“…And you call yourself a fan??”

What constitutes “a fan”?

Is there room for levels of fandom, or does someone have to know the minutiae of a subject to be considered a fan?

I had a conversation with a friend at work this week about the Who. The Who are on tour right now, and will be performing in Toronto on April 26th; my friend was working on getting tickets (I won’t be going). I said, “Ooh, I love the Who! They’re great live! I saw them in 2002!” Later that day as I was leaving, she quizzed me about what album “The Real Me” was on. I thought about it for a minute, and then said quietly, “Umm…I don’t know…” Surprised, she said the Quadrophenia album, and then proceeded to jokingly denounce my supposed fandom of the Who.

Oops! I guess I didn’t know that! I am an embarrassment to my music blogging community on WordPress.

This made me think about it more critically: I know the Who’s repertoire for the most part. But, the truth is, aside from some obvious titles, I don’t know what songs are on what albums. Until I met my husband, I didn’t have any of the Who albums to listen to, I only had some of their hits on mixed tape. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t love their music. I even paid to see them live (Sept 28, 2002)!

who you

Rush is my favourite band. Do I own all their albums, and know what songs are on all those albums? The answer to that is no. I can hear it now: any self-respecting Rush fan worth their weight in Neil Pearts should know these things, right? They should own these things, right?? Forget the fact I have seen them three times in concert…


Then there is my love for Led Zeppelin. When I was a teen, I knew all their albums, remembered all the songs on those albums, OWNED all their albums…bought the t-shirt, bought the box set, bought the poster…you get the point. So does that qualify me as a fan?

ledzep meme

Really, you can look back into my music history, and very often you will find my spotty knowledge of music catalogues shining through. The prohibition of buying albums in my house growing up has something to do with it. However, I listened to the radio and watched music videos, so that’s how I developed my love for certain bands and music in general. And now, I am an adult making my own scratch, and can now buy music of my own freewill, if I so desire. But, after acquiring these albums and raising the bar on my knowledge base, would that finally make me a fan of a band, or is knowing the songs enough?

What I feel makes me a fan is the fact that the bands and music I like make me feel good inside. The music flourishes a desire to listen to more. That said, I don’t necessarily feel I need to know every single thing about a discography or collect everything that has ever been released to consider myself a fan of a band.

All this said, I have come to realize, what I think makes me a fan in my mind, may not be what others think makes me a fan…

What do you think? What does being “a fan” mean to you? Do you think you have to collect or know everything about a subject to be a fan of something? Let me know in the comments!

[For the Love of ‘Fee] A Word on Instant Coffee (and a Hack)

‘For the Love of ‘Fee’ is one coffee-lover’s attempt to machete through the tangle of coffee beans and brews to find an awesome cup of coffee. Juan Valdez follows ME! 🙂

Let me put this out there – in my opinion, instant coffee isn’t that great. I have not been its biggest fan since… forever! To me it tastes bitter. It can do a small tapdance on my tummy. And, frankly, it is no substitute for real brewed coffee. Yet, I still drink it.

I work on a college campus, and believe me, there is no lack of places to buy coffee; there is a Tim Hortons, a Starbucks, a Williams Coffee Pub, the student-run café that sells Lavazza coffee, Roasters coffee, the Second Cup…dude, the campus ain’t that big, but holy Toledo, there are places to buy coffee. It might seem simple to just buy a fresh cup of brew and be done. Sure, I’ll buy coffee on occasion, but it can add up!

Budgets being what they are, I bought myself a 4-cup coffee maker a few years ago and would brew my own coffee for a time in my office. But going on almost a year ago now, the department I work for relocated into a new building. Where the office is situated, there is no kitchenette with a sink close by where I would be able to clean out the carafe and throw away the grinds properly. So instead, I boil some water in my little kettle to make some instant coffee. Although a sink with running water is out of the question, I am not in a complete food desert – I have a drawer in my office where I keep dry condiments: salt, pepper, sugar, as well as tea bags, Coffee Mate, and of course, instant coffee. I do have access to fresh water, by way of a filling station around the corner from my office. And even though I have Coffee Mate (because there is no milk close by) and sugar that I use in my instant coffee, these condiments don’t seem to help to lose the bitter taste.


My usual practice: Boil water using a kettle. Place a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals in a cup. Add boiling water to crystals and stir. Then add sugar and Coffee Mate. Seems pretty common, right?

Earlier this week, I decided I had endured instant coffee as I have known it for the last time. I took to the internet to see if I could hack those crystals into a more palatable beverage. Some solutions were idiotic: “why don’t you quit instant and brew a pot of coffee?” Another site suggested I buy a higher quality instant coffee; now that solution would make sense in theory. My problem is that no matter what kind of instant coffee I have tried, they all seem to have a similar taste. Besides the fact there is nothing fancier for sale around here than Nescafe, Folgers and generic brand (Equate, Compliments, No Name…). In any case, I have resigned myself to hacking whatever crystals I have available.

