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I am weary… and angry. But I’m not done yet.

November 22nd, 2015 No comments
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I am weary… and sad. Weary because my mind is heavy with sadness. The inhumanity I’ve seen people – strangers, friends, family – express these days is heart-breaking.  Here’s the thing: my heartbreak is turning into downright anger these days. Anger that so many people speculate, postulate, and confabulate. The Internet truly is the Wild West these days – absolutely no pun intended.

Now I know that anger is not productive and it’s the product of frustration. And I totally get why my anger is increasing given the onslaught of inhumane assholes with armchair degrees in International Politics and Counter-Terrorism populating my social newsfeeds lately. It’s partly my fault too, though. I brought this on myself. If I’d just kept quiet, I could have just kept on scrolling past those posts, but no, I just had to pause and engage.

Talk_Politics_Save_MoneyI thought it was my responsibility to pause and converse with strangers, friends, and family who are scared and confused about the state of world affairs these days. I thought that because I had unique insight into these issues that maybe that knowledge might be help in calming those fears and confusion.

Instead of listening to reasoned arguments concerning religious violence – from a scholar of religion – these newly indoctrinated armchair experts relied on the ever-trustworthy mainstream media for their facts. Surely, some of you can see the issue with this.

Now I won’t reiterate the many arguments I have made over the last week. You can find those on my personal Facebook page, where I publicly engage in issues that are important to me.

The Internet provides us with vast amounts of information – some of it good, and some of it bad. The problem becomes when people continually share information that is just factually incorrect. It’s hard to counter sensationalist posts on social media. Particularly when people have a habit of indiscriminately sharing.  The other issue is that most people who could contribute to an online discussion in a meaningful way – don’t. I get it. People just don’t like making waves in their social circles.

imagesInstead, we end up with newsfeeds populated with sensationalist headlines, and poorly executed and factually-incorrect memes (because, hey, cute kitteh says no to refugees). And suddenly, people you’d never expect, have become bigoted jerks who have turned off their bullshit filters.

So, here I am. Weary and simmering with anger at so many of you. Yes, you. The ones who speculate, postulate, and confabulate. Some days I don’t think you’re worth my time (like today), but then I realize that these issues are far greater than just one armchair philosopher asshole. And then I feel sorry for all you assholes. I pity you because you have so much anger and fear in your heart that you can’t even think straight. I almost let you get to me. People with far less convictions than I surely turn to your dark side with less resistance. I won’t let you do that to me though. Instead I will shed a tear for you because you lost your humanity.

images (1)

I am weary… and angry. But I’m not done yet.

Peace.

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Why You Need To Stop Following THAT Facebook Friend

July 9th, 2014 1 comment
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We all have them – that one Facebook Friend (FF) who posts pictures of themselves in compromising situations; has daily public meltdowns; openly mocks and antagonizes their exes; or posts things one might generally find distasteful and irresponsible. The problem is, that particular FF may actually be a friend or family member that you have regular face-to-face contact with. They may also be someone that in the real world you actually like. Defriending your FF isn’t ideal – although always an option. Let’s face it though, that could lead to whole lot of drama. And you’re looking for less drama, right? So, what’s the next best thing? Simple really: stop following your FF.

Now if your FF is someone who solely uses Facebook for all manners of offense and distaste, you may want to consider putting them on a ‘Restricted’ list as well. If they’re irresponsible enough to post that kind of rubbish regularly, how responsible do you suppose they are with their security settings?

Why would your friend’s security matter to your account? If they are given ‘Friend’ status on your Facebook account, this usually means they have access to things like photos and your contact information (depending on how much you share with Facebook).  How confident are you that your FF logs out of Facebook after each use or has passwords on all devices that they might use Facebook on?  If they are irresponsible enough to tarnish their online identity, why should you trust them with yours? Giving them the same kind of access that any stranger has is probably the best way to sidestep the possibility of a security breach (other than defriending them… which is always an option).

The best part about unfollowing and restricting your FF is that they’re none the wiser. They don’t get notified that they’ve been ‘downgraded’. And if they’re truly self-absorbed, they won’t even notice the absence of your posts on their newsfeed. Adding your FF to the ‘Restricted’ list in Facebook does mean that they will only see ‘Public’ posts from you, but that’s kind of the point, right?

