This year, three of us from the REM team decided to to dress up as our favourite characters from a 2004 movie called Napoleon Dynamite!
They are (from left to right):
Sean Sanderson as Napoleon: he put all the pizzaz and nerd-cool style in his costume by having an afro wig, a "Vote for Pedro" T-shirt, eyeglasses, a retro casette player and the coolest part: he drew on his notebook a sketch of a "Liger" (half lion, half tiger creature)
Brad Anderson as Kip: Brad's looking cool with his khaki shorts, blue polo shirt and glasses holding a "La Fawnduh" sign.
Christine Votruba as Pedro: vote for me: Pedro! Had a lot of cross-dressing fun by dressin' up in a short, black wig, eye-liner mustache, big blue dress-shirt, a bolo tie (made with a broch and shoe laces), belt buckle, "vote for pedro" pin and a "If you VOTE FOR PEDRO all your wishes will come true!" flyer. It was an easy DIY costume put together thanks to a few things from my house and Value Village!
We've had a lot of fun! We got into character for the photoshoot by having spaced-out, dorky looks on our faces. If you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend watching if you're up for a lot of laughs.
To end this blog post, watch this scene from the movie of Napoleon's infamous dance routine. Enjoy!
For anyone that’s unfamiliar with snow-tubing, it’s essentially a fun ride down a long, snowy slope while being in a cushy, safe tube. It was a great afternoon to go tubing, thankfully there was a decent amount of snow that fell a few days before and it wasn’t blisteringly cold that night. It was still a little bit chilly though so we came prepared with thick jackets, scarves, gloves, boots, ski goggles and balaclavas. Some of us also wore protective helmets.
One of the aspects that I enjoy the most about our quarterly events is that we see a fun side of each other that we might not see during day-to-day work hours. It’s exhilarating going down the slope with lots of chances of spinning, speedy sliding and goofiness, which brings out the jokes and laughter between all of us. It’s particularly funning watching everyone’s reactions when they were abruptly stopped by hay-bags at the bottom of the slopes.
To kick the event off we started with a very impressive link of nine tubers. Yes, you heard that right! By holding onto each other’s tube handles we formed a link of tubes. All nine of us at the same time went down the slope very swiftly. After that we also tried groups of three or two.
We also had a race of who could fly down the hill the fastest. Sean S. was first with an impressive time of approximately 18 seconds, Ryan came in second and I was third. We found out that technique had a lot to do with how fast one can go.
Thanks very much to Rob and the employees at Chicopee Tube Park for such a fun afternoon!
From left to right: Rob, Christine, Ryan, Todd, Brad, Matt, Sean M., Sean L. and Sean S. >>
For our October quarterly, we had fun, excitement and took our chances betting on live horse races in Flamboro Downs. REM commemorated the event by taking a group photo with Race #3’s winner: Domitian Hall.
It’s a known fact that we at REM love to play foosball!
It’s a fun activity to do and it feels great to get your energy levels up after playing a vigorous, challenging match with a friend. Personally, it took me a long time to get the hang of it. When I first started playing about 2 years ago I lost a lot – and I mean A LOT! But the key in acquiring new skills is to never get discouraged, no matter the number of loses. I didn’t see it as losing I saw it as “training;” with that mentality I wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone.
So how does one play foosball? Essentially, foosball is table game/sport based on Soccer (or Football for Europeans). The name originated from the German word for soccer (pronounced the same way) literally meaning “foot plus ball.”
The goal is to utilize the 4 rods and a total of 9 “players” (the wooden or plastic men with no arms) to put the ball into the “net” (usually just a hole at your opponent’s side). The 4 rods are:
The 5-bar: the rod in the middle that starts off the game. Usually the strongest because it’s the heaviest and the hardest to get pass because of how many “players” in the bar.
The 3-bar: the main set of players that shoot the ball into the goal and therefore closest to the opponent’s “net.”
The Defense (2-bar): this bar is right in front of your goalie and net. Its main uses are two-fold: a) to block/deflect the ball from the net and b) to push the ball away from your side of the table and into your opponent’s side.
The Goalie: self-explanatory here.
I’ve learned that when it comes to Foosball, it’s not about the power of your shots (although having strong, powerful shots can help a lot…. I’m looking at you, Sean Sanderson!), but the precision of them.
Of course there’s a lot more that goes into this sport. And yes, it is a sport! It requires training, accuracy, strategy…and sometimes trash-talk…. hehe but of course all in good fun. The important thing is to have fun and to be a good sport about it. If you’d like to know more about it, here’s a link to a handy-dandy video:
c) the awesome architecture/old timey buildings, and
d) the slangs, which is what this blog post is about.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post about “Jamie-isms” I like listening to not only what people say but also how they say it. The UK’s culture has shaped a lot of the idioms; it has always fascinated me. Some of the slangs I’ve heard are easily understood or have been used in North America or familiar to us, but a bunch of them I had to look up their meaning. So, I’ve decided to collect some in this blog post with a few examples, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious.
