Friday, September 30

Stickers are the best incentive

Today marks a very important day in Jackie Doming history: I submitted my very first electoral vote.

And I even got a fun yellow sticker to prove it!

I filled out my ballot at the advance polling location inside of Winnipeg Square.  For those of you who are unaware, advancing polls are closing tomorrow at 8PM.  If you aren't quite sure where to vote and you know that you won't be able to vote on October 4th, this link will help you find out where to go.

Something that I found really great were these Future Voter Pledge Cards (and matching stickers), a certificate to give your children which encourages them to vote - once they're of age, of course.  I think that it's a fantastic method of advocating democratic practices to our youth.  When I was wee lass, I never had the opportunity to witness or really understand the voting process.  I hope for a better experience for our future generations.

At 57% in the 2007 provincial election, our voter turnout isn't too hot right now.  But, on the bright side, we can work towards improving these numbers and getting people to speak up, speak out and VoteAnyWay.

That was definitely the highlight of my day.  It probably sounds lame to some of you, but I honestly feel quite empowered.  I know that this may sound juvenile, but I feel grown up!

On a side note, please enjoy this picture of my delicious southwestern fried tofu sandwich from Mondragon's.  I scarfed it down yesterday on the way home from school and I feel the need to share with you guys how freaking tasty it was.  For all of you vegetarians and vegans out there, eat your heart out.

Thursday, September 29

Let's face it, David Carr's a genius

It's not every day that you get the chance to see all of the going-ons inside of one of the most successful American newspapers of all time.

Last Friday, I saw Page One - Inside The New York Times, a fly on the wall documentary about The New York Times and the newspaper industry. It highlights the negative impact that the Internet is creating on printed media, believing that all of our current technological advances may ultimately put the paper industry out of business.

I'm personally a tech enthusiast myself and I don't mind the digital lifestyle. However, it's still terrifying to consider that print media, something that society has adapted to almost instinctually, may someday soon become a thing of the past.

Tablets are taking over the market by storm and I really don't think there's much turning back at this point. Every tech giant wants a piece of the pie, after all. Competition is fierce, which is exactly why the printed paper industry is getting pushed to the wayside.

One can even argue that our newer alternative is a greener choice. However, there is much more to that argument than meets the eyes. Indeed, the cost of producing books on the environment does leave a significant carbon footprint behind. However, the mark an average eBook reader leaves is equivalent to the impact approximately 30-35 books would make. That's PER device, and some would say that it will eventually balance out by the time you've downloaded a few dozen books, but the debate remains.

Sorry for going off on a tangent there. I felt like that needed to be said.

On a lighter note, I would like to highlight my favourite part about the documentary. It goes by the name of David Carr.

The former cocaine addict slash single welfare-dependent parent definitely stole the show for me.  In the movie, he plays himself as a culture columnist for The New York Times. His unforgiving and honest journalistic approach is so refreshing. Although him and I are polar opposites, I would like to loosely emulate his no-BS demeanour one day.

Carr loves The New York Times. That being said, he basically cringes at the thought of adapting to the technological revolution. But again, if he wants to be successful in his industry, he realizes that it is something that he must learn to do.

As far as print media is concerned, I believe that all beauty must fade. There is a nostalgia that attaches itself to the act of laying out the morning paper next to your hot cup of joe. There will certainly be traditionalists that hold on to that last string of hope for printed news, and I personally hope that the string holds for as long as it can.

Those are my hopes, but we'll have to see how actual reality pans out.

Tuesday, September 27

Q: What inspires you?

It is strange to say that I'm feeling inspired to talk about inspiration?

I do have a sensible explanation as to why this thought is crossing my mind.  Really, I swear.

A routine class exercise is what provoked this whole ordeal.  I was sitting (very obediently) in my advertising class, listening to some examples of effective radio ads.  They were unique, entertaining and had some out-of-the-box ideas that just seemed to work.  I was thoroughly impressed.  But what I couldn't understand was how the heck these people came up with these concepts!

The question of creativity is lingering on my mind, and I just can't seem to shake it.  As both a writer and an artist, I find rare instances where I'm unexpectedly boinked by creative genius on the head.  However, 99.9% of the remaining time leaves me looking for sources of inspiration.

So my question is: where exactly do you draw your inspiration from?

Last week, I remember Lynn Coady mentioning that her fiction "comes from life", which is most definitely a vivid source to draw from.  She mentioned that her characters are often loosely based on people that she knows.  Hmm.

I often relay traits of my conjured up characters back to people that I know and have met in the past.  Sometimes this method works, but other times I feel like there is a missing dimension to the depth of my characters.