Here’s how you do it:

  • Go to your FF’s profile page.
  • Locate the ‘Following’ button on the lower right portion of the cover photo section.
  • Now click that button, and there you have it – no more posts from your FF on your newsfeed!

If you’ve decided that your FF warrants harsher measures, use the ‘Friends’ button to add them to your ‘Restricted’ list. Problem solved.

So, why does it matter how you communicate and represent yourself online? Think about it for a second: whenever you comment, post, or upload, you’re leaving an imprint of your activity on the Internet. It’s activity that you consciously choose to share. You make choices about what you’re going to share, and the manner in which you’re going to communicate it. Over time, this collection of activity and communication becomes consolidated by the powers of the Internet, and voilà – you’ve created a virtual identity (which may or may not be like your real world identity)! And here’s the most eye-opening thing about it: that identity you create – are creating – is going to be your online legacy.  Many years after your time, your virtual identity will still exist. There aren’t any ‘do-overs’. You won’t get to go online and simply delete all those things you wish you hadn’t posted. Once they’re out there, they belong to the Internet.

It’s your identity. It’s your legacy. Choose wisely.

M. xo

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Afghanistan: Beyond the Headlines [Video]

May 27th, 2014 4 comments
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Afghanistan. If you’re like me, most of what you may have learned about this remote region has come from media headlines that have largely shown a country in turmoil. Images of barren desert landscapes seem to dominate. Of course, any reasonable person would deduce that there probably is a lot more to Afghanistan than what news outlets are showing. Fortunately, I happened upon this video that shows a remarkably different Afghanistan than I’ve ever seen. Student videographers Mikai and Armen Karl, have crafted an elegant and stunning visual journey of a country deeply misunderstood by its fellow global citizens. Truthfully, while I was watching it I kept waiting for some sort of tourism slogan to pop up on the screen.  Yep, the video actually made me forget about all the war-themed headlines.

Check it out for yourself:

M. xo

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Once You Become Parents We Still Want To Hang Out With You

May 19th, 2014 No comments
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Recently, I read yet another ‘open letter’ from a parent explaining to their childless friends why they don’t have time for them in their lives anymore. Sigh. Seriously, parents – these letters are getting old, particularly to some of us childless friends you are directing them too.

Last week, a post on Huffington entitled, Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore (But Not for the Reasons You Think), made the rounds on social news feeds.  I have to admit, I was offended. This isn’t the first time I’ve been offended by posts such as this one.  Perhaps what I find most insulting are people who have kids assuming that those without kids could never imagine how much life changes. Well, yeah, we can. You know why?  Because at every turn our friends with children remind us.

Here’s the other thing, parents. We know that you’re going to be busy and that life for at least the first five years of your child’s life is going to be completely consumed by them. It comes with the territory.  We also know that you won’t have the same time available to commit to our friendship. We get it. We’re not idiots.

Guess what else? We also know that you’re going to start making new friends. You know, friends with kids. That’s cool. We’re happy for you, because we’re your friends too. Sometimes we know it’s just easier for you to hang out with people who have kids.  We get it. We’re not idiots.

Yes, we know that you’re tired, have less money and time now. We know that life has new priorities – tiny, but infinitely important priorities. We also know that we have moved down on your priority list. We get it. We’re not idiots.

Stop assuming that you, your kids, and your wonderfully complicated and busy life can’t somehow still be a part of ours.

Stop assuming that your childless friends can’t try to empathize. Of course, we don’t know, but we can try to understand.

Stop assuming that we won’t try to accommodate you and your family so that we might see each other more often.  We will because you are our friends and any child of yours gets an automatic ‘in’ to the friendship circle.

Stop assuming that we just wouldn’t want to hang out with your kids. For some of us, it’ll be our first taste of what parenting will be like, and for others it may be the only opportunity we have to spend time with children.  Besides, you’re awesome which means your kid is going to be even more awesome.

