Friday, January 30, 2009

Fluville again!

Race day is almost here. I'm panicked. Have I written this before? I think so. When do I ever not worry about race day. This time though I really feel unprepared. My training was going along fine until Wednesday. Right in the middle of my run I felt feverish and had to stop immediately. I went home and felt okay, but then I felt feverish again. Yes, it was the flu. It's been a couple of years and I was doing so well not getting sick at all.

Well, there went the rest of my run for the day and Thursday's run as well.

So I'm not as trained as I'd like to be. Race day I'll just have to focus on finishing. To be a little more positive...I'm also looking forward to running in Fort Langley and running in the middle of February which will be a new experience.

It'll be a slow start to the season, but it's a start isn't it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Milk is Gus Van Sant's biopic of Harvey Milk, a gay activist in 1970s San Francisco who started a business and became part of a movement for gay rights eventually reaching the achievement of being the first openly gay elected official to city council. 

The film opens with Milk recording his life into a tape recorder that is to be played in the even of his assassination. He's very aware of the anger towards gays and toward himself for pushing for gay rights. Alone and sitting as his kitchen table, Milk reviews the life altering moment when he turned 40 and left New York for San Franciso with his new lover. And so the film begins. Throughout the film we return to Milk sitting at his kitchen table, referring to his notes from the yellow foolscap, to remind us that we are being told of events through his eyes and are given the privilege to his private as well as his documented public life. 

The public life of Milk is balanced with the private moments to suggest that old adage that came from the 1970s women's moment "the personal is political." The public events are dramatized with actual footage from the news at the time and through the dramatization. we are reminded of the verisimilitude of the story before us. We're not just watching a biopic, but are being invited to connect to the time and place that the events occurred.  Van Sant offers us something more intimate by using the actual film footage and the repeated close-up image of Sean Penn as Harvey Milk sitting in a darkened kitchen in one of the few moments he is seen alone. Not only does Van Sant connect the personal (private) and the political (public), but by using these techniques Van Sant can draw us into the story beyond just watching a filmic document of the public achievements of Milk. We become emotionally connected to the characters and their lives. 

Much of the plot's tension comes from not knowing when the assassination is going to occur (that is if you're not familiar with the details of his death). You feel it building as Milk's power and popularity swell and Van Sant reminds us that the end is near by showing us the death threats Milk received and tried to dismiss and then later we are offered the image of Milk at the Opera watching Tosca throw herself to her death, suggesting a tragedy will occur in this real story as well. Milk's encounter with a drunken Dan White (Josh Brolin) in a quiet scene that is heavy with undertones of violence in Brolin's repressed performance further reminds us that there is a darkness coming to Milk's life. Closure to his life can be read in the scene where he speaks to his former lover, Scott, on the phone and there is a hint of a reunion between them. All of these scenes lead us to the tragic and shocking death of Harvey Milk. Just because we are told at the opening of the film that Harvey Milk was killed, doesn't make the ending of the film any less tragic or shocking. While Harvey Milk achieved a great amount in his short lifetime, we are left with a sense that he was also just getting started. That is perhaps the greater tragedy that Van Sant leaves us with. 

Sean Penn is brilliant as Harvey Milk. All the performances are stellar, but Penn has to hold the film together and he does. This film is a must see. I know that sounds pushy, but you'll miss out if you don't see it. There is even something similar between Milk's political momentum and Obama's in their messages of hope. Milk realizes (and is advised by an adversary) that he can't just be opposed to things. He has to give the people something to hope for. Hope becomes his message. Doesn't that sound familiar? 

This would be a good dvd rental if you can't make it to the theatre to see it. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Last night we saw Slumdog Millionaire in a packed theatre. A fast paced and slickly shot and edited film that I was expecting to like a lot less. I always get a little leery of films that get a lot of hype. This film is getting a lot of hype and I think it deserves it.

