Archive for the 'Photography' Category

Arianna’s Random Thoughts in British Columbia

in Activism, British Columbia, Coaching, Personal Blog, Photography and Professional Service

Arianna Random Thoughts blog banner, Hawaii beachArianna Merritt, blogger, BCArianna Merritt, M.Ed., is a Learning and Development Specialist in British Columbia who started blogging three years ago to serve up some random thoughts. Today she’s a tri-weekly source of inspiration for hundreds of regular readers, and has her own self help book on store shelves, Arianna’s blog offers unique insight into the human condition and a fresh perspective on the art of perseverance.

Arianna’s Random Thoughts is the sort of name a new blogger might call a test space upon which they practice handcrafting their first posts. Random thoughts are generally worth less than well ordered thinking only because abstract content is less findable in the grand scheme of things. New blogs filled with ‘random thoughts’ usually fade away after the first couple of posts, or get deleted when the author learns enough to find a proper style, or a suitably interesting cause. But Arianna persevered with her original portal because random thoughts and perseverance are her causes.

The author conceived the blog while on vacation in Hawaii. That’s why the banner is an artful representation of an ocean beach scene. Presumably she had a rush of random thoughts while sitting on the beach, but I suspect there’s more to this story than that.  Her first post is titled, Do Not Be Afraid To Ask Questions.

The About Arianna Merritt badge on her blog sidebarArianna Merritt, M.Ed. encourages her blog readers and the individuals she coaches to reach their full potential by finding their own voices and sharing their own stories.

Her own life experiences, including her career and her professional life, have caused her to study the positive effects of perseverance, mentoring, self-worth, body-image counseling, and bullying prevention.  She has seen the good she can do first hand.

A six foot tall woman, Arianna once had some issues with her own body image, and she has suffered through long periods of low self esteem. She was bullied throughout her childhood, and today remembers being scared of standing out in the crowd. Consequently, she adopted a diminutive posture because she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.  And she was very shy. Perhaps that’s why the author’s first book is entitled, Stand Tall & Speak From the Heart: How to Find Your Way and seems to be about finding the strength to be proud and mentally independent.

She writes about where she was raised, and how the kids in her family, and other families around town were taught to mask their personal issues and put a brave face on their true feelings; she would say “I’m fine” even though she was struggling with body image issues, or worse.

After graduation from her undergraduate program, Arianna moved out west and started to crave deep connections – in relationships and life and hence that’s why she started blogging, to reach out and connect with other people on a deeper, more personal level. It’s an extreme act of bravery for a shy girl.

Arianna Merritt recording her random thoughts by the oceanShe writes, “In today’s society, the focus is on becoming successful, and being a success. So many of us focus on the outcome, and always look ahead without looking around them and enjoying the journey.  Many of us give up hope on our dreams because there are too many obstacles on their path.  They are unaware that everyone else has obstacles too and they just need to persevere to succeed.  Sometimes when our light dims, that’s when we need others to help brighten or change our perspective. “

In Arianna’s post, What it means to be a role model, she writes,

Two of the most important lessons I have learned on my journey are to persevere and to talk about issues.  I am not perfect, have obstacles on my path, and make mistakes.  I have also been a talker to them and would rather talk about issues than keep them inside. Arianna

Arianna on rock beach for inspirationA truly unique individual, Arianna’s vivacious personality flows from her pen to colour her blog prose. Readers soon understand this girl loves traveling, teaching and connecting with others.  She loves water and is empowered by the ocean, lakes and rivers in British Columbia. She’s passionate about photography and uses the craft to help chronicle her life.  She writes,  “…that’s why my blog is set up in a travel journal form, as 1) I love the water and am empowered by it, and 2) its designed to share the lessons I have learned (in written form and through photos), and document the people I have met on my journey.”

I truly believe that when you share you story with others and speak from the heart, you give others permission to do the same.  I’m starting the conversation. Arianna Merritt

As she continues to learn and grow, Arianna’s blog will grow too and serve as a place where people can feel empowered and connect with others. Some of the authors best posts include,

The Power of Kindness

Standing Firm Against The Tide

Let’s Rock the Boat

Arianna made her first blog domain her permanent home and saw it through to success.  She even upgraded her WordPress.com account to buy the URL and host it herself, and truly be the master of her own .com domain; here she has built and decorated a beautiful shrine to her own random thoughts and we are all her fortunate guests.

Post by on Feb 13, 2013


Anum Khan and James Rubec, PB&J Mag in different parts of Canada

in Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, Fashion Blogger, humourist, NWT, Photography, Toronto and Web Designer


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PB&J

Like the sandwich that is its namesake, this is a quick, tasty and unpretentious blog.  Its bulk – or the bread is in its commitment to quality content which chronicles local/world events and lifestyles in a down to earth tone. The protein – or peanut butter – is the hearty substance behind provocative articles like Three stories that prove racism is alive and well or A grave undertaking.  Last but not least, the flair – that’s the jam – of this online gem is in its entertainment and product reviews, recommendations and musings on the good old days, like When Tim Hortons took only cash.  Individually, the ingredients themselves are humble, but when they come together they create something that is nutritious, delicious and leaves you wanting more.

