It's something I actually practise in media consumption already. I can't afford all the media I might like, so I simply limit the quantity and range I enjoy. Rather than pirate something because I want it but can't afford it, I simply don't consume it. It's not a huge loss, because I still have the same amount of time, and end up filling it up with other things. Also, large repositories of quality media are open to me via things like Netflix and emusic, so I'm not a complete luddite (here misused :D).
So I have to ask myself how much I actually care about fair trade. I don't find organic or local to be necessary adjectives to apply to my food (I'm all for eating inorganic material found on remote asteroids). In New Zealand, I briefly tried switching to fair trade chocolate bars, and failed for ignoble reasons. The expense was the excuse, but at the time I also ate a huge volume of chocolate and was in love with the selection Cadbury provided. Cadbury was also at the time making a switch in their fat component (something to do with palm oil) to make it more ethical and environmentally friendly, which helped me justify the status quo. When I let myself consider it, though, I see the portion of responsibility I share for the farmer's situation, and I think I can deal with recalibrating the amount of chocolate consumed to allow myself to afford fair trade chocolate and stop hiding behind "but the expense! I'm a poor student!" argument now. (That's also considering the impact reduced chocolate demand has.)
That said, I don't feel inclined to boycott non-fair trade chocolate and products completely, but I'm going to give them a higher priority and stop pricing them out of my purchasing consideration. :D
|Safe-to-eat cookie dough!|
I've been meaning to write a larger post about it, but I allocate time in strange ways. I've had a shifting relationship with emotion over the last 10 years. I used to experience it but never express it, then I would express and experience it, then I stopped experiencing and now I'm reintroducing myself to it in a controlled fashion. I suppose I want to feel responsibly, and I think I used to feel irresponsibly, without regard for the impact on those around me. It's hard to gauge progress, but I'm so far pleased with my level of control and maturity when I find myself in what should be an emotional situation. I no longer let perceptions of fairness affect me either. It's an active thing, though, so I have to be able to retain a healthy degree of patience and self-control, which means I need to continue handling stress well. Stress and I sort of have a relationship like that of alcohol with a recovered alcoholic: I always wonder if I'll ever fall off the wagon.
My pants collection isn't exactly young, and it's consequently deteriorating, some a little more rapidly than others. So, today, I'm officially discarding everything not fit to wear. This necessitates an expedition to the thrift store (which almost sounds counter-productive, but if you think so, then you obviously have not seen the insides of my wallet).
Relearning How To Walk
I apparently keep my legs locked and stiff during jodo and iaido, so I've been asked to bend them, all the time, even when walking around campus, keep those legs bent, walk as though you're stalking a small prey.
It's actually not foreign to me, as I'm used to moving with my legs bent all the time during tennis. When moving around campus, though, I feel like I'm perpetually about to break out into dance, and it raises my mood spectacularly.
|A delightful mistake|
|It's a truth.|
|It's hard to see, but there's Earth surrounded by stars (should have used flash)|
|School of turtles, or what is a group of them called?|
|Alright, no chalk here, but I did draw eyes in the stairwell.|
Since becoming a vegan (I'm not sure when I switched from "I'm practising veganism" to "I'm vegan"; it was so subtle) eating out has had a little less liberty in it, so it was delightful attending an event where I could eat the vast majority of items. Since I'm still relatively new to veganism, I was exposed to many clever new meal ideas, and people promised to mail me recipes. I realised when trying to decide what I should bring that my food ideas have been kind of boring recently.
I'm never sure what type of food to bring to a potluck, so to the last three I've opted to bring some dessert, a savoury dish, and tea. I brought my classic cookies (I don't mind being a one-hit wonder if this gets to be my hit), a 'spring stir fry' (cubed tofu, diced green peppers, green onions, chunked mushroom in a lemon-herb sauce with ground pepper, lightly cooked), a variety of tea (varieTea is the name of my new tea and variety store, across the street from my old tea shop. Teas Me), and ... a watermelon.
The spring stir fry goes great with rice, in theory, but I wouldn't really know, because I forgot to cook the rice. There was barley at the potluck, though, which made a great base, though my friend who invited me enjoyed it on its own merits. :) One person in particular took to my cookies and I found another opportunity to share the link to the recipe. Some day, it will be the first result for 3-2-1 Cookies! The watermelon was exceptional, though. I picked up a small one from No Frills when I was shopping with my father, not really knowing what I wanted to do with it. And then I got to use a HUGE CLEAVER to cleave it into dozens of perfect slices. I like cutting things, apparently, which explains my interest in sword arts and melons. It was honestly a huge relief that the watermelon had not gone all vinagre-y already.
