28 December 2006

thoughts for the season

ok, this one's been around for a while, but, after so many parents doubtless distinguished themselves by tackling other adults to get their hands on a ps3 or wii, or bought their children video games in the annual spend-a-thon for christ, this is what you have to look forward to. happy holidays. (nsfw if you have german speakers in your midst, or people positioned to read the subtitles.)

16 December 2006

diet diary, part 7

oh yeah... you know that feeling of accomplishment that you get when you finally succeed at something that has previously frustrated you? i got that this week.

the last time that i was somewhat happy with my weight was when i moved to toronto, when i dropped a bunch of weight following a period of stress that had tested the limits of my waist bands. at that time, i purchased a jacket for a formal function i was attending. it was a very tailored look, so when the weight came back (with extra), it suddenly became a lot less flattering and a lot more embarrassing.

this week, i had a meeting that required a somewhat formal look, so i figured, given my recent success, that i would give the old jacket a shot. and what do you know? it fits just as well as when i first got it.

it's sort of ironic to me that, while i was always sensitive about my weight, i never paid much attention to it (didn't really diet, didn't get freaked out by changes...). it was only after i had been in toronto a few months, exposed to people who fretted over going to the gym, counted calories, fought to lower their pants size and the like that i developed a full-blown sense of inadequacy. as far as i can tell, people in toronto have a compulsion to worry. and that worrying can lead to all sorts of bd things, including weight gain. by refusing to let myself get freaked out about being on a diet, refusing to hold myself to a predetermined set of goals, i've not only been successful at what i set out to do, i've managed to erase some of the damage that gets done when you live in an atmosphere that promotes worry. i'm returning to the person i was before a lot of this stuff started to get to me.

i guess sometimes regression can be a good thing.

12 December 2006

better than me


if you've already gone through my tourist shots (see previous post), then move up to the real thing. david giral's photos make me weak in the knees.

perhaps i find him appealing because so many of his images are urban in nature. what is truly remarkable is that cities like ottawa and toronto, which are nice, but not heart-stoppers, appear as beautiful as those likeparis (he took shots of the same mall that i did...) and new york, which don't need help to be beautiful.

many of his photos are situated in montreal (such as the one on the right), including a study of hochelaga-maisonneuve, my old stomping grounds (and my even older stomping grounds around the mcgill ghetto). i would like to use his images to finally refute the claim that hochelaga-maisonneuve is ugly. impoverished, yes. ugly, no.

i realise that his photos are treated, but my feelings on this have always been that great photography seeks to convey a scene as perceived through human senses. and giral has that down pat.

10 December 2006

better late than never...


my friend charlemagne is here to direct you to my flickr site, where i have belatedly uploaded some photos of my trip to paris and london. they are in a high holy mess, because i haven't had the inclination to organise them into nice groups yet. consider yourself warned.

03 December 2006

diet diary, part 6

oh you thought it was over? not so, although october was not a banner month in the battle of the bulge. a combination of vacation and business travel made things a little difficult. but november saw me back on track and saw me taking the first measure of my results. literally. i took my measurements last weekend and was happy to find that i have lost two inches off my chest and hips and three and a half inches off my waist since i first started my diet back in august. another inch across the board and i'll be the same size that i was at fourteen. (i should add that this was not the smallest i have been, but it was the first time i remember measuring myself.

my weight loss has again been getting noticed and i am frequently faced with the question "what are you doing to lose the weight?" the answer, that i'm paying careful attention to calories and portins and i'm not even exercising as much as i should, is greeted with a combination of disbelief and frustration. in a world where people are alienated from the instinct that discerns what is necessary to sustain them, it is assumed that in order to lose a visible amount of weight, i must either be in possession of some magical secret, or that i must be doing something unhealthy.

part of me understands this. i have gone through the frustration f trying to lose weight without understanding the proper method and the time it takes, and have also been left with the sense that those who succeed are in possession of some knowledge that i do not possess. but another part of me wants to point out to these people that it isn't like i burned this off overnight. the weight i've lost has come off gradually over a period of four months (well, three, since i can't really count october). i've consistently been conscious of what i've been eating throughout that time. if that didn't result in weight loss, it would be a sign that i have a medical problem.

the best part of this, as far as i'm concerned, is that the person i see in the mirror is starting to look more like me again. not the me who, for the last few years has been worried about hiding telltale bulges, but the me whose figure i remember feeling good about. the battle continues, but it's easier when you realise you're winning.

