me

Look to Windward

Notes from a Cultural attaché

Books for sale
me
dizietsma
Montreal book luvvrs: I have a stack of books to sell before we leave for the US. If any take your fancy, let me know and make me an offer... The list is here: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/AlistairMilne/tosell

Earworm
me
dizietsma
Muriel mentioned Richard Marx at dinner last night. I then proceeded to get Hazard stuck in my head. When I say stuck, I mean I woke up at 4.30am with the tune in my head and couldn't get back to sleep because my mind was chasing half-remembered lyrics. I eventually had to get up and search for the lyrics online, just so that I could complete the song that was banging-around in my head. And that wasn't enough, my dumb subconscious then needed a few encores. 6.00am I finally got back to sleep. No wonder I am tired now. I also now know far more about the village of Hazard, Nebraska (population: 66) than I did this time yesterday.

Trente-cinq, alors
me
dizietsma
For the first time in my life, my age has surpassed my waist size in inches. This is due to two complimentary effects.

1. Getting older.
2. Getting thinner.

At the beginning of this year, I would have had to wait until I was 37 to be able to write this post. When I first came to North America, 39.

This evening, effect #2 is definitely at risk. We'll be eating at the restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, which is something I've been meaning to try for a couple of years now; they are highly rated and somewhat notorious for their Poutine Au Fois Gras, which of course I shall be trying ;)

Against the grain
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dizietsma
Triple-post combo!

The other big news in my own little personal universe is that I've been trying the Primal/Paleo diet for the past few months and I thought I'd write something about how that's working out for me.

I started-out in March on the wrong side of 95 kg (210 lb), wondering what extra cardio and training I needed to do to lose weight and get a bit more muscle definition. Bear in mind I'm already training up to 4 times per week at the moment between Aiki Jujitsu and Brazilian Jujitsu.

I then discovered Mark Sisson's website http://marksdailyapple.com and his book The Primal Blueprint (along with various cookbooks, and a fitness training handbook). Sisson's view is similar to the Paleo diet, with allowances for modern conveniences. His focus is on how a standard diet heavy in carbs and sugars makes us insulin resistant, which in turn means we only ever burn carbs instead of burning fat, and the resultant clockwork sugar crashes force us to eat more carbs every few hours. Some people are genetically lucky, they can ride the insulin rollercoaster and do enough exercise to work it back-off again. The rest of us just get fatter year on year, or we get miserable on low fat diets and hours of cardio.

The primal solution is to cut way down on carbs, but to keep saturated fats high in the diet. The idea is to reprogram (arguably: deprogram) the body to preferentially burn fat instead of sugar, the way our ancestors presumably did. I'm not sure where he gets the numbers from, but Sisson says the average life expectancy of Palaeolithic humans was around 30-35 years old, which dropped sharply to 18 years after the adoption of agriculture about 8000 years ago, and only recovered back to the 30s in the late 19th century with the advent of public sanitation, vaccination, and other medical advances. I suspect the truth isn't only diet, but also the fact that agriculture forced us to start settling-down and gathering into larger groups, which made disease more important. But the general idea is that our evolutionary lag-time is about 50k years, so we simply haven't yet evolved far enough yet in the past 8k years to efficiently use the grains, cereals and sugars we fill our diets with. Primal (and more extremely, Paleo) attempts to return us to a more palaeolithic diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables, and animals.

One important consideration for me is that I can't be on a diet that often leaves me hungry. I can't stand that, the cravings get too much. Another consideration is that I have to be able to go off-program once in a while and not feel guilty about it. The reality is that we do live in this world of wheat and sugar, and some things are just not worth fighting over. The Primal diet offers both these things, and so I'm very happy with it, even if from time to time Muriel gets exasperated trying to work-out how to prepare a meal for me when the kids are still eating lots of rice and pasta.

