Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kids .... and Cholesterol????

Did anyone see this is the news a few weeks ago?

Children as young as two should be screened for high cholesterol, and some at-risk kids should be prescribed cholesterol medication to protect them from early heart disease, says a leading group of American pediatricians.

New guidelines released yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics are the strongest yet on the issue, spurred by mounting childhood obesity. They call for wider cholesterol screening in children, and more aggressive use of cholesterol-lowering drugs for kids as young as eight.

Yes, these guidelines are calling for more aggressive use of drugs on kids!!

There's some lip-service, to be sure:
Lifestyle changes, including changes in diet and increased physical activity, should be the first line of attack for high cholesterol levels, the guidelines say. But if those don't work, the academy recommends doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, to get levels under control.
"MikeLondon", a commenter on this article, said it better than I ever could:
Medicating society is out of control. This is barking mad! These are children. Changing diet and encouraging exercise is what is required.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This explains a LOT

The obscure we see eventually, the completely apparent takes longer.
Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit.
- Edward R. Murrow

Monday, July 28, 2008

Go ahead, thank me with vegetables

When I was growing up, we had a pretty mundane list of vegetables that we would eat: corn (usually canned), carrots, POTATOES, peas (usually canned), beans (usually canned), beets (always canned), iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, the occasional radish (if we were being fancy), a little bit of cabbage in the forms of cole slaw or cabbage rolls, onions, celery, zucchini, spinach (only if it went in a cream-based dip, so yummy), a bit of broccoli, the occasional green pepper in my teen years, and maybe something else that I've forgotten about.

It's not a small list, by any means. But lately I've been slowly adding things to it: sweet potatoes (amazing as fries), spinach (a key ingredient in salads), leeks, artichokes, butternut squash (great in soups and baked with apples and cranberries), eggplant, kale, turnip, kohlrabi, and now fennel.

My friend Bina actually got me to try fennel (a.k.a. anise). I'd heard it tasted like licorice, which I find foul-tasting, so I'd been avoiding it. But she convinced me to try it, and even supplied, with typical Italian generosity, a wedge of a raw bulb for me to sample. And it did have a licorice flavour, but it was also crunchy and smooth and refreshing. I liked it! I even bought myself some a couple of weeks ago. It's so easy to prepare; just rinse and chop the bulb into finger-food pieces. It's reportedly good for one's digestion; apparently Italians commonly finish off their large meals with a piece of fennel.

So now I'm a fan of fennel.

So much so, that, after doing Bina something of a favour, I joked that she could pay me back in fennel.

So what did I receive today? Lo and behold:


Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's my sign?

FAR too long ago, I invited you, friends and Internet vagabonds, to ask me anything. And the preternaturally curious Zen took up the challenge and asked me to validate her hunch that my astrological sign is Cancer.

Now you would think that this would require only a relatively straight-forward answer, right? Well, no. And the reason why might become clearer …

First, I loved the question, because I love Cancers. Love love LOVE them. I consider it an honour to be compared to a Cancer. Some of my closest friends – particularly from my childhood - are Cancers. I think it’s because they tend to be more sensitive than other people, and, especially in my earlier days, I needed some particularly sensitive people in my life who could see beyond the noise and static that I was sending out. also describes Cancers in this way:

The mascot of Cancerians is the Crab, and much like this shelled little critter, Cancerians are quick to retreat into their shells if it suits their mood. No wonder these folks are called crabby! For Cancer, it's not that big of a deal, though, since they consider this 'shell' a second home (and they do love home). The flip side of this hiding is that shell-bound Crabs are often quite moody. Further, in keeping with their difficulty in sharing their innermost feelings, it can become a Herculean task to pry a Crab out of its secret hiding place. What to do? Give the Crab time -- eventually these folks will come out to play again.

In many ways, this could describe me. I certainly tend to withdraw when I’m dealing with “stuff”, and I’ll only come out when I’m good and ready. However, I have very strong opinions about moody people (having had to deal with a few the last 38 years), and I firmly believe that it is completely wrong to take one’s bad mood out on anyone else. I know there are medical/psychological conditions where the person may not actually have that much control over how they treat other people, but such cases are rare. If I’m tired or upset, I consciously try to ensure that I don’t take those feelings out on anyone around me. I can’t really say whether I’m successful at this, but I *think* people find me fairly even-tempered.

But I digress … The truth is that I was born during the transition period between two signs, so I tend to have qualities of both signs (or so the theory goes). Since I’m not big on my revealing my birth date to the Internet (for privacy concerns), I won’t say here which signs these are. But from one sign to another, there are distinct contrasts, and perhaps this cusp/combination business explains why I am so “complexe”, as a French instructor once called me (after I sat in maybe 2 of her classes). On the other hand, there’s nothing really in either sign – to the best of my knowledge, at least – explains why I love home and gardening and nurturing as much as I do. (Surprisingly enough, Cancer does not appear anywhere in my astrological chart … go figure.)