I really enjoy sharing delightful things. There's the response of "Oh, this is good, so I want to keep more for myself!" and then there's "Oh, this is good, I need to give it to ALL the people!" and I err a bit to the latter. I think it's existential guilt for having access to good things when there's a lot of deprivation around me.
A lack of proper tea pot and the moral imperative of sharing great tea led me to borrow a pressure cooker pot and brew tea in there, using a small strainer to serve it with. I chose to share my Lapsang Souchong because of its unconventional, strong smoky flavour. It was necessarily quite popular, and I didn't even have to promote it: people just gathered and partook and added more hot water and tea as necessary. Hehe.
|My potluck meal|
I was a bit nervous going. It conflicted with iaido and I was afraid I'd miss that just to sit around awkwardly among a bunch of strangers and only talk to the friend who invited me. In the end, going was definitely a good choice. Conversation and stories kept me there until near the end when Settles of Catan was suddenly proposed and the rest of my night committed to the cause. I maintained my role as gallant and charitable which helped me obtain my one, true goal in every round of Settlers of Catan: the longest road. (As with the rest of my life, I thrive by by-passing competition.) I had also brought my Dutch Blitz deck, but it turned out to not be necessary, as the house already had two such decks! (So does mine, technically, but one is a belated gift for a friend in Toronto that I have to go visit.)
The house is kind of special. It has a name and a blog and a backyard garden and a chicken coop and rabbits in the garage. Residents take turns cooking for everyone and cleaning, and meals are generally vegan (or at least vegetarian). It's quite communal and cycles through people slowly but steadily. It's a great place to visit, and I hope I can go again, as an offer was extended for some serious Dutch Blitzing.
|Can you guess what colour I am given that I have the longest road?|
Within a few hours of discussing that with a friend, I then went on to say "I wonder why more Z don't have glass roofs" where Z was either airplanes or people's homes. Many reasons why they don't are obvious, and I really meant "I wish more Z had glass roofs!"
Firefox 11 (maybe starting at 10 or 9?) has a similar feature built in, but I don't think it works as well, in that most of the tabs are loading something when I open my browser, taking a while.
Updating BarTab 2.0 to work with newer Firefox's used to be as simple as updating a single number in a single line (for maximum version), but that stopped working for me. I compared a working extension's install.rdf (a configuration file) with BarTab's and saw that it handled version limits a little differently, so I've updated BarTab 2.0's to reflect those changes, and now it works again. Hooray!
Here's the updated install.rdf file.
(Sometimes things call it BarTap instead of BarTab. Weird.)
Anyway, to get it to work, find your Firefox profile directory. (On my Linux system, it's in ~/.mozilla/firefox/73423jl.default/). Go into extensions/, go to firstname.lastname@example.org/ (BarTab's extension directory), and replace install.rdf with the updated one linked above.
Anyway, I hope that helps.
Anyway, I thought I'd share some more details. Please skip if my weekends bore you. :)
Being vegan and going to a cabin with omnivores requires some extra planning and self-sufficiency. Last time I acquired groceries while there (from nearby Sauble beach) and this time I prepared foods in advance. I brought salsa, chips, tortillas, beans, sushi (I had some left over from this past week), and a lot of cookies. A lot of cookies. They were all gone after the first 24 hours, constituting part of our supper and our breakfast.
There is a barbecue there so we went into town for supplies (propane (actually for the house's generator), meat, fake-meat, canned chilli, canned vegetarian chilli, etc.) and the meat burgers when frozen looked like brains. I regret not taking a picture. They were noodly and folded like brains. They had enough fat filler in them that they shrunk half their original volume. It was neat to watch. While shopping, there was uncertainty over which steak to get the cook (who was not with us) so I got to pick it out. I think my distance from the act of eating it made me somehow more impartial. I'm not sure if impartiality is what you want when selecting meats though.
There was also pie. Last time, pie was picked up from the Williamsford pie company, whose pies are not vegan, so this time I brought a small blueberry pie (bought on π day) from Metro. I like pie.
For breakfast the one day, we went to a local café (Renee's Restaurant) which was perhaps the most awkward meal. I ended up having salad for breakfast, and had fun trying to additionally order beans (hopefully not in pork) on toast (not buttered please).
Given that it was St. Patrick's day, I also brought two bottles of Mug's Root Beer and enjoyed a bottle of green apple Jone's Soda. I sure know how to party.
