31 August 2006

diet diary, part 3

passed another milestone this week. i have had a couple of people mention that i look as if i've lost some weight. i discounted the first one, because i was wearing clothes that, to my mind, make me appear smaller than i actually am, but a couple of other people have noticed since, so i'm forced to admit that it might be visible.

the other major milestone that i've passed this week is that i've stopped getting hunger pangs the way i was at first. i believe my body is now realising that complaining is not going to make me fill it with larger portions. it's just going to make both of us irritable. (the down side of this is that it will now likely be more difficult for me to take weight off, since my body and my metabolism have adjusted to my new diet.)

this doesn't make me feel better when i'm trying on clothes- a rather terrifying experience- but i at least realise that there is some light at the end of a very narrow tunnel.

one thing i did notice, because it made me think of feelings i've had towards people i know who've lost weight. one of the people who commented that i seem to have lost a few pounds is a woman i work with who has been trying to lose weight herself. after she had noticed that i seemed to be lighter, i heard her grumbling about her own weight, about how her pants were tight, how she was fat (she isn't)... it's bad enough that we compare ourselves to unrealistic ideals in the form of models and movie stars, but apparently, we compare ourselves negatively even to those we see around us.

for my part, i'm trying to concentrate on the fact that i am feeling more comfortable with how i look, because i'm at least aware that i am always going to have the opportunity to find someone who looks better than i do.

30 August 2006

a fleeting moment

it's rare that cnn and i agree on anything. last year, like many, i gleefully watched (and watched and watched) anderson cooper crucify senator mary landrieu over the post-katrina disaster in the gulf states, and that's probably the last time that i can recall seeing them do anything worthwhile.

however, apparently i'm not the only person who's irked by the misuse of the word fascism, or at least i'm not the only one who notices.

28 August 2006

decade of...

just occured to me earlier that today marks the tenth anniversary of the day that i moved from halifax. i don't know why the date sticks in my mind (could be because the day following, when i arrived in my new home city of montreal, was possibly the single worst day of my life). i've since moved from montreal to toronto, so the decade has been split into different locales.

i consider myself sort of lucky to have moved around. for one thing, it means that i get to see what's new and interesting in different cities every few years. for another, it makes me realise the things that i really enjoyed about the places i've lived before. there are a lot of things i miss about both montreal and halifax. i'm sure when i find the next place i want to live, that there will be things that i miss about toronto (and, equally, that i'll forget the things about the city that irritate me at the moment, much as i have with the other two cities).

when i left halifax, i felt like it was cramped and provincial, that it had very little left to offer me (despite the fact that i had a good job and a great group of friends). looking back, my judgment might have been harsh, but it also was what i needed to think in order to make the change in locale. it's sometimes difficult to admit that you miss things the way things were, because too many people assume that it's tantamount to admitting that you think your decision to make a change was the wrong one.

but as time goes on, i have less and less patience for those sorts of opinions. there are things that i miss about both cities i've left, about each cruddy (and not so cruddy) apartment where i've lived, especially about the people i've known. there are things that were better about my life in certain aspects than they have been since and even though you move on and new, good things (and bad things) happen to you, it's nice to reserve some time to think about where you came from.

27 August 2006

they're baa-aack

i was seriously hoping that i had a few more years left before i had to witness a younger generation getting into the exact same sort of things i was into when i was younger, since that is surely a sign of aging, but apparently, it's too late.

(hands up everyone who remembers hearing the autechre track that was done to get around the law prohibiting music with a series of repetitive beats.)

story link courtesy of me fi.

26 August 2006

diet diary, part 2

so the battle with the bulge continues. i'm actually becoming used to the pace, although for some reason my stomach still seems to think it needs far more food than it actually does.

week days, when eating is more of a functional than a festive activity, are fairly easy to cope with. weekends are a challenge, especially living in a city that has as many good restaurants as toronto. i'm not restricting myself to the home, but i am finding that i have to pay careul attention when i go out. last night, i overindulged on injera atthe ethiopian house. injera (the soft, moist, spongy bread that serves as food and cutlery in ethiopian cuisine) makes food fun by forcing you to eat with your fingers. it's hard to exercise restraint in such conditions.

when i first moved to toronto, i was expecting to find it much as i remembered it from years ago- with a dearth of good eating places. apparently, things have changed. there are great places to eat just about every kind of food you've ever imagined (and some you probably haven't) all over the city, with new ones opening all the time. i've already blogged about caju and the allure of brazilian cuisine. or if that's too run of the mill for you, you could try banu, the improbable-sounding retro iranian vodka bar that's just opened on queen street (try the lamb and one of thetir appetizer yogurts). there are tapas restaurants everywhere, since tapas are apparently the new sushi, but torito won me over with particularly scrumptious gambas al ajillo (shrimp with garlic and, in this case, a little smoky saffron for extra flavour).

