Getting Back in Shape

I know it’s still winter. And, I had sort of planned to hibernate until spring. Cabin fever was a danger, though, and so I’ve been outdoors, running, several times in the past two weeks.

And – I don’t loathe it! I thought I’d be miserable running on boring streets (since the paths are snowed under!), in brutally cold weather. But no! In fact, I’ve enjoyed the few runs I’ve attempted since I allowed the late November snow to put me on hiatus.

Ok, so I haven’t done any 10 km runs, but I have been out for two 4 km runs, and this morning I did a nice 5 km run, despite the fact that it was minus 16!

So, I’m feeling pretty good, and plan to continue these shortish outdoor runs until spring, when I can then do 10 to 12 km, or more!!

My Journey to My New Nexus 4

nexus 4 screenshot

Screenshot of my Nexus 4

I know many folks have already experienced the joys of a really good smart phone, especially those early iPhone owners. I’ve had and appreciated the iPod touch since it’s early releases, and I know Apple is top quality. However, I hated being married to iTunes (HATED IT!), and resented the extreme limitations placed on the end users, like not being able to install Firefox, having no Flash support or plugins, and the list goes on. Basically, very very limited customizability. Add to that, when the iPhone became much more popular and accessible in Japan (where I was living), I was also already very much considering The Big Move back to Canada, and at that time, unlocking the iphone was not so simple. At least, not for me. And, I didn’t like Apple anyway, and was already stuck with the iPod Touch.

So there you have my reasons for not getting an iPhone back in the day. But when Android came out, and soon gained popularity, I was happy to give it a whirl. However, being unemployed in Montreal and with no real job prospects, investing in a high-end but unknown phone was not something I wanted to risk. So I got a low-end, affordable phone – the LG Chat. It was my first exposure to Android, and i LOVED it. Loved it like crazy, and then bought my tablet, the Asus TF101. It was much more powerful and more capable than the LG Chat.

Eventually, I really wanted a decent smart phone – one that I could actually install more apps on, and one that wouldn’t freeze and crash because the processor was overloaded with one or two processes running. Sadly, I did NOT do my research, and, still struggling to pay bills, I didn’t want to overspend. When I asked at the phone kiosk about the internal memory on the Samsung Ace, the boys working the counter couldn’t give me any info. That should have been a tip off. I bought the phone, and boy, was I sorry fast. However – I didn’t want to have to pay off the phone ($150) in order to upgrade and spend more money on a better phone. So I bided my time.

And that time finally came last week, when I found a great deal on a ‘certified pre-owned’ Nexus 4. My old Ace was finally almost “paid off”, so I put the remaining $70 on it, then bought my Nexus 4 for $200. I know this phone is just over a year old, and the Nexus 5 is out and taking the world by storm, but it’s new for me and beats my crappy, low-end Ace by a million miles. And I am soo sooo happy with it! It runs really smoothly, has 16GB of internal storage, runs tons of great apps that I really couldn’t enjoy before (like Map My Run and Audible), it browses the web beautifully and quickly, and does everything that I was using my iPod Touch for (music, audio books and podcasts). So, I’m going to sell my iPod Touch, uninstall all Apple bloatware from my PCs, and rock out on my Nexus 4!

Oh, and speaking of bloatware – the Nexus 4, being a Google phone, comes with no real bloatware, unlike so many other phones. This phone comes stocked with only Google utilities – Gmail, Maps, Keep, Music player, etc.

OH! And, it has a super 8-megapixel camera! I installed Camera Zoom, and so this phone now also replaces my small Nikon point and shoot :)

Good reviews abound. I like this one from CNET.

My Nutribullet

I know it is essential to get at least 6 servings of vegetables per day. But according to this USA Today report, the average person eats less than one cup per day (that is only 1 (raw) to 2 (cooked) servings). And I was not doing much better. In fact, after my re-migration back to Canada in late 2010, I realize that my nutritional intake plunged, while “bad” foods made it sneakily into my diet. I went from a (mostly) healthful diet of miso soup, kimchi nabe, yaki tori, etc to a diet rich in: processed food like Hamburger Helper, family sized bags of potato chips, lunches that consisted of poutine (a local favourite dish of french fries, curd cheese and gravy).

As more poor quality food made it into my diet, more of the good food disappeared from it. I think maybe I wasn’t even eating one veggie per day.

In early 2013, I made a big turnaround. I very consciously added whole foods to my diet, and, slowly, my desire for the bad stuff lessened. I also had an increased desire for exercise (I had all but stopped running or biking, but got back into it with a vengeance last year!). By the way – this is exactly what Jon Gabriel said would happen in his book, The Gabriel Method, which I do recommend to anyone trying to lose weight or just trying to get healthy.

So anyway – back last summer, as I struggled to find ways to increase my vegetable intake, I found the Nutribullet. I researched it. It looked great. I wanted it. However – I was reluctant to spend the $100 on it. I thought I would just wait until it went on sale. It did not come on sale, so I caved in and bought it just before my 42nd birthday in January of this year.

And I LOVE it! I use it just about every single day to make green drinks of spinach or kale, cucumbers, bell peppers, and fruit (or a combination of any of these!). It’s compact and simple, which increases the likelihood of someone inherently lazy, like moi, actually using it. I know myself – if I have to dig into the cupboard, drag out some big machine, then wash the big, clumsy vessel – well, I just will not bother using it.

But my Nutribullet sits on my counter, taking no space at all. The single-serving cup/blender thing is super easy to wash, and also super easy to use.

I LOVE my Nutribullet! Very glad I got it and can’t wait to branch out and find a lot of new, nutritious recipes.