James Rubec and Anum KhanPB&J Mag is a lifestyle/ political/ social/ scientific/Canadiana blog that aims to “turn frowns upside down and get brains moving.” Founded by Anum Khan and James Rubec, both professional writers and marketers who have an aptitude for unique and buzz-worthy topics, PB&J is a general interest blog full of tips, recipes and useful information. The blog is uniquely Canadian: Anum, a coffee expert, lives in the heart of metropolitan Toronto, where she works as a social media marketer for Spark Internet Marketing Corporation in the biggest and busiest city in the country.  James, a photographer, lives several hundred kilometres below the Arctic Circle in Yellowknife, NWT, where he works in advertising for Kellett Communications Inc.

Anum loves cupcakes and James is into quilting; their interests and skills, which are alike and disparate simultaneously, fuse together to form a blog that is in turns funny, relevant and thought-provoking.

Yellowknife's Beer BargePB&J offers its readers insight into the diversity of Canadian geography and culture. For example, Toronto, often referred to as the New York of Canada, is a far cry from Yellowknife, which, situated so far up North, enjoys summer days where the sun never sets. “This isn’t the Yukon, the story isn’t about the Klondike gold rush that brought fools to stampede to their deaths for hope of riches,” James writes of the Northwest Territories. “It is a story of a community building something from nothing; on and under the hardest land in the world that was and is surrounded by untamed wilderness with winters that are maddeningly long and cold. If the story of the Yukon is about personal exploration and the great gamble that is life, then Yellowknife’s is about balanced risk and teamwork.” James’ posts about life in the NWT, such as Yellowknife’s Beer Barge, contrast between Anum’s coverage of events in the big city such as restaurant openings and Fashion Week. Writes James, “Cities have larger parties, with better beer served in bigger bottles, but they’ll never have an ounce of the unity that has been built in Yellowknife with gold, stone and heart.”

NHL lockout should be stopped by HarperIn addition to recipes from James and product review from Anum, you can count on PB& J to express opinions on politics in posts like NHL lockout should be stopped by Harper (“Why should the government stand by while important money for municipalities, charities and low-income workers is left idly sitting in the arguments of rich whining babies?”), Bruce Mau Design insults all of North America (“Canada has so much to do with Seth Rogen as the United States does with Michael Phelps. You can’t pin a nation on an individual as emblematic, you can only pin the nation on the individual as a factoid.”) and Republicans, Liberals and One Good Book (“I’m jealous of the power that voters actually have in America. I hope Americans feel lucky to be able to vote for their district attorneys, sheriffs and senators. Canadians are lucky if they have a chance to vote for someone once a year.”)

PB&J Mag offers both masculine and feminine perspective, urban and boonies, world news and Canadian content. Since both writers have a background in marketing, these two bloggers are great role models for people just starting out. There aren’t any gimmicks on PB&J; it’s good content on white bread to satisfy the soul.


KD Faustino, the girl with the messy hair in Calgary

in Alberta, Blogging, British Columbia, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, Fashion Blogger, Personal Blog, Photography, style diary and Web Designer


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thegirlwiththemessyhair.com

KD Faustino is a fashion blogger and ‘style diarist’ based in Calgary, Alberta, who describes herself as ‘a 20-something fashion buyer and social media extraordinaire who left her sunny tropical islander life in the Philippines to live in freezing cold Canada.’  She has a lot of energy and is a prolific blogger; only four months after her arrival her blog was named one of the top fifteen Canadian fashion blogs of 2010*.  Her effortless style and discerning eye for fashion, made her blog an instant hit.

The girl with the messy hair is a style diary that KD (Kristine Diane) Faustino started in April 2009, while still living in Manila, to chronicle her daily outfits.

“I blog today simply because it makes me happy,” she says. “As narcissistic as it may sound, I blog for myself. It might seem shallow, but there’s really no hidden agenda behind my blogging, just that dressing up and fashion makes me happy. The compliments/recognition I get, inspiring other people with finding their style and the perks from brands/designers are just a plus for me.”

Faustino is a social media professional, and works as Social Media Head for Fashion Night Out Canada, Fabricated, and a fashion buyer for Citizen’s Planet. Her expertise in social media is apparent throughout her blog, and she’s a PR natural: “I think what makes my blog (or any blog for that matter) unique is the individual behind the blog itself,” she says. “If you stay true to yourself, your style, why you are blogging, your overall brand–it will show. You have to come to terms with the fact that blogging can be a serious business but at the same time, still having fun while doing it!”

Hailing from the tropical Philippines, KD’s had to adjust her style (not just fashion-wise but lifestyle as well) to Canada’s often frigid temperatures. Her islander spirit has brought a fresh new style to Calgary’s fashion scene and she’s embraced the challenges along the way–and posed for many a picture featuring piles of snow in the background instead of a beach. “I live in Calgary and the biggest [influence] it has on my blog is the weather!” she says. “As silly as it may sound, that’s the challenge of dressing in a bipolar city (in terms of weather) like Calgary.

