Here's Why You Should Hang Out With Strangers and Form a Band

You know you wanna rock...

Here's Why You Should Hang Out With Strangers and Form a Band

League of Rock |

Who doesn't love music? I know I've never met anyone who thought "Music? Nope." except maybe that jerk dad in Footloose, and frankly, he was sort of an asshole.  It's a universal language and humans respond to it on a primal level like no other stimuli. Even before babies are born they respond to music. Children learn effectively from it (hello, Schoolhouse Rock); teenagers lie to their parents and board trains headed for large cities to hear it (Ozzy; CNE Grandstands, 1987; good times), and then...and then? What about the adults? WHO WILL THINK OF THE GROWN UPS? 

League of Rock did. Because let's be honest - even if you're approaching "5mg of beta-blocker twice per day" age, you shouldn't be precluded from enjoying music at a grass-roots level. Your ability and desire to play guitar or drums or even a freaking tambourine doesn't magically disappear when you turn 35 - or 25, or 65, or even 105. If your walker and oxygen tank can make it up the ramp to the rehearsal studio, there is no reason you couldn't be part of a band and to be honest, a band name like "Horrifying Oxygen Tank Explosion" would be pretty kick ass and I'd sign up for that shit in a heartbeat. 

What they say is true: Get busy living, or get busy dying. There comes a point in life when you realize you have the same amount of track in front of you as you do behind you. While this doesn't mean the end is near, it does mean this: Stop fucking around and start enjoying yourself. If that means you miss playing hockey, join a league. If you want to learn another language so you can travel like a native, go back to night school. Want to knit organic unbleached clothing? BUY A GODDAMN ALAPACA, ALREADY.

League of Rock

On my way to our first live performance.

One of the biggest reasons I love League of Rock is because it's not like music lessons - although you will learn tons. It's not "sit down - read this - play this note - nope - do it again" in rote. You are learning in action and while I am a proponent of conventional lessons for skill building, I will also say that being part of a team - a band - of whom you knew no one eight weeks ago is a pretty good motivator to show up and do your best.

My past love was music but I never pursued it when I was younger. I thought that meant I was basically shit outta luck when it came to doing anything more than singing in the shower or at local karaoke nights. And I'll be clear: this isn't something I ever wanted to be my career. I'm a decent singer - not great, not terrible - and aspirations of fame were never in my mind then, nor are they now.

Tonight I head to the recording studio to work with industry professionals and my band mates to lay down our best track. In two weeks we perform live in a final showcase at the Hard Rock Cafe. To do this for myself has been an great gift - but to be part of a group of people all doing what they love is incredible and it feels absolutely incredible. 

You have a passion. Why aren't you pursuing it? 

 RELATED: The Story of How I Came to Own Leather Pants and a Tambourine


Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google

Lessons and advice for tweens, seniors, and everyone in-between, on internet safety

Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google

Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |

Can you imagine being born into a world before television existed or having a car wasn't common for the average family? And then living to experience all the technological advancements the modern digital world affords? Seventy years is not a big segment of time, historically speaking, and yet many seniors — like my own Grandmother — have lived across these two parallels. Contrast that with people born in the last two decades, and this is the only world they know. As these two demographics "come to age" in our tech-savvy world, I find myself being the cheese in a generational sandwich, now tasked with teaching web and tech safety to both my tween son, and my senior Grandmother.

For my Gramma, this can seem like the Brave New World her generation was warned about. It's important not to speak down to someone learning tech, no matter their age, no matter how frustrating it can become (and it can be frustrating at times). Any time I explain what "this button does" for what seems like the 314th time, I keep this in mind: My Grandparents lied about their ages to willingly join a war effort focused on saving the world and securing freedom.

I have an app on my phone that gets fried chicken delivered to my doorstep. 

Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |


My tween has an iPad and iPod, so texting rules are discussed often in our household. Being short on time and having two people to school in tech, I streamlined my approach and did the safety talk together. And really, you haven't lived until you've delivered the "no one wants to see dick picks" line to your grandmother. But it's important and it needed to be said. Also covered - no filming anyone without their expressed permission.

Browser Searches and Safety 

Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |

Let's just say that doing a browser search for "Golden Girls" doesn't always deliver video of our favourite gang of Miami-based retirees. Let's also say that talking porn with your Gramma is even less fun than a root canal from the new kid at dental college. I set safety searches on our browser at home for my son, but I also showed my grandmother how to do it should she want to save herself from certain images. (I've been checking her search history for kicks but so far it's all Matlock queries and apple recipes.) 

Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |


Cell phones

My Grandmother isn't a wanderer, although she does try to get away from us sometimes, but I think that's more a "get me away from these people" than a medical issue. But at any rate, with her cell phone, we feel good knowing she can call us (or anyone, including emergency services) for help. 

Fingerprint recognition technology is great for her, and she can access phone functionality quickly when she's in a hurry. And for my tween, it means one less password to remember in his world of everything requiring four digits, one capital letter, and a symbol. And speaking of passwords - both my Gramma and my tween are under strict orders to tell no one but me, their codes.

iPad and tablets 

 Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |

This is not meant at all to be derogatory commentary, nor a treatise on her intellect. My grandmother is incredibly intelligent with a knife-sharp wit and logical reasoning. She joined the Royal Air Force during WWII and chose that branch of the military specifically for this reason: "They let the girls wear pants." See? Ahead of her time. And yet, she is of the generation where even pants on women was unconventional. Teaching her to use a tablet was going to require all my patience. If I am not up to the task (and I know my limits), I will tell her to get on board with TELUS WISE Seniors, a free program for seniors who are online but still learning to navigate their wired world and let her know that she can even book a spot for an upcoming TELUS WISE Senior's workshop. My liver and my Gramma thank you, TELUS. And at the same time, I have a tween son entering the "tech" portion of his evolution. Could I teach the same basic premises to two completely different audiences? 

Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |

My pants-wearing, hammer-wielding, now-tech-savvy Gramma

I charged my phone, fired up the laptop, and poured myself a double. Here we go: 

First up was how keeping personal info private and secure in online interactions is critical, no matter how old you are or how tech savvy, your info can still be stolen. So while I'm tasked with teaching two completely different demographics, the same principles apply: Tween gets warned because his physical protection is my main priority, while I attempt to keep my Gramma safe from "we need your bank info "shysters. The only readily available financial currency my young son has at risk are Pokemon trading cards, whereas my elderly Grandmother could wind up putting my inheritance at risk. (And let me tell you, after explaining online porn to a 92 year-old, I have earned every penny.) 

Online shopping and Dating 

For my tween, the advice was simple: Don't. 

It was a bit more complicated when it came to the older portion of my "class." My Gramma is definitely single, or else we made a horrible mistake in a church yard a decade ago. In the case that she is ever looking to "mingle," I offer the same advice for online dating as I do for online shopping: Do it sober, and do not use a credit card offhandedly. I have a tortilla press, 14 shower curtains, and a mini trampoline to punctuate the importance of this point. Any online interaction requiring a credit card should be verified and reliable, as should potential dates. 

Social Media

Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |

If and when my tween joins social media platforms, he will be told to mark his accounts as private and he must follow me. If and when my Gramma chooses to participate in social media, I will also show her how to set her accounts to reasonable privacy settings. She will also be informed, in no uncertain terms, to never post anything that asks me "how my bladder infection is coming along." 

For both tween and senior participants of "Jeni Teaches Tech and Also Drinks Vodka Day," all attendees also learned about never posting harmful or potentially slanderous statuses, being kind, and not clicking suspicious links.

I wrapped up my lesson with advice that really anyone, in any setting, regardless of age, ability, or online capability: Think first, ask for help when you need it, and never, under any circumstances do a Google image search for "Golden Girls" without using safety setting filters.

