Monday, February 21, 2011

Jenn Pwns You in Halo Reach

So, yeah, I've claimed on this blog before that I enjoy video games. A lot. More than most people. But you want proof, yes? Of course you do! So, I present to you a short video compilation of some of my more awesome moments playing Halo Reach, accompanied to the tune, "Until the End" by Breaking Benjamin. Hope you enjoy! I know I had a blast playing round after round of Matchmaking in Halo (I really need to get a life, don't I?) 

PS - How awesome is my pink and purple spartan armour that spews forth tiny hearts with wings? Oh, I'm lame. I know :-P

- Jennie

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Platypus Time!

While checking my Blogger stats recently, I noticed that a lot of people who stumble upon my blog come here looking for information about the lovely platypus. Well that and Disney porn. What the heck is up with that, fellow readers? There is no Disney porn here, so stop typing that into your search engine! :-P At the same time, I realized that my readers who come here expecting to find platypus information also surf away empty handed. Well, not anymore! This post is dedicated to everything you should, and need, to know about my favourite animal, the platypus.

The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

The shy platypus is found in eastern Australia and Tasmania. They live beside freshwater rivers or lakes, and create burrows for shelter and protection. They are active mainly at nighttime hours, and use their webbed feet for swimming. While swimming, the platypus keeps its eyes shut. They swim underwater for two minutes, before returning to the surface for oxygen. However, they can stay underwater for up to ten minutes (but due to their natural buoyancy, they need to be underneath another object to do so.)

The platypus has a wooly furred coat and range from 30cm to 45cms in length (the tail being approximately 10 to 15 cms.) The wooly furred coat has three different layers. The first layer keeps the animal warm, by trapping air. The second layer provides an insulating coat for Mr. or Mrs. Platypus. Lastly, the third layer of long flat hairs detects objects close by. These goofy looking creatures weigh on average between 1 to 2.4 kilograms and have an average life-span of 12 years. However, this lifespan may be shortly diminished, as the platypuses biggest threats include: snakes, goannas, rats and foxes. Another big threat to the platypus is man, via waterway pollution or land clearing.

They are smaller than you think!

Platypuses feed on insect larvae, worms or other freshwater insects. They do so mainly at night, by the use of their bill. They turn up mud on the bottom of the lake or river, and with the help of their electroreceptors located on the bill, find many freshwater insects. They store their findings in special pouches behind their bill, and are consumed upon returning to the surface.

Amazing Fact: Platypuses can consume their own body weight in food in a 24 hour period! Om om nom indeed!

Male platypus are larger than their female counterparts. They reproduce by mating (which occurs once a year, between June - October.) The female lays between two - four eggs and incubates these for a two week period. When a young platypus is born, they feed from milk from the mother. The mother secretes this milk from large glands under the skin. 

A baby platypus is not called a puggle, which seems to be a common misconception. There is no official name for a baby platypus, but a common suggested name is "platypup." Aww. :)

Two baby platypuses. Did I just hear a collective, "aww" ? :)

If you thought this was a cute and cuddly Australian animal, well, you're only half correct. The male platypi have a hollow spur about 15 milimetres in length on the inside of both hind legs. This in turn is connected to a venom gland that the platypus uses to defend itself against predators. Yowch! These animals would definitely not make good pets and should always be handled with great care. 

Since only the male platypus has this venomous spur, and the gland peaks during mating season, many suggest it is normally used in aggressive encounters between other male platypus.

Amazing Fact: The male platypus has venom strong enough to can kill a small dog, or cause excruciating pain among humans.

For a visual of this cute, yet deadly, creature, view the following National Geographic video below: 

Also, for a look at the evolution of the platypus, check out this video here: 

I hope you guys and gals have learned a bit more about what I believe is the coolest animal in existence! For more info, click here! 

- Jennie

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day from Tigger and Spook

Oh, before I forget - there's two crazy fluffernutters in my life that would also like to share their love on this special day.

Happy Valentine's Day from Tigger and Spook! If this doesn't get you guys in the mood, I don't know what will ;)

<3 Jennie <3

My Interview with Cupid

He’s the chubby, arrow-toting cherub who adorns modern Valentine’s Day cards around the world. This mischievous, winged child who is always armed with bow and arrows ready to strike love into the hearts of singles everywhere, has become an iconic figure every February 14. So who better to interview this Valentine’s Day than the little legend himself, Cupid?

