Monday, November 29, 2010

Diet /Off


I've done it. I got rid of those 20 pounds I've gained since quitting smoking 2 and a half years ago. I've never really done a "lose weight" diet before since there was never really any need. I was always the one who could eat and drink anything with weight gain immunity. I learned not to gloat about this fact though since most people don't have that kind of metabolism. Well, now I don't either. You never really appreciate something until it's gone eh? So here are a few observations I can make now that I've reached my goal.

1. There really was no secret to losing weight. Ingest fewer calories than you burn. All I did was count calories and stay under my daily "budget" which started out at 2400 per day and then decreased to 2280 as the weight came off. Apparently the skinnier you are, the fewer calories you need.

2. The easiest way to lose weight probably would have been to quit drinking, my new favorite vice. I am a firm believer in having a singular goal though, and losing weight and teetotaling would have been too hard. I would have failed on both endeavors. So I drank, I ate ice cream (one tablespoon per day) and even had french fries (once) and pizza (one slice, twice).

3. I had a pretty regular chip habit with happy hour time and I had to cut that out. I couldn't find any low cal chips (probably an oxymoron, that) so I switched to carrots and celery. When I did have chips, I limited myself to a dozen. I will forever beware of chips now. So damn good (Hello Miss Vickie's Jalapeno!) but might as well just inject the lard into your love handles.

4. Oh my god do avocados have a ton of calories. My favorite fruit too. (It's a fruit, I just checked.) If you have chips and guacamole at a Mexican restaurant, you probably shouldn't eat anything else as you'll likely have had over half your daily calorie budget.

5. Salt makes your weight go all wonky. It's true. One nice thing about using Loseit.com, the app for the iphone, is that not only does it track calories, but also nutrients including salt. If I suddenly gained two pounds in one day, sure enough, I had taken in too much salt. (Once over 5000 milligrams, yikes!) Water retention will happen.

6. You have to be willing to feel hungry. In this consumerist world where "want" leads to "have" with such ease, we are not used to denying ourselves. Luckily, I've had a lot of practice with denying myself so it wasn't so bad. But numerous times every day for 3 and a half months, I have had hunger pangs. Still, those are nothing compared to nicotine pangs.

7. Mozzarella is the cheese to eat when dieting. It's way lower in calories than any of the other cheeses.

8. It is much better to have useless pants in your closet because you have lost weight. They are almost like trophies now. The useless clothing I had in the closet because I had gained weight was like Shame staring at me every day.

9. Restaurant food is the dieters worst enemy.

Now that it's over, the real trick is going to be to keep the weight from creeping back on. Luckily, loseit has a maintenance program. Sadly, I'm only gonna get 250 calories added to my daily budget.

Recompense? I see POUTINE in my future very very soon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Funked out


Since I haven't taken any pictures since the xmas card photo shoot, you get to see another one that didn't make the final cut. If it weren't pitch dark still outside, I'd take a picture of the lovely blanket of snow that has fallen overnight. Everything is so quiet and white. Although we have snow, it hasn't been all that cold thankfully. I've been watching with horror the temps in Alberta, at one point the temperature in Calgary was the second coldest place on earth after the South Pole. Poor them. I hope that air gets modified before it makes its way over here.

Remember the Holiday Inn I scored for forty five bucks a night? Well I did it again for Palm Springs and really hit the jackpot. We got the Renaissance right there in downtown Palm Springs where you can walk everywhere for forty seven dollars a night. We stayed at that hotel before it was renovated when we used to attend the annual White Party so I knew what a major score we got. On the website, the lowest guaranteed internet rate is $175. I love you Priceline!

Yesterday we woke up to freezing rain and the city hadn't adequately salted the roads so there was all kinds of slipping and sliding. I watched across the street as the bus turned the corner but the back of the bus continued the turn and smashed into several cars like they were toys. Thank god we weren't parked in front. I wish I'd had the camera rolling. It was similar to this video taken in Seattle last week.

Got some bad news about my mother's health on Thanksgiving. The worst words you can hear are irreversible and progressive, but those are the words I heard. It was my brother who insisted she tell me after having heard about it from his dad (my stepdad).  She didn't want to worry me. She's taking it well, but I'm all funked out about it so maybe she was right. She's out on the high seas for two weeks fishing for the big tunas right now. Her dream is to land a 300 pound "super cow" and I really hope she gets it this time.


