In many places on the internet, my username (when it’s not Nicole) is “iheartmuseums”. Back when I was trying to go with something a little more personal but not my actual name, I figured.. well, this is pretty accurate! Despite all the other things I’m into, I’m a museum lover for life. I’ve had a few people wonder recently about my username and what it is I love so much about museums, so I figured this irregularly scheduled TILT can be about that!
(I’m just going to pepper this post with some of my fave museum pics from the large Flickr set I have, to make it not a giant wall of text!)
I grew up in a rural town not near any large cities with museums. I was lucky enough to travel each summer to Sydney with my mum and/or grandmother, and would frequently visit the Australian Museum and the Powerhouse Museum. It was astonishing and awe-inspiring for a kid like me who grew up watching all the Attenborough docs she could to be able to walk around institutions like those and see the collections and research and exhibitions all around me and realize there were people doing this as their jobs and their careers.
As I got older I traveled to Sydney each year less and less. My connection with museums waned. It wasn’t until my last (or second last?) year of high school that it sparked again. My ancient history class took a field trip to Brisbane (about a 5 hour drive from where I lived!) to visit the Antiquities Museum at the University of Queensland, as well as the Anthropology Museum at the same campus, and also the Queensland Museum. I remembered that same wonder and awe, being surrounded by objects and information and stories.
A few years later, I ended up attending the University of Queensland. In my first semester as an anthropology/archaeology student, we visited both the museums I’d been to back in high school and I had this weird feeling. Not (just) of deja vu and realization that hey, I was back in these places, but also that I belonged there. That finally I’d decided to study something and be in a place where I could engage with museums not just as a visitor but as a student, a theorist, a collection manager, and… well, and a nerd.
Sure, you say. I get excited about museums. But why do I heart them?? Hold your breath.. There’s quite a few reasons. Starting with that physical feeling – being surrounded by the architecture of museums, the large gallery spaces, the historic buildings and the enormity of that. The interesting and necessary research being done behind the scenes. Being in exhibitions that show you the history of a place or of a people. Learning things outside your limited experience of the world. Expanding your understanding of the world and how that can positively impact your respect of the environment, animals and people living in it. The beauty of objects, natural or made by humans (or even sometimes animals).
What draws me in most of all is objects. This really reached out to me during my studies, and shaped my interest and focus on museums and material culture. Objects have such power and history and information and stories contained in them. Every little thing about a piece in a museum’s collection says something. Be it a stone tool from Africa, a fossil from China, a textile from India.. Where did it come from, what is it made of, who made it? When you look at the texture of it, you think about how it came to be. What was it used for? Natural history specimens tell a whole story of their own, not being made by humans – but their origin and genetics are key; a lot of research is done looking at museum collections over many years to see the narrative of the change of species and their environments. There are quite a few museums with specimens of extinct species, which as objects are full of information and history. Looking at a Dodo in Oxford was something that sparked a lot of things for me.
Nothing drives me more as a museum visitor and as an enthusiast than fascinating objects and how they connect me to the world. When I’m working in a collection, I’ll always crave finding out more through the databases and object history files. When I’m in a gallery, I’ll always seek out interpretive information. Objects have stories – some of them short, long, interesting, simple – and museums go a long way to sharing those stories. I love that, and I love museums.
See as I’ve been traveling/living abroad since 2007, there’s a few things I miss not just about home, but also my first ‘home away from home’, London. Getting a bit nostalgic today for things & places that I can’t have with me here in Toronto.
Beaches. Not that there’s no beaches in the UK or here in Canada. But I miss those beautiful sandy Pacific beaches! This is Avalon Beach in North Sydney, where I spent many summers as a kid. Things only get better as you go north up the coast into Northern NSW and Queensland, too!
I miss the stuff I packed up & left in boxes with my mum. Books, records and comics. And awesome art like this gorgeous museum sketch by artist Phil Jimenez.
There’s tasty things I miss. I seriously was so in love with these tofu bites, it’s like they were laced with something addictive. Last time I was in London I ate a whole package riding transit back to my friend’s place.
And wonderful Australian vegan treats like these cruelty-free versions of Tim Tams and Mint Slices! omg.