But getting a hold of the little guy wasn’t easy. With multiple bookings that take him around the world, Cupid’s schedule has been jam packed over the last couple of weeks. Luckily, he was able to meet up for a quick drink to answer a few questions for me. However, the Cupid who showed up wasn’t the same Cupid I was expecting. Reeking of whisky, with a stogie dangling from his lips and donning only a tattered pink sash, Cupid was not a child at all – but a disgruntled middle-aged man who looked like he had given up on himself. Sitting across from me, he slumped in his chair with his feet up on the table and uttered a grunt to signal that he was ready. The interview began:

Cupid was certainly not who I expected!
Me: Hi Cupid. It’s, um, nice to meet you. I have to say, you aren’t exactly what I was expecting.

Cupid: Mortal *burp*, 'tis I, Eros, God of Love.

Me: Oh! That makes more sense. The P.R. woman I talked to must have been confused. I was supposed to be interviewing Cupid. Sorry to bother you, uh, Eros.

Cupid: Foolish mortal! Eros, Cupid, and I are one and the same! The Romans called me one thing and the Greeks the other. You know how that goes.

Me: Right, I guess so. Sorta like with P. Diddy/Puffy/whatever he calls himself these days, right? So just to make dead certain I'm talking to the right dude, you're the little flying naked guy who goes around and shoots people with arrows that make them fall in love with each other?

Cupid: Ha, mortal! Do I look little to you? I’ve aged over the years, but everyone is so obsessed with being young these days that I’m forever being depicted as a child. Still, my job remains the same. But shooting people with arrows is only part of what I do. Did you know I also have dominion over the dead in Hades, the creatures of the sea and the gods in Olympus?

Me: Sure, I read that on Wikipedia, but “dominion” really just means you fly around shooting arrows at them, doesn't it?

Cupid: Touché, mortal. But that's not all I do. Once I made love to Psyche, who jeopardized our relationship by mistaking me for a serpent beast who planned on devouring her.

Me: Oh yeah, how did that end up?

Cupid: Ah, mortal, the usual. My mother, Venus, commanded her to separate grains from a bag of rice as punishment, and then tried to trap her in the underworld for all eternity. In the end she got out and we made up.

Me: Wow. So you and your mom had kind of a creepy relationship. You didn't happen to shoot her with an arrow, did you?

Cupid: What exactly, mortal, are you implying?

Me: Uh, nothing. Let's just move on. So how exactly does this love arrow system work?

Cupid: It's magic, mortal.

Me: Well, yeah, but can you be more specific? Is it a mind-altering poison, or something scientific like pheromones, or are you just a metaphor for the unquantifiable concept of romantic attraction, which we humans attribute to being as flighty and random?

Cupid: Well, mortal, I can tell you this much - it ain't the third one.

Me: Okay. I don’t mean to be rude but can you please stop calling me “mortal?” I know you're an invincible god and I'm easily vanquished flesh and bones, but there's no need to rub it in all the time.

Cupid: Please accept my sincere apology… Mortal *snickers*

Me: Right. Okay. Let’s just move on… You’ve got an impressive body of work. Those arrows of yours must be pretty darn powerful. I mean, you once made not one, but two women actually fall in love with Hitler!

Cupid: I do alright.

Me: Don't be so modest. I could go on and on. You got Julia Roberts to marry Lyle Lovett! And you even found a wife for Michael Jackson – several times!

Cupid: Can’t no one do what I do.

Me: I'll say. Those had to be some tough marks.

Cupid: I'm not gonna lie, some of my match ups are so crazy that they took intensive attention. I'm talking, four, five arrows at a time just to ignite the flame of passion. Speaking of the flame of passion… did you need me to strike some love into your life? Maybe make those long Friday nights a little more exciting? *wink wink*

Me: Oh, no no. That’s quite alright. Thanks for the offer though… I think.

Cupid: It’s what I do.

Me: All right, well I think we’re done here. Thanks for taking some time out of your hectic schedule to sit down and talk.

Cupid: I needed a break from all the shooting anyway. My arms and wings were getting tired.

As Cupid slowly rose from his seat and staggered towards the bar to order one last shot of Jack Daniel’s before returning back to work, he lifted his glass and hollered, “happy Valentine’s Day” to everyone. So from Cupid and I, happy Valentine’s Day!

- Jennie

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Homesick for a Place that isn't My Home.

