Friday, February 23, 2007

Contagious

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For my b-day, I would like.... my health! Or a good dose of decongestants. I'm sick, y'all, and not the incapacitated, bed-ridden sick that would allow me to call in to work and not go in. I'm the *other* kind of sick, the kind that makes me feel like absolute garbage (muddled cloudy brain, pressure-laden sinuses, scratchy sore throat, watery droopy eyes, soreness in every part of my body) but somehow is not sufficient excuse for me to stay home because my limbs are miraculously spared the malady.

Is it the fault of the little people I work with all day long? None of them look or act sick, and none have sneezed or coughed on me. However, a good portion of the teachers I know have battled stomach flus and other sorts of colds in the last week. My mentor teacher seems to think that I, along with my student-teaching colleagues, am sick because I haven't built up a strong enough immunity to kid-germs yet. She claims that after a few more years of teaching, I will be healthy as a horse and invincible to the colds and coughs and flus brought into my classroom by my kids.

Regardless of the origins of my condition, I am rather displeased that I should fall ill on the weekend right before my b-day. I had much better plans in mind than, you know, going to bed at 9:00 p.m. and nursing my sore throat and drippy nose. But unfortunately, it looks like I have little choice but to rest and drink a bazillion litres of fluids in a feeble bid to force my body into health once more.

*sniff* Happy birthday to me, indeed. =(


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Full Tummy and a Full Heart

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Happy V-Day, folks! I had a wonderful, relatively commercial-free Lover's Day with Hubbs, and count myself as the luckiest girl in the world.

You see, my wonderful man made me dinner, which is pretty huge considering he has only cooked for me formally on one other occasion, early on in our dating history. Since then, I've been more of the culinary artiste, and him the epicurean taster. Well, today the roles got reversed.

He planned the menu and made me an appetizer of prosciutto-wrapped scallops with pesto mayonnaise, followed by an entree of sauteed giant prawns and scallops and capellini in a pesto sauce (yes, his ingredients of choice were pesto and seafood). For dessert we had Skor ice cream, which was not homemade but that's okay because I wanted ice cream anyway.

Overall, it was a delicious and rich meal that filled me up, and the dining experience was made all the more special because it was Hubbs who did all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

I was not a total ingrate either; I did give him two chocolate treats and two very mushy V-day cards. However, I do submit that this day was more a blessing and a treat for me than for him.

Hope your Feb. 14th was as special as mine! :)



Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Frustrated Immediate Gratification

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I'm referring to the drug-like addiction I have to that uber-crazy show, 24. Watched it last night, and thought Episode 8 (the first hour) was a little bit boring since it didn't feature Jack as much as it did the White House staffers. The second hour was intense for me, however. Plus it helps that I think there's excellent "let's get it on" chemistry between Jack and Marilyn (Rena Sofer, one of my favourite TV actresses). In fact, I would say there's more chemistry here than was had with Terri, Audrey, that woman from Season 5 with the son, or even Ms. Evil herself, Nina.


And now I have to wait another blinkin' week before I can find out what happens!!! Talk about an exercise in patience, and what a testimony to the general effectiveness of the show! I mean, they keep their viewers hooked in spite of only airing on a weekly basis...and then rampant speculation across the web takes place for the full week leading up to the next episode.

Nicely done, Jack.



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What Day Is Today? Oh Right, the First Day of the Rest of My Life...Sort Of

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I feel like a new woman. A FREE woman. A woman who can taste and laugh and live and enjoy again. Why? I just wrote my last exam to the last course that I will need to take to graduate!!!

HIP HIP HOORAY!!!


Now I just have to successfully and dazzlingly complete my practicum and I'll be well on my way to the cap and gown and scroll and hopefully, job once m
ore. And that thrills me a lot.

You see, I do not teach because I want to be rich. I do not teach because I want to be powerful or in control, or have cool holidays in the summer. I teach b
ecause I have a passion for young people and for watching and helping them to grow and to learn and to make sense of this crazy world and all its crazy information. It energizes me to be in the classroom, to guide and direct and nurture and support and encourage and be blessed in return. And I miss that part of my former life immensely; I still dream about my former students and I think about them every so often and I wonder if they feel as though I have made any difference in their lives and whether they know they have made such a big difference in mine.

