Black History Month Spotlight: Mae Jemison

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As we come to a close on Black History Month, I would like to turn the spotlight on another influential Black female figure: Mae Jemison. Mae Jemison is widely acclaimed in the sciences industry as being the first Black Female astronaut. In 1992, she made significant strides as an astronaut by flying into space on the Endeavour spacecraft, officially establishing herself as the first African-American woman in space.

Born in October 1956, in Decatur, Alabama, Mae Jemison and her family moved to Chicago, Illinois where she grew up for the majority of her youth. There in Chicago, she was able to witness and experience first-hand the peak of the Black civil rights movement in the United States. As a young girl, she lived in fear by the frequent protests and the heavy presence of the National Guard on their streets. At a mere 12 years old, although scared, Mae Jemison knew the importance of the civil rights movement and its impact on herself as an African-American girl and the Black community as a whole. Living through such an experience growing up, Mae Jemison’s African-American identity became a crucial part in her academic and career pursuits.

She spent her life in the pursuit of science – specifically, astrology. Even as a kindergartner on her first day of school, she already declared herself a “scientist” when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Taken aback by her answer as a woman, much less a Black woman, people were skeptical and doubtful. These doubts and odds against her didn’t stop her in her pursuit.

She began her pursuit for higher education in the sciences in college, where she studied physical and social sciences. Jemison developed a passion for linguistics while in college and also learned how to speak Russian and African-Swahili fluently. She progressed in her academic career by earning another degree in chemical engineering and African studies. She always stuck true to her roots as an African-American and ensured that her African identity remained an integral part of who she was in every aspect – both as a student and as a professional in the sciences. Mae Jemison continued on to study medicine in medical school, where she earned her MD and also became a medical doctor.

In June of 1987, she was admitted into NASA’s astronaut program, being the first African-American woman to be admitted into the astronaut-training program. In 1992, Mae Jemison made even more significant strides as an African-American and as a female astronaut by initiating her first launch into space. On September 12, 1992, Mae Jemison set aboard the Endeavour spacecraft among 6 other astronauts on mission STS47. On this day, she officially established herself as the first African-American woman in space.

Mae Jemison spent 8 days in space conducting various projects and experiments in collaboration with the rest of the team of astronauts. She returned back to earth on September 20, 1992 and spent a total of 190 hours in space. Upon her return, Jemison remarked of the importance of both integrating males and females, as well as various minority groups, into societal activities. She emphasized that all kinds of people are able to be productive members of society and contribute to the development of the world, so long as the equal opportunity is afforded to them.

In recognition of her astonishing repertoire of accomplishments, Jemison received numerous awards and several honorary doctorates. Some include:

  • The 1988 Essence Science and Technlogy Award
  • The 1992 Ebony Black Achievement Award
  • The 1993 Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College
  • The 1990 Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year Award

Mae Jemison was also fundamental in the progression and development of various organizations in the scientific community, including the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Mae Jemison is not only influential, she is a model of excellence for all people – especially women, African-Americans; particularly African-American women. Her significant work in the STEM fields proves her to be role model for young girls and young women, showing them that women not only can be a part of the STEM fields, but they can also excel in the STEM field. She has paved the way for women to make positive and remarkable contributions into an industry that is primarily dominated my males. As an African-American, she has proven to be a figure of strength and intelligence, proving to society that despite every odd set up against a marginalized population – despite the lack of equal opportunity – resilience, perseverance, and strength can uplift yourself and an entire community from an oppression. Moreover, it can influence society to adopt ideologies that are more inclusive, aware, and integrative, and foster a society that offers equal opportunity to all people, regardless of gender, race, sex, sexuality, etc.

Resources:

http://www.biography.com/people/mae-c-jemison-9542378

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/jemison-mc.html

http://teacher.scholastic.com/space/mae_jemison/

http://www.biography.com/people/mae-c-jemison-9542378

Want to Come Up to My Room?

