Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Question of Life and Death

On Tuesday GP bought me a copy of The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. I managed to not crack the book until my last class finished on Thursday. (Not sure how it went, don't particularly care; it's done, I know I didn't fail it and yesterday I registered for the last courses of my BA. Woo!) Anyway, I've started reading TVM and holy shit is it ever good.

I haven't read much of it yet, I'm about 1/3 of the way through it, but what I have read has been well-documented, painstakingly researched, logical, and compassionate. It brings up points of contradiction in the vegetarian/vegan/animal rights arguments that I've been asking myself ever since I first starting thinking about a vegetarian diet (as an 8 year-old, maybe?). It also provides coherent arguments for a plant and animal-based diet that is sustainable, compassionate and just.

Here are some quotes I found really insightful:

"I want my life--my body--to be a place where the earth is cherished, not devoured; where the sadist is granted no quarter; where the violence stops. And I want eating--the first nurturance--to be an act that sustains instead of kills." (1)

"The truth is that agriculture requires the destruction of entire ecosystems. The truth is also that life isn't possible without death, that no matter what you eat, someone has to die to feed you." (3)

"[Do] the lives of nematodes and fungi matter? Why not? Because they [are] too small for me to see?" (18)

"Soil, species, rivers. That's the death in your food. Agriculture is carnivorous: what it eats is ecosystems and it swallows them whole." (42)

"It takes anywhere from 250 to 650 gallons of water to grow a single pound of rice." (49)

"Militarism is a feminist issue, rape is an environmental issue [and] environmental destruction is a peace issue." (57)

"Rural life is urbanism with a view." (77)

"[W]e need to stop sentimentalizing nature. The sentimentality takes two forms. The first is the macho, Teddy Roosevelt (always elevated to his spare initials, "TR", in the pro-hunting literature) approach. Nature is violent and bloody, so there's nothing wrong with men (and it's always men who are allowed to lay claim to violence) behaving the same way. [...]

The TR crowd would argue that because animals do it--whatever it is, hunt, kill--humans are allowed to as well. Never mind that no (other) animal is capable of building a CAFO [concentrated animal feeding operation] or keeping other animals in lifelong torment, that factory farming doesn't exist--and could never exist--in nature. The TRs have their sentimentality and it's a maudlin attachment to their own masculinity, their own longing to invade and conquer, their own entitlement, which they project onto animals in order to claim it as the natural order.

The flip side is the ARs' [animal rights proponents'] ignorance and denial of death of the nature of nature. They show their ignorance in their insistence that an agricultural diet of annual grains is sustainable and death-free, when in fact it is inherently destructive and saturated in death. This approach reaches the ridiculous with ARs trying to save animals from themselves, from their animal needs and desires, to hunt, to kill, to eat and be eaten in turn." (77-8)

"A culture worth living in would start with an attitude of reverence and awe toward this world, our home, and every last member of it." (82)

"Beyond the destructive nature of an agricultural diet, any attempt to remove ourselves emotionally, physically, spiritually from the life processes of the planet will result in a culture based on ignorance, denial and, given our human capacity for destruction, dominance." (84)
Keith is fundamentally opposed to factory farming, but she is also opposed to a worldview that neglects the circle of life and death and co-dependency that we are all a part of. As I said, I haven't gotten very far in the book yet and I have only read Chapter One ("Why This Book?) and Chapter Two ("Moral Vegetarians"). So the above quotes shouldn't be regarded as the entire ideological basis of the book. The other chapters are called "Political Vegetarians" (this is where I am now), "Nutritional Vegetarians", and "To Save the World". There is also a lengthy resource section.

My friend Kimia tells me that one of the tenets of the Baha'i faith (and, please, if I'm wrong someone tell me) is to be in constant dialogue one's worldview, because without questioning what we believe we can't grow, intellectually or otherwise. That's part of the reason I wanted to read this book and part of the reason I hope you will too, whoever you are and whatever views you subscribe to!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Naked Pictures!