#1 Holts Muse KD Faustino“I think the best thing that ever happened to me due to blogging was being recognized for something that wasn’t meant to be recognized at all,” says KD. “When I started blogging I was just doing my own thing but then I started getting recognized and awarded [Top 15 Canadian Fashion Blogs*, Honorary Blogger of the Year in the 2011 Calgary Fashion Honorary Awards, Top 5 Best Overall Blog & Top 4 Best Personal Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards 2011, 1st Place Holts Muse by Holt Renfrew, MTV Blogger Looks we Love, etc.] by the industry and being on the same lists as the people I look up to, or just by random people in random places (which is more flattering, to say the least). What makes it special is the fact that I started this blog all by myself without the help of anyone–it is certainly my baby, something that I am proud of.” See two of KD’s personal favourite posts: http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2011/06/crochet.html, and http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2012/01/brown-hues.html. The worst part? “Definitely the haters,” she says. “But you know what they say, you know you’ve made it when you’ve got them.”

KD at workKD isn’t certain whether or not she’ll keep the blog going after her thirtieth birthday in two years. “The good thing about my blog is that I don’t feel pressured,” she says. “I am at this point in my blogging career where I feel like I’m not anxious to get anywhere. I can choose which events I want to go to or not, what brands I want to work with–I don’t need to be everywhere, unlike when I was starting. I must say, it’s a good place to be at. And who knows, maybe after 30 I’ll turn my blog around to a travel blog or something like that!”

In the meantime, however, KD will be focusing on maintaining the high quality of her blog. “The ideal blog for me starts with decent hi-resolution photos,” she reveals. “People tend to look at photos first and then they start to read if your photos are interesting enough. A short, constructive write-up with readable font is a must for me, too. Above all, [the ideal blog is about] keeping your stuff interesting and making people come back for more.”



Michelle Basic Hendry in Muskoka

in Muskoka, Ontario, Painter, Photography, Scholar and visual arts

Artscapes blog logo, Michelle Basic Hendry

Michelle Basic Hendry is an artist, painter and writer living in Central Ontario. She blogs her thoughts about her art and her life, and especially about the timeless beauty preserved in old buildings all over Muskoka. She shares stories of the structures and elements of her own life in many different ways. She writes articles and takes great digital pictures and even paints her stories in acrylic on canvas, and so of course her blog is fantastic.

Michelle Basic Hendry, a painter in Muskoka OntarioArtscapes Blog is a beautiful scrapbook of architectural art paintings and Canadian heritage information where Michelle Basic Hendry serves society by sharing her knowledge and ‘visions’ of Canadian artscapes. In this portal Michelle writes about the beauty of old buildings found around her central Ontario home.  The girl admits she has always been a doodler, and she loves a good story.  Years ago she got a degree in history and stayed passionate about old rural buildings and their stories. She writes that ‘buildings are characters of the landscape; they are a reflection of their builders and their times.’

While at university, Michelle spent a couple of summers wandering the landscape in search of old buildings for a local heritage group inventory and research project. It was a dream job. She could hardly believe she was being paid to do something she loved so much anyway.  She was hired as an artist and researcher and she had a sketchbook/notebook in the car and would quickly draw the houses and their locations for future research. The recession of the early nineties sapped a lot of government jobs and Michelle followed her skill and abilities as an artist into graphic design.

Michelle has been blogging for three years. Her website and blog are always evolving as she improves her skills using these new communication tools. Right now she’s moving her whole website to WordPress to lose the static HTML pages that comprise most of what isn’t the blog. Her website is always evolving, but this upgrade is the biggest technical innovation and style alteration in three years.

With a background in graphic design, Michelle is conscious of her personal brand. She knows the new site will be altering her brand slightly, and she writes ‘I’m hoping the new look will allow the real brand – the art – to show better, to be front and center, and the theme design to be very secondary.‘.

Yellow Door by Michelle Basic Hendry“With my background in history, I was compelled to find the families, the stories from the past and merge them with the present in my art.  The blog became the vehicle for putting the art with the stories. All this has led to an upcoming book sharing the paintings, the stories and the history of the places in my work  over the last three years – the culmination of my passions for art, writing, and history.” – Michelle Basic Hendry

Blogging has helped Michelle rediscover her love for writing and it has kept her more accountable to her paintings and photography. It has helped her track how she works, where she has been and what she has been focusing on. And so it acts as a life journal of sorts, allowing her to share the stories behind her works of art with her readers and collectors. The blog has been a key driver in traffic to her website and she has garnered a fair bit of media attention over the years because she makes it so easy for researchers and other writers and media makers to find her.

Selling her paintings online was not part of Michelle’s original plan, but in the last three years she has made several sales and met great buyers and through her website and other online contacts she has met all manner of art patrons. She plans on increasing the online store portion of her website in the near future.

Lavendar by Michelle Basic Hendry in Muskoka

Readers that would like to explore the works of Michelle Basic Hendry, should investigate some of the following outstanding posts. Marvel at her photos and paintings of the Vanomi Hotel, now called the Sparrow Beach Lodge, a privately owned 100 year old resort that has only recently closed its doors.

She wrote about her time spent visting Uffington Muskoka and strikes a great balance of hero driven story mixed with art and history. Its wonderful writing that details Pete Marchildon and Judy Veitch, the new owners of the Fleger House and their historic property.

a painting by Michelle Basic Hednry called Waiting - Red ChairA natural storyteller, her piece waiting – red chair plants ideas about an old woman who spent her last days waiting…

Blogging isn’t for every artist. The most important thing you can do is create. But if you do enjoy writing or want to keep a relatively consistent public journal of what inspires you, a blog can be an invaluable tool. Plus it helps others get to know who you are as an artist, and learn about your work. It can be a powerful connection to your collectors, and help you in find your own voice. – Michelle Basic Hendry

Michelle’s blog is already very popular, and some of her posts garner over twenty comments from readers, which is the true mark of a popular and valuable blog. In sitting perfectly still in a canoe she’s discovering landscapes and her text gets mystical as she writes the inspiration, “An excellent photographer or an artist, or a writer or a musician occupies a state of complete presence when they are working on their art. Great art is more than an experience – it is a feeling that engages another sense apart from the one for which it seems designed to communicate.”

