Celebrate International Year of Pulses

This year the United Nations declared 2016 International Year of Pulses as a way to grow awareness about the benefits of pulses as a part of an affordable, sustainable and healthy diet. That sounds…

Source: Celebrate International Year of Pulses

The Paris Climate Talks: What do they mean for us at UAlberta?

You’ve probably heard about the big climate change meeting that is currently happening in Paris. There have been countless news stories about heightened security or which world leaders are attending, but what does it mean for us who aren’t going to France?

Read More: The Paris Climate Talks: What do they mean for us at UAlberta?

Ten-year plan: revisited


Nearly ten years ago my dad took this picture of me with Trudeau Sr. at the Museum of Civilization. Ten years later, his son is Prime Minister.


**This post is intended to hold my own feet to the fire, and keep certain promises to myself.**

About  ten months ago I wrote a blog post about  coming up with a ten-year plan for myself.

With the end of the year just around the corner (and I know it will come *much* sooner than I anticipate), I thought I should get a head -start on  taking a look at  how well I’ve stuck to my goals and re-evaluate them. Why wait until New Years’, right?

a) Steady work and less contracts–  I’d love to continue working on my skills and building work experience, particularly in communications, marketing, project management, business, but I won’t say no to any good opportunities that come my way;

b) Pay off student loans– it might take a while, but it is super important to me;

c) Work out at least three times a week consistently— I’d like to get stronger and more fit, which means having a more structured attendence;

d) Learn to speak another language fluently– I’ve been working on German through Duolingo; and

e) Travel more– Top spots include New Orleans, Cuba, and the UK.

a)  I’ve definitely kept this promise, however I also picked up some more contracts as side work, and I’m enjoying it.  Maybe a better way to look at this goal is to keep steady work as well as some freelancing on the side.

b) Working on that… I can’t wait for the day when I pay less in student loan payments than my rent.

c) Here’s one of the goals I’m failing at massively.  I eat better than I did as a student, but working out consistently hasn’t happened. As much as I’d like to blame the freelance work, that’s not really fair.  There were stints where I excused myself from going to gym because the weather was so nice out. A leisurely stroll does not a workout make.

I think I need to come up with a motivator to go to the gym (eg. allow myself to buy fancy teas if I keep my goal), or find an app like Duolingo to keep motivated.

d) I’m actually fairly impressed with how much German I’m retaining, and now that  Duolingo  has expanded to include Ukrainian,  I practice French, German and Ukrainian each for once a day and I’m loving it.

e) I can safely blame the failure of this goal on  the student loans, and I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty. Instead, I’m trying to focus on reading books that transport me to new places and get my travel fix that way.

Considering this past year was full of  upheaval and change, I’m actually fairly impressed with how well I’ve done, minus going to the gym. Still, I think these are managable goals, and I intend on keeping them. 🙂


How can you not get romantic about baseball?

The K. May 2011. k.barnes

The K. May 2011. k.barnes

Baseball’s a funny thing when you are North of 49°. It doesn’t seem to exist most of the time. If you want baseball that far  north, you are looking at small local leagues, the ones that are overshadowed by the almighty hockey.  Until the Blue Jays made the American League Championship Series this year, I didn’t think Canadians outside of Toronto realized baseball was a viewing option.

It’s a beautiful sport, though. Quietly tense,  but the fireworks can blow you away.  I can’t think of another sport that balances these polar opposites so well. Baseball is like a good book– it can suck you in, keep you on the edge of your seat and make you forget about the world around you, yet you still have a visceral reaction to what you witness. There’s nothing suspenseful about hockey; it’s more like a good popcorn action flick.

The K. May 2011. k.barnes

The K. May 2011. k.barnes

I’ve witnessed a lot of great sporting experiences. My dad always made sure I watched March Madness and we were ecstatic by the Chicago Bulls’ wins with Michael Jordan. I remember the heartbreak with the 2003-2004 Calgary Flames lost the cup, and I remember Crosby’s golden goal.

I still can’t get seeing the Royals in May 2011 out of my head.

We were visiting family before my cousin’s wedding, and it was decided we were going to see a baseball game.  I was excited; I’d only ever seen small local games or watched it on TV. After an early meal, we all packed into the SUV my parents rented (by packed, I mean that we had to shut Dave in the trunk) and we pulled up to Kauffman Stadium. The parking lot was pretty full since there was a Chiefs game and the tailgaters were still enjoying the sunshine.  We walked into the stadium to find our seats– down low by 1st base. I wouldn’t realize how lucky we were until my mom had to splurge for Jays tickets at the equivalent level in Toronto a couple of years later.