Well, almost. I finally got around to forcing GP to take pictures of me in a bathing suit. I've been procrastinating on my blog that is supposed to be about procrastination. That is a feat. I know I don't need to justify this for the whopping four people who follow this blog, but I feel like it, so here goes: I've been taking an English class on contemporary Canadian fiction and this is the last week of it. I spent most of last week worrying about an essay that was due today and that I wrote yesterday/last night. Worrying is a full-time activity. Tomorrow I have to get an outline together, as well as all the quotes I want to use in my open-book exam on Thursday. After that, however, I am free and clear of most responsibilities until August! How wonderful!

Anyway, without further ado, here are some pictures of me at around 6 weeks into P90X:

If you open up my post "How's this for a Bold Blogging Move?" and compare the pictures you'll see a big difference (or, at least, I think it's big) in my arms, tummy, and back. I'm pretty proud of myself. How exciting that I'm still a week away from half-way. So much time to get to where I really want to be!

I'd like to say I've been following the eating plan by rote, but GP would probably comment and remind me that cookies are not included in the diet. Suffice to say that I've been taking the eating plan into consideration and I think about it... Sometimes. I'm sure I'd see even better results if I stuck to it better. In that spirit, my nutrition goal for the rest of P90X is to do away with most grains. This is a cinch except for the following fact GP brought up: tortillas are so very convenient as vessels for food. It's hard to dream up a lunch that's quicker to make than a wrap. Any ideas, cyberspace?

Bonus picture: Here is something GP made for his dinner the other night. I'm sure he'd want any viewers to be aware of the lovely "garnish" of Mrs. Dash. Unfortunately, I wasn't home for this particular meal but I'm sure it was memorable.

Bonus points if you can guess what's in it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Making Endsmeat

I'll be finishing my BA (double major in Linguistics and English, if you forgot) in December. I'm one of those exceedingly fortunate people whose parents saved up for her education when she was wee, so she didn't have to worry about money ever, really. (Aside: That's not to say I'm irresponsible with money, I have just been very lucky with it being provided for me... Don't judge.) With my impending initiation into adulthood coming up I've been getting more and more anxious about life after university and how the hell I'm going to survive without Mummy and Daddy's generous financial support.

I intend to become certified to interpret American Sign Language (henceforth known as ASL), but like everything there is a cost to this training. That cost, according to my careful, if somewhat liberal, calculations, comes to around $13,250 with textbooks and various other accoutrements, over a four-year span (one year of which I'll likely be able to work full-time, thank god).

Why am I talking about money crap? Well, for two reasons: one, it's my blog and I can write whatever I want, so nyah. And two, it made me think of the funny (well, I think it's funny) anecdote that forms the title of this post. Given that I (and GP, if he's so inclined, which I think he is) will have to move to Vancouver for my schooling, our lives are going to be hella (ha, I'd never say that in person but it seems appropriate here) expensive. And I am wondering how I'm going to make my ends meet. I doubt GP will really have to worry because he's a lawyer and we all know lawyers are rich.

Anyway, the point is I got to thinking about the idiom "make ends meet" and how, when I was a kid, I always thought it was "make endsmeat", like you're making a kind of meat. As in "What are we having for supper?" "Endsmeat and potatoes, dear.". That kind of thing. And now I think it's funny that I thought that, but it makes total sense because people always say "makeendsmeet" so quickly that it's hard to tell where the word boundaries are. (I want to make some nerdy linguistics joke here, but I'll refrain, mostly because I can't think of anything witty enough right now.)

What I'm trying to say here is that kids don't think about money because (hopefully) they don't need to. Obviously I have to think about money more and more, the less kid-like I become, but I think remembering your kid-ness is important because it reminds you that taking time to have fun and think up imaginary things like endsmeat is just as important as taking time to plan out how to make ends meet.

