom setting than the dinner table.

Updates to follow.

Girl In A Band by Kim Gordon

This is a book released by Kim Gordon, one of the founding members of the, now extinct, band, Sonic Youth. She is labelled the epitome of coolness, the harbinger of unstated sexuality, one of the first indie feminist songstress.

But the book proves all that to be untrue. From the book it is obvious that she is a very shy person who has been dominated by strong personalities throughout her life. From her schizophrenic older brother to her band mate and husband, Thruston Moore. In between these two relationship we come to know her relationships between her parents, partners, musicians and other artists who have played an influential role in her life.

The book is a straightforward account of her life from childhood. Not some earth shattering revelation but just a story of a person whose public perceptions mask a sensitive and an endearing person. She highlights her issues, her desires and her thinking behind each of her project be they songs from Sonic Youth or her numerous art and fashion projects.

I found her to be quite an interesting person which prompted me to do what I usually never ever do….. Learn more about a person I consider one of my heroes.

I started to look for her interviewees and other articles. Here is my favourite :

But as someone said “never know your heroes too well, they will disappoint”. And she definitely did. Her fascination with astrology and everything ” spiritual ” really put me off. I mean, come on!! She is obviously an intelligent person but this interview proves that she is a little bonkers. I watched it for 20 minutes and had to switch it off.

Other than that, the book is a great opportunity to learn about one of the minds behind the iconic band. Kim Gordon may be the queen of cool but she is just another person.

Highly recommended for the fans of Sonic Youth. Mildly recommended for non fans.

My Top 10 Albums Of 2014

My top 10 albums of the year. 

10) Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me! 

Literally an album about being a transgender. The band is headed by a woman (formally a man) who went through all that she sings about. Except for the song “Osama bin Laden as the Crucified Christ” which is an odd song in the list and I would have been dismissed out right if not for a killer guitar line and powerful sound. What a song! 

 

9) Ultravoilence by Lana Del Ray 

Finally found that dark brooding sound that she has been looking for… probably helped that Dan Auerbach produced the album. Eagerly waiting for her next album. Hope she kicks it up a notch. 

 

8) Thrash Rock Legacy by Mounties 

A perfect summer record. A Canada indie supergroup which I honestly thought would fall flat on its face. But they really pulled it off and their sing “Headphones ” is my song of the year. 

 

7) To be Kind by Swans 

I will be honest, I have not heard the full album in one sitting. The album is more than 2 hours long!! But each song is sublime with angst and emotions embroiled within the music.

 
  

6) Alvvays by Alvvays 

Another pop wonder this year. One of the few albums that my daughter likes (that is on this list). The one thing I really liked about this album was how the sweet innocent voice was laced with ironic and sexy lyrics. Hope this band does well. 

 

5) Make My Head Sing by Jessica Lea Mayfield 

Shows what you can do with delicate vocals and loud guitar riffs. Love it! 

 

4) Popular Problems by Leonard Cohen 

Man, never thought I would have Leonard Cohen’s album in my top 10 once he hit 80 years of age. But what a powerful album from the versatile singer. When you compare his first album “Songs Of Leonard Cohen” from 1967 and “Popular Problems” in 2014, you will notice the massive change in his singing style. Excellent album. 

 

3) Love by Amen Dunes 

Got this album on a whim and have not stopped listening to ever since it was released. I loved it so much that I bought the vinyl and played that over and over again. Reminds me a lot of Van Morrison’s works. Spacey, hazy and, on song, surprisingly loud. 

 

2) Manipulator by Ty Segall 

25 year old and 8 album (not including multiple collaborations)!! I don’t think this musician is ever going to worry about burn out. With this album, Ty Segall has really elevated his music. A little less noisy than his previous albums (therefore, more accessible?) and the songs all have a melodies. Something I have not seen on his previous albums. Started listening to it when NPR was streaming the album and still am listening it on the vinyl I bought. 

 

1) St. Vincent 

Strange, weird, in-coherent. That’s what I initially thought. That is until, I forced myself to “listen” to the album. From the first song the journey into her album has been illuminating and wonderful. This is by far the best album of the year. 

 
This is a fun exercise and I look forward to it all the time. Here are my past “top 10 albums” links :

2009

2010

2011

2013

(Looks like I skipped 2012)