Love On A Budget: Cheap Date Ideas For Minimum Wage Earners (And Penny Pinchers)

Eloisa Jane Mariano is a first-year bachelor of public relations student at Humber College.

Ever wanted to go on a cute date with your significant other and realized you have pretty much no money? Or wanted to go out and do something fun with your friends, and screamed in horror when you looked into your wallet? Personally for myself, I always want every date with my boyfriend, Michael, to be special and different each time. Unfortunately, I can’t afford fancy dinners or trips that are deserving of him. I also don’t want him to be completely bored and spend hours deciding what we should do. So if you’re in the same situation where you either earn minimum wage or have a bit of a budget, what can you do to ensure a memorable and fun time with your special someone or best friend? Here are 10 fun (and cheap) date ideas that your significant other is sure to love.

  • Cooking: Not only does this put your teamwork skills to the test, but it also takes care of dinner (or breakfast… or lunch) too! Grocery shopping is usually cheaper than buying a three-course meal at a fancy restaurant, especially when you probably own most of the ingredients anyway. You can make grocery shopping fun by creating a scavenger hunt out of it, and either agree to split the bill or the “loser” of the scavenger hunt covers the bill (or washes the dishes). Another fun idea is to create a make-believe cooking show and document the production of your meal as well as the results!
  • Watching Old Cartoons or Movies: Contrary to the whole “Netflix and chill” notion, the idea of staying in and watching movies all day actually makes for a great date. This is especially true when it’s raining outside or you both had a tiring day at work. Watching each other’s favourite childhood cartoon or movie can bring back waves of nostalgia, and who better to share that with than your significant other? Disney marathon anyone?
  • Adventure Time: While you won’t be travelling to distant lands, you can be sure that the fun will never end when you go on mini trips in your town or city. Be tourists together and visit the great attractions and parks. Beaches and parks are free, and picnics are super easy to assemble! Show your loved one a whole new world with all your favourite places (or with places you haven’t been to before!)

  • Skating: Skating allows you to literally fall for each other, but know that you’ll have that someone to help you get back up on your feet. This has always been my go-to first date idea because it gives you an excuse to hold hands. This is even cuter if you are both horrible skaters, because it gives you more of a reason to hold onto each other. Enjoy the simplicity and magic behind hand holding and have fun trying not to fall!
  • Play House in Ikea: Ikea is probably the best date to go on if you’re both silly and have an open mind. Michael and I went to Ikea for breakfast (only $1 for a plate with eggs, sausage and potato cubes) and then marvelled at all that Ikea had to offer. They have showrooms with all their furniture.. perfect settings to play house in. After, we enjoyed hot dogs (75 cents each) and $1 ice cream cones.
  • Just Dance Party: This is a great idea for those who already own the game and console, and it’s a date idea that you can use every now and then. I get so competitive for this; it’s a little embarrassing but relationships are all about being yourself with someone who loves your little quirks right? Dancing is so much fun, and creating a little friendly competition always adds more excitement.
  • Build something: Building things together is another test of your teamwork abilities, and it’s always nice knowing that the two of you created something pretty cool! Winter seems to be the best time to build things such as snowmen, snow forts and gingerbread houses!
  • Arts and Crafts: Get creative with your loved one and hit the Dollar Store! Michael and I love making cards for our family and friends, and all the materials needed are found right at our local dollar store! Another craft that you can learn together is the art of origami, which only requires paper, your hands and patience. You can also find tons of DIY projects that cost less than $5 on Pinterest!

  • Museum: If you’ve read my previous post, I’ve mentioned about the Royal Ontario Museum. The ROM is free to post-secondary students every Tuesday with a valid student ID card. The museum has tons of interesting things to look at, and makes for a great date filled with appreciation for art and history. I would recommend eating beforehand as the prices in there tend to be on the pricey side!
  • Hiking and Biking: If the both of you have a love for nature and physical activity, then a visit to your local park for a day of hiking or biking would be perfect! Earl Bales Park has been a big part of my life, as I’ve had many of my family parties there as a child. I remember my cousins and I would go hiking, and nothing beat all the wonderful things we saw— from the animals to the amazing view of the gardens! There is also a pathway around the park for anyone with bikes or rollerblades to go through. Definitely bring some spare change for the ice cream truck when it stops by! At the end of the day, you can sit on the ski lift hill and enjoy a beautiful sunset together.

Remember it’s not the money you spent, but the time you spend that really counts! Having a memorable date doesn’t require loads of money, but perhaps an open mind, a craving for adventure and some creativity! Even if you’re single, give these ideas a try with your friends or even on your own! (who said taking yourself out is a bad thing?) Let me know in the comments below if you try any of these dates out! What are your go-to places for dates? 


“Feminist” is not a bad word

There’s a weird paradox in many people when it comes to believing in something. On one hand, we whole-heartedly reaffirm and reiterate the points and opinions of the people who agree with us. We excitedly nod and say “God, yes,” all the while brimming with anticipation to share our own views with those who see it our way.

On the other hand, when among a crowd that thinks differently, it’s not such a fun time. Depending on how they are, you might just want to avoid stupid conflict. You might care immensely about what they think of you. Or, the word you use to identify with your cause might have been tarnished by misguided zealots. Thanks a lot.

Here’s where that final scenario applies: feminism, the asinine, deplorable belief that two genders should be treated equally by all and have a mutual respect for one another. Ha! Crazy.

Negative portrayals of feminism have run rampant through society for a very long time. Change scares people, and those who are comfy in the seat they’re in don’t want to consider other ideals. The opposition works tirelessly to smear this reputation so they can continue to stagnate in their beliefs.

But of course, it’s not some good against evil battle. This is real life, and there are plenty of reasons why the word “feminism” can automatically rub someone the wrong way. Sometimes people are just plain intimidated by a cause. It becomes a delicate balance, and the way one should teach someone about a cause should mirror the way everything is taught: start off small. You don’t teach math by jumping straight into quadratics. Sell ideals by telling the audience how they benefit from this. However, becoming frustrated when someone doesn’t immediately see what you’re seeing is a dangerously easy ditch to fall into.

These things and others all add up to the widely-held belief that feminists are all man-hating bra-burning lesbians. That’s become the go-to image for the apathetic citizen, and that’s the image that people against feminism want them to see.