A picture (or two, or three) of a very simple dinner, which consisted of grilled garlic/lemon chicken, a beautiful salad, and some yummy iced tea I made (from scratch, of course):

Monday, June 14, 2010

Groovin' High

...Isn't that a jazz standard? My little brother would know. Anyway, I'm just listening to some Jamiroquai (Love Foolosophy, to be exact)) and it's making me wiggle my butt, so I thought I'd share: I absolutely LOVE live strings in music they're not normally used in (pop, punk, etc.). What an awesome '70s disco sound. Golda should definitely add some Jamiroquai to her running music if she hasn't already.

So, anyway, back to the tangent at hand. This music got me shakin' my ass and, because my ass hurts right now because of P90X, I got to thinking about being healthy. Today marks our one-month-mark of P90X! I'm anticipating a photoshoot tonight with my photographer/roomie/workout buddy/GP. Pictures to be posted soonish. I can't wait to compare my photos side-by-side, I really think the results will be encouraging.

I went on a walk around town today, to run errands and get groceries (note to self: you forgot toothpaste). It was so pretty today! The sun was (isn't really now, it's kind of windy and overcast) shining and I wore shorts and barely got cold. I really love living here because everything is so close to walk to.

Coming across the tracks from downtown to the garage I walked past a gorgeous little garden with the prettiest bright purple flowers and thought, "Eff, if flowers don't make you at least a little bit happy, your expectations are too high." That's one of the reasons I think trying to not kill the planet is important, so that human beings are happy. Totally selfish, but hey, isn't that the whole point? What gets me so mad is that people are so short-sighted with this whole global climate change thing. And I'll get even more mad soon if I keep going on about it.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that nature is gorgeous as hell, so we should stop turning it into crap and be mindful of our actions. Not to mention that, if we want to survive, the perfect balances nature has (or had, in some cases) going are what produce the things we need. Do I REALLY need to drive my car to the store? Is it more of a priority for me to buy pesticide-free food or fancy clothes and endless pairs of shoes? What are the implications of me buying new stuff instead of used? Shit, I'll gladly furnish my house with antiques if that's better for the planet: "Hey GP, this chaise is $4000 but it's used, so we can have it, ok? Kthx." I'm not saying I smell of roses, because I don't always buy everything used or always buy organic food. And it's about more than just buying shit (it's also about writing letters, attending meetings, supporting politicians that advocate for the environment, etc.) Money talks, though, so that's... A thing.

Anyway, what it comes down to is that, as Tony Horton says, I'm doing my best and forgetting the rest. Other people can do what they want, but what I'm doing is working for me. And that's all I have to say about that.

Oh, also, here's what we ate last night:

A very summery dish: chicken roasted with lemon, garlic and white wine and some braised greens (courtesy of Momma's green thumb). It was even more tasty than it looks, if you can imagine. The meat just fell right off the bone. Also, Thrifty's sells local drug-free chicken! I've been buying it exclusively.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Feelin' good?

I am! I just sweated my nuts off with "core synergistics". And I also just saw this: and am thinking of incorporating such a ritual into my daily routine. Aside: if that were my kid I wouldn't let her climb on the bathroom counter. That is, however, coming from someone who, the other day in class, she had to erase a random drawing that someone from the previous class had put on the chalkboard because it wasn't drawn well and it was distracting. So maybe, given that I'm absolutely nuts, my opinions on parenting aren't very valid.

I spent a large proportion of today knitting, which is not a bad thing on its own (quite the contrary, in fact), but essay writing/book reading it is not. I have around 3 novels to finish reading for, oh let's see, Monday. A cardigan I haven't worked on since March seems like a valuable use of my time. The good news? It's Friday and all I have to do this weekend is an hour and a half of yoga. Tons of time to procrastinate.