In her post Reflections on How We See , I learned something about Eckhart Tolle and something about myself.  Michelle wrote, ‘Buddhists and a number of authors including Eckhart Tolle suggest that peace and happiness are found through living in the moment and the resistance to judgment. We are trained from the moment we leave the womb to pass judgments. We experience the word ‘No’ for excellent reasons and some less valid. This is hot or cold, safe or dangerous, good or bad. When we are so well conditioned, it is no wonder we look to the few who seem to escape its grasp – to whom the world appears less black and white

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Photo Finishes from Cobourg Ontario

in Canadian pop culture, niche blogs, Ontario, Photography, Scholar, Teacher, testing, Toronto, Tourism, visual arts and Web Designer

Picks of Canada, picks of images,

Jacques Surveyer is a writer, a web developer, and a very passionate photographer that lives and works in Cobourg Ontario. Years ago he studied photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto before getting an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) from the University of Western Ontario. With this background he found that blogging allowed him to ‘indulge his avocations’ while helping with his consulting business. Jacques is a skilled multimedia magician with a good head for business.

Photo Finishes / Picture That along with TheOpenSourcery.com are two very different tips and tutorials blogs that offer tactics and product reviews for graphics and multimedia processing people. These sites are core to Jacques portfolio as a developer, and they demonstrate to potential customers his expertise in many diverse programming and photo finishing subjects.

Jacques SurveyorOver time Jacques’ two original blogging websites have expanded into ten different blogs. He uses free blog web hosting sites to create multiple presences for specialized tasks. For example JavaScriptures is dedicated to some of the more interesting developments in JavaScript, as applied to lean manufacturing which is serious process to which he jokingly describes Java as the ‘gets-no-respect-like-Rodney_Dangerfield’ programming language.

About ten years ago Jacques Surveyer started blogging on a website platform that he made himself. He built his own blog from the ground up, and people did come, but more people came after he switched over to WordPress.

“WordPress with themes, plugins and a WYSIWYG editor was a vast improvement over my own homemade CMS.”

After six or more years, Jacques is still a WordPress devotee, even though he’s used Drupal and Joomla and has built projects for clients using both programming languages. But he’s quick to reason, “WordPress has stayed ahead of the curve with widgets, jQuery support, and automated updates of not just themes and plugins but also the blog engine itself”.  Jacques did all of society a favour when he weighed in on the classic debate, which is the best open source platform, Drupal, Joomla or WordPress? and in that post it becomes real clear that WordPress is this craftsman’s preferred software.

Jacques loves to take pictures and gradually his interest spread out into photography and travel destination review blogs. He created PixofDetroit, PixofToronto, and PixofCanada to host the photos and stories of his adventures abroad. Later he added commentary blogs like Takethe5th.com and Bookraft.com (his only active Drupal blog) so he could properly articulate his thoughts on government and society.

Then blogs started appearing all over the place. JavaScriptures and NearlyFreeWebsites are two examples which take advantage of nearly free blog software.  Consulting work and help for friends resulted in two gallery sites – ARTSurveyer.com and NeelsPlace.com which are efforts using Gallery blog software and Joomla respectively.

“As Free blog/CMS software has improved I have switched from doing custom websites over to using free blogs like Joomla and WordPress, Weebly and Wix for my nearly cost free blogging and broader web development work.”

Jacques Surveyer prevented from taking pictures of volleyball game on cobourg beach

Jacques’ popular PhotoFinishes blog dips into the political space too. Last summer the intrepid explorer wrote a terrific piece about how the officials at a beach volleyball tournament in Cobourg successfully prevented him from taking pictures of the participants in action, despite the fact that it was public space, with no photography ban signage posted, and no advertisements or precedents prohibiting photography are known.  According to Jacques in this article, the same thing happened at the Royal Winter Fair to his friend a year earlier.

When asked what he likes most about being a blogger, Jacques Surveyer admits that he covets traffic and feels rewarded when his sites grow popular. He recounts with satisfaction the time when his post on KeepanOpenEye debunked Steve Jobs contentions that Flash was slow and buggy, and received over 30,000 visits in one day – that was very gratifying. Also, the Fall Drizzle story on PixOfCanada which visualized the autumn colors in Ontario took in over 75,000 visits in the last months of 2010. To see a pictoral story getting that much attention was also very satisfying for this webmaster.

Jacques Surveyer, yellow leaf road, pixofcanada

Blogging has been good to Jacques, because he’s a new breed of storyteller, a free thinker with real knowledge to communicate.  When I asked him if he’d  do anything different a second tine, he noted that he wished he’d switched to open source or free blog software sooner, and he wished he had taken the time to improve his JavaScript skills earlier. “Skills in JavaScript and CSS make such a difference in the proper styling of a blog.”