This weekend I've spent a good majority of time looking out at Lake Ontario. And, honestly, what I kept thinking was: "this sucks." No offence to Lake Ontario (or any of the other Great Lakes for that matter) but I've been spoiled by the Atlantic Ocean.

Having spent many summers in southern Nova Scotia with my family frolicking in the Atlantic down at Sand Hills beach, I'm accustomed to the smell of salt water in the air and the hope that I might look out and see a whale tail or  a seal cavorting with his mates in the waves. Back in Ontario, I wouldn't dare step foot in the lake in fear that a diseased five-eyed fish might chomp on my toes. When I gaze out at the lakes here, I know deep down the best thing I'll see is perhaps a seagull slamming into the water, or the fires of Mordor looking impressively menacing out near Hamilton. Suffice to say, there's a lot of smog and there's a lot of pollution.

Sure, there's some beautiful lakes up north in Cottage Country. But, sadly, I don't have a cottage and when I have tested the waters up north, I often got stung by countless swarms of black flies and mosquitos. I would frantically swat the air around me while simultaneously scratching endless mosquito bites. I really couldn't enjoy the scenery. It's a shame - I don't know how cottagers survive up there.

Nevertheless, over the last few years I've been noticing that I'm becoming very homesick for a place that was never my home. How strange is that? I've lived in Ontario my entire life, but I always feel like something just isn't quite right. I don't feel complete unless the ocean is near me. Sure, all my friends and my core family live here... but something still seems off.

I certainly know I'm happiest when I'm in the east coast of Canada. Whether it be New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI or Newfoundland - I find my best memories have been made out east near the Ocean. Each year I count down the days when I can return to my dad's side of the family in Nova Scotia. It's such a simpler way of living out east. Everyone is always extremely friendly and laid back; such a difference from the hustle and bustle of life in Toronto.

One of the greatest vacations I've ever taken was to Newfoundland. The first night I arrived, my boyfriend and I immediately went on a whale watching boat tour off the harbour in St. John's and (no word of a lie) witnessed at least three Humpback and Minke whales. The rest of the trip generated the same breathtaking results. I even took a video of my week-long excursion here:

The rest of the week was spent touring the many museums (and bars, I won't lie ;) in St. John's and the surrounding area. It was an amazing experience and I can't wait to do it again. I loved the people, I loved the whales, I loved the Screech, I loved the puffins, and heck, yes, I even loved the fog.

My trip to PEI was also amazing. I remember watching the sun set over the ocean each night and the amazing red sand beaches. PEI was by far the most easygoing, mellow place I have ever visited. Oh, and the fresh seafood was to die for. I'm not even a fan of seafood, but during my trips out east it'd be almost sacrilegious not to sample some of the freshest fish available.

A sunset I captured right outside my hotel in Summerside, PEI

All my reminiscing aside, I know that I will probably never call the east coast of Canada my home. Even though it is my favourite place on earth, all my friends and immediate family live here in Ontario. I've grown up here, and I have just as many special memories in Mississauga, St. Catharines, and Toronto. Just once in awhile, though, I'd like to fantasize about what it would be like to wake up each morning with the fresh sea-salt smell of the nearby Atlantic in the air and the ocean breeze caressing through my long blonde hair. One can dream. :)

Me standing on the rocks at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
- Jennie

ps - This February 14th has been declared, "I Love Nova Scotia Day" by Premier Darrell Dexter as a day to celebrate everything that is wonderful about the province. So, amid gorging on yummy Valentine's Day chocolates, I know I'll definitely take some time to reflect on all the things I love about my favourite province in Canada <3

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Testing, Testing... My First Voice Blog!

A short voice blog of an experience I had while playing Halo Reach yesterday. Be more courteous, boys! Us girls just wanna have a good time too!

Voice Blog, Suckabeans! by neonkiss

My cool as heck Halo 3 character.
- Jennie

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm a Gamer and I'm a Girl

I'm a gamer. I'm also a girl. Sometimes people get a bit befuddled when they register these two statements together. But it's true - in my spare time I'd rather be pwning teh n00bs in Halo than going shopping or fantasizing about one day pushing an eight pound human being out of my vagina. Call me crazy.