Style & Profile by Chinedu Ukabam

Style & Profile by Chinedu Ukabam

Since 2004 the rooms at the Gladstone Hotel have played host to some of Canada’s leading artists in alternative design. Every year for a few days three floors of the Gladstone give up their space and are transformed into a place that engages our sense, our memories, and our perceptions of reality. Each room is given to an artist and they create a site-specific, immersive installation that stimulates the imagination and encourages discussion. For the 13th edition of Come Up to My Room (CUTMR) Ryerson’s School of Image Arts and the School of Interior Design both had installations that captured and filled the room.

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Ripple by Ryerson School of Image Arts

Ryerson Artspace is a student and faculty run gallery within the Gladstone Hotel that is curated and programmed by the School of Image Arts. Artspace has been a venue for contemporary Canadian film, photography, and digital arts for the last 24 years and this year the students created a ripple. As part of CUTMR the students at Artspace created an installation that looked at the notion of how we can achieve more together than alone, that we all create a ripple effect with our actions. The installation itself is a giant collective instrument that participants control with the tug of a light bulb, or raindrop, hanging from the ceiling. The darkened gallery was filled with light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling each one tied to its own individual sound, like the keys of a piano. Except this piano had many players who could work together to create a melody or let unique sounds morph into their own chaotic composition. What began as a prototype for the Digital Tools class as part of the Architectural Science program, Ripple, has become a real installation that encourages movement of the whole body and creates a collective harmony out of different lights, sounds, and movements.

RippleI came across Ripple late in the evening, it was actually as I was leaving the Love Design Party. I knew that it was showing but I couldn’t seem to find it and with all the other rooms to see I had a lot to go through (getting trapped in a line up for the Ferris Bueller room didn’t help). However, once I did find Ripple I realized how happy I was not to miss it. It was a very strange experience, flowing through the teardrops as brand new melodies and sounds constantly reverberate throughout the gallery and your body. With only the light from the teardrops I managed to make my way through the gallery, to pull on each one and listen for my own sound in the sea of music. I understood what the artists were portraying, how each of us has an effect, we can each add to the ripple by throwing our rock in the pond. However, what I also found was that sometimes our effect gets lost; the constant flow might wash out our ripple. We sometimes have to stop and listen, make sure that what we are doing is actually having the effect we want it to. If we can’t hear ourselves maybe we need to change our tune, take a different approach to have the effect we are after.

The School of Interior Design also had an installation, which was one of the first rooms I stumbled upon. Partnered with UUfie, an architecture and design practice based in Toronto, Catherine Farrell and Nisha Sewell of Ryerson created Breath, along with Katherine Porter from the Rhode Island School of Design. This installation explored the ideas of deception and limitlessness in its arrangement of tactile space. This installation was supposed to create a dialogue about making and designing, like time flowing in space, an instance of a breath. I think this project was a little over-my-head but the implementation worked which can be hard to manage in instances like these. Often artistic endeavors sound and look great on paper or in your mind, but creation is a difficult feat.

Untitled (Idolization Space) by Sara Nickelson and Studio WOOLF

Untitled (Idolization Space) by Sara Nickelson and Studio WOOLF

With over 20 artists showing and creating for CUTMR this year there is a lot to discuss, with that being said here are a few more rooms that caught my eye. Untitled (Idolization Space) looked at our obsession with visuals, which has been exacerbated by the Internet, allowing for little consideration for meaning over the immediacy of aesthetics. We crave stimulation and turn to social media for inspiration that provides an unending stream of imagery that has been removed from the text needed to interpret its meaning. The artist feels that since we are in a constant state of rapid input we reach an over-stimulation point that results in distraction and hyperactivity.