Chips – French fries
Tube – subway
Mate – friend, pal or chum
Telly – television
Loo – bathroom
Ice-lolly – popsicle
Brilliant – great
Wicked – cool
Chuffed – proud
Rubbish – garbage
Whinge – Whine
Going across the pond - going to North America, going to the UK or vice versa.
Jolly good – extremely good
Kerfuffle – a fuss, commotion
Fortnight – a period of two weeks
Blimey – exclamation of surprise similar to “Oh my goodness!”
Boot – the storage area of a car, in North American terms the trunk of a car.
Dodgy – iffy, suspicious, illegal. “That store looked really dodgy.”
Proper – good, right, went well, legit. Example: “I had a proper sleep last night.”
“How are you getting on with…?” – “How are you doing with…?”
Having a row with someone – having a fight with someone
Blinding – an adjective for excellence. Example: “That was a blinding episode of that show!”
Tickety-boo or hunky-dory – going smoothly, going well. Example: “Is your paperwork tickety-boo today?”
Hope you’ve had fun reading these. I’ve certainly used a few of them once and a while. I shall end this blog post with an appropriate Brit slang: “Cheerio, old chap!” Until next time!
At REM team building is very important to us. Our Team Building Events are fun, challenging, productive and stimulating. Not only do the events build stronger accord between us by improving our teamwork and leadership skills, they also highlight aspects of our talents and personalities that are normally not seen in day-to-day work. I certainly saw some great teamwork skills exemplified in our canoeing team building event last October.
On a chilly and damp October afternoon, we rented some canoes from Canoeing the Grand for a fun and challenging excursion down the Grand River. How does paddling down a river make it a team building event you ask? First, we were split into teams of two: Todd and I, Jill and Rob, Sean S. and Shauna, and Sean M. and Ryan. Each pair had to strategically and physically coordinate a path down the river; the path set before us was laden with shallow parts, large rocks and (somewhat) rough waters. Second as if that’s not hard enough as it is, we had to multi-task: as we paddled down the river, Rob gave us a trivia on general facts about REM and each other. He quizzed us with questions such as “What are the 7 Guiding Principles of REM?”
As I’ve previously stated, it was cold and damp; we were all very wary of falling into the murky water. We thought to ourselves “Woo, we’re all dry!” as we were about to reach the end of the trip. Alas! Not all of us were so lucky. Poor Sean. S. fell into the water; just as he was stepping out of the canoe the boat accidentally moved under his feet and he fell (what looked like head-first) into the water. It was a sight to see! We were all both laughing our butts off and sorry that he was wet and freezing.
Below are a couple of photo montages I took of our team during the trip. The river and its surroundings was very beautiful, all in all it was a beautiful day for a trip down the river.
Continuing my theme of web design terms, this blog post is to further expand upon one of the main elements I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post: fonts.
As you might’ve read in my last blog post, it refers to the typeface the texts use. It plays a crucial role in establishing a website’s branding (look and feel), especially when it comes to composing a consistent and cohesive design. It can impact the message of the text itself. For example, using a hand-drawn style might give the viewer the impression that it’s a personal message from someone.
The following are my personal interpretations and are in no way the “official” meaning. There’re visual typeface examples on the right for each category mentioned. They can fall into these main “Font-astic Four” categories (Pardon the comic book pun! I couldn’t help it.):
clean and modern. This style is best used in all sorts of scenarios from headlines to small type to body copy because it’s easy to read, big or small. Common ones such as Arial and Helvetica are considered neutral styles.
classic and traditional.This style is useful for business settings such as documents, formal letters and contracts, but still has so many variations that it could work in a modern context. Just like sans-serif it can be used in a large variety of things such as headlines, small type and/or body copy.
cursive, elaborate and elegant, also known as “calligraphic” styles. This style always looks beautiful and unique; it definitely highlights text when used. However, unlike serif and sans-serif, it’s most effective when used sparingly, as most script typefaces are notoriously hard to read when small and will look busy when used too much.
custom-looking, fun and creative. It’s hard to give examples for this one because they’re not “standard” typefaces. It can also be combined with the other categories (as in a hand-drawn typeface can look like a script, sans-serif or serif typeface). This style is usually literally hand-drawn by the person who created it. Similar to script styles, they’re ideally used infrequently to highlight a headline or a callout.
There are plenty more categories typefaces can fall into, but these are the basic ones that come to my mind first. Just like any design element it’s not about the quantity, but the quality; that’s why best practices suggest that you only use 2 or 3 styles in a design. When used at the right spot in the right combination, they can give your users/customers the right feeling and attract them into the website, making them want to explore it further.
I shall end this blog post with another inspiring quote. This one is from Steve Jobs (I think almost everyone knows who is) one of the founders of Macintosh/Apple:
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Last time on my previous blog post, I explained the meaning of a few terms that’re used for different sections of web page. If you haven’t already, you can read Part 1 here. The first post is about the main sections of a web page. In this one, I’ll be getting into a few of the nitty-gritty parts, the components or elements in a web page.