The results are quite impressive. Since March I have dropped to about 88 kg (194 lb) and I'm still heading southwards on the scale. My goal weight would be around 80kg I suppose, accounting for lost fat and gained muscle. I calculate that my body fat at the moment is roughly 18% (down from about 22%-ish when I started). If I can get that down into the 10% range I'll be a very happy bunny. Clothes are fitting me better, I had to punch a new hole in my favourite belt (that's 2-3 holes tighter than I used to be), I just discovered yesterday that a nearly-new pair of jeans I was going to give-away because it's too small actually fits me again, and in the martial arts classes I feel much more flexible and comfortable in my body.

Basically, this thing is turning into a success on all fronts, and I'm planning on sticking with it for the long term.

Transparent
me
dizietsma
Ugh. I just remembered why I dread selling things. Because people fuck you around for far too long before deciding that, you know what, it's not quite the right shade of blue or some other shit they should have known from the outset before even bothering to reply. Today's adventure has already begun, I'm trying to sell some camera lenses that I have no need for any more, so I listed them on Craigslist. One of the lenses doesn't have a built-in focusing motor so you have to either manually focus (like a boss), or buy a more expensive camera body to do the focusing for you. This, of course, is the lens that Mr Buyer wants. We're supposed to be meeting today to make the sale, we've been in correspondence for days already, there hasn't been any other interest so I even let him knock my price down from $120 to $100. This morning I have a message in my inbox asking if it works in "aperture mode" because he read something on the internet about how the lens doesn't autofocus and you have to shoot manual, and he only ever uses aperture mode. So, for those of you who understand how an SLR camera works, he has totally mixed-up two very different definitions of the word "manual". I have sent a reply: yes you can use aperture-priority mode, but depending on your camera body you might have to focus it by hand. The entry-level Nikon camera bodies don't have a built-in focus motor and they depend on the lens having one. Despite the fact that this answer should completely satisfy his stated concern, I'm still expecting a cancellation, because like, ugh, really, I still have to, like, totally turn the lens by hand, in 2011? Duuuuude. And the adventure goes on.

By the way, anyone shopping for some Nikkor glass? I've still got the 18-55 and 55-200 zoom lenses up for grabs. With built-in focusing motors, of course.


Edited to add:

I was wrong, I'll leave the post up as an exercise in humility :) For starters, it turned out to be MISS Buyer and not Mr Buyer (it was one of those names that could be either), she was fine with the manual focusing, and she had the cash in hand. So, lesson learned, I still don't trust internet buyers, but I shouldn't jump to conclusions either.

Gil Scott Heron dead at 62.
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dizietsma
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Classic albums I should know
me
dizietsma
I tried this on Facebook a few months ago with reasonable success, I thought I might try again here on LiveJournal since you guys all have impeccable taste ;)

Name one classic album you think I should own. I'm not looking for "anything by [artist X]", I'm really looking for the seminal classic album that marks the highpoint of the career of your favourite artist.

...go!

Cashflow
me
dizietsma
Bloody hell the last two months have been spendy! All the family birthdays apart from mine, plus new glasses for Muriel, a painting from an artist friend, and now glasses for Kelvin. Hopefully the poor vision was also the cause of his headaches, so fingers-crossed they'll stop now.

Can the spending stop now please?

We should have done this years ago
me
dizietsma
Mu bought a new mattress this week, it arrived yesterday and we slept on it for the first time last night. Oh my word what a difference. The old one was basically worn out even though I only bought it 4.5 years ago when we first arrived in Canada. It sagged, it was shaped like a pair of valleys side by side, and we're both feeling some degree of lower back pain that may or may not be related. The new mattress is a latex foam one instead of sprung, and our bed frame is a platform without a box spring, so basically it's FIRM. And I love it! And so does Mu. Climbing onto the bed gives me a little thrill to feel the resistance instead of my knee sinking right in. Last night I felt like I was perched too high, felt like I was going to roll off the bed and fall on the floor because I'm not nestled in toa groove any more. I'm sure the feeling will pass. Hopefully it'll have a positive effect on our backs too...

Elite
me
dizietsma
Imagine a fully functional Linux PC about the same size as a USB key, which costs about $25.

Actually don't bother, no need to imagine.

Incredible.

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