i'm not into to making myself miserable to get a smaller waistline, so i have been letting myself out to enjoy the varied snacks that the city as to offer. i'm just trying to make sure that i don't eat myself into a coma.

there are a couple of things that have disappeared entirely from my diet. i have not had any type of deep fried food in weeks, although i've been tempted a couple of times. i also have pretty much eliminated any type of sweets and, to my eternal surprise, it's the one thing i don't particularly miss. for everything i've heard about the addictiveness of sugar, i've discovered that i have a much harder time turning down the opportunity to go for a new, intriguing type of cuisine than i do turning down an offer of free pastries. (i know this because i've had to cope with free pastry offers three times at the office in the last couple of weeks. including a massive box of doughnuts pressed under my nose when i was very hungry.)

the payback for my temperance? twice this week, i've put on skirts that used to pinch a little at the waist to discover they are magically more comfortable. i haven't dropped a lot, but it's enough that, for the first time, i can feel it.

the plan is working.

25 August 2006

the better way, indeed


a couple of weeks ago, i ended up taking public transit to work, rather than driving. while i live in one of the most transit-impoverished cities in the world, where driving to the corner store is necessary in some areas, this was actually a lovely experience. there is just something pleasing about starting your day reading a book and listening to music, rather than getting annoyed because the guy in front of you has had his left turn signal flashing for the last six blocks. (i enjoy driving from time to time, but at heart, i'm transit girl who doesn't want to worry about finding parking.)

buses are fine, but the thrill of public transit for me has always been in the subway. for some reason, subway systems can entertain me almsot endlessly. the strangeness of going underground in one place and re-emerging in another just doesn't seem to wear off (perhaps i've killed too many brain cells). i've also always gotten a kick out of the different look each station on a metro line has, how it becomes a distinctive beacon of urban architecture.

this may sound strange, but apparently, someone agrees with me. and apparently, the unsung beauty of subway architecture is one of those things that unites all cities around the world.

20 August 2006

happy endings?

if i haven't been writing about writing a lot lately, it's mostly because i've been having the damnedest time trying to finish things. for whatever reason, the last few months have been marked by creative ideas that simply do not seem to pan out when they get out of my head and onto the computer screen. and nothing is worse than thinking that your creative efforts are directed to the increase in volume of mediocre writing in the world.

it's not that i lack ideas (well, sometimes it is, but it's not a long-term disability), but rather i seem to lack complete stories, things that remain as vibrant when written as they seem in thought. and although i find that my best writing happens when i have a clear idea of where stories are going, i've been reverting to my school-era habit of simply writing down anything that comes to mind in the hopes that somehow, some day, i'll be able to connect the dots and turn six disconnected segments into a cohesive whole. weirder things have happened.

at the moment, though, my hard drive is becoming populated with scraps that have no home, which neither stand alone nor fit comfortably into some larger master plan. perhaps if i leave them to congregate there, i figure they will get to know each other and might come up with some ideas of their own as to how they could fit together.

strangely, this week i was able to finish something for the first time in a couple of months. it's short- even by the standards of someone who normally writes short stories- and it's a quirky little thing, personal enough that there are people to whom i would feel uncomfortable showing it. now that it's "out there", at least in a first draft, i have no idea what to do with it. very little happens and it's more of a vignette than anything, but i still regard it with a sort of curiosity. after a long stretch where i seemed to be able to complete nothing, it seems at once strange and comforting to see something whole that i've produced.

here's hoping the strangeness part wears off soon.

oh me timbers, they has been shivered



My pirate name is:


Mad Anne Bonney



Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

17 August 2006

diet diary

so a couple of weeks ago, i put myself on a diet. i often say that i'm watching what i eat, but it's been years since i've tried an actual, enforced diet, mostly because i lack willpower. why did i decide to give one a try now? i don't know. i haven't put on any weight in the last few months. i'd like to lose weight, of course, but i'm not nearly as neurotic about my size as i used to be. (ironically, i weigh more now than i did when i was insecure about my size.)

food, weight and our relationships with them are almost obsessive for the cast majority of adult women. statistically, up to 98% of north american women claim to be dieting or watching their weight on a regular basis, making dieting the most common non-essential activity on the continent. by adding myself to that number, at least for the time being, i'm hoping to discover what it is that drives this mania about size.

most women i know are trying, at least sporadically, to lose weight. i don't know any women who i would classify as truly overweight, so we can assume that they are not doing this for health reasons. so this is an aesthetic issue. most of them are able to specify the number of pounds they want to lose, or at least give a range, but it seems like a guess at best. no one seems to know how many pounds lost will result in the body they want. that's the tricky part. what does five pounds look like? or ten? thirty? for my part, i've told myself that i'll stop the diet when i can see a difference that makes me happy. (i don't weigh myself, the one little weight-related neurosis i have not been able to expunge. if i start stepping on the scale, i'll never get off it.)

