Thursday, October 28, 2010
You always hear about how people cut out all of the fried food and red meat and crap that they ate and start eating whole grains and fruits and veggies and they lost a ton of weight and have a bunch of energy.
I don't eat a lot of fried food, red meat, or crap in general. Although I suppose it depends on how you define "crap." I also exercise a bunch (I love when people tell me they started walking to lose weight. I suppose that works for some people, but I suspect if I tried walking instead of what I'm already doing at the gym, I'd gain weight).
So here's what happens to me when I try to cut out the crap that I do eat and go with whole grains, fruits, and veggies: I'm hungry, crabby, and tired all of the time. Yup, sounds like a real winner of a solution to me.
I signed up to run the Carlsbad half marathon on January 23. A bunch of my girlfriends have signed up, too, so it should be a good time. I'm hoping to use this race to avoid gaining weight over the holidays (I make a mean apple pie, although my mother called me from the Culinary Institute of America to tell me theirs was better...y'think?), and I want to run the Portland marathon next October, so I thought this would be good practice for me to get into the mindset of seriously training.
My girlfriends and I were having lunch the other day and I mentioned how I wanted to lose a little weight, especially in light of this race because 1) less weight=less stress on your knees, and 2) lighter runners tend to run faster, which means I'll have to spend less time both running the race and training for it. I don't mean less miles, but if you can run a 7:30 mile, you do eight in an hour. If you run a 10:00 mile, it'll take you an hour and twenty minutes (I know, I know: I'm a math genius).
One of my girlfriends has the same goal, which led into a discussion on how hard it is to lose weight when you're already a reasonably-sized person who does a reasonable amount of exercise and doesn't live on big macs. And how whenever we had success with the weight loss bit, we were tired and crabby because we had no energy. So I was glad to hear that it wasn't just me.
I'd be totally happy with my weight if I was about two inches taller, but somehow I suspect a growth spurt isn't in my future. (Incidentally, I read my horoscope every day, mostly because it's in the business section of the San Diego Union Tribune, and I find that fact hysterical, but it has not yet mentioned anything about a growth spurt.)
So I asked my trainer what I should do to lose weight but still have energy. He said, well, you don't want to eat less. That was good news. Then he suggested I eat all my carbs in the morning. He actually said I could eat as many carbs as I wanted, but none after lunch. I clarified that by "carbs" he meant things like bread, pasta, and rice, and was not including things like bananas.
I suppose this will work just as well as anything else I've tried, which is to say, I may not lose weight, but I'll probably not gain it either, and it might just work a little better, since I won't think I'm starving myself, but I also won't mindlessly eat snacky things when I'm bored or whatever.
And as far as I'm concerned, a cookie is a perfectly acceptable breakfast item.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
It's just a little cliche.
Otherwise, the book was great. In fact, even with the above-mentioned cliche, the book was great. It's a bit of a coming of age story, a bit of a spy mystery, and full of interesting characters. I suppose, technically, it's a historical fiction.
The story takes place in pre-WWI England, and paints a portrait of political intrigue, complete with a young Winston Churchill. The basic plot of the story is the negotiation of an alliance between England and Russia, but there's a subplot of the suffragette movement.
One thing I can't relate to is the amount of blind passion experienced by Lydia. Perhaps I'm not that passionate of a person. Or perhaps I have a whole lot more freedoms than women once had, and my passion can be redirected. Also, I'm not bored. What I mean is, it's not my job to sit around in fancy clothes and discuss dinner seating charts with the servants. That sounds nice for about two weeks, like a vacation, but I think I'd scream if I had to spend my life being demure. But I suppose if my life was mind-numbingly boring, a sordid romance would seem a reasonable distraction.
On the other hand, Follett did a very good job showing how Feliks descended into madness, and then what ultimately brought him out of it. In the end, even the antagonists weren't all bad.
Somehow, I really enjoyed reading the book, but I don't have a whole lot to say about it. It was just an interesting, fast-paced novel.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Lewis Carroll was apparently known for writing nonsense (how do I get that job?), and he does not disappoint. The part that describes the hunting actually reminded me of Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, although technically, Snark was published first. Of the hunting technique of this motley group, the book says:
They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.