This Cobourg Ontario blogger just loves being creative, inventory management and building platforms that push the envelope of the technology.  “The revenues are enough to pay the freight but not much more. But telling photo tales and being able to add my two cents on Toronto, or World scene is both fun and soothing to the spirit.”

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Keri the Canadian Explorer

in Blogging, Culture Blogger, Ontario, Photography and Toronto

KeriCDN is a talkative girl with lots of creative energy; exploring Canada is her raison d’etre.  At Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, Keri studied business, history and linguistics, but her real life education started in February 2008, when she started blogging.

Keri The Canadian Explorer has culturally significant adventures everyday, and she shares her discoveries with a growing tribe of domestic and international followers. It’s interesting that she profiles all types of Canadians, not just the ‘great ones’.  She reports the facts and lets her audience decide if her subjects and settings are worthy of praise. For example, she’s quite proud of a recent video exploring the Canadian Navy.

Keri’s site contains no advertising.  She has refused to do sponsored posts and thinks Google AdSense looks tacky; she doesn’t want to appear avaricious for three cents a day.  The business training inside of her is however looking for benign sponsors; she would like to play a part in something larger, something sponsored by a proud and worthwhile Canadian enterprise.

To that end, she threw a blog party at the Reservoir Lounge last November.  It was a big success, and helped put her at the center of a local community of like minded individuals.  Since then she has banded together with some other famous web friends to create The Toronto Blog Girls which is a loose association of popular Toronto fashionistas and event bloggers that reside in Canada’s largest city.  All of these girls are attractive, intelligent and artistic, and together they’re a powerful press squad.

Check out Ryan Couldrey’s photo of Keri using automatic weapons.

Keri’s biggest fault might be that she’s too darn nice. In the video she did with Five Hockey Legends, she really shouldn’t have let security interrupt her filming, and it’s so typical of Canadians to apologize and be so concerned with procedures instead of just rolling tape and saying sorry later. To that point it would have been great if she’d turned and tried to leave with Red Kelly’s NHL Stanley Cup ring…  but she’s too nice.

Keri often profiles influential speakers and attends a lot of events on inspirational subjects. In most episodes the girl charms her way backstage or somehow corners presenters after appearances. Her well conceived queries combined with her compelling interview style more than compensate for the bad lighting and sound quality in these commando videos.  See Gary Vaynerchuk Loves Canada!

KeriCDN Quests for the 2010 Olympic Games

Keri’s short term dream is to attend and chronicle the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. As a true Canadian explorer and premium blogger, she believes it’s her manifest destiny to be at this international event, sharing the experience with the rest of the nation. This single cause has coloured her blog for months. She entered contests, wrote letters and collectively schemed right along with her readers to get herself over to the other side of the continent in February.  And then finally, it worked.

Keri had her hands on the torch in January 2010.  She photographed it, wrote about it, and was questioned about it on national television.  Before that, Keri charmed contest mavens with her Samsung mobile explorer video entry and issued repeated requests for votes. Her quest for Vancouver goes all the way back to September 2009 when she reviewed the Olympic apparel at The Bay, and fantasized about her wish list of events to cover.  Later that month while bike riding with her friend Jody, the Olympics Games are back on her brain. She interrupts her explanation of the difference between an Inukshuk and Inunnguaq and gets completely sidetracked by a point about the Nunavut flag being associated with next year’s Olympics.  Well all the obsessing finally paid off…

Keri has been contracted by Canoe.ca and Sun Media to cover the Winter Games as official press.

In addition to her blog, you can subscribe to KeriCDN videos on YouTube and follow her on Twitter  @KeriCDN.

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Jennifer Jilks writes My Muskoka

in Activism, Blogging, Muskoka, Ontario, Photography and Tourism

banner for My MuskokaJennifer Jilks is an Ottawa school teacher now living in beautiful Bala, Ontario. She’s over 50 and that’s a huge niche right there. She’s also a travel expert, wildlife photographer, hiker, and blogger who posts twice a week about a special little part of Canada called Muskoka.

Jennifer Jilks of My Muskoka blogMy Muskoka cottage blog is an inside look at life in five Northern Ontario towns including Bala, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst , Huntsville, and Port Carling. She also chronicles the changing seasons as reflected in the shorelines of the Muskoka lakes.

Jennifer Jilks is fifty two years old. Before living in Bala she taught school for twenty five years in Ottawa while raising three kids – now her children are adults, and they are all remarkably different. They are all professionals. Jennifer’s daughter is a hydrogeologist and married to green party candidate Jean Luc Cooke. Her second child is a gifted actor, and the youngest boy is a government statistician.

Living and Dying with Dignity

About Jennifer Jilks

You can learn a lot about Mrs Jilks by reading the sidebar of her blog. Halfway down the right hand column is a picture and link to her book

Living and Dying with Dignity, a daughter/caregiver’s point of view.  She writes here that ‘My mother’s cancer, dad’s brain tumour and dementia changed my life. The book includes information, research, as well as coping strategies from real life experiences.’ And now suddenly we understand what drove her to start this blogspot. It wasn’t fame, or a marketing assignment, or a creative outlet for her photography, but an expression of true self. This woman hopes to share her healing with readers. Jennifer is a Muskoka Hospice worker and the experience of helping people living and dying with dignity rings like a bell and resonate through her life’s work. Indeed her continued care giving and volunteer work at the hospice gives her existence meaning and adds value to her perspective on life in Muskoka.