So it is with much excitement and joy that I return to the calling that I love, and that I am purposed to be at. My mind is filled with all sorts of pedagogical theory and sometimes I worry about how well I will be able to put all these wonderful principles and ideas into practice, but I can't help but think that I will figure it out and things will fall into place because I already stand out from some of my peers in that I want to be in that classroom, I want to be around those little people, and I enjoy the life that is a teacher's life, both inside and outside of the classroom.

I am so proud to be entering into this profession officially. Finally!

May your job and your profession give you the same thrill that mine offers me, and may you be refreshed and renewed as you enter into it again today or tomorrow! :)




**Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

Monday, February 05, 2007

Lovers' Day, Marketing Day, Or Whatever You Call It

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Yes, I know that it is technically called Valentine's Day. You might as well call it Lovers' Day, or Marketing Day, or Suckers' Day, or Pint-of-Ice-Cream Day. It's many things to many people, you know.

In my former life as a singleton, Feb. 14th was the Day of Mourning, or D-Day ("Dead Day") to me. I had no one to give me cards or flowers or chocolates or sweet kisses, and I was terribly embittered by the swarming droves of couples that mysteriously seemed to appear, kissing and hugging and doing other gag-worthy things, on that day. I was equally-disgusted with the overwhelming pink and red displays that seemed to cover every store in town. On that day, I would wear all black. In fact, one year a colleague of mine even gave me a black Valentine heart with the word, "BAH!" written in white on it. That was one of my favourite cards :)

The 14th is considered "Lovers' Day" for some, and by "some," I mean the newly-dating, newly-engaged, or newly-married couples in the world who just need an excuse to lavish their darlings with sugary sweets and pretty pink and red heart-covered angels and lingerie and stuffed animals. These are the people who end up paying tons of money to dine out
on that evening, and make careful preparations in advance just to ensure that their oh-so-romantic plans do not get way-laid.


For the stores and shops and manufacturers of the world, the 14th is Marketing Day, the day when all their little gimmicks and ads and displays theoretically pay off with big profits coming from the pockets of unsuspecting, indiscriminate (or lovesick) consumers (usually men). This is why, for these guys, the 14th is Suckers' Day.



And for present-day singletons (not that there is anything wrong with that!), the 14th is Pint-of-Ice-Cream or Pan-of-Brownies or Bottle-of-Red-Wine Day, a time to indulge and enjoy and escape the sickeningly-saccharine occasion by celebrating one's freedom with good food and/or drink.


But for Hubbs and I, this year Feb. 14th is Every Day, not at all distinct from other days of the year when he is sweet and showers me with kisses and sweet compliments and loving attention.* We will be avoiding the trap of dining out on that expensive evening, opting instead for something quiet at home. We will not be filling our home with chocolate that can tempt me and misdirect my weight-loss plans. And I will probably not wear all-black.


I find it tasteless to set aside only one heavily-marketed day a year to celebrate love and affection and significant others. Why don't people make Valentine's Day a daily affair? Seems silly to me.

So what will Feb. 14th mean to you? Choose carefully and make sure you watch your wallet!


*
Although I do reserve the right to receive and/or give a card and/or flowers. But these acts aren't exclusive to this occasion for us anyway.


Jasper Bound! (Or, the Travel Bug Bit My @$$!)

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So, I'm going to Jasper for the weekend. Sudden, I know. It was impromptu, with the good hotel rates courtesy of a very well-connected sister-in-law who denies she is well connected.

We're staying at the Marmot Lodge. I cannot be sure of the level of nice that it is (though probably a little less posh than the Marriott!), since I did not get very many up-to-date, successful Google returns on the place.

However, it is a getaway. One in which I am not obliged to be holed up in the hotel room working on an art project. One in which my Hubbs is not preoccupied with preparing and rehearsing and delivering his presentation.