i actually think that what i'm doing is a little trickier than a regular diet. it's easy to say that you've lost your target ten pounds, or fifteen pounds, or whatever the number in your head is. it's somewhat harder to overcome the natural body dysmorphism that's reinforced by pop culture images to find a look that makes you happy. because it involves having to say that you're happy with the way you look, something which is not encouraged.

until that happens, i'm taking the easiest diet route possible: i am limiting myself to health foods as much as possible an i am restricting my food intake. (if you want to figure out why obesity is, pardon the pun, a growing problem, have a look at the portion sizes that are offered in most restaurants. they often contain as many calories as the average person needs to consume in a day.) while i had initially planned on not counting calories, having a rough idea of how many i'm consuming is provign useful, as has finding information on my basal metabolic rate (you can enter both your current and your target weight to see how little the difference in calories needed is between them) and my body mass index (i'm within the normal range). these last two are about the only reliable pieces of information on healthy weight and diet that i've managed to track down.

and, as i mentioned at the outset, i'll also be using the opportunity to look into what it is about weight, food and appearance that drives us all so crazy. because if i'm going to be depriving myself of food, i at least want it to be a learning experience.

10 August 2006

le mot injuste

this may not be the time to start picking apart people’s grammar. after all, with the threat of imminent disaster looming (more distinctly than it has recently), people are concerned about their families, their homes, the things that are truly important to them. world leaders have to think about more than finding the exact right phrasing for their public addresses, right?

not exactly.

the volume and intricacy of human communication is one of the hallmarks of our species. unlike animals, who identify each other by smell or intuition, or even like our ancestors, who operated by sight, our methods of knowing and understanding each other are increasingly based on our communication. words that are spoken and the body language that accompanies them, take on an exaggerated importance when they come from the mouths of leaders in times of crisis.

so today, i was a little disturbed (although not terribly surprised) when I read the following comment by john reid, british home secretary, that the planned bombings would have caused casualties on an “unprecedented scale”. sure about that, john?

now, i know what he was trying to say. he meant that the scale would have been greater than other terrorist attacks. but that isn’t what he said. he said casualties on an unprecedented scale. and to a western audience, like me, who know what he means, the statement is fairly harmless. but what does it sound like to someone in iraq? or lebanon? or somalia? it sounds like the british home secretary is saying that the casualties that matter are ones where their own people are killed. it serves the interests of organisations like hezbollah, who promise to protect citizens from the westerners (and israelis) who at best believe their lives and deaths mean nothing.

to be clear, i don’t think that reid meant to imply callousness. but as the media influence becomes all-pervasive and people everywhere rely more and more on the words and actions of political leaders as keys to deciphering meaning, it matters less what’s in your head and more what comes out of your mouth. you don’t diffuse a mine field by running into it blindfolded. dangerous, delicate situations call for extreme caution.

(not to be outdone, george w bush made a boneheaded statement of his own this afternoon, one that he has made before. he referred to terrorist groups as “islamic fascists”. george, i don’t know how your grades were in school, i’m guessing not great, but history is one of the things that you’re supposed to understand when you’re a world leader. the term fascist is not just an epithet or a synonym for political evil, to be applied liberally in discussions of groups you don’t like. it is a political term with a specific meaning, one that happens to be completely inappropriate in the context you gave it. i don’t know why you decided to use the term to describe terrorists, who don’t even run a government, so they can’t represent an authoritarian state, but i suspect it’s because you lack imagination and any sense of historical perspective and used the first political-sounding term that came into your head as equivalent to “nasty”. you aren’t helping. you aren’t making a valid point. what you are doing is reinforcing the belief held by most people that you aren’t up to the job you have. my advice (not that you asked)? you aren’t running for re-election, so you have nothing to lose. why not save the rest of the world a lot of trouble and take a vow of silence for the next two years? your friends will benefit more than anyone.)

07 August 2006

i knew that

You Are 56% Abnormal


You are at high risk for being a psychopath. It is very likely that you have no soul.

You are at high risk for having a borderline personality. It is very likely that you are a chaotic mess.

You are at medium risk for having a narcissistic personality. It is somewhat likely that you are in love with your own reflection.

You are at medium risk for having a social phobia. It is somewhat likely that you feel most comfortable in your mom's basement.

You are at low risk for obsessive compulsive disorder. It is unlikely that you are addicted to hand sanitizer.

03 August 2006

fun with fauna


i'd just like to point out that someone seems to have detonated a skunk on the street below. i am far from the ground floor and it is nearly overwhelming.

the seculars are coming



i suppose this means that we can kiss goodbye any chance of having the gospel of the flying spaghetti monster taught in kansas schools. sad news from the state where it all started...
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