01 December 2006

gliberals

unlike most canadians, i have an aversion to the liberal party. partly, it's because, before i defected, i was raised in a family that favoured the conservatives, so i developed an early distaste. mostly, though, it's because i have always disliked organisations that try to be all things to all people. in modeling themselves as the natural governing party, the liberals have shown little political consistency, notwithstanding the fact that they have produced some impressive leaders. one of the only observant comments to come out of the mouth of stephen harper was during the 2004 english language debate, where he told jack layton that he might not agree with him, but he at least knew where layton stood. with the liberals, the answer to the question of where they stand on a particular issue seems to be "where would you like me to stand"?

however, because i've been a political junky since childhood and because closely contested leadership conventions are like the china white of politics, i have been following the current campaign to replace milksop paul martin as the leader and potentially next prime minister. although it's sadly outdated, i like the fact that the liberals chose one last time to go with the old fashioned format that requires delegates to show up. i've always felt that the sort of concentrated passion you witness at this sort of gathering can do nothing but good for a political party. by comparison, the rather sedate affairs one sees around phone-in or electronic votes lacks pizzazz.

in a way, i make a good observer, because i'm unlikely to ever vote liberal, no matter who wins the party leadership. this, in theory, makes me objective. that said, frontrunner michael ignatieff is the personification of nails on a chalkboard to me, so i'm not entirely neutral. i don't think i could handle seeing his face on the news every night.

soon enough- within the hour- we should know what the status is from the first ballot. we already know that joe volpe has dropped out of contention and moved to bob rae. it remains to be seen whether or not that helps the ndp turncoat, since volpe is the one candidate from whom the others might have liked to distance themselves.

the speeches were typical politics for the most part. does anyone else find all of this hand-wringing over the environment just a little ironic, considering the party's record in twelve years in power? ken dryden warmed me a little because, unlike what i have come to expect from the liberals, seemed sincere in his convictions. he won't win, but he seems like a decent person. stephane dion fell well short of what he needed to overtake gerard kennedy, whose speech and video presentation were slick but well-done. bob rae managed to upstage everyone by speaking "off the cuff"- 25 minutes without notes or a podium, going for the down-home, straight-talking appeal. while he didn't speak enough french and almost came off the rails at one exceedingly long pause, the gimmick was very effective, and became the performance to which all the others were compared. ignatieff's video presentation was repetitive and felt at times like it was never going to end. while almost painfully stiff at first, he did gradually hit his rhythm and delivered a polished, typical front-runner speech, designed, like the liberals, to offend no one and say nothing.

rumour has it that we are going to have another election in the spring, because, having had te same government for twelve years, we now feel the need to change every sixteen months. so whoever wins this weekend is not going to have a lot of time to get comfortable. alternately, whoever wins is not going to have a lot of time to gets his bearings before having to hit the election trail. good luck buddy, you're going to need it.

reluctantly, i have to admit that, seen at their best moment (and the speeches likely do show their best moments), the candidate field is impressive. the talk was articulate, at times inspirational. but this is the liberals. they've been in power for a huge majority of canada's history. they've had the time to lead us to the brave new world. it's all well and good to talk about inclusion, the environment, the greratness of canada and our role in the world, but when you've held the reins of power for as long as these guys have, someone needs to stand up and say "that's great, but what the hell were you doing when you had the opportunity to work on a lot of these things?" i'm not denying that the party has accomplished some important things (sometimes borrowed from their competitors). but seriously, name one thing in the chretien years that made you feel proud to be canadian. something that the government did.

fact is, these guys always sound great when they're making their sales pitch, but they're a little less inspiring once you've bought in. whatever happens tonight and tomorrow, caveat emptor.
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