I thought this was wonderful whimsy; after all, I can be charmed with smiles and soap!
I have also been doing some reading in The Science of Harry Potter by Roger Highfield. It's actually an interesting book that explains how some of the magical elements in the world of Harry Potter could actually exist. There was a bit on game theory, which I enjoyed, and the book also discusses genetic engineering and how it, theoretically, would be possible to create Fluffy, the three-headed dog.
Personally, I have no problem with the suspension of disbelief required to thoroughly enjoy the world of Harry Potter. (My mother, on the other hand, has some issues with this...for example, she didn't want to watch Pirates of the Caribbean because she thought it looked smelly. My aunt told her that it wasn't smell-o-vision, and I told her that Johnny Depp wore special sunglass contacts so he wasn't squinting all of the time. It wasn't the fantasy part of the story that bothered my mother, but how could someone be in the Caribbean without sunglasses and not squint?)
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Growing up, whenever I complained that something wasn't fair, my mother would inform me: life's not fair. Yeah, I noticed. But what really irked me was when it would be so simple to make it fair, and yet it still wasn't.
I went to high school with twin boys. One was completely normal, at least as far as I knew, and the other was confined to a wheelchair with some sort of neuromuscular condition. When the "normal" boy turned 17 (when you get your driver's licence in New Jersey), his parents bought him a sweet black sports car. Their logic was that they had spent tens of thousands of dollars on their other son's wheelchairs, and that it would be fair to get something for their "normal" son. Obviously, it was very fortunate for both boys that the parents had such means.
But was it fair or equal?
It certainly wasn't fair to the one in the wheelchair that his parents bought him wheelchairs, which were a necessity to him, and a sports car, which was a luxury for his brother. At the same time, it wouldn't have been fair to get nothing for the normal boy simply because he was normal. But perhaps the treatment was equalizing.
As a child, one of my best friend's brother was also confined to a wheelchair. And also coming from a family of means, she was given many lavish gifts. At times, I was actually jealous of the many things she had. But at the same time, her life would have been very different had her brother not been handicapped.
Was it fair to her that her parents had to give so much attention to her brother, who obviously needed their help more? Was it fair to him that much of the attention he got wasn't because of who he was, but because of the limitations he was faced with? Honestly, it doesn't seem fair to anyone. But maybe her parents were trying to say, we love you both, but your brother needs us more, so instead we're going to make sure you have nice clothes and go to a quality college, because in many other ways we can't be fair or equal to both of you.
She went to Dartmouth, and while we've lost touch, last I heard she was happily married and beginning med school. Clearly she didn't get the short end of any stick, but how much longer would that stick had been had her brother been healthy?
From a practical, non-emotional perspective, it is easy to see how and why parents would focus more of their energies on their less healthy, not "normal" children. And it's not fair to these children that life is simply going to be hard for them because of these limitations which they had no choice in. But it's also not fair to the normal, healthy kids that their parents have to pay more attention to their siblings. And while I can definitely see how each child might argue, life's not fair! it's certainly more unfair for the kids with the limitations.
So let's look at the other side of the coin. I knew an adult woman who was still suffering from feeling neglected by her family because she was simply normal while her sister was a highly gifted athlete...to the point that the family moved so that her sister could receive better training.
If you had a child who showed extraordinary talents in some area, be it music, arts, sports, whatever, would it be fair to that child to not cultivate those gifts? At the same time, it wouldn't be fair to your normal children to not give them their share of attention and opportunities.
What is a parent to do? I haven't got any idea, which is one of the many reasons I'm skipping the whole parenting debacle. I suppose a goal would be to be fair to each child, not between them, to treat them equally, but not necessarily the same way, to do your best to pay equal attention to each child, even if it mean occupational therapy for one and art lessons for the other. Because your children aren't likely to remember how much money you spent on them versus their siblings, or how hard you worked to be a good parent to each of them, but they will take with them the perception of feeling loved. They will remember whether or not they felt like they were loved as much as their siblings.