Life Moves Fast by The Racket Club

Life Moves Fast by The Racket Club

Life Moves Fast is a replication of Ferris Bueller’s bedroom from the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The artists worked to replicate every detail from the film, the posters on the wall, the records on the bookshelf, and even the data on his computer screen, which was programmed to change the same way it did in the film. The artists loaned materials from museums and private individuals who still had some of the articles that appeared in this young man’s bedroom thirty years ago. This room immersed you into a familiar space that was at the same time foreign, it was distant in time and space but you could touch, feel, and hear the room and its fictional inhabitant. I think everyone relates to the title, life does move fast. The possessions in that room are relics of a time gone by just as this MacBook and I will be soon enough.

Equivalents by Susan Dobson and Simone Ferkul

Equivalents by Susan Dobson and Simone Ferkul

While I was walking between these rooms I got the sense that art and its meaning go unnoticed. Certainly not everyone was there to view these rooms for what they were, to understand what the artist wanted to say. It disappoints me because art can have so much power if you let it, to initiate change and shock your core values. But if you just walk by you are not allowing that art to inhabit your mind for a small period of time, to push you into a new room in your brain. Whatever the medium, art is something we cannot do without. Imagine not having any music, or not being able to tap your heels around your little apartment, or not being able to move and shape colour into new forms. Art is so immersed in our lives we don’t notice it; the clothes we wear, the buildings we live in, the music that constantly fills our background, and so many more ways. Take a minute to notice the art around you; even something with function is art. Don’t just walk on by.

Overworld by Taxa Work

Overworld by Taxa Work

TedX Ryerson U 2015: Iconoclast

On Saturday, November 14th, TedX RyersonU held its annual conference. This year’s theme was “ICONOCLAST,” focusing on topics and ideas to change and enhance the future. There were numerous speakers – from current students at Ryerson, graduates of Ryerson, and established professionals – all who spoke of concepts surrounding creative and innovative ways of thinking, and the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. There were three sessions held throughout the day, each with the intention of inspiring Ryerson University students to make significant impacts for the future through their work, and how to go about making a change. It was a successful event, with approximately 400 students and community members in attendance, all eager to learn about what it means to be iconoclasts of today and tomorrow.

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Just as in other TED conferences, TedX Ryerson held three sessions throughout the day: one session for technology, one session for entertainment, and one session for design. Each session is meant to showcase a set of speakers involved in technology, entertainment, or design, as they speak about the given theme of the conference. With the theme being iconoclast, each speaker delivered powerful speeches about what it means to be innovators of the future, and how to challenge the status quo, in order to break barriers and create change. Each message delivered was captivating, inspiring, and challenged students to think critically about what it means to be iconoclastic.

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A session that resonated with me the most was the first session – the session of technology. The focus of this session was about the future and how to become innovators of the future. The speakers during this session spoke about how to think outside of the box and push boundaries to develop creative ways of thinking. They emphasized thinking through alternative perspectives apart from your own, and challenging traditional ways of thinking. The importance of interdisciplinary collaboration was also emphasized, as the speakers forced students to find ways to incorporate other disciplines in their work. Interdisciplinary collaboration has been found to offer new perspectives and alternative approaches that may not have been considered prior. It offers new opportunities of growth and maximizes learning.

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This session resonated with me the most as it exposed me to new methods of achieving personal and career goals. It allowed me to think about how to affect change and develop the future through creative and innovative approaches. It pushed me to think outside of the box and to step out of my comfort zone to learn something new and offer new perspectives. It also allowed me to see that interdisciplinary collaboration is essential for iconoclastic work. Working with people from a multitude of different disciplines means having a team with a variety of different sets of knowledge and skills. These different sets of knowledge and skills each offer something unique towards the development of a certain goal, and offer more opportunities for achieving this goal in unique and innovative ways. This session pushed me to embrace change and explore the unknown in order to find new ways, better ways, to create a better future. The discussion from this session really drove home what it means to be an iconoclast of today and tomorrow.
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Blogging Inclusion

photo of a computer keyboard with a finger hitting a key which reads 'blog'

At its most basic definition inclusion means the act of being included. But who gets included, included in what, included where and how? Inclusion is a messy idea. An idea whose meaning for me maybe very different from your meaning. Part of this may depend on the different levels of privilege or oppression that are our starting points.