Is there anything to this astrology business? I don’t know for sure, but it’s fun to ponder. For example, does the fact that my moon sign (emotions) is Virgo explain why I’m inexplicably drawn to Virgos? Does (one of my) sun signs explain why my relationships with Virgos are often a two-steps-forward-three-steps-back experience? It’s a fascinating possibility … :)

Preach it, brother!

Passionate comments about McCain's comments that children should only be adopted by heterosexual couples. Short, but well worth the read.

Dear Spice Girls

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want (at this moment, anyway):

a nap, and a housekeeper.

Not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

No words

RIP Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch died yesterday of pancreatic cancer. If you've never heard of the professor whose last lecture was popularly viewed on YouTube, please acquaint yourself with this remarkable man. He had many wonderful truths to share, and was taken too early.

Throughout his illness, he recorded his updates here.

Professor Pausch and his wife have three small children. His intent with his recorded lectures, book, and other writings were that one day he would be able to share with his kids his life lessons and philosophies. By doing so, he's offered his mentorship to all those who have a listening heart.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Misty Mountaintop

Misty Mountaintop
Originally uploaded by MikeJonesPhoto.

This photo makes me miss the Pacific NW.

Mike Jones is a truly wonderful photographer - be sure to click on the link with his name to see more of his work on Flickr.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Even ...

I'm not a fan of Martha Stewart, nor of chow chows, but I found this blog entry (from April, it's a little old) to be very moving.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Boy can I relate!

Checking voicemail ...

... is soooo much work.

Can I have an "Amen"???

MIssing them

Originally uploaded by Noisypond.

It's only been two months since I last saw them, and yet it feels like it's been far too long already. It'll be another two months before they make their first visit to Ontario.

This sucks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chickpea Central

This weekend I had the bright idea that I would make hummus from scratch. Including cooking dried chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). So of course it's Sunday evening and I'm only cooking the beans now and the whole idea seems far less of a good idea than it did on Saturday morning. But I will persevere ...

But the weird thing? The chickpeas (which are being boiled without any spices, onions, garlic, whatever) smell like I'm cooking a ham. Is this just me? Or is there anyone else out there among my friends and Internet vagabonds who has boiled chickpeas who can speak authoritatively on the smell of boiling garbanzo beans?

Trust me, it's interesting

Tonight when I was at the gym, I found a printout of this article that someone had left behind on my favourite elliptical machine. It covers how the American investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed last March under speculation that it was short of funds ... and suggests that the rumours were deliberately spread in order to bring down the bank.

On Monday, March 10, the rumor started: Bear Stearns was having liquidity problems. In fact, the maverick investment bank had around $18 billion in cash reserves. But soon the speculation created its own reality, and the race was on to keep Bear’s crisis from ravaging Wall Street. With the blow-by-blow from insiders, Bryan Burrough follows the players—Bear’s stunned executives, trigger-happy reporters at CNBC, a nervous Fed, a shadowy group of short-sellers—in what some believe was the greatest financial scandal in history.
A fascinating, engaging read that makes you wonder ...

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Today, I finally gave up on the possibility of the keys for my bike lock ever showing up. I called a locksmith and we went down into the creepy basement where my bike has been held hostage. The locksmith dude (and yes, he was a "dude" - there is no better way to describe the man) had a HUGE set of wirecutters (or the steroid-affected version thereof) and, after some exertion and grunting and straining, the bike was freed! It is now sipping margaritas at a bike shop while they address the last 1.5 years of neglect. Then it will go on a tour of France, just like Ingrid Betancourt. Okay, I just made that last part up.

After dropping my bike off at the spa, I found I could no longer ignore all the dirt in my car. Most of it was gravel and such tracked in by myself or friends after hiking. I'd been procrastinating cleaning but today I paid someone to vacuum my car for me. And it was worth. every. penny.

Addictive soup

I would consider this a winter soup, but I love it so much that I’ve been eating it in July. It has no fat/oil, so it’s safe for a certain friend of mine who is struggling with gallstones. It is also gluten-free and dairy-free! And vegan! And low-calorie! And cheap! And makes an enormous amount of food. It freezes well. BUT it’s also a very hearty, flavourful soup, so I’m thrilled to share the recipe ...

In a large pot of water, add:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 medium turnip or rutabaga (cut into quarter-sized chunks or slices)
  • 2 – 4 carrots, either grated, sliced, or chopped into 1-inch chunks (whatever your preference)
  • 1 – 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped into large chunks
  • 2 – 3 leeks, sliced
  • Dried parsley to taste
  • Paprika to taste
  • Approx. 1 tablespoon of salt

Bring to a boil and simmer 3 – 4 hours.

If you're on a low-sodium diet, you'll want to rachet down the salt, but otherwise, this is a great soup to serve almost anyone.

