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Monthly Archives: October 2012

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This past spring, Hilary did a quick visit to Montréal and, amongst other things, we caught up on our favourite nail polish colours of the moment. I was back to applying Essie’s Eternal Optimist, an extroverted pinkish nude, for the transitional season and Hilary was enamoured with the shade as much as I. So before her trip back across the ocean, she went out to buy a bottle to wear on European soil. Then in the summer, our mutual friend Anita trekked over to meet up with Hilary but not before Hilary asked for her to bring another bottle of Eternal Optimist from Canada. So by the fall when Anita dropped by my place for Thanksgiving, I complimented her nail colour which was the same Essie shade, introduced to her by Hilary introduced by me.

This hue is like the pair of jeans in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants that fit all friends perfectly, despite the girls’ varying body types. I am almost sure this colour was concocted with the reference to a United Nations meeting as it looks great on all three of us, one whom is fair and Caucasian, another who is South East Asian, and another whom is East Asian. It is like a great foundation but for your nails, making them look like you were born with their neat and lively state. I make my manicure last longer by sandwiching two to three thin coats of colour with a base coat and top coat. This particular shade can be purchased at both beauty outlets and drugstores here in Canada for approximately $9.99 CDN.

[Photo: rue McGill College, Montréal]

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in North America, and this year the pink ribbon is a little tattered.

First, the Susan G. Komen Foundation controversy in the United States brought the issues of breast cancer and charity operations to the forefront. Soon after other contentious charitable breast cancer initiatives came to light, including the recent revelations that the NFL’s pink ribbon efforts only net 5% of proceeds to charity. I have closely followed these particular news items with interest, partially in terms of the debate on the politics of these embroilments, but also in terms of the topics as women’s health issues. I know the public debates on the controversies have been quite lively in the Internet sphere, and many young women joined in the discussion on women’s sites like Jezebel. However, I wondered how these efforts of breast cancer education affect these young women’s knowledge of the disease despite their Internet outrage and opining in the pink ribbon controversies.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 9 Canadian women in their lifetime, meaning that many of us have known someone with breast cancer or have otherwise been personally affected by the disease. Since my family member’s first diagnosis when I was a child, I became interested in learning more about breast cancer and decreasing my risks in developing the disease. However, it seems that many young women are not aware about the risks and symptoms of breast cancer despite the massive efforts at education and involvement. I feel that this is akin to the behaviours of many young people regarding their risks of sexually transmitted infections (STI) — despite massive efforts at public education, many are kind of aware, many are kind of taking steps to prevents transmission, and many are kind of getting tested. STI’s are a much more of an immediate threat for most young people than breast cancer, but breast cancer is a specific risk to women with a very high risk of occurrence during their lifetime. Therefore, I wanted to write this post as, from talking to my friends, it is clear that many young women are not well informed about breast cancer and how certain lifestyle factors can impact the risks in developing the disease.

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[Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

The lazy days of summer are gone, and it never more clear than living in a city like Montréal where a few snowflakes have already raided the city. It is the time that the young folks finally get to showcase their suffocatingly warm back-to-school clothes that were eagerly bought in August. For the workforce, it means everyone is back from vacation and you are already planning for your next one. (However, for the construction workers of Québec, it means you already enjoyed your vacation back in August during the time the rest of the country’s construction workers are scheduled for their seasonal work. This paradox requires a completely separate discussion.)

As for me, I am deep in the books as per usual, and trying to be better at time managing and multitasking than last term month week. One of my main issues is that I always have too many things on my to-do list, and am continuously distracted by my need to check my newsfeed. And when I am trying to get into the study groove, I can feel overwhelmed by all the tugs that come with the various facets of my life, whether it is that of a social nature or the home chore category.

Because I am a nerd of data, I thought about how I would like to track my productivity hours to help me visually see my accomplishments and make me active in pursuing efficiency. So I searched the iTunes App Store on my iPhone for the words “productivity” and “timer” and came up with several Pomodoro apps. This was the first time I heard about the Pomodoro Technique in its name, though I had heard about this method in the past. Created in the decade where frizzy perms were once considered a good idea (aka 1980’s), Francesco Cirillo developed a method of managing work efficiency with twenty-five minute work intervals and frequent breaks (each set being one “Pomodoro”). Each break is a five minute block, with a longer break after the fourth work interval. The idea is to create sustained periods of focus and rest, and the technique is believed to improve learning. Cirillo named the method after the tomato (“pomodoro” in Italian), as his timer was shaped like the produce.

The productivity app is available in various forms in the iTunes App Store, and after a quick rundown of the different availabilities I decided on the Promodoro for an investment price of $0.99. I admit this is the first app I actually bought as I had yet to justify my purchasing apps when so many great, free ones are available. But I will report that this is the best $0.99 I have sunk a Canadian dollar into as it has been almost as important as coffee in achieving study success.

The Promodoro has been excellent in various, including unexpected, ways. One, by breaking up my study sessions into exclusive blocks, I feel less anxious about everything else on my to-do list as I have compartmentalized the times of study and the times of non-study tasks. Second, the app tracks the time devoted to each focus and break periods so that I can visualize the evidence of my productivity hours. Third, the app also records the usage day streaks, lists the average Pomodoro sessions per day, and the maximum number of sessions achieved so that I can eye on beating it for personal nerd rights.

My only complaint about this app is that it does not graph the daily sessions on a chart. A part of me wants to set up an Excel spreadsheet so that I can have colourful bars and graphs devoted to my study hours, but then I would be letting the extreme tendencies in me defy logic and efficiency. Now someone needs to make an app for that.