Inclusion is now a buzzword. Agencies and organizations all want to ensure they are providing inclusive opportunities for disabled persons. What does this means for those who are labelled as disabled? In some cases, it means buildings and spaces are now open to everyone, that services are available to those who require accommodation. Creating a society in which everyone can be included if they choose to is of enormous value but is being included in the dominant narrative what everyone wants? Social inclusion has become more about ‘a set of normative practices’ – about consumption and lifestyle, and identity – than the transformation of society. The emphasis is now being placed on the individual, and their social engagement and activity rather than the societal structures that create exclusion and marginalization.

So how can people speak back to this excluded process of inclusion? Storytelling and personal narrative is one way. The internet and blogging platforms have enabled some marginalized people to create their own space, an online community in which new forms of normality and inclusion can be shaped. Disable people have expressed their lack of desire and/or ability to reach the standards set by social inclusionary policy and practices by seeking out and developing other ways and spaces within which to experience inclusion. One disabled blogger, Agent Fang, writes, “originally when I started this blog, it was for the purpose of cathartic ranting. Rubbish hotels, dealing with my impairments, crappy employment experiences, you name it, I bitched about it. It was great. Another great thing was that a lot of other people were doing it too … I felt a real sense of online community with other disabled people. Blogging was a new craze and we owned a little corner of it.” (http://fangworld.blogspot.ca/).

While bloggers and their sites ebb and flow over time, the pronounced desire for an inclusive community outside of normative values does not. Blogs and communities like The Body is Not an Apology, Diary of a Goldfish, Ragged Edge, Blogging Against Disableism Day and Autistics Speaking Day – Taking Back Autism Awareness, to name a few, are some of the online communities who are alive and well who are forging pride online.

How to make your blog accessible

A computer screen text box which is titled "Image Tag Accessibility Attributes". Inside the box there is a space for alternative text and a long description. To the right are boxes for 'Ok', 'Cancel' and 'Help'. At the bottom of the box it reads "if you don't want to enter this information when inserting object, change the accessibility preferences"

Blogging is a great way to relieve stress, put your ideas, thoughts and experiences into the world, and it can activism at its finest. To ensure that everyone can access your work, however, you should think about the accessibility of your blog.

How a screen reader will recognize and read your blog is something you should consider. Depending on your audience you might also want to consider plain language as a form of accessibility. Plain language is writing which is easy to read and understand. It is clear, concise, uses short sentences. It uses a layout that is easy to follow.

You should also describe your images. This means that when a screen reader passes over the image it will read out the description you have written. You might think this extra step isn’t that important, but think about the effort that goes into choosing an image. Don’t you want everyone to be able to enjoy it?

Here are some handy tips for describing your image.

1. Brief is better.

2.  The usual rule is to be informative, not poetic. However, it’s your blog, so feel free to let your personality and writing style come through in the alt text.

3.  If the graphic includes text, put all the words in the alt text.

4.  Put the most important information first.

5.  Check your spelling and try to avoid abbreviations. Screen readers will mispronounce words that are misspelled and will attempt to pronounce abbreviations.

If you are using a site, like WordPress it will have a series of meta tags on the right hand side of the screen when you upload the image. The alt text is where you would put the image description. What if you are using Tumblr which doesn’t have this option. Don’t despair. Under the image, write out the description.

Some images are easier to describe than others. What about images that aren’t as easy to describe? Is it appropriate to mention body size, skin colour, ability status or sex? The blog, The body is not an apology which focuses its posts on radical self love recently wrote a post about why and how they describe images… “When we note race, body type, ability status, gender, or any other attribute in an image description, we do so only to provide a visual descriptor. We do not enter into judgments about attributes. If it is basic to the appearance of a person in an image, we will make it part of the description. Thus, when we post a photo of a large woman, we will refer to her as a large woman; when we post a photo of a man who uses crutches, we will note the presence of crutches; when we post a photo of a person with a visible scar, we will note the scar. We include these descriptors only for the purpose of clarity, and not to call attention to an attribute in order to interpret it or judge it.”