As you can see, the recipe is extremely easy and quick to set up. The only thing is the long cooking time - plan accordingly!!!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Some people should just stick with what they're good at

Case in point: Scarlett Johanssen. I love her as an actor. But now's she's released a CD, which you can purchase and download from iTunes.

But why would you? Based on the snippets I can hear for free, she doesn't even sound like a woman. More like a man. Who is trying to sing like a hound. If hounds could sing.

But that is just my opinion. Please take a listen yourself and let me know if I am out in left field.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Torture is wrong. Period.

I don't know how the feck it's come to pass in just a few short years that one has to make an statement against torture ON BEHALF OF A LAW-BASED DEMOCRACY, but there it is.

In particular, torture of a 16-year-old kid is wrong, diabolically wrong. I don't care who his parents are or what they said or did, nor does it matter that this kid may have thrown a grenade at a U.S. soldier. There's nothing to be gained by tormenting a KID. Please note that there is a HUGE difference between punishment and @#!%$*&!ing torture.

The Red Cross believes that war crimes are being commited at Guantanamo Bay - in your name, in my name:

It's got to stop. Especially for this kid. To quote another commenter: "I am Canadian and I demand that his rights be vigorously enforced. YO! HARPER! Snap to it!"

You can go here to sign the Avaaz petition for the U.S. to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Today's song is ...

... "Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae. I can't count how many times I've listened to it today. It's a great summertime song for sitting around, chilling with good people (which incidentally is also something I did today - I feel so very lucky! :) )

Maybe sometimes, we've got it wrong, but it's alright
The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same
Oh, don't you hesitate.

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams,
Just go ahead, let your hair down.

You're gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow.

Quote of the day

As Kevin and I were driving out of the city to have dinner at a co-worker's place:

"Oh my God, how far north ARE we??? There's firewood out here, for pity's sake!!!"

For Kevin, true civilization ends at Bloor Street ... :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My current fantasy

A little cottage at the edge of a sandy beach. By myself, for a couple of weeks a month, with no social obligations.

Lots of books from my own collection. A hammock in the shade.

A comfy cot inside the cottage where I could nap every day. Perhaps even twice.

Delicious, healthy, vegetarian food is either served or easily prepared.

The weather is warm but still comfortable, and there is lots of shade so I don’t wither in the sun or worry about my skin getting scorched.

My two cats have miraculously been able to come on this vacation with me, without flipping out about the new environment or running out the door and getting lost outside. Elves come in twice a day to clean out the cat litter and generally tidy the cottage.

And, for good measure: while I am away from home, someone (more elves?) is cleaning my apartment and washing the windows.

YOUR current vacation fantasy?

Monday, July 07, 2008


Originally uploaded by carlobatti.

Hi everyone,

Still alive, still preoccupied. Stay tuned ... :)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Note from the laundry room

I love side-loading washing machines. They're bigger and you can put more clothes in them and they're apparently easier on your clothes too. But they're a pain to load/unload. So, basically, I'm wondering: why don't they make a top-loading side-loading washing machine? You know???

Oh, and while we're on the subject of laundry, here's a great song I discovered via Linda (I looked for the actual blog post but can't find it, sorry):

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fighting a lifelong case of the "shoulds"

Helloooooo there … anybody still around here these days?

It’s been rather quiet around here lately (although admittedly very visual). You know when you start up an application or do something equally load-intensive, it just seems to stall? You still see the hard drive light flashing, and maybe there’s a little hourglass that blinks on the screen, but otherwise … nada? Yeah, well, that’s been my blog lately. I’ve been processing. I’ve been going to the gym, trying to get back in shape, but I’ve also had a number of things to sort through lately. Nothing bad, just stuff for me to sort out in my own mind. It’s not done yet (by far), but I thought I’d just let you know what was going on. I don’t want to write or talk about it, so kindly just accept it for what it is. A mystery. :)

On another topic, how predominant is the word “should” in your vocabulary? About ten years ago, someone pointed out to me that it was all-too-common in my words and thoughts. And it was totally, 100% true; much of my motivation for the things that I did was from a sense of duty or obligation rather than a genuine willingness or interest. How sad and joyless is that? Worse, “shoulds” never let up; there’s always some way in which we fail to live up to all the things that we ought to do and think and accomplish and practice. Because we’re human, and human beings have limitations and failings.

So, over the years, I’ve tried to ease up on my “shoulds”. I don’t think it’s possible to entirely free oneself of the “shoulds” without becoming totally irresponsible, but I try to use my “shoulds” judiciously, when warranted. It’s a perpetual struggle for someone with my personality, I have to say, and I probably let the “shoulds” have more of my time and energy than is healthy. But I’m working on it.

So when someone else comes along and tries to add more “shoulds” that are really not reasonable or not even mine (or does this to someone else I know is feeling guilty for not being able to get to all his/her “shoulds”), there WILL. BE. CRANKINESS.

Enough said.