And remember, the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, we consider ourselves part of your village and part of your resources in raising your child. It’s your choice how you wish to utilize our skills and wisdom in your child’s development. We are not idiots and we may be able to actually contribute to the positive development of your child.

So in response to all those letters addressed to childless friends, such as myself (read more about why I don’t have children here), stop apologizing for being a parent. We’re not idiots. We get it. 

M. xo

P.S. 7 am for breakfast sounds lovely.

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Why We Need to Stop the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Movement

April 14th, 2014 1 comment
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StopRAKMovement

Each week, at least one viral video pops up on my social news feeds showcasing a random act of kindness (RAK).  These videos tend to pull at the heartstrings and even inspire people to go out and perform their own act of kindness (which is often then uploaded for the world to see).

So, what’s got my feathers in a ruffle about the RAK movement?  It’s not that the acts themselves bother me, it’s that we even need a movement of this sort that I find curious.  Since when was kindness just a courtesy extended to fellow human beings?  Isn’t kindness a way of being, rather than just a single momentary act?  Why do we need to be reminded to be kind?

That’s not all that bothers me about this movement.  I’m also troubled by the number of RAK videos published in an attempt to garner views/likes/self-promotion.  Why does someone have to prove that they were kind?  Shouldn’t kindness be its own reward?  Often, these acts of kindness caught on video are extended to the most marginalized peoples in our communities.  That’s great!  But, why do we have to further marginalize them by using them to publicly self-gratify?

Random acts of kindness hasn’t just become a movement; it’s also become a marketing tool.  For example, just last year in 2013, Canadian airline, WestJet, released a Christmas video (complete with an appropriately branded blue-suited Santa) showing employees of the company performing a monumental random act of kindness for some of their passengers.  To date, the video has over 35 44 million views.  How’s that for some effective advertising?

Final Thought: BE KIND – each and every day.  Live and breathe kindness, so it becomes a part of your soul.  While a single random act of kindness can certainly benefit a person or a moment, BEING KIND extends beyond a single person, community, or moment.  It lasts a lifetime – your lifetime.  And a life lived in kindness is a life rewarded with kindness.

M. xo

*Post updated March 2016*

WestJet Christmas Miracle video

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It’s Time We Take Back The Internet.

January 28th, 2014 No comments
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I was reminded again this week that the Internet can be a truly vile and hateful place.  In fact, if there’s some Internet scale of justice, I’m fairly certain it’s tipping in the direction of hate.

Now, I’m no stranger to the barrage of hateful comments on social media sites.  You see it’s easy for people to hide behind a screen and hurl hateful remarks into the Webosphere.  It’s also fairly easy for people to get caught up in a mob mentality.  Even seemingly peaceful people have been known to get caught up in the hysteria.  So, what got my feathers in a ruffle?

I began to search the web for videos of interfaith harmony for an upcoming blog post I intended to write.  I soon discovered that this was not an easy task in a virtual realm seemingly coated in the paranoid delusions and illogical rants of my fellow human beings.

You see, every search parameter I entered returned videos showing me something very different than a harmonious picture of people of different faiths coming together.  Instead, I was subjected to devilishly crafted videos clearly designed to spread hateful propaganda.

Now, it wasn’t just the videos that caused me such concern.  We all know there’s some heinous stuff out there.  No, I was much more concerned that those videos had millions of views.  Oh, and my interfaith harmony videos?  They rarely showed up in first page results and had significantly fewer views than those other videos.

Clearly, we have a problem, folks.  Somehow we’ve let hate dominate the Internet.  I simply refuse to believe that this is acceptable to the vast majority of Internet users.  After all, this is a tool that teaches our children, informs us of the world around us, and connects us to people we may never have met otherwise.  Do we really want to allow it to be shaped by hate?

A professor once told me that it’s pointless to respond to hate and fundamentalism online.  In theory, I agree with said professor.  The real problem isn’t responding directly to haters online, but rather that good, reasonable people tend to not say anything at all.  That’s certainly the impression I get when reading some comment threads.  For every positive statement, you can bet there are at least ten negative statements.