I do, however, appreciate lending life experiences to inspiration.  Each of us have gone through such private and intimate events at various capacities.  Whether it's an eating disorder or simply the order of how we eat, we each orchestrate our daily lives in a completely different way.

What I find difficult is how people get their thoughts and experiences to sound interesting.  Not just interesting, actually, but gripping - to write from life and create a piece that has people hanging onto every last word of it.  Now that is a talent that surely all of us would like to emulate.

There are times when I feel like some ideas are just so farfetched - but they end up becoming literary or artistic gold.  Take 'The Scream' by Edvard Munch, for example.

I feel like I'm beginning to scratch the surface of where creativity can be drawn, but I have a long way to go.  Whether it's a person, past experiences or even someone's writing that inspires you, I think that it's a good place to start - but where do you go from here?

Sunday, September 25

Get your shine on at the Shinerama Kegger!

I don't know if I'm generalizing when I say that beer brings people together.  However, I do stand by the fact that coming together for the greater good with the addition of beer in the vicinity is bound to be a good time.

Hey ladies!  LizCocoAllisonAlison and I decided to spend our Friday afternoon playing some flippy cup in ode to cystic fibrosis at the Shinerama Kegger held at Old Market Square.

To be honest, I wasn't quite clear on what Shinerama was all about when they were handing out invitations and stickers around campus.  I was personally more concerned with the mess that this paraphernalia was making.

Anyway, I had a loose understanding of where the proceeds were going, but I was interested in reading a little bit more on the history on the institution of Shinerama itself.

The internet is a genius invention.  In a few short minutes, I was able to pull up some striking information from the University of Manitoba's Shinerama 2011 website:
In the early 1960’s, less than one in five Canadian children born with Cystic Fibrosis would live to see their third birthday. Members of new charity at the time, the Cystic Fibrosis Canada, were determined to change that. They recognized the enthusiasm and passion that university students possessed, and decided to capitalize on these qualities. 

In 1964, Shinerama was born. At eight schools in Southern Ontario, student volunteers shined shoes to raise over $9,000 for Cystic Fibrosis research. 

In the forty-seven years that have passed since then, Shinerama has grown to be a nationwide movement. At over sixty-five universities and colleges, spanning from coast to coast, over 35,000 student volunteers shine shoes annually to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Canada. 

As the success of Shinerama has grown, so too has the quality of life for those suffering from CF. Today, the average lifespan of a patient suffering from Cystic Fibrosis is over forty years old, a far cry from the three-year-old mark that was a reality back in 1964. Nowadays, many people suffering from CF can grow up to attend university or college, get married, have a family, and realize their dreams. This is due to the medical advancements that have been made possible with fundraisers such as Shinerama. 

There is still, however, no cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Although advances have been made in the treatment and management of the disease, CF remains fatal. But there is hope. Each dollar raised from Shinerama brings us closer to a cure. 
I had no clue how widespread Shinerama was.  For this organization to have grown so much, with such a staggering amount of young people like us spreading their word, is awe striking.  I thought that this was an absolutely fantastic organization - but the coolest part about it was that so many young people were taking part in the festivities!

Old Market Square was filled with jovial rhapsody, eager volunteers and a bountiful amount of college students and folks from around the area.  I thought that it was a great opportunity to bring some people in the neighbourhood together to just have fun - while helping raise funds for a cure.

And fun we did have!  The man in the red sweater (can't recall his name) organized a highly competitive game of flippy cup, which was a great success.

I'm telling you, this game was pretty cut-throat.  Here, we see Liz anxiously waiting her turn.  The pressure was immense - but us CreCommers could take it.

In the end, our cups were turned over, our beer cans were empty and we walked away with a feeling of great satisfaction.  It was a fulfilling way to wrap up the end of a hectic week full of ad assignments, BiPole research and mock on-air editorials.

Shinerama, you've been good to us.

Until next year.

Thursday, September 22

Let us eat, drink and be merry!

Yesterday, I decided to meet with an old friend at the King's Head Pub.  This pub, the central hub for many CreComm gatherings, seemed like an appropriate place for such a rendezvous.  Why here?  Because she is very similar to my peers, in a sense that she is someone who inspires me to follow my dreams without inhibitions.

Erica will be leaving in twelve days to move to New Zealand for a year.  One entire year, all on her own, in a brand new country with a blank sheet of unforeseeable prospects.

She has no work transfer, nor a permanent place to stay for the time being.  She isn't unprepared, however - in fact, she has all of her affairs in order to get her foot in the door.  She's applied for her work visa, purchased a travel journal and has money set aside.