Because of this, some people look around the room really quick before informing you they believe in gender equality. Being firm in your belief, yet having to hastily explain yourself is no way to be. Worse still, people will publicly announce they support all items present on the feminist agenda, and then claim not to be a feminist. Yeah, okay buddy. You live on earth and require oxygen and all that, but you’re not like, a carbon based lifeform or anything.

I’ve been through this. I had a (shamefully lengthy) point in time where I believed we were treated completely equally, and that women who complained about it were just whiny uptight girls. See that? See how that stereotype was a reality to me? Don’t do societies, kids.

Yes, I thought catcalls were compliments and that there was absolutely nothing wrong and that gender issues magically based themselves on nothing, I guess. I know why people have these ideas. While it sure is easy for me to point at nothing and exclaim “SOCIETY’S FAULT!” we have to remember that we are society. It does not exist without us. There are people behind these negative statements and detrimental ideas, so many real living people who have to worry about family and who love their pets and really would just like some time to relax. They’re not evil, they just don’t know or don’t care. That’s what they were raised on. David Wong, executive editor of Cracked, writes that “Nobody involved in a conflict thinks they’re the villain,” and the things David Wong writes are the realest things I’ve ever read. This idea is no different.

So, y’know, we are the future, break this terrible cycle, etc. You’ve heard these motivational go-get ’em things before. While being the change is a very nice thing to aspire to, it’s ultimately just your goal. Thats like motivating someone to climb Everest with “Get to the top!” That’s the idea, but like, rationing and climbing equipment and stuff.

It has to start with acceptance. You’re not supporting your cause if you don’t say it audibly and confidently. Being okay with yourself and this thing together is step one, and there is no physical way to skip step one.

So have you taken that first step yet? Do you have glorious ideas about how to shape the world for the better? Still too nervous to admit it to others? That’s okay if you are, though. I was too.

Tabitha Summerhayes is a full-time PR student at Humber College.

Noise from the basement: a producer’s untold story


By David Troya-Alvarez | music content writer | DamageControl7Media | April 12, 2015 

Electronic music production is an art form.

Synths, bass lines, and drum kicks. To the average music enthusiast, the different types of sounds you hear from a song are heard simultaneously with no regard to the smaller details that go into any form of music production. However, behind the scenes there are hours, days, and even weeks at a time spent creating any given song, as well as the untold story of the general struggles of being an underground producer. Every chart-topping producer and basement producer has gone through the struggles of being in the music industry. From the creative process, to the final mastering of their tracks, and everything in between, there is a story to be told with how they developed each sound.

This is one story.

Figure 1: 5MUT in his basement studio. Follow him on SoundCloud for exclusive releases –

From an early age, my siblings and I were classically trained on the piano. Our love of music began relatively early, and we would play recitals and concerts across the province. However, due to time constrictions as we each grew older, we could no longer continue with lessons and our love for music was left to whatever we learned over the years of lessons. Despite this, the passion for music continued to develop within the mind of my brother, Danny. From the age of 17, Danny began to experiment with FL Studios, an introductory software for music production. Little did he know, that his short sound loops would just mark the beginning for what has become a full-time ordeal to develop his on sound, and own stage persona known as “5MUT.

Long are the days of using his mother’s computer and introductory software to produce music. Now his equipment has expanded to using Logic Pro X software on his MacBook Pro, which contains a massive sound library known as Komplete Ultimate 9 by Native Instruments. These sounds get imported to a Maschine sequencer to sample drum loops, which in return get exported back to the software and out to the Yamaha HS80M speakers that fill the basement with noise. The final result leaves him with thousDSC06419ands of dollars of equipment that he has at his disposal to develop his own music productions. However, these tools are only the beginning of what becomes a wave of creative bubbles, moments of frustration, and immense satisfaction after finishing a track.

Like many other artists, the creative process is an ongoing wave of trying different sounds to produce something that works for their own intents and purposes. But what many music listeners don’t see is the ongoing thought process of what each sound makes a producer feel and how they managed to achieve any individual sound. Producers dissect individual sounds from each song they hear and use these sounds as inspiration to develop their own. A producer is left with having to go through thousands of different samples in their sound library and then emulate an idea in their mind, which is much easier said than done. Hours after hours are spent putting together a combination of sounds at different octaves, filters, and sound modulation. Loops are changed, synths are added, and drum progressions are developed to create hundreds of individual sounds that are laid out in a chaotic yet organized structure.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 11.11.10 PM
Figure 2: Take a listen to Scream Louder! – 5MUT

Now I know to many people these production terms may come off as a completely different language. However the end goal for many of these producers is very simple: to create an auditory experience for themselves, as well as their listeners. Like any form of art, be that musical, dance, or visual masterpieces, a producer communicates their own emotion with the audience by attempting to get them into the same mindset as they had while creating their art form.

For many producers trying to make it, there is no greater feeling than seeing reactions to their music online, or at a show they’re performing, or even their own family who listens to the sounds echo throughout the house. Most basement producers and DJs just want to be heard and could care less if they get money from their passionate hobby. They want you to have a musical experience, which makes their tough, long, and intense production process very worth it.

I ask you as a reader to continue to support your up-and-coming producers who are simply trying to share with the world their passion for music just the way my brother began his: with software, and a dream.

Who are your favourite basement producers? If you have any, please share their content in the comments section below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                                                       

David Troya-Alvarez

10403929_10152841526928574_7852095747435131359_oDavid is an electronic music enthusiast with pride in his city. His passion for music has led him to explore all genre variations of the electronic dance music world. While trained as a classical musician, his interests in music go far beyond harmonic and melodic structure, as they focus into the next generation of electronic productions that are evolving day after day.

Streaming Services: The “Saviour” of the Music Industry

Streaming Services: the “saviour” of the music industry

Rick Henriques is a first year public relations student at Humber College. Henriques’ interests include pop culture, music and radio.

The Internet has created a cyberspace in which pirating a song requires nothing more than a couple of clicks and a few keystrokes. In a world where everything is turning digital, it is no surprise that CDs are on the verge of becoming obsolete.