Jennifer Jilks in WashingtonJennifer Jilks Photography

In addition to chronicling the adventures of her three cats, Jenn’s blog images waterfowl, wildflowers and rodents in high quality photographs.  She submits her pictures to a camera critters blog and to a popular Ontario photo contest website and it was through Lenzr that she first came to my attention. In late November 2009 Jenn_Jilks compiled a beautiful array of breathtaking photos, with multiple entries in all three web challenges.

Jennifer Jilks and Social Justice

Today Mrs Jilks understands the explosive power of blogging. She learned the hard way after posting a series of well researched articles detailing the political, economic and social implications of the Bala Falls hydro electric project.

Muskoka LakesShe generated sixteen comments with a  particularly contentious post on the bala hydro electric project in the fall of 2008  where she was accused of being a puppet for Dalton McGuinty.

Fortunately other bloggers came to her rescue. Jenn’s site is at the center of a local blog ring that doesn’t have a badge yet, but the members appear in an earlier post. Muskoka Bloggers is a list she updates frequently and links to in her sidebar.

Last summer, Jennifer Jilks did her civic duty and published a piece on the 2009 drowning in Bala explaining the water currents better than news media. Jenn lives in the Township of Muskoka Lakes and in one posts she took it upon herself to debunk the The Myths of Muskoka.

My Muskoka blog is already publishing original stories about the 2010 G8 Summit’s impact to ‘locals’ in Hunstville and surrounding towns.

My Muskoka is a very credible citizen journalist, a passionate photographer, and a writer with a soul living inside Ontario’s premier Muskoka cottage country travel destination.

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The House in Arctic Bay, Nunavut

in Nunavut, Photography and Tourism

Clare Kines turned fifty this year. Born in 1959, he was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer for 24 years, and served in Manitoba, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the North West Territories. In 1999 he transferred to Arctic Bay, Nunavut where he spent the last four years of his career.  Clare retired from the RCMP force six years ago, and then went to work full time building a bed and breakfast in this remote part of Canada.  His blog has grown right alongside his business.

Dan Rather at the house in the artic, kigavikThe House and Other Arctic Musings began as an online construction journal in May 2005. Back then it was simply a handy place to record memories and stories connected with the construction of Kiggavik.

The word ‘Kiggavik’ is the Inuktitut name for Gyrfalcon (a local species of bird), and Clare felt this was the most appropriate name for the business, possibly because the house, seen here, resembles a bird in flight.

Clare’s first wife Janice died of ovarian cancer in 1996; he writes, “her illness and death were by far the hardest things I’ve ever had to face in life. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about her.”

Clare Kines of Kiggavik B&B in Arctic Bay NunavutClare met Leah after moving to Arctic Bay and he fell in love again. They have two children: Travis age seven and Hilary is three years old. Leah was born and raised in Arctic Bay and now Clare also says he, “…can’t see living anywhere else. Love is as good of a reason as any for living somewhere.”

Clare adds , “I know that I am amongst the luckiest men in the world, because I’ve found great love not once, but twice in my life.” And readers can see these two do enjoy life together, and that’s a big part of the blog’s content and attraction.  The barren lands are secretly bountiful, and readers do get to explore that beautiful wilderness through Clare’s photography and travel stories.

Arctic Bay (also known as Ikpiarjuk), Nunavut is the northernmost community on Baffin Island, located in a land-locked bay and home to a small, predominantly Inuit population.

The Arts Scene in Arctic Bay

Wild Blueberries by Clare Kines, bloggerClare Kines blogs about the local arts and culture scene referencing Adrian Arnauyumayuq as the best carver in Arctic Bay right now, and showing us a carving by Jutanee Attagutaluk that was a gift from Leah.

“I’m one of the godfathers of Nunavut Blogging.”

Kines has been actively promoting blogging in Nunavut for many years and hosts the annual “Nunies” blogging awards. He has compiled a Nunavut blogroll featuring gems like Way Way Up which has been active since spring 2006. Nunavut Newbie is a female blogger in the area, and Townie Bastard and Northern Sights are two more great arctic blogs. There’s some blog talent up there; Clare’s Nunavut blogroll is everything Canada Blog Friends represents.

picking wild blueberries in Arctic Bay Nunavut Clare Kines was inspired to start his Typepad blog after reading and being affected by another portal called Bootstrap Analysis and its author, Nuthatch.

“That spring the Ivory-billed Woodpeckers potential re-discovery had just hit the news, and I came upon a well written post on bootstrap analysis. It was really my first exposure to blogging.” Clare writes, “At the time we were in the midst of building the house and pouring the concrete into insulated concrete forms to speed construction time and cut labour and material costs. We bought and installed insulated metal panels for the north side of the house and all around the base of the building. My project manager and I had said over and over that we really had to write some of these stories down.  So with the inspiration of Nuthatch and the stories from constructing a house in the high arctic I started. Nuthatch and I have ended up close friends, I think of her as my blogmom.”

Clare Kines of Kiggavik, Arctic Bay, Nunavut

Other than keeping some stories alive I don’t think I had any real goals at the beginning, truth be told I probably still don’t.  I’ve found that I enjoy blogging, the sense of community that has grown about me. When I’ve tried to leave blogging, because of commitments that required more attention I found that I really missed it.  The other thing that I’ve found is that I’ve grown to think of myself as a writer.  Although lately the blog has had more of a photo bent to it, it is first and foremost about writing. Something I’ve come to enjoy.

