Saturday, August 27, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

Weighty Issues 

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to do something about all the weight I had gained due to a combination of bad diet, sedentary lifestyle, anti-depressants and an ill-informed birth control choice. I would say that I probably put on 15lbs because of lifestyle choices and 50lbs because of and/or/both medications. Add that to the 15lbs I was already overweight, and I had to do something pronto. I'm not the kind of person who is overtly aware of her body. Plus, all this weight gain happened in a scant year and a half.

Not typically aware of own body + it happened really, really fast = me not noticing the weight gain until I was probably about 50-60lbs in.

Working out to lose 80lbs is completely out of the question. For one thing, a person needs to burn 3500 calories to burn 1lb of fat (average workout burns 200-300 calories). For another, I could never be a gym rat. I don't like sweating, I don't get the endorphin rush (and it's been scientifically proven that not everybody gets that rush) and most of all, I hate working out in a place where most people are half my size in perfectly coordinated nike-sweatwick outfits. Granted I have a membership at Curves where the women are normal but each 30 minute workout only burns 140+ calories. It just wasn't going to happen quickly enough for me. Forms of physical activity that I enjoy include swimming and cycling. Those activities are incredibly difficult to enjoy when you're overweight.

So I'm on a diet. Doctor supervised and incredibly strict, I'm losing 0.75-1lb/day for an average of 20lbs a month. Perhaps more. I've already lost 14lbs. I'm already drawing up lifestyle plans for maintaining my goal weight once I reach it. It's rather exciting, even though I haven't personally noticed any difference the people around me have started commenting on it. Which brings me to the real point of this entry: My family is obsessed with weight. Well, really more like my mom and her parents.

Initially I didn't want to let them know I was on a diet but when they started noticing they pestered me hard enough that I spilt the beans. Now that's all my mother, grandmother and grandad will talk about. I even suspect that my mother is trying to sabotage my efforts, although I have no concrete proof. She is making bitchy asides about it, but then again, there isn't much she doesn't make bitchy asides about. Heck, it's one of the main reasons I moved out. In fact, today I had a 30 minute conversation with my grandma (I often have conversations that long with her) solely about how I would look after I had lost all that weight. It's the first thing they ask of me after the standard "Have you eaten?" greeting. The standard conversation now is:

"Have you eaten?"

"How much weight have you lost now?"

"You know I'm so glad you're on this diet. You are going to look so pretty..."

Can you say "eating disorder"? Not to mention my grandma now peppers me with questions on whether she has to lose weight, and if so, what the best way to do it is. Good grief.

I've grown up being told that I am fat. Even that period starting from the year or two before I moved to Canada when I really wasn't fat (I was looking at old photographs the other day...). I also grew up being told that a fat person was deplorable. You can imagine that I didn't have a very positive body image. Compound that with the fact that my mother had weight issues of her own and I have a 4 in 5 chance of being an obese adult. Well, that's what I am right now, but that's going to change.

Along with my diet, I'm also taking concrete steps to be more in tune with my body. I try not to eat until I'm hungry and eat slowly so I know exactly when I'm full. I've long since not been able to accurately ID those feelings in myself. Thanks to Jim, I've abandoned the idea that self-worth is in any way tied up with a number on the scale. Now I have to learn that this is true in all my relationships, not just with Jim. I'm going to take yoga lessons in the new year (and of course I'm going to keep up with my Curves workouts) because one of the core tenets in yoga is to listen to your body. First and foremost I'm going to understand the relationship between what I eat and what I am. (Also, I'm going to rigorously research any medications I take in the future.)

I refuse to be that 4 in 5. I may have been prey to my upbringing and circumstance so far, but not anymore. That's what turning 21 is all about isn't it? Establishing oneself as separate and in control. It's so liberating to, for the first time in my life, see myself accurately in a mirror and take steps to influence that reflection.

posted by Joie! at 8:11 p.m.