Don’t report me to the authorities, but as a student I’m not necessarily the first person to be legally purchasing my music. If I have an iTunes gift card I have no problem paying for music; otherwise, I’m sticking to SoundCloud and Youtube

According to Nielsen SoundScan, physical album sales in 2014 have marked as the lowest year since 1991 with a 14.9 per cent decline in sales from the previous year. “Sales have been going in the wrong direction all year,” says an anonymous record label executive. “I guess it’s overdue, when you look at the growth of streaming.”

digital  and physical album sales
A chart comparing the decline of both digital and physical album sales within the past seven years. 

Fortunately, streaming services have arrived to save the music industry. In 2014 alone, the total number of streams rose 54 per cent to 164 billion songs. In comparison, CD sales have declined by 47.9 million units. However, CDs account for a larger royalty as opposed to a streamed song; nevertheless, streaming has not even reached its peak yet, with an expected growth of 400 per cent within the next three years.

As someone who aspires to work in the music industry, knowing that streaming services are saving the music business.

Streaming services are separated into three categories:

Statutory: A service with a fixed number of streams; however, statutory services are subject to federal regulations. An example of this is Pandora Radio.

Ad-based: A streaming service that generates its revenue from advertisements. YouTube and VEVO are prime examples.

Subscription: Streaming services which require a monthly subscription; these services are free of federal regulation. Both Spotify and Beats Music are examples of a subscription streaming service.

Pharrel Williams, Happy, Spotify
Pharrel Williams’ single “Happy” received over 10 million streams in one week on Spotify. 

The profits are measured on streaming services via the average revenue per user (ARPU). As of now, digital broadcasters pay differing royalty rates, depending on whether the audience controls the content or not. For an interactive service, such as Spotify, the royalties are contracted privately with the record label. Otherwise, they are considered non-interactive services and the royalties are divided by SoundExchange. Fifty per cent of the streaming profit goes to the record label, 45 per cent to the featured artist and the remaining five percent is the cut that SoundExchange takes for its services.

With the rise of a cheaper, more accessible service to download music, the ARPU of iTunes dropped to $1.90 per month from $4.30. To contrast, Spotify’s ARPU is $3.40 per month.

beats music, dr dre, interscope, jimmy lovine
Beats Music was co-founded by rapper and hip hop producer Dr. Dre and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine. 

With this information, it comes as no surprise that Apple has recently closed a $3 billion deal to obtain Beats Music and Beats Electronics in an attempt to remain a key market player in the music industry.

However, not everybody is a fan of streaming. Taylor Swift refuses to have her music published on an “experimental website” like Spotify, due to the insignificant profit she would receive of her “life’s work” compared to physical album sales.

taylor swift, best selling
Taylor Swift remains one of the top female artist in terms of sales.

This decision is understandable for Swift, considering her last three albums have sold over a million in their opening week. As an artist who made history during a 14-year deficit in her respective industry, it is a smart move on her part.

The prominence of streaming services has made record charts such as Billboard and Official UK Charts to count streams, as well as single and album sales towards rankings.

What is your opinion regarding streaming services?

The Internet: saviour of the music industry?

By David Troya-Alvarez | Music Content Writer | DamageControl7Media | March 24, 2015

 CDs are dead.music_art_best-374776

To many this is no longer a shock, but the reality is that we live in a digital world and are further pushing ourselves away from content we can physically touch. There was once a time when music would have to be obtained exclusively from a record store, in which you would have to physically travel to and from the store, browse through all the different available records, and finally purchase a record, sometimes without even being able to hear it until you got home to see if you even like it. Now, anyone can download an entire album within minutes, browse through content rapidly to see if they even enjoy it, and finally be able to have thousands of songs on devices smaller than a wallet. However, piracy has been one of biggest issues in the music industry as record labels are finding it difficult to generate sales due to a majority of their content being posted online for free from pirate websites. With that being said, how can we save the already suffering music industry?

Now I know what you’re thinking. There is no denying the fact of the ever-growing problem of piracy has made us forget about spending around $10 on an album, and instead we can now download virtually anything for free just by doing a quick search. However, the Internet has managed to create something worth more than physical sales, and has instead created hype. Our society focuses on viral content that gets shared rapidly to millions across the world, and the music industry has caught on.

Figure 1: Album cover of Drake’s 4th mixtape – “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late” – 2015 – Click to listen on Spotify

One of the more recent examples of Internet hype is the latest release of Toronto’s very own, Drake. Dubbed as a mix tape, Drake released “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late” this past February through iTunes with no prior announcement. The result? The Web went wild with everyone trying to get their hands on the new release and ultimately resulted in 495,000 sold copies in only three days. In addition, the album managed to achieve several accolades such as being number one on the US Billboard 200 list, as well as number one in Canadian Albums (Billboard). On top of all of that, Drake managed to chart 14 songs simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100; a record that was unmatched for 51 years by the Beatles.

So what does this prove? This stunt proved that a physical release does not hold as much value as hype due to the fact that you can’t actually buy hype. Hype is word of mouth, or a shock factor that goes against a normal practice, and Drake managed to do just that. By using the Internet to his advantage, Drake managed to capitalize on spontaneity, and also by the fact that no one had a copy to pirate online yet, which resulted in massive sales upon the initial release of the album.

Now to many already established artists, this stunt can be fantastic as it has been for Drake. However, for new artists this can be a nightmare due to the massive costs of creating their own professional productions, as well as the overwhelming amounts of competition from already established artists. So, how can the Internet increase the exposure for those trying to make a name for themselves as artists?

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 10.05.58 PM
Figure 2: Deadmau5 tweeting that he got paid $800,000 for a DJ set at Ultra Music Festival 2014 in Miami – CLICK FOR MORE

In the electronic dance music world, music producers have managed to capitalize on the fact that anyone can make music. Producers such as Nicky Romero, Martin Garrix, Avicci and even Toronto’s very own Deadmau5 have managed to become known worldwide by originally creating their first productions from software available for free online. FL Studios, which is a music production software, has been major entry point for many of these producers, and many of them managed to release chart-smashing songs that were created in their own bedroom. For them, sharing their content online has managed to grab the attention of record labels and has resulted in their ongoing success as DJ’s and producers in the music industry. Some producers, such as Griz, have stuck to only releasing music online for free, and relying on shows to generate their income. Now this may seem like a bold move, but many producers play countless shows around and get paid anywhere from several hundred thousand to over a million dollars for a DJ set. To believe some of these artists were simply people just like you and me making some beats in their bedroom for fun.