Good luck with all of that.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
You may notice that my reading list is one book shorter! I finished The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan. Like I said last Monday, or Thursday as it were, it was a YA adult, and therefore not overly complicated, but I found it entertaining.
Still on the list is...everything else.
The following books still haven't been started: The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follett, The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits by Lewis Carroll, The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling.
I haven't made any progress on these books: World Changing: A User's Guide by Alex Steffen, The Science of Harry Potter by Roger Highfield, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, although I did move up the waiting list on this last one!
Like I said last week, I have to return All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I've been trying to finish the chapter I've been reading in King's Men, but the chapters are about 90 pages each, so it's sort of a commitment to even read one.
Jack Burden is the character telling the story in King's Men, and I don't know what to make of him. The book jacket states that the book "traces the rise and fall of Willie Stark, who resembles the real-life Huey "Kingfish" Long of Louisiana." I don't know who Huey "Kingfish" Long of Louisiana is, and I don't really care. I think Jack Burden is a journalist (although I'm not really sure), who sort of becomes the go-to man for the governor, Willie Stark. The book doesn't really explain how this happens, though, it just says something to the effect of, I first met Stark in the back of so-and-so's. It's an interesting education of how to write something so you get the general picture of what's going on without explaining the details. What was everyone doing in the back of so-and-so's? Why did the governor think this was the place to go? (of course, he wasn't the governor at the time).
Also, Jack Burden is an eloquent character through which to view the novel, so you get the impression that there's a lot more to the man than you see, but nothing actually indicates that we'll get to know him any deeper. So while I'm enjoying the language of the writing, I'm not sure yet that I can actually recommend this book as I haven't really figured out where it's going, or if I care about the story.
I've only managed to read one chapter further in Breakfast of Champions, and I honestly don't know if I like Vonnegut's writing. I feel like I'm reading the work of a conspiracy theorist or something. It's that crazy. Not Lewis Carrol crazy, where you think, I want what he's taking, but more like you might find Kurt Vonnegut sitting on the streets talking to the mailbox. On the other hand, I'm still completely normal by comparison. So it's got that going for it.
Two nights ago I did a significant amount of reading in Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants.
The story is told by Jacob Jankowski. He's either 90 or 93, he can't remember which, and he's telling the story of his younger life through flashbacks.
The first thing I want to discuss is women writing men. Many times, when men write women, I feel like I can't relate to the characters at all. I was first introduced to Wally Lamb over 10 years ago when a roommate of a friend said of his She's Come Undone: I've never read a man write a woman so well. Until then I hadn't thought about what made some books in which men write women just a little off. But I think she hit the nail on the head. The trouble is, as a woman, I can't tell if Gruen is actually doing a good job writing a man, or if I just really like the man she's created.
Yes, I will confess, I totally develop crushes on male characters that I think are particularly well written, and who I'd like to know in actual life. I'm pretty sure Captain America is aware that I develop these literary crushes. He seems to think that it indicates that I'm a caring, empathetic sort of person, and not crazy. I think it will start to worry him, though, if I start to say things like, I wish you were more like Rhett Butler! But of course, I don't want him to be like Rhett Butler...otherwise the crush wouldn't be nearly as much fun. And I do have at least other bibliophile girlfriend who does this too, which leads me to believe it's completely normal.
Okay, back to Elephants.
Two nights ago, after said copious reading, Captain America came home to find his wife in tears because I had just finished the chapter where Jacob is sitting in his wheelchair waiting for his family to come and get him and take him to the circus. He woke up so proud of himself because he remembered what day it was and everything. And...his family forgets him. He's got five kids and they take turns visiting, and the one who was supposed to get him forgot and made other plans and then remembered but it was too late to cancel the other plans (which sounds like a really lame thing, in my opinion), but I suppose it happens. So Jacob is all disappointed because he's missing the circus, and he was so looking forward to it.