And never mind all of the sweet, tart, amazing ciders that I used to have access to living in England. And drinking my fair share at the Green Man pub in Central London!
But I don’t have to be far away from some things I love to miss them. While I still bake for fun and treats, I do sometimes miss the fun of making delicious vegan (and some gluten free) treats like I used to at a certain board game cafe. I was proud of my work, even when I was undervalued for my contributions. Like, c’mon. Check out these donuts, man!!
Hello! Here’s an excuse to share cute pictures of Jake putting up with the gaming we do. Poor tortured soul.
Then there was that one time he just gave up and slept on the shelf.
But sometimes he comes to conventions with us!
In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, it’s great to see discussions online already. The wonderful organization White Ribbon here in Canada led an International Women’s Day Town Hall discussion on Twitter, which talks about all of the intermingling issues such as healthy vs toxic masculinity, violence against women, feminism and sexism. I love the work they’re doing – take a read of this short piece on Men’s Roles and Feminism to see just one of the reasons why. This is all pushing my brain to write something up for IWD this Sunday.
I love this website designed to seamlessly loop a variety of ‘white noise’ in various flavours, however you wanna mix them. I’m finding it’s really helping with my ability to focus and relax during a work day, and I’ve even tried the timer fade out in the app, which is awesome for calming my brain at the end of the day when i’m trying to sleep. Right now I’m enjoying some waves, fire and a touch of singing bowl.
I can sincerely say that I never thought I’d be this in love with the Gilmore Girls. So far this year I’ve ripped through 3 and a bit seasons of it on Netflix, and while it’s not perfect, it’s still a gem. Positive female characters, looking at all the different kinds of people women can be, how making mistakes is a part of growing up, and (the biggest thing for me) showing a mother/daughter relationship like Rory & Lorelai, are all rich parts of the show.
My new sweats! I fucking LOVE them. So comfy. I got in on the black-on-black action so I can be sneakily sweary at all times wearing them. Hahahaha.
As a lovely coincidence, today is my 13th vegan anniversary! Being vegan is one of the things I love most, and I never look back or question it. By now it’d be kinda weird to be any other way, it feels. For me, for the planet, for the animals, for the delicious food. And yes, for the super powers.
I mentioned it earlier in the week, but my love for Sleater-Kinney is all-encompassing right now and especially for this animated Bob’s Burgers video for A New Wave.
Trivia and related things are something I really love, and also museums – recently I got to combine going to a museum and a scavenger hunt, and it was super fun! We did the “Murder at the ROM” scavenger hunt organized by Urban Capers (not associated with the museum). It was great. I knew my way around pretty well which helped, but we ended up tying for 2nd place! Sigh. Here’s a couple of pics I Instagrammed on the day.
I love becoming more active and being a contributor to the board game community! I’m hoping to keep it up and get to BGGcon to meet some of the folks I am chatting with online a lot too. For now, I’ve been writing a bit for the Daily Worker Placement, and also chiming in for the Spooning Meeples round tables and it’s been good fun.
I don’t love that Parks & Recreation is over, but I did like the way it all wrapped up. A nice send-off. The cast was on Late Night with Seth Meyers which was pretty fun, and they had a little singalong (below) along with some general chats about the finale (here and here).
A good while ago, I asked friends on Facebook to send me their suggestions for great podcasts to listen to. I got a huge, fantastic response that really boosted by list of podcasts subscribed to in BeyondPod. Because I don’t have a commute to speak of, I really only get to listen to podcasts while I’m out walking Jake, or while I cook (our Sony bluetooth speaker has been so helpful for this!). I still have podcasts that I’ve added that I haven’t made much of a dent in (In Our Time) or started at all (Welcome To Night Vale – yes, I know!!! I’ll get there..) but there have been enough that I’ve added that I’ve enjoyed, in addition to what I was already listening to. This is a handful of my ‘goes to the top of my playlist’ podcasts. They’re kinda all over the place, but maybe you’ll find something to love, too!
