Tuesday, April 19, 2011


You might be happy to hear that my recent colonoscopy results were very good -- my specialist described my insides as looking like a normal person's, and that I "should keep doing whatever I'm doing." Heartening news, from a health and colitis perspective. Diet and exercise? Or just keeping on my medication (150 mg of azathioprine a day)? I avoided heavy drinking last year, so perhaps that helped too. I guess I'm also allowing myself to believe that my colitis isn't going to bother me for some time; that would be sweet.

But yeah, I'd forgotten what an ordeal the preparation for the procedure was -- drinking that vile, sickly sweet liquid every 10 minutes. Ugh, I get queasy just thinking about it. Sure, there's a certain satisfaction in cleaning out one's insides but that's tempered with light-headedness, weakness and hunger. And the flavor of that wretched stuff! "Vanilla pineapple."

Good news, and yet I remain dim and uninspired, down and joyless. They said 'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but such a sentiment is of little solace. Undoubtedly I am wiser for my experience and time with Monica. But I am also weaker, so much weaker, drained of my potential. It's entirely irrational to think thus for we fought, fought a lot, grating against each other's character. And yet I continue to remember everything fondly, the warmth of the good outshining the steely chill of the bad, in a rose-coloured light the lens of which I cannot remove from my eyes. Were that I could not see! Ah, then maybe I'd not dream of her, a happy Monica whom perhaps never really existed; I can no longer tell. Like a fragmented harddrive is my mind, and with each day what seems real and what really happened gets pushed around more and more.

But ha! I throw yet more at my mind, at my time, to get my mind off of her (getting my heart away from there is another matter): I will be taking my karate green belt test this coming May 7th. You may ask, "Green?", to which I reply, yes, with this school, Ronin-kai, I've not yet taken any of their tests. Sure, I got my black sash in kung fu (June 2nd, 2007), and have trained with other belts at my old school, but technically I've not climbed the karate ladder. So, back to training it is for me! I should consider getting a practice dummy, hmmm! Oh, if you wish to watch my test you are welcome, more than welcome, to come by -- it's held in a studio near Yonge and Eglinton. I can't promise a spectacle.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

NECSS 2011

NECSSCon has come and gone, leaving me exhausted and my mind overflowing with ideas and thoughts. Loopy and I took the bus from Toronto, a decidedly arduous 12 hour journey, dealing with crazy ladies, uncomfortable seats, constant interruptions to any attempt to sleep. Crossing the border also took an inordinate amount of time, there being several notable characters on the bus. I should clarify that I did sleep, but it was not restful and it was with a frizzy mind did we arrive in Manhattan. Walk to the hotel (NYMA, in the heart of Koreatown), drop off our stuff as the room wasn't yet ready, walk in search of Saks 5th Avenue (perfume lady showing curious interest in NECSS), a meal at TGIF (lamentable), attempt to get into the Jimmy Fallon audience (no such luck -- tickets are generally gone by noon), back to the hotel for unpacking and an afternoon nap. Wake up, shower and then to the first drinking event at Dewey's Flatiron, where I burnt my mouth horribly on an otherwise delicious pizza. I talked with several people but I didn't really make any contacts, mostly just sharing stories and celebrity-watching.

Saturday, a quick breakfast and a short jaunt to the venue (Baruch College) and then the talks: Phil Plait, Carl Zimmer, SGU live (wherein I disappointed Loopy greatly by not standing up to reveal my "Fiction" T-shirt at the appointed time), and a break for lunch. We tried the nearby Pax Wholesome Foods, which was alright -- I had a custom Caesar salad (romaine, bacon, avocado, sunflower seeds), very similar to Lettuce/freshii. Sat beside two skeptics from Long Island, forgot their story, avoided the world's smallest bathroom. Back to the conference: Eugenie Scott (Creationism status report), a panel discussion on Skepticism and the US founders, another panel discussion on who to trust for information, Dan Gardner (well-composed presentation on rational thinking in politics). We moved then to Paddy Reilly's for dinner (a meatball hero), drinks and a live performance featuring George Hrab. Loopy and I wore our "Science" and "Fiction" shirts throughout the night, giving us a bit of local popularity, while Loopy was able to pimp his Skeptic's Dictionary app. Apart from temporarily meeting a skeptic couple from NH, I spent much of the night hanging with one of the locals, discussing his affinity for the waitress. The group toured a couple other bars, losing people with each hop, and Loopy and I finished off the evening with a visit to the Apple store across from the Pulitzer Fountain.

Our last day there was fairly low key -- walked down a closed section of Broadway for a Sunday market, had a gross meal at Cosi, checked out a neat Apple store (Tekserve), did quite a bit more walking in search of something to waste time on, returned to the hotel for some WiFi, finding a lounge and just crashing there until we had to go. I did manage to leave on a good food note with a tasty Schnipper's burger before we got on the bus back.

I'd go again, sure. Probably would NOT take the bus, the chance of sitting uncomfortably simply too high. I guess that and the hotel were the biggest costs, the conference itself being only $95 or so. I don't mind much that I didn't see a lot of Manhattan while there, or that I missed my cousin (she was out of town) -- getting away from Toronto was diversion enough.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

missing home

I dreamt that a group of women wanted to buy my parent's house, and that a real estate agent showed them around. There were holes in the floor and other problems but we were kicked out anyway. The saddest part is that that house is now gone, no longer holding the title of "home" for me. Jefferson is where my parents are now, or the northern reaches of Richmond Hill, a new start reminiscent of our first coming to York Region -- a fresh home, dusty roads, few amenities within walking distance. Do I have any right to miss the house I grew up in, having flown from that roost? A little, maybe just a little.

And how am I, you may ask. Time does fly by with age, as we grip the grains tightly they spill even out with greater force. My, uh, lamentations are still a ways from subsiding, but I do occasionally find something to take my mind off them, my troubles of the heart. LiveGreen volunteering is still going strong -- did my first Environment Day this past Saturday -- we're mostly just directing people and giving information, kind of a human info-booth. Oh, and I started back with karate and am prossibly going for a grading next month, something I've been putting off for ages and ages. We'll see.

Oh yeah, and I'm probably skipping out on this year's Becel Ride for Heart, which I suppose is a shame if you care about streaks (which I don't). They were sold out last year, and this year imposed a $100 minimum donation. If Becel are so confident, well, since I don't excel at asking people (in particular friends and co-workers) for money, I'm sure someone else can better fill the role. And to be honest I just don't enjoy the ride anymore. Maybe if we had some new, young blood in the group, through whom I could re-experience the thrill of being in huge group of cyclists and a worthy cause, well, perhaps then I'd reconsider. But for now, bah, this old man's sleeping in!

And speaking of the city that never sleeps, I plan to be in New York City this weekend for NECSS 2011, a somewhat last-minute decision but also one that excites me! Phil Plait! John Allen Paulos! A live recording of "The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe"! Joy!


I absolutely hate how the world is shaping up, just a frog boiling slowly in greed, misinformation, and lack of critical thought. I don'...