Now I’m not saying that the Internet is a permanent solution to solving all of the music industry’s problems. However, the Internet is merely a gateway for allowing artists to share their content fast by creating online hype, and for new artists to share their new projects to potential audiences all over the world.

So the question remains, is the music industry failing because of the fact that we can find anything on the Internet for free? Or is the music industry growing due to fact that content can be shared online.

Please share your comments below!



David Troya-Alvarez

10403929_10152841526928574_7852095747435131359_oDavid is an electronic music enthusiast with pride in his city. His passion for music has led him to explore all genre variations of the electronic dance music world. While trained as a classical musician, his interests in music go far beyond harmonic and melodic structure, as they focus into the next generation of electronic productions that are evolving day after day.

Who are “indies” and why are they responsible for your favourite smash hits?

Rick Henriques is a first year public relations student at Humber College. Henriques’ interests include pop culture, music and radio.

“Radio sells records. Period,” says Grammy Award winning American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis. Music reaches more people every week through radio than any other medium; American census reveals that over 92 per cent of all US consumers listen to the radio every week making it the most widely spread advertising and promotional tool in existence today, surpassing magazines, TV and the Internet.

With these numbers in mind, it is no surprise that all gold or platinum-certified singles and albums have had success on the radio. Evidently, music promoters and radio stations work hand in hand to create success for the music industry and it’s artists.

Katy Perry, Pop Music, Radio, Billboard, Record
A video still from Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” which dominated the U.S Charts for 46 weeks – which resulted in a world record.

Record labels and radio stations work together to create superstars and achieve platinum albums. But how do certain smash hits dominate the radio without prevalence? Take for example, Magic’s “Rude.”

Perhaps the reason for this is a loophole surrounding payola. Payola is the illegal practice of payment or bribery by record labels in exchange for the broadcast of music on the radio in which is presented as part of the regular day’s broadcast. Essentially, it is a pay for play scenario.

A radio station may accept money in exchange for airplay; however, the plays must be disclosed as sponsored on the air and it cannot be counted towards regular airplay. Of course, a record label would have no problem financing their own artists to the top of the charts, but business isn’t always fair.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment has faced lots of heat for using payola to support artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Avril Lavigne and Maroon 5.

Jennifer Lopez, Billboard Music Award, Icon Award
Jennifer Lopez’s famous track, “I’m Real” owes its success to payola.

But if payola is illegal, how are hits receiving such massive airplay? Record labels, needing to promote their artists, of course, hire independent record promoters, also known as indies. The job of an indie is to get the songs that their clients, record labels, want on the playlists of radio stations across the country. Indies are the third-party loophole for record labels to avoid payola.

An indie approaches a radio station manager or owner and offers an annual payment between $75,000 to $100,000 per year for promotional support, as well as giving the station money, gift cards, prepaid visas, vacations or gifts of other forms.

Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass, Radio, Viral, Top 40
A video still from Meghan Trainor’s viral single, “All About That Bass”, which brought made her an instant sensation for Top 40 radio.

In exchange, the radio station adds songs the indie recommends to their playlists. The indie then contacts the record label to notify them of the agreement with the station and charges the record label $1,000 fee for every song the indie recommends to the station. For major singles, record labels pay indies anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000.

Thus unravels the mystery behind hits that just seem to never get off the radio. “Uptown Funk!”, “Take Me To Church”, “Fancy” and many other great records all have something in common. They were all catchy hits that seem to have exploded to the top of the charts out of nowhere.

Personally, I admire the impact that independent record promoters have in both the radio and music industry; however, I do not believe that the use of payola or indies is ethical. The music industry has already taken a hit in profits during the digital age due to pirating, not to mention that the industry has deteriorated its relationship with music junkies through extreme lawsuits. Both indies and payola further the disconnect trust between music lovers and the respective industries.

Can you think of any other top hits that might have had a nudge to reach the top of the charts? Leave a comment below!

The domino effect in mental health

Priya Maini is a blogger who is an avid supporter of mental health. She is spreading the word about Progress Place Rehabilitation Centre to gain additional funding for the centre in hopes for them to assist more people in stabilizing their mental health.

We all go through the same 365 days in a year, but do we all live each day the same? Some days will be filled with infinite laughter and joyful fun while other days can be filled with endless tears and negativity consuming our minds. Sometimes these bad days can last for weeks and later you may realize that you’ve felt this way for months. When you’ve reached that point, it becomes a state that takes over your mind and affects your thoughts, actions and ability to function.

It all starts off so simple – one thing goes wrong in life and the next thing you know, everything else following it is just bringing you down. Picture an array of dominos. The first one is tipped and from there all the other dominos proceed to fall down in sequence. The next thing you know, all of them have fallen and it is no longer an array of dominos, yet just a big mess and pieces have fallen everywhere. Just like that, your mental health can be triggered very easily from something very simple. Once an occurrence and its impact has consumed your mind, it sticks around in your life for days, weeks, or even months, affecting you in many aspects and bringing you down.

Progress Place is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals of all ages who are suffering because of their mental health. They are dedicated to bringing people back on track with their distinct model they established which helps individuals find their own unique path to recovery.

Reasons why Progress Place is phenomenal:

1 – Offers hope, respect, and opportunities for personal development

2 – Gives an opportunity to build new friendships, obtain employment, housing, social recreation and an opportunity to build on education all in a welcoming and accessible environment
3 – Helps people stay out of hospitals, achieve their goals, and contribute to their community

Through hard times in ones life, gaining support is crucial because it sets the individual on the right path to get their life back on track. We all know there is a stigma attached to mental health, but places like Progress Place make it possible for an individual to easily walk in and get help in turning their life around if their mental health is triggered.

Their website,, has testimonies from members which state that they have had a life-changing experience.

“The amount of independence and freedom Progress Place has given me is incredible. I’m grateful beyond belief to have such a warm, non-judgmental place to come to.”

— Yael, Progress Place member

“Progress Place has given me far more confidence than I’ve ever had in my life. It’s an amazing place and I don’t know what I would do without it.”