Okay, I did not do the scene justice here, but you should really read the book for yourself.
Also, I was saddened by this because my grandma had dementia, and she kept talking about wanting to wear a red dress and no one would let her. I don't know if my mom had any idea what this dress was about, but I certainly didn't. But I still felt bad that my wonderful grandma was upset about not being able to wear this red dress. It was to the point where I felt like, maybe I should take her shopping, but that just wasn't feasible, on so many levels (which is maybe what happened with Jacob's son).
In case you're missing the comparison that happened in my mind, it's that both were good, loving people, who would have been made happy in their old age by something unbelievably simple, but it didn't happen for either of them. Both Jacob and my grandmother were in good care, and all in all were very fortunate in how they lived out their last years, but it's still sad to me.
Of course, I haven't finished Water for Elephants, so I don't know what happens to Jacob in the end, and I'm not sure, even if we let my grandma wear her red dress, if she'd remember that she had worn it the next day, or if we would have to get her numerous red dresses so she could wear one every day, or if she had a very particular dress in mind, from her youth, that we neither had nor would fit her, and certainly wouldn't look the way it does in her memory (which is sort of how I feel about communion dresses. I'm not Catholic, so I never had a communion dress, but I remember being in Sears with my mother and grandmother and seeing all of the dresses with the ribbons and lace, and tulle petticoats, and trying to convince my mother I could wear one for Easter or something. I'm apparently still not over how pretty those dresses were.)
While I would never say that I am a particularly religious person, part of me would like to believe that my grandma is in heaven happily wearing her red dress, and that when Jacob dies, he'll get to see the circus and that it is better than he remembers. Maybe that's not how reality works, but I think it makes for a nice ending to a story.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
He was clearly looking for something specific. We noticed him walk in and out of a couple of different bars before settling on The Melting Pot. He sat down at a table with a group of six women and began chatting with them. I had originally assumed that he was looking for these women in particular, like he was supposed to meet them, but couldn't remember which bar they were going to patronize.
However, it soon because clear that he had decided that these women represented his best opportunity for the evening. One of the women I was dining with decided that this was akin to having our very own dating reality-TV show, and that she wanted to be the host. She then began providing us with background commentary on this man's antics. At some point in the evening, when this table of six had dwindled to three, our entertainment, LL Cool J, decided that it was time for him to move on.
About 20 minutes later, we noticed our friend, in a different shirt, but still with the Justin Timberlake hat, enter a different bar on the square. As we were already paying the check, we felt compelled to follow him in and have another drink.
We watched him place himself at the end of the bar and lean back casually. There were two empty seats between him and a woman. He seemed relaxed and chatted cheerfully with the bartenders. Then he made his first move: he asked the woman a question and moved a seat closer, so he could lean in and better hear her answer. Then, somehow, dessert materialized in front of them, and he moved a seat closer to the woman. Now there was no empty seat between them.
Our commentator continued her narration as the events continued to unfold: our LL Cool J spoon feeding this apparently contented woman.
Unfortunately, we became distracted as our waitress plied us with raffle tickets with the proceeds going to the Susan G Komen fund, and when we had finished purchasing said raffle tickets, the dessert was still at the bar, half eaten, with two long-handled spoons in the dish, but LL Cool J and his lucky woman were gone.
Congratulations, LL Cool J, and your suave flirtations. We tip our JT hats to you and thank you for providing us with bar style amusement the likes of which we rarely get to witness.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century by Alex Steffen is really that. It's a user's guide, apparently based on his website or something. I don't know. I haven't really checked it out. My sister got it for me because of my environmental bent. Except I'm a really terrible environmentalist. I wish I liked doing earth friendly things more. I wish I liked growing my own food, or showering every other day. I don't mind things like public transportation, but unfortunately where I live, it doesn't take me where I want to go in any sort of framework that resembles convenience. Maybe I'll revisit all of this in the new year, but in the mean time, I'm taking a break from my attempts to be green. Which is not the same as saying we in my household have stopped recycling or have started warming up our cars, or try to be blatantly anti-green. And I must say I've made huge progress in the steps towards vegetarianism, but that's more due to Captain America's new work schedule and the fact that I'm not going to bother cooking for one than any actual dietary change going on.
