Sunday, 10 February 2013

Shedding Some Pounds

The quintessential new year's resolution:  Lose weight.  I'm no different - it's on my list.  After Kate's diagnosis, I stopped exercising and started stuffing my gullet at every chance as a way, I guess, of dealing with the stress.  I gained about 35 pounds.  By the time last spring rolled around, I was not feeling too good about myself.  I was easily winded, in part because I was carrying around a lot of extra weight and in part because I was not in the best physical shape.  So, I started exercising and trying to eat at least a little better.  Since then I have lost around 17 pounds, but feel I need to lose another 27 or so.

I am a hopeless snacker.  Evenings are the worst.  I'm always stuffing something, usually not especially healthy, in my mouth.  I suffer from depression and anxiety and I'm pretty sure my snacking is a form of self-medication, of comfort.

I'm not a big breakfast eater.  My therapist, who has in the past worked in the area of eating disorders, has suggested that my nocturnal noshing may at least partially be coming from skipping my morning meal.  So, she has suggested I eat a more complete breakfast and see if that helps my post-prandial munching.  So far, it has not had much of an impact in terms of how much I eat, but I do seem to have lost four pounds in the past week.  Maybe we're onto something here.

Meanwhile I continue to exercise.  I try to get in a 40-50 minute cardio workout at least three times a week, though 4-6 is more the norm.  My workouts have become important in two respects.  First, this is the only time during the day I don't live with that omnipresent knot in my stomach and, secondly, I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of it, however fleeting the feeling.

So, hopefully starting today, I will try to minimize my snacking and keep on with the exercise to see if I can shed the extra 27 lbs. and see if I can bring myself to 190 lbs.  I hope blogging about it will motivate me.  I'll try to post once a month about my progress.

And on a different note, Happy New year to all my Chinese readers and friends.  The year of the snake seems to be somewhat inauspicious, but hopefully everyone will come out the other end happier and healthier.  All the best.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Smart Phones, Tablets and that Interweb Thingy

Over the past few years, I have have been developing a profound dislike of information and communications technology (ICT).  I see its potential as a liberating tool - facilitating access to vast amounts of information from almost anywhere.  Allowing us to connect with people we may never have otherwise met and stay connected with people who maybe have moved away.  We seem to have overshot its potential, though, and landed in a less desirable situation where ease of access has led to intellectual laziness, where connecting electronically has supplanted more intimate forms of interaction and where our sense of privacy, and our desire for it, has been lost.

I admit I don't have a lot of empirical evidence to back up some of my claims.  Before I left work, though, I was noticing that cutting and pasting little factoids from online sources such as Wikipedia was creeping into the various documents that came across my desk.  Rather than doing their own anlayses and trusting their own judgements many government professionals seem to prefer the pre-digested views available in cyberspace.  As I say, this phenomenon may not be widespread, but it is creeping in.

I heard a story from an acquaintance recently about a university professor who caused an uproar among his students by refusing to post his lecture notes online, forcing his students to actually attend class and take their own notes.  Of course, this relates directly to the intellectual laziness I referred to earlier, but I think it also speaks a lot about the growing sense of entitlement I feel is growing within  younger generations, but that's a different topic for a different post.  The great promise of accessing information so easily is tainted somewhat by the fact that any idiot can publish anything online (as this blog demonstrates so well) and people seem unable to distinguish the good from the bad.  If any of you reading this teach, I would love to hear your observations about how ICTs are affecting the work and intellectual development of your students.

I also feel that the ubiquity of smart phones, tablets and laptop indicate a bizarre form of addiction.  People seem to have a helpless need to be constantly connected - to the web, to others, to playing games. I look around and all I see are people's noses stuck into some electronic device - texting, surfing, playing.  People text while they drive which is an unbelievably dangerous activity.  I see people, presumably friends or family or at least acquaintances, sitting at the same table in a café not talking to each other but thumbing their respective smart phones.  I see parents at their kids' sporting events engrossed in their phones or tablets oblivious to what their kids are doing.  I always feel bad when I see a child do something great, look over with pride at their mom or dad only to see them clicking away.  And, of course, cyberspace has become a valuable tool in the arsenal of bullies.