The thing is - I don't like being referred to as a "girl gamer." In my eyes, I'm just a girl who happens to enjoy gaming. I don't think there is anything really special about me. I grew up surrounded by male cousins, so instead of playing with Barbies I played with Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and G.I. Joes. I enjoyed stomping through thigh-high muddy ponds in search of minnows and frogs. I played softball and used to slide into every base (for no good reason) simply because I wanted my pants to be covered in dirt by the time the game was over. I didn't want to play with my Cabbage Patch Kids - I wanted to pretend I was an X-Men and use my awesome powers to destroy my "evil" opponents. I was a classic tomboy, and today a lot of those idiosyncrasies still make up who I am.

I started off with an Atari. I remember playing game after game of Asteroids, Pac-man, and yes, even Pong (geez I feel old) with my father and cousins. Then came the fascinating Commordore 64 with it's ridiculously long loading computer games (including my favourites - Maniac Mansion, Winter Games, and New Kid on the Block.)

How awesome was the Atari at the time? Answer: Totally awesome.

My own Nintendo Entertainment System came next, and boy, was I excited. I was glued to that system for hours on end playing all sorts of awesome games. And when my cousin got a Game Genie for Christmas? Well, I just had an excuse to re-play all my favourite games with the advantage of having infinite lives, mega power jumps, starting on level eight, etc. It completely changed the way I played my games! My cousins and I would stay up all night mixing the codes to see what would happen. We would take the first letters of one code and the last letters of another code, put a code in opposite order, or whatever else we thought might work. Sometimes magic would happen! We actually once turned all the bad dudes on Super Mario Bros. into King Koopas!

This made the game infinitely harder, but it was hilarious to play :)

After the NES I became obsessed with newer computer games - I adored everything Sims (The Sims, Sim City, Sim Ant, Sim Tower, etc.) I also loved playing the very non-PG rated game, Leisure Suit Larry. The objective of this game was to sleep with as many attractive women as possible. How my dad let me play this game for hours on end, I will never know. But my favourite game that I played religiously on my computer was Final Fantasy VI. Or is it III? Nevertheless, that game ruled my life for quite some time. It also helped that I could rename my characters. Locke became Buttface, and I believe Terra was Sillyho.

Oh, how inappropriate ;)

Sadly, I didn't own a Sega Genesis or a Super Nintendo console, so I became accustomed to skipping over to the neighbours house to "borrow" theirs.  Then came the Game Boy (it became my life's goal to catch and evolve ALL the Pokemon!) Screw studying for grade 10 History - I needed to catch a Geodude!

Eventually, my boyfriend at the time felt bad for me and purchased me a Nintendo 64 (since I spent most of my time at his house playing Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.) I certainly had developed a taste for gaming at this point in my life, and nothing could tear me away! In retrospect, I feel a tad guilty for ignoring my then boyfriend while I devoted my time playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Sorry, Cameron. I hope you can forgive me.

One of my favourite games! Gotta love Zelda (even though those water temples were a bitch to get through)

A Nintendo Game Cube soon followed, as well as a DS Lite (The game Animal Crossing utterly consumed my life for a good year. Ughh... I even played during my classes in college because I just HAD to collect all the fossils and insects and fish. Lame.)

Fast forward to today, where I have my much beloved X-Box 360. Oh yeah, I forgot - I do have a Wii... but to be honest, it's been sitting in the cornor gathering dust for that last couple of months. If I wanted to get up and play sports, I'd go outside. :)

So, yes, I love video games. Being an only child, video games became something I could consume my time with. I didn't always have a playmate near, but I did always have my trusty video game console to turn to.

I am a gamer. I'm also a girl. I'm not special, or unique. And frankly, it irritates me to no end when girls scream from the rooftops that, "girls game too." This is not news. Sure, it's a small percentage of girls who game when compared to the general populace, but do we really need to announce to the world that we're here? Do we really need in-your-face gamer tags proclaiming gender? GirlyGurl69 with a totally hot pink skin in Halo is NOT awesome. The last time I checked, most girls want respect and equality when it comes to games, and if this is still the case, STOP TELLING EVERYONE YOU'RE A GIRL GAMER!

Be a gamer. Be a gamer who happens to be a girl - just like my friends who are gamers who happen to be boys. You don't see any of them announcing what gender they are, telling others in Modern Warfare 2 deathmatches that, "a guy just fragged your ass", or proving that their gender means anything at all while playing games.

Look! Girls gaming at a PAX 2010 tourney! 

So why is it so important for so many women to announce in games that they are girls? I've played rounds of matchmaking in Halo where the girls actually go on the mics and said, "Take it easy on me guys, I'm just a girl!" *rolls eyes* Really?!