Clare Kines blogger at Kiggavik in Arctic Bay NunavutI find myself doing things, a hike for instance, and writing a post in my head while I’m doing it. It does make a good outlet for the photography.

At Last is a post about the arrival of Clare’s new born daughter

Photocopy Boy is a post reflecting on the death of a friend

Ghosts of Christmas Past more the memory of a Christmas in Ecuador

Flat roof is a little more recent.

Kines stirred up a fuss in Oct 2007 when he wrote about feral cats near bird sanctuaries and the failure of TNR programs (Trap Neuter Release) to control what he calls an ‘invasive species’.   It was in conjunction with posts that other bloggers had written calling for birders to boycott Cape May NJ because of their support for a TNR program.  It certainly aroused the most passion in the comments.

Clare’s post on the high cost of northern airfare also attracted comments and trackbacks.

A blog at the edge of the world,

A few people have found us through the blog, including clients from Scotland, France and Spain. The vast majority of our customers are government and business people traveling here. Most of them have found us through our reputation.

I rarely blog about clients, except in the most general terms. At times when I have I’ve always checked with them first. Probably our biggest celebrity to stay here was Dan Rather. Who is a very nice, very interesting man.  We talked mostly about wanting to go to space.  But most of our clients, are interesting people.  Part of the joy of this job is that there are so many interesting people that stay here, and many fascinating stories to hear. Check out this Toronto bed and breakfast left floating on the lake shore.

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Vancity Buzz in Vancouver BC

in British Columbia, NHL Hockey, Photography, Sports, Tourism and Vancouver

Vancity Buzz bannerThe consortium of creative thinkers that conspire to craft Vancity Buzz are as diverse as the blog.

Vancity Buzz formed on the 21st July, 2008.  That’s when three contributors first put their heads together to create the best local blog in Vancouver.  And they succeeded in crafting a fine portal, and one that guarantees readers a fine batch of local content, served fresh daily. The photo rich text shares ideas and comedy related to the City of Vancouver, and most recently the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics; this blog is a digestion of Vancouver sports, politics and populism.

Coal Harbour on Vancity BuzzVancity Buzz is perhaps the first and best place to find obscure Vancouver restaurant reviews, music festival highlights, media meltdowns, and hip videos spiced with local politics, underground art and stories from and about their great city. Readers enjoy sports highlights from BC Lions and Vancouver Canucks, and local sports and recreation stories especially bicycling in Vancouver.

Originally billed as, “the best damn blog in Vancouver. Here you can expect to read on topics from our expert authors ranging from Sports, Culture, Entertainment, Development and any random spiel we feel like. One thing’s for certain, this page is going to be straight no chase!” there’s a heavy slant towards local and provincial politics. Think of this place as a premium online men’s magazine for Vancouver.

This is a men’s mag because of the images and style and general tone of voice; it’s definitely more guy-focused than girl-focused and a video of Megan Fox in the sidebar leaves no doubt. Discussions about Vancouver Canucks, homeless people, and hot models are always going to be more popular with guys.

VancouverismVancouverism
Here’s what makes the blog special – writers like Urban Dweller define something called ‘Vancouverism’. In the subtext it’s actually possible to read and enjoy their pride for Yaletown, Coal Harbour, North East False Creek and soon South East False Creek. The authors believe these are truly the communities of the future, and they are the byproducts of excellent city planning, mainly by a man they identify as Mr. Beasley, a visionary most famous for reshaping their beautiful city – they love him as they create a blog that celebrates Vancouverism.

Yet they are afraid of, and loath Surrey
The writers’ affection for metropolitan Vancouver contrasts their opinion of Surrey: “Upon entering it was obvious that Surrey doesn’t know what it wants to be, the city is so poorly planned, no doubt due to the rapid cul-de-sac infested development that took place over the years. I think I saw one cyclist, a few pan handlers on Scott Road, more suburban style strip mall in development and SUV’s galore. It felt like Prince George but with more people, not a good thing. As I approached Newton it was evident Mayor Watts has her work cut out. The urban decay in a suburban setting is truly horrendous. I pray I don’t ever have to go back. Oh and where are all the buses in Surrey? 400,000 people and I didn’t see a single fucking bus my whole time there. Egregious. If the future lives there we are in serious trouble…”

The blog boasts that approximately 80% of their readers live in BC’s lower mainland. They don’t shy away from politics. They are obvious social liberals, fiscal conservatives that despise all manner of taxation and any form of government control.

The Accolades
asshatsFreebase.com gave VCB five award nominations last year,
–         Dec 2008 Best Humour Site
–         Dec 2008 Best Site for Events
–         Dec 2008 Best Group Blog or Multi-Author Site
–         2008 Best Sports Site or Blog
–         2008 Best New Blog
But unless I’m mistaken, and perhaps we can read about it in the comments of this post (anyone?), I don’t think VCB won any prizes in any of the categories. It’s a fact that Urbanspoon Vancouver [a restaurant and review site; rates reviews from critics, food bloggers and friends] ranked VanCity Buzz at 41 out 100. But perhaps this is a start mark, the beginning of their journey.