A story of star-crossed lovers and a life story told through a character answering questions on the Indian version of the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The story's structure reveals itself within the first ten minutes of the film and once I realized how the story was going to be told I thought this format would quickly become tired. However, the past and present flow together seamlessly and the past comes rushing to the present at just the right moment in the film, the climax of the story.

The performances are strong especially the children's performances.

See it on the big screen if you can because some of the overhead shots are spectacular and I think the pace works well on a large screen.


I forgot to post this delicious photo. Why did I marry db? So many reasons, but I think I foresaw a future where he would make me gluten-free squash gnocchi! It was beautiful and delicious. It was his first attempt at making a gluten-free pasta and it worked really well. Of course his amazing tomato sauce on top made it perfect. What a meal.

I did throw a salad together for us and I used this vegetable for the first time. I thought it was so beautiful I had to take a picture. We ordered it in our organic produce box. Know what it is?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is everyone Obamaed-out? I need a day off from the Obama news and yet I'm afraid I'll miss something. I just can't look away.

I watched the inauguration...actually I taped the inauguration from BBC world news because I was working and then I watched it that evening because I wanted to hear his speech without it being re-capped in the evening news. I just wanted to hear it for myself before journalism started picking it apart line by line.

I also taped the inauguration because I was really looking forward to watching Bush take off in that chopper. It was a great moment and I felt hugely relieved to see him go.


As for the rest of my week...

Sunday I had the toughest run ever! I am probably exaggerating but it was really tough. It was my first run outside since before Christmas. It's so different from a treadmill. The sidewalks were mostly clear and at least we had some sun before the fog rolled in again that night. My legs felt like logs, clomping along at a pitiful pace. I kept going.

I didn't run as far as I wanted to, but I did get a solid hour of running in. It wasn't a great moment of running for me, but at least I got it done. However, it did open new worries for me anticipating the upcoming Historic Half Marathon in Fort Langley. It's just a few weeks away and I feel really ill prepared. From now on I think I'm just going to train as if I'm planning to run a marathon because then I'll get the distances in that I should be doing and when I do run a half I won't be worried about my conditioning.

Today I did go for a short run this morning and felt a lot better. So I won't give up yet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jean Harlow in BOMBSHELL

Here's the intro clip to enjoy.

Jean Harlow

When I was just a kid and paper dolls were something that was common, my mom bought me this book of paper dolls with stars from the 30s. I had no idea who any of these actresses were, but I became enamored with them. I found their names exotic and memorized them. I memorized the films that the costumes were from as if I were a fan of their films and knew them all. I knew of these women and their films before I ever got a chance to actually see them on screen.

The only actress I knew in the book was Judy Garland because I had seen the Wizard of Oz or at least I knew about the Wizard of Oz. It is still one of my favorite movies.

I may have known who Joan Crawford was simply because my mother would do an imitation of her that always made us laugh even though we weren't familiar with who she was.

Where my mother found such a treasure of a book in 1970s small town New Brunswick I have no idea. I am surprised that such a find could be found and I also think it's pretty cool that my mom had sense to avoid the mass marketed Barbie crap that was out there even though I secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) wanted a Barbie and all of her accessories. In retrospect I am grateful that my mom tried to give us another choice outside of the most popular and dominant toys.

The paper doll book was treasured by me and it is where I first learned about Jean Harlow.

I've been watching a lot of movies lately. We have the Turner Classic Movie channel (TCM) now that we've switched to Shaw (don't even get me started about Bell) and I've just discovered TCM and the classic movies that play without commercials. I'm in heaven.

The other night I watched three Jean Harlow films in a row: Bombshell, Hold Your Man and Platinum Blonde.
I think there were more films later, but I packed it in after three.
Bombshell was by far the most fun. Harlow is great in a comedy. Bombshell is a bit self-reflexive as it mimics Harlows life at times through the character of Lola Burns. The cast is wonderful and Harlow is center stage. The film is so much fun. I'll have to see Dinner at Eight because I understand it is her best comedic performance.

