Sexual suppression in This Magazine

My first national magazine article, about the suppression of resident intimacy in Canada’s nursing homes, is in an upcoming issue of This magazine. A feature essay, at that!

For the record, I am proud to say that I now share company with Margaret Atwood, Naomi Klein, and Michael Ondaatje. Or, it might be more accurate to say, to be a housefly in Brobdingnag.

Fun fact: the original name of the article was “Sexual Suppression in Canada’s Nursing Homes.” I have to admit, with that name, that I probably wouldn’t have read it. Thank goodness for editors!

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Coastal Life Magazine: 2008 – 2012

I wanted to post this on the official website, but Joomla won’t let me. I’ll get it up there as soon as I can fend off the website gremlins.

Edit: The announcement is now on the Coastal Life home page.

Since 2008, Coastal Life magazine has been bringing the stories of Western Nova Scotia to a readership of thousands. We’ve featured tales of inspiration, heartache, community spirit, and history. Sadly, however, all things must come to an end. Tough economic times have taken their toll, and while our passion to tell our communities’ stories still remains, the truth is that a magazine cannot be run on goodwill alone. As a result, our publisher has made the decision to close the magazine.

To our readers: Coastal Life touched the lives of thousands of Nova Scotians, from the Annapolis Valley to Bridgewater, from Yarmouth to Halifax, and in faraway places. It was not an easy decision for us to decide to end the magazine. We hope that you have enjoyed our publication and strongly encourage you to continue seeking out stories from your region. There are still many more stories to find.

To our subscribers: No doubt many of you are wondering about the status of your subscriptions. Please rest assured that you can receive a full or partial refund based on how many issues you already received. You can contact us by phone, e-mail, or post. Contact information is available on our website.

To our advertisers: Please accept our sincerest thanks for supporting us over all these years. Coastal Life would not have been possible without your ongoing patronage. With your help, we brought to light many wonderful stories from our region, while also highlighting many small, independent businesses. You are the backbone of our communities, and we will miss working with you.

To our writers: Needless to say, Coastal Life would have been impossible without you. Through your hard work and dedication, we touched the hearts of readers all across this great province. We regret that we can no longer be an outlet for your stellar talents. We especially regret that the writers who contributed to the final issue, which never came to fruition, will not see their work appear in print. Chris, Katie, Monica, and Vincenzo: your stories are amazing, and we have no doubt that they will find homes elsewhere.

We’d also like to extend recognition to Allison Churchill, Murray Stenton, Karen Hipson, and everyone else who contributed to the magazine in various ways over the years.

While we were unable to continue the magazine, we are open to the possibility that someone else may. Anyone interested in purchasing the intellectual rights to Coastal Life, including its graphics and branding, is encouraged to contact our offices for more information.

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Plastic Surgeon Biographies

One of the most exciting aspects of my recent work has been writing biographies for plastic surgeons: to capture their patient care philosophy and personality in 500 words. Recently, I wrote bios for Paramjit Bajaj and Anureet Bajaj, a father-daughter team of plastic surgeons in OKC, and two of the classiest people I’ve ever talked to.

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Kosovar techno, Sahrawi pop, and the John Dillinger blues

I finished my long-running string of contracts with World Trade Press last week: a grand total of 305 articles over the course of 10 months! Here’s a quick breakdown of what I discovered about a few national music scenes:

Equatorial Guinea: The people living under this country’s authoritarian regime continue to practice tribal music and dancing rituals like the balélé and the ibanga. Hip-hop is huge in Malabo, although I can only wonder how dissident artists feel about the president’s son, who runs the nation’s only radio station and owns a hip-hop record label. I’m guessing that it’s probably the Spanish equivalent of “whack.”

French Guiana: Slave songs and indigenous rhythms form the musical backbone of this French territory, while Caribbean musicians, including French Guianan expats, are hitting it big.

Kosovo: Oh man, do these people ever love their techno. The country’s population is the youngest in Europe, so you’d better believe there are some awesome raves in the woods outside Pristina.

Macau: You can find every type of music in this former Portuguese colony and global tourist hotspot, but creole music typical of the 20th century is disappearing along with the language.

Western Sahara: Sahrawi musicians are all over the Internet, thanks in part to an active independence movement. There are lots of exciting artists from this dry, dusty corner of the world, including Spanish guitarists, R&B groups, and hip-hip musicians.

Blog posts for Strategic Edge last week included an article about new facial-recognition software (with a nod to bank robber and plastic-surgery-enthusiast John Dillinger), calls for tighter regulation on cosmetic produres in the UK, and targeting skin troubles with laser therapies!

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Weekly roundup: music scenes and plastic surgery

This is a new feature I’m going to try: posting links to my recent work, or at least offering some tidbits. Here’s hoping that this will motivate me to update more often! (Past experience says: not bloody likely.)

