“Support My Friends” Saturday, part 3: Send Leah to Egypt for an archaeological dig with a leading Egyptologist!

egypt map

Once in a while, I like to use the reach of my blog to help out my friends, which I do in an occasional series called “Support My Friends” Saturday.

I seem to have a number of friends with a deep fascination with ancient Egypt. One of these friends is Leah, who’s taken this fascination and run with it, getting a B.A, in Historical Studies from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and now doing grad work at the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations on Egyptology.

She’s just come across the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to go and work on a “dig” at Mendes, Egypt (near the modern Egyptian town of el-Mansurah) with Donald Redford, one of the most renowned living Egyptologists. While there, she’ll share her experiences and finds (those she’s allowed to share, based on the dig’s rules) in photos and on a blog.

mendes ram god temple

Want to know more about Mendes? Click here.

The problem is money (isn’t it always?). To go on this dig, she needs $5000, which will cover:

  • $3500 for the “class fee” for going on the dig. This is a field school, so this covers instruction in archaeological techniques, housing, food, transportation within Egypt and educational weekend trips for the entire month.
  • $1200 for a round-trip flight from Toronto to Cairo.

She writes:

Getting archaeological dig skills is something of a catch-22. Many digs won’t take you as a team member unless you have field skills, but you can’t gain field skills without digging. This is where field schools come in. It is a fully-functional dig that doubles as on-the-job training — ideal for getting your foot in the archaeological door!

I chose this dig for many reasons. First and foremost, Dr. Donald Redford is one of my academic and personal heroes.  He’s an absolutely brilliant force of nature and the idea of getting to spend a month learning from him and working with him makes my head spin giddily. Secondly, Mendes (called Djedet by the ancient Egyptians) was the cultic center of the goddess Hatmehit, whose name means “The Foremost of the Fishes”. I am fascinated with fish symbolism and iconography and there are few sites in Egypt that are more relevant to my research interests.

It may seem obscure and odd, but understanding the importance of fish can go a long way toward understanding the ancient Egyptian relationship with life, death and the feminine aspects of the divine. I am extremely interested in fleshing out our understanding of the lives of women in Egyptian antiquity on their own terms, not just as wife of x and daughter of y. I hope to do this through scholarship pertaining to less overt symbols of femininity and the female divine.

Let’s give her a hand and help her get to the dig! Support her Kickstarter campaign.


Manitoba Tory leader wishes Happy Holidays, even to “infidel atheists” who “celebrate nothing”

brian pallister - christ what an asshole

Here’s a video featuring Brian Pallister, leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives (surprise, surprise), giving what has got to be the most dickish holiday greeting of 2013. He wishes Christians a Merry Christmas, Jews a Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to the “infidel atheists”, whom he hopes will still get together with their families, even if they’re “celebrating nothing”.

It’s crap like this that always bring this Gandhi quote to mind:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Pope-Francis-300x225Now if you think that I’m off base in my judgement of Mr. Pallister, allow me to refer to you Pope Francis:

“In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

Well said, Your Holiness.


“Superbad” in real life

Oh dear God, it’s a real-life Superbad trio:

superbad in real life

In case you needed a reminder of what the three main characters in Superbad looked like:


And, for old times’ sake, here’s the trailer:


“Support My Friends” Saturday, part 2: Read Taste Bluebook!


Once in a while, I like to use the reach of my blog to help out my friends, which I do in an occasional series called “Support My Friends” Saturday.

I’ve stayed in some pretty nice AirBnB places, but by far my best stay was during South by Southwest 2012, when my Shopify coworkers Edward Ocampo-Gooding, Mark Hayes, and I stayed at Caroline Fabacher’s fab apartment that was a hop, skip and jump away from downtown Austin. I have friends and exes who are twice Caroline’s age and cannot keep a house anywhere nearly as neat, stylish and “grown-up” as Caroline can, and few AirBnB hosts put out a welcome kit as nicely as she does, either. She’s the person I think of when someone says the phrase “the hostess with the mostest”.

She’s in Denver now, where apparently working on a JD-MBA just doesn’t take enough of her time, so she’s also got a blog called Taste Bluebook, which she describes thusly:

I have long been a firm believer that you CAN have what you want, you can DO what you want, if you just make smart choices and are educated about the necessary skills. You can kill it at the office and throw a great dinner party. You can know how to fix that excel formula and know how to make jam. You can discuss hot-button legal issues and the basics of investing and this season’s fashion trends. You can pursue the path to partner and out-bake your (future) mother-in-law.