So is silence the best way to combat hate on the Internet?  I don’t think it is, but neither is spending one’s energy on trying to change the rigidity of hate that already has a firm grasp on a person.  Okay, so we don’t have to engage in dialogue with a hateful person, but what else can we do?  We can take the opportunity to share as many good news stories as possible; post videos that are inspiring and show people doing good works; and pictures that exude joy.  We can communicate positive feedback in comment threads, so that we gradually dilute all the hateful words.  With each page view and click of the mouse, we can consciously choose goodness and inspiration – instead of letting the haters choose for us.

Friends, it’s time we take back the Internet.

M. xo

Musical Interlude – Good People (Jack Johnson):

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Why I Don’t Have Children… Yet.

July 22nd, 2013 10 comments
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Since some of my previous posts dealing with my personal life seemed to have been a hit, I figured it was about time I wrote this one.  Apparently, the Interweb is full of voyeurs. This is yet another topic that I’d wanted to write for quite some time, but due to its sensitive nature I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it.  I’ve been asked about this a lot.  It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just that it might make other people uncomfortable – so, consider yourself warned.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m in my thirties and just a few short years from over the hill.  My hubby has already climbed that hill and will soon be exhibiting mysterious new superpowers known as grey power (we’re both curious as to what this much lauded power will bring, but that’s another post for another year).  We’ve been life partners for well over a decade now and do not have children.  Now anyone who knows anything about the female reproductive system knows that I am well past my prime child-bearing years.  I am now officially considered high-risk by the medical community.

Wedding Day

Wedding Day

Shortly after hubby and I officially tied the knot, we were besieged with questions from family and friends about the “pitter-patter of little feet”.  I found it strange considering hubby and I had already been together for eight years and our marriage was merely a formality (and a great excuse for an awesome party).  We actually had no intention of ever getting married, but decided it might be fun to get our families together – particularly since they had never met.  Hubby and I were committed to each other with or without a piece of paper.  We also felt strongly that we didn’t need to be married to have children.  I mean, we were both raised in some pretty eclectic family situations and we turned out alright.  I’ve also met more than my fair share of people who came from traditional family homes – and some of those people have a lot of issues.  So, clearly traditional marriage doesn’t always equate to the well-being of children.

Truthfully, for the first half of our relationship, having children wasn’t a priority.  In fact, we weren’t even sure we wanted to have children.  We would often talk about how we weren’t grown up enough yet to even consider it.  Then other conversations would revolve around just how much we enjoyed our life, the way it was.  We were both very career-oriented.  We were also having a lot of fun hanging out with friends, throwing dinner parties (or any party, just for the sake of having a party), going to concerts, and spending our money on things/experiences we could finally afford.  Yep, we were DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) and we were perfectly fine with that.  So for many years, the prospect of children wasn’t even on our radar.   We weren’t alone either.  Many of our friends also fell into this category.

Of course, there is something about babies and marriage that is rather contagious.  As wedding invitations began arriving like a landslide and newborns started gracing our extended family and friend network, hubby and I began having a more serious discussion about both.  Getting married seemed like a no-brainer.  So long as the wedding was conducted how we wanted, we couldn’t see a downside (except to the bank account, but it was well worth it).

Babies, however, that was a bit more complicated.  Neither of us believed that we needed children to start a family.  Hubby and I were a family – with or without children.  There were also a myriad of reasons not to have children.  This became particularly evident to us as we listened to many parents complain about lack of sleep, privacy, energy, money, time, etc., etc.  Of course, these complaints were always followed by “but, I wouldn’t change a thing.”  After a lot of discussion, hubby and I decided that if children blessed our life then we’d happily embrace it, however, we were both realistic.  We knew that given our ages, it might be difficult.  So, we also decided that if we couldn’t have children then we’d embrace that too.   That was seven years ago and the journey between then and now has been interesting.

Being a middle-aged couple without children often elicits some rather interesting behaviour, particularly from people who do have children.  The most common approaches are advice-giving, avoidance, and misconception (no pun intended on that last one).  The prospect of children seemed to elate our parents.  It began with my mother sprinkling magic fairy dust (i.e. glitter) on hubby at our wedding and reciting a blessed grand-babies chant.

