Thursday, March 26, 2009

Earth Hour, 2009

Earth HourWell, there is nothing for it. I have to plug Earth Hour on my blog. If only to improve upon my percieved sincerity for those of you who read or will read the article in today's Star Phoenix.

Betty Ann hooked me up with the reporter who did the story. She seemed to think that I was doing somebody a favour, but I feel that I am the one who benefitted. The hour that I spent talking to the reporter was quite enjoyable and a good opportunity to continue to reflect on some of the lifestyle choices that many of us have been wrestling with over the last days, weeks, and years.

I am only advocating for Earth Hour because it is an avenue for self-reflection. How much will your life be changed by turning off your lights for an hour? Not at all. I don't really care if you "believe" in global warming. This issue trancends the concept. For me it is about wanting and having less. Using what we need and no more. Enjoying your loves -- be they people or activities, or things -- and dispensing with that which cost much and gives little.


Don't grimace, I'm convincing myself here. I struggle with the desire (especially for new tech) on a daily basis as well as for many other frivolous things. In January, I joined the pact with my brothers not to purchase anything new that can be had used and to not purchase anything at all that I don't need. Tricky word, 'need,' as we all know, but a fundamental one that I must continue to analyse. The pact (for my part) is going well. The simple solution I've found is to stop going into Futureshop and Home Depot. Goodbye 90% of my pointless spending.

So, whether you sign up for Earth Hour or not. Maybe just join me in taking an hour to think about what makes you happy. Grab a beer, or glass of wine, or cup of organic/fairtrade coffee, light some candles, and turn off the lights.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Captainorange's Log

Stardate, blah, blah, etc, etc...

O.K. I've included a spread sheet of my activities at the top of the blog now. Now you can all keep tabs on my attempts to break my records. I'm not going to record everything I do (not yet anyway), just the serious attempts to increase my current record. I intend to eventually add all the old "book" data and highlight the current records in each category. It will stay until I become embarrassed by it's presence. I hope to hear of everyone competing and logging your own personal bests at home. You will be glad of it.

Saw a story on Oprah, (get over it, I sometimes watch) about calorie restriction (wikipedia). Looked fun. I'm always put off by how rabid (oprah.com) people are about these new heath fads, though. For now I'll just stick to whole foods and plenty of coffee.

--edit--
And if you give a damn about twitter, but don't have it (probably not eh?) you can see my most recent tweets down at the bottom of this page. It is kind of embarrassing saying 'tweets'

Monday, March 23, 2009

1996

I was 24 years old . The previous year had seen me secure both my degree in English from the U of S and my wife. It would still be 2 1/2 years until Leora was born. In the most cliché sense, I had the whole world ahead of me.

Of course I had just spent the last 4 months of 1995 living apart from Wen (as she tested out her first teaching job in Rosetown (wikipedia)). Shortly, I moved out of 518 Albert Ave. and into our first apartment. Small town life didn't agree really agree with me. Being an unconventional egg-head/vegetarian/freak from the big city, I felt watched and overtly judged wherever I went (but only because people were watching me).



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A perfect example is the cooking job that I got there at the Blue Baron -- a restaurant attached to a road-side motor inn. I was ´let go´ there after my 3 month probation. I challenged the owner (who was almost never in the kitchen) to tell me why I was being fired, and I was told that it was because the quality of the food had been going down during my employ. People who know me and my affinity for cooking should realize that me being fired from a job as a cook is a laughable state of affairs.

I wasn´t the head chef. He had recently quit and been replaced by a young man who grew up in town. Mark was really good at throwing the various types of knives in the kitchen, AND he knew a lot of things about cooking, BUT he hated Rosetown. His interest in his work was low and he was often drunk, though not at work, as far as I could tell. Anyway, at a bar and grill it was questioned whether or not an alcohol-abstaining vegetarian could possibly do the required job. So, I believe that I was the scape-goat for the head chef´s flagging enthusiasm. Incidentally, Mark quit about 2 weeks after I was let go. ¨no hard feelings,¨ he told me.

I put in motion the necessary cogs to cash in on my unemployment for the first and only time in my life. IE payments began just after I started my next job :) However, before that, I had a wonderful few months of unemployment. The time was productive in the classic ´Quest´ sense. Which is to say I did some fun, but non-paying, things.