She has a few contacts, but is riding on the fact that she'll make new friends during her travels.  Thankfully, she won't have any problems doing so.  Erica is, by far, one of the friendliest and most outgoing people I know.  She's a gem to have around, which is probably why she's such a good friend of mine in the first place.  (What can I say, I pick 'em well.)

But I was still afraid.  I was scared for her, for my good friend to be taking such a huge leap without any guaranteed outcome or success.  Committing to something without having any idea where it might take you?  The thought simply horrifies me, but it didn't seem to phrase her at all.

In fact, she was as excited as ever.  I could tell by the twinkle in her eye that she knew exactly what she was getting herself into.  I mean, she's young, open to exploration and has nothing keeping her from crossing this great escapade off of her bucket list.

And then I ask myself: why shouldn't she go?  Although the experience may be one of the most nerve-racking commitments she's ever made, there is no reason not to be there.  Winnipeg will always be here, her home - but New Zealand has opportunity written all over it.

It's new people to meet, new places to see, and new stories to share.  And who knows what else she'll come across once she gets there.

I asked her what her goals were.  She replied by telling me that she wasn't quite sure, and that she didn't want to jump the gun by setting her expectations too high.  She wanted to live in the moment, let the path pave itself and she was willing to follow it, wherever it took her.  I smiled.

It's true, life really is about taking chances.  Whatever magnitude the decision may be: whether it's moving to a different country, applying for CreComm or trying out the King's Head's new dinner special.

I'm glad that I got to see Erica when I did.  I may not see her for a year, or maybe even longer for that matter.  But can I really be upset that's she leaving?  No - In fact, I am ecstatic on her behalf.  I can't wait to hear about her upcoming trip and all of the great things that she'll come across.  There's no guarantee that they'll happen right away, but for what it's worth, I'm sure something amazing will come out of her year-long adventure.

Cheers, to Erica!  May New Zealand treat you well.

Friday, September 16

Deep dish pizza, advice for young voters & a delicious cup of joe

As a reader of my blog, you will probably learn to cope with my consistent reinforcement on how much I adore living in The Exchange.  Not to sound repetitive, but there are just so many absolutely fantastic places to go, and I'm only starting to scrape the surface of what it has to offer.  Read on to hear about the continuation of my adventures in The District.

I spent my afternoon today hanging out with my fellow CreComm mates Cindy and Liz.  We met up with our good friend Mercy at The Line Up, a grab and go restaurant which, I feel, offers a very unique selection of menu items.  Their offerings include, but are not limited to, pitas, deep dish pizzas, fish & chips and noodle boxes.  I would definitely consider it a culinary "one stop shop."  Whatever you're in the mood for, it's more than likely that they have something for you.  On top of all that, it's decently priced, at less than $9.00 for any one entree.

I decided to order a deep dish pizza (with the exception of olives, because I truly believe that they are the devil in disguise).  The pizza was quite tasty, although the edges were a little too dry and crusty for my liking.  I've had the real deal back in Chicago this past summer, and although there is no comparing the two, I was pretty impressed by the amount of stuffing in the pie.  No disappointment here.  On a side note, their honey dill is also quite fantastic.

Mercy seemed to enjoy her ginormo-pita, as demonstrated below!

After class, I decided to take a quick detour and spend some time at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe.  I first ventured into their restaurant last week, enjoying a portobello mushroom sandwich, if I remember correctly.  Ah yes, that was it.  It contained chickpeas, mayo, tomato and Havarti cheese on a panini bun.  It was quite tasty, and I was surprised at how large the servings were.  I picked the potato salad as my side, and the dressing (which I figured was some sort of red wine vinaigrette mixed with herbs) hit the spot.  Nom nom!

Anyway, my experience at the cafe this week was more work/school oriented.  I decided to pick up a copy of the Winnipeg Free Press before taking on my assignments and I stumbled upon an article that caught my attention.

It was a piece written by Doug Speirs, one of the local figures featured in the VoteAnyWay project, a campaign designed to turn young voters on to politics.  His diddly for the YouTube video goes, "OK, young people, imagine you are really hungry, so you walk into a restaurant and the waiter politely asks if you'd like a menu, and you say 'No, don't bother, just bring me whatever you have lying around in the kitchen,' so the waiter goes away and a little while later he comes back and plops a cheeseburger in front of you, and you look at it and think: 'Yuck! I really don't want a cheeseburger!' Well, guess what young people, you are so out of luck."