Mom perform Blessed Grand-Babies Ritual on Hubby

Mom performs Blessed Grand-Babies Ritual on Hubby

If you’ve ever met my mother, this would not surprise you.  She’s a bit of free-spirit, to put it mildly.   In the months that followed, both of our mothers tag-teamed hubby and I with weekly phone calls to ask if there was “any news?”  Friends also got in on the action with similar questions.  Those who had had children offered up their tried and true methods to conceive.  These varied from various positions during sexual intercourse to certain rituals post-coitus (i.e. not peeing for an hour, lying for half an hour with feet propped up toward ceiling, climaxing immediately following ejaculation, etc, etc).  We were advised to have as much sex as possible – and told to save it up for our most fertile times.  I’m pretty sure we were given almost every possible piece of advice – and it was all a bit daunting to say the least.  Hubby and I graciously accepted their advice, but refused to become slaves to conceiving.  Part of the fun of having a baby is in making the baby, right?  So, why make it stressful with rules?  We carried on, in our usual fashion, while our family and friends overzealously offered advice.

It was probably a year or two after our wedding that we noticed the advice-giving began to subside.  Babies were rarely mentioned to us, and when news of a friends’ pregnancy was delivered to us, it was done so gently and decidedly unenthusiastically (I’m guessing this was so as to not offend us with such joyful news).  Whenever we were asked about babies, it was very cautiously and often followed by queries as to what kind of fertility assistance we had sought out.  We had not and for very good reasons.

As I previously mentioned, we did not want to become slaves to conceiving.  We had seen far too many people go to great extremes to have a child – which is commendable – but it was not an avenue we wanted to take.  Hearing stories of husbands carrying around pagers so as to be beckoned when the oven was hot, or wives injecting themselves with various hormones daily was not something either of us wanted to do.  Nope, if it was going to happen, it was going to happen the good old-fashioned way.  Others suggested that we simply get tested to see if it was something easy that could be fixed.  That was also not an option because testing also meant that we might find out that one of us was biologically responsible for our inability to conceive and neither of us wanted that guilt or potential resentment clouding our perfectly blissful relationship.  We decided we’d rather not know and just leave it be.  We even had friends offer to be surrogates or donate sperm (bless their hearts), but that wasn’t an option either.  Hubby and I hadn’t become a couple because we wanted to have babies; we became a couple because we loved each other and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  In the end that’s all that mattered.

As the years have passed and we have gotten older (and less likely to conceive), hope has diminished for those who have prayed, chanted, or wished that we would have had children.  While we are still faced with the odd bit of advice-giving or avoidance, we also saw a new behaviour emerge.  Given our age and the fact that hubby and I seemed quite content; people (usually those that we didn’t have a history with) made some interesting misconceptions about us.

Perhaps the most disturbing was that hubby and I didn’t like children.  Admittedly, there’s been a couple occasions that I’ve been a bit insulted by such an assumption, particularly given that I spent more than half my academic career studying child development and behaviour (which incidentally, no matter your academic/professional background, if you don’t actually have children – you have very little credibility with parents).  The other rather disturbing misconception revolves around adoption.  Adoption had always been on the table for us – even before we thought about having our own children.  I was raised by a man who is not my biological father, but he’s my Dad in every sense of the word.  I wouldn’t trade one second with him to have been raised by my “genetic donor”.  Hubby is an adopted child and his parents are his Mom and Dad.  There is absolutely no question about that.  There have been a few occasions when we have mentioned our intention to adopt that the response has been incredibly ignorant.  I once had someone say to me “you could never love an adopted child as much as you could your own flesh and blood.”  I challenge that person to say that to my Dad or hubby’s folks.  I also challenge that person to take a long hard look at the countless deadbeat parents who abandon their own flesh and blood.  Puts things in perspective doesn’t it?

Hubby and I have even been questioned with our desire to adopt older children, perhaps even siblings.  We’re told about the baggage they carry and that they wouldn’t integrate well into a new family, etc., etc.  No wonder these are the children that are considered unadoptable, if these are the kinds of things that are thought about them.  That would be our biggest reason for wanting to adopt though.  Shouldn’t these children have just as much of a chance to be happy?  For me, I can’t think of a greater gift than offering a stable home, love, and support to siblings that have had that uprooted – particularly given that siblings may be separated.  Why shouldn’t they have the chance to grow up together in a happy environment?