So next time you are posting a blog think about access for everyone.

Accessibility matters.

Social Justice Week At Ryerson

the flyer for the events for social justice week

Like many Ryerson students and alumni who don’t live near campus or who work during the day, I wasn’t able to make it to as many Social Justice week events as I would have liked, but what I did experience was profound.

I attended the entire day of workshops, lectures and performances on Thursday, October 9. This day was hosted by the School of Social Work and the School of Disability Studies. In the morning, I attended skills workshop entitled, New Media and Innovative Organizing. There were three panelists for this workshop. One focused on writing and narrative as a form of activism, another on digital story telling and the third on photographic voice as a research method. I think sometimes, activists get stuck on one kind of organizing and while I have seen the power and usefulness of marches and demonstrations, there is something so beautiful and subversive about using art as a way to speak back to the dominate narrative. however, this is not to say that it is easier. Issues with funding, research methodologies, soft vs. hard research and ways in which each panelist had dealt with these issues were discussed.

In the afternoon there were issues tables to discuss ways to practically start organizing. I attended a table hosted by some former members of the Social Work Anti-Oppression Coalition. These students organized when they were in the program to change the program and to work on unpacking their privilege. It was exceptionally powerful and sad to hear that this coalition no longer exists. The main speaker for this table discussion stated that the main reason for the success of the group was because they came from a place of love. This resonated with me. Winnie Ng, the holder of the CAW-Sam Gidin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy who organizes social justice week has said the same. I was lucky enough to be able to take Leadership for Social Action with her a couple of summer’s ago, in which she stated that social change starts with the heart, then moves to the hand. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha said the same recently at a poetry slam; loving is a revolutionary act.

The final event of the day was a dance performance by Spirit Synott, an internationally renowned dancer and a group of Ryerson dance students. The performance, titled Dare, was beautiful and well choreographed considering the group collectively created the piece in a week. Sprit, who uses a wheelchair and the dancers highlighted the barriers faced by those who use mobility devices. This was highlighted even more by the fact that Spirit and the group could not rehearse at the dance studios as they are inaccessible. I hope recordings of this performance is viewed by the president of Ryerson University and changes are made to the inaccessible nature of our campus. Beyond that, I hope that everyone who attended social justice week, takes something away and collectively we work to make our campus a welcoming space for all bodies.

Accessibility

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I met a woman the other day who is shooting a short documentary, four minutes on accessibility in Toronto. We talked for half an hour and barely scratched the surface. Accessibility, like disability, is exceptionally varied and hard to always pin down. When she thought about accessibility, she focussed on ramps and wheel chair users. Another woman in the conversation brought up lack of access to housing, employment and treatment of their choice forced on many people experiencing mental health. I thought of elevator buttons.

I work as an attendant for a man who uses a wheel chair who uses alternative and augmentative communication. We often take the subway around the city and get swallowed by the endless levels of elevators with buttons with letters like “m” or “ul” or whole words like ‘mezzanine’ or ‘upper lobby’ but no options for an ‘up’ arrow or a ‘down’ arrow. The man I work for has a communication impairment and while he can physically hit the button he doesn’t always understand which button to push. Hell, neither do I. It wasn’t until I started to work for him that I even learned what a mezzanine is.  (Honestly, I am not actually sure what it is, I just know that it is the ‘up’ button at one of the TTC stations)

It’s pretty obvious that accessibility will benefit all of us. When my hands are full I use the push buttons (if they are turned on or working that is), escalators and elevators are popular with everyone (just look at the lines at the subway in the morning), and closed captioning means I can watch videos on the bus without headphones (and without ticking off other passengers).