NPR’s Planet Money / Freakonomics – I’ve kinda lumped these together because they’re both pretty interesting (and on the shorter side) podcasts about broad economic topics. I really enjoyed recent stuff like discussing how no ‘free appetizer’ like bread or tortilla chips is really free when you dine out, or the way the NBA salary system works.
NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour – Along with the associated blog, PCHH is a show all about pop culture offerings like TV, movies, books, music et al. There’s regulars, plus they pull in other NPR folks as guests often which really helps keep the discussion and perspective fresh and fun. Usually they’ll have a broad topic to discuss that can encompass any number of pop culture formats, they’ll often have quizzes (like trying to guess clips of regrettably awful tv shows, or all about Batman comics), and they wrap up with What’s Making Us Happy, which I always love!
99% Invisible – I’ve not yet been bored by this fantastic, bite-sized podcast all about design. From urban ruins, to how uniforms are worn in baseball, to the history of hijacking.. this really encompasses everything about how design touches our lives in many ways.
Good Job Brain – This is really up there as maybe my favourite podcasts. A group of four friends who love going to pub trivia nights decided to start a trivia podcast of their own. Most of the episodes have a theme (for instance, the 90s, board games, cheating and stealing) and every handful of episodes is an ‘all-quiz bonanza’ where each host will pick topics of their choosing to talk about/quiz co-hosts about. Fun times, offbeat trivia, laughs! It’s got it all.
The Dice Tower & Ludology – Again, I’m lumping a couple of similarly-themed podcasts together for ease. The Dice Tower is a fairly general show about board games – reviews, discussions, top 10 lists themed to stuff like best children’s game or best worker placement game etc. There’s also segments from contributors that are generally on the interesting side too (although I admit there’s a few that I will skip every so often). If you’re even casually into the hobby, I think this is a good, well-rounded podcast to check out. Ludology (part of the ‘Dice Tower Network’ of podcasts) would be something I’d recommend for people already well into the hobby – they discuss a lot about game design, game theory, the development of gaming etc. Thoroughly nerdy and wonderful – I support them on Patreon!
Star Talk Radio – Who doesn’t like to hear Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about space?! He’s got a comedian co-host each week, and Neil answers listener questions about all sorts of things. It’s always interesting and very wonderful. SPACE!!!
On top of these, I have so many more in my queue that are just such a huge volume of output that I can’t keep up, or else I haven’t really gotten as much enjoyment out of them as I thought I might. Just to begin with, there’s Snap Judgement, This American Life (yes, I know, I’m the worst person in the world), NPR’s Ask Me Another, Stuff You Should Know, How to do Everything, Stuff You Missed In History Class.. even falling back on keeping up with the Nerdist podcast of late. I tend to cherry pick from all these ones because they’re great when I go in fairly sure I’ll be interested in the topic/who’s being interviewed etc. But they’re all terrific, and you should check them out too if you have more time to listen to podcasts than you know what to do with 🙂 Get your ears ready!
It’s clear that I’ve been rubbish at the catching up on blogging since the move/new job, but I remembered it’s Thursday before 10pm, so here’s this week’s TILT!!
I had ’em for dinner last night and MeShell over at Vegan in Your City has been posting about them.. I LOVE TACOS SO MUCH. Handheld satchels of goodness. It reminds me, I really gotta make Jackfruit ‘pulled pork’ for tacos again soon. I love tacos almost as much as GIR does..
Moving along on the food-related vein, I love that one of my favourite bakeries in Toronto now has a Kensington Market location! I swung by last night and picked up a box of goodies to celebrate their closeness to me now. Butter tarts, mini-pies, and a delicious muffin that I shared for breakfast this morning. Mmmm. Now what they need is some killer espresso machine action and seats on that patio space!
I love that I have a 4 day weekend coming up! That I have no plans or commitments for! So much chilling out, pottering in the apartment finishing settling in, hopefully getting out into the sun with Adam and Jake when we are all free together. Plus seeing some movies and hopefully finally finishing Orange is the New Black!
That’s what’s making me happy this week.. which reminds me, it should be time for a new Pop Culture Happy Hour episode soon – they wrap up each episode with a segment called “what’s making me happy this week” which is always lovely, and usually full of great recommendations for tv, music, books & comic books! Check it out.