Have a nice weekend y'all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Slightly poopy post


Well we did our annual Christmas card photo shoot and although this one did not win the day, I sure liked it. The final will be shown here another day. Serge has to get his photoshop on to further enhance the holiday qualities. Georgie was very well behaved, probably due to the too tight shirt he was wearing. Serge erased Georgie's peen but I don't know how to do that on my computer so there it is.

Last time I went to the vet to get Georgie's vaccinations, Serge had been nagging me to ask about the anal glands. See, we've never had a male dog before and have heard about anal gland woes. Well it turns out, both male and female dogs have the anal glands and they could all develop problems with them. The vet was nice and gave me a lesson on how to check. Feel around 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock and if there's any hardness or a ball, there may be a blockage. Georgie was just fine. If we see him scooting around on his anus though, I'll know just what to check.

Shall we make it a true poop post? I was cracking up the other day over the "pooping pope" which is one of the figurines this year out of Catalonia in Spain. Apparently, tradition dictates that those in the news are represented in full defecation mode. Now, why didn't I know about this? Every year, new pooping figurines are created and become instant collectibles. The article on the tradition claims that the purpose is not to mock those celebrities but rather to pay tribute to them. They also have Michael Jackson and the Dalai Lama this year. Last year they did Barack Obama of course. I'm not a collector of anything, but this might just change that.

Booked a few hotel nights in California between Christmas and New Years. I used Priceline as usual and decided to go for a three star hotel because four stars charge for parking and internet and usually the three stars give you those for free. So my first bid was $45 per night and I won. This means I bid too much most likely. We got the Holiday Inn for three nights and according to their lowest guaranteed internet rate, we paid 37% of that price. Score!  I'm going to do the same thing for Palm Springs but I can't decide if we want a resort or just a lowly three star. I think we'll wait and see what the weather has in store while we are there.

To all of my American friends, here's wishing you a warm and food filled Thanksgiving with family and friends. Although I'll be working, I'll have you in my thoughts. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday morning blather


He played a lot with another beagle in the park yesterday. Here they are sharing a stick. There were sticks everywhere yesterday because the day started off with a thundersnow squall line that really kicked up some dust. The owner of the other beagle just had to tell me how cute mine was. I never really know what to say. Thank you isn't really right since I have nothing to do with his cuteness. Usually I say something like, yes people say that. It's better than, "I know," isn't it?

Went to see Harry Potter on Friday. My strategy worked too. See when a really big film comes out like HP, the French cineplex will show the original version in one of the theatres, basically for the francophones who are bilingual enough (and don't like the dubbing enough) to watch in English. I was probably in the only theatre in North America where it was showing and there were only about 40 people there. Honestly I had my whole row to myself. There was a line around the block for the French version which I'm sure was the same down at the English cineplex. As for the film, I loved it. Am I a dirty old man for liking the shirtless Harry?

In spite of the rash of disappointing news here and elsewhere, I'm in surprisingly good spirits. Here in Quebec, there has been a year long spate of corruption related stories coupled with the rise in taxes stories which tends to make me and my compatriots bitter. Although we are the most heavily taxed jurisdiction in North America, we get to look forward to a hike in the sales tax to 15.5 percent, a soon to be announced rise in property taxes plus a new tax on car registration and a new health tax to pay on our tax returns. All the while our politicians are in bed with the mafia and envelopes of cash are exchanging hands all over town. It makes me wonder where my envelope of cash is. Still, I've got enough food to eat and loads of free time at the moment so I'm enjoying it. I can't help feeling like the travel budget is getting pinched though. Look at me, privileged white guy moaning. Okay I'll shut up.

Georgie is beside me now reminding me of my morning duty. The long walk. It's a habit I've really grown to love, especially on Sunday morning. This town sleeps late on Sunday and it's always so quiet and surreal. The Monday walk is so jarringly noisy as everyone hustles off to their slave station job. I always think peaceful on Sunday and madhouse on Monday. Have a great Sunday y'all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Piercing holes


He would be able to fly if he could flap those ears I reckon. They are terribly flappy when we go out walking in the wind like we did yesterday. He really is unbearably cute and people stop me on the street every day to tell me. You think I'm exaggerating but actually I'm understating. Often times more than once I'll be stopped on the street to be informed of Georgie's cuteness. He oughta be in commercials. Who do I need to talk to about that?