 Adventures in Tech: Teaching Tweens Tweeting to Guiding Grandma at Google | YMCTech |


15 Kick Ass Rock n' Roll Names for Your Awesome Baby


15 Kick Ass Rock n' Roll Names for Your Awesome Baby

Rock and Roll Baby Names

Finding a suitable name for your baby can be an overwhelming task, and one that may come in second only to "push human infant from soft parts" in the pain factor. Everyone wants to weigh in, and you may even have pressure from family members to choose a traditional family favourite, like Ralph or Bumstead. (Sorry; NOPE.) 

Instead, why not start your new baby out with some edge? There are no pablum-flavoured names here in this list.

How about some good old fashioned kick-ass rock inspired baby names for the new addition to your family? Whether taken from a song lyric or after the musician themselves, these names are sure to set your kids apart in a room full of Aidans and Avas. 

No matter your baby's given name, follow standard naming protocol when it comes to assigning a moniker: Make sure it's something you feel comfortable shouting through a crowded space at a surly teenager. 

The list isn't divided along gender lines because rock 'n roll is about defying convention. Rock on!


Is there a stronger name than this? Only "Meathead McIron Shoulders" sounds stronger in my book. This name evokes a rock history starting with Angus Young, the quintessential rock guitarist and co-founder of AC/DC. 


From The Police song of the same name, this ballad to a sex worker...wait. Maybe move along, now. 


Lola is at once both soft and feminine and also hard-core. Lola is the prettiest girl in school who also secretly practices martial arts and has her fourth degree black belt. She smells like Noxema and Love's Baby Soft, but could rip your goddamn head off if you grab her ass in the hallway. Good on ya, Lola. 


Any child name Johnny — not John, not Jonathan, but JOHNNY — is either going to be a rock idol, or wake up in pools of vomit until his roadie friends stage an intervention. So while you're taking your chances with this name, there's still a 50% chance he's going to be a shooting star. 


Every single Jimmy I have known in real life will bring a tent to your BBQ party, where he will essentially live shirtless for a week following the festivities. In a word, Jimmy is awesome. 


Is there a cooler name? No. Will this child grow up to be a fierce rock 'n roll god? Maybe. Will an "Onyx" eventually start a small church/cult in an abandoned Baltimore factory where they will be worshipped for their vodka and Red Bull induced ramblings? Yes. 


As in "shine on you crazy."


Sweet and simple. The one 'L' spelling takes this not uncommon name a tinge off centre, and sets it apart from being too ordinary. It also dooms your child to a life of saying, "No. One L. Only ONE L, like in "like." ONE... Oh fuck it," to every Starbucks barista they ever encounter. 


I triple DOG dare you. COME ON; LIVE A LITTLE. 


Bowie or Marley - both awesome. 


The 1972 album Slider by T.Rex is a definite desert island album list, and deserves to have children named for it. Plus, Rex is short for a dinosaurs name and names ending in 'X' are strong and denote leadership. 


Plenty of names come from the cultural arts, like Story, Poem, etc. Clef is unusual but cool, and will likely be the only one in a kindergarten class. And, any child named Clef will grow up to thank his lucky stars his parents weren't math geeks like his buddy "Polygon's" parents. 


Mystical and alluring. Rubies are said to be the most precious of all 12 stones in some creation stories, this gemstone makes a fitting name for the beautiful gift of a child. (It's also said that rubies, when dropped into a pot of water, will cause it to boil instantly, so you know, the name is sweet for many reasons.) 


Queen is regal and strong and everything you want your child to be. The world should know how awesome they are and this name leaves little to the imagination. Imagine a resume with "Queen" at the top. That's a kid who's getting the job. 


Say this one out loud. Isn't it beautiful? It's... what's the word? Lyrical. A great name for a musical family or a child you'll live your musical hopes vicariously through.

RELATED: Is This the Most Ludicrous Baby Name Yet?