— Steven, Progress Place member

I now ask you to reflect on your life and the lives of your close friends and family members. But first, let us consider the facts:

• In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem.

• By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, one in two have – or have had – a mental illness.

Given this, it is certain you know someone who is or has suffered from a mental illness. Although they may not have opened up about it, the change in their actions is a silent cry for help. In the comments below, tell us your story or the story of your loved one who has suffered and how they approached their road to recovery.

You can help people suffering today by donating right now to Progress Place and helping youth, adults and seniors obtain assistance in bringing their lives back on track. Every donation counts as every donation goes towards giving support and a lifeline to men, women and children in need.

What happened to the art of note passing?


Daniel Schneider is a professor in the bachelor of public relations program at Humber College. He enjoys sailing, longboarding and strong espresso. When playing Kahoot!, he goes under the alias, Sam Manella.

Note passing is a dying art. For the millennial of the digital age who might not have truly experienced the act of note passing, I will take you back to my teen-tween years as a student in the mid-1980s. During class, we would write a note on a scrap piece of paper (usually something quite unrelated to the learning outcomes of the day), fold it and pass it to a friend. If we were unfortunate enough to get caught, we were asked to share it with the entire class. “I’m so happy that Johnny and Becky are hitting it off,” the teacher said. “Now I will see you in detention.”

What happened to the art of note passing? It went digital; the scrap of paper was replaced by the iPhone, and messages are constantly passed through texting, instant messaging and even live streaming. It’s common knowledge in the teaching profession that digital technology in the classroom is an enormous distraction and challenge, because we need to jump through hoops to keep the students’ attention. For the most part, when the technology has the ability to bring communities together from all corners of the Earth in real-time, it has ironically made this generation feel disconnected.

At Humber College, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has identified an opportunity to integrate this digital technology into the learning experience. We could tap into a world of games, apps and interactive platforms all for the purpose of education. Furthermore, it provides a medium that students understand. CTL is doing a research study to identify how effective it is as a teaching tool. Firstly, does it help students to engage in the curriculum in an enjoyable way? And secondly, does it help them to learn anything?

As part of my Teaching Excellence Program (TEP) training, I sat in on the classes of two exemplary faculty from the bachelor of public relations program, Lydia Boyko and Anne Marie Males. I specifically observed their use of the digital platform, Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a polling tool. Basically, the professor projects a question onto the large screen, and the students must log in on their mobile device to answer them. As part of the entire package, there is upbeat game-show music, a time limit for each question, a gong when the time is up and even an element of competition. However, if you’re topping the chart one minute, you can just as easily get bumped the next. That’s showbiz kid, or better yet, that’s Kahoot! From my experience, class engagement is 100 percent every time; I’ve never seen anything like it.

Lydia used Kahoot! to engage students in a test review for her class in marketing communications. Test reviews are a challenge to make interesting at the best of times, but she managed to create informative questions that spark memory, understanding, application, analysis, evaluation and even some creation. Her quiz served every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which will lead to the heart of this essay.


Anne Marie used Kahoot! for a different purpose; she is a program co-ordinator always looking for ways to serve the students better. In her internal communications class, she related the exercise to team building by asking questions like, “How long is your daily commute to school? How many hours do you work a week? How did you learn about our program?” These questions are pertinent to understanding the needs of our students so that we can create a more tailored curriculum and maintain a personalized connection with them. That addresses the second point of this article, the importance of creating a community in the classroom.

Something that I have been struggling with lately is how to get students to engage in more analytical and applied knowledge. They remember information; they understand it well, but they struggle to relate prior knowledge to new learning and to real-life situations. So, if we look at Bloom’s hierarchy, the students are strong on the first two levels, but how can I encourage them to move up the ladder? How can I get them to build on the information they are taught? How can I get them to be the creators of information? One answer is digital technology, and I’ve been using it.

The students know digital technology more than most of their professors do, and I’m OK with that. It empowers them when they can teach me a thing or two; that creates a higher order of learning. Furthermore, let’s look at the skills they are developing when engaging in a game of Kahoot!; in a multiple-choice survey, for instance, they are comparing and contrasting, weighing possibilities, exercising judgement and working as a team. When there is a time limit for each question, it forces the students to think quickly and rely on instinct. But most of all, when we learn in a state of play, our guard is down; we are more relaxed and our creative channels are open to the free flow of information.

The platform is doing exactly what digital technology was meant for us to do (before we lost that personal connection); it’s bringing us together as a community. When we see our pet names (or pet’s names) posted in the top five, we not only feel a sense of accomplishment, but we are connecting with everyone else in the classroom in real-time. It is a true online and offline experience all wrapped into one; we can’t distinguish where the virtual world begins and where the physical world ends.

There is an opportunity for class discussion between each question. I might ask, “Why is A correct and B incorrect? Why did you feel that the answer is all of the above?” I’ve even told the students, “You were actually very correct answering B; it’s just that A is a better answer in this particular context.” Sometimes on Kahoot! the questions can be a little black and white, but it opens the opportunity to discuss the grey areas. Somehow during a fun activity like Kahoot!, people are open to contributing ideas.

As for the note passing, I must confess that I feel a sense of nostalgia and a longing to bring it back old-school style. We could even turn it into a game of Kahoot!-gone-hardcopy. But, I will have the students create the rules themselves; it will make for a stronger learning experience.

As for Johnny and Becky, I wish them my very best in their new relationship. And I hope those who endured many hours of detention have finally seen the error of their ways. Now, I turn this discussion over to my fellow colleagues out there, “How do you engage your students?”

How to draw in three steps using problem-based learning

Daniel Schneider is a professor at Humber College’s School of Media Studies in the bachelor of public relations program. He teaches brands how to get their positive message into the press. Daniel loves contemporary art, sailing, longboarding and strong espresso.


Letter of Intent

As part of my Teaching Excellence Program (TEP) training at Humber, I had the opportunity to observe two exemplary professors: Lydia Boyko, bachelor of public relations, and Bernie Aron, bachelor of paralegal studies.

In Lydia Boyko’s class, Writing Lab 5, we learned about the art and craft of speech writing. In Bernie Aron’s Administrative Law class, he covered conflict resolution related to a real-life court case.

After observing both classes, a burning question that came to mind is how can we effectively teach students creativity, instinct and judgement? Whether we are writing a president’s speech or resolving a dispute, these skills are key in the problem-solving process.