Crying for attention for everyone to know you are a girl gamer screams desperation to be noticed more than anything else, and surely that's not the goal, right? I mean, we want equality, not special treatment. When I play matchmaking games I purposely don't go on the mic because I don't want anyone on the teams to treat me any differently. If I beat everyone's butt (which, is usually the case ;) I don't want them proclaiming my gender had any influence in it. When I tea-bag (and yes, girls are allowed to tea-bag as well) a fallen opponent, they certainly don't need to know that a girl just pwn3d them. Imagine the humility! Shock and awe!

Also, claiming that gaming always assumes a male audience, and therefore, that's why we need to cry for attention, is not valid either. The fact is, men do make up a majority of the demographic, so yes, they are going to be catered to a bit more. You can't claim that there is nothing that appeals to women though, because there are several games out there with women in mind, and no, I'm not talking about My Pretty Pony, Wedding Dash, or Wii Sports Resort. In gaming, there is something for everyone - just like most other forms of entertainment.

The fact is, us girls don't need to call attention to ourselves anymore. We're here. Guys know it. We know it. It's time to drop the title of "girl gamer" (I mean, really... do you hear guys calling themselves guy gamers?) and just be gamers. Show your gaming awesomeness in a video game and not with your gender. Show how girls are gamers too; just don't yell it from a mountaintop.

I'm a girl, and I'm a gamer. There are more of us out there than you think. :)

- Jennie

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bridalplasty is Bonkers

So, while I was idly flipping through the channels the other day I stumbled upon a show called, "Bridalplasty." At first I thought I was watching some prank or parody type show, but, alas... this reality TV nightmare was real.

Yep, she has a bouquet of syringes in her hands. Lovely.

If you haven't checked this show out for yourself, let me paint you a picture. Imagine a pairing of two gross, emotionally exploitative themes in television for women: Plastic surgery shows and wedding shows. Also, shove a camera in the faces of a bunch of bratty, naive, spoiled young women and ta-da! You've got Bridalplasty. The apocalypse is nigh.

E! has ordered up the new series, which, "crosses a wedding competition with extreme plastic surgery." Each week, a group of women compete head-to-head in such challenges as writing wedding vows and planning honeymoons. The winner receives the chance to choose a plastic surgery procedure from her "wish list." She's given the procedure immediately, and results are shown at the start of the following week's episode.

And, of course, the groom doesn't get to see his future bride's new face/body until she walks down the aisle on their "perfect" day.

It's shameful that someone created a show where women compete for surgery. And it's doubly disturbing that a woman who has found a man she wants to spend the rest of her life with would somehow think it's a good idea to start their life together with a new face. It's also vile that when the women vote off their competitors, they face, "possibly walking away with nothing and losing [their] chance to be the perfect bride" (in the words of the producers.) Apparently, the message here is that a woman is nothing without a surgically enhanced face and a liposuctioned body. A wedding cannot be perfect unless the woman has a small nose, ginormous breasts, and a size 0 waistline. Lovely, E!, lovely.

The fetishization of all things bridal - that having a ridiculously expensive floofy dress and a man on her arm is the best a woman can aspire to - is sick enough. But teaming this garbage up with the false idea that beauty equals happiness is really unhealthy. Why isn't there a show where female engineers compete to design eco-friendly power plants? Oh yeah, because no one would watch ladies with heads on their shoulders. It's been proven that there is an audience for this show out there, and even sadder - there are women willing to participate.

What happened to the notion that your future partner should love you for who you are (and not who you are a liposuction and a rhinoplasty later?) If my future husband walked down the aisle and looked like a completely different person, I think I'd bolt out the side door screaming. But that's just me.

Jimmy Kimmel recently made a parody of Bridalplasty, which he entitled, "Womb for Improvement." I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks these kinds of reality shows are absolutely ridiculous!

As a woman, I understand the desire to look "perfect" on your wedding day. But I think perfection needs to also have a dose of reality thrown in as well. Sure, I'd love to look flawless in pictures and be stunning in my wedding dress. But do I really need to fork out huge amounts of cash for painful plastic surgery beforehand that would completely change the God given features I have? Can't I just eat healthy, stay active and be happy with the way I am? Surely if my partner proposed to me, he must already think I'm pretty darn awesome already, right? Why the need to emulate an impossible ideal of "perfection" as seen in bridal magazines and on stupid shows like Bridalplasty? I really can't think of anything more warped.

- Jennie