This whole computer business is taking up too much of my time. Have you noticed on Facebook that sometimes your friends sound different? When did boasting become fashionable. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the playground as a five year old and everyone is saying hey look at me and neener neener neener. I suppose the child in us never dies, but the gloatiness definitely should. Of course I should talk what with the blog and all.

Almost done with the diet, hoorah. I've noticed my shoes have been very loose lately and it finally dawned on me that I've lost weight in my feet. Not just the feet of course, but everywhere on the body. Yesterday I did the Fonz when I passed by the mirror naked after my shower. Lookin good dude. Now what was I just saying about gloatiness?

Yesterday was spouse's birthday. Unfortunately, it was my only work day of the week, 8am-7pm. So he spent the day alone and went out to dinner with his mom. I did get him gifts lest you think I'm some kind of monster. The first gift was a new set of kitchen knives. We haven't had a good set in, well, I don't think ever and now we do. All the good sets require hand washing which sucks, but we'll be good about that for a year or so and then we'll say fuck it. The second and primary gift (I splurged this year) was a Makita drill set that he has been pining after for, well, nearly ever. He keeps piercing holes in things to play with it. I've never seen someone so happy about a tool. That just isn't in my DNA. Glad he likes it though.

Not much else going on, I've got four days off and then 10 hours next week of work. Poor Serge is swamped with work from clients but I don't know how to do any of the programming so I can't help. Instead I'll go off to the movies and read my stack of books that keeps growing. I saw a powerful film the other day called Incendies which is going to be Canada's official selection for the Acadamy Awards foreign film category. I bet it will be among the final nominees. There were some pretty horrific scenes in that movie but given the war setting, that's to be expected I suppose. I cried three times during the film. Tomorrow is Harry Potter but I think I'll wait a week or so before I go to avoid the crowds. Okay enough blathering on, have a lovely day now ya hear?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Update


I took my first stab at making Osso Bucco and despite it not being all that photogenic, it was absolutely fabulous. Serge didn't want his marrow either (the best part in my opinion) so I got to have that heavenly jello twice. It was super easy too. I even made the gremolata to go with. Serge wants it put on our routine meal rotation but I told him the veal cut is a bit pricey so we'll see.

It was fairly uneventful all weekend. I worked to prepare all my courses after Christmas and finished the bulk of it. I've got to get a few more listening exercises and do all the photocopying and I'll be done and I won't have to think about work until 17th of January. I've got a few classes for the next few weeks but those are already prepped, I've got maybe 20 hours left on the current contracts. So basically it's smooth sailing until April. A nice feeling.

We watched Toy Story 3 and Sex and the City 2.  I had seen them both at the cinema but Serge hadn't. We both loved Toy Story but for different reasons. Serge, having done a lot of 3D modeling on the computer, kept oohing and aahing over the lighting. I couldn't figure out what was so darn genius about it, but he was really impressed. Me, I just liked the story. As for SATC2, it was fine, but Carrie seemed like such a schrew. I just wanted to slap her and say, "Oh grow up for chrissake." Little whiny privileged white girl is not an attractive protagonist for me.

Georgie's been good. Took him across the street to get his nails clipped. They do that for free at the pet supply shop. He refuses to let me do it, but over there he hardly complains at all. I finally figured it out. He knows that he gets a cookie at the end of it so he behaves. I have got to remember that food is his big motivator. Does he really want to be on Serge's lap? Or is it a ruse to get to the plate on the table?



Have a lovely Monday peeps!

Friday, November 12, 2010

12 of 12


Brrr it was a chilly minus 4C this morning so I put on Georgie's new shirt for our long morning walk. You can't see it, but it says "i pood", and now that I'm looking at it, it might not be a bad xmas card - the colors are right. Oy. The Christmas word, it's become unavoidable now, people are already decorating houses up here.



Breakfast time. He always gets the last bite. I know the dog whisperer would disapprove, but it's only a little piece. Sometimes he'll "sing" just as I'm finishing whatever it is I'm eating.



I had a lunch date with Frank down in the old city and decided to take advantage of the glorious sunny day and walk there. It was a little over three miles each way. Also, it was a good way to burn those extra restaurant calories coming up. In the picture is an old church near our place. The city is riddled with such buildings.


Of course it's modern too. This is down by where I used to work until the recession and I started doing the nurses instead of the bankers.




You know you live in an old city when you see sewers made from brick! And this wasn't even in the old Montreal. I wonder if some of our water is still delivered in such constructions.


The Jacques Cartier bridge crossing the great St Lawrence river. No tolls anymore.