On the cat front: Friskies is adorable. Last night GP (don't deny it, you) and I spent a good amount of time watching her twitch while she dreamt. GP thought she was dreaming about being a lioness in the savanna stalking her prey through 2 foot-tall yellow grass and chasing gazelles. I thought she was dreaming more mundane things like ripping small rodents to shreds, or wading nose-deep in her favourite treats. She's still sleeping now, as it happens. Snoring.

I made yet another delicious meal last night:

If you can't tell, it's lemon and dill baked salmon with a tomato and arugula (from my mum's garden, no less!) salad, simply dressed with a balsamic reduction, olive oil, fleur de sel, basil (from my "garden"), and some parmesan. Needless to say, it was tasty.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What is fair?

My friend Shelder recently posted this article on her Facebook: and my friend Liz commented on it, expressing her frustration that someone who goes and rapes little girls in developing countries only gets twelve years in prison. I agree with her, that a 12-year prison sentence doesn't seem long enough for someone who has done something so atrocious as taking advantage of people who are, no doubt, the most vulnerable in the world.

This got me to thinking about an article I read in the local newspaper (when I was washing windows, as it happens, because I use old newspaper instead of paper towels). Turns out the article wasn't as old as I thought it was: . It's about a man in the area who killed someone's cat with a broom handle. Read the story if you want more information. What got me was that he only had to serve thirty days in prison. THIRTY DAYS! That's less than Martha Stewart got, and this guy took a life! Needless to say, I washed the window with the mugshot of this awful guy, making sure I really put some elbow grease into making a hole in the paper with the Windex and the wiping. Maybe as a (GP says overprotective, I just say doting) cat mother I place more value on the life of a cat than other people do, but jeez. I would place the severity of this crime with AT LEAST that of the rape of a person. Seriously.

I was talking about this with GP because it obviously had an effect on me (besides making me even more lovey with Friskies). As a lawyer, he tends to know a bit about the penal (ha, funny word) system. He agrees that it doesn't really seem like long enough, but it's as much (or more) about rehabilitation as it is about punishment. The more likely a criminal is to re-offend, based on past criminal behaviour, precedents, studies, and other evidence, the longer they have to be put in the slammer.

I guess that makes sense, but damn, how could anyone ever hurt this?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pretty Pictures of Things We Ate

Today marks the beginning of "recovery" week in P90X. GP says the name is misleading and it's only a recovery week because there is no weight lifting. I'm just happy I don't have to do pull ups. I measured my waist today and discovered to my great delight that I have lost 1.5 inches. This hasn't really even been all that hard! I mean, sure, not eating carbohydrates has really cramped my style, but other than that I have been cheating on the diet a little bit and still seeing results. I think if there's one area I have to kick it up a notch in, it's that one. There's no point in doing this if I'm not going whole hog. So I might keep doing the "fat shredder" diet for another week. Maybe I won't because I love eating starchy things. Who knows.

GP and I will be taking pictures of our bodies next week because we'll have finished one month of P90X by then. I can't wait to compare my photos.

Here are some pictures of a hippie-ish meal I made on the weekend:

I call it hippie-ish because it's one of those meals that looks atrocious but tastes really really good. The pink crap is beets with some dill and goat cheese and the greeny-brown squares are tofu baked in the pesto I had leftover from another meal. It went down easy-- I love the piss outta beets. Speaking of piss, beets are also entertaining in that way.

Lastly, GP and I went to a really nice show last night at the Duncan Garage, where we saw the perennially delightful Chelsea-Lyne Heins, who opened for Martin Kerr. It was a lovely intimate show with great music, cookies, and even some Spice Girls. I don't know what more anyone could want!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How's this for a bold blogging move?

I'm posting my P90X "before" pictures with the relative assurance that the only person who really reads this is GP and possibly Sarah. However, I did put a link to yesterday's post on my Facebook. Oh well, most of my friends have seen me in a swimsuit anyway. And fuck, I was already skinny before I started this program, so nobody can be an asshole to me.


Friday, June 4, 2010

What's for dinner?