Above and beyond just making all of our lives easier, accessibility is about who, we as a society, choose to value. We have a history of devaluing people for whom accessibility is a necessity. What we need to realize that is that there is a chance, a good chance, that accessibility will one day be a necessity for us. We never really consider the ramifications of stairs versus a ramp, or the importance of push buttons, or closed captioning or plain language buttons in elevators until we or someone we know needs them.

In 2011, the WHO and the World Bank release a report stating that the number of disabled people was larger than estimated and growing. There are approximately 1 billion disabled people in the world, that roughly translates to 15% of the population (http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/factsheet.pdf). With rates of disablement increasing because of age, accidents, war, disease, environmental pollution and a multitude of other sources, how can we continue to keep producing good and services for the mythic non disabled norm, a body many of us will only inhabit temporarily?

 

The Technophobe: First Edition

Part One: The Set Up

I have often bemoaned the prevalence of technology in our society. By this I mean the fact that so few interactions are genuine and face-to-face because people are texting people sitting in the next room. Admittedly, I am of those people: my husband and I work in the same studio but I often send him email information that he replies to by email. The fact that we think it’s great that information is so readily available on the internet but most of it is unverified and barely scratches the surface of “knowing” a thing and as a result we think we are smarter than generations that have gone before but in fact, our general knowledge is very shallow. The co-joined issue of having our “brains in our pockets” and how this necessitates us trying to draw first on our Iphone to answer a question from the person next to it rather than pondering it, exploring it together or surveying the people at the next table for their opinion. This leads me to my next (and probably I am sorry to say not last) issue with technology: it is doing in our manners. You can ignore someone sitting beside you by plugging in. You can block pedestrians trying to cross the road because you have just received a very important email that might read “world is going to end” or simply “ward is going to send” but no matter, you must check it now. You can also interrupt a meeting with a colleague or abruptly leave one if you outrank the person you are meeting with or drop a conversation with your child at the dinner table or neglect a friend who is having a crisis just because the device in your pocket beeped.

Part Two: The Conflict

So I am probably not alone in the feeling that I am slowly being erased by the bluetoothed, hashtagged, and tweeting defenders of the digital universe. Despite this, I also at times masquerade as a Social Work student at Ryerson, a facility known for anti-oppressive practice so I find I am able to rise to challenges to my world view a little better than I used to. While I in no way make any representations as to operating without bias, I find it is becoming increasingly difficult to complete obscure myself under the cloak of those biases. I have been forced to acknowledge on a few occasions recently that technology can in fact be useful. Even more useful than the old fashioned Luddite way of doing things. Though I still believe overuse of an online forum means you can spin a lot of totally useless commentary with people possessing zero attention span who will probably skim over or strip all the meaning from what you write. Or you can meet new people, get hooked up with cool things to do or simply keep in touch with old friends who you would have otherwise wondered “whatever happened to…” but would never have put pen to paper to enquire about their well being. I have done all these things recently. This week alone, I recruited a family for our school by advertising our open house on meetup.ca and I did connect with a friend from school recently whose house I slept over at ever night for a year but haven’t seen since I was thirteen.

I was also fortunate enough to have one of my blog posts re-posted onto The Ryersonian and I received a nice email from a chap who is working on a cool project at the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson. I went to meet him in face to face to speak about how another cool project he is working on needs to connect with people who, like myself, are always prattling on about issues food security and sustainability. I’ve not had the chance to visit the DMZ (sic) before and I must say I was very inspired by this foreign land. There are a whole lot of young people in there doing really innovative and creative things with technology. I am inclined to re-think my stance. I might even consider lifting the ban on technology my children toil under. Maybe it’s actually okay to have a cello and a set of blocks and <gasp!> cccasionally use a computer. I still find it upsetting that people check the weather app on their phone instead of stepping outside the door but then again, it might be useful occasionally to do so (like say if you were hermetically sealed in the wall in your basement and you wondered, just for your own amusement, whether the crocuses had just popped their heads out or whether in fact it was time to pull the spent tomato vines out of the ground).