The stadium was remarkably empty, but Dave said it was because the Royals never win…

The stadium was so full of life, though. The families with small children who were terrified of the mascot Sluggerrr. Drunk college students singing with all their good-natured hearts. Drunk oddballs who knew every player and still could recall their stats in an inebriated state.

COME ON, BABEEEEEE! IT’S ALL ON YOUR SHOULDERS NOW! – drunk fan behind us who was wearing both home and away caps, paired with yellow-lens sunglasses

While I can’t remember who the Royals were playing, I remember feeling in the stadium. The Royals would get ahead, then the other team would get 3 RBI and the lead would switch. Pinch-hitting. Base-stealing. It was tense. It was exciting. It went for 13 innings, and the Royals won.

We didn’t get back home until midnight, but the feeling didn’t leave. That night was when I saw the romance of baseball.

Back in Canada, baseball’s beauty flies under the radar, a bit like the cute neighbour next door. Everyone is busy obsessing about the popular kid– hockey. Few people outside of Toronto seem to remember the back-to-back World Series wins for the Blue Jays and most beyond the GTA only start paying attention once there is a title at stake.

I think you need to sit in a stadium to see the beauty of baseball. Look it straight in the eye and watch your team battle back from  deficit to a win at the change of a hairpin turn. You have to feel the anxiety of the batter while you wait for the pitcher to throw. You need to hear the silence when you watch to see where the ball lands. You must feel the roar of the crowd at a home run.

Thank you, Kansas City for making me romantic about baseball. ❤

The K. May 2011. k.barnes

The K. May 2011. k.barnes

Either side of the camera: portrait photography

“Your aim as a photographer is to get a picture of that person that means something. Portraits aren’t fantasies; they need to tell a truth.” -Tim Walker

Lately at work I’ve been trying to find different ways to take portraits: different angles, poses, locations, etc. Typically most of my photos are landscapes or architecture, but I’m enjoying the challenge and creativity that comes with portrait photography.

Taking a portrait gives you confidential access; you are duplicating the subject’s essence and identity. It’s like a visual interview, but instead of writing down their responses to questions, you cinematize their reactions and expressions. I can’t wait to grab the camera and capture some more.

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
-Edward Steichen

International Women’s Day 2015 Playlist

Buffy Sainte-Marie performing at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival. photo by k.barnes

Buffy Sainte-Marie performing at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival. photo by k.barnes

I like to have playlists on hand filled with fantastic women whose strength, determination, talent and creativity motivate me to be and do my best. In honour of International Women’s Day 2015, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites.

“Pirate Jenny” by Nina Simone

Nina’s cover of the classic Threepenny Opera song is easily the best version. Hearing Nina’s strength come through as the tough pirate captain Jenny masquerading as girl working at inn, then getting her revenge, is pretty empowering.  

“Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me!

Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace is such an incredible songwriter: so raw and honest. The band’s most recent album Transgender Dysphoria Blues is inspired by Laura’s experience coming out as transgender, and it’s one of the best things I’ve heard out of the punk scene in years.

“Yellow Flicker Beat” by Lorde

I love how Lorde’s songwriting seems so wise beyond her years. This song is from the most recent Hunger Games film; while I was less than impressed with the film, I love this song and how it capture’s Katniss’ determination and strength.

“Now That The Buffalo’s Gone” by Buffy Sainte-Marie

It was so hard to only pick one Buffy song, so I chose one of the songs from her first album It’s My Way!. Buffy’s protest of the mistreatment of First Nations still rings true today, and she hasn’t stopped speaking out against this injustice.

“***Flawless” by Beyoncé featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

There has been a lot of text dedicated to Queen Bey’s ascension as a leading feminist force in music and Western culture, so I’ll keep it simple: #BowDown.

“Can See Can Do” by M.I.A.

The boldness of M.I.A.’s personality rings through every song. I cannot wait until her new album drops hopefully sooner than later.

“Jeudi 17, mai” by Ariane Moffatt

Ariane reworked her song “Jeudi 17, mai” during the Bill 78 protests led by students in Québec. The original version of the song was written to reflect the headlines in 2008, but Ariane’s updated version gave the Printemps érable an anthem for their protest.

“Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill

Women in the early 90s were blazing the trail for DIY feminism and the riot grrl movement, and Bikini Kill were there, adding to the soundtrack. I love how unapologetic they are about their abrasiveness and toughness paired with femininity.

“Uja” and “Umingmak” by Tanya Tagaq

Tanya’s album Animism is powerful, but this live performance is awesome (as in it evokes awe). She performs a ten minute set with the names of the over 1186 missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people running on the screen behind her. In interviews, Tanya is blunt and honest, speaking to the horrific discrimination indigenous women, children and the Inuit face on a daily basis. Much respect for this trailblazer and fighter.