Whether hubby and I ever have natural or adopted children is a mystery.  I’m often reminded that I still have time to get pregnant, and while that may be true, my body isn’t what it was ten years ago.  Without a doubt, pregnancy at this point would be difficult.  That said, it’s still on the table, but there’s a lot more anxiety around that prospect now.

And what if we don’t have children?  Well, we’ll be spending a lot of time travelling and enjoying the company of family, friends and their children.  We’ve discovered that kids really enjoy spending time with us.  I think it’s probably because hubby and I feel blessed whenever we are in the company of children and this resonates with them.  They know that someone is paying them undivided attention and is enjoying their endless banter about nothing in particular and everything all at once.

So, there you have it.  That’s why I don’t have children… yet.  I certainly can’t speak for the experiences of many, many couples who deal with infertility.  Some do so quite tragically, while others rise above it and find a different purpose in life.  I’m not saying either is right or wrong, I’m just saying that we each can choose how to accept the cards that are dealt to us.  For hubby and me, that choice is to live in the here and now, to enjoy and be grateful for what we have, and to look forward to the possibilities of tomorrow.

Bliss

Bliss

M. xo

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Saying Good-bye to 2012

December 30th, 2012 No comments
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I’m finally emerging from my self-induced holiday coma.  The holidays were splendidly relaxing.  Good thing too, because I always feel like I need to recharge as the end of the year approaches and a new one beckons on the horizon.

Since I’m still feeling the effects of the holidaze, I haven’t been up to the task of writing something provocative, informative, or even all that interesting, but I didn’t want 2012 to slip by without imprinting the InterWeb with one last message for the year.

So, what to write about?  I could write reflective lists highlighting memorable people and events from the past year.  Or I could publicly profess my resolutions for the upcoming year (which incidentally would have little impact on whether I actually stick to them).  Perhaps I could regale you with my thoughts on the apocalypse phenomenon that pervaded much of 2012, or maybe even the much ballyhooed discontinuation of Twinkies in the United States.  I could contrast the darkest incidents of 2012 with the brightest and most heart-warming.  Yet none of these messages would convey what I’d want to pass on.

Simply, best wishes to you and yours.  Happy New Year!

M. xo

P.S. Cool video alert!  2012: What Brought Us Together.

 

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The Puck Stops Here

October 13th, 2012 No comments
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If you perch here regularly then you’ll know that I don’t just squawk and chirp about religion.  This is one of those times when something else has gotten my feathers in a ruffle.  Let’s address the 2012 NHL Lockout (isn’t it sad that we’ve even resorted to dating the lockout?).  Personally, I just find it ridiculous that millionaires are bickering about money.  I can’t really say any more than that.  It’s just ridiculous.  Of course, I know I’m simplifying things tremendously, but it’s just so exasperating, and I kind of feel like we’ve been here and done this before.

Besides, I couldn’t express myself any better than the frustrated hockey fans you’ll find in the videos below.  They’ve come up with some creative messages for the players and the owners.  Hopefully, they’ll be an end to the lockout soon.  Especially for my father’s sake – you know something just isn’t right in your world when your hockey-loving father is substituting the missed games on the ice with episodes of Survivor.  Please bring back the game before the merge; otherwise my Dad might be sucked irreversibly into the Burnett vortex.

M. xo

Shut the Puck Up (NHL Lockout Song)

The Lockout Song

The Lockout Song – (No More Merch)

The Official Song of the NHL Lockout

NHL – ‘Together We Can’ change.org/nolockout (HD)

 

 

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Kids Who Love Zeppelin! Hail to the Non-Beliebers!!!

June 7th, 2012 No comments
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There is hope for the future… the future of Rock ‘n’ Roll!!!!!!

3 Year old sings Led Zeppelin!

Led Zeppelin Baby

Baby Headbanging to Some Led Zeppelin!!!

Kid Loves Led Zeppelin

M. xo

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