Thursday, August 25, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

New Toys 

This vintage-looking waterbottle is anything but. Billed as the "Next Big Waterbottle" it's made from a single aluminium blank and is the product of Swiss engineering. Light and leakproof with interchangable lids (the manufacturers - Sigg Switzerland - are proud to say that all their lids fit all their bottles) this little baby is going to be sticking to me at all times. Plus, with its 0.6L capacity, all I have to do is count to 4 and I've already drunk over my requisite daily 2L. Apart from being able to hold water, it is also the first water bottle in the world with an inner coating that is resistant to fruit acids and isotonic drinks. This space-age inner coating also means that the days of waterbottle funk are over. The bottle cannot absorb smells/flavours from anything you put into it. Its accessories (in addition to all those lids you could buy) include an insulation sleeve (that comes in plenty of funky prints) because this vessel can store hot and cold drinks. Goodbye non-leakproof travel mugs! Sure, it's a little on the pricey side (C$26) but 2 reasons completely justify my purchase: (1) My birthday is coming (2) I have been drinking >2L water everyday and that 1L Fanta Shokata bottle I've been schlepping around is simply not streamlined enough to fit into my lifestyle.

(FYI, Fanta Shokata is made by Fanta - which is owned by Coca Cola - in Romania and it is based on the traditional Romanian drink "Socatã" made from elderflower. It was also the focus of a massive viral advertising campaign in 2003 in which internet users could go to a website and insert their own subtitles to clips from Bollywood movies. In case you were wondering, Ozone - the band that brought us the Numa Numa Song - is also from Romania. I wonder if they drink Fanta Shokata. This is way too much information to be contained in a paranthesis, don't you think? Moving on...)

Sure, the water bottle's really exciting. I mean how often do you see people carrying around an extrusion-pressed water bottle? No matter how traffic-stopping this water bottle is, however, it can't quite measure up to my other new toy.

The Toshiba Qosmio F20-GS1 Intel Centrino 750 1.86GHz Laptop. My dad bought this one for me (Happy Birthday Joie!) and he negotiated a wicked deal for it too. Its sleek, shiny design is a perfect compliment to its wide array of capabilities. I mean, seriously, I can watch TV on this thing and use it as a TiVo. In fact, I plan to figure out just how to connect it to my TV sometime this weekend. The TV hook up is inadequately explained in the manual and defies most common logic. All other aspects of the laptop are completely intuitive though. It can burn DVDs (naturally), is equipped with Intel Centrino Mobile Technology and has 100GB of memory for me to my completed essays in. To be honest, I was in the market for a laptop to accompany me to grad school, on which I could toil on essays in the library (I really, dislike checking books out, I always get hit with overdue fines) analyze my data (for which I legitimately need advanced sound and graphics) and be an industrious student in general. What I have instead is a machine that is crafted, for all intents and purposes, for play.

Not that I'm complaining.

I just hooked up my baby with wireless internet in my home yesterday (Future Shop was selling the D-Link DI-524 AirPlus G 2.4GHz Wireless Router at a heavily discounted price, sale ends today) and it runs like a dream. Now I can play Neopets while watching Dr. Phil uuh...or...urm, peruse course websites while I watch the latest current events update, uuh yeah. Setting up the home network was surprisingly painless and took all of 15 minutes. I would recommend this router for those looking to buy one on account of its sheer simplicity. It doesn't have bells and whistles and you could pay more if you wanted a wider signal range, but figure this model will suit the average user just fine.

At 7lbs I'm not going to be bringing my laptop to school everyday like most other students here. That's not why I wanted a laptop anyway. I'm still completely addicted to pen and paper notetaking. However, it is very nice to be able to have the option of bringing a laptop to school (PowerPoint presentations, that essay in the library) and I just can't wait for the new term to arrive just so I can start using my laptop for work and for play.

All this fun, and my birthday isn't even here yet. :)

posted by Joie! at 2:23 p.m.