This analogy refers to our youth's absenteeism in politics.  Doug mentions how enamoured we are with our toys and gadgets, and how we care more about conquering the next level in our video games versus giving two cents about how the government is spending our money.  I thought that this piece was an interesting read.  Embarrassingly enough, I have yet to vote (gasp) - at the ripe old age of 21.  I would hate to take the hypocritical road and waste my vote this time around, and after learning so much about politics during these past few weeks in CreComm, I have absolutely no reason not fill out my ballot.  I want my voice and my choices to matter, and I hope you do too.

And now, as I sit here enjoying a rich, delectable brownie and sip on a hot cup of cappuccino, I feel a small sense of pride, knowing just that.

Thursday, September 15

100 reasons are more than plenty

Charlene Diehl and Amanda Hope swept the CreComm stage today during our morning seminar.  Riling us up for the up-and-coming Winnipeg International Writers Festival, I found myself stumbling onto their website's listing of 100 reasons why you should attend their festival.

I thought that the idea of compiling this list together was pretty nifty.  Here are a few reasons that really spoke out to me:

THIN AIR is caffeine for the spirit.  I'm not a big coffee drinker myself, but the concept of energizing one's soul with literature sounds like a wicked and healthy alternative. I love being able to pick up a book and walk away from it with a new found perspective on things. 

THIN AIR is for readers & THIN AIR is for writers.  Not to sound corny (I clearly am), but I think that it's a beautiful connection when authors are reunited with their audiences.  To be able to see the awe in both the readers' and the writers' eyes is a really sentimental experience.  I love that this festival gives people the opportunity to meet their literary idols.  Speaking to this, I would die to meet David Nicholls one day, who ironically wrote One Day.

THIN AIR treats writers like royalty.  I definitely don't think that most writers get enough credit for their work.  Being a self-proclaimed writer myself, I think that being good enough for people to give two hoots about your work is a pretty big deal.  I look up to those who have persevered and kept on writing, even when there was every other reason not to.

THIN AIR is literally fantastic.  The double meaning here says it all.

After reflecting upon this list, I am little more excited to see what the festival is all about this year.

Wednesday, September 14

Goodbye @TIB0K, hello @jackiedoming!

These past couple of years, I have used Twitter for three main reasons: keeping in touch with friends, stalking following celebrities and saving myself from boredom while riding the big yellow limousine to work.  I would often tweet about my day-to-day life, which was usually quite mundane, but it saved me from the brink of virtual insanity.  One can only handle profile surfing on Facebook for so many hours, after all.


But alas, @TIB0K was not created in vain.  Today, I saw Twitter under a whole new light during Melanie Lee Lockhart's PR class.  Instead of fruitlessly devoting my time to Dear Girls Above Me or religiously observing Snooki's social feed, I realized that I could put this account to good use!

Introducing the new and improved @jackiedoming on Twitter.  I will be using my account to post news, talk about currents events and sometimes add my own personal zing to the mix.  And, although I plan on reforming my Twitter persona, I can't promise that I won't follow the occasional celebrity or two ..

Have fun while staying informed, I say!

Tuesday, September 13

Pleasant experience at the Peasant Cookery

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having an exquisite dining experience at the Peasant Cookery, a delectable French restaurant located in The Exchange District.

I'll start by saying that I am indeed a huge culinary enthusiast.  I jump at any opportunity to try out different foods from every corner of the world.  Being a vegetarian, it makes these experiences even more interesting.  Some people believe that this attribute would be prohibiting, but on the contrary!  I believe that vegetarianism often gives me no other option but to try different, unique things that I wouldn't normally consider otherwise.

Entering the Peasant Cookery, I honestly had no idea what to expect.  I heard good word about it from various sources (mostly word-of-mouth), but this was my first glimpse of what the restaurant served, how they physically appeared and what their general mood was like.  My only other run with a similar restaurant in the city was at Resto Gare in St. Boniface.  Impressed with their authenticity and personable staff, the bar of what I would consider French cuisine was set fairly high.

There was a distinctive mood set by the restaurant, probably associated with the clientele that they served.  There was a romantic and simplistic ambiance in the open dining area, adorned with short candles in the middle of every table, white tablecloths and wooden furniture at the booths, tables and bars.  The customers were generally groups of white-collared corporate folk, not to exclude the occasional duo/trio of dressed-down visitors and couples.  The layout of the restaurant was very open, with tall windows shining light upon the innards of the restaurant and offering a beautiful view of Old Market Square.  The furniture was very appropriate, although dated, but I believe that it contributed to the rustic French appeal that they were aiming for.