Many, and I include myself here, are living their lives online through social media with no regard for their own privacy.  No more secrets.

I have to rethink my own use of technology.  I'm just one red crayon and notebook away from moving into the woods and writing a manifesto off the grid. 

Friday, 1 February 2013

100 Best Movies

Karen, of A Peek at Karen's World fame (among the more entertaining blogs I follow), today posted her version of the best 100 movies.  Of course, this kind of exercise is highly controversial and it got my juices flowing.  So, I decided, what the hell, why don't I put in my two cents worth?  I have to admit coming up with a list of 100 movies is quite difficult, but I don't think there are many I would take off.  

You'll note that movies from the past ten years are not well-represented.  The largest reason for this is that since we had Lena, we don't get out much and our choices tend to be more family -friendly.  I also believe that movies today are more about flash-and-bang than anything else, but that's just my opinion.

So, here they are:
  1. Schindler's List
  2. Casablanca
  3. Psycho
  4. The Exorcist
  5. Traffic
  6. Dogma
  7. The Godfather
  8. The Godfather II
  9. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  10. Austin Powers:  International Man of Mystery
  11. Erin Brokovich
  12. Dirty Harry
  13. The Usual Suspects
  14. The Birds
  15. The In-Laws (1979)
  16. Maltese Falcon
  17. Pirates of the Caribbean
  18. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  19. Big Night
  20. Star Wars
  21. The Cook, the Thief, His WIfe and Her Lover
  22. Slap Shot
  23. The Caine Mutiny
  24. So, I Married an Axe Murderer
  25. Rear Window
  26. Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes Back
  27. Star Wars:  Return of the Jedi
  28. Reservoir Dogs
  29. Kill Bill Volume 1
  30. Kill Bill Volume 2
  31. Deliverance
  32. A Beautiful Mind
  33. October Sky
  34. The Hunt for Red October
  35. The Gumball Rally
  36. Marathon Man
  37. Bullitt
  38. Three Days of the Condor
  39. Gaslight
  40. Rocky
  41. Rocky II
  42. Alien
  43. The Big Sleep
  44. Grease
  45. All the President's Men
  46. Caddyshack
  47. The Dirty Dozen
  48. Pale Rider
  49. Guns of Navarone
  50. North by Northwest
  51. The Shining
  52. To Kill a Mockingbird
  53. Die Hard
  54. Mad Max
  55. Mad Max 2:  The Road Warrior
  56. Fargo
  57. Seven
  58. National Lampoon's Animal House
  59. Taxi Driver
  60. Catch Me if you Can
  61. Jurassic Park
  62. Saving Private Ryan
  63. Miracle (2004)
  64. Office Space
  65. Election
  66. Pulp Fiction
  67. Wayne's World
  68. Goodfellas
  69. National Lampoon's Vacation
  70. The Bourne Identity
  71. Amélie
  72. Being John Malkovich
  73. Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
  74. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  75. The King's Speech
  76. Presumed Innocent
  77. Silence of the Lambs
  78. Glengarry Glen Ross
  79. Magnum Force
  80. Sudden Impact
  81. Stripes
  82. Ghostbusters
  83. The Longest Day
  84. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  85. Saving Private Ryan
  86. Back to the Future
  87. Risky Business
  88. The Big Sleep
  89. Body Heat
  90. Pride of the Yankees
  91. Mississippi Burning
  92. Twelve Angry Men (1957)
  93. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  94. This is Spinal Tap
  95. Goodwill Hunting
  96. Boys Don't Cry
  97. Mystery Men
  98. Dead Calm
  99. A Few Good Men
  100. Terminator
I look forward to reactions and I'm sure you have some.