We stopped off at a bridge by a river and went exploring. My sensei is also a photographer and likes making stops like that. M and I went about exploring rocks and water and tunnels. I like crawling into strange places, especially when they resemble ruined structures. There's a half of a concrete pipe at the water's edge, a wall that stands alone that can be walked across, and a little fall.
Last time we wandered Sauble and visited The Patch clothing store, which was like visiting an oasis in a desert (the town otherwise deserted).
The weather was a great introduction to spring. I woke early and watched the sun rise over the marshy lake. My plans to live outside of the city are continually reinforced. Given a forest, I must wander it, so M and I went on an adventure to seek The Folly, a bizarre, ancient structure initiated by my sensei's brother and never completed. Our first venture out to it lasted a few hours, as we completely missed it and ended up running apace, crashing through branches and getting well scraped and scratched. The cool puddles and marsh water felt great on my feet, and there were numerous natural and unnatural sights to delight. Stones in the shape of a prehistoric (computer) mouse, a random boat (we were short on oars), a fissure that led deep (a metre) into the ground. Eventually we encountered the edge of the property and acknowledged that to go further, we really should have brought water. The sun, a little telephony, and common sense got us back to the cabin after walking along the lake side and finding beautifully layered cliff (2 metres tall) side with water dripping down through mossy overhangs. Oh, and a white bunny rabbit. I didn't follow it into its hole, though, as there was enough wonder in the land around me. (We found the Folly on a second outing later and discovered it's a nice place to sit and talk in the late evening.)
The night before and that morning I'd heard a mammal rustling around the cabin, and upon our return to the cabin, my sensei noted he heard it too, and asked us if we could go to the other side of the property and see if we could find it. We didn't find that, but we did find the perfect lounging tree, which requires some upper arm strength and teasing to get up on. Sitting on a mossy rock for a long while reinforces my conviction to have an outdoor living room with mossy furniture (during the summer). I might be lazy, as I'm quite resistant to the concept of 40+ hour work weeks in city offices, and aim instead to maximise lounging in trees.
I wonder what proportion of the population shares in my interests. Most people end up living in cities. Do most of them dream the same dreams I do? Do I have some privilege they lack, that they don't pursue it as I do? I'm still in school, and am not certain what my ability to find gainful computer employment in the woods will be, but I'm pretty content with my current direction. (I actually DO hope to live and work in some cities, but I mostly mean not just in Toronto or Vancouver or anywhere permanently: I'd like to work in Berlin for a little bit, and in other cities, for cultural interests. It's mostly the freedom to work from the woods that I want to be able to exercise (and boy will I exercise it).)
We also did star gazing. P has a telescope she brought with, and showed M and I Jupiter and four of its moons (!) through it. We also saw Venus. We didn't get to see Saturn, sadly, but we did get to lay on the deck and just stare up at a sky with so little pollution. I don't think I've gotten to see it so clearly since I was last in Algonquin park. It's really awesome. I realised at one point that I'm not sure what I can say about the stars. They're so detached from my daily activities, and yet I plaster them everywhere. At home, there are stars on my wall and ceiling, on my door, on clothing of mine, they're on my website, my phone. I'm not sure why I don't have them tattooed over my skin.
I don't think I spend enough time day dreaming about the night sky any more. Back in Flesherton, we could sometimes drive a bit out of town and just have our eyes filled by the static noise of stellar light and be delighted. Walking through the trees at home, looking up, let me feel like I was embedded in northern forests without other human concerns to bother me. I've sometimes spent too much time in front of a computer. I've done a better job of managing that this past year, though, and I need to keep that up.
I also got to beat the dust (not quite the stuffing) out of a mattress with a cane. It's a lot more satisfying than you might imagine. Good solid whomps and clouds of dust flying everywhere. I got to break a lamp. Sometimes I've felt more aware and less clumsy than the average person, but now I think I'm not. I break stuff too. Sometimes paranoia just has me take more preventative measures to mitigate that. I did not do this with the lamp. :D There was fun trying to set up a tent which ended in "This mildew is probably not good for us" and lots of downtime for reading and chatting over tea, pop, et al.
This cabin hosts way too much technology, I think. Cellular data plans provide Internet, the gas generator ensures speakers with iPods play music the whole time and laptops can plug in. Last time I avoided bringing my laptop. This time I had work to do, but after an hour of trying to work, I gave up, and have left it until today to finish. (Uh oh!) Ah well. At least there is no hot water. :D The cabin also gets energy from a small wind turbine (which currently has a fault) and a solar panel, so at least it's mostly self-sufficient.
I think the toilet paper there was 18-ply. It's thicker than some books.
Watching the ice melt completely off a lake over two days gives a neat perspective on the passage of time and the seasons.