Thursday, August 18, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

One Thing After Another 

I would have to say that the most interesting thing that has happened to me in the past week invovled a day where absolutely nothing could possibly go right.

Having put my alarm clock on snooze and sleeping through the snooze alert (which occurs for one minute every ten minutes) FIVE times I was quite late getting out of bed. A mad scramble to assemble the things I needed for the day later, I was running out my front door just in time to watch the bus that I needed to take pull away from the bus stop half a block away from my house.

Attributing it to the fact that it was a Monday after a less-than-restful weekend, I started walking to the bus stop five blocks away to take the express bus. Normally, it doesn't really matter what time I arrive at work as long as I make the hours but this time 'round I was supposed to meet a volunteer who was starting at the first time at our lab. I didn't want her to be locked out. Plus, it wasn't as if I was going straight to UBC either. I had to drop something off on Broadway before work, which involved quite a detour.

Thankfully, I arrived at the bus stop mere minutes before the north-south express bus pulled up. I took it as a sign that the day was getting better that I could get a seat on what was usually a pretty crowded bus. I assumed that this particular bus was running just a little off-schedule (that's usually the reason buses are emptier than they typically are) and sat down. Sure, the seat was at the place where the double-long bus bends (which means no windows and more motion) but it was okay. I don't have the best balance so any opportunity not to be standing on a bus is snapped up by me. The empty seat next to me was quickly taken by an older gentleman in a track suit. From the smell of things, he was doing quite a bit of excercise (days and days worth, by my reckoning) in those clothes. I could've just stood up and left but by now the bus was moving and I didn't want to offend the guy with the offensive smell. Besides, being that this was, afterall, an express bus, my trip waas really only going to last 20 minutes.

30 minutes later I walked off the bus having learnt two things about myself. (1) I should probably take some yoga lessons if I ever want to stand up from the middle seats of the bus while the bus is in motion/about to start up/about to stop. (2) I can hold my breath for quite a long time - but certainly not for 30 minutes.

What do you know? In my rush to leave the house, I left that which I was supposed to drop off on the bathroom counter.

Chuffed that I had taken the detour for nought, I jumped on the other express bus (east-west) to get to UBC. My phone starts ringing. The volunteer called to say that she wouldn't be turning up. "Not feeling well".

Alright. Ok. The bad joke ends here. Right? Right? Wrong. I step off the bus into a huge wad of pink bubblegum. Over the summer I've worn the treads of my $4 sandals smooth enough that I get no grip on slippery surfaces. However, I hadn't quite got them down to the point where it wouldn't trap a gob of chewing gum. Quickly abandoning the futile attempts to scrap the disgusting stuff off the bottom of my foot, I start walking, sticking with every other step through the litter-strewn paths that lead to the lab.

My day at the lab was rather uneventful except for the time when a subject walked in to participate in the experiment we were running and nothing was set up. I'm very familiar with all the cables and their connections so I wasn't too worried. The chaos began when I handed Kevin (the other RA) the wrong remote control. There was 15 minutes of awkward apologies to the subject while we puzzled over why the device was not responding to the remote, looked for and replaced the batteries, banged it a little on the table and then saw the correct remote next to where I picked up the wrong one. (To be fair, they were both Panasonic DVD machine remotes.)

I decided to leave early for the day. Kevin lives on Oak Street as well and is always willing to give me a much appreciated lift. He lives quite a bit north of me, but it means that I only have to take the Oak Street bus down to where I live instead of having to take two buses. While walking to his truck I stopped dead in my tracks and swore loudly. I thought a needle left in the grass had lodged itself firmly into the outside of my fourth toe on my left foot.

I looked down and couldn't see a needle. In no time at all, it was hard to see my toes what with the tears that sprung fast to my eyes obscuring my vision. It hurt like a bitch! I started yelling, "WHAT THE HELL IS IT? WHAT THE FUCK IS IN MY TOE?"

"It's a wasp. A yellowjacket."

With those words, the wasp struggling to remove its poisoned, barbed stinger from my toe suddenly came into clear focus. In my shock, I couldn't see what was right before my eyes until it was named.

I. Freaked. Out.

"Pull it out."


Sighing, Kevin bent over and extracted the struggling insect from my toe. The puncture it left was bleeding slightly. The toe and half my foot was starting to swell. It was the first time I had ever been stung by anything. In the ensuing minutes Kevin and I discussed what to do in the event I progressed into anaphylactic shock. The first thing I can say went right that day was that I discovered that I am not allergic to bee stings. I'm still limping, however. Currently, it itches like a 'mofo.

That would have made for a bad enough day as it were. On the Oak Street bus, thinking that the day's events would make for a cute anecdote I hear a BOOMCRASH. The bus rolls to a stop and the bus driver informs us that he's bent one of the poles that attaches the electric trolley bus to the power lines that supply it. We have to wait for the next bus.

Steadfastly trying to remain unfazed I limp off the bus, furiously rubbing my shin and calf (because it started to hurt there too). "What would Pollyanna think? What would Pollyanna think?" I know! It's rush hour! The next bus should be along in 10-15 minutes! I chanted that to myself rhythmically as I continued to massage my leg. The bus stop had no seats so I was forced to wait in a half-crouched position. As time passed, people are starting to get antsy. Several commuters start to hail taxis. I tried to call Jim to see if he would give me a ride, then remebered that he misplaced his phone on the weekend and probably hadn't found it yet.

Half an hour later the next bus is spotted on the horizon. My fellow commuters started to show some signs of life again. People were picking their packages up off the floor, getting ready to board the bus. Two blocks before the bus pulls up in front of us, it stops. Fifteen minutes later, we witness all the passengers alighting. That bus had broken down too. Abandoning reason I start dialling Jim frantically, praying that he had already found his phone. Twenty minutes later, he calls me and offers me a ride home.

Jim arrived after the third bus came to pick up all the stranded commuters (leaving three people behind to avoid an overloaded bus). The rest of the night progressed uneventfully.

posted by Joie! at 9:32 a.m.


Friday, August 12, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

In case you missed it.... 

p. 564, Adult Edition (British):

Told you.

posted by Joie! at 9:47 a.m.


Thursday, August 04, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________


In recent years, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has modified their driver licensing program to show the public that they are taking steps to deal with the "teen driver" problem. The "teen driver" problem, which catches the population's attention whenever other news is scarce, is basically that a small subset of teenagers are getting in cars with friends and crashing those cars in spectacularly fatal accidents. In my opinion, this is a difficult problem to deal with because it does not have much to do with technical driving skills. Rather, it has to do with speeding, driving under the influence or both. Regardless, ICBC must be seen to do something so they have come up with the graduated licensing program.

This program (which doesn't focus on scaring people away from speeding/driving under the influence) involves three tests before you can get your full license. The first is a knowledge test, administered on a computer and the other two are road tests. If you pass the second, you are issued a full license. With the first two licenses (Learners and Novice) there are several restrictions on when and how and with whom you can drive. (For a full list of restrictions, if you are truly interested, see here.) There is a mandatory amount of time you have to wait between stages. In response to another gorey crash, these wait times have increased, supposedly to give young drivers more time to practice their driving under restricted conditions. These restrictions are a joke anyway. The same youth who are speeding and driving under the influence (and both) can hardly be expected to abide by new regulations.

So having waited the requisite amount of time, I went to take my Class 5 (full license) road test today. I was driving Jim's car which is a 5-speed Manual '95 Honda Civic 4-door. Most people take the test on an Automatic because of issues like rolling backwards on a hill and possible shifting errors that cost demerit points. I didn't quite have the option of taking the test on an Automatic. At any rate, I am used to our car and that familiarity more than makes up for the potential disadvantages that arise from the use of a Maunal during a road test.

Let me just stop here and say that Jim = sweetheart. Knowing that I was going to take the car for a road test today he cleaned out the car, washed the outside and vacuumed the inside, all after a hard day's work. I was scheduled to get home at 9pm yesterday, after work and an emergency driving lesson. With the driving test at 9:30am today, I sure was grateful that I didn't have to spend time late last night making the car decent. Plus, poor Jimmy had to take transit to work today, which means waking up a full hour earlier and having to endure the bumps, jolts and smells of public transportation.

I digress.

I am proud to announce that as of today I am a fully qualified driver with no restrictions on my license (except that I have to drive with my vision corrected and am not allowed to drive when my blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit - you know, the usual). First try. WOO HOO! I rawk! *Thank you, thank you*

All I have to do now is to wait for my brand spanking new license to arrive in my mailbox. Joie Tan, fully qualified driver. Oh yeah.

posted by Joie! at 1:41 p.m.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

An Offer I Can't Refuse 

Deciding that the 98% that I scored on my Neuropsych final called for some celebration in the form of and All-You-Can-Eat Japanese meal, I asked to meet my family for lunch on Sunday. Two reasons: (1) Jim only eats California Rolls, so it's really not worth the money to go for All-You-Can-Eat just with him (my brothers more than makeup for what he doesn't eat) (2) I didn't quite want to pay for the meal myself.

Over the course of the meal, my mother mentions that the tenant they have in the downtown apartment they own has neglected to pay his rent (for a while now, from the sounds of it). This is a $1500/mo apartment, so you can imagine my parent's chagrin. They've taken the case to court, seeking to evict this guy. He sounds rather shifty too - apparently when he was paying his rent, he paid all $1500 in bills in a brown paper bag. I mean, seriously. If you were to pay that much money in cash, wouldn't you put it into an envelope? Oh right, that much money in small, unmarked, non-sequential bills wouldn't fit into a standard envelope anyway. You'd need one of those Manilla dealies and those are quite a bit more expensive than a brown paper lunch bag.

I digress.

This apartment is downtown, with sort-of a waterfront view (it had a full waterfront view until a new condo development sprung up in front of the building). It's walking distance to all possible amenities (not to mention a block away from Robson Street) and cycling distance (the trail runs along the Vancouver seawall which runs through Stanley Park) to the Vancouver Aquarium. It's got all kitchen appliances (including a dishwasher and a fridge that, by my grandma's reckoning, is quite large), ensuite washer and dryer and air-conditioning. The buildling also houses a gym and a steam room. It is not a big aparment, only about half the size of the one I am currently living in but its location and ensemble of near-new appliances more than make up for the lack of space.

It is a nice apartment.

Jim and I were offered the apartment, for just the building maintenance cost - half what we are now paying for rent each month.

Before I jump the gun here, I have to say that I was told not to say anything about this to anyone seeing as how the arbitration has yet to go through. So I bind all my blog readers to strict confidentiality. If you know someone who knows me but does not read this blog, then this info is not to be shared with them. Should an information breach occur, may you have a frog infestation. So there.

There were several things Jim and I had to weigh when considering this offer. For one thing, should we take up the offer, we would be living on my parents' charity. Also, Jim's commute would double to and triple from work. The size of the place is a huge consideration as well. How would our cats handle a smaller place? Since the apartment is furnished, what would Jim and I do with our current furniture (the new bed, the grand wood dressers we've inherited from his grandparents...)? On the other hand, we would be saving a large load of money in terms of rent and bills (the gas and hydro bills go straight to my parents, internet is included in building maintenance, not having to pay for coin laundry etc.). It would certainly also be a lifestyle upgrade living so close to the seawall and right in the heart of downtown.

We called that evening to say that we would take the apartment when it was empty.

Like I said before, there's still the pending matter of the current tenant, and since everything is still making its way through the legal system I'm technically not to say anything concrete about any outcomes. Still though. The downtown apartment. Wah seh.

posted by Joie! at 11:16 a.m.


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