This is a rare opportunity that I am thankful to God for providing, because in the midst of the cold and the mundane of February, it is nice to get away and relax. And celebrate an early V-day.




At the Risk of Inciting Controversy

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...let me proceed carefully and disclaim that these are my thoughts, not meant to injure or insult or discriminate or incite, but to raise questions that are floating inside my little brain and to work through my own ideas by typing them out.

The issue of discrimination by weight and appearance has become more prevalent in both the courts and the media as waistlines have continued to i
ncrease, and people have started to feel excluded based on their size. On the one side are arguments that obesity is not always a choice, but sometimes a medical condition. Within this "side" are some who sue because they feel they are NOT handicapped by their weight and should therefore not be discriminated against, while others sue because they feel that their morbid obesity IS a disability and should be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


The other side of the debate argues that obesity is not a disability or condition in isolation, and that individual choices contribute in such a way that it would be impossible to conclusively argue that one factor in particular could explain one's state of morbid obesity. As such, this side contends that there are jobs and opportunities that are not safe or appropriate for people beyond a particular size, and that people have a choice in getting themselves to that level of obesity as well as back to within "acceptable" ranges of weight that would qualify them for those jobs and opportunities from which they might be presently excluded. That people choose NOT to eat less and move more, and then sue for discrimination is argued as being ridiculous and unfair to professions and jobs and opportunities that require a certain level of physical fitness and mobility in order to do the work. This side would posit that it would not be unreasonable to refuse the hire of a 430-pound, morbidly obese man to be a personal trainer at a gym.

As an equality-for-all person, I think it is wrong to discriminate based on appearance as a general rule; I worked at one point for a restaurant chain that actually stated (in one of their training manuals only available for management to read) that the front-of-the-house staff had to be attractive in order to be hired. It was totally wrong to deny servers or hostesses the opportunity to work simply because they did not meet the managers' standards of attractiveness (which is in the eye of the beholder anyway, is it not?).

As a former anorexic, former chubbster, and present-day-semi-chubbster, I think on a personal level I would feel very offended if I was judged by my appearance or my weight. According to my most recent physical examination, I'm healthy and at zero risk of cardiac problems, high blood-pressure, diabetes, or any other risks normally associated with those who carry more weight. I'm not morbidly obese, however. Healthy as a horse (and getting healthier by the day), I would be rightfully outraged if I was denied opportunities simply because I did not fit a limited, social definition of "beauty" or "health."


That said, I am not sure where I lean on this controversial issue. Recently, while flying on a jet plane to Victoria, I noted that my seat wasn't very big. My legs felt cramped, my butt and lower back were sore from sitting, and generally I couldn't get comfortable, in spite of the fact that I fit just fine in the seat. The guy beside me, who I'm guessing to weigh at least 250 lbs, looked even less comfortable than I did, and I suspect that his discomfort was somehow linked to mine. He had to keep his arm tight against his body so as not to intrude on my space, but his stomach and butt inevitably spilled over into my seat area, even though he sat in the aisle seat and had presumably positioned himself so as to make maximum use of available space on that other side. The last woman to board (she was late) looked to be larger than this man, and as she made her way to her seat in a row behind ours, I couldn't help but wonder how comfortable she would be, strapped into the itsy bitsy seat like I was. I also wondered how comfortable the individual sitting beside her on this full flight would be.

So then I began to think about rights. We all paid the same price (well, nearly the same price) to be on that flight. We were all entitled to one seat. Is it fair for those who are obese or morbidly obese to be subjected to less-than-decent flying conditions based on their weight? Is it fair to other passengers to have to lose part of the space to their seats as a result of sitting beside someone who cannot adequately fit into their own without "spilling over?" Is it more fair to make wider seats for all commercial aircraft, and just charge more for airfare, so that everyone could be seated comfortably during a flight? Is it fair to all passengers to have to pay more money for wider seats, simply to accommodate those in a minority population who are severely overweight?