There are plenty of fashion blogs out there. There are plenty of finance blogs out there. There are plenty of DIY blogs out there. But the fashion blogs fail to provide much content that can be adopted by readers who work in conservative offices or favor sandals with their shorts instead of heels. The finance blogs can feel daunting and intimidating to dive into for those who just want to learn SOMETHING about investing. The DIY blogs are full of amazing projects, but those renting apartments can’t squeeze that cleverly converted palette garden on their patio, or take up knitting just to have that cute coffee cozy.

Taste Bluebook is the answer. It will offer a a little bit of everything for the young women who are interested in a little bit of everything. With posts ranging from style and cooking, to health and finance, Taste Bluebook will provide ideas and advice for tackling just about any project. The content will be as practical as it is entertaining.

Go check out Taste Bluebook, and if you know people who’d appreciate it, send them there!


“Support My Friends” Saturday, part 1: Buy Nic’s MacBook ($600)

nic's macbook

Click the photo to see Nic’s Craigslist ad.

Once in a while, I like to use the reach of my blog to help out my friends. This is one of those times.

In cities with decent-sized populations, Craigslist is popular, which is good news and bad news for sellers. The good news is obvious; the bad news is that their wares are lost in a sea of everyone else’ offerings. My friend Nic, whom I met over a decade ago at a little local drinking-and-mischief club called The Thirsty People of Toronto, is selling his MacBook, and I thought I’d help him move it.

It’s 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo 13-inch “unibody aluminum” MacBook, with 8GB RAM and a 320GB hard drive. This is the model with the replaceable battery. It currently has OS X 10.5.6, and I believe — based on my experience with an iMac with a slower processor, less RAM and from the same era — that it will run the latest OS X (version 10.9, known as “Mavericks”) quite well.

For those of you who want more specs:

  • Processor and bus details: 45 nm “Penryn” 2.4 GHz Intel “Core 2 Duo” processor (P8600), with two independent processor “cores” on a single silicon chip, a 3 MB shared “on chip” level 2 cache, 1066 MHz frontside bus.
  • RAM details: 8 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (PC3-8500) installed in pairs (two 4 GB modules). This is the maximum that can be installed on this model.
  • Hard drive: 250 GB Serial ATA (5400 RPM) hard drive.
  • Optical drive: 8X DL “SuperDrive”, which reads and writes CDs and DVDs.
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256 MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory.
  • Display: LED-backlit 13.3″ widescreen TFT active-matrix “glossy” display (1280×800 native resolution).
  • Webcam: Integrated iSight camera.
  • Networking: Loads!
    • AirPort Extreme (802.11a/b/g/n)
    • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • USB 2.0 ports (2 of ’em)
    • Optical digital/analog audio in/out
    • Mini DisplayPort supporting an external display at 2560 * 1600

Apple’s internal reference for this machine is “Macbook 5,1”, and you can see its factory specs here.

What can you do with such a machine? A fair bit, actually. Yes, it’ll do the web browsing, word processing, spreadsheeting, and presentations, but I’ve been using an older, slower, less-RAM-outfitted iMac to do graphics work and iPhone development. If you’re a web or mobile developer or designer on a budget, you should consider this machine, especially given what Nic’s asking for it:

$600. That’s right: $600.

Nic says it’s in impeccable condition, nice an clean, and has been used in a non-smoking environment.

Check out his ad, and then buy it from him!


Black Friday Death Count: in case you need to keep score…

black friday death count

Screen capture of Black Friday Death Count on Friday, November 29, 2013 at 9:46 EST.

Black Friday — a day that some guy at Goldman Sachs called “the Special Olympics of capitalism” — often has a body count, and now you can keep score, thanks to


Kenzie Lind may have accidentally invented Twitter haiku (or: Black Friday in the U.S., summarized quite nicely in three tweets)

kenzie lind tweets

A screen capture of those three tweets, just in case. Found via Huffington Post – click to see their article.

In three consecutive tweets, Kenzie Lind summarized America on Thanksgiving weekend quite well. She may have invented Twitter haiku!