My Nutribullet! with kale and cucumber and lots of goodness

My Nutribullet! with kale and cucumber and lots of goodness

Winter and Vitamin D

Not so much happening this past month; Oh, of course, I turned 42 two weeks ago. Don’t feel any different; not a day over 35 :)

One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that, unlike the past few years, I am not so exhausted or depleted by the winter. And this winter has, by all accounts, been a harsh one. It came with a huge snowfall in November, and deep freeze in early December, and has continued on course. However, I seem almost cheerful. I do not really do winter exercise; I don’t run like the hard-core runners, not because of the cold, but just because I get super bored running on city streets rather than along leisure paths; I tried snow shoeing, but gave up after my snow shoe got stuck in the snow and I fell and banged my knee. To be fair, I think if I had someone to run with or snow-shoe with, I’d get out more. But as it is, I find myself mostly taking short walks with Dexter, or longer walks alone with my audio books on my iPod. I hit the gym when I’m in the mood. But really, my cardio exercise has been way down since November.

So why, then, do I find myself not feeling tired, cranky and depressed? I attribute it to two things: better eating habits and vitamin supplements.

I’ve been eating much better for about a year now. I’ve nearly totally cut out all processed (artificial) food, and recently bought a Nutribullet so have been making “Nutriblasts” with lots of leafy veggies.

And vitamins. As soon as the days started to get short and sunlight was diminished, I began taking mega-doses of vitamin D. I take 5000 IU’s every second day, as well as one Vitamin K2 capsule to aid absorption. Additionally, I take a multi-vitamin (recently began taking it every other day), and I take 3000 mgs of Omega-3 daily.

I’ve been big on my vitamins for a long time, but only for the past year have I been diligent and taking them every day to every other day. And for a change, I am not dying this winter. I feel energetic, alert, and positive. I am not even railing against unfair Mother Nature.

So, I intend to continue my healthy eating and vitamin consuming, until I personally discover that my regimen is flawed.


Pros and Cons of Being a Substitute Teacher

As many people know, finding an ideal job is, well, tough, even under the best circumstances. The key really is NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK. And what do you do when most of your working life has been spent overseas, and not in the small community to which you decide to move?

You NETWORK! And network I did, then was fortunate to be called in as a substitute teacher at a local high-school.

Now, all the searches out there turn up posts about how rough it is, how un-wonderful. But there are a lot of great things about being a sub.


    I am getting enough work at just one school, so I don’t find myself all over the place
    I have taught there enough to get to know many of the students
    The school is close to home, so I don’t need to battle traffic or crappy roads;
    I do not work long hours at all – basically, a full day would be 8:30-ish to 3:45-ish
    I don’t need to pay much on gas at all – heck, I can jog to the school if I wanted to.
    I don’t have to pay for parking
    I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the regular teachers – who are all friendly and nice


    I work “on call” – so, I can never really make plans ahead of time
    I only get paid for when I work, and for how much I work on a given day
    There is NO job security; they don’t even have to fire me – they can simply decide to stop calling
    I, of course, get no benefits (no medical, no vacation time)

So, there you have it – the pros do outweigh the cons! I honestly can’t complain, especially in this frigid weather, when commuting sucks, and getting home after dark sucks!

New Year, 2014!

And a New Year begins!

I passed a fairly quiet New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This suited me, as my car is still in bad shape with the bumper and tail-light hanging off, and the weather has been abominable! Seriously – we had a deep DEEP freeze of temperatures not getting about minus 20 Celsius. Cars wouldn’t start all around the Ottawa-Gatineau area; mine did start, but only because I park in my indoor garage, which, though not heated, is above freezing.

So, that was my New Year …

Dexter – Ready for Christmas

dexter_2013 12 18_0957_edited-1.jpgdexter_2013 12 18_0964_edited-1.jpgdexter_2013 12 18_0968_edited-1.jpgdexter_2013 12 18_0970_edited-1.jpgdexter_2013 12 18_0978_edited-1.jpgxmas post card_edited-1.jpg
card_2013 12 18_0982_edited-1.jpgpostcard2_edited-1.jpg

Christmas, a set on Flickr.

I got Dexter dressed up a bit in preparation for Christmas. He didn’t really like the antlers at all, and so I was lucky to even get one photo where he wasn’t pulling them off his head :)

I then used the photos to make cards in Photoshop Elements, following a tutorial from Digital Scrapper!

Merry Christmas!

It’s still early on Christmas morning – and it’s going to be a cold but sunny day! It’s only minus 22 right now, and is supposed to warm up to minus 18 I heard. That’s ok – we’re warm and have a cozy home to stay in. Later today my mother, Dexter and I are going to my brother’s for Christmas dinner.

In the meantime – I’m already enjoying the holiday morning, as are Dexter and Nox :)




Rear-Ended. And F’d Over!

While driving a friend to her hair dresser appointment on Saturday past (December 21st), I got rear-ended as I was waiting to merge onto a busy street. The other guy was 100% at fault. He knew it, and gave me his business card. Turns out he owns an auto body shop. Said he’d fix it right up, just call him on Monday.

So – we forewent insurance and police report. More fool me. The old man (yes, he’s a geezer), is willing to fix the car, but only at his garage way the hell far away from me, and no, of course he won’t give me a loaner car while mine is being repaired. I asked him how I can get home then, well, that, apparently, is my problem.

I called my insurance company, and especially because I have only 1-way coverage, I am screwed. The agent told me that the man is only responsible to fix the car. It sucks that he’s not being more accomodating, but unless he refuses to repair the car, there is nothing I can do.

So – I’ll have to find someone to drive behind me and bring me home, then repeat the process to pick up the car. Or have to ride several buses for 2 hours. And I will miss at least one, probably more, days of work. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid – so this accident, which is not my fault at all, is costing me quite a lot in the end.

I have one word for the geezer – A**H***e!