A delightful pesto of spring greens, parmesan, sage, pine nuts and garlic artfully plopped onto perfectly grilled and succulent local chicken (see below), accompanied by garlicky sauteed bok choy and mushrooms. Sounds good to me. You can see the end result of this delicious creation at the end of this post.
I love dinner. I also love breakfast and lunch. And I love sharing these meals with people. Since moving in with GP I've been doing most of the cooking. I don't mind this at all. Sometimes I don't feel like cooking and we don't really eat dinner, but that's only happened maybe twice. God forbid I ever have children and I don't feel like cooking dinner: Future teacher: "Suzie, what did you have for dinner last night?" Future child: "Nothing, Mummy didn't feel like it and Daddy was at the office." How utterly depressing. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Anyway, what I was going to say was that I like eating and I like eating with people and I like eating with GP because it means I can cook more food more often. I have to admit I haven't been as adventurous as I'd hoped to be once I was cooking for two instead of one, but I am a work in progress after all.

Being a vegetarian is another thing I've had to struggle with of late because of this damned P90X. The diet plan is a bit confusing because it basically says to vegetarians "You're vegetarian, you know how to do this stuff already, so just adjust the meat recipes to be vegetarian". That's a lot easier said that done when I don't feel like eating tofu and "mock" meat has sooo many chemicals and is expensive. I miss my legumes. Alas, I don't feel like I can eat them because they have too many carbs and I don't want to have to do all that tedious math to figure out how much lentils I can have. So I guess it's back to meat for the time being.

I feel pretty crappy about this decision. It's not like I'd ever eat pork or beef, but even just going back to eating chicken and fish regularly is really not what I want to do. At the same time I don't want to have to rely on SO MANY soy products and fake food to get me through. I want the best of all worlds: I don't want to have to make animals suffer so I can get high quality protein, but I also don't want to have to do the mind-numbing calculations necessary to include legumes, which I'm not really sure I can do anyway even if I did do the calculations because they're simply too high in carbs, and I don't want to have to consume soy and chemicals all day long!! So I guess I just have to go the road of least resistance: find dead animals to eat that haven't been treated badly before they died. I foresee a lot of wild salmon in my future.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Am I Canadian?

I just read this article (and many of the comments) and feel like I should spew out what it made me think about. The word limit in the comment section was much too short!

I am of two minds: I believe, as Canada is an officially bilingual country, all citizens should have the choice as to which language they would like to learn in. It is not a matter of Quebec being separatist, but rather an acknowledgment of Canada's history and the rights of the Canadian people.

On the other hand, the lack of attention our "multicultural" policies give to the languages that were here before any Europeans is pretty appalling. What about the languages of the indigenous people of this land? What about Coast Salish or Algonquin languages? These languages have been in existence for far longer than French or English and are the real "first languages" of Canada, yet fewer than 1% of our population speaks them. So do Canadians all have the right to learn these languages too?

What about immigrant languages? As a white English speaking first generation Canadian, I may look and sound like someone whose family is "Canadian" and they are, according to papers. But my father was born in the US and my mother was born in Africa. What then, happens for people whose family background is Chinese, for example, but they are 5th or 6th generation Canadian? Does this mean that they have more of a right to attend a Chinese-speaking school than I do?

Another question: what about universities? As far as I know, Université Laval is the only French university in Canada. The University of Alberta has a French faculty, but its programs are quite limited. Do people want to speak English more than they want to speak French? Or do French people in Quebec not want to get post-secondary education?

What the issue boils down to is the fact that it is impossible to please everyone and be politically correct. It is impossible to provide schooling in every language spoken within Canada's borders for every citizen without relocating them to specific countries within this country. That would be an exercise of polarities and that is entirely not what Canada is supposed to be about. To be quite blunt, English is becoming, whether people like it or not, a global language. The richest country (GDP) in the world speaks English and, cliché as it is, money talks.