Great Books and Café in Williamsford is a great book store and café. I purchased 3 old novels by Paul O. Williams (two to be lent out, about life a few centuries after an apocalyptic war) and a book on Japanese cooking (with pretty pictures). They delightfully have vegan soups. If only more restaurateurs had a vegan daughter, then I could eat anywhere!
Late night conversations as you're trying to fall asleep are silly and informative. I'm not sure if it's the best time to explain ones thoughts on free will. :)
I am good at mopping up floors.
This weekend I went to the cabin for the second time with the iaido club. The weather has been perfect out here recently. Complete t-shirt and sandals weather. This made it easy to wake up early and watch the sun come up, spend hours getting lost in the woods with a friend, exploring random boats, climbing trees, and talking in failed structures buried in the woods. The nights were clear enough to watch Jupiter, its moons (!), and Venus in the sky with a telescope, and warm enough to lie on the deck and watch stars drift, discussing childhood and future dreams.
|Good morning world|
|A quarter of notes taken|
The air here outside the Athletic Centre in this warm, lazy day reminds me of fall fairs. There is grass, people perambulating, and the smell of greasy food (coming from Gryph's Sports Bar).
As an aside, despite my blogging, I realised yesterday that I'm actually quite a private person.
Her: I'm following the path of atheism.
Him: ... I guess that is also a very viable path!
The above was overheard on a bus minutes after leaving a multifaith dinner. The inclusiveness on campus is pleasing.
Walked home in the rain with a newspaper hat to keep my head a little dryer, people smiling at my resourcefulness. Walked barefoot outside after dark, wetting my toes. I do enjoy warm spring rains.
I adore the intro to Mushi-shi, an anime that involves yokai and a wandering fellow who takes an interest in them. Ally Kerr's "Sore Feet Song" plays (at least in the English opening) to the shifting scenes of blurry green foliage.
It's part of my dream world. The regular interaction with trees, grass, and fresh air, and spending time getting lost in it all. Did you see Fred Penner's Place?
Mushi-shi's intro reminds me strongly of that, of wandering through the woods until you find a cozy place. I also enjoy the song perhaps too much.
The weather this winter has been weird. Normally I try to wander through deep snow in the woods, but there hasn't been many opportunities, getting out only a couple times, once with a fellow iaidoka, for late night wanderings, feeling like totally awesome samurai in a (the only) blizzard. I feel like I've made good use of the warm weather though, and taking the time for detours through woods along the Speed River, so I won't just be dreaming about doing it. :)
Still, I hope to find a happy situation where I have freedom to run through woods like a silly man, like I did a bit in New Zealand, pretending in my mind to be a heroic Hylian as I bound about taking it all in.
On Saturday I'd gone to the Farmer's Market and then met up with a friend for sushi. I don't go out for sushi much these days, so I really enjoy it when I do. This time I went for the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. I'm not sure how I feel about all-you-can-eat in general, but I loved this instance
|More photos on Google+|
|Blinds are down over the windows to shield from direct sun|
Then came another movie night at the same house as last week. This time there were more of us and we watched The Bourne Identity which was better than I remembered, but then I have a better appreciation for the lead actress since seeing Run Lola Run, and have gotten past my juvenile disdain for Matt Damon.
Afterwards though was the highlight of my week. A friend of mine performed on the cello for us and was amazing. I was instantly captivated and lost in the music, mesmerised. I've requested future performances. It reminds me to find the budget for violin lessons (or to seriously start teaching myself, but time is thin). I'd really like to move someone's soul with music at some point. Sinking in to a friend's performance and letting oneself drown.
Comparably powerful was walking home with a friend and stumbling upon a playground I visited a couple times behind the Staples. It was quite surreal, and I didn't really know how to react, so I did what I always do: I took a picture.
|I think I recall there being a cat or a skunk the one visit|
A warm, bright sunny day in Guelph. "Why aren't we on a patio in Toronto?" I overheard as I got off a bus. 'A patio in Toronto?!' I though, 'why aren't I lying at the edge of a grassy cliff in New Zealand overlooking the Pacific ocean?' Right, that's next February, first I need to finish my Masters for personal satisfaction and power over my career. :-)
|vegan chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing|
Also, I often bake vegan chocolate chip cookies for others, and then get one or two. This week I felt like I wanted a treat to make me smile more, so I baked a huge cookie all for myself! No sharing! This is the last piece that remained. It was delicious.
|banana-bred chocolate chip cookie|
So, my cold finally improved enough so that my periods of sleep are greater than 1½ hours on average. In fact, they were long enough for me to resume having dreams that I can remember. I am a great dreamer. I am not sure if there is another who dreams quite as much or as well as I. That asserted, I am also getting unfortunately good at having nightmares. Last night's was novel, in that I was in a serious relationship and found myself being extraordinarily mean in ways I can't fathom myself being, even being intentionally manipulative. Normally I feel like I can relate to the me in my dreams, but this felt like a stranger. I was aghast as I watched myself say things. It actually makes me concerned for what I'm capable of in real life.