Such a short life and yet so many films. I've only just begun to enjoy her films.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back to the gym today. I'm not really looking forward to it at all. C'mon rain melt that snow so we have sidewalks again. It will only be a couple of days I'm sure and then the sidewalks will be clearer.

Whining aside...

We had our staff Christmas party last night. Yes, I know it's January but it's apparently a tradition to go in January after the Christmas madness when everyone is a little more relaxed.

I don't usually want to go to the group work event, but this is the one big dinner that we do every year and as I've always said I like the people I work with so it's not as if it's a painful experience for me. I'm also usually a bit wary of set menus since the veg option can usually be disappointing. This year it was not.

We went to the same restaurant that we went to last year in historic Fort Langley. It's a nice little restaurant with a warm atmosphere. The waitress remember db and I as the "two vegans" from the previous year. Our meal was delicious. The food is very good there. I didn't take pictures since I didn't want to reveal the blog. So you'll have to take my word that it was beautifully presented as well.

db and I were served a creamy carrot soup, mixed green salad with cranberries and a raspberry vinaigrette, and our main dish was polenta with grilled eggplant, portabello with tuscan beans (cannellini beans in a tomato sauce) topping it all. There was a side of steamed veg and a zucchini in tomato sauce. We had a nice white wine with dinner that my co-worker chose. It was a viognier which I've never had and was nicely surprised by it. The whole meal was very very good. For desert we had fresh fruit in a mango puree. I really appreciate when a chef makes a nice effort to make a good meal and not just do a bunch of grilled veg with little thought put into making a meal. This was a beautiful vegan meal. Delicious.

I think db and I will have to make that dish one night. It was such a nice combination of flavours. Then I'll post some pictures.

This made me laugh. I had to post it. I found it via Wandering Coyote.

You're Prufrock and Other Observations!

by T.S. Eliot

Though you are very short and often overshadowed, your voice is poetic
and lyrical. Dark and brooding, you see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying
to impress other people. Though you make reference to almost everything, you've really
heard enough about Michelangelo. You measure out your life with coffee spoons.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

hockey night in whoville

Here they are! We saw the Blues on Friday night. It was very exciting.

I only took pictures during the warm-up because I just didn't think about it during the game, I was too busy watching the game.

I love watching the warm-up actually. I'd watch one or two players and see what they practice the most before the game.

This is where we sat. We were fourth row from the top. The air in thinner up there I think. I am impressed with how good the seats really are wherever you sit at GM Place. At least that's my take on it.

However, when you sit up in those rows, all the barriers have these words printed on them. It's not for safety but rather to keep the view clear for the person behind you. When you lean forward you can block the view of the person behind you. People generally respect the sign. It's hard to always remember to sit upright in your chair. It would seem that it's good for your posture sitting up there.

Between periods the Canucks fans are treated to this blimp whale that floats around the stadium dropping flyers or coupons or something on the crowd below. It's very strange to see this whale pooping out flyers from it's tail end.

It's an odd mascot I think, but then it could be worse or more offensive. Thank goodness I've chosen a team with the blue note on it.

Oh by the way, despite the numerous injuries and being at the bottom of the Western Conference, the Blues won 6-4. Woohoo! It was so much fun seeing them win since we don't see that very often.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter

I was browsing the library shelves since I often find my books this way at our small central library and when I came across this book I knew I had to read it. I've never read Peter Singer which seems shameful for a vegan like myself to admit, but it's true (I guess that bumps me down a level on the vegan scale). So here was my chance and now I can say I'm so glad to have read this book.

Singer and Mason meet with three families, grocery shop with them, discuss why they choose the food they do and then visit the farms and factories that produce that food. They look at the environmental impact that food production has and also examine the ethics of raising animals for consumption. From the “standard american diet” family to the “conscientous omnivores” to the vegan family, Singer and Mason cover all areas of the animal food chain. They conclude the book with five areas to consider when we make our food choices.