Now, to talk about the most obvious motive of our visit: the food.

Oftentimes, when heading to both midscale and upscale restaurants, the quality of their bread baskets simply doesn't shock and amaze.  I don't make too harsh of a judgement based solely on this portion of the meal, because it's unexpected for places to serve something outstanding before the appetizers and the main course.  The Peasant Cookery, however, surprised and delighted me with warm, gooey and fresh slices of bread, straight out of the oven.  I also noticed that everything that this restaurant concocts is made in-house, include their bread, right down to their mayonnaise.  I appreciate this fine detailing and the quality of their food truly reflects upon that.

We started off our meals with a very decadent French onion soup.  This appetizer was outrageously delicious, and I am not embellishing this fact.  The soup contained a flavourful broth, soaked croutons, caramelized onions and was served with a slice of melted Swiss cheese floating atop its surface.  The consistency of the cheese, the potency of the flavour and the scent (oh, the scent!) was just mouthwatering.  I don't think that I've ever tasted anything like it.

Our appetizers were only the introduction of what I would consider the start of a beautiful, long-lasting relationship between the Peasant Cookery and I.  Once the main dishes were served, I then realized that we made the right choice in visiting this little District gem.  I chose the aged cheddar gnocchi, something that I would like to dub little cheese balls from heaven.  These soft and spongey balls were served on a dish accompanied by sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, piquilla peppers and caramelized red onions.  The onions were cooked to perfection, and the flavours of both the cheese and the spinach were not too overpowering, nor were they bland, by any means.  Every element of this dish simply blended together harmonious.  Although the servings weren't overwhelming in size, I felt more than satisfied by the last mouthful.

Needless to say, we filled out the post-meal survey with enthusiastic feedback and compliments to the chef in regards to delicious servings.  I walked away from the Peasant Cookery feeling enchanted and I anticipate that we will be returning there sometime in the near future thanks to a successful first experience there.

The Peasant Cookery is only one of many scrumptious little finds in The District.  I can't wait to visit more places and tell you all about them.  In the meantime, please vicariously enjoy this French dining experience.  The final verdict: an infinite YUM!

Peasant Cookery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 8

Drumroll please!

Hello there, stranger.  Fancy seeing you here!

WHO:  I suppose that introductions are in order.  I'd like to start by offering my name, Jackie Doming, and I am the blogmaster of this domain.  Some of you may know me as your fellow Creative Communications colleague, and for those of you that don't, I'm a student at the Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I live in the heart of Downtown Winnipeg, conveniently located in The Exchange District.  And that's precisely what I'm going to be posting about - exactly how phenomenal it is to be living, eating and breathing in the most exciting part of this city!

WHAT:  During these upcoming weeks, months and beyond, you'll have the opportunity to follow me as I intimately explore The District and all of its hidden gems.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with what The Exchange District (a.k.a. The District, The Exchange) actually is, it's a national historic site which was originally associated with the Winnipeg Grain Exchange.  Since its inception in the late 1800s, it has undergone a dramatic facelift and is now known as one of the most happening cultural hotspots of Winnipeg.  It houses a plethora of speciality retailers, trendy restaurants, popular night clubs and so, so much more.

WHERE:  I am making a personal commitment to try to explore every nook and cranny that The Exchange has to offer (and hide!).  To be completely honest, I haven't taken full advantage of being so geographically close to this outstanding community.  There is so much culture, history and deliciousness (both artistically and food-wise) everywhere you go.  From now on, you'll be hearing about a wide variety of stories from all ends of the spectrum: interviews with the locals, restaurant reviews, fabulous fashion finds, events in Old Market Square, art exhibitions and whatever else is going on.  And there is always something happening in The Exchange.

WHEN:  You will be hearing from me on a weekly basis, if not more often.  This is preemptively telling you to stay tuned for future episodes of my Shenanigans in The District (this blog's official title, if you haven't noticed).  I would love for you to actively participate and share commentary on my findings.  Or better yet, you can certainly join me on these future escapades.  Now now, not all at once!

WHY:  Obligations aside, I think that exposure for this part of our city is so important in not only shaping peoples' perception of Winnipeg, but also building a sense of community and local pride.  So many great things are happening down in this niche of our great big town and the more people that know about it, the better!  The Exchange's tight-knit community is expanding at an exceptional rate, but every effort counts towards contributing to its growth.

I truly believe that it is my social responsibility, as an Exchange District resident and enthusiast, to share with you what it's all about.  I think that this'll be an interesting experience for both you and I.  So here goes nothing!