I happened upon an outdoor exhibit of photography outside the Berri-UQAM subway station. I liked this one.


The Place des Arts. The new theatre for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra is rising up in the back. And now you know what The Nutcracker is in French. Though if we translated word by word, it would be break hazelnut.



The (I think) St James church on Ste Catherine reflected in the storefront opposite. Like I said, riddled. In fact, this entire 12 of 12 could have been the many churches I passed on the walk.


I met Frank and the place was a beehive, much more crowded than the last time we came. After a short wait, we ordered our sandwiches (the same exact thing we had last year I believe) and OMG it was delicious. I had a panini of goat cheese and carmelized onions and it was like explosions of wonderfulness in my mouth with each bite. I would have eaten three of those easily but you know, the diet. Okay so the picture. It's the sign for the bathroom that was funny. The last thing on the bathroom synonym list was "le throne". Also odd was the little note in the corner. "Wooden door". There is only one door so there really is no cause for possible confusion. Odd.


When I left the house I thought that I might run across someone I know on the long walk. Perhaps a former student or other acquaintance. Well I ran into two. The first was the guy who built the laundry room downstairs for us. And the second was my French teacher, Madame Mila! We chatted while her husband waited patiently (Mila wears the pants) and it was just so great to see her. She told me my French was impeccable. She was exaggerating of course. We verified that all our contact information is the same and vowed to share a meal together soon. What a treat it was.



Got home, took Georgie out again and blobbed on the computer. When it was time for dinner, I decided to make fabulous fried egg sammiches. That way, I will have had a meat free day. There have been very few of those in my life. He knows we're going to bring the plates into the living room to eat so he waits there with his ears perked like that. So cute.

Pics are embiggenable. To see what others have posted as today's pictography, you can go here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Very little


Even though his little bed is right next to my chair in the office, he still demands to sit in my lap periodically. It's adorable but 35 pounds on my lap is only cute for a few minutes. After that it hurts. But oh how he makes my heart squeeze with love. Come to think of it, that borders on hurting too. Again I'm feeling, all the emotions seem to come from the same source, love and grief are simply different shades of the same thing.

Surely there must be other things to chat about. There's the little french hottie who lives downstairs now. When I say french I mean from France. He is the first tenant in all these years to take advantage of my gym equipment in the basement. This pleases me. The fact that he changes all the settings and weights doesn't. At least our workout times don't conflict, then I'd have to play the landlord card.

I fell off the diet wagon over the weekend since we had friends visiting. It really only takes one big fatty, salty meal to cause my body to blimp up. I'm still on target to reach the goal weight before the holidays though. 172, four pounds over what I weighed when I quit smoking.

I thought this was funny:

 
Thanks to Phronk for that. Have a great humpday peeps, I'm out of topics!

Monday, November 08, 2010

It gets better



Even though I loathe the camera angle, my unironed shirt, the way I talk and the pasty whiteness (do we ever like videos of ourselves?) the message is a good one.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dinner, dudes and locks


That was my main course last night at dinner. I know we just went here a month ago for our anniversary but since friends were visiting, what better reason to go back to my favorite place in town. The evening did not disappoint. Inside the can was duck, foie gras and other deliciousness. For thirty seven dollors, I was sure going to take a video of the server opening it. His can opener didn't work the first time, but the second time worked fine.

video

Obviously the diet was out the window. Serge and M split the eighty dollar veal special (I made a note to myself to ask prices on the specials next time) which was an enormous slab of meat, we all laughed at the ridiculous size of it, but the boys were still able to polish off the bulk of it. Georgie got a bone from that and when we gave it to him we ceased to exist. He actually growled at me when I tried to get him to come back inside. (He likes to eat his treats on the patio for some reason.)



Afterward, we went down for a drink at the strip club. I haven't been there in ages, but it hasn't changed much. Beautiful friendly men selling lap dances. Many of them were swarming the rich American waving hundred dollar bills around. Although Serge was prodding me to go ahead, I had spent all my cash at the restaurant. We have spent far too much money lately. Did I tell you about the front door lock to our building?

It's one of those mechanical push-button code kinds like you see at a public school. Did you know those things cost five hundred dollars? Serge got all manly and tried to fix it but that made it worse. At one point we couldn't open the door at all, not from the inside or out which meant the tenants had to traipse through the fire exit to leave the building. The locksmith was able to fix it for a mere one hundred fifty.