Singer and Mason's details of how all animals are raised for meat, dairy and eggs clearly demonstrate the damage being done to the environment and the lack of consideration to an animal's welfare. It wasn't surprising to learn that the “standard american diet” is the most inhumane and environmentally destructive choices of diets. So what is the cost of cheap food? Raising tens of thousands of pigs, for example, crowded and housed in something that doesn't really resemble the idea of a farm at all, leads to all kinds of problems. The pigs have more illnesses and therefore need more antibiotics. The animals are stressed out which leads to aggressive behaviour so their tails are docked to prevent them from biting another pig's tail and this is done without anesthetic (as is castration) because anesthetic would incur extra cost that would mean you pay more for your bacon. The environmental cost is not pleasant either when you consider that
“an adult pig produces about four times the amount of feces of a human, so a large confinement operation with , say, fifty thousand pigs, creates half a million pounds of pig urine and excrement every day. That's as much waste as a medium sized town – but remember that human sewage is elaborately treated before being released into the environment and factory farm waste is not.” (p. 43).

Oddly enough out of all the factory farmed animals the least inhumane was the beef cattle since they at least get to go outdoors. However, this is hardly any comfort when you read about the rest of their life that ends in a slaughterhouse. Environmentally Singer and Mason conclude that beef production is the most damaging as the land cleared for raising cattle has consequences on the land and water that seems irreparable and the contribution of cattle on these feedlots to greenhouse gases (methane gas) is perhaps more damaging that drivingan SUV.

I struggled through Part I “Eating the Standard American Diet.” The struggle wasn't because it was too dry a read or anything like that, but rather because I had to stop reading whenever I felt like crying. The unbelievable horrors that go into raising chickens, turkeys, dairy cows, calfs for veal, pigs and cattle were too upsetting. However, this is one of the important points of the book, there should be some transparency to our food. We should know how our food is raised when we walk down the grocery aisle or shop at the farmer's markets. We should be aware of how that animal lived its life. After all what we eat affects our health and well being. Shouldn't we be completely aware of where and how our food is obtained?

Once I got to the chapters on the “conscientious omnivores” and the vegans the reading was a little more digestible. I did delight in reading about a farm where sows are raised so that they live a “normal” life and can behave instinctively. Singer and Mason describe watching a sow as she collects twigs from the surrounding woods and builds a nest. It was very moving and a bit of a revelation for me since I had no idea it was a pig's instinctive desire to build and nest. What a shame that most are raised in metal crates that they cannot even turn around in.

Another topic of interest in the book was the discussion on buying local which has become so popular lately with the rise of farmer's markets and the interest in the 100 mile diet. I once wrote about my struggle being vegan and wanting to buy locally, questioning if a healthful and varied diet was possible for me. I haven't come up with an answer, but Singer and Mason raised some new questions for me concluding that it is better to buy locally and seasonally whenever possible, which is something I try to do.
“To reduce the amount of fossil fuel that is involved in producing our food, we should buy local food, if it has been grown with similar energy efficiency to food from somewhere else – but not if the local grower had to burn fossil fuel to provide heat, and not if there is a lot of extra driving involved in picking the food up, or getting it delivered.” (p. 150).

The book also gave me something new to consider:
“sometimes the most environmentally friendly food is grown far away, under natural conditions more favorable to growing the food, and transport by sea is so efficient, in fossil fuel terms, that buying food from distant countries can contribute less to global warming than buying locally. (...) (W)e also have an obligation to support some of the worlds' poorest farmers, and under fair trading conditions, the best way to support them can be to buy the food they produce.” (p. 150)

Hmm now that I have more to think about when I shop you might wonder if this is all overwhelming when confronted with the grocery aisle. Not at all. I find it empowering because it means I can make a more informed choice about what I'm consuming. This made the book worth reading.

