Cosmos: Not the SATC kind… a general appreciation post

neildegrassetysonI’ve been tearing through Cosmos on Netflix.  Cosmos are not pink, fruity cocktails served in a martini glass that Sarah Jessica Parker holds so stylishly on her girls night out.

Quite the opposite.

Cosmos is a TV show starring Neil deGrasse Tyson about the universe and our place in it, focusing on the expanse of time and the beginning of life.  #Awesome

I’m a little more than obsessed with this show.  I’ve said it many times – if I had a Mathematics degree like my Uncle John, I’d be a scientist, specifically an astrophysicist.  But, those stars just didn’t align and, instead, I have a whimsical blog called Ademoiselle where I can exercise my penmanship to a small audience of friends.

The show goes back 4 billion years to the start of the universe and helps explain our place in it.  The concept is dizzying, the idea that we are just a microscopic element in a ginormous universe, with no real purpose as to why or how we got here.  There’s something comforting about that to me.  And it’s also terrifying.  The show plays on this, using real-life examples of famous astronomers and scientists who were often the first in their fields to make groundbreaking discoveries about the universe and the earth twirling around in it.  This is the comforting part.

Neil deGrassi Junior High Tyson is one helluva host. He explains the concepts so clearly so that normal folk like me can understand.  He’s constantly using vivid and determined facial expressions to accompany the mind-blowing concepts he discusses and this makes him all the more likable.  He’s not just a host.  He’s the expert.  One cannot discuss the Cosmos without the visual of Tyson in his space-age space ship gliding down to the surfaces of other planets and, his face stoic but his body bracing for impact – makes us feel like we’re on the journey as well.

What’s even better is that he challenges the skeptics.  He asks their questions.  When it comes to the episode on climate change and what we’re doing to the planet, he’s not afraid to see both sides and generate a debate, but with one key outcome: silence to the skeptics.  There’s no denying what we’re seeing, and it’s eye-opening.

Not to mention the great art direction and music by… Alan Silvestri!

If you haven’t started watching this show, go home and do it now.  No excuses.  We all need to better understand our tiny place in the world and listen from the best to hear why it’s so unfathomable that we’re even here.

Voyager 1, over and out.

Advice for Hitting the Dirty Thirties


Photo: Lena C. Emery

There’s oodles of great writing on the interwebs about turning 30.  Lots of it is true and also humbling. Most of it is humorous.  But the bottom line is, people are thinking it’s a big deal – which it is – but it’s not a bad thing.  Sometimes we all need a confidence boost/reality check to reflect on what you’ve done and realize that this might just be your best decade yet.  I’ve noticed real, tangible changes to myself – some good, some bad.  With three decades of wisdom under my belt, I don’t care if I am well-equipped or not to draft some advice. Here it is.

There’s a lot I don’t know
Everyday I learn something new but, the bottom line is, there is a lot of stuff to learn.  Trying to think cleverly isn’t always the answer.  In work meetings, where I’m worried that I need to speak up or else people won’t feel I’m contributing, I can’t miss the fact that by simply listening I’m picking up what I need.

There’s a lot I know that I can start taking credit for
You are under-qualified for a lot, but also overqualified for lots, too. This means updating your CV to reflect that change.  You don’t really need your high school job on there anymore.  Nor do you need basic skills listed beneath a role.  Talk about accomplishments, because you got ‘em.

Be good to yourself – specifically your lower back when you’re scrubbing the tub
Minor pains have been creeping up on me in places that used to (and 95% still do) function well. But, the idea that I can bend over for 10 consecutive minutes while trying to eliminate stubborn shower scum from the far reaches of my bathtub is becoming one of wishful thinking.  I was cleaning my bathroom yesterday and my lower back seized. My posture shot upwards.  I felt uncomfortable standing still.  I had to take a break.  I couldn’t fathom not getting the job done, the comet still foaming on the porcelain, the mirror still spackled like a windshield during a tooth-brushing storm.  It subsided, but it will be back and I’ll be ready.

Don’t see this as the decline before the end
I’m reading Gone Girl.  In it, the wife, who is nearly 40, is talking about still being ‘pretty for her age’.  The dreaded 40s are looming before her and she’s thinking she’s past her prime.  So, when is ‘Prime’?  If ‘prime’ is just before ‘past-the-prime’ then we oughta think that the 30s are bitter-sweet, right?  No. One doesn’t go from amazing to awful in a few years.  Enjoy the transition and do it gracefully.  Thinking that 36 is the end of beauty is a bad way to tackle this decade.

Then there are the obligatories like get sleep, exercise, eat well, save money, don’t give up everything for a man… blah blah. One thing I do want to reiterate is that now is not too late to do something you really want to do.  When I was 25 I backpacked in Australia and felt more senior than my other travel companions.  That made me depressed, feeling like my window of opportunity was narrowing faster than I could escape from it.  Not true.  Go backpacking, start your novel, take that night course on home design.  Don’t say you can’t.  

Inspiring Images for September

The fall is a time of rebirth, at least for me.  These images are ones I (luckily) stumbled upon on BOOOOOOM, a spot for aspiring artists and photographers to showcase their work.  I recommend checking out Ada Hamza – beautiful style.  And they are just as whimsical, with a dash of real, as any I’ve seen.



In-The-Middle-Of-An (Audio) Book

2021959815Phew, you made it through that title – a mouthful – and I am giving you a preview of what will be my first book review!  Albeit, it’s an audio book.  Also, I’m only halfway through, having barrelled through Malcolm Gladwell’s calm, clear voice which accompanied the long wasteland that is the 401 from Montreal to Toronto.

Anyhoo, this is just Part 1.  I am LOVING Gladwell’s latest, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.  So far it is fascinating, and I’m only on the first lesson: that advantages can be seen as disadvantages, and vice versa.

It all comes back to the original story of David and Goliath from 3,000 years ago.  David, a lowly shepherd, defeated the 6’9″ Goliath in battle using only a slingshot.  We are amazed at the odds of such a defeat occurring but Gladwell argues that underdogs are winning all the time and that the lesson from the story is that the very thing that makes a giant a Goliath is also part of its weakness.

Stay tuned for my full review after I’m finished – don’t worry, you won’t have to wait for when I drive to Montreal the next time round.


What is Your Best Before Date?

best beforeYesterday, at the grocery store, I picked up a small container of sour cream for our chicken tacos we were making and glanced at the best before date on it: August 19.  It didn’t take more than a second for me to chuckle at it.  I turn 30 on August 20, so to see a best before date on the day before my age shifts to the BIG 3-0 was more than a little fitting.

I often notice dates on or around my birthday.  Not that I’m birthday obsessed (I’m happiest with a delicious dinner, wine and a few friends to celebrate with) but the date is obviously important to me.  As a kid I’d think, when I saw a carton of milk that expires later in August, ‘Hey, I’ll be 13 when this expires’, knowing that I’d have to cross a milestone to get to when the milk goes sour.  Yes, a little odd that I’ve always projected this notion onto dairy products.

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Check These Four Things off your List Before You Email Anyone

tumblr_myebwtELvb1st5lhmo1_1280I work with some people who get emails constantly.  They get so many emails that they need to spend their after-hours (their pre-9am and post-5pm) doing real work.  I can’t imagine how hard it would be to focus if that was me!

There are a lot out of articles there that suggest people should only respond to emails at only significant times in the day, and turn it off otherwise etc. but I think the problem needs to be nipped in the bud at the source: the sender.

So, before you send that email, think about a few things to maximize your time and to help minimize others’ efforts.

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