So, thanks to some Googling around, the solution I came up with is as follows:

  • Boil fresh water.
  • Add a teaspoon full of crystals to your cup.
  • Add sugar and coffee mate* to the crystals.
  • THEN, add fresh water* (a little less than a quarter cup) to the dry mix in your cup and stir.
  • Add boiling water to the cup and stir.

Voila. Coffee!

Two things I noticed with this method: no strong smell and no bitter taste.

Why mix the dry ingredients first, then add liquid? Common sense: powder mixes better when you add liquid to it, not the other way around. Science!

Why add fresh water to the dry mix first? No reason, other than it works! I have read that boiling water is excellent for tea (for the steeping), but that the water in the coffee maker doesn’t quite reach the boiling point when you brew a pot of coffee. Apparently, if you have the water too hot it can marr the taste of the crystals. Adding some cold water obviously tempers the hot water, and added bonus: you can actually drink the coffee right away once it’s prepared. Makes sense to me! I have been using this method the last three mornings, and have been enjoying instant coffee for the first time in recent memory.


Do you like instant coffee or hate it? Do you have any coffee hacks? Share in the comments!

*Cold milk would probably be a decent substitute for the Coffee Mate and fresh water. I just don’t have access to it on a regular basis.

Ban Bossy? Let’s Concentrate on Other B Words, Shall We?

Allow me to have the podium for a minute.

I write this following a YouTube that popped up in my feed of a recent campaign raised by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. In case you haven’t heard, her campaign is to highlight her “Lean In” project promoting leadership in girls…and the banning of the word “bossy”.(Watch the video here.)

Photo: 3.bp.blogspot.com

I couldn’t believe my own eyes (or ears!). I had to check to make sure this wasn’t an SNL skit. Nope – it’s for real! And she has even recruited well-known public figures, Beyonce, Jennifer Gardner and Condoleezza Rice to take up the fight…all this effort to ban the word “bossy”.

Lucy being herself  (Photo: 1.bp.blogspot)

Lucy being herself
Photo: 1.bp.blogspot

Essentially, she feels that calling girls “bossy” somehow disempowers them into wallflowers. As a result, young girls will never want to lead, never want to speak for themselves, never be assertive. The message is that we need to protect girls from the word. There needs to be more girl leaders, so they’ll want to be president and CEO when they grow up. The campaign’s solution is to squelch the word “bossy” because it somehow inhibits girls from following their dreams. 

What’s so wrong with “bossy”? THAT word isn’t so bad…There are other more offensive B words I can think of that should be banned ahead of bossy, but I don’t see a campaign for those…

Why not go one letter further down the Alphabet and ban that terrible C word women get called? Seriously, to me being called bossy is low on the name-calling totem.

But, for heck of it, let’s analyze this “bossy” word as it pertains to leadership for a second.

When I was a kid in the schoolyard and some other kid was called bossy, it was usually because they were forcing other kids to do what they wanted, usually using brute force. More usual than not, it involved bullying others to do their bidding. If caught, these bossy kids got honoured with a trip to the principal’s office and a call to their parents. Bossy behaviour was discouraged. Why? You could say in childhood there is a fine line between being bossy and being a bully. By that definition, perhaps we shouldn’t be encouraging girls to be “bosses.” If there is a line to be drawn between bossy and bully, shouldn’t we instead be encouraging kids to be less of a boss and more of a leader? This is part of the Lean In campaign, sure, but I think they need to push further what it means to be a leader as opposed to what it means to be a boss. 

Maybe we should be looking at another B word – behaviour. The real world is a harsh place and some kids can’t take it. Why, instead of dropping “bossy” we discourage the behaviour it denotes and give kids the tools to cope with criticism? Mechanisms to deal with bullying and teasing? Give kids an atmosphere where different opinions are welcome without judgment? Teach children compassion and encouragement among their peers. Emphasize the importance of being bold and brave. And I say “kids”, instead of only girls, because I believe boys and girls can both benefit. I think until we get those things under control, this “Ban Bossy” campaign will go nowhere. Bubble wrapping children against a word does them no favours. 

Photo: thebeaner.net

Photo: thebeaner.net

I saw a meme over the weekend that contrasted “boss” with “leader” and it resounded with me. It depicted the type of “boss” that the world needs more of. Banning “bossy” is not the problem. Protecting kids from a word to spare feelings is not going to help them develop decent coping mechanisms in life. We can’t possibly protect them from everything construed as offensive or distasteful or even hurt feelings. Teaching them compassion, empathy, and most importantly strength of character and team-building is a good start. And in the future, if they want to lead a fortune 500 company, they’ll have a groundwork to get there.

Goodness knows the world has plenty of bosses…