During said time I finally managed to finish the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (wikipedia). I read a-book-a-day and was done within a week. There was a quote from one character, Foamfollower, which really connected me to the story and my own sense of the physical in this world:

¨Stone and Sea are deep in life¨

Obviously ´stone´ represents permanence and the ´sea,´ change. I copied the quote at the beginning of a blank book and began recording some things about what I saw as the stone and sea of my physical being. As with all such things, I am big on concept and not so big on follow-through. So, the entries are sporadic at best. But I have managed to keep the book and it does have some really interesting facts about me from 1996 until just before Leora was born. I have physical measurements for everything (seemly) that I could think of from bicep circumference to the length of my inseam. I also recorded a progression of my personal bests in the following categories: Arts Tower sprint time (basement to 11th floor), resting pulse, chin-ups, push-ups, hand-stand duration (no walking), and center-splits measurement.

My physical goal for this year, at 37 years of age, is to equal or best each of these categories.

Incidentally, this was also the year which I began jogging. I started out with jog two blocks, walk one. March 23rd, I have it recorded that I ran from the University bridge to Sid Buckwold bridge in 10 min 4 sec (with my black book bag and wearing a long-coat, no less). Dispatching this time won´t be a challenge, but I put it here for posterity.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nearly spring again...

Once again I thought spring was certainly here this time. I was wrong of course. Below minus 20 before the windchill on March 17th is depressing. Never-the-less, a scant two days ago, it was marvelous and sunny.

Wen and I got a bit edgy and decided to do some seeding in the greenhouse. It was between minus 5 and minus 3 outdoors, but in my little haven the temperature (at waist height) was 24 degrees celsius, in the shade. The sunny parts were making me sweat as I did a little caulking that I had neglegted in the fall. I seriously considered trying to put up a hammock in there and spend the day reading.

It really is a bit early to plant and when I do, it will still involve a lot of transporting things back to the house for the non-sun hours. Currently the temperature will still rapidly drop below freezing inside the greenhouse if the sun isn't shining pretty hard.


Later that day, Leora and Anwyn wen't to Liz's to help with some party preparations for Anthony's birthday "tea party" which left Wen and I some spare time. We elected for a river walk culminating in a terrific lunch at the Museo Cafe(mendel.ca) in the Mendel Art Gallery. The food was fantastic and the the coffee worthy of my attention. Next time I'll try the esspresso instead of the cappuccino.




I'm not going to comment on the art. There was only one thing that was really of interest to me.

I've included this photo of the banana plant(wikipedia) from the conservatory to show James just how small (relatively speaking) it is.


Monday, March 09, 2009

QE19

An early celebration was had last night. The core group of Questers was in attendance. As a first order of business we discussed last years quest books. A general favorite was "How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read," which, humourously, Dave hadn't. You could look up the less than favourable Guardian review, or you could take my word for it and have a good read (and a good laugh).

From there we moved on to this years reading list which, I'm sad to say, I did not contribute to. It will be a light reading year (for must reads)...

2 Picks (Filthy Lucre/Heath/Starcat, Notes on Democracy/Mencken/rainswept)

I will also attempt to read Dave's attempted pick (which is in 6 volumes and he hasn't quite finnished yet) entitled The Nature of Order - Christopher Alexander

Follow this link for my pictures from the evening...
QE19

I have set a few goals for the coming year:
  • First I plan to beat the 24-year-old me. I'll explain that one another time. 
  • Second, is a money saving goal to facilitate travel to perhaps Australia or the far East. 
  • Third is to actually "understand" my guitar (as James puts it).

Friday, March 06, 2009

A couple of days ago I went out searching for something to brighten my spirits. QWednesday it was trying to melt and I was excited by the prospect of early spring. I failed to make the outdoors a priority and promised to do it the next day. Thursday, I took a few pictures but it was already back to bitter winds and cold. This was all the run-off I could find. My fingers numbed and people stared at me wondering how someone's ears get this red.

It doesn't look too bad, here, but I'd already been in for about 5 minutes at this point. Whining? Maybe.

Today I had to shovel huge drifts from my driveway. Uphill, too.


I've consoled myself with this great orange flower. I try to look at it several times a day. It might be helping...




I really need it to be helping.

Monday, March 02, 2009

QNY2009

With any luck, I will be meeting with the Quest over coffee something like a week early. I haven´t heard from Geof or Handwing yet. The proposed date is March 8th and we are, once again meeting at the current favorite location. Problem is Spring. It hasn´t come a week early. In fact as of this morning, it is still blastedly cold here. I´m going out for a run later today, but I really need things to warm up or I just don´t feel like Questing. The original celebration was due to a warm wind blowing through town and causing a big melt. I have trouble generating the necessary feelings of adventure if the wind doesn´t smell adventurous.

I know, I know. You´re thinking to yourself, ¨he´s always like this at the beginning of March.¨ And, you´re right, of course. Without a little anguish the Quest just does not seem worthwhile. I´ll go anguish for a bit and be back when I have something productive to add to this discussion.