What I learned from Lydia and Bernie is the importance of leading through example. Students can see what solutions have been done in the past, what has been successful and what hasn’t worked, and eventually the skills naturally absorb through osmosis.

After studying problem-based learning at TEP, I was inspired to explore this topic further on how students can acquire skills in creativity, instinct and judgement. Reflecting on my former experience in art education, I will springboard into a blog post called:

How to draw in three steps using problem-based learning

If stick figures are your style, you are in good company with some famous icons such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Yes, you too can learn how to draw.

When I studied visual arts at graduate school, we were always taught that the learning begins after we graduate; we were taught how to teach ourselves. After all, artmaking is about tapping into our own personal creativity, not that of our teacher. So, our advisors were always very careful to ask the right questions and guide us, but not tell us the correct answer.

In art, there are no answers; there are no rules, except for the ones that we create for ourselves. We can look to the past, see what has been done successfully and what has been praised in the history of art, but then we have to go on our own personal journey which could last a lifetime.

Now, I titled this post as a three-steps process; the only caveat is that it doesn’t always need to be done in this exact order. You might go to step one, jump to step three, revert back to step two, revisit step one again and so on. In any case, let’s let the creative process begin.

1. Getting started: Define the problem or goal

Amount of time required: 10 minutes to 99 years

I spent a lot of time trying to find a solution in which I hadn’t clearly defined my goal. My advisors in grad school asked me, “What are you trying to draw?” Unfortunately, the visuals were not always so apparent. I was driven to abstract art, particularly the abstract expressionists of the 1950s such as Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Willem de Kooning.

My faculty advisors simply helped me to ask the right questions. Have you tried looking at the work of this artist or that artist? Have you tried working larger? Have you tried drawing with both hands? They asked the questions to help me pinpoint what I was specifically trying to achieve.

Along with defining our own problem, we have the opportunity to write our own rules and set our own parameters. I might choose to stay within a certain size, format or medium. Or perhaps I might design a three-step layering process that must be performed in a specific sequence. When there are no rules in art, we need to create our own structure and order.

2. Learn from example: Identify what has worked well in the past

Amount of time required: one day to life

I constantly look at the work of other artists in textbooks, at exhibitions and believe it or not, even on Pinterest. What can we learn from the work of others? Cy Twombly taught me about the action and strength in a gestural line. Betty Goodwin taught me how to draw an anonymous figure with great simplicity. Barnett Newman taught me how sometimes all we need is one stripe to express 1,000 words.  And this is the “osmosis” part of the creative process, when ideas just sink in.

Sometimes I’ll come up with a new drawing style, and maybe it came from somewhere. Or, perhaps it came from several sources. Somehow when we look at enough examples, the solution residually filters through.

3. Experiment: Learning should be like playing in a sandbox

Amount of time required: unlimited

You wouldn’t believe the stuff I’ve tried over the past 20 years in the name of creativity. I’ve drawn with everything from oil stick and lipstick to peat moss and Earl Grey tea. Thankfully I have found my profound direction with pen and ink. The creative process requires an element of play. How can I get more action and speed into a line? How can I get the ink to spatter just so? What happens if I run an ink line through a wet patch? In the end, I’m really the only one who can decide what works successfully and what doesn’t.

This post was written as much for the teachers out there, as it is for the budding artists.

How can we teach students creativity? In the letter of intent above, I spoke of my visit to the classes of Lydia Boyko and Bernie Aron. For instance, let’s take a closer look at Lydia’s speech-writing class. How can we teach students to create a lively lead paragraph, decide on what information to include and what to leave out, or weave the words in a continuous flow? By showing us exemplary samples, including Michelle Obama’s famous speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Lydia let us experience Obama’s natural flow of words that so effortlessly rolled off her tongue. Then Lydia assigned us to write a one-minute introduction about a classmate. It was interactive, and for many students it was our first introduction.

I understand that this is not specifically problem-based learning, but for these students, this is when the learning begins.

And now the learning will continue for the students after the course is complete, and they will need to teach themselves. Eventually, they will set up their own goals, ask their own questions and develop their own solutions. Whether we are learning to draw, write a speech, cook or play music, the creative process is a long and rewarding journey.

Even Bernie’s lesson on conflict resolution is a creative process. He presents the students with two sides of a debate, some facts and parameters, and they need to develop a solution so that both parties win.

In TEP, our lesson on problem-based learning really resonated for me, because this is the foundation of how we can teach ourselves through experience. Lydia and Bernie have given their students the tools to self-learn. And when we get stumped, just ask the Oracle.

There is a great online tutorial on how to play the guitar. Apparently, it only takes three steps; I just might give it a try.

And so, I turn this over to you; what will you teach yourself?

Follow me on Twitter @damagecontrol7 and look out for my next blog post on how to manage your students on a field trip.

Shattering the EDM stereotype

There will always be the fair share of people who are “haters” of the EDM scene and all of the stereotypes that are tied to it. You have the repetitive beats, the crazy mainstream music, the overly intense diehard rave fans, and to top it off, the only dance move anyone ever did to it was the annoying “fist pump.”

For as long as I could remember, electronic dance music (EDM) had always been something that I wasn’t really a huge fan of. As a matter of fact, I actually really hated it. At the time, I could have honestly said that the only type of people who enjoyed EDM were people who probably didn’t know what good music was. Of course I knew that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, but hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion right?

In spite of this all, it’s crazy how one really great experience can completely change your perspective.

My sister and I have always been really close and whenever one of us gains a new interest, it’s inevitable for the other to gain interest in it as well. One day, my sister told me about new found interest in EDM. Knowing my thoughts about it, you can probably guess that I was far from happy. Soon half of our iTunes library was full of EDM and whenever I’d ask her to play music, that’s all that she would play. I honestly couldn’t see myself getting into it like she did.

I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. In the summer of 2014, I agreed to let her take me to my first EDM rave event at the Guvernment (Guv) downtown. Although the club has now closed down, Guv 2.0 is now in the process of being built at the Sound Academy. Guv had always been known as the EDM club. I had no idea what to expect, but all I knew was that it could either go really great or really horribly.