Haven't had a Georgie pic in a week! That's got to be a first. Here let's remedy that right now. Have a lovely weekend peeps!


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Forgetfulness

I've been lax in my duties. There have been several things that I wanted to mention but since I didn't write them down, I don't remember them. Let's see if I can trace back my thinking steps to find them. There was the election, maybe I wanted to mention something about that. I voted a couple weeks ago when the Democrats Abroad group sent me a way to vote for the candidates. I didn't vote for the referendums in California, only the House, Senate and Gubernatorial races. (How do we get from governor to gubernatorial? It's not president to prodernatinial now is it?) All the candidates I voted for won. (gloat) The official absentee ballot arrived, just like it does every year, on the final day that it has to be received in California. In other words, I would never get my vote counted if I left it up to the electoral commission. I don't know if this is intentional or not. Probably just lameness.

Serge is doing fine. He spoke with the hospital staff and was assured that everything came up normal with his bloodwork. He went to the eye doctor and now needs bifocals at the ripe old age of 44. Also, pre-glaucoma is happening. Still, the optometrist said that this wouldn't accout for his dizzy spells. Thankfully, it hasn't happened since last Saturday. I suspect, like most ailments, this one will clear itself up on its own.

I'm writing this on my hand-me-down computer. Serge upgraded so I'm inheriting his and mine will go to mother-in-law. I love the speed. Mine had gotten so full and unwieldy that I often had to wait long to do anything. Once the drive is formatted, it will be speedy again. On the new one, it's so fast that many times I don't know what I did or clicked as windows are opening and taking me places. Feeling like an old dog here.

Speaking of dogs, Georgie poo is doing well. He's on his diet now and has one reduced meal a day and only half cookies for treats. This makes him even more of a food whore. When we eat dinner, he sits and gazes longingly at us, sometimes letting a little whimper out and two lines of drool form and dangle from his maw. I love him so much I even find that cute.

I'm sure none of this is what I had intended to write about but there you have it.  A non drama update on the goings on. Friends are visiting town this weekend and we get to go back to my favorite restaurant tomorrow night. I'm going to have the duck in a can this time. I'll film it so you can see this cool presentation. Until then.

Monday, November 01, 2010

This and that


It's not even November (well it wasn't when I took this yesterday) and we got our first snow. Sure it wasn't all that much. I figured it would all melt during the day yesterday but nope, it's still covering the patio. It's pretty cold here. Last Tuesday we hit 70 degrees and now this. The next t-shirt weather will come in about 7 months next May. Oh well I'm gonna look at the bright side - cozy cuddly weather, hot chocolate and peppermint are on the menu. I'm not looking forward to the window scraping and snow shoveling all winter though. I smashed my thumb in the trunk when I went to get out the scraper yesterday. It's all blue now. I really hope I don't lose the nail, it took several months for the last one to grow back.


We finally sprung for the meat grinder attachment for the Kitchenaid mixer. We have been interested in getting it but balk at the price each time. Eighty bucks for a little plastic thingie? Then it was on sale for 20 percent off so we got it. So cool! Serge makes a mean ham salad with it and Saturday night we had steak tartare for dinner. It was awesomely delicious. We used fresh filet mignon to make it and cooked up an artichoke to go with. Oh yeah that was funny when I bought the artichokes. It was the first time in four years I've seen them at my local market. Usually I have to go to the farmer's market to get them. Anyway, they looked really good and were heavy too (heavy means lots of flesh) so I put two in my basket. When I got to the cashier, she had to look in the book to find the plu code. Then she punched it in and asked me, "They're 5 for two dollars, right?" As much as I wanted to lie and say yes, I said, "I think they're $2.99 each." She looked at me and said, "No, that's too much." and just left it as it was. So I got two for eighty cents. Love when that happens.

As for Serge's mystery malady, I have been quietly nagging him to call the hospital for the blood test results, but I can't really do much more than nag. He got really mad at me yesterday about it so I'm just going to back off and let him sort things out. (That's all we can really do anyway - ever tried to get someone to quit smoking? How did that work out for you?)


Maybe the cold weather is getting to Georgie too. He does this new thing now where he comes and gets under the covers at night. This morning he was way down by my knees. Usually he falls asleep on the sofa but at some point during the night he comes and crawls in with us. Yesterday, after we had gotten up, he stayed in the bed and when I went to get in the shower, this is how he looked. The little dickens thinks he's a person.