Part Three: The Denouement

Please follow me as I embark on my foray into the exploration of digital media as enabler instead of obstacle to human interaction.

Ps.

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How does one travel to a city of expensive taste with a budget that’s down to earth and the five-stars are out of space? I say, forget the five stars that are “known” and make your own. In my quest for a transportation utopia, visiting the rapidly-changing landscape of Southern California was on my bucket list since summer of last year. The problem I had (up until the last weeks before my trip), was finding affordable accommodation. With tuition fee reminders in email form, I was constantly reminded that I could not stray from my student budget. I lucked out on a good airfare price, but where was I going to stay? Even the modest of hotels seemed depreciated in value, motels even more. So what was the solution? A casual web browse one day after exams brought me to the site of a group share dormitory-style accommodation. Apprehensive at first, I decided to give it a chance and skimmed through their offerings. Best decision of my holiday break.

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I arrived at PodShare two weeks after my impulse purchase for a few nights stay and I knew I had made the right choice. (See, not all impulse decisions are bad.) Greeted by friendly staff, the place was exactly how it appeared in the photos online. Introduced to the humble abode, I liked more and more of what I saw. I mean, forget the golden lamps with soap bars placed below. Forget the awkwardly quiet ambience of you and the seemingly “perfectly made” hotel room that usually awaits you. This was something much better. I’m talking twenty-first century design unlike many hotels (and I’m not quite sure why that is.. something about preserving the renaissance.. pssh. Whatever.) I’m talking 72-inch projector screens (both for TV, Xbox, YouTube, you name it.) I’m talking glass fibre computer lounges (so don;t worry if you don’t own a computer). Everything was great. A few simple but necessary house rules were posted on a flat screen near the kitchenette, all of which I had no problem respecting. I was brought to my Pod where I unzipped my Nike Duffel and got comfortable.

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Booking online, PodShare employees were able to remember me by name, creating a much more personalized feel than any type of room service. Continuing to explore the new space, I entered the kitchenette, which, I must say, is a student’s paradise. TO begin, a brand new stainless steel fridge opens up with shelves labelled by Pod number, providing convenient space for one to put their food essentials. Stone marble countertops were squeaky-clean, with small reminder notes atop the cupboards for guests to wash their own plates, cups and other dining necessities when finished. Simple and fair. The top cupboard opens with a flexible fringe, folding out. Inside, a fair amount of breakfast essentials saves you a good fifteen bucks and an hour’s time eating out before you begin galavanting Los Angeles. Guests are welcome to add their own food if need be. The coffee-making machine seemed to be used frequently, another indication that this place was kept in good working condition. The level of my impressment grew.

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The bathroom facilities could not have been designed by one person alone. No way. The level of detail, precision and ingenuity is must have taken to design such an efficient space must have been the effort of like-minds. As you enter, the first object the catches your eye is the shower. Built with a concrete isosceles triangle for a base, a huge, transparent glass window pane separates the water from the land. The dry space on the side leaves room for the toilet and sink. Towels are provided each day of your stay, as expected. A massive shower head with different heat levels can be adjusted to suit anyone. Another convenient essential. Overall, the bathroom was a clincher.

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Last, but far from least, the pod bunker (where each resident stays) is probably the most delightful part of staying at PodShare. As you approach, you see how its design was made with the specific intention of having each “podestrian” customize their own space. A soft mattress, accompanied by two amazingly soft pillows is standard. Additionally, an 18-inch widescreen plasma TV is mounted to the wall within each Pod and each TV is equipped with Netflix, as well as streaming Apps for users to stream any media content they may have from their own laptop devices. Sweet. There is also significant room left at the end of each Pod for one to place any baggage, luggage, suitcases, etc. But wait, it gets better. A small, wooden blank is fixated to the wall near the pillow side, allowing podestrians to place pocket essentials, personalized bathroom essentials, anything you can fit! Making use of that continuously had me thinking, “How come my room isn’t designed like that?” Then, on the other side (the cut open wall side where you enter the pod) is a curved, adjustable lamp for nighttime reading, TV watching, whatever. Supercool. Located at the back end of the Pod room is a customized dresser with an adunbance of books, how-tos, where-to-gos and video games. At the front of this same space are an array of metal lockers for those too apprehensive to leave their valued belongings in the Pod. Cool that they have it for one’s use but, if you ask me, you don;t really need it. Everyone that stays there (from what I saw) were good-natured, good- hearted and possessed no evil intentions toward other guests.