While in the lineup, I was surrounded by these diehard rave fans who were already fist pumping before even getting into the club! All I could think to myself was, “What did I get myself into?” I didn’t want to let my sister down, but I really couldn’t see myself enjoying the night.

Once we finally got in, it wasn’t what I expected it to be. It actually looked like a lot of fun. There was just so much going on that I was intrigued. There were lightshows; the music was bumping, people dancing, and people genuinely having a good time.

I guess I didn’t really give the music a chance before since I knew what my views were towards it. It was crazy how many people were there to simply just enjoy the music. Just looking around, you could see people with their arms around their best friend, their sister, or their significant other, just swaying back and forth singing in unison to whatever song was playing. It felt like everyone in that moment was connected. It was a pretty amazing feeling. I actually felt sad that I didn’t know the lyrics to join in.

The different styles of music surprised me. I always thought that EDM was this annoying, repetitive sound that everyone always stereotyped it to be, but I had no idea that it had so many sub-genres within it. You have techno, deep house, trap, trance, and so much more. Guv had different rooms, each playing a specific sub-genre so that you didn’t have to be trapped listening to just one type.

The music had some type of spell over me, like I couldn’t sit down even if I wanted to. I couldn’t help but want to dance! The only thing was that I didn’t know how to dance to it. I didn’t want to be the person to fist pump after knowing how much I despised those who did. After looking around, I noticed people jamming to this style of dance that I’ve never seen before. I could definitely tell it was its own genre of dance although everyone dancing it had their own style to it. I later found out that the dance was referred to as “shuffling” or “cutting shapes.” I was amazed that people danced to EDM, like actually danced. All these people looked like they were having so much fun, I was determined to learn how to do it right away. Even the people who didn’t know how to shuffle didn’t care. No one cared if they looked stupid or didn’t know how to dance. Everyone could tell that everyone was having a great time, and no one judged anyone for it.

These diehard rave fans that used to annoy me so much were actually a few of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. Compared to any club that I’ve ever been to, everyone’s so welcoming and open to meeting new friends. I don’t think I saw one fight happen that entire night. These are people who all have this same interest of EDM and are coming together to enjoy it. I could honestly say that it was one of the most fun nights of my life.

Fast forward to today, I love going to EDM rave events, I love the music, I love cutting shapes, I love the people, and I could honestly say that I love EDM.

It goes to show no one matter how strong your attitude may be towards something, there’s always a chance that one really great experience can ultimately change that for the better.

Have you ever had something you disliked but ended up surprisingly enjoying it after giving it a chance?


Niki Padua is a public relations advanced diploma student at Humber College. She will take any opportunity to dance when she can, will cook whatever is left in the kitchen, and is constantly craving for the beach and some sun.

Gym Myths vs. Facts – EXPOSED!

If you consider yourself an expert on all things fitness, then I have some disappointing news: all of those lose-weight-quick tips are LIES. 

Some myths have a sprinkle of truth, but could use some clarification. But how do we know what’s true and what isn’t? Here; I’ll show you.


MYTH 1: More sweat = more results

Many people wear long-sleeved shirts or warmer clothing to the gym to help them sweat more, thinking it will help them burn calories faster. Unfortunately, this is a MYTH. Your body sweats to cool itself down when it begins to heat up. If you wear more clothes to the gym to try and sweat more, you’re actually just wearing yourself out quicker.

FACT: Staying hydrated is the best way to stay energized and cool for your workout.


MYTH 2: Running on the treadmill is better for your joints than running outside

This is a common dispute between indoor and outdoor runners. Some argue that running on pavement puts more pressure on your joints and your knees will suffer in the future. Others make the same argument about treadmills. But which is true?

FACT: They both are. Since your knees get sore from holding the weight of your body, it’s best to do full-body workouts. By varying your routine and exercising your legs in other ways (such as using an elliptical or stationary bike) you’re taking the pressure off of your knees and distributing it evenly throughout your body.

Want to know more on the indoor vs. outdoor running controversy?


MYTH 3: Stretching after a workout helps you recover better

There actually isn’t any sufficient evidence that this is true at all. Stretching after a workout is good to help the body relax, but has not been proven to help you recover better.

FACT: Stretching before a workout helps to warm up your muscles and prevent them from tearing. The best way to recover from a workout is to stay hydrated before, during, and after.

Click here for the do’s and don’ts  of stretching.


MYTH 4: Swimming helps you loose weight

Although swimming is a good workout for your lungs and a handful of other muscles, it won’t help you lose many inches off your waist. Since the water is supporting your body and evenly distributing your weight, your muscles don’t need to work as hard.

FACT: Swimming is known to make people hungry, which may make a difference to people who are dieting or have eating plans.


MYTH 5: No pain no gain 

Feeling sore a day or two after a workout is totally normal, and is even a gomona-lisa-with-muscles-flexing-guns.jpgod thing. Feeling pain during a workout is a different story. If your body gets sore while participating in any physical activities, it means you’re doing something wrong or you already have some sort of injury.

FACT: Overworking your body while exercising is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. The best way to keep your body safe while doing any physical activities is to do what feels best at the time. NEVER try and match or duplicate the workout you did the previous day. The more you vary your routines, the better your results will be.


Do you have a workout myth you want debunked? Post your questions in the comments.


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About the Author: Hannah Cordi is a fitness enthusiast who spends her free time hitting the gym and looking for the best pump-up anthems. As a typical gym junkie, she is constantly pushing the limits and progressing to achieve her goals. You can catch Hannah at the Humber gym or drinking coffee and writing blog posts.

Mental Health in the F*uckboy Era

Sarah Scott is a current public relations advanced diploma student at Humber college.

What is a ‘f*ckboy’? You may be sighing to yourself right now saying, “Oh great, another Igenerational word”, praying and hoping that this word does not end up in Webster’s Dictionary next to ‘selfie’ and an emoji. And while I share the same sense of disappointment of the fall of the English language, I find myself concerned with the fact that these words are created for behaviours and actions that, as a species, never existed until now- at least not publicly. This word has been flooding my Facebook page, memes, Instagram and even popping out of my friends’ mouths as they explain some experience they recently had with a guy. But what exactly is it? Although Urban Dictionary has its own definition that holds some truth, they seemed to have missed the main point. A ‘f*ckboy’ seems to be a term commonly associated with the strangers or acquaintances you casually sleep with. The word is the very definition of itself- a boy you f*ck.