Vancity Buzz – Tuesday July 27 2008
…Now I’m off to go throw pennies at the French hobos hanging outside the liquor store on Alberni. Hopefully they’ll get the message and hitch a ride back to “La belle Province”.

Most Contentious Posts:
Not surprisingly, VanCity Buzz has ruffled some feathers and the most contentious posts appear to be political and societal, based on the number of comments.  Its a fact Vancity Buzz defends pitbulls, and openly criticizes Vancouver’s approach to the homelessness problem, and makes public their disapproval of Surrey. These hot button issues have raised some eyebrows.

The Authors of the VanCity Buzz Spot
Now here’s where it gets a bit confusing. VanCity Buzz is himself an author, probably the principle brainchild of the blogspot. He has a good blog style and writes the meat and potatoes of the blog – usually the posts that most directly relate to the city.

Money J Skeets introduced himself in August 2008 in The Case of Matts Sundin and has held true to his promise of delivering sports gossip and musical goodies.  He also chronicles local street scenes and serves up late nite music in a weekly ritual – this writer is certainly very original with maximum style, and yet there are no pictures of him on the site. Money J Skeets is the 2nd most prolific contributor, but there doesn’t appear to be any pictures of this author, unless you count the shot of Nelly flashing his gold teeth?

Urban Dweller is outside the box and 100% original. He writes about the dark underbelly of the city and thinks in unusual patterns; he once detailed the physical element in poker.

Suburban Don lives in Richmond BC and writes about goings on in suburbia. He started strong and profiled Olympic athletes and some local businesses before gradually fading away.

Vancity Maverick – according to him, his writing is “focused on political matters from an analytical perspective, sometimes in a politically incorrect manner.”, but his pen has been silent for a spell.

VanGirl her real name Clo Harvey and she’s a very pretty freelance photographer from Australia that currently resides in Vancouver; she likes to shoot landscapes, cityscapes, people, pets, nightlife; self-taught photog, shoots digital and film, edits own work Clo’s online photo albums: http://cloimages.shutterfly.com/

InterVan-Buzz works in communications as a promoter / marketer / producer; “I am a young entrepreneur who has fallin in love with marketing. I believe it is a great tool… such a variety of ways to utilize it. Music & Fashion have become a big part of my life.”

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Net Chick in Vancouver

in British Columbia, Personal Blog, Photography, Tourism and Vancouver

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Tanya Marie Davis has been writing her thoughts online for over eleven years! That makes her the most experienced blogger, with the oldest domain yet profiled on this friendly index. The thirty something British Canadian lives alone in Vancouver, and plays a big part in the city’s social net. Her easy going manner, self deprecating sense of humour, detailed profile page, and straight forward contact info tells readers that she’s very comfortable with who she has become…

Net Chick pink hairNetChick, This Chick’s Life is the personal journal of a popular west coast socialite who uses her blog for the forces of good. There are no Google ads or tacky widgets anywhere in the sidebar, just a lipstick promotion over a blog roll bearing links to other Canadian pioneers, most of whom also live in Vancouver.

Tanya Davis blogs from and about that beautiful city, and often joins her friends, Miss 604, Raincoaster, Tris Hussy and others at live events that help make Vancouver the foremost social media crucible in Canada. Although much smaller than Toronto, this city’s bloggers connect in real life at parties, sporting events and most recently, at the opera.

This Chick’s Life is as unique as it is popular. A two sentence description in her sidebar reads, “…a thirty something girl living her dream in downtown Vancouver.’ But what is her dream exactly? Perhaps its the expression of her independence? To live alone after her divorce? In posts from autumn 2002 and the winter of 2003, which are the oldest posts available to readers, Tanya is slight on details and uses the word ‘boyfriend’ with defining the term. Later, readers will discover and come to cherish NetChick’s semi perpetual search for a mate. The theme runs through later posts too, and as Tanya grows older she gets more and more comfortable sharing details.

Similar to Carrie Bradshaw, (Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in Sex in the City)  this single girl details the shortcomings of so many would be suitors that attempt to solicit her affections. It’s a fascinating study of (for) men, especially those who craft corny first contact messages. The activity empowers female readers, and makes men a little anxious – lately Tanya has been reposting whole conversations, or rather, intact solicitations from strangers that have no idea who they’re talking to, or what league they’ve just stepped into…

Net Chick, Tanya DavisA social butterfly, NetChick has adopted, or rather, inherited an earlier link exchange ritual (from Michele, a landmark early blog) known as Weekend Meet and Greet. It’s a simple idea that works to convince a community of readers to leave a chorus of comments for everyone’s benefit. This type of online activity is the spit and polish that sophisticated blog pioneers put up to harness the passion of the next generation. NetChick’s meet and greet has just two rules:  participants must first say hello, and then visit the blog above their comment; in turn the next visitor greets you and visits your blog.  Irregardless of all extenuating factors, the exercise is good for at least one visit.

On March 1st 2009 Tanya used her blog to do some good for society when she wrote to Support the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team With Canada Post and encouraged her readers to CatchAir.ca

Tanya Davis seems like the quintessential early adopter, a hot girl geek that’s always been in style. She embraces new technology and uses it to elucidate random elements of her existence; NetChick Flickr photos show off her friends and family, you can find Tanya on Facebook, and or follow NetChick on Twitter.

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