Captain America bought me The Science of Harry Potter: How Magic Really Works by Roger Highfield. I haven't read this book in so long that I don't remember what I thought about it. When I read Harry Potter and Philosophy, the big thing I took out of it was that they made a couple of mistakes, like Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans, instead of Bertie Botts. I don't recall anything like that in Science. What happened was, this was sitting on my desk at work, but then I became all distracted by the magazines I've been trying to keep up with and the library books that I just sort of overlooked this one. And it's kind of an easy one to overlook because each chapter stands alone, so it's not like I'm forgetting major plot points. Needless to say, I do intend to finish it, and it is currently housing my fabulous fair-trade Egyptian bookmark, so I'm still considering it a book I'm actively reading.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling I haven't actually started, but I have big plans for this. BIG PLANS. You see, I have the luxury edition, or the collectors edition, or whatever, and it comes with all of these amazing prints that I intend to frame and hang in my purple room. And did you hear, she might just write another Harry Potter book or three! At least that's what she told Oprah. I'm not going to hold my breath, but my soul is doing a little dance of joy (my body is not, due to said mother of all head colds).
I really like Ken Follett, as I've said before, so I'm really hoping that I find The Man from St. Petersburg to be more engaging than The Pillars of the Earth. Alas, I haven't started this yet either, but I'm really looking forward to it.
Okay, just a note on how much I love books: sometimes I look forward to starting a book more than I actually enjoy reading it. I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. Before you open the presents, the possibilities are endless. After you open the presents, you've got a lot of great gifts, but the anticipation was half the fun.
Speaking of anticipation, I cannot wait to start The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits by Lewis Carroll. I dream of the day when I am clever enough to think up a subtitle, or even a phrase as descriptive as "an agony in eight fits." And Lewis Carroll is also a little crazy, which is always great fun, and Agony has pictures! Could I be a happier bibliophile?
And finally, I have The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer. This has been on my reading list for so long that I can't remember why I put it on there. Yup, I'm smart like that, and the dayquil only makes it better.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I love you, but your baggers suck!
You see, I'm smart. I always bring in at least four reusable bags, not because I want to impress you with my mad skills at remembering them, but because I always need that many. Yes, I am amazing at estimating how many bags I'll need when I go shopping.
At first I thought it was the male baggers. I thought that maybe they didn't understand that I have smaller hands and shorter arms than they do. Yes, your cereal boxes are lovely almost-squares. They stack very well, they make excellent boxes for packing gifts. I'm sure if I was two, they'd make excellent imaginary fill-in-the-blanks, but they DO NOT HAVE HANDLES!
I love that your milk has handles. I love that your salsa has handles. I love that your juice has handles. I love that your prices are unbeatable, and that the quality is top notch. I especially love that I can by 100 stamps for less than they cost at the post office. And the food samples. That's fantastic! Who likes to buy new food items with out being sure they'll actually like eating them?
But your baggers, boy, could they use some training.
For instance, tonight, only one of the three boxes of cereal I purchased got bagged. What made that box special? And why not the others, I might add, being that I left the store with two empty reusable bags. I know your bagger saw them because I took them out of the cart and put them on top of the boxes of cereal, and she put them back in the cart.
And while I sort of appreciate that the thingy I bought my sister for Christmas (I'm a planner!) didn't get put in the bag with the cereal, being that she's a celiac and all, a) the cereal is in plastic-lined wax bags in the box, b) she's not going to eat this thingy I bought her, c) this thingy can be washed (which is important considering that Sis is a bit messy...not her fault, I'm pretty sure it's related to how much the stop light gods love her), and d) you had no way of knowing she is from planet Celian to begin with!
So if something does not have handles, please, put it in the F$%@*} bag!
Sincerely yours in shopping,
PS. I can't wait to try out your Pennsylvania Dutch eggnog at Christmas!