My country profile writing has moved into the realm of national music scenes, and last week I wrote articles on Montenegro and Turks and Caicos. The former has come a long way since the country became independent in 2006, with an annual hip-hop/rock/rap festival and a resurgence in South Slavic folk traditions. Turks and Caicos has a really cool genre called ripsaw music (video above) that uses a carpenter’s saw as a percussion instrument, and the territory has seen further fusions of local and regional styles, such as Combina and Junkanoo.

At Strategic Edge, I’ve been developing blog posts and writing web copy for plastic surgeons. Generally, I try to cover some contemporary issues in the industry along with general tips and consumer info.

Cosmetic Tourists Risk Strain, Infection, Malpractice

It’s not just weak regulatory regimes and lack of patient aftercare that cosmetic tourists have to contend with. Foreign diseases and the strain of travel are also leading to fatalities and complications that could be avoided closer to home.

Unqualified Plastic Surgeons Cause “Catastrophes on a Monthly Basis”

Should there be tighter regulations on cosmetic procedures? Many European countries are considering it.

6 Breast Augmentation Recovery Tips

Considering how many times a day I accidentally hurt myself as a result of my own clumsiness or ineptitude, I think I should start on the wound recovery diet. My wife agrees!

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Lost to the Sea wrapup

Research on the Lost to the Sea Memorial Project wraps up this month. We’ve assembled thousands of names of Yarmouth mariners and others who died in connection to the ocean, and it’s strange to think that the project is finally coming to an end. Next week it’s back to the online job market; wish me luck!

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Nose from the grindstone

The past couple of months have been very eventful, as my business has taken off, I’ve been married(!), my nights have been filled with frantic typing, and I’ve shamefully neglected my blog. I decided this evening to make sure that I make a brief appearance before WordPress officially lists me as deceased.

I’ve finished my Master’s thesis on tentativeness in the political thought of Hannah Arendt, and am defending it on Thursday. This weekend, I wrapped up the final details for a massive research project that I undertook for a particularly remarkable client.

I’m also closing the book on my work developing reports on the educational systems of various countries for World Trade Press, to begin a new project on the top industries in the top 100 world economies. As a web content copywriter at Strategic Edge Partners,  I continue to develop online copy for plastic and cosmetic surgeons’ blogs and websites.

More recently, I taken up a short-term contract with Diagonal Reports, an independent market research firm that develops in-depth studies on the beauty and wellness industries around the world. All of these jobs have offered me a remarkable window into worlds that I never considered.

On the local front, I’m one of the faces of Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Plug Into Savings campaign, working as a regional field team leader.

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Lessons from the school of hard knocks and hangups

Market research can be a lot of fun, especially if you can develop a rapport with interviewees and maintain a sense of good humour. It’s an abysmal slog when you hear the sound of a receiver clicking into its socket… 50 or 60 times.

I’ve learned over the past few days something that common sense should have told me weeks ago: if you’re doing a market research survey, never use the words “market,” “research,” or “survey.” These words are subconscious cues that compel anyone hearing them to hang up the phone without a second thought. They are poisonous.

I owe these insights to a client of mine who runs an independent market research firm and recently hired me to do interviews with owners, managers, and actors within a segment of the North American beauty industry. She told me that people respond very negatively to certain words because they are afraid of being pestered or bored, so you have to make it sound exciting and forward-thinking.

Now when someone picks up the phone, I say “I’m a freelance writer and I’m putting together a report on trends in your industry. I was wondering if you’d have time for an interview.” Lo and behold, two interviews materialized today, my work is finished, and I can take my daughter to her friends’ house for a visit without picking my fingers or fiddling with my Blackberry. How about that?

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The existential exuberance of Toopy and Binoo

I have a strong tendency to overanalyze my daughter’s cartoons. That being said, however, on occasion a television show’s subtext becomes so expansive that I cannot seem to think of anything else; and if it is perverse of me to contemplate the unsettling implications of a show that takes mudpies and finger paints as its subject matter, then so be it.

Because Toopy and Binoo is an existentialist fairy tale.

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What happens when sane people infiltrate a mental hospital?

In the early 1970s, eight sane people infiltrated 12 different mental hospitals with false symptoms. One was a psychology graduate student in his twenties, while the others were older and from varying professions (including a painter and a housewife). Three were women, five were men, and none had any prior history of psychological illness.

These “pseudopatients” complained of hearing voices and presented false names (and vocations, for those in psychological professions), but significant life events and relationships remained intact. Upon admittance, they stopped pretending to have abnormal symptoms. When asked, pseudopatients would claim to have no symptoms; they also acted friendly, took all directions, and pretended to take medication. They had no knowledge of when they would be released, since they would first have to convince staff that they were sane.

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