With websites and apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Grinder and Ashley Madison, casual sex and even cheating has never been so easy and readily available. With the swipe of a finger or a click of a button you can be connected to all the hot singles in your area. What a great invention, right? Wrong. Although the younger generation constantly seizes the opportunity to connect in new and more technologically advanced ways, I wonder how this new hookup-culture era affects our mental health and our ability to develop deep connections. How is a world of meaningless relationships truly going to affect the human race?

Don’t get me wrong, I can see the convenience of using a dating app to scroll through an infinitely large sample size of people to find your new fling. But I keep asking myself, is the convenience worth it? Is the instant gratification worth the sacrifice of not just physical but emotional intimacy?

It is important to remember that it is not the apps themselves that are to blame for our dating epidemic, but the mentality we have adopted in recent years. I truly believe the websites and apps would not have been created if there were not a demand for them.

Although it is natural for a woman to express herself sexually, the dangers she exposes herself to are not just that which can be rhymed off a STI factsheet but include emotional consequences we are only beginning to discover.

The first thing I have seen associated with ‘f*ckboy’ syndrome is shame. Despite the overwhelming amount of pro hook-up media messages and reassurance from friends that having a ‘f*ckboy’ is socially acceptable, some still can’t shake the feeling that what they are doing violates their standards and what they feel they deserve. As I sit back and listen to friends describe their latest sexual encounter, every story starts the same… “You will never believe what this ‘f*ckboy’ did.” “I had a lot of fun with this ‘f*ckboy I met last night.” No matter the context, my friends always describe them using this word. What really concerns me is the fact that many, if not all of them, never use ‘f*ckboy’s’ name. Now, I know that these men’s names don’t really matter, because the truth is most of these men will be gone from my friend’s life in a week or maybe even a month. However, the detachment they have from someone who they are sexually active with seems anything but healthy.

Side effects of these rendezvous’ such as shame, embarrassment and possibly regret have a major impact on self-esteem and overall wellbeing. Although the vicious cycle of wanting to obtain gratification and validation through casual sex may temporarily make you feel desirable and happy, there is evidence that suggests we are more likely to have depressive symptoms including loneliness post hook-up. Because, at the end of the day, casual sex will never give you the fulfillment and happiness a true connection or relationship can provide and at the end of a ‘f*ckboy’ day, you are, in every way, alone.

I am aware that this blog may be targeted on how the hook-up culture is affecting women but the truth is men are just as affected by this. Because despite the macho, social-gender norm that men love casual sex, the truth is it affects their psyche in the same way. All of this is a tell-tale sign that this new ‘f*ckboy’ era is catastrophic for our mental health and our species as a whole.

So next time you are tempted to fulfill your instant-gratification need by hooking up with a stranger or someone you refer to as ‘f*ckboy’ or ‘f*ckgirl’, ask yourself, do you really want to contribute to the death of human connection and intimacy as we know it?

Social Anxiety Killed The Teenager’s Social Life

My name is Khyla Golea, I am a student attending Humber ColleGE School of Media Studies and Information Technology. Do you know what sucks the most about social anxiety? For people who suffer from social anxiety, they could probably pull out a scroll of reasons why having social anxiety is horrible. It’s gotten to the point where sometimes, it feels like me getting ready for a speech and me preparing to jump out of a plane, give me the same unsettling feeling.  However that’s putting it to an extreme, sometimes its even riding the TTC gives not only me but other people that feeling. Social anxiety is hard to deal with.

Let me just tell you about the problems that come with social anxiety.  When you think of social anxiety, what do you think of? Probably people just being awkward right? Think of social anxiety as being an irrational fear of social situations. What sucks even more is the fact that social anxiety even has a scale to it, for example standing up in court is probably the most horrifying thing, or even everyday task like spending time with friends, can set off someones off.

We meet new people everyday, I mean going into public relations, I’ll probably meeting so many people, because that’s what PR professionals must do. But for someone who suffers from social anxiety, this is a problem.  Let me just say this now before people begin to assume, 

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social anxiety is more than just shyness or occasional nerves.  To be completely honest if someone does not suffer from this type of anxiety are they really going to be able to fully relate? What do you think  are the worse things about social anxiety?

Things About Social Anxiety That Suck:

Friends? New Friends? Believe me when I say, that making friends is a real struggle. People always say that, “Good friends are hard to find” but trust me with social anxiety they are REALLY hard to find.  Especially if people, try to stay away from social events.  Then when you finally have a good friend, you cling to them and that’s can also cause a mess.

Shopping is a lot different to people who have social anxiety compared to not shopping with anxiety.  Social anxiety does a really good job at making people feel incompetent.  Honestly when my social anxiety was really bad, I really did not remember how to function sometimes. Like trying to accomplish everyday task, was hard.  Buying groceries, I would make sure no one was in the aisle, and if someone was, I would wait till they leave or if I couldn’t find the product, I would leave without it because there was no way I was talking to someone.  If I finally got all my products, I would count my money multiple times, just to make sure I had the right amount money.

Golea 3

Getting Invited Anywhere By Anyone!Have you ever felt like the second best? Or felt like someone didn’t “REALLY” invite you, but because they invited all your friends (with the few you have) and they are all going. You’ve been invited because it’s too much of a hassle to personally invite everyone and that it was probably just easier for the host to press “send to all”

instead of type your name. You jump to these conclusions a lot, and because of that conclusion I say no, and I just stay home. ALL. THE. TIME.

But honestly the worse thing about social anxiety is when, since you never go to any social events or go out, people stop inviting you. It makes me feel that would rather just not waste their time with me or that all I’ll do is ruin their event with my shyness. It makes you feel even more isolate that you already do. The constant turning down of invitations makes people you were once close with think that you simply don’t want to be with them at all, which is really the opposite of what you wan to happen. With someone who use to suffer from social anxiety I can guarantee, this is the truth. My friends probably felt that I didn’t want to hang out, honestly I usually do but just couldn’t for no apparent reason.

I mean I could be wrong, but those things that my social anxiety use to control. Those four things are what you to ruin my social life. Enough about me now, tell me what your worse things about social anxiety are?