In conclusion, PodShare, I tip my hat. You are well designed, efficient, comfortable and conveniently located in the heart of Hollywood. My complaints, none! I was pleased with the service and for the affordable forty bucks a night (cash or credit), even more impressed. Thank you for making my first trip to LA a most pleasant experience. I will be back. The only question is when. I look forward to seeing you grow and expand your business throughout the region and encouragingly, across the globe.
Ciao.

$MART.

Ps. For five bucks they’ll do your laundry. But you know, it gets done when it gets done. Cheers!

Cell Phone Etiquette

 

Do you own a cell phone? Or a more reasonable question might be do you know somebody under the age of 65 that does not have one? I cannot think of anyone! With today’s evolvement in technology, you are just a few touches away from connecting to anyone in the world pretty much 24/7. There are many other advantages to owning a cell phone such as convenience, security, and it can help you navigate when you get lost! However, since we have become more reliant on our mobile devices, I feel that we are becoming less engaged in the activities we are doing and with the people we are with. Like any other behavior or habit we have there is a certain code or courteous manner regarding what is appropriate. When this is not followed with respect to cell phone use, it drives me crazy. Lets just say that cell phones can sometimes be one of my biggest pet peeves!!

We have etiquette school for socializing, for business, dining, etc. I almost think we should have one for cellular telephones. It certainly makes sense since it has become a part of every day life. Maybe even incorporate it into elementary school curriculums as an integrated piece when learning about technology. Okay maybe I am getting a little carried away. But here five no nos that should be followed with cell phone use:

  1. No no: Do not leave your cell phone on at the movies or pull it out during the movie. Nothing is more annoying while trying to enjoy a movie when someone’s cell funky ring tone interrupts the show, especially when it is at a good part and you are really getting into it. Also, do not pull your phone out and send a text or email. The light of the screen is disturbing which tends to catch people’s attention from the corner of their eyes.
  2. No no: Do not talk on your phone when you are at the cashier at a store. We live in a society where we are suppose to interact with people in person, so take this opportunity to recognize the person ringing in your purchase. Smile, say hello, and ask them how they are doing instead of ignoring them and gabbing on your phone. A smile is infectious and who knows, you may just cheer up someone who is having a bad day.
  3. No no: Do not answer a phone call or text during meals. Nothing could be ruder then answering your phone while at the dinner table. This is even worse if it happens while out a restaurant because not only are you being rude to the people you are with, but to those sitting nearby. Moreover, it takes away from experiencing the food you are consuming, and consequently leads to mindless eating or even overeating.
  4. No no: Do not use your phone while you are in a public washroom or even at home. You are only in there for a short amount of time anyway. If you need to be in there longer then it is best to leave it out! I am sure the person on the other end would greatly appreciate it. Come on, it is just gross!
  5. No no: Do not talk on your phone in the library. I am sure other students out there would agree if you are trying to read or write a paper you really do not need another thing aside from email, Facebook and, TV to help you procrastinate even further. There are even designated cell phone areas on each of the floors in the Ryerson University Library.

These are the unwritten rules that I believe are commonly broken. We should be more mindful of our attachment to technology and think of how our behavior affects others around us. I do believe technology has brought major benefits to our society but it can be a distraction, disturbance and disengages you from fully experiencing what you are doing or from the people you are with.

Cell phones, you cannot live with them but you cannot live with out them!