Obviously, I don't think there is a "right" answer to these questions, nor to the above-mentioned issue of discrimination based on weight and appearance. As with all ethical and moral debates, it seems that ensuring the rights of some will inevitably encroach on the rights of others, and it is usually left to the discretion of the court in individual rulings, and perhaps the demand of the democratic majority, to make the decisions that are deemed most lawful, ethical, and moral for everyone involved.

As the population continues to get more overweight and obese, however, I wonder how long it is before these particular issues really come to the fore?

All I know is that I would have welcomed a wider, more comfy seat on the plane, and would have been willing to pay an extra few bucks for it!








Breakfast is the Best Meal of the Day

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I look forward to this meal every morning. I love the junky breakfasts (day-old pizza, leftovers scrounged from the fridge), the fattening breakfasts (maple pork sausage and crispy bacon and deep-fried cubed hash browns), and at present time, our healthy breakfasts, which happen to include berry (or apple) egg-white frittatas or egg-white french toast or Turboz cereal (it's like protein-enriched Honeycomb).


To make the French Toast (unhealthy version), click on the above image. Some other person has already posted the recipe online, saving me the trouble of retyping everything :) If you want the healthy Mrs. Loquacious version, just follow the above-linked recipe, but you'll need these ingredients instead: egg whites (1 per slice of bread), whole-sprouted-grain/gluten-free bread, Splenda, cinnamon, vanilla extract, Pam spray, sugar-free syrup, and skim milk.

To make the fruit frittatas, I generally heat up my non-stick frying pan at low-medium heat with Pam spray. While it is heating, I beat together 4 egg whites, a package of Splenda, a tiny drop of vanilla extract, 1/2 cup of instant oatmeal, and a dash of cinnamon. Then I pour my frittata batter into the pan to make a nice thick circle, and add my fruit/berries to the batter in the pan (we use dried apples or frozen berries, and I would not advise using citrus fruits or anything that is too liquidy). I cover the pan and let the egg cook (the covering prevents it from getting dry and also helps cook it, I think) for a couple of minutes. When I see that the batter has begun to bubble in the middle of the frittata, that's usually my cue to flip it over in the pan, cover, and cook for another minute or so. Done! Then the frittata is topped with sugar-free syrup (or more berries, if you wish). This is one of Hubbs' favourite breakfasts, especially since it allows him to get fibre, fruit, and protein all at the same time without having to consume a ton of fat or high-GI carbohydrates.

Anyway, I just had some french toast and it was delicious so I thought I'd wax not-so-poetic on breakfast foods. Apologies if you didn't find this post too terribly thought-provoking; my mind is on auto-pilot today, it seems!



Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Prestige

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I am really really behind in my movie-viewing, due to having had a very busy January (condensed courses), preceded by a very busy December (Christmas, plus exams and projects). I've also been somewhat of a cheapskate when it has come to paying full (or near-full) price for movie tickets.

Which is why I only finally watched The Prestige last night, and only after being convinced by Hubbs (because *I* had wanted to watch something funny, light, and animated). I didn't even know who was in the movie until it started (Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine and David Bowie - yes, THAT David Bowie).


Anyway, I won't spoil the movie for you, because this is one of those "must-see" sort of movies that will leave you with much to discuss afterwards. The premise of the movie, which I think I can safely share, is about two magicians in the early 20th century (or late 19th century) who enter into a rivalry with one another after a tragic event early on in their careers. The one-upmanship that characterizes their relationship becomes very convoluted and disturbing as their competition escalates.


I was totally on the edge of my seat for most of this movie, even though some parts of it were confusing because of the way that it was presented (in piecemeal fashion, and as retrospectives). The movie was suspenseful and dramatic, and both antagonists (I can't tell who was supposed to be the protagonist!) Bale and Jackman came across as very unlikeable and unsympathetic. The storyline had some very interesting twists and I appreciated that the foreshadowing "clues" didn't really give anything away.

Go watch this movie! It's best viewed with someone you enjoy talking to, because you will probably end up having some very interesting conversations following the flick. Oh, and eat your popcorn before the movie actually gets going, because you may not want to eat once it gets exciting. :)