Again I’ll be using parts of REM’s homepage as an example with labels to illustrate the terms.
Headline – This could also be known as “hero” text. Unlike a heading which could appear several times anywhere on a web page, the headline usually refers to the very first, large line of text that grabs the user’s attention and gives them a quick idea of your company. That means it could be your slogan, tagline or a quick summary of what you’re all about. REM’s headline at the top of the homepage is “We Provide Web Design & Development.” A headline is best when it’s short, concise and leaves an impression on the viewer. You can think of it as the “billboard copy” in your web page.
Call-to-Action – The explanation is in the name. This is quite useful for marketing and advertising because it’s an element such as a graphic, heading, button, area, etc. that draws the user's eye and compels them to do something in your website. Its job is to make your user/customer do what you want them to do: contact you, go to this or that page, buy something, etc. For example, in our homepage the large “Learn More” button is a call-to-action to compel our customers to learn more about our services by contacting us.
Iconography – This refers to illustrations, visual images or symbols that’re interpretations of an object or idea. Icons are used everywhere in our world, not just in websites. Unlike text which has to be a specific language, icons can be universally understood (think: the symbol for women’s/men’s washrooms). Also key aspects or ideas could be created into icons. In my example’s case, the illustration of a group of people conveys we have worked with many clients.
Font – It refers to the typeface and style the texts uses. It plays a crucial role in establishing the website’s look and feel, particularly when it comes to making the design look consistent. Best practices suggest that one use no more than two or three font-styles. In the example I’ve highlighted there are two fonts being used: Raleway and Opens Sans (both sans serif).
Did you feel like you’ve learned something after reading my two-part blog post? I hope you have! We designers think in visual terms; we like to interpret the world around us with images not words, so you can imagine that it was a bit of a challenge for me to write down my personal definitions of these commonly used terminologies.
Just like last time, I shall end this blog post with another great quote to inspire you and/or make you think. This one is from Thomas Watson Jr., a businessman, political figure and 2nd President of IBM:
Ever worked with a Web or Graphic Designer and wondered about what that designer jargon meant when they explained their design and/or answered some questions? Have you ever tried to muddle through them? Some of them are logical and easy to understand, but there are some that might make you scratch your head and go, “What do you mean by that?”
Well, fret not! Here are some handy Web/Graphic Designer terminologies (“Jibber Jabber” as Penny from The Big Bang Theory would call it) that you’ve been dying to learn. Keep in mind that these are designer lingos that I’ve learned for myself and are not “official” descriptions.
I will be talking about the main sections of a web page, using the homepage of our website, REM Web Solutions, as an example with labels and numbers to illustrate the terms below.
Main Navigation – the explanation is in the name. This is a set or menu of web page links that’re crucial to your website and where your user/customer would navigate to the most. Best practice suggests it should be at the very top of a website; it must be clearly visible and easy to understand.
Header – much like the header of a formal letter, the header is the main section that appears at the very top of a web page. It’s what you want the user/customer to pay attention to first. More often than not, the main navigation is within the header because just like the main navigation, the header should ideally have the most important pieces of information and elements your website needs, such as your company logo, search bar, etc.
Body Copy – the body copy is the main text that starts off a web page. In a homepage is the introduction paragraph more often than not. For a website body copy is an important piece of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A search engine such as Google or Bing, would crawl through the website and look for keywords in headings and paragraphs that will be associated with your company.
Footer – similar to a formal letter, the footer appears at the very bottom of the web page. Most of the time the footer’s main role is to reiterate the info/elements that were in the header. Why repeat in the footer what’s already in the header you ask? It’s to engage your user/customer once again after they’ve scrolled to the very bottom of the page, enticing them as if to say: “Congrats! You’ve made it through the entire page. Now that you’ve seen this page, wanna see another one?”
I hope this blog post has been very informative for you! You could throw them into conversations the next time you chat with a Web/Graphic Designer. Certainly the designer will be very impressed and they’ll appreciate that you know them. This is Part 1 of a blog series; next month is Part 2 which will delve deeper into web and graphic design lingo.
For now, I shall leave you with a great quote from Paul Rand, a famous Graphic Designer.
“Design is so simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.”
You might remember a couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about “Growing Avocado Plants.” This is part 2: the great outdoors. I have narrowed down my avocado plant to one; it’s doing so well and I want to concentrate my attention on it
Back in May, it was still too small and the weather was still too cold for me to leave it outside. But when the end of May came I took the plant out, and what a difference that made! Because avocado trees originated from Central Mexico, it does really well in hot conditions. It loves the mid-day sun it gets, which encourages the plant to grow more leaves. Also its trunk has become much stronger thanks to the breeze my backyard gets.
Avocado plant growing outdoors
My fiancé and I have other plants on our deck as well. As you can see from the photo below, we also have:
cherry/assorted tomatoes in the back row
a couple of kale
a few snow-peas
and 2 gooseberries
I’m looking forward to the day that we can finally have vegetables to eat from our little garden.