I highly recommend this book. It is an important read if you care about what you eat and what the costs are when we make the decisions we do. I will leave you with a brief look at how the authors conclude the book with their five guidelines to help us choose what we should eat.
1.Transparency: We have a right to know how our food is produced. (This is) an important ethical principle and a safeguard against bad practice.
2.Fairness: Producing food should not impose costs on others. The price of food should reflect the full costs of production.
3.Humanity: Inflicting significant suffering on animals for minor reasons is wrong. Kindness and compassion toward all, humans and animals, is clearly better than indifference to the suffererng of another sentient being.
4.Social Responsibility: Workers should have decent wages and working conditions.
5.Needs: Preserving life and health justifies more than other desires.

One more quote because I loved so many quotes in this book.
“If Americans were to cut back to meat-eating levels of the 1950s, that would improve health and slash health care costs. It would also reduce the number of animals suffering on factory farms by about the same amount as if roughly 80 million Americans became vegans.” (p. 281)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

And then the rain moved in

Last week it was snow and now this week it is rain. The rains have started and they haven't stopped. There are flood warnings with all this rain and the snow melting with it. What a mess.
db is calling it Slushfest 2009. It certainly is.

The roads still aren't in any condition for running and the sidewalks are still non-existent so today it was treadmill time. I went to the aquatic centre and used the gym there since it's a third of the price of the women's gym. The treadmills are nicer too. I tried out my new ipod shuffle as well so that helped me get through the treadmill fun. It wasn't so bad really. As always it felt good to run. I did a little bit of weight work.

I think it will be the gym again on Friday because it doesn't look like the rain will stop.


I'm back to my usual duties at work which is a bit strange. I really enjoyed running the express room and doing the office work. Hopefully I can find something new to enjoy in my job. It is nice to be back to four days a week though. I feel more rested.

Fixing up the cat lounge

One of the odd things about our apartment is the half room. You step up into the room and then there's an upper level that we use for storage and of course, we turned into the cat lounge. I don't have any pictures of how it looked originally, but the half wall was carpeted with this dark gray carpeting.

We always saw it as the perfect room for the cats since they could climb up the wall and lounge in their own little area and have their own window to look out. This was when the room was an office, but last spring we moved our bedroom in there because it's a quieter room. I'm a light sleeper so this was a good move. Now I really wanted to get rid of the gray carpet. After much discussion on how to make this room a little nicer we decided that the best option was to get rid of the gray.

We wanted to keep the cats and us happy so we came up with a solution for all of us.

We pulled off the carpet (oh what fun that was), but left it on the upper level surface for the cats to dig in and lounge on.

We finished the wall with some trim and then painted the whole works. Then to give the cats access to the upper level db built some steps and we put sisel on it for them to scratch.

This morning I woke to Gigi sitting on one of the steps staring at me. I think she likes them.

Here in the photo Prima is up in the window enjoying the cat lounge area. Everybody wins.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

a vegan new year!

Happy New Year everyone.
Yes we made sushi again for New Year's eve. It's so much fun to make. We made tons of rolls that included spicy tempeh, shitake, and avocado and carrot. After that it was a mix of those ingredients to use up our rice.

db steamed some edamame and made miso soup. He also made some pickled ginger a few days prior so we were ready.

With a little premium sake and Prosecco for midnight we were set. It was a happy new year at home with our kitties.

What did the new year bring us? Why more snow of course. It is unbelievable how much snow we're getting. It's been snowing all day long! I still think it looks beautiful, but I am actually starting to miss the rainy windy weather.

I haven't run in days and days. My exercise has been manoevering the snowbanks. Fortunately I have my Stabilicers so I can at least walk everywhere, but running outside is near impossible right now. Tomorrow morning I'm off to the gym. Ugh. The upside is that db got me an ipod shuffle so I can at least listen to something while I run nowhere on the treadmill.

New Year's resolutions? I haven't really made any except to finish tasks I start. I guess I've just made a resolution after all. I leave too many projects unfinished with promises to get back to them so 2009 will be the year I finish my projects. It looks like I've got a new blog topic as well.

Anyone else make any resolutions?