Along with dreams (and nightmares) returns the prospect of sleeping in. This morning I managed to sleep through my two favourite alarms (Mario music from the first level and from star power!) and was only woke by a friend's phone call. I laughed maniacally when I discovered I had only 20 minutes to get ready and run next door to get my week's groceries, and then laughed some more at the transition from the stressed me of a year ago to the relaxed me of now.
I then let myself get gypped $3 at one of the stalls, getting sold a mouldy tomato (didn't realise it until I was later home) and an overpriced avocado (sushi time!). I can only smile at that, because I know that vendor charges more than the other stalls and sometimes tries to get away selling less-than-fresh fruit (you should see my broccoli) but he's an entertaining salesman and I like diversifying from which vendors I buy my food. I am a sucker, but at least I'm smiling.
Now I depart, as I hope to be on time for meeting a friend. :)
She seemed slightly better after that. It's a strange invasion of someone's personal space, when you get to see them cry. In public, I always feel a bit awkward when it happens, because that usually means it's a bit serious, and I don't know the source of the pain, making it difficult to react appropriately. And yet I don't want to simply ignore it. I've hesitated too much before, failing to help at all, so I'm glad that today I was a bit more responsive and hope her life is alright.
I ended up going to jodo yesterday, which saw me move a lot like Jello, but it was great swing a stick at friends again.
My friend was eagre to have people over for movies because they recently purchased a new television. Several of my friends have larger TVs, but I think the picture quality was better on this one. Colours were vibrant, blacks were black, and edges were sharp in the way they're be: edgy. In the end three of my friends were there and we initially weren't sure what to watch out of a large stack of about 50 legally-purchased discs, so finally I picked the one with the title that seemed familiar in the "I know I don't already dislike this film" sort of familiarity. I knew nothing about the film or its actors, but figured I was incredibly tired and was probably going to swoon on the floor anyway.
I had picked Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
Now, those of you who are more familiar with my movie watching habits who also recognise this title might realise what is about to happen: I am about to love this movie. I came to this realisation myself the moment I heard his voice: Michael Cera. He starred in my favourite film: Scott Pilgrim versus the World. Instantly the layers of physical misery my body was subjecting itself to faded into the darkest recesses of memory and my attention was captivated.
Other pleasant surprises included Kat Dennings, one of my favourite actresses, and recognising music by Devendra Banhart, a musician I like, who even makes a cameo as Customer in the Deli. The film is set in New York, which was delightful, as I visited the city for the first time in January, and recognised numerous places.
After the film, we compared it a little to Scott Pilgrim. Both feature music prominently, and Michael Cera in a band. Nick and Norah are firmly grounded in reality where as Scott Pilgrim lives in surreality. To me, the causality and motives in Scott Pilgrim actually were more sensible though. Nick and Norah's plot progression and characters sometimes felt erratic or exaggerated. That's weird to say about the movie which obeys physics, as opposed to the one with floating demon hipster chicks and vegans and crater moons. I think something that pleases me about both films is that Michael Cera's characters, as a trait, don't really drink much. That and his geeky culture and awkward demeanour allow me (and millions of others) to relate a bit more than with many other male protagonists. Hooray for surprise films!
It's strange to dwell on the fact that a huge fraction of the global population right now are suffering under some stressful situation, often health related. Cancer, disease, handicap, injury, mental ailment, poverty, food security, social or romantic trauma, poor living conditions. I whine a bit on here about my cold, but I'm not seriously put out by it. Regardless of anything upsetting I've experienced in my life, I live in such favourable and rewarding conditions that I haven't much basis to complain. I understand that troubles are relative: that something relatively petty can still mean the world to someone. I hope by the time I die I haven't greatly disrespected the many who actually struggle all the time.
I've made a point of visiting Student Health Services once a week to make sure I haven't obtained an infection somehow. Apparently my virus is rare on campus, and the codeine-laced cough suppressant I was prescribed last week was counter-productive, in that it allegedly thickens mucous, which contributes to the whole "choking while I sleep" thing that's been keeping me up.
Consequently, today, I had to look up how